Tuesday, April 30, 2019

President Henry B. Eyring on faithfully sustaining leaders

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.
"You may have been asked, or you will be, whether you sustain your bishop, stake president, the General Authorities, and the General Officers of the Church. It may happen as you are asked to sustain officers and leaders in a conference. Sometimes it will be in an interview with a bishop or stake president.
"My counsel is that you ask those questions of yourself beforehand, with careful and prayerful thought. As you do, you might look back on your recent thoughts, words, and deeds. Try to remember and frame the answers you will give when the Lord interviews you, knowing that someday He will. You could prepare by asking yourself questions like the following:
"1. Have I thought or spoken of human weakness in the people I have pledged to sustain?
"2. Have I looked for evidence that the Lord is leading them?
"3. Have I conscientiously and loyally followed their leadership?
"4. Have I spoken about the evidence I can see that they are God’s servants?
"5. Do I pray for them regularly by name and with feelings of love?
"Those questions will, for most of us, lead to some uneasiness and a need to repent. We are commanded by God not to judge others unrighteously, but in practice, we find that hard to avoid. Almost everything we do in working with people leads us to evaluate them. And in almost every aspect of our lives, we compare ourselves with others. We may do so for many reasons, some of them reasonable, but it often leads us to be critical....
"My observation is that the members of the Church across the world are generally loyal to each other and to those who preside over them. There are, however, improvements we could and must make. We could rise higher in our power to sustain each other. It will take faith and effort."
- Henry B. Eyring, "The Power of Sustaining Faith," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In his address to the General Priesthood session of conference, President Eyring encouraged us to consider how well we sustain our leaders and what that concept means in our lives. We are sometimes asked to raise our hands as a sign of willingness to sustain; at other times, we are asked in personal worthiness interviews about our feelings. But we would benefit from following President Eyring's counsel to consider the act and process of sustaining before those moments of avowal or commitment.

President Eyring mentioned several questions of evaluation that we could profit from pondering. They relate to our attitude about our leaders, and how that is reflected in our lives. Are we critical or judgmental of them, or do we seek to uphold and encourage them? Do we need to repent?


As we grow and learn in the Church, we have opportunities to lead and opportunities to follow. Most of our callings and assignments are temporary; we lead for a short season, and then someone else takes our place and we follow their leadership. As I have had the experience to be sustained by others, I have been blessed to feel their love and faith manifest in clear and real ways. I hope I can return that love and faith when another takes my place. President Eyring's suggestions are very helpful.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Monday, April 29, 2019

President Dallin H. Oaks on anticipating eternal consequences

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.
"The restored gospel of Jesus Christ encourages us to think about the future. It explains the purpose of mortal life and the reality of the life to follow. It teaches great ideas about the future to guide our actions today.
"In contrast, we all know persons who are concerned only with the present: spend it today, enjoy it today, and take no thought for the future.
"Our present and our future will be happier if we are always conscious of the future. As we make current decisions, we should always be asking, 'Where will this lead?'"
- President Dallin H. Oaks, "Where Will This Lead?," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

What motivates us to make decisions? Often the easy criteria relate to immediate profit or short-term benefit. It's usually relatively easy to see the quick results and benefits of our decisions. But is that a wise method for decision-making? President Oaks taught us that the gospel of Jesus Christ suggests a better pattern: consider the long-term results, and particularly the eternal consequences.


The challenge in this approach is that asking "Where will this lead?" is not always an easy question to answer. It's important to try to anticipate consequences to the best of our ability; and as we grow and mature in life, we learn from experience and are able to refine our predictions to more accuracy. But truthfully, the only way to really know where any decision will lead is to be inspired by God. His inspiration will always direct and confirm as we are worthy and willing to listen.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on the blessing of continuing repentance

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.
"Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
"Whether you are diligently moving along the covenant path, have slipped or stepped from the covenant path, or can’t even see the path from where you are now, I plead with you to repent. Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day.
"When we choose to repent, we choose to change! We allow the Savior to transform us into the best version of ourselves. We choose to grow spiritually and receive joy—the joy of redemption in Him. When we choose to repent, we choose to become more like Jesus Christ!"
- Russell M. Nelson, "We Can Do Better and Be Better," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In his address to the Priesthood session of general conference, President Nelson spoke about the doctrine of repentance and encouraged all members to embrace the concepts. Instead of the perception of repentance as a burdensome, onerous, challenging event following our misdeeds, President Nelson taught that we should be seeking to establish a "regular, daily focus on repentance." The process of repentance then becomes "key to happiness and peace of mind" as we begin to have "access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ."


