Posted in Family, LDS Doctrine, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley, Temples

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 10: Nurturing the Eternal Partnership of Marriage

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

One evening when President and Sister Hinckley were sitting quietly together, Sister Hinckley said, “You have always given me wings to fly, and I have loved you for it.” Commenting on that expression from his wife, President Hinckley said, “I’ve tried to recognize [her] individuality, her personality, her desires, her background, her ambitions. Let her fly. Yes, let her fly! Let her develop her own talents. Let her do things her way. Get out of her way, and marvel at what she does.”

Why is it important for husbands and wives to recognise each other’s individuality.

Heavenly Father designed marriage from the beginning.

Watch: Man and Woman President Gordon B. Hinckley testifies that man and woman are God’s design. (0:57)

Watch: Renaissance of Marriage Hear what President Eyring says we all must do to have a renaissance of happy marriages and productive families. (2:36)

From the manual:

How wonderful a thing is marriage under the plan of our Eternal Father, a plan provided in His divine wisdom for the happiness and security of His children and the continuity of the race.

How can this knowledge influence the relationship between a husband and wife?

In the temple, a husband and wife can be sealed together for all eternity.

Eternal marriage is a very distinctive and valuable part of the Church. It involves a ceremony performed in a holy temple by an officiator who has the authority to seal couples together for eternity. This is a sacred and simple ceremony to unite husband and wife in the bonds of everlasting love and in the hopes of eternity.

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From the manual

[The] temples … offer blessings that are had nowhere else. All that occurs in these sacred houses has to do with the eternal nature of man. Here, husbands and wives and children are sealed together as families for all eternity. Marriage is not “until death do ye part.” It is forever, if the parties live worthy of the blessing.

What are the blessings of an eternal marriage in this life and in eternity?

Read: The Eternal Blessings of Marriage – Elder Richard G Scott

Read: Eternal Marriage – Elder Marion D Hanks

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Husbands and wives walk side by side on an eternal journey.

We believe that life is more secure and more joyous when it is experienced in the sacred relationships of the eternal family. A person who lives a righteous life in mortality and who has entered into an eternal marriage may look forward to an association in the postmortal world with a worthy spouse, and with those who were earthly children, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters.

From the manual:

Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have.

Why does marriage need to be “a partnership of equals”?

“The marriage sanctioned by God provides men and women with the opportunity to fulfill their divine potentials. ‘Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord’ (1 Cor. 11:11). Husbands and wives are unique in some ways and free to develop their eternal gifts, yet as coequals in the sight of their heavenly parents they are one in the divine goals they pursue, in their devotion to eternal principles and ordinances, in their obedience to the Lord, and in their divine love for each other. When a man and woman who have been sealed together in a temple are united spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, taking full responsibility for nurturing each other, they are truly married. Together they strive to emulate the prototype of the heavenly home from which they came. The Church teaches them to complement, support, and enrich one another. . . . If a husband and wife are faithful to their temple marriage, they will continue as co-creators in God’s celestial kingdom through the eternities.” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., Daniel H. Ludlow, ed. [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 2:487.)

“I urge the husbands and fathers of this church to be the kind of a man your wife would not want to be without. I urge the sisters of this church to be patient, loving, and understanding with their husbands. Those who enter into marriage should be fully prepared to establish their marriage as the first priority in their lives.

“It is destructive to the feeling essential for a happy marriage for either party to say to the other marriage partner, ‘I don’t need you.’ This is particularly so because the counsel of the Savior was and is to become one flesh: ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh

“‘Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.’ (Matt. 19:5-6.) It is far more difficult to be of one heart and mind than to be physically one. This unity of heart and mind is manifest in sincere expressions of ‘I appreciate you’ and ‘I am proud of you.’ Such domestic harmony results from forgiving and forgetting, essential elements of a maturing marriage relationship. Someone has said that we should keep our eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterward. (Magdeleine Scudery, as cited in The International Dictionary of Thoughts, Chicago: J. G. Ferguson Publishing Co., 1969, p. 472.) True charity ought to begin in marriage, for it is a relationship that must be rebuilt every day.” (Teachings of James E. Faust, 366.)

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God will not withhold any blessings from worthy individuals who are not married.

From the manual:

Somehow we have put a badge on a very important group in the Church. It reads “Singles.” I wish we would not do that. You are individuals, men and women, sons and daughters of God, not a mass of “look-alikes” or “do-alikes.” Because you do not happen to be married does not make you essentially different from others. All of us are very much alike in appearance and emotional responses, in our capacity to think, to reason, to be miserable, to be happy, to love and be loved.

How can President Hinckley’s promises and counsel in section 4 help persons who are not married?

Happiness in marriage comes from showing a loving concern for the well-being of one’s companion.

In 1831 the Lord revealed the law of the Church to the newly gathered Saints and commanded, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). This is the only place in scripture where the Lord asks us to love anything or anyone with all our hearts besides Himself. President Hinckley has… said that a husband should regard his wife “as the greatest treasure of his life.” In Matthew 6:21 we read, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”

From the manual:

Nurture and cultivate your marriage. Guard it and work to keep it solid and beautiful. … Marriage is a contract, it is a compact, it is a union between a man and a woman under the plan of the Almighty. It can be fragile. It requires nurture and very much effort.

What are some ways a husband and wife can “nurture and cultivate” their marriage?

Read: The Parable of the Tableware

Read: Nurturing Marriage – Elder Russell M Nelson

Posted in Faith, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 9: The Precious Gift of Testimony

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

President Hinckley talks about ‘The earliest instance of which I have recollection of spiritual feelings’.

What is your earliest recollection of spiritual feelings?

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Testimony is the great strength of the Church and the wellspring of faith and activity.

