Sunday, April 24, 2022

President Russell M. Nelson on the power of temple worship

President Russell M. Nelson (b. 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, and was serving in that quorum when he shared this message. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015, and then as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"The adversary never sleeps. There will always be opposition to the truth. I repeat my urging from this morning to do those things that will increase your positive spiritual momentum, that lift Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was talking about, that will keep you moving forward through whatever challenges and opportunities come.

"Positive spiritual momentum increases as we worship in the temple and grow in our understanding of the magnificent breadth and depth of the blessings we receive there. I plead with you to counter worldly ways by focusing on the eternal blessings of the temple. Your time there brings blessings for eternity."

- Russell M. Nelson, "Now is the Time," General Conference April 2022 Sunday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

President Nelson's closing remarks for the April 2022 General Conference included a challenge to act now on the things that will make a difference in our "positive spiritual momentum." In our complicated and challenging world, ensuring that we truly do have positive momentum is critical! Before the traditional announcement of new temples to be built, President Nelson spoke about how temple worship can bless our lives:

We can "counter worldly ways" when we focus more of our time and attention on the Lord's temples. Serving and worshipping in the temple not only aids our daily lives, but "brings blessings for eternity." If we truly listen to the words of the Lord through the prophet, we will think carefully about our dedication to temple worship!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Elder Ulisses Soares on developing spiritual awe

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.
"I have reflected on how much more spiritual wonder, so to speak, that we can and should feel for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the difference it can make in our discipleship and in our journey toward eternal life. The wonder I refer to is the sensation of emotion, awe, or amazement common to all who wholeheartedly center their lives on the Savior and His teachings and humbly recognize His presence in their lives. Such a feeling of wonder, inspired by the influence of the Holy Ghost, stimulates the enthusiasm to joyfully live the doctrine of Christ....

"My brothers and sisters, when we truly are in awe of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we are happier, we have more enthusiasm for God’s work, and we recognize the Lord’s hand in all things. Additionally, our study of God’s words is more meaningful; our prayers, more intentional; our worship, more reverent; our service in God’s kingdom, more diligent. All these actions contribute to the Holy Spirit’s influence being more frequent in our lives. Thus, our testimony of the Savior and His gospel will be strengthened, we will keep Christ alive in us (see Gal 2:20), and we will live our lives 'rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, … abounding therein with thanksgiving' (Colo 2:7). When we live in this way, we become more spiritually resilient and protected against falling into the trap of spiritual apathy."

- Ulisses Soares, "In Awe of Christ and His Gospel," General Conference April 2022, Sunday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Soares talked about some of my favorite words: awe, wonder, amazement. His premise was that a proper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings us "spiritual wonder" that will change our entire approach to life, both mortal life and eternal life. It is a great key to discipleship!

I find it hard to believe that anyone who has truly made efforts to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and particularly His Atonement, will feel anything but profound wonder and awe. They are such remarkable gifts to us! When we center our lives on the Savior and His teachings, our lives are deeply blessed. And we can "joyfully live" the gospel principles each day!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Elder Gerrit W. Gong on connecting roots and branches

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.
"Ask friends or family to draw a living tree. As President Russell M. Nelson teaches, living trees have roots and branches. Whether you are your first or tenth known generation, connect yesterday for tomorrow. Connect the roots and branches in your living family tree....

"Still very much alive, our ancestors deserve to be remembered. We remember our heritage through oral histories, clan records and family stories, memorials or places of remembrance, and celebrations with photos, foods, or items which remind us of loved ones....

"We honor our ancestors by opening the heavens through temple and family history work and by becoming a welding link in the chain of our generations.

"In this age of 'I choose me,' societies benefit when generations connect in meaningful ways. We need roots to have wings—real relationships, meaningful service, life beyond fleeting social media veneers."

"Connecting with our ancestors can change our lives in surprising ways. From their trials and accomplishments, we gain faith and strength. From their love and sacrifices, we learn to forgive and move forward. Our children become resilient. We gain protection and power. Ties with ancestors increase family closeness, gratitude, miracles. Such ties can bring help from the other side of the veil."

- Gerrit W. Gong, "We Each Have a Story," General Conference April 2022, Saturday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Gong spoke about the power that exists in identifying, and "connecting," our ancestors and our descendants. I loved the personal stories he told, both of his own family and of others who shared insights on the power of making those connections.

I have appreciated that in my own life, since I lost my father at a young age. Learning more about who he was has been very meaningful and powerful to me. And I have felt that with grandparents, and others further back in the tree. Recognizing that each one was an individual, with personality, hopes, desires, dreams, challenges, disappointments - all the things that I have felt in my own life - has made me grateful for my heritage and desirous to pass on the best to those who follow.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Elder Dale G. Renlund on the eternal consequences of choices

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.
"You may know that I used to treat patients with heart failure. Their best outcomes were obtained by following established, evidence-based treatment plans. Despite knowing this, some patients tried to negotiate a different treatment plan. They said, 'I don’t want to take so many medications' or 'I don’t want to undergo so many follow-up tests.' Of course, patients were free to make their own decisions, but if they deviated from optimal treatment plans, their results suffered. Patients with heart failure cannot choose an inferior course and then blame their cardiologist for inferior outcomes.

