Thursday, June 30, 2016

Howard W. Hunter on allowing Jesus to heal our lives

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President for only nine months, from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"'And when he saw him [that is, when Jairus saw Jesus], he fell at his feet.' (see Mark 5:22–24)
"This was an unusual circumstance for a man of rank and prestige, a ruler of the synagogue, to kneel at Jesus' feet—at the feet of one considered to be an itinerant teacher with the gift of healing. Many others of learning and prestige saw Jesus also but ignored him. Their minds were closed. Today is no different; obstacles stand in the way of many to accept him.
"'And [Jairus] besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death.' This is typical of what happens frequently when a man comes to Christ, not so much for his own need, but because of the desperate need of a loved one. The tremor we hear in Jairus's voice as he speaks of 'My little daughter' stirs our souls with sympathy as we think of this man of high position in the synagogue on his knees before the Savior.
"Then comes a great acknowledgement of faith: 'I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.' These are not only the words of faith of a father torn with grief but are also a reminder to us that whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives. If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives. If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives."
- Howard W. Hunter, "Reading the Scriptures," Ensign, Nov 1979, 64
Click here to read the full talk

The story of Jairus is fascinating. Apparently a man of "rank and prestige" but one who could be brought to humility and desperation by the love of a daughter. What loving father would not do likewise—perform any act or go to any length to find help that may be the only chance of saving a loved one? He begs Jesus to come, to "lay thy hands on her, that... she shall live." President Hunter applies those words to each of us; "whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives."

The two questions we should ponder are:

What aspects of my life need the glorious healing promise of the hands of Jesus? Is it some personal struggle, a relationship, a needed change of direction, a sorrow or disappointment, an ongoing struggle, a specific challenge in obedience? Each of us has something that could be blessed by a divine healing influence.

And secondly, how do I approach Jesus, so that His healing influence might be applied? What are the steps I need to take, like Jairus did, to come to Him with the request? Is it more sincere and humble prayer? Is there something blocking or inhibiting my communication with Deity?

"Whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives." It's a glorious promise!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Neil L. Andersen on how we receive the Lord's help in challenging times

Elder Neil L. Andersen (b. 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"We recognize the enemy and understand his plan.... The pride of the world seeks to destroy faith by casting doubt on the existence of God or, if not His existence, His personal care and concern for His children. It has been a tactic of the adversary since ancient times...
"You are on the battlefield, right in the crossfire. The conflict will not diminish but intensify in the years ahead. How will we, how will you, withstand the attack? The prospects could seem bleak without the power and promises of our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ....
"As you arm yourself for battle, your protection comes from God who is our Father. You have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and you take His name upon you. You are commissioned as a disciple of Christ, as a defender of the faith....
"You are to be 'armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory' (1 Ne. 14:14). When you are armed with 'righteousness and the power of God in great glory,' it is because something is happening inside of you, as well as the outward, public display of your discipleship. Your belief in Christ and your love for Him fills your soul. We sometimes refer to this as conversion....
"Armed with righteousness, the Lord’s power through the Gift of the Holy Ghost is magnified and elevated in you. Angels and miracles surround you. You are armed with the power of God in great glory. Happiness and peace follow even in times of difficulty. Jesus said, 'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.' (John 16:33) ...
"I assure you that while the battle rages, we need not fear. The Lord will help you, your family, and others you love who need special help. We know the outcome. The Savior will triumph over all!"
- Neil L. Andersen, "Our Prayer for Our Granddaughters," BYU Women's Conference, April 27, 2012
Click here to read the full talk

We often hear about the trouble and confusion of the time in which we live. Elder Andersen gives a somewhat different perspective on the challenge of our day, warning of the attacks on faith and belief in God. The adversary would destroy faith and make God into a fable. This conflict will only "intensify in the years ahead"; and hence the need for us to be fortified and ready for the battle.

