Exquisite—That’s what it was. One of the most meaningful talks I’ve ever listened to was the one Neal A. Maxwell delivered as he was sustained as an apostle, “Notwithstanding My Weakness.” General Conference is an important time for any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because we get to sit at the feet of a prophet and listen to the word of God. Like Mary of old, we want to choose “that good part”, and Elder Maxwell certainly helped us to do that. He spoke to anyone with recurring feelings of falling forever short. Maybe to each of us?
I was in the Missionary Training Center, getting ready to go to Argentina for two years to serve my mission. During General Conference, all of us missionaries wanted to take copious notes so that we might remember all of the wonderful ideas in these talks. Recordings were not generally available back then, and we knew that we’d be out of the United States by the time the text was available in the November 1976 Ensign. For Elder Maxwell‘s talk, after taking notes furiously for four or five minutes, wanting to retain quote after great quote, I paused to look around the room. All the other elders and sisters had already stopped trying to take notes and were just sitting there listening, hands and pens at rest, trying just to soak in the spirit of the rapid-fire, beautifully worded, carefully crafted text. It was like the lyrics of a song. I struggled for a bit longer to retain it all on paper, before I, too, gave up note-taking, rested my pen, and just sat and listened. It was an incredible moment for all of us. For weeks afterwards, nearly everyone said that their favorite moment in that General Conference was when they sat and feasted on Elder Maxwell‘s words, hands and fingers exhausted from trying to keep up. It was just sweet. Every time I re-read it, every time I listen to it yet again, I get emotional, just sitting — and remembering…
I invite you to read, watch or listen to the entire address from the October 1976 LDS General Conference. It is simply exquisite. It has something for all of us, and I hope you love it as much as I.
Reader Question: A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who happens to be Muslim, said to me, “People are always asking me whether or not I feel oppressed as a woman in Islam. And I don’t! Are Mormon women oppressed? Do women hold positions of authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”
Family Answer: This truly is a good question. And my friend was asking in the best way possible—with a sincere heart and mind. It was a “clean question”, a phrase we use in our family to indicate a question free of any agenda. She had no intent to pounce on my answer; her question was in no way mean-spirited; she was not intending to entrap or embarrass me or the Church. She merely was seeking information and was simply an open book. It was refreshing to see her approach, because this question, being truly a good question, unfortunately is not always asked in such a constructive way. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids, and here are the answers we gathered:
Authority to act in God’s name and the fullness of gospel truths were lost in the centuries after the death of Jesus (Bible, Amos 8:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3). For example, Christ established important roles for women disciples—As the Lord’s Church was lost in apostasy, this pattern of discipleship was also lost (Julie B. Beck, Ensign, Nov 2011). After this apostasy, people noticed inconsistencies between what the current church taught and what they read. They protested against these errors and taught the truths they saw in the Bible. Various people were inspired by God to fight against various false doctrines, and little by little, many churches moved closer to the doctrines of Jesus Christ. This process also created divisions and sects that taught a variety of conflicting doctrines. When Christ restored His authority to the earth, He restored this authority to everyone, in all walks of life. Specifically for your answer, He restored His authority both to the men and the women of the world. Here are some of the ramifications. We hope that some are meaningful to you.
1. Video by Sheri Dew: What do LDS women get? Are Mormon women oppressed?
2. While serving on a Relief Society board, Lillian DeLong visited a rural area of Ghana. Her husband was in Priesthood meeting in another room, and she was in Relief Society meeting, each conducting leadership training. After it was over, a woman came up to Lillian. In her beautiful Ghanaian church dress, she shook her hand and kept saying, “This is a woman’s church.” Lillian asked, “What do you mean, ‘This is a woman’s church?’” And she said, “We have just been in the marvelous Relief Society that teaches us not only spiritual things but temporal things about how to make our lives and our children and our families better. And at the same time your husband is in the Priesthood room and he is teaching our husbands that the culture of the church does not allow for them to beat their wives and their children.”
And she said, “In this church, my husband and I get to go to the temple and we are going to seal our children to us. And I have seven of my eleven kids that are dead. And I want my children with me. This is a woman’s church because it protects me and gives me all of those things.” (Sharon Eubank, Director, Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities, “This is a Woman’s Church”, FairMormon Conference, Provo UT, 8 Aug 2014.
