Monday, May 31, 2021

President Henry B. Eyring on wise use of time

President Henry B. Eyring (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. When this address was given at BYU in 1986, he was serving as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
"Even a moment's reflection will help you see that the problem of using your time well is not a problem of the mind but of the heart. It will only yield to a change in the very way we feel about time. The value of time must change for us. And then the way we think about it will change, naturally and wisely....
"I've come to understand something that happened to me in my early teens. I was in a hurry when I felt, not heard, a voice, an impression, which I knew then was from God. It was close to these words: 'Someday, when you know who you really are, you will be sorry that you didn't use your time better.' I thought then that the impression was odd, since I thought I was using my time pretty well and I thought I knew who I was. Now, years later, I am beginning to know who I am—and who you are—and why we will be so sorry if we do not invest our time well.
"You will develop your ability to invest your precious time well by gaining three confidences. First, you must gain confidence that God keeps his promises. Second, you must gain God's confidence that you will always keep the promises, not that you choose to make, but that he asks you to make. And third, you must help others gain confidence that God keeps his promises.
"You can gain confidence that God keeps his promises by trying them. That's why I so appreciate those commandments to which God has attached an explicit promise. I see those commandments as school masters. And I try to put them high on my list of things to do, because I know their value for changing my heart and building my power to invest my time."
- Henry B. Eyring, "Child of Promise," fireside address at BYU, May 4, 1986; see New Era, August 1993, p. 4
Click here to read the full talk

President Eyring always gets right to the core. In our very busy lives, "the problem of using your time well is not a problem of the mind but of the heart." It's not just a matter of making the intellectual choices, the decisions or plans or schedules.  It's a matter of making sure your heart is in the right place first. The "value of time" must be understood. Then the rest will follow!

I appreciate the distinction between "using time" and "investing time." The impression from Pres. Eyring's youth relates to this principle.

So then the key is to "develop your ability to invest your precious time" in the proper ways.

As our relationship with God develops and deepens, we not only have a greater desire to do His will, but also feel more of His guidance and influence.

But I especially appreciate the insight in the final paragraph of this excerpt — how we go about changing our heart and building faith and power.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 17, 2015

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Elder Eldred G. Smith on patriarchal blessings and anchors

Eldred G. Smith was born January 9, 1907. He served as "Patriarch to the Church" from 1947 to 1979, during which time he was sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator along with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. He was then released and designated an emeritus general authority; he was not replaced as presiding patriarch. Elder Smith passed away on April 4, 2013 at age 106.
"A patriarchal blessing is much like an anchor to a ship. It is referred to at times as an anchor for your soul, to keep you from being buffeted around. You know what an anchor is to a ship? When the winds rise and the waves come, they drop anchor and that keeps the ship from drifting off course. Well, that is what we need sometimes; is an anchor we can drop in times of emergency, in times of trial, to keep us from drifting off course. 
"Sit down and read your patriarchal blessing, or read a blessing given to you by your father, at a time when you are disturbed, distressed, discouraged and not satisfied with your life. To read your patriarchal blessing sometimes gives you courage and brings you back to where you started from and gets you in the right groove again. It gets your mind set on the proper goals, keeps you from drifting off to one side and going down skid row. It can give you a little extra courage some times when you need it the most." 
- Eldred G. Smith, "Lectures on Theology: Last Message Series," Salt Lake Institute of Religion, April 30, 1971, pp. 6-7 
A man who is said to have given over 20,000 patriarchal blessings during his life is a good source for counsel on the strength and gifts those blessings can provide.

Most of us in today's world are pretty unfamiliar with the sea, and the challenges of ocean travel. We know an anchor is supposed to help keep a ship in one place; but this imagery of how critical the anchor is in the midst of a raging storm, to keep a ship from being blown far off course, is a grand one. The application to patriarchal blessings (and other Priesthood blessings) should make us hunger for that strength, particularly in times when we might personally be "disturbed, distressed, discouraged and not satisfied."

