Sunday, May 19, 2019

President Harold B. Lee on the personal gift of revelation

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"Any Latter-day Saint who has been baptized and who has had hands laid upon him from those officiating, commanding him to receive the Holy Ghost, and who has not received a revelation of the spirit of the Holy Ghost, has not received the gift of the Holy Ghost to which he is entitled. Therein lies a very important matter....
"On what matters may you receive a revelation? Is it startling to you to hear that you—all members of the Church who have received the Holy Ghost—may receive revelation? Not for the president of the Church, not on how to look after the affairs pertaining to the ward, the stake, or the mission in which you live; but every individual within his own station has the right to receive revelation by the Holy Ghost.…
"Every man has the privilege to exercise these gifts and these privileges in the conduct of his own affairs; in bringing up his children in the way they should go; in the management of his business, or whatever he does. It is his right to enjoy the spirit of revelation and of inspiration to do the right thing, to be wise and prudent, just and good, in everything that he does. I know that is a true principle, and that is the thing that I would like the Latter-day Saints to know. Now then, all of us should try to strive and give heed to the sudden ideas that come to us, and if we’ll give heed to them and cultivate an ear to hear these promptings we too—each of us—can grow in the spirit of revelation....
"I bear you my solemn testimony that the Church today is guided by revelation. Every soul in it who has been blessed to receive the Holy Ghost has the power to receive revelation. God help you and me that we will always so live that the Lord can answer the prayers of the faithful through us."
- Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, 140–42, 145

President Lee's message was a challenge to each member of the Church. When we were confirmed members of the Church, we were invited to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. His reminder is that those who receive that companionship will also receive revelation, as they live worthy of that gift.

Every single person "within his own station," or within the reach of his stewardship and responsibilities, "has the right to receive revelation by the Holy Ghost." We should seek that gift; we should cherish it and use it wisely! One of the keys President Lee offered was that we should learn to "give heed to the sudden ideas that come to us" as we "grow in the spirit of revelation." We will soon discover that God is eager to assist in this grand experience of life.

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

Saturday, May 18, 2019

President Spencer W. Kimball on the privilege of scripture study

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Besides the almost constant encouragement and prompting which we receive from our present-day Church leaders, the prophets of old seem to cry out to us in almost every page of the scriptures, urging us to study the word of the Lord, the holy scriptures, 'which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' (2 Tim. 3:15.) But we do not always hear, and we might well ask ourselves why.
"Sometimes it seems we take the scriptures too much for granted because we do not fully appreciate how rare a thing it is to possess them, and how blessed we are because we do have them. We seem to have settled so comfortably into our experiences in this world and become so accustomed to hearing the gospel taught among us that it is hard for us to imagine it could ever have been otherwise....
"In addition to our access to these precious works of scripture, we have, to an extent unknown at any other time in the history of the world, the education and the ability to use them, if we will.
"The ancient prophets knew that after the darkness there would come light. We live in that light—but do we fully comprehend it? With the doctrines of salvation easily within our grasp, I fear that some are still overcome with the 'spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear.' (Rom. 11:8.)"
- Spencer W. Kimball, "How Rare a Possession—The Scriptures," Ensign September 1976, pp. 2-5
Click here to read the whole article

This excerpt comes from a "First Presidency Message" prepared by President Kimball, one of his truly classic articles. He shared his vision of the precious and sacred nature of the scriptures, and encouraged us to make better use of them in study and application. With a historical perspective, President Kimball warns us about the tendency to take our scriptural record for granted and thus fail to receive the benefits it offers to us:

In the 43 years since this article was published, it's interesting to note how much more our access to the sacred record has grown and improved. Most of us carry a complete copy in our pocket or purse as part of our digital devices; and we have the ability to search and study in ways that were not even dreamed of in past years. But again—do we take for granted that access and those abilities?? Or are we truly doing all we can to "live in the light"?

