Sunday, June 16, 2019

President Gordon B. Hinckley on a faithful father in a heavenly home

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.
"As a husband, he would live with respect for his wife, standing side by side with her, never belittling her nor demeaning her, but rather encouraging her in the continued development of her talents and in the church activities which are available to her. He would regard her as the greatest treasure of his life, one with whom he can share his concerns, his innermost thoughts, his ambitions and hopes. There would never be in that home any 'unrighteous dominion' of husband over wife (see D&C 121:37, 39), no assertion of superiority, no assertion of authority, but rather an expression in living which says that these two are equally yoked....
"How beautiful is that home where lives a man of godly manner, who loves those for whose nurture he is responsible, who stands before them as an example of integrity and goodness, who teaches industry and loyalty, not spoiling his children by indulging their every wish, but rather setting before them a pattern of work and service which will underpin their lives forever. How fortunate is the man whose wife radiates a spirit of love, of compassion, of order, of quiet beneficence, whose children show appreciation one for another, who honor and respect their parents, who counsel with them and take counsel from them. Such home life is within the reach of all who have cultivated in their hearts a resolution to do that which will please their Father in Heaven."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "To Please Our Heavenly Father," General Conference April 1985
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Hinckley was serving as a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball when this talk was given. He used as his theme a statement from President Kimball, who had said that in his early youth he "made up his mind that he wanted to please his Heavenly Father." President Hinckley suggested that would be a good measure for all the activities of our lives, and then described a number of scenarios in which we could reflect that spirit.

How pleased our Heavenly Father would be if every home reflected the leadership and strength of a father who is committed to the gospel, devoted to his beloved wife, and deeply involved in teaching and nurturing his children:

The goal of every husband and father should be to live in a "godly manner" filled with love and care for those in his stewardship. It's interesting that President Hinckley focuses on the teaching of hard work and service as primary responsibilities of a father. When children learn these habits, they "will underpin their lives forever."

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

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on the enabling power of grace

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.
"I have pondered the instruction of Jacob as contained in the Book of Mormon:
"'Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
"'Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things' (Jacob 4:6–7).
"Brothers and sisters, please pay particular attention to the word grace as it is used in the verse I just read. In the Bible Dictionary we learn that the word grace frequently is used in the scriptures to connote a strengthening or enabling power:
"'The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
"'… It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts' (p. 697).
"Thus, the enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity. I testify and witness that the enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement is real."
- David A. Bednar, "In the Strength of the Lord," General Conference October 2004
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The concept of grace is one of the most important and fascinating gospel themes to ponder and study. I have long been fascinated by the Bible Dictionary's powerful phrase "enabling power." Jacob's insightful description of how the Savior's grace gives us "power to do these things" is foundational to this concept.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the grace it offers us, we have the ability "to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish" on our own. How important it is for us to come to understand this wonderful power and learn to claim its benefits in our lives!

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

President Heber C. Kimball on prayers and works

President Heber C. Kimball (June 14, 1801-1868) was a member of the first Quorum of Twelve Apostles ordained in this dispensation in 1835. He served as first counselor to Brigham Young from 1847 until his death in 1868 at age 67. He was the grandfather of Spencer W. Kimball, who became an apostle in 1943 and served as president of the Church from 1973-1985. His great-great-grandson, Quentin L. Cook, currently serves as an apostle.
"What good do your prayers do, when your works do not correspond? Men may talk about praying, and exhort the people to pray; and if you do not live in a manner to fulfill your prayers, what do they avail you? Faith is dead without works, just as much as my body is dead without my spirit. When my spirit leaves my body, my body is dead; but put them together, and they make a soul—a spirit in a tabernacle. What is the use of our professing to be Saints, unless we live our religion? By our faithfulness and by our good works we shall obtain knowledge."
- Heber C. Kimball, remarks delivered at the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, July 12, 1857; see Journal of Discourses 5:28
Click here to read the full talk

Thought-provoking question: "What good do your prayers do, when your works do not correspond?" One purpose of prayer is to change our hearts, which will result in changed actions and behavior. If that does not happen, the prayers are as empty words.

We must not only pray, but "live in a manner to fulfill [our] prayers." Our actions are critical along with our feelings and sentiments. Our lives must reflect our spiritual commitments and longings!

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Elder L. Tom Perry on growing through family traditions

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922-2015) was called as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1972, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1974. At the time of his passing at age 92, he was the oldest living general authority and the third in seniority among the leading quorum.
"The Lord has not been so explicit in providing us religious customs along the order of feasts and festivals [as in Old Testament times] to remind us of the blessings we receive from Him today. However, the practice of having traditions to keep us close to the great heritage which is ours to enjoy should be something every family should try to keep alive....
"If we will build righteous traditions in our families, the light of the gospel can grow ever brighter in the lives of our children from generation to generation. We can look forward to that glorious day when we will all be united together as eternal family units to reap the everlasting joy promised by our Eternal Father for His righteous children.
"Our family activities and traditions can be a beacon to the rest of the world as an example of how we should live to merit His choice blessings and live in peace and harmony until the day that He returns to rule and reign over us."
- L. Tom Perry, "Family Traditions," General Conference April 1990
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The "feasts and festivals" of times past were beneficial in establishing a sense of community as they helped people remember the traditions of the past and the blessings of God in their lives. We don't have as many formal celebrations in our day, so Elder Perry encourages us to have our own informal family traditions to help achieve the same goals. He identifies these blessings of that kind of family tradition:

Not only will the traditions bless our families with an increase of the light of the gospel, but they can serve as a light to others around us as we strive to share the gospel light with the world. We would do well to consider these traditions and emphasize them in our family gatherings!

