Sunday, April 22, 2018

President Thomas S. Monson on meeting the demands of our future

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) 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 and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"To meet the combined demands of the accumulated past and of the accumulating future, all of us need:
"To act—not just react.
"To innovate—not just imitate.
"To program—not just resolve.
"To accelerate—not just vacillate."
- Thomas S. Monson, “Spectrum-on-the-Road,” Bountiful, Utah, March 14, 1968; see "President Thomas S. Monson quotes: highlights of a prophet's teachings," Church News, January 3, 2018

This enthusiastic and encouraging invitation from President Monson is so typical of the attitude of his life—that we be active, productive, and growing:


We might do well to consider various aspects of our life—family, professional, church service, personal growth—and evaluate how we are doing based on this challenge. Are we truly moving forward in positive ways, or are we just hanging on and maintaining the status quo? Are we challenging ourselves to accelerate our activities and achievements? This is a worthwhile thought to ponder. President Monson suggests that this kind of attitude will be necessary to "meet the... demands... of the accumulating future."

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

President Howard W. Hunter on self-evaluation and the real impact of our lives

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"As we evaluate our lives, it is important that we look, not only at our accomplishments, but also at the conditions under which we have labored. We are all different and unique individuals; we have each had different starting points in the race of life; we each have a unique mixture of talents and skills; we each have our own set of challenges and constraints to contend with. Therefore, our judgment of ourselves and our achievements should not merely include the size or magnitude and number of our accomplishments; it should also include the conditions that have existed and the effect that our efforts have had on others.
"It is this last aspect of our self-evaluation—the effect of our lives on the lives of others—that will help us understand why some of the common, ordinary work of life should be valued so highly. Frequently it is the commonplace tasks that have the greatest positive effect on the lives of others, as compared with the things that the world so often relates to greatness."
- Howard W. Hunter, "True Greatness," General Conference April 1982
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's almost impossible not to compare ourselves with others, in evaluating achievements and position in life. But President Hunter points out that it's very easy to evaluate ourselves unfairly, when all we see is the visible, public accomplishments. Other factors he mentions include:

  • Our starting point in life, which may vary greatly from others
  • The talents and stills we have to work with
  • The challenges and constraints, unique to each life, that we contend with

Any judgement of achievements should include a realistic evaluation of all these aspects. And one more thing we often neglect—what has truly been the impact on others around us?


Sometimes the greatest and most eternally-significant accomplishments lie in the small, quiet impact that we might have on others as we serve, interact, share, teach, support, minister, or bless. President Hunter reminds us that often those "commonplace tasks" of life are what really matters most!

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on learning to submit to God

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Thus, the whole mortal schooling process has been so carefully structured to achieve results which could be achieved in 'no other way.' (Hel. 5:9.) We can come to know the Lord as our loving, tutoring Father and God—but not as a policeman posted at every intersection of our lives!
"Hence, our submissiveness to the Lord must be the real thing, not the equivalent of obeying the speed limit only as long as the highway patrolman is there in his pace-car. Indeed, awaiting full development is our willingness 'to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father.' (Mosiah 3:19.) This is a sobering gospel truth about submissiveness! It is a wintry declaration! This truth is not likely to evoke from us an 'Oh, goodie' response!
"During our schooling in submissiveness, we will see the visible crosses some carry, but other crosses will go unseen. A few individuals may appear to have no trial at all, which, if it were so, would be a trial in itself. Indeed, if our souls had rings, as do trees, to measure the years of greatest personal growth, the wide rings would likely reflect the years of greatest moisture—but from tears, not rainfall."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Thanks Be to God," Ensign, July 1982, p. 51
Click here to read the full article

Sometimes, we are tempted to view God as Elder Maxwell warns us: a policeman standing watch, eager and alert to catch us in any misdeed or violation and punish us swiftly and appropriately. But Elder Maxwell invites us instead to view Him as "as our loving, tutoring Father and God." Having that understanding makes a very large difference in how we interact with him. King Benjamin's wonderful comparison about how a child submits to a father in receiving guidance and training is so appropriate. As we learn to recognize the loving and tutoring nature of our Heavenly Father, we begin to understand the real meeting of submissiveness and the blessings that can flow from it.