Perhaps Elder Smith had Paul's counsel to the Hebrews in mind, wherein he reminded them that there is "consolation" and "refuge" in the hope made available to us through Jesus, "which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...." (see Hebrews 6:18-20).  Certainly a patriarchal blessing provides a link between us and Him who is "a high priest forever" and the most sure anchor we could have. We should read and remember our blessings more frequently!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 9, 2015

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Elder M. Russell Ballard on the importance of personal study

Elder M. Russell Ballard (1928- ) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"Education—particularly spiritual education—is constantly stressed by the Lord. We cannot be saved in ignorance (see D&C 131:6), but the Lord can only reveal light and truth to us as we are prepared to receive it. And so it is incumbent upon each of us to do everything we can to increase our spiritual knowledge and understanding by studying the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. When we read and study the revelations, the Spirit can confirm in our hearts the truth of what we are learning; in this way, the voice of the Lord speaks to each one of us (see D&C 18:34, 36). As we ponder the teachings of the gospel and apply them in daily living, we become better prepared to receive additional light and truth.... 
"As promised in the scriptures: 'Ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath... prepared for you.... Ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.' (D&C 78:17–18) ... 
"My brothers and sisters, we need to embrace, study, and appreciate the revealed truths that are ours." 
- M. Russell Ballard, "Marvelous are the Revelations of the Lord," General Conference April 1998;  Click here to read the full talk
It's so easy to get distracted and neglect our "spiritual education."  Reminders such as this one are important and valuable to us. Studying puts us in the situation where "the voice of the Lord speaks to each one of us." Why would we not crave that, and do anything to obtain it?  We have greater tools than ever, better resources, more accessible information.

Understanding more truth prepares us to receive more truth! Elder Ballard quotes the Lord's challenge to us— "Ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath... prepared for you." If we did understand, perhaps we wouldn't need so many reminders!
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 15, 2015

Friday, May 28, 2021

Elder Dallin H. Oaks on following the Savior

Elder Oaks (1932- ) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"Throughout His ministry Jesus gave commandments. And He taught, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments' (John 14:15; see also verses 21, 23).... 
"Latter-day Saints understand that we should not be 'of the world' or bound to 'the tradition of men,' but like other followers of Christ, we sometimes find it difficult to separate ourselves from the world and its traditions.... 
"Jesus's teachings were not meant to be theoretical. Always they were to be acted upon. Jesus taught, 'Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man' (Matthew 7:24; see also Luke 11:28) and 'Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing' (Matthew 24:46). In another beloved hymn we sing:
Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown....
Savior, may I learn to love thee--
Lord, I would follow thee. (Hymns, no. 220)
"As Jesus taught, those who love Him will keep His commandments. They will be obedient.... Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places." 
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Followers of Christ," General Conference April 2013
Click here to read the full talk
It's one thing to talk about loving God or the Savior; it's quite another to actually do it. His teachings are not just theoretical. They are truly a guide to be acted upon. We learn to love him as we follow, as we obey, as we grow in love. It takes effort. It requires us to learn, and then to act. It requires consistency and an ongoing commitment. It is truly life-changing!

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

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Elder L. Tom Perry on our divine gifts and potential

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.
"In the eighth Psalm of David, he gave us a vision of who we are and the eternal opportunities which are ours. He said:
"'O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens....
"'When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
"'What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
"'For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
"'Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:...
"'O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!' (Ps. 8:1, 3-6, 9).
"Have you ever thought of yourself as a junior angel crowned with glory and honor? Every one of our Father in Heaven's children is great in His sight. If the Lord sees greatness in you, how then should you see yourself? We have all been blessed with many talents and abilities. Some have been blessed with the talent to sing, some to paint, some to speak, some to dance, some to create beautiful things with their hands, and others to render compassionate service. Some may possess many, others only a few. It matters not the size or the quantity but the effort we put forth to develop the talents and abilities we have received. You are not competing with anyone else. You are only competing with yourself to do the best with whatever you have received. Each talent that is developed will be greatly needed and will give you tremendous fulfillment and satisfaction during your life. 
"The almost universal gift everyone can develop is the creation of a pleasant disposition, an even temperament. It will open more doors for you and give you more opportunities than any other characteristics I can think of." 
- L. Tom Perry, "Youth of the Noble Birthright", General Conference October 1998
Click here to read the full talk
We all occasionally need to be reminded to see ourselves as God sees us, "a little lower than the angels... crowned... with glory and honor." To be able to share in that perspective makes all the difference in this world! It's particularly helpful to know that each of us is unique, has been given our own gifts and talents, and has the ability to develop and magnify those abilities so that we can use those gifts in God's service.

