GETTING THE About the Book GETTING THE WATER TO THE END OF THE ROW This book has been in the making for some time. Portions of it were originally published as a reactivation guide for members in the Bennion Utah West Stake in 1976. Our hope in publishing it now is that it might become a study guide to help you in your personal reactivation and missionary efforts. It is our intention that this book be used as a personal study guide for you and your family. We hope that it will be both a guide and a resource to you. THIS BOOK IS NOT A CHURCH PROGRAM AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS SUCH. If you plan to use any part of the book in your Ward or Stake, you should get your Bishopís or Stake Presidentís approval first. It was said by one person after reading the book that, "this book covers the whole idea of how to get principals of the Gospel and the policies and direction down to the end of the row." It is our desire that the book will be a help to all of us in accomplishing what we already know to do.
GETTING THE by
E. Cordell Vail and Roan A. McClure "Let us now return to our homes with determination to live the gospel more fully. THERE IS NOTHING THE LORD EXPECTS OF US THAT WE CANNOT DO." President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1985, pg. 85. "WHEN WE PUT GOD FIRST, ALL OTHER THINGS FALL INTO THEIR PROPER PLACE
TO THE END
OF THE ROW
TO THE END
OF THE ROW
P.O. Box 35
Auburn, WA 98071
About the Book
GETTING THE WATER TO THE END OF THE ROW
This book has been in the making for some time. Portions of it were originally published as a reactivation guide for members in the Bennion Utah West Stake in 1976. Our hope in publishing it now is that it might become a study guide to help you in your personal reactivation and missionary efforts. It is our intention that this book be used as a personal study guide for you and your family. We hope that it will be both a guide and a resource to you.
THIS BOOK IS NOT A CHURCH PROGRAM AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS SUCH. If you plan to use any part of the book in your Ward or Stake, you should get your Bishopís or Stake Presidentís approval first.
It was said by one person after reading the book that, "this book covers the whole idea of how to get principals of the Gospel and the policies and direction down to the end of the row." It is our desire that the book will be a help to all of us in accomplishing what we already know to do.
E. Cordell Vail and Roan A. McClure
"Let us now return to our homes with determination to live the gospel more fully. THERE IS NOTHING THE LORD EXPECTS OF US THAT WE CANNOT DO."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Ensign, Nov. 1985, pg. 85.
"WHEN WE PUT GOD FIRST, ALL OTHER THINGS FALL INTO THEIR PROPER PLACE
President Ezra Taft Benson,
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 4.
"The light is shining through, and if we can get the priesthood now to come alive and put into full gear the full strength of the priesthood, WE SHALL SEE SOME OF THE MOST WONDERFUL DEVELOPMENTS AND SOME OF THE GREATEST THINGS HAPPEN TO THE FORCES WHICH THE LORD CAN SET IN MOTION THAT WE HAVE EVER KNOWN IN THIS DISPENSATION."
President Harold B. Lee,
Oct. 1962, pg. 83.
Copyright 1996 by E. Cordell Vail and Roan A. McClure
Published by Roan A. McClure and E. Cordell Vail
P.O. Box 35, Auburn, WA 98071-0035.
This work is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church.
T A B L E
C O N T E N T S
TABLE OF CONTENTS iii
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS FROM THE PUBLISHER vi
WATER THAT GOT TO THE END OF THE ROW 1
REACTIVATION/MISSIONARY PROGRAM 11
DISCOURAGEMENT COMES WHEN WE LOSE HOPE 17
HOW DO YOU INSTILL HOPE IN THE HEARTS OF OTHERS? 19
WHERE DO WE BEGIN? 21
IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF IT 25
THE TEMPLE IS A SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH 29
FOLLOW THE PROMPTINGS OF THE SPIRIT 41
FROM FAITH, HOPE AND TESTIMONY TO A PERFECT KNOWLEDGE 45
IS IT TRUE THAT WE EITHER HAVE A TESTIMONY OR WE DONíT? 59
WHAT IS A IS OUR GOAL? 65
HOW FASTING WAS OBSERVED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT 72
HOW FASTING WAS OBSERVED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT 73
HOW FASTING WAS OBSERVED IN THE BOOK OF MORMON 74
FASTING AS IT RELATES TO FAST OFFERINGS 74
FASTING BY NON-MEMBERS 75
TRUE FASTING AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO ANSWERS TO PRAYER 76
THE SPIRITUAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS FROM FASTING 78
WHAT IS PRAYER AND HOW TO PRAY 79
BECOMING A ZION (MILLENNIAL) PERSON OR PEOPLE BY ONESELF,
BY FAMILY OR BY WARD 81
PRINCIPLES FOR LEADERSHIP IN ZION 85
GETTING THE VISION AND SHARING THE VISION 87
OUTLINING THE PLAN AND DELEGATING RESPONSIBILITIES 89
TEACHING OTHERS 91
INCREASING ZION-LIKE ATTITUDE BY HELPING
COUNSELING, DIRECTING EFFORTS & MANAGING 93
WORKING TOGETHER TO SHARE BURDENS 95
LOOKING FORWARD TO WHAT WE CAN BECOME 97
HOW TO APPLY THE PROGRAM 99
WEEKLY TEACHING IN THE HOME 99
HELPS FOR SINGLES .105
HELPS FOR PRIESTHOOD LEADERS 106
DONíT HOPE FOR A MIRACLE, EXPECT ONE ! 107
UNITING OUR EFFORTS 109
THE LORD WILL GO BEFORE US AND PREPARE THE WAY 110
HOW TO PROCEED 110
HELPS FOR BISHOPRICS AND STAKE PRESIDENCIES 112
SCRIPTURES ON REACTIVATION 115
TALKS AND ARTICLES ON REACTIVATION 117
REFERENCE: ACTIVITY 117
REFERENCE: CONVERSION 119
REFERENCE: FELLOWSHIPPING 120
REFERENCE: HOME TEACHING 122
REFERENCE: MEMBER PARTICIPATION 126
REFERENCE: REACTIVATION 127
MAKING THE PROGRAM WORK 131
ORDER FORM 155
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS FROM THE PUBLISHER
Roan A. McClure
Without our wives, Janice Vail and Kandace McClure, and our children, who have supported our efforts in putting into practice the principles found herein and their willingness to put up with our late nights and time away from them, Cordell and I could not have brought this volume to itís completion.
My personal thanks to my son, Richard, for comparing and sharing his experiences and notes on reactivation. I am grateful to my daughter, Mandalina McConnell, who was continually interested to receive, for inserts into her scriptures, the notes and quotes from general authorities, and others, about doctrinal explanations and sources on reactivation which I started creating while teaching early morning seminary, and that have now been added to the present volume. I give my thanks to my son James, for his testimony that helped me at a crucial time in my life; and to Dallin, my youngest son, who, with his quiet, sincere efforts at age eleven, is striving to be a "team player" in our efforts as a Zion family.
There are many others who have helped in the bringing about corrections and quotations, from secretaries in the Church Offices in Salt Lake City (who of course know where everything can be found) to the members of the research library in the Church Historical Department. A special thanks to Mike Laughman and Dan Cofoed who supported us through to the end. To all our friends and family who have helped, we extend our unfailing gratitude.
Responsibility for the text work and opinions expressed herein, other than the quotes from general authorities, belongs solely to the authors and should not be construed as policy for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(Authors' Note: The words in the quotes that are in BOLD AND UPPER CASE LETTERS have been bolded and changed to upper case by the authors for emphasis.)
WATER THAT GOT TO THE END OF THE ROW
E. Cordell Vail
This book has been in the making for some time. Portions of it were originally published as a reactivation program for the Bennion Utah West Stake in 1976. It has found use in many other stakes since then. THIS IS A GUIDE TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW TO DO. We hope that it will be both a guide and a resource.
This volume is intended to present a series of scriptures and statements [almost totally from General Authorities] that are meant to assist us as members and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in (1) understanding and applying the word of the Lord [as given to us from the scriptures and the words of the living prophets], where it relates to conversion or reactivation, (2) encouragement to live our lives in such a manner, that we can come to know with absolute certainty what the will of the Lord is for us personally in helping to convert or reactivate our family and friends, and (3) encouragement to listen to and respond to those promptings of the "still, small voice" of the Lord as we undertake this work.
After discussing the contents of this book with Roan, we felt as the authors, that it would be important to share with you something more than just what the program is, or how it should work, but rather some of the successes we have had. I have therefor added this little section containing some of the personal experiences that my family and I have had as we personally used this program to convert non-members and help reactivate less active members over the years.
When Brother Hershell Pederson, of American Fork, Utah, first introduced the concepts of this program to a fellow stake missionary, Randy Johnson and me in 1983, we were just astounded at the results which he claimed to have had after four years of using the concepts of this program. The number of non-members in the American Fork Stake had decreased from four hundred (400) to thirty eight (38). Of sixty young men of missionary age who were inactive or unworthy to go on a mission at the start of the program, by the end of the fourth year, forty nine (49) had either gone on missions and returned, were still on missions, or were ready to turn in their papers. We assumed it was just his marvelous personality with people that had brought about this great work. We had no way to have known then that it was not just his personality (although that was a contributing factor). This was a program that would work for any ordinary member of the Church, just like Randy and myself. We immediately started to experience the same kinds of results in our stake. A few years later, as I introduced the concepts to my friend Roan McClure, he quickly found that he had similar results where he lived. It is hoped you will too.
I only have room in this volume to share with you a few of the success stories that we have had over the past several years using the program. Some of the stories took only two or three months to come to a happy ending. Others have taken five or six years. Some are still in the making and are not finished yet. You see, once we start a story of conversion with a person, we never quit. If you never quit, you can never fail. I wish I could tell you that every story has had a happy ending. Because people have their free agency, some have not responded YET, even after years of love and prayers in their behalf. But, I can tell you, with confidence, that almost every person we have ever introduced into the "Getting the water to the end of the row" program has come to know the truthfulness of the gospel in their hearts. As I say, some few have not chosen to follow the promptings they have felt YET, but I can tell you almost every single one that we have taught, has told us, some where along the way of our weekly teaching in the home, THAT THEY CAME TO KNOW THE GOSPEL IS TRUE. Some may not be able to live it's teachings at this time in their lives, but they have come to know more surely that the gospel is true.
Most of the less active members we have worked with have told us they want to come back, but they just do not know how. Almost every one of them, even if it was not the right time for them right then, have told us that are planning to come back SOME DAY. I am sure there may yet be others that we will meet and introduce into our program of love and fasting that will not respond at all, but even if they will only let the Spirit touch them enough that they will just shake hands with us so we can let them feel our spirit, we cannot say that in any of these cases, that we have failed. The Lord works in His own way and, sometimes, someone has to first just plant the seeds. If we just planted the seed in their heart, it was not a failure. The Lord will carry on from there.
Most of the people that have been converted or reactivated through this program have later told us that they did not understand what it was that they were feeling while we were fasting for them, but each of them have told us that they could feel a special feeling during the time we were fasting, (even though they did not know we were fasting for them). They have told us that the feeling made them want to be closer to the Lord, even if they were then mad at the Church or itís leaders. They all say that the feelings they felt were impressions of love and an increased desire to come closer to the Lord.
I was the Stake Reactivation Specialist in the Bennion Utah West Stake at the time I first received knowledge from Brother Pederson about using fasting and prayer to soften people's hearts. I did not find much success in introducing it to our stake leaders. That was partly my fault in not knowing how to do it. We based our program on two main references. The first was the story of Alma the younger in the Book of Mormon and the faith of his father in bringing him back to the church. Especially the part where they got a group of the priesthood leaders together and fasted for Alma the younger (see Mosiah 27:22-23). The second reference was a talk given by President Marion G. Romney. He said:
"I have had problems which it seemed I could not solve, and I have suffered in facing them until it seemed I could not go further if I did not have a solution to them. After praying AND ON MANY OCCASIONS FASTING FOR A DAY EACH WEEK OVER LONG PERIODS OF TIME, I have had answers revealed to my mind in finished sentences. I have heard the voice of God in my mind and I know His words."
Marion G. Romney
Melchizedek Priesthood Manual
1976-1977, pg. 39.
I was having a hard time getting people in our Stake to believe we could make the program work. In sheer desperation, I asked the Stake Presidency if they would pick the ten hardest cases they could find in the stake and assign them to us. We wanted to show them that this program would work. So they made us the list, and that is where we began.
We revised the program over and over from what we had seen in American Fork. It had to fit us and our personalities. We tried many different things. If what we tried did not work, we revised it until it did. The program was finally published in a little handout for the Bennion Utah West Stake leaders called, Getting the Water to the End of the Row. That title was an expression I had heard from a Regional Representative while I was a student at BYU, who was expressing his desire for us as leaders, to carry the message he had from the President of the Church down to every last member of our Stake. Those revisions, and the things Roan and I (and many others now) have learned over the years, are what we have published in this book. It has been tried in many other stakes, and by many other leaders, with similar success. Roan has greatly added to and updated the printed materials from what they were in our first little printed version. He has as well, added his own experiences to the great list of success stories my family and I have experienced in the program. I simply share some of these stories with you, that you will take courage in knowing that it is possible to get the water to the end of the row. It really does work. It worked then, and it is still working now!
The first person the Stake Presidency assigned to us as a part of the "Stake Presidency's ten hardest cases in the Stake list", was a non-member who had married a member girl who had moved into our area. Her family members were all active but his family was quite anti-Mormon. They were an old Utah family that had been generations of non-Mormons living in Utah. He was very polite and willing to even come to church with her once in a while, but he wanted nothing to do with the missionaries or being taught about the Church. We decided to talk to her about the program. We explained the Getting the Water to the End of the Row program to her, and asked if she would be willing to try it. She said to me, "Cordell, I know it is impossible to convert him." I asked her if she would be willing to try anyway. She agreed to do it. She said she would be willing to try almost anything if it would convert him. We asked her to talk with her family and some of her close friends about fasting with her. There were thirteen families in all that agreed to fast and go to the temple once a week with her. We just wanted to see if we could send him a feeling that would soften his heart and influence him to let the missionaries teach him. After four or five weeks of fasting and putting his name on the prayer roll, and all thirteen families being in the temple praying for him each week, he started to tell her that he kept having this feeling like he was in a tunnel. He said that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and he felt like the Book of Mormon was that light. After a couple of more weeks of the fasting and prayers and temple attendance by those families involved, he asked her ( NOTE THAT: HE ASKED HER!) if she would invite the missionaries over. He was baptized. One year later, he took her to the temple to be married for time and all eternity. That marriage sealing was a wonderful occasion for our whole neighborhood.
The Stake Presidency assigned us a young man who was 21 years old. He had been inactive since he was about 14 and would not even stay in the room when the home teachers came visiting. He would not discuss the Church or anything spiritual with his parents. He was a good boy but just not interested in the Church. I went over and talked to his parents and asked if they would be willing to try the Getting the Water to the End of the Row program to help him want to go on a mission. His mother looked me in the eye and said, "Cordell, that is impossible. He will never go on a mission." (I got used to hearing that after a while from the families with whom we were working.) We told them about some of the successes that the American Fork Stake had with their young men (some even going on missions after they got out of prison), so the family agreed to try it. Again, they contacted all of their immediate family to join them in the weekly fasting. We found as we proceeded further and further into the program, that the immediate family was the key in fasting. Immediate family fasting had more effect than friends or neighbors because they loved the person more.
I fasted, prayed and went to the temple a few times to support this family in reactivating their son. Because there were other families in the Stake that we had began to work with, I did not continue to pay the same individual attention to this family like I had some of the first ones. Once their family started the program, we went on to other families and I did not hear back from them. I will never forget the day several months later, when I went into one of the ward buildings in our stake to give my regular high council talk for the month. There was this very boy sitting in the foyer, reading his scriptures while he waited for the meeting to start. When I saw him sitting there reading his scriptures, I heard so clearly again in my mind the words of his mother, "Cordell, that is impossible. He will never go on a mission." He did!
We were assigned another young man who was not as hard core as that, but he did not want to go on a mission either. He decided he wanted to be in a rock band instead. I spent a lot of time talking with him, but still he would not even consider going on a mission. In this case his parents were not willing to join us in the fasting, so we just got a group of people together in his ward who were his friends and leaders. He did not even resist two full months before he changed his mind. He went on his mission. I doubt his parents know to this day why he changed his mind about going on a mission, The "why" is not really important. It is only important that he was touched by the Spirit and listened to the prompting and did what he knew was right.
Another 22 year-old member of our stake was assigned to us as one where there was little hope that he would ever go on a mission. We talked to his parents and started fasting and praying with them, going to the temple weekly to try to help him feel the spirit of the Lord in his life. I was doing a job at that time which caused me to see him at his work place almost every day. And so each time when I would walk into the business, I would ask him when he was going on his mission. During the first few weeks he was very belligerent. (He did not know we were fasting for him.) Each time, I would ask him when he was going on his mission, and he would blurt out, "NEVER!". After a couple of weeks, I noticed that he started to soften a little and say in a more gentle voice, "I don't want to go". A few more weeks and it softened to, "I don't think I can go". Finally his tone softened to, "Maybe, sometime." After a couple of months of asking him almost every day, one Monday morning he shocked me when I walked in. Before I could ask him when he was going on his mission, which I felt confident he knew I would ask, he said, "Brother Vail, I turned my mission papers in to the Bishop yesterday." I was thrilled beyond words. His parents were too. According to his Mission President he was a wonderful missionary.
We were assigned a man who was an atheist. He had been very threatening to the neighbors. He had grown up in a large city, in a very poor neighborhood, and it was just his way of dealing with the neighbors. I was very afraid to even approach him. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me know how I could get into his house. One wintry day my wife and I came driving by his home, and I had a very strong impression to stop at his house. My wife was really surprised at my stopping. It was very cold outside. He and his boys were playing in the snow on their front yard with their three-wheelers (one of the common complaints of the neighbors). I pulled into his driveway right in the path of where they were going over the snow jump they had made. He stopped his three-wheeler and came stomping over toward my car. I got out of the car and never prayed so hard in my life to know what to say, so that I would not get beaten up. He demanded to know what I wanted. Then the Holy Ghost just filled my mind with what to say. Within minutes I was in his house with him. After about an hour of him showing me every hobby he had, I remembered that my wife was still sitting out in the cold car, in the path of the snow jump. I told him I had to leave. Our families became very good friends after that. He was no atheist after all. He was just mad at the Lord and told everyone that he was an atheist. He moved away before we finished our work with him and his boys. We then lost contact with him. But I feel confident that the Lord was able to send others into his life to continue where we left off.
One day I went to talk with a less active member that we had been assigned. No one had ever really been able to even get into his house before. But, after fasting and praying, I went there and he let me right in. I was just amazed at how he was so anti-church. He had something bad to say about almost everyone and everything. During our conversation, which lasted over an hour, I asked him what his eternal goals were. He just about floored me. He said that one of his main goals was to be married in the temple some day. I could hardly believe my ears. After several years of working with less active people, I can now say that it is not uncommon for me to have a less active person tell me that same thing. Deep down in their heart they know the importance of the temple because they were taught it when they were active, especially if it was while they were young. The feeling does not go away.
I saw another member a few months ago when I was visiting Salt Lake City, who had been very inactive and had similar feelings about the temple. He came up to me in a store and told me that he and his wife were now active in the Church and had been married in the temple. It took almost 7 years for that story to come to the doors of the temple. I am sure that you know that it took the time and the effort of many good home teachers who continued to visited him on a weekly basis, and many visiting teachers, priesthood leaders and Bishops over the years who have loved his family and cared about him for this to happen in their lives. What a joy, to know that our planting of the seed in his heart with this program had come full circle and had borne fruit.
We had asked the Stake Presidency to give us a few of each type of less active persons in the stake as part of our first ten. They assigned us some part-member families, some less active members, some young men who had not been willing to go on missions, etc. (Once we started having such success, it turned out to be many more than ten. They just kept adding to the list.). We were therefore assigned some single people who were thought to be impossible to reactivate. I can tell you that our WEEKLY TEACHING IN THE HOME WAS THE THING THAT HAD MORE EFFECT THAN PROBABLY ANYTHING ELSE WITH THE SINGLE PEOPLE. They were normally quite convinced that no one cared about them. I remember one in particular who was assigned to us. I decided to try a new twist to the program, something that in fact was really not a part of the program. I went around the ward and asked every person I could find, who was willing, to start visiting this person. I only asked them to visit her. I did not ask them to try to teach her anything, not even too fast or pray for her. I just asked them to visit her to say hello once in a while. There were about 20 or 30 families that agreed to participate. Some of the families were even non-members or less active members themselves. It was just amazing to me. Here was this lonely person who thought everyone was against her, especially the church members. Then all of a sudden, people from the neighborhood started to visit her. Not very many people went over more than just once or twice each. It was just one visit here and one there, but because there were so many families that participated, it came to be a two or three times a week occurrence for her to be visited by someone. And this went on for several months. She became active and is still active to this day. We really never taught her. She just had her regular home teachers and visiting teachers, not our weekly teachers. She just needed to be needed, and when she felt that she was really needed, all her doctrinal disbeliefís were eventually resolved or went away. I honestly believe that almost every less active person would come back to the Church if they just felt needed. Dividing larger wards into smaller wards has shown me that several times over the years.
We were assigned to a single mother and her small children. She was very bitter against the Church and had even decided not to wear her garments anymore. She wanted nothing to do with the Church. I decided that we would just go visit her every week anyway. So I took my wife with me. She had already thrown me out a few times, but never when my wife was with me, especially if we had a loaf of warm bread in our hands. (I learned that little trick from S. Dilworth Young when I was a Seventy.) It took us almost two years visiting her every week, numerous cakes and loaves of bread, and loving her unconditionally, to bring her and her children back into the Church. Several times she swore at us, and one time she even spit on me. Very often, at first, she was very upset with us as she vented her feelings about the Church, but we just kept coming back. She has now been married to a wonderful husband in the temple and has become very active in the Church. Isn't it funny how short our memories are of bad experiences once they are over and the light is shining through. Those bad things usually don't matter later. It has been more than worth all the disappointing times to now have the joy of her being our family friend, and see her active in the Church.
We met a family that had been inactive for years. They wanted to be active, but had a very hard time with the Word of Wisdom. After several years of working with the family and praying for them, I am happy to be able to report that they have been to the temple. One of their children who was having a very hard time with smoking and drugs, is now serving on a mission. This did not come overnight. It has taken over six years of work, with constant prayers in their behalf, staying in touch even though they had moved away, to finally have a happy ending to this story. We never doubted that the story would end in success. The wonderful thing about this and all of the other of our stories, is that none of them have actually ended. Why? Because their story of happiness and joy has just begun in each of their lives as they become active in the Church.
One family we taught was a man who had been excommunicated and his wife was a non-member. My wife and I visited them every week for over three months and taught them as best we could, even though we were not stake missionaries. They had been visited by several sets of missionaries, but each time the missionaries had become frustrated with them and finally given up. One thing I remember the husband telling me was what a positive effect it had on him, that for years they had always had good home teachers (faithful home teachers that came every month!) He said he never let them past the front porch, but they always came back. Acting on the seeds that those good home teachers had planted, we started to fast and pray for them. We then asked if we could visit them every week. They said yes, and they even let us in the house to do the teaching. I doubt that they learned anywhere near as much as my wife and I did during the time we taught them. No one has ever asked us such deep, profound questions as they did. Each time, as they asked a question, the Lord put the answer in our minds. We would then go home and write down the question and the answer in our notebook of gospel questions and answers. To this day, when I give talks and firesides, I still constantly use the notes that I kept of the things we learned from this family as we taught them. After about three months of visiting, we invited the full time missionaries to come back. They taught them and then the whole family was baptized.. They have now sent all of their children on missions, including their daughter. We love them every bit as much as we love my own brother and sisters. They are such a joy to us as our family friends.
Another family we were assigned, was a man who had decided to leave the Church while he was on his mission. After his mission, he had requested excommunication and then married a non-member. We started to visit them, and unbeknownst to us, they were also visiting with a very famous anti-Mormon couple on a weekly basis at the same time as they were meeting with us. I can tell you that they asked us questions about doctrines of the Church (which this other anti-Mormon couple put them up to asking) that I had never before even heard of. But every time they asked one of those questions, the answer would come into our minds. Janice and I were able to be instrumental in helping the Lord with their conversion. They finally agreed to let the full time missionaries come and teach them. They were both baptized and later went to the temple. We again filled several pages in our notebook of gospel questions and answers, with things that we learned through teaching them. The answers to questions they asked, sometimes were just profound. They were things the Holy Ghost taught them, through us, and at the same time, the Spirit taught them to us.
Ammon promised us in Alma 26:22 that we can convert thousands if we will do what he asked us to do. I believe that promise has literally been fulfilled for our family. We have been able to help the Lord reactivate or convert people who have in turn, now gone on missions or sent their children on missions. And they have, in turn, converted others who are now sending their children on missions. I have no way to ever know how many people there have been who have joined the Church in fulfillment of Ammon's personal promise in the Book of Mormon to our family.
I received a letter a few months ago from a family in California, thanking me for this very process. I met a young girl who was a clerk in a local store. I asked her if she liked to read. She said she did, so I asked her if she would like a Book of Mormon. She said yes. I never give the book to them right there. I follow Hartman Rector's advice and get them to write their name on a paper. Then I tell them I will send it to them. Then I send the paper and the Book of Mormon to the local missionaries. The missionaries then go to the door, show the person the paper they wrote their own name and address on and tell them that Mr. Vail asked them to bring the book over for him. Brother Rector said the missionaries will get in 90% of the time if we do that. She let them in. The rest is history. She was converted and we helped the missionaries baptized her. She later left her studies at the university and went on a mission to California. There she helped to convert the family that wrote me the letter thanking our family for converting her. I assume now their children and children's children will go on missions as well. This type of "generations" of converts has happened to us many times now. My own son's missionary companion at the MTC in Provo was the son of someone I helped to convert at BYU as a student 19 years earlier. The work we do goes on and on. I know that Ammon's promise in Alma 26:22 will be fulfilled in the lives of all who are willing to do what he asked us to do in that prophetic promise.
Our stake program finally came to the point where I was visiting with one of the Elders' Quorum Presidents, pressuring him in a sense, to try our new reactivation program. He told me all of his stories of woe and why he could not get into any of the homes of less active members in his quorum. He said he had even been run off at gun-point by one prospective elder. He challenged me to try to get into one of the homes and gave me a name ( thank goodness it was not the one who ran him off at gun point). When I came back the next month, I told him I had been in the home and was now very good friends with that family. We had even been on an outing with them! He said it was just because my son and a son in this manís family, were friends at school. (That was true. The Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.) I therefore told him that I would show him that I could get into EVERY home in the ward. And, after much fasting and prayer, the Lord blessed me to be able to do just that. The following story is how I accomplished this.