We prepare by being "armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory." That happens, according to Nephi's description, when "the power of the Lamb of God" descends upon the "covenant people of the Lord." Elder Andersen describes it as a fruit of the process of conversion. With that endowment, we are prepared for the battles to come:

Elder Andersen concludes with his assurance that "we need not fear" even though a battle rages around us, as long as we are thus armed with God's power.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

D. Todd Christofferson on blessings from obedience to covenants

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (b. January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"As we walk in obedience to the principles and commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we enjoy a continual flow of blessings promised by God in His covenant with us. Those blessings provide the resources we need to act rather than simply be acted upon as we go through life.... Obedience gives us greater control over our lives, greater capacity to come and go, to work and create. Of course, age, accident, and illnesses inevitably take their toll, but even so, our obedience to this gospel law enhances our capacity to deal with these challenges.
"In the covenant path we find a steady supply of gifts and help. 'Charity never faileth' (1 Corinthians 13:8; Moroni 7:46), love begets love, compassion begets compassion, virtue begets virtue, commitment begets loyalty, and service begets joy. We are part of a covenant people, a community of Saints who encourage, sustain, and minister to one another. As Nephi explained, 'And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them' (1 Nephi 17:3)....
"Our covenants supply strength—they produce the faith necessary to persevere and to do all things that are expedient in the Lord. Our willingness to take upon us the name of Christ and keep His commandments requires a degree of faith, but as we honor our covenants, that faith expands. In the first place, the promised fruits of obedience become evident, which confirms our faith. Secondly, the Spirit communicates God's pleasure, and we feel secure in His continued blessing and help. Thirdly, come what may, we can face life with hope and equanimity, knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God's promise to us individually, by name, and we know He cannot lie (see Enos 1:6; Ether 3:12)."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "The Power of Covenants," Ensign, May 2009, pp. 19-23
Click here to read the full talk

I love the concept of walking "in the covenant path" with God. Though obedience is often thought to be limiting and constricting, Elder Christofferson teaches that there is greater power and freedom, greater capacity and ability when we act in obedience to covenants.

Perhaps most importantly, covenants produce faith. It requires a degree of faith to begin in the covenant path, trusting that God will uphold His promises. But as we begin along that path, our faith is immediately strengthened, and it grows with every additional step we take.

  1. Obedience brings results or "fruits" and we grow in faith as we observe them
  2. We feel God's pleasure at our obedience as the Spirit communicates to us
  3. We know all will be will in the end because we trust in God's promises to us, and can therefore face life "with hope and equanimity"

What a marvelous promise and process that is!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Quentin L. Cook on help for the difficult journey of life

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"This mortal life can constitute a difficult journey, but the destination is truly glorious. Christ expressed this to His disciples: 'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world' (John 16:33, emphasis added)....
"A loving Father has provided a comprehensive and compassionate plan for His children 'that saves the living, redeems the dead, rescues the damned, and glorifies all who repent' (Orson F. Whitney, Saturday Night Thoughts, 323). Even though our journey may be fraught with tribulation, the destination is truly glorious.
"I rejoice in the great plan of salvation that is big enough for all of our Father in Heaven's children. I express gratitude beyond my ability to articulate for the Atonement of Jesus Christ."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Our Father's Plan—Big Enough for All His Children," Ensign, May 2009, pp. 34-38
Click here to read the full talk

There are times in each of our lives when we see that life becomes "a difficult journey." But we are blessed to remember that there is a glorious destination at the end of the path; God has reassured us of that fact many times, as Elder Cook notes. But He has also provided directions for negotiating the journey:

Elder Cook emphasizes that the plan of salvation is "big enough" for every one of God's children. No matter what our situation is, what challenges we face, what burdens we carry—there is direction, hope, and reassurance in God's eternal plan!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Jeffrey R. Holland on the power of coming unto Christ

