Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Richard G. Scott on being led by the Spirit

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928- ) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"Impressions of the Spirit can come in response to urgent prayer or unsolicited when needed. Sometimes the Lord reveals truth to you when you are not actively seeking it, such as when you are in danger and do not know it. However, the Lord will not force you to learn. You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you. As you make this a practice in your life, you will be more perceptive to the feelings that come with spiritual guidance. Then, when that guidance comes, sometimes when you least expect it, you will recognize it more easily.
"The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeƱo pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit....
"Have patience as you are perfecting your ability to be led by the Spirit. By careful practice, through the application of correct principles, and by being sensitive to the feelings that come, you will gain spiritual guidance. I bear witness that the Lord, through the Holy Ghost, can speak to your mind and heart. Sometimes the impressions are just general feelings. Sometimes the direction comes so clearly and so unmistakably that it can be written down like spiritual dictation."
- Richard G. Scott, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance," Ensign, Nov. 2009, pp. 6-9
Click here to read the full talk
This was a very worthwhile address from Elder Scott, instructing and encouraging on the process of acquiring more spiritual guidance in our lives.

The first point is our role in seeking the teaching and guidance that the Lord is eager to offer.

I like the phrase "authorize the Spirit to teach you." As we do that more regularly, the process becomes easier, and we become more sensitive to the impressions that follow.

Then this precious insight about the environment into which the Spirit will come, and the things that will prevent it from coming:

Elder Scott teaches that we are all in the process of "perfecting [our] ability to be led by the Spirit." May we do so more eagerly!

Monday, June 29, 2015

M. Russell Ballard on finding peace in life:

Elder M. Russell Ballard (1928- ) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"At one time or another I believe everyone yearns for the 'peace of God, which passeth all understanding' (Philip. 4:7). That peace for our troubled hearts only comes to us as we follow the Light of Christ, which is 'given to every man, that he may know good from evil' (Moro. 7:16), as it leads us to repent of sins and seek forgiveness. For all there is a hunger to know 'the peaceable things of the kingdom' (D&C 36:2) and to taste 'the fruit[s] of righteousness,' which are 'sown in peace of them that make peace' (James 3:18)....
"Peace—real peace, whole-souled to the very core of your being—comes only in and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When that precious truth is discovered and gospel principles are understood and applied, great peace can distill in the hearts and souls of our Heavenly Father's children. Said the Savior through Joseph Smith, 'He who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come' (D&C 59:23)."
- M. Russell Ballard, "The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom", Ensign, May 2002, pp. 87-89
Click here to read the full talk
The search for peace is one of the great quests of our time—perhaps of all time. But the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding," as the description itself indicates, is beyond our comprehension; yet is something Elder Ballard says we all yearn for. And it can come, as we follow the inspirations that are given to us, as we repent, as we live in faithfulness and obedience.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dallin H. Oaks on always remembering the Savior

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (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.
"When we partake of the sacrament, we witness unto God the Eternal Father that we 'do always remember' his Son (see D&C 20:77, 79; 3 Ne. 18:7, 11). Each Sabbath day millions of Latter-day Saints make this promise. What does it mean to 'always remember' our Savior?
"To remember means to keep in memory. In the scriptures, it often means to keep a person in memory, together with associated emotions like love, loyalty, or gratitude. The stronger the emotion, the more vivid and influential the memory....
"He whom we should always remember is He who gave us mortal life, He who showed us the way to a happy life, and He who redeems us so we can have immortality and eternal life.
"If we keep our covenant that we will always remember him, we can always have his Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77, 79). That Spirit will testify of him, and it will guide us into truth.
"His teachings and his example will guide and strengthen us in the way we should live. The effect was described in the words of the once popular song, 'Try to remember, and if you remember, then follow' ('Try to Remember,' words by Tom Jones)."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Always Remember Him," Ensign, May 1988, pp. 29-32
Click here to read the full talk

The power and importance of remembering is that it influences our decisions and actions. When we remember someone or something that is very important to us, we make future choices in that context; we evaluate the options and consequences of new situations based on what we recall and know about the important previous person or principle.

It is a sacred privilege to recommit each week in our sacramental covenants to "always remember Him." As Elder Oaks teaches, our memories of the Savior are associated with emotions including love, loyalty, and gratitude. When those emotions are strong, then remembering Him becomes "vivid and influential" in our lives. As we learn about the Savior and understand both his Gospel message and his mission on our behalf, we are constantly influenced in all other events during the encounters and circumstances of our lives.