There was a burglary in the neighborhood where we lived a few days after my visit with that Elders Quorum President. I noticed out of my window that the man who had been burglarized was going door to door and getting into every home. I did not know at the time I was watching him from my window as he went from door to door, that he had been burglarized, but I certainly noticed two homes in particular, that he went in. They were homes that, to my knowledge, no neighbor had ever been in before. Both were very anti-Mormon. As I watched him, he just knocked on the door, spoke to them a second or two, and then they just let him right in! So I went out on the street and asked him what on earth he was doing to have those two families invite him into their homes. He told me about the burglary and that gave me the very idea I had been praying would come to help me get into every home in the ward.
I started a neighborhood crime watch in our area. I was, of course, the head of it. When I went back to the Elders Quorum President the next month, I was able to report to him that I had been in EVERY home in the ward, including his of course. I had used the neighborhood crime watch program to do it. I was very proud to be able to report to him that I was now also friends with the very man who ran him off at gun point. Over the next five years, as head of that neighborhood crime watch program, I was able to go into almost every non-member, and less active member, homes in the entire stake. Many of those relationships turned into gospel friendships, and the people were brought into the fold of the gospel as well as being protected from the "bad guys".
I cannot relate the details of all the stories we have experienced, because some of them have involved confidential information that if printed, others might know who they are. Some of the lives of these wonderful brothers and sisters were such that they needed to have church disciplinary action to help them in their repentance process. I saw one of those people a few months ago when I was visiting Salt Lake City on a business trip. He threw his arms around me and wept and thanked me over and over for caring and doing what I had done to help bring him back. What he went through in that conversion process was not easy, not for him or any of us helping him, but the Lord never said it would be easy, just worth it.
My wife Janice and I have tried to visit someone every week our whole married lives. It is one of the greatest blessings that has ever come to us. We are the ones who have been taught the most over all. We are the ones who have been converted most over all. Each of the families we have helped to teach have been given a little knowledge, and we, at the same time, have received that same knowledge .After having scores of these experiences, over and over, we are the ones who have gained the most knowledge, because each family asked different questions. The experiences build upon each other. We treasure the pages and pages of notes containing things that we have written down in our book of Gospel questions and their answers. That notebook is filled with things that we have learned as we taught these "family friends". And they have become just that, family friends . That is different than just friend friends you see. They are friends who are like a part of our family now.
My family has had to move around a lot in the past several years. We have used the principles in the Getting the Water to the End of the Row program every place we have lived. We have had the same success each time. It has worked everywhere we have lived. There have been scores of people that our family have helped the missionaries to either convert to the Church or reactivate in those years of moving around. Most of those people have become like our own brothers and sisters. We love them with a perfect love. When we have sacrificed for them and made them a part of our lives for so many weeks and months of fasting and prayer and then, in many instances, teaching weekly for months and months, they have become like family members to us.
There are many more stories. Janice and I could fill this whole book with just stories of successes we have had since the principles were first introduced to us. I will simply end by telling you that we know from personal experience that this program works. We know that if you will love someone enough to reach out to them; if you will fast and pray and ask the Lord to touch them; if you will attend the temple weekly or as often as you can, then with the spirit of fasting in your heart, YOU WILL HAVE SUCCESS!. It is not really a "program" or a "reactivation method". It is the Spirit of the Lord that brings the success. Fasting weekly may not be right for you. Weekly visiting may not be right for them. You have to make your own program for each individual. I am however, very confident that you will find, just as Janice and I have found, that exercising our faith in behalf of others DOES WORK! We find that it is different every time. Each person is unique. Each person has his or her own personality. No one program will convert all people.
We have learned that the Holy Ghost as promised in Moroni 10:5, has the power to reveal the truth of all things to our minds. He knows them all personally. He will if we ask, create a special "program" just for them, through you. I know that He knows the answer to any question they could possibly ask, and can reveal that answer to our minds. You do not need to fear to open you mouths (see D&C 84:85). The Spirit is the one who makes the change in their hearts. All He requires of us is our willingness to go out and meet them. Just be there, so He can use us as His instrument in this great work. He will do the rest. When it comes time to formally teach them, the full time missionaries will do that. So you can relax and just have fun.
Our family has learned by practical experience that doing the work is the key to the success of every program of the Church. NO PROGRAM WILL WORK UNLESS WE ARE WILLING TO DO THE WORK! The Lord asks in Genesis 18:14, "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" We can tell you from our own personal experiences that there is no one too hard for the Lord when it comes to the converting of His children. Our stories which we have shared with you of success in getting water to the end of the row surely testify of that. The only thing I know of that might be hard for the Lord to do, is for Him to try to do His work through us, when we are not willing do it. Then He is bound. He loves us, as Moroni says in Moroni 8:17 "with a perfect love". We are all as little children to the Lord. We know as a family from our many experiences, that if we as His children will reach out to our brothers and sisters who are less active, or who are not members YET, that the Lord will fill our minds with what to do, what to say, and when to do and say it. He will do it in such a way that we will be able to touch them and bring them back, if they will come, into His fold.
A dear friend of mine, Arvin Bellon, said something in a sacrament meeting talk one day that left me to never be the same again. He said, "When we pray for the missionaries, we pray that the Lord will help them find people to teach." He said, "That is the wrong prayer. Why donít we pray that the Lord will help US to find someone that we can refer to the missionaries to teach?". OUR ACTUALLY BEING WILLING TO DO THE WORK IS THE VERY KEY. When we think the work is impossible, it is. We have to be willing to reach out. They will not come to us. We have to go to them. It is not an easy work, but it is a rewarding work, and it is not impossible.
This is our witness to you from me, my wife and our children. We have experienced the joy of success in gospel conversion of family members and friends around us who were non-members or less-active members. We know that you too can have that same success, to be able to bring the light of the gospel to many of your family and friends just as we have been able to do. We know that if we will try with all our hearts to keep the commandments, and then using fasting, prayer, scripture study, temple attendance and weekly teaching in the home, that the Lord does bless us with success. IT WORKS! We bear our witness to you as a family that it will work for you as well as it has for us.
And so the success of the Lord's work goes on. It is our hope and prayer that the Spirit that has assisted us in this effort will touch your heart as you read this book, that you may know as we know, that this is the Lord's work in which we may each take part. May the Lord bless YOUR HARD WORK. And we know He will!
In the April 1981 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball declared that the three-fold mission of the Church is:
-to proclaim the gospel
-to perfect the saints
-to redeem the dead
In considering the mission of the Church, Elder Boyd K. Packer, as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, advised leaders not to view the three dimensions of the Church's mission as separate responsibilities, operated by separate organizations. He urged leaders to DEVELOP A SPIRIT of correlation that goes beyond programs and procedures--one THAT FOCUSES ON ATTITUDES.
"This correlation is in the mind, in the heart, in the very soul....We urge you now to concentrate on the mission of the Church rather than to merely manage organizations and programs."
Elder Boyd K. Packer,
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 74.
In the Leadership Training Video conference held June 28, 1987, President Thomas S. Monson, a Counselor in the First Presidency, reiterated for leaders the OVERRIDING OBJECTIVE OF THE CHURCH: TO INVITE ALL TO COME UNTO CHRIST.
"Speaking of the sacred office of a teacher, the Lord admonished: 'They are...to warn, expound, exhort and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.'(D&C 20:59) To 'invite all to come unto Christ' is our united purpose. Our hope is that this united purpose may permeate all we do...."
President Thomas S. Monson,
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 73.
"We have long taught that every member is a missionary. NOW WE ADD that every missionary is a member who assists as appropriate in the ward or branch in which he/she serves, to perfect the saints as well as proclaim the gospel, for these are one great work of salvation and should not be artificially separated."
Elder Robert L. Backman,
Mission Presidents' Seminar
Church News,27 June 1992, pg. 4,.
When the non-members have been converted and the inactives have become reactivated, they will, in turn, be able to help in proclaiming the gospel to others and to assist in redeeming the dead by becoming worthy to attend the temple, both for themselves and then for those who have already died including their own family members.
"It is through temple ordinances and covenants, and the genealogical work that supports them, that the members can follow Moroni's inspired counsel to 'come unto Christ and be perfected in him.' (Moroni 10:32) We know that there is extensive missionary work in progress on the other side of the veil. Many, many more members will be motivated to receive the ordinances for these individuals as they UNDERSTAND THE DOCTRINE AND ARE MOVED BY THE SPIRIT.
"Our efforts 'to come unto Christ' through temple and genealogical service concentrate on two objectives: TEACH THE DOCTRINE TO INSPIRE MEMBERS to receive the endowment and sealing for themselves and their ancestors, AND ENABLE MEMBERS, even those with no training, to identify their ancestors."
Elder Richard G. Scott,
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 76.
The Executive Director of the Temple Department who is a member of the Presidency of the Quorum of the Seventy stated:
"This emphasis on doctrine is made so that temple and genealogical activity will not be perceived as a detached and optional segment of the gospel but A NECESSARY PART OF THE WHOLE"
Elder William Grant Bangerter,
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 76.
"We would do well to see that in administering the organizations of the Church, all roads lead to the temple. For it is there that we are prepared in all things to qualify us to enter the presence of the Lord."
Elder Boyd K. Packer,
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 77.
In the Regional Representatives' Seminar, 3 April 1987, Thomas S. Monson stated, "The home is the basis of the righteous life, and no other institution can take its place or fulfill its essential function." (Ensign, May 1987, pg. 96-97.) The 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide Supplement also states on page 5, "The mission of the Church, with its three-fold emphasis, is best carried out in the home." To have a program begin in the homes of the members, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE WARD AND THE WARD LEADERS AND THE HOME AND VISITING TEACHERS BE THE MOVING FORCE BEHIND THIS EFFORT.
"We expect to see the day...when every council of the priesthood...will understand its duty; will assume its responsibility...magnify its callings, and fill its place in the Church, to the uttermost, according to the intelligence and ability possessed by it....The Lord designed it and comprehended it from the beginning, and HE HAS MADE PROVISION in the Church whereby EVERY NEED MAY BE MET AND SATISFIED through the regular organizations of the Priesthood."
Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th Ed., [S.L.C.:Deseret Book Co., 1939]
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said:
"The Bishop may now assign to the High Priests much of the responsibility for the activation...of other less active members, and home teaching. This arrangement will make wise...use of the great High Priest Quorums and Groups in the Church, of which many have been under used."
1 Apr. 1987,
General Authority Training Meeting
Elder Marvin J. Ashton stated that THE STRENGTH OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD WILL BE CONCENTRATED ON THE CHALLENGE OF ACTIVATION. He then promised when this was carried out in the wards and branches, "We will see singles activated, many of whom will give dedicated service to the Church." (3 Apr. 1987, Leadership Meeting, Church News, 11 Apr. 1987, pg. 4-5, 20, 23.)
"The spirit of being anxiously engaged in caring about those who are not partaking of the blessings of the gospel IS NOT CONFINED TO THOSE WHO ARE CALLED AS SHEPHERDS but should permeate the lives of all of God's children. True shepherds nourish and care for each member of the flock and keep them in REMEMBRANCE."
Elder Robert D. Hales
Ensign, May 1987, p. 75.
"To remember means to keep in memory. In the scriptures it often means to keep a person in memory, together with associated emotions like love, loyalty, or gratitude. THE STRONGER THE EMOTION, THE MORE VIVID AND INFLUENTIAL THE MEMORY."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 29.
To have memories in the minds of less active brethren and sisters that are vivid and influential in their reactivation, those memories need to be personal and of close friends.
"Embracing the gospel is a PERSONAL DECISION, and we always respect and understand the rights of individuals, but how can we ever expect the world to EMBRACE THE RIGHTEOUS PRINCIPLES the Lord has declared to govern His children here if we do not EXTEND OUR INFLUENCE OUTWARD."
Elder L. Tom Perry
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 15.
Because taking the step toward reactivation is a personal decision, the individuals involved in helping the inactives back into the Church and 'unto Christ' need to become personally involved in their lives. This is not accomplished overnight.
Following his reading D&C 20:59 with the command to 'invite all to come unto Christ', President Ezra Taft Benson declared:
"Home teaching is not just another program. IT IS THE priesthood WAY OF watching over the Saints and ACCOMPLISHING THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH...It is a sacred calling....It is the HEART OF THE ACTIVATION EFFORT of the Church."
Ezra Taft Benson
Ensign, May 1987, pg. 48-50.
In the 1987 Leadership Training Video conference Elder Neal A. Maxwell outlined eleven key concepts which would help leaders focus on the things that matter the most. The first concept was:
"WE DO NOT NEED NEW PROGRAMS, NEW ORGANIZATIONS, OR NEW MEETINGS. WE DO NEED A NEW FOCUS ON THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH. President Harold B. Lee said, ĎThere is no new organization necessary to take care of the needs of this people. All that is necessary is to put the priesthood of God to work.' (Ensign Jan 1973 pg. 104.) We must start from where we are, because conditions differ around the world. Yet the process will always be the same as we work together, in unity, to carry out the mission of the Church."
Neal A. Maxwell
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 76.
Speaking of those who are inactive, or lost, President Benson said:
"...in this group of less active members are many non-attenders who may be indifferent and non-caring. Also included are those who are temporarily lost...MANY ARE SINGLE ADULTS. To such we...must extend and renew our love and heartfelt invitation to come back."
Ezra Taft Benson
Regional Representatives' Seminar
Ensign, May 1987, pg. 96-97.
In the same meeting Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, "Sometimes we cast out by being indifferent, by ignoring, by writing off or giving up." WE MUST NOT BE INDIFFERENT; we must not ignore; we must not write off or give up. Once we think that something or someone is too difficult to handle, we have just put a limit on the power of Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost. There is no such limitation. ALL LESS ACTIVE AND NON-MEMBERS WITHIN THE ENTIRE WARD, STAKE OR MISSION CAN BE AFFECTED BY OUR EFFORTS."
DISCOURAGEMENT COMES WHEN WE LOSE HOPE
We often hear leaders comment that they are concerned when they have home teachers and visiting teachers who are not diligent in taking care of their families or making regular visits. We hear of people who are not willing to serve in certain callings. There are often complaints about teachers or advisors who are not being effective or leaders who want to be released saying they are burned out.
ONE OF THE PRIMARY FUNCTIONS WE HAVE AS LEADERS IN THE CHURCH IS TO INSTILL HOPE IN THE HEARTS OF THOSE WE SERVE. People whose hearts are filled with hope are not hesitant in their service. It is when we lose hope from within that we become discouraged and begin to be less valiant in the performance of our duties as an instructor, home teacher, visiting teacher, advisor or leader.
"HOPE DEFERRED MAKETH THE HEART SICK; but when the
desire cometh, it is a tree of life."
"But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away...and because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root...my brethren, YE SHALL REAP THE REWARDS OF YOUR FAITH, DILIGENCE, PATIENCE AND LONG-SUFFERING...."
As we serve with the people who have become discouraged, we must never give up on them. If we can renew the hope in their hearts, it will bring back their confidence and will to serve.
"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, HOPE; AND HOPE MAKETH NOT ASHAMED; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
One way to renew or strengthen hope is to express appreciation. As we are ever grateful for the help and assistance that others give us throughout our lives, we should especially remember to express that appreciation. We should never forget those who offer their services, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant.
From a general conference address in October 1976 we have this:
"Today I would suggest a sincere tribute to the tremendous support system throughout the Church, people in so-called 'lesser' callings, individuals who carry on week after week, month after month, without fanfare, and too often without even a simple 'thank you'....
"Thank you for the way you carry out your responsibility for the Lord. Thank you for the support and sustaining influence that we feel as we visit among you. Without that support, there would be no Church organization as we know it today. People's lives would not be blessed so abundantly."
Robert L. Simpson,
Ensign, Nov. 1976, pgs. 100-101.
As the prophets and the scriptures have suggested we should first look within our own lives to begin improvement (the parable of the mote and the beam for example), this next reference from general conference is most understandable.
"When we live the commandments, our countenance is surrounded by gospel light. With this spiritual light we no longer wander in the strange and darkened paths of the adversary, becoming lost, discouraged, depressed, and fearful. Walking in the light of the gospel, we will not loose sight of our eternal goals."
Robert D. Hales
Ensign, May 1996 page 36
HOW DO YOU INSTILL HOPE IN THE HEARTS OF OTHERS?
President Kimball has told us that the key to strengthening others is through our own personal preparation.
"RIGHTEOUSNESS PROCEEDS OUTWARD FROM THE INDIVIDUAL TO THE GROUP. We will find that if we are converted (through studying, searching and praying), our immediate desire is to want to help others.... When the Savior said, 'When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.'(Luke 22:32), He was reminding us not only of an obligation we have, but also of the reality that we can't strengthen our brethren much until we are personally converted."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, 3 Apr. 1976, pg. 70-71.
That certainly is a challenging way to look at the reason for discouragement in others. It is not easy for anyone to face the reality that the reason the people with whom we serve may be discouraged could be related to our own personal level of conversion and attitude as leaders.
"(A) program's success (is) dependent upon the vision that the (director or leader) has of his program and his ability to instill that vision into the hearts of others. I was impressed that what we needed most was A VIEW OF THE WAY THINGS WILL BE, and less worry about the way things actually were."
"Being Directed by the Spirit", 1991 CES Video conference Participant Packet (Personal Experiences), pg. 23. (Words in parenthesis are the authors.)
Alma 5:16 teaches us a similar point of view (visualization), in that we should look ahead and imagine how it will be: "...can you imagine to yourselves...?"
If we are to instill hope in the hearts of those with whom we serve, WE MUST START BY DEVELOPING HOPE WITHIN OUR OWN HEARTS. We have often heard that enthusiasm is contagious, but we must also realize that other things are as well: discouragement, love, hard work, hope, faith, etc.. Before Enos was able to labor in behalf of his people, first he had to have hope in his heart. He remembered; he pondered; he hungered to know; he prayed and fasted; and he extended his faith beyond his normal daily awareness and routine (Enos 1:3-11).
We must have hope in ourselves that this work can be accomplished. We must have faith in those with whom we serve, that if we will lead out, they will follow. We must believe that if we become spiritually converted, our conversion and hope will spread to the hearts of those with whom and among whom we serve. We must have faith that it will instill within them the desire to rise up and be equal to their potential.
"I believe the Lord's Church is on the verge of an upsurge in spirituality. OUR INDIVIDUAL SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS THE KEY TO MAJOR NUMERICAL GROWTH IN THE KINGDOM. The Church is ready to accomplish these things now which it could not have done just a few years ago. So also we are ready as members. IF YOU WILL ACCEPT MY COUNSEL, YOU WILL COME TO FEEL THAT THERE IS A READINESS IN OUR PEOPLE WHICH MUST BE PUT TO WORK."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, Apr. 1979 pg. 114.
"Parents should never drive their children, but lead them along, GIVING THEM KNOWLEDGE AS THEIR MINDS ARE PREPARED TO RECEIVE IT. Chastening may be necessary betimes, but parents should govern their children by faith rather than by the rod, leading them kindly by good example into all truth and holiness."
Discourses of Brigham Young, pg. 208.
In this same way, we as leaders should lead and guide those over whom we have responsibilities. We should lead by example. We should give the guidance that others may need to set them on the path. We should use the Savior and His love as the light to look to and be directed and strengthened by.
"I hope that each of you...leaders will CARRY IN YOUR HEARTS A FLAME OF FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE from which the candles of those who serve under you will catch a light and become of the very essence of their testimonies of the work."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Mission Presidents' Seminar,
Church News, 27 June 1992, pg. 4.
WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
We need to begin by strengthening ourselves. The presidents of the Church and other brethren have given us much counsel on this subject. One key place to begin strengthening our personal conversion is with personal study of the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.
"No father, son, mother, or daughter should get so busy that he or she does not have time to STUDY THE SCRIPTURES and the words of modern prophets. None of us should get so busy that we crowd out contemplation and praying. None of us should become so busy in our formal church assignments that there is no room left for quiet Christian service to our neighbors."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, 3 Apr. 1976, pg. 70-71.
"Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal voyage without providing the means whereby we could receive from him guidance to ensure our safe return. Yes, I speak of PRAYER. I speak, too, of the whisperings from that still, small voice within each of us; and I do not overlook the HOLY SCRIPTURES, written by mariners who successfully sailed the seas we too must cross."
President Thomas S. Monson,
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 55.
In a message from the First Presidency in 1976 came this statement:
"I am convinced that each of us...MUST DISCOVER THE SCRIPTURES for ourselves--and not just...once, but... again and again....The Lord is not trifling with us when He gives us these things, for 'unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.' (Luke 12:48) ACCESS to these things MEANS responsibility for them. WE MUST study the scriptures according to the Lord's commandment (3 Ne 23:1-5); and WE MUST let them govern our lives."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Ensign, Sep 1976, pg. 4-5.
And an address to the regional representatives in April 1982 included the following:
"We are so wound up in...achieving goals that will highlight the excellence of our work, that we have 'omitted the weightier matters of the law.'...However talented...however eloquent...however learned (we) may be..., (we) will be denied the sweet whisperings of the Spirit that might have been (ours) UNLESS (WE) PAY THE PRICE of studying, pondering and praying about the scriptures."
Elder Bruce R. McConkie,
Ensign, May 1986, pg. 81.
Our testimonies are constantly growing, either stronger or weaker. Like water, they do not stay clear and fresh when sitting still; they stagnate if left without infusion of fresh material or movement. As we see others gradually slip into INACTIVITY, we witness an eroding of testimony. They actually lose the light they once had. It can happen to anyone in any calling. If we do not daily feed our testimony, we cannot expect it to grow. If we do not daily study the scriptures and the words of the modern prophets, how can we, in all honesty, ask, or even expect, others to do that which we try to teach them. Besides the commandments to search the scriptures (3Ne 23:1), feast upon the words (2Ne 32:3), learn doctrine (3Ne 11:39) and master principles (D&C 121:34-46), we have this counsel:
"Only the faithful will receive the promised reward, which is eternal life. For one cannot receive eternal life without becoming a 'doer of the word' (James 1:22) and being VALIANT IN OBEDIENCE to the Lord's commandments. And one cannot become a 'doer of the word' without first becoming a 'hearer'. And to become a 'hearer' is not simply to stand idly by and wait for chance bits of information; it is to SEEK OUT and STUDY and PRAY and COMPREHEND .... I ask us all to honestly evaluate our performance in scripture study. It is a common thing to have a few passages of scripture at our disposal, floating in our minds, as it were, and thus to have the illusion that we know a great deal about the gospel....SO I ASK ALL TO BEGIN NOW TO STUDY THE SCRIPTURES IN EARNEST, IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Ensign, Sep 1976, pg. 2-5.
Of the Book of Mormon, President Marion G. Romney said:
"If our young folks are traditioned in the teachings of the Book of Mormon, they will not only be inspired with righteous courage to choose the right by example, ...they will also be so schooled in the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ that they will know what is right. From almost every page of the book, there will come to them a moving testimony that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God, our Redeemer and Savior. This witness alone will be an anchor in every storm."
Marion G. Romney
Conference Report, Apr. 1960, pg. 112.
In General Conference 1993 Elder L. Tom Perry outlined for us an important instruction permeating all the standard works:
"ALL THE STANDARD WORKS OF THE CHURCH INSTRUCT US TO READ AND PONDER THEIR SAYINGS. From the Old Testament we read, 'Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read.' (Isa 34:16) From the New Testament 'Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.' (John 5:39) Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, observes, 'My soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and...profit of my children.' (2Ne 4:15) Counsel from the Pearl of Great Price promises, 'And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.' (JS-M 1:37) And finally, in the Doctrine and Covenants we read, 'First seek to obtain my word....Study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men.' (D&C 11:21-22)
"The scriptures are one of our greatest treasures. They contain God's instructions to His people from the beginning of time. In a world so full of the doctrines of men how grateful we are to have a sure anchor on which to build our faith!
"...Rest assured that when the so-called 'enlightened' doctrines of men contradict the holy scriptures, they will only bring heartache, disappointment and destruction to the souls of mankind."
L. Tom Perry
Ensign, May 1993, pg. 92.
From the words of a latter-day prophet we have this advice:
"Let us not treat lightly (His word)....(It is) one of the most valuable gifts He has given us....Recommit ...immerse yourselves in them daily....Read them in your families and teach your children to love and treasure them. Then prayerfully and in counsel with others, SEEK EVERY WAY POSSIBLE TO ENCOURAGE THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH TO FOLLOW YOUR EXAMPLE."
President Ezra Taft Benson,
Ensign, May 1986, pg. 82.
Regarding addresses from the conferences of the Church, we have these words from the then First Counselor in the First Presidency:
"These general conferences each six months are occasions to grow in faith and in love for the Lord and His eternal work....
"I urge you to accept and ponder that testimony from him whom we sustain as prophet, seer and revelator.
"...the power of the Spirit is resting upon the heads of men and women and boys and girls all across the globe. Someone has said that the Holy Ghost can teach us things that we cannot teach one another. How true that is. How wonderfully true that is! Said the prophet Jeremiah, 'And I will take you, one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
"'And I will give you pastors according to mine heart.'(Jer. 3:14-15.)
"That is the miracle that is taking place."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Ensign, May 1993, pgs. 93-94.
As we study the scriptures, as do many members and non-members alike, we need to understand the INTENDED MEANINGS. To do this we must receive instruction from the same source from which the scriptures came. So, in addition to the reading and studying and pondering of God's word, we have the command to pray. The topical guide in the back of the Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible includes a long list for our perusal as we seek to know those things for which, over which and about which we should pray.
"I promise you that DAILY FAMILY PRAYER AND SCRIPTURE STUDY will build within the walls of your home a security and bonding that will enrich your lives and prepare your families to meet the challenges of today and the eternities to come."
Elder L. Tom Perry,
Ensign, May 1993, pg. 92.
"We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon Him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon...your labors, and everything ...you engage in."
President Joseph Smith Jr.,
History of the Church, Vol. 5, pg. 31.
"Do you have prayers in your family?...And when you do, do you go through the operation like the guiding of a piece of machinery, or DO YOU BOW IN MEEKNESS and WITH...SINCERE DESIRE TO SEEK THE BLESSING OF GOD upon you and your household? That is the way...we ought to do, and cultivate a spirit of devotion and trust in God, dedicating ourselves to Him, and seeking His blessings."
President John Taylor,
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 21, pg. 118.
(See Dallan H. Oaks in the index of this volume for additional quotes on prayer.)
IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF IT
It is a great challenge to live in this world that is so alien to God. We do have scriptural counsel as to what we should be doing while we are in mortality: "But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God."(Jacob 2:18) "...seek ye the kingdom of God...."(Luke 12:31) "...seek the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added according to that which is just." (D&C 11:23) President Spencer W. Kimball has counseled us:
"OUR...PROBLEM IS definitely the world -- not the high ranges and the wide valleys and the hot deserts and the deep oceans, but THE PATTERN OF LIFE TO WHICH TOO MANY OF OUR PEOPLE GEAR THEIR LIVES. 'Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,' said John. 'If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.'(1John 2:15-16) The encroachment of the world into our lives is threatening! How hard it seems for many of us to live in the world and yet not of the world."
