Sunday, April 24, 2022

President Russell M. Nelson on the power of temple worship

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.
"The adversary never sleeps. There will always be opposition to the truth. I repeat my urging from this morning to do those things that will increase your positive spiritual momentum, that lift Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was talking about, that will keep you moving forward through whatever challenges and opportunities come.

"Positive spiritual momentum increases as we worship in the temple and grow in our understanding of the magnificent breadth and depth of the blessings we receive there. I plead with you to counter worldly ways by focusing on the eternal blessings of the temple. Your time there brings blessings for eternity."

- Russell M. Nelson, "Now is the Time," General Conference April 2022 Sunday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

President Nelson's closing remarks for the April 2022 General Conference included a challenge to act now on the things that will make a difference in our "positive spiritual momentum." In our complicated and challenging world, ensuring that we truly do have positive momentum is critical! Before the traditional announcement of new temples to be built, President Nelson spoke about how temple worship can bless our lives:

We can "counter worldly ways" when we focus more of our time and attention on the Lord's temples. Serving and worshipping in the temple not only aids our daily lives, but "brings blessings for eternity." If we truly listen to the words of the Lord through the prophet, we will think carefully about our dedication to temple worship!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Elder Ulisses Soares on developing spiritual awe

Elder Ulisses Soares (born October 2, 1958 in Brazil) has served as a Seventy since April 2005, and as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy since January 2013. He was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on April 1, 2018.
"I have reflected on how much more spiritual wonder, so to speak, that we can and should feel for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the difference it can make in our discipleship and in our journey toward eternal life. The wonder I refer to is the sensation of emotion, awe, or amazement common to all who wholeheartedly center their lives on the Savior and His teachings and humbly recognize His presence in their lives. Such a feeling of wonder, inspired by the influence of the Holy Ghost, stimulates the enthusiasm to joyfully live the doctrine of Christ....

"My brothers and sisters, when we truly are in awe of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we are happier, we have more enthusiasm for God’s work, and we recognize the Lord’s hand in all things. Additionally, our study of God’s words is more meaningful; our prayers, more intentional; our worship, more reverent; our service in God’s kingdom, more diligent. All these actions contribute to the Holy Spirit’s influence being more frequent in our lives. Thus, our testimony of the Savior and His gospel will be strengthened, we will keep Christ alive in us (see Gal 2:20), and we will live our lives 'rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, … abounding therein with thanksgiving' (Colo 2:7). When we live in this way, we become more spiritually resilient and protected against falling into the trap of spiritual apathy."

- Ulisses Soares, "In Awe of Christ and His Gospel," General Conference April 2022, Sunday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Soares talked about some of my favorite words: awe, wonder, amazement. His premise was that a proper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings us "spiritual wonder" that will change our entire approach to life, both mortal life and eternal life. It is a great key to discipleship!

I find it hard to believe that anyone who has truly made efforts to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and particularly His Atonement, will feel anything but profound wonder and awe. They are such remarkable gifts to us! When we center our lives on the Savior and His teachings, our lives are deeply blessed. And we can "joyfully live" the gospel principles each day!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Elder Gerrit W. Gong on connecting roots and branches

Elder Gerrit W. Gong (born December 23, 1953) was called as a Seventy in April 2010, then to the Presidency of the Seventy in October 2015. He was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in April 2018.
"Ask friends or family to draw a living tree. As President Russell M. Nelson teaches, living trees have roots and branches. Whether you are your first or tenth known generation, connect yesterday for tomorrow. Connect the roots and branches in your living family tree....

"Still very much alive, our ancestors deserve to be remembered. We remember our heritage through oral histories, clan records and family stories, memorials or places of remembrance, and celebrations with photos, foods, or items which remind us of loved ones....

"We honor our ancestors by opening the heavens through temple and family history work and by becoming a welding link in the chain of our generations.

"In this age of 'I choose me,' societies benefit when generations connect in meaningful ways. We need roots to have wings—real relationships, meaningful service, life beyond fleeting social media veneers."

"Connecting with our ancestors can change our lives in surprising ways. From their trials and accomplishments, we gain faith and strength. From their love and sacrifices, we learn to forgive and move forward. Our children become resilient. We gain protection and power. Ties with ancestors increase family closeness, gratitude, miracles. Such ties can bring help from the other side of the veil."

- Gerrit W. Gong, "We Each Have a Story," General Conference April 2022, Saturday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Gong spoke about the power that exists in identifying, and "connecting," our ancestors and our descendants. I loved the personal stories he told, both of his own family and of others who shared insights on the power of making those connections.

I have appreciated that in my own life, since I lost my father at a young age. Learning more about who he was has been very meaningful and powerful to me. And I have felt that with grandparents, and others further back in the tree. Recognizing that each one was an individual, with personality, hopes, desires, dreams, challenges, disappointments - all the things that I have felt in my own life - has made me grateful for my heritage and desirous to pass on the best to those who follow.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Elder Dale G. Renlund on the eternal consequences of choices

Elder Dale G. Renlund (born November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"You may know that I used to treat patients with heart failure. Their best outcomes were obtained by following established, evidence-based treatment plans. Despite knowing this, some patients tried to negotiate a different treatment plan. They said, 'I don’t want to take so many medications' or 'I don’t want to undergo so many follow-up tests.' Of course, patients were free to make their own decisions, but if they deviated from optimal treatment plans, their results suffered. Patients with heart failure cannot choose an inferior course and then blame their cardiologist for inferior outcomes.

"The same is true for us. Heavenly Father’s prescribed path leads to the best eternal outcomes. We are free to choose, but we cannot choose the consequences of not following the revealed path. The Lord has said, 'That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, … cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment' (D&C 88:35). We cannot deviate from Heavenly Father’s course and then blame Him for inferior outcomes."

- Dale G. Renlund, "Your Divine Nature and Eternal Destiny," General Conference April 2022, Women's Session
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

I love Elder Renlund's perspective. We have seen this scenario played out pointedly in recent times. Some people are unwilling to take the advice of a doctor in a critical life situation; they either don't trust the doctor's wisdom and experience, or they think they know better for themselves than the doctor can know. To me, it seems very odd not to trust an expert who is established, recognized, and proven.

The application to critical spiritual matters is so much more important.

Both in medical and spiritual matters, we can always choose the action we take; but we can't choose the consequences of our action. That is a profound, critical, eternal distinction that we must never forget. We should never choose to "deviate from Heavenly Father's course" because the outcomes will certainly follow!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Elder Gary E. Stevenson on showing Christlike love

Elder Gary E. Stevenson (born August 5, 1955) was called as a Seventy in 2008, then as Presiding Bishop in 2012. He was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015.
"Our hearts are heavy with the human suffering and tensions that we see throughout the world during these tumultuous times. However, we can be also inspired by the outpouring of compassion and humanitarianism that has been demonstrated by people everywhere through their efforts to reach out to the marginalized—those displaced from their homes, separated from their families, or experiencing other forms of sorrow and despair....

"Whenever we show Christlike love toward our neighbor, we preach the gospel—even if we do not voice a single word.

"Love for others is the eloquent expression of the second great commandment to love our neighbor; it shows the refining process of the Holy Spirit working within our own souls. By demonstrating Christ’s love to others, we may cause those who see our good works to 'glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.' (Matt. 5:16)

"We do this expecting nothing in return.

"Our hope, of course, is they will accept our love and our message, though how they react is not within our control.

"What we do and who we are certainly are.

"Through Christlike love for others, we preach the glorious, life-transforming properties of Christ’s gospel, and we participate significantly in the fulfilling of His great commission."

- Gary E. Stevenson, "Love, Share, Invite", General Conference April 2022, Sunday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Stevenson's remarks focused on the Savior's invitation to take the Savior's message "into all the world." He described three steps or parts of the process: love, share, invite. In the "love" section, Elder Stevenson talked about the power of expressing true love for others, true Christlike love.

Seeing the gospel in the life of a true disciple is certainly a powerful message. Actions speak louder than words! And if the message of the Savior doesn't result in action in our lives, it's not worth much. I love this reminder.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Elder Ronald A. Rasband on the Savior's example of doing good

Elder Ronald A. Rasband (born February 6, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 2000.  He was the senior president of the Seventy when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015.
"Religious freedom honors the first and second great commandments, placing God at the center of our lives. We read in Matthew:

"'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.'

"'And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' (Matt 22:37, 39)

"Whether in a chapel, synagogue, mosque, or tin-roofed hut, Christ’s disciples and all like-minded believers can express devotion to God by worship of Him and willingness to serve His children.

"Jesus Christ is the perfect example of such love and service. During His ministry, He cared for the poor, healed the sick and the blind. He fed the hungry, opened His arms to little children, and forgave those who wronged Him, even crucified Him.

"The scriptures describe that Jesus 'went about doing good' (Acts 10:38). So must we."

- Ronald A. Rasband, "To Heal the World," General Conference April 2022, Sunday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

This excerpt from Elder Rasband's address on religious liberty focused on the blessing that comes as those who are free in a society are able to "go about doing good." When religious liberty prevails, the disciples of Christ (and "all other like-minded believers") devote their lives to service.

Certainly one of the reasons we strive to protect our religious liberty is so that we can continue to fully express our desire to "go about doing good" as the Savior did.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Elder Neil L. Andersen on being a peacemaker

Elder Neil L. Andersen (1951- ) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"The Sermon on the Mount is a message for all but was specifically given to the Savior’s disciples, those who had chosen to follow Him.

"The Lord taught how to live, then and now, in a contemptuous world. 'Blessed are the peacemakers,' He declared, 'for they shall be called the children of God.' (Matthew 5:9)

"By the shield of our faith in Jesus Christ, we become peacemakers, quenching—meaning to calm, cool, or extinguish—all the fiery darts of the adversary.

"As we do our part, His promise is that we will be called the 'children of God.' Every person on earth is the 'offspring' of God, but to be called the 'children of God' means much, much more. As we come unto Jesus Christ and make covenants with Him, we become 'his seed' and 'heirs of the kingdom,' 'children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters.'

"How does a peacemaker calm and cool the fiery darts? Certainly not by shrinking before those who disparage us. Rather, we remain confident in our faith, sharing our beliefs with conviction but always void of anger or malice."

- Neil L. Andersen, "Following Jesus: Being a Peacemaker," General Conference April 2022, Saturday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Andersen began has talk by observing how confrontational and antagonistic our world has become, and how those emotions are magnified by social media. It's a very real concern, one that many of us confront regularly. How does one accept the Savior's invitation to become a "peacemaker" in this troubled world?

The Gospel is a plan for happiness, and confrontation drives happiness away. Satan delights in causing disputes, bitterness, anger, and jealousy. As we carefully and faithfully live Gospel principles, we will be prepared to "quench" those "fiery darts" that are directed at us. And the blessings that will follow include the promise of being "children of God" in very rich and meaningful ways.
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on Christ's victory over death

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.
"The gift of immortality to all mankind through the reality of the Resurrection is so powerful a promise that our rejoicing in these great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair, and tame any tragedy. Those who now see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the Man of Galilee in those crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary. Those who presently say life is meaningless will yet applaud the Atonement which saves us from meaninglessness. Christ's victory over death ended the human predicaments, and from these too we may be rescued by following the teachings of him who rescued us from general extinction.
"Our 'brightness of hope,' therefore, means that at funerals our tears are genuine, but not because of termination—rather because of interruption. Though just as wet, our tears are not of despair but are of appreciation and anticipation. Yes, for disciples, the closing of a grave is but the closing of a door which later will be flung open with rejoicing.
"We say, humbly but firmly that it is the garden tomb—not life—that is empty."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "All Hell Is Moved," BYU Devotional, Nov 8, 1977
Click here to read the full talk
Elder Maxwell provides a powerful suggestion. If we consider the magnitude of the "great and generous gifts" provided to us by the Savior through the Resurrection alongside the sorrows and despairs of mortality, the former should completely drown out and overwhelm the latter. What a marvelous perspective; if our understanding is deep enough, all else falls into place.

As an example, he discusses the challenge of dealing with the loss of a loved one to death. Real disciples, who understand the doctrine, respond differently to this part of life:

And that leads us to the profound but simple testimony that is at the core of Elder Maxwell's remarks, the Easter season, and indeed the very core of Christianity:

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
April 1, 2015

Saturday, April 16, 2022

President Russell M. Nelson on the sublime message of Easter

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"We are part of His divine purpose: 'My work and my glory,' He said, is 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39).  In order to achieve those objectives, 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life' (John 3:16). That act was a supernal manifestation of God’s love. 'For [He] sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved' (John 3:17).
"Central to God’s eternal plan is the mission of His Son, Jesus Christ. He came to redeem God’s children. Because of the Lord’s Atonement, resurrection (or immortality) became a reality. Because of the Atonement, eternal life became a possibility for all who would qualify. Jesus so explained:
"'I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
"'And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.' (John 11:25–26.)
"For the Atonement of the Lord and His gift of resurrection—for this sublime message of Easter—thanks be to God! ...
"God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we are not. Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christlike, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families. For these powers, privileges, and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!"
- Russell M. Nelson, "Thanks Be to God," General Conference April 2012
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

I love President Nelson's spirit of joyful gratitude. In acknowledging the "sublime message of Easter" and the supreme gifts given to us through the Atonement of the Savior, he reminds us first of the "supernal manifestation of God's love" on our behalf as He gave His Son to offer salvation, and the dual gifts of immortality and eternal life.

But the ongoing challenge and opportunity for us is expressed in these powerful words:

As we "access the power of the Atonement" of Jesus Christ in our daily lives, we find the ability to change and grow, to "become more Christlike" and thus to receive the fullness of what He offers to us. As President Nelson says with rejoicing, "Thanks be to God" for these manifestations of His love for us, and for the joy and peace that comes to us as we fully accept His gifts!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
April 1, 2018

Friday, April 15, 2022

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on God's promises to us

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (1945- ) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"It truly is folly for us with our mortal myopia to presume to judge God, to think, for example, 'I’m not happy, so God must be doing something wrong.' To us, His mortal children in a fallen world, who know so little of past, present, and future, He declares, 'All things are present with me, for I know them all' (Moses 1:6). Jacob wisely cautions: 'Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works' (Jacob 4:10).

"Some misunderstand the promises of God to mean that obedience to Him yields specific outcomes on a fixed schedule. They might think, 'If I diligently serve a full-time mission, God will bless me with a happy marriage and children' or 'If I refrain from doing schoolwork on the Sabbath, God will bless me with good grades' or 'If I pay tithing, God will bless me with that job I’ve been wanting.' If life doesn’t fall out precisely this way or according to an expected timetable, they may feel betrayed by God. But things are not so mechanical in the divine economy. We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine where we (1) select a desired blessing, (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered.

"God will indeed honor His covenants and promises to each of us. We need not worry about that. The atoning power of Jesus Christ—who descended below all things and then ascended on high and who possesses all power in heaven and in earth—ensures that God can and will fulfill His promises. It is essential that we honor and obey His laws, but not every blessing predicated on obedience to law is shaped, designed, and timed according to our expectations. We do our best but must leave to Him the management of blessings, both temporal and spiritual."

- D. Todd Christofferson, "Our Relationship with God," General Conference April 2022, Saturday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

It's easy to fall into the trap that we can claim blessings by defining our level of obedience. We are sometimes tempted to set conditions for God - if I do "x" then I expect "y" - and when it doesn't happen quite as we plan, we can question God. But we should really question ourselves in that scenario! It's a pretty low quality of motivation when we will only obey if we get a blessing in return.

Elder Christofferson clarifies the principle. Obedience does bring blessings; but not according to our conditions, nor our timetable:

I appreciated his description of "a cosmic vending machine" of blessings that sometimes seems to be our mental model. Instead, we just need to learn to trust God - both His wisdom and His timetable. All will be well in the end.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Elder Quentin L. Cook on the fruits of true conversion

Elder Quentin L. Cook (1940- ) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"In our day, many have adopted the concept that there should be no consequence for sin. They support the unconditional condoning of sin without repentance. Our revealed doctrine not only refutes the idea that most people would be eternally condemned to hell and damnation but also establishes that personal repentance is a commanded prerequisite to partake of the Savior’s Atonement and inherit the celestial kingdom. I testify that Joseph Smith was truly an instrument in the Lord’s hands in bringing forth the Restoration of His gospel!

"Because of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we understand the importance of both repentance and the 'works of righteousness' (D&C 59:23). We understand the overwhelming significance of the Savior’s Atonement and of His saving ordinances and covenants, including those performed in the temple.

"The 'works of righteousness' emanate from and are the fruits of conversion. True conversion is brought about by the conscious acceptance and commitment to follow the will of God. The banquet of consequences and blessings that flow from conversion is true and permanent peace and the personal assurance of ultimate happiness—despite the storms of this life.

"Conversion to the Savior changes a natural man into a sanctified, born again, purified person—a new creature in Christ Jesus."

- Quentin L. Cook, "Conversion to the Will of God," General Conference April 2022, Saturday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

So much incorrect or unclear doctrine in Christianity is clarified and corrected by the Restoration through Joseph Smith in the latter days! The interplay of grace, repentance, and obedience is a one of the most important of these.