It's also so easy to forget that we are not competing with others as we develop our talents or abilities. It matters very little how we compare to those around us, in the Lord's eyes. He cares only that we do our very best, and strive to reach our potential!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 14, 2015

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Elder Boyd K. Packer on the influence of good thoughts

President Packer (1924- ) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1970.  He currently serves as the president of that Quorum.
"No good thought is ever lost. No turn of the mind, however brief or transitory or illusive, if it is good, is ever wasted. No thought of sympathy, nor of forgiveness, no reflection on generosity or of courage or of purity, no meditation on humility or gratitude or reverence, is ever lost. The frequency with which they are experienced is the measure of you. The more constant they become, the more you are worth, or, in scriptural terms, the more you are worthy. Every clean thought becomes you. Every clean thought becomes you." 
- Boyd K. Packer, "Let Virtue Garnish Your Thoughts," BYU Devotional, Sept. 26, 1967; "That All May Be Edified" [Bookcraft 1982], p. 39
In 1967, Elder Packer gave a landmark address at BYU about the importance of thoughts, controlling our thoughts, and being blessed by appropriate and virtuous thoughts. This paragraph comes near the end of that address, which included the well-known analogy about the mind being a stage that only one actor can occupy. I love this testimony about the power of "good thoughts" and how they bring strength and blessings.

What a powerful goal, to help us increase in worth and worthiness as we fill our minds with virtue!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Elder Richard G. Scott on the purpose of life

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928-2015) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He passed away in September 2015 at the age of 86.
"You are here on earth for a divine purpose. It is not to be endlessly entertained or to be constantly in full pursuit of pleasure. You are here to be tried, to prove yourself so that you can receive the additional blessings God has for you (see Abr. 3:25).  The tempering effect of patience is required (see Mosiah 3:19).  Some blessings will be delivered here in this life; others will come beyond the veil. The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not. When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you (see 1 Ne. 3:7). 
"Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want.  This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you.  That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be (see D&C 58:26–32).  That path leads to glorious joy and happiness." 
- Richard G. Scott, "Finding Joy in Life," Genneral Conference April 1996
Click to read the full talk

It's easy to lose sight of the purpose of life, in the midst of demands that are often urgent and options that may seen endless. When challenges come, some people naturally to turn to God; but there is a tendency for many to question or tire in the midst of endurance. How crucial it is for us to learn to trust, to seek the good and the growth!

A true disciple learns to view "every unpleasant challenge" as a sign of God's love, not as a sign of his absence; and as an opportunity to grow closer to Him and become more like Him.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 10, 2015

Monday, May 24, 2021

President Thomas S. Monson on how to live greatly

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.
"All of us are prone to excuse our own mediocre performance. We blame our misfortunes, our disfigurements, or our so-called handicaps. Victims of our own rationalization, we say silently to ourselves: 'I'm just too weak,' or 'I'm not cut out for better things.' Others soar beyond our meager accomplishments. Envy and discouragement then take their toll. 
"Can we not appreciate that our very business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves? To break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever—this is the true idea: to get ahead of ourselves. 
"To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility. You ask, 'How might we achieve these goals?' I answer, 'By getting a true perspective of who we really are!' We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created. Think of that truth: 'Created in the image of God.' We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power, even the strength to live the commandments of God, the power to resist the temptations of Satan." 
- Thomas S. Monson, "Yellow Canaries with Gray on Their Wings," Ensign, July 1973
Click here to read the full talk
It's so easy to fall into the traps Pres. Monson describes—looking for a scapegoat for our shortcomings, doubting our personal abilities, comparing our performance or achievement to others around us. Each of those is self-defeating in our attempts to progress and reach our potential.