3. In and out of the Church, Mormon women lead all the time; the influence of their leadership extends far and wide. As a global leader in the Relief Society, Sheri L. Dew taught us in Oct 2001: “Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fulness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together.” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, Chapter 8, “Blessings of the Priesthood for All: An Inseparable Connection with the Priesthood”, Page 128.)
I have learned for myself that women who know and live the gospel of Jesus Christ understand that “the priesthood of God is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women and children alike.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, as quoted in Daughters in My Kingdom, Chapter 8, Page 127.)
4. Just as Isaac and Rebekah of the Old Testament put a lot of work into ensuring that their son Jacob and his future wife enjoyed the blessings of an eternal marriage (Julie B. Beck, Aug 2009, “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family”), my wife and I have put a lot of work into our marriage and into raising our kids. The two of us together are better than the sum of the two of us separately (Sheri L. Dew, LDS General Conference, Oct 2001, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone”). As Isaac and Rebekah did, we want to be the man who has the keys and the woman who has the influence, working together as a two-are-better-than-one closely-knit team to see that we are prepared and to bring about the work that God wants us to do, equally yoked in our responsibilities as spouses and parents. “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers should help one another as equal partners.” (Family Proclamation.)
“The world does not know us, and truth…demands that we speak… We are not inferior to the ladies of the world, and we do not want to appear so.” (Eliza R. Snow, 6 Jan 1870.) While women do not hold the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ, women leaders in the Church impact all of us. “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Page 3.)
Early in her life, my wife, Kim, nurtured a strong desire to be a woman of power and a woman of influence. She decided that she could do that most effectively by choosing to stay at home to raise a family. Her influence on our six adult children and on their families cannot be measured. That is influence; that is power. We are grateful for her wisdom to wield these skills in such a way as to have a true impact on society.
5. Established in 1842 for women 18 years old and older, the Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. The motto is “Charity never faileth”. President Julie B. Beck has taught us: “Relief Society should be organized, aligned, and mobilized to strengthen families and help our homes to be sacred sanctuaries from the world. I learned this years ago when I was newly married. My parents, who had been my neighbors, announced that they would be moving to another part of the world… This was before e-mail, fax machines, cell phones, and Web cameras, and mail delivery was notoriously slow. One day before she left, I sat weeping with her and asked, ‘Who will be my mother?’ Mother thought carefully, and with the Spirit and power of revelation which comes to women of this kind, she said to me, ‘If I never come back, if you never see me again, if I’m never able to teach you another thing, you tie yourself to Relief Society. Relief Society will be your Mother.’ Mother knew that if I were sick, the sisters would take care of me, and when I had my babies, they would help me. But my mother’s greatest hope was that the sisters in Relief Society would be powerful, spiritual leaders for me. I began from that time to learn abundantly from women of stature and faith.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Pages 96-98.)
I have learned that the women of the Relief Society build faith and personal righteousness and help those in need. They have strengthened my family and my home.
We hope this answers your questions and helps you to understand us better, to understand better how women hold positions of authority in the Church of Jesus Christ and especially how Mormon women lead others, all the time and in all they do.
And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.
In this Easter season, we in our family want all of you to know that we believe in religious liberty, in upholding a strong tradition of civil discourse with people who aren’t like us, and in expressing a heart-felt faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We say these things on our own initiative. We feel them deep in our hearts. They make us who we are. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow everyone the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
Mary With The Resurrected Christ
We are glad that the Savior was born in a stable, died and came forth alive three days later with a resurrected and perfect body that would never perish, never go away. It’s because of Him that we live where traditions of religious liberty have thrived. It’s because of Him that we can be a forever family. It’s because of Him that we have the freedoms we enjoy.
“I believe that in time, with patience and good will, contending constitutional rights and conflicting personal values can be brought into mutually respectful accommodation.”
Excerpts from Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ Constitutional Symposium Address 16 April 2014. (Time 5:10.)
It was unthinkable, impossible, unfathomable, unprecedented.
He was a carpenter, a teacher, an outcast, a leader.
Like all who preceded Him, He lived, and He died.
But unlike all who preceded Him, He rose from the dead.
He lived again.
He lives, and because He lives, we all will live again.
Because of Him, death hath no sting, the grave no victory.
We can start again, and again, and again.
Because of Him, guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief,
despair becomes hope.