Watch: Testimony – President Gordon B Hinckley

From the manual:

This thing which we call testimony is the great strength of the Church. It is the wellspring of faith and activity.

In what ways does your personal testimony contribute to the strength of the Church?

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

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

Testimony is a quiet, encouraging voice that sustains us as we walk in faith and impels us to action.

Watch: Increase your testimony. Strengthen your testimony of God and His teachings by recognizing the feelings of the Holy Spirit. (4:59)

From the manual:

Opponents may quote scripture and argue doctrine endlessly. They can be clever and persuasive. But when one says, “I know,” there can be no further argument. There may not be acceptance, but who can refute or deny the quiet voice of the inner soul speaking with personal conviction?

Read: Experience vs opinion

What do we mean when we say ‘I know’?

Each of us can obtain a testimony of the reality of God and His Beloved Son and the restoration of Their work.

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

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

Read: Personal revelation and testimony – Sister Barbara Thompson

From the manual:

This witness, this testimony, can be the most precious of all the gifts of God. It is a heavenly bestowal when there is the right effort. It is the opportunity, it is the responsibility of every man and woman in this Church to obtain within himself or herself a conviction of the truth of this great latter-day work and of those who stand at its head, even the living God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does President Hinckley mean when he talks about ‘the right effort’?

We must live up to our testimony and share it with others.

From the manual:

This is God’s holy work. This is His Church and kingdom. The vision that occurred in the Sacred Grove was just as Joseph said it was. There is in my heart a true understanding of the importance of what happened there. The Book of Mormon is true. It testifies of the Lord Jesus Christ. His priesthood has been restored and is among us. The keys of that priesthood, which have come from heavenly beings, are exercised for our eternal blessing. Such is our testimony—yours and mine—a testimony which we must live up to and which we must share with others. I leave this testimony, my blessing, and my love with each of you and my invitation to continue to be part of this great latter-day miracle that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

How have you overcome feelings of fear about sharing your testimony?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has  reminded us: “The value to the world of the Restored  Gospel of Jesus Christ lies in its savour, its difference from  the rest of Christianity and from the rest of the world. If  we fail to communicate that difference, that unique addition we can make to the understanding and authority of  the rest of Christianity, we will have lost our value to the  world and to the kingdom and will be ‘good for nothing,  but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men’  (Matthew 5:13).” (Address to Regional Representatives,  April 5, 1985.)

Posted in Faith, Jesus Christ, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 8: We Look to Christ

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

President Hinckley relates an incident that occurred following the open house of the Mesa Arizona temple. He was asked by a Protestant minister why there were no crucifixes on the temple. President Hinckley responded that for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ while our message was about the living Christ.

“He then asked: ‘If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?’

“I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship. …

“… No sign, no work of art, no representation of form is adequate to express the glory and the wonder of the Living Christ. He told us what that symbol should be when he said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ (John 14:15.)

If we, as Church members, are to be ‘the only meaningful expression of our faith’ what does that mean for the way in which we must live our lives?

1. Jesus Christ is the living Son of the living God.

‘In the premortal life, Jesus Christ, whose main title was Jehovah, was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and thus the eldest brother and preeminent above all other spirit children of God. In that first estate, he came to be more intelligent than all other spirits, one “like unto God” (Abr. 3:19, 24), and served as the representative of the Father in the creation of “worlds without number” (Heb. 1:1–3; D&C 76:24; Moses 1:33; 7:30). LDS leaders have declared that all revelation since the Fall of Adam has been by, and through, Jehovah (Jesus Christ) and that whenever the Father has appeared unto man, it has been to introduce and bear record of the Son (Joseph Smith Translation [JST], John 1:19; Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:27). He was known to Adam, and the patriarchs from Adam to Noah worshiped him in humble reverence. He was the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God-Lawgiver on Sinai, the Holy One of Israel. Scriptural records affirm that all the prophets from the beginning spoke or wrote of the time when Jehovah would come to earth in the form of man, in the role of a messiah. Peter said, “to him give all the prophets witness” (Acts 2:25–31; 10:43). Jacob taught that “none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ” (Jacob 7:11; cf. Mosiah 3:5–10; 13:33; 3 Ne. 20:24).’ (Encyclopaedia of Mormonism)

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From the manual:

‘To all who may have doubts, I repeat the words given Thomas as he felt the wounded hands of the Lord: “Be not faithless, but believing” [John 20:27]. Believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the greatest figure of time and eternity. Believe that his matchless life reached back before the world was formed. Believe that he was the Creator of the earth on which we live. Believe that he was Jehovah of the Old Testament, that he was the Messiah of the New Testament, that he died and was resurrected, that he visited the western continents and taught the people here, that he ushered in this final gospel dispensation, and that he lives, the living Son of the living God, our Savior and our Redeemer.’

What accounts and teachings from the Savior’s life have special meaning to you?

2. Each of us can know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world, resurrected from the grave.

Watch video: He is not here: for He is risen. President Hinckley speaks about the Resurrection from the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. An excerpt from “Special Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2001. (2:24)

Watch video: Jesus is resurrected.  Peter and John find the empty tomb. Jesus, now resurrected, appears to Mary.

Read: Jesus Christ and resurrection.

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‘Jesus Christ is the central figure in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings, p. 121). Latter-day Saints believe that complete salvation is possible only through the life, death, resurrection, doctrines, and ordinances of Jesus Christ and in no other way.’ (Encyclopaedia of Mormonism)

From the manual:

‘The acquisition of understanding and enthusiasm for the Lord comes from following simple rules. … I should like to suggest three, elementary in their concept, almost trite in their repetition, but fundamental in their application and fruitful in their result. …

The first is to read—to read the word of the Lord. … Read, for instance, the Gospel of John from its beginning to its end. Let the Lord speak for himself to you, and his words will come with a quiet conviction that will make the words of his critics meaningless. Read also the testament of the New World, the Book of Mormon, brought forth as a witness “that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” (Book of Mormon title page.)