The real, final key to success in life is to truly understand who we are and what our divine potential is.
His reminders about personal progress are worth pondering; a better perspective is not only healthier as we encounter trials, but enables us to achieve far more than those self-limiting perspectives. Understanding our possibilities as sons and daughters of God brings "a profound new sense of strength and power" enabling us to truly reach our potential.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 12, 2015

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on help and hope from the Savior

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (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.
"On those days when we have special need of heaven's help, we would do well to remember one of the titles given to the Savior in the epistle to the Hebrews. Speaking of Jesus' 'more excellent ministry' and why He is 'the mediator of a better covenant' filled with 'better promises,' this author—presumably the Apostle Paul—tells us that through His mediation and Atonement, Christ became 'an high priest of good things to come' (Hebrews 8:6, 9:11). 
"Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as 'hope for a better world' (Ether 12:4). For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of 'good things to come.' 
"My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the 'light that is endless, that can never be darkened' (see John 8:12; Rev. 22:16; Mosiah 16:9). It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo's reach, we say, 'What light through yonder window breaks?' It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun. (See William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act 2, scene 2, lines 2-3.) To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His 'more excellent ministry' with a future of 'better promises.' He is your 'high priest of good things to come.'" 
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "An High Priest of Good Things to Come," General Conference October 1999
Click here to read the full talk

This was one of Elder Holland's most heartfelt and tender talks. He has such a sensitivity to those who struggle — which we all do from time to time. This message is a crucial one; "through His mediation and Atonement, Christ became 'an high priest of good things to come.'" That is the core of Christianity, the essence of the help and hope that is available to one and all.

Knowing that those times of need come to all, when out stamina runs out in the midst of a challenging part of our journey, Elder Holland wisely counsels on the strength that can come by anticipating the time of relief ahead. There is always a promise of relief ahead.

But it's not always easy to cling to that promise. We forget; we doubt. The pressures of the world can be so difficult to bear. Where is hope? Elder Holland testifies that help and hope and happiness are always available to us through the Savior:

So when the darkness almost overwhelms the light, and we forget that there is a promised dawn, this apostolic reassurance is powerful:

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 16, 2015

Saturday, May 22, 2021

President Henry B. Eyring on inviting the Spirit through study

President Henry B. Eyring (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.
"The Holy Ghost will guide what we say if we study and ponder the scriptures every day. The words of the scriptures invite the Holy Spirit. The Lord said it this way: 'Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men' (D&C 11:21). With daily study of the scriptures, we can count on this blessing even in casual conversations or in a class when we may be asked by a teacher to respond to a question. We will experience the power the Lord promised: 'Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man' (D&C 84:85). 
"We treasure the word of God not only by reading the words of the scriptures but by studying them. We may be nourished more by pondering a few words, allowing the Holy Ghost to make them treasures to us, than to pass quickly and superficially over whole chapters of scripture." 
- Henry B. Eyring, "Feed My Lambs," General Conference October 1997
Click here to read the full address
There is a power that comes with consistent, daily, ongoing study. I think it's like adding a little water each day so that a plant can grow, bloom, and blossom. Irregular and inconsistent spurts of watering just won't accomplish the same thing. As we study each day, we are gradually treasuring up the words of life. We set the mood and tone for the day; we allow the truths of the scriptures to sink into our hearts and minds where they can dwell and develop.

And how we study also helps plant those truths deeply where they can grow and bless us. I think that's the benefit of pondering carefully, of focusing on smaller sections; we're not just "glossing over" the words, but allowing them to sink deeply.  What a valuable reminder!

