Thursday, September 30, 2021

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin on following prophetic counsel

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 Lord has given us prophets to guide us and keep us from evil if we will accept and follow their instruction. The Lord would say to us today as he said to the ancient Israelites: 'Be not afraid nor dismayed... for the battle is not yours, but God's.... The Lord will be with you.... Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe the prophets, so shall ye prosper.' (2 Chronicles 20:15, 17, 20; emphasis added)
"In our conferences, we sustain the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. The Lord has appointed them as watchmen to warn the people....
"The statements of the prophets are not given to compel, coerce, dictate, control, or infringe on any person's right to choose. Church leaders are guided by the Lord's injunction in the Doctrine and Covenants: 'No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile.' (D&C 121:41-42.)
"The prophets and other Church leaders have never misled the Latter-day Saints on a principle of righteousness. Every principle is for our benefit. However, if we choose to ignore the prophets, we choose the consequences that follow. We have the God-given agency to either follow the prophets or not, but we cannot choose the consequences of exercising that agency. They will follow with absolute certainty. If we ignore the prophets, we become like the people the Savior chastised when he said, 'Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?' (Luke 6:46.)"
- Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Lord's Side," address given at a Brigham Young University nineteen-stake fireside, 2 August 1992; see Ensign March 1993, p. 69
Click here to read the full talk

In the setting of General Conference, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given the privilege to sustain leaders. This is not a "vote" on whether we like the selections that are made; it's a chance for us to commit our hearts and deed to listen and follow counsel. Elder Wirthlin points out that the divine call comes from the Lord; these prophets will "guide us and keep us from evil if we will accept and follow their instruction." Quite a promise — but that "if" provides the all-important conditional to claim the promise! And "if" we choose to ignore their counsel, we also claim the consequences.

I love that message.  We choose whether or not to sustain — as demonstrated not only by raising our hand, but also by our discipleship that will follow.  But we can not choose the consequences of our commitment to sustain or not sustain. If we raise our hand but then ignore their counsel, we receive no blessing.

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Elder Richard G. Scott on obtaining spiritual guidance

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928- ) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"What can you do to enhance your capacity to be led to correct decisions in your life? What are the principles upon which spiritual communication depends? What are the potential barriers to such communication that you need to avoid?
"President John Taylor wrote: 'Joseph Smith, upwards of forty years ago, said to me: "Brother Taylor, you have received the Holy Ghost. Now follow the influence of that Spirit, and it will lead you into all truth, until by and by, it will become in you a principle of revelation." Then he told me never to arise in the morning without bowing before the Lord, and dedicating myself to him during that day.' (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, 43-44.)
"Father in Heaven knew that you would face challenges and be required to make some decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly. In His plan of happiness, He included a provision for you to receive help with such challenges and decisions during your mortal life. That assistance will come to you through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness.
"I am convinced that there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit.
"What may appear initially to be a daunting task will be much easier to manage over time as you consistently strive to recognize and follow feelings prompted by the Spirit. Your confidence in the direction you receive from the Holy Ghost will also become stronger. I witness that as you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear."
- Richard G. Scott, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance," General Conference October 2009
Click here to read the full talk
I found this to be a very helpful and insightful talk, reviewing "the principles upon which spiritual communication depends" as well as "the potential barriers to such communication."

Joseph Smith described the process of growing in spiritual communication:

So the process is:
  • Receive the Holy Ghost
  • Follow its influence as it guides to truth
  • Develop "a principle of revelation"

  • And then one of the great keys to that process:  "...never to arise in the morning without bowing before the Lord, and dedicating myself to him during that day." Learning to hear the whisperings of the Spirit when faced with "decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly" is one of the great keys to this mortal experience.

    Elder Scott points out that there is no simple way to develop that communication. If it came to easily, we would be "weak and even more dependent on Them" — and part of the purpose of this life is to learn to make choices in our own personal struggles. But yet Divine guidance "is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness." So they key is to "consistently strive to recognize and follow" the promptings that come.