And always, the promised blessings of "always remember" are there.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Russell M. Nelson on sharing the Lord's perspective

Elder Russell M. Nelson (1924- ) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"Imagine, if you will, a pair of powerful binoculars. Two separate optical systems are joined together with a gear to focus two independent images into one three-dimensional view. To apply this analogy, let the scene on the left side of your binoculars represent your perception of your task. Let the picture on the right side represent the Lord's perspective of your task—the portion of His plan He has entrusted to you. Now, connect your system to His. By mental adjustment, fuse your focus. Something wonderful happens. Your vision and His are now the same. You have developed an 'eye single to the glory of God' (D&C 4:5; see also Morm. 8:15). With that perspective, look upward—above and beyond mundane things about you. The Lord said, 'Look unto me in every thought' (D&C 6:36). That special vision will also help clarify your wishes when they may be a bit fuzzy and out of focus with God's hopes for your divine destiny. Indeed, the precise challenge you regard now as 'impossible' may be the very refinement you need, in His eye."
- Russell M. Nelson, "With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible", Ensign, May 1988, pp. 33-35
Click here to read the full talk
This is a wonderful, useful analogy. We are familiar with the concept of binoculars, and most of us have used them on various occasions. The two lenses function together, but can be adjusted independently to form a unified whole.  The whole unit bends to fit different spacing between eyes, in order to facilitate bringing the two separated discs of vision into a single view.

Most of us have eyes that see slightly differently. On the binoculars I have seen, the general focusing mechanism (usually a center dial or wheel) affects both lenses, but then one of the eyepieces can be fine-tuned to synchronize with the other. So once the best possible focus has been obtained in the left eye, the right eye is then brought into sharp and matching focus.

Both the bending of the unit to form a single field of view, and the focusing to join in a unified sharpness, support Elder Nelson's analogy.

This reminds me of the insightful description of prayer in the Bible Dictionary:
"Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
(Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Prayer")
When we pray, we bring our "will" into correspondence with that of the Father. The goal is not to change His will (a mistake we sometimes make); but to try to make sure our vision comes into alignment with His.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Boyd K. Packer on the gift of the Holy Ghost

President Boyd K. Packer (1924- ) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He currently serves as the president of that Quorum.
"You can receive this great blessing—to become familiar with the still, small voice and learn that this voice will tell you all things that you must do. The word we use to describe this communication is promptings, the way we feel. These promptings can come many times, through many experiences. That is the voice of the Lord speaking.
"Nephi explained that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and you can speak with the tongue of angels, which simply means that you can speak with the power of the Holy Ghost. It will be quiet. It will be invisible. There will not be a dove. There will not be cloven tongues of fire. But the power will be there."
- Boyd K. Packer, "The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Member Should Know," address given at new mission presidents seminar, 6/24/2003; see Ensign, August 2006, pp. 46-52
Click here to read the full talk
President Packer's encouragement to church members is to become familiar with the way God communicates with his children, through gentle promptings. As we learn to listen and understand, our lives are blessed. But the extension of the principle is that we can also speak by the same power; when we have the Holy Ghost as a companion, the very nature of our communication with others is changed.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dieter F. Uchtdorf on finding our highest priorities

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (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.
"Some of us are so busy that we feel like a cart pulled by a dozen work animals—each straining in a different direction. A lot of energy is expended, but the cart doesn't go anywhere.
"Often we devote our best efforts in pursuit of a hobby, a sport, vocational interests, and community or political issues. All these things may be good and honorable, but are they leaving us time and energy for what should be our highest priorities?
"What is the remedy?
"Once again, it comes from the words of the Savior:
"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
"'This is the first and great commandment.
"'And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' (Matthew 22:37-39)
"Everything else in life should be secondary to these two great priorities.
"Even in Church service, it is easy to spend a lot of time just going through the motions without the heart or the substance of discipleship.
"[We] have committed to be a people who love God and our neighbor and who are willing to demonstrate that love through word and deed. That is the essence of who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?", Ensign, May 2014, pp. 58-62
Click here to read the full talk

One of the great challenges of our time is busy-ness. Many of us can relate to the analogy of a cart being pulled in various directions by strong animals. The pulls are real, based on our desires to do many good things; and the many directions are often all things that are "good and honorable." President Uchtdorf said of his cart analogy, "A lot of energy is expended, but the cart doesn't go anywhere." In my experience with the desire to be involved in many good things, we can go places, but only in spurts before one of the other demands distracts us; the net result is inconsistent and far less effective than more focused efforts.