The next is to serve—to serve in the work of the Lord. … The cause of Christ does not need your doubts; it needs your strength and time and talents; and as you exercise these in service, your faith will grow and your doubts will wane. …

The third is to pray. Speak with your Eternal Father in the name of his Beloved Son. “Behold,” he says, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20.)’

How have these principles helped you deepen your spiritual understanding?

3. We need to continually ask ourselves, “What shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

Seeking to know and understand the attributes of Jesus Christ is of little worth unless we try to become like him and obtain those attributes. See 3 Nephi 12:48.

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From the manual:

‘What shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ?

Learn of him. Search the scriptures for they are they which testify of him. Ponder the miracle of his life and mission. Try a little more diligently to follow his example and observe his teachings.’

How would your life be different if you did not know of the Savior’s teachings and example?

4. We look to Jesus Christ as the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, and the focus of our faith.

We sometimes speak of faith as the first principle of the gospel. It would be more accurate to talk of ‘faith in Jesus Christ’.

From the manual:

‘We know not what lies ahead of us. We know not what the coming days will bring. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.’

In what ways is Christ our “one bright hope”? How is He our “beacon to a better way”?

Elder Dallin H Oaks said: ‘Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares you for whatever life brings.’

 

 

Posted in Holy Ghost, LDS Doctrine, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 7: The Whisperings of the Spirit

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From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

This section tells how the Spirit inspired President Hinckley when searching for a suitable place to build a temple in Hong Kong.

Have you ever had an experience where the Spirit has whispered to you in the night or in the early morning?

1. The Holy Ghost is the Comforter and the Testifier of truth.

See Experience vs Opinion.

From the manual:

‘The Holy Ghost is the Testifier of Truth, who can teach [us] things [we] cannot teach one another.’

Elder Bednar likes to ask at the end of meetings or discussions – ‘What did you learn from what was said?’ He then asks ‘What did you learn from what was not said?’

The Holy Ghost’s specific role is to testify of the Father and the Son. See 3 Nephi 28:11.

2. We need the Holy Ghost to guide us in our service at home and in the Church.

From the manual:

‘May I give a special word of counsel to parents who stand as heads of families: we need the direction of the Holy Ghost in the delicate and tremendous task that is ours in strengthening the spirituality of our homes.’

How can we invite the Holy Ghost to direct us as we lead our families?

3. Revelation almost always comes to us through a still, small voice—the whispering of the Spirit.

See video: Receiving Revelation.  You can receive personal revelation from God by living His gospel and having the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit usually communicates with us through our thoughts and feelings. See D&C 8:2-3.

Boyd K Packer taught:

‘The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather, it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all….Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of teh time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening.’

From the manual:

‘Why is it important to know that the Holy Ghost usually communicates in “a still, small voice”? What have you learned from your own experiences about recognizing communications from the Holy Ghost?’

4. The things of the Spirit enlighten, build, and uplift us.

See Spirit or Emotion?

From the manual:

‘How do we know the things of the Spirit? How do we know that it is from God? By the fruits of it. If it leads to growth and development, if it leads to faith and testimony, if it leads to a better way of doing things, if it leads to godliness, then it is of God. If it tears us down, if it brings us into darkness, if it confuses us and worries us, if it leads to faithlessness, then it is of the devil.’

How can these teachings help us recognize the influence of the Spirit?

“We never can comprehend the things of God and of heaven but by revelation. We may spiritualize and express opinions to all eternity, but that is no authority.” (Kent P. Jackson, Joseph Smith’s Commentary on the Bible, 159)

Consider what Joseph Smith told Brigham Young:

“Tell the brethren to be humble and faithful and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, that it will lead them aright. Be careful and not turn away the still, small voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their heart open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits—it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts, and their whole desire will be to do good” (quoted in Juvenile Instructor, 19 July 1873, 114)

5. The Holy Ghost will be our constant companion as we live for this blessing.

See video:  Having the Holy Ghost. You can invite the Holy Spirit into your life through prayer, scripture study and being obedient to God’s commandments. (2:56)

Consider the differences between:

  • feeling the Holy Ghost testify to us
  • being given the gift of the Holy Ghost
  • having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.

From the manual:

‘“How do you keep the Spirit of the Lord with you at all times?” Well, you live worthy of it; you live worthy of the Spirit of the Lord. That is what you do. And you will have it. … Just live right. Stay away from the sleaze. Stay away from pornography. Stay away from these things that pull you down. The books you read, the magazines you read, the videos you look at, the television programs you look at, the shows you go to, all have an effect on you and will do if you subject yourself to the influence of those titillating kinds of things which are designed to make you poor and somebody else rich. Stay away from them.’

Are there things in your life that are impairing your ability to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost?

“If a man ‘yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord’ (Mosiah 3:19), then he is born again. His spiritual death ceases. He becomes alive to the things of the Spirit; he returns to the presence of God because he receives the gift of the Holy Ghost; and he is alive to the things of righteousness. He crucifies the old man of sin, becomes a new creature of the Holy Ghost, and walks in a newness of life. This is what is meant by being born again.” (Bruce R McConkie, The Promised Messiah, p. 350)

Posted in prayer, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 6: How Mighty a Thing Is Prayer

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

From the manual:

‘Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of him: “He is a bright man with extraordinary judgment, but when he comes up against an insoluble problem, he goes to his knees.”’

What does this insight teach us about prayer?