President Spencer W. Kimball
Ensign, May 1974 pg. 5.
Surely as the great dawning of spirituality begins within the Church, we as priesthood leaders must make a SPECIAL EFFORT TO BE FREE OF ALL MANNER OF WORLDLINESS and the things associated with it. The scriptures tell us that one of the reasons we lose hope from our hearts and begin to despair is because of how we live.
"And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair;
and despair cometh because of iniquity."
One of the greatest encroachments of worldliness in our lives today comes through viewing television, movies, magazines and newspapers. In the Book of Mormon we are told of a people who set out to purify themselves.
"Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, COULD NOT LOOK UPON SIN SAVE IT WERE WITH ABHORRENCE."
It is interesting, in light of this scripture, to analyze what many of us as leaders are entertained by and what we enjoy as we watch television, see movies, and read magazines and newspapers. It might be a more accurate summary of our times to say as one person did, that many members of the Church today do not 'look upon sin...with abhorrence.' THEY ARE IN FACT ENTERTAINED BY IT.
How can we as leaders say we look upon sin with abhorrence if we attend R-rated or PG-13 rated movies or allow into our homes such shows as daytime soap operas, or similar ones in the evening, where immorality and dishonesty are the central themes? Do we look upon sin with abhorrence when we are entertained by television shows in our homes which display partial nudity, improper expression of passion, or violence? Is not this displaying TRUE FEELINGS OF 'LOVE OF THE WORLD AND THE THINGS IN IT"? (see D&C 38:7-8)
"We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. DON'T SEE R-RATED MOVIES or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive or pornographic. Don't listen to music that is degrading."
President Ezra Taft Benson,
Ensign, May 1986, pg. 45.
"And finally, all ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they shall speedily repent. And now I say unto you, ALL YOU THAT ARE DESIROUS TO FOLLOW THE VOICE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD, COME YE OUT FROM THE WICKED, AND BE YE SEPARATE, AND TOUCH NOT THEIR UNCLEAN THINGS..."
That should ring over and over in our ears -- "and touch not their unclean things". President Kimball warned us about these things on many occasions. In the April 1978 General Conference of the Church he said:
"Brethren, as patriarchs in your homes, be worthy watchmen. Be concerned about the types of programs your family is watching on television or hearing on radio. THERE IS SO MUCH TODAY that is unsavory and degrading, so much THAT GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT THE OLD SINS OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH ARE THE IN THING TO DO today.... Brethren, be vigilant on what enters your home through the printed word as well as the electronic media. Guard against radio and TV programs that degrade. See that only good reading material enters your home...."
President Spencer W. Kimball
Conference Report, Apr. 1978, pg. 67.
As righteous leaders we must teach the people that A KEY TO BEING FILLED WITH HOPE and not being discouraged in our callings is to be PURE IN HEART, which encompasses many aspects in our lives.
"To be without guile is to be free of deceit, cunning, hypocrisy and dishonesty in thought or action. To be without guile is to be PURE IN HEART."
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin,
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 80.
From a Latter-day Saint musician who has worked extensively in his field, we are given the following information:
"...although all music has rhythm, not all music has a strongly marked pulse. Some music has no pulse at all. Music with a weak pulse...is often helpful in encouraging meditative and contemplative moods, reverence or even sleep....At the other end of the spectrum, vigorous music with a strongly marked pulse (marches, dances, even some Beethoven) is not music to meditate by. Throughout the ages, composers of all styles of music have recognized and exploited the physical and emotional power of rhythm. It is rhythm which gives energy and vitality to the "Hallelujah Chorus" of Handel's "Messiah". Interestingly enough, the straight eighth note rhythm of the "Hallelujah Chorus" also forms the foundation of much of today's rock music....Much rock music uses (what is called) an anapestic beat (ba-ba-bop, ba-ba-bop) which has a jerking, frustrating energy. The waltz, on the other hand, has just the opposite beat (bop-ba-ba, bop-ba-ba) and does not have a weakening effect on the muscles (as the anapestic beat does)....A force so powerful that it can influence our hearts, our glands, and our muscles is a force to be reckoned with.
"We are continually confronted with 'good' art and entertainment that are immoral in intent. Some (members) have interpreted (the 13th Article of Faith) to mean: If there is anything of good report ACCORDING TO ART CRITICS, or praiseworthy, ACCORDING TO THE WORLD, we seek after these things, REGARDLESS OF THEIR MORAL IMPLICATIONS. Unfortunately, there are Latter-day Saints who indulge in immoral entertainment and art and justify their actions on the grounds that those works have 'artistic merit'.
"The real issue is not how much evil we can tolerate. Our challenge is to become celestial people while living in a telestial world. So, the real issue is to LOOK HONESTLY AT THE TRUE INTENT of any piece of music, JUDGE ITS MORAL WORTH, and then, if it be found wanting, replace it with something better.
"It is a testimony to the incredible power of music that SATAN HAS CHOSEN IT as one of the principle weapons in his latter-day arsenal."
Lex de Azevedo,
Pop Music and Morality
[Embryo Books: North Hollywood, CA],1982.
pg. 33, 34, 53, 64, 117.
If we are entertained by and enjoy the things of the world in our own lives, and in our homes, we will find it difficult to teach others the CONCEPT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. If we will repent of our own sins and forsake the world around us, we can obtain the hope that we desire to have and teach it to others.
"Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses, WE OBTAIN A HOPE, AND OUR FAITH BECOMETH UNSHAKEN, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us or the mountains or the waves of the sea."
Eliza R. Snow stated the following in a biography of her brother, Lorenzo Snow. (She was describing events happening in Kirtland at the time of Joseph Smith Jr., showing what happens when we begin to love the things of the world.)
"AS THE SAINTS DRANK IN THE LOVE OF THE WORLD, the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from their hearts, and they were filled with pride and hatred toward those who maintained their integrity."
(See Church News, 15 July 1989, pg. 14.)
Referring to the temple as being a family affair, Elder Washburn of the Seventy stated:
"The greatest blessings of eternity come to us through the temple....We in the Church must not be caught up in the false doctrines of the world that would cause us to break sacred temple covenants.
"WE GO TO THE TEMPLE TO MAKE COVENANTS BUT WE GO HOME TO KEEP THE COVENANTS THAT WE HAVE MADE....The home is the place where we learn to overcome selfishness and give ourselves in service to others.
"...temples (are) where we can go to pray and to worship, where we can call down the blessings of heaven upon our families....All who live worthily will have every blessing."
J. Ballard Washburn,
Ensign, May 1995, pg. 12.
That power is within our reach as priesthood leaders in His kingdom. It can be had by every member of His church, if we will pay the price to have it.
"And if ye are purified and cleansed from ALL SIN, ye shall ask WHATSOEVER you will in the name of Jesus, and it shall be done."
Doctrine and Covenants 50:29
THE TEMPLE IS A SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
We should read the scriptures with the temple and the ceremonies in mind (Isaiah 22; D&C 84; etc.). We have been instructed that the temple is a powerful source of spiritual strength.
"Nothing builds spirituality and our understanding of the priesthood principles more than REGULAR TEMPLE ATTENDANCE."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, Apr. 1982, pg. 4.
The following quotes from General Conference sessions might assist us in pondering on the power of temple attendance in our lives.
"If we will reason upon the many scriptures we have at our disposal, we must come to the conclusion that THE FULL BLESSINGS OF THE LORD are found within the walls of the temple.
"The doors of the temple open to us many experiences....From the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 109, verse 13, we read: 'And...all thy people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord's house may feel thy power...'"
Gerald E. Melchin,
Ensign, May 1994, pg. 81.
"...'stand in holy places' for a refuge from these storms of latter-day life (D&C 45:32; see also D&C 87:8; 101:16-23). Prominent among such holy places AND KEY TO ALL THE OTHERS, is the temple of the Lord.
"...The temple is the key to salvation...because it is a place of thanksgiving, a place of instruction, and a place of understanding 'in all things' (see D&C 97:12-14)....For Zion, the pure in heart, the temple holds the key that unlocks holy places-places of rejoicing....
"...I have come to appreciate the wisdom of a dear friend, a patriarch and temple sealer. '...the joy I receive is more than just being in the temple. The temple is in me! And when I leave the temple, its peace goes with me.'
"SO IT CAN BE FOR EVERY RIGHTEOUS SOUL....Then, despite the buffetings of life, we will always be in a holy place."
Lance B. Wickman,
Ensign, Nov. 1994, pg. 83.
"These unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology....every man or woman who goes to the temple in a spirit of sincerity and faith leaves the house of the Lord a better man or woman....
"If every man in this church who has been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood were to qualify himself to hold a temple recommend, and then were to go to the house of the Lord and renew his covenants in solemnity before God and witnesses, we would be a better people. There would be little or no infidelity among us. Divorce would almost entirely disappear. So much of heartache and heartbreak would be avoided. There would be a greater measure of peace and love and happiness in our homes. There would be fewer weeping wives and weeping children. There would be a greater measure of appreciation and of mutual respect among us."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Ensign, Nov. 1995, pg. 53.
"We who would attend the temple must be living in a manner which helps us to be worthy to enter and fully partake of the feast....
"...feelings of anger, hostility, fear, frustration, haste, or any preoccupation with matters outside the temple will interfere with their ability to fully partake of the feast available within the temple....
"A temple is a place in which those whom He has chosen are endowed with power from on high--A POWER WHICH ENABLES US TO USE OUR GIFTS AND CAPABILITIES WITH GREATER INTELLIGENCE AND INCREASED EFFECTIVENESS in order to bring to pass our Heavenly Father's purposes in our own lives and the lives of those we love.
"Elder John A Widtsoe said: 'We live in a world of symbols. No man or woman can come out of the temple endowed as he should be, unless he has seen, beyond the symbol, the mighty realities for which the symbols stand.'
"...When you return, come with an open, seeking, contrite heart, and allow the Spirit to teach you by revelation what the symbols can mean to you and the eternal realities which they represent.
"President Benson has given us a promise:...'Now by virtue of the sacred priesthood in me vested...I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your lives as you bless those who have died.'
"Come to the temples worthily and regularly.... You may freely partake of the promised personal revelation that may bless your life with power, knowledge, light, beauty, and truth from on high, which will guide you and your posterity to eternal life.
"When you return from the temple, share with your children and loved ones at home your feelings about what you experienced. Speak not of the sacred ordinances, but of the love and power manifest by them.
"...your faithfulness to your endowment and sealing covenants assures you a fullness of the blessings promised. The infidelity, sin, or indifference of a spouse need not adversely affect your faithfulness to your covenants....no matter how long and difficulty the road, you can, with the support of loving leaders and the constant love of our Savior, arrive at your eternal destination."
Elder David B. Haight,
Ensign, May 1992, pgs. 15-17.
"We can seek to enter holy temples frequently to perform essential ordinances regularly for others who have preceded us....As valuable and beneficial as temple work is to them, it is equally valuable to us.
"REGULAR TEMPLE WORK CAN PROVIDE SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. It can be an anchor in daily life, a source of guidance, protection, security, peace, and revelation. NO WORK IS MORE SPIRITUAL THAN TEMPLE WORK."
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin,
Ensign, May 1992, pg. 88.
As we begin a personal program of regular study of the scriptures and the living prophets, repent of our sins and make an effort to come out of the world TO BE PURE IN HEART, we become more in tune to the teachings and promptings of the Spirit. If we then enter the temple regularly, it will be a great source of strength and instruction to us.
"Regular attendance at the temple can also be a means to help us solve our daily problems....THE ENDOWMENT WHICH WAS GIVEN BY REVELATION CAN BEST BE UNDERSTOOD BY REVELATION, AND TO THOSE WHO SEEK MOST VIGOROUSLY, WITH PURE HEARTS, WILL THE REVELATION BE THE GREATEST....I believe that the busy person, on the farm, in the shop, in the office or in the household, who has his worries and troubles, can solve his problems better and more quickly in the House of the Lord than anywhere else. If he will leave his problems behind, and in the temple work for himself and the dead, he will confer a mighty blessing upon those who have gone before, and quite as large a blessing will come to him, for at the most unexpected moments, in or out of the temple, will come to him, as a revelation, the solution of the problems that vex his life. THAT IS THE GIFT THAT COMES TO THOSE THAT ENTER THE TEMPLE PROPERLY, because it is a place where revelations may be expected. I bear you my personal testimony that this is so."
Elder John A. Widtsoe,
Utah Genealogy Magazine, 1926 12:55-56.
Speaking for President Benson, who was at the time unable to attend General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson said of the temple:
"On another occasion, President Benson instructed us: 'Sometimes in the peace of lovely temples, the serious problems of life find their solutions. [At times] pure knowledge flows to us there under the influence of the Spirit....I am grateful to the Lord for temples. The blessings of the House of the Lord are eternal. They are of the highest importance to us because it is in the temples that we obtain God's greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life....May we remember always, as we [visit in these glorious temples], that the veil may become very thin between this world and the spirit world. I know this is trueí."
President Thomas S. Monson,
Ensign, May 1993, pg. 5.
When Joseph Smith dedicated the Kirtland Temple, he gave those of us who attend the temple a great blessing:
"And we ask, Holy Father, that Thy servants may go forth from this Thy house, armed with Thy power, and that Thy name may be upon them and Thy glory be round about them, and Thine angels have charge over them; "and from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is Thy work and that Thou hast put forth Thy hand, to fulfill that which Thou hast spoken by the mouths of Thy prophets concerning the last days."
Doctrine and Covenants 109:22-23.
To implement the mission of the Church in the lives of members, Elder Boyd K. Packer said that leaders must prepare all of Heavenly Father's children to receive the ordinances and covenants associated with immortality and eternal life.
"A good and useful and true test of every major decision made by a leader in the Church is whether a given course leads toward or away from the making and keeping of covenants."
Boyd K. Packer,
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 74.
Notwithstanding these previous quotes and the power of information they impart to us, we feel it necessary to include many of the statements from President Howard W. Hunter, who, although the Prophet for only nine months, spoke on or referred to the temple and its importance more than any other subject. The following quotes are in the chronological order in which they were given by him.
Even though repetition is important in the learning process, we have tried to focus here on the power and process of his emphasis in his talks, rather than certain phrases that were repeated a number of times during his nine months as President of the Church. The first is a short quote from general conference when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. The rest are from the nine months as Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Let us follow the Son of God in all ways and in all walks of life. Let us make Him our exemplar and our guide....
"We must know Christ better than we know Him; we must remember Him more often than we remember Him; we must serve Him more valiantly than we serve Him. Then we will drink water springing up unto eternal life and will eat the bread of life.
"What manner of men and women ought we to be? Even as He is. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
Howard W. Hunter
"What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?",
Ensign, May 1994, pg. 64.
From the press conference on June 6, 1994, when the reorganization of the First Presidency was announced following the death of President Ezra Taft Benson, came these first words of the new Prophet.
"To the membership of the Church in every country of the world and to people everywhere I extend my love.
"There are two invitations I would like to leave with the members of the Church as we strive to keep the commandments of God and receive the full measure of His blessings. First of all, I would invite all members of the Church to live with ever more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the love, hope and compassion He displayed....Have hope, exert faith, receive--and give--charity, the pure love of Christ....
"Secondly, and in that same spirit, I also invite the members of the Church TO ESTABLISH THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD AS THE GREAT SYMBOL OF THEIR MEMBERSHIP AND THE SUPERNAL SETTING FOR THEIR MOST SACRED COVENANTS. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy. I would hope that every adult member would be worthy of--and carry--a current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it.
"Let us be a temple attending and a temple loving people. Let us hasten to the temple as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow. Let us go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety which is provided within those hallowed and consecrated walls. The temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It should be holy unto us."
As quoted by Jay M. Todd,
"President Howard W. Hunter,
Fourteenth President of the Church",
Ensign, Jul. 1994, pgs. 4-5.
On June 26, 1994 President Hunter gave two addresses in Illinois related to the commemoration of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The first was at a sacrament meeting in the Nauvoo Ward and the second was the satellite broadcast from Carthage where Joseph and Hyrum died.
"...the sacred and holy priesthood was restored to the earth. This represents the third pillar of our faith. Without the holy priesthood, EXALTATION WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE INASMUCH AS THE NECESSARY ORDINANCES AND COVENANTS COME THROUGH THE USE OF THAT POWER....
"May we each live our lives in such a way as to be worthy to receive a temple recommend and enter into the temple to provide opportunity for salvation for the dead and for the personal blessings of temple worship which will come into our lives."
President Howard W. Hunter
"The Pillars of our Faith",
Ensign, Sep 1994, pgs. 54-55.
(Quoting President Joseph Smith Jr., President Hunter said)
"ĎI understand my mission and business. God Almighty is my shield; and WHAT CAN MAN DO IF GOD IS MY FRIEND?'....Obedience is the most genuine way to show our love for God. If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15)í
"That which Joseph was instrumental in establishing, even THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS IS NOW A WORLD RELIGION, not simply because its members are now found throughout the world, but chiefly because IT HAS A COMPREHENSIVE AND INCLUSIVE MESSAGE BASED UPON THE ACCEPTANCE OF ALL TRUTH, RESTORED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ALL MANKIND.
"...we send this message of love and hope to all the world. Come to the God of all truth, who continues to speak to His children through prophets...Join us as we seek to follow the Good Shepherd..."
President Howard W. Hunter
"Come to the God of All Truth",
Ensign, Sep 1994, pgs. 72-73.
In the First Presidency's Message in September 1994, President Hunter expressed the power of the leadership of Christ.
"The Lord's invitation to follow Him is individual and personal, and it is compelling....TO FOLLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MEANS TO WATCH HIM OR LISTEN TO HIM CLOSELY; TO ACCEPT HIS AUTHORITY, TO TAKE HIM AS A LEADER, AND TO OBEY HIM; TO SUPPORT AND ADVOCATE HIS IDEAS; AND TO TAKE HIM AS A MODEL....
"Righteousness must start in our own individual lives. It must be incorporated into family living. Parents have the responsibility to follow the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach them to their children....
"Only Christ can be our ideal, our 'bright and morning star' (Rev 22:16). Only He can say without any reservation, 'Follow me, learn of me, do the things you have seen me do. Drink of my water and eat of my bread. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the law and the light. Look unto me and ye shall live. Love one another as I have loved you' (see Matt 11:29; 16:24; John 4:13-14; 6:35, 51; 7:37; 13:34; 14:6; 3Ne 15:9; 27:21).
"My, what a clear and resonant call! What certainty and example in a day of uncertainty and absence of example."
President Howard W. Hunter
"He Invites us to Follow Him",
Ensign, Sep 1994, pgs. 2-4.
Referring to his statement from the first press conference on June 6th, President Hunter also wrote the First Presidency Message in the following month's Ensign magazine.
"When I contemplate the temple, I think of these words:
"'The temple is a place of instruction where profound truths pertaining to the Kingdom of God are unfolded. It is a place of peace where minds can be centered upon things of the spirit and the worries of the world can be laid aside. In the temple we take covenants to obey the laws of God, and promises are made to us, conditioned always on our faithfulness, which extend into eternity' (The Priesthood and You, Melchizedek Priesthood Lessons-1966, [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1966], p. 293)....
"Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve said:
"'The inspired erection and proper use of temples is one of the great evidences of the divinity of the Lord's work....Where there are temples, with the spirit of revelation resting upon those who administer therein, there the Lord's people will be found; where these are not, the Church and kingdom and the truth of heaven are not' (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd Ed., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 781).
"Temples are sacred for the closest communion between the Lord and those receiving the highest and most sacred ordinances of the holy priesthood. It is in the temple that the things of the earth are joined with the things of heaven....
"Commenting on how our lives are blessed by temple attendance, Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve said:
"'Temple work...gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength.... The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. THEN I SEE MORE CLEARLY MY PLACE AMIDST THE THINGS OF THE UNIVERSE, MY PLACE AMONG THE PURPOSES OF GOD; I AM BETTER ABLE TO PLACE MYSELF WHERE I BELONG, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life, so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us' (in Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 97-98)....
"(After quoting D&C 109:10-12,22-23,59,67,72,75 President Hunter said) Has there ever been a people with such stirring and wonderful promises! No wonder the Lord desires that His followers point themselves toward His example and toward His temples. No wonder He has said that in His holy house, 'I will manifest myself to my people in mercy' (D&C 110:7)....
"But to have the temple indeed be a symbol unto us, we must desire it to be so. We must live worthy to enter the temple. We must keep the commandments of our Lord. IF WE CAN PATTERN OUR LIFE AFTER THE MASTER, AND TAKE HIS TEACHING AND EXAMPLE AS THE SUPREME PATTERN FOR OUR OWN, WE WILL NOT FIND IT DIFFICULT TO BE TEMPLE WORTHY, to be consistent and loyal in every walk of life, for we will be committed to a single, sacred standard of conduct and belief. Whether at home or in the marketplace, whether at school or long after school is behind us, whether we are acting totally alone or in concert with a host of other people, OUR COURSE WILL BE CLEAR AND OUR STANDARDS WILL BE OBVIOUS.
"The ability to stand by one's principles, to live with integrity and faith according to one's belief--that is what matters. That devotion to true principle--in our individual lives, in our homes and families, and in all places that we meet and influence other people--THAT DEVOTION IS WHAT GOD IS ULTIMATELY REQUESTING OF US. It requires commitment--whole-souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment to the principles we know to be true in the commandments God has given. If we will be true and faithful to the Lord's principles, then we will always be temple worthy, and the Lord and His holy temples will be the great symbols of our discipleship with Him."
President Howard W. Hunter
"The Great Symbol of our Membership",
Ensign, Oct. 1994, pgs. 2-5.
In his first and only general conference as Prophet and President of the Church, President Hunter referred again to both the temple and following Christ.
"Let us be a temple attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. KEEP A PICTURE OF A TEMPLE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOUR CHILDREN MAY SEE IT. TEACH THEM about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing. "If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, GATHER IN THE HISTORY OF YOUR FAMILY AND PREPARE THE NAMES FOR THE SACRED ORDINANCES performed only in the temple. This family research is essential to the work of the temples, and BLESSINGS SURELY WILL COME TO THOSE WHO DO THAT WORK....
"In the ordinances of the temple, the foundations of the eternal family are sealed in place. The Church has the responsibility--and the authority--to preserve and protect the family as the foundation of society....
"AS WE BECOME MORE REMOVED FROM THE LIFESTYLE OF THE WORLD, THE CHURCH BECOMES MORE THE WELCOME REFUGE OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS who come each year and say, 'Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem' (Isa 2:3)."
President Howard W. Hunter
"Exceeding Great and Precious Promises",
Ensign, Nov. 1994, pgs. 8-9.
"WE ARE AT A TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD WHEN WE MUST THINK MORE OF HOLY THINGS AND ACT MORE LIKE THE SAVIOR WOULD EXPECT HIS DISCIPLES TO ACT. We should at every opportunity ask ourselves, 'What would Jesus do?' and then act more courageously upon the answer. We must be about His work as He was about His Father's. We should make every effort to become like Christ....
"And WE AGAIN EMPHASIZE THE PERSONAL BLESSINGS OF TEMPLE WORSHIP and the sanctity and safety that are provided within those hallowed walls. It is the house of the Lord, a place of revelation and of peace. AS WE ATTEND THE TEMPLE, WE LEARN MORE RICHLY AND DEEPLY THE PURPOSE OF LIFE AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ATONING SACRIFICE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience.
"Let us share with our children the spiritual feelings we have in the temple. And let us teach them more earnestly and more comfortably the things we can appropriately say about the purposes of the house of the Lord....
"Let us plan for an teach and plead with our children to marry in the house of the Lord. Let us reaffirm more vigorously than we have ever in the past that it does matter where you marry and by what authority you are pronounced man and wife.
"All of our efforts of proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. THIS IS BECAUSE THE TEMPLE ORDINANCES ARE ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL; we cannot return to God's presence without them. I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants."
President Howard W. Hunter
"Follow the Son of God",
Ensign, Nov. 1994, pgs. 87-88.
On November 13, 1994 at the 100th anniversary of the Utah Genealogical Society, along with several other General Authorities, President Hunter spoke.
"I look back in wonder at the tapestry woven by the Lord in the furthering of temple and family history work....This sacred work has a prominent place in the hearts and minds of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve....
"The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, 'The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead'(History of the Church 6:313). He also stated: 'This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures. Those saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation'(Ibid., 4:426).
"With regard to temple and family history work, I HAVE ONE OVERRIDING MESSAGE: THIS WORK MUST HASTEN. The work waiting to be done is staggering and escapes human comprehension. Last year we performed proxy temple endowments for about five and a half million persons, but during that year about fifty million persons died. This might suggest futility in the work that lies before us, but we cannot think of futility. Surely the Lord will support us if we use our best efforts in carrying out the commandments to do family history research and temple work. The great work of the temples and all that supports it must expand. It is imperative!
"....The role of technology in this work has been accelerated by the Lord himself, who has had a guiding hand in its development and will continue to do so. However, we stand only on the threshold of what we can do with these tools. I FEEL THAT OUR MOST ENTHUSIASTIC PROJECTIONS CAN CAPTURE ONLY A TINY GLIMPSE OF HOW THESE TOOLS CAN HELP US--AND OF THE ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES OF THESE EFFORTS.
"The objective of family history work is to make the blessings of the temple available to all people, both living and dead. As we attend the temple and perform work for the dead, we accomplish a deep sense of alliance with God and a better understanding of His plan for the salvation of the human race. We learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. TRULY THERE IS NO WORK EQUAL TO THAT DONE IN THE TEMPLE"
President Howard W. Hunter
"We Have a Work to Do",
Ensign, Mar 1995, pgs. 64-65.
At the creation of the Church's 2000th Stake in Mexico City on 11 December 1994, President Hunter again reiterated at least four of the principles referred to in this, Getting the Water to the End of the Row, when he asked members "to attend their church meetings, pray, ATTEND THE TEMPLE AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE, and study the scriptures daily, especially the Book of Mormon" (Ensign, Feb. 1995, pg. 75).
In his final address to the members of the Church and all those others who have an opportunity to read the Ensign Magazine, President Hunter again wrote the First Presidency Message for the February issue of that magazine. He again spoke on temple work.
"The Lord himself has revealed what is essential for the salvation and exaltation of His children. One of these essentials is that temples are to be erected for the performances of ordinances that cannot be performed in any other place.
"In the ordinances of the temple, the foundations of the eternal family are sealed in place....
"We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life....
"...the dead are anxiously waiting for the Latter-day Saints to search out their names and then go into the temples to officiate in their behalf, that they may be liberated from their prison house in the spirit world. All of us should find joy in this magnificent labor of love.
