Wednesday, June 23, 2021

President Gordon B. Hinckley on temple attendance

President 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.
"I hope that everyone gets to the temple on a regular basis. I hope your children over 12 years of age have the opportunity of going to the temple to be baptized for the dead. If we are a temple-going people, we will be a better people, we will be better fathers and husbands, we will be better wives and mothers. I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you. Now, please, please, my beloved brethren and sisters, avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord's house and thereby partake of all of the marvelous blessings that are yours to be received there." 
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Lima Peru fireside, Nov. 9, 1996; see TGBH 624

President Hinckley loved the temple and had a great vision of its importance. One of the great efforts of his ministry and leadership was to build temples all around the world, bringing them close to the people. This quote reflects the parallel desire to bring the people to the temple. The service that is rendered is so eternally important; but the blessings that come are also a focus of the message, as we are promised that our abilities to function in our God-given roles will be enhanced. But in order to claim those blessings, we must attend the temple! President Hinckley urges us to be there in order to claim the blessings that will surely follow.

I love the quiet assurance in President Hinckley's message, and have felt it confirmed in my own life.

When a prophet pleads with the people—"please, please, my beloved brethren and sisters, avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord's house"—we should not hesitate!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 5, 2015

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

President Wilford Woodruff on the testimony of the Holy Ghost

Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) was called as an apostle in 1839 by Joseph Smith, and sustained as the 4th president of the Church in 1889.  He served until his death in 1898 at age 91.
"What is the greatest testimony any man or woman can have as to this being the work of God? I will tell you what is the greatest testimony I have ever had, the most sure testimony, that is the testimony of the Holy Ghost, the testimony of the Father and the Son. We may have the ministration of angels; we may be wrapt in the visions of heaven—these things as testimonies are very good, but when you receive the Holy Ghost, when you receive the testimony of the Father and the Son, it is a true principle to every man on earth, it deceives no man, and by that principle you can learn and understand the mind of God. 
"Revelation has been looked upon by this Church, as well as by the world, as something very marvelous. What is revelation? The testimony of the Father and Son. How many of you have had revelation? How many of you have had the Spirit of God whisper unto you—the still small voice. I would have been in the spirit world a great many years ago, if I had not followed the promptings of the still small voice. These were the revelations of Jesus Christ, the strongest testimony a man or a woman can have. I have had many testimonies since I have been connected with this Church and kingdom. I have been blessed at times with certain gifts and graces, certain revelations and ministrations; but with them all I have never found anything that I could place more dependence upon than the still small voice of the Holy Ghost." 
- Wilford Woodruff, discourse at the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, July 3, 1880; see JD 21:195-6
Click here to read the full talk

What an interesting insight this is! To have experiences like the ministration of angels, or to be wrapped up in the very visions of heaven are "very good"; but the greatest testimony of all, the most sure testimony, the principle that will lead us to "learn and understand the mind of God" is the simple witness of the Holy Ghost, the "still small voice" testifying of the Father and the Son.

President Woodruff did indeed know whereof he spoke. He had many opportunities in his life to have visions and sacred experiences. But he also knew what it was to be sensitive to gentle promptings, and had many miraculous experiences because of his sensitivity to those promptings. And those are the revelations of heaven that he most prized. How important it must be for us to learn to hear those witnesses!

I'm particularly impressed by the phrase, "by that principle you can learn and understand the mind of God." That's more of a treasure than it may appear to be at first glance. If we truly come to understand His mind and will, we will never doubt, never question. We will comprehend so much more of the events of the world, and in particular, the challenges in our own life. We will see as He sees and understand as He does; what a critical step in becoming like Him. And it starts with a still, small voice.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 1, 2015

Monday, June 21, 2021

Elder David A. Bednar on prayer on behalf of others

Elder David A. Bednar (1952- ) was sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2004.
"Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.... 
"Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior, our prayers truly will become more meaningful." 
- David A. Bednar, "Pray Always", General Conference October 2008
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Bednar describes what is somewhat of a progression of the maturity of our communication with Heavenly Father. We ask for blessings and help in our own lives — and that is "good and proper." Learning to express more gratitude can aid in the effectiveness of our communication. But the importance of awareness of those around us is the great insight. When we pray "earnestly" for others, our prayers can take on a greater power and effectiveness.

