Friday, November 30, 2018

President Spencer W. Kimball on having an eternal perspective in choices and decisions

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"I remember reading a message that Grandfather [Heber C.] Kimball wrote to his children, in which he said, 'I only care for the things of eternity. When I behold the great things of God and the glory which awaits the righteous, and when I reflect that the road is so straight that but few find it, I feel to pray the Lord to bless my children and save them. I am thankful to God because I live in a day when some will find it and will become Gods.' (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Bookcraft, 1945, p. 513.)
"If we live in such a way that the considerations of eternity press upon us, we will make better decisions. Perhaps this is why President Brigham Young once said that if he could do but one thing to bless the Saints, he believed it would be to give them 'eyes with which to see things as they are.' (Journal of Discourses, 3:221; italics added.) It is interesting to note how those last words reflect the words of the scripture in which truth is described as 'knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.' (D&C 93:24.) Jacob reminds us also that 'the Spirit speaketh the truth … of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.' (Jacob 4:13.)
"The more clearly we see eternity, the more obvious it becomes that the Lord’s work in which we are engaged is one vast and grand work with striking similarities on each side of the veil."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "The Things of Eternity—Stand We in Jeopardy?," Ensign January 1977, p. 3
Click here to read the complete article

This was a marvelously thought-provoking talk by President Kimball. Even the title alone gives pause: "The Things of Eternity—Stand We in Jeopardy?" Too often, our  attention is narrowly focused on the challenges of life, and we neglect the long-term implications of decisions or directions. We must never allow that to happen; our priorities must focus first on those "things of eternity" if we are to be truly happy! Then, President Kimball suggests, we will make better decisions on the more immediate challenges:

The statement President Kimball quoted from his grandfather, Heber C. Kimball, sets the tone for the message. The earlier President Kimball had the proper perspective; he knew that focusing on those things that matter most is the only safe course. And I love Brigham Young's insight too: if only we could see things as they really are, not as we suppose or believe they are. That kind of spiritually-enhanced perspective will bless our lives in profound ways.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on the benefits of scripture study

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.
"The advantages flowing from scholarship in the scriptures include not only the truthful content and the useful insights to be gleaned and that can be brought to bear on problems of today (personal or institutional), but also the reality that the very reading of the scriptures puts us in touch with what God said to others in other days. It thereby creates an atmosphere into which new inspiration can come, if needed.
"It is all very much like a composer's being sufficiently inspired by hearing great music to create additional great music. An artist may stumble upon a scene of great beauty that sparks in his mind a painting that has never before been on canvas. Previous revelations in the scriptures are like the 'clean sea breeze of the centuries' that can be played by us, putting things in a perspective as they really are—much as a person with a few aches and pains can, by visiting a hospital, put his own physical problems in fresh and grateful perspective."
- Neal A. Maxwell, Things as they Really Are, p. 106

This statement from Elder Maxwell has always intrigued me. Clearly we learn much as we read the scriptures from the content, messages, and instructions that are recorded there. But what other intrinsic benefits do we derive from the process? Elder Maxwell suggests it creates an "atmosphere" in our lives that invites other blessings:

The comparisons with composers and painters help us to understand the suggestion Elder Maxwell is making. When we read and ponder the scriptures, seeing the inspiration and instruction God has given to man in the past, we are opening our minds and hearts to receiving the same kind of blessings and divine influence in our own lives. By focusing our thoughts and attention in that way, excluding the distractions and influences of the world, we become prepared and ready for God's influence in a much greater degree.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Elder Neil L. Andersen on testifying to children