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (b. 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.
"Whoever we are, and whatever our problems, his response is always the same—forever. 'Come unto me' (Matt. 11:28). Come see what I do and how I spend my time. Learn of me, follow me, and in the process I will give you answers to your prayers and rest to your souls.
"I know of no other way for you to be able to carry your burdens or find what Jacob called 'that happiness which is prepared for the saints' (2 Ne. 9:43). That is why we make solemn covenants based on Christ's atoning sacrifice, why we take upon us his name.
"In as many ways as possible, both figuratively and literally, we try to take upon us his identity. We seek out his teachings and retell his miracles. We send latter-day witnesses, including prophets, apostles, and missionaries, around the world to declare his message. We call ourselves his children and we testify that he is the only source of eternal life. We plead for him to swing open the gates of heaven in our behalf, and trust everlastingly that he will, based upon our faithfulness.
"My desire for you is to have more straightforward experience with the Savior's life and teachings. Perhaps sometimes we come to Christ too obliquely, focusing on structure or methods or elements of Church administration. Those are important, but not without attention to the weightier matters of the kingdom, first and foremost of which is a personal spiritual relationship with Deity, including the Savior whose kingdom this is."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Come and See," adapted from a Church Education System fireside address delivered March 2, 1997. See New Era, Dec. 1997, pp. 4-8; Ensign, April 1998, pp. 16-23
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Holland has a way of sharing thoughts and invitations that speak right to the heart. In describing the Savior's love for each of us, he does that in a powerful way in this quote. He interprets the Savior's invitation to "Come unto me" as a beckoning call to "Come see what I do and how I spend my time. Learn of me, follow me, and in the process I will give you answers to your prayers and rest to your souls." The goal is to "try to take upon us his identity" and become more and more like Him in every way. We do that through our direct, personal experiences with His life and teachings:

In the establishment of that "personal spiritual relationship with Deity," we unlock the door to His love and blessings in our lives. That is certainly worth every effort to obtain and achieve!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Robert D. Hales on the gift and blessing of scriptures

Elder Robert D. Hales (1932- ) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"The holy scriptures are the word of God given to us for our salvation. The scriptures are essential in receiving a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel....
"As with voices from the dust, the prophets of the Lord cry out to us on earth today: take hold of the scriptures! Cling to them, walk by them, live by them, rejoice in them, feast on them. Don't nibble. They are 'the power of God unto salvation' (D&C 68:4) that lead us back to our Savior Jesus Christ....
"What a glorious blessing! For when we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures; for His words are spoken through His prophets. He will then teach us as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
"If you have not heard His voice speaking to you lately, return with new eyes and new ears to the scriptures. They are our spiritual lifeline."
- Robert D. Hales, "Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation," Ensign, Nov 2006, p. 24
Click here to read the full talk

This is a beautifully-expressed reminder of one of the great gifts and powerful aids we have in our mortal experience. We are invited to take advantage of this wonderful gift through our study and application of its principles:

I appreciated Elder Hales' challenge: "If you have not heard His voice speaking to you lately, return with new eyes and new ears to the scriptures. They are our spiritual lifeline." If we only knew and understood how much we need that lifeline, we would need fewer reminders!

Friday, June 24, 2016

M. Russell Ballard on spiritual safety in turbulent times

Elder M. Russell Ballard (1928- ) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"Admittedly we have ample reason to be deeply concerned because we see no immediate answers to the seemingly unsolvable problems confronting the human family. But regardless of this dark picture, which will ultimately get worse, we must never allow ourselves to give up hope! Moroni, having seen our day, counseled, 'Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope.' (Moro. 10:20.)
"To all who have harbored feelings of despair and an absence of hope, I offer the words of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
"'Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.…
"'Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not' (D&C 6:34, 36), 'even so am I in the midst of you' (D&C 6:32).
"My message to you today, my brothers and sisters, is simply this: the Lord is in control. He knows the end from the beginning. He has given us adequate instruction that, if followed, will see us safely through any crisis. His purposes will be fulfilled, and someday we will understand the eternal reasons for all of these events. Therefore, today we must be careful to not overreact, nor should we be caught up in extreme preparations; but what we must do is keep the commandments of God and never lose hope!
"But where do we find hope in the midst of such turmoil and catastrophe? Quite simply, our one hope for spiritual safety during these turbulent times is to turn our minds and our hearts to Jesus Christ."
- M. Russell Ballard, "The Joy of Hope Fulfilled," Ensign, November 1992, pp. 31-33
Click here to read the full talk

