Sunday, March 31, 2019

President Henry B. Eyring on deliverance from opposition in life

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.
"There is a guide for receiving the Lord’s power of deliverance from opposition in life. It was given to Thomas B. Marsh, then the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was in difficult trials, and the Lord knew he would face more. Here was the counsel to him that I take for myself and offer you: 'Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.' (D&C 112:10.)
"The Lord always wants to lead us to deliverance through our becoming more righteous. That requires repentance. And that takes humility. So the way to deliverance always requires humility in order for the Lord to be able to lead us by the hand where He wants to take us through our troubles and on to sanctification.
"We might make the mistake of assuming that illness, persecution, and poverty will be humbling enough. They don’t always produce by themselves the kind and degree of humility we will need to be rescued. Trials can produce resentment or discouragement. The humility you and I need to get the Lord to lead us by the hand comes from faith. It comes from faith that God really lives, that He loves us, and that what He wants—hard as it may be—will always be best for us.
"The Savior showed us that humility. You have read of how He prayed in the garden while He was suffering a trial on our behalf beyond our ability to comprehend or to endure, or even for me to describe. You remember His prayer: 'Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.' (Luke 22:42.)
"He knew and trusted His Heavenly Father, the great Elohim. He knew that His Father was all-powerful and infinitely kind. The Beloved Son asked for the power of deliverance to help Him in humble words like those of a little child.
"The Father did not deliver the Son by removing the trial. For our sakes He did not do that, and He allowed the Savior to finish the mission He came to perform. Yet we can forever take courage and comfort from knowing of the help that the Father did provide:
"And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
"And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
"And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. (Luke 22:43–46.)
"The Savior prayed for deliverance. What He was given was not an escape from the trial but comfort enough to pass through it gloriously."
- Henry B. Eyring, "The Power of Deliverance," BYU devotional Jan. 15, 2008
Click here to read or listen to the full talk
(Note: this talk by President Eyring is also reprinted in the April 2019 New Era .)

When we have "opposition" or adversity in life, we need to remember the advice the Lord gave to Thomas Marsh. Humility is a profound key to receiving assistance from the Lord. That almost seems too simple; but as President Eyring explains, true humility leads to repentance and righteousness, enabling us to draw down the power of God to provide divine support; then God can "lead us by the hand where He wants to take us through our troubles and on to sanctification."

The struggles of life don't necessarily produce humility on their own; it requires faith in Jesus Christ to find that kind of submissive trust and confidence. The Psalmist put it beautifully:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

President Dallin H. Oaks on service motivated by humility and love

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.
"Those who are caught up in trying to save their lives by seeking the praise of the world are actually rejecting the Savior’s teaching that the only way to save our eternal life is to love one another and lose our lives in service.
"C. S. Lewis explained this teaching of the Savior: 'The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first?—wanting to be the centre?—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. … What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could "be like gods"—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come … the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.' (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1980), 49; emphasis added.)
"A selfish person is more interested in pleasing man—especially himself—than in pleasing God. He looks only to his own needs and desires. He walks 'in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world' (D&C 1:16). Such a person becomes disconnected from the covenant promises of God (see D&C 1:15) and from the mortal friendship and assistance we all need in these tumultuous times. In contrast, if we love and serve one another as the Savior taught, we remain connected to our covenants and to our associates."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Unselfish Service," General Conference April 2009
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In the gospel life, the reasons why we do things are sometimes more important than what we do. If we are motivated by the desire for prominence or recognition, we are missing the whole point of the Savior's message. In the Sermon on the Mount, He spoke about those who are motivated by the need "to be seen of men" and warned that "they have their reward" already (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)

True Christian service must be motivated by pure love, and commitment to the Savior's cause.

The quote from C. S. Lewis that President Oaks includes is interesting. He warns of the temptation faced by man to "be like gods" in creating for ourselves a source of happiness involving only ourselves, apart from God. The true disciple does aspire to be like God, but if that is to happen in the distant eternity, it comes because we first learn the lesson that we are completely subject to Him and His will, and must obey with complete humility and willingness.