The "works of righteousness" in our lives are a byproduct of true conversion:

As we truly commit to follow God's will, we become converted; and righteous works will follow that step. I love the description of "the banquet of consequences and blessings" - the ultimate happiness that comes only from Him, and will carry us through any storm in life.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Elder David A. Bednar on heeding not the world's distractions

Elder David A. Bednar (b. 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"The word heed suggests taking notice of or paying attention to someone or something. Thus, the lyrics of the hymn 'Let Us All Press On' admonish us to make an affirmative decision to pay no attention to 'what the wicked may say.' And Lehi and the people with him who were partaking of the fruit of the tree provide a strong example of not paying attention to the mocking and scorn that so frequently come from the great and spacious building.

"The doctrine of Christ written 'with the Spirit of the living God … in fleshy tables of [our hearts]' (2 Cor 3:3) increases our capacity to 'heed not' the many distractions, taunts, and diversions in our fallen world. For example, faith focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ fortifies us with spiritual strength. Faith in the Redeemer is a principle of action and of power. As we act in accordance with the truths of His gospel, we are blessed with the spiritual capacity to press forward through the challenges of mortality while focusing on the joys the Savior offers to us. Truly, 'if we do what’s right we have no need to fear, for the Lord, our helper, will ever be near' (Hymns 243)."

- David A. Bednar, "But We Heeded Them Not," General Conference April 2022, Saturday morning
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Bednar used the phrase from "Let Us All Press On" to set the theme for his talk: "We will heed not what the wicked may say, but the Lord alone we will obey." Learning not to heed the world when it mocks from the "great and spacious building," or when it tempts from the depths of darkness, is the key to staying on the path that leads to our source of happiness.

The great key to this message, for me, was the thought that to fully be able to "heed not" one thing, we have to have a clear focus on what we do heed. The best way to take our focus away from the world is to have some other thing that we focus it on. If we are not heeding what the world says, it is because "the Lord alone we will obey." Our focus has to be on Him. As we do that, it becomes easy to ignore the negative aspects of the world around us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the measure of discipleship

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (b November 6, 1940) served as a Seventy from 1994-2004, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve. He served as second counselor in the First Presidency from 2008 until 2018.
"Just days before He gave His life for us, Jesus Christ was at the temple in Jerusalem, watching people make donations to the temple treasury. 'Many that were rich cast in much,' but then, along came a poor widow, 'and she threw in two mites.' It was such a small amount, it would hardly be worth recording.

"And yet this seemingly inconsequential donation caught the Savior’s attention. In fact, it impressed Him so deeply that 'he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

"'For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.' (Mark 12:41–44.)

"With this simple observation, the Savior taught us how offerings are measured in His kingdom—and it’s quite different from the way we usually measure things. To the Lord, the value of the donation was measured not by the effect it had on the treasury but by the effect it had on the heart of the donor.

"In praising this faithful widow, the Savior gave us a standard to measure our discipleship in all of its many expressions. Jesus taught that our offering may be large or it may be small, but either way, it must be our heartfelt all."

- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Our Heartfelt All," General Conference April 2022, Sunday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The New Testament story of the widow's mite is a powerful and fascinating one. In the midst of a temple where prominent and powerful leaders are making their significant donations to the temple, an aged woman quietly slips in and makes a tiny, paltry donation. But to the Savior it is neither tiny nor paltry! He immediately discerns her heart, and points out to his disciples the significant difference in the motivation between the prominent, wealthy donors and this woman.

Elder Uchtdorf draws from this beautiful story to remind us that there is more to the story than an ancient example of the old woman and her coins. There is a direct application to each of us:

Our contributions never are equal to those around us. We all come from such different backgrounds and capacities. But the bottom line is not the effect on the treasury, but on the donor. And all the Lord asks of us is that we give our "heartfelt all." A faithful disciple will frequently review his motivation to ensure that he is not holding anything back from the Lord.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Monday, April 11, 2022

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on our loving Father in Heaven

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.
"We, of all people, should be 'sing[ing] the song of redeeming love' (Alma 5:26), but that takes discipline—'discipleship,' if you will—the kind that guards against negative attitudes and destructive habits that would pull us off-key as we try to sing that song of eternal salvation.

"Even as we stay 'on the sunny side of the street,' we do run into that fellow from time to time who is determined to find something bleak and dismal about everything. You know his motto: 'It is always darkest just before it goes pitch-black.' What a malignant vision, and what a miserable existence! Yes, we might sometimes want to run away from where we are, but we certainly should never run away from who we are—children of the living God who loves us, who is always ready to forgive us, and who will never, ever forsake us. You are His most precious possession. You are His child, to whom He has given prophets and promises, spiritual gifts and revelations, miracles and messages, and angels on both sides of the veil."

- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Fear Not: Believe Only!", General Conference April 2022, Saturday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the complete address

Much of Elder Holland's address was directed to youth, but with powerful application to all of us. The challenges of life are often profound and heavy. But remembering who we really are, what our heritage is, the help that is available through the Savior's Atonement—those are all great keys to moving forward successfully in life.

We must never forget that we truly do have a loving Father! And that He has provided so many resources to help us with our challenges, and will continue to love and sustain us. Elder Holland's witness was powerful, and if it helps only one struggling youth, it will certainly have been worthwhile. But I believe it has power to help every one of us.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Sunday, April 10, 2022

President M. Russell Ballard on the blessings of missionary service

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"The Lord knows you. When you are serving your mission, you will have experiences that will help you come to know Him better. You will grow spiritually in serving Him. In His name, you will be sent on errands to serve others. He will give you experiences with promptings from the Holy Ghost. The Lord will authorize you to teach in His name. You can show Him that He can trust you and can rely on you....

"As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I now call upon you young men—and those young women who desire to serve a mission—to begin right now to talk with your parents about serving a mission. I also invite you to talk with your friends about serving a mission, and if one of your friends is not sure about serving, encourage them to talk with their bishop.

"Commit to yourselves and to your Heavenly Father that you will serve a mission and that from this time forward you will strive to keep your hearts, hands, and minds clean and worthy. I invite you to gain a solid testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ."

- M. Russell Ballard, "Missionary Service Blessed My Life Forever," General Conference April 2022, Saturday morning
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President Ballard spoke fondly and personally about missionary service, including his own personal experiences. He reminded us of some of the dramatic changes of the past, including the lowering of the minimum age for service ten years ago. Even during the pandemic, dramatic advances were made in the use of technology.

But the real power of the message for me was in discussing the powerful personal blessings that come to those who serve:

I believe those blessings apply to youth missionaries; but also to seniors who take advantage of the opportunity to serve!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

President Henry B. Eyring on becoming as a child

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.
"King Benjamin makes it clear how we can receive the hope to hear those words if we find the way in this life to have our natures changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is the only way we can build on the sure foundation and so stand firm during the storms of temptations and trials ahead. King Benjamin describes that change in our natures with a beautiful metaphor that has always touched my heart. It was used by prophets for millennia and by the Lord Himself. It is this: we must become as a child—a little child.

"For some, that will not be easy to accept. Most of us want to be strong. We may well see being like a child as being weak. Most parents look for the day when their children act less childish. But King Benjamin, who understood as well as any mortal what it meant to be a man of strength and courage, makes it clear that to be like a child is not to be childish. It is to be like the Savior, who prayed to His Father for strength to be able to do His Father’s will and atone for the sins of all of His Father’s children and then did it. Our natures must be changed to become as a child to gain the strength we must have to stand steady and at peace in times of peril....

"We receive that change as we make and renew covenants with God. That brings the power of Christ’s Atonement to allow a transformation in our hearts. We can feel it every time we partake of the sacrament, perform a temple ordinance for a departed ancestor, testify as a witness of the Savior, or care for someone in need as Christ’s disciple.

"In those experiences, we become over time like a child in our capacity to love and obey. We come to stand on the sure foundation. Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us to repentance and to keeping His commandments. We obey, and we gain power to resist temptation, and we gain the promised companionship of the Holy Ghost.

"Our natures change to become as a little child, obedient to God and more loving. That change will qualify us to enjoy the gifts that come through the Holy Ghost. Having the Spirit’s companionship will comfort, guide, and strengthen us."

- Henry B. Eyring, "Steady in the Storms," General Conference April 2022, Saturday morning
Click here to read or listen to the fill address

In the footnote to this talk, President Eyring mentioned that he felt impressed to "revisit" a talk he gave in the April 2006 general conference. The message certainly is as timely as ever. In a world filled with trouble, with challenges, and with the evil influence of the adversary - it is more important than ever to for us to humble ourselves and "become as a child." Realistically, we naturally don't incline to that attitude; we want to be "grown up" and mature, not child-like. This is a good summary:

 What a precious reminder and invitation. Children are naturally trusting, believing, hoping. We need to learn to have those attributes in fulness in our relationship to our Father in Heaven!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
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