Every day we see a new barrage of distressing news and information about the "seemingly unsolvable problems confronting the human family" in moral, social, political, and economic aspects. And as Elder Ballard notes, there is reason to be "deeply concerned" about the state of things in our surroundings and the trends they express. However, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ always offers hope and assurance to those who have faith in Jesus Christ. Even if "earth and hell combine against [us]", we still have the Rock of the Savior as a foundation and protection.

The key lies in understanding and following the message of the Savior. Elder Ballard's testimony is challenging but reassuring: "He has given us adequate instruction that, if followed, will see us safely through any crisis." Do we know that instruction? Are we following it carefully?

Elder Ballard cautions us not to overreact or be "caught up in extreme preparations." The sure, quiet, steady life of the disciple is the only way to peace.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Gordon B. Hinckley on feeling and expressing love

President Gordon B. Hinckley (Born June 23, 1910—106 years ago today!  Died January 27, 2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961, served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008 at age 97.
"If the world is to be improved, the process of love must make a change in the hearts of men. It can do so when we look beyond self to give our love to God and others, and do so with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.
"The Lord has declared in modern revelation, 'If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you.' (D&C 88:67.)
"As we look with love and gratitude to God, as we serve him with an eye single to his glory, there goes from us the darkness of sin, the darkness of selfishness, the darkness of pride. There will come an increased love for our Eternal Father and for his Beloved Son, our Savior and our Redeemer. There will come a greater sense of service toward our fellowmen, less of thinking of self and more of reaching out to others.
"This principle of love is the basic essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without love of God and love of neighbor there is little else to commend the gospel to us as a way of life....
"Each of us can, with effort, successfully root the principle of love deep in our being so that we may be nourished by its great power all our lives. For as we tap into the power of love, we will come to understand the great truth written by John: 'God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God.' (1 Jn. 4:16.)"
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "And the Greatest of These Is Love," Ensign, May 1984, p. 3
Click here to read the full article

In many ways, we live in a time that is becoming increasingly selfish and self-focused. President Hinckley understood the world's challenges, and the need to develop real love as we "look beyond self" to sincerely serve God and bless those around us.

The passage from D&C 88:67 has always intrigued me; President Hinckley teaches that our love for God and for our fellowman drives darkness from our lives and facilitates that process of becoming filled with light. Love truly is the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dallin H. Oaks on revelation and personal decisions

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. 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.
"A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don't receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable.
"We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of false revelation. Revelation from God is a sacred reality, but like other sacred things, it must be cherished and used properly so that a great strength does not become a disabling weakness."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall," BYU 18-Stake Fireside, June 7, 1992; quoted in Ensign, Oct. 1994, pp. 13-14
Click here to read the full talk

Sometimes we struggle in our mortal experience to find the right "balance" in a variety of ways. Elder Oaks explains one of them: how does personal agency and the need to choose and learn, balance with promises of inspiration and spiritual direction? He gives wise counsel on the tendency of some to require or expect revelation on every decision of life, warning that it is not going to come, particularly in cases where "the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable":

Note that Elder Oaks didn't warn (in this excerpt) about the other extreme (not asking God at all for help) since his talk focused on a general theme of how something appears to be a good thing, a "strength," can become a challenge or weakness.

