Monday, October 15, 2018

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on overcoming the sadness and misery of the world

Elder 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 served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 to 2018.
"There is a word in German, Weltschmerz. Loosely defined, it means a sadness that comes from brooding about how the world is inferior to how we think it ought to be.
"Perhaps there is a little Weltschmerz in all of us.
"When silent sorrows creep into the corners of our lives. When sadness saturates our days and casts deep shadows over our nights. When tragedy and injustice enter the world around us, including in the lives of those we love. When we journey through our own personal and lonely path of misfortune, and pain darkens our stillness and breaches our tranquility—we might be tempted to agree with Solomon that life is vain and devoid of meaning.
"The good news is, there is hope. There is a solution to the emptiness, vanity, and Weltschmerz of life. There is a solution to even the deepest hopelessness and discouragement you might feel.
"This hope is found in the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the Savior’s redemptive power to heal us of our soul-sickness.
"'I am come,' Jesus declared, 'that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.' (John 10:10.)
"We achieve that abundant life not by focusing on our own needs or on our own achievements but by becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ—by following in His ways and engaging in His work. We find the abundant life by forgetting ourselves and engaging in the great cause of Christ.
"And what is the cause of Christ? It is to believe in Him, love as He loved, and do as He did."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Believe, Love, Do," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Uchtdorf is the Great Optimist; his messages always present visions of hope and encouragement in spite of the challenges and troubles we frequently confront in mortality. His introduction of the German word Weltschmerz in this message helps to present the contrast between the gloomy, discouraged view of the world, and the hopeful view offered to the faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

Another apt and descriptive word Elder Uchtdorf uses to describe the challenges we face is soul-sickness. When we become too much influenced with the world's negativity, our soul can feel the burden of misery and we can be weighed down by the grief it brings.

But how blessed we are to know of "the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and ... the Savior’s redemptive power to heal us." Truly, we will find the "abundant life" through following the gospel plan for happiness and becoming "true disciples of Jesus Christ."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on overcoming pains and hurts in life

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"I testify that forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid 'with healing in his wings' (Malachi 4:2; see also 2 Nephi 25:13; 3 Nephi 25:2). We thank Him, and our Heavenly Father who sent Him, that renewal and rebirth, a future free from old sorrows and past mistakes, are not only possible, but they have already been purchased, paid for, at an excruciating cost symbolized by the blood of the Lamb who shed it.
"With the apostolic authority granted me by the Savior of the world, I testify of the tranquility to the soul that reconciliation with God and each other will bring if we are meek and courageous enough to pursue it. 'Cease to contend one with another,' the Savior pled. (D&C 136:23.) If you know of an old injury, repair it. Care for one another in love.
"My beloved friends, in our shared ministry of reconciliation, I ask us to be peacemakers—to love peace, to seek peace, to create peace, to cherish peace. I make that appeal in the name of the Prince of Peace, who knows everything about being 'wounded in the house of [His] friends' (Zechariah 13:6; see also D&C 45:52.) but who still found the strength to forgive and forget—and to heal—and be happy."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Ministry of Reconciliation," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was a beautiful and tender message from Elder Holland, a call to greater love and peace among ourselves as we learn to "forgive and forget" the occasional challenges in our interactions with others. With personal examples and inspired teachings, he invited us all to heed the example and call of the Savior as we learn to overcome grievances and disagreements. We can thereby participate in "the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ":

Elder Holland's testimony of the tranquility (what a beautiful word!) that comes to the soul in the midst of "reconciliation with God and each other" should urge us all to pursue this path in every way possible. But it requires that we be "meek and courageous enough to pursue it." It is often not an easy thing to overcome our pride as we repair the wounds of the past. But in learning to be true peacemakers, we truly can find the happiness promised by the Savior.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

