Wednesday, June 23, 2021

President Gordon B. Hinckley on temple attendance

President 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 hope that everyone gets to the temple on a regular basis. I hope your children over 12 years of age have the opportunity of going to the temple to be baptized for the dead. If we are a temple-going people, we will be a better people, we will be better fathers and husbands, we will be better wives and mothers. I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you. Now, please, please, my beloved brethren and sisters, avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord's house and thereby partake of all of the marvelous blessings that are yours to be received there." 
- Gordon B. Hinckley, Lima Peru fireside, Nov. 9, 1996; see TGBH 624

President Hinckley loved the temple and had a great vision of its importance. One of the great efforts of his ministry and leadership was to build temples all around the world, bringing them close to the people. This quote reflects the parallel desire to bring the people to the temple. The service that is rendered is so eternally important; but the blessings that come are also a focus of the message, as we are promised that our abilities to function in our God-given roles will be enhanced. But in order to claim those blessings, we must attend the temple! President Hinckley urges us to be there in order to claim the blessings that will surely follow.

I love the quiet assurance in President Hinckley's message, and have felt it confirmed in my own life.

When a prophet pleads with the people—"please, please, my beloved brethren and sisters, avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord's house"—we should not hesitate!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 5, 2015

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

President Wilford Woodruff on the testimony of the Holy Ghost

Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) was called as an apostle in 1839 by Joseph Smith, and sustained as the 4th president of the Church in 1889.  He served until his death in 1898 at age 91.
"What is the greatest testimony any man or woman can have as to this being the work of God? I will tell you what is the greatest testimony I have ever had, the most sure testimony, that is the testimony of the Holy Ghost, the testimony of the Father and the Son. We may have the ministration of angels; we may be wrapt in the visions of heaven—these things as testimonies are very good, but when you receive the Holy Ghost, when you receive the testimony of the Father and the Son, it is a true principle to every man on earth, it deceives no man, and by that principle you can learn and understand the mind of God. 
"Revelation has been looked upon by this Church, as well as by the world, as something very marvelous. What is revelation? The testimony of the Father and Son. How many of you have had revelation? How many of you have had the Spirit of God whisper unto you—the still small voice. I would have been in the spirit world a great many years ago, if I had not followed the promptings of the still small voice. These were the revelations of Jesus Christ, the strongest testimony a man or a woman can have. I have had many testimonies since I have been connected with this Church and kingdom. I have been blessed at times with certain gifts and graces, certain revelations and ministrations; but with them all I have never found anything that I could place more dependence upon than the still small voice of the Holy Ghost." 
- Wilford Woodruff, discourse at the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, July 3, 1880; see JD 21:195-6
Click here to read the full talk

What an interesting insight this is! To have experiences like the ministration of angels, or to be wrapped up in the very visions of heaven are "very good"; but the greatest testimony of all, the most sure testimony, the principle that will lead us to "learn and understand the mind of God" is the simple witness of the Holy Ghost, the "still small voice" testifying of the Father and the Son.

President Woodruff did indeed know whereof he spoke. He had many opportunities in his life to have visions and sacred experiences. But he also knew what it was to be sensitive to gentle promptings, and had many miraculous experiences because of his sensitivity to those promptings. And those are the revelations of heaven that he most prized. How important it must be for us to learn to hear those witnesses!

I'm particularly impressed by the phrase, "by that principle you can learn and understand the mind of God." That's more of a treasure than it may appear to be at first glance. If we truly come to understand His mind and will, we will never doubt, never question. We will comprehend so much more of the events of the world, and in particular, the challenges in our own life. We will see as He sees and understand as He does; what a critical step in becoming like Him. And it starts with a still, small voice.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 1, 2015

