Flying Lessons

11 November 2015 - Veterans Day

Dear Friends,

Introduction – In 2009 I wrote a booklet entitled Flying Lessons which uses the principles of aviation and my experience as a pilot in the United States Air Force to teach and bear testimony of important gospel principles to my family, especially my grandchildren.  I prepared twelve lessons so that one could be a part of a family night each month for a year.    

These lessons also point out the divine link between our Church and our country. Because the Lord established this nation, we can expect that Satan will be working against it. There has been and will always be reasons for concern and this may cause some to be pessimistic about the future. However, with the true understanding "of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be" (Jacob 4:13), we can have great confidence in the future of our Church and our nation.

I desire to share these lessons and hope they will be beneficial to you and your families.

The Divine Link between Our Church and the United States of America.
In April 1970 during the Viet Nam War LDS servicemen were given a small booklet "with the compliments of the First Presidency." It was an address entitled The Church and America given by Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of Twelve. In it Elder Peterson gave LDS servicemen inspired council. His concluding thoughts were:

"The United States then is God's country. It is His government set up specifically to provide freedom of speech and religion... I have always felt that the Stars and Stripes, our glorious flag, is God's own banner because it represents His country. This is the one nation in all the world which He acknowledges was set up by His own hand... So ours is a glorious country. It has a sacred destiny. It is closely related to the Church. That is why, as you go out, you not only represent the United States, but you represent the Church and you represent this great principle that God has set up this country to provide the means were by we may take the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all the world."

As I recently reread this address I asked myself two questions, "Do I still believe what Elder Petersen said?" The answer is, yes! My second question has a longer answer:

"What is the future of our country?" ‑ At a difficult time in his life the Prophet Joseph Smith was taught a very important principle. The Lord said:

"The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round. Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men" (D&C 3:1‑3).

Our Constitution was established and will be maintained by Patriots the Lord raises up ‑ If at times the future of our country seems uncertain, remember that the purposes of God cannot be frustrated. The Lord established his Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith and he "established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men [he] raised up unto this very purpose." The said our Constitution was “established and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all [mankind] according to the just and holy principles". These just and holy principles are agency and accountability. (See D&C 101:77‑80)  The Lord has raised up leaders of our Church who have been great patriots and defenders of the Constitution. In April 1966 general conference Elder Marion G. Romney gave a sermon at the request of the First Presidency where he emphasized the purpose of the Constitution was to preserve free agency. He said: "I hope I can get this point over to you. [The Lord] said he established the Constitution to preserve to men their free agency, because the whole gospel of Jesus Christ presupposes man's untrammeled exercise of free agency. Man is on the earth to be tested. The issue as to whether he succeeds or fails will be determined by how he uses his agency. His whole future, through all eternity, is at stake. Abridge man's agency, and the whole purpose of his mortality is thwarted. Without it the Lord says there is no existence. (See D&C 93:30) The Lord so valued our agency that he designed and dictated 'the laws and constitution required to guarantee it."

We have the privilege and responsibility to defend the Constitution ‑ Elder Dallin Oaks in a recent speech entitled Religious Freedom given at BYU‑Idaho on 13 October 2009 said when "there is a battle underway, persons who desire to join the fray should 'march to the sound of the guns.'  So it is that I invite you to march with me as I speak about religious freedom under the United States Constitution. There is a battle over the meaning of that freedom. The contest is of eternal importance, and it is your generation that must understand the issues and make the efforts to prevail."

On 1 November 2009 Elder Oaks spoke at our temple devotional in the Solemn Assembly Room on the fifth floor of the Salt Lake Temple. I spoke with him later about his speech at BYU‑Idaho. In that conversation he told me that religious freedom (agency) is so important that we must do everything we can to defend it and then the Lord will do anything else that is necessary. The Spirit confirmed to me that this is true.

As I left the temple that day I was reminded of the landmark sermon by President Ezra Taft Benson entitled The Constitution ‑ A Heavenly Banner which was first given to the Sons of the Utah Pioneers in connection with the Bicentennial of the ratification of the Constitution.  I conclude with my testimony in the words of President Benson from The Constitution ‑ A Heavenly Banner.

"We are fast approaching the moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said:  "Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction' (July 19, 1840, Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City.)... It is my conviction that when the Lord comes, the Stars and Stripes will be floating on the breeze over this people."

Clearly, there is a divine link between our Church and the United States of America!