    (Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
    May 30, 2015

    Tuesday, September 28, 2021

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks on the timing of the Lord

    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.
    "If we have faith in God and if we are committed to the fundamentals of keeping His commandments and putting Him first in our lives, we do not need to plan every single event—even every important event—and we should not feel rejected or depressed if some things—even some very important things—do not happen at the time we had planned or hoped or prayed.
    "Commit yourself to put the Lord first in your life, keep His commandments, and do what the Lord's servants ask you to do. Then your feet are on the pathway to eternal life. Then it does not matter whether you are called to be a bishop or a Relief Society president, whether you are married or single, or whether you die tomorrow. You do not know what will happen. Do your best on what is fundamental and personal and then trust in the Lord and His timing."
    - Dallin H. Oaks, "Timing," BYU devotional address, 29 January 2002; see Ensign, Oct. 2003, pp. 10-17
    Click here to read the full talk
    I include myself among those who have struggled with questions of timing, when things didn't seem to happen the way I hoped or planned, or the way I thought I "deserved." In many cases, the passage of time has proved that there was wisdom and blessing in the delay. In other cases, I'm still waiting to understand. But learning to trust in faith has to be one of the great purposes of this existence.

    Truly, the key to happiness is to learn to trust in God's timing. When we have confidence in His wisdom, it will make the delays easier to understand.

    (Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
    May 28, 2015

    Monday, September 27, 2021

    Elder L. Tom Perry on fighting a latter-day war

    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.
    "Today we find ourselves in another war. This is not a war of armaments. It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children....
    "In a world where the moral compass of society is faltering, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ never wavers, nor should its stakes and wards, its families, or its individual members. We must not pick and choose which commandments we think are important to keep but acknowledge all of God's commandments. We must stand firm and steadfast, having perfect confidence in the Lord's consistency and perfect trust in His promises.
    "May we ever be a light on the hill, an example in keeping the commandments, which have never changed and will never change.... May we, in this latter-day war, be a beacon to all the earth and particularly to God's children who are seeking the Lord's blessings."
    - L. Tom Perry, "Obedience to Law Is Liberty," General Conference, April 2013
    Click here to read the full talk
    It doesn't take much effort to see evidence of the conflict Elder Perry describes in the world in which we live.

    In recent years, there have been abundant examples of the conflict he refers to with "secularism" in our time. We must heed the warning, though, and be alert to this growing dichotomy. As "the moral compass of society is faltering," it's the responsibility of each individual and family to find direction in "the restored gospel of Jesus Christ" that "never wavers." The way to do this is through complete devotion to the gospel:

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

    Friday, September 24, 2021

    President David O. McKay on finding happiness in life

    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.
    "All mankind desire happiness. Many also strive sincerely to make the most and best of themselves. Surprisingly few, however, realize that a sure guide to such achievement may be found in the following declaration by Jesus of Nazareth: 'Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: And whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.' [Matthew 16:25.] This significant passage contains a secret more worthy of possession than fame or dominion, something more valuable than all the wealth of the world.
    "It is a principle the application of which promises to supplant discouragement and gloom with hope and gladness; to fill life with contentment and peace everlasting. This being true its acceptance would indeed be a boon today to this distracted, depression-ridden world. Why, then, do men and nations ignore a thing so precious? ...
    "Specifically stated, this law is, 'We live our lives most completely when we strive to make the world better and happier.' The law of pure nature, survival of the fittest, is self-preservation at the sacrifice of all else; but in contrast to this the law of true spiritual life is, deny self for the good of others."
    - David O. McKay, Conference Report, Apr. 1936, 45-46

    The "search for happiness" has been one of the continual quests of mankind. President McKay finds a simple solution to the search in the invitation of the Savior to commit to Him and His work — to "lose his life for my sake." And he sees a stark contrast between the world's frequent priority and the "law of true spiritual life":

    Given the promise that this course of action "promises to supplant discouragement and gloom with hope and gladness; to fill life with contentment and peace everlasting" — the searching question is, "Why, then, do men and nations ignore a thing so precious?"

