Friday, June 23, 2017

President Gordon B. Hinckley on living with happiness and optimism

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"The Lord said: 'Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.' (D&C 25:13.)
"I believe he is saying to each of us, be happy. The gospel is a thing of joy. It provides us with a reason for gladness. Of course there are times of sorrow. Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice. I see so many people, including many women, who seem never to see the sunshine, but who constantly walk with storms under cloudy skies. Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "If Though Art Faithful," Ensign, November 1984, p. 92
Click here to read or listen to the full article

This expression is classic President Hinckley. He always encouraged optimism and hope, reminding us of the reasons for joy even in the midst of trails and struggles. He certainly felt that joy in his life, and always radiated the spirit of optimism and confidence.

President Hinckley acknowledges that there will be times of sorrow, concern, anxiety, and worry. But with the perspective of the Gospel, those things never should overshadow our optimism and faith. We need to remember to "see the sunshine" around us. I like the specific suggestions he gives here to accomplish that:
  • Rejoice in the beauties of natuer
  • Rejoice in the goodness of loved ones
  • Rejoice in the testimony of divine things

Those are wonderful reminders, not just for times of sorrow but for all times. We will be blessed with more confidence and peace as we cultivate the spirit President Hinckley is inviting us to have.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

President Russell M. Nelson on strength through emulating the Savior

President Russell M. Nelson (b. Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015.
"Jesus, our Savior, was born in the lowliest of circumstances. For his baptism he was immersed in the lowest body of fresh water upon the planet. In service and suffering, he also 'descended below' all things (D&C 122:8), that he could rise above all things. Near the end of his life, he triumphantly declared, 'I have overcome the world.' (John 16:33.) 'Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.' (3 Ne. 15:9.) Scriptures tutor us at least twenty-six times to endure to the end to attain eternal life. Then we will obtain a resurrected body—one that is incorruptible, glorified, and prepared to live in the presence of God.
"To reach your highest destiny, emulate the Savior. He proclaimed, 'What manner of men ought ye to be? ... Even as I am.' (3 Ne. 27:27.) Our loftiest hope is to grow in spirit and attain 'the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children.' (Eph. 4:13-14.) ...
"When deepening trials come your way, remember this glorious promise of the Savior: 'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.' (Rev. 3:21.)"
- Russell M. Nelson, "Self-Mastery," Ensign, Nov. 1985, 30
Click here to read or listen to the full article

"To reach your highest destiny, emulate the Savior." That's the disciple's creed in life; the core message of Christianity is in the simple words, "Come, follow me." As we strive with true sincerity and deep commitment to do that, not only does our life change, but our joy increases dramatically.

In spite of, or particularly because of, the "deepening trials" that occasionally beset us in life, we must never forget the promise of divine help and sustaining grace, and the ultimate hope of overcoming all trials with God's help. Truly, all will be well for him who truly strives to follow the Savior.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the eternal perspective of life

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (born November 6, 1940) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He has served as second counselor in the First Presidency since 2008.
"Yes, there will be moments of beginnings and moments of endings throughout our lives, but these are only markers along the way of the great middle of our eternal lives. Whether we are at the beginning or the end, whether we are young or old, the Lord can use us for His purposes if we simply set aside whatever thoughts limit our ability to serve and allow His will to shape our lives....
"Being always in the middle means that the game is never over, hope is never lost, defeat is never final. For no matter where we are or what our circumstances, an eternity of beginnings and an eternity of endings stretch out before us."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Always in the Middle," Ensign, July 2012, p. 4
Click here to read or listen to the full article

This was an insightful message from President Eyring. In our narrow, limited perspective of time, we view beginnings and endings of events or circumstances as much more dramatic than they are in a broader, eternal view. In the true sense, we are "always in the middle" of eternity, with much that preceded and so much more to follow.

Seeing the broad perspective of eternity can help us understand that our challenges and difficulties are truly temporary and fleeting. With that knowledge sure in our hearts, we can persevere and endure in faithfulness. The hope of eternity helps us see things as they really are!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

President Henry B. Eyring on faithfulness in times of tests and trials

President Henry B. Eyring (born May 31, 1933) served in the Presiding Bishopric from 1985-1992, as a Seventy from 1992-1995, then was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He has served in the First Presidency since 2007.
"There is another even more important preparation we must make for tests that are certain to come to each of us. That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time. What we will need then can't be bought. It can't be borrowed. It doesn't store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.
"What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation.
"The Prophet Joseph Smith gave us the Lord's description of the test we face. Our Heavenly Father created the world with His Son, Jesus Christ. We have these words to tell us about the purpose of the Creation: 'We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them' (Abr. 3:24-25).
"So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God's commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady," Ensign, May 2005, pp. 37-40
Click here to read or listen to the full article

I love the title of President Eyring's talk: "Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady." How blessed we are when we have that early start, with appropriate uplift and inspiration coming from the home of a child and other experiences that build on it. Then the steadiness of faithful discipleship can carry on those traditions.

In this excerpt, President Eyring talks of the spiritual preparation that must be accumulated in order to confront the trials and challenges of life.

I think this is a remarkable insight. The great test of life for us is not about surviving storms and enduring difficulties. It is about how faithful and obedient we will be when the storms and challenges are raging. God really cares much more about our faithful obedience more than whether we can just "hang on" when times are tough or "get through" the hard periods.