One who has the attitude of daily repentance is continually trying to grow and improve—a little better and a little more Christlike each day. That is the ultimate source of joy in this life!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Elder Ulisses Soares on following Jesus Christ

Elder Ulisses Soares (born October 2, 1958 in Brazil) 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.
"You may recall that two disciples of John the Baptist followed Jesus Christ after hearing John witness that Jesus was the Lamb of God, the Messiah. These good men accepted Jesus’s invitation to 'come and see' (see John 1:38–39) and abode with Him that day. They came to know that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and followed Him for the rest of their lives.
"Likewise, when we accept the Savior’s invitation to 'come and see,' we need to abide in Him, immersing ourselves in the scriptures, rejoicing in them, learning His doctrine, and striving to live the way He lived. Only then will we come to know Him, Jesus Christ, and recognize His voice, knowing that as we come unto Him and believe in Him, we shall never hunger nor thirst. (See John 6:35.) We will be able to discern the truth at all times, as occurred to those two disciples who abode with Jesus that day.
"Brothers and sisters, that doesn’t happen by chance. Attuning ourselves to the highest influences of godliness is not a simple matter; it requires calling upon God and learning how to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the center of our lives. If we do so, I promise that the influence of the Holy Ghost will bring truth to our heart and mind and will bear witness of it (see John 16:13), teaching all things (see John 14:26)."
- Ulisses Soares, "How Can I Understand?," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Soares gave the opening talk in the recent general conference. It's appropriate that he discussed how we learn and understand the Gospel, and particularly how to find and follow truth.

I love the example from those early disciples, who were invited to "come and see" so they could further understand the message of the Savior. We need to take actions in our lives to come to Him, to see what His message is about, to follow His example and live His teachings. Then we will truly "see" the eternal importance and significance of the powerful life He invites us to live. Note that Elder Soares counsels that the important step is "immersing ourselves in the scriptures, rejoicing in them, learning His doctrine, and striving to live the way He lived." It's the "immersing" part that we sometimes fall short on.


Once we have immersed in the scriptures, we must call on God to find His counsel on "how to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the center of our lives." Through the Holy Ghost, we will receive teaching and testimony from on high to guide and inspire us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Elder Gerrit W. Gong on following the Savior's example as shepherds

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.
"As the 'Shepherd of Israel' (Psalm 80:1), Jesus Christ exemplifies how shepherds in Israel minister in love. When our Lord asks if we love Him, as He did with Simon Peter, our Savior implores: 'Feed my lambs.… Feed my sheep.… Feed my sheep.' (John 21:15–17.) The Lord promises that when His shepherds feed His lambs and sheep, those in His fold 'shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking' (Jeremiah 23:4).
"Our Good Shepherd cautions that shepherds in Israel must not slumber (see Nahum 3:18), nor scatter or cause the sheep to go astray (see Jeremiah 23:1; 50:6, 44), nor look our own way for our own gain (see Isaiah 56:11; Ezekiel 34:2–6). God’s shepherds are to strengthen, heal, bind up that which is broken, bring again that which was driven away, seek that which was lost. (See Ezekiel 34:2–6)
"The Lord also warns of hirelings, who 'careth not for the sheep' (John 10:13), and 'false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves' (3 Nephi 14:15).
"Our Good Shepherd rejoices when we exercise individual moral agency with intention and faith. Those in His fold look to our Savior in gratitude for His atoning sacrifice. We covenant to follow Him, not passively, blindly, or 'sheepishly,' but instead desiring with all our hearts and minds to love God and our neighbor, bearing one another’s burdens and rejoicing in one another’s joys. As Christ freely dedicated His will to the will of the Father, so we reverently take upon us His name. We gladly seek to join His work of gathering and ministering to all of God’s children.
"Brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is our perfect Good Shepherd. Because He has laid down His life for us and is now gloriously resurrected, Jesus Christ is also the perfect Lamb of God. (See 2 Nephi 9:10–12.)"
- Gerrit W. Gong, "Good Shepherd, Lamb of God," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Gong's address considered our dual roles as sheep in the fold of the Shepherd, and as shepherds assisting in His great ministry to bless lives. Considering the example and characteristics of the "perfect Good Shepherd," he challenges us to likewise serve and bless as we seek to find and rescue the lost sheep and lambs.