Would our lives be different if prayer was an element in our decision making?

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1 God is our Father, and He invites us to pray to Him individually.

From the manual:

‘We can draw nearer to the Lord in our prayers. These can become conversations of thanksgiving. I can never fully understand how the Great God of the Universe, the Almighty, invites us as His children to speak with Him individually. How precious an opportunity is this. How wonderful that it actually happens. I testify that our prayers, offered in humility and sincerity, are heard and answered. It is a miraculous thing, but it is real.’

Why should some prayers be “conversations of thanksgiving”?

‘For what should we pray? We should pray about our work, against the power of our enemies and the devil, for our welfare and the welfare of those around us.  (Alma 34:20, 22–25, 27) We should counsel with the Lord pertaining to all our decisions and activities.  (Alma 37:36–37) We should be grateful enough to give thanks for all we have.  (D&C 59:21 )We should confess His hand in all things. Ingratitude is one of our great sins.’ (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, April 1977)

See The Sin of Ingratitude

 

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2 Family prayer leads to miracles for individuals, families, and society.

Watch video: Prayer. Learn from a humble woman’s example how the power of prayer can work miracles in our lives.

From the manual:

‘If there be any among you who are not having family prayer, let that practice start now, to get on your knees together, if you can possibly do it, every morning and every evening, and speak to the Lord and express your thanks, invoke His blessings upon the needy of the earth, and speak to Him concerning your own well-being.

I give you my testimony that if you sincerely apply family prayer, you will not go away unrewarded. The changes may not be readily apparent. They may be extremely subtle. But they will be real, for God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6.)’

What are some obstacles to consistent family prayer? How can family members work together to overcome these obstacles?

Brigham Young: ‘If I did not feel like praying, and asking my Father in Heaven to give me a morning blessing, and to preserve me and my family and the good upon the earth throughout the day, I should say, ‘Brigham, get down here on your knees, bow your body down before the throne of him who rules in the heavens, and stay there until you can feel to supplicate at that throne of grace erected for sinners’. (Discourses of Brigham Young p46).

What does President Young’s statement mean to you? What if we only talked with our loved ones when we felt it?

See Alma 34:17-28

“…May I ask this important question: How many families in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have regular nightly and morning family prayer? Those who neglect to do so are displeasing the Lord and are entitled to the same rebuke which the Lord gave some of the leading elders of the Church in the early days. No parent should depend solely on the organizations of the Church for the training of the children. They should be taught to pray regularly, secretly as well as in the family circle. The counsel that Alma and Amulek gave to the straying Zoramites is just as essential to the Latter-day Saints today as it was two thousand years ago.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:48)

3 We need to be prayerful and listen, for our prayers will be answered.

Watch video: The Hope of God’s Light. Many of us have wondered if God knows us or if He even exists. Todd was someone who wasn’t surprised when he didn’t get an immediate answer to a prayer. But could God be giving us small but obvious answers? And how patient do we need to be?

From the manual:

‘Believe in the power and majesty of prayer. The Lord answers our prayers. I know that. I have seen it happen again and again and again. Prayer brings us into partnership with God. It offers us an opportunity to speak with Him, to thank Him for His magnificent blessings, and to ask Him for guidance and protection as we walk the paths of life. This great work, which is spreading over the earth, found its roots in the prayer of a boy. He had read in the family Bible, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:5–6). That is the promise. Is there any greater promise anywhere in the world than that promise?

Why does prayer have the power to bring us “into partnership with God”?

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Neal A Maxwell: Petitioning in prayer has taught me, again and again, that the vault of heaven with all its blessings is to be opened only by a combination lock. One tumbler falls when there is faith; a second when there is personal righteousness; the third and final tumbler falls only when what is sought is, in God’s judgement – not ours – right for us. (New Era, April 1978)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Family, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 5: Daughters of God

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

This section talks about the great blessings that came into President Hinckley’s life through his mother, Ada, and his wife Marjorie Pay.

Video: President Hinckley – The Women in Our Lives

From the manual:

“How thankful I am, how thankful we all must be, for the women in our lives. God bless them. May His great love distill upon them and crown them with luster and beauty, grace and faith.”

Who are the great women who have blessed your life?

1 Women have a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God.

The Church is publishing a series of in depth essays on its website on certain gospel topics. One that may be relevant to this lesson is on Mother in Heaven.
From the manual:
‘You are very precious, each of you. … You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you.’
Why is it important for us to understand the “high and sacred place” of women in God’s eternal plan?

2 The Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith applies to all.

For useful background information on Emma Smith and D&C 25 see the Revelations in Context article Thou Art an Elect Lady
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From the manual:
What aspects of the Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith are especially helpful to you?

3 Mothers have a sacred calling to bring up their children in righteousness and truth.

From the manual:
‘I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling. No other can adequately take your place. No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world.’

Russell M. Nelson (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles): The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally. (“Celestial Marriage,” Ensign, Nov 2008, p. 93)

For parents, why is “no obligation more binding” than rearing their children “in love and peace and integrity”?
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4 Women have great responsibilities in the work of salvation.

From the manual:
‘Women in the Church are associates with their brethren in carrying forward this mighty work of the Lord. … Women carry tremendous responsibilities and they are accountable for the fulfillment of those responsibilities. They head their own organizations, and those organizations are strong and viable and are significant forces for good in the world. They stand in an associate role to the priesthood, all striving together to build the kingdom of God in the earth. We honor and respect you for your capacity. We expect leadership, and strength, and impressive results from your management of the organizations for which you are responsible. We uphold and sustain you as daughters of God, working in a great partnership to assist him in bringing to pass the immortality and the eternal life of all of the sons and daughters of God.’