As we cling to "the covenant promises of God" and follow Him whole-heartedly, we will find the true source of peace and joy in this life as we serve others as He did.

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

Friday, March 29, 2019

President Harold B. Lee on following God's engineers

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"The place of these heaven-endowed messengers who represent the Lord in every dispensation of the gospel upon the earth may be illustrated by an incident related by a traveler in northern Europe. Our traveler was leaving by boat from Stockholm, Sweden, traveling out into the Baltic Sea. To do so, the boat had to pass through a thousand or more islands. Standing on the forward deck, the traveler found himself becoming impatient because of what seemed to him to be a careless course. Why not a course near to this island or another and more interesting than the one the pilot had chosen? Almost in exasperation he was saying to himself, 'What's wrong with the old pilot? Has he lost his sense of direction?' Suddenly he was aware of markers along the charted course which appeared as mere broom handles sticking up in the water. Someone had carefully explored these channels and had charted the safest course for ships to take.
"So it is in life's course on the way to immortality and eternal life: 'God's engineers,' by following a blueprint made in heaven, have charted the course for safest and happiest passage and have forewarned us of the danger areas.
"How dreary and frustrated is the human soul who not only does not come 'in the name of the Lord,' but who disregards the guideposts marked out by 'God's engineers' of the above illustration! Of this the Apostle to the Gentiles wrote: 'If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable' (1 Corinthians 5:19). That misery certainly can only be matched in him who in this life has no faith or hope in Christ.... But what strength and fortitude comes to him who puts his trust in the Lord!"
- Harold B. Lee, "Blessed Is He That Cometh in the Name of the Lord," Conference Report, April 3, 1955, 17-20; see Stand Ye In Holy Places, 44-45
Click here to read the full talk

We are blessed in our time with "heaven-endowed messengers who represent the Lord." President Lee illustrates their role with an example of route-finding in a challenging situation. In our day, we are faced with many of those challenging situations, but ones that present spiritual challenges instead of physical ones. We can be blessed as we learn to listen to, and follow the counsel of, spiritual guides:

Peace and happiness come as we gain a witness of the role of "God's engineers" who have "charted the course for safest and happiest passage and have forewarned us of the danger areas."

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

President Spencer W. Kimball on private personal prayer

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Now, some things are best prayed about in private, where time and confidentiality are not considerations. Prayer in solitude is rich and profitable. Praying alone helps us to shed shame or pretense, any lingering deceit; it helps us open our hearts and be totally honest and honorable in expressing all of our hopes and attitudes.
"I have long been impressed about the need for privacy in our personal prayers. The Savior at times found it necessary to slip away into the mountains or desert to pray. Similarly, the Apostle Paul turned to the desert and solitude after his great call. Enos found himself in solitary places to commune with God. Joseph Smith found his privacy in the grove with only birds and trees and God to listen to his prayer. Observe some keys in his story: 'So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. … It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.' (JS—H 1:14; italics added.)
"We, too, ought to find, where possible, a room, a corner, a closet, a place where we can 'retire' to 'pray vocally' in secret. We recall the many times the Lord instructs us to pray vocally: 'And again, I command thee that thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.' (D&C 19:28.) So central is this to our prayers and personal religious life that the Lord instructed the priesthood brethren to 'visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.' (D&C 20:51.)"
- Spencer W. Kimball, "Pray Always," Ensign, Oct. 1981, p. 3
Click here to read the full article

This excerpt comes from a "First Presidency Message" prepared by President Kimball. There were many insights in this article that are worth reviewing. He discusses prayer in public and family settings, and then turns to the importance of our individual, personal prayers. This description illustrates ways that our personal prayers can benefit us:

The importance of praying vocally, even during our personal prayers, is very significant. Perhaps we don't often consider this because of the relative inconvenience, the challenge of finding that kind of privacy. But President Kimball witnesses that this vocal aspect is "central ... to our prayers and personal religious life."

