Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mission call

“… In a world so large, the Creator … somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.” 

- Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Called of God” (devotional address delivered at the Provo Missionary Training Center, Aug. 26, 1997). As quoted in "Your Call to Serve," New Era, March 2007

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"There are lots of able-bodied men who, if they could only have a little more faith in God, and could realize the calamities that are coming upon the earth, and the responsibilities of that priesthood that God has conferred upon them, they would be ready to break all barriers and say, Here I am, send me; I wish to benefit the human family."

- John Taylor, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, (2011), 66–76, Chapter 8: Our Missionary Duty

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"we will never be prompted by the Holy Ghost to do something we cannot do."

Elder Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "To Learn and to Teach More Effectively," BYU Speeches, Aug. 21, 2007


Our distance from the Lord matters, but the direction we are heading is more important

"The closer we are to Jesus Christ in the thoughts and intents of our hearts, the more we appreciate His innocent suffering, the more grateful we are for grace and forgiveness, and the more we want to repent and become like Him. Our absolute distance from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is important, but the direction we are heading is even more crucial. God is more pleased with repentant sinners who are trying to draw closer to Him than with self-righteous, faultfinding individuals who, like the Pharisees and scribes of old, do not realize how badly they need to repent."

- Elder Dale G. Renlund, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “That I Might Draw All Men unto Me”, General Conference, April 2016


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Life is a gift; we choose our own attitudes despite circumstances

This incident was shared by Lucile F. Johnson of Orem, Utah: “There was an attractive lady whose company everyone sought and enjoyed. She was a delight to be around because she seemed to love life and people to the fullest. One day I said to her, ‘You are such a joy to all of us. What is your secret? Can you tell me?’

“‘Yes,’ she answered. ‘One word changed my life.’

“‘And what was that word?’ I queried.

“‘Malignant!’ Startled, I heard this explanation: ‘The doctor said that word to me and told me I had a limited time to live. I had a choice. I could make everyone miserable or I could try to make others happy. On my knees I realized that I had one day at a time just as everyone else has. I was able to see things I had never seen. My husband, my children, each person took on a beauty you can’t believe. I know that life is a gift whether it be a day or a year and I intend to enjoy my gift to the maximum.’”

Whether the works of God are manifest in healings or in the exhibition of courage and acceptance by those challenged must be left to the ultimate wisdom of Him who comprehendeth all things. How refreshing and strengthening are the lives of those who push upward and onward despite tragedies and griefs.

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
’Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

- Marvin J. Ashton, "Roadblocks to Progress," April 1979 General Conference
Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Obedience is powerful spiritual medicine. It comes close to being a cure-all."

- By President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "Leave It Alone," Ensign, June 2015, p. 80. from “Balm of Gilead,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 17–18.


Story: Man wanted vengeance but followed priesthood counsel to "let it go"

"If you suffer from worry, from grief or shame or jealousy or disappointment or envy, from self-recrimination or self-justification, consider this lesson taught to me many years ago by a patriarch. He was as saintly a man as I have ever known. …

"He grew up in a little community with a desire to make something of himself. He struggled to get an education.

"He married his sweetheart, and presently everything was just right. He was well employed, with a bright future. They were deeply in love, and she was expecting their first child.

"The night the baby was to be born, there were complications. The only doctor was somewhere in the countryside tending to the sick. …

"Finally the doctor was located. In the emergency, he acted quickly and soon had things in order. The baby was born and the crisis, it appeared, was over.

"Some days later, the young mother died from the very infection that the doctor had been treating at another home that night.

"John’s world was shattered. Everything was not right now; everything was all wrong. He had lost his wife. He had no way to tend both the baby and his work.

"As the weeks wore on, his grief festered. “That doctor should not be allowed to practice,” he would say. “He brought that infection to my wife. If he had been careful, she would be alive today.”

"He thought of little else, and in his bitterness, he became threatening. …

"One night a knock came at his door. A little girl said simply, “Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.”

“'Daddy' was the stake president. …

"This spiritual shepherd had been watching his flock and had something to say to him.

"The counsel from that wise servant was simply, “John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone.” …

"He struggled in agony to get hold of himself. And finally, he determined that whatever else the issues were, he should be obedient.

"Obedience is powerful spiritual medicine. It comes close to being a cure-all.

"He determined to follow the counsel of that wise spiritual leader. He would leave it alone.

"Then he told me, '… It was not until I was an old man that I could finally see a poor country doctor—overworked, underpaid, run ragged from patient to patient, with little medicine, no hospital, few instruments, struggling to save lives, and succeeding for the most part.