The second paragraph gives his counsel on how we should expect to see revelation in our personal lives. The process he describes is:

  1. When faced with a decision, "study things out in our minds." Use our God-given faculties to consider the problem and alternatives
  2. Pray for guidance
  3. If we receive a spiritual prompting, act on it
  4. If we do not receive a prompting, act on our best judgement
I especially appreciated the warning about not expecting revelation in every case, and the potential traps that can lead to.  Wise counsel!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Russell M. Nelson on obtaining spiritual power through sincere prayer

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. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015.
"The source of our spiritual power is the Lord! The ultimate source of spiritual power is God our Father. The messenger of this power is the Holy Ghost. This power differs from electrical power. An electrical appliance consumes power. The use of His spiritual power replenishes our power. While electrical power can be used only for measured periods of time, spiritual power can be used for time and eternity!
"Our spiritual power line is strengthened through prayer. As we counsel with God in all our doings, he will direct us for good. (See Alma 37:37.) Prayer is available whenever we ask for it!
"But the Lord places the initiative upon us. He expects us to reach for his power, just as we must insert the plug in the outlet for electricity. He said, 'If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.' (D&C 42:61; italics added.) Personal worthiness and scripture study enable us to do more with this power."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Protect the Spiritual Power Line," Ensign, Nov 1984, pp. 30-32
Click here to read the full talk

In this talk, President Nelson taught about "Spiritual Power Lines" that connect us to the source of spiritual strength, using the analogy of electrical power. It's critical that we maintain our connection to the source that can bring us that strength; and God is the source, via the Holy Ghost.

Establishing communication with God through prayer is a great key to maintaining those "power lines," enhanced by our scripture study and personal worthiness. It doesn't just happen; it requires our effort to establish and maintain that power connection!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the process of perfection

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (1940- ) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He has served as second counselor in the First Presidency since 2008.
"God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.
"Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.
"And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.
"Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
"It's wonderful that you have strengths.
"And it is part of your mortal experience that you do have weaknesses.
"God wants to help us to eventually turn all of our weaknesses into strengths (see Ether 12:27), but He knows that this is a long-term goal. He wants us to become perfect (see 3 Nephi 12:48), and if we stay on the path of discipleship, one day we will. It's OK that you're not quite there yet. Keep working on it, but stop punishing yourself.
"Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Forget Me Not," Ensign, Nov 2011, pp. 120-123
Clock here to read the full talk

These remarks were shared by President Uchtdorf as part of an address to a General Relief Society Meeting. They provided a welcome perspective to many, both women and men, who struggle with the perception of their own faults and shortcomings at various times. He helps us all understand that we increase our difficulties in our continual comparisons with others. I thought this warning was very insightful:

The "bottom line" is that we're all imperfect, but we all have the potential to grow and improve towards perfection—individually, in our particular and personal situation. The crucial message is to "stay on the path of discipleship," being compassionate with ourselves, knowing that God will bless and aid us in the journey—one by one.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Neal A. Maxwell on the example of a righteous father

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"A father who truly loves his children, and who is truly striving, for instance, to become a better man, sends off to his children all kinds of messages, in a variety of ways, that lets them know he loves them and that he is a serious disciple of Jesus Christ. Then his children can more easily forgive him the tactical errors, because his basic message is intact: he believes in God and he cares for his family.
"On the other hand, for the father who is not truly serious in his discipleship, no number of compensatory techniques or humanistic sentiments can ever compensate for the failure of that father to teach the truth by precept and by example."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "That My Family Should Partake," p. 108

A father who "truly loves his children" will show them two critical things: he loves them, and he loves God. But often he shows his family he loves them by the way he loves God; by his expression of how he is "a serious disciple of Jesus Christ." That aspect of fatherhood, sadly, seems to be more rare in the world today. This is a powerful reminder for those of us given the privilege to be a father.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Boyd K. Packer on the sacred, eternal role of fathers

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 on July 3, 2015 at age 90.
"Now, fathers, I would remind you of the sacred nature of your calling. You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary's mischief will be that power. You will receive direction from the Lord by way of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"The adversary is not actively disturbing our Church meetings—perhaps only occasionally. By and large we are free to assemble as we wish without much disruption. But he and those who follow him are persistent in attacking the home and the family.
"The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children might be happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.
"Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service—all these have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family, for the Lord has said, 'This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39)."
- Boyd K. Packer, "The Power of the Priesthood," Ensign, May 2010, p. 6-10
Click here to read the full talk

It's the "sacred nature" of the "calling" of a father that is often forgotten in today's world, and this is a good reminder from President Packer. The need for priesthood power in protecting the home has never been greater; what a profound and prophetic statement this is: "There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary's mischief will be that power." How critical for every father to honor the gift he has been given!