But as we ponder the tutoring nature of our mortal experience, we have to be careful about how we view our own tutoring as compared to those around us:


Sometimes we think we are the only one being "tutored with trials." Elder Maxwell points out that there are many who bear crosses we can not see. But regardless, we need to recognize that the greatest growth and progress can come in the times when the difficulty seems the most painful and hard to bear. The call to be "as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19) is never more crucial than in those precious moments.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

President Henry B. Eyring on seeking the divine gift of charity

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.
"We know that charity is essential for us to be saved in the kingdom of God. Moroni wrote, 'Except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God' (Moroni 10:21; see also Ether 12:34). 
"We also know that charity is a gift bestowed upon us after all we can do. We must 'pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ' (Moroni 7:48).
"It seems to me that we receive the Holy Spirit best when we are focused on serving others. That is why we have the priesthood responsibility to serve for the Savior. When we are engaged in service to others, we think less about ourselves, and the Holy Ghost can more readily come to us and help us in our lifelong quest to have the gift of charity bestowed upon us."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Inspired Ministering," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Eyring teaches us that charity is not necessarily something we develop; it's a gift that comes to us as we serve and obey in faithfulness. That's an important concept, since we are told charity is essential for our salvation. One of the important steps to gaining this gift, after all we can do, is to pray to God "with all the energy of heart" seeking it. That is probably a request many of us are not acting on with enough diligence.

In addressing the recent Priesthood meeting, President Eyring reminded the brethren of the Church that they have a "priesthood responsibility to serve for the Savior":


As we all learn to minister more effectively, we will open our lives to greater influence from the Holy Ghost, and better qualify ourselves for that divine gift of charity.

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

President Dallin H. Oaks on the impact of small and simple things

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.
"So is the powerful effect over time of the small and simple things we are taught in the scriptures and by living prophets. Consider the scripture study we’ve been taught to incorporate into our daily lives. Or consider the personal prayers and the kneeling family prayers that are regular practices for faithful Latter-day Saints. Consider attendance at seminary for youth or institute classes for young adults. Though each of these practices may seem to be small and simple, over time they result in powerful spiritual uplift and growth. This occurs because each of these small and simple things invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost, the Testifier who enlightens us and guides us into truth, as President Eyring has explained...
"A persuasive secular teaching of this same principle comes from former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, who wrote: 'The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is those hundreds and thousands of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private.' (Imprimis, 20:9, Sept. 1991, 4.)
"Those 'seemingly insignificant' private decisions include how we use our time, what we view on television and the internet, what we read, the art and music with which we surround ourselves at work and at home, what we seek for entertainment, and how we apply our commitment to be honest and truthful. Another seemingly small and simple thing is being civil and cheerful in our personal interactions.
"None of these desirable small and simple things will lift us to great things unless they are practiced consistently and continuously."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Small and Simple Things," General Conference, April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

How much do the little things matter? How much do a few minutes of scripture study or a personal prayer on any given day really impact our life? Perhaps on many days, not a lot; but cumulatively, over time, as the minutes add up to hours and the actions become habits, they matter a lot. Elder Oaks testifies that doing those small, consistent actions really does make a difference over time, because they invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, which will make a difference every day:


Private decisions may seem insignificant. Things like how we use our leisure time, who we choose to interact with, the environment we create for ourselves, what are our priorities: they really do matter as the cumulative effect becomes very great. Practiced consistently, the small things can "lift us to great things."

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Elder Ulisses Soares on the blessing of latter-day prophets

Elder Ulisses Soares (born October 2, 1958) has served as a Seventy since April 2005, and as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy since January 2013. He was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on April 1, 2018.
"Isn’t it a blessing to have prophets, seers, and revelators on earth in these days in which we live, who seek to know the will of the Lord and follow it? It is comforting to know that we are not alone in the world, despite the challenges we face in life. Having prophets is a sign of God’s love for His children. They make known the promises and the true nature of God and of Jesus Christ to Their people. I have learned that through my personal experiences....
"I testify that the prophets speak by the power of the Holy Spirit. They testify of Christ and His divine mission on earth. They represent the mind and heart of the Lord and are called to represent Him and teach us what we must do to return to live in the presence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are blessed as we exercise our faith and follow their teachings. By following them, our lives are happier and less complicated, our difficulties and problems are easier to bear, and we create a spiritual armor around us that will protect us from the attacks of the enemy in our day."
- Ulisses Soares, "Prophets Speak by the Power of the Holy Spirit," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Soares bore a brief testimony as his first message since being sustained as the newest member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, testifying of the blessing and power that come as we heed the counsel of inspired leaders. Particularly important is the thought, "Having prophets is a sign of God's love for His children." Through them, He sends guidance, warnings, and encouragement for us to confront "the challenges we face in life." But prophets, seers, and revelators are a blessing to us, only to the degree that we follow their teachings:


Elder Soares now assumes the weighty burden of being one of those messengers from God. We look forward eagerly to his counsel as he begins to serve and teach.