"What a glorious thing it is to have the privilege of going to the temple for our own blessings. Then after going...for our own blessings, what a glorious privilege to do the work for those who have gone on before us. THIS ASPECT OF TEMPLE WORK IS AN UNSELFISH WORK. YET, WHENEVER WE DO TEMPLE WORK FOR OTHER PEOPLE, THERE IS A BLESSING THAT COMES BACK TO US. Thus, it should be no surprise to us that the Lord does desire that His people be a temple-motivated people....
"Let us truly be a temple attending and a temple loving people. We should hasten to the temple as frequently, yet prudently, as our personal circumstances allow....
"LET US MAKE THE TEMPLE, WITH TEMPLE WORSHIP AND TEMPLE COVENANTS AND TEMPLE MARRIAGE, OUR ULTIMATE EARTHLY GOAL AND THE SUPREME MORTAL EXPERIENCE."
President Howard W. Hunter
"A Temple-Motivated People",
Ensign, Feb. 1995, pgs. 2-5.
President Howard W. Hunter, a prophet, seer and revelator, died the next month on March 3, 1995. The message, his mission, spoke clearly through the work of his life and the words he spoke as a servant of the Lord and as His Prophet--THE POWER AND IMPORTANCE OF THE TEMPLE IN OUR PERSONAL, ETERNAL LIVES.
FOLLOW THE PROMPTINGS OF THE SPIRIT
A righteous leader must lead by inspiration. No two people in the Church are alike. No one program exactly fits every quorum member. Church programs are like coats. If you take a quorum of brethren in a Sunday meeting, and ask them to exchange coats at random, you will not do too well. What fits one will not fit all. WE MUST BE GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT as we administer the programs of the Church. Effective leadership in the Church requires revelation. REVELATION COMES FROM REGULAR STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES, DAILY PRAYER, REPENTANCE OF SIN, PURITY OF HEART AND REGULAR ATTENDANCE AT THE TEMPLE.
"A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance; when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the spirit of God, and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus...."
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
The following experience is from Elder Richard G. Scott.
"A humble, unschooled priesthood leader in Mexico struggled to teach truths of the gospel contained in his lesson material. It was obvious how deeply they had touched his life. I noted THE INTENSE DESIRE HE HAD TO COMMUNICATE THOSE PRINCIPLES. HE RECOGNIZED THAT THEY WERE OF GREAT WORTH TO THE BRETHREN PRESENT. HIS MANNER EVIDENCED A PURE LOVE OF THE SAVIOR AND LOVE OF THOSE HE TAUGHT.
"His love, sincerity and purity of intent permitted a spiritual influence to envelop the room. I was so touched that, in addition to receiving again a witness of the truths that he presented, I began to receive some personal impressions as an extension of those principles taught by the humble instructor. These instructions were intended for me personally and were related to my assignments in the area.
"As each impression came, it was faithfully recorded. I recognized that BECAUSE A TEACHER HAD TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT, I HAD BEEN GIVEN PRECIOUS TRUTHS THAT WERE GREATLY NEEDED FOR ME TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE in the service of the Lord....There followed specific directions, instructions, and conditioned promises that have altered the course of my life.
"(A) second experience...so contrasted with the first that strong impressions came again. I began to write down those impressions....In this experience, there came such an outpouring of impressions that I felt it inappropriate to try to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location. There I continued to write as accurately and as faithfully as possible the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart.
"AFTER EACH POWERFUL IMPRESSION WAS RECORDED, I MEDITATED UPON IT, PONDERED THE FEELINGS I HAD RECEIVED TO DETERMINE IF I HAD ACCURATELY EXPRESSED THEM. THEN I STUDIED THEIR MEANING AND APPLICATION IN MY OWN LIFE.
"Subsequently, I prayed, expressing what I thought I had been taught by the Spirit. WHEN THAT FEELING OF PEACE AND SERENITY CONFIRMED WHAT I HAD SOUGHT, I ASKED IF THERE WERE YET MORE THAT I SHOULD BE GIVEN TO UNDERSTAND. There came further impressions, and the process was repeated until I received treasured specific direction that has immeasurably enriched my life....AN ENVIRONMENT CAN BE ESTABLISHED THAT WILL PERMIT THE LORD TO COMMUNICATE PERSONALIZED MESSAGES THROUGH THE HOLY GHOST TO MEET AN INDIVIDUAL'S NEED....I BELIEVE THAT WE OFTEN LEAVE THE MOST PRECIOUS PERSONAL DIRECTION OF THE SPIRIT UNHEARD BECAUSE WE DO NOT RECORD AND RESPOND TO THE FIRST PROMPTINGS THAT COME TO US WHEN WE ARE IN NEED OR WHEN IMPRESSIONS COME IN ANSWER TO URGENT PRAYER....
"I would strongly emphasize (we) teach the reality of PERSONAL COMMUNICATION FROM AND TO GOD. Help each individual understand how to pray worthily and how to receive and recognize answers from God....(Personal communication through prayer) HAS DIRECTED MY THOUGHTS AND ACTS IN EFFORTS TO HELP OTHERS IN NEED AND HAS GIVEN ME SPECIFIC INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE UNATTAINABLE BY OTHER MEANS CRITICAL TO MY EFFORTS TO ACT AS AN INSTRUMENT TO UNRAVEL TANGLED LIVES."
Elder Richard G. Scott,
1991 CES Video conference
Elder Scott again spoke on how to acquire spiritual knowledge in General Conference.
"President Benson emphasized the importance of spiritual knowledge, saying: 'We should make daily study of the scriptures a lifetime pursuit...The most important thing you can do...is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently....Learn the doctrine....Master the principles....
"'You must...see that...searching the scriptures is not a burden laid upon (us) by the Lord, but a marvelous blessing and opportunity.'
"President Spencer W. Kimball commented:
'Spiritual learning takes precedence. The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is...like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow....One need not choose between the two....for there is opportunity to get both simultaneously.'
"As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. PRINCIPLES ARE CONCENTRATED TRUTH, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A TRUE PRINCIPLE MAKES DECISIONS CLEAR EVEN UNDER THE MOST CONFUSING AND COMPELLING CIRCUMSTANCES. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle. I have tried to do that with gaining spiritual knowledge. The result is now shared in hope that it will be a beginning place for your study. That statement of principle is:
TO ACQUIRE SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE AND TO OBEY IT WITH WISDOM, ONE MUST;
-IN HUMILITY, SEEK DIVINE LIGHT
-EXERCISE FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST
-HEARKEN TO HIS COUNSEL
-KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS
"As spiritual knowledge unfolds, it must be understood, valued, obeyed, remembered, and expanded.
"President Joseph F. Smith said: 'The greatest achievement mankind can make in this world is to familiarize themselves with divine truth, so thoroughly, so perfectly, that the example or conduct of no creature living in the world can ever turn them away from the knowledge they have obtained....'"
Elder Richard G. Scott,
Ensign, Nov. 1993, pgs. 86-87.
"...the language of the Spirit...is not learned from textbooks written by men of letters, nor is it acquired through reading and memorization. THE LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT COMES TO HIM WHO SEEKS WITH ALL HIS HEART TO KNOW GOD AND TO KEEP HIS DIVINE COMMANDMENTS. Proficiency in this language permits one to breach barriers, overcome obstacles, and touch the human heart.
"...Shadows of despair are dispelled by rays of hope, sorrows yield to joy, and the feeling of being lost in the crowd of life vanishes with the certain knowledge that our Heavenly Father is mindful of each of us.
"...the language of the Spirit is gentle, quiet, uplifting to the heart and soothing to the soul....
"We watch. We wait. WE LISTEN FOR THAT STILL, SMALL VOICE. WHEN IT SPEAKS, WISE MEN AND WOMEN OBEY. We do not postpone following promptings of the Spirit....
"Frequently the call seems to be not so much for the benefit of those to be taught or led as for the person who is to teach or lead."
Elder Thomas S. Monson,
Ensign, May 1985, pg. 68.
Leaders are constantly asked to make decisions -- which affect the lives of others. If we will tune our lives sufficient to receive the Holy Ghost, we need never make an incorrect decision.
"Now I tell you that YOU CAN MAKE EVERY DECISION IN YOUR LIFE CORRECTLY, if you can learn to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost. This you can do if you discipline yourself to yield your own feelings to the promptings of the Spirit. Study your problems and prayerfully make a decision. Then take that decision and say to Him in simple, honest supplication, 'Father, I want to make the right decision. I want to do the right thing; this is what I think I should do. Let me know if it is the right course.' Doing this, you can get the burning in your bosom, if your decision is right. If you do not get this burning, then change your decision and submit a new one. WHEN YOU LEARN TO WALK BY THE SPIRIT, YOU NEVER NEED TO MAKE A MISTAKE. I know what it is to have this burning witness. I also know that there are other manifestations of guidance by the Spirit."
President Marion G. Romney,
Improvement Era, Dec. 1961, pg. 947.
FROM FAITH, HOPE AND TESTIMONY TO A PERFECT KNOWLEDGE
The organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is established to bring men and women to A FULL KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST. "For He will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept;"(D&C 98:12), "...giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!"(D&C 128:21), and "...I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more;" (2 Ne 28:30) are scriptures that teach us the Lord gives us knowledge and power a bit at a time, and He is always ready to give us more whenever we are ready to receive it. Thus, we can come to a full knowledge of Christ--having the Second Comforter minister to us.
To enter into THE REST OF THE LORD is to enter a state of peace, assurance, love and even glory that will dispel all doubt, fear and apprehension of the world and those in it (2 Peter 1:10; Heb 3:1). To approach this rest we are called according to His purposes and grace (2 Tim 1:9). Ether chapter 12, among other scriptures, teaches us that THE GRACE OF GOD is the personal witness of the Spirit of any gospel principle for the spiritual edification of His children bringing commitment, additional strength, and power in meekness and understanding, enabling us to become strong in our weaknesses through the power of faith and the Holy Ghost.
As we experience this grace of God changing our lives, WE GAIN WISDOM which is the capacity to perceive and discern meaning, intent and direction--to be able to view situations with a spiritual perspective (see D&C 76:2). As we grow through these experiences, we seek to obtain the priesthood and magnify our callings within it. As we do so by seeking and being directed by the Spirit, we are sanctified by the Spirit, even to the renewing of our bodies. We then become the "elect of God". And those who "receive this priesthood" receive the Lord. They shall see God (D&C 84:33-40.).
"There has been a day of calling, but THE TIME HAS COME FOR A DAY OF CHOOSING; and let those be chosen who are worthy.
"And it shall be manifest unto my servant, by the voice of the Spirit, those that are chosen; and they shall be sanctified;
"And inasmuch as they follow the counsel which they receive, THEY SHALL HAVE POWER AFTER MANY DAYS TO ACCOMPLISH ALL THINGS PERTAINING TO ZION."
Doctrine and Covenants 105:35-37.
"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
"Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson--
"That the rights of the priesthood are INSEPARABLY CONNECTED WITH THE POWERS OF HEAVEN, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness."
Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-36.
"The more sure word of prophecy means a man's KNOWING that he is sealed up unto eternal life, BY REVELATION and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood."
Doctrine and Covenants 131:5
By studying and pondering scriptures that apply to a given subject or problem, we are given greater understanding of how we might be able to apply them into our lives.
As our HEARTS ARE PREPARED by the Lord and the Holy Ghost, we gain faith from the examples and testimonies of others. And this small amount of FAITH INCREASES HOPE in our hearts. Sparked by this hope that ignites a desire for understanding things of a spiritual nature, WE BEGIN TO BELIEVE what we are told about Jesus Christ. As we study about Jesus Christ, our faith in Him begins to grow. WE RECEIVE AN ASSURANCE (or hope and testimony) in our hearts that what we are learning is true. This assurance is a feeling. These feelings are the beginnings of a testimony. These FEELINGS FORM A BASIS of our doing good works and obeying the different commandments.
One by one we come to know that gospel principles are true. One by one we begin to live them because we gain a testimony that a certain principle is true. And so Alma says, "...your knowledge is perfect in that thing."(Alma 32:34) We must continue in faith gaining a perfect knowledge of precept upon precept. Thus, the roots of the tree of our testimony are sent deep into the soil of our soul, line after line, root after root, principle after principle. Our lives become so full of Jesus Christ and His gospel that we no longer try to obey the commandments because the Church is true. We are obedient to the gospel because WE ARE TRUE TO CHRIST.
OUR TESTIMONIES COME BY WAY OF FAITH, HOPE AND EXPERIENCE. Experience in matters of the Savior's work brings feelings, impressions, directions, protections and dreams and visions in the night and day. And so we grow from point of knowledge to point of knowledge, even unto a perfect knowledge, until the veil can no longer keep from us the visions of eternity and seeing how our mission fits into God's overall plan. This we gain by our enduring commitment to accomplishing the Lord's work--the mission of the Church. Then IT BECOMES A SIMPLE MATTER OF SETTING PRIORITIES. We prove our availability and the Lord improves our capabilities. We expand our horizons and He expands our mental capacities.
"But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of His kingdom which He showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;...
"...they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love Him, and purify themselves before Him;
"To whom He grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves;
"That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear His presence in the world of glory."
Doctrine and Covenants 76:114,116-118.
The Lord has looked through our eyes, past our mortal foibles and faults, deep into the well-springs of our souls. HE HAS SEEN WHAT WE ARE WORTH, and because of what He saw, He gave His life in ransom for us that we might overcome the hold of death and the grave on us by our repentance and faith on His name alone.
We may not yet remember this experience, but one moment in time or eternity, when we have need of this knowledge, or having proven our faithfulness to Him and His work, the crowds of our brothers and sisters surrounding us in our visions will separate. There will be no one to stand between our Savior and ourselves. We will see Him as our loving brother and personal Savior. WE WILL RECOGNIZE HIS TOTAL AND COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE OF US--who we are and what we have done with His name. Whether we see Him in the temple or in Gethsemane, on the cross or during His mortal ministry, in His glory as the great Jehovah, as our loving elder brother in a one-on-one interview, or as our Savior leading us into the New Jerusalem to a newness of life, we will see Him as, and for, who He is; and that power given to us to be able to see Him will overwhelm us. Our emotions will melt within us.
THE POWER OF HIS LOVE WILL FILL US TO OVERFLOWING with joy expressible only with tears of gratitude and praise for His perfect love and faith in us. We will know His love and our only desire will be to share that same love with all our human family. Our only desire will be to bring them unto Christ as we have been able to come unto Him.
When our lives are touched or strengthened by the Spirit, or spiritual experiences, faith in Christ begins to grow in our hearts. Love of Christ begins to root deeper into our character. We share Christ-like love until we have a "Savior experience"--His presence is there because we are doing His work (Ephesians 3:19). "And the King shall...say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"(Matt 25:40). As we come more into His presence, we grow to a fullness of understanding of who Jesus is, and how and why He does what He does. Like Enoch, the brother of Jared, Abraham, Moses, Enos, Nephi, Peter, Paul, Joseph Smith Jr., and other latter-day prophets, apostles and others, WE ALL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GAIN A PERFECT KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST.
Read through these following words of spiritual power and understanding drawn from the Lord's servants as they have spoken in conference about testimony and ALLOW THE POWER AND SWEET SENSITIVITY OF THE SPIRIT TO ENWRAP YOUR HEART AND SOUL.
"Elder Heber C. Kimball once said: 'Let me say to you, that many of you will see the time when you will have all the trouble, trial and persecution that you can stand, and plenty of opportunities to show that you are true to God and His work. This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with victory....
"'THE TIME WILL COME WHEN NO MAN OR WOMAN WILL BE ABLE TO ENDURE ON BORROWED LIGHT. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. If you do not have it, how can you stand?'
"What is meant by "the light within himself"? That is a testimony, the true foundation that should determine true behavior....
"During the last two years, we have seen many significant international political events followed by dramatic consequences and changes for the world and also for the Church....
"IF WE FAIL TO RECOGNIZE the personal spiritual challenge of political and economic changes and constant new threats to the moral and spiritual stability of individuals and families, WE WILL FAIL TO recognize the needs and requirements to ADAPT to these new conditions by finding within ourselves a firm and true foundation that will determine a firm and true behavior....
"...the real strength of an individual is to be found in his testimony and in living it.
"If the measure of strength and the stability or true foundation of an individual and his subsequent conduct lies in a testimony and we do not fully recognize its importance, or do not understand what it really means, or cannot or will not bear it or share it with others, and if we cannot teach it or explain it to others, maybe we ought to explore the deep, spiritual meaning of it and the blessing of obtaining, maintaining and sharing a personal, individual testimony....
"...gaining a testimony and knowing what it is... is knowing by the power of the Holy Ghost that God lives and is the same yesterday, today and forever (see D&C 20:12) and that 'this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent' (John 17:3). A TESTIMONY IS NOT ONLY A WITNESS that Jesus is the Christ, BUT ALSO A STATEMENT OR AFFIRMATION of the fact that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son; A CONVICTION that the Book of Mormon has a divine origin and is another testament of Jesus Christ; AND A KNOWLEDGE that the Church of Jesus Christ, with its gospel and holy priesthood, was in truth and fact restored."
Ensign, Nov. 1991, pg. 62.
"A TESTIMONY OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, a witness that the Book of Mormon is true, comes in a delicate, refined spiritual communication. It is described in the scriptures as light..., as burning in the bosom. It IS BEST DESCRIBED AS A FEELING....
"While we may invite this communication, it can never be forced! If we try to force it, we may be deceived....
"Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process....
"Personal testimony is confirmed to us initially and is reaffirmed and enlarged thereafter through a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit."
Boyd K. Packer,
Ensign, Nov. 1991, pg. 21.
"President Joseph F. Smith said: 'One fault to be avoided by the Saints, young and old, is the tendency to live on borrowed light, with their own hidden under a bushel; to permit the savor of their salt of knowledge to be lost; and the light within them to be reflected, rather than original....
"'Men and women should become settled in the truth, and founded in the knowledge of the gospel, depending upon no person for borrowed or reflected light, but trusting only upon the Holy Spirit, who is ever the same, shining forever and testifying to the individual and the priesthood, who live in harmony with the laws of the gospel, of the glory and the will of the Father.'"
Ted E. Brewerton,
Ensign, Nov 1991, pgs. 11-12.
"...WE CAN FORTIFY OURSELVES WITH THE PROTECTION PROVIDED BY A BURNING TESTIMONY that...has been built adequately and maintained carefully....
"Perhaps in some cases, that testimony is constructed unwisely, built on a social foundation of programs and personalities instead of the sure rock of personal revelation. Or perhaps you have allowed your testimony to flicker gradually through the years of disuse and spiritual complacency....
"...you need to do everything in your power to be absolutely certain that your spiritual bonfire of testimony is burning brightly....None of us has progressed so far in this life that we do not need to continually fortify our testimonies....
"FIRST, make sure your testimony is built upon a solid foundation of faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ....
"Anchored with that faith, we are ready for my SECOND suggestion...it is humble, sincere repentance. Few things extinguish the fervor of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual more quickly than does sin..
..The simple fact is this: ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT DRAW US CLOSER TO GOD TAKES US AWAY FROM HIM. We have no middle ground, no foggy gray area where we can sin a little without suffering spiritual decline...
"My THIRD suggestion is that we follow the example of the Savior. He set the pattern....We can ask ourselves what would Jesus do and then determine our own course accordingly....Even though we could never in this life measure up completely to His standard of excellence, our attempt to do so will lead us to do far better than otherwise....
"The strength of the Church lies in the depth and vitality of the personal testimonies of its members. Firm, SECURE TESTIMONIES WILL BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITHFULNESS AND DISAFFECTION."
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin,
Ensign, Nov 1992, pgs. 34-36.
"CHERISH THAT TESTIMONY. It is so delicate! It is so fragile! It needs to be nourished with prayer, with the reading of the scriptures, and being at the right place at the right time. I promise you and bear witness that your testimony will grow, and YOU CAN HAVE A MIGHTY EFFECT on those with whom you associate."
Joseph C. Muren,
Ensign, Nov 1991, pg. 30.
"WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL STEPS TO OBTAIN A TESTIMONY? FIRST, to humbly seek the truth, to have a desire to know by exercising belief or faith. When we obtain any blessing from God, such as an answer to prayer or a convincing knowledge, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (see D&C 130:21.) Here, then, are the required standards of the law: ask in the name of Christ and exercise faith in Him, have a sincere heart, humbly seek the truth, be receptive, discard preconceived religious concepts, and cleanse yourself from the sins of the world. YOU MUST ADHERE TO THE RULES, tune in correctly to receive the proper signal, and, once in harmony with the Holy Ghost, you may know the truth of all things. This represents a spiritual gift from God, not to be denied but to profit us. It is permanently available, never to be taken away except by our unbelief or unwillingness to humbly seek the truth.
"THE SECOND STEP is to know by revelation, where Spirit speaks to spirit. It is one thing to be able to say, 'I believe, I think, I hope that the gospel is true,' but it requires personal revelation and personal acknowledgment and recognition to declare, 'I know that the Church is true.'....
"Let us now examine the KEYS OF THE SPIRIT OF REVELATION.
"KEY NUMBER 1 is to know for yourself. Do not be dependent on someone else.
"KEY NUMBER 2 is to know by the power of the Holy Ghost. Do not look at reason, logic, or the philosophies of men and theories of the world.
"KEY NUMBER 3 is to know by searching the scriptures and the revelations given and published in our day by the prophets--the First Presidency and the Twelve. Do not listen to apostate, unauthorized voices or speculation.
"KEY NUMBER 4 is to know by asking your Heavenly Father in the name of his Son Jesus Christ. Do not turn to public discussions and forums. THE PURPOSE OF HAVING AND USING CERTAIN KEYS IS always very simple: TO OPEN THE RIGHT DOOR with a particular key. The purpose of these spiritual keys is to open spiritual doors, one by one, to come to a plain testimony as described by the prophets....
"TO MAINTAIN AND STRENGTHEN A TESTIMONY, prophets have always reminded us to bear it and share it. Elder Spencer W. Kimball stated, 'To hold his testimony one must BEAR IT OFTEN AND LIVE WORTHY OF IT.'...Make it known after you know, make its power evident after you know, and live accordingly after you know.
"To have a testimony and to share it provides a firm foundation for us to stand on and a way to control our lives in this constantly changing world....
"A living prophet has spoken. IT IS NOW TIME FOR US TO STAND AND BE TRUE TO OUR TESTIMONIES."
Ensign, Nov 1991, pgs. 62-64.
"The time has come for all of us to feast on the fruit of our own testimony....The testimony of which I speak is much deeper than knowing the Church is true. We need to progress to the point of knowing we are true to the Church. We also need to increase our capacity to receive personal revelation....IT IS TIME TO DIG DOWN DEEP WITHIN OURSELVES and rekindle our own light.
"...Devastating in the long run is the spiritually destructive hurricane of disobedience to God's commandments that is engulfing the world. This horrible storm is blowing the moral fiber out of the nations of the earth and leaving the land in moral desolation. MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO BE OBLIVIOUS to this hurricane and have become so desensitized they don't even feel a breeze....
"To some, the events unfolding in the world today are frightening. This is not a time to panic, but IT IS DEFINITELY A TIME TO PREPARE....
"You will remain much safer and infinitely happier if you will place your energy into current obedience rather than saving it for future repentance.
"...trials and tribulations will come our way. Disasters and tribulation are not always for the punishment of the wicked, but OFTEN FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS....
"It seems there is an intense concentration which must be obtained before our pleadings reach our Father in Heaven and, perhaps even more importantly, before He can get through to us....
"The challenge for each of us, in order to prevent having to receive constant wake-up calls, is to remain obedient once we have turned upward....Nevertheless, it does not seem to be in the plan to have a whole lifetime of bliss if our goal is increased spirituality and perfection....
"THIS INCREASED DEPTH OF SPIRITUALITY WILL HELP GIVE US THE PERSPECTIVE WE NEED to face today's adversities and the strength we need for tomorrow....
"Become active participants in building the kingdom. THIS IS THE HOUR OF OUR OPPORTUNITY, to which I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
Glenn L. Pace,
Ensign, Nov 1992, pgs. 11-13.
"...Jesus Christ as the son of God....stands at the head of this church. IT IS HE UPON WHOM WE MUST BUILD. It is He who is the chief cornerstone of our foundation. He is the rock of our salvation, THE ROCK UPON WHICH NOT ONLY THE CHURCH WILL BE BUILT, BUT OUR PERSONAL TESTIMONIES AS WELL....It is a certainty that revelation is in constant operation in this church!
"All sorts of voices are screaming at us from the stadiums of public opinion. OUR COURSE WILL NEVER BE THE POPULAR WAY OF THE WORLD. There are obstacles strewn in our path upon which we may sprain an ankle or stub a toe. But we must keep going. WE MOVE ON IN THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD, EACH ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR OWN PERFORMANCE...."
Gary J. Coleman,
Ensign, Nov 1992, pgs. 43-44.
"CONVERSION IS A PROCESS....One is converted when he sees with his eyes what he ought to see; when he hears with his ears what he ought to hear; and when he understands with his heart what he ought to understand. And what he ought to see, hear, and understand is truth--eternal truth--AND THEN PRACTICE IT. THAT IS CONVERSION."
Julio E. Davila,
Ensign, Nov 1991, pgs. 23-24.
After conversion our actions speak louder than anything we may write or say. In the October 1975 General Conference, President Marion G. Romney stated:
"As used in the scriptures, converted generally implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and His teachings, but also a motivating faith in Him and in His gospel, a faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one's understanding of life's meaning and in one's allegiance to God--in interest, in thought and in conduct. While conversion may be accomplished in stages, one is not really converted in the full sense of the term unless and until he is at heart a new person. Born again is the scriptural term."
Marion G. Romney
Church News, 24 June 1995, pg. 5.
"In Timothy we are admonished to BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE BELIEVERS. (see 1 Tim 4:12.) A believer is someone who follows and knows the teachings of Christ not only in his mind but also in his heart and whose actions are a witness of that belief. It isn't easy to be an example of the believers....
"We can live in such a way that people can look to us as their examples.
"To be a good example of a principle, we must not only understand it but we must live that principle. IT SHOULD BECOME SUCH A PART OF OUR EVERYDAY LIVING THAT WITHOUT CONSCIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT IT, THE PRINCIPLE IS REFLECTED IN THE WAY WE LIVE....
"We are drawn to those who make us feel good about ourselves when we are with them. The desire to be like them follows naturally.
"To be true examples of believers, we are first committed inwardly to the principle of Christ that our actions reflect....
"It is interesting to note that WE CHOOSE THE EXAMPLES WE FOLLOW. WE EXERCISE OUR OWN AGENCY THROUGH OUR CHOICES. Examples are not forced upon us....
"We can always feel secure in looking to Christ as our perfect example....