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

President Gordon B. Hinckley on a positive outlook in life

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.
"I come this evening with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I’m suggesting that we accentuate the positive. I’m asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.
"I am not asking that all criticism be silent. Growth comes with correction. Strength comes with repentance. Wise is the man or woman who, committing mistakes pointed out by others, changes his or her course. I am not suggesting that our conversation be all honey. Clever expression that is sincere and honest is a skill to be sought and cultivated. What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land and times in which we live, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism.
"Let our faith replace our fears. When I was a boy, my father often said to us, 'Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.'"
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Lord Is at the Helm," BYU Devotional, Mar. 6, 1994
Click here to read the full talk

This is a theme that President Hinckley loved, and spoke of a number of times during his ministry. We cannot always choose the circumstances around us, but we can always choose how we react to them and how we act in the midst of them. On another occasion he described people who always respond negatively and critically as "pickle suckers." He suggests there is a better way—seeking and dwelling on good things instead of the negative aspects:

President Hinckley does acknowledge that there is a proper place for criticism, pointing out of mistakes and errors, etc. But the spirit in which what is done (both given and received) makes all the difference. And one of the great keys is that when we "speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults" it becomes easier to receive helpful suggestions about those faults.

Not only should "optimism replace pessimism," but at the same time, in the Lord's hands, we will find that "our faith [will] replace our fears."

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

President Thomas S. Monson on sacrificing to attend temples

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.
"Some degree of sacrifice has ever been associated with temple building and with temple attendance. Countless are those who have labored and struggled in order to obtain for themselves and for their families the blessings which are found in the temples of God.
"Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort.
"Today most of us do not have to suffer great hardships in order to attend the temple. Eighty-five percent of the membership of the Church now live within 200 miles (320 km) of a temple, and for a great many of us, that distance is much shorter.
"If you have been to the temple for yourselves and if you live within relatively close proximity to a temple, your sacrifice could be setting aside the time in your busy lives to visit the temple regularly. There is much to be done in our temples in behalf of those who wait beyond the veil. As we do the work for them, we will know that we have accomplished what they cannot do for themselves."
- Thomas S. Monson, "The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World," General Conference April 2011
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson were both committed during their administrations to the building of temples so that Church members could more easily receive the blessings available there. President Monson points out the blessings of that tradition in this talk; with the temples spreading throughout the world, they are more and more accessible to a vast majority of Church members. The key becomes that we come to "understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple." And once we do, we recognize that "no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings." Those blessings certainly apply to the ordinances we receive the first time we attend; but they also include the ongoing blessings of sharing the ordinances on behalf of the dead.

We don't have to sacrifice to get to the temple as have so many before us. President Monson instead suggests that we sacrifice our time and efforts to serve there on behalf of others, that they too might have the eternal blessings.

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

Monday, March 25, 2019

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on the importance of the modern dispensation

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.
"Latter-day Saints need to remember that we who live now are being called upon to work out our salvation in a special time of intense and immense challenges—the last portion of the dispensation of the fullness of times during which great tribulation and temptation will occur, the elect will almost be deceived, and unrighteous people will be living much as they were in the days of Noah. It will be a time of polarization, as the Twelve foresaw in their declaration of 1845. Hardness of heart in many will produce other manifestations of hardness and coarseness. Civility will be one casualty of these conditions, and a lowered capacity to achieve reconciliation, whether in a marriage or between interest groups, will be another.
"Therefore, though we have rightly applauded our ancestors for their spiritual achievements (and do not and must not discount them now), those of us who prevail today will have done no small thing. The special spirits who have been reserved to live in this time of challenges and who overcome will one day be praised for their stamina by those who pulled handcarts.
"Those who were righteous in other ages, when the gospel light was snuffed out, will one day commend the current members of the Church who so live that the gospel light increased in its incandescence.
"Those of ancient Israel who saw many signs and yet episodically relapsed will one day praise those in this dispensation who have believed 'because of the word' without being compelled to be humble. (Alma 32:14.)
"The Lamanites who were righteous in earlier times, especially, will praise their present posterity whose righteousness is bringing a blossoming of their seed.
"Thus the contemporary righteous will earn the esteem of their admired predecessors. Finally, if we are faithful, even the righteous of the city of Enoch will fall upon our necks and kiss us, and we will mingle our tears with their tears! (Moses 7:63.)
"Let us, therefore, notwithstanding our weaknesses, be reassured that the everyday keeping of the commandments and the doing of our duties is what it is all about."
- Neal A. Maxwell, Not Withstanding My Weakness [Deseret 1981], pp. 17-18