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Elder Gerrit W. Gong on the Savior's redeeming love

Elder Gerrit W. Gong (born December 23, 1953) was called as a Seventy in April 2010, then to the Presidency of the Seventy in October 2015. He was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in April 2018.
"This Easter Sabbath, I joyfully sing, 'Alleluia.' The song of our risen Savior’s redeeming love (see Alma 5:26) celebrates the harmony of covenants (that connect us to God and to each other) and the Atonement of Jesus Christ (that helps us put off the natural man and woman and yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit [see Mosiah 3:19]).
"Together, our covenants and our Savior’s Atonement enable and ennoble. Together, they help us hold on and let go. Together, they sweeten, preserve, sanctify, redeem....
"Everything worthy and eternal is centered in the living reality of God, our loving Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement, witnessed by the Holy Ghost. (See 2 Nephi 31:18)"
- Gerrit W. Gong, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Gong spoke briefly after being newly sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He bore an Easter Sunday testimony of the Savior, sharing this witness of the importance of covenants that bind us to God and to one another:


While his remarks were necessarily very brief, Elder Gong's choice of words shows us that we have good things to look forward to from him in future addresses. I love the vivid complementing descriptiveness in the words enable and ennoble, followed by the contrasting phrases hold on and let go in describing the ways the Savior's Atonement blesses us. Truly, as we contemplate the power and impact of covenants and Atonement, we feel the truth of Elder Gong's witness of how our lives are sweetened and enriched by their power.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson on the importance of personal revelation

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.
"Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.
"With Moroni, I exhort you on this Easter Sabbath to 'come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift' (Moroni 10:30), beginning with the gift of the Holy Ghost, which gift can and will change your life."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was among the profound moments of the recent conference for me. President Nelson's talk at the conclusion of the Sunday morning session was full of insight and inspiration. But this section near the conclusion was spine-tingling as we were given a prophetic glimpse into the future, and a call to prepare:


So while we anticipate the "mighty works" to come, providing us "miraculous indications" of God's involvement in the affairs of the earthly kingdom, we know also that there will be challenges to our faith and faithfulness. We will require the "constant influence of the Holy Ghost" to "survive spiritually." The Holy Ghost will help us to see and understand those "miraculous indications"—otherwise, we will likely overlook them or dismiss them as unimportant.

What a moving thing, to have the Lord's prophet plead with us to seek to grow in our "spiritual capacity to receive revelation." If we want to "hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly" then we must "do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost." What have we done in the two weeks since this call was issued to respond to it? What will we do in the coming weeks and months?

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Elder Dale G. Renlund on blessings from family history work

Elder Dale G. Renlund (born November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"It is breathtakingly amazing that, through family history and temple work, we can help to redeem the dead.
"But as we participate in family history and temple work today, we also lay claim to 'healing' blessings promised by prophets and apostles. These blessings are also breathtakingly amazing because of their scope, specificity, and consequence in mortality. This long list includes these blessings:
  • Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;
  • Increased influence of the Holy Ghost to feel strength and direction for our own lives;
  • Increased faith, so that conversion to the Savior becomes deep and abiding;
  • Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going;
  • Increased refining, sanctifying, and moderating influences in our hearts;
  • Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord;
  • Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be;
  • Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone;
  • Increased power to discern that which needs healing and thus, with the Lord’s help, serve others;
  • Increased protection from temptations and the intensifying influence of the adversary; and
  • Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.
"If you have prayed for any of these blessings, participate in family history and temple work. As you do so, your prayers will be answered. When ordinances are performed on behalf of the deceased, God’s children on earth are healed."
- Dale G. Renlund, "Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Renlund shares thoughts in this message about an interesting aspect of the service we can render. When we participate in family history work and temple service, not only do we perform precious labors to help redeem the dead, but we also receive profound blessings ourselves in the process. These include "healing" blessings in a variety of forms.


Elder Renlund's list is fascinating and worth pondering. So many blessings available to us! Many of these have been discussed previously, but others were a little unexpected to me; each could be explored in much greater detail.

I was particularly intrigued by the promise of "Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be." What family would not desire that? What parent would not sacrifice to claim those blessings?

Other individual promises such as "Increased refining, sanctifying, and moderating influences in our hearts" or "Increased influence of the Holy Ghost to feel strength and direction for our own lives" also offer precious and coveted gifts.