“'He had come in a moment of crisis, when two lives hung in the balance, and had acted without delay.

"'I was an old man,' he repeated, 'before I finally understood! I would have ruined my life,' he said, “and the lives of others.”

Many times he had thanked the Lord on his knees for a wise spiritual leader who counseled simply, 'John, leave it alone.'"

- By President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "Leave It Alone," Ensign, June 2015, p. 80. from “Balm of Gilead,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 17–18.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fourfold responsibility: family, work, church, self

“Each of us has a fourfold responsibility. First, we have a responsibility to our families. Second, we have a responsibility to our employers. Third, we have a responsibility to the Lord’s work. Fourth, we have a responsibility to ourselves.”

- Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rejoicing in the Privilege to Serve,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, June 21, 2003, 22, 23. As quoted in "With All Thy Getting, Get Understanding," Ensign, January 2017, p. 33


Prayerfully counsel with spouse about family size

"Families today are smaller than they were a generation ago—even LDS families. We can always find reasons to justify delaying or limiting the number of children we have. For example, “We need to graduate first” or “We need to get a better job so we can have more money” or “Why take all the fun out of marriage by having kids?”

"You’ve been blessed with a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. You have the blessings of eternity to offer to your children. Don’t get hung up on the thought that you must provide all things temporal. The greatest gift you have to offer to your children is access to all things spiritual in the kingdom of God.

"When you prayerfully counsel with your spouse about having children, remember that you are the youth of the noble birthright. Please don’t leave God out of your deliberations. Share that right to birth with as many spirit sons and daughters as God is prepared to send to your home. After all, these were His children long before they will be yours.

"With faith in God and His prophetic word, go forward without excuse or hesitation and create your own eternal family."

- Elder C. Scott Grow, Of the Seventy, "Prophetic Principles of Faithfulness," Ensign, January 2017, p. 16


When we lose the Spirit, it's easy to think we never had a testimony

"...a testimony is nothing more or less than the Holy Ghost bearing witness to our soul of the truthfulness of the gospel and of the restored Church. When we fail to pray and study the scriptures, the influence of the Spirit in our life is weakened, lowering our resistance to temptation. When we sin and become unclean, we lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost altogether. Without the ongoing witness of the Spirit, we can easily begin to think we don’t have a testimony and maybe never did.

"Our testimony needs to be continually nourished. That nourishment comes from personal prayer, daily scripture study—particularly the Book of Mormon—and serving in the Church throughout our life."

- Elder C. Scott Grow, Of the Seventy, "Prophetic Principles of Faithfulness," Ensign, January 2017, p. 16

Teaching helps article. Consider why you are asking the class this question. Examples of good questions.

"Questioning Our Discussion Questions," by Ted Barnes, Priesthood and Family Department of the Church, Ensign, January 2017, p. 14-15


Monday, January 9, 2017

Teach youth to look for answers in the best books

"For you to understand the doctrinal and historical content and context of the scriptures and our history, you will need to study from the “best books,” as the Lord has directed (D&C 88:118). The “best books” include the scriptures, the teachings of modern prophets and apostles, and the best LDS scholarship available. Through your diligent efforts to learn by study and by faith, you will be able to help your students learn the skills and attitudes necessary to distinguish between reliable information that will lift them up and the half-truths and incorrect interpretations of doctrine, history, and practices that will bring them down.

"Teach them about the challenges they face when relying upon the internet to answer questions of eternal significance. Remind them that James did not say, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him Google!” (see James 1:5).

"Wise people do not rely on the internet to diagnose and treat emotional, mental, and physical health challenges, especially life-threatening challenges. Instead, they seek out health experts, those trained and licensed by recognized medical and state boards. Even then, prudent people seek a second opinion.

"If that is the sensible course to take in finding answers for emotional, mental, and physical health issues, it is even more so when eternal life is at stake. When something has the potential to threaten our spiritual life, our most precious family relationships, and our membership in the kingdom, we should find thoughtful and faithful Church leaders to help us. And, if necessary, we should ask those with appropriate academic training, experience, and expertise for help."


"Church leaders today are fully conscious of the unlimited access to information, and we are making extraordinary efforts to provide accurate context and understanding of the teachings of the Restoration. A prime example of this effort is the 11 Gospel Topics essays on LDS.org that provide balanced and reliable interpretations of the facts for controversial and unfamiliar Church-related subjects.

[As a teacher of youth] "It is important that you know the content of these essays. If you have questions about them, please ask someone who has studied them and understands them. In other words, “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118) as you master the content of these essays."