One of our beautiful hymns, "Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd," teaches this message powerfully. The words are worth reviewing:
1. Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the sheep of his fold;
Dear is the love that he gives them,
Dearer than silver or gold.
Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are his "other" lost sheep;
Over the mountains he follows,
Over the waters so deep.
(Chorus)
Out in the desert they wander,
Hungry and helpless and cold;
Off to the rescue he hastens,
Bringing them back to the fold. (4th verse only: we'll hasten,)
2. Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the lambs of his fold;
Some from the pastures are straying,
Hungry and helpless and cold.
See, the Good Shepherd is seeking,
Seeking the lambs that are lost,
Bringing them in with rejoicing,
Saved at such infinite cost.
3. Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the "ninety and nine";
Dear are the sheep that have wandered
Out in the desert to pine.
Hark! he is earnestly calling,
Tenderly pleading today:
"Will you not seek for my lost ones,
Off from my shelter astray?"
4. Green are the pastures inviting;
Sweet are the waters and still.
Lord, we will answer thee gladly,
"Yes, blessed Master, we will!
Make us thy true under-shepherds;
Give us a love that is deep.
Send us out into the desert,
Seeking thy wandering sheep." (Hymns #221)
Two phrases in particular are profound to me. First from verse 2:
See, the Good Shepherd is seeking,
Seeking the lambs that are lost,
Bringing them in with rejoicing,
Saved at such infinite cost.

The Savior's action in rescuing those lambs includes the "infinite cost" of His Atonement on their behalf. There is no greater blessing, no more profound gift in all of eternity.

The second phrase relates to our charge:
"Make us thy true under-shepherds;
Give us a love that is deep.
Send us out into the desert,
Seeking thy wandering sheep."
The description "under-shepherd" does not appear directly in the scriptures, but the concept is profound. As we labor faithfully in His work of ministry, we truly are functioning as a shepherd, fulfilling the role that He would fill in our place. It's a profound responsibility!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Elder Dale G. Renlund on the timing of blessings from God

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.
"When you receive any blessing from God, you can conclude that you have complied with an eternal law governing reception of that blessing. (See D&C 130:20–21.) But remember that the 'irrevocably decreed' law is time insensitive, meaning blessings come on God’s timetable. Even ancient prophets in search of their heavenly home (see Hebrews 11:16) 'died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off … [and] were persuaded … and embraced them.' (Hebrews 11:13) If a desired blessing from God has not been received—yet—you do not need to go crazy, wondering what more you need to do. Instead, heed Joseph Smith’s counsel to 'cheerfully do all things that lie in [your] power; and then … stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the … arm [of God] … revealed.' (D&C 123:17.) Some blessings are reserved for later, even for the most valiant of God’s children."
- Dale G. Renlund, "Abound with Blessings," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Renlund shared an interesting consideration about blessings from God, and the relationship between His willingness and eagerness to bless us, and our actions in righteousness and obedience that might qualify us for those blessings (but do not constitute "earning" the blessings).

A critical lesson in life is that "blessings come on God’s timetable." We can never set the expectations and the timing; we are never aware of all the factors involved. Our role is to believe, have faith, and trust in His wisdom.