It seems clear to me that we would each be wise to evaluate our personal involvement in these labors and consider a commitment to increasing and improving personal efforts!

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Elder Neil L. Andersen on the importance of following the prophet

Elder Neil L. Andersen (born August 9, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"For those diligently seeking eternal life, the prophet’s voice brings spiritual safety in very turbulent times.
"We live on a planet clamoring with a million voices. The internet, our smartphones, our bloated boxes of entertainment all plead for our attention and thrust their influence upon us, hoping we will buy their products and adopt their standards.
"The seemingly endless array of information and opinion remind us of the scriptural warnings of being 'tossed to and fro,' 'driven with the wind,' and overcome by the 'cunning craftiness' of those who 'lie in wait to deceive.'
"Anchoring our souls to the Lord Jesus Christ requires listening to those He sends. Following the prophet in a world of commotion is like being wrapped in a soothing, warm blanket on a freezing cold day."
- Neil L. Andersen, "The Prophet of God," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Andersen shared a powerful and insightful look into the role and function of a prophet, particularly as related to our time and the new sustaining of President Russell M. Nelson.


Given the challenges and complexity of the time in which we live, and the many voices competing for our attention, it becomes more and more critical that we be "anchored" to the Savior. Elder Andersen reminds us that the best way to accomplish that is to listen to and follow the prophets. We must read and study their counsel, and apply the teachings in our lives. That is the source of peace and safety in our "world of commotion."

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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Elder Quentin L. Cook on the call to righteousness

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"With respect to righteousness, this life is the time for all of us to prepare to meet God. (See Alma 34:32.)The Book of Mormon provides multiple examples of the tragic consequences when individuals or groups fail to keep the commandments of God.
"During my lifetime, worldly issues and concerns have moved from one extreme to another—from frivolous and trivial pursuits to serious immorality. It is commendable that nonconsensual immorality has been exposed and denounced. (This has occurred in the #MeToo movement.) Such nonconsensual immorality is against the laws of God and of society. Those who understand God’s plan should also oppose consensual immorality, which is also a sin. The family proclamation to the world warns 'that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring [or, for that matter, anyone else] ... will one day stand accountable before God.' (Family Proclamation, Ensign, May 2017, 145)
"As we look around, we see the devastation of wickedness and addiction at every turn. If, as individuals, we are really concerned about the Savior’s ultimate judgment of us, we should seek repentance. I am afraid many people no longer feel accountable to God and do not turn to the scriptures or the prophets for guidance. If we, as a society, would contemplate the consequences of sin, there would be massive public opposition to pornography and the objectification of women. As Alma told his son Corianton in the Book of Mormon, 'Wickedness never was happiness' (Alma 41:10)."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Prepare to Meet God," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Cook's address was an interesting review of some of the significant events of the Restoration, particularly the return of priesthood keys that facilitate the important work of the last days. The purpose of all those things is to bring men and women to Christ, to enable and inspire them to live righteous lives in ways that will bring them happiness and peace.

It's interesting to review the ebb and flow of history—as Elder Cook describes, "from one extreme to another—from frivolous and trivial pursuits to serious immorality." There are always many opportunities in the world to choose paths that do not lead to peace and safety. That is why we must be so careful in choosing the proper path:


It's very true that we can look around our world and see that there are "many people no longer feel accountable to God and do not turn to the scriptures or the prophets for guidance." We must be so careful in our own lives to emphasize the things that truly matter; and when we do that, we will be guided and inspired on how to combat the opposition in ways that might make that choice more available to others around us!

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Elder David A. Bednar on developing the quality of meekness

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint....
"The Christlike quality of meekness often is misunderstood in our contemporary world. Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash. A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious, or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others.
"Whereas humility generally denotes dependence upon God and the constant need for His guidance and support, a distinguishing characteristic of meekness is a particular spiritual receptivity to learning both from the Holy Ghost and from people who may seem less capable, experienced, or educated, who may not hold important positions, or who otherwise may not appear to have much to contribute. Recall how Naaman, captain of the king’s army in Syria, overcame his pride and meekly accepted the advice of his servants to obey Elisha the prophet and wash in the river Jordan seven times (see 2 Kings 5:1–17). Meekness is the principal protection from the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth, and adulation."
- David A. Bednar, "Meek and Lowly of Heart," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Bednar taught about the "Christlike quality of meekness" using scriptural and contemporary examples. These paragraphs summarize some of the qualities he describes. Quite different from the prevailing concept held by the world, meekness includes "righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint." Those are interesting descriptions to ponder: am I responsive to righteous instructions and spiritual promptings? Am I willing to submit to God and to others who could bless me with their influence? Can I restrain and control my desires and actions in appropriate ways?