Because of Him, we have second chances, clean slates, new beginnings.
There is no such thing as The End.
Because of Him:
“Why do these Mormons stir up such emotions in people, and why are they not considered Christian by some?” As we approach General Conference next month, authority issues are as relevant today as ever. Interesting questions and answers from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as he spoke at Harvard Law School. Answers below.
Returning to my academic roots in New England, I am reminded today of—and stand with—a marvelous congregational cleric who, a century ago, had a little parish in Springfield, Massachusetts, about equidistant from New Haven and Cambridge, which seems appropriate. He said 100 years ago:
“The loss of respect for religion is the dry rot of social institutions. The idea of God as the Creator and Father of all mankind is to the moral world, what gravitation is in the natural; it holds everything else together and causes it to revolve around a common center. Take this away and any ultimate significance to life falls apart. There is then no such thing as collective humanity, but only separate molecules of men and women drifting in the universe, with no more cohesion and no more meaning than so many grains of sand have meaning for the sea.” [Henry Martyn Field]
Christ Handing the Keys to St Peter (Gesupietrochiave), by Pietro Perugino (1481-82)
We are not considered Christian by some because we are not fourth-century Christians, we are not Nicene Christians, we are not creedal Christians of the brand that arose hundreds of years after Christ. No, when we speak of “restored Christianity”, we speak of the Church as it was in its New Testament purity, not as it became when great councils were called to debate and anguish over what it was they really believed. So if one means Greek-influenced, council-convening, philosophy-flavored Christianity of post-apostolic times, then we are not that kind of Christian. Peter we know, and Paul we know, but Constantine and Athanasius, Athens and Alexandria we do not know. (Actually, we know them, we just don’t follow them.)
Thus, we teach that:
1. God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are separate and distinct beings[, both divine,] with glorified bodies of flesh and bone. As such, we stand with the historical position that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].” [Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Paul F. Achtemeier, ed. (1985), Page 1099]
Studying the New Testament
We take Christ literally at His word—that He “came down from heaven, not to do [his] own will, but the will of him that sent [him].” Of His antagonists, Jesus said they have “hated both me and my Father.” These, along with scores of other references, including His pleading prayers, make clear Jesus’s physical separation from His Father, subordinating Himself to His Father, saying regularly, in one way or another, my Father is greater than I. However, having affirmed the point of Their separate and distinct physical nature, we declare unequivocally that They were indeed “one” in every other conceivable way—in mind and deed, in will and wish and hope, in faith and purpose and intent and love. They are most assuredly much more alike than They are different in all the ways I have just said, but They are separate and distinct beings as all fathers and sons are. In this matter, we differ from traditional creedal Christianity, but we do feel that we agree with the New Testament.
The Open Canon Continues: President Thomas S. Monson
2. Next, we also differ from fourth and fifth century Christianity by declaring that the scriptural canon is not closed, that the heavens are open with revelatory experience, and that God meant what He said when He promised Moses, “My works are without end, and…my words…never cease.” We believe that God loves all His children and that He would never leave them for long without the instrumentality of prophets and apostles, authorized agents of His guidance and direction. The Book of Mormon and other canonized scripture, as well as the role of living oracles, witnesses to the fact that God continues to speak. We agree enthusiastically with the insightful Protestant scholar who inquired, “On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? …If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today…about matters that are of significant concern?” [Lee M. McDonald, The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, rev. ed. (1995), Pages 255-56.]
3. Lastly, for today, we are unique in the modern Christian world regarding one matter which a prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called our “most distinguishing feature.”
Peter, James and John Confirm the Keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery
That is, divine priesthood authority to provide the saving sacraments—the ordinances—of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The holy priesthood, which has been restored to the earth by those who held it anciently, signals the return of divine authorization. It is different from all other man-made powers and authorities on the face of the earth. Without it, there could be a church in name only, and it would be a church lacking in authority to administer in the things of God. This restoration of priesthood authority eases centuries of questions and anguish among those who knew certain ordinances and sacraments were essential but lived with the doubt as to who had the right to administer them. Breaking ecclesiastically with his more famous brother, John, over the latter’s decision to ordain without any divine authority to do so, Charles Wesley wrote:
How easily are bishops made
By man or woman’s whim: Wesley his hands on Coke hath laid, But who laid hands on him?