We must never lose faith in God's wisdom and in His timing. And we must never cease to be truly and deeply grateful for any blessing that we receive.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Elder Gary E. Stevenson on developing a personal playbook

Elder Gary E. Stevenson (born August 5, 1955) was called as a Seventy in 2008, then as Presiding Bishop in 2012. He was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015.
"Great coaches know the strengths and weaknesses of their team as well as those of the opposition. They create a game plan that will give them the best chance for victory. What about you?
"You know what temptations you are most vulnerable to, and you can predict how the adversary will try to derail and dishearten you. Have you created a personal game plan and playbook so that you will know how to respond when faced with opposition?
"As you confront various moral temptations—whether in the company of others or when you are alone staring at a screen—you know your game plan. If a friend suggests you drink alcohol or try drugs, you know the play. You have practiced and know how to react in advance.
"With a game plan, a playbook, and a firm commitment to execute your role, you will find that temptation has less control over you. You will have already made the decision of how you will react and what you will do. You won’t need to decide every time you are confronted with temptation."
- Gary E. Stevenson, "Your Priesthood Playbook," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Stevenson used a familiar analogy to teach a concept that has been shared in a number of ways: the importance of establishing, in advance, how we will react to challenging situations, even practicing the reaction, and committing to that plan when the challenge arises. The idea of having a "game plan" for life, with a specific "play book" describing the actions and scenarios, will ring true to many youth and to adults as well. The more explicit and detailed we are able to anticipate in those scenarios and our response, the more successful we will be in carrying out our plan.

I liked the point that we each know what are greatest vulnerabilities are and where we need to focus our greatest efforts in anticipation. Those temptations will come, and the better our preparation, the more likely we will be to succeed.


Decisions and commitments made in advance have great power if our commitment to them is strong and whole-hearted. In effect, Satan is bound (D&C 45:55), since we allow him no access to our hearts.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Elder Ronald A. Rasband on Satan's latter-day tactics

Elder Ronald A. Rasband (born February 6, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 2000.  He was the senior president of the Seventy when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015. This talk was given in a General Priesthood session of conference when he was serving as a Seventy.
"Brothers and sisters, we are at war with Satan for the souls of men. The battle lines were drawn in our pre-earth life. Satan and a third of our Father in Heaven’s children turned away from His promises of exaltation. Since that time, the adversary’s minions have been fighting the faithful who choose the Father’s plan.
"Satan knows his days are numbered and that time is growing shorter. As crafty and cunning as he is, he will not win. However, his battle for each one of our souls rages on.
"For our safety, we must build a fortress of spirituality and protection for our very souls, a fortress that will not be penetrated by the evil one.
"Satan is a subtle snake, sneaking into our minds and hearts when we have let our guard down, faced a disappointment, or lost hope. He entices us with flattery, a promise of ease, comfort, or a temporary high when we are low. He justifies pride, unkindness, dishonesty, discontent, and immorality, and in time we can be 'past feeling' (1 Nephi 17:45). The Spirit can leave us. 'And thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell' (2 Nephi 28:21).....
"When we build a fortress of spiritual strength, we can shun the advances of the adversary, turn our backs on him, and feel the peace of the Spirit. We can follow the example of our Lord and Savior, who, when tempted in the wilderness, said, 'Get thee behind me, Satan' (Luke 4:8). We each have to learn by the experiences of life how to do that."
- Ronald A. Rasband, "Build a Fortress of Spirituality and Protection," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's not exaggerating to describe the present conflict between good and evil in the world as "war." The struggle is real, and prophets frequently warn us that Satan's "battle for each one of our souls rages on" and remind us of our need to be prepared and strong.

Elder Rasband described an experience of his great-grandfather who, as one of the early pioneer settlers in the Heber Valley in Utah, helped build a protective wall of cottonwood logs around their homes. He likened that to the need we each have to "build a fortress of spirituality and protection for our very souls," enabling us to better ward off the attacks of the adversary:


The description of Satan as a "subtle snake" who can "[sneak] into our minds and hearts when we have let our guard down, faced a disappointment, or lost hope" is one that we should ponder. At the times when we are most vulnerable, we need to be the most cautious and the most committed to our spiritual fortifications.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Elder Neil L. Andersen on learning eternal truth