    (Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
    May 22, 2015

    Wednesday, September 22, 2021

    President James E. Faust on standing in holy places

    President James E. Faust (1920-2007) was called as a Seventy in 1976, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve in 1978. He served as a counselor to President Hinckley until his death in 2007 at age 87.
    "We are bombarded on all sides by a vast number of messages we don't want or need. More information is generated in a single day than we can absorb in a lifetime. To fully enjoy life, all of us must find our own breathing space and peace of mind. How can we do this? There is only one answer. We must rise above the evil that encroaches upon us. We must follow the counsel of the Lord, who said, 'It is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places' (D&C 101:22).
    "We unavoidably stand in so many unholy places and are subjected to so much that is vulgar, profane, and destructive of the Spirit of the Lord that I encourage our Saints all over the world, wherever possible, to strive to stand more often in holy places. Our most holy places are our sacred temples. Within them is a feeling of sacred comfort....
    "In addition to temples, surely another holy place on earth ought to be our homes. The feelings of holiness in my home prepared me for feelings of holiness in the temple....
    "Our chapels are dedicated to the Lord as holy places. We are told we should go to the house of prayer and offer up our sacraments upon His holy day. (See D&C 59:9) ...
    "We must try harder to be a holy people.... As children of the Lord we should strive every day to rise to a higher level of personal righteousness in all of our actions. We need to guard constantly against all of Satan's influences.
    "As President Brigham Young taught, 'Every moment of [our lives] must be holiness to the Lord, ... which is the only course by which [we] can preserve the Spirit of the Almighty to [ourselves].' May the Lord bless each and all of us in our special responsibility to find holiness to the Lord by standing in holy places. That is where we will find the spiritual protection we need for ourselves and our families. That is the source of help to carry forth the word of the Lord in our time. Standing in holy places will help us rise above the evil influences of our time and draw us closer to our Savior."
    - James E. Faust, "Standing in Holy Places," Ensign, May 2005, pp. 62-68
    Click here to read the full talk
    President Faust shares an interesting interpretation of one of the key challenges of our time. The word "bombarded" is particularly descriptive of the way we can be overwhelmed by information, much of which is not beneficial, and even "destructive of the Spirit of the Lord." The key invitation of his message is the powerful invitation that tells us how to counteract the negative influence:

    President Faust specifies the most important "holy places" we can find, establish, and visit:
    • sacred temples
    • our homes
    • chapels
    But the next level of growth is not just to be in holy places, but to become holy ourselves by overcoming temptation and growing in righteousness.

    I love the passage from Brigham Young that Pres. Faust excerpts:

    It's not just the places, but the time of our lives that can become holy! This is a powerful concept, that will bring great blessings to us, and provide the "spiritual protection" for our families in these trying times.

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

    Monday, September 20, 2021

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell on recognizing God's plan for our lives

    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.
    "I have been mercifully granted what might be called a 'delay en route.' Whether short or long, it is a wonderful blessing from the Lord! I have thereby learned, however, that there is another side to the 'Why me?' question, since some are not granted any 'delay en route' at all. Whichever side of that question, what is needed is mortal submission, even when there is no immediate divine explanation. Thus we are to press forward, whatever the length of the near horizon, while rejoicing in what awaits us on the far horizon....
    "Mortality presents us with numerous opportunities to become more Christlike: first, by coping successfully with those of life's challenges which are 'common to man[kind]' (1 Cor. 10:13). In addition, there are also our customized trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera. If endured well now, 'all these things' can be for our good and can 'greatly enlarge the soul,' including an enlarged capacity for joy (D&C 122:7; D&C 121:42). Meek suffering often does the excavating necessary for that enlarging! My admiration goes to my many spiritual superiors who so exemplify for us all. In the world to come, to these, the most faithful, our generous Father will give 'all that [He] hath' (D&C 84:38). Brothers and sisters, there isn't any more!"
    - Neal A. Maxwell, "Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ," Ensign, November 1997, p. 22
    Click here to read the full article

    Elder Maxwell was diagnosed with leukemia in 1996. Against the odds, he was in remission by the time he spoke in the October 1997 general conference. As he discussed his "delay on route" he must have had particularly poignant feelings. I'm fascinated by his insight into the "why me?" question. We usually think of that when we're struggling or suffering; but we rarely do when we feel blessed or spared. I acknowledge a number of both types of "why me?" instances in my own life—but actually, quite a few more of the blessing kind!