"Jesus resisted temptations. He treated all equally. He was patient in His teaching yet bold in His condemnation of evil. He forgave the repentant, healed the sick, and served without ceasing....
"Each of us can feel our Savior's love through the righteous example of others. We, too, can STRIVE TO LIVE IN SUCH A WAY that we can be examples of the believers."
Ruth B. Wright,
2nd Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, Ensign, Nov 1991, pgs. 90-92.
"...God lives and watches over us, and through his Son, Jesus Christ, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. All he asks is that we do the best we can with what we have and stay close to him....
"Prayer, scripture study and obedience to the commandments will prepare you to lead out in righteousness for the gospel of Jesus Christ....
"...WE CALL ON YOU TO UNITE in your wards and branches, to love one another, to gain strength from one another. WE CALL ON YOU TO STAND TOGETHER AND LEAD OUT for morality, to speak out against the evil forces of the world. Will you stand for truth and righteousness and lead others who will follow if you will show the way? WILL YOU STAND AS A WITNESS FOR OUR HEAVENLY FATHER AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST?...
"Hear the words of President Ardeth G. Kapp.'Reach out to others...Unite in righteousness. Hold your banners high for all to see. Don't be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for you have a cause and the cause is glorious!'
"'Look to this day. ARISE IN ALL YOUR SPLENDOR, AND BEAR THE STANDARDS OF THE WORLD TO BE.'(Maude Osmond Cook, cited in Ensign, Nov 1977, pg. 32.)"
Jayne B. Malan,
1st Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, Ensign, Nov 1991, pgs. 93-94.
The following speaks about the importance of our own personal testimonies.
"'Infallible proofs' of spiritual matters, such as Christ's resurrection, are not of the hand but of the heart. They are not seen with the naked eye; they are seen through the 'eye of faith'(Ether 12:19). Nor are they established by a touch of a finger. THE REALITY OF SPIRITUAL MATTERS IS CONFIRMED BY FEELINGS STIRRED THROUGH THE SPOKEN OR WRITTEN WORDS OF GOD (see 1Ne 17:45). I say this because 'the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore it speaketh of things as they really are and of things as they really will be' (Jacob 4:13). The Holy Spirit deals with facts, not with fancied happenings.
"You will recall that the two disciples who walked and talked with Christ on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him at first. Later, however, 'their eyes were opened, and they knew Him' when they reflected, 'Did not our hearts burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?'(Luke 24:31-32.)
"You will also recall that Jesus said to Thomas, 'Be not faithless, but believing....
"'Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed'(John 20:27,29).
"Our 'eyes of faith' will also be opened, and we shall know of a surety that He lives and that we shall live again, if we believe and accept the divine invitation 'Walk with me'(see Moses 6:34).
"-Yes, WE WALK WITH HIM in the desert and feel His presence WHEN WE FAST, PRAY AND WITHSTAND temptation.
"-We walk with Him to Jacob's well and our hearts burn within us WHEN WE STUDY THE SCRIPTURES and drink living waters.
"-We walk with Him to Galilee WHEN WE TEACH AND LIVE THE TRUTH.
"-We walk with Him in Gethsemane WHEN WE ASSUME THE BURDENS OF OTHERS.
"-We walk with Him to Calvary WHEN WE TAKE UP OUR CROSS BY DENYING OURSELVES of all ungodliness and every worldly lust (see JST, Matt. 16:26).
"-We suffer with Him on Golgotha WHEN WE SACRIFICE OUR TIME, TALENTS AND MEANS in building up the kingdom of God.
"-WE RISE WITH HIM TO A NEWNESS OF LIFE when we seek a spiritual rebirth and strive to become His sons and daughters.
"AND IN THE PROCESS OF FOLLOWING in His footsteps (see 1 Pet 2:21), WE GAIN THE PERSONAL CONVICTION or infallible proof that He lives, that He is the son of the living God, and the He is our Redeemer."
Carlos E. Asay,
Ensign, May 1994, pg. 12.
The importance of receiving a personal testimony is outlined here by Elder Robert D. Hales, of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"Our testimony comes by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. The testimony received and carried within us enables us to hold a steady course in times of prosperity and to overcome doubt and fear in times of adversity. Each of us needs to know what a testimony is, how we can get it, and what our responsibilities are once we have received a testimony.
"A TESTIMONY IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY (see Rev 19:10). It is a personal revelation from God, revealing the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A testimony comes through the Holy Ghost; it makes a deep and lasting impression on the soul.
"Individual testimonies are the foundation and strength of the Church. OUR TESTIMONY PROVIDES A GUIDING LIGHT THAT LEADS TO A COMMITMENT WHICH DIRECTS OUR CONDUCT AND OUR WAY OF LIFE. Our testimony is true north on a spiritual compass. It is a moving force that cannot be seen but can truly be felt. It is a burning within that tells us what is right. It is when 'your heart tells you things your mind doesn't know'(Harold B. Lee).
"Our testimony is the fruit of obedience in the form of peace, joy, and understanding in our hearts of gospel principles. A testimony is a shield of faith 'wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked' (D&C 27:17).
"OUR TESTIMONY IS A MEASUREMENT OF OUR FAITH. Faith is testimony; testimony is faith. Having a strong testimony allows us to help others in their search for truth. Our testimony is a gift from God. It should be shared, but we do not have the authority to bestow a testimony upon someone else, because A PERSONAL TESTIMONY IS GRANTED BY THE HOLY GHOST. It can aid others in gaining knowledge for themselves--A KNOWLEDGE ABIDING IN THE HEART THAT LEAVES NO ROOM FOR DOUBT.
"Our testimony is a knowledge of who we are-- a child of God; where we came from--the presence of our Heavenly Father; and where we are going eternally if we are faithful--back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. We must each gain such a testimony if we are to withstand the trials and adversities of mortality and go on to the glorious eternal future we all desire....
"Though prayer is important in gaining a testimony, we cannot merely ask in prayer for a testimony and expect it to be given immediately to us.
"GENERALLY TESTIMONY EMERGES OVER TIME AND THROUGH LIFE'S EXPERIENCES. We can compare testimony to the process of watching a photograph develop. Powerful impressions of the Spirit come like flashes of light on receptive photographic film. Like the chemicals needed to develop the picture, certain spiritual conditions and experiences are needed in our lives for our personal testimony to develop into a certain truth and knowledge. And like a photograph, a testimony, if not carefully preserved, will fade with time....
"Be willing to endure the test of time. Do not think that it is easy to maintain a testimony. Others will test you. Sometimes they will point the finger of mockery and scorn. Sometimes they may persecute you openly. Be prepared. Know in advance that the best of God's children have had the courage of true conviction and were willing to suffer ridicule, deprivation, and even death for the sake of true testimony....
"We should not let others determine our faithfulness and affect our testimony and ultimately our eternal salvation.
"Doubts about matters of religion that arise from a lack of knowledge can be constructively resolved. The solutions are instructions, study, and prayer, which result in increased testimony....
"They will emerge from the conflict into a firmer, stronger, larger faith because of the struggle. They have gone FROM A SIMPLE, TRUSTING FAITH, THROUGH DOUBT AND CONFLICT, INTO A SOLID SUBSTANTIAL FAITH WHICH RIPENS INTO TESTIMONY....
"The fruits of testimony may be observed in the lives of the faithful. Those lifted by the power of testimony can find greater happiness and fidelity in marriage. Their testimonies are an antidote to the plague of divorce. They enjoy greater freedom, seldom enslaved to alcohol, tobacco, drug, abuse, and other forms of self indulgence. They find strength to deal with the problems of life."
Elder Robert D. Hales,
Ensign, Nov 1994, pgs. 20-22.
"'Nearly two thousand years ago a perfect Man walked the earth--Jesus the Christ. He was the son of a Heavenly Father and an earthly mother. He is the God of this world, under the Father. In his life, all the virtues were lived and kept in perfect balance; he taught men truth--that they might be free; his example and precepts provide the great standard--the only sure way--for all mankind. Among us he became the first and only one who had the power to reunite his body with his spirit after death. By his power all men who have died shall be resurrected. Before him one day we all must stand to be judged by his laws. He lives today, and in the not too distant future shall return, in triumph, to subdue his enemies, to reward men according to their deeds, and to assume his (rightful) role to rule and reign in righteousness over the entire earth.' (Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, [Salt Lake City: Parliament Publishers, 1969], pp.52-53.)
"Such is the testimony of our prophet and our leader. When all is said and done, I remind you that THIS IS OUR GREAT MISSION--TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE WORLD, both with example and precept, OF THE LIVING REALITY OF THE SON OF GOD, THE RESURRECTED LORD, who is our Redeemer and our Savior."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
First Counselor in the First Presidency,
Ensign, May 1992, pg. 89.
From the personal record of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., as well as from other eye-witness accounts confirming this incident, the following testimony is so simple and yet so powerful.
"BY THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God--...
"And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.
"And WE BEHELD THE GLORY OF THE SON, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fullness;....
"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony...which we give of him. That HE LIVES!
"For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; AND WE HEARD THE VOICE BEARING RECORD that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--
"That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."
Doctrine and Covenants 76:12, 19-20, 22-24.
So that we might understand explicitly what is available to each of us, here is the definitive quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr.:
"After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God....When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints....
"'And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;...
"'I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.' (John 14: 16, 18.)
"Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at....All the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and the Church of the Firstborn."
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. 1970],
IS IT TRUE THAT WE EITHER HAVE A TESTIMONY OR WE DONíT?
And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your soul, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible....
It is not uncommon to hear members of the church say that you either have a testimony or you donít. But upon closer examination of that logic, it would be more accurate if we could grasp in our minds a concept that might be called the Oliver Cowdery principle. Elder Cowdery was the Second Elder of the church. He was one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. He was the Assistant President of the Church. Yet the time came when he had no testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He in fact lost his testimony even of being a member of the church and was eventually excommunicated, but he never lost his perfect witness to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Alma says, "...your knowledge is perfect in that thing."(Alma 32:34) Oliver Cowdery is surely a living example of the fact that we can have a strong testimony of one thing and no testimony at all of another.. Regarding his testimony of the Book of Mormon, he had gained a perfect knowledge, but in other things he had no witness at all.
Working with less active members of the church is very much like working with Oliver Cowdery while he was excommunicated from the church. WE MUST NOT ASSUME THAT BECAUSE THEY DO NOT ATTEND CHURCH THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE A TESTIMONY OF SOME THINGS. That is the whole point of this book. It is one of the most important keys that you can learn in working with less active members. You have to start where they are, and help them rebuild their WHOLE testimony. When they say they have lost their testimony, we must ask, " testimony of what". It is possible to have a very strong testimony of one thing and no testimony at all of another. Even while Elder Cowdery was excommunicated from the church, he never lost his "PERFECT WITNESS" of the Book of Mormon, and on several occasions took opportunity to bear his witness to others about the Book of Mormon even though he was no longer a member of the church.
When we work with less active members of the church we must be positive and filled with the hope of their return to the fold. It is so important for us to find out what they do still have a testimony of. It is not uncommon to find a person who is totally inactive as far as attending church, but still pays their tithing. We have often taught people who hated their Bishop and said they would never come back to church as long as he was the Bishop, yet had the goal to be married in the temple some day. A few months ago, we were working with a young prospective missionary who had already sent in mission papers AND WAS STILL TRYING TO STOP SMOKING. This young missionary had a strong testimony of Joseph Smith and a strong testimony of the doctrines of the church, but had been taken in by the habit of smoking and had a very difficult time giving up the habit. It seems almost unbelievable to some, that a person could be trying to learn to quit smoking while they were waiting to enter the Mission Training Center. But as time proved, that young missionary was able to quit smoking, went on the mission, and became one of the best that ever served. Once the habit was conquered and the Spirit of the Lord filled the missionaryís soul with the power of conversion, well the rest of that story is history.
We can promise you from our many experiences of the past, that if you will find out what they do still have a testimony of, and build on that positive foundation, you will have success. You will find the things they have lost their testimony of will change and grow. Start where they are and assume that they have a good heart and want to come back. Start there, and , then build on what they want to become rather than dwelling on what they have lost their testimony of. You will find that the Lord works on His children in wonderful ways. Have hope. Believe that they will come back and most surely they will. It has been a common experience of the authors, as we have used this program, to have people who were very anti-church when we started to work with them, tell us when we were done that all those doctrinal questions they had before, just went away. In many instances we did not ever answer their questions, or resolve the differences they had with the ones who offended them. The Spirit of forgiveness just filled their hearts and it all went away and they gained a testimony anew of the need to be active and become involved in the programs of the church.
We have prepared the following charts to try to help you grasp the Oliver Cowdery concept. It is so important as you work with less active members of the church that you not assume that they either have a testimony of the church or they do not. We must understand them and love them and learn where they are with their testimony. And then build on the little glimmers of light that are still there "IN THAT THING". Use Alma as your guide to instill hope within you that they can come back. Use his words when you are discouraged, to help you know that just because they do not have a testimony in one thing does not mean that they do not have a testimony of other things. Know that when we are willing, as Alma promised, we can all some day gain a perfect knowledge of all things, AND WE WILL. That is what entrance into the Celestial Kingdom is all about. Changing!
The following charts are from handouts that we have used at firesides to help those attending visualize the "Oliver Cowdery principle", as it relates to our own personal testimony. You have our permission to use these charts as handouts yourself if you do not remove the copyright information from them.
WHAT IS OUR GOAL?
Our goal is two-fold. First, to do the Lord's work, we must BECOME like Him -- (Christ-like). Second, once we are on the path to understanding, believing and becoming like Christ, we can then, with power and authority, DO His work in His way.
"When I ponder what kind of men and boys we should be as priesthood holders, I cannot help but think of the Savior's questions to the Nephite twelve when He asked, 'Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily, I say unto you, even as I am.'(3Ne 27:27) To be like the Savior -- what a challenge for any person! He is a member of the Godhead. He is the Savior and Redeemer. He was perfect in every aspect of His life. There was no flaw nor failing in Him. Is it possible for us as priesthood holders to be even as He is? The answer is yes. Not only can we, but THAT IS OUR CHARGE, OUR RESPONSIBILITY. He would not give us that commandment if He did not mean for us to do it....
"A priesthood holder is (FAITHFUL AND) VIRTUOUS. Virtuous behavior implies that he has pure thoughts and clean actions. He will not lust in his heart, for to do so is to 'deny the faith' and to lose the Spirit(D&C 42:23)-- and THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT IN THIS WORK THAN THE SPIRIT.... Virtue is akin to holiness, an attribute of godliness. A priesthood holder should actively seek for that which is virtuous and lovely and not that which is debasing or sordid....Whenever a priesthood holder departs from the path of virtue in any form or expression, he loses the Spirit and comes under Satan's power....
"A priesthood holder is KIND. One who is kind is sympathetic and gentle with others. He is considerate of others' feelings and courteous in his behavior. He has a helpful nature. Kindness pardons others' weaknesses and faults. Kindness is extended to all--to the aged and the young, to animals, to those low of station as well as the high....
"THIS IS WHAT THE SAVIOR MEANS when He speaks of the kind of men we should be. Does not His own life reflect perfect diligence, perfect faith, perfect virtue? If we are to be like Him, we too must become partakers of the divine nature."
President Ezra Taft Benson,
Ensign Nov 1986, pg. 45-48.
"We cannot relax while many of our brothers and sisters and many of our young men and women are failing to participate in the programs of the Church. I ask that you again REFLECT UPON YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES in this matter and take steps to accelerate this work of redemption."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, 1 Oct. 1977, pg. 68.
In making sure that every plant in an irrigated field is watered, it is necessary to expend the effort to get the water down to the end of every row that has been planted. The second part of our goal is to both RE-ACTIVATE EVERY INACTIVE MEMBER AND BRING THE CONVERSION PROCESS INTO THE LIVES OF EVERY NON-MEMBER living within the boundaries of our ward and stake. Until we have accomplished that, using every effort available to us, we have not gotten the water to the end of the row.
"When holding your regular MEETINGS, MAKE THEM AS SPIRITUAL AND EFFECTIVE AS POSSIBLE. Meetings need not be hurried nor rushed, for they can be PLANNED IN A MANNER THAT PERMITS THEIR SACRED PURPOSES TO BE ACCOMPLISHED WITHOUT DIFFICULTY....Please take a particular interest in strengthening and improving the quality of teaching in the Church....We all need to be touched and nurtured by the Spirit, and effective teaching is one of the most important ways this can happen. We regularly do vigorous enlistment and reactivation work to get members to come to church, but often do not watch over what they receive when they do attend."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Ensign, May 1981, pg. 45.
THE WORK MUST BEGIN WITH US. We have the power to accomplish this work. We have the promise of that power from the prophets. All we have left to do to accomplish this great work is THE WORK. One of the Book of Mormon prophets gave us a great promise:
"Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing -- unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and IT SHALL BE GIVEN UNTO SUCH TO BRING THOUSANDS OF SOULS UNTO REPENTANCE, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance."
"By faith in God you can be attuned to the Infinite and by power and wisdom obtained from your Heavenly Father harness the powers of the universe to serve you in your hour of need in the solution of problems too great for your human strength or intelligence."
President Harold B. Lee,
Church News, 15 Aug. 1970, pg. 2.
To assist us in accomplishing our goals, we could make President Joseph F. Smith's objective a part of our own lives:
"The greatest achievement mankind can make in this world is to familiarize themselves with divine truth, so thoroughly, so perfectly, that the example or conduct of no creature living in the world can ever turn them away from the knowledge that they have obtained....
"From my boyhood I have desired to learn the principles of the gospel in such a way...that it would matter not to me who might fall from the truth,...my foundation would be...certain in the truths...I have learned." (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th Ed., [S.L.C.:Deseret Book Co., 1939], pp. 3-4).
Elder Richard G. Scott,
Ensign, Nov 1993, pg. 87.
WE CAN CONVERT THOUSANDS if we will apply the principles Ammon outlined in his promise. It is true it will not happen all in one night. When Christ appeared in America, even His appearance did not convert everyone. It took three more years of further missionary work to convert all the people (see 4Ne 1:1-2). When Enoch began his work, the people he preached to were very wicked. But the years of preaching paid off and he converted all within the sound of his voice, and the rest of the wicked left for fear of the righteousness of the people. The Nephites and Enoch were able TO CONVERT EVERY SINGLE SOUL LEFT IN THEIR MIDST. They left no one behind.
Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from food and drink for the purpose of gaining spiritual insight, strength and assistance for either ourselves or others. It should both begin and end with a prayer. For some members this is sometimes seen as an inconvenience to get through or even a burden to endure. From the experiences in scripture and talks in the conferences of the Church, we know that when fasting is joined with prayer and a humble, seeking, faith-filled attitude, the result is an increase of spiritual power and happiness that cannot be reached in any other way. Fasting helps us understand how completely dependent we are on the Lord for our lives and our livelihood; thus, it draws us closer to God and the Spirit. We are strengthened physically by subjecting the will of the body to our spiritual power. Our humility increases in direct proportion to our attitude in prayer and fasting. Thus, we are better able to serve others in a Christ-like manner (Isa 58:6-7). These are important aspects of fasting correctly.
Regarding the use of a special "Fast Day", the following excerpt from a talk on the history of a "Fast Day" is informative.
"Modern revelation as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants makes little mention of fasting and gives no specific instructions regarding it. A year and a half after the Church was organized, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation...."And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full. VERILY, THIS IS FASTING AND PRAYER, OR IN OTHER WORDS, REJOICING AND PRAYER." (D&C 59:13-14.)....
"The following year came a more explicit revelation on the subject from the Lord in which He said, "Also, I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth." (D&C 88:76.)....
"Are we not wealthy if the Lord has blessed us with something we can share with others?
"To discipline ourselves through fasting brings us in tune with God, and fast day provides an occasion to set aside the temporal so that we might enjoy the higher qualities of the spiritual....
"May the Lord bless us as we live His commandments and share with our brothers and sisters....in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
President Howard W. Hunter,
Ensign, Nov 1985, pgs. 72-74.
Three apostles educated those listening at General Conferences in 1985 and 1986 about the law of the fast.
"The law of the fast has three great purposes. First, it provides assistance to the needy through the contribution of fast offerings....Second, a fast is beneficial to us physically. Third, IT IS TO INCREASE HUMILITY AND SPIRITUALITY on the part of each individual....
"One of the strongest admonitions the Lord has given to His children on earth is that we have the responsibility and obligation of caring for those in need....(See Mosiah 4:26; 18:8-9.)
"You cannot give to the Church and to the building up of the kingdom of God and be any poorer financially.
"....Oh, how we deprive ourselves of the blessings of the Lord by not being generous in our fast offering contributions.
"LET US HAVE THE FAITH TO BIND THE LORD TO BLESS THIS PEOPLE BECAUSE WE ARE FOLLOWING HIS ORDER....by being generous in our fast offering contributions....
"Fasting is also one of the finest ways of developing our own discipline and self-control....
"Fasting helps to teach us self-mastery. It helps us to gain the discipline we need to have control over ourselves....
"Finally, let us examine the humility and spiritual strength derived from fasting. The Savior certainly recognized the need for this principle. (See Luke 4:1-14: when Jesus fasted forty days before the devil tempted him.)....Fasting had blessed Him with the power of the Spirit. (See also Alma 17:3-4.)....
"We can find in the scriptures where fasting and prayer bring forth a special spiritual power. THIS SAME BLESSING IS AVAILABLE TO EACH OF US IF WE WILL ONLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT....
"May the Lord continue to bless us with the faith to follow the inspired leadership He has provided for us here on earth that we may fulfill our obligations and responsibilities and be blessed by His hand, both spiritually and temporally, as we follow His plan,...in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
L. Tom Perry,
Ensign, May 1986, pgs. 31-33.
"FASTING FORTIFIES DISCIPLINE OVER APPETITE and helps to protect against later uncontrolled cravings and gnawing habits."
Russell M. Nelson,
Ensign, Nov 1985, pg. 31.
"Let us now return to our homes with determination to live the gospel more fully. THERE IS NOTHING THE LORD EXPECTS OF US THAT WE CANNOT DO. His requirements are essentially so easy....
"It is not a burden to refrain from two meals a month and give the value thereof to assist in caring for the poor. It is, rather, a blessing. Not only will physical benefits flow from the observation of this principle, but spiritual values also. Our program of the fast day and the fast offering is so simple and so beautiful that I cannot understand why people everywhere do not take it up."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Ensign, Nov 1985, pg. 85.
That we might know when we are approaching the correct way to fast, the Lord has given us an indicator toward perfection in fasting. "...that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full" (D&C 59:13) indicates that the more we find joy in fasting, the closer we are getting to perfection in our fasting. Notwithstanding our individual physical limitations(i.e. sickness, pregnancy, nursing, other health problems, being young children who shouldn't be required to fast, etc.), when we do fast, our goals in fasting should be such as to include seeking for the joy that fills us when we have gained that state of being "...filled with the Holy Ghost" (3 Ne 12:6). Also, when asked why His disciples did not fast, Jesus explained that only after His resurrection would His disciples need to fast for His presence (Mark 2:18-22.). When the Savior is present as we go about His work, we can feel His love, and sometimes even His presence. That love and presence fills us with joy that cannot be adequately described unless the Spirit carries the feelings we are trying to share to those who are both listening and spiritually prepared.
The Lord mentioned the opposite of correct fasting. "When ye fast be not...of a sad countenance...(and) appear unto men to fast....But...anoint thy head, and wash thy face....appear not unto men to fast,..." (3 Ne 13:16-18.). If we go without two meals of food and drink on a fast day just because it is expected, if we have no clear purpose in mind, if we are grumpy and frustrated and angry with our loved ones while we fast, there may be something wrong in our approach to fasting. The joy of fasting will not be ours. Fasting should bring unity rather than divisiveness and joy rather than contention.
As we seek answers to prayers by fasting, we may get the usual answers of yes, no or silence on the matter for which we are praying. We need not feel discouraged if we pray for something we want and do not get it. There are tremendous side effects which come from this spiritual medication called fasting and prayer. Fasting builds strength of character and increases humility. With that strength and humility we are better able to control our appetites and passions. If we could teach our children to fast, they could develop the self-mastery that will help them over come greater temptations later in life. As we gain mastery over self, and are more able to submit our will unto the Lord, we are of greater use in the kingdom. Fasting increases the power of our personal virtue in being more like the Savior (Mark 5:24-34.). Even though we may be burdened by many of the cares of living in this world, we can have complete confidence and know that we will each gain that joy of the Spirit as we draw closer to the Savior by fasting. Fasting and prayer provide the inner strength that both youth and adults need as they face Satan's temptations each hour of the day. As we turn away from eating and turn to fasting, let us replace the desire to eat (or the desire to follow the "natural Manís" cantankerousness while we fast) with a deep spiritual desire for what Abraham sought. He sought and found greater happiness, peace, rest, blessings, great knowledge, spiritual inheritance and power in righteousness.(Abraham 1:2-4.)
TO "HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS" is to fast for righteousness. OUR CHALLENGE IS TO FAST IN A WAY THAT BRINGS US BY THE SPIRIT CLOSER TO THE SAVIOR, WITH JOY AND REJOICING IN OUR HEARTS AND ON OUR COUNTENANCES, as we go about our daily tasks with either friends or family. If this is difficult, seek through faith and prayer, and, if sometimes necessary, a priesthood blessing for needed assistance along the path to perfection in fasting. (See also Bruce R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, 4 Vols., [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981.] Vol. 1:410; James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd Edition, [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1916.]pgs. 128, 395; Joseph F. Smith, Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th Ed., [S.L.C.:Deseret Book Co., 1939] pgs. 237-238, 244.)
One of the key things which Ammon and the sons of Mosiah did to increase their ability to convert thousands was to fast and pray often.
"For they were men of sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God...but this is not all; THEY HAD GIVEN THEMSELVES TO MUCH PRAYER AND FASTING: therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God...."
Each person is left with their own interpretation of what MUCH PRAYER AND FASTING means. President Marion G. Romney has shared with us one of his insights to fasting and prayer.
"I have had problems which it seemed I could not solve, and I have suffered in facing them until it seemed I could not go further if I did not have a solution to them. After praying AND ON MANY OCCASIONS FASTING FOR A DAY EACH WEEK OVER LONG PERIODS OF TIME, I have had answers revealed to my mind in finished sentences. I have heard the voice of God in my mind and I know His words."
Marion G. Romney
Melchizedek Priesthood Manual
1976-1977, pg. 39.
"Nevertheless, the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God."
HOW FASTING WAS OBSERVED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In biblical Hebrew the roots of words translated as "to fast" and "a fast" mean primarily to go without food. Other phrases equivalent to these occur -- e.g.: "not to eat bread" (2 Sam 12:17, 1 Sam 28:20) or "afflict oneself" (1 Kings 21:29) also "to afflict one's soul" (Lev 16:29).