Monday, June 21, 2021

Elder David A. Bednar on prayer on behalf of others

Elder David A. Bednar (1952- ) was sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2004.
"Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.... 
"Do our spouses, children, and other family members likewise feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires? Do those we serve hear us pray for them with faith and sincerity? If those we love and serve have not heard and felt the influence of our earnest prayers in their behalf, then the time to repent is now. As we emulate the example of the Savior, our prayers truly will become more meaningful." 
- David A. Bednar, "Pray Always", General Conference October 2008
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Bednar describes what is somewhat of a progression of the maturity of our communication with Heavenly Father. We ask for blessings and help in our own lives — and that is "good and proper." Learning to express more gratitude can aid in the effectiveness of our communication. But the importance of awareness of those around us is the great insight. When we pray "earnestly" for others, our prayers can take on a greater power and effectiveness.

Likewise, it's important that those around us hear us pray in these ways. Family members should "feel the power of our prayers offered unto the Father for their specific needs and desires." I think it blesses the faith of others to hear prayers on their behalf! What a good reminder about how to bless those who matter most to us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 19, 2015

Sunday, June 20, 2021

President Gordon B. Hinckley on the responsibility of fathers

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.
"Many years ago President Stephen L. Richards, then a Counselor in the First Presidency, speaking from this pulpit made an eloquent plea to put father back at the head of the family. I repeat that plea to all fathers. Yours is the basic and inescapable responsibility to stand as the head of the family. That does not carry with it any implication of dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. It carries with it a mandate that fathers provide for the needs of their families. Those needs are more than food, clothing, and shelter. Those needs include righteous direction and the teaching, by example as well as precept, of basic principles of honesty, integrity, service, respect for the rights of others, and an understanding that we are accountable for that which we do in this life, not only to one another but also to the God of heaven, who is our Eternal Father....
"With the obligation to beget goes the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth. Yours is the power and the responsibility to preside in a home where there is peace and security, love and harmony."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "Bring Up a Child in the Way He Should Go," General Conference October 1993
Click here to read the full talk
President Hinckley re-issues a "plea" shared by one of his predecessors "to put father back at the head of the family." His plea is to the fathers themselves, not to any others who might have displaced them, saying they have a "basic and inescapable responsibility" to lead, and to provide for needs:

That's quite a list of responsibilities! President Hinckley shares the wonderful vision of "the responsibility to nurture, to protect, to teach, to guide in righteousness and truth." What a great need that is, today more than ever, as so many forces assail home and family. But the reminder of how is also critical: not as a dictator, not expressing inappropriate dominion. The leadership of a true father is based on love and righteous understanding.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
June 16, 2015

Friday, June 18, 2021

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on being grateful during any circumstances

President Uchtdorf (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 until 2018.
"We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. 
"This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. 
"When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ's Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven's embrace. 
"We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain? 
"Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges. 
"This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind." 
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances," General Conference April 2014
Click here to read the full address

I think the trait President Uchtdorf describes is one of the hardest things for many people to do. It's the "no matter what" that is so challenging.

How do you truly transcend anything that is happening, surpassing "disappointment, discouragement, and despair" in order to find "gentle peace" amid tribulation?

But here is the key: learning to see, "through the eyes of faith", what lies "beyond" the current difficulty. This kind of deep, faith-filled gratitude is what will sustain us, even heal us, through all those difficulties of life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 18, 2015

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Elder Robert D. Hales on waiting upon the Lord

Elder Robert D. Hales (August 24, 1932-October 1, 2017) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"The purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we 'wait upon the Lord' (Psalm 37:9; 123:2; Isaiah 8:17; 40:31; 2 Nephi 18:17). Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, 'all these things shall [be for our] experience, and... [our] good' (D&C 122:7). 
"Does this mean we will always understand our challenges? Won't all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, 'O God, where art thou?' (D&C 121:1). Yes! When a spouse dies, a companion will wonder. When financial hardship befalls a family, a father will ask. When children wander from the path, a mother and father will cry out in sorrow. Yes, 'weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning' (Psalm 30:5). Then, in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord, saying, 'Thy will be done' (Matthew 6:10; 3 Nephi 13:10; see also Matthew 26:39). 
"What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end." 
- Robert D. Hales, "Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done," General Conference October 2011; Click here to read the full talk

I've always been intrigued by the phrase "wait upon the Lord." Sometimes we view it as the long, seemingly unending, sometimes agonizing period that we endure as we struggle through a challenge or difficulty, until finally relief comes.