President M. Russell Ballard on God's eternal plan of redemption

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"The revelation he [President Joseph F. Smith] received on October 3 [1918] comforted his heart and provided answers to many of his questions. We too can be comforted and learn more about our own future when we and our loved ones die and go to the spirit world by studying this revelation and pondering its significance in the way we live our lives each day....
"On this special 100th anniversary, I invite you to thoroughly and thoughtfully read this revelation. As you do so, may the Lord bless you to more fully understand and appreciate God’s love and His plan of salvation and happiness for His children.
"I testify that the vision President Joseph F. Smith received is true. I bear witness that every person can read it and come to know it is true. Those who do not receive this knowledge in this life will surely come to know its truthfulness when everyone will arrive in the spirit world. There, all will love and praise God and the Lord Jesus Christ for the great plan of salvation and the blessing of the promised Resurrection when body and spirit will once again be reunited, never to be separated again."
- M. Russell Ballard, "The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Ballard began his talk by noting that his remarks had been prepared before the passing of his wife Barbara, who died earlier in the week preceding conference. It was extremely appropriate and timely that he discussed a topic so relevant to his own situation and emotions. President Ballard then discussed the history and importance of the "Vision of the Redemption of the Dead" received 100 years ago by President Joseph F. Smith, now found in Doctrine and Covenants 138. The history of this revelation is very interesting to consider, including the personal tragedies and losses in President Smith's life that led to his pondering and searching.

President Ballard encourages us to learn from the revelation in ways that will enhance our personal understanding of eternity, and bless our daily lives:

I like to pay attention to invitations and challenges that are given in General Conference. President Ballard invited us all "to thoroughly and thoughtfully read this revelation" and promised blessings that would come from the reminder of its teachings and the personal application.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Friday, October 12, 2018

President Henry B. Eyring on the Savior's help in our trials and tests

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.
"Today I wish to encourage you in the troubles you face.
"Our mortal life is designed by a loving God to be a test and source of growth for each of us. You remember God’s words regarding His children at the Creation of the world: 'And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.' (Abraham 3:25.)
"Since the beginning, the tests have not been easy. We face trials that come from having mortal bodies. All of us live in a world where Satan’s war against truth and against our personal happiness is becoming more intense. The world and your life can seem to you to be in increasing commotion.
"My reassurance is this: the loving God who allowed these tests for you also designed a sure way to pass through them. Heavenly Father so loved the world that He sent His Beloved Son to help us. (See John 3:16–17.) His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us. Jesus Christ bore in Gethsemane and on the cross the weight of all our sins. He experienced all the sorrows, the pains, and the effects of our sins so that He could comfort and strengthen us through every test in life. (See Alma 7:11–12)"
- Henry B. Eyring, "Try, Try, Try," General Conference, October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

We should not be surprised when there are challenges and difficulties in our lives; as President Eyring notes, that is part of God's design for our mortal experience, to test our willingness to obey Him. And so we face challenges that are a result simply of being in a mortal condition; we also are confronted with the actions that result from Satan's efforts to destroy our happiness. We may feel there is "increasing commotion" in the world, including our personal world of circumstances.

But the great key to happiness and success in life lies in knowing that when the test come, there is help available:

We have the divine promise that our Savior will "comfort and strengthen us through every test in life." We need never fear or become discouraged; with Him to help bear the burden and with our faith and understanding of eternity, truly our burdens, like His, can be light.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

President Dallin H. Oaks on God's loving kindness to His children

President Dallin H. Oaks (born August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and also 1st Counselor in the First Presidency in January 2018.
"I am sure you are familiar with our great hymn 'Dearest Children, God Is Near You.' Here is the first verse we all have sung and believed:
"Dearest children, God is near you,
Watching o’er you day and night,
And delights to own and bless you,
If you strive to do what’s right.
(Hymns, no. 96.)
"There are two teachings in that verse: First, our Heavenly Father is near us and watches over us day and night. Think of it! God loves us, He is near to us, and He watches over us. Second, He delights to bless us as we 'strive to do what’s right.' What comfort in the midst of our anxieties and difficulties!
"Yes, young women, you are blessed and you are wonderful, but you are like all of Heavenly Father’s children in your need to 'strive to do what’s right.'"
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Parents and Children," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Oaks addressed a good portion of his talk in the women's session of general conference to the young girls in the audience. In this excerpt he encouraged them to be faithful and trust in a loving Heavenly Father, who would in return care for them:

I have always loved the tender message of that hymn "Dearest Children, God Is Near You." It expresses a level of faith and belief that often is more common in the dear children than in the more "seasoned" adults. There is certainly much to ponder in the Savior's admonition that we must "become as little children" (Matthew 18:3) in order to receive His blessings.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson on the messages and invitations from conference

President Russell M. Nelson (born 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 became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"This has been an inspirational and historic conference. We look to the future with enthusiasm. We have been motivated to do better and to be better. The marvelous messages delivered from this pulpit by our General Authorities and General Officers and the music have been sublime! I urge you to study these messages, commencing this week. They express the mind and the will of the Lord for His people, today.
"The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated curriculum has the potential to unleash the power of families, as each family follows through conscientiously and carefully to transform their home into a sanctuary of faith. I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.
"During this conference we have strengthened our resolve to execute the essential effort to honor the Lord Jesus Christ every time we refer to His Church. I promise you that our rigorous attention to use the correct name of the Savior’s Church and its members will lead to increased faith and access to greater spiritual power for members of His Church."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

What a blessing our modern technology can be, when it is used for God's purposes! Within a matter of a few days after the conclusion of General Conference, we are now able to study the transcripts of the messages online and listen to audio recordings of the talks. President Nelson's concluding message from the recent conference included this invitation for us, to begin to study the messages this week:

In addition to the blessings that will result from studying and following the counsel of Church leaders, President Nelson expressed some additional promises:
  1. During the conference, we were introduced to coming changes that will put emphasis on home study of the gospel, including a shortened Sunday meeting time and materials to facilitate our individual and family study. President Nelson promised us that as we begin to implement those changes and "remodel" our homes into "a center of gospel learning," we will see blessings:
    1. "Over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight".
    2. "Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings"
    3. "The influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease."
    4. "Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining."
    Those are remarkable promises!

  2. As we remember the counsel to use with "rigorous attention" the proper name of the Lord's Church in every opportunity, we will see blessings:
    1. "Increased faith"
    2. "Access to greater spiritual power for members of His Church."
We are truly blessed to be led by inspired leaders. Now it is up to us to claim the blessings that are promised to us!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

President Ezra Taft Benson on the importance of General Conference talks

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
"My dear brethren and sisters, this has been a wonderful general conference of the Church. We have felt a marvelous spirit in all of our meetings.
"I commend my Brethren of the General Authorities for the excellent addresses they have given. My humble prayer is that all of us will follow the counsel and instruction we have received.
"As we have felt the Spirit and made new and sacred resolves, may we now have the courage and fortitude to carry out those resolves.
"For the next six months, your conference edition of the Ensign should stand next to your standard works and be referred to frequently. As my dear friend and brother Harold B. Lee said, we should let these conference addresses 'be the guide to [our] walk and talk during the next six months. These are the important matters the Lord sees fit to reveal to this people in this day' (in Conference Report, Apr. 1946, p. 68)."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Come unto Christ, and Be Perfected in Him," General Conference April 1988
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This is a classic reminder from President Benson, echoing remarks from President Lee much earlier—and a challenge that has been repeated a number of times since. The general conference messages should have significant and lasting impact with us, as we have a chance to review and study them in the coming months:

President Benson spoke in a day before the Internet, when we would eagerly wait a month for the printed talks to be available in the Church magazines. In our day, the audio tracks of the talks are available almost immediately following the conference for listening on our personal devices; and then within days, we can read the transcripts of the talks online. We are very blessed by that technology to be able to review the material while the spirit of conference weekend is still fresh and strong in our minds and hearts!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)
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