    And then this beautiful comment about faith and perspective:

    The second part of this process is Elder Maxwell's description of "numerous opportunities to become more Christlike" that includes the variety of challenges we encounter. Things that "greatly enlarge the soul" also enlarge its capacity to experience joy. "Meek suffering often does the excavating necessary for that enlarging!" Elder Maxwell knew whereof he spoke, based on his recent experiences when he gave this address. But in conclusion, and perhaps in another of those "why me?" type of scenarios, there is this ultimate promise:

    The perspective of eternity will surely illuminate, clarify, and even justify what we view as the trials of mortality.

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

    Sunday, September 19, 2021

    President Spencer W. Kimball on Sabbath Day worship

    President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
    "The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected.
    "One good but mistaken man I know claimed he could get more out of a good book on Sunday than he could get in attending church services, saying that the sermons were hardly up to his standards. But we do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord."
    - Spencer W. Kimball, "The Sabbath—A Delight", Ensign, Jan 1978, pp. 2-7
    Click here to read the full article

    I think that a sign of a true disciple of Christ is that he or she appreciates the significance of the Sabbath Day and is naturally eager to "do worthy and holy things" including "constructive thoughts and acts."

    Many are pleased to note that President Kimball's list of appropriate activities includes "taking a nap." We would do well to consider the other items he lists, and to add our own insights.

    But the second paragraph is even more significant to me. It relates to our personal worship experience, and how we draw closer to God through Church meetings. President Kimball instructs that worship is a personal responsibility, but that it occurs best within the constraints the Lord has defined.

    I love that last statement - "No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord." How important it is for us to do that worshiping!

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

    Saturday, September 18, 2021

    President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on being genuine and trusting God's power to bless our lives

    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.
    "Whether your testimony is thriving and healthy or your activity in the Church more closely resembles a Potemkin village, the good news is that you can build on whatever strength you have. Here in the Church of Jesus Christ you can mature spiritually and draw closer to the Savior by applying gospel principles day by day.
    "With patience and persistence, even the smallest act of discipleship or the tiniest ember of belief can become a blazing bonfire of a consecrated life. In fact, that's how most bonfires begin--as a simple spark.
    "So if you feel small and weak, please simply come unto Christ, who makes weak things strong (see Ether 12:27). The weakest among us, through God's grace, can become spiritually strong, because God 'is no respecter of persons' (Acts 10:34)....
    "My beloved brothers in Christ, the God of Creation, who breathed life into the universe, surely has the power to breathe life into you. Surely He can make of you the genuine, spiritual being of light and truth you desire to be."
    - Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "On Being Genuine," General Conference April 2015; see Ensign, May 2015, pp. 80-83
    Click here to read the full talk

    President Uchtdorf began his discourse in the Priesthood session of the recent conference by telling the story of a historical incident from 18th-century Russia, during which a regional governor named Potemkin is said to have pulled off a deception by making villages appear prosperous during a tour by Catherine the Great.  The term "Potemkin village" has come to symbolize "any attempt to make others believe we are better than we really are."  President Uchtdorf warned about putting on fa├žades or hiding our challenges and shortcomings, encouraging us to be "genuine" as we allow the Atonement and the Gospel to help us overcome the imperfections.

    President Uchtdorf's message is one of hope and encouragement. The image of a tiny ember growing to a blazing bonfire is a beautiful one. President Uchtdorf wants us to believe that God has the power and desire to help us become what we sometimes pretend to be... or what we long to be. We don't do it ourselves; we rely on Him to breathe the divine power and light into us.

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

    Friday, September 17, 2021

    President Henry B. Eyring on the companionship and inspiration of the Holy Ghost

    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.