So much depends on our spiritual preparation in the times leading up to trials and difficulties. When the need comes, the preparation is past and too late. It's the regular and recent preparation that will make all the difference in our ability to pass the tests of life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

Monday, June 19, 2017

President Thomas S. Monson on seeking to serve one another

President Thomas S. Monson (b. August 21, 1927) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley until becoming Church president in 2008.
"This afternoon my thoughts have returned to a road made famous by a parable Jesus told. I speak of the road to Jericho....
"Each of us, in the journey through mortality, will travel his own Jericho Road. What will be your experience? What will be mine? Will I fail to notice him who has fallen among thieves and requires my help? Will you?
"Will I be one who sees the injured and hears his plea, yet crosses to the other side? Will you?
"Or will I be one who sees, who hears, who pauses, and who helps? Will you?
"Jesus provided our watchword, 'Go, and do thou likewise.' When we obey that declaration, there opens to our eternal view a vista of joy seldom equaled and never surpassed....
"My brothers and sisters, today there are hearts to gladden, there are deeds to be done—even precious souls to save. The sick, the weary, the hungry, the cold, the injured, the lonely, the aged, the wanderer—all cry out for our help.
"The road signs of life enticingly invite every traveler: This way to fame; this way to affluence; this way to popularity; this way to luxury. Pause at the crossroads before you continue your journey. Listen for that still, small voice which ever so gently beckons, 'Come, follow me. This way to Jericho.'
"May each of us follow Him along that Jericho Road."
- Thomas S. Monson, "Your Jericho Road," Ensign, May 1977, pp. 71-73
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Monson has lived his life serving along the road to Jericho. This talk, given 40 years ago, echoes counsel from his heart and his example. His gentle invitation to us, to be more loving and serving to our neighbor, is a wonderful reminder.

We would all do well to consider how we are doing in our individual daily journeys along the Jericho road. Like President Monson, we should be always praying and listening for the promptings that will guide us to those whom we could help and assist along the way. Instead of heeding the many calls that would lure us to fame, affluence, popularity, and luxury, we might find another path that includes joy and blessing.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

President Harold B. Lee on worshipful Sabbath Day activities

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"May we not hope that in addition to our worshipful activities on the Lord's Day we might also on that day reduce the drudgery of the home to a minimum, and that outside the home only essential chores will be performed. Make this a day of prayerful, thoughtful study of the scriptures and other good books. While filled with the joy of the Sabbath, write a letter to your sweetheart or an absent loved one or a friend who may need your spiritual strength. Make your homes the places for the singing and playing of beautiful music in harmony with the spirit of the day. At evening's close as you gather at your fireside with the family alone or with friends, discuss the precious truths of the gospel and close with the benediction of family prayer. My experience has taught me that the prompting of the conscience to a faithful Church member is the safest indicator as to that which is contrary to the spirit of worship on the Sabbath Day....
"And so I beg of you not to rob your spiritual bodies of that essential strength by breaking the Sabbath Day, but sincerely urge you to live each day so that you might receive from the fountain of light, nourishment and strength sufficient to every day's need."
- Harold B. Lee, "Take Time to be Holy," Radio address delivered April 15, 1945; see Decisions for Successful Living [Deseret 1973] pp. 146-50

I think President Lee's suggestions are helpful. The word "drudgery" is an interesting choice; I guess it refers to menial work, chores, routine tasks, etc. To reduce those things allows us to focus on activities and tasks that are not routine or menial, but are worshipful, prayerful, and spiritual.

President Lee shares the vision of a day filled with worshipful activities: uplifting music, study and reading, appropriate service to others, sharing gospel insights with family members or friends.

I think this is a great summary, "My experience has taught me that the prompting of the conscience to a faithful Church member is the safest indicator as to that which is contrary to the spirit of worship on the Sabbath Day." If we listen to the promptings that will come, we will be guided to the best kinds of activities.

I've always been intrigued by the phrase "breaking the Sabbath Day." That use of the word "break" conveys to me the idea of shattering or destroying something that is precious, useful, or beautiful. That's what we want the Sabbath Day to be to us!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

President Gordon B. Hinckley on having a spiritual retreat from a busy world

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"We need to build ourselves spiritually. We live in a world of rush and go, of running here and there and in every direction. We are very busy people. We have so much to do. We need to get off by ourselves once in a while and think of the spiritual things and build ourselves spiritually. If you have a study at home, lock yourself in it. If you have a place in the basement where you can be by yourself, go there. Get by yourself and think of things of the Lord, of things of the Spirit. Think of all the Lord has done for you. How blessed you are, how very blessed you are. Think of your duty and your responsibility. Think of your testimony. Think of the things of God. Just meditate and reflect for an hour about yourself and your relationship to your Heavenly Father and your Redeemer. It will do something for you."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Brigham City Utah Regional Conference, Feb. 22, 1997; see TGBH 608-609

In the intense, busy, rushing world of today, President Hinckley cautions us about the need for time to relax and rebuild. Being able to "think of the spiritual things" is an essential component in the disciple's life:

One of President Hinckley's key suggestions is to have a place where we can "get away" from the interruptions and pressures and be alone. The temptation in our day is to take our communication devices (phones, computers) with us to those places, rationalizing that since no other people are physically present, we are alone. But that is not the intent of President Hinckley's advice.

The key is to have time to focus on the Lord and on the "things of the Spirit." It's a time to ponder blessings, to review responsibilities, to consider testimony. How often do we truly "meditate and reflect for an hour about yourself and your relationship to your Heavenly Father and your Redeemer"?? In doing so, we truly will be blessed.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)
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