Elder Hales helps give a perspective that will bless those who understand it. There will be periods of waiting and enduring in all of our lives, as "mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son." That test could never occur if there were immediate relief, instant blessings, constant deliverance.

But it's the nature of the waiting that is the key.  Waiting isn't an activity of passive endurance. It's an active process we engage in, during which some of our greatest development and growth can occur. It's the time when the greatest spiritual gifts and virtues often come into play. If we remember this, we will be doing much more than enduring passively. Waiting "upon the Lord" becomes waiting "with the Lord."

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Elder Richard G. Scott on receiving God's help through prayer

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.
"Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously. It may seem paradoxical, but that is why recognizing answers to prayer can sometimes be very difficult. Some face life with only their own experience and capacity to help them. Others seek, through prayer, divine inspiration to know what to do. When required, they qualify for power beyond their own capacity to do it. 
"Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege. It is based upon unchanging principles. When we receive help from our Father in Heaven, it is in response to faith, obedience, and the proper use of agency.... 
"Don't worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your Father. He hears every prayer and answers it in His way. 
"When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no. Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us—perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us. For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. In time, He will answer. He will not fail us." 
- Richard G. Scott, "Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer," General Conference October 1989; Click here to read the full talk

This excerpt begins with a declaration that seems simple and obvious, but is full of meaning and critical to understanding Elder Scott's message:

I believe it's so important to understand and believe that statement. Any loving father or mother knows the truth of the principle; we yearn for the happiness and success of our children, in all the ways that matter most. If we truly believe our Father in Heaven feels that way about us, then it will guide our actions in many ways. In particular, related to the principle of prayer, we will know that our prayers matter, that they are heard, and that true communication will be established based on the unchanging principles that Elder Scott enumerates.

Another simple but profound principle. Just talk. Allow the real inner feelings of our heart to reach out to God, knowing that He truly does hear, and will answer — in His way and His timing. If we trust in his wisdom and love, we just need to learn to listen better, to act on what we know, and to be blessed in that process.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 13, 2015

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Elder David A. Bednar on coming to Christ through scripture study

Elder David A. Bednar (1952- ) was sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2004.
"Coming unto Christ is not a single event with a fixed point of beginning or ending; rather, it is a process that develops and deepens during a lifetime. As an initial step in the process, we certainly must obtain knowledge and learn about Jesus and His life, teachings, and ministry. But truly coming unto Him also requires consistent obedience and striving to become like Jesus in our thoughts, motives, communications, and actions. As we 'press forward' (2 Ne. 31:20) on the pathway of discipleship, we can draw near unto the Savior with the expectation that He will draw near unto us; we can seek Him diligently with the hope that we shall find Him; we can ask with confidence that we shall receive; and we can knock anticipating that the door shall be opened unto us (see D&C 88:63). 
"One of the best ways to draw near unto Him and to both learn about and become more like the Lord Jesus Christ is to consistently study the holy scriptures—to daily 'feast upon the words of Christ' (2 Ne. 32:3). 
"Please notice that I used the word study and not the word read. Studying and feasting suggest a focus and an intensity that reach far beyond casual reading or quick perusing. Studying and feasting, followed by sincere prayer and steadfast application of the truths and principles we learn, yield personal resolve, spiritual commitment, and the bright light of testimony. Studying, learning, praying, and appropriately applying gospel truths are all key elements in the process of coming unto the Savior." 
- David A. Bednar, "More Diligent and Concerned at Home," General Conference October 2009
Click here to read the full talk

In the typical usage of the word "come" we think of discrete events; we come to a meeting or come together with a friend. But Elder Bednar clarifies the meaning of the scriptural admonition to "Come unto Christ":

There are two critical steps in this process: obtaining knowledge about Jesus, and then striving to become like Him through consistent obedience. The Savior has promised that our efforts to seek, knock, and draw near will be responded to.