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

Friday, May 17, 2019

President Ezra Taft Benson on finding hope in times of challenge

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.
"To press on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression, will eventually bring you out on top into the sunshine. Even our master Jesus the Christ, while facing that supreme test of being temporarily left alone by our Father during the crucifixion, continued performing his labors for the children of men, and then shortly thereafter he was glorified and received a fullness of joy. While you are going through your trial, you can recall your past victories and count the blessings that you do have with a sure hope of greater ones to follow if you are faithful. And you can have that certain knowledge that in due time God will wipe away all tears and that 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.' (1 Cor. 2:9.)"
- Ezra Taft Benson, "Do Not Despair," General Conference October 1974
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was one of my favorite talks by Elder Benson; well worth reviewing the whole thing. He encourages us to maintain a perspective of hope and gratitude in spite of the challenges and difficulties of life—"even while surrounded by a cloud of depression." Pressing on through the clouds eventually leads to sunshine:

Three important strategies for success, in surviving times of challenge, are:

  • Remembering past achievements
  • Recognizing current blessings
  • Holding to promises for the future, knowing that "in due time God will wipe away all tears"

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

President Howard W. Hunter on our call to follow the Master

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.
"Let us study the Master’s every teaching and devote ourselves more fully to his example. He has given us 'all things that pertain unto life and godliness.' He has 'called us to glory and virtue' and has 'given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these [we] might be partakers of the divine nature' (2 Pet. 1:3–4).
"I believe in those 'exceeding great and precious promises,' and I invite all within the sound of my voice to claim them. We should strive to 'be partakers of the divine nature.' Only then may we truly hope for 'peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come' (D&C 59:23)."
- Howard W. Hunter, "Exceeding Great and Precious Promises," General Conference October 1994
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This excerpt is from President Hunter's first remarks just after he was formally sustained in a solemn assembly as the president of the Church in 1994. It was a beautiful invitation to "study the Master’s every teaching and devote ourselves more fully to his example." It's now been almost 25 years since that invitation was given, and perhaps in this year of renewed emphasis of gospel study in the home, we're responding to that invitation in better ways than before.

The promises from God to those who choose to accept His call are there; but it us up to each of us to claim them, and become "partakers of the divine nature."

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

President Gordon B. Hinckley on finding real beauty in the world

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"There is much of beauty about [the people of the world], but without the root that finds itself in faith and conviction concerning God and the risen Lord, there isn't much of real substance when it comes to a crisis or a showdown of some kind. Seek for the real things, not the artificial. Seek for the everlasting truths, not the passing whim. Seek for the eternal things of God, not for that which is here today and gone tomorrow. 'Look to God and live' [Alma 37:47], as the scripture enjoins us."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Plano Texas Regional Conference, 17 March 1996; see TGBH 494
Click here to read more about this event

Recognizing the beauty that exists in many ways in the world, President Hinckley adds his insight that beauty is enhanced by "faith and conviction concerning God and the risen Lord." That foundation of faith enables us to confront the crises of life that will surely come. And so President Hinckley shares this wise advice:

We would do well to evaluate our priorities:
  • Can I distinguish between real and artificial?
  • Do I make choices based on understanding the differences between things that bring everlasting joy and those that are temporary whims?
  • Am I truly focused on "the eternal things of God"?

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

President Thomas S. Monson on responding to calls to serve

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.
"Then and now, servants of God take comfort from the Master's assurance: 'I am with you alway' (Matt. 28:20). This magnificent promise sustains you....
"An abiding faith, a constant trust, a fervent desire have always characterized those who serve the Lord with all their hearts....
"The call to serve has ever characterized the work of the Lord. It rarely comes at a convenient time. It brings humility, it provokes prayer, and it inspires commitment."
- Thomas S. Monson, "Tears, Trials, Trust, Testimony," General Conference, April 1987
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This message was shared in a Priesthood session of conference when President Monson was serving as a counselor to President Benson. He recognized the challenge that comes to all members of the Church when we are given callings to serve, as we have opportunities to help others in need. The "call" to serve can come as a formal invitation from a leader to fill a particular position or role; or it may be a less formal prompting of a need that we could address in our personal ministry. But for disciples of Christ, that urge to bless others should be a part of our souls.

President Monson himself characterized this inherent attitude of a willingness to serve and bless. His lifetime of formal service in callings was, in a way, almost secondary to the way he often willingly and eagerly followed promptings to bless others in need.