I especially appreciated the insight that as we ponder, we allow the Holy Ghost to make the scriptures treasures to us. The insight that comes through personal revelation is of value beyond description.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 17, 2015

Friday, May 21, 2021

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin on progress and growth

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.
"The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father. 
"Each one of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another. 
"Never look down on those who are less perfect than you. Don't be upset because someone can't sew as well as you, can't throw as well as you, can't row or hoe as well as you. 
"We are all children of our Heavenly Father. And we are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:30-31.)" 
- Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Virtue of Kindness", General Conference April 2005
Click here to read the full talk

This is such an important principle, one that is occasionally forgotten, perhaps sub-consciously, by Church members. We're all falling short, striving to improve and grow.

I love Elder Wirthlin's description of how we each progress differently in life, and develop different abilities and skills. How critically important it is for each of us to seek our own personal strengths and gifts, to acknowledge our abilities and advances, and allow others their different strengths!

And how could we possibly decide that someone is "less perfect" than we ourselves are? There are so many facets to making that determination, most of which are not visible to us with our limited understanding of one another. To have the attitude that another is more imperfect or inadequate is absurd. We should treat one another as holding divine potential, as remarkable beings joining us on the pathway to perfection!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 26, 2015

Thursday, May 20, 2021

President Spencer W. Kimball on meeting the challenges of life

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Some people feel that decisions are really out of our hands, that we merely respond to circumstances without choice, like a rudderless ship that drifts at the mercy of the wind and waves. And I agree that there can come a time when we no longer have control over our destinies, but I believe that this is only after the cumulation of our own past decisions has left us helpless. 
"In the beginning, each of us is a bundle of potential that can be developed and shaped by what we choose to do. In youth there is still great malleability. We can choose what we will become. As the years go by, we find our past choices have narrowed the alternatives still open to us and we have less and less control over our future. 
"No one should deny the importance of circumstances, yet in the final analysis the most important thing is how we react to the circumstances. It is a tenet of my faith that every normal person has the capacity, with God's help, to meet the challenge of whatever circumstances may confront him. One of the most comforting scriptures carries the message that God will not leave us helplessever. (1 Cor 10:13.)" 
- Spencer W. Kimball, "Decisions: Why It's Important to Make Some Now," New Era, Apr. 1971, 2; click here to read the full article
In his later years, President Kimball's voice was thin and raspy due to the ravages of throat cancer. But he spoke clear and often beautifully-written messages, speaking out strongly and definitively in support of truth. In this case, he refutes the "worldly" idea that man loses control of his own destiny (with rare exception), reminding us that we are responsible for our own fate. Circumstances beyond our control will befall us all; they did to President Kimball. But the critical thing is how we respond to those circumstances. What a great reminder that we each have the potential to choose our direction, our outcome, even our happiness in the journey.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 2, 2015

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

President David O. McKay on mortality and spirituality

President David O. McKay (1873-1970) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1906.  He served as a counselor in the First Presidency to Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith beginning in 1945, then then as the president of the Church from 1951 to his death in 1970 at age 96.
"Man's earthly existence is but a test, whether he will concentrate his efforts, his mind, his soul upon things which contribute to his comfort and gratification of his physical instincts and passions, or whether he will make as his life's purpose and aim the acquisition of spiritual qualities. 
"The spiritual road has Christ as its ideal, not the gratification of the physical, for he that would save his life, yielding to that present gratification of a seeming need, will lose his life. 
"If he would seek the real purpose of life, the individual must live for some thing higher than self. He hears the Savior's voice saying: 'I am the way, the truth, and the life' (John 14:6). Following that voice, he soon learns that there is no one great thing which he can do to attain happiness or eternal life. He learns that 'life is made up not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things in which smiles and kindness and small obligations given habitually are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.' 
"Spirituality, our true aim, is the consciousness of victory over self and of communion with the Infinite. Spirituality impels one to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength. To feel one's faculties unfolding and truth expanding the soul is one of life's sublimest experiences. Would that all might so live as to experience that ecstasy!" 
- David O. McKay, "Spirituality, the Goal in Life," Conference Report, October 1956, pp. 4-8
Click here to read the full talk

"Spirituality" was a favorite theme for President McKay, one he addressed on a number of occasions. We might well ask how we are doing in the fundamental test of earthly existence; where are our efforts and soul, our purpose and aim, really concentrated?