    This excerpt is from his address in the Priesthood session of the most recent general conference:
    "As a priesthood holder, you are to be part of the warning voice of the Lord. But you need to heed the warning yourself. You will not survive spiritually without the protection of the companionship of the Holy Ghost in your daily life.
    "You must pray for it and work to have it. Only with that guide will you be able to find your way along the strait and narrow path through the mists of evil. The Holy Ghost will be your guide as He reveals truth when you study the words of prophets.
    "Getting that guidance will take more than casual listening and reading. You will need to pray and work in faith to put the words of truth down into your heart. You must pray that God will bless you with His Spirit, that He will lead you into all truth and show you the right way. That is how He will warn and guide you into the right path in your life."
    - Henry B. Eyring, "Priesthood and Personal Prayer," General Conference, April 2015; see Ensign, May 2015, pp. 84-87
    Click here to read the full talk
    Many of the recent messages of Church leaders include encouragement to greater devotion and faithfulness. President Eyring spoke to Priesthood holders about that topic, linking their ability to serve effectively in the Priesthood with their personal prayers and other acts of devotion. The principles apply all members as we strive to draw on the powers of heaven for strength, guidance, and protection:

    This final reminder that there is effort required to claim the blessing and reward should get our attention and lead us to evaluate our personal lives:

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

    Thursday, September 16, 2021

    President Gordon B. Hinckley on meditation and choices

    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.
    "You need time to meditate and ponder, to think, to wonder at the great plan of happiness that the Lord has outlined for His children. You need to read the scriptures. You need to read good literature. You need to partake of the great culture which is available to all of us.
    "I heard President David O. McKay say to the members of the Twelve on one occasion, 'Brethren, we do not spend enough time meditating.'
    "I believe that with all my heart. Our lives become extremely busy. We run from one thing to another. We wear ourselves out in thoughtless pursuit of goals which are highly ephemeral. We are entitled to spend some time with ourselves in introspection, in development. I remember my dear father when he was about the age that I am now. He lived in a home where there was a rock wall on the grounds. It was a low wall, and when the weather was warm, he would go and sit on his wall. It seemed to me he sat there for hours, thinking, meditating, pondering things that he would say and write, for he was a very gifted speaker and writer. He read much, even into his very old age. He never ceased growing. Life was for him a great adventure in thinking.
    "Your needs and your tastes along these lines will vary with your age. But all of us need some of it. I decry the great waste of time that people put into watching inane television. I am not antisports. I enjoy watching a good football game or a good basketball game. But I see so many men who become absolutely obsessed with sports. I believe their lives would be enriched if, instead of sitting on the sofa and watching a game that will be forgotten tomorrow, they would read and think and ponder."
    - Gordon B. Hinckley, "Life's Obligations," Ensign, Feb. 1999, p. 5
    Click here to read the full article

    We live in a busy, noisy time; President Hinckley is wise to warn us about "run[ning] from one thing to another" and "wear[ing] ourselves out" as we pursue the wrong kinds of goals. He reminds us to slow down, to take time for learning and pondering about the things that matter most.

    I love how Pres. Hinckley reminisces about his own father's example of reading and learning, well into his later years. Each of us (especially those of us approaching those later years) should know how much our example matters, whether we realize it or not!

    Especially worth considering is the caution about how we spend leisure time, including watching "inane television," and his perspective on sports. He admits to enjoying occasional football or basketball games himself, but cautions about excessive focus on fleeting activities when we could "read and think and ponder." We certainly need divine help and inspiration as we seek the appropriate balance in our personal life between effort, learning, study, focus - and leisure, relaxation, recreation.