While humility and meekness are both very desirable qualities we are encouraged to develop, they have different focuses. According to Elder Bednar, humility relates more to our relationship to God, and our recognition of the guidance and support He offers. But meekness usually describes a willingness to learn from either the Holy Ghost or from other people around us, including those who may seem to us to be "less capable, experienced, or educated, who may not hold important positions, or who otherwise may not appear to have much to contribute." A truly meek person recognizes the good in all, and knows that he can learn from every person, no matter their stature or position. How important it is to be wary of "the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth, and adulation." Great counsel for us all!

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson on the blessing of temple attendance

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.
"At this time, we have 159 functioning temples, and more are under construction. We want to bring temples closer to the expanding membership of the Church. So we are now pleased to announce plans to construct seven more temples. Those temples will be located in the following locations: Salta, Argentina; Bengaluru, India; Managua, Nicaragua; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; Layton, Utah; Richmond, Virginia; and a major city yet to be determined in Russia.
"My dear brothers and sisters, construction of these temples may not change your life, but your time in the temple surely will. In that spirit, I bless you to identify those things you can set aside so you can spend more time in the temple. I bless you with greater harmony and love in your homes and a deeper desire to care for your eternal family relationships. I bless you with increased faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a greater ability to follow Him as His true disciples."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Let Us All Press On," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In the closing moments of the recent general conference, President Nelson announced plans to build seven additional temples, and then shared these comments about the importance of attending the temple:


President Nelson's words reminded me of some very similar wording from a letter that was sent throughout the Church and read in meetings in 2003, over 15 years ago:
"We are grateful for the increased availability of temples worldwide and invite adult members to have a current temple recommend and visit the temple more often. Where time and circumstances permit, members are encouraged to replace some leisure activities with temple service."
- First Presidency Letter, 11 March 2003; see Ensign March 2004
It's important to note the difference of what took place in this conference, however. Though the encouragement was previously given to consider giving up other activities in order to be in the temple, President Nelson blessed the Church membership with the ability to identify things that could be "set aside" in order to increase attendance. Are we willing to accept that prophetic blessing and seek to have it realized in our lives?

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the blessings of following the Savior

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.
"In a figurative sense, we too are invited to 'behold the man.' ... So, when you ponder the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, what do you see?
"Those who find a way to truly behold the Man find the doorway to life’s greatest joys and the balm to life’s most demanding despairs.
"So, when you are encompassed by sorrows and grief, behold the Man.
"When you feel lost or forgotten, behold the Man.
"When you are despairing, deserted, doubting, damaged, or defeated, behold the Man.
"He will comfort you.
"He will heal you and give meaning to your journey. He will pour out His Spirit and fill your heart with exceeding joy. (See Mosiah 4:20.)
"He gives 'power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.' (Isaiah 40:29.)
"When we truly behold the Man, we learn of Him and seek to align our lives with Him. We repent and strive to refine our natures and daily grow a little closer to Him. We trust Him. We show our love for Him by keeping His commandments and by living up to our sacred covenants.
"In other words, we become His disciples.
"His refining light saturates our souls. His grace uplifts us. Our burdens are lightened, our peace deepened. When we truly behold the Man, we have the promise of a blessed future that inspires and upholds us through the bends and bumps in life’s journey. Looking back, we will recognize that there is a divine pattern, that the dots really connect."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Behold the Man!", General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The New Testament records the incident when Jesus was was brought before Pilate; the Roman prefect questioned him but could find no fault in him. Struggling to know how to resolve the situation in the midst of the demands of the Jewish Sanhedrin for crucifixion, Pilate had Jesus scourged thinking that they might be satisfied. Then displaying Jesus before them, he uttered the unforgettable phrase, "Behold the man." (See John 19:1–5.)

Elder Uchtdorf borrowed that language to apply to our time and situation: in what ways do we "behold the man" of Jesus Christ as we ponder His life and ministry? How do we think of Him, how do we allow Him to influence and bless us? He suggests that when we truly learn to behold Him properly, our life can be deeply blessed:



Power comes when we "truly behold the Man" as we feel the desire to "align our lives with Him" in obedience and spirit, and become His disciples. I love that thought that "His refining light saturates our souls. His grace uplifts us." Truly, there is wondrous power and peace in that path of true discipleship!