What a beautiful summary. When we know that we have overcome the temptations of our mortal self and are truly in contact with God, we have achieved something very important and sacred. But it's the beginning of the road to growth and progress, not the end. Then we begin to "feel [our] faculties unfolding and truth expanding" in beautiful ways - and President McKay calls it "ecstasy"!

There is a vast difference between what Pres. McKay calls a physical focus to life, and a spiritual one. In the spiritual path, we work on the little things, including "smiles and kindness and small obligations given habitually" — along with the more serious ones such as self-discipline and our relationship with Divinity. These steps all lead to the acquisition of true spirituality, "one of life's sublimest experiences."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 24, 2015

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

President Howard W. Hunter on growth and progress

President 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.
"Part of our difficulty as we strive to acquire spirituality is the feeling that there is much to do and that we are falling far short. Perfection is something yet ahead for every one of us; but we can capitalize on our strengths, begin where we are, and seek after the happiness that can be found in pursuing the things of God. We should remember the Lord’s counsel:
Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days. (D&C 64:33–34.)
"It has always been encouraging to me that the Lord said it is the 'willing and obedient [who] shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.' All of us can be willing and obedient. If the Lord had said the perfect shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days, I suppose some of us would be discouraged and give up.... 
"The place to begin is here. The time to start is now. The length of our stride need be but one step at a time. God, who has, 'designed our happiness,' will lead us along even as little children, and we will by that process approach perfection." 
- Howard W. Hunter, "Developing Spirituality," General Conference April 1979
Click here to read the full talk
It's easy to get discouraged when we find ourselves "falling far short" of the goal of perfection. It's very common to wish we were doing better, achieving more, being more faithful and obedient. In the midst of feelings of inadequacy, this reminder about perspective is helpful. We don't need to be perfect—yet.  We just need to be "willing and obedient."

The key is to be willing to start now, to make consistent progress toward the goal. The progress can be slow and gradual; that is less important than the fact that we are progressing. What a hopeful message!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 8, 2015

Monday, May 17, 2021

President Russell M. Nelson on morning prayer and study

President Russell M. Nelson (b. Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984, and was serving in that quorum when he shared this message. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015, and then as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"Spiritual self-esteem begins with the realization that each new morning is a gift from God. Even the air we breathe is a loving loan from him. He preserves us from day to day and supports us from one moment to another (see Mosiah 2:21). 
"Therefore, our first noble deed of the morning should be a humble prayer of gratitude. Scripture so counsels: 'Pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto [you]: and [you] shall see his face with joy' (Job 33:26; see also Alma 34:21; Alma 37:37). 
"I did not fully appreciate the significance of prayerful greetings until I became a father myself. I am so grateful that our children never gave their mother or dad the silent treatment. Now I sense how our Heavenly Father may appreciate our prayers, morning and night. But I can imagine the pangs of his sorrow because of silence from any of his children.... 
"I learned long ago that a period of uninterrupted scriptural study in the morning brings enduring enrichment. I feel as did Jeremiah: 'Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart' (Jer. 15:16). Sacred scriptures have been repeatedly described as 'glad tidings of great joy' (Hel. 16:14; Mosiah 3:3; Alma 13:22; see also Luke 2:10). As we learn and abide their teachings, that joy becomes part of our lives." 
- Russell M. Nelson, "Joy Cometh in the Morning," General Conference October 1986; Click here to read the full talk
I've been an "early riser" all my life, and appreciate the blessing of the quiet early hours. But like many, I've had my "ups and downs" when it comes to the regularity of good habits. It's always beneficial to reconsider how precious time is being used.  Starting the day with the proper acknowledgement of our blessings and gifts from God is a critical step.

I think Elder Nelson's analogy about how it must feel to Heavenly Father to be given "the silent treatment" is very thought-provoking.

And of course, what better way to use the quiet morning hours than in "a period of uninterrupted scriptural study" with the promise of "enduring enrichment."  Why would I ever pass up that opportunity? The atmosphere and spirit we establish by having a good beginning will surely bless and enrich the rest of the day.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 6, 2015
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