"The same is true for us. Heavenly Father’s prescribed path leads to the best eternal outcomes. We are free to choose, but we cannot choose the consequences of not following the revealed path. The Lord has said, 'That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, … cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment' (D&C 88:35). We cannot deviate from Heavenly Father’s course and then blame Him for inferior outcomes."

- Dale G. Renlund, "Your Divine Nature and Eternal Destiny," General Conference April 2022, Women's Session
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

I love Elder Renlund's perspective. We have seen this scenario played out pointedly in recent times. Some people are unwilling to take the advice of a doctor in a critical life situation; they either don't trust the doctor's wisdom and experience, or they think they know better for themselves than the doctor can know. To me, it seems very odd not to trust an expert who is established, recognized, and proven.

The application to critical spiritual matters is so much more important.

Both in medical and spiritual matters, we can always choose the action we take; but we can't choose the consequences of our action. That is a profound, critical, eternal distinction that we must never forget. We should never choose to "deviate from Heavenly Father's course" because the outcomes will certainly follow!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Elder Gary E. Stevenson on showing Christlike love

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.
"Our hearts are heavy with the human suffering and tensions that we see throughout the world during these tumultuous times. However, we can be also inspired by the outpouring of compassion and humanitarianism that has been demonstrated by people everywhere through their efforts to reach out to the marginalized—those displaced from their homes, separated from their families, or experiencing other forms of sorrow and despair....

"Whenever we show Christlike love toward our neighbor, we preach the gospel—even if we do not voice a single word.

"Love for others is the eloquent expression of the second great commandment to love our neighbor; it shows the refining process of the Holy Spirit working within our own souls. By demonstrating Christ’s love to others, we may cause those who see our good works to 'glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.' (Matt. 5:16)

"We do this expecting nothing in return.

"Our hope, of course, is they will accept our love and our message, though how they react is not within our control.

"What we do and who we are certainly are.

"Through Christlike love for others, we preach the glorious, life-transforming properties of Christ’s gospel, and we participate significantly in the fulfilling of His great commission."

- Gary E. Stevenson, "Love, Share, Invite", General Conference April 2022, Sunday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Stevenson's remarks focused on the Savior's invitation to take the Savior's message "into all the world." He described three steps or parts of the process: love, share, invite. In the "love" section, Elder Stevenson talked about the power of expressing true love for others, true Christlike love.

Seeing the gospel in the life of a true disciple is certainly a powerful message. Actions speak louder than words! And if the message of the Savior doesn't result in action in our lives, it's not worth much. I love this reminder.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Elder Ronald A. Rasband on the Savior's example of doing good

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.
"Religious freedom honors the first and second great commandments, placing God at the center of our lives. We read in Matthew:

"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.'

"'And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' (Matt 22:37, 39)

"Whether in a chapel, synagogue, mosque, or tin-roofed hut, Christ’s disciples and all like-minded believers can express devotion to God by worship of Him and willingness to serve His children.

"Jesus Christ is the perfect example of such love and service. During His ministry, He cared for the poor, healed the sick and the blind. He fed the hungry, opened His arms to little children, and forgave those who wronged Him, even crucified Him.

"The scriptures describe that Jesus 'went about doing good' (Acts 10:38). So must we."

- Ronald A. Rasband, "To Heal the World," General Conference April 2022, Sunday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

This excerpt from Elder Rasband's address on religious liberty focused on the blessing that comes as those who are free in a society are able to "go about doing good." When religious liberty prevails, the disciples of Christ (and "all other like-minded believers") devote their lives to service.

Certainly one of the reasons we strive to protect our religious liberty is so that we can continue to fully express our desire to "go about doing good" as the Savior did.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Elder Neil L. Andersen on being a peacemaker

Elder Neil L. Andersen (1951- ) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"The Sermon on the Mount is a message for all but was specifically given to the Savior’s disciples, those who had chosen to follow Him.

"The Lord taught how to live, then and now, in a contemptuous world. 'Blessed are the peacemakers,' He declared, 'for they shall be called the children of God.' (Matthew 5:9)

"By the shield of our faith in Jesus Christ, we become peacemakers, quenching—meaning to calm, cool, or extinguish—all the fiery darts of the adversary.

"As we do our part, His promise is that we will be called the 'children of God.' Every person on earth is the 'offspring' of God, but to be called the 'children of God' means much, much more. As we come unto Jesus Christ and make covenants with Him, we become 'his seed' and 'heirs of the kingdom,' 'children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters.'

"How does a peacemaker calm and cool the fiery darts? Certainly not by shrinking before those who disparage us. Rather, we remain confident in our faith, sharing our beliefs with conviction but always void of anger or malice."

- Neil L. Andersen, "Following Jesus: Being a Peacemaker," General Conference April 2022, Saturday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Andersen began has talk by observing how confrontational and antagonistic our world has become, and how those emotions are magnified by social media. It's a very real concern, one that many of us confront regularly. How does one accept the Savior's invitation to become a "peacemaker" in this troubled world?

The Gospel is a plan for happiness, and confrontation drives happiness away. Satan delights in causing disputes, bitterness, anger, and jealousy. As we carefully and faithfully live Gospel principles, we will be prepared to "quench" those "fiery darts" that are directed at us. And the blessings that will follow include the promise of being "children of God" in very rich and meaningful ways.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
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