But Elder Bednar goes further, explaining the importance of learning about Him and becoming more like Him as we "feast" upon His word. He uses words like "consistently" and "daily" to describe how we should go about the studying process; and then he emphasizes the importance of going beyond mere casual or methodical reading as we study the scriptures with focus and intensity.

The rewards for our efforts are promised, and as is always the case, we can trust that the blessings will be abundant.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 19, 2015

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Elder L. Tom Perry on Sabbath Day observance

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 left us in the dark concerning the Sabbath day. In fact, the scriptures are filled with instructions on Sabbath-day observance.... [quotes Genesis 2:2-3.] 
"Six days of labor are to be followed by a day of rest. It seems to me that the judge should be how we come out of bed on Monday morning. If you just crawl out, feeling tired and weary from a heavy weekend, probably the Sabbath-day observance has not been appropriate. You see, I believe you should come up out of those covers on Monday morning more refreshed, more alive, and more enthused than on any other day of the week. If this is not the case, we had better examine what we are doing on the Sabbath day. Test yourself tomorrow morning and see how you come out of bed. 
"Now let's try another one, Exodus 20:8. 'Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.' 
"It appears that the Lord expects us to do more than just rest on this day. He expects us to keep it holy. 'Holy,' according to Webster, is 'to set apart to the service of God, to be spiritually pure.' This definition indicates that on this special day we are to keep our lives in harmony with the Lord—a day set apart for service, adoration, and reverence to him." 
- L. Tom Perry, "Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve", BYU fireside, 27 October 1985
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Perry gives some interesting counsel for evaluating how well we are following the Lord's counsel about the Sabbath. First—how rested and refreshed, alive and enthused do we feel on Monday morning? That's an interesting approach, compared to the general perception most have of Monday mornings!

But even more important than resting from our labors on the Sabbath is the importance of keeping the day holy, in "service, adoration, and reverence" to God. We rest from our weekday labors but not from the worship and service of the Lord. The Sabbath Day should be a day filled with goodness.

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

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Elder Russell M. Nelson on facing the challenges of our time

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.
"I share comforting counsel with you today. It comes from section 68 of the Doctrine and Covenants, where we read this commandment from our Master: 'Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come' (D&C 68:6). 
"Lovingly we cling to that promise. Difficult days are ahead for all mankind. Sin is on the increase. We live in a time of wars and rumors of wars. The Church and its members will come under attack and endure persecution. (See 2 Timothy 3:1–13; D&C 112:24.) 
"Jesus descended below all things in order to rise above all things. He expects us to follow His example. Yoked with Him, we can rise above all challenges, no matter how difficult they may be. (See Matt 11:29-30.) Peter offered this counsel: 'If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf' (1 Peter 4:16). 
"The time is coming when those who do not obey the Lord will be separated from those who do. Our safest insurance is to continue to be worthy of admission to His holy house. How blessed we are to have temples available. The greatest gift you could give to the Lord at this or any other time of year is to keep yourself unspotted from the world, worthy to attend His holy house. His gift to you will be the peace and security of knowing that you are worthy to meet Him, whenever that time shall come." 
- Russell M. Nelson, "Christ the Savior is Born," BYU Devotional, 10 December 2002
Click here to read the full address

The injunction to "be of good cheer" seems reasonable, until one is found in the proverbial "depths of despair." Those are the times when the only hope is to remember the Lord's promise that he will ever be with us, standing by us. As Elder Nelson counsels, we must lovingly cling to that promise. During the times of relative peace, we develop the ability to cling to it in the times when we need it most.