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

    Wednesday, September 15, 2021

    President Ezra Taft Benson on the power and blessings of the temple

    President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
    "Let us make the temple a sacred home away from our eternal home. This temple will be a standing witness that the power of God can stay the powers of evil in our midst. Many parents, in and out of the Church, are concerned about protection against a cascading avalanche of wickedness which threatens to engulf Christian principles. I find myself in complete accord with a statement made by President Harold B. Lee during World War II. Said he: 'We talk about security in this day, and yet we fail to understand that... we have standing the holy temple wherein we may find the symbols by which power might be generated that will save this nation from destruction' (CR April 1942, p. 87).
    "Yes, there is a power associated with the ordinances of heaven—even the power of godliness—which can and will thwart the forces of evil if we will be worthy of those sacred blessings. This community will be protected, our families will be protected, our children will be safeguarded as we live the gospel, visit the temple, and live close to the Lord."
    - Ezra Taft Benson, Atlanta Georgia Temple Cornerstone Laying, 1 June 1983; see TETB p. 256

    All who have traveled appreciate the imagery of "a home away from home" — a place where we find acceptance, serenity, love, and peace when we are far from familiar settings. President Benson provides an interesting analogy about our mortality in view of eternity.

    His witness is that the temple will provide "protection against a cascading avalanche of wickedness" in the world. It's a message for parents who desire to protect their children; it's a message for citizens concerned about their nation; and it's a message for each individual who seek divine assistance in life. President Benson offers the promise, and specifies the conditions upon which the blessings are claimed:

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

    Tuesday, September 14, 2021

    President Harold B. Lee on knowing and loving the scriptures

    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.
    "I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren't able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false—it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think that therein is one of our biggest dangers of today.
    "When I meet with our missionaries and they ask questions about things pertaining to the temple, I say to them, as I close the discussion, 'I don't dare answer any of your questions unless I can find an answer in the standard works or in the authentic declarations of presidents of the Church.'
    "The Lord has given us in the standard works the means by which we should measure truth and untruth. May we all heed his word: 'Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church' (D&C 42:59)."
    - Harold B. Lee, "Find the Answers in the Scriptures", Ensign, December 1972, pp. 2-3
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    President Lee was widely known for his love for, and deep understanding of, the scriptures. For example, as alluded to in this excerpt, he would meet in the Salt Lake Temple with missionaries as they prepared to depart into the field and allow them to ask him any question they desired, and he would always provide an answer from the scriptures.

    He encourages all of us to do what he himself did—learn to find answers in the scriptures. They should be our primary and final source of doctrinal understanding!

    A benefit of thorough and in-depth understanding is that we recognize doctrine that isn't sound; it enables us to "measure truth and untruth."

    But President Lee worries that too many of us are not taking advantage of that resource.  And though his remarks were offered almost 50 years ago, I suspect the advice is more needed than ever.

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

    Monday, September 13, 2021

    President Howard W. Hunter on the magic of thought in determining our lives

    President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
    "As a being of power, intelligence, and the master of his own thoughts, a man holds the key to every situation, to make his life what he chooses it to be. When he discovers the divine power within his soul, he can lead his life to a God-like nature. If one dreams lofty dreams, so shall he become. There is magic in the way one thinks. If we expect the worst, we will get the worst. If we expect the best, we will receive the best. If we train our minds to have faith in God and ourselves, we are using one of the great laws of life. If we think and live righteously, happiness will find its place in our lives. It is amazing when we expect the best how forces are set in motion which cause the best to materialize....
    "Outward circumstances do not determine the course of our lives as much as the thoughts that habitually occupy our minds. These thoughts carve their impression on our faces, in our hearts, and on the tablet of our eternal souls."
    - Howard W. Hunter, "Thoughts Make Us What We Are," Beneficial Life Insurance Company Convention, Victoria, British Columbia, 7 July 1983; see THWH 74

    President Hunter believed in the "magic" of how a person thinks about life—that a man can "make his life what he chooses it to be" and in particular, "lead his life to a God-like nature."

    "If we life righteously, happiness will find its place in our lives." What a beautiful promise. President Hunter always seemed very calm and serene. I think these thoughts reflect how he lived his life.

    "The tablets of our eternal souls"—what a beautiful description. Our thoughts carve their impression on those tablets, as well as our faces and hearts. How eternally critical it is to care for our thoughts!

    (Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
    May 11, 2015
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