This is a fascinating excerpt from Elder Maxwell's compelling and inspiring writings. He acknowledges that today, we live in "a special time of intense and immense challenges," an era "during which great tribulation and temptation will occur." In the midst of those challenges, there are "special spirits who have been reserved to live in this time of challenges."

Elder Maxwell then proceeds to give better context to those of modern times, recognizing a series of other groups and individuals in the history of the world who have faced their own challenges. In light of all of those, to consider that the survivors and conquerors of our modern day will be honored and respected by so many is quite a tribute. But it should even more be sobering to our time as we strive to be faithful to the challenges we face. We must never neglect "the everyday keeping of the commandments and the doing of our duties."

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on loving as the Savior did

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.
"Jesus asked us to love one another as He has loved us. Is that possible? Can our love for others really approach divine love? Yes it can! The pure love of Christ is granted to all who seek and qualify for it. Such love includes service and requires obedience.
"Compliance with divine law requires faith—the pivotal point of mortality’s testing and trials. At the same time, faith proves our love for God. The more committed we become to patterning our lives after His, the purer and more divine our love becomes....
"Divine love is perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal. The full flower of divine love and our greatest blessings from that love are conditional—predicated upon our obedience to eternal law. I pray that we may qualify for those blessings and rejoice forever."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Divine Love," Ensign February 2003, pp. 20-25
Click here to read the full article

This is certainly one of the most profound and meaningful invitations from the Savior to us:
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34-35).

In this article, President Nelson explored the concept of "Divine Love" and asked what it means for us to love as He loved.

A key insight is that the ability to love as Christ does is not something we necessarily develop; it is a divine gift, "granted to all who seek and qualify for it. Such love includes service and requires obedience." The importance of obedience and service in our preparation to receive the gift is crucial. Our faith in God and in His plan for us leads us to the disciple's life of emulation, complying with divine law, and thus being filled with His spirit.

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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Elder Richard L. Evans on our search for happiness

Elder Richard L. Evans (1906-1971) served as a Seventy from 1938-1953, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He died in 1971 at age 65.  He was known as "the voice of the Tabernacle Choir" from the beginning of its broadcasts in 1929 until his passing.
"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....
"Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.
"Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for. And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement. And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.
"A prophet of God has said: 'Men are that they might have joy'—a joy that includes a fullness of life, a life dedicated to service, to love and harmony in the home, and the fruits of honest toil—an acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—of its requirements and commandments.
"Only in these will you find true happiness, the happiness which doesn't fade with the lights and the music and the crowds."
- Richard L. Evans, Man's Search for Happiness (pamphlet, 1969), pp. 4–5

These lines are very familiar to anyone of my generation. The short film "Man's Search for Happiness" was produced for the Mormon Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City, and was viewed by over five million people at that event. For years it was a standard Church film used in visitors' centers, viewed in meetings and classes, and shown by missionaries to investigators. With the beautiful, familiar voice of Elder Evans narrating, the message of the film was moving and powerful to many.

The concepts shared by Elder Evans in these lines are critical to us. We are granted freedom of choice in this life, and time in which to exercise that gift. But how crucial it is to our eternal progress that our choices are made carefully and lead to the right destinations!