[Quoted in C. Beaufort Moss, The Divisions of Christendom: A Retrospect (n.d., “no date”), Page 22.]
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we can answer the question of “who laid hands on him” all the way back to Christ Himself. The return of such authority is truly “the most distinguishing feature” of our faith.
Thank you for your courteous attendance. I will be pleased to devote the remaining time to your questions. I leave my love, my witness, and a personal blessing on every one of you for whatever righteous need you may have, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I think that’s pretty clear, don’t you? Again, from Elder Holland:
Clearly, acting with divine authority requires more than mere social contract. It cannot be generated by theological training or a commission from the congregation. No, in the authorized work of God, there has to be power greater than that already possessed by the people in the pews or in the streets or in the seminaries—a fact that many honest religious seekers had known and openly acknowledged for generations leading up to the Restoration.
It is true that some few in that day did not want their ministers to claim special sacramental authority, but most people longed for priesthood sanctioned by God and were frustrated as to where they might go to find such.
Clarity can be wonderful, huh? And it’s all for free. Just as Christ used His priesthood power freely to bless others without charge and taught everyone to do likewise, today we use His priesthood power freely to bless others. (Avoiding “priestcraft”; see in New Testament Matthew 10:8, Acts 8:9-18 (especially Verse 18), 1 Peter 5:2, or in Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 26:29, Alma 1:12, Helaman 7:5, 3 Nephi 16:10.) God has designed it so that we use his priesthood only to bless others; for example, I cannot use the priesthood to give myself a blessing.
Through me, my sons also have this authority to bless their own families and to carry on the work of righteousness as God would do himself if He were here counseling and coaching us. I have learned for myself that true strength comes from magnifying the priesthood. Clearly, that makes me peculiar. I also know that everyone has the blessings of this authority available to them.
——– End of Post ——–
1. Watch or listen to Elder Holland at Harvard Law School below. Or read.
2. The priesthood of God isn’t for some and not for others — It’s for any of us, for all of us. It applies equally to people of any gender, in any country, of any position in life. For example, watch how Sheri Dew answers the great question: “In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do women get?”
3. Why is authority important? An 18-year-old learns one reason.
As a Mormon, to me it means accepting an assignment from church leaders to serve others. I know my leaders have pondered and discussed and prayed before asking me to serve. After saying Yes, I have the responsibility to kneel and to find out for myself that such a calling is from God. Because I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I want to magnify my calling.
Magnifying my calling is less concerned with what I do as I serve others and more concerned with how or why I serve others.
Conducting Music At Church
For example, I had a friend in college who moved into our congregation and immediately accepted a calling to lead the music in church each Sunday. Kathy was a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ, and she felt the calling was inspired of God. She gathered her roommates around her, told them of the new calling, and explained that she was terrified, as she had no musical experience whatsoever. They rallied around her, practiced singing and leading hymns in their living room over and over and over, for weeks on end, until she was comfortable directing the congregational music on her own.
I remember that first Sunday when Kathy stood before the congregation. Her fear was clear in every movement. With her hands, she deftly directed a perfect 3/4 meter in a little tiny triangular pattern, moving her hands about four inches from top of pattern to bottom. Her roommates ran up to her afterwards and all gave her a big hug. Weeks later, in our next testimony meeting, Kathy bore witness to how she had grown by accepting this calling and how she felt it was inspired of God. Then, the member of the bishopric who had issued the calling to her stood to explain that congregation leaders had been misinformed about her musical experience, were surprised to discover otherwise, and were pleased by Kathy’s willingness to serve in any capacity and by her roommates’ willingness to assist. As Kathy’s musical confidence grew over the next few months, the pattern of her musical direction grew to a more normal size. During those months, I remember seeing some of her roommates with tears streaming down their smiling faces as they watched Kathy’s trembling hands. We all watched as Kathy’s face smiled more and as her countenance glowed more each week as she stood before us. This calling had little to do with the knowledge of man and much to do with the knowledge of God. Kathy’s willingness to submit and to say Yes, to take initiative to educate herself, to learn new skills outside of her comfort zone, inspired us all.
Again, callings are less concerned with what we do as we serve others and more concerned with how or why we serve others. Kathy is proof. I’m glad there are so many Kathy’s in the world.
