Posted in Leadership, Priesthood, Prophets, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 19: Priesthood Leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

“I do not know why in His grand scheme one such as I would find a place. But having this mantle come upon me, I now rededicate whatever I have of strength or time or talent or life to the work of my Master in the service of my brethren and sisters. Again, I thank you … for your actions this day. The burden of my prayer is that I will be worthy. I hope that I may be remembered in your prayers.”

How can we best support and sustain the Lord’s Prophet and President of the Church?

1. The Lord calls each President of the Church after testing, refining, and polishing him.

Image result for When a President of the Church dies, the senior Apostle becomes the next President.

From the manual:

I have worked with the Presidents of the Church from President Heber J. Grant onward. … I have known the counselors of all of these men, and I have known the Council of the Twelve during the years of the administrations of these Presidents. All of these men have been human. They have had human traits and perhaps some human weaknesses. But over and above all of that, there has been in the life of every one of them an overpowering manifestation of the inspiration of God. Those who have been Presidents have been prophets in a very real way. I have intimately witnessed the spirit of revelation upon them. Each man came to the Presidency after many years of experience as a member of the Council of the Twelve and in other capacities. The Lord refined and polished each one, let him know discouragement and failure, let him experience illness and in some cases deep sorrow. All of this became part of a great refining process, and the effect of that process became beautifully evident in their lives.

What impresses you about the Lord’s “refining process” for preparing and calling a President of the Church?

‘Very few priesthood holders ever become prophets, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t all require the same refining experiences to make us better servants and better stewards over the Lord’s affairs in mortality.’ (Kelly Merrill, LDSLiving.com)

Read: First Presidency Message: Prophets to Guide Us

2. When a President of the Church dies, the senior Apostle becomes the next President.

When a President of the Church dies, the First Presidency is dissolved. Counselors in the First Presidency return to their places in the Quorum of the Twelve (if they were members of the quorum). The Quorum of the Twelve becomes the presiding quorum in the Church. The President of the Twelve becomes the presiding authority in the Church. Members of the Twelve assemble in the temple in a spirit of fasting and prayer. Guided by revelation, they come to a unanimous decision regarding the reorganization of the First Presidency. In accordance with this decision, they sustain the senior member of the Twelve as the President of the Church. They then lay their hands on his head and ordain him and set him apart as President of the Church.The new President chooses two men (usually members of the Quorum of the Twelve) to be his counselors. Vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve caused by the reorganization of the Presidency are filled.

Watch: Succession in the Presidency Elder Haight teaches about succession in the Presidency (D&C 107:21-38). (1:07)

“There is no mystery about the choosing of the successor to the President of the Church. The Lord settled this a long time ago, and the senior apostle automatically becomes the presiding officer of the Church, and he is so sustained by the Council of the Twelve which becomes the presiding body of the Church when there is no First Presidency. The president is not elected, but he has to be sustained both by his brethren of the Council and by the members of the Church” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:156).

From the manual:

Transition of authority [to a new President of the Church], in which I have participated a number of times, is beautiful in its simplicity. It is indicative of the way the Lord does things. Under His procedure a man is selected by the prophet to become a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. He does not choose this as a career. He is called, as were the Apostles in Jesus’ time, to whom the Lord said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.” (John 15:16.) The years pass. He is schooled and disciplined in the duties of his office. He travels over the earth in fulfilling his apostolic calling. It is a long course of preparation, in which he comes to know the Latter-day Saints wherever they may be, and they come to know him. The Lord tests his heart and his substance. In the natural course of events, vacancies occur in that council and new appointments are made. Under this process a particular man becomes the senior Apostle. Residing latent in him, and in his associate Brethren, given to each at the time of ordination, are all of the keys of the priesthood. But authority to exercise those keys is restricted to the President of the Church. At [the prophet’s] passing, that authority becomes operative in the senior Apostle, who is then named, set apart, and ordained a prophet and President by his associates of the Council of the Twelve.

What are your impressions as you review President Hinckley’s description of the way a new President of the Church is chosen? 

3. The Lord has provided principles and procedures for governing His Church if the President is not able to function fully.

Watch: God is at the Helm (President Hinckley, General Conference April 1994)

“Despite any health challenges that may come to us, despite any weakness in body or mind, we serve to the best of our ability. I assure you that the Church is in good hands. The system set up for the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve [Apostles] assures [us] that it will always be in good hands and that, come what may, there is no need to worry or to fear. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, whom we follow, whom we worship, and whom we serve, is ever at the helm.” (Thomas S Monson, Church News, February 2013)

From the manual:

The Counselors in the First Presidency carry on with the regular work of this office. But any major questions of policy, procedures, programs, or doctrine are considered deliberately and prayerfully by the First Presidency and the Twelve together. These two quorums, the Quorum of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, meeting together, with every man having total freedom to express himself, consider every major question.

What principles and procedures has the Lord established for governing the Church if the President is not able to function fully in all his duties?

4. Apostles are special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world.

‘All men who are ordained Apostles and sustained as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have all priesthood keys conferred upon them.’ (Boyd K Packer, What Every Elder Should Know – and Every Sister As Well)

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‘The role of an Apostle today is the same as it was anciently (see Acts 1:22; 4:33). Our commission is to go into all the world and proclaim “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (see Mark 16:15, 1 Corinthians 2:2). An Apostle is a missionary and a special witness of the name of Christ. The “name of Christ” refers to the totality of the Savior’s mission, death, and resurrection—His authority, His doctrine, and His unique qualifications as the Son of God to be our Redeemer and our Savior. As special witnesses of the name of Christ, we bear testimony of the reality, divinity, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His infinite and eternal Atonement, and His gospel.’ (David A Bednar, Religious Educator 12 No 2 2011)

From the manual:

As with all of us, they are men who are human. They have their strengths and their weaknesses. But henceforth, for the remainder of their lives, as long as they remain faithful, their one chief concern must be the advancement of the work of God on the earth. They must be concerned with the welfare of our Father’s children, both those within the Church and those out of the Church. They must do all that they can to give comfort to those who mourn, to give strength to those who are weak, to give encouragement to those who falter, to befriend the friendless, to nurture the destitute, to bless the sick, to bear witness, not out of belief but out of a certain knowledge of the Son of God, their Friend and Master, whose servants they are.

How have you benefited from the teachings of living prophets and apostles?

5. The First Presidency and the Twelve seek revelation and total harmony before they reach decisions.

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‘In trying all matters of doctrine, to make a decision valid, it is necessary to obtain a unanimous voice, faith and decision. In the capacity of a Quorum, the three First Presidents must be one in their voice; the Twelve Apostles must be unanimous in their voice, to obtain a righteous decision upon any matter that may come before them…. Whenever you see these Quorums unanimous in their declaration, you may set it down as true’. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:91-92)

From the manual:

No decision emanates from the deliberations of the First Presidency and the Twelve without total unanimity among all concerned. At the outset in considering matters, there may be differences of opinion. These are to be expected. These men come from different backgrounds. They are men who think for themselves. But before a final decision is reached, there comes a unanimity of mind and voice.

How can we apply these principles in our families and in the Church?

6. A stake president is called by inspiration to serve as an adviser to bishops and a leader for the people.

Read or watch: The Stake President (Gordon B Hinckley, General Conference, April 2000)

‘The Church officer who presides over several wards (congregations) that comprise a stake is the stake president. A stake president is selected by the General Authority assigned by the Quorum of Twelve Apostles to preside at that stake’s conference. He typically interviews many Melchizedek Priesthood leaders in the stake and then seeks inspiration from God to determine whom to call. The General Authority calls the stake president and instructs him to nominate two counselors who are interviewed and called. These three men constitute the stake presidency. They serve voluntarily, receiving no financial remuneration from the Church. Counselors to the stake president advise and assist him in his responsibilities and counsel with him in decision making. As with all officers in the Church, members of the stake presidency must be sustained by the vote of the members over whom they preside (D&C 20:65; see Common Consent). Each stake president supervises and is responsible for the progress of the Church in his stake, including all Church activities, callings, ordinances performed, and programs.

Members of the stake presidency hold the office of high priest, and they serve as the presidency of the high priest quorum and supervise all Melchizedek Priesthood quorums. This means they hold the proper priesthood authority to act as the Lord’s agent in behalf of the members (see Keys of the Priesthood).

What the stake president performs and authorizes within the scope of his calling is recognized as official and binding by the Church. For example, the stake president authorizes ordinations of worthy men to offices in the Melchizedek Priesthood, such as elder and high priest. He submits to the First Presidency for their approval the names of men to be called as bishops. When the approval is granted, the stake president issues the call and ordains the man a bishop, after he has been sustained by his ward. The stake president calls the presidents of the women’s organizations of the stake. He sets them apart after they have been sustained by vote of the stake. Both stake and full-time missionaries are set apart and later released by stake presidents. With a few exceptions, stake presidents may delegate to their counselors, or to high councilors, the authority to perform ordinances, issue calls to serve, ordain others to priesthood offices, and give spiritual blessings. Stake presidencies are to draw upon the scriptures and are to seek inspiration through prayer. The stake president is the one ultimately responsible for decisions made, but the stake presidency is to act as a unified quorum when decisions are made and actions taken. The stake presidency is accountable to members of the General Authorities of the Church for the administration of their stake.

During semi-annual stake conferences, members of the stake gather to hear instruction and inspirational messages from the stake presidency and other leaders. Stake presidents provide additional spiritual direction through counseling individuals and families and by visiting members’ homes.

The stake president also presides over certain council meetings in which the spiritual Welfare of Church members is the focus, such as meetings to address the needs of the poor or to prepare for emergencies, or councils that conduct disciplinary procedures for Church members who have transgressed fundamental standards of the gospel. Through personal interviews, stake presidencies certify the worthiness of members to enter temples and to be ordained to Melchizedek Priesthood offices, after they have been recommended to the stake president by their bishop. Bishops are to report their stewardship and the Welfare of their congregations to their stake president.

Stake presidents are charged with fiscal responsibility for the stake. Clerks are called to help with record keeping and payments, but the expenditures of all wards, priesthood quorums, and auxiliary organizations within the stake are the responsibility of the stake president. Financial assistance provided to needy individuals is administered by ward bishops, supervised by the stake president. In addition, since most wards meet in Church-owned buildings, the maintenance and operation of all physical facilities in the stake fall under the auspices of the stake president.

The stake president serves until he is released. As is the case with all callings in the Church, he neither campaigns for the position nor chooses the time of his release.’ (Stake President: The Encyclopaedia of Mormonism)

From the manual:

He carries the very heavy responsibility of seeing that the doctrine taught in the stake is kept pure and unsullied. It is his duty to see that there is no false doctrine that is taught nor false practice that occurs. If there be any Melchizedek Priesthood holder out of line, or any other person for that matter, under some circumstances, he is to counsel with them, and if the individual persists in his or her practice, then the president is obliged to take action. He will summon the offender to appear before a disciplinary council, where action may be taken to assign a probationary period or to disfellowship or excommunicate him or her from the Church.

How can we better support and sustain the Stake President?

7. Bishops are shepherds of the flock.

Read or watch: The Shepherds of the Flock Gordon B Hinckley, General Conference, April 1999

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Read or watch: The Shepherds of Israel Gordon B Hinckley, General Conference, October 2003

From the manual:

The bishops of the Church … are in a very real sense the shepherds of Israel. Everyone [in the Church] is accountable to a bishop or a branch president. Tremendous are the burdens which they carry, and I invite every member of the Church to do all that he or she can to lift the burden under which our bishops and branch presidents labor.

How can we better support and sustain the Bishop?

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2017, self reliance

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 38: “In Mine Own Way”

1. Developing spiritual self-reliance

Watch: The Power of a Personal Testimony – Dieter F Uchtdorf

“Without the gift or revelation, which is one of the gifts or the Holy Ghost, there could be no Church of Jesus Christ. This is apparent from the obvious fact that in order for his Church to exist, there must be a society of people who individually have testimonies that Jesus is the Christ. According to Paul, such testimonies are revealed only by the Holy Ghost, for said he, ‘. . . no man can [know] say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.’ (See 1 Cor. 12:3.) In the 46th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord specifically lists such knowledge as one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, as follows: ‘To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God’ (D & C 46:13.) Everyone who has a testimony of Jesus has received it by revelation from the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a revelator, and everyone who receives him receives revelation.

“Wherever and whenever revelation is operative, manifestations of other gifts of the Holy Ghost are prevalent.” (Marion G Romney, Conference Report, April 1956, Afternoon Meeting 69.)

Read: Valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ – Elder Quentin L Cook

Read: Receiving a testimony of light and truth – President Dieter F Uchtdorf

Read: Personal revelation and testimony – Sister Barbara Thompson

2. Developing temporal self-reliance

See Principles of financial self reliance

‘Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you. ‘ (J Reuben Clark in Conference Report, Apr., 1938)

New attitudes and relationships towards money should be developed constantly by all couples. After all, the partnership should be full and eternal. Management of family finances should be mutual between husband and wife in an attitude of openness and trust. Control of the money by one spouse as a source of power of authority causes inequality in the marriage and is inappropriate. Conversely, if a marriage partner voluntarily removes himself or herself entirely from family financial management, that is an abdication of necessary responsibility. (Marvin J Ashton, One for the Money)

D&C 38:30 If ye are prepared ye shall not fear

‘On a daily basis we witness widely fluctuating inflation; wars; interpersonal conflicts; national disasters; variances in weather conditions; innumerable forces of immorality, crime, and violence; attacks and pressures on the family and individuals; technological advances that make occupations obsolete; and so on. The need for preparation is abundantly clear. The great blessing of being prepared gives us freedom from fear, as guaranteed to us by the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).

Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. Each of us needs to take the time to ask ourselves, What preparation should I make to care for my needs and the needs of my family?

We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.

First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family…

Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements…

Third, avoid excessive debt…It is so easy to allow consumer debt to get out of hand. If you do not have the discipline to control the use of credit cards, it is better not to have them. A well-managed family does not pay interest-it earns it. The definition I received from a wise boss at one time in my early business career was “Thems that understands interest receives it, thems that don’t pays it.”

Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over.’ (Elder L Tom Perry, “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 35-36)

3. Caring for the needy

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Watch: Teachings of George Albert Smith – A Personal Creed – Caring for the Needy This two-minute video discusses Church relief efforts after World War II.

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Watch: That We Might Be One This 12-minute video describes how Dutch Saints overcame hard feelings to serve German Saints after World War II.

Watch: Teachings of Thomas S Monson – Rescuing Those in Need

‘When Jesus Christ came to earth, He spent much of His ministry caring for the poor and needy. Through His Church, the Lord has provided a way for us to care for those in need. He has asked us to give generously according to what we have received from Him. “The Lord’s way of caring for the needy is different from the world’s way. The Lord has said, ‘[Caring for the poor] must needs be done in mine own way.’ He is not only interested in our immediate needs; He is also concerned about our eternal progression. For this reason, the Lord’s way has always included self-reliance and service to our neighbor in addition to caring for the poor”’ (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Providing in the Lord’s Way,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 54).

4. The Church welfare program

Watch: Ministry of Heber J Grant – The Welfare Plan During the Depression years, President Grant receives revelation regarding the implementation and practice of a program that would teaches Church members self-reliance and care for the poor. (1:47)

Watch: Ministry of Harold B Lee – Organizing the Church Welfare Program Harold B. Lee is called to help oversee the Church Welfare Program, following the existing organization and purposes of the priesthood. (2:53)

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Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Prophets

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 37: “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”

1. Our need for a living prophet

Watch: We Need Living Prophets Members of the Church across the world bear testimony of living prophets and apostles and speak of the blessings of peace and hope that arise from that knowledge.

Watch: Gods Words Never Cease Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testifies of the truth of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and continuing revelation from God to His children.

See: Prophets of the Restoration

“The very first [dispensation of the gospel] was in the time of Adam. Then came dispensations of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. Each prophet had a divine commission to teach of the divinity and the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. In each age these teachings were meant to help the people. But their disobedience resulted in apostasy. …

“Thus a complete restoration was required. God the Father and Jesus Christ called upon the Prophet Joseph Smith to be the prophet of this dispensation. All divine powers of previous dispensations were to be restored through him” (Russell M Nelson in Conference Report, Oct. 2006).

“I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal” (Spencer W Kimball in Conference Report, Apr. 1977).

2. The roles of our living prophet

Watch: Watchman on the Tower (Ezekiel 33:1-7) The Lord calls prophets to be the “watchmen” on the tower.

Watch: Ministry of Thomas S Monson – Rebuilding Lives An invitation to write an article for the Washington Post, ten years after the atrocities of 9/11, allows President Thomas S. Monson to speak to the world of forgiveness and hope.

D&C 1:38 Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same

‘I do not believe members of this Church can be in full harmony with the Savior without sustaining His living prophet on the earth, the President of the Church. If we do not sustain the living prophet, whoever he may be, we die spiritually. Ironically, some have died spiritually by exclusively following prophets who have long been dead. Others equivocate in their support of living prophets, trying to lift themselves up by putting down the living prophets, however subtly.

In our lifetime we have been favored with ongoing communication from the heavens, which have been open to the prophets of our time…This process of revelation comes to the Church very frequently. President Wilford Woodruff stated, “This power is in the bosom of Almighty God, and he imparts it to his servants the prophets as they stand in need of it day by day to build up Zion” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 56). This is necessary for the Church to fulfill its mission. Without it, we would fail.’ (James E Faust, “Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 5)

D&C 21:1 A seer, a translator, a prophet

‘A prophet is a teacher of known truth; a seer is a perceiver of hidden truth, a revelator is a bearer of new truth. In the widest sense, the one most commonly used, the title, prophet, includes the other titles and makes of the prophet, a teacher, perceiver, and bearer of truth.’ (John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 258)

D&C 107:91-92 Preside Over the Whole Church

‘The President of the Church directs the use of all of the keys and authority of the priesthood and is the only person who can exercise all of them, even though all of the ordained Apostles hold these keys, some of which are in latent form.

Brethren, I have been a member of the First Presidency for only a few days. It seems as though before I had this calling I had limited vision, but I have now put on glasses that allow me to see more clearly, in a small way, the magnitude of the responsibility of the President of the Church. I am afraid I am like the aristocrat who wore a monocle in one eye. Of him it was said, “He could see more than he could comprehend.” The men who see most clearly the big picture are these giants of the Lord, President Hinckley and President Monson, who have served many years faithfully as counselors to the previous Presidents of the Church.’ (James E Faust, Ensign, May 1995, 47)

3. Heeding the words of our living prophet

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Read: Give Heed Unto the Prophet’s Words Quentin L Cook, April 2008

“We have been promised that the President of the Church, as the revelator for the Church, will receive guidance for all of us. Our safety lies in paying heed to that which he says and following his counsel” (James E Faust, Ensign, Aug. 1996)

“It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters, to have a prophet of God in our midst. … When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt. History shows that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in responding to prophetic counsel as did Nephi of old: ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7).’ (Elder M Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 2001)

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D&C 21:4-6 His Word Ye Shall Receive

‘In other words, the Lord has said it was not only important that there be revelation to his Church through his mouthpiece, the one who held the keys, but his Church must also be founded on personal revelation, that every member of the Church who has been baptized and has received the Holy Ghost must be admonished so to live that each might receive a personal testimony and a witness of the divine calling of him who was called to lead as the President of the Church so that he will accept those words and that counsel as if from the mouth of the Lord himself. Otherwise, the gates of hell would prevail against that individual.’ (Harold B Lee, General Conference, April 1953)

4. Latter-day prophets’ example of Christlike love

Watch: Teachings of Spencer W Kimball – Man of Compassion Elder Spencer W. Kimball blesses a tiny Native American boy in Denver, Colorado. (0:56)

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Love for the People While preparing for a ground-breaking ceremony, President Hinckley learns that an old missionary companion is in the audience. He seeks him out. (1:31)

Watch: Teachings of Thomas S Monson- Rescuing Those in Need Bishop Thomas Monson and his ward welcome a poor German family into their community, providing them with housing, warmth, and food for Christmas. (5:01)

Teachings of Joseph Smith:

A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. (History of the Church, 4:227.)

It is a duty which every Saint ought to render to his brethren freely—to always love them, and ever succor them. (History of the Church, 2:229)

Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (History of the Church, 5:23–24 (9 June 1842))

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 36: “The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom as the Rose”

1. “Right here will stand the temple of our God.”

A side view of the Salt Lake Temple and grounds, including a fountain and trees.

 

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – The Master Builder

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Temple Building 

The construction of temples across the globe allows the blessings of the temple to attend LDS families wherever they reside. (1:57)

‘Two days after the first company’s arrival, Brigham Young and several of the Twelve climbed a round bluff on the mountainside that President Young had seen in vision before leaving Nauvoo. They looked out over the valley’s vast expanse and prophesied that all nations of the world would be welcome in this place and that here the Saints would enjoy prosperity and peace. They named the hill Ensign Peak after the scripture in Isaiah that promised, “He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel” (Isaiah 11:12).

President Young’s first public act, on 28 July 1847, was to select a central site for a temple and put men to work planning its design and construction. Placing his cane on the chosen spot he said, “Here we shall build a temple to our God.” This declaration must have comforted the Saints, who only a short time before had been forced to discontinue temple worship when they left Nauvoo.’ (Our Heritage)

“The next morning he and the Twelve who came with him took a walk. He had been quite feeble, but he was then able to walk with the assistance of his staff. We walked along until we came to this Temple Block. It was covered with sagebrush. There was no mark to indicate that God ever intended to place anything there. But while walking along Brother Brigham stopped very suddenly. He stuck his cane in the ground and said, ‘Right here will stand the great Temple of our God.’ We drove a stake in the place indicated by him, and that particular spot is situated in the middle of the Temple site” (Wilford Woodruff, Collected Discourses, Vol. 5, delivered on April 6, 1992).

“The pioneers were hungry and weary; they needed food and rest; a hostile desert looked them in the face; yet in the midst of such physical requirements they turned first to the building of temples and to the spiritual food and strength that the temples provide.” (Elder John A Widtsoe, Conf. Rpt., Apr. 1943, 38).

2. The Saints were obedient as they settled and colonized the Salt Lake Valley and the surrounding areas.

D&C 58:2-4 Faithful in tribulation

“If the Saints could realize things as they are when they are called to pass through trials, and to suffer what they call sacrifices, they would acknowledge them to be the greatest blessings that could be bestowed upon them” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 345).

A portrait painting by A. Westwood of President John Taylor wearing a black suit and sitting in a chair.

D&C 64:33 Be not weary in well-doing

‘A major reason this church has grown from its humble beginnings to its current strength is the faithfulness and devotion of millions of humble and devoted [members]… He encourages us to “be not weary in well-doing, for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” May we be faithful in fulfilling the duties of whatever calling we have in the kingdom. Let us pay heed to the “small things” that make all the difference. Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments as we have made sacred covenants to do. As our heritage and our growth clearly show, we are, indeed, “laying the foundation of a great work.”

Let us dedicate ourselves to doing the Lord’s work to the best of our abilities. May we honor the faith of our fathers by giving our own faithful service to this great cause.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Faith of Our Fathers,” Ensign, May 1996, 34)

3. Missionaries made sacrifices to teach the gospel throughout the world.

‘With the hum of labor and domestic life filling the air, President Brigham Young turned to the concerns of the Church. At the general conference held on 6 October 1849, he assigned several members of the Twelve, along with newly called missionaries, to serve foreign missions. They accepted these calls even though they would leave behind their families, their new homes, and many unfinished tasks. Erastus Snow and several elders opened missionary work in Scandinavia, while Lorenzo Snow and Joseph Toronto traveled to Italy. Addison and Louisa Barnes Pratt returned to Addison’s former field of labor in the Society Islands. John Taylor was called to France and Germany. As the missionaries traveled east, they passed Saints headed to the new Zion in the Rocky Mountains.

In their fields of labor, the missionaries witnessed miracles and baptized many people into the Church. When Lorenzo Snow, who later became President of the Church, was preaching in Italy, he saw a three-year-old boy on the verge of death. He recognized an opportunity to heal the child and open the hearts of the people in the area. That night he prayed long and earnestly for God’s direction, and the following day he and his companion fasted and prayed for the boy. That afternoon they administered to him and offered a silent prayer for help in their labors. The boy slept peacefully all night and was miraculously healed. Word of this healing spread across the valleys of the Piedmont in Italy. The doors were opened to the missionaries, and the first baptisms in the area took place.5

In August 1852, at a special conference held in Salt Lake City, 106 elders were called to go on missions to countries throughout the world. These missionaries, as well as those who were called later, preached the gospel in South America, China, India, Spain, Australia, Hawaii, and the South Pacific. In most of these areas, the missionaries had little initial success. However, they sowed seeds that resulted in many coming into the Church in later missionary efforts.

Elder Edward Stevenson was called to the Gibraltar Mission in Spain. This call meant a return to the place of his birth, where he boldly proclaimed the restored gospel to his countrymen. He was arrested for preaching and spent some time in jail until authorities found he was teaching the guards, almost converting one of them. After his release he baptized two people into the Church and by January 1854 a branch of ten members had been organized. In July, even though six members had left to serve with the British army in Asia, the branch had eighteen members, including one seventy, one elder, one priest, and one teacher, giving the branch the leadership it needed to continue to grow.6

Local governments in French Polynesia drove the missionaries out in 1852. But the converted Saints kept the Church alive until further proselyting efforts in 1892. Elders Tihoni and Maihea were especially valiant as they endured imprisonment and other ordeals rather than deny their faith. Each of them tried to keep the Saints active and faithful to the gospel.7

For those who joined the Church outside the United States, this was a time for gathering to Zion, which meant traveling by boat to America. Elizabeth and Charles Wood sailed in 1860 from South Africa, where they had labored several years to acquire money for their travel. Elizabeth kept house for a wealthy man, and her husband made bricks until they obtained the needed funds. Elizabeth was carried aboard the ship on a bed 24 hours after delivering a son and was given the captain’s berth so she could be more comfortable. She was very ill during the journey, almost dying twice, but lived to settle in Fillmore, Utah.

Missionaries became very dear to the Saints in the countries where they served. Joseph F. Smith, near the end of his mission to Hawaii in 1857, became ill with a high fever that prevented him from working for three months. He was blessed to come under the care of Ma Mahuhii, a faithful Hawaiian Saint. She nursed Joseph as if he were her own son, and a strong bond of love developed between the two. Years later, when he was President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith visited Honolulu and just after his arrival saw an old blind woman being led in with a few choice bananas in her hand as an offering. He heard her call, “Iosepa, Iosepa” (Joseph, Joseph). Immediately he ran to her and hugged and kissed her many times, patting her on the head and saying, “Mama, Mama, my dear old Mama.”’ (Our Heritage)

Read: Sacrifice – Missionary Style Elder Adney Y Komatsu

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 35: “A Mission of Saving”

A painting by Clark Kelley Price depicting two members from the Martin handcart company laying one of their dead into a grave surrounded by snow.

1. President Brigham Young guided the rescue of the Martin and Willie handcart companies.

A painting by Clark Kelley Price illustrating a young man walking through the icy Sweetwater River carrying a child wrapped in a blanket.

See: Five Things You May Not Know About the Handcart Rescue

Read: How the Rescue of Handcart Pioneers Helped Revive the Relief Society

‘In the 1850s Church leaders decided to form handcart companies as a way to reduce expenses so that financial aid could be extended to the greatest number of emigrants. Saints who traveled this way put only 100 pounds of flour and a limited quantity of provisions and belongings into a cart and then pulled the cart across the plains. Between 1856 and 1860, ten handcart companies traveled to Utah. Eight of the companies reached the Salt Lake Valley successfully, but two of them, the Martin and Willie handcart companies, were caught in an early winter and many Saints among them perished.

Nellie Pucell, a pioneer in one of these ill-fated companies, turned ten years old on the plains. Both her parents died during the journey. As the group neared the mountains, the weather was bitter cold, the rations were depleted, and the Saints were too weak from hunger to continue on. Nellie and her sister collapsed. When they had almost given up hope, the leader of the company came to them in a wagon. He placed Nellie in the wagon and told Maggie to walk along beside it, holding on to steady herself. Maggie was fortunate because the forced movement saved her from frostbite.

When they reached Salt Lake City and Nellie’s shoes and stockings, which she had worn across the plains, were removed, the skin came off with them as a result of frostbite. This brave girl’s feet were painfully amputated and she walked on her knees the rest of her life. She later married and gave birth to six children, keeping up her own house and raising a fine posterity.10 Her determination in spite of her situation and the kindness of those who cared for her exemplify the faith and willingness to sacrifice of these early Church members. Their example is a legacy of faith to all Saints who follow them.

A man who crossed the plains in the Martin handcart company lived in Utah for many years. One day he was in a group of people who began sharply criticizing the Church leaders for ever allowing the Saints to cross the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart company provided. The old man listened until he could stand no more; then he arose and said with great emotion:

“I was in that company and my wife was in it. … We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? … [We] came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.

“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”’ (Handcart Pioneers in Our Heritage)

2. The Savior rescues us through His atoning sacrifice.

“I remember reading about a fire fighter in the eastern United States who ran into a burning house to rescue several children from an arson-induced fire. While his colleagues battled the blaze to keep it from spreading to other structures in the neighbor-hood, this man dashed into the building again and again, each time emerging with a child in his arms. After rescuing the fifth child, he started back into the inferno once more. Neighbors shouted that there were no more children in the family. But he insisted that he had seen a baby in a cradle, and he dove into the intensifying heat.

“Moments after he disappeared into the fire and smoke, a horrifying explosion shook the building and the entire structure collapsed. It was several hours before fire fighters were able to locate their colleague’s body. They found him in the nursery near the crib, huddled protectively over a life sized—and practically unscratched—doll.

“As I think about such heroism, however, I’m reminded that the most heroic act of all time ever was performed in behalf of all mankind by the Son of God. In a very real sense, all of humanity—past, present, and future—was trapped behind a wall of flame that was fueled and fanned by our own faithlessness. Sin separated mortals from God (see Romans 6:23), and would do so forever unless a way was found to put out the fires of sin and rescue us from ourselves”  (Cited in Our Search for Happiness: M. Russell Ballard, p. 11).

D&C 18:11-12 He suffered the pain of all men

“The results of childhood abuse, whether sexual, physical, or emotional, can be devastating…Truly the Atonement plays the crucial role in the healing process as people with broken hearts and scarred spirits realize they are not alone in their pain and that the Savior has provided a way for them to find peace.

“‘In October 1995 I was sitting in a chapel listening to general conference,’ remembers one woman. ‘Elder Jeffrey Holland spoke on remembering the Lord during the passing of the sacrament…he said, `To those who stagger or stumble, he is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end he is there to save us, and for all this he gave his life` (“This Do in Remembrance of Me,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69).

“‘I was amazed. I knew Jesus Christ had given his life to pay for the sins of the world. But I did not know the Savior had given his life for the pains, abuse, and tearful suffering we all have to endure in this life, oftentimes as innocent victims of terrible circumstances far beyond our own control.

“‘I raced home after conference in order to look up scriptures about this aspect of the Savior’s Crucifixion. I found a wonderful scripture: Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

“‘For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him (D&C 18:10-11). He did not suffer just for people’s sins; he also suffered their pains. What a powerful message that was to my heart to learn he had suffered for those of us who had been abused. I can honestly say that my healing began on that day.'” (“The Journey to Healing,” Ensign, Sept. 1997, 19-20)

3. As Latter-day Saints, we are to rescue those in need.

Watch: Tried in All Things (D&C 136:29-33) Elder Maxwell explains how the Saints will be tried in all things. (1:47)

Watch: Ministering (2014/15 Auxiliary Training)

D&C 4:3 If Ye Have Desires

‘Actually, everything depends-initially and finally-on our desires. These shape our thought patterns. Our desires thus precede our deeds and lie at the very cores of our souls, tilting us toward or away from God (see D&C 4:3).’ (Neal A Maxwell, “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 23)

D&C 18:10-16 The Worth of Souls is Great

“And how are we to determine the value of souls? This matter has been determined for us also by revelation. The souls of men are so precious in the sight of God that He gave to the world His Only Begotten Son, that by the shedding of His blood He might draw all men unto Him. That is why the great Prophet of this dispensation, Joseph Smith, and these others, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the rest, were called to bring souls unto Christ. And if one of these men should labor all his days, and bring save it be but one soul unto Christ, and that one should be his wife, what great joy he would have with his wife in heaven. Then if he should labor all his days and bring unto Christ the souls of his wife and his children, and none else perchance, how great would be his joy in heaven with his wife and children.” (Rudger Clawson In Conference Report, Apr. 1901, pp. 7–8.)

D&C 52:40 Remember in All Things the Poor and Needy

‘That one cannot be a true disciple of Christ without significant giving is dramatically emphasized in the revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, on June 7, 1831. In this revelation, the Lord directed twenty-eight of the elders to travel two by two from Kirtland to Jackson County, Missouri. They were to go by different routes, preaching the gospel as they went. You will recall that they were destitute in those days and had to travel through primitive country. Joseph Smith and his immediate companions “journeyed by wagon and stage and occasionally by canal boat to Cincinnati, Ohio,” then to Louisville, Kentucky, and on to St. Louis by steamer. “From this city on the Mississippi, the Prophet of God walked across the entire state of Missouri to Independence, Jackson County, a distance of nearly three hundred miles as traveled.” (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1958, p. 117.) I call these facts to your attention that you may have in mind the background against which the Lord said to these men as they started, “Remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C 52:40.) Imagine that! These elders were nearly destitute and the Lord said, “Remember … the poor and the needy.”‘ (Marion G Romney, “Living Welfare Principles,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 92)

Posted in Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley, virtue

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 18: Virtue—a Cornerstone on Which to Build Our Lives

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

What is the meaning of President Hinckley’s ‘parable’ of the Key Bank Building?

1. Virtuous living brings marvelous and wonderful blessings.

See: Christ-like attributes – Virtue

From the manual:

Is there a valid case for virtue? It is the only way to freedom from regret. The peace of conscience which flows therefrom is the only personal peace that is not counterfeit.

How might you respond to someone who argues that there is not a valid case for virtue?

‘In our journey toward eternal life, purity must be our constant aim. To walk and talk with God, to serve with God, to follow his example and become as a god, we must attain perfection. In his presence there can be no guile, no wickedness, no transgression. In numerous scriptures he has made it clear that all worldliness, evil and weakness must be dropped before we can ascend unto “the hill of the Lord.”‘ (Spencer W Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], chap. 2)

2. When we rise above the filth and immorality of the world, we enjoy greater happiness, security, and peace of mind.

Watch: Shun immorality President Hinckley encourages church members to avoid the immorality we have in the world today.

Image result for When we rise above the filth and immorality of the world, we enjoy greater happiness, security, and peace of mind.

From the manual:

We believe in chastity before marriage and total fidelity after marriage. That sums it up. That is the way to happiness in living. That is the way to satisfaction. It brings peace to the heart and peace to the home.

Why is chastity “the way to happiness in living”?

3. Pornography is addictive and destructive, but we can rise above it.

Image result for Pornography is addictive and destructive, but we can rise above it.

From the manual:

You live in a world of terrible temptations. Pornography, with its sleazy filth, sweeps over the earth like a horrible, engulfing tide. It is poison. Do not watch it or read it. It will destroy you if you do. It will take from you your self-respect. It will rob you of a sense of the beauties of life. It will tear you down and pull you into a slough of evil thoughts and possibly of evil actions. Stay away from it. Shun it as you would a foul disease, for it is just as deadly. Be virtuous in thought and in deed.

How can we find the strength to be virtuous in though and dead in this world of terrible temptations?

4. With discipline and effort, we can control our thoughts and actions.

“The pain of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.” Anonymous

Image result for With discipline and effort, we can control our thoughts and actions.

From the manual:

Mental control must be stronger than physical appetites or desires of the flesh. As thoughts are brought into complete harmony with revealed truth, actions will then become appropriate. … Each of us, with discipline and effort, has the capacity to control our thoughts and our actions. This is part of the process of developing spiritual, physical, and emotional maturity.

What are some practical things we can do to keep our thoughts clean?

5. Those who have been involved in immoral behavior can be forgiven and can rise above the past.

Watch: Return to Virtue Elaine S. Dalton, a leader of the Young Women organization, urges young people to develop the strength that comes from living a virtuous life.

From the manual:

Let me … assure you that if you have made a mistake, if you have become involved in any immoral behavior, all is not lost. Memory of that mistake will likely linger, but the deed can be forgiven, and you can rise above the past to live a life fully acceptable unto the Lord where there has been repentance. He has promised that He will forgive your sins and remember them no more against you (see D&C 58:42).

“When you have fully repented, you feel an inner peace. You know somehow you are forgiven because the burden you have carried for so long, all of a sudden isn’t there anymore. It is gone and you know it is gone” (Elder F Burton Howard, in Conference Report, Apr. 1983)

Posted in Learning, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 17: Continue in the Great Process of Learning

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

President Hinckley’s fellow servants in Church leadership marveled at his gift for accumulating knowledge and applying it in his work. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed: “I have never met an individual who can become so well informed through reading and through contact with people. When he spends an evening at dinner with someone, he leaves knowing something about that individual’s expertise.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, said: “What makes President Hinckley unique is that he remembers what he has read and distills that which he wishes to retain. His is an integrated intellect. He can draw upon what he knows to make prudent decisions.”

How can we make accumulating knowledge and applying it in our work a lifelong habit?

1. The Lord wants us to educate ourselves so we can progress individually and contribute to society.

From the manual:

The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. … You will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training.

How can learning and training bless us and also bring honour to the Church?

Many years ago the US government placed agents throughout the country to help farmers learn to be more productive. One agent in the South went to visit an old farmer in his area, but he found that convincing the farmer to change proved rather difficult.

He asked the farmer, “Wouldn’t you like to know how to get your cows to give more milk?”

“Nope,” the farmer replied.

“Well, wouldn’t you like your pigs to have larger litters of baby pigs?”

Again the farmer answered, “Nope.”

“Well, wouldn’t you like to learn how to get more corn per acre?”

The same answer was given as before: “Nope.”

Exasperated, the county agent asked, “Well, why not?”

The farmer replied simply, “I already knows more than I does.”

2. With planning and self-discipline, parents can create an atmosphere of learning in their homes.

Image result for The Lord wants us to educate ourselves so we can progress individually and contribute to society.

From the manual:

Begin early in exposing children to books. The mother who fails to read to her small children does a disservice to them and a disservice to herself. It takes time, yes, much of it. It takes self-discipline. It takes organizing and budgeting the minutes and hours of the day. But it will never be a bore as you watch young minds come to know characters, expressions, and ideas. Good reading can become a love affair, far more fruitful in long term effects than many other activities in which children use their time. 

1. Read to your child starting at an early age. Many people have fond memories of their parents reading them bedtime stories, and reading to your child will help foster a love of words and reading.

2. Fill your child’s room with books. Kids who grow up with books all around them learn to think of books as friends and allies in their pursuit of adventure and learning.

3. Be a good reading “role model” for your children. Let them see you reading, and how much you enjoy reading books and magazines.

4. As your children grow, introduce them to books that match their interests and hobbies. Show them how a good book can expand their knowledge in a particular area, and expand their horizons as well.

5. Encourage your child to find new books on their own to read. While showing your child books is a good way to build their interest level, a child who finds new books on their own can benefit from an increased sense of independence.

6. Get your child a library card. Show them how a library can be a place of wonder and excitement, and can open up whole new worlds of learning to last a lifetime. And then put the library in your schedule, so you will be sure to visit frequently together.

7. Offer to reward your children if they read. For example, if your child reads 30 minutes every day for a week, offer to give them their favourite treat.

3. Education unlocks the door of opportunity for youth and young adults.

Image result for Education unlocks the door of opportunity for youth and young adults.

From the manual:

It is so important that you young men and you young women get all of the education that you can. … Education is the key which will unlock the door of opportunity for you. It is worth sacrificing for. It is worth working at, and if you educate your mind and your hands, you will be able to make a great contribution to the society of which you are a part, and you will be able to reflect honorably on the Church of which you are a member. My dear young brothers and sisters, take advantage of every educational opportunity that you can possibly afford, and you fathers and mothers, encourage your sons and daughters to gain an education which will bless their lives.

How does education “unlock the door of opportunity” for youth and young adults?

‘You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field.’  (Gordon B Hinckley, “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” New Era, Jan. 2001, 8)

4. The schooling of the spirit is as important, if not more so, than the schooling of the mind.

Watch: Elder and Sister Bednar – Secular and Spiritual Learning Elder and Sister Bednar talk about developing the desire to learn. (7:20)

From the manual:

Each day we are made increasingly aware of the fact that life is more than science and mathematics, more than history and literature. There is need for another education, without which the substance of secular learning may lead only to destruction. I refer to the education of the heart, of the conscience, of the character, of the spirit—these indefinable aspects of our personalities which determine so certainly what we are and what we do in our relationships one with another.

How can we educate the heart, character, and spirit?

“Spiritual learning takes precedence. The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is … like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow. … One need not choose between the two … for there is opportunity to get both simultaneously” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 390).

5. No matter how old we grow, we can acquire knowledge, gather wisdom, and keep on growing.

Watch: The Glory of God is Intelligence Seeking learning is a lifelong pursuit and one that increases our ability to serve the Lord. (3:17)

From the manual:

Education is the great conversion process under which abstract knowledge becomes useful and productive activity. It is something that need never stop. No matter how old we grow, we can acquire knowledge and use it. We can gather wisdom and profit from it. We can be entertained through the miracle of reading and exposure to the arts and add to the blessing and fulfillment of living. The older I grow, the more I enjoy the words of thoughtful writers, ancient and modern, and the savoring of that which they have written.

What have you learned recently that has been especially valuable to you?

‘It is never too late to learn. I believe this with all my heart. Sister Hinckley and I are growing old. We are in our mid-80s. I am constantly amazed at what a voracious reader she is. She reads two newspapers a day, goes through magazines, is an ardent student of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, and I saw her the other evening reading a lengthy biography.

I know of no other practice which will make one more attractive in conversation than to be well-read in a variety of subjects. Said the Lord to you and to me: “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. … Organize yourselves. … Cease to be idle” (D&C 88:118-119, 124).

The best books are the scriptures. Said the Lord: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Read the Church magazines. There are many other worthwhile things to read. Reading will sharpen your mind. It will clean up your intellect. It will improve your speech to get into the thoughts of the great men and women of the ages, including those of our own age.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “A Conversation with Single Adults,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 62)

Read: The Journey of Lifelong Learning – Elder Robert D Hales

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Faith, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Leadership

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 34: Faith in Every Footstep

1. The Lord instructed the Saints regarding their physical preparations for their journey.

Section 136, … Brigham Young’s only canonized revelation, was proclaimed on 14 January 1847 in the depths of a very cold winter and at a most trying moment in Church history. Having been driven from their comfortable homes and their glorious temple in Nauvoo, some twelve thousand Latter-day Saints huddled in various makeshift settlements, including Winter Quarters in Nebraska Territory on Indian lands just west of the Missouri River; Council Bluffs (Kingsville), Iowa Territory; other communities stretching along the Missouri River as far south as St. Louis; and temporary settlements such as Mt. Pisgah and Garden Grove, along the trail from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley. Some five hundred of the Saints’ most able men had been called into service by the United States Army of the West and were then marching to the Pacific coast as the Mormon Battalion. Church members were largely uprooted and spread out on their way west in a full-scale exodus of man and beast to a new Zion in some valley of the Rocky Mountains.

During the winter of 1847, the Quorum of the Twelve and others counseled together on how best to move the large body of Saints to the Great Basin. While they were discussing how they should travel in companies with presidencies over each company and captains of hundreds, fifties, and tens (as did the ancient Israelites under Moses; Deuteronomy 1:15), Brigham Young received this revelation. (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, (2012), p.856)

Read: Revelations in Context: This Shall Be Our Covenant

This article shows how difficulties crossing Iowa helped lead to the Lord revealing what is now known as Doctrine and Covenants 136.

‘[D&C 136] was read to each quorum in the area and sustained as the word of the Lord to them. Copies were made and members of the Twelve and the local high councils traveled to all the other camps, read the revelation, and obtained sustaining votes. Thus, the revelation was canonized by the Saints within days of its reception and is evidence that these people were committed to the leadership of Brigham Young and the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Furthermore, the revelation transformed their travels and travails from a mere westward departure into an exodus of modern Israel with divine design and purpose. Spelling out the revised organization by which they would begin to travel west of the Missouri through hostile Indian country, the revelation was at once a resolution and an explanation, a vindication and a promise.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, (2012), p.856)

D&C 136:1–3. How Was the Camp of Israel Organized?

Smith and Sjodahl wrote: “The Saints were driven from their homes in Nauvoo under the most trying circumstances and in poverty and destitution in large measure, for they had been robbed by their enemies. Therefore it was extremely needful for a revelation from the Lord for their guidance in their journeyings to the Rocky Mountains. The Lord did not fail them in this hour of distress and gave this revelation to President Brigham Young to guide them in their journeyings and admonishing them to keep His commandments. All the members of the Church were to be organized in companies and were required to keep the commandments faithfully that they might have the guidance of His Spirit with them in all their trying circumstances. These companies were to be on the order followed by Zion’s Camp in their remarkable march from Kirtland to Missouri, with captains, over hundreds, fifties and tens and all under the direction of the council of Apostles.” (Commentary, p. 857.)

D&C 136:6 When the companies are organized let them… prepare for those who are to tarry

“In accord with a 14 January 1847 revelation (see D&C 136), President Young organized the Saints carefully into companies of 100, 50, and 10 (meaning people in this case, not wagons). He served as company president and main captain, aided by 2 captains of 100, 5 captains of 50, and 14 captains of 10. Their story is one of ‘organization, foresight, and discipline,’ wrote one historian, saying that they stopped more days for Sabbath worship than for delays caused by travel hazards.

“For half their journey, this advance, exploratory company followed the north side of the Platte River. Later travelers joked that the lazy Platte was ‘a mile wide and an inch deep, too thin to plow, too thick to drink.’ As much as possible, they followed somewhat established trails, smoothing and improving the way for following pioneer companies and only occasionally blazing new trail segments.” (William G. Hartley, “Gathering the Dispersed Nauvoo Saints, 1847-1852,” Ensign, July 1997, 19)

2. The Lord instructed the Saints regarding their conduct.

D&C 136:18–27. Zion Will Be Redeemed

Smith and Sjodahl wrote that “the members of the Church had been disappointed, if not discouraged, because Zion had not been redeemed. No doubt it was trying to the faith of some to be on the way to the unknown region of the Rocky Mountains. All that they had heard of this territory was discouraging and the redemption of Zion seemed farther away than ever from fulfillment. Now they were to take courage, for the Lord had not forgotten Zion, and it should be redeemed in the due time of the Lord. It was well, therefore, for the members to obey counsel and not seek to build themselves at the expense of others; should this be done they would lose the reward. The Lord would lead them as he led the children of Israel, and he was just as mindful of the Saints today as he was then. Every man should respect the rights and property of the rest, and all should be wise stewards.” (Commentary, p. 860.)

D&C 136:21 Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain

‘In the revelation given to President Brigham Young on January 14, 1847, while the Saints were preparing to leave Winter Quarters for these valleys in the West, the Lord said to them, “Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain, for I am the Lord your God, even the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob” (D&C 136:21).

In a general epistle to the entire Church issued by the First Presidency on April 8, 1887, a hundred years ago, they said concerning this problem, which evidently was serious then as it is now, “The habit … , which some young people fall into, of using vulgarity and profanity … is not only offensive to well-bred persons, but it is a gross sin in the sight of God, and should not exist among the children of the Latter-day Saints” (in Messages of the First Presidency, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75, 3:112-13).

I once worked with a group of railroad men who seemed to pride themselves on the use of profanity. They tried to make an art of it. I recall handing a written instruction to a switchman. It was his job to take care of the matter as instructed, but he thought it inconvenient that he should have to do so at that time. On reading the order, he flew into a tantrum. He was a fifty-year-old man, but he acted like a spoiled child. He threw his cap on the ground and jumped on it and let forth such a string of expletives as to seem to cause the air to turn blue around him. Every third or fourth word was the name of Deity spoken in vain.

I thought, how childish can a grown man be? The very idea of a man acting and speaking like that was totally repugnant. I could never again give him my full respect.

When I was a small boy in the first grade, I experienced what I thought was a rather tough day at school. I came home, walked in the house, threw my book on the kitchen table, and let forth an expletive that included the name of the Lord.

My mother was shocked. She told me quietly, but firmly, how wrong I was. She told me that I could not have words of that kind coming out of my mouth. She led me by the hand into the bathroom, where she took from the shelf a clean washcloth, put it under the faucet, and then generously coated it with soap. She said, “We’ll have to wash out your mouth.” She told me to open it, and I did so reluctantly. Then she rubbed the soapy washcloth around my tongue and teeth. I sputtered and fumed and felt like swearing again, but I didn’t. I rinsed and rinsed my mouth, but it was a long while before the soapy taste was gone. In fact, whenever I think of that experience, I can still taste the soap. The lesson was worthwhile. I think I can say that I have tried to avoid using the name of the Lord in vain since that day. I am grateful for that lesson.

On one occasion, Jesus said to the multitude, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matt. 15:11).’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Take Not the Name of God in Vain,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 45-46)

D&C 136:23 cease to speak evil one of another

‘Faultfinding, evil speaking, and backbiting are obviously unchristian. The Bible commands us to avoid “evil speakings.” (See 1 Pet. 2:1.) It tells us to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you.” (Eph. 4:31.) Modern revelations direct us to avoid “backbiting,” “evil speaking,” and “find[ing] fault one with another.” (See D&C 20:53-54; D&C 42:27; D&C 88:124; and D&C 136:23.)

We are given these commandments for a reason. The Apostle Paul advised the Saints to “grieve not the holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30) by evil speaking. Of faultfinders, President Brigham Young said, “The Spirit of God has no place in [such] persons.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:13.) The primary reason we are commanded to avoid criticism is to preserve our own spiritual well-being, not to protect the person whom we would criticize.

Elder George Albert Smith said this about criticism: “Aren’t we rather prone to see the limitations and the weaknesses of our neighbors? Yet that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a class of people who find fault and criticize always in a destructive way. There is a difference in criticism. If we can criticize constructively under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, we may change beneficially and properly some of the things that are being done. But if we have the spirit of faultfinding, of pointing out the weaknesses and failings of others in a destructive manner, that never comes as the result of the companionship of the Spirit of our Heavenly Father and is always harmful.”‘ (Dallin H Oaks, “Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 68)

 

3. Under the direction of President Brigham Young, the Saints journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley.

A painting by Glen S. Hopkinson depicting Joseph F. Smith as a young man walking next to the oxen pulling their wagon, with his mother, Mary Fielding Smith, following close behind.

Watch: Learning Through Trials  Elder Robert D Hales

A painting by Jonathan Leo Fairbanks illustrating a man standing by a tree and looking down at Winter Quarters while a woman places green leaves on a grave, with a child standing close by.

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – A Visionary Leader

A painting by Clark Kelley Price depicting two members from the Martin handcart company laying one of their dead into a grave surrounded by snow.

‘On 21 July 1847, Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow of the first pioneer company preceded the emigrants into the Salt Lake Valley. They saw grass so deep that a person could wade through it, promising land for farming, and several creeks that wandered through the valley. Three days later, President Brigham Young, who was ill with mountain fever, was driven in his carriage to the mouth of a canyon that opened onto the valley. As President Young looked over the scene, he gave his prophetic benediction to their travels: “It is enough. This is the right place.”

As the Saints who followed emerged from the mountains, they, too, gazed at their promised land! This valley with its salty lake gleaming in the western sun was the object of vision and prophecy, the land of which they and thousands after them dreamed. This was their land of refuge, where they would become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.

Several years later, a convert from England, Jean Rio Griffiths Baker, recorded her feelings as she viewed Salt Lake City for the first time. “The city … is laid out in squares or blocks as they call them here; each containing ten acres and divided into eight lots, each lot having one house. I stood and looked, I can hardly analyze my feelings, but I think my prevailing ones were joy and gratitude for the protecting care had over me and mine during our long and perilous journey.”’ (This is the Right Place in Our Heritage)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 33: President Brigham Young Leads the Saints

1. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the Twelve the keys of the kingdom and taught the principles of succession in the Presidency.

Image result for The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the Twelve the keys of the kingdom and taught the principles of succession in the Presidency.

Watch: Succession in the Presidency President Hinckley teaches about succession in the Presidency. (2:13)

D&C 107:22-24 Equal in authority and power

‘With reference to this subject, the fourth President of the Church, Wilford Woodruff, made a few observations in a letter to President Heber J. Grant, then a member of the Twelve, under date of March 28, 1887. I quote from that letter: “. . . when the President of the Church dies, who then is the Presiding Authority of the Church? It is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (ordained and organized by the revelations of God and none else). Then while these Twelve Apostles preside over the Church, who is the President of the Church [?] It is the President of the Twelve Apostles. And he is virtually as much the President of the Church while presiding over Twelve men as he is when organized as the Presidency of the Church, and presiding over two men.” And this principle has been carried out now for 140 years—ever since the organization of the Church. Then President Woodruff continued:

“As far as I am concerned it would require . . . a revelation from the same God who had organized the church and guided it by inspiration in the channel in which it has travelled for 57 years, before I could give my vote or influence to depart from the paths followed by the Apostles since the organization of the Church and followed by the inspiration of Almighty God, for the past 57 years, by the apostles, as recorded in the history of the Church.”‘ (Harold B Lee, General Conference, April 1970)

Read: The Kingdom of God Will Roll On: Succession in the Presidency Brent Top and Lawrence R Flake, Ensign, August 1996

2. After Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, the Twelve presided over the Church until Brigham Young was sustained as President.

A painted portrait of President Brigham Young wearing a black suit, by George Martin Ottinger.

Watch: Preparation of Brigham Young: Preparation of a Leader 

‘When the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in Carthage Jail, many of the Quorum of the Twelve and other Church leaders were serving missions and were absent from Nauvoo. Several days passed before these men learned of the deaths. When Brigham Young heard the news, he knew that the keys of priesthood leadership were still with the Church, for these keys had been given to the Quorum of the Twelve. However, not all Church members understood who would replace Joseph Smith as the Lord’s prophet, seer, and revelator.

Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, arrived from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 3 August 1844. In the year before this time, he had begun taking a course contrary to the counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith and had become estranged from the Church. He refused to meet with the three members of the Twelve already in Nauvoo and instead spoke to a large group of the Saints assembled for their Sunday worship service. He told them of a vision he had received in which he had learned that no one could replace Joseph Smith. He said that a guardian to the Church should be appointed and that guardian should be Sidney Rigdon. Few Saints supported him.

Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, did not return to Nauvoo until 6 August 1844. He declared that he wanted only to know “what God says” about who should lead the Church.19 The Twelve called a meeting for Thursday, 8 August 1844. Sidney Rigdon spoke in the morning session for more than one hour. He won few if any adherents to his position.

Brigham Young then spoke briefly, comforting the hearts of the Saints. As Brigham spoke, George Q. Cannon remembered, “it was the voice of Joseph himself,” and “it seemed in the eyes of the people as if it were the very person of Joseph which stood before them.”20 William C. Staines testified that Brigham Young spoke like the voice of the Prophet Joseph. “I thought it was he,” Staines said, “and so did thousands who heard it.”21 Wilford Woodruff also recalled that wonderful moment and wrote, “If I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is no one that could have convinced me that it was not Joseph Smith, and anyone can testify to this who was acquainted with these two men.”22 This miraculous manifestation, seen by many, made clear to the Saints that the Lord had chosen Brigham Young to succeed Joseph Smith as leader of the Church.

In the afternoon session, Brigham Young again spoke, testifying that the Prophet Joseph had ordained the Apostles to hold the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world. He prophesied that those who did not follow the Twelve would not prosper and that only the Apostles would be victorious in building up the kingdom of God.

Following his talk, President Young asked Sidney Rigdon to talk, but he chose not to. Following remarks by William W. Phelps and Parley P. Pratt, Brigham Young spoke again. He talked of completing the Nauvoo Temple, obtaining the endowment before going into the wilderness, and the importance of the scriptures. He spoke of his love for Joseph Smith and his affection for the Prophet’s family. The Saints then voted unanimously in favor of the Twelve Apostles as leaders of the Church.

While a few others would claim a right to the Presidency of the Church, for most Latter-day Saints the succession crisis was over. Brigham Young, the senior Apostle and President of the Quorum of the Twelve, was the man God had chosen to lead his people, and the people had united to sustain him.’ (Succession in the Presidency in Our Heritage)

3. Before leaving Nauvoo, the Saints received temple ordinances.

A back and side view of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple in the evening, with an orange and pink sunset filling the sky overhead.

“Notwithstanding that I had announced that we would not attend to the administration of the ordinances, the House of the Lord was thronged all day, the anxiety being so great to receive, as if the brethren would have us stay here and continue the endowments until our way would be hedged up, and our enemies would intercept us. But I informed the brethren that this was not wise, and that we should build more Temples, and have further opportunities to receive the blessings of the Lord, as soon as the saints were prepared to receive them. In this Temple we have been abundantly rewarded, if we receive no more. I also informed the brethren that I was going to get my wagons started and be off. I walked some distance from the Temple supposing the crowd would disperse, but on returning I found the house filled to overflowing.

“Looking upon the multitude and knowing their anxiety, as they were thirsting and hungering for the word, we continued at work diligently in the House of the Lord. Two hundred and ninety-five persons received ordinances” (Brigham Young in History of the Church, 7:579).

4. The Saints experienced trials and miracles as they began journeying west.

Read: Trail of Hope

‘The evacuation of Nauvoo was originally planned to take place in April 1846. But as a result of threats that the state militia intended to prevent the Saints from going west, the Twelve Apostles and other leading citizens hurriedly met in council on 2 February 1846. They agreed that it was imperative to start west immediately, and the exodus began on 4 February. Under the direction of Brigham Young, the first group of Saints eagerly began their journey. However, that eagerness faced a great test, for there were many miles to be covered before permanent camps gave them respite from late winter weather and an exceptionally rainy spring.

To seek safety from their persecutors, thousands of Saints first had to cross the wide Mississippi River to Iowa territory. The perils of their journey began early when an ox kicked a hole in a boat carrying a number of Saints and the boat sank. One observer saw the unfortunate passengers hanging on to feather beds, sticks of wood, “lumber or any thing they could get hold of and were tossed and sported on the water at the mercy of the cold and unrelenting waves. … Some climbed on the top of the wagon which did not go quite under and were more comfortable while the cows and oxen on board were seen swimming to the shore from whence they came.”1 Finally all the people were pulled onto boats and brought to the other side.

Two weeks after the first crossing, the river froze over for a time. Though the ice was slippery, it supported wagons and teams and made the crossing easier. But the cold weather caused much suffering as the Saints plodded through the snow. In the encampment at Sugar Creek on the other side of the river, a steady wind blew snow that fell to a depth of almost eight inches. Then a thaw caused the ground to become muddy. Around, above, and below, the elements combined to produce a miserable environment for the 2,000 Saints huddled in tents, wagons, and hastily erected shelters while they waited for the command to continue on.

The most difficult part of the journey was this early stage through Iowa. Hosea Stout recorded that he “prepared for the night by erecting a temporary tent out of bed clothes. At this time my wife was hardly able to sit up and my little son was sick with a very high fever and would not even notice any thing that was going on.”2 Many other Saints also suffered greatly.’ (The Trials of a Winter Trek in Our Heritage)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History

Gospel Doctrine 2017- Lesson 32: “To Seal the Testimony”

1. The Prophet Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood.

A portrait by Alvin Gittins of Joseph Smith in a white shirt and brown suit, holding sheets of paper, with his hand on his side.

D&C 135:4-5 I am calm as a summer’s morning

‘Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood. He could have saved his life…. He loved life. He loved his wife and family and friends. He wasn’t anxious to go over into eternity. He wanted to live a normal and natural life. He either had to give up his testimony-to recant-or he had to give up his life. He wasn’t willing to give up his testimony. He said, “Who am I to deny that I have had heavenly manifestations-that the Lord has appeared before me?”

And so he went calmly, knowing that his life would be taken. He said, “I go as a lamb to the slaughter”; and he went up to Carthage, knowing that the mob was gathering there and knowing they had bullets in their guns. He went calmly and passed on. He said, as he passed on, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ‘(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 143)

‘President Brigham Young and Elder Wilford Woodruff spent a portion of the day together in the city of Boston, and were sitting together in the railway depot at the time of the massacre of the Prophets; they felt very sorrowful, and depressed in spirits, without knowing the cause.

Elders Heber C. Kimball and Lyman Wight traveled from Philadelphia to New York by railway and steamboat. Elder Kimball felt very mournful as though he had lost some friend, and knew not the cause.

Elder Orson Hyde was in the hall occupied by the saints in Boston, examining maps, and designating or pointing out each man’s district or field of labor, in company with Elders Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff and others, a part of the day. He felt very heavy and sorrowful in spirit, and knew not the cause, but felt no heart to look on the maps. He retired to the further end of the hall alone, and walked the floor; tears ran down his face…. He never felt so before, and knew no reason why he should feel so then.

Elder Parley P. Pratt was on the canal boat between Utica and Buffalo, N. Y., on his return to Nauvoo, and was much depressed in spirit; his brother William Pratt came on board of the same boat, and Parley asked him if he had any books or pamphlets containing the gospel of Christ, or the words of life; if so, to put them under lock and key, for the people are not worthy of them for, said Parley, “I feel that the spirit of murder is in the hearts of the people through the land.”

Elders Willard Richards and John Taylor were the only two of the Quorum of the Twelve who were not on missions, and the only two men who were with the martyrs when they fell and sealed their testimony with their blood.

Elder George A. Smith rode with Elder Crandall Dunn, from Napoleon, to Elder Noah Willis Bartholemew’s, near Jacksonburg, Jackson county, Michigan, and felt unusually cast down and depressed in spirits. About five o’clock he repaired to an oak grove, and called upon the Lord, endeavoring to break the spell of horror which had dominion over his mind. He remained there a long time without finding any relief, and then went back to Brother Bartholomew’s, and went to bed with Elder Crandall Dunn; he could not sleep, but spent the night in a series of miserable thoughts and reflections. Once it seemed to him that some fiend whispered in his ear, “Joseph and Hyrum are dead; ain’t you glad of it?”

Elder Amasa Lyman was in the city of Cincinnati, and felt that depression of spirit mentioned by his brethren.’ (History of the Church, 7:132-133)

2. The Prophet Joseph Smith did more for the salvation of men in this world than anyone except Jesus.

A metal statue of brothers Hyrum and Joseph Smith stands in Carthage, Illinois, near Carthage Jail.

Watch: Joseph Smith – Prophet of the Restoration (D&C 135) This review of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s ministry shows that he “has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world.” (13:09)

Watch: Those Who Knew Joseph Best Elder Oaks teaches about those who knew Joseph best (D&C 135). (0:50)

Watch: Testimony of the Book of Mormon A modern-day Apostle describes the unwavering faith the Church’s founders showed, even in the face of death, to remain true to their testimonies of the Book of Mormon.(4:39)

D&C 135:3 ..has sealed his mission

‘If it be the will of the Lord for the people to live, they will live. If it had been the will of the Lord that Joseph and Hyrum should have lived, they would have lived. It was necessary for Joseph to seal his testimony with his blood. Had he been destined to live he would have lived. The Lord suffered his death to bring justice on the nation. The debt is contracted and they have it to pay.’  (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 467)

Eye witness accounts of Joseph Smith

Jane James, an Afro-American convert :

I could not begin to tell you what he was, only this way, he was tall, over six feet; he was a fine, big, noble, beautiful man! He had blue eyes and light hair, and very fine white skin.

Rachel Ridgeway Grant (mother of Heber J Grant)

I guess you have seen the picture where Brother Joseph was preaching to the Indians. I was there at that time. The Indians were all kneeling down on the grass in front of the Mansion, and if you have seen that picture, that just describes the way everything was, though it is a miserable picture of the Prophet. He was a fine, noble-looking man, always so neat. There are some of the pictures that do not look a particle like him. When he was preaching you could feel the power and influence.

Jacob Jones

The Prophet weighed about 150 pounds, had nice brown hair, was always jovial and could crack a joke. He could sing well and loved music, loved to dance and would leave a meal at any time to wrestle with anyone. He was nimble as a cat and he was fond of us boys and would often play with us.

Anyone could not help but love him and he loved everybody. He always shook hands with all, even the babes. He had a very fine gray horse that he always rode whenever there was a parade.

Matthew S. Davis, member of Congress:

Washington 6th February 1840. My Dear Mary- I went last evening to hear Joe Smith, the celebrated Mormon, expound his doctrine. I with several others, had a desire to understand his tenets as explained by himself. He is not an educated man: but he is a plain, sensible strong minded man. Everything he says, is said in a manner to leave an impression that he is sincere. There is no levity, no fanaticism, no want of dignity in his deportment. He is apparently from forty to forty five years of age, rather above the middle stature, and what you ladies would call a very good looking man. ln his garb there are no peculiarities, his dress being that of a plain unpretending citizen. He is by profession a Farmer; but is evidently well read.

Josiah Quincy III, Mayor of Boston and President of Harvard University:

Pre-eminent among the stragglers by the door stood a man of commanding appearance, clad in the costume of a journeyman carpenter when about his work. He was a hearty, athletic fellow, with blue eyes standing prominently out upon his light complexion, a long nose, and a retreating forehead. He wore striped pantaloons, a linen jacket which had not lately seen the wash tub, and a beard of some three days’ growth. This was the founder of the religion which had been preached in every quarter of the earth.

A fine looking man is what the passerby would instinctively have murmured upon meeting this remarkable individual who had fashioned the mould which was to shape the feelings of so many thousands of his fellow-mortals.

George  Q Cannon, Liverpool born member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

He was more than six feet in height, with expansive chest and clean cut limbs ” a staunch and graceful figure. His head, crowned with a mass of soft, wavy hair, was grandly poised. His face possessed a complexion of such clearness and transparency that the soul appeared to shine through. He wore no beard, and the full strength and beauty of his countenance impressed all beholders at a glance. He had eyes which seemed to read the hearts of men. His mouth was one of mingled power and sweetness. His majesty of air was natural, not studied. Though full of personal and prophetic dignity whenever occasion demanded, he could at other times unbend and be as happy and unconventional as a boy. This was one of his most striking characteristics; and it was sometimes held up to scorn by his traducers, that the chosen *’man of God” should at times mingle as a man of earth with his earthly brethren.

Louisa Young Littlefield, met the Prophet as a 12 year old girl in 1834:

I will speak of a prominent trait of his character which was perhaps more marked in his early career than was the case after public cares and responsibilities multiplied upon him from so many sources. I mean his natural fondness for children. In Kirtland, when wagon loads of grown people and children came in from the country to meeting, Joseph would make his way to as many of the wagons as he well could and cordially shake the hand of each person. Every child and young babe in the company were especially noticed by him and tenderly taken by the hand, with his kind words and blessings. He loved innocence and purity, and he seemed to find it in the greatest perfection with the prattling child.

James Worthington Phippen:

I was favorably impressed with his noble mien, his stately form and his pleasant, smiling face and cheerful conversation.  Before I ever saw Joseph Smith I was satisfied that he was a man inspired of God, and when I beheld him if anything further could have increased my knowledge of him being a Prophet of the Lord, I was confirmed. During my acquaintance with him from 1839 until 1844, his teachings and examples were strong proof to me of his divine calling, without the inspiration of the Lord. I was an attentive listener and observer of the teachings, sayings and example of the Prophet Joseph Smith from the first time I saw him till the month of May, 1844, at which time I left Nauvoo for the state of New York on a mission. And being quite familiar with the history of his life as written, I remember many sayings recorded that I heard him utter. In common with those who were acquainted with his public life and doings in the midst of the Saints in Nauvoo, I had great joy and satisfaction in listening to his teachings.

Emmeline B Wells, 5th Relief Society General President:

In his manner he was gentle and kindly, and he was always affectionate to his friends, and at times demonstrative. He was strong and ardent in his nature and valued highly the quality of sincerity in friendship. He was manly to an unusual degree, yet tender-hearted as a woman on occasions. In his tastes he was literary as well as spiritual, fond of the drama, of music and of poetry. A very dear friend of mine who knew the Prophet intimately . . .[said] that she had known him to shed tears when hearing some specially fine vocal music, particularly old-fashioned songs and ballads. With such noble characteristics it is not strange that he was so intensely beloved.

John S. Reed, lawyer who helped Joseph Smith  in some of his early law suits:

… The first acquaintance I had with General Smith was about the year 1823. He came into my neighborhood, being then about eighteen years of age, and resided there two years, during which time I became intimately acquainted with him. I do know that his character was irreproachable, and that he was well known for truth and uprightness; that he moved in the first circles of the community, and he was often spoken of as a young man of intelligence and good morals, and possessing a mind susceptible of the highest intellectual attainments. I early discovered that his mind was constantly in search of truth, expressing an anxious desire to know the will of God.

Peter H. Burnett, a former Governor of California:

You could see at a glance that his education was very limited. He was an awkward and vehement speaker. In conversation he was slow, and used too many words to express his ideas, and would not generally go directly to a point. But, with all these drawbacks, he was much more than an ordinary man. He possessed the most indomitable perseverance, was a good judge of men, and deemed himself born to command, and he did command. His views were so strange and striking, and his manner was so earnest, and apparently so candid, that you could not but be interested. There was a kind, familiar look about him, that pleased you. He was very courteous in discussion, readily admitting what he did not intend to controvert, and would not oppose you abruptly, but had due deference to your feelings. He had the capacity for discussing a subject in different aspects, and for proposing many original views, even of ordinary matters. His illustrations were his own. He had great influence over others. As an evidence of this I will state that on Thursday, just before I left to return to Liberty [Missouri], I saw him out among the crowd, conversing freely with every one, and seeming to be perfectly at ease. In the short space of five days he had managed so to mollify his enemies that he could go unprotected among them without the slightest danger.

Dr. John M. Bernhisel, close friend of Joseph Smith:

Having been a boarder in General Smith’s family for more than nine months, and having therefore had abundant opportunities of contemplating his character and observing his conduct, I have concluded to give you a few of my “impressions” of him.

General Joseph Smith is naturally a man of strong mental powers, and is possessed of much energy and decision of character, great penetration, and a profound knowledge of human nature. He is a man of calm judgment, enlarged views, and is eminently distinguished by his love of justice. He is kind and obliging, generous and benevolent, sociable and cheerful, and is possessed of a mind of a contemplative and reactive character. He is honest, frank, fearless and independent, and as free from dissimulation as any man to be found.

But it is in the gentle charities of domestic life, as the tender and affectionate husband and parent, the warm and sympathizing friend, that the prominent traits of his character are revealed, and his heart is felt to be keenly alive to the kindest and softest emotions of which human nature is susceptible; and I feel assured that his family and friends formed one of the greatest consolations to him while the vials of wrath were poured upon his head, while his footsteps were pursued by malice and envy, and reproach and slander were strewn in his path, as well as during numerous and cruel persecutions, and severe and protracted sufferings in chains and loathsome prisons, for worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

He is a true lover of his country, and a bright and shining example of integrity and moral excellence in all the relations of life. As a religious teacher, as well as a man, he is greatly beloved by this people. It is almost superfluous to add that the numerous ridiculous and scandalous reports in circulation respecting him have not the least foundation in truth.

Lorenzo Snow

I shall never forget the first time I saw Joseph Smith. It was in Father Johnson’s house, in the township of Hiram, in the State of Ohio, about twenty-five miles from Kirtland. It was near Father Johnson’s where the mob tarred and feathered him. When I saw him he was standing in the doorway. Before him was a small bowery occupied by about a hundred and fifty or two hundred men and women. There for the first time I heard his voice. When I heard his testimony in regard to what the Lord had revealed to him, it seemed to me that he must be an honest man. He talked and looked like an honest man. He was an honest man.

Margarette McIntire Burgess, convert who lived in Nauvoo as a child:

Another time my older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph’s brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got fast in the mud, and could not get out, and of course childlike, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavyladen shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing.

Brigham Young:

When I first heard him preach, he brought heaven and earth together; and all the priests of the day could not tell me anything correct about heaven, hell, God, angels, or devils; they were as blind as Egyptian darkness. When I saw Joseph Smith, he took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up in plainness and simplicity, the things of God; and that is the beauty of his mission.