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.
"It does not matter if we are rich or poor, prominent or unknown, sophisticated or simple. Rather, our mortal quest is to strengthen our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to choose good over evil, and to keep His commandments. While we celebrate the innovations of science and medicine, the truths of God go far beyond these discoveries.
"In opposition to the truths of eternity, there always have been counterfeits to distract God’s children from the truth. The arguments of the adversary are always the same....
"With the Restoration of the gospel, God has given us the way to learn and know essential spiritual truths: we learn them through the holy scriptures, through our personal prayers and our own experiences, through the counsel of the living prophets and apostles, and through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, who can help us to 'know the truth of all things' (Moroni 10:5)."
- Neil L. Andersen, "The Eye of Faith," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

All mankind has the same quest in mortality: to choose to follow God, obey His commandments, and draw close to Him. But there is great opposition to our achieving that quest. The adversary with all his tools and tricks will endeavor to dissuade us from the path. From the beginning of time, he has been diligent in fighting against God's plan. It becomes ever more important for us to fortify ourselves and prepare for the challenges.


Great keys to our gaining the spiritual knowledge that will prepare us for the future are in the fundamental behaviors that are commonly taught: scripture study, personal prayer, following inspired counsel, and seeking the promptings and companionship of the Holy Ghost. These things seem so obvious to us, but they have never been more important than now. We would each do well to evaluate and recommit.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on the miracle of resurrection

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.
"Jesus suffered deeply because He loves us deeply! He wants us to repent and be converted so that He can fully heal us.
"When sore trials come upon us, it’s time to deepen our faith in God, to work hard, and to serve others. Then He will heal our broken hearts. He will bestow upon us personal peace (see John 14:27) and comfort (see Isa 40:1; John 14:16-17, 26). Those great gifts will not be destroyed, even by death.
"The gift of resurrection is the Lord’s consummate act of healing. Thanks to Him, each body will be restored to its proper and perfect frame (see Alma 11:43; Alma 40:23). Thanks to Him, no condition is hopeless. Thanks to Him, brighter days are ahead, both here and hereafter. Real joy awaits each of us—on the other side of sorrow."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Jesus Christ—the Master Healer," General Conference October 2005
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This is a beautiful message for Easter morning. All of us suffer in life, to some degree and on some occasions; some more than others, for reasons we don't always understand. But gratefully, the Savior suffered too; he "suffered deeply because He loves us deeply!" Because of that love, He offers us healing as we repent and turn to him. Our broken hearts can be replaced by personal peace through His grace and atonement for us.

And ultimately, overcoming death, physical and spiritual, is the greatest gift of all:


Through His resurrection He offers to us the "consummate act of healing." All physical ailments and disabilities will be resolved; and through the Atonement, all spiritual and emotional concerns can also be healed. What a glorious and hope-filled gift! Truly, there is "real joy" waiting us all "on the other side of sorrow."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

President Thomas S. Monson on Jesus Christ's gift to mankind

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.
"Our Heavenly Father’s plan contains the ultimate expressions of true love. All that we hold dear, even our families, our friends, our joy, our knowledge, our testimonies, would vanish were it not for our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the most cherished thoughts and writings in this world is the divine statement of truth: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' (John 3:16)
"This precious Son, our Lord and Savior, atoned for our sins and the sins of all. That memorable night in Gethsemane His suffering was so great, His anguish so consuming that He pleaded, 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.' (Matt. 26:39) Later, on the cruel cross, He died that we might live, and live everlastingly. Resurrection morning was preceded by pain, by suffering in accordance with the divine plan of God. Before Easter there had to be a cross. The world has witnessed no greater gift, nor has it known more lasting love."
- Thomas S. Monson, "Gifts," General Conference April 1993
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Easter is the commemoration of "the ultimate expressions of true love." In this beautiful conference address, President Monson taught us of the giving of gifts in general, but concluded with this powerful reminder of that ultimate gift given by the Father and by the Son. God loved the world so much that he offered His Son; and the Son loved so much that He offered His life. Because of those gifts, everything that is most precious and dear in the world is available to us.