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

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on maturing in our vision and our service

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.
"Brothers and sisters, as the work of quorums and auxiliaries matures institutionally, it follows that we should mature personally as well—individually rising above any mechanical, function-without-feeling routine to the heartfelt discipleship articulated by the Savior at the conclusion of His earthly ministry. As He prepared to leave His still-innocent and somewhat-confused little band of followers, He did not list a dozen administrative steps they had to take or hand them a fistful of reports to be filled out in triplicate. No, He summarized their task in one fundamental commandment: 'Love one another; as I have loved you.... By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' (John 13:34–35.) ...
"Brothers and sisters, we have a heaven-sent opportunity as an entire Church to demonstrate 'pure religion… undefiled before God' (James 1:27)—'to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light' and to 'comfort those that stand in need of comfort' (Mosiah 18:8–9), to minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad—in short, all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear the firm declaration of faith. However, I warn you, a new name, new flexibility, and fewer reports won’t make an ounce of difference in our service unless we see this as an invitation to care for one another in a bold, new, holier way, as President Nelson has just said. As we lift our spiritual eyes toward living the law of love more universally, we pay tribute to the generations who have served that way for years."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Be With and Strengthen Them," General Conference, April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Holland had the assignment in the recent general conference to speak, following President Nelson's announcement of changes to home and visiting teaching, and give elaboration and explanation about what that change meant. His remarks were wonderful and inspiring, helping to set the standard for a higher vision of what it means to minister to one another. As programs and practices change, and important key is the call for each of us to change and grow as well in both our vision or understanding, and in our actions of service and caring. The call to "love one another" has never been clearer, and has never been more crucial.


One thing that has not changed is the call to care for "all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear the firm declaration of faith." Elder Holland spoke beautifully about the power that comes as we truly care and service. With the vision of the Savior's call, and His example, firmly in our minds and hearts, we now have the opportunity to go forth and bless one another in wonderful ways!

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

Saturday, April 7, 2018

President M. Russell Ballard on faith in God's help as we serve

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.
"Given the reality of our human weaknesses and shortcomings, how do we move forward in supporting and sustaining each other? It begins with faith—real, sincere faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in the Savior is the first principle of the doctrine and gospel of Christ....
"If we have faith as small as a mustard seed, the Lord can help us remove the mountains of discouragement and doubt in the tasks ahead of us as we serve with God’s children, including family members, Church members, and those who are not yet members of the Church.
"Brothers and sisters, life can be filled with faith, joy, happiness, hope, and love when we exercise the smallest amount of real faith in Christ—even a mustard seed of faith."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Precious Gifts from God," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Ballard's talk was the first one given after the sustainings at the beginning of conference on Saturday morning, well before Sunday's announcements of the emphasis on "ministering." But the theme of service to others and reaching out in love was strong in his message too in anticipation of that coming change. President Ballard described our innate weakness and hesitancy to do all we should, but emphasized the power that can come to do good as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ:


The key is not that faith makes the tasks easier or makes them go away; but that He can "remove the mountains of discouragement and doubt" that prevent us from serving well. That's a greater need, and a greater blessing, than we sometimes realize! The resulting promise of "faith, joy, happiness, hope, and love" that can fill our life is a remarkable one. We would be wise to find, develop, and expand that kind of faith in our lives.

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

President Henry B. Eyring on seeking the companionship of the Holy Ghost

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.
"We have the priceless promise of the Holy Ghost as a companion, and we also have true directions on how to claim that gift. These words are said by the Lord’s authorized servant with his hands on our head: 'Receive the Holy Ghost.' At that moment you and I have the assurance He will be sent. But our obligation is to choose to open our hearts to receive the ministration of the Spirit over a lifetime....
"The Prophet Joseph set an example for us of how to receive continual spiritual direction and comfort through the Holy Ghost.
"The first choice he made was to be humble before God.
"The second was to pray with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"The third was to obey exactly. Obedience may mean to move quickly. It may mean to prepare. Or it may mean to wait in patience for further inspiration.
"And the fourth is to pray to know the needs and hearts of others and how to help them for the Lord."
- Henry B. Eyring, "His Spirit to Be with You," General Conference April 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

When we are offered a gift, it's important to know the conditions by which the gift can be received. President Eyring reminds us that we have to choose to accept and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost:


I was impressed by President Eyring's use of Joseph Smith as an example of the principles of receiving the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Commitment to humility, faithful prayer, careful obedience, and eager service will open the doors of heaven for us and invite the precious guidance and closeness with the Spirit that we so badly need in our time.

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