‘Blessings of the priesthood are shared by men and women. All may qualify for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. All may take upon themselves the name of the Lord and partake of the sacrament. All may pray and receive answers to their prayers. Gifts of the Spirit and testimonies of the truth are bestowed regardless of gender. Men and women receive the highest ordinance in the house of the Lord together and equally, or not at all (see  D&C 131:1–3)

Opportunities for development of spiritual and intellectual potential are equal. Masculinity has no monopoly on the mind, and femininity has no exclusive dominion over the heart. The highest titles of human achievement—teacher, educated professional, loyal employee, faithful friend, student of the scriptures, child of God, disciple of Christ, trusted companion, loving parent—are earned under a uniform requirement of worthiness.’ (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, October 1989)

Why is it important that men and women work together to move the Lord’s work forward? What are some examples you have seen of this?

5 Relief Society is a source of immeasurable blessings.

Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they:

  • Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement;
  • Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and
  • Work in unity to help those in need.
    Handbook 2: Administering the Church, [2010], 9.1.1
From the manual:
‘God bless the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. May the spirit of love which has motivated its members … continue to grow and be felt over the world. May their works of charity touch for good the lives of uncounted numbers wherever they find expression. And may light and understanding, learning and knowledge, and eternal truth grace the lives of generations of women yet to come, throughout the nations of the earth, because of this singular and divinely established institution.’
How can you strengthen the Relief Society in your ward?

6 Rise to the stature of the divinity within you.

We know we shall reap
Whatsoever we sow
We promise, we keep
Wherever we go
We need not look far
To find gratitude
We share a bright star
For good attitude,
To live as we should

It’s time to rise
With stature divine,
With virtuous eyes,
And a wholesome mind
With love for the land
And the sky above
We labor by hand,
We give and we love,
And we do not shove

A struggling mother
Much marred by abuse,
Needs hope not smother
To feel she’s of use
As a morning star
We shouted for joy
For just where we are-
With life to enjoy
For each girl and boy

With minds full of light,
We’re full of glory
The oppressed now bright
Know a new story
A broad horizon
Can master one’s fate
For daughter and son-
It is not too late-
For love’s bloom, not hate!

We can cultivate
Beauty all around
Through prayer and not fate
We are safely sound
To safeguard from sin,
Stand above evil
And rise and begin (clean the drab within)
Speak against what’s ill-
And, harvests then fulfill

– Gordon B Hinckley

From the manual:
‘I feel to invite women everywhere to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.’
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Patricia T. Holland:

“On a pristinely clear and beautifully bright day, I sat overlooking the Sea of Galilee and reread the tenth chapter of Luke. But instead of the words on the page, I thought I saw with my mind and heard with my heart these words: ‘[Pat, Pat, Pat,] thou art careful and troubled about many things.’ Then the power of pure and personal revelation seized me as I read, ‘But one thing-only one thing-is truly needful.’ (See Luke 10:40-41.) …As I sat pondering my problems, I felt that same sun’s healing rays like warm liquid pouring into my heart, relaxing, calming, and comforting my troubled soul.

“Our loving Father in heaven seemed to be whispering to me, ‘You don’t have to worry over so many things. The one thing that is needful-the only thing that is truly needful-is to keep your eyes toward the sun-my Son.’ Suddenly I had true peace. I knew that my life had always been in his hands, from the very beginning! The sea lying peacefully before my eyes had been tempest-tossed and dangerous-many, many times. All I needed to do was to renew my faith and get a firm grasp of his hand, and together we could walk on the water.” (Jeffrey R. Holland and Patricia T. Holland, On Earth As It Is in Heaven [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 81.)

How can we gain a better vision of what God sees our potential to be? How can we progress toward reaching our potential?
Posted in Faith, LDS Church History, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley -Chapter 4: The Pioneer Heritage of Faith and Sacrifice

“Whether you have pioneer ancestry or came into the Church only yesterday, you are a part of this whole grand picture of which those men and women dreamed. … They laid the foundation. Ours is the duty to build on it.”
As the Church becomes an increasingly global organisation and overflows its Rocky Mountain home, an increasing proportion of its members will not have ancestors who crossed the plains or founded small communities in the desert. Many, however, will be gospel pioneers in their families, schools, work places and communities. We may not all have great ancestors, but we can all become great ancestors.

From the life of Gordon B Hinckley

President Hinckley speaks about his pioneering ancestors and then honours those who are gospel pioneers around the world today.

1 With vision, labor, and confidence in the power of God working through them, the early Latter-day Saint pioneers brought their faith to reality.

From the manual:
Behind us is a glorious history. It is bespangled with heroism, tenacity to principle, and unflagging fidelity. It is the product of faith. Before us is a great future. It begins today. We cannot pause. We cannot slow down. We cannot slacken our pace or shorten our stride.
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How do you feel when you consider the legacy of faith and sacrifice that pioneers and other Saints have given us?
Who are the pioneers of the Church in your area? (See my blog Saints ain’ts and complaints for some of the pioneers in my area of the church.)
How can we pass on this same kind of legacy to those who will follow us?
2 Early Latter-day Saint pioneers looked to the future with a grand dream of Zion.
From the manual:
I stood the other day on the old docks of Liverpool, England. There was practically no activity the Friday morning when we were there. But once this was a veritable beehive. During the 1800s, tens of thousands of our people walked over the same stone paving on which we walked. They came from across the British Isles and from the lands of Europe, converts to the Church. They came with testimony on their lips and faith in their hearts. Was it difficult to leave their homes and step into the unknown of a new world? Of course it was. But they did it with optimism and enthusiasm. They boarded sailing vessels. They knew the crossing at best was hazardous. They soon found out that for the most part it was miserable. They lived in cramped quarters week after week. They endured storms, disease, sickness. Many died on the way and were buried at sea. It was an arduous and fearsome journey. They had doubts, yes. But their faith rose above those doubts. Their optimism rose above their fears. They had their dream of Zion, and they were on their way to fulfill it.
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What dream or vision drives you forward and helps you to endure the difficult times?
The LDS hymn ‘Come, Come Ye Saints was written by English pioneer William Clayton on the plains of Iowa while concerned about his family back in Nauvoo. See: William Clayton and Come, Come Ye Saints in the Friend magazine.
‘Life isn’t always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa—up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage. Always, there is a Devil’s Gate, which will swing wide open to lure us in. Those who are wise and faithful will steer a course as far from such temptation as possible, while others—sometimes those who are nearest and dearest to us—succumb to the attraction of ease, comfort, convenience, and rest. Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing: “All is well! All is well!” (Hymns, no. 30).’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, May 1997)
3 The rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers speaks of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
From the manual:
My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray, that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives.
What can we do to rescue and lift those who are in need today?