It is interesting to ponder the statement "Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for." If that is true, it is vital to learn to choose the life of joy, now and eternally, through the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

An interesting article about the history of the Mormon Pavilion, at which these words were premiered, is found in "Legacy of the Mormon Pavilion" by Brent L. Top, Ensign Oct. 1989.

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

Elder Ronald A. Rasband on the challenges of the rising generation

Elder Ronald A. Rasband (born February 6, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 2000.  He was the senior president of the Seventy when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015. This talk was given in a General Priesthood session of conference when he was serving as a Seventy.
"In an early Book of Mormon time, the members of the Church also gathered near a temple to receive instruction from their prophet and leader. Late in his life, King Benjamin called upon fathers to bring their families together, to give them counsel and admonitions....
"As recorded in Mosiah, families received the word of the Lord through their prophet with enthusiasm and commitment. The people were so moved by King Benjamin’s teachings that they entered into a new covenant to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
"However, there is a sad epilogue to this story. We learn later in Mosiah concerning those who were but little children in the tents at the time of King Benjamin’s sermon:
"'Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers' (Mosiah 26:1).
"What happened to that rising generation, brethren? Why didn’t the young children accept the righteous traditions of their fathers? More importantly, here we are centuries later, in a day of many temples and constant prophetic direction, and what of our rising generation? Do we have reason to be concerned? Certainly we do! ...
"Our rising generation is worthy of our best efforts to support and strengthen them in their journey to adulthood."
- Ronald A. Rasband, "Our Rising Generation," General Conference April 2006
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Spiritual manifestations and deep conversions are profound events, and the experience of the people as they were taught by King Benjamin is a wonderful example of the life-changing impact of such an event (see Mosiah 2). However, the rapid loss of the impact of that conversion is a sad sequel. In only a single generation, the "rising generation" who were too young to fully experience the spirit of the event drift away from the teachings of their fathers. Elder Rasband warns us to be vigilant in our care of that next generation:

We must never neglect any opportunity to bless lives or make a difference for each individual.

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

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Elder Neil L. Andersen on recognizing our divine potential

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.

The following report of a talk he gave to a group of Seminary students includes direct quotes and summaries; a full transcript is not available.
"You are a child of God with eternal possibilities available to you, and one of the greatest things you can do with your life is to accept who you are, where you came from, and where you are going," he said. "Now, with a monarch butterfly it is very innate. We as sons and daughters of God feel this is true, but we must confirm it and believe it."
Sharing a story of his young grandson singing the Primary song "I Am a Child of God," Elder Andersen said that youth today need to believe those sacred words.
"Come to believe it," he said. "Sometimes when you feel like you are a caterpillar and say to yourself: 'I’m not smart, I’m not very coordinated, I’m different, I don’t have this, I don’t have that'—keep in mind who you are. We don’t all have to be the same. We come in different sizes, different shapes, different colors. Some have some talents, some have others; we don’t have to be exactly like someone else." ...
Individuals must look on their potential and think, "One day I will fly," Elder Andersen taught.
- Neil L. Andersen, "Lessons Learned from a Butterfly," address to seminary students in Bountiful, Utah 1/6/2012
Click here to read a report of the address

According to this report published in the Church News, Elder Andersen was speaking to a group of Seminary students in Bountiful, Utah. Using imagery of caterpillars and butterflies, he shard "four spiritual lessons individuals can learn from the monarch butterfly." These included:

  1. You are a child of God with eternal possibilities available to you.
  2. To become who God would have you become, you will need the gifts of the Savior and your own correct choices.
  3. Your spiritual senses are refined and delicate and are protected by honesty and obedience.
  4. As you see beyond yourself, you begin to see who the Lord would have you become.

There are good insights in Elder Andersen's comments, worth reviewing and pondering.

When we struggle, when we know we have many shortcomings and much to learn and experience, Elder Andersen counsels us to remember: "One day I will fly," Profound advice!