Likewise, it's important that those around us hear us pray in these ways. Family members should "feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires." I think it blesses the faith of others to hear prayers on their behalf! What a good reminder about how to bless those who matter most to us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 19, 2015

Sunday, June 20, 2021

President Gordon B. Hinckley on the responsibility of fathers

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.
"Many years ago President Stephen L. Richards, then a Counselor in the First Presidency, speaking from this pulpit made an eloquent plea to put father back at the head of the family. I repeat that plea to all fathers. Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as the head of the family. That does not carry with it any implication of dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. It carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life, not only to one another but also to the God of heaven, who is our Eternal Father....
"With the obligation to beget goes the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth. Yours is the power and the responsibility to preside in a home where there is peace and security, love and harmony."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go," General Conference October 1993
Click here to read the full talk
President Hinckley re-issues a "plea" shared by one of his predecessors "to put father back at the head of the family." His plea is to the fathers themselves, not to any others who might have displaced them, saying they have a "basic and inescapable responsibility" to lead, and to provide for needs:

That's quite a list of responsibilities! President Hinckley shares the wonderful vision of "the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth." What a great need that is, today more than ever, as so many forces assail home and family. But the reminder of how is also critical: not as a dictator, not expressing inappropriate dominion. The leadership of a true father is based on love and righteous understanding.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
June 16, 2015

Friday, June 18, 2021

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on being grateful during any circumstances

President Uchtdorf (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 until 2018.
"We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. 
"This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. 
"When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ's Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven's embrace. 
"We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain? 
"Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges. 
"This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind." 
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances," General Conference April 2014
Click here to read the full address

I think the trait President Uchtdorf describes is one of the hardest things for many people to do. It's the "no matter what" that is so challenging.

How do you truly transcend anything that is happening, surpassing "disappointment, discouragement, and despair" in order to find "gentle peace" amid tribulation?

But here is the key: learning to see, "through the eyes of faith", what lies "beyond" the current difficulty. This kind of deep, faith-filled gratitude is what will sustain us, even heal us, through all those difficulties of life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 18, 2015

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Elder Robert D. Hales on waiting upon the Lord

Elder Robert D. Hales (August 24, 1932-October 1, 2017) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"The purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we 'wait upon the Lord' (Psalm 37:9; 123:2; Isaiah 8:17; 40:31; 2 Nephi 18:17). Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, 'all these things shall [be for our] experience, and... [our] good' (D&C 122:7). 
"Does this mean we will always understand our challenges? Won't all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, 'O God, where art thou?' (D&C 121:1). Yes! When a spouse dies, a companion will wonder. When financial hardship befalls a family, a father will ask. When children wander from the path, a mother and father will cry out in sorrow. Yes, 'weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning' (Psalm 30:5). Then, in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord, saying, 'Thy will be done' (Matthew 6:10; 3 Nephi 13:10; see also Matthew 26:39). 
"What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end." 
- Robert D. Hales, "Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done," General Conference October 2011; Click here to read the full talk

I've always been intrigued by the phrase "wait upon the Lord." Sometimes we view it as the long, seemingly unending, sometimes agonizing period that we endure as we struggle through a challenge or difficulty, until finally relief comes.

Elder Hales helps give a perspective that will bless those who understand it. There will be periods of waiting and enduring in all of our lives, as "mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son." That test could never occur if there were immediate relief, instant blessings, constant deliverance.

But it's the nature of the waiting that is the key.  Waiting isn't an activity of passive endurance. It's an active process we engage in, during which some of our greatest development and growth can occur. It's the time when the greatest spiritual gifts and virtues often come into play. If we remember this, we will be doing much more than enduring passively. Waiting "upon the Lord" becomes waiting "with the Lord."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 15, 2015

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Elder Richard G. Scott on receiving God's help through prayer

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928-2015) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He passed away in September 2015 at the age of 86.
"Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously. It may seem paradoxical, but that is why recognizing answers to prayer can sometimes be very difficult. Some face life with only their own experience and capacity to help them. Others seek, through prayer, divine inspiration to know what to do. When required, they qualify for power beyond their own capacity to do it. 
"Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege. It is based upon unchanging principles. When we receive help from our Father in Heaven, it is in response to faith, obedience, and the proper use of agency.... 
"Don't worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your Father. He hears every prayer and answers it in His way. 
"When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no. Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us—perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us. For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. In time, He will answer. He will not fail us." 
- Richard G. Scott, "Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer," General Conference October 1989; Click here to read the full talk

This excerpt begins with a declaration that seems simple and obvious, but is full of meaning and critical to understanding Elder Scott's message:

I believe it's so important to understand and believe that statement. Any loving father or mother knows the truth of the principle; we yearn for the happiness and success of our children, in all the ways that matter most. If we truly believe our Father in Heaven feels that way about us, then it will guide our actions in many ways. In particular, related to the principle of prayer, we will know that our prayers matter, that they are heard, and that true communication will be established based on the unchanging principles that Elder Scott enumerates.

Another simple but profound principle. Just talk. Allow the real inner feelings of our heart to reach out to God, knowing that He truly does hear, and will answer — in His way and His timing. If we trust in his wisdom and love, we just need to learn to listen better, to act on what we know, and to be blessed in that process.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 13, 2015
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