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

Monday, May 13, 2019

Elder Ulisses Soares on learning and teaching the gospel

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.
"As recorded in the book of Acts, Philip the evangelist taught the gospel to a certain Ethiopian who was a eunuch in charge of all the treasures belonging to the queen of Ethiopia. (See Acts 8:27.) While returning from worshipping in Jerusalem, he read the book of Isaiah. Compelled by the Spirit, Philip came closer to him and said, 'Understandest thou what thou readest?
"'And [the eunuch] said, How can I, except some man should guide me? …
"'Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.' (Acts 8:30–31, 35.)
"The question asked by this Ethiopian man is a reminder of the divine mandate we all have to seek to learn and to teach one another the gospel of Jesus Christ. (D&C 88:77–78, 118; 130:18–19; 131:6.) In fact, in the context of learning and teaching the gospel, we are sometimes like the Ethiopian—we need the help of a faithful and inspired teacher; and we are sometimes like Philip—we need to teach and strengthen others in their conversion.
"Our purpose as we seek to learn and to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ must be to increase faith in God and in His divine plan of happiness and in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and to achieve lasting conversion. Such increased faith and conversion will help us make and keep covenants with God, thus strengthening our desire to follow Jesus and producing a genuine spiritual transformation in us—in other words, transforming us into a new creature, as taught by the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17.) This transformation will bring us a more happy, productive, and healthy life and help us to maintain an eternal perspective. Isn’t this exactly what happened to the Ethiopian eunuch after he learned about the Savior and was converted to His gospel? The scripture says that 'he went on his way rejoicing.' (Acts 8:39.)"
- Ulisses Soares, "How Can I Understand?," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Soares speaks of a two-fold "divine mandate" given to each of us: "to seek to learn and to teach one another the gospel of Jesus Christ." Learning must precede teaching, and so our quest should be continually to study, ponder, ad build on our understanding and testimony. Truly in this quest "we need the help of a faithful and inspired teacher." We should seek them out and be eager for their influence. Then, we are preparing to accept our opportunities to pass on what we have learned.

Our quest for divine knowledge brings many benefits: lasting personal conversion, increased faith, growing resolve to follow Jesus, spiritual transformation. And ultimately, the changes we experience "will bring us a more happy, productive, and healthy life."

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on the sacred role of mothers

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.
"During my professional career as a doctor of medicine, I was occasionally asked why I chose to do that difficult work. I responded with my opinion that the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother. Since that option was not available to me, I thought that caring for the sick might come close. I tried to care for my patients as compassionately and competently as Mother cared for me.
"Many years ago the First Presidency issued a statement that has had a profound and lasting influence upon me. 'Motherhood,' they wrote, 'is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.' (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, General Conference October 1942; see Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 6:178)
"Because mothers are essential to God’s great plan of happiness, their sacred work is opposed by Satan, who would destroy the family and demean the worth of women.
"You young men need to know that you can hardly achieve your highest potential without the influence of good women, particularly your mother and, in a few years, a good wife. Learn now to show respect and gratitude. Remember that your mother is your mother. She should not need to issue orders. Her wish, her hope, her hint should provide direction that you would honor. Thank her and express your love for her. And if she is struggling to rear you without your father, you have a double duty to honor her."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women," General Conference, April 1999
Click here to read or listen to the full talk 

President Nelson has spoken a number of times about the influence of his own mother. He developed a great respect for women as he was blessed by a kind and humble woman early in his life. For him, motherhood became "the highest and noblest work in this life"—the most significant and important role anyone could fill.

Meanwhile, President Nelson teaches that Satan seeks to disrupt our perception of the sacred role of mothers, to "destroy the family and demean the worth of women." We must be aware of those tactics and combat them.

This counsel to young men (and young women) is a great message:

As we come to understand the role of women and mothers, we will be eager and sensitive to support and sustain.
Photo taken in 1964 shortly before my father's death

The final sentence of the excerpt is particularly poignant to me, since I was raised by a single mother who was left with five children between ages 4 and 11 when her husband was killed in an accident. I love and honor her and pay tribute to her sacrifices and love for her children. It's hard to conceive of the struggles of single mothers. I wish I had been more aware of the principle President Nelson suggests for youth to be aware and attentive.

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

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Elder Gerrit W. Gong on caring for one another 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.
"Our Good Shepherd seeks and gathers us into His one fold. He asks, 'What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?' (Luke 15:4, emphasis added; see also Doctrine and Covenants 18:15.)
"Our Savior reaches out to the one and to the ninety-and-nine, often at the same time. As we minister, we acknowledge the ninety-and-nine who are steadfast and immovable, even while we yearn after the one who has strayed. Our Lord seeks and delivers us 'out of all places' (Ezekiel 34:12), 'from the four quarters of the earth' (1 Nephi 22:25). He gathers us by holy covenant and His atoning blood. (See Hebrews 13:20.) ...
"Today our Savior desires that what we do and who we are becoming will invite others to come, follow Him. Come find love, healing, connection, and covenant belonging in Him, including in God’s holy temple, where sacred ordinances of salvation can bless all family members, thus gathering Israel on both sides of the veil."
- Gerrit W. Gong, "Good Shepherd, Lamb of God," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

One of the most important functions of every shepherd, working under the direction of The Good Shepherd, is to seek out and care for those who are wandering and lost. That's what He does for us.