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on Satan's traps in our lives

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.
"In the premortal world, Lucifer rebelled against God and His plan, and his opposition only grows in intensity. He fights to discourage marriage and the formation of families, and where marriages and families are formed, he does what he can to disrupt them. He attacks everything that is sacred about human sexuality, tearing it from the context of marriage with a seemingly infinite array of immoral thoughts and acts. He seeks to convince men and women that marriage and family priorities can be ignored or abandoned, or at least made subservient to careers, other achievements, and the quest for self-fulfillment and individual autonomy. Certainly the adversary is pleased when parents neglect to teach and train their children to have faith in Christ and be spiritually born again. Brothers and sisters, many things are good, many are important, but only a few are essential."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Why Marriage, Why Family," General Conference, April 2015
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Christofferson reminds us of an important perspective in our existence. When we understand the eternal plan of God and the broader perspective of our eternal lives, we recognize how critical it is for us to be aware and cautious in this life. Satan's rebellion against God in the premortal world set the stage for the battle that continues into this life. Satan now "fights to discourage marriage and the formation of families." There is an active force behind many of the trends we see in society, and Elder Christofferson explains how subtle Satan's influence can be in how society manipulates the thought processes that turn into actions. Satan rejoices when we fall into those traps, and particularly when we fail to set priorities in our family lives and our teaching of children. And that leads to this most important point:

We must be constantly on guard to focus on the essential things first, and the most important ones; and to we aware and wary of the many traps that are set for us.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Elder Quentin L. Cook on gratitude for our blessings

Elder Quentin L. Cook (born September 8, 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"I hope you will be grateful for your blessings – especially your heritage. Gratitude and humility are closely intertwined. We live in a very self-centered age. Social media, in particular, can easily be used for self-promotion. It has never been more important to be grateful and humble. Those who possess these attributes express appreciation for their blessings as they follow the Savior’s example....
"I would suggest that we need to be especially grateful for our heritage. I know that your parents and families are very pleased with what is transpiring today. I hope you are appreciative of them. When we are blessed with goodly parents, we should be grateful. This is the debt each of us owes for our heritage. An old Chinese proverb reads: 'When you drink the water, don’t forget the well from whence it came.' It is clear from the scriptures that we are to honor our parents. Proverbs reads, 'My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother…' Ephesians teaches us to 'honor thy father and mother;' The great German philosopher, Goethe, put it this way, 'What from your father’s heritage is lent, earn it anew to really possess it.' It is clear that we need to be grateful for our parents and take positive action to acquire that which they would hope to bestow upon us."
- Quentin L. Cook, "The Good Life," BYU-Idaho graduation address, December 18, 2015
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Cook was speaking to young college graduates in this address. They are particularly challenged by social media's lure, and the temptation of "self-promotion" that Elder Cook warns of. The need to find a proper focus of gratitude and humility is more important than ever:

Elder Cook particularly encouraged his audience to be grateful for their heritage, to recognize the contributions of those who went before them. Truly we can never overestimate how much we owe to those who have helped establish foundations of faith for us.

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

Elder David A. Bednar on seeking a Christlike character

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.
"We can in mortality seek to be blessed with and develop essential elements of a Christlike character. Indeed, it is possible for us as mortals to strive in righteousness to receive the spiritual gifts associated with the capacity to reach outward and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. We cannot obtain such a capacity through sheer willpower or personal determination. Rather, we are dependent upon and in need of 'the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah' (2 Nephi 2:8). But 'line upon line, precept upon precept' (2 Nephi 28:30) and 'in [the] process of time' (Moses 7:21), we are enabled to reach outward when the natural tendency is for us to turn inward.
"It is interesting to me that one of the central elements of the word character is created by the letters A, C, and T. As we already have seen in the examples of Christ's character from the New Testament, the nature and consistency of how one acts reveals in a powerful way his or her true character. In the case of Christ, he is described as one '. . . who went about doing good' (Acts 10:38)."
- David A. Bednar, "The Character of Christ," BYU-Idaho Religion Symposium, January 25, 2003
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Bednar delivered this address after hearing Elder Neal A. Maxwell teach, "There would have been no Atonement except for the character of Christ." He was led to ponder the character of Christ and how we can be blessed as we come to understand it. As we humbly and sincerely see the spiritual gifts that will allow us to emulate Him, we will be deeply blessed and enhanced through His grace.