Having Learned For Ourselves, We’re Responsible To Help Others Know
——– End of Post ——–
1. Watch, listen, or read Elder Dallin H. Oaks as he speaks to the general membership of the Church as one of the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ in his address, entitled “Why Do We Serve?” (Length: 19:47.)
2. Watch, listen, or read the address of Elder M. Russell Ballard on showing our love and appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice through our simple, compassionate acts of service, entitled “Finding Joy through Loving Service.” (Length: 15:03.)
3. Watch, listen, or read Elder Derek A. Cuthbert in his beloved address, entitled “The Spirituality of Service.” (Length: 9:35.) It was a landmark address, quoted for years afterwards, particularly: “Over the years, many people, especially youth, have asked me, ‘Elder Cuthbert, how can I become more spiritual?’ My reply has always been the same: ‘You need to give more service.’ ”
4. Watch, listen, or read the wonderfully inspired words of President Barbara B. Smith, entitled “She Stretcheth Out Her Hand to the Poor.” (Length: 9:54.)
5. Watch, listen, or read President Thomas S. Monson as he describes, “The Service That Counts.” (Length: 22:26.)
6. Watch, listen, or read the address of Elder Dallin H. Oaks on how our Savior teaches us to follow Him by making the sacrifices necessary to lose ourselves in unselfish service to others, entitled “Unselfish Service.” (Length: 17:19.)
——– End of Bonus Material ——–
WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
Photo, “We’re Responsible To Know For Ourselves”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/prayer?lang=eng
Photo, “Conducting Music At Church”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/music?lang=eng
Photo, “Having Learned For Ourselves, We’re Responsible To Help Others Know”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/education/spiritual?lang=eng
Photo, “Studying To Learn”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/education/miscellaneous?lang=eng
Have you ever felt the delight of rebirth from restoring a garden, breathing new life into the soil with the work of your hands? I’ve found that digging a hole in the yard can be a great stress reliever. Whether the result be a vegetable garden, flower garden, water garden, or rock garden, the creative act of re-awakening a previously well-tended plot grows plenty of comfort and joy.
The same sense of recovering something of worth may come from restoring a chair or a desk. Furniture restoration not only reclaims the beauty of an old furniture friend, it can add to the elegance of your home, and the joy of revival can be just as satisfying as for a restored garden.
Have you had the joy of restoring the trust of a friend? A renewed confidence is more poignant if, as a headstrong loved one, I have turned myself from unruly ways, returning from an unwise path of my own obstinate will, back to the path of submitting to the will of another—And by so doing, discovering that he was always the wiser. While a recalcitrant, I treasured my errant ways, blindly unaware of my short-sightedness, until I rebuilt the foundation of the original shared trust that I had dismantled. The reawakened trust is especially sweet when for years my friend has invited me to return to his wiser ways.
My topic in this post is restoring a faith that has fizzled. Since Father Adam and Mother Eve, God has established His teachings among us. Because He loves us and because we are prone to wander, God gave us guidelines of good, better, best. And because we are prone to wander, we all have strayed from those guidelines, even when we know better. Each time a person strays, he or she may return through repentance. Each time a people strays, God always has sent someone to teach and persuade society yet again. That’s what He did with the Childrenof Israel, with the peoplein Christ’s day, and with the people who lived long after Christ. Watch how one person explains that he noticed a period of falling away (length: 2:04).
So what did God do? Even when I notice a broken chair or a disregarded plot of ground, I may choose to do nothing but simply to continue to neglect it. But when it comes to truth, God chose to restore the teachings that we had chosen to neglect. He sees our unyielding self, misguided intents, resistant societies—And He continues to see something of worth in us and sends someone to recover it. Watch as someone explains how she learned this for herself (length: 1:27).
I have learned for myself the beauty and elegance of these truths that God has restored, truths that have allowed me to rebuild my trust in Him. I have renewed and strengthened my faith, so that no matter what happens, despite pain and trials and difficulties, I can be safe and secure. As I become a person that Heavenly Father may trust, as He rebuilds me into the simple beauty of a finished chair, I should not be surprised that, as did Harry T. Burleigh, I find “a religious security as old as creation, older than hope, deeper than grief, more tender than tears.” I know these things are true, that the faith that God has restored is true. Everyone on earth may know these truths for themselves, directly from God. And that’s why I’m a Mormon.