Elder Neil L. Andersen (born August 9, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"Although there may be times when a child does not listen with a believing heart, your testimony of Jesus will remain in his or her mind and soul....
"If a child is not listening, don’t despair. Time and truth are on your side. At the right moment, your words will return as if from heaven itself. Your testimony will never leave your children.
"As you reverently speak about the Savior—in the car, on the bus, at the dinner table, as you kneel in prayer, during scripture study, or in late-night conversations—the Spirit of the Lord will accompany your words.
"As you do your best, the testimony of Jesus will gently distill upon your children’s hearts. They will go to their Heavenly Father in humble prayer and feel His influence through the power of the Holy Ghost. A stronger personal faith in Jesus Christ will prepare them for the challenges they will most surely face."
- Neil L. Andersen, "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus," General Conference April 2010
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The influence we have on children, either more formally as parents or teachers, or through less formal contact, has profound impact. Elder Andersen encouraged all of us to make the most of those opportunities. But sometimes, we wonder if we are making any difference. And at times, it appears that our efforts are "a lost cause" in the face of apathy or other concerns. Elder Andersen reassures us that no testimony or no sincere effort to teach and inspire is wasted:

We should find more opportunities to "reverently speak about the Savior" in those less formal times. That can make more difference in the long run than formal lessons or talks. When the Lord's Spirit accompanies our words, testimony will "distill" upon the hearts of children as they listen, and they will be strengthened with every instance to better confront the challenges of life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on the matchless blessings of the Savior

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (born January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"We must in the end acknowledge that we cannot achieve ultimate justice apart from Jesus Christ. To establish and preserve the law is a great good, but the greatest good we can do in helping others become what they can become will be to lead them to the Savior.
"Only His Atonement has the power to overcome all weakness and imperfection and to make right all injustice. Only He can convert offense and injury into blessings; only He can bring life again to a life unjustly cut short; only He can return a perfect body for one diseased or malformed; only He can reinstate beloved associations lost and make them permanent; only He can make right the suffering entailed upon the innocent by ignorance and oppression; only He can erase the impact of sin on one who is wronged; only He can remove the stain and effect of sin in the sinner; only He can eliminate sorrow and wipe away all tears (see Isaiah 25:8); only He can provide immortality; only His grace can compensate for our inadequacy and justify us before that law that enables us to become joint heirs of eternal life with Him. Of the glorious reality of the living Christ, I bear my witness."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Law and Becoming," fireside presented to the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, February 4, 2011
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Christofferson was trained in the law and had a significant career in that field before his call as an apostle. In this address to BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law Society, he discussed the role of law in our society and the responsibility to establish and preserve law. But then he addressed a higher responsibility: that of the Christian disciple:

The list in the second paragraph of the excerpt from the talk is a fascinating compilation of the contributions of the Savior, the areas where only He can bless us and make all things possible for us. It is beneficial to ponder that list carefully and recognize how much we have to be grateful for as we strive to follow Him.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Elder Quentin L. Cook on living according to our true beliefs

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"Act in accordance with your true beliefs by spending your time on those things that will build and develop your character and help you become more Christlike. I hope none of you see life as primarily fun and games but rather as a time 'to prepare to meet God' (Alma 34:32)....
"Please ponder and be proactive in choosing how you use your time....
"I am not talking about wearing your religion on your sleeve or being superficially faithful. That can be embarrassing to you and the Church. I am talking about you becoming what you ought to be."
- Quentin L. Cook, "What E’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part: Avoid Wearing Masks That Hide Identity," CES devotional, BYU-Idaho, March 4, 2012
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Cook was speaking to a worldwide audience of young adults in this devotional address broadcast from BYU-Idaho. He warned them of many of the challenges of our times, including the anonymity that often encourages inappropriate behavior in social media and other environments. He warned about hiding our true identity, or pretending to be something other than what we really know to be right. Wise counsel; I have seen a number of challenges and serious problems that resulted from this kind of behavior.

How we choose to spend our time is critical to our progress in life as we strive to follow the Savior:

Another of the challenges of our time is the temptation to be constantly entertained, and Elder Cook helps to warn of the proper approach to life. We should focus efforts on becoming true disciples, choosing wisely, and developing the characteristics that will bring eternal joy.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on accepting human frailty

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 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.
"Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process, with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.
"So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all. (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 2:108.) Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lord, I Believe," General Conference April 2013
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's sometimes easy to criticize others who are in positions of leadership or responsibility. They may have different styles or approaches than we do, and may look at needs, challenges, or solutions in ways we don't agree with. Of course it's natural for each of us to consider that our approach must be the best one, and to be frustrated when others don't share our insights.