Elder Bednar points out that it becomes key for us to act in accordance with the principles we have learned, in seeking His character. Like Him, we should "go about doing good."

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on treating others with love and 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.
"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
"Stop it!
"It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, 'Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.'
"We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?
"Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?"
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Merciful Obtain Mercy," General Conference April 2012
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

While serving as a member of the First Presidency, President Uchtdorf shared many powerful messages, and this is a very memorable one. He encouraged us to consider our relationships with one another and to think about the need for love and forgiveness in those interactions. Too often we hold on to grudges and disagreements, as well as treating others with less respect than they deserve; and his advice was very simple: "Stop it!"

When we truly have "a heart full of love for God and His children" it will change our interactions with each other, and we will be more accepting, loving, and forgiving. We depend on mercy from God; we must offer it freely to one another.

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

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on having courageous hearts in challenging days

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.
"Prophecies regarding the last days often refer to large-scale calamities such as earthquakes or famines or floods. These in turn may be linked to widespread economic or political upheavals of one kind or another.
"But there is one kind of latter-day destruction that has always sounded to me more personal than public, more individual than collective—a warning, perhaps more applicable inside the Church than outside it. The Savior warned that in the last days even those of the covenant, the very elect, could be deceived by the enemy of truth. (See Matthew 24:24.) If we think of this as a form of spiritual destruction, it may cast light on another latter-day prophecy. Think of the heart as the figurative center of our faith, the poetic location of our loyalties and our values; then consider Jesus’s declaration that in the last days 'men’s hearts [shall fail] them' (Luke 21:26).
"The encouraging thing, of course, is that our Father in Heaven knows all of these latter-day dangers, these troubles of the heart and soul, and has given counsel and protections regarding them.
"In light of that, it has always been significant to me that the Book of Mormon, one of the Lord’s powerful keystones in this counteroffensive against latter-day ills, begins with a great parable of life, an extended allegory of hope versus fear, of light versus darkness, of salvation versus destruction....
"Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to 'come unto Christ, and be perfected in him' (Moroni 10:32) ...
"Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: 'Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived' (JS—Matthew 1:37)—and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Safety for the Soul," General Conference October 2009
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The Savior's warning about "Men’s hearts failing them for fear" in the last days has always impressed me; there will be trying times, even for "the very elect"—perhaps especially for them. But Elder Holland points out that the Lord offers light and hope in the midst of the darkness and fear that otherwise might consume us.

"Love. Healing. Help. Hope." There is certainly a "safe harbor" available to each of us, as we turn to Him. In the rest of this encouraging and hopeful talk, Elder Holland testifies of the power of the Book of Mormon to help us find those sources of faith and light.

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

President M. Russell Ballard on standing as witnesses of God

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.
"When we covenant in the waters of baptism to 'stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places' (Mosiah 18:9), we’re not talking solely about fast and testimony meetings. It may not always be easy, convenient, or politically correct to stand for truth and right, but it is always the right thing to do. Always. ...
"Standing for truth and right is not solely a Sunday thing. Every day our neighborhoods and communities are in desperate need of our support and our commitment to safety and law and order. Crime, in all its pervasive manifestations, is a serious worldwide evil and a moral problem about which Church leaders have great concern. The social, economic, and moral costs of crime are incalculable. It is no respecter of race, religion, nationality, age, culture, or socioeconomic status."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Standing for Truth and Right," General Conference October 1997
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

What does it mean to "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places"? President Ballard challenges us, in this address shared with a Priesthood session of conference, to be more involved in our communities in defending the truth and being voices for righteousness.

Wickedness continues to grow in society; the modern analogs to Book of Mormon concerns about "secret combinations" are rampant. It becomes more and more critical for faithful disciples of Christ to be willing to be visible and vocal in our efforts to combat the adversary.

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