“I received a letter this morning. I think I would like to read it to you. I hope that you will not consider it egotistical for me to do so.

“What a wonderful Conference! Your closing remarks concerning Brigham Young’s rescue parties touched our family’s heart and we resolved to set out on our rescue mission without delay. We pulled out of the stake center [Sunday afternoon] and headed directly to the humble home of a struggling single parent mother of two who hasn’t been out to Church in years (and who has carefully evaded her visiting teachers). We happened to catch her in her driveway, and we told her that you and the bishop had sent us. Her heart was touched. She said that she works at a hospital till 2 A.M. most Sundays. When we asked if we could bring her children to Church with us, she explained that her ten-year-old daughter has no Sunday clothes and that her fourteen-year-old son had felt embarrassed to attend because he felt he didn’t fit in. We told the mom we would take care of the needed clothes. We then invited them to Sunday spaghetti dinner that took place thirty minutes later, introduced the boy to our nephew who is in his quorum, and arranged to pick the boy up for Mutual this week. The mom and sister promised to go to Church with us in two weeks when the mom has her Sunday off. (Don’t worry, we won’t let them forget!)’

“That is the whole thing, when all is said and done, to go out and get in our cars and drive from a Church parking lot to someone who has been neglected for a long time and needs a little attention, to lift and cheer and comfort and love and bless. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Matt. 25:40).” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 224.)

4 Each of us is a pioneer.
From the manual:
It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. Their tremendous example can become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family, and many of us pioneer daily in trying to establish a gospel foothold in distant parts of the world.
In what ways is each of us a pioneer?
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In a sense, each of us is a wanderer far from home, crossing a  wilderness in search of a promised land. This theme is repeated in the stories of the Jaredites, the family of Lehi, the children of Israel and Brigham Young and the pioneers. To get to our promised land we will each of us have to make sacrifices just as the pioneers did.
5 We honor the sacrifices and heritage of the pioneers by following their example and building on their foundation.
From the manual:
With so great an inheritance, we must go forward. We must never let down. We must hold our heads high. We must walk with integrity. We must “do what is right [and] let the consequence follow”
How can the examples of the early pioneers help us as we face challenges?

‘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)

Posted in Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 3: Cultivating an Attitude of Happiness and a Spirit of Optimism

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

President Hinckley was well known for his optimistic and positive take on life. This section of the manual indicates that this outlook was one that he learned from his parents.From the manual:
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, commented: “‘Things will work out’ may well be President Hinckley’s most repeated assurance to family, friends, and associates. ‘Keep trying,’ he will say. ‘Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.’”

See the article ‘A Prophet of Optimism and Vision; in the February 2017 Ensign for more stories and quotes.

How did President Hinckley’s attitude of happiness and spirit of optimism manifest itself in his life and demeanour?

1 Even when many people are negative and pessimistic, we can cultivate a spirit of happiness and optimism.

Optimism and Physical Health

With a large longitudinal sample researchers  Maruta, Colligan, Malinchoc, and Offord categorized medical patients as optimistic, mixed, or pessimistic. The researchers found that for every 10 point increase in a person’s score on their optimism scale, the risk of early death decreased by 19%.

Optimism also plays a role in the recovery from illness and disease. Multiple studies have investigated the role of optimism in people undergoing treatment for cancer (e.g., Carver et al., 1993; Schou, Ekeberg, & Ruland, 2005). These studies have found that optimistic people experience less distress when faced with potentially life-threatening cancer diagnoses. For example, Schou and colleagues (2005) found that a superior “fighting spirit” found in optimists predicted substantially better quality of life one year after breast cancer surgery. Optimism also predicted less disruption of normal life, distress, and fatigue in one study of women who were undergoing painful treatment for breast cancer (Carver, Lehman, & Antoni, 2003). In this case, optimism appeared to protect against an urge to withdraw from social activities, which may be important for healing. There is also evidence that optimism can protect against the development of chronic diseases.

Optimism can have an effect on a person’s immune system, as well. In one study, elderly adults were immunized for influenza (Kohut, Cooper, Nickolaus, Russell, & Cunnick, 2002). Two weeks later, their immune response to the vaccination was measured. Greater optimism predicted greater antibody production and better immune outcomes.

Optimism can have profound effects on a person’s physical health. The mere act of expecting positive outcomes and being hopeful can boost a person’s immune system, protect against harmful behaviors, prevent chronic disease, and help people cope following troubling news. Optimism can even predict a longer life. Among psychological constructs, optimism may be one of the most important predictors of physical health.