Elder Holland reminds us that we are all imperfect in this mortal experience. Mistakes are occasionally made; changes are often necessary. But when the issues arise, we need not be shaken in faith; if anything, we can feel confirmation of faith as we see inspired corrections and adjustments.

We are all "volunteers" in Church service, and we should be forgiving and sustaining as we learn and grow together. Our imperfection is under the direction of God's perfection, and the work will move forward based on the best efforts we all contribute.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Elder David A. Bednar on receiving personal revelation

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.
"Revelation is communication from God to His children on the earth and one of the great blessings associated with the gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'The Holy Ghost is a revelator,' and 'no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations' (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 132).
"The spirit of revelation is available to every person who receives by proper priesthood authority the saving ordinances of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost—and who is acting in faith to fulfill the priesthood injunction to 'receive the Holy Ghost.' This blessing is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives."
- David A. Bednar, "The Spirit of Revelation," General Conference April 2011
Click here to read or listen to the full address

Elder Bednar reminded us in this talk that revelation is an ability that accompanies the gift of the Holy Ghost. Those who have received that gift, through proper authority and worthiness, should expect to have the spirit of revelation "operative" in their life.

For members of the Church who have complied with the requirements of receiving the gift, the key becomes "sincere desire and worthiness" that will "invite the spirit of revelation into [their] lives." Sometimes, perhaps, we don't make enough effort to claim that spirit and gift. We are often told that God is eager to help and guide us; we need only to do our part, asking in worthiness.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Elder Marvin J. Ashton on having a proper attitude in the world

Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-1994) served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1971 until his death in 1994 at age 78.
"Proper attitude in this crisis-dominated world is a priceless possession. Never before is it more important for all of us to move forward with conviction. We may be behind, but we are not losing if we are moving in the right direction. God will not score our performances until the end of the journey. He who made us expects us to be victorious. He stands by anxious to answer our call for help. Sad but true, many today are behind in their contacts with God and encouraging destructive attitudes toward self and fellowmen. We need to lead with good cheer, optimism, and courage if we are to move onward and upward.
"The truths 'And in everything give thanks' (D&C 98:1) and 'Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things' (D&C 59:7) and 'He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious' (D&C 78:19) are not only recommended tools of appreciation, but are powerful attitude guidelines prescribing rewarding patterns. Think of the personal challenge to thank God in all things. If we thank God in all things, we will not permit ourselves to get behind. We must work each day to beat yesterday's record, not someone else's. With His help we can accomplish all things and be winners indeed in the processes of eternity."
- Marvin J. Ashton, "Who's Losing?", General Conference October 1974
Click here to read or listen to the full address

The title of this talk, "Who's Losing?", comes from an experience when Elder Ashton was asked that question by a late arriver at a baseball game. He responded that no one was losing. While there might be a difference in score, and one might be ahead of another, no one is a loser who is striving to move forward in efforts to achieve a goal or do good things.

Elder Ashton shared one of the keys to this kind of "proper attitude" that is much-needed in our "crisis-dominated world." We should be thankful to God for our blessings.

Not only should we occasionally express thanks, but we should receive all things with thankfulness. That kind of attitude, Elder Ashton maintains, is among the "powerful attitude guidelines prescribing rewarding patterns." As we learn to live in gratitude, the whole course of our life will be impacted and blessed for good.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson on feeling thankful for blessings

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"A correlation exists between hope and gratitude. To illustrate, let me share a personal experience. For Thanksgiving a few years ago, Sister Nelson and I hosted a memorable family gathering. All of our locally available daughters, sons, and grandchildren were there, among others. We counted 63 people at the feast. As part of our after-dinner program, Sister Nelson distributed to each individual a sheet of paper headed 'This year, I am thankful for _____.' The remainder of the page was blank. She asked each person to complete the thought, either in writing or by drawing a picture. The papers were then collected, redistributed, and read aloud. We were asked to guess who composed each reply, which, incidentally, was not very difficult.
"Meanwhile, I observed a pattern. Generally, the children were thankful for food, clothing, shelter, and family. Their pictures were precious, though not likely to be shown in an art gallery. Our youth broadened their expressions to include gratitude for their country, freedom, and church. The adults noted most of those items, but in addition mentioned the temple, their love of the Lord, and appreciation for his Atonement. Their hopes were combined with gratitude. Counting blessings is better than recounting problems."
- Russell M. Nelson, "A More Excellent Hope," BYU devotional, 8 January 1995; see Ensign February 1997, pp. 60-64
Click here to read the full talk