It's important to note that ""Our Savior reaches out to the one and to the ninety-and-nine, often at the same time." The 99 are not neglected in His love and concern; they too are blessed by His care and protection. But the one who is lost must be found, and that may require extra seeking. Note that He reaches out to us; we must respond.

And then we, as true under-shepherds, must go and do likewise—caring and ministering for both the 99 and the 1 as we "invte others to some, follow Him."

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

Elder Dale G. Renlund on receiving 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.
"Most blessings that God desires to give us require action on our part—action based on our faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in the Savior is a principle of action and of power. First we act in faith; then the power comes—according to God’s will and timing. The sequence is crucial. The required action, though, is always tiny when compared to the blessings we ultimately receive. (See Mosiah 2:24-25.)
"Consider what happened when fiery, flying serpents came among the ancient Israelites on their way to the promised land. The bite of a poisonous serpent was fatal. But a bitten individual could be healed by looking at a brass serpent fashioned by Moses and placed on a pole. (See Numbers 21:6-9.) How much energy does it take to look at something? All who looked accessed the powers of heaven and were healed. Other Israelites who were bitten failed to look at the brazen serpent and died. Perhaps they lacked the faith to look. (See 1 Nephi 17:41.) Perhaps they did not believe that such a simple action could trigger the promised healing. Or perhaps they willfully hardened their hearts and rejected the counsel of God’s prophet. (See 1 Nephi 17:42.)
"The principle of activating blessings that flow from God is eternal. Like those ancient Israelites, we too must act on our faith in Jesus Christ to be blessed. God has revealed that 'there is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.' (D&C 130:20-21.) That being said, you do not earn a blessing—that notion is false—but you do have to qualify for it. Our salvation comes only through the merits and grace of Jesus Christ. (See 2 Nephi 10:24; 25:23.) The immensity of His atoning sacrifice means that the woodpile is infinite; our puny actions approach zero in comparison. But they are not zero, and they are not insignificant; in the dark, a match that is lit can be seen for miles. In fact, it can be seen in heaven because small acts of faith are required to ignite God’s promises. (See Alma 60:11, 21.)"
- Dale G. Renlund, "Abound with Blessings," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Renlund's conference talk explored the concept of  blessings from God, and the relationship to our actions and deeds. Do all our good actions result in blessings? Do we earn blessings? Is it a simple reward system? The answer is not so easy:

Our faith in Jesus Christ results in actions of obedience, service, kindness, and faithfulness. As we "act in faith," we see the power that results, "according to God's will and timing." The important key is that we don't earn blessings; they come through the grace and goodness of God. But we must qualify for them. Our small actions enable us to see the bounteous blessings that God is eager to give.

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

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Elder Gary E. Stevenson on preparing for future challenges

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.
"What about you? Do you recognize your higher and holier identity as a son of God, a bearer of His holy priesthood? With this eternal identity in mind, create your game plan and priesthood playbook that will guide you during times of temptation and adversity. Consider both offensive and defensive strategies.
"Offensive strategies help strengthen testimonies and increase resolve to stay on the strait and narrow path. Examples include regular prayer, scripture study, church and temple attendance, paying tithing, and following the counsel found in the For the Strength of Youth booklet.
"Defensive strategies include planning ahead how you will face temptation. When tempted to compromise your personal standards, you know beforehand what you will do.
"You need a playbook for that.
"Don’t feel like praying today? Time to execute the play you already game-planned.
"Do you feel your testimony waning? You have a play for that. You know what to do."
- Gary E. Stevenson, "Your Priesthood Playbook," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Stevenson addressed his remarks to the young men of the Church, encouraging them to anticipate challenges ahead in their lives and prepare to confront them. These are principles that all of us, at any age, should consider.