Optimism and Psychological Health

Evidence suggests that optimism is important in coping with difficult life events. Optimism has been linked to better responses to various difficulties, from the more mundane (e.g., transition to college [Brissette, Scheier, & Carver, 2002]) to the more extreme (e.g., coping with missile attacks [Zeidner & Hammer, 1992]). Optimism appears to play a protective role, assisting people in coping with extraordinarily trying incidents.

Optimism may even play a role in the well-being of caregivers for people with chronic illnesses. Caring for a loved one with a severe, terminal illness can have serious negative effects on psychological well-being. However, optimism appears to protect against the worst of these effects, as optimism has been associated with less depression and greater well-being in studies of people caring for others with cancer (Given et al., 1993), Alzheimer’s (Hooker et al., 1992), and mental disorders (Singh et al., 2004). The association between optimism and coping with other, less extreme difficulties has been investigated, as well. For example, in one study of college freshman, measures of optimism, hope, and well-being were administered immediately upon beginning college (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992). At the end of the semester, measures of well-being were again administered. Optimism at the beginning of college predicted a smoother, psychologically healthier transition to college life, as well as larger groups of new friends.

(See http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/positive-thinking/)

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From the manual:
I come … with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I’m suggesting that we accentuate the positive. I’m asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.
Think about President Hinckley’s counsel to “look deeper” for the good and to “cultivate an attitude of happiness [and] a spirit of optimism”. Why do we need this counsel today? How can we cultivate an attitude of happiness?
2 Rather than dwell on our problems, we can let a spirit of thanksgiving guide and bless us.
Alma 34:38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
‘whatsoever place ye may be in’ – the challenge is for us to remain in an attitude of thanksgiving despite the circumstances that we may find ourselves in. How do we stay grateful when we face difficulties and trials?
From the manual:

With gratitude in our hearts, let us not dwell upon the few problems we have. Let us rather count our blessings and in a great spirit of gratitude, motivated by a great faith, go forth to build the kingdom of God in the earth.

Let a spirit of thanksgiving guide and bless your days and nights. Work at it. You will find it will yield wonderful results.

President Hinckley said that “wonderful results” come when we “let a spirit of thanksgiving guide [us]”. Why do you think these “wonderful results” come? How are you blessed when you have a spirit of thanksgiving?

3 The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us a reason for gladness.
In the Bible Dictionary we read:
‘The word gospel means ‘good news’. The good news is that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement for mankind that will redeem all mankind from the grave and reward each individual according to his or her works.’
From the manual:

“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” (Deseret News, 12 June 1973.)

What are your thoughts about the analogy of life being “like an old-time rail journey”?  How does the “good news” of the gospel influence the way you approach that journey?

4 The gospel is a message of triumph to be embraced with enthusiasm, affection, and optimism.
D&C 128:19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!
“In September 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith was hiding in the house of Edward Hunter in Nauvoo… Yet it was in the cramped quarters of Edward Hunter’s home that Joseph penned the most majestic hymn of praise of the Restoration.
Perhaps you have been to a symphony and listened to a piece of music that begins with a single, clear note played by a violin or a flute. The single instrument holds center stage for a time and then slowly, sometimes almost imperceptibly, is joined by other instruments. As the piece continues, the music swells as more and more instruments join in until all are playing and the whole hall is filled with the beauty of sound.
Or perhaps you have listened to a great choir perform. Often a single soloist with a clear voice will begin to sing. As with the symphony, that single voice sounds in our ears without distraction. Then, slowly, other voices begin singing until, in a wonderful unity of sound, all are singing as one.
This is the structure of Joseph Smith’s hymn of praise, only it is a hymn not of voice in song or note of violin but in words played upon the soul and recorded in the scriptures. Joseph’s hymn, too, begins with a single voice, ‘a voice of gladness.’ Listen to the words and see if you can hear the other voices join in to sing one unified song of praise for the blessings of the Restoration:  (quotes D&C 128:19-23.)
What could have possibly been on Joseph Smith’s mind to bring forth from his pen such a beautiful summation of the Restoration? The central theme of D&C 128:1 is the salvation of the dead through the ordinances of the House of the Lord. Indeed, the verse immediately preceding Joseph’s song of gladness speaks of a ‘welding link . . . between the fathers and the children,’ a link that would be ‘whole and complete and perfect.’ (D&C 128:18.)
Earlier in the letter, and serving as introduction to his song of praise, Joseph Smith told the Saints, ‘[The work of the temple] seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest.’ He assured them, ‘These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation.’ (D&C 128:1, 15.) Joseph understood that the culmination of the Restoration, the point to which all the voices were leading, was the temple and the redeeming work for both living and dead that would take place within its walls. Without that work, the song of the Restoration would have ‘become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.’ (1 Corinthians 13:1.) Or, as Malachi wrote, ‘The whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.’ (D&C 2:3.) Temple work was the soul of Joseph Smith’s song as it is the soul of the Restoration.” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 5-7)
What examples have you seen of people embracing the gospel with enthusiasm? If we find ourselves feeling discouraged, how can we regain our optimism? What experiences have increased your optimism about the Lord’s work?
5 With knowledge that we are all children of God, we can stand a little taller, rise a little higher, and be a little better.

Before we came to this mortal world we lived with our Father in Heaven in His realms of glory. We are his offspring, he loves us and wants the best for us. The plan of salvation is designed to return us to his presence. We need to always hang onto our divine identity.
From the manual:
There is also in our society a sad tendency among many of us to belittle ourselves. Other persons may appear to us to be sure of themselves, but the fact is that most of us have some feelings of inferiority. The important thing is not to talk to yourself about it. … The important thing is to make the best of all that we have.

Why do you think there is a tendency to belittle others and ourselves? How can we overcome this tendency? What can we do, as individuals and families, to help others “stand a little taller” and “rise a little higher”?

