Sunday, June 16, 2019

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

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"As a husband, he would live with respect for his wife, standing side by side with her, never belittling her nor demeaning her, but rather encouraging her in the continued development of her talents and in the church activities which are available to her. He would regard her as the greatest treasure of his life, one with whom he can share his concerns, his innermost thoughts, his ambitions and hopes. There would never be in that home any 'unrighteous dominion' of husband over wife (see D&C 121:37, 39), no assertion of superiority, no assertion of authority, but rather an expression in living which says that these two are equally yoked....
"How beautiful is that home where lives a man of godly manner, who loves those for whose nurture he is responsible, who stands before them as an example of integrity and goodness, who teaches industry and loyalty, not spoiling his children by indulging their every wish, but rather setting before them a pattern of work and service which will underpin their lives forever. How fortunate is the man whose wife radiates a spirit of love, of compassion, of order, of quiet beneficence, whose children show appreciation one for another, who honor and respect their parents, who counsel with them and take counsel from them. Such home life is within the reach of all who have cultivated in their hearts a resolution to do that which will please their Father in Heaven."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "To Please Our Heavenly Father," General Conference April 1985
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on the enabling power of grace

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"I have pondered the instruction of Jacob as contained in the Book of Mormon:
"'Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
"'Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things' (Jacob 4:6–7).
"Brothers and sisters, please pay particular attention to the word grace as it is used in the verse I just read. In the Bible Dictionary we learn that the word grace frequently is used in the scriptures to connote a strengthening or enabling power:
"'The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
"'… It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts' (p. 697).
"Thus, the enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity. I testify and witness that the enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement is real."
- David A. Bednar, "In the Strength of the Lord," General Conference October 2004
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

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

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

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

President Heber C. Kimball on prayers and works

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Elder L. Tom Perry on growing through family traditions

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

President Boyd K. Packer on balancing reason and revelation

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on being high-yield, low-maintenance members

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.
"To understand and have faith, therefore, in the character and the purposes of God means that instead of complaining, we accept (more than we do) the menu of life and what is allotted to us. Sometimes with particular individuals that may seem to be the equivalent of 'Eat your spinach' and 'Clean your plate.'
"Part of discipleship should be to become high-yield, low-maintenance members of the Church. These members are not high profile; they won't be on the six o'clock evening news when they die. But they have done what Heavenly Father has wanted them to do meekly and humbly....
"For you and me, to be part of this work amid these kinds of people is a precious thing. Since the Holy Ghost glorifies Christ as indicated, so should we. One of the ways you and I can glorify Christ is by improving and repenting, showing that we take seriously the proffered discipleship that comes from Him. We should care enough about it that it lies at the very center of our lives."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "The Holy Ghost: Glorifying Christ", satellite broadcast address to CES educators, February 2, 2001; see Ensign, July 2002, 56-61
Click here to read the full article

Faith in God implies that we accept His plan and actions for our life—the "menu of life" that is allotted to us, even if it is challenging or unpleasant. We must strive to contribute to His work in every way possible:

Meek and humble disciples of Christ throughout the world will recognize this principle. The work of God moves ahead largely on the shoulders of the quiet, diligent, low-profile disciples who carry forward in their duties with diligence and commitment, in spite of a lack of recognition or prominence. They give so much more than they take from the process.

The essence of discipleship is to "glorify Christ" instead of oneself. Once He truly lies at the very center of our lives, our desires to serve, and to repent and progress, will be foremost in our lives.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on receiving the Holy Ghost

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.
"The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance. These four words—'Receive the Holy Ghost'—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed 'receive the Holy Ghost' and its attendant spiritual gifts. 'For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift' (D&C 88:33).
"What should we do to make this authorized admonition to seek for the companionship of the third member of the Godhead an ongoing reality? Let me suggest that we need to (1) sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost, (2) appropriately invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, and (3) faithfully obey God’s commandments."
- David A. Bednar, "Receive the Holy Ghost," General Conference October 2010
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Understanding that the injunction "receive the Holy Ghost" is an invitation for us to perform the action of receiving is a critical point. It's not an automatic, immediate action performed on our behalf; it's an offer to us to accept a gift.

Elder Bednar explains in this insightful talk about the actions we can take to receive that gift of the Holy Ghost. They include both our desires and our actions. It's a process that we must undertake with humility and faithful discipleship.