And I appreciate the emphasis Elder Nelson provides related to the temples and our need to stay worthy of regular attendance. Living up to that standard of worthiness is an indication to God that we are seeking His help; we are promised blessings of peace and security.

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

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Elder LeGrand Richards on the blessings of the Holy Ghost

Elder LeGrand Richards (1886-1983) served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church from 1938-1952, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He died in 1983 at age 96.  Many today remember him fondly for his spirited, usually extemporaneous talks in conference about missionary work or the plan of salvation.  This excerpt is from the first talk he offered after being called as an apostle:
"I thank God for the opportunities that I have enjoyed of working among you, and in his Church, the missions that I have been able to fill, and the other sundry odd jobs, because I truly love the work more than anything else in this world, and I know it is true. I could live better without the limbs of my body than I could without the testimony of the Holy Ghost and the Spirit of the Lord.... 
"I tell you in all sincerity that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter that the Savior promised to send to guide us in all truth and bring things to our remembrance, is just as much a reality to me and just as necessary for our well-being as the sun that shines in the heavens is to the seed that is sown in the ground, and the plants as they germinate and come forth. I know the power of the Holy Ghost is in this Church.... 
"Like Nephi of old said, 'He [the Lord] hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh' (see 2 Ne. 4:21). 
"I feel sorry for Latter-day Saints if they have never felt that power, and that blessing, unto almost the consumption of their flesh." 
- LeGrand Richards, General Conference, April 1952

After 14 years of service as a Church leader, at the age of 66 when most men are retiring, Elder Richards was beginning his service as an apostle that would last for the next 31 years. This was a stirring introduction to the man that would become much-loved for his deep commitment and boundless enthusiasm. Those of us who remember him can hear his voice saying these words:

Ironically, Elder Richards did have part of his right leg amputated the year before he died due to the effects of diabetes. When he returned to his office after recovery and was asked by a secretary how he was doing, he reportedly quipped, "To be honest with you sister, I'm on my last leg."

But what a sweet testimony of the importance of the Holy Ghost's influence in our lives — as necessary as sunshine to the growth of plans. Elder Richards clearly knew that spirit, knew how it felt and how it blessed his life, and knew the power and peace it brought to his life. We should strive to have that same blessing in our lives, "even unto the consuming of my flesh."

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

President Howard W. Hunter on choices of personal 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.
"This is the church of Jesus Christ, not the church of marrieds or singles or any other group or individual. The gospel we preach is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which encompasses all the saving ordinances and covenants necessary to save and exalt every individual who is willing to accept Christ and keep the commandments that he and our Father in Heaven have given.... 
"How foolish we would be to fail to enjoy the rich gifts of God to us! We could well miss opportunities for providing needed blessings to others because we felt personally deprived of some hoped-for blessing and were blinded by our own self-pity. 
"Not only should we be careful not to deprive others of blessings because of our wanderings in the wastelands of self-pity or self-recrimination, but we should be careful not to deprive ourselves of other blessings that could be ours. 
"While waiting for promised blessings, one should not mark time, for to fail to move forward is to some degree a retrogression. Be anxiously engaged in good causes, including your own development. The personal pursuit of hobbies or crafts, the seeking of knowledge and wisdom, particularly of the things of God, and the development and honing of skills are all things that could productively occupy one's time." 
- Howard W. Hunter, "The Church is For All People," Ensign, June 1989, pp. 75-77; click here to read the full talk
Sometimes groups of people have needs and challenges that can be addressed or relieved with others in similar situations. But this is a good reminder; we should always remember that the Gospel and the Atonement have power to bless every individual life, regardless of "classifications" we impose on others or ourselves. Too much "grouping" can be disabling.

President Hunter's warning about "self-pity" and how it can lead us to deprive others and ourselves of blessings is an important message.