President Nelson is blessed with a large and wonderful posterity. He shared a Thanksgiving idea from his family's experience that would enhance any family gathering: identifying blessings that we recognize as we consider our past year. This was done in a way that even little children could participate.

The act of "counting our blessings" helps us to recognize God's ongoing hand in our lives, and thus to remind us that He will continue to bless us. Hope is the confidence that comes in knowing that we don't have to face challenges and difficulties alone, but that things will work out in the end.

May we each take time today to be thankful for all we have!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

President Gordon B. Hinckley on expressing thanks to others and to God

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"There are two little words in the English language that perhaps mean more than all others. They are 'thank you.' Comparable words are found in every other language--gracias, merci, danke, obrigado, domo, and so forth....
"Gratitude creates the most wonderful feeling. It can resolve disputes. It can strengthen friendships. And it makes us better men and women.
"The habit of saying thank you is the mark of a cultivated mind. With whom is the Lord displeased? Those who do not confess his hand in all things. That is, those who are not grateful for all that they have and all they are. So my first suggestion to you, my dear young friends, is that you walk with gratitude in your hearts. Be thankful for the wonderful blessings that are yours. Be grateful for the tremendous opportunities that you have.... Express appreciation to everyone who does you a favor or assists you in any way. You will be surprised how often you find yourself saying simply, 'Thank you.'
"Thank the Lord for His goodness to you. Shakespeare said, 'O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.' (King Henry VI, Part 2, I.i.19-20.) Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand. Read about Him and read His words. Read them quietly to yourself and then ponder them. Pour out your heart to your Father in Heaven with gratitude for the gift of His Beloved Son....
"Be grateful. Count your blessings and gifts and privileges and see just how long that list is. I imagine that each of you will have difficulties ahead of you. None of us can avoid them. But do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight in the clouds. And be grateful for what you have."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be, pp. 15-21; see also "A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth," Ensign January 2001, pp. 2-7

On November 12, 2000, President Hinckley spoke to a fireside for youth in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City that was broadcast by satellite throughout the Church. His remarks were later printed in the Ensign magazine. In this talk, he introduced his "Six B's"—characteristics of behavior he was encouraging in the youth (later expanded to 9 B's and printed in the book Way to Be). The very first of those B's was Be Grateful.

To say "thank you" more often seems like such a simple thing. But it helps create an attitude in which we recognize the good that others do, and how they influence our lives. It truly blesses us as much as the person we are thanking. Simple advice, but very wise counsel.

And especially, we ought to be thankful to God as we acknowledge His many blessings in our lives.

Prophets frequently remind us to "Look for the sunlight in the clouds." There will be challenges and difficulties, but they will pass and the light will return. We are so grateful to President Hinckley for his wise counsel!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

President Thomas S. Monson on developing an attitude of gratitude

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings.
"This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.
"We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues."
- Thomas S. Monson, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude," General Conference October 2010
Click here to read or listen to the full address

President Monson was the master of cheerful optimism. It seemed the sun was always shining in his life. And if it wasn't, he knew it would soon return! In this message he emphasized that we all have much to be grateful for, in spite of any circumstances that might have us discouraged or concerned. President Monson encouraged us to find the things that are right in our world:

President Monson truly believed that we have the ability to "refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought" if we learn to develop and expand that "attitude of gratitude." It would be good for us each to evaluate which direction our attitude causes us to lean!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on seeing God's handiwork in our lives