Every one of us has a sacred identity as a child of God, and should do all in our power to live up to that inheritance! I particularly appreciate the idea of "offensive strategies," ways to build strength and prepare in advance by increasing faith and testimony; and "defensive strategies" that help us anticipate ways we might confront challenges and temptations.

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Elder Ronald A. Rasband on the power of willing obedience

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.
"What are some ways we can fortify ourselves in troubled times, that we may be 'instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work' (Alma 26:3)? Let’s look to the scriptures.
"We are obedient. The Lord commanded Father Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to 'seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness' (1 Ne 3:4). Lehi didn’t question; he didn’t wonder why or how. Nor did Nephi, who responded, 'I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded' (1 Ne 3:7).
"Do we act with the willing obedience of Nephi? Or are we more inclined to question God’s commands as did Nephi’s brothers, whose lack of faith eventually turned them away from the Lord? Obedience, exercised with 'holiness of heart' (D&C 46:7), is what the Lord asks of us."
- Ronald A. Rasband, "Build a Fortress of Spirituality and Protection," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

As we work to "strengthen home and family" in troubled and challenging times, one of the greatest keys to our efforts of fortification is the simple, eternal concept of obedience. Our willingness to be humble followers of the Savior, striving in every way to live His commandments and instructions, will result in power and strength that we desperately need.

The concept of "willing obedience" is a subtle but important clarification as well. When we are grudging or questioning in every act of our lives, we will not obtain the same results:

Our love of the Savior and testimony of His work should make it easy to obey with "holiness of heart." I love the statement of President Ezra Taft Benson: "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." (Quoted by Elder Donald L. Staheli, "Obedience—Life’s Great Challenge," General Conference April 1998)

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

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Elder Neil L. Andersen on following prophets in faith

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.
"Should we really be surprised when the Lord’s prophets declare His will and, for some, questions remain? Of course, some reject the voice of the prophets immediately, but others prayerfully ponder their honest questions—questions that will be settled with patience and an eye of faith. If the proclamation had been revealed in a different century, there would still have been questions, just different questions than those of today. One purpose of prophets is to help us in resolving sincere questions.
"Prior to being the President of the Church, President Russell M. Nelson said: 'Prophets see ahead. They see the harrowing dangers the adversary has placed or will yet place in our path. Prophets also foresee the grand possibilities and privileges awaiting those who listen with the intent to obey.' (Russell M. Nelson, 'Stand as True Millennials,' Ensign, Oct. 2016, 31)
"I testify to the truth and spiritual power of the united voice of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve."
- Neil L. Andersen, "The Eye of Faith," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Andersen spoke of the challenges we face in modern times as we consider complex issues in society, as they relate to the counsel and instruction that comes from prophets. Sometimes there are questions and struggles as we interpret that counsel and strive to apply it to our situation. He reassured us that those questions are not inappropriate:

The key is always to "prayerfully ponder [our] honest questions" and know that answers and reassurance will come through "patience and an eye of faith." We must learn to trust in the Lord and His timetable. As we proceed with confidence based on what we do know, uncertainty about things we do not know will be resolved. We should "listen with the intent to obey" and we will be blessed.

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

Monday, May 6, 2019

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on preparing now for the Second Coming of the Lord

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.
"The Holy Spirit affirmed two things to me. First, the work of ministering to temporal needs is vital and must continue. The second was unexpected, yet powerful and clear. It was this: beyond selfless service, it is supremely important to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"When He comes, oppression and injustice will not only diminish; they will cease....
"So yes, let us do all we can to relieve suffering and sorrow now, and let us devote ourselves more diligently to the preparations needed for the day when pain and evil are ended altogether, when 'Christ [shall] reign personally upon the earth; and … the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory' (Articles of Faith 1:10). It will be a day of redemption and judgment."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Preparing for the Lord’s Return," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Among most important things we do in this life is to learn to love and serve our neighbors, following the example and the instructions of the Savior. Paul put it succinctly and beautifully: "Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (Gal 6:2.) This service is a critical part of the great call to prepare for the return of the Lord to the earth.

As we serve one another with Christlike love, we will do much to "relieve suffering and sorrow" around us. Then we can continue with the sacred preparations for the day when all pain and evil will be swept away. Each of us can contribute to that eternally-critical preparation.