Before the exile fasting was undoubtedly practiced from the earliest times in Israel though there is little indication that before the exile it was considered to be, in itself, a meritorious pious practice. The mention of fasting by individuals is always connected with some particular occasion and was usually accompanied by other forms of humiliation (like wearing sackcloth, etc.). The purpose of fasting seems to have been to excite the pity or compassion of the Almighty in moments of distress or penitence. (see 2 Sam 12:16-23) This shows that fasting was a normal mourning custom. (see also 1 Kings 21:27 and Dan 10:2) According to the most ancient records and traditions, fasting was also used as a preparation for the attempt to receive communications from God in dreams and visions (Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8). Public fasts also occurred in connection with the Mosaic code, and at times of distress (Judges 20:26; 1 Sam 31:13; 1 Sam 7:6).
After the exile the fast seems to have retained its old uses, but new ones seem to have been added (old uses: Ezra 10:6; Neh 1:4; Dan 9:33; 10:3). It became the custom of the "pious" to fast on the second and fifth days of the week, and the especially devout might fast even more (note Luke 18:12; Job 12:8). The Roman Emperor Augustus is claimed to have said, boastingly, that he "fasted more than a Jew". In these later times the prophets condemned the insincerity with which fasting was practiced (Joel 2:12-13). As Jesus taught, the worth of fasting, as with any other act, lies in the devotion of which it is an expression; without such devotion, it is, of itself, meaningless--just another way to diet.
A typical fast in old testament times was for a single day, with abstinence lasting until sunset. Sacrificing was commonly practiced, as well, during the times of fasting (Lev 16; Judges 20:26). Other practices during fasting, and fasting from "water and wind" are mentioned (1 Sam 7:6; Dan 10:3; Jonah 3:5,7-8; 2 Sam 12:16; Isa 58:1-5; Joel 2:12-13; Zech 7:1-7).
Here is a quote from Ellis T. Rasmussen, Dean Emeritus of Religious Education at Brigham Young University and a professor there for 30 years. It might help us better understand the words of Isaiah on fasting (Isaiah 58:1-16):
"To questions about performing such ordinances as fasting and then failing to feel any spiritual results, the prophet's answer from the Lord explained that the fasting was perfunctory, for they had not lived as their ordinances had pledged them to. FASTING SHOULD INCREASE CHARITY IN THE HEART AND CHARITABLE DEEDS IN THE COMMUNITY. Real blessings, both spiritual and material, will flow from sincere fasting and giving fast offerings (Isa 58:9-12). Even such a simple virtue as sincere Sabbath keeping is a sign that all covenants are held sacred, and the way of life that results therefrom will be rewarded (Isaiah 58:13-14; Exodus 31:12-17; D&C 59:9-24)."
Ellis T. Rasmussen,
A Latter-Day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament,
HOW FASTING WAS OBSERVED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Matt 4:2 Jesus fasted 40 days and nights before beginning His ministry.
Matt 6:16-18 Jesus' advice - how to fast (Sermon on the Mount).
Matt 12:40-45 Some things can only be accomplished by a combination of fasting and prayer.
Luke 18:10-14 Parable of the Pharisees - fasting to be done only in righteousness.
Acts 10:30 Cornelius the Centurion was fasting when the angel appeared to him.
Acts 13:1-3 Early church apostles fasted before making the decision on who would take the place of Judas Iscariot.
Matt 4:2 Gain extra strength (also Matt 12:40-45).
Matt 9:14-15 For mourning purposes.
Acts 10:30 Seeking truth and information.
Acts 13:1-3 For help in making decisions.
How to fast?
Matt 6:16-17 Appear not unto men to fast.
Luke 14:12-14 Let your Father, and not man, give you the reward.
Luke 18:10-14 Fast not to exalt yourself.
HOW FASTING WAS OBSERVED IN THE BOOK OF MORMON
Omni 1:26 Continuing in FASTING AND PRAYER is a necessity.
Mosiah 27:14 PRAYER AND FASTING can influence others to know the truth.
Mosiah 27:22-23 FASTING AND PRAYER by one group of people can give strength to another.
Alma 5:45-46 A testimony can be received by FASTING AND PRAYER.
Alma 6:6 Commanded to FAST AND PRAY for others.
Alma 8:26 Fasting can be used to accomplish a commandment.
Alma 10:7 Reactivating another came by FASTING AND PRAYER
Alma 17:3 Much PRAYER AND FASTING brings the spirit of prophecy and revelation and the power to teach with the authority of God.
Alma 45:1 FASTING AND PRAYER - a way to worship and express joy.
Helaman 3:34-35 FASTING AND PRAYER bring purification and sanctification through humility and faith.
3 Nephi 13:16-22 Jesus' explanation of the correct way to fast.
4 Nephi 1:12 Need to continue to FAST AND PRAY and meet together.
(Notice how often PRAYER AND FASTING are used together.)
FASTING AS IT RELATES TO FAST OFFERINGS
"Let us not forget (helping the poor and needy), brothers and sisters, in this age when the matter of living from the labors of somebody else is almost universal. IT WON'T LAST. When you get more idle than there are workers, there won't be enough to go around. We must be builders of character in our distribution as well as our production....WHEN we make all of these work (the three welfare programs of the Church), brothers and sisters, as they should, to the blessing of those who give and the glorification of those who receive, WE WILL BE READY FOR THE COMING OF THE SAVIOR...."
President Marion G. Romney,
Welfare Services Meeting,
Held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square
Saturday, 7 Apr. 1973, 7:30 a.m.
"We ought, and we must do better. If we will DOUBLE OUR FAST OFFERINGS, we shall increase our own prosperity, both spiritually and temporally...."
President Marion G. Romney,
Conference Report, Apr. 1974 pages 176-180
"Sometimes we have been a bit penurious and figure that we had for breakfast one egg and that cost so many cents, and then we give that to the Lord. I think that when we are affluent, as many of us are, that we ought to be very, very generous....I think
we should be generous and give, instead of the amount we saved by our two meals of fasting, perhaps, much, much more - TEN TIMES MORE - where we are in a position to do it. I know there are some who couldn't."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, Oct. 1974, pg. 184.
"If we give a generous fast offering, we shall increase our own prosperity both spiritually and temporally."
President Spencer W. Kimball
Conference Report, Oct. 1977 pg. 126.
"One of the important things the Lord has told us to do is to be liberal in our payment of fast offerings. I would like you to know that there are great rewards for so doing--both spiritual and temporal rewards. THE LORD HAS SAID THAT THE EFFICACY OF OUR PRAYERS DEPENDS UPON OUR LIBERALITY TO THE POOR.(See Alma 34:28) ....Givers must give out of a righteous heart and with a willing spirit. Receivers must receive with thankfulness and gladness of heart....We should all give some attention to the matter of fasting. WE HAVEN'T REALLY CALLED ON THE LORD SO THAT WE CAN REACH HIM INTIMATELY IF WE DON'T FAST OCCASIONALLY, AND PRAY OFTEN. Many of our personal problems can be solved by so doing ....Pay an honest tithing and a generous fast offering if you want the blessings of heaven. I promise every one of you who will do it that you will increase your own prosperity, both spiritually and temporally. The Lord will reward you according to your deeds."
Pres. Marion G. Romney,
Ensign, July 1982, pgs. 2-4.
FASTING BY NON-MEMBERS
It is surprising to some that the promised blessings of fasting in the Bible are extended to all who have faith. It is not a unique blessing that only applies to members of the church. Here is one example of a humble group of New Englanders who, in olden times used their faith, fasting and prayers to receive protection from foreign powers.
"In October of 1746, France assembled the largest fleet ever to be sighted from American soil and headed for Boston to avenge the defeat at Louisburg. There was no hope of matching the fleet either in cannon fire or manpower, so the Governor assembled what men and resources he could and then called for a universal day of fasting and prayer. One writer says, 'everywhere men observed it, thronging to the churches. In Boston the Reverend Thomas Prince, from the high pulpit of the Old South Meeting House, prayed before hundreds. The morning was clear and calm, people had walked to church through sunshine. 'Deliver us from our enemy!' the minister implored. 'Send Thy tempest, Lord, upon the waters to the eastward! Raise Thy right hand, scatter the ships of our tormentors and drive them hence. Sink their proud frigates beneath the power of Thy winds.'
"He had scarcely pronounced the words when the sun was gone and the morning darkened. All the church was in a shadow. A wind shrieked around the walls, sudden, violent, hammering at the windows with a giant hand. No man was in the steeple - afterward the sexton swore it - yet the great bell struck twice, a wild, uneven sound. Thomas Prince paused in his prayer, both arms raised, 'We hear Thy voice, O Lord!' he thundered triumphantly. "We hear it! Thy breath is upon the waters to the eastward, even upon the deep. Thy bell tolls for the death of our enemies!' He bowed his head; when he looked up, tears streamed down his face. "Thine be the glory, Lord. Amen and Amen!'
"All the province heard of this prayer and this answering tempest. Governor Shirley sent a sloop, the "Rising Sun", northward for news....She brought news so good it was miraculous - if one could believe it....The whole fleet was nearly lost, the men very sick with scurvy, or some pestilential fever. Their great admiral, the Duc d'Anville, was dead.
"A week later the news was confirmed by other vessels entering Boston from the northeastward. D'Anville was indeed dead; it was said he had poisoned himself in grief and despair when he saw his men dying round him. Two thousand were already buried, four thousand were sick, and not above a thousand of the land forces remained on their fleet. Vice-Admiral d'Estournelle had run himself through the heart with his sword. The few remaining ships, half-manned, were limping off to the southwestward, headed, it was thought, to the West Indies.
"Pestilence, storm and sudden death - how directly and with extraordinary vigor the Lord had answered New England prayers.
"The country fell on its knees....A paper with D'Anville's orders had been found, instructing him to take Cape Breton Island, then proceed to Boston - 'lay that Town in Ashes and destroy' all he could 'upon the coast of North America; then proceed to the West Indies and distress the Islands.'"
Catherine Drinker Bowen,
[Grosset & Dunlap, N.Y., 1950] pg. 5, 10-11.
TRUE FASTING AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO ANSWERS TO PRAYER
"And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need - I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, BEHOLD, YOUR PRAYER IS VAIN, AND AVAILETH YOU NOTHING, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith."
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To VISIT the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
"IF YOU WOULD QUALIFY so that in times of trouble you could call and the Lord would say, 'HERE I AM.', the Lord gave the answer through His prophet Isaiah: You must observe the fast day of the Lord and deal out your 'bread to the hungry....and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh (see Isaiah 58:3-16)."
President Harold B. Lee,
Improvement Era, Dec. 1968, pg. 72.
"YES THE LAW OF THE FAST IS A PERFECT LAW, and we cannot begin to approach perfection until we DECIDE TO MAKE IT A PART OF OUR LIVES....The world needs self-discipline. You can find it in fasting and prayer. Our generation is sick for lack of self-control. Fasting and prayer help to instill this virtue. We all have need to overcome the powers of the adversary. His influence is INCOMPATIBLE with fasting and prayer."
Elder Robert L. Simpson,
Conference Report Oct. 1967, pg. 16-19.
"Therefore, IF ANY man SHALL TAKE OF THE ABUNDANCE which I have made, AND IMPART NOT his portion, ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF MY GOSPEL, unto the poor and the needy, HE SHALL, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, BEing IN TORMENT."
Doctrine and Covenants 104:18
"We must ever remind ourselves and all members of the Church to keep the law of the fast. We often have our personal reasons for fasting. But I hope members won't hesitate to fast to help us lengthen our stride in our missionary effort, to open the way for the gospel to go to the nations where it is not now permitted. IT'S GOOD FOR US TO FAST AS WELL AS TO PRAY OVER SPECIFIC THINGS AND OVER SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES."
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, Apr. 1976, pg. 172.
THE SPIRITUAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF FASTING
Many specific reasons for fasting are found in the scriptures. We are told that fasting will help us to feel humility which enables us to then pray in faith. Fasting therefor should be done in secret not before the world (see Matt 6:16-18). The Lord invites us to fast with promised blessings from Him for doing so (see D&C 59:13-14; 88:76; Luke 5:33-35; 2Cor 6:5; 11:27). It is itself a form of the true worship of God (see Luke 2:37; Acts 9:9; Alma 45:1; 4 Ne 1:12). He tells us it is proper to fast for the sick (see 2 Sam 12:16); for special blessings (see Mosiah 27:22-23) to gain a testimony (see Alma 5:46); to gain revelation (see Alma 17:3; 3 Ne 27:1; Exodus 34:28; Deut 9:9,18); for the conversion of non-members to the truth (see Alma 6:6; 17:9); for the guidance in the choice of church officers (see Acts 13:3); as an accompaniment of righteous mourning and sorrow (see Alma 28:2-6; 30:2; Helaman 9:10); as a means of sanctifying one's soul (see Helaman 3:35); as a way to bring a special, personal communication between you and the Lord (see 3 Ne 13:16-18); and for guidance along the path leading to salvation (see Omni 1:26). We are also told that temples are houses of fasting and prayer (see D&C 88:119; 95:16; 109:8,16) For further information about fasting, see also Joseph F. Smith, Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th Ed., [S.L.C.:Deseret Book Co., 1939], pg. 243-4, 287-8 and the Topical Guide in the back of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James version of the Bible.
"Overeating clogs the system with deleterious waste products. When such a condition exists, a short fast is useful as a means of restoring the body to its normal active state."
President David O. McKay,
Conference Report, Apr. 1932.
"I want to say to you, my good brethren, we cannot have the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we ought to have it if we do not fast as the Lord required it of us; not extensive fasts, but the fast which has been set apart which we should do in wisdom."
President Joseph Fielding Smith,
Conference Report, Apr. 1940.
"The law of the fast is another test. If we merely go without food to supply welfare funds, it is much of the letter, but IN REAL FASTING, for spiritual blessings, come self-mastery and increased spirituality. 'Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.' (Luke 18:10-14) Are we interested in what we can get or are we interested in what we can give?"
President Spencer W. Kimball,
Conference Report, Oct. 1951.
WHAT IS PRAYER AND HOW TO PRAY
"Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
Bible Dictionary, pg. 752-753.
Holy Bible, King James Version, LDS Edition.
Of the who, what, where, how, why, and when of prayer, it is the feeling and attitude within our hearts that is focused on in this section. For specific references an excellent place to turn is the back of the LDS Edition of the Holy Bible, in the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary under "prayer". The following general conference talk has been quoted by other General Authorities when speaking about prayer.
"The words we use in speaking to someone can identify the nature of our relationship to that person. They can also remind speaker and listener of the responsibilities they owe one another in that relationship. The form of address can also serve as a mark of respect or affection.
"So it is with the language of prayer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches its members to use special language in addressing prayers to our Father in Heaven.
"When we go to worship in a temple or a church, we put aside our working clothes and dress ourselves in something better. This change of clothing is a mark of respect. Similarly, when we address our Heavenly Father, we should put aside our working words and clothe our prayers in special language of reverence and respect....We use special words that have been sanctified by use in inspired communications...
"The special language of prayer follows different forms in different languages, but the principle is always the same. We should address prayers to our Heavenly Father in words which speakers of that language associate with love and respect and reverence and closeness.
"The men whom we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators have consistently taught and urged English-speaking members of our church to phrase their petitions to the Almighty in the special language of prayer. President Spencer W. Kimball said, 'In all our prayers, it is well to use the pronouns THEE, THOU, THY and THINE instead of you, your and yours inasmuch as they have come to indicate respect.' (Faith Precedes the Miracle, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], p. 201.) Numerous other Church leaders have given the same counsel. (See Stephen L. Richards, in Conference Report, Oct. 1951, p. 175; Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, Jan. 1976, p. 12; L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 1983, p. 13.)"
"Brothers and sisters, the special language of prayer...serves an important, current purpose....We have scriptural record of three beautiful translated prayers the Savior offered during His earthly ministry. They are models for all of us. Notable in each of these prayers are the words THEE, THOU, THY and THINE instead of you, your and yours....
"In our day the English words THEE, THOU, THY and THINE are suitable for the language of prayer, not because of how they were used anciently but because they are currently obsolete in common English discourse. Being unused in everyday communications, they are now available as a distinctive form of address in English, appropriate to symbolize respect, closeness, and reverence for the one being addressed....
"When leaders or members of other churches or synagogues phrase their prayers in the familiar forms of YOU and YOUR, this does not signify a lack of reverence or respect in their belief and practice but only a preference for the more modern language...."
"Our Heavenly Father, who loves all of His children, hears and answers all prayers, however phrased. If He is offended in connection with prayers, it is likely to be by their absence, not their phraseology....
"As the Apostle Paul said, 'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.'(1Cor 13:11)
"The same is true of prayer. Our earliest efforts will be heard with joy by our Heavenly Father, however they are phrased. They will be heard in the same way by loving members of our church. But as we gain experience as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we need to become more mature in all of our efforts, including our prayers.
"Men and women who wish to show respect will take the time to learn the special language of prayer....The Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 22.) The special language of prayer reminds us of the greatness of that privilege. I pray that all of us will be more sensitive to the importance of using this reverent and loving language as we offer our public and private prayers."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks,
Ensign, May 1993, pg. 15-18.
(See also index in this volume for further quotes on prayer.)
BECOMING A ZION (MILLENNIAL) PERSON OR PEOPLE
BY ONESELF, BY FAMILY OR BY WARD
This section, on becoming a Zion person, is the only part of this volume that does not quote extensively from standard works and general authority statements. It is a compilation of ideas from scripture, talks, and a fireside entitled "Becoming a Zion Person" given in California and Oregon from 1988 to 1993. It is PRESENTED IN THE FORM OF STATEMENTS THAT CAN BE APPLIED by individuals, families, quorums, organizations, wards, etc., which can be used to assist them IN DRAWING CLOSER TO THE SPIRIT AND UNDERSTANDING WHAT A ZION-LIKE PERSON'S ATTITUDE WITHIN THE HEART WOULD BE--one of love and honest desire to see our brothers and sisters around us as successful, or even more successful, in their righteous endeavors than we are in ours.
1- We must be seriously working on the process of "coming unto Christ", believing Christ (not just believing in Him) and being fully converted to the Savior of the world.
2- With that faith in Christ, that #1 above generates, building a deep desire within each of us to do our part in the Lord's work, no matter how "small" our part may seem, our understanding of the principles on which the Church programs are based will begin to increase. We will begin to see the "light of the gospel" as it shines through the programs, sometimes thought of as dull, established to bring people unto Christ.
With 1 and 2 in place in our lives, we can then see how the following experiences can take place in the life of a person, family or ward.
a. ANY CALLING, seen as an opportunity to both serve and nurture the members over whom one has responsibility, when extended, WOULD BE ACCEPTED THANKFULLY and prepared for joyfully. Remember that this is a chance to share one's testimony of the power of Jesus Christ in our personal lives.
b. OUR CAPABILITIES to serve in callings WILL BE ENHANCED greatly by scripture study. Our daily personal study in the scriptures will be as refreshing as a cool drink on a warm summer's day. As we drink in the spirit inherent in the word of God, we will find joy in sharing, with family and friends, members and non-members, acquaintances and strangers, the testimonies we have and the insights we have gained.
c. PRAYER WILL BECOME AN ATTITUDE OF HEART AND A STATE OF MIND rather than only words spoken to begin a day or a meeting. In raising the quality of our prayers, we will increase the desire in our hearts to serve others and assist the Lord in caring for their needs. OUR SPIRITUAL SENSITIVITY WILL INCREASE our awareness of those around us and their needs. It will be a privilege to serve others for we are but serving the Lord.
d. Financial contributions and other services would be willingly offered before a Church leader would have to ask for help in providing for those in need. THE HAPPINESS OF OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS WOULD BE AS IMPORTANT TO US AS OUR OWN.
e. The pure love of Christ growing within us will OVERPOWER THE DESIRES OF THE NATURAL MAN. We will see each other as we are or can become - a prince or princess, child of the Eternal King of Heaven, a mortal embryo of a future God or Goddess, King or Queen in our own right. We will no longer desire to gossip or be jealous. Neither anger nor contention will be able to have a hold on us. We will freely forgive those who injure us, whether or not it was done unintentionally. When we discover that we have offended another unintentionally, we will be unable to rest until we have sought them out for forgiveness, and those among us, who have enjoyed stirring up contention for whatever reason, will be unable to continue with this habit when they are freely forgiven for the hurt they have caused others.
f. Church MEETINGS WILL BE FILLED TO OVERFLOWING. Priesthood and Relief Society will be filled with active home and visiting teachers desirous of learning their responsibilities before the Lord and seeking a message to carry to those who may have need of them. Primary will be filled with children happy to learn of Jesus from teachers and administrators whom the children know love them. Sunday School will be a place where all participate in learning of Jesus Christ, and Sacrament meeting, with every hymn being a prayer and every talk an inspired sharing of knowledge and testimony, would be A GRATEFUL, REVERENT ENJOYMENT OF THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST.
With the preceding characteristics in place, Christ would be the heart of each person, each family, each neighborhood and city and, each ward and stake. Living this way would indeed "bring again Zion".
Here are a number of items a Zion-like person might have as a list of those things to be accomplished in our daily life--whether they are goals to be done daily, weekly, monthly, annually or as they might be needed.
-Have faith and make it grow
-Pray morning and night daily
-Recognize our weaknesses and work on them
-Learn to accept change
-Obey all the commandments
-Continually repent of all our sins
-Be baptized by those having the authority of Christ
-Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands
-Be respectful/learn humility
-Gather with the Saints and attend all our meetings
-Bear our testimonies
-Allow no contention in our lives
-Study the scriptures daily
-Put off the natural man
-Gain a spiritual point of view
-Overcome the world
-Live by the Spirit
-Follow the Lord's directions
-Be of one mind with all
-Learn meekness and its power
-Serve yourself, your family then others
-Love all men
-Have no envy
-Learn to consecrate
-Receive the temple ordinances
-Be one in heart with the righteous
-Have no poor among us
-Fulfill all our stewardships
-Be pure in heart/be without guile
-Having charity, live in and with Christ
Throughout the years members of the Church have been asked, and even challenged, to catch the vision of what we can do both as individuals (like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph Smith, Jr., etc.) and as a people in this last dispensation to "bring again Zion".
The following sections will cover:
1- Principles for LEADERSHIP IN ZION
2- GETTING A VISION of our mission and understanding it clearly and then SHARING OUR VISION, clearly and understandably, with others who can help bring it about.
3- Understandably OUTLINING A PLAN to bring the vision to fruition, including building a team to which one can delegate.
4- TEACHING OTHERS to do the same things in their own lives and callings.
5- Helping to INCREASE spirituality and building a personal level of a ZION- LIKE ATTITUDE within ourselves and among the people with whom we serve. this is of utmost importance.
6- WORKING TOGETHER to shoulder and share each others' burdens in trial and adversity, as well as happiness.
7- Having put our hands onto and into the power that directs our future lives
(see Luke 9:62; Matt 10:37-38; JST Luke 14:26.), we must have faith to move forward. We must not look back longingly on the times in our lives when things might have been easier (or handled in a different unrighteous way), possibly because we were more complacent or not as close to the Spirit or to our Savior. Rather than looking back on our past activities, which might have been sins of either commission or omission, WE MUST LOOK FORWARD AND BE THE PEOPLE THE LORD KNOWS WE CAN BECOME.
PRINCIPLES FOR LEADERSHIP IN ZION
- Leadership motivates people to use their creative energies to accomplish important goals.
- Leading in Zion requires understanding (1) the principles of Zion-like behavior (see pg. 67) and (2) the processes necessary to implement that behavior (see pgs. 69-80).
- Leadership is the process that assists, guides, or influences the behavior of others for the betterment of both the individual and the group or community. (see pg. 68)
- Every church member has been given in scripture (including Conferences) the principles for living as a Zion people.
- Identify needs for ourselves and others.
- Ask ourselves what we need to do to live with GREATER spirituality or at a HIGHER LEVEL of righteousness.
- How can I help my family members desire to be more righteous?
- How can I help the ward (or those within the scope of my callings) desire to be more righteous?
- Give leaders and members A GREATER VISION of themselves. People have a tendency to rise to the greater expectations that other people express to them.
- ASK OR CHALLENGE those over whom you have responsibility to try and live like Zion people.
- Freely OFFER LOVE AND SELFLESS SERVICE to all you are over, or among whom you serve.
- Be willing to LET OUR FAITH in the Lord GIVE POWER to our service as we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
- Formal authority (church leaders) and moral or spiritual authority (righteous members) should be, but is not always, held by the same person.
- NO leader's VISION of Zion CAN FUNCTION to change lives UNLESS it is WIDELY SHARED among the formal and informal leaders among whom they serve.
GETTING THE VISION AND SHARING THE VISION
- We become leaders when we make a deep personal commitment to (1) use our time and energy to accomplish the goals we identify, (2) minister to the needs of others, and (3) serve in a Christ-like way.
- Understanding leads to commitment which leads to action.
- Gain a vision of what our calling or mission is all about.
- "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18)
- Enoch's experience represents the process.(Moses 6:26-7:69)
- Wash away any barriers from our spiritual eyesight.
- The Holy Ghost is the power that helps us understand the spiritual reality of our personal situations and capabilities.
- Having a vision of our overall goals, be committed to take action.
- Take action - share the vision, involve others, and develop a plan for continuing activity.
- Receive personal confirmation of your vision, share it with your family and then share it with your file leader.
- Get the willing and intelligent support of your spouse, or be a supportive spouse. Make your leader's or family's goal your own. Identify what you can accomplish that will support those goals.
- Share the vision and your heart's desire with your children (whether they are grown or still young) and seek their help in your endeavor.
- All things must be done in order. Our personal vision of our calling should be consistent with the vision of those over us and of those for whom we are responsible.
- A Zion spirit will come when every person accepts their calling in the spirit of complete stewardship..."I will do all I can to the best of my ability to fulfill this calling and live so I know my actions are guided by the Spirit." (William G. Dyer)
- Concentrate on faith in our strengths rather than fears about our inadequacies.
- Our private lives must be the same example as our public declarations.
- In most people seeking a good life, both members and non-members, there is a deep longing or desire to be committed to significant goals, to have offered to them and accept great challenges and to do great things in life. Uplifting challenges of noble purpose raise our sights, lift our hearts and give added meaning to life.
- We must have a deep commitment to the 3-fold mission of the Church: to come, and help others come, unto Christ.
- Understand how our calling fits into the overall mission of the Church: read the handbooks, relevant material, talk with knowledgeable people and collect others' experiences and suggestions.
- After we have captured the vision of our calling, pray with new purpose and power. Understanding brings knowledge which gives power.
- The Lord confirms our understanding in our thoughts and feelings.
- All who have leadership callings are expected to minister to and serve others in His name and to exercise their own agency in implementing their plans.
- Return and report inspiration and innovations to your file leader.
- The Lord does not expect us to be in perfect circumstances before we begin living the gospel.