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

President Boyd K. Packer on balancing reason and revelation

President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He served as president of that Quorum from 1994 until his death in 2015 at age 90.
"The ties between universities and the churches that founded them have been severed because of constantly recurring contention between the spiritual and the temporal; the never-ending controversy between a narrow view of science and religion; the ancient conflict between reason and revelation.
"There are two opposing convictions in the university environment. On the one hand, 'seeing is believing.' On the other, 'believing is seeing.' Both are true! Each in its place. The combining of the two individually or institutionally is the challenge of life. Neither influence will easily surrender to the other. They may function for a time under some sort of a truce, but the subtle discord is ever present.
"They mix the way oil and water mix—only with constant shaking or stirring. When the stirring stops, they separate again. It takes a catalytic process to blend them. This requires the introduction of a third ingredient, a catalyst, which itself remains unchanged in the blending process.
"Each of us must accommodate the mixture of reason and revelation in our lives. The gospel not only permits but requires it. An individual who concentrates on either side solely and alone will lose both balance and perspective. History confirms that the university environment always favors reason, and the workings of the Spirit are made to feel uncomfortable. I know of no examples to the contrary.
"Spirituality, while consummately strong, reacts to very delicate changes in its environment. To have it present at all and to keep it in some degree of purity requires a commitment and a watch-care that can admit to no embarrassment when compared with what the scholarly world is about."
- Boyd K. Packer, "I Say unto You, Be One," Brigham Young University Devotional, February 12, 1991
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Packer shared these remarks with a university audience, discussing the particular challenges of that learning environment where historically reason and revelation, or science and religion, once coexisted, but then separated, and now sometimes compete. He reminds us that in our personal lives, both are important; we must learn to have them coexist and interact in our minds and thoughts. However, in the so-called "scholarly world," reason often pushes revelation to the side and even dismisses it as inferior and inadequate.

I found this to be a profound concept. Spirituality is strong, but "reacts to very delicate changes in its environment." We must take caution to preserve and maintain our spirituality in the face of many forces that threaten it. Truly it "requires a commitment and a watch-care" to give spiritual things the prominence and influence in our lives they deserve.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin on facing life's challenges with humor

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1986, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1986 until his passing in 2008 at age 91.
"I remember when one of our daughters went on a blind date. She was all dressed up and waiting for her date to arrive when the doorbell rang. In walked a man who seemed a little old, but she tried to be polite. She introduced him to me and my wife and the other children; then she put on her coat and went out the door. We watched as she got into the car, but the car didn’t move. Eventually our daughter got out of the car and, red faced, ran back into the house. The man that she thought was her blind date had actually come to pick up another of our daughters who had agreed to be a babysitter for him and his wife.
"We all had a good laugh over that. In fact, we couldn’t stop laughing. Later, when our daughter’s real blind date showed up, I couldn’t come out to meet him because I was still in the kitchen laughing. Now, I realize that our daughter could have felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she laughed with us, and as a result, we still laugh about it today.
"The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable."
- Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Come What May, and Love It," General Conference October 2008
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Wirthlin shared a personal story with a great moral. Sometimes particularly difficult events occur in our lives, and we're faced with the challenge of how to respond. In Elder Wirthlin's story it was a choice between either succumbing to embarrassment and humiliation, or responding with good humor. In our lives sometimes the alternatives are more serious or challenging, as we confront discouragement, suffering, pain, or any of a whole range of challenges and difficulties that could lead us to "groan."

Approaching life with humor and a positive attitude is a great asset for successful living.

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

President James E. Faust on eternal perspective for the challenges of life

President James E. Faust (1920-2007) was called as a Seventy in 1976, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve in 1978. He served as a counselor to President Hinckley from 1995 until his death in 2007 at age 87.
"Our love of God must be pure, without selfish intent. The pure love of Christ must be the motive in our devotion.
"Now all this suffering might indeed be unfair if everything ended at death, but it doesn’t. Life is not like a one-act play. It has three acts. We had a past act, when we were in the premortal existence; and now we have a present act, which is mortality; and we will have a future act, when we return to God (see Eccl. 12:7). As Jesus promised, 'In my Father’s house are many mansions' (John 14:2). We were sent into mortality to be tested and tried. As the Lord explained to Abraham, 'We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them' (Abraham 3:25).
"Our past and present sufferings cannot, as Paul said, 'be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Romans 8:18) in the eternities. 'For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory' (D&C 58:4). So tribulation is useful in the sense that it is helpful to get into the celestial kingdom....
"It’s not so much what happens to us but how we deal with what happens to us."
- James E. Faust, "Where Do I Make My Stand?," General Conference October 2004
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The recognition that "life does not end at death" is a critical understanding for our eternal perspective. Once we grasp that concept, the perspective of our trials and challenges changes dramatically:

With a firm grasp on the perspective of eternity, we then can contemplate the purpose of our existence and the challenges we might encounter in life. They are not coincidental, but have reason and benefit that will last far beyond the grave. Then we can recognize that "It’s not so much what happens to us but how we deal with what happens to us." What a profound concept!

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