So how to we ensure that we are reserving both time and energy for "what should be our highest priorities"? President Uchtdorf suggests it comes in a careful evaluation against the criteria of the Savior's admonition to love God first, wholly and completely; and then to love our neighbor. If we evaluate something that is competing for our time and find that it doesn't contribute strongly to these two "highest priorities," it should be a good indication that it's not worth our attention.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Henry B. Eyring on fanning the spark of faith

President Henry B. Eyring (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.
"I think of those whose hearts ache over promises yet unfulfilled. Tonight, or tomorrow, many of us will pray with real intent, and perhaps with tears, over someone whose happiness would bring us happiness, who has been promised all the blessings of peace that come with baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and yet who counts the promises worthless. None of us is immune, because all of us have circles of love large enough to include such people. My heart is drawn especially to those asking the question we all have asked: 'How can I be sure I have done all I can to help?'
"Fifty years ago, in October conference, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of the First Presidency, gave this answer, which I carry copied on a card:
"'It is my hope and my belief that the Lord never permits the light of faith wholly to be extinguished in any human heart, however faint the light may glow. The Lord has provided that there shall still be there a spark which, with teaching, with the spirit of righteousness, with love, with tenderness, with example, with living the Gospel, shall brighten and glow again, however darkened the mind may have been. And if we shall fail so to reach those among us of our own whose faith has dwindled low, we shall fail in one of the main things which the Lord expects at our hands' (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 114).
"That lovely metaphor—of a spark, a spark of faith—gives me confidence. President Clark pictured the spark nearly hidden, almost smothered by the ashes of transgression. It may be so small that the person can't feel its warmth. The heart may be hardened. Even the Holy Spirit may have been forced to withdraw. But the spark still lives, and glows, and may be fanned to flame."
- Henry B. Eyring, "The Spark of Faith," Ensign, November 1986, pp. 73-75
Click here to read the full talk

President Eyring has a tender, sensitive heart. In this address, he offered comfort and hope to those who have family members or others close to them who have let the light of the Gospel fade from their lives.

President Eyring found comfort in this beautiful analogy shared fifty years earlier by one of his predecessors in leadership, President J. Reuben Clark Jr., who was then serving as a counselor to President Heber J. Grant:

Even in what appears to be the darkest of lives, "the spark still lives, and glows, and may be fanned to flame." What a beautiful promise of hope!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gordon B. Hinckley on a love affair with the scriptures

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was born on June 23, 1910 — 105 years ago today.  He was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961, served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008 at age 97.
"I love our scriptures. I love these wonderful volumes, which set forth the word of the Lord—given personally or through prophets—for the guidance of our Father's sons and daughters. I love to read the scriptures, and I try to do so consistently and repeatedly. I like to quote from them, for they give the voice of authority to that which I say. I do not claim distinction as a scholar of the scriptures. For me, the reading of the scriptures is not the pursuit of scholarship. Rather, it is a love affair with the word of the Lord and that of his prophets. They contain so much for each of us....
"I urge our people everywhere to read the scriptures more—to study all of them together with the help of these tremendous aids for a harmony of understanding in order to bring their precepts into our lives.
"May the Lord bless each of us to feast upon his holy word and to draw from it that strength, that peace, that knowledge 'which passeth all understanding' (Philip. 4:7), as he has promised."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Feasting upon the Scriptures," talk given during the “Using the Scriptures” Churchwide satellite fireside, March 10, 1985; see Ensign, Dec. 1985, pp. 42-45
Click here to read the full talk

In 1985, the Church held a special worldwide broadcast to share encouragement about scripture study. New editions of the Bible and the Triple Combination had been released in the years leading up to this, and the broadcast was an opportunity to encourage church members to understand and take advantage of those new resources. President Hinckley was a counselor in the First Presidency, and spoke along with other leaders. I appreciated these comments:
  • "I love to read the scriptures, and I try to do so consistently and repeatedly." He shares his own commitment to the principle of scripture study.
  • "I like to quote from them, for they give the voice of authority to that which I say." Scriptural authority adds power to any teaching setting.
He then shared this important perspective; he never claimed to be a "scholar" of the scriptures, but still found great blessing and power in his personal study:

In the years that have followed, many others have given similar urgings to "read the scriptures more... in order to bring their precepts into our lives." That invitation and challenge is just as valid today as it was 30 years ago!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Marvin J. Ashton on finding our spiritual gift

Elder Marvin J. Ashton (May 6, 1915—Feb 25, 1994) served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1971 until his death in 1994 at age 78.
"Let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable.
"Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.
"We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God's gifts and powers are available to all of us."
- Marvin J. Ashton, "There Are Many Gifts," Ensign, Nov. 1987, p. 20
Click here to read the full talk

Starting with the premises "there are many gifts" and "to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God" (D&C 46:11), there is much to consider in Elder Ashton's fascinating talk. We love to study the list of gifts that appear in the scriptures and ask what gifts might be the ones given to us. But Elder Ashton suggests there might be many more gifts to consider and starts us with several fascinating suggestions of "less-conspicuous gifts":

  • the gift of asking
  • the gift of listening
  • the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice
  • the gift of being able to weep
  • the gift of avoiding contention
  • the gift of being agreeable
  • the gift of avoiding vain repetition
  • the gift of seeking that which is righteous
  • the gift of not passing judgment
  • the gift of looking to God for guidance
  • the gift of being a disciple
  • the gift of caring for others
  • the gift of being able to ponder
  • the gift of offering prayer
  • the gift of bearing a mighty testimony
  • the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost
Furthermore, the Lord's injunction is to "seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given" (D&C 46:8). We should be asking for additional gifts and working to develop them. What a fascinating concept! What might enable me to better serve God and my neighbor?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thomas S. Monson on making friends with three fathers

President Thomas S. Monson (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.
"Each of you has three fathers. First, your Heavenly Father. He stands ready to answer the prayer of your heart. Being the father of your spirit, and having created you in His own image, knowing the end from the beginning, His wisdom faileth not and His counsel is ever true. Make a friend of Him.
"Second, you have your earthly father. He labors to ensure your happiness. Together with your mother, he prays for your guidance and well being. Make a friend of him.
"Third, there is the father of your ward, even the bishop. He has been called of God by prophecy and the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the gospel and administer in the ordnance thereof. In short, he is endowed to provide you with counsel and help. Make a friend of him."
- Thomas S. Monson, "Decisions Determine Destiny," LDS Student Association Young Women's Meeting, Logan, Utah, May 16, 1968; see TTSM p. 117

This is an interesting perspective for Father's Day from President Monson. We should not only recognize and be grateful for our three different fathers, but we should also "make a friend" of each one!

I lost my "earthly father" when I was 7 years old, before we really had much of a chance to establish a friendship. I have had many acquaintances who were still had a father living, but for various reasons were not able to build a friendship, or any kind of relationship; I think that is even more sad than my case.

But at least for me, I've been blessed on many occasions to have a father of the third type, my bishop, step in and help to compensate for the missing earthly father. What a blessing that has been!

And of course, knowing there is a Heavenly Father who loves me and cares for me, and will guide and direct in times of need as well as provide peace and hope—what a treasured blessing that is!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Jeffrey R. Holland on the divine nature of fatherhood

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (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 confess that I have reflected at length upon that moment [the Savior's death] and the resurrection which was shortly to follow it. I have wondered what that reunion must have been like: the Father that loved this Son so much, the Son that honored and revered His Father in every word and deed. For two who were one as these two were one, what must that embrace have been like? What must that divine companionship be yet? We can only wonder and admire. And we can... yearn to live worthily of some portion of that relationship ourselves.
"As a father, I wonder if I and all other fathers could do more to build a sweeter, stronger relationship with our sons and daughters here on earth. Dads, is it too bold to hope that our children might have some small portion of the feeling for us that the Divine Son felt for His Father? Might we earn more of that love by trying to be more of what God was to His child? In any case, we do know that a young person's developing concept of God centers on characteristics observed in that child's earthly parents."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Hands of the Fathers," Ensign May 1999, p. 14
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Holland often explores details of incidents or teachings in ways that make me ponder their application to me, and make me yearn to do better. This is a great example of that. He shares his thoughts about the relationship between the Father and the Son, and then applies it to every father and son (or daughter), challenging us to try harder to build and strengthen earthly relationships.