- Whatever our personal or church circumstances(single or married, rich or poor, highly visible or behind the scene), these principles are relevant to each of us. We should think of our circumstances as strengths to be freely offered on the altar.
- By offering to the Lord the sorrow, doubt, resentment or despair, with which we might be suffering, miracles will begin to take place. Let Him take it and replace it with joy.
- The spirit of revelation, with revelations coming in many ways from manifestations to the whisperings of the "still, small voice", is the mantle of authority and the source of creativity for every person acting in their calling.
- As we involve ourselves in the Lord's work, every worthy person has the right to receive this divine guidance. "...I, the Lord,..
.delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness....Great shall be their reward....And to them will I reveal all mysteries concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom." (D&C 76:5-7.)
- Concepts given in vision need to be communicated on a level or in a language that others can comprehend. When the Spirit directs us by feelings, those feelings need to be expressed verbally, outlined and written down. Then others can seek for the spiritual confirmation of what they understand their leaders' goals to be. (D&C 9:8-9.)
- State your vision clearly so that all those who become involved in the accomplishment of that vision can see clearly the direction that the inspiration will lead them. Understanding the vision and one's part in it provides purpose, motivation and helps dispel discouragement. It gives hope.
OUTLINING THE PLAN AND DELEGATING RESPONSIBILITIES
-The process of bringing a vision to fruition is to carry out actions that have been clearly outlined.
-"...let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.
"He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand." (D&C 107:99-100.)
-Catching the vision of a particular stewardship is the responsibility of the person holding that calling. We find out what our stewardship entails by reading the handbooks, studying the scriptures, talking with our file leaders, possibly getting some ideas from those who have held the same calling before and prayerfully seeking understanding from our Father in Heaven.
-When we understand the administrative responsibilities we have, then we can begin to minister in our calling to those within, or associated with, the household of faith. Leaders should be aware of the needs of the members over whom they have charge, so also ask the members how they feel you can help fill their needs.
-"...it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity."
Doctrine & Covenants 72:3
-A leader is responsible for teaching whoever accepts a call their duties insofar as it is outlined.
-Ask for feedback and additional comments and feelings from those with whom and for whom we serve. This provides for continuing evaluation of how we are doing within our callings. A leader is to counsel with, teach and be edified along with those who are being taught (D&C 107:85-87.).
-Find out what those under, among and over whom we serve expect from us in our callings.
-Instead of constructive criticism which can be perceived as divisive or contentious, performance improvement can be openly and honestly discussed allowing a spiritual nurturing for all those involved with the activities or callings.
-As we work with others, everyone involved should remember that time is important -- keep scheduled appointments. Let others know if you cannot keep the appointment.
-Don't wait until you know the entire program perfectly. As you start using each step in your own life, begin using that step in your callings and with those among whom you serve.
-Try not to be critical or judgmental. Be positive and uplifting so hope will be the result of discussion.
-When the work that needs to be done is planned by the Spirit, follow the plan. Don't cut corners or take shortcuts--follow the handbook.
-All are at different levels of testimony about the many gospel principles (see graphs on pgs. 47-50). Help those who have a lesser understanding or testimony to increase their understanding, thereby increasing their testimony. Knowledge is power. Help them to better their capabilities--to do better. This is perfecting the saints.
-Personal, Parental, or Priesthood Interviews will help evaluate progress toward goal attainment. Sometimes we can be unsure of our ability to handle an interview. If we focus on the fact that we are helping the other person, our uncertainty, to a large degree, will disappear.
-Always express appreciation for the service, time, efforts, etc. of others. If necessary, go out of the way to ensure that people know their efforts have helped and been noticed.
-Stewardship includes agency, which provides leeway for an individuals preferences, abilities or style. Use of a person's agency within the guidelines established by the handbooks can be supported and encouraged by a leader. This can help those fulfilling callings to be more relaxed, able to find enjoyment in their callings, creative in the activities and more able to express testimony by way of action.
-A stewardship interview is to minister resulting in an increase for all in being filled with the pure love of Christ.
-Delegation is done for two reasons: (1) to get others to help in accomplishing the work and (2) to help others learn and increase in their capabilities as they grow in different areas.
-Delegating is leadership training. It may be slow at first, but it will pick up both speed and capabilities over time.
-Remember Who, What, How, Why, When and Where for the steps in delegating. "Who" is the person that has the calling. "What" is the job that has been assigned to accomplish. "How" is the teaching, explaining or training that could be given allowing the person called to feel more capable in performing their responsibilities. "Why" is the authority that the person holds to fulfill their responsibilities. "When" is the time set up for the "return and report". "Where" is the area, space or guidelines the person is given within which they have full authority to carry out their assignment.
-The action of the person being delegated to should show the delegator was clear in expressing his vision. If not, follow up and do some redefining or re-evaluation.
-Leaders should meet with subordinates to check plans and support their efforts.
-Teach effective interviewing techniques by learning them yourself as a leader and then giving them.
-Lead others until they can lead themselves, in other words, teach correct principles and let them govern themselves. (See Exodus 18:25-26)
-Must have clear goals and are result oriented. As plans move forward re-evaluation and refining of goals takes place.
-Learning responsibilities is important for all involved and how each one's job is important to the whole program (D&C 107:88-100).
-Trust is the supporting infrastructure -- the skeleton that holds up the body. If everyone's motives are pure and Christ-like, trust can be nurtured and strengthened (Mosiah 18:8-9).
-Use open communication about decision making using everyone's ideas for improvement and goal attainment.
-Use instructions about quorum-made decisions(D&C 107:27,30-31; 102:19). Unity is imperative.
-Everyone works with commitment.
-People are more motivated by examples of high standards in their leaders than by being told what to do. So always do your best.
-Discuss, recognize and respect differences of opinions among all involved. Clear up any problems immediately.
-Do not coerce. (D&C 121:34-46)
-Love is a gift but trust must be earned. To have trust is to have fearless confidence of another's care over us. We must trust each other.
-Make the time to set the stage for Zion-like characteristics to be brought out in people.
-Do not fear man but be lifted and supported by trusting in God. (D&C 60:2; Mosiah 23:22; 2 Ne 4:19; Alma 36:3.)
-Move forward without fear or being uncomfortable (2 Ne 31:20); press forward with steadfast faith in Christ.
-When problems do arise: 1-listen. 2-restate so all is understood. 3-Can resolution be made? 4-Should one idea take precedence? 5-Can a compromise be stated and accepted by all?
INCREASE ZION-LIKE ATTITUDE BY HELPING, COUNSELING,
DIRECTING EFFORTS & MANAGING
-People need help when they need help, not when we think they need help.
-The leaders' responsibilities are to be with, lead by example, counsel with love, and help and strengthen others.(D&C 20:53-54)
-Be ready to help or direct people to others who can help when you are asked. To do this, you need to know the resources available to you.
-If you see others needing help, remember that another might be too sensitive about receiving "charity". You might suggest they use an assistant or provide someone with a service opportunity. (Moses 7:16-18).
-Organizations knowing the needs of it's own can better plan ahead--creative maintenance management is better than crisis management.
-Focus on teaching others how to upgrade their income, food producing capabilities, etc., to be more self-sufficient.
-Dignity and self-worth should be retained. (Alma 31:35; D&C 109:43.)
-Leaders can brainstorm and evaluate assistance ideas and then the Home Teacher as directed by the Holy Ghost can present the ideas to those in need.
-Zion-like attitude will put others' needs as high, or higher, than our own. (Luke 10:30-35 Good Samaritan)
-To counsel is to help another solve their own problems, not to step in and do the job for them.
-Define the problem clearly so the one needing help can see the real, underlying issue that needs attention.
-Remember who, what, where, how, why, and when.
-Ask questions for the problemed ones to answer: How do you feel about it? What are your alternatives? What are your needs or wants? Do you have certain expectations?
-Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood -- D&C 84: 31-42.
-Remember the lessons from Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-46.
WORKING TOGETHER TO SHARE BURDENS
-Scriptures to ponder on could begin with: Isa 10:27; Mosiah 24:21; James 1:27; Zech 7:9; Matt 11:30; Psalms 55:22.
-Remember the love of Christ is extended to all, even those who despitefully use you. (See D&C 64:10; 82:1; Matt 5:44; 6:14-15.)
-Others' handicaps can make us uncomfortable. We must look for the good and positive in people. See them as children of our Heavenly Father and offer to help in areas which they indicate they could use the help. (1Cor 2:9; Gal 3:28; Philip 1:27; 1Pet 3:8; 2 Ne 1:21; D&C 38:27; Moses 7:18.)
-Curiosity is a normal childhood reaction - don't be afraid to answer questions that to some adults might seem rude.
-Follow commandments for the love of God - not because of positive peer pressure. But remember, the job done as a result of peer pressure can turn one to eventually do it out of love.
-All are alike in God's eyes and their differences can be a way of appreciating each other and others' cultures. What are the interests in your groups? Can something new be tried? (2 Ne 26:33)
-Be aware that unexpected reactions can happen based on race - whether caused by war, youth experiences with parents, prejudices, etc.. Emphasize the brotherhood and likenesses of man and the love of Christ.
-Bridges to the heart within the gospel will overcome cultural differences as the Church goes multi-national. This is accomplished by the Spirit.
-Diversity of culture has as much to do with change as does repentance and forgiveness.
-When we turn to the Lord and His ways, we must turn away from a past life of unrighteous thought processes and actions.
-We must be patient as people work their way up the spiritual staircase.
-We should accept people where they are in their own lives (spiritually) and help them move up the ladder: (a) behavior needs changing, (b) sinning needs to stop, (c) apathy needs to turn to motivation.
-Effort needs to be expended to change actions or attitudes. If sin is involved, sorrow is needed--godly sorrow. And confession should take place with the appropriate person or persons.
-Restitution, if possible, should take place: repayment, asking forgiveness, making amends somehow, etc..
-The turning away process from the old, which leaves an empty spot, is replaced by the joy of the new filling the emptiness.
-Freedom from the bondage we have been under helps us grow in an "enlightened" state. It lightens our burdens.
-We must forgive all men their trespasses against us. Sometimes they don't even realize they have done anything to hurt others.
-As we have not lived through anyone else's life, we cannot judge their responses. Support people to our best within the circumstances with which we are presented. "We haven't walked a mile in their shoes!"
-We are all members of the same family--don't ostracize one another.
-As we only have control over our own lives and actions or behavior, we cannot let the lack of responsibility on the part of another person hold us back. Hold no grudges. Get rid of any hurt feelings. Whatever it takes, love as Christ does, and did with the adulterous woman when He wrote in the sand.
-Our examples, when bad, like Alma the Younger, hurt others, and we need to apologize to all we think we may have influenced.
-We must each take responsibility for our own actions. Don't take the blame for others, but we can help them through it.
-Rise above any feelings of revenge or retaliation (3 Ne 11:29). Forgive freely and openly. Work it out with the Bishop if necessary.
-Face a problem straight on, because many times there is only a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Don't let a "mole-hill" become a mountain, or let a pebble in your shoe become a stone.
-Be the first to ask for forgiveness. This can help others to not put up a defensive emotional barrier that may block or confuse any further communications.
-If we, as leaders, push people to learn and grow on a spiritual level, their increase in testimony will help them overcome their problems.
-Always show respect for another's point of view.
-We must gain an eternal point of view that sees beyond this life, or some of what we face herein mortality would be impossible to overcome (i.e., sickness, death, heartache, etc.).
LOOKING FORWARD TO WHAT WE CAN BECOME
-Once we have chosen the way of the Lord, we do not want to turn back. (Matt 12:43-45; D&C 67:14; 133:15; Isa 52:10-12; Luke 9:62.)
-Apostate members are more filled with hate and envy and pride than before.
-When we slow our forward progression by going of into forbidden side-paths, or we simply get lazy, we allow Satan to catch up.
-When we don't lead in the path of righteousness, and slow down to review our past wickedness or slothfulness, we can become befouled and befuddled by the clouds and mists of dust raised by the tramping and shuffling feet of those who now surround us in their own clouded state of mind.
-Publish our testimony and be beautiful in spiritual power.
-Be humble in our service and be filled with joy.
-Rejoice in the happiness of others and sing the songs of praise and redeeming love.
-Be one in mind with the Priesthood of God and move mountains of habits, rivers of feelings and tears, and hearts of gold.
-Be without guile, be the pure in heart, be Zion-like and see God.
HOW TO APPLY THE PROGRAM
This program should begin with an individual (a head of a household) and grow in the home on a ward level. If one individual starts using this method in each ward, it can spread throughout the ward and the stake. Remember the home teachers job is to bring help and comfort from the Savior by the power of the Spirit.
(It is hoped quorum and organization leaders can use the following information.)
WEEKLY TEACHING IN THE HOME
Finding the appropriate level of commitment in our teaching is an important factor in conversion and reactivation.
1. THE FULL-TIME MISSIONARY LESSONS ARE VERY DIRECT AND USE A HIGH LEVEL OF COMMITMENT IN TEACHING. These lessons are intentionally highly commitive and are intended to help bring about immediate changes in the lives of the investigators. These streamlined lessons are designed to seek out and bring into the Church those who are searching earnestly and to do so in the most efficient manner possible. These lessons are presented by highly trained Full-time or Stake missionaries. It is most helpful in this teaching situation to have the family being taught invited over to the home of a member family where they can be fellowshipped as they are taught. Being in a new environment from their home is also helpful to them in overcoming their old ways.
2. THE GOSPEL ESSENTIALS CLASS is to be held during Sunday School and IS LESS COMMITIVE THAN THE MISSIONARY LESSONS. BUT IT IS STILL ORIENTED TOWARDS A COMMITIVE TYPE TEACHING. This is an ideal teaching situation for those who have been inactive because it immediately involves them in regular church attendance and fellowship or association with other members of the Church. The class should also be attended, at least once or twice, by the families called to fellowship the families being taught. Once the family being taught has completed the course, they should be invited to attend the regular gospel doctrine class.
3. THOSE WHO WILL NOT ATTEND THE GOSPEL ESSENTIALS CLASS COULD BE INVITED TO ATTEND A TEMPLE PREPARATION SEMINAR. Many times these seminars are given other names. The lesson material is similar to the Gospel Essentials class but is NORMALLY HELD IN THE HOMES OF THE PARTICIPANTS. Each family should be interviewed by the Bishop and asked to attend. The seminars could also be attended by couples who have been called to fellowship these families. It is very helpful if the Bishop can also attend each seminar to help the couples become better acquainted with him. It is really difficult to talk to someone about your problems if you don't know him or don't know if you can trust him.
4. WEEKLY TEACHING IN THE HOME IS INTENDED TO BE A LOW-LEVEL NON-COMMITIVE TYPE OF TEACHING. HOWEVER, THE INDIVIDUALS DOING THE
TEACHING NEED TO BE GUIDED BY THE SPIRIT AS TO WHAT LEVEL OF TEACHING TO USE. Each family is different. The lessons should, in all cases, be oriented to teaching a gospel lesson. Normally the weekly teachers are the regular home teachers for the family. They can also be the quorum leaders, the senior home teacher and his wife, a specially called fellowshipping couple or any combination of these. Teachers should be called by quorum leaders in correlation with the Bishop. The best results seem to come when the Bishop and quorum leader, or just the quorum leaders, go to the home first for a 2-3 minute visit and invite the couple to attend the temple seminar. If the couple declines, then invite them to have these special weekly teachers come to their home. It should be explained that this is a very non-commitive type of teaching where they will not be asked to attend, donate or commit to do things. The teachers will simply answer questions and teach basic principles. The couple, or family, can then decide on their own what they would like to do. If the couple accepts the invitation to the weekly teaching in the home, then the fellowshipping family or weekly teachers can come the next week alone, or the priesthood leader may even want to attend the first lesson in the home with them.
5. ORGANIZED FELLOWSHIPPING is an effective way to reach out to those who will not allow us to teach them or enter their homes. MANY FAMILIES WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY TYPE OF FORMAL TEACHING. THESE FAMILIES CAN GREATLY BENEFIT FROM TWO METHODS OF REACHING OUT TO THEM. The FIRST is a good neighbor that will just go over and become their friend. Often teaching opportunities will come as a result of just being good friends. The SECOND method is a united effort on the part of quorum members and quorum leaders to just pray and fast for the family. Many families have had changes brought about in their lives by members who have never been in their home. Remember, the angel that appeared to Alma came because of the PRAYERS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH AND THE PRAYERS OF HIS FATHER.
"In giving a home teaching assignment, the Bishop emphasized the importance of being humble and prayerful and of preparing a challenging, spiritual message....This home teaching was so important to the Bishop that his enthusiasm and concern for it soon became our own....THE BISHOP HAD MADE THIS HOME TEACHING ASSIGNMENT SIGNIFICANT. He encouraged us to prepare carefully and to be serious about the results of our visits. He helped us to develop the desire and the faith that make the difference. He taught us that dull, mechanical compliance to any assignment dooms it to failure. He brought us to the realization that the first essential factor in successful home teaching to inactives is the home teacher himself. The home teacher's own preparation, dedication, attitudes, and initiative are crucial...."
"BUILD A BRIDGE OF FRIENDSHIP before the subject of religion and Church involvement is broached. A relationship first established on the basis of good feelings will help to dissolve fears, uncertainties, and antagonisms, and will open doors to understanding and acceptance of the gospel...."
"'TO EVERY THING THERE IS A SEASON, and time to every purpose under heaven:'...(Eccl 3:1) All of us have events in our lives that make us more receptive to change or help us to reevaluate our spiritual priorities. So it is with
inactive members. The inactive members to whom you are assigned as home teachers may be more receptive when they have faced a specific hardship or when there is a significant event that takes place in their lives or in the lives of their children. Stay close to them and be prepared to be a spiritual influence in their lives when the time is right."
"SPIRITUAL CONVERSION to the gospel of Jesus Christ IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INFLUENCE in motivating a person to become active....If your families are hesitant to attend a seminar, ask them for the opportunity to teach them...in weekly sessions...on gospel principles....Teach in the home without pressuring the family....Continue teaching weekly sessions in the home until the family becomes spiritually self-sustaining."
"FOCUS ON FATHERS....when you are in his home, be directed by him regarding who should offer prayer, what subjects you teach and what suggestions you make."
"When appropriate, try to provide your assigned families with an OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE and be involved in one of the organizations of the Church. While they desperately need your love and service, they also need a chance to grow through their own service and involvement....In such a setting, they can build friendships, acquire gospel maturity, and gain increased self-confidence in spiritual, Church situations."
"Your efforts to activate some families may require a LONG PERIOD OF PATIENT SERVICE, for 'a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.'(Prov. 18:19)...Be patient with them; this work takes time."
"The reasons some members are not active are as varied as the individuals themselves. YOUR PLANS TO ACTIVATE THEM MUST BE MADE CAREFULLY AND PRAYERFULLY, ACCORDING TO THEIR NEED. The Lord alone knows the secrets to unlocking their hearts....The human touch, to be sure, is the point of beginning for all effective home teachers, but also necessary is a 'divine touch', both for the teacher and for the taught."
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
"The Worth of One: A Home Teacher's
Guide for Working with Inactive Members",
Ensign, Jan 1983, pg. 16-20.
Elder Wirthlin mentioned eight areas in his talk that are so important for the home teacher to remember:
1. Preparation and attitude - that feeling that comes from the heart of the home teacher to let the hearer become one who feels the power of the Spirit as it is funneled through the home teacher.
2. Friendship - remembering that a friend is one who loves you in spite of your faults, the example we show of being a real friend speaks more powerfully than anything we can say.
3. Timing - there come moments in everyone's life when they are more receptive to messages of eternal importance. We need to be spiritually ready when these moments come in our friends' lives, and they need to already know that we are a friend to whom they can turn in these times of need. Chance favors the prepared life. When the opportunity arises, we must have the courage to step forward, hold on tight, and take the spiritual ride of our lives. The joy that comes from these moments fill the heart to overflowing with joy, increase our testimony that this is His work and strengthen our faith to do better the next time.
4. Conversion - when we are converted, we will try to place ourselves in a position to allow the Spirit to work through us. We can do nothing in and of ourselves; but when we allow ourselves to be instruments in the hands of the Master, spiritual healing takes place in the hearts and lives of those to whom we minister.
5. Fathers - it is in accord with the plan of God that the example of the father will generally set the pattern for the children and the family. We should always show honor and respect to the person who stands as the father in the home. Sometimes we need to overlook the faults of the person and respect the person who stands as the father, or patriarch, in the home.
6. Involvement - Becoming involved in another's life and family lets us see how truly blessed we are. The grass that always seems greener on the other side of the fence changes when we climb that fence and find out how difficult it is to walk on unfamiliar ground, tripping on the rocks that are hidden by that green grass. We are better able to handle our own lives because we are familiar with the paths to take in our own fields of labor. When we are able to get inactives involved in helping others, they begin to see and feel how wonderful it is to be involved with His work and the Spirit. They may not recognize the feeling for what it is, but you will have the chance, as you are directed by the Spirit, to explain it to them, for you are their friend and they will ask you about it.
7. Patience - there is a time for every thing to come to pass in the plan of our Heavenly Father in each of His children's lives. We must know this and submit ourselves in patience to His timetable.
8. Spiritual guidance - The armor that is worn and the walls that have been built cannot be pierced by anything that we do. It is the Spirit that reaches the heart. It is the Spirit that brings the inactive out of that crumbling building in which he has housed himself. It is the Spirit that gives hope amid the depression and brings the man out of the ghetto of his life into a greater knowledge of the blessings that are his in eternal life.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke in General Conference about some of these same ideas in his talk, "A Brother Offended". The importance of our doing all we can to carry the message of hope and the request of our Heavenly Father to bring all "unto Christ" should motivate us to not allow others to not let us share a message of Christ with them. WE SHOULD NOT LET OTHERS DICTATE TO US WHETHER WE SHOULD SPEAK OF CHRIST OR NOT. "IF SOME BRISTLE A BIT" AT OUR MESSAGE OF CHRIST OR OUR FELLOWSHIPPING,
"THEN LET US LEARN HOW TO PAT A PORCUPINE." (See Ensign, May 1982, pg. 37)
"This work of reactivation often involves GROUP STUDY AND SOCIALS, but, essentially, it is done a soul at a time, quietly and with dignity. It is done less 'by the numbers' and more 'by the Spirit'. It is less technique than genuine caring, more extending a helping hand than writing new handbooks....
"While we must stand on higher ground in order to lift another, THERE MUST BE NO CONDESCENSION OR SUGGESTION THAT OUR CONCERN IS STATISTICAL RATHER THAN SPIRITUAL. Nor are souls to be dropped soon after they have been painstakingly lifted....
"A FIRST step is to recognize...the causes of inactivity....Never underestimate the power of privately extending a SIMPLE, LOVING, BUT DIRECT CHALLENGE. Though it may not be reciprocated, such love is never wasted.
"SECOND, recognize that this WORK TAKES TIME; it does interrupt our regular routine....
"A THIRD step...is THE CAREFUL MATCHING of person to person. Organized love is better than generalized concern....An inspired effort is needed, for in the work of reactivation the BEST approach may be the ONLY approach! Fasting and praying may be necessary....
"FOURTH, provide such individuals with a fresh OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE....Significantly, brethren, Church members did not become inactive while crossing the plains, when the sense of belonging and being needed was so profound.
"FIFTH, provide THE NEEDED TEACHING. Activation requires conversion. Believing requires gospel beliefs to be understood. Quorum instruction and Gospel Essentials classes must be of a high quality. Attendees must feel the Spirit as they are taught....Temple preparation seminars should feature enough informality to make real learning possible. Assign fellowshipping couples to attend these same seminars along with the inactive couples. Those attending should be lovingly encouraged to set some personal goals in order to be ready to go to the temple. Surveys indicate 30% of those invited to attend seminars will attend! Of the remainder, experience shows that 8 out of 10, properly approached, will permit priesthood leaders to go into their homes to teach them. Brethren, in view of such realities, what are we afraid of?...
"A SIXTH step is to remember THE LORD'S HAND is in this work....Souls are 'in a preparation to hear the word. (Alma 32:6)
"SEVENTH, PREVENTION IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN REHABILITATION. Sometimes, ironically, prevention requires no more than a few extra minutes....Even the vital Book of Mormon was translated only as strength and means were provided. (See D&C 10:4)....
"Now, brethren, let us step back from the details of this demanding challenge and speak of overall realities and responsibilities for inactive and active men alike....THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE ONLY WAY THE STRAIT AND NARROW PATH CAN BE FOLLOWED IS ON ONE'S KNEES....It is our
individual and constant responsibility to avoid 'looking beyond the mark'. (Jacob 4:14)....Let us be grateful for the small strides that we and others make, rather than rejoice in the shortfalls. And WHEN MISTAKES OCCUR, LET THEM BECOME INSTRUCTIVE, NOT DESTRUCTIVE....If such is our attitude, we are far less likely to be offended....The key is to have our eyes wide open to our own faults and partially closed to the faults of others....The imperfections of others never release us from the need to work on our own shortcomings....
"THE LORD PROVIDES DISCREET BUT NEEDED FEEDBACK ....As we view others, humility should counsel us that we do not have all the data....In true discipleship no one regrets a lapse more than the sincere lapser...The adversary and his helpers will continue to seek to discredit today's undershepherds in order to try to scatter some of the sheep....Do not let yesterday hold tomorrow hostage! Walk away from your investment in the penny stock of pride; it never pays dividends....Let us all take extra care to avoid both giving and taking offense. Let us be loving, kind, and forgiving--HELPING THESE FRIENDS TO BECOME, as Peter and Paul said, GROUNDED, ROOTED, ESTABLISHED AND SETTLED. (See Eph 3:17; 1 Pet 5:10.)"
Elder Neal A. Maxwell,
Ensign, May 1982, pg. 37-39.
Home teachers and leaders can use these two resources that have been extensively quoted here as A TYPE OF SELF-EVALUATION RESOURCE: How am I doing? How are those over whom I have a responsibility doing? Do we understand what we are to do? How we are to do it? Why we are to do it? As we align our lives with the path Heavenly Father would have us follow as home teachers, then the next article by Jay A. Parry, researcher for the Church Curriculum Department, comes into play.
"For the home teachers, NO OTHER SINGLE FACTOR IS AS IMPORTANT AS HAVING THE SPIRIT with them as they teach....Here are the basic steps to making home teaching work when approaching inactive members:
1. PRAY FOR THE SPIRIT in preparing and delivering your lessons.
2. Make sure the family knows you're going to use a NO-PRESSURE TEACHING approach.
3. If you recognize that a family has a particular problem with gospel living, DON'T ATTACK THAT PROBLEM.
4. Avoid question-form teaching. Present the material in A LECTURE MODE(visual aids will enliven the lesson.).
5. Always LET THE FATHER PRESIDE in the home.
6. Never teach beyond a family's willingness to receive. A teacher sensitive to the Spirit...can tell when a family is responding negatively to the message...STICK TO THE BASICS.