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (born November 6, 1940) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve.  He served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 to 2018.
"How blessed we are if we recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life. Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.
"The Lord has given us His promise that those 'who [receive] all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto [them], even an hundred fold, yea, more.' (D&C 78:19; emphasis added.)
"May we 'live in thanksgiving daily' (Alma 34:38)—especially during the seemingly unexplainable endings that are part of mortality. May we allow our souls to expand in thankfulness toward our merciful Heavenly Father. May we ever and constantly raise our voices and show by word and deed our gratitude to our Father in Heaven and to His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances," General Conference April 2014
Click here to read or listen to the full address

It is truly a miracle to "recognize God’s handiwork in the marvelous tapestry of life." When we begin to comprehend that His hand is involved in so many aspects of our existence, we will discover more and more ways in which His blessings come to us. Our recognition and gratitude to Him are the ways we become like Him, and the ways we draw more of His influence to ourselves.

There can hardly be a greater promise than the Lord's statement that when we receive everything with thankfulness, we'll be "made glorious" and receive a hundredfold of God's blessings. The invitation to each of us is to "show by word and deed our gratitude to our Father in Heaven and to His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pres. M. Russell Ballard on the doctrine of inclusion

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"If we are truly disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will reach out with love and understanding to all of our neighbors at all times, particularly in times of need....
"I have never taught—nor have I ever heard taught—a doctrine of exclusion. I have never heard the members of this Church urged to be anything but loving, kind, tolerant, and benevolent to our friends and neighbors of other faiths.
"The Lord expects a great deal from us. Parents, please teach your children and practice yourselves the principle of inclusion of others and not exclusion because of religious, political, or cultural differences....
"That is our doctrine—a doctrine of inclusion. That is what we believe. That is what we have been taught. Of all people on this earth, we should be the most loving, the kindest, and the most tolerant because of that doctrine."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Doctrine of Inclusion," General Conference October 2001
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Ballard discussed a challenge in this 2001 Conference address that is probably even more timely now. There is increasing diversity in our society and cultures and ethnic groups intermingle. We see increased mobility and more moving between nations, especially as many flee challenging situations. And in many countries around the world there is a long history of racial tension and struggle for understanding.

True disciples, as President Ballard notes, will see beyond these differences and will "reach out with love and understanding to all of our neighbors at all times":

President Ballard discussed particularly the issues among youth and encouraged parents them to be more tolerant and understanding. He also noted that often the youth are the best examples of doing the right thing, and we all all learn from them. In any case, we should never forget that we are all children of God and we should treat each other as brothers and sisters, regardless of differences in background and traditions!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

President Henry B. Eyring on the spiritual gift of nurturing

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.
"As daughters of God, you have an innate and great capacity to sense the needs of others and to love. That, in turn, makes you more susceptible to the whisperings of the Spirit. The Spirit can then guide what you think, what you say, and what you do to nurture people so the Lord may pour knowledge, truth, and courage upon them....
"Your practical challenge is to know whom to nurture, how, and when. You need the Lord’s help. He knows others’ hearts, and He knows when they are ready to accept your nurturing. Your prayer of faith will be your key to success. You can depend upon receiving His guidance....
"So you will take more time to pray, to ponder, and to meditate on spiritual matters. You will have knowledge of truth poured out upon you and grow in your power to nurture others in your family....
"You can know whom to nurture in your family. If you pray with real intent, a name or a face will come to your mind. If you pray to know what to do or what to say, you will feel an answer. Each time you obey, your power to nurture will grow."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Women and Gospel Learning in the Home," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In his address to the General Women's Session of the recent conference, President Eyring shared his feelings with the sisters about their special gift of nurturing. Though women have an "innate" capacity in this area, men can also develop the gift, so it is good counsel to all of us.

The process described in the first paragraph is profound. It starts with the desire "to sense the needs of others and to love." Women have a particular gift in that area. When we feel that kind of desire, we are more open to guidance from the Holy Ghost that will help us find the ways to nurture others more effectively. Then we can apply the prompting:

Through prayer, pondering, and meditation, we will be guided to those most in need and most willing to receive our nurturing efforts. As we seek those prompting, we will be blessed in moving forward. And then faithful obedience brings a greater capacity to receive guidance and to serve effectively in the future: "Each time you obey, your power to nurture will grow."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Friday, November 16, 2018

President Dallin H. Oaks on the importance of kindness

President Dallin H. Oaks (born 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. He became President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and also 1st Counselor in the First Presidency in January 2018.
"Be kind to others. Kindness is something many of our youth are doing already. Some groups of youth in some communities have shown the way for all of us. We have been inspired by our young people’s acts of kindness to those in need of love and help. In many ways, you give that help and show that love to one another. We wish all would follow your example.
"At the same time, we know that the adversary tempts all of us to be unkind, and there are still many examples of this, even among children and youth. Persistent unkindness is known by many names, such as bullying, ganging up on someone, or joining together to reject others. These examples deliberately inflict pain on classmates or friends. My young sisters, it is not pleasing to the Lord if we are cruel or mean to others."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Parents and Children," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Speaking to the General Women's Session of the recent conference, and addressing remarks to the young women in the audience and in the Church, President Oaks gave some general reminders of counsel that would encourage them as they strive to do what's right. We live in a time when the virtue of kindness seems to be fading, and so this was timely:

The phrase "simple acts of kindness" has become common in recent years, but perhaps the deeds themselves need to be more common. The phrase emphasizes that it doesn't take much effort to be kind. There are so many ways our little acts of service and love can make a difference. This is a good reminder for us all.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Elder L. Tom Perry on the decisions of mortality

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.
"Life is full of choices.... Decisions are before us every step of the way. Richard L. Evans said in the film Man’s Search For Happiness: 'Life offers you two precious gifts. One is time, the other, freedom of choice—the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed. You may purchase with it vanity; you may spend your time in pursuit of material things. Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are not bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction' (italics added)....
"Have more confidence in yourself than allowing your decisions to happen just by chance."
- L. Tom Perry, "Making the Right Decisions," General Conference October 1979
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

I remember the classic film Man's Search for Happiness (produced by the Church in 1964) so well from my youth and from my missionary service. The beautiful narration of Elder Richard L. Evans was calm and strong, and the message so timely. (View the original video here.) Elder Perry quotes from the movie, expressing the choice we all have in how we use our time during our mortal experience. We can choose to follow a path of pleasure, entertainment, selfish desires, greed, or material prosperity. But if we choose that direction, we will "find no lasting satisfaction." The movie points out the difference between temporary, temporal pleasures and the lasting, eternal joy of the Gospel path.

Elder Perry emphasized in his talk that we need to be bold and certain in making our decisions in life. He talked about the principle of deciding in advance to be committed to the Gospel path, including specific principles and commandments that might confront us; and to make sure our decisions are carefully made based on our principles, not "allowing your decisions to happen just by chance." We must ponder and prepare in order to be wise in our choices, since those choices so quickly establish the path we will follow in life—and in eternity.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

President Howard W. Hunter on commitment to a Christian life

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"A successful life, the good life, the righteous Christian life requires something more than a contribution, though every contribution is valuable. Ultimately it requires commitment—whole souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment to the principles we know to be true in the commandments God has given. We need such loyalty to the Church, but that must immediately be interpreted as a loyalty in our personal habits and behavior, integrity in the wider community and marketplace, and—for the future’s sake—devotion and character in our marriages and homes and families.
"If we will be true and faithful to our principles, committed to a life of honesty and integrity, then no king or contest or fiery furnace will be able to compromise us. For the success of the kingdom of God on earth, may we stand as witnesses for him 'at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death.' (Mosiah 18:9.)"
- Howard W. Hunter, "Standing As Witnesses of God," General Conference April 1990
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

What does it mean to be a Christian? What kind of effort is involved? President Hunter suggests that it's more than a casual or occasional contribution; it requires "whole souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment" to the commandments and principles we have been given:

One who has that level of commitment will be noticed not just in Church settings, but "in the wider community" as we stand up for the principles of truth and defend virtue. We truly should be "witnesses of God" in all situations of our lives and let our light shine in the world around us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)
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