What a profound thought for any parent to consider! How might we each "be more of what God was" — to the extent we know those details — in our family relationships?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Spencer W. Kimball on the responsibility of fathers to inspire their family

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Certainly, if fathers are to be respected, they must merit respect—if they are to be loved, they must be consistent, lovable, understanding, and kind—and they must honor their priesthood. They must see themselves as fortunate trustees of precious spirit children whom God has entrusted to their care.
"What a great incentive a mother has to honor and build up her worthy husband in the esteem of the offspring when she knows that this contributes to the well-adjusted lives of her children. And what a great incentive the father has for rising to his tallest spiritual stature to merit the love and respect of all members of the family.
"And so we plead with you fathers to return to your little kingdoms and, with kindness, justice, proper discipline, and love, to inspire your family."
- Spencer W. Kimball, address to seminary and institute teachers, 9/12/75; see Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 338

"If fathers are to be respected, they must merit respect"—that's a challenging statement to ponder. President Kimball gives several suggestions on how that respect is earned:
  • Be consistent, livable, understanding, and kind
  • Honor the priesthood
  • Recognize the trust of precious spirit children
Every man would do well to ponder those thoughts! But then he expands the responsibility: mothers can do much to build up a man in esteem of their children. That only increases the incentive the father has to live up to expectations, "rising to his tallest spiritual stature to merit the love and respect of all members of the family."

Describing a home and family as a man's "little kingdom," President Kimball concludes with this challenge:


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ezra Taft Benson on fatherhood - our most important responsibility

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.
"These times require great things from fathers, and so does the Lord. Three requirements are: create a home where love and the Spirit of the Lord may abide; bring up children in light and truth; and set your homes in order.
"The sacred title of 'father' is shared with the Almighty. In the Church men are called and released. Did you ever hear of a mortal father being released?
"As I travel throughout the Church and see faithful families, I say,'Thank God for exemplary fathers and mothers.' As I see faithful young people and am proud of their accomplishments, I say, 'Thank God for diligent fathers and mothers.'
"Fatherhood is not a matter of station or wealth; it is a matter of desire, diligence, and determination to see one's family exalted in the celestial kingdom. If that prize is lost, nothing else really matters.
"I know of one family who has as its goal that each member of the family and posterity will arrive in their heavenly home—the celestial kingdom—with no vacant chairs. That is their objective. They review it at every family reunion and mention it frequently as they mingle together between reunions.
"God bless all the fathers in Israel to do well the work within the walls of our own homes. With the Lord's help we shall succeed in this, our most important responsibility."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Great Things Required of Their Fathers," Ensign May 1981, p. 36
Click here to read the full talk

President Benson's counsel centers around the statement, "The sacred title of 'father' is shared with the Almighty." He presents a vision of the role of a mortal father that emulates the actions and motivations of our Heavenly Father. To him, fatherhood "is a matter of desire, diligence, and determination to see one's family exalted in the celestial kingdom."

President Benson gives the example of a family whose goal was "no vacant chairs" in their eventual heavenly destination. In many later talks, he spoke of his own family as having had that motto, normally using the similar phrase "no empty chairs." Whether he was being modest in this talk by not identifying his own family, or whether he adopted the thought for his family from someone else he knew, I don't know for sure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

James E. Faust on noble fatherhood

President James E. Faust (1920-2007) was called as a Seventy in 1976, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve in 1978. He served as a counselor to President Hinckley from 1995 until his death in 2007 at age 87.
"Noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine attributes of our Father in Heaven. A father should be many things. He should magnify his priesthood and be an example of righteousness. In companionship with his wife, he should be the source of stability and strength for the whole family. He should be the protector and the provider and the champion of the members of his family. Much of his love for his children should flow from his example of love, concern, and fidelity for their mother. By his uncompromising example he should instill character into his children."
- James E. Faust, "Them That Honour Me I Will Honour," Ensign, July 2001, pp. 46-7
Click here to read the full talk
Fatherhood is a noble thing; sadly, it is not treated as such by too many in our society. President Faust's description of the meaning of "noble fatherhood" is inspiring and instructive. "A father should be many things" — indeed, and every father should ask himself how he is doing.
  • a father should magnify his priesthood
  • a father should be an example of righteousness
  • a father should be the source of stability and strength for a family, along with his wife
  • a father should be the protector and provider and champion of family members
  • a father should flow with love for his children
  • a father should be an example of love, concern, and fidelity for his wife
  • a father should instill character into his children by his uncompromising example
That's an impressive vision of "noble fatherhood."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Gordon B. Hinckley on the responsibility of fathers