I've felt this challenge; at times in my life when I've been disappointed at a delay or a deprivation, I have felt the temptation to "mark time" instead of moving forward and being "anxiously engaged" in helping others and stretching myself. All of us, regardless of position or circumstance, should be seeking to grow, learn, develop, and improve.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 4, 2015

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

President Thomas S. Monson on the blessings and challenges of technology

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.
"You have come to this earth at a glorious time. The opportunities before you are nearly limitless. Almost all of you live in comfortable homes, with loving families, adequate food, and sufficient clothing. In addition, most of you have access to amazing technological advances. You communicate through cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging, e-mailing, blogging, Facebook, and other such means. You listen to music on your iPods and MP3 players. This list, of course, represents but a few of the technologies which are available to you.
"All of this is a little daunting to someone such as I, who grew up when radios were generally large floor models and when there were no televisions to speak of, let alone computers or cell phones....
"Although this is a remarkable period when opportunities abound, you also face challenges which are unique to this time. For instance, the very technological tools I have mentioned provide opportunities for the adversary to tempt you and to ensnare you in his web of deceit, thereby hoping to take possession of your destiny.
"As I contemplate all that you face in the world today, one word comes to my mind. It describes an attribute needed by all of us but one which you—at this time of your life and in this world—will need particularly. That attribute is courage."
- Thomas S. Monson, "May You Have Courage," address to Young Women; General Conference April 2009
Click here to read the full address

President Monson addressed these remarks to a general Young Women meeting, but the concepts apply to men and women, young and older. We live in a blessed time with almost unimaginable developments and opportunities. He noted some of the technological miracles that we take for granted in our lives.

But the blessings bring challenges that are also unique to our time. How important for us to "press forward" with steadfastness and commitment, knowing what is right, with whole-hearted commitment to choose well! It certainly does take courage to live righteously and faithfully.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 3, 2015

Monday, June 7, 2021

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on our gifts to the Savior

Elder Christofferson was born 70 years ago today (January 24, 1945). He was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"In ancient times when people wanted to worship the Lord and seek His blessings, they often brought a gift. For example, when they went to the temple, they brought a sacrifice to place on the altar. After His Atonement and Resurrection, the Savior said He would no longer accept burnt offerings of animals. The gift or sacrifice He will accept now is 'a broken heart and a contrite spirit' (3 Ne. 9:20). As you seek the blessing of conversion, you can offer the Lord the gift of your broken, or repentant, heart and your contrite, or obedient, spirit. In reality, it is the gift of yourself—what you are and what you are becoming. 
"Is there something in you or in your life that is impure or unworthy? When you get rid of it, that is a gift to the Savior. Is there a good habit or quality that is lacking in your life? When you adopt it and make it part of your character, you are giving a gift to the Lord. Sometimes this is hard to do, but would your gifts of repentance and obedience be worthy gifts if they cost you nothing? Don't be afraid of the effort required. And remember, you don't have to do it alone. Jesus Christ will help you make of yourself a worthy gift. His grace will make you clean, even holy. Eventually, you will become like Him, 'perfect in Christ' (see Moro. 10:32-33)." 
- D. Todd Christofferson, "When Thou Art Converted," General Conference April 2004
Click here to read the full talk

I've always loved the concept of replacing animal sacrifice with the personal offering of "a broken heart and a contrite spirit." It seems like such a beautiful expression of moving to a higher law. Elder Christofferson's interpretation is simple and clear:
broken = repentant
contrite = obedient

We repent in order to "get right" with the Lord; we obey in order to "stay right." That's what he asks us to symbolically lay upon the altar. We sacrifice our sins and our unworthy desires, replacing them with discipleship and faithfulness.

The important thing is to truly make the offering—not just once, but continually.

Elder Christofferson urges us to find the unworthy thing that should be eliminated, or the worthy thing that is lacking. Each of us must find, with His help, the personal gift to offer, and then make the change in our life that will constitute the offering our our gift to Him!
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 24, 2015

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