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

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the joy of forgiveness

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.
"Each of us is under a divinely spoken obligation to reach out with pardon and mercy and to forgive one another. There is a great need for this Christlike attribute in our families, in our marriages, in our wards and stakes, in our communities, and in our nations.
"We will receive the joy of forgiveness in our own lives when we are willing to extend that joy freely to others. Lip service is not enough. We need to purge our hearts and minds of feelings and thoughts of bitterness and let the light and the love of Christ enter in. As a result, the Spirit of the Lord will fill our souls with the joy accompanying divine peace of conscience (see Mosiah 4:2–3)."
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Point of Safe Return," General Conference April 2007
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Willingness to forgive others is crucial to our own spiritual progress. Elder Uchtdorf observes that we have much need for "this Christlike attribute" in all our personal and public interactions:

It is only as we truly, honestly, and completely forgive others, overcoming all "thoughts of bitterness," that we will fully feel "the light and the love of Christ" in our lives.

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on dealing with life's challenges

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.
"If your prayers don’t always seem answered, take heart. One greater than you or President Kimball cried, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.… My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' (Matt. 27:46.) If sometimes the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Inconvenient Messiah," BYU Devotional, 2 February 1982; see Ensign February 1984, pp. 68-73
Click here to read the full talk

This is one of my favorite, most thought-provoking talks by Elder Holland. He teaches that the Messiah's message, and His path of discipleship, were not (and are not) convenient or easy; they require sacrifice and discipline. This principle applies in many ways.

It applies to the process of prayer. It takes work and effort to develop real communication with God. Elder Holland shared the particularly poignant example from the life of Spencer W. Kimball, describing his struggles in personal prayer following his call to the apostleship. Then came this thought:

Sometimes, life is hard. Sometimes, just trying harder doesn't solve the problems right away. Life is sometimes inconvenient! But Elder Holland encourages us to remember, in those times, to "take heart": patience, persistence, faith, endurance, trust, hope—those are eternal and divine principles.

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

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

President M. Russell Ballard on innovation in callings

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.
"Be innovative. As we work to magnify our callings, we should seek the inspiration of the Spirit to solve problems in ways that will best help the people we serve. We have handbooks of instruction, and their guidelines should be followed. But within that framework are substantial opportunities to think, to be creative, and to make use of individual talents. The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify.
"Because the eternal principle of agency gives us the freedom to choose and think for ourselves, we should become increasingly able to solve problems. We may make the occasional mistake, but as long as we are following gospel principles and guidelines, we can learn from those mistakes and become more understanding of others and more effective in serving them.
"Being innovative also means that we do not have to be told everything we should do. The Lord said, 'It is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant' (D&C 58:26). We trust you, brothers and sisters, to use inspiration. We trust that you will do so within the framework of Church policies and principles. We trust that you will be wise in counseling together to help build faith and testimony in the lives of those whom you serve."
- M. Russell Ballard, "O Be Wise," General Conference October 2006
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Most of us don't think about being "innovative" when we consider our callings. We too often feel like we have a standard, pre-determined set of duties to fulfill. President Ballard encourages us to be aware of guidelines given in handbooks and elsewhere, but to consider those things as a "framework"—and to seek for inspiration on creative use of our talents in order to better serve and bless.

But perhaps the most profound statement of the excerpt is, "To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify." We don't always have to complicate or embellish in order to serve most effectively.

Using our agency most effectively, we will invoke divine inspiration to serve most effectively.

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

Monday, June 3, 2019

President Joseph Smith on ministering with love and tenderness

Joseph Smith (December 23, 1805-June 27, 1844) was given the apostolic authority when the Church of Jesus Christ was organized on April 6, 1830 and he was designated the first president of the church at age 24. He was martyred in 1844 at age 38.
"Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind.
"It is one evidence that men are unacquainted with the principle of godliness, to behold the contraction of feeling and lack of charity. The power and glory of Godliness is spread out on a broad principle to throw out the mantle of charity."
- Joseph Smith, Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, June 9, 1842; see also History of the Church, 5:23–24
Click here to read the full address from the Joseph Smith Papers project

This excerpt comes from an address by Joseph Smith to one of the early meetings of the Relief Society. He spoke very personally about how he responded to the actions of others toward him. If our goal or hope is to encourage others to "forsake sin" in any way, to come unto Christ, this is a lesson we should ponder:

The language Joseph used is so expressive. We don't just talk to people, instruct or counsel them—we "take them by the hand" and we "watch over them with tenderness." As we "show kindness and love" to others, it has power over their minds. As we spread out the "mantle of charity" in our interactions with others, we discover "the power and glory of Godliness" is also being spread. Such wonderful descriptions of true ministering with Christlike charity.