"In addition to becoming lifelong learners, you must also be doing those things in your personal life that allow the Holy Spirit to work within you. Such things include sincere daily prayer, faithful fasting, regular study and pondering of the scriptures and the words of the living prophets, making the Sabbath day a delight, partaking of the sacrament with humility and always remembering the Savior, worshipping in the temple as often as possible, and, finally, reaching out to the needy, poor, and lonely—both those close by and across the world."


"...Avoid anything that drives away the Spirit."

- By Elder M. Russell Ballard, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "By Study and by Faith," Ensign, December 2016, p. 25

Friday, January 6, 2017

“The Lord loves you!”

"He Loves You," Alice Victoria Weston-Sherwood, Latter-day Saint Voices, Ensign, October 2014 https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/10/latter-day-saint-voices?lang=eng&media=audio 
(Article copied in its entirety below)

I was sitting in the corner of the celestial room by the organ during the dedication of the Memphis Tennessee Temple. President James E. Faust (1920–2007), a member of the First Presidency from 1995 to 2007, had come to dedicate the temple. He and several other leaders were seated behind the microphone. A local Church choir filed in and stood behind them.

A young woman I visit taught was a member of the choir. Throughout the meeting, I prayed that she would receive what she had come for. She had confided in me that she came to the temple dedication that day to find out her standing with the Lord. She had committed serious sins in the past, and though she had repented, she still struggled to feel good about herself. She even struggled to feel good about singing in the choir.

I stared at President Faust, feeling that he, as a representative of the Lord in the First Presidency, ought to be able to do something. But how could I tell him, and how could he do anything? After the meeting, he would file out of the room just as he had come in, and there would be no introductions, no handshakes, and no words exchanged. I understood that he was busy and had travel arrangements, but still I prayed.

President Faust, deep in thought, looked at me for a while—the muscles in his eyebrows were knit together. When the meeting ended, a happy expression flooded his countenance with light.

He looked at me again and then suddenly stood up, turned around, and stretched his arm forward as far as it would go. He pointed directly at my friend. Then he said firmly and loudly, “The Lord loves you!”

President Faust’s gesture was small and simple yet so powerful that it could have come only from the Holy Ghost communicating to him what I could not. Those few words blessed my friend and continue to sustain my faith that the Lord is mindful of the details of our lives and “that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

Sin and enticements compared to ant poison

"Highly Attractive Poison," Alison L. Randall, Latter-day Saint Voices, Ensign, October 2014, https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/10/latter-day-saint-voices?lang=eng&media=audio 
(Article copied in its entirety below.)

When I stepped out the front door to get the newspaper, I saw an unpleasant sight. A reddish mound of fire ants had formed in the night, rising through the crack between the lawn and the sidewalk.

Though my husband and I hadn’t lived long in Texas, USA, I knew from painful experience that the ants’ stinging bite, not their color, had earned them their nickname. I headed for the garage, where we kept the pesticide. I then read the instructions on the label.

“[This pesticide] is highly attractive to fire ants,” it read. “They will carry it into their mound, feed it to their queen, and the colony will die.” The label instructed me to sprinkle some granules on and around the mound. The ants would do the rest.

I was skeptical. The fire ants seemed pretty clever to me, able to build tall mounds in a single night. I doubted they would fall for disguised poison, but I sprinkled it on anyway.

A short while later I found the mound bustling with activity. I kept my distance but stooped to watch the fuss. They were as ecstatic as if it had just rained manna from heaven. They were hoisting the white granules in their tiny pincers and knocking over one another in their haste to get the poison into their mound.

I watched in horrified awe. They were willingly taking poison into their home. Apparently, the words “highly attractive” had not exaggerated. Somehow the pesticide company had been able to make something bad—lethal even—look extremely good.

I had never seen a more striking example of how bad could be made to look good. It made me think of how Satan does the same thing. I was comforted to realize that although he can sprinkle his disguised poison around my home, he can’t bring it in—unless I let him. So how could I keep it out?

One of my favorite scriptures came to mind: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.” With that Spirit, Mormon explains, we “may know with a perfect knowledge” whether something is of God or of Satan (Moroni 7:16).

That experience of watching those doomed ants filled me with gratitude that my husband and I could judge and know for sure whether to allow something into our home. Our job was to teach our children to follow the Spirit of Christ so that they too could know poison when they came upon it.

As I stooped there, watching those insects transport every last granule into their mound, I vowed to do all I could to keep poison out of my home.