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

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Elder Quentin L. Cook on improving the spirit in our homes

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.
"One adjustment that will benefit almost any family is to make the internet, social media, and television a servant instead of a distraction or, even worse, a master. The war for the souls of all, but particularly children, is often in the home. As parents we need to make sure that media content is wholesome, age appropriate, and consistent with the loving atmosphere we are trying to create.
"Teaching in our homes needs to be clear and compelling but also spiritual, joyful, and full of love.
"I promise that as we focus on our love for the Savior and His Atonement, make Him the centerpiece of our efforts to gather Israel on both sides of the veil, minister to others, and individually prepare to meet God, the influence of the adversary will be diminished and the joy, delight, and peace of the gospel will magnify our homes with Christlike love."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Great Love for Our Father’s Children," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This statement, to me, is a profound and somewhat frightening one: "The war for the souls of all, but particularly children, is often in the home." The efforts of the adversary to disrupt and confuse us happen in any location, but particularly in that setting that ought to be our haven from the world.

As Elder Cook warns, it is often through media that Satan works in our day, and we need to be constantly on guard against his efforts. Parents who have the privilege of teaching children must not shirk that duty or lose opportunities to have their instruction "be clear and compelling but also spiritual, joyful, and full of love."

We should pay attention when inspired leaders promise results for our actions; this should invite and encourage us to claim the blessings. Elder Cook suggests that our part of this arrangement is to:
  • focus love on the Savior and His Atonement
  • have the Savior as the center of our missionary and family history efforts
  • minister faithfully to our brothers and sisters
  • do all we can individually to prepare to meet God

Then the promises are:

  • the adversary's influence will be diminished
  • our homes will be magnified with Christlike love through the gospel's power
Those are marvelous promises!

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

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on strengthening our homes

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.
"Let me summarize a few basic implications of gospel learning becoming increasingly home centered and Church supported.
"The ultimate missionary training center is in our homes; secondary missionary training centers are located in Provo, Manila, Mexico City, and in other locations. Our most instructive Sunday School classes should be our individual and family study in our places of residence; helpful but secondary Sunday School classes are held in our meetinghouses.
"Family history centers now are in our homes. Supplemental support for our family history research work also is available in our meetinghouses.
"Vital temple preparation classes occur in our homes; important but secondary temple preparation classes also may be conducted periodically in our meetinghouses.
"Making our homes sanctuaries wherein we can 'stand in holy places' (D&C 101:22) is essential in these latter days. And as important as home-centered and Church-supported learning is for our spiritual strength and protection today, it will be even more vital in the future."
- David A. Bednar, "Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Bednar addressed ideas about gospel study and strengthening home and family. The recent emphasis from Church leaders on "home-centered, church-supported" efforts is interesting to consider in different aspects, as Elder Bednar does here. It applies not just to gospel learning, but also to family history work, preparation to serve missions and to make sacred temple covenants, and in many other areas. We must have a better focus on making our homes a sacred haven from the world, where we can learn and grow together:

We have been warned regularly that things will likely become more difficult and challenging in the future. With that in mind, it's critical that we make efforts now to establish patterns of learning and worship in our homes so that they truly can be "sanctuaries" from the world.

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

Friday, May 3, 2019

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on walking the path of discipleship

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.
"Strive to walk the path of discipleship. As your love for God and His children deepens, so does your commitment to follow Jesus Christ.
"You learn about His way by feasting upon His word and heeding and applying the teachings of modern prophets and apostles. You grow in confidence and courage to follow His way as you communicate with Heavenly Father with a teachable, humble heart.
"Walking the path of discipleship takes practice—each day, little by little, 'grace for grace' (D&C 93:12), 'line upon line' (Isaiah 28:10). Sometimes two steps forward and one step back.
"The important thing is that you don’t give up; keep trying to get it right. You will eventually become better, happier, and more authentic. Talking with others about your faith will become normal and natural. In fact, the gospel will be such an essential, precious part of your lives that it would feel unnatural not to talk about it with others. That may not happen immediately—it is a lifelong effort. But it will happen."
- 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 counseled regarding ways to be effective missionaries as we strive to share the gospel with others. One of the most important things is to be faithful disciples ourselves, demonstrating in our lives the influence of the gospel plan:

The more we begin to understand God and His plan for us, the more we feel a profound sense of love for Him, and the more eager we are to follow His way. That is the essence of discipleship. Our humble communication with God will increase and we will "grow in confidence and courage" in sharing the message with others. As we persist in that path, we will eventually "become better, happier, and more authentic."

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