The Simple Beauty Of A Finished Chair
——– End of Post ——–
1. Harry T. Burleigh, the pioneering African-American singer/composer, published in 1916 the song Deep River, which speaks both of emancipation from physical captivity and of an assurance of spiritual relief. It was the first (and would prove to be the most popular) of Burleigh’s published vocal arrangements. He regarded these songs as “prayers” that proclaim “a religious security as old as creation, older than hope, deeper than grief, more tender than tears.” (See The Crisis, Page 29.) Watch Paul Robeson sing Deep River in 1940:
2. Not all moments in time are alike. Some moments are more pregnant with meaning than others. It’s a rare experience to see God eye to eye. Such was the experience of Joseph Smith. Elder Neal A. Maxwell tells of the experience of Professor Arthur Henry King’s response, after he read it, to the prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision. Brother King said: (By the way, this is the quintessential Englishman, with bowler hat and many degrees, and this is how he reacted to the First Vision.)
“When I was first brought to read Joseph Smith’s story, I was deeply impressed. I wasn’t inclined to be impressed; as a stylistician, I have spent my life being disinclined to be impressed. So when I read his story, I thought to myself: This is an extraordinary thing. This is an astonishingly matter-of-fact and cool account. This man is not trying to persuade me of anything. He doesn’t feel the need to. He is stating what happened to him, and he is stating it not enthusiastically, but in a quite matter-of-fact way. He is not trying to make me cry or feel ecstatic. That struck me, and that began to build my testimony, for I could see that this man was telling the truth. And his was not the prose of someone who was trying to work it out and make it nice. It is the prose of someone who is trying to tell it as it is, who is bending all his faculties to expressing the truth and not thinking about anything else. And above all, though writing about Joseph Smith, not thinking about Joseph Smith, not thinking about the effect he is going to have on others, not posturing, not posing, but just being himself.” (1991 CES Old Testament Symposium.)
All of us may know for ourselves that God has restored the fulness of the gospel to us through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon isn’t just a popular musical; it’s a book that changes lives every day. Will yours change?
3. Come, Thou Fount Of Every Blessing, traditional American hymn, arrangement by Mack Wilberg, sung by Mormon Tabernacle Choir:
4. Watch how God prepared to restore the unchanged gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith’s search for truth. (Length: 19:18.) Read also in Joseph’s own words.
5. Watch a motion picture about the life and legacy of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Length: 1:02:04.)
6. Watch, listen, or read President Boyd K. Packer’s entire address regarding these restored eternal truths, entitled, “The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected”. (Length: 16:37.)
——– End of Bonus Material ——–
WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
Photo, family restores garden—www. watergardengems.com/index/index.php/about-us/our-testimonials
At the archery portion of the Naadam Festival held in July each year in Ulaanbaatar, a female archer in elegant Mongolian dress aims to topple a small wall of marked blocks from over half a football field away. The skill demonstrated by the archers in the competition is absolutely amazing as they more often than not hit the center portion of the marked blocks.
For Hunger Games archer Katniss Everdeen, it was take initiative or starve to death. After her father died and her mother was crippled with grief, feeding the family fell to Katniss. It took time, but she learned to recognize that she had developed skills that could save her family if she would put to work the tools her father had given her:
For a while, I hung around the edges of the Meadow, but finally I worked up the courage to go under the fence. It was the first time I’d been there alone, without my father’s weapons to protect me. But I retrieved the small bow and arrows he’d made me from a hollow tree. I probably didn’t go more than twenty yards into the woods that day. Most of the time, I perched up in the branches of an old oak, hoping for game to come by. After several hours, I had the good luck to kill a rabbit. I’d shot a few rabbits before, with my father’s guidance. But this I’d done on my own.
We hadn’t had meat in months… The woods became our savior, and each day I went a bit farther into its arms. It was slow-going at first, but I was determined to feed us. (The Hunger Games, Chapter 4, Paragraphs 17-19, Pages 50-51)
Nephi also learned to show initiative when faced with severe difficulties. His ability to feed his family was threatened when his bow made of fine steel was broken. He made a decision that saved his family. While others complained, he set a self-imposed goal: To make a bow of wood and to put it to work. Nephi would have had to carve a piece of wood long enough, thick enough, straight enough, and flexible yet strong enough to draw back with great force without breaking it. Suitable wood in the area may have included olive, pomegranate, acacia, or juniper.