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 Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley – Chapter 1: The Restoration of the Gospel—The Dawning of a Brighter Day

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

This section tells a story shared by President Hinckley in 2000 about a visit to the Sacred Grove and a spiritual witness he received there about the First Vision.

We can all receive a spiritual witness of the First Vision, just as President Hinckley did, and we don’t have to go to Palmyra!

1 Following the Savior’s death, the Church He had established drifted into apostasy.
President Hinckley quotes prophecies of the apostasy by Isaiah.
Why did the people of the world need the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored?

One by one, the apostles were killed as they went out to preach the gospel in foreign lands. At first, successor apostles were chosen such as Matthias (Acts 1:22), James (Acts 12:7; Galatians 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and Paul (Acts 14:14; Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 9:1).3 

These were called before A.D. 50. But neither scripture nor other historical evidence gives us any indication of the calling of others.

Peter,  Philip, Andrew, Jude, Bartholomew, and Simon were crucified;

  • James the son of Zebedee was beheaded;
  • Matthew was slain by a spear and a battle-axe;
  • James the son of Alphaeus was beaten and stoned by the Jews;
  • Matthias was stoned and then beheaded;
  • Thomas was thrust through with a spear.

While the exact dates of death are not known in many cases, it is believed that with the exception of John, all met their deaths well before the end of the first century.

Eventually there were no authorized priesthood keys upon the earth. Fragments of the original teachings and remnants of the original ordinances remained, but the priesthood, the power that gave the Church its spiritual life and sustenance, was gone. As prophesied the Church dwindled in unbelief and over time the doctrines became corrupt.

The Roman Empire which had first persecuted the Christians later adopted and adapted Christianity. The Emperor Constantine worshipped the Sun God but recognized the growing influence of the new religion of Christianity and saw the political advantage to be gained by adopting Christianity as the state religion.

Important religious questions were settled by Councils rather than by revelation. The simple truths taught by the Saviour were debated and changed. Plain and precious doctrines were removed from the scriptures.

2 The Renaissance and Reformation helped prepare the way for the restoration of the gospel.
From the lesson manual:
‘Somehow, in that long season of darkness, a candle was lighted. The age of Renaissance brought with it a flowering of learning, art, and science. There came a movement of bold and courageous men and women who looked heavenward in acknowledgment of God and His divine Son. We speak of it as the Reformation.’
What are some ways the Lord prepared the way for the restoration of the gospel?
The Reformation not only is a major event in world history but also is generally considered one of the important events leading up to the Restoration. Elder M. Russell Ballard declared, “I believe these reformers were inspired to create a religious climate in which God could restore lost truths and priesthood authority.”

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3 The Restoration was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith.
From the lesson manual:
‘Nothing like it had ever happened before. One is led to wonder why it was so important that both the Father and the Son appear. I think it was because They were ushering in the dispensation of the fulness of times, the last and final dispensation of the gospel, when there would be gathered together in one the elements of all previous dispensations. This was to be the final chapter in the long chronicle of God’s dealing with men and women upon the earth.’
Video of Joseph Smith’s First Vision:
In what ways has your testimony of the First Vision influenced you?

What truths were revealed in the First Vision?

Discuss Elder James E. Faust’s answers to that question:

“1. The existence of God our Father as a personal being, and proof that man was made in the image of God.

“2. That Jesus is a personage, separate and distinct from the Father.

“3. That Jesus Christ is declared by the Father to be his Son.

“4. That Jesus was the conveyor of revelation as taught in the Bible.

“5. The promise of James to ask of God for wisdom was fulfilled.

“6. The reality of an actual being from an unseen world who tried to destroy Joseph Smith.

“7. That there was a falling away from the Church established by Jesus Christ—Joseph was

told not to join any of the sects, for they taught the doctrines of men.

“8. Joseph Smith became a witness for God and his Son, Jesus Christ.” (In Conference Report, Apr.1984, pp. 92–93; or Ensign, May 1984, p. 68.)

4 Priesthood authority and keys were restored.
President Hinckley talks about his priesthood line of authority.
Why is important that Melchizedek Priesthood holders can trace their priesthood authority to Jesus Christ?
5 Through Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed truths that distinguish us from other churches.
  • The Godhead
  • Priesthood authority and Church organisation
  • The family
  • The innocence of little children
  • Salvation for the dead
  • The nature, purpose and potential of God’s children
  • Modern revelation

How have these truths blessed your life?

David W. Bercot, a student of the early Christian authors, wrote a book entitled  Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up::

When I first began studying the early Christian writings, I was surprised by what I read. In fact, after a few days of reading, I put their writings back on the shelf and decided to scrap my research altogether. After analyzing the situation, I realized the problem was that their writings contradicted many of my own theological views. . . . They frequently taught the opposite of what I believed, and they even labeled some of my beliefs as heretical. . . .

If there’s any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it’s the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. …… In fact, we frequently say that persons who don’t hold to this doctrine aren’t really Christians. However the early Christians universally believed that works or obedience play an essential role in our salvation.

Clement of Rome, who was a companion of the apostle Paul, . . . wrote, “A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he really does not believe God.'”

Polycarp, the personal companion of the apostle John, taught, “He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up—if we do His will and walk in His commandments.

The letter of Barnabas states: “He who keeps these [commandments] will be glorified in the kingdom of God.”

David Bercot concluded: “In fact, every early Christian writer who discussed the subject of salvation presented this same view.” Bercot was careful to note that the early Christian writers also taught that we cannot be saved without the grace of Christ. In other words, he noted that grace and works are inextricably tied together.

Which is precisely the LDS view – because that is the truth taught by the Saviour.