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.
"Many years ago President Stephen L. Richards, then a Counselor in the First Presidency, speaking from this pulpit made an eloquent plea to put father back at the head of the family. I repeat that plea to all fathers. Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as the head of the family. That does not carry with it any implication of dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. It carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life, not only to one another but also to the God of heaven, who is our Eternal Father....
"With the obligation to beget goes the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth. Yours is the power and the responsibility to preside in a home where there is peace and security, love and harmony."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go," Ensign November 1993, p. 60
Click here to read the full talk
President Hinckley re-issues a "plea" shared by one of his predecessors "to put father back at the head of the family." His plea is to the fathers themselves, not to any others who might have displaced them, saying they have a "basic and inescapable responsibility" to lead, and to provide for needs:

That's quite a list of responsibilities! President Hinckley shares the wonderful vision of "the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth." What a great need that is, today more than ever, as so many forces assail home and family.

Monday, June 15, 2015

David A. Bednar on simple and small things

Elder David A. Bednar (1952- ) was sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2004.
"Many people in our contemporary world are drawn to promises of big results that occur quickly and all at once. Consider, for example, all of the money spent on lottery tickets. Recall the claims of advertising messages you have received that pledge immediate weight loss, instant health, fast hair growth, and a more youthful appearance in just 14 days. We are bombarded constantly with messages from a variety of sources promoting speedy supersizing, instant gratification, and outstanding performance that will impress our families and friends....
"I believe many, if not all, of the most satisfying and memorable accomplishments in our homes, in the Church, in our jobs and professions, and in our communities will be the product of this important spiritual pattern—of simple and small things. We should find great comfort in the fact that ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results....
"The spiritual pattern of small and simple things bringing forth great things produces firmness and steadfastness, deepening devotion, and more complete conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. As you and I become increasingly steadfast and immovable, we are less prone to zealous and exaggerated spurts of spirituality followed by extended periods of slackness. A spiritual 'spurter' is one who is given to a short burst of spectacular effort followed by frequent and lengthy periods of rest.
"A big spurt may appear to be impressive in the short run, but steadiness in small things over time is far more effective, far less dangerous, and produces far better results."
- David A. Bednar, "By Small and Simple Things Are Great Things Brought to Pass", BYU Women's Conference, April 28, 2011
Click here to read the full talk
Elder Bednar sets the stage for his teaching by pointing out a curious aspect of our modern society—the need or desire for rapid results and instant gratification. It's prominent in advertising schemes, and it often succeeds because so many are eager to get something for nothing, or to get as much as possible for as little cost or effort as possible.

But he teaches and testifies that the opposite is often true; real benefits come from prolonged and extended efforts, achieved a step at a time; the "simple and small efforts" will lead to the greatest results.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Heber C. Kimball on God's cheerfulness

President Heber C. Kimball (1801-1868) was a member of the first Quorum of Twelve Apostles ordained in this dispensation in 1835. He served as first counselor to Brigham Young from 1847 until his death in 1868 at age 67. He was the grandfather of Spencer W. Kimball, who became an apostle in 1943 and served as president of the Church from 1973-1985. His great-great-grandson, Quentin L. Cook, currently serves as an apostle.
"Often when I have been in the presence of brother Brigham, we would feel such a buoyant spirit that when we began to talk we could not express our feelings, and so, 'Hallelujah,' says Brigham, 'Glory to God,' says I. I feel it and say it.
"Some of the brethren kind of turn their noses on one side at me when I make such expressions, but they would not do it if they knew God. Such ones do not even know brothers Brigham and Heber; if they did they would not turn a wry face at us. I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is—the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, 'I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.' That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man."
- Heber C. Kimball, discourse in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, February 8, 1857; see JD 4:222
Click here to read the full talk
Heber C. Kimball is one of the truly remarkable men of Church history—one I admire deeply. Though he had minimal education in his youth and worked as a potter, he had profound spiritual insights and a deep commitment to the Gospel. Joseph Smith once said that only two of the original Twelve never rebelled against him—Brigham and Heber. And Brigham would later say, "Heber is my prophet; I love to hear him prophesy."

I have always loved this quote. After expressing how he often feels the joy of the Gospel very deeply, Heber gives us this wonderful deductive insight into the nature of God, based on his own experiences of feeling God's spirit.

And then, after referring to the Lord's statement that we man should have "a glad heart and a cheerful countenance" (D&C 59:15), he closes with this beautiful description of God: "He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man." Heber knew, and understood.
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