How grateful we should be to commemorate this glorious gift of love on Easter. And how faithful we should be to that gift and message throughout the year!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Friday, April 19, 2019

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on preparing the world for the Lord's Second Coming

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (born January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"In two weeks, we will celebrate Easter. The Resurrection confirms the divinity of Jesus Christ and the reality of God the Father. Our thoughts turn to the Savior, and we ponder 'His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.' I hope we also think about His pending return when 'He will rule as King of Kings and … Lord of Lords.' ('The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,' Ensign, May 2017, inside front cover.) ...
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is uniquely empowered and commissioned to accomplish the necessary preparations for the Lord’s Second Coming; indeed, it was restored for that purpose....
"What can we do to prepare now for that day? We can prepare ourselves as a people; we can gather the Lord’s covenant people; and we can help redeem the promise of salvation 'made to the fathers,' our ancestors. (D&C 2:2) All of this must occur in some substantial measure before the Lord comes again."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Preparing for the Lord’s Return," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In anticipation of the Easter weekend, when our thoughts are drawn to the Savior and His divine act of love and sacrifice on our behalf, Elder Christofferson spoke eloquently of the powerful feelings of anticipation we should feel of the Lord's return to earth. Members of His restored Church in the latter days have a profound responsibility to help in the preparation for that event. Elder Christofferson suggested things we can do now to help prepare:


To "prepare now as a people" includes the aspects of reaching out to one another in love, helping to strengthen and bless as we minister to one another. Through missionary service we assist in gathering others into the fold; and through efforts in family history and temple service we help to redeem our ancestors. These "three-fold" actions are not new, but our resolve to do better can be renewed!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Elder Quentin L. Cook on united family efforts

Elder Quentin L. Cook (born September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"When a man and woman are sealed in the temple, they enter the holy order of matrimony in the new and everlasting covenant, an order of the priesthood. (See D&C 131:1–4.) Together they obtain and receive priesthood blessings and power to direct the affairs of their family. Women and men have unique roles as outlined in 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World,' (Ensign, May 2017, 145) but their stewardships are equal in value and importance. They have equal power to receive revelation for their family. When they work together in love and righteousness, their decisions are heaven blessed.
"Those who seek to know the will of the Lord as individuals and for their families must strive for righteousness, meekness, kindness, and love. Humility and love are the hallmark of those who seek the Lord’s will, especially for their families."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Great Love for Our Father’s Children," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Cook discusses the ideal scenario of a man and woman, sealed together in the temple, and striving to direct their family through joint and united revelation. The "equal power" of each partner to receive revelation is key to the process. This also implies equal responsibility to seek that revelation, equal need to live worthily of receiving it, and equal acceptance of the joint process in recognizing the gifts and contributions of one another.


The responsibility to live in "righteousness, meekness, kindness, and love" as well as humility are so key to establishing that kind of ideal companionship. We will all be blessed as we make efforts to develop those characteristics.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on our individual responsibility to learn and grow

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.
"Each member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an individual responsibility to learn and live the Lord’s teachings and to receive by proper authority the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end. (See D&C 121:29.) Rather, our personal responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become who the Master would have us become. And our homes are the ultimate setting for learning, living, and becoming....
"The overarching purpose of Heavenly Father’s plan is for His children to become more like Him. Accordingly, He provides us with essential opportunities to grow and progress. Our commitment to learn and live according to truth is increasingly important in a world that is 'in commotion' (D&C 45:26) and is ever more confused and wicked. We cannot expect simply to attend Church meetings and participate in programs and thereby receive all of the spiritual edification and protection that will enable us 'to withstand in the evil day.' (Ephesians 6:13.)
"'Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness.' ('The Family: A Proclamation to the World,' Ensign, May 2017, 145.) Inspired Church leaders, teachers, and activities help individual and family efforts to grow spiritually. And though we all need help pressing forward on the covenant path, the ultimate responsibility for developing spiritual strength and stamina rests upon each one of us....
"If all you or I know about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel is what other people teach or tell us, then the foundation of our testimony of Him and His glorious latter-day work is built upon sand. We cannot rely exclusively upon or borrow gospel light and knowledge from other people—even those whom we love and trust."
- David A. Bednar, "Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

A critical question for life is how we can learn and comprehend "everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end." Elder Bednar seems to be responding to a misconception that the Church provides that; instead, the major responsibility lies with each one of us.  While the church provides assistance and support, ultimately each of us must "work out or own salvation."