7. Don't try to push the family into commitments....As the family grows and progresses, the home teacher may BE PROMPTED BY THE HOLY
GHOST TO SUGGEST THAT THEY SET SOME GOALS--but the nature of those goals should usually be left to the family to decide.
8. Follow the Lord's counsel in Doctrine & Covenants 4:6. 'Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.' The home teacher who follows these guidelines will find himself more CONCERNED WITH THE NEEDS OF THE FAMILY than with statistics or other such concerns.
9. Finally, remember that more important than any material the home teacher presents is THE FEELING THE FAMILY HAS WHEN HE'S THERE. Rapport is more important than information....
"These teaching opportunities seldom just end: once families agree to enter the teaching process, they almost never choose to discontinue it, and whether they become active or not, THEY WILL MAKE ADVANCEMENTS in their lives....
The teaching process can bring the Spirit of God into the hearts and homes of those involved. And the family will feel more loved and accepted than they ever have before....TO HOME TEACH YOUR FAMILIES EFFECTIVELY TAKES TIME AND EFFORT. BUT WHEN YOU GET IN AND GET COMMITTED TO IT, YOU CAN REALLY SEE THE SPIRIT DIRECTING THE WORK."
Jay A. Parry
Ensign, Oct. 1982, pg. 7-10.
HELPS FOR SINGLES
-The ward singles' representatives can be the resource individual for the singles in the ward and for the local members in general.
-The Ward Committee for Single Members can be the resource group for the ward representative for single members in support of the ward's single members' participation in appropriate activities.
-The Stake Committee for Single Members can be the resource to set up stake activities made to meet the needs of singles who may not have enough needs being met at the ward level -- or to enhance the singles' needs that are just barely being met.
-Nephi went to his father, Lehi, for direction (1 Ne 16: 23- 24). A stake president goes to his bishop for a temple recommend. Even so, members of the Ward Singles' Committee ( i.e., relief society presidency member, elders' quorum presidency member, etc.) should go to their ward representative, if needed, for help concerning the singles over whom they may have responsibilities. This will, in turn, help to instill hope in the hearts of the ward representative that they have a needed and important responsibility to fulfill.
(These suggestions for singles' leaders are as per Instructions for Priesthood Leaders of Single Members, printed 8/95.)
HELPS FOR PRIESTHOOD LEADERS
Three Simple Steps
Step 1 Get, or make, a current map of your quorum area and show every quorum member's home and identify each family by priesthood.
Step 2 Arrange a meeting for your presidency and the bishopric to:
a. Identify each quorum member as
2. less active but attends occasionally
3. inactive but searching
4. inactive and afraid or uninterested
b. Discuss which families are most likely to be good weekly teachers for the families in groups 2-4.
c. Insure that both husband and wife in groups 2 and 3 have a meaningful church calling (if they will accept one).
d. Discuss what types of activities could be used or created to involve these families in ward activities.
e. If you do not already have them, choose a Gospel Essentials Class teacher, a Temple Preparation Class instructor, and pick a time, place and starting date for each.
f. Correlate who is home teaching each inactive family. Make sure that everyone is assigned a faithful home teacher.
Step 3 Make plans for each family to be visited and invited to attend either the Gospel Essentials Class or the Temple Preparation Class. If they decline, for whatever reason, then ask them if they would let weekly teachers come to their home. (Church statistics show that 30% will come to the class, and 80% of those who will not come to a class will, IF APPROACHED CORRECTLY, let weekly teachers come to their home.)
DONíT HOPE FOR A MIRACLE, EXPECT ONE !
The following graph shows the highest level of church association in which those of different degrees of inactivity might be involved.
Partly Active Inactive/searching Inactive/Afraid Antagonistic
Weekly Teaching Weekly Teaching Weekly Teaching.
Regular Home Regular Home Regular Home Regular Home
Teaching Teaching Teaching Teaching
Neighbor Neighbor Neighbor Neighbor
Friendshipping Friendshipping Friendshipping Friendshipping
(Most people will allow another to be a friend and neighbor.)
Most less active members who occasionally attend church will accept an invitation to attend the Gospel Essentials Class in Sunday School, if the inviting person attends with them the first time or two. This is the best place to get them to come, if possible, so they associate with the full program of the Church.
Of Prospective Elders who are asked, 30% say yes to attending the Temple Preparation Class. Of those who say no to the class, 80% will, IF ASKED AS THE SPIRIT DIRECTS, say yes to weekly teaching in their home BY PRIESTHOOD LEADERS.
"Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members...."
President Harold B. Lee
Improvement Era, Dec. 1964, pg. 1078.
"REACTIVATION IS ONE OF THE MAJOR KEYS TO THE SUCCESS OF ALL OTHER ENDEAVORS IN THE CHURCH....HOME TEACHING IS THE VEHICLE THAT ACTIVATES PEOPLE. No new program or organization is to be invented to replace it....To activate we need an extension of home teaching - ideal home teaching. WHY SHOULD THE HOME TEACHER BE USED in activation when everyone knows we have both good and less good home teachers? BECAUSE THE LORD HAS AUTHORIZED THEM (D&C 20:53-55). It makes a difference to be sent rather than merely to go Home Teaching....We must pay more attention to the inactive than to the active.
1. Pay more attention to the inactive than the active.
2. Approach prevention and reactivation simultaneously.
3. Identify those who are most receptive and work with them first.
4. Use the direct (commitment) approach with some.
5. Build a personal relationship with others (indirect approach).
6. Use all the organizations of the Church.
8. Call them to an assignment.
9. Maintain a united sustained effort."
Elder A. Theodore Tuttle
Ensign, Oct. 1980, pg. 10.
"Surveys indicate 30% of those invited to attend seminars will attend! Of the remainder, experience shows that eight out of ten, properly approached, will permit priesthood leaders to go into their homes to teach them. Brethren, in view of such realities, what are we afraid of....The reason, frankly brethren, that so little is happening is that so little is being tried.
1. A first step is to recognize, where known, the causes of inactivity in these (people).
2. RECOGNIZE THAT THIS WORK TAKES TIME; IT DOES INTERRUPT OUR REGULAR ROUTINE.
3. A third step to be overseen by Priesthood Executive Committees and Ward Correlation Councils, is the careful matching of person to person.
4. Provide such individuals with a fresh opportunity to serve, because they are genuinely needed.
5. Provide the needed teaching. ACTIVATION REQUIRES CONVERSION.
6. REMEMBER THE LORD'S HAND IS IN THIS WORK. He can bring about those circumstances in which souls are "in preparation".
7. Prevention is always better than rehabilitation.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell,
Ensign, May 1982, pg. 37.
UNITING OUR EFFORTS
Each quorum in the stake can be asked to visit every inactive family in the area of responsibility and invite them to participate in one of three programs:
1. The Gospel Essentials Sunday School class
2. The Temple Preparation class (may be called by other names if appropriate)
3. Weekly teaching in the home
If the statistics show us that 30% of the people contacted will come to a class or seminar (that's 30% of the total inactives) and 80% of those that won't come to a class will accept weekly teaching in the home (that's 80% of the 70% leftover, or 56% of the total inactives), that means 86% (30% plus 56%) of all those people contacted will accept an invitation to one of the above three programs. Now, how do you get home teachers to teach weekly when they won't even teach monthly?
What would happen if the quorum presidency decided to HELP the home teachers instead of just SEND them. What would happen if they were, first, to fast often and attend the temple, maybe even weekly where possible, to offer prayers for the home teachers. Then, when the leaders felt impressed the time was right, they called the home teachers in and asked them to join their fasting and temple attendance method in behalf of the families that they are teaching. How would that effect the quorum presidency? How would it effect the home teachers?
What would happen if the home teacher, the quorum presidency and now a family, or a few fellowshipping families, all joined together and began to fast and attend the temple together for the inactive or non-member family? If they all fasted, prayed and attended the temple for a week or two or a few months, would the home teacher still be hesitant to go home teaching? Would the family being home taught still be reluctant to attend the Temple Preparation class? Would the families that are fellowshipping them be slow to be friends with the family when they saw them at church or on the street? The program of the Church is to STRENGTHEN ONE ANOTHER.
"And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him TAKE WITH HIM, him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also."
Doctrine & Covenants 84:106
THE LORD WILL GO BEFORE US AND PREPARE THE WAY
We need not fear. The Lord gave us His promise. Ammon promises us that if we would have faith, repent, do good works and pray, we would have the power to do it. He also promised us that if we would do all we could, the Lord would go before us as He did with the Book of Mormon peoples:
"The Lord did pour out His spirit on all the face of the land TO PREPARE THE MINDS OF THE CHILDREN OF MEN, OR TO PREPARE THEIR HEARTS, TO RECEIVE THE WORD WHICH SHOULD BE TAUGHT AMONG THEM at the time of His coming."
If we will join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of any in our midst, be he elders' quorum president, home teacher or whomever, if they are discouraged, ineffective, inactive or unwilling, the Lord will help us by going before us to prepare the way. ANY LEADER IN THE CHURCH CAN APPLY THIS PRINCIPLE to assist him in instilling hope in the hearts of those he serves. When the angels visited Abraham and Sarah to let them know that Sarah would have a child in her old age and Sarah laughed, almost questioning the capability of the Lord, one of the angels asked, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen 18:14) (See also Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Conference addresses -- Bruce R. McConkie, 4 Oct. 1953; and in the Ensign -- Douglas W. De Haan, Nov 1980, pg. 87; Neal A. Maxwell, May 85, pg. 74; Robert D. Hales, May 86, pg. 29; Russell M. Nelson, May 88, pg. 33 & Nov 89, pg. 20; and David B. Haight, May 90, pg. 23.) THERE IS NOTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD. The Lord will end up with Ammon-like home teachers throughout the wards, stakes and the Church.
HOW TO PROCEED
The key to creating Ammon-like home teachers is not to start training the home teacher. The key is to START WITH YOU. When Oliver Cowdery tried to translate from the Book of Mormon plates, the Lord told him that he could not translate and, that one of the reasons was that he had supposed that the Lord would just give it to him, when he took no thought save it was to ask the Lord.
The fact that we have the correct program is not enough. The fact that we have sent the teachers is still not enough. If the home teachers are not effective, IF THEY HAVE NOT PREPARED THEMSELVES, THEN THE WORK CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED. It does not matter how many times we send them out. The great work that Ammon and his brethren accomplished was AFTER PREPARATION.
"Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DILIGENTLY, that they might know the word of God...
"But this is not all; they had GIVEN THEMSELVES TO MUCH PRAYER AND FASTING: therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God...
"And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, AND THEY FASTED MUCH AND PRAYED MUCH that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of His spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth...."
It would appear that the Savior's constant referral to a SHEPHERD-type leadership, rather than a SHEEP HERDER-type, was not unintentional. We all too often SEND our people and make no effort to JOIN them. The Book of Mormon gives us wise counsel in this matter:
"...nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and JOIN IN FASTING AND MIGHTY PRAYER IN BEHALF OF THE WELFARE OF THE SOULS WHO KNEW NOT GOD."
As leaders, can we honestly say that we HAVE MET TOGETHER OFTEN AND JOINED IN FASTING AND MIGHTY PRAYER in behalf of the welfare of a home teacher who will not go out, or who has not been effective? HAVE WE JOINED HIM IN MIGHTY PRAYER and fasting in behalf of the welfare of the families he teaches? We are spiritually reborn sons and daughters. ARE WE ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN BRINGING ABOUT THE PURPOSES OF THE FATHER'S PLAN? Are we doing all we can to get the waters of eternal life to the end of every row in mortality?
Will we be shocked at the fact that the "work" we have been "doing" is but the cleaning up, raking leaves out, of the rows within the Lord's vineyard? Have we not listened intently
enough, by not living righteously enough, to hear, feel and follow the power available to us through the Holy Ghost?
We must plug into the right power source completely and permanently and not stay standing in the water, but LEAD THE WATER TO THE END OF EVERY ROW in whatsoever calling we are asked by the Lord, or His servants, to serve. With the Lord as our managing partner, we can do all things. All He asks us to do is try. He asks us to make ourselves available so He can make us capable of accomplishing the work of bringing all our eternal family "unto Christ" and into our Father's kingdom.
HELPS FOR BISHOPRICS AND STAKE PRESIDENCIES
The June 28 1987 Leadership Training Video conference outlined eleven (11) key concepts that will help Church leaders focus on those things that matter most....
"1. We do not need new programs....(this is fully quoted on the bottom of page 14 in this book by Elder Neal A Maxwell.)
2. Bishops should utilize much more effectively all Melchizedek Priesthood manpower in the ward. In particular, in wards where high priests are available, bishops should assign much of the work with prospective elders and their families, including home teaching, to high priests. Utilizing high priests is proper, because they have been given an assignment in the scriptures in 'qualifying those who have been appointed' to leadership callings. (D&C 124:134; see also D&C 107:12.)
3. More attention is to be paid to advancing adult male converts so that they can become active members of elders' quorums and not remain prospective elders. Then they can become home teachers rather than the head of another family to be taught by an already too-small supply of home teachers. We surely should have learned by now that the failure to ordain usually means the failure to retain.
4. Full-time missionaries are to continue with new converts for several weeks, overlapping stake missionaries to see that these individuals are fully committed to the Church and receive appropriate Church callings. They should also ascertain that adult males receive the Aaronic Priesthood.
5. Stake missionaries are to assist with the friendshipping and fellowshipping of prospective converts. Especially skilled, mature couples should be called as stake missionaries.
6. On a selective basis, the wife of a high priest or of a mature, active Melchizedek Priesthood holder may accompany him when he makes his home teaching visits to those who need special attention, such as single sisters. This may be counted as a home teaching visit. Do not generalize this practice so that parents of young children are taken away from their families.
7. Home teaching efforts should be concentrated on those who need them most. The more active and fully participating families may not require the same attention as those with special needs.
8. Stake Presidencies may request their Area Presidency (who, in turn, may receive approval from the Quorum of the Twelve) to utilize full-time missionaries in a limited way to teach, for conversion, carefully selected less-active brothers and sisters in order to establish a more adequate leadership base in a unit.
9. Greater flexibility is now being given to stake presidents to use the three stake priesthood leadership meetings, as needed, in accomplishing the mission of the Church. For instance, they could train bishops to function more effectively as presiding high priests.
10. Ward training meetings may be held, as needed, during the regular priesthood meeting time following opening exercises. This time is for the bishop to train the priesthood in their duties.
11. THE WARD PRIESTHOOD EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE SHOULD MEET WEEKLY. THIS REPRESENTS A CHANGE IN POLICY. Without meeting every week, this vital committee cannot oversee the purposes of proclaiming the gospel, strengthening the less active, and increasing temple activity.
The measure of our success is how many have REALLY 'COME UNTO CHRIST'. The adverse indicators are how many are unbaptized, unordained, unendowed, unsealed, unnourished, uninvolved and unrighteous. There is plenty for us to do together. In fact, WE CANNOT DO THE LORD'S WORK EFFECTIVELY UNLESS WE DO IT TOGETHER."
Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Ensign, Sep 1987, pg. 75.
SCRIPTURES ON REACTIVATION
OLD TESTAMENT Matthew 22:37-40 Mosiah 27:14
Numbers 10:29-32 Luke 7:23 Alma 8:14-22
Proverbs 18:19 Luke 8:4-15 Alma 10:5-6
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 Luke 10:29-37 Alma 10:7-9
Jeremiah 18:2-6 Luke 15:4-7 Alma 17:11-22
Ezekiel 34:3-31 Luke 15:8-10 Alma 32:6
NEW TESTAMENT Luke 15:11-32 Helaman 15:7
Matthew 5:14-16 Luke 22:32 Moroni 6:4
Matthew 7:12 `John 6:67-69 DOCTRINE & COVENANTS
Matthew 9:16 John 13:34 D&C 15:1-6
Matthew 11:20-29 Acts 20:28-30 D&C 16:1-6
Matthew 13:18-23 Colossians 2:8 D&C 18:10-15
Matthew 18:11 BOOK OF MORMON D&C 45:57
Matthew 18:12-14 2 Nephi 26:23-27 D&C 50:22
Matthew 19:22 Jacob 1:17 D&C 84:75-76
Matthew 22:37-40 Mosiah 27:14
Luke 7:23 Alma 8:14-22
Luke 8:4-15 Alma 10:5-6
Luke 10:29-37 Alma 10:7-9
Luke 15:4-7 Alma 17:11-22
Luke 15:8-10 Alma 32:6
The following scriptures are presented as one possible outline to follow in understanding how the Lord might have us reactivate the inactive members and convert non-members by bringing the gospel into the lives of our brothers and sisters who have not yet gained a testimony and come fully into the fold of Christ.
Alma 6:6 Fast and pray for those who know not God (John 17:3).
2 Chronicles 7:14-15(14-22) Repent, turn from the world and pray in the temple. Go to the temple, use the prayer roll and stand in the prayer circle.
Alma 16:16-17 The Lord will prepare the hearts of the people to receive the word of God with joy.
D&C 11:21 Seek to obtain the word of God first.
1 Ne 1:11-12 When we read the scriptures, we will be filled with the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost will testify to others of our words.
Alma 17:2-3 Search the scriptures diligently and fast and pray often so when you teach the gospel you can do it with the power of the Spirit. No one can convert another. It is the Spirit that converts. He changes the heart.
Alma 5:14 One who seeks the truth must have a significant emotional experience with the Spirit and the word of God.
D&C 128:11 Like Abraham (Abraham 1:2-4) seek for the powers of the Priesthood.
D&C 121:34-46 By right of priesthood authority, we receive the powers of heaven based upon our righteousness.
D&C 1:4-9 When we are prepared by having the priesthood power in our lives, we are commanded to preach with the authority of God.
Alma 32:6-8 Afflictions that we and others face will make or keep us humble and lowly in heart, able to preach or hear acceptingly the word of God.
Abraham 1:2 We can have the same peace if we apply the same principles.
Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:27 There is nothing too hard for the Lord.
Alma 34:28 We must live all the principles.
TALKS AND ARTICLES ON REACTIVATION
The following list of articles, talks, etc. is compiled from the Index of Periodicals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are 218 references in the under the titles of 1- activity, 2- member participation, and 3- home teaching. As an assignment from a quorum leader, Quorum members could be assigned to read some of these articles to extract the "how to get it done" information. The information from all the articles could be compiled and a plan formulated by each quorum, or ward, as to how to best apply the information locally.
Here is a list of some of those articles found in the Ensign and Church News that might have applied to your local reactivation program. The articles listed from the Ensign and the Church News are in chronological order starting in 1981. You should be able to find any of these articles in your meeting house library.
Church News3 Jan 1981, pg. 3. "Father's inactivity doesn't stop family"
Church News 2 May 1981, pg. 10. "Stake leaders change inactive men into Elders"
Church News 8 Aug. 1981, pg. 2. "The bishop who made a difference"
Ensign Nov 1981, pg. 54,59-60. "People to people"
Ensign Feb. 1982, pg. 66-68. "The cast of the net"
Ensign May 1982, pg. 37-39. "A brother offended"
Church News 29 May 1982, pg. 12. "Boy, Dad go cold turkey--together"
Church News 17 Jul. 1982, pg. 7,14. "'Seek divine help' singles are told"
Ensign Aug. 1982, pg. 8-13. "...Loving and helping a wayward child"
Ensign Nov 1982, pg. 7-10. "What this work is all about"
Ensign Nov 1982, pg. 71-73. "However faint the light may glow"
Church News 20 Nov 1982, pg. 15. "How to keep older members active"
Ensign Jan 1983, pg. 24-25. "Back from inactivity"
Ensign May 1983, pg. 43-45. "A call to the priesthood 'Feed My Sheep'"
Church News 8 May 1983, pg. 11. "Family senses newfound unity"
Church News 15 May 1983, pg. 12. "How far does influence go?"
Church News 29 May 1983, pg. 10. "Challenge for excellence leads 77 in ward to temple"
Ensign Jun. 1983, pg. 2-5. "Helping others obtain the promises of the Lord"
Church News 25 Sep 1983, pg. 8-9. "The face of a growing church" (charts)
Church News 16 Oct. 1983, pg. 3,8-9. "Education leads to truth" (charts)
Church News 15 Apr. 1984, pg. 7,22. "Three fields of endeavor 'need improvement'"
Ensign May 1984, pg. 99-100. "Missionary service, activation and temple work emphasized in conference leadership meetings"
Church News 12 Aug. 1984, pg. 3. "Long-term love brings 'em back"
Ensign Dec. 1984, pg. 66-68. "Key to strong men: gospel commitment in the home" (charts)
Church News 24 Feb. 1985, pg. 15. "How to cope with inactivity in a loved one"
Church News 12 May 1985, pg. 15. "How to help people return to church"
Ensign Aug. 1985, pg. 56-57. "They cared enough to help me come
Church News 23 Nov 1986, pg. 15. "How to involve more members in ward activities"
Ensign Apr. 1987, pg. 14-17. "Giving spiritual nourishment to the less- active"(panel discussion)
Ensign May 1987, pg. 75-77. "Some have compassion, making a
Church News 6 Oct. 1990, pg. 15. "How to stay active in Church when
your spouse is less active, not a member or can't participate"
Ensign Mar 1980, pg. 59. "To know and to really know"
Ensign Jul. 1980, pg. 54. "Waking from the nightmare"
(10 more items in the Dec. Ensign Index)
Ensign Dec. 1981, pg. 5-9. "Open your mouths: the courage to
share the gospel"
Ensign Feb. 1982, pg. 66-68. "The cast of the net"
Church News 3 Jul. 1982, pg. 3. "Motivate for conversions, not statistics"
Ensign Sep 1982, pg. 76-77. "Live and teach by the Spirit"
Ensign Feb. 1983, pg. 65-68. "To our friend, the new member"
Church News 24 Apr. 1983, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements"
Church News 22 Jul. 1984, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements"
Church News 4 Aug. 1985, pg. 16. "Pursue spiritual excellence"
Ensign Oct. 1985, pg. 26-27. "The peace of Christ"
Church News 27 Jun. 1987, pg. 3,6. "Pres. Benson emphasizes the miracle of conversion: Mission Presidents' Seminar"
Ensign Sep 1987, pg. 73-77. "Accomplishing the mission of the Church: June videoconference"
Ensign Dec. 1987, pg. 34-35. "Asking in faith"
Ensign Feb. 1988, pg. 64-65. "The visitor who interrupted the
Ensign Mar 1988, pg. 54. "The twice-rescued lamb"
Ensign Jul. 1988, pg. 24-26. "Diary of a convert"
Ensign Nov 1988, pg. 21-22. "A more excellent way"
Church News 24 Jun. 1989, pg. 3-4. "Unto all the world: Mission
Ensign Apr. 1990, pg. 30-32. "The Lord is with us"
Ensign Apr. 1990, pg. 63-65. "Just cut my hair and don't preach"
Church News 30 Jun. 1990, pg. 4. "Mission Presidents' Seminar"
Ensign Sep 1990, pg. 74-75. "New Mission Presidents counseled to love their missionaries and the people"
Ensign Nov 1990, pg. 23-24. "Hour of conversion"
Ensign Nov 1990, pg. 26-27. "The value of a testimony"
Ensign Jun. 1991, pg. 60. "Sisters - Again"
Ensign Nov 1991, pg. 23. "The Conversion Process"
Ensign Jan 1994, pg. 62. "I couldn't ignore the voice"
Ensign Feb. 1994, pg. 39. "The answer"
Ensign Mar 1994, pg. 58. "Words of comfort, Words of hope"
Ensign Jun. 1994, pg. 56. "One trembling step at a time"
Ensign Jan 1995, pg. 50. "Grandmother, Woman"
Ensign Mar 1995, pg. 8. "He shall know of the doctrine"
Ensign Jul. 1995, pg. 61. "Something to live for"
Ensign Nov 1980, pg. 14. "The net gatherers of every kind"
Ensign Nov 1980, pg. 22. "The Savior's touch"
Ensign Nov 1980, pg. 45. "Ministering to the needs of members"
Church News 14 Mar 1981, pg. 7. "Newcomers welcome": ward makes four visits"
Church News 14 Mar 1981, pg. 10. "Weekly contacting bolsters membership"
Church News 26 Jun. 1982, pg. 10. "Long distance fellowship getting
Ensign May 1983, pg. 79-80. "Fear not to do good"
Ensign Jun. 1983, pg. 79. "Fellowshipping of new converts"
Church News 12 Feb. 1984, pg. 15. "How to use sports and culture to
Ensign Feb. 1985, pg. 72-74. "Let the word go forth"
Ensign Mar 1985, pg. 14. "He knew my need"
Church News 3 Nov 1985, pg. 16. "Are we ready?"
Ensign May 1988, pg. 92-93. "Seminar held for regional representatives"
Ensign Nov 1988, pg. 28-30. "The hand of fellowship"
Ensign Apr. 1989, pg. 73. "Feed my sheep" (message)
Church News 8 Apr. 1989, pg. 6. "Fellowship converts, reach out to singles and those in inactivity"
Ensign Dec. 1989, pg. 54-55. "Won't you be my neighbor?"
Ensign Mar 1991, pg. 10. "Transcending language differences"
Ensign Mar 1991, pg. 64. "In prison and ye came unto me"
Ensign Oct. 1991, pg. 32. "An encore of the Spirit"
Ensign May 1992, pg. 29. "Please hear the call"
Ensign Jun. 1992, pg. 39. "Welcoming young women" (VT)
Ensign Mar 1993, pg. 74. "News"
Ensign May 1993, pg. 109. "News"
Ensign Jan 1994, pg. 73. "At home in a new ward"
Ensign Mar 1994, pg. 36. "Sisters"
Ensign Oct. 1994, pg. 58. "Planning to belong"
Ensign Apr. 1995, pg. 60. "I have a question"
Ensign Apr. 1995, pg. 62. "My best birthday present"
Ensign Jul. 1995, pg. 61. "My neighbor's chickens"
Ensign Oct. 1995, pg. 52. "Two boys in the backyard"
Reference: HOME TEACHING
Ensign Mar 1980, pg. 5. "Every family needs a great home teacher"
Ensign Oct. 1980 , pg. 66-68. "Ministering to the needs of members"
Ensign Oct. 1980, pg. 30-33. "The Savior's touch"
Ensign Nov 1980, pg. 45. "Ministering to the needs of
Ensign Jan 1981, pg. 24-26. "The sensitive way"
Ensign Jan 1981, pg. 22-23. "Brother Braden, our great home
Church News 17 Jan 1981, pg. 8-9. "They've Been Home Teaching Together for 50 Years"
Ensign Feb. 1981, pg. 15. "How can I help my home teachers
help my family?"
Ensign Feb. 1981, pg. 78-79. "Policies and Announcements"
Church News 21 Feb. 1981, pg. