Posted in Fellowship, Missionary work, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 22: Reaching Out with Love to New Converts and Less-Active Members

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

President Hinckley’s concern for new converts and less-active members was a result of his experience in seeing how the gospel blesses lives. A news reporter once asked him, “What brings you the greatest satisfaction as you see the work of the Church today?” President Hinckley replied:

“The most satisfying experience I have is to see what this gospel does for people. It gives them a new outlook on life. It gives them a perspective that they have never felt before. It raises their sights to things noble and divine. Something happens to them that is miraculous to behold. They look to Christ and come alive.”

How has the gospel given you a new outlook on life?

1. We have a great responsibility to minister to the individual.

“It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love-show forth everlasting increase; cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to a hundredfold. Friendship is like Brother Turley in his blacksmith shop welding iron to iron; it unites the human family with its happy influence.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 316).

From the manual:

We are becoming a great global society. But our interest and concern must always be with the individual. Every member of this church is an individual man or woman, boy or girl. Our great responsibility is to see that each is “remembered and nourished by the good word of God” (Moro. 6:4), that each has opportunity for growth and expression and training in the work and ways of the Lord, that none lacks the necessities of life, that the needs of the poor are met, that each member shall have encouragement, training, and opportunity to move forward on the road of immortality and eternal life.

Why must “our interest and concern … always be with the individual,” even in a worldwide church?

2. Every convert is precious and is a great and serious responsibility.

‘So, my brothers, it is your duty to reach out to anyone who appears at the doors of your Church buildings. Welcome them with gratitude and without prejudice. If people you do not know walk into one of your meetings, greet them warmly and invite them to sit with you. Please make the first move to help them feel welcome and loved, rather than waiting for them to come to you.

After your initial welcome, consider ways you can continue to minister to them. I once heard of a ward where, after the baptism of two deaf sisters, two marvelous Relief Society sisters decided to learn sign language so they could better communicate with these new converts. What a wonderful example of love for fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel!’ (Gerard Caussee, General Conference, October 2013)

Image result for Every convert is precious and is a great and serious responsibility.

“In building the kingdom of God, every positive act, every friendly greeting, every warm smile, every thoughtful, kind note contributes to the strength of the whole. It is my prayer that we may be open and outgoing, friendly, and helpful to all who come among us. But let us give special care and concern for the new converts to the Church. When we detect a halting step or a stumble as they begin their journey on the gospel path, let us be there to lift and support with words of kindness and concern; let us be available to give gentle, loving counsel that will strengthen and sustain. Let us conscientiously look for occasions to show that love which the Savior admonished us to have when He said, ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another’ (John 13:34).” (Carl B Pratt, “Care for New Converts,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 12)

What can we learn and apply from the letter that President Hinckley shares in section 2? 

3. Every convert needs friendship, a responsibility, and nurturing with the word of God.

‘Deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course. Life teaches us that we can achieve happiness when we seek the happiness and well-being of others.’ (Elaine S Dalton)

“A faithful friend is a strong defense. And he that hath found . . . one hath found a treasure” (Ecclesiasticus 6:14).

Image result for Every convert needs friendship, a responsibility, and nurturing with the word of God.

From the manual:

With the ever-increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with “the good word of God” (Moro. 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things.

What are some ways we can befriend new converts? 

4. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose by coming back to Church activity.

Watch: A Yearning for Home – President Uchtdorf, General Conference October 2017

‘Experiences of activators suggest that there are eight key factors in helping less-active Latter-day Saints participate fully in gospel ordinances and opportunities.

  1. Positive experiences with active Church members are vital. Through friendship, negative feelings toward the Church and other members can be resolved.
  2. People are most likely to respond to those they trust. Activated members say they strongly identify with activators who are willing to make sacrifices for them and accept them rather than judge them. It is important for the less-active to sense that an activator’s efforts are genuine and not merely the fulfillment of duty.
  3. The three most important attributes of a successful activator are disclosure, warmth, and commitment. Disclosure means that the activator is willing to discuss his or her own life and experiences. Warmth connotes a friendly, trusting attitude. Commitment means consistency in visiting and willingness to fulfill promises.
  4. Successful activators feel a moral responsibility for the people they activate. They care about others’ spiritual lives.
  5. Activators need to be involved in the four distinct processes of reactivation: (1) Diagnosis—helping determine why an individual is not participating more fully in the Church; (2) Problem resolution—helping the less-active person learn to overcome problems through obedience to gospel principles; (3) Social integration—helping the person become accepted and involved in the community of Latter-day Saints; (4) Forgiveness and self-acceptance—helping less-active members sense that the Lord accepts them and forgives them of their mistakes. Bishops often must be involved in this part of the process.
  6. Activators play a key role in helping less-active members interpret their own experiences and challenges in terms of the gospel.
  7. Activation involves reintroduction to spiritual things with which less-active members may have had limited experience. These members need to be placed in situations where they can feel the Spirit of the Lord and understand how it can lead them to truth.
  8. Building people’s confidence in their own ability to change and become righteous is an important part of activation. (Don L Searle, Ensign Feb 1990)

From the manual:

My beloved brethren and sisters who may … have drifted, the Church needs you, and you need the Church. You will find many ears that will listen with understanding. There will be many hands to help you find your way back. There will be hearts to warm your own. There will be tears, not of bitterness but of rejoicing

 How can we help people return? 

5. For Latter-day Saints who return to Church activity, it will feel good to be home again.

Image result for For Latter-day Saints who return to Church activity, it will feel good to be home again.

What do you learn from the account that President Hinckley shares in section 5?

Watch: The Faith of Youth- The Ennis Family

The Ennis family had become less active, but they responded when ward members reached out in love. (3:35)

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Posted in Missionary work, service, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 21: The Latter-Day Miracle of Missionary Work

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

“How profoundly grateful I am for the experience of that mission. I touched the lives of a few who have, over the years, expressed appreciation. That has been important. But I have never been greatly concerned over the number of baptisms that I had or that other missionaries had. My satisfaction has come from the assurance that I did what the Lord wanted me to do and that I was an instrument in His hands for the accomplishment of His purposes. In the course of that experience, there became riveted into my very being a conviction and knowledge that this is in very deed the true and living work of God, restored through a prophet for the blessing of all who will accept it and live its principles.”

How has a mission changed your life or the life of someone close to you?

1. We are to reach out to the world in missionary service, teaching all who will listen.

Watch: Why Mormons send missionaries around the world Mormons send missionaries to help others and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2:55)

Watch: Unto all the world – Hastening the work in Europe

“After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 330).

‘While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well. In fact, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”  Doctrine and Covenants 88:81 We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

From the manual:

Let us as Latter-day Saints reach out to others not of our faith. Let us never act in a spirit of arrogance or with a holier-than-thou attitude. Rather, may we show love and respect and helpfulness toward them. We are greatly misunderstood, and I fear that much of it is of our own making. We can be more tolerant, more neighborly, more friendly, more of an example than we have been in the past. Let us teach our children to treat others with friendship, respect, love, and admiration. That will yield a far better result than will an attitude of egotism.

How can we overcome misunderstandings about the Church and its members?

2. We are to help the full-time missionaries bring others to a knowledge of the truth.

‘If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3). And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don’t wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle.’ (Neil L Andersen, General Conference, April 2013)

It is important that members and full-time missionaries work closely together. Successful member missionary work relies on a true partnership between members and missionaries. The Mission and the local unit can sometimes fall into the trap of working in isolation with little contact or mutual understanding. In the ‘balanced effort’ of missionary work, the ward mission leader acts as the yoke that brings together members and missionaries into a powerful team. Without this harnessing of joint efforts the harvest will be meagre.

Image result for The Latter-Day Miracle of Missionary Work

From the manual:

The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found.

Why do missionaries “succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found”? 

3. Full-time missionary work brings lasting happiness to those who serve.

‘On July 23, 1837, the Prophet Joseph met with Elder Thomas B. Marsh, President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Marsh was apparently frustrated that the Prophet had called two members of his quorum to go to England without consulting him. As Joseph met with Elder Marsh, any hurt feelings were put aside, and the Prophet received a remarkable revelation. It is now the 112th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. It gives incredible direction from heaven with respect to humility and missionary work. Verse 10 reads, “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.”

This revelation occurred the exact same day that Elders Kimball, Hyde, and John Goodson, full of humility, were declaring the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Vauxhall Chapel in Preston, England. This was the first time missionaries had proclaimed the restored gospel outside of North America in this dispensation. Their missionary effort resulted in almost immediate convert baptisms and led to numerous faithful members.

Subsequent parts of the revelation guide the missionary effort in our day. They read, in part, “Whosoever ye shall send in my name … shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation … inasmuch as they shall humble themselves before me, and abide in my word, and hearken to the voice of my Spirit.”

The humility that undergirded this incredible missionary effort allowed the Lord to establish His Church in a remarkable way.

Gratefully, we continually see this in the Church today. Members, including the rising generation, give up their time and defer education and employment to serve missions. Many senior members leave employment and make other sacrifices in order to serve God in whatever capacity they are called. We do not allow personal issues to distract or divert us from accomplishing His purposes.’ (Quentin L Cook, General Conference, October 2017)

Image result for Full-time missionary work brings lasting happiness to those who serve.

From the manual:

Along with the need for young elders and sisters, there is a growing need for couples in the mission field. Older married couples are doing a wonderful work in the missions. Many more are needed. Particularly we need those with foreign language abilities. They can serve in many responsibilities under the direction of sensitive and considerate mission presidents.

With an increasing number of people retiring while they are still possessed of health and vitality, there are many who can fill a tremendous need in the work of the Lord.

We [have] retired men and women serving in a meaningful missionary capacity for this Church throughout the world. The number is growing. They go where they are called. They serve where they are needed. Friendships are established; skills are shared; opportunities are opened for those who will never forget the men and women who have come among them in a spirit of entire unselfishness to teach and do good. They receive no money. They go at their own expense. The measure of their devotion is unlimited. The fruits of their efforts are beyond calculation.

How can families help older couples prepare to serve?

4. As we introduce others to the gospel, the Spirit of the Lord helps overcome differences between us.

‘Involve newcomers quickly in the Lord’s work. They have been called to his vineyard not just to admire but to perspire—not to “ooh” and “aah” but to “hoe and saw.” Let us make of them friends—not celebrities; colleagues—not competitors. Let us use their precious enthusiasm to beckon still others to come within.’ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 1980)

From the manual:

Because we have all come of the same parentage [as children of God], we respond to the same truth. The fact that one’s skin may be of a slightly different color, that one’s eyes may have a slightly different set, that one may wear a different type of clothing does not in any sense make of him or her a different kind of individual. Men and women the world over respond to the same stimuli in essentially the same way. They seek warmth when they are cold; they know the same kinds of pain; they experience sadness, and they know joy.

How have you seen the Spirit of the Lord help people overcome differences?

5. As we go forward in faith, the Lord will bless our efforts to introduce others to the gospel.

From the manual:

With our charge divinely given, with blessings divinely promised, let us go forward in faith. As we do so, the Lord will bless our efforts. Let us do our part in sharing the gospel with those around us, by example first and then by inspired precept.

How can you increase your desire and faith to share the gospel?

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2017, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 41: “Every Member a Missionary”

1. The Church is coming forth out of obscurity.

D&C 1:30 Out of Obscurity

‘Even the world can see the emergence of a power beyond what might have been reasonably predicted. Yet few seem to recognize that the power stems not from organization or programs or wealth. Rather, it comes from individual hearts changed by faith to keep the commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Henry B Eyring, “Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 9)’

D&C 65:1-6 The Kingdom of God

“The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people; and the very time that was calculated on, this people were struggling to bring it out. …

“I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. … It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:364–65.)

D&C 109:72-74 Fill the Whole Earth

President Hinckley said: ‘It is a time to move forward without hesitation. … The little stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands as seen in Daniel’s vision is rolling forth to fill the whole earth.’

2. Latter-day prophets have challenged us to take the gospel to all the world.

“After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 330).

‘President Gordon B. Hinckley has given the clarion call for our time. In a worldwide satellite address to missionaries and local leaders, he asked for “an infusion of enthusiasm” for missionary work “at every level in the Church” (“Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 107). Though missionaries must continue their best efforts to find persons to teach, he declared that the “better way … is through the members of the Church” (105). He asked each of us to give our very best efforts to assisting missionaries in finding persons to teach. He also asked that each stake president and each bishop “accept full responsibility and accountability for the finding and friendshipping of investigators” within their units (107). President Hinckley also invoked the blessings of the Lord upon each of us “in meeting the tremendous challenge that is ours” (104).’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, October 2001)

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – A Faithful Missionary Brigham Young dedicates years of his life to selfless missionary labours. (2:03)

Watch: Ministry of John Taylor – Bold and Faithful Missionary John Taylor is a successful, devoted missionary in the U.S., Canada, England, and France. (2:13)

Watch: Ministry of Lorenzo Snow – A Faithful Missionary in Europe While serving as a missionary on the borders of France and Italy, Elder Snow pronounces a blessing on a young boy. By the power of God, the boy is healed. (1:55)

Watch: Teachings of George Albert Smith – A Personal Creed: Be a Missionary George Albert Smith pens a personal creed to guide the actions of his life. One element of this creed reminds him to be a missionary of the Lord’s gospel. (1:42)

3. “Every member a missionary.”

A painted portrait by Alvin Gittins of President David O. McKay in a black suit, sitting in a chair with his fingers clasped together.

Watch: Teachings of David O McKay – Every Member a Missionary President McKay reminds every member of his or her responsibility to live and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1:43)

 

A painted portrait of President Spencer W. Kimball in a black suit, white shirt, and red tie, holding an open book.

Watch: Ministry of Spencer W Kimball – Expanded Missionary Force President Kimball invites all to “lengthen their stride” when it comes to missionary work. (1:19)

President Gordon B Hinckley said that ‘The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found.’ (Preach My Gospel, pages 160-161).

‘If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3). And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don’t wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle.’ (Neil L Andersen, General Conference, April 2013)

D&C 1:4-5 The Voice of Warning Shall be unto All People

‘The call of Elder Heber C. Kimball and his associates to cross the sea to Britain was a declaration by the Prophet Joseph of the great destiny of this restored work. As I have read of the condition of the Saints in Ohio and Missouri at that time, and of the smallness of their number, I have marveled at the breadth of their vision. From that time forth there has never been a dimming of that vision. Through the years that followed, regardless of drivings, persecution, poverty, oppression, and every other force the adversary could exercise against them, the work has grown and expanded until today we have 203 missions and are teaching the gospel in 75 sovereign nations and 18 territories, colonies, and possessions.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Truth,” Ensign, July 1987, 4-5)

Watch: Those Warned Must Warn Others President Eyring explains those warned must warn others (D&C 88:81-82). (1:14)

D&C 88:81 It Becometh Every Man Who Has Been Warned to Warn His Neighbour

‘While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well. In fact, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”  Doctrine and Covenants 88:81 We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

4. Nurturing new converts is our continuing responsibility.

‘So, my brothers, it is your duty to reach out to anyone who appears at the doors of your Church buildings. Welcome them with gratitude and without prejudice. If people you do not know walk into one of your meetings, greet them warmly and invite them to sit with you. Please make the first move to help them feel welcome and loved, rather than waiting for them to come to you.

After your initial welcome, consider ways you can continue to minister to them. I once heard of a ward where, after the baptism of two deaf sisters, two marvelous Relief Society sisters decided to learn sign language so they could better communicate with these new converts. What a wonderful example of love for fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel!’ (Gerard Caussee, General Conference, October 2013)

Watch: No Man is an Island Richard H Winkel, General Conference, October 1999

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017-Lesson 29: Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois

1. The Saints sought refuge in Illinois.

‘After the Latter-day Saints were driven from Missouri in early 1839, most found temporary refuge in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. Between April and August, however, Latter-day Saint leaders negotiated several land purchases in Lee County, Iowa, and Hancock Count, Illinois, which included the small Mississippi riverfront village of Commerce. As a result of these acquisitions, significant numbers of Church members began to relocate in Lee and Hancock counties during the spring and summer of 1839. Joseph Smith purchased a small, two-story, square-cut log home that was named the Homestead and was situated on the outskirts of Commerce proper. Commerce (later named Nauvoo by Joseph Smith) subsequently became the principal place of Latter-day Saint settlement and the headquarters of the Church.

In late October 1839, the Prophet journeyed to Washington, D.C., to seek redress from federal government officials for the Missouri persecutions. President Martin Van Buren denied their petitions and turned a deaf ear, and U.S. Senate leaders determined that the reparation in behalf of the Saints could be secured only in Missouri’s courts. After an absence of four months, Joseph Smith returned to Illinois, where he turned his attention from the past to moving ahead to the future. His agenda became that of community builder, and thereafter he sought to establish Nauvoo as the new gathering place….

By early 1841, Nauvoo was bustling with home construction and mercantile and business development. In addition, plans for a temple and a hotel (the Nauvoo House) were already underway. The Nauvoo Charter, establishing Nauvoo as a state-sanctioned municipality with a city council, a university, and an independent militia, had been approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Thomas Carlin in December 1840 and was set to go into effect on 1 February 1841. Nauvoo—a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful”—was on the rise and the Saints’ optimism ran high.

It was under these circumstances that Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in section 124 on 19 January 1841. It is the longest canonized revelation (5,529 words, 145 verses) and the first revelation of the Illinois period included in the Doctrine and Covenants.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, p.837)

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2. Missionaries sent from Nauvoo converted thousands of people.

Watch: The Heart and a Willing Mind  (D&C 64:34) Elder Heber C. Kimball and his family willingly serve the Lord as Elder Kimball leaves first from Kirtland and then from Nauvoo to preach the gospel in England.

3. The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

Read: Revelations in Context – Organising the Church in Nauvoo

D&C 124:12-14 Robert B Thompson

“Birth: 1 October 1811, Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England.
Death: 27 August 1841, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.

“Robert Thompson received his education and developed an interest in religion in Dunnington, Yorkshire, England. He joined the Methodists and was a preacher for some years before immigrating to Upper Canada in 1834. It was the preaching of Parley P. Pratt that led Robert to become a member of the Church in May 1836.

“Anxious to join with the Saints, he journeyed to Kirtland in May 1837, but within the year he had returned to Upper Canada to serve a mission. After baptizing many Canadians he once again attempted to settle in Kirtland, but the persecution against the Saints had increased, so Robert joined his brother-in-law Hyrum Smith and journeyed to Far West, Missouri. Escalating persecution led to open confrontation in Missouri. Robert fought in the Battle of Crooked River in defense of the Saints; consequently his enemies swore they would kill him. He suffered from exposure and lack of food as he attempted to avoid their clutches.

“He temporarily settled in Quincy, Illinois, and was employed as a writer for the Argus newspaper and as a courthouse clerk. When he moved to Nauvoo he served as a scribe for the Prophet and also gathered libelous reports and publications against the Church at the Prophet’s request. He was appointed general Church clerk, colonel and aide-de-camp of the Nauvoo Legion, Nauvoo city treasurer, and a regent of the University of Nauvoo.

“On 19 January 1841 Robert was called by the Lord to assist the Prophet in writing a proclamation to the kings, presidents, and governors of the earth. ‘Let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him’ (D&C 124:12).  In the revelation the Lord promised: ‘I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes; but let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands’ (D&C 124:13-14).

“From May to August 1841 he worked with Don Carlos Smith as an associate editor of the Times and Seasons. On 16 August 1841 he was seized with the same disease that had caused the death of Don Carlos the week before. ‘The attachment between them was so strong, it seemed as though they could not long be separated.’ Robert died on 27 August 1841 at his residence in Nauvoo at the age of twenty-nine. The Prophet said that he died ‘in full hope of a glorious resurrection.'”(Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 322)

Image result for The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

D&C 124:16-17 Why Was John C. Bennett Commended by the Lord When He Later Became Such an Enemy of the Church?

‘Smith and Sjodahl wrote that John C. Bennett “was well educated and possessed many gifts and accomplishments. He was a physician, a university professor, and a brigadier-general. On the 27th of July, 1840, he offered his services to the Church. The Prophet Joseph replied, inviting him to come to Commerce, if he felt so disposed, but warned him at the same time not to expect exaltation ‘in this generation,’ from devotion to the cause of truth and a suffering people; nor worldly riches; only the approval of God. The outcome of the correspondence was that he joined the Church and rose to prominent positions among the Saints. His fellowship with the people of God did not last long, however. On the 25th of May, 1842, he was notified that the leaders of the Church did no longer recognize him as a member, because of his impure life, and shortly afterwards the Church took action against him. Then he became one of the most bitter enemies of the Church. His slanders, his falsehoods and unscrupulous attacks, which included perjury and attempted assassination were the means of inflaming public opinion to such an extent that the tragedy at Carthage became possible.

“Why, then, did his name appear, in this Revelation, as that of a trusted assistant of Joseph? John Taylor furnishes the answer to that question. He says, ‘Respecting John C. Bennett: I was well acquainted with him. At one time he was a good man, but fell into adultery, and was cut off from the Church for his iniquity’ (History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 81). At the time of the revelation he was a good man. But he was overcome by the adversary and made the slave of his carnal desires. The Lord knew him and warned him. ‘His reward shall not fail if he receive counsel.’ ‘He shall be great … if he do this,’ etc. Bennett did not heed these warning ‘ifs’ from Him who knew what was in his heart.” (Commentary, pp. 770–71.)

The Lord does not withhold present blessings because of future sinful behavior. He blessed King David as long as he was faithful and did not withhold opportunity, although he had foreknowledge of David’s future transgressions with Bathsheba. As long as one obeys, the blessings come. With the perspective of history one may be tempted to ask why the Lord chose men who would eventually falter to be leaders in the Church, but one should remember that at the time of their calling they were faithful and true.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

4. The Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo.

A painting by Nadine Barton of Joseph Smith Jr. and his wife Emma Smith standing before a group of sitting women as they organize the Relief Society.

Read: ‘Something Better’: – The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

‘In Nauvoo, Latter-day Saint women were blessed with their own organization in the Church. It had its beginning when several women, led by Sarah Granger Kimball, organized to make shirts for the men working on the temple. The women decided to formally organize, and they asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution for their group. When the Prophet Joseph Smith was consulted, he told them that their constitution was excellent but offered to organize the women in a better way. On March 17, 1842, the Prophet, along with Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards, met with 20 women in the upstairs room of the Red Brick Store, where the Prophet organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Emma Smith was selected as the organization’s president, thus fulfilling the revelation identifying her as an “elect lady” (D&C 25:3). The Prophet later stated that the organization’s objective was to “relieve the poor” and “to save souls” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith[2007], 453).

On April 28, 1842, the Prophet met again with the sisters. He told them that they would receive instruction through the order of the priesthood and then declared, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this Society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 451).’ (Foundations of the Restoration Institute Manual)

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

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 26: “Go Ye into All the World, and Preach My Gospel”

1. The Lord poured out great blessings during the Kirtland period.

While the Prophet Joseph was living in the Kirtland area, he received numerous revelations, 65 of which are included in the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations taught the Lord’s will in connection with welfare, sign seeking, moral conduct, dietary principles, tithing, priesthood authority, the role of a prophet, the three degrees of glory, missionary work, the Second Coming, the law of consecration, and many other subjects.

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2. The Saints in Kirtland made great sacrifices to share the gospel.

Read: Revelations in Context: ‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries

Read: Revelations in Context: A Mission to the Lamanites

Read: Revelations in Context: Take Special Care of Your Family

Watch: This Grand Opportunity  Elizabeth McCune and the First Sister Missionaries

The Saints in the 1830s had very little money. At tremendous sacrifice they had constructed a temple. The United States at that time was gripped by a spirit of financial speculation, which resulted in a financial crash in 1837. In Kirtland, people turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith and a great sifting took place between the faithful and those whose eyes were set upon the things of the world.

It was in these difficult times, on Sunday, 4 June 1837, that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, while Brother Kimball in the Kirtland Temple, and whispering to [him], said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: ‘Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’ ”

Imagine, one man who had very little telling another who had practically nothing that he was to go across the sea to open the work there.

One can understand Heber C. Kimball’s response. Feeling his weakness he said, “O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!”

Brother Kimball said at the time: “The idea of such a mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I was almost ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me.”

“However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; and although my family was dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.” (Ibid., p. 104.)

Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding responded with similar faith, and these four were joined in New York by John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder.

Tuesday, June 13, was the scheduled departure date for the four who were to leave Kirtland. One who looked in on the Kimball household that morning described the prayer that was uttered by the father who was leaving and who  laid his hands upon his childrens’ heads to give them a blessing

“While thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them. The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. His emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks.”

After eighteen days and eighteen hours on the water the ship pulled into the Mersey. They spent a few days in Liverpool seeking direction from the Lord, and then felt the confirming whispering of the Spirit directing them to go to Preston. There they found a city in a state of excitement over elections for members of Parliament. Queen Victoria had ascended the throne three days earlier and had called for a national election.

As they came up the street in Preston, a banner unfurled before them with the words “Truth Will Prevail.”

This they adopted as the motto of their mission. It may seem a strange motto for a political party today but it is a motto that we could do well to adopt

In a dark and troubled hour the Lord said to those He loved: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Heber C Kimball and his colleagues took heart from the simple motto truth will prevail. They then worked as hard as they could with body mind and spirit to share the Gospel. The Lord then blessed them with success in their work.

D&C 42:6 Go forth in the power of my Spirit

‘The power of a missionary is not determined by his or her height, weight, or physical prowess. Nor is it determined by his or her smoothness of tongue or cleverness of mind. It is, however, determined by his or her receptivity to the Spirit and willingness to heed its promptings.

To go forth in the power of the Spirit means that a missionary must be taught and led by the Spirit and must teach by the Spirit. Therefore, the conscientious missionary courts the Holy Spirit every day of his mission. Such courting involves the exercise of faith, prayer, study, work, and righteous living. All of this is done with these promises in mind: (1) “The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:14) and (2) “If ye will . . . receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5). There is also the instruction that “if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).

Missionaries must bear in mind that the Spirit or Holy Ghost enables a missionary to speak persuasively with “the tongue of angels” (2 Ne. 32:2). It serves as a conduit, if you will, through which the message passes from a missionary’s heart to the heart of the listener. It is the power that converts.’ (Carlos E Asay, The Seven M’s of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 4)

D&C 88:81 Warn the people

‘We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

3. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve taught thousands in England.

Read: Brigham Young in England

Read: History of the Church in Great Britain

D&C 112:21 Power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation

‘When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. Even in persecution and hardship, they went and opened doors which evidently have been allowed to sag on their hinges and many of them to close. I remember that these fearless men were teaching the gospel in Indian lands before the Church was even fully organized. As nearly as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland 1853, Italy 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. When you look at the progress we have made in some countries, with no progress in many of their nearby countries, it makes us wonder. Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.

These men of valor began to walk the earth with dignity and honor, with mantles on their shoulders and keys in their hands and love in their hearts.’ (Spencer W Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6)

4. Many Saints in Kirtland remained valiant despite persecution.

‘Saints who looked back on this period learned some compelling lessons of which we today need to be aware. One of the pointed lessons we learn from the Kirtland apostasy is that no one should consider himself secure from the loss of faith. Pride, criticism, speculation, envy, greed—these are enough to cause the most faithful to stumble. Parley P. Pratt, for example, declared that “envyings, lyings, strifes and divisions” caused “trouble and sorrow” in Kirtland. He admitted that he was a victim of these failings. But the Lord knew his faith—his “integrity of purpose”—and helped him in his victory against an opposing spirit.

Orson Hyde recalled that, because he acted foolishly during this period of darkness, he temporarily lost “the light of the Holy Ghost.” Luke S. Johnson admitted that his mind became darkened and he neglected his Church responsibilities after he had “partaken of the spirit of speculation.

And yet, through it all, 87 percent of the Kirtland Saints continued to nurture their faith. They continued to sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet, sacrificing nearly all their material possessions rather than forsake the restored gospel. Despite opposition, they sacrificed their homes, the sacred temple they had built, and even their lives to carry the work of the Lord forward. We would do well to emulate their example.’ (Milton V Backman, A Warning from Kirtland, Ensign, April 1989)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine -Lesson 11: “The Field Is White Already to Harvest”

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1. “Serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.”

D&C 4:1 A marvellous work

“Can you think of a time in the earth’s history greater than this dispensation? Could there be a greater cause than to prepare the earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ? As a stone rolls on until it becomes a great mountain, the kingdom rolls on to its divine destiny-a great movement with great momentum and steady acceleration. When the Lord says “a marvelous work is about to come forth,” he is saying that something wonderful is going to happen, and more importantly, he is giving us the opportunity to be a part of it. “The work is so marvelous that the Lord is going to give us the privilege of participating in it with him, but only if we desire to. He does not twist arms or preach duty or try to instill obedience through guilt. He simply tells us that the work itself will be its own reward. In fact, it will be marvelous.” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 126 – 127.)

2. Prepare to serve the Lord.

D&C 4:3 Desires

‘Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of our brethren….

A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.’ (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], p.248-249)

D&C 11:8 If you desire

‘So many times you and I have been called to serve in positions and places for which we knew we were unqualified. But the Lord never cares about that. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, he knew nothing about dividing seas or building tabernacles. What he had was a desire to serve God. We must have a great desire to serve and and proceed with a perfect confidence that the Lord will sustain us in our efforts.’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)

D&C 4:5 Faith, hope, charity and love

‘…labor with love. There is no substitute for love. Often this love is kindled in youth by a mother, expanded by a father, and kept vibrant through service to God. Remember the Lord’s counsel: “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.” Well might each of us ask himself: Today, have I increased in faith, in hope, in charity, in love? When our lives comply with God’s standard and we labor with love to bring souls unto Him, those within our sphere of influence will never speak the lament, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jer. 8:20)’ (Thomas S Monson, “That All May Hear,” Ensign, May 1995, 49)

D&C 12:8 Humility

‘Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.

Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die.

My dear brethren, there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. And please don’t ever forget your own family, your own wife. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves.’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, October 2010)

D&C 11:6,20 Keep my commandments

‘President Heber J. Grant used to tell us…that as he approached the end of his ministry, knowing that his life wouldn’t be too far prolonged, he thought if there were some unusual thing that the Father would like him to do, he would be so pleased; and so he sought earnestly to know what would the Father have him do during his remaining years, thinking, I suppose, of some outstanding thing, like the building of a temple or something of the sort. And in answer to his inquiry, the Lord said that the most important thing that he could do as president of the Church was to teach this people to keep the commandments of God.’ (Harold B Lee, “The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, 11)

D&C 11:21 Obtain my word

‘Hyrum’s life is a witness to his obedience to this instruction. To the very last day of his life, he devoted himself to obtaining the word through study of the scriptures. In Carthage Jail, he read and commented on extracts from the Book of Mormon. The scriptures were obviously part of Hyrum’s being, and he turned to them during times when he needed comfort and strength the most.

Just think of the spiritual strength we could gain in our lives and how much more effective we would be as teachers, missionaries, and friends if we studied the scriptures regularly. I am sure we, like Hyrum, will be able to endure our greatest trials if we search the word of God as he did.’ (M Russell Ballard, “Hyrum Smith: ‘Firm As the Pillars of Heaven,’ ” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 7)

3. “The field is white.”

D&C 4:4, 11:3, 33:3 The field is white

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‘Brothers and sisters, all of you out in the wards and stakes and in the districts and branches, I invite you to become a vast army with enthusiasm for this work and a great overarching desire to assist the missionaries in the tremendous responsibility they have to carry the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. “The field is white [and] ready to harvest”  D&C 4:4 The Lord has repeatedly declared this. Shall we not take Him at His word?’ (Gordon B Hinckley, General Conference, April 1999)

D&C 60:1-3 They will not open their mouths

“It was pleasing to the Lord that the elders had traveled to Missouri, and now they were to return speedily to Ohio. But the Lord was not pleased with some of them. President Joseph Fielding Smith noted: “They had been commanded to preach the Gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the Gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world. The elders in the very beginning had been commanded to serve the Lord with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength,’ for the field is white and ready for the harvest. A penalty was to be inflicted upon those who failed and they were not to stand blameless at the last day. The preaching of the Gospel was to be a means to them by which they were not to perish, but bring salvation to their souls. There are many who have been sent forth who have had a fear of man, yet the Lord has promised to support them in their labors if they will trust in him.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220–21.)

4. “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”

D&C 11:9 Say nothing but repentance

“When the Lord calls upon his servants to cry nothing but repentance, he does not mean that they may not cry baptism, and call upon the people to obey the commandments of the Lord, but he wishes that all that they say and do be in the spirit of bringing the people to repentance. Any missionary who fails to do this in his ministry is derelict in his duty.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:57.)

D&C 15:6 The thing which will be of most worth

‘There is nothing in all this world that can be compared to the value of a human soul, redeemed, sanctified, and made worthy to receive the blessings of God our Father. There is no investment which you men can put your money or your time into that will pay you so well in time or in eternity as to invest in a human soul, whether that shall be in the missionary field or at home, in the care of those precious ones who have come under our supervision. We have already heard scripture in this conference, from the Lord Jesus Christ, wherein he declares that the worth of souls is great in his sight, and if we should labor all our days and as the result of that labor bring, save it be but one of those precious souls, how great will be our joy! I know that I need not convert you to the fact that this is a true doctrine, but we constantly need to be appealed to, to be willing to give ourselves and our means in the accomplishment of this, the greatest work there is in all the world.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, October 1925, Afternoon Session 129.)

D&C 18:6 The world is ripening in iniquity

‘During our Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said the great difficulty with our country and our people was, “We had forgotten God.” In a modern revelation to you and to me and to the people of this generation the Lord, speaking through the Prophet Joseph: Smith, has said, “Behold, the world is ripening in iniquity; and it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance”  D&C 18:6 Let us therefore as a nation return to church, let us partake worthily of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, let us, come into closest possible communion and cooperation with God, the Eternal Father, and pray that freedom and liberty, that gift of God by us so highly prized, may come to all the people of all nations of the earth. And I pray humbly that we in this land, choice above all other lands, may be a righteous people who deserve the blessings the Almighty has promised to those who love Him and serve Him and keep His commandments, and I do this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.’ (Richard R Lyman, General Conference, October 1942)

D&C 31:3-4 Our message

‘This is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. We as a people are Latter-day Saints. We testify that the heavens have been opened, that the curtains have been parted, that God has spoken, and that Jesus Christ has manifested Himself, followed by a bestowal of divine authority.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this work, and it is built upon a “foundation of … apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20).

This wondrous Restoration should make of us a people of tolerance, of neighborliness, of appreciation and kindness toward others. We cannot be boastful. We cannot be proud. We can be thankful, as we must be. We can be humble, as we should be.

We love those of other churches. We work with them in good causes. We respect them. But we must never forget our roots. Those roots lie deep in the soil of the opening of this, the final dispensation, the dispensation of the fulness of times.

What an inspiration it has been to look into the faces of men and women across the world who carry in their hearts a solemn conviction of the truth of this foundation.

When it comes to divine authority, this is the sum and substance of the whole matter.

God be thanked for His marvelous bestowal of testimony, authority, and doctrine associated with this, the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

This must be our great and singular message to the world. We do not offer it with boasting. We testify in humility but with gravity and absolute sincerity. We invite all, the whole earth, to listen to this account and take measure of its truth. God bless us as those who believe in His divine manifestations and help us to extend knowledge of these great and marvelous occurrences to all who will listen. To these we say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. This invitation I extend to men and women everywhere with my solemn testimony that this work is true, for I know the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, Ensign, Nov 2002, 78)

D&C 33:10 Make his paths straight

“Eastern potentates, when traveling from one part of the kingdom to another, would proclaim their coming and order their subjects to prepare the way for them, by building roads where there were none, if necessary; by leveling hills and filling up depressions, and straightening out the winding paths. Semiramis is said to have had roads constructed especially for her journeys. In modern times the Turkish government built a good road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, when the German Emperor signified his intention of visiting the Holy City. To prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight is to acknowledge His sovereignty and to make all necessary preparations for His reception. He will not come to reign until all necessary preparations for his coming have been made. ‘Hear this, O Earth! The Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843 … nor until everything for the Bridegroom is ready’ (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 291.)” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 174.)

D&C 42:12 Teach the principles of my gospel

‘Teachers who are commanded to teach “the principles of [the] gospel” and “the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) should generally forgo teaching specific rules or applications. For example, they would not teach any rules for determining what is a full tithing, and they would not provide a list of dos and don’ts for keeping the Sabbath day holy. Once a teacher has taught the doctrine and the associated principles from the scriptures and the living prophets, such specific applications or rules are generally the responsibility of individuals and families.

Well-taught doctrines and principles have a more powerful influence on behavior than rules. When we teach gospel doctrine and principles, we can qualify for the witness and guidance of the Spirit to reinforce our teaching, and we enlist the faith of our students in seeking the guidance of that same Spirit in applying those teachings in their personal lives.’ (Dallin H Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 79-80)

D&C 52:9 Saying none other things

 “The truth of all things is measured by the scriptures. That which harmonizes with them should be accepted; that which is contrary to their teachings, however plausible it may seem for the moment, will not endure and should be rejected.” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 765.)

D&C 18:20-21 Contend against no church

‘When we are commanded to “contend against no church save it be the church of the devil,” we must understand that this is instruction to us to contend against all evil, that which is opposed to righteousness and truth. James declares, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” and the scriptures also teach “for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord; and that which is evil cometh from the devil.” (Omni 25.) All who go forth to teach should do so in wisdom and not contend with the churches or engage in profitless debates, but teach in the spirit of kindness and try to persuade people to receive the truth.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 78.)

D&C 38:41 In mildness and in meekness

“We live in a time when some misrepresent the beliefs of those they call Mormons and even revile us because of them. When we encounter such misrepresentations, we have a duty to speak out to clarify our doctrine and what we believe. We should be the ones to state our beliefs rather than allowing others the final word in misrepresenting them. This calls for testimony, which can be expressed privately to an acquaintance or publicly in a small or large meeting. As we testify of the truth we know, we should faithfully follow the caution to speak “in mildness and in meekness”  (D&C 38:41) We should never be overbearing, shrill, or reviling. As the Apostle Paul taught, we should speak the truth in love (see  Ephesians 4:15) Anyone can disagree with our personal testimony, but no one can refute it.” (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2008)

D&C 14:8 The Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance

‘Now we want to carry this message to the world in the way that the Lord wants us to carry it. We want to preach the truth in purity and in perfection, and to do it in the way the Lord wants it done. The only single formula whereby we may do this is for us so to live (and our elders in the mission fields so to live) that we can be guided by the Holy Ghost. We must be guided by the Spirit. We have to have the Lord tell us how he wants us to teach the message of the restoration, and every doctrine of the gospel, and he will do this by revelation from the Holy Ghost if we are worthy to receive it.

One of the chief differences between us and the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, is that the Holy Ghost gives us utterance  (D&C 14:8) if we are faithful, but that the people in the world teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost which giveth utterance  (2 Ne. 28:4). (Bruce R McConkie, General Conference, October 1949)

D&C 31:3 Lift up your heart and rejoice

‘Your level of spirituality is also directly related to how well you fill the Lord’s commandments to “Be of good cheer” and “Lift up your heart and rejoice” (D&C 31:3). How many times in the scriptures did the Lord command us to be of good cheer? He didn’t say, “Be of good cheer if everything is going well, if you have enough money to pay all your bills, if your biorhythms are up,” or whatever. No. For us to be of good cheer is a commandment and not merely a suggestion.

Here is a practical suggestion that has helped me in the past. Take a sheet of paper and write on it a list of the blessings you consider to be important in whatever order they come to your mind. Then place them in order of priority. What is your most precious blessing? Probably somewhere near the top of your list will be the big “Four Fs”-your faith, family, freedom, and friends.

Note how many blessings you have at the top of the list for which you would hope to have the courage to give up your mortal lives to protect. Then note how far down the list you go before you come to any blessing that you can buy for money. The most precious blessings are without price; they are priceless.’ (Joe J Christensen, “Ten Ideas to Increase Your Spirituality,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 59)

5. The Lord promises great blessings to those who labor in His service.

D&C 75:5, 31:5 Sheaves

‘Anciently, grain was cut by hand and tied into large bundles or sheaves which were then carried to the place of threshing. To see a person or an animal “laden with many sheaves” (D&C 75:5) was proof that the person had reaped an abundant harvest and would now enjoy the fruits of his labors.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 18:15-16 How great will be your joy

‘This is God’s work. He wants us to participate with Him and His Beloved Son in bringing the gospel into the lives of all of His children. The Lord has promised us that our joy will be great if we bring just one soul unto Him (see  D&C 18:15–16) Let us exercise greater faith and work together, members and missionaries, to bring many more souls unto Him. Let every family in the Church include as part of their daily family prayers a plea with the Lord to go before your family members and help them to find someone prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2000)

D&C 71:10 If any man lift his voice against you

‘President Harold B. Lee explained that what the Lord “is trying to have us understand is that he will take care of our enemies if we continue to keep the commandments. So, you Saints of the Most High God, when these things come, and they will come—this has been prophesied—you just say,

“‘No weapon formed against the work of the Lord will ever prosper, but all glory and majesty of this work that the Lord gave will long be remembered after those who have tried to befoul the name of the Church and those of its leaders will be forgotten, and their works will follow after them.’

“We feel sorry for them when we see these things happen.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 167; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 126.)’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 84:80 Shall not be weary

‘One major cause of real fatigue, little appreciated by those so afflicted, is trying to serve two masters. This is devastating double duty. If so divided, one inevitably ends up being ineffective, even disloyal, in respect to one master or another-a most fatiguing circumstance.’ (Neal A Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 115.)

Posted in Inspirational, Missionary work, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 2: An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

As a newly returned missionary Elder Hinckley gave a report to the First Presidency at the request of his mission president. This report led to Gordon receiving an assignments as the Executive Secretary of the Church Radio, Publicity, and Missionary Literature Committee. This began a lifetime of full-time Church service and advocacy of the Church in the media.

From the manual:

“I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it.”

What opportunities do we have to be an ensign to the nations and a light to the world?

Video: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Bringing the Church out of obscurity: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-05-1505-ministry-of-gordon-b-hinckley-bringing-the-church-out-of-obscurity?lang=eng

1 Like the stone in Daniel’s vision, the Church is rolling forth to fill the whole earth.
The growth of the Church from six members to a global faith.
“There is one thing very certain, … and that is, whatever men may think, and however they may plot and contrive, that this Kingdom will never be given into the hands of another people. It will grow and spread and increase, and no man living can stop its progress.” (President John Taylor)
The First Presidency has issued the following statistical report of the Church as of December 31, 2015.
Church Units
Stakes 3,174 Missions 418 Districts 558 Wards and Branches 30,016
Church Membership Total Membership 15,634,199
New Children of Record 114,550
Converts Baptized 257,402
Missionaries Full-Time Missionaries 74,079
Church-Service Missionaries 31,779
Temples in Operation at Year End 149
What are your feelings as you consider the growth of the Church from 1830 to the present day?
2 Early Church leaders had a prophetic view of the destiny of the Lord’s work.
Brigham Young and associates scaled Ensign Peak in July 1847 and surveyed the Salt Lake Valley.
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‘Section 2 of the lesson makes some important points about the fulfillment of the many prophecies of the progress of the Lord’s kingdom in the last days. It points out that many prophets were shown the work that we are currently engaged in. They wrote about it in our scriptures to let us know that the Lord has been preparing for this day for millennia. Brigham Young was shown our day. Isaiah was shown our day. If we look to the Book of Mormon, many of those prophets speak directly to us and tell us of our responsibilities as members of the Church in the last days. Witnesses of the mission and responsibility of the Lord’s Church are all around us.’ (Kelly Merrill, LDSliving.com)
From the manual:
I marvel at the foresight of that little group. It was both audacious and bold. It was almost unbelievable. Here they were, almost a thousand miles [1,600 kilometers] from the nearest settlement to the east and almost eight hundred miles [1,300 kilometers] from the Pacific Coast. They were in an untried climate. The soil was different from that of the black loam of Illinois and Iowa, where they had most recently lived. They had never raised a crop here. They had never experienced a winter. They had not built a structure of any kind. These prophets, dressed in old, travel-worn clothes, standing in boots they had worn for more than a thousand miles from Nauvoo to this valley, spoke of a millennial vision. They spoke out of a prophetic view of the marvelous destiny of this cause. They came down from the peak that day and went to work to bring reality to their dream.
What can we learn from this account? How have we benefited from the prophetic vision of early Church leaders? What do you think it means to be “an ensign to the nations”?
3 We must never lose sight of the divine destiny of God’s work and the part we play in it.
From the manual:
Each of us has a small field to cultivate. While so doing, we must never lose sight of the greater picture, the large composite of the divine destiny of this work. It was given us by God our Eternal Father, and each of us has a part to play in the weaving of its magnificent tapestry. Our individual contribution may be small, but it is not unimportant. …
Why do we need to see this grand picture? Why do we sometimes lose sight of it? In what ways can our small efforts contribute to the growth of God’s kingdom?
Sometimes the things that God wants us to do are not the things that we want to do. Sometimes we we think that we know better than Heavenly Father what would be best for us, including where and how we should serve. Part of faith is having faith in God’s plan for our development. We will have more freedom, liberty and independence if we learn to submit to God’s will.
4 We can become as an ensign to the nations from which the people of the earth may gather strength.
The increasing gulf between the standards of the  Church and the world.
From the manual:
We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator. We shall have the comfort of knowing that we are doing what He would have us do. Others may not agree with us, but I am confident that they will respect us. We will not be left alone. There are many [who are] not of our faith but who feel as we do. They will support us. They will sustain us in our efforts.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means. ” Albert Einstein

“You can be a good example or you can be a bad example, but you are always an example.” Hartman Rector, Jr.

“I challenge you to stand up to your peers as an example of righteous living.” Elder L. Tom Perry Ensign, Nov. 1996, 38,  “Run and Not Be Weary”

How can we develop greater vision and courage in moving God’s work forward? How can we live in the world without being of the world? How can we “take on more of the luster of the life of Christ”? Why is it important for us to stand for what is right?
Posted in Book of Mormon, General Conference, Jesus Christ, Missionary work

Saturday PM Session General Conference October 2016

Opposing votes heard again – invited to contact their Stake Presidents.

Elder Quentin L Cook

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‘There are a number of stumbling blocks to our valor that can prevent us from reaching the goal of eternal life.’

Story of father building cabin on ranch. Window focused on power pole. ‘That power pole is the most beautiful thing to me on the entire ranch.’ To him that pole represented an improved life. While the pole was stumbling block to me it had great practical meaning to my father.

‘One Stumbling Block Is the Philosophies of Men’ . We are committed to intelligence

1 Corinthians 15 – Handel’s Messiah. Describes some of what Christ accomplished. The apostasy – plain and precious truths lost. Christianity did not destroy paganism – it adopted it.

Heber C Kimball warned the time is coming when it will be difficult to tell the face of a friend from the face of an enemy…there is a test coming.

Elder Maxwell said much sifting will occur because of lapses in righteous behaviour which go unrepented of.

 

‘Another Stumbling Block Is Refusing to See Sin in Its True Light

Many people … have no remorse or willingness to acknowledge their conduct as being morally wrong. Even some who profess a belief in the Father and the Son wrongfully take the position that a loving Father in Heaven should exact no consequences for conduct that is contrary to His commandments. ‘

Corianton – son of Alma the Younger. Alma 39. Made the necessity of repentance clear to Corianton. Alma helped Corianton to understand that it is not injustice that the sinner should be consigned to misery Justice and mercy. None but the truly penitent are saved. Sooner or later everyone has to sit down to a banquet of consequences.

‘Looking beyond the Mark Is a Stumbling Block’

Gospel extremism is when one elevates any gospel principle above other equally important principles.

‘Some members elevate causes, many of which are good, to a status superior to basic gospel doctrine.’

‘If we elevate anything above our devotion to the Savior, … then we are looking beyond the mark. Jesus Christ is the mark!’

D&C 76 – being valiant in the testimony of Jesus is the simple test between the celestial kingdom and the lower kingdoms.

If we are to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus we must avoid the stumbling blocks.

Stumbling blocks may be made into stepping stones. Being valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ is a stepping stone.

 

Elder Gary E Stevenson

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Story of young girl in New York who lost her father. Moved to another state. Missionaries came to town. Told story of Joseph Smith. Two of the missionaries had seen the plates themselves. 12 year old Mary yearned to read it.

‘I went to his house just before the meeting was to commence, and asked to see the book; Brother Morley put it in my hand, as I looked at it, I felt such a desire to read it, that I could not refrain from asking him to let me take it home and read it, while he attended meeting. He said it would be too late for me to take it back after meeting, and another thing, he had hardly had time to read a chapter in it himself, and but few of the brethren had even seen it, but I pled so earnestly for it, he finally said, ‘Child, if you will bring this book home before breakfast tomorrow morning, you may take it.’ He admonished me to be very careful, and see that no harm came to it.’

She became the first person in her town to read the Book  of Mormon.

When you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it you can have the same feeling Mary had.

Joseph Smith described the Book of Mormon as the most correct of any book on the earth and the keystone of our religion.

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Mission experience in Japan. Began to teach about the Book of Mormon. Received the strongest feeling accompanied by a warm feeling of serenity and confidence.

‘Each of you can also receive a personal witness of this book! Do you realize that the Book of Mormon was written for you—and for your day? This book is one of the blessings of living in what we call the dispensation of the fulness of times.’

We have the benefit of the complete Book of Mormon. Moroni saw our day Mormon 8:

 34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.

 35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

I’n order to help the Book of Mormon become the keystone of your testimony, I offer you a challenge. I recently learned that many young people spend an average of seven hours a day looking at TV, computer, and smartphone screens. With this in mind, would you make a small change? Will you replace some of that daily screen time—particularly that devoted to social media, the internet, gaming, or television—with reading the Book of Mormon? If the studies I referred to are accurate, you could easily find time for daily study of the Book of Mormon even if for only 10 minutes a day. And you can study in a way that allows you to enjoy it and understand it—either on your device or in book form.’