Nephi chose to act. He did what he could to fix a bad situation. He didn’t wait to be “compelled in all things” but decided to be “anxiously engaged” and to do something “of [his] own free will” (D&C 58:26–27). The Lord then blessed his efforts by helping him to have a successful hunt (1 Nephi 16:29–31). His goals were not just self-imposed goals; they were goals that saved his family.
Clayton M. Christensen has put this same lesson to work. As a world-renowned innovation expert and the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, he has bit of experience with showing initiative. Throughout his book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries, Clay describes repeatedly how he has used self-imposed goals to bring about incredible changes in his own life and in the lives of others. No simple quote — Just lots of inspiring counsel from one who knows, from one who learned by doing.
I have learned for myself the importance of showing initiative. It helps us to aim high, to stretch ourselves and our bowstrings, and to reach new goals. It especially helps when we seek counsel from a trusted spiritual leader. And I know that by so doing, we may save our ourselves and our families.
Book, The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (2008, Scholastic Press, New York NY), ISBN 978-0-439-02348-1
Painting, Nephi Finds Food While Others Complained—www.lds.org/manual/book-of-mormon-student-manual/chapter-5-1-nephi-16-18
Photo, Ideas That Change The World—www.claytonchristensen.com
Book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries: The What and How of Sharing the Gospel, Clayton M. Christensen (2012, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City UT), ISBN 978-1-60907-315-2 (paperbound), 978-1-60907-316-9 (hardbound)
Article, “Nephi’s Bows”, New Era, Sep 2013, www .lds.org/new-era/2013/09/nephis-bows?lang=eng
Having trouble seeing, you say? My glasses work great. They really help me see a lot better. Here, put them on — I’m sure they’ll work for you, too. No, really, try them…
Swiss Countryside Through Train Window
Have you ever noticed how we all see things differently? I’ve had experiences in which, **POP**, my vision changes and I see things in a totally new light. For example, as we traveled by train from Switzerland to Italy, our cabinmate happened to be a young Swiss woman returning from home to her studies in Italy. Out the window, I saw with interest how the scenery changed from the über neat, carefully kept Swiss houses, each looking like a music box cottage, to the houses of the Italian countryside, with a few roof tiles askew and some external wall plaster that needed patching. Initially, I was disappointed with some of the residents of Italy, thinking, “Don’t they care?” I mentioned it to our new student friend, and she said simply, “Yes, isn’t it quaint?” **POP** I began to see these dwellings through her eyes — Instantly, I got it, and in place of the seemingly dilapidated houses I had seen in my mind’s eye just a moment before, the homes looked lovely to me. Suddenly, I couldn’t make these homes stay in the train window long enough, and I missed them after they disappeared from view. I thanked our friend, and I was stunned by the speed of the process by which she helped me to adjust my vision.
Sometimes, the needed adjustment is of little consequence. For example, who knew of the potential to use one’s body as a percussion instrument?
At other times, however, the needed adjustment may indeed be costly, especially when we underestimate our privileges or our potential:
As Dieter Uchtdorf is teaching, the costs can be great of not seeing my own potential. The potential for poor vision increases as I base my views on poor principles. Since I live in a world where principles are prized less and less, where principles are more and more mocked and scorned, discarded as a garment in a hot furnace, sad experience has taught me the importance of seeing on a higher plane.
Young Man Adjusting His Vision
I have learned for myself that I achieve little or nothing when I fight against God — That’s when I fail. In contrast, I am most successful, I achieve things of eternal importance, when I succeed in getting my understanding to **POP**, when I adjust my vision, when I see others as the Lord sees them, when I see myself as the Lord sees me. And I have learned for myself that this is true for each of us, for all of us.
——– End of Post ——–
WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
Bats And Blind, Shallow Courage I was a pioneer once, and it was scary. A friend with a new baby called and asked my son, Todd (then in high school), if he could come help her out—Her husband wasn’t at home, and she had a bat in her house. It seems that bats and mothers of new babies don’t do well together. Todd assured her that he’d be right over. Then he called me immediately. I was in a meeting, which was terminated for the bat. Neither Todd nor I had any batty experience; it was just the blind leading the bat. Fortunately for us, our friend happened to have a wastecan, which we emptied in order to shroud the squeaky thing. Fortunately for the bat, it had become more orderly by the time we arrived. We grabbed the empty can and a piece of cardboard large enough to cover the mouth of the wastebasket, calmly placed the container over the stationary animal, inserted the cardboard between the can and the wall, and carried the contained bat outside. Our meager courage did not fail.