So the call is for us to "rise up" and be more faithful in learning, following, repenting, serving, and truly striving to follow the path of discipleship. 

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on being close to Heavenly Father

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.
"First, draw close to God. The first great commandment is to love God. It is a primary reason why we are on this earth. Ask yourself, 'Do I really believe in Heavenly Father?'
"'Do I love and trust Him?'
"The closer you draw to our Heavenly Father, the more His light and joy will shine from within you. Others will notice that there is something unique and special about you. And they will ask about it."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Missionary Work: Sharing What Is in Your Heart," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Uchtdorf's message offered suggestions on how to effectively share the gospel message with those around us. This first point was especially appropriate. As we draw close to God and follow the Savior's example and His commandments in our life, there will be visible evidence of the changes that occur in our character and our appearance. The light of the Spirit shines from the countenance of a true disciple!


As our love and trust for God become deeper and more sincere, we become more like Him, and the evidence of His work becomes obvious to those around us who are honest in heart. That is the easiest and best way to share the message of the gospel: in the example of our lives!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on having Christlike compassion

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.
"When the sacred hour comes to present our sacrificial gift to the Lord, we do have our own sins and shortcomings to resolve; that’s why we’re there. But we might be more successful in such contrition if we are mindful of the other broken hearts and sorrowing spirits that surround us. Seated not far away are some who may have wept—outwardly or inwardly—through the entire sacramental hymn and the prayers of those priests. Might we silently take note of that and offer our little crust of comfort and our tiny cup of compassion—might we dedicate it to them? or to the weeping, struggling member who is not in the service and, except for some redemptive ministering on our part, won’t be there next week either? or to our brothers and sisters who are not members of the Church at all but are our brothers and sisters? There is no shortage of suffering in this world, inside the Church and out, so look in any direction and you will find someone whose pain seems too heavy to bear and whose heartache seems never to end. One way to 'always remember him' (Moroni 4:3, 5:2) would be to join the Great Physician in His never-ending task of lifting the load from those who are burdened and relieving the pain of those who are distraught."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Behold the Lamb of God," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

We do attend Church meetings to be strengthened and edified. Elder Holland suggests that might occur more readily when our focus is less on ourselves and our personal needs, and more on the challenges of those around us.


True Christian discipleship involves turning our focus outward, and loving others as He loves us. That is a powerful reminder about the nature of worship. We worship best by emulating; and the unselfish service of Christlike charity is the highest form of both emulation.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

President M. Russell Ballard on finding joy in faith and faithfulness

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 prophet Lehi taught, 'Men [and women] are, that they might have joy.' (2 Ne 2:25) There are many reasons why peace, joy, and happiness may elude us in this life, including poverty, war, natural disasters, and unexpected setbacks in employment, health, and family relationships.
"But even though we cannot control those external forces that impact our lives here on earth, as we strive to become faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can find peace, joy, and happiness despite the worldly troubles that swirl around us.
"...Do the best you can do day after day, and  you know it, you will come to realize that your Heavenly Father knows you and that He loves you. And when you know that—really know it—your life will have real purpose and meaning and you will be filled with joy and peace."
- M. Russell Ballard, "The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

For at least portions of our lives, most of us have felt what President Ballard describes, as "peace, joy, and happiness may elude us in this life" because of challenges that include, among other things, "poverty, war, natural disasters, and unexpected setbacks in employment, health, and family relationships." At those times, we learn to endure, knowing that there is always hope for a better future. But crucial to our mortal probation is to learn that we can overcome those challenges "as we strive to become faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ."


We can never do more than this: "the best you can do day after day." Through that level of commitment and faithfulness, we come to feel the love of God and His awareness of our struggles, and find the source of true strength, peace, and joy.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)
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