Not to be treated as nasty medicine to be gulped down (Elder Russell M Nelson).

You will encounter the Saviour on almost every page.

The Book of Mormon – tangible evidence of the Restoration.

‘Within the book’s pages, you will discover the infinite love and incomprehensible grace of God. As you strive to follow the teachings you find there, your joy will expand, your understanding will increase, and the answers you seek to the many challenges mortality presents will be opened to you. As you look to the book, you look to the Lord. The Book of Mormon is the revealed word of God.’

(Prayer and the Book of Mormon seem to be the emerging themes of this Conference)

 

Elder D Todd Christofferson

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‘One of the terms we hear often today is that God’s love is “unconditional.” While in one sense that is true, the descriptor unconditional appears nowhere in scripture. Rather, His love is described in scripture as “great and wonderful love” [D&C 138:3], “perfect love” [1 John 4:18; Moroni 8:16], “redeeming love” [Alma 5:26], and “everlasting love” [Jeremiah 31:3]. These are better terms because the word unconditional can convey mistaken impressions about divine love, such as, God tolerates and excuses anything we do because His love is unconditional, or God makes no demands upon us because His love is unconditional, or all are saved in the heavenly kingdom of God because His love is unconditional. God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond to His love.’

To “continue in” or “abide in” the Savior’s love means to receive His grace and be perfected by it. To receive His grace, we must have faith in Jesus Christ and keep His commandments, including repenting of our sins, being baptized for the remission of sins, receiving the Holy Ghost, and continuing in the path of obedience.’

‘God will always love us but he cannot save us in our sins.’

Repentance is his gift to us purchased at a very dear price.

Russell M Nelson – ‘The resplendent bouquet of God’s love—including eternal life—includes blessings for which we must qualify, not entitlements to be expected unworthily. Sinners cannot bend His will to theirs and require Him to bless them in sin. If they desire to enjoy every bloom in His beautiful bouquet, they must repent.’

Dallin H Oaks – ‘The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become.’

Helen Keller and her teacher, Ann Sullivan. Not a pleasant experience at the beginning. Finally won her trust. Spelling words on her hand.

‘Each of us can love and serve God and be empowered to help our fellow man.’

Production of olive oil. The oil is red.

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Keep his commandments.

 

 

Elder W Mark Bassett

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Given a model of the golden plates as a young boy. Wanted to see what was written on the sealed portion of the plates.

‘Since the Creation of this earth, our loving Father in Heaven has provided direction, leadership, and instruction to His children through prophets. His words have been passed down through these prophets and are saved as scripture for our development and learning.’

‘Sadly, our development and learning can at times be slowed or even halted. … [Our] actions can lead us to seek after things that are not necessarily meant to be understood at this time, all the while ignoring the beautiful truths that are meant for us and our circumstances—the truths Nephi described as written for our learning and profit.’

The mysteries of God are unfolded to us only according to His will and by the power of the Holy Ghost.

‘Nephi’s example of seeking knowledge included (1) a sincere desire, (2) humility, (3) prayer, (4) trust in the prophet, and an exercise of (5) faith, (6) diligence, and (7) obedience.’

In the modern age we expect information to come immediately.

Some things can be learned only by faith – Dallin H Oaks.

‘Faith and trust in the Lord require us to acknowledge that His wisdom is superior to our own. We must also acknowledge that His plan provides the greatest potential for spiritual development and learning.

We were never expected “to have a perfect [understanding] of things” during this mortal existence. Instead, we are expected to “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” [Alma 32:21].’

‘As we acknowledge that we are the workmanship of a wise and devoted Father in Heaven, “O then,” why not allow Him to guide our spiritual development and learning “according to his will and pleasure” rather than our own? [Jacob 4:9].’

Testimony of Joseph Smith.

 

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita

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Dedication of the Sapporo Temple in Hokkaido.

‘In 1876, a renowned educator named Dr. William Clark was invited to come to Hokkaido to teach. He lived in Japan for just eight months, but his Christian spirit left a lasting impression on his young non-Christian students. Before leaving, he gave his students a parting message that has become immortalized in this bronze statue. He said, “Boys, be ambitious!”—“Be ambitious for Christ” [William Clark, in Ann B. Irish,Hokkaido: A History of Ethnic Transition and Development on Japan’s Northern Island (2009), 156]. His injunction to “be ambitious for Christ” can help direct daily decisions for today’s Latter-day Saints.

What does it mean to “be ambitious for Christ”? Being ambitious for Christ means being motivated, focused, and dedicated to His work. Being ambitious for Christ will seldom mean that we are singled out for public honor. Being ambitious for Christ means that we serve faithfully and diligently in our wards and branches without complaint and with joyful hearts.’

Missionaries are examples of those who are ambitious for Christ.

Story of missionary with prosthetic leg.

The Book of Mormon includes many examples of people who were ambitious for Christ. Alma the Younger.

‘In our lives we experience trials, but if we are ambitious for Christ, we can focus on Him and feel joy even in the midst of them. Our Redeemer is the ultimate example. He understood His holy mission and was obedient to the will of God the Father. What a choice blessing it is to bring His wonderful example to our remembrance each week as we partake of the sacrament.

My dear brothers and sisters, we are ambitious for Christ when we serve faithfully, accept humbly, endure nobly, pray fervently, and partake worthily.’

(Lovely talk, emotionally delivered.)

 

Elder Dallin H Oaks

Oakisd

Go ye therefore and teach all nations. The Great Commission.

We have many resources not available to previous generations. Are we using all of these resources to maximum effect?

Ideas that will work everywhere.

‘We need the help of every member, and every member can help, since there are so many tasks to perform as we share the restored gospel with every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.’

Member participation in missionary work is vital.

‘Sharing the restored gospel is our life-long Christian duty and privilege.’

‘There are three things all members can do to help share the gospel, regardless of the circumstances in which they live and work. All of us should do all of these.

First, we can all pray for desire to help with this vital part of the work of salvation. All efforts begin with desire.

Second, we can keep the commandments ourselves. Faithful, obedient members are the most persuasive witnesses of the truth and value of the restored gospel. Even more important, faithful members will always have His Spirit to be with them to guide them as they seek to participate in the great work of sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Third, we can pray for inspiration on what we can do in our individual circumstances to share the gospel with others.’

This is different than praying for the missionaries.

Praying for a commitment to act upon the inspiration you receive.

We should never set ourselves up as judges of who is ready and who is not.

‘As an Apostle of the Lord, I urge every member and family in the Church to pray for the Lord to help them find persons prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.’

Elder M Russell Ballard – Trust the Lord. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice; and today the voice of the Good Shepherd is your voice and my voice. And if we are not engaged, many who would hear the message of the Restoration will be passed by. Simply stated, it’s a matter of faith and action on our part. The principles are pretty simple—pray, personally and in your family, for missionary opportunities.

People interested in the results of the doctrine.

As we speak to others we need to remember that an invitation to learn more about Jesus Christ and his gospel is preferable to an invitation to know more about our church.

Authenticity.

Our efforts to share the gospel should not be limited to our circle of friends and acquaintances.

No correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that someone will be interested in the gospel.

There are many opportunities to share the gospel.

Our young members’ fascination and expertise with social media gives them unique opportunities to reach out.