While our winged mammal required us to have courage, its capture is a fairly wussy example of being a modern pioneer. Dictionary.com defines a pioneer as “one who is first to settle a region for development by others” or “one who is among the earliest in a field of inquiry, enterprise or progress.” So there may be a lot to learn from a non-wussy pioneer. For instance, there’s Matt Harding. Stuck in a job he didn’t enjoy, he decided that he was willing to take a risk and try something new. He has turned his silly characteristic dance into a video model of global community outreach, and people all over the world jostle to be with Matt, to laugh, jump and clap hands together. Now, it’s his full-time (yes, paying) job. All from some great music and from being willing to dance badly in front of people: Fun to watch.
Seeing More Deeply So why pioneer? What’s the urgency to pioneer? The importance? As President Monson taught us, “We forget how the Greeks and Romans prevailed magnificently in a barbaric world and how that triumph ended—how a slackness and softness finally overcame them to their ruin. In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security and a comfortable life; and they lost all—comfort and security and freedom.” (See Paragraph 11.)
Learning Our Heritage: Minute Men In The Making At Lexington, Massachusetts
I love the hymn They, the Builders of the Nation. Becoming a pioneer today takes courage, and it takes some out-of-the-box thinking. How may each of us be a “pillar, guide, and inspiration to the hosts of waiting youth”? (See Verse 3—sing, read or listen.) What are some important ways that we may broaden our understanding of how to serve more effectively the community around us? How to serve those who may have needs that we don’t perceive, and how we may be a part of meeting those unmet needs? Each of us can do things to become modern-day pioneers and to tread new ground in some important ways. Even if it isn’t to us, it can be very important to whom we serve.
Bogatyri (“Valiant Warriors Of Old”) (1898), Viktor Vasnetsov
Now that I think deeper, I was indeed a pioneer when I hurried to help my friend whose wife and family had just died in a plane crash. Despite being suicidal at the time, he and I bonded, and in his darkest moments, his extended family would seek me out repeatedly: “Come, Davy—Come quick. He needs you again.” I’d hasten once more to his side—we’d sit, sometimes talk, but I felt that our hearts were in constant conversation, even in silence, and I could feel him taking strength from me, and I gave freely, for I knew that I had strength to spare. By connecting with those around him, with people for whom he cared deeply, he quickly learned to develop his own sources of strength.
Again, I was a pioneer when I served diligently in our congregation as a home teacher (volunteer shepherd) to a family with five young children. Despite his severe substance abuse concerns, this young father and I bonded easily, and he sometimes called me in the wee hours when the pull of drugs was strong and he was weak and needed to talk. As we’d sit on the stoop of his small house in the darkness, we’d have the most amazing talks filled with light. He opened the door to whole new era in my home teaching experience when one day, he interrupted me mid-sentence to ask, “How do you do it, Dave? How do you get us to feel these things?” We opened our hearts to each other like never before, and our souls were knit together like David and Jonathan of old. It was as if we could read each other’s minds. When we talked of truths at night (Hymn 147, “Sweet Is the Work,” end of Verse 1), I remember many times thinking, “There is nowhere else on earth that I would rather be than right here, right now, on this stoop, talking with this man.” I could feel him taking courage from me, and I gave freely, for I knew that I had courage to spare. He moved away, then I moved, and always I will miss our conversations.
Consider More Deeply So, consider increasing your courage. Do what is right. Serve others not on your terms but on theirs; meet them on their level not yours. Get out of your box. Each of us may enjoy doing what we can to stand with other people for that which is good, for that which we know to be right. Be a pillar, a guide. Maybe be an inspiration. Maybe to youth. Couldn’t we all benefit from spending some time to consider how we may improve our efforts to become a modern pioneer? I know I will.
Modern Pioneers In Many Ways
——– End of Post ——– WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
Enjoy reading our posts, and join in the discussions! We encourage a panorama of opinions with cordial dissent or support, and ask that comments be respectful and relevant to the post, allowing all to enjoy the shared thoughts and experiences. Entries subject to editing. Comments not in keeping with these standards may be removed at the discretion of blog editors.