I liked the strength of that final paragraph, clarifying and summarizing the "ultimate purpose" of all we do in the Church—"the perfection of the individual and the family." That, too, is far too often forgotten in our many programs, efforts, and initiatives!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Henry B. Eyring on friendship and inspired service

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.
"I think of [the challenge of enduring] each time I visit with new members of the Church. I get that opportunity often, across the world. I see their trusting faces, and often they tell me about some trial of their faith, and then, with urgency in their voices, they whisper, 'Please pray for me.' At those moments, I feel again the weight of the charge to each of us from the Lord's living prophet. It is to keep the promise we made in the waters of baptism 'to bear one another's burdens' (Mosiah 18:8). It is to be a friend....
"The Holy Ghost is a comforter and a guide. But it is also a cleansing agent. That is why service in the kingdom is so crucial to enduring. When we are called to serve, we can pray for the Holy Ghost to be our companion with assurance it will come. When we ask in faith, a change can come in our natures both for the welfare of our souls and to strengthen us for the tests we all must face."
- Henry B. Eyring, "True Friends," Ensign, May 2002, pp. 26-29
Click here to read the full talk

Much of President Eyring's talk dealt with the ways we should strengthen and care for new members of the Church. I was touched by the tenderness of the first paragraph of this excerpt, and the concern expressed by members as they deal with trials and challenges. What a sacred charge, to "bear one another's burdens."

As we strive to serve and strengthen one another, we have a precious source of help. The Holy Ghost is promised as an agent to cleanse and purify, that we might be better qualified to serve and endure.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thomas S. Monson on the heroes in our personal hall of fame

President Thomas S. Monson (b. 1927) 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 until becoming Church president in 2008.
"In the interior of our consciousness, each of us has a private Hall of Fame reserved exclusively for the real leaders who have influenced the direction of our lives. Relatively few of the many men who exercise authority over us from childhood through adult life meet our test for entry to this roll of honor. That test has very little to do with the outward trappings of power or an abundance of this world's goods. The leaders whom we admit into this private sanctuary of our reflective meditation are usually those who set our hearts afire with devotion to the truth, who make obedience to duty seem the essence of manhood, who transform some ordinary routine occurrence so that it becomes a vista whence we see the person we aspire to be....
"Some may question, 'But what is the value of such an illustrious list of heroes and heroines, even a private Hall of Fame?' I answer. When we obey, as did Adam, endure as did Job, teach as did Paul, testify as did Peter, serve as did Nephi, give ourselves as did the prophet Joseph, respond as did Ruth, honor as did Mary, and live as did Christ, we are born anew. All power becomes ours. Cast off forever is the old self and with it defeat, despair, doubt, and disbelief. To a newness of life we come—a life of faith, hope, courage, and joy. No task looms too large. No responsibility weighs too heavily. No duty is a burden. All things become possible."
- Thomas S. Monson, "My Personal Hall of Fame," Ensign, Nov 1974, 107; reprinted Ensign, July 1991, 2
Click here to read the full talk

Who are my heroes and heroines? That's a telling question in many ways. It reveals our priorities in life and shows where our focus is. Those we respect and admire most will be those we emulate most, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously.

This was a very interesting talk by President Monson, discussing some of those who are in his "personal hall of fame" and encouraging us to consider the same question. This was a wonderful summary of the transforming power the right kind of hero can have in a life:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

David A. Bednar on becoming chosen by choosing God in our lives

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.
"To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen. Please now note the use of the word chosen in the following verses from the Doctrine and Covenants:
"'Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
"'Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men' (D&C 121:34-35; emphasis added).
"I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit 'the chosen' to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God's chosen....
"The fundamental purposes for the gift of agency were to love one another and to choose God. Thus we become God's chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God."
- David A. Bednar, "The Tender Mercies of the Lord," Ensign, May 2005, pp. 99-102
Click here to read the full talk