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

Sunday, June 2, 2019

President Henry B. Eyring on the blessings of fasts and fast offerings

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.
"We do not know all the reasons why Jesus Christ went into the wilderness to fast and to pray. But we know at least one of the effects: the Savior completely resisted Satan’s temptations to misuse His divine power.
"The brief time we fast every month and the small amount we offer for the poor may give us only a small part of the change in our natures to have no more desire to do evil. But there is a great promise, even as we do all that we reasonably can to pray, to fast, and to donate for those in need:
"'Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
"'Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.' (Isaiah 58:8–9)
"I pray that we will claim those great blessings for ourselves and for our families."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Is Not This the Fast That I Have Chosen?", General Conference April 2015
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Eyring's thoughts about fasting and fast offerings are thought-provoking and inspiring. We are blessed in so many ways by this important Gospel principle. This excerpt highlights one of them: the spiritual strength that comes as we fast.

Isaiah's beautiful promise for those who keep the law of the fast is available for us to claim. It includes:

  • increased spiritual light
  • an added measure of physical health
  • growing righteousness
  • protection from the Lord. 
  • answers to our prayers
Who would not desire those blessings?? We should seek them eagerly as we fast and make our offerings to the Lord.

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

Saturday, June 1, 2019

President Brigham Young on overcoming sorrow in life

President Brigham Young (1801-1877) was part of the first Quorum of Twelve Apostles of this dispensation, called and ordained in 1835. He served as the second Church president, succeeding Joseph Smith, from 1847 until his death in 1877.
"You need never expect to see sorrow, unless your own conduct, conversation, and acts bring it to your hearts. Do you not know that sorrow to you can exist only in your own hearts? Though men or women were in the mountains perishing—though they be in overwhelming depths of snow, freezing to death, or be on a desolate island starving to death for want of food—though they perish by the sword or in any other way, yet, if the heart is cheerful, all is light and glory within: there is no sorrow within them.
"You never saw a true Saint in the world that had sorrow, neither can you find one. If persons are destitute of the fountain of living water, or the principles of eternal life, then they are sorrowful. If the words of life dwell within us, and we have the hope of eternal life and glory, and let that spark within us kindle to a flame, to the consuming of the least and last remains of selfishness, we never can walk in darkness and are strangers to doubt and fear.
"Yet we see people among us who are still selfish, and that principle we must abandon: we must strip off selfishness, and put covetousness far from us. We must become of one heart and mind, in order to fully enjoy the blessings we anticipate."
- Brigham Young, "Source of True Happiness," November 15, 1857; see JD 6:41
Click here to read the full talk

This is an interesting perspective. The people of the pioneer era experienced many trials and hardships. But President Young teaches an important principle: how we react to the experiences of life is up to us. Sorrow and sadness are not required in a life filled with hope and faith. "[I]f the heart is cheerful, all is light and glory within: there is no sorrow within them."

Sorrow comes when we are "destitute of the fountain of living water." But on the contrary, if we are filled with the spark of "the hope of eternal life and glory," we will never walk in darkness. It is up to each of us to fill our lives with that light and hope.

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

President Henry B. Eyring on persuading others of gospel truths

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.
"You have at your best followed the example of Joseph Smith, as described by Arthur Henry King, in a talk published in his book, _The Abundance of the Heart_. In that book, Professor King recounted his experience in first reading of the First Vision as it appears in the Pearl of Great Price. Arthur Henry King reminds us that he was not a member of the Church at that time and that his education had taught him to be critical. He thus represents the very people to whom you may be most helpful. This is what he said:
"'I wasn't inclined to be impressed. As a stylistician, I have spent my life being disinclined to be impressed. So when I read his story, I thought to myself, this is an extraordinary thing. This is an astonishingly matter-of-fact and cool account. This man is not trying to persuade me of anything. He doesn't feel the need to. He is stating what happened to him, and he is stating it, not enthusiastically, but in quite a matter-of-fact way. He is not trying to make me cry or feel ecstatic. That struck me, and that began to build my testimony, for I could see that this man was telling the truth' (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986, pp. 200-201).
"A clear declaration of the truth is powerful enough, because truth exists and there is a Spirit of truth to confirm it. Because you believe that, your writing shows a trust in the clear declarative statement, without jargon, that would bless scholars and their readers in every field.
"Your work of highest value is to lead the children of God to discover the true origin of the Book of Mormon and thus let its message of Jesus Christ change their lives. Because of that, my hope would be that you will keep your focus on that scripture and on the aspects of it which are significant to the question: 'Should I pray to know if this book is truly the word of God, written and abridged by prophets on plates delivered by an angel to a boy who could only have translated them by the power of God?'
"Joseph Smith's account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is miraculous. The only place to go to verify a miracle is to God. I pray that your work and your example will lead many to go to Him in the earnest prayer of faith."
- Henry B. Eyring "The Marketplace of Ideas," annual F.A.R.M.S. banquet, 13 October 1994
Click here to read the full address

President Eyring was speaking in this address to members of the "Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies" (FARMS) organization. He encouraged their use of the Book of Mormon to help bring interest and conversion. He also taught of the power of pure and simple testimony in reaching out to those who are sincere in heart.

I heard Dr. King speak about the matter Elder Eyring references. King was a brilliant British scholar, a renowned Shakespearean expert, who understood language. He compared Oliver Cowdery's flowery, educated description of the translation process, contained in a footnote of the Pearl of Great Price, with Joseph's simple and pure narrative. It was a profound lesson to me of the power of pure and simple testimony.

Leading others to Christ through the Book of Mormon is an important and powerful message, one we need to remember and implement.

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

President Dallin H. Oaks on trusting the Lord's timing

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.
"The Lord has His own timetable. 'My words are sure and shall not fail,' the Lord taught the early elders of this dispensation. 'But,' He continued, 'all things must come to pass in their time' (D&C 64:31-32).
"The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith means trust—trust in God's will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable. We should not try to impose our timetable on His. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said:
"'The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The same is true with the second coming and with all those matters wherein our faith needs to include faith in the Lord's timing for us personally, not just in His overall plans and purposes.' [Even As I Am (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 93]
"More recently, during last April conference, Elder Maxwell said: 'Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, "Thy will be done," but patiently also, "Thy timing be done"' (CR, April 2001, 76; or 'Plow in Hope,' Ensign, May 2001, 59).
"Indeed, we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord's will and in the Lord's timing."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Timing," BYU Devotional, January 29, 2002
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The relationship between faith and timing was a favorite theme of Elder Neal A. Maxwell, as quoted and expanded upon by Elder Oaks. It's tempting for us to claim or proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ, but to demonstrate a lack of faith in the timing with which blessings or responses or even deliverance from trials occurs in our life.

True faith in Jesus Christ necessarily includes absolute trust in His timing and the wisdom of His plan for each of us, and for all of us.

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on sacred personal prayer

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.
"Have you gone to a quiet, secluded spot to be all alone? Have you found your own 'Sacred Grove' equivalent, where you can pour out the secret longings of your soul in prayer to your Father in Heaven? Have you really conversed with God as one man speaks to another? Have you really declared your allegiance to him and your availability to him, without any reservation? Have you said, 'Here I am Lord! Use me!'? Have you pleaded with him, and as you did, have you put behind any counterfeit clich├ęs that may have been part of your prayers in the past? Have you cleanly and completely declared your commitment to be a saint, an elder, a righteous disciple through good times and bad? Such a resounding resolution would bring joy to your Heavenly Father."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Reflection and Resolution," BYU devotional, January 7, 1990
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This is an inspiring invitation from President Nelson. Speaking to BYU students almost two decades ago, he challenged them to a level of prayer that would bring them close to God and result in profound blessings.

The challenge starts with finding a "'Sacred Grove' equivalent" for our personal communication with God. The need for solitude and quiet peace is critical to making the process effective. Once we find that environment, we then are prepared to "pour out the secret longings of your soul in prayer."

The part of President Nelson's challenge that particularly inspired me was the level of commitment he invites us to make as part of our prayers. We not only "cleanly and completely" declare our allegiance to God and desire to follow Him in humble obedience, but also declare our availability—our willingness to participate and contribute in any way that God would ask of us. In effect, we consecrate our lives to Him. That is a level of powerful, profoundly sincere and humble prayer that we all should aspire to.

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