What does it mean to be "chosen"—to be one of "the chosen people" or to be "chosen of God"? Elder Bednar teaches that it has nothing to do with honor or special preparation, or some obscure selection process. Rather, it relates to our own actions in deciding to follow God, accept the love He offers us, and be obedient to his commandments. In short, we choose to be chosen.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Heber C. Kimball on becoming trusting and submissive to God

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.
"Comparing us to clay that is in the hands of the potter, if that clay is passive, I have power as a potter to mold it and make it into a vessel unto honor. Who is to mold these vessels? Is it God Himself in person, or is it His servants, His potters, or journeymen, in company with those He has placed to oversee the work? The great Master Potter dictates His servants, and it is for them to carry out His purposes, and make vessels according to His designs; and when they have done the work, they deliver it up to the Master for His acceptance; and if their works are not good, He does not accept them; the only works He accepts, are those that are prepared according to the design He gave. God will not be trifled with; neither will His servants; their words have got to be fulfilled, and they are the men that are to mold you, and tell you what shape to move in.
"I do not know that I can compare it better than by the potter's business. It forms a good comparison. This is the course you must pursue, and I know of no other way that God has prepared for you to become sanctified, and molded, and fashioned, until you become modeled to the likeness of the Son of God, by those who are placed to lead you. This is a lesson you have to learn as well as myself.
"When I know that I am doing just as I am told by him who is placed to lead this people, I am then a happy man, I am filled with peace, and can go about my business with joy and pleasure; I can lie down and rise again in peace, and be filled with gladness by night and by day. But when I have not done the things that are right, my conscience gnaws upon my feelings. This is the course for me to take.... to this you have got to bow, and you have got to bow down like the clay in the hands of the potter, that suffers the potter to mold it according to his own pleasure. You have all got to come to this; and if you do not come to it at this time, as sure as the sun ever rose and set, you will be cut from the wheel, and thrown back into the mill.
"You have come from the mill, and you have been there grinding. For what purpose? To bring you into a passive condition. You have been gathered from the nations of the earth, from among the kindreds, tongues, and peoples of the world, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, to purify and sanctify yourselves, and become like the passive clay in the hands of the potter. Now suppose I subject myself enough, in the hands of the potter, to be shaped according as he was dictated by the Great Master potter, that rules over all things in heaven and on earth, he would make me into a vessel of honor.
"There are many vessels that are destroyed after they have been molded and shaped. Why? Because they are not contented with the shape the potter has given them, but straightway put themselves into a shape to please themselves; therefore they are beyond understanding what God designs, and they destroy themselves by the power of their own agency, for this is given to every man and woman, to do just as they please. That is all right, and all just. Well, then, you have to go through a great many modelings and shapes, then you have to be glazed and burned; and even in the burning, some vessels crack. What makes them crack? Because they are snappish; they would not crack, if they were not snappish and willful."
- Heber C. Kimball, "The Potter and the Clay," Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 2, 1854; see JD 2:150
Click here to read the full talk
See also Ensign, January 2011, pp. 60-61

Heber C. Kimball was one of the spiritual giants of the early restoration; but he was a relatively simple and uneducated man, next to many of his brethren. He worked as a potter, so had person insights into the craft and art that he often referred to in his discourses.

I love this description of how we need to become humble and submissive to the direction of God and His servants—like "passive clay in the hands of the potter." If a potter is trying to mold clay that isn't cooperative, for whatever reason (wrong consistency, contains impurities, not properly prepared, etc.) he is unable to achieve the desired results and will eventually remove the clay from the wheel and subject it to further preparations.

President Kimball likens this to our situation in life. We have to learn to be subject to the molding that comes from both from the trials and tests of life, and from the counsel of the Spirit and the leaders placed to represent God. It is only in this way that we can experience the process "that God has prepared for you to become sanctified, and molded, and fashioned, until you become modeled to the likeness of the Son of God." What a beautiful analogy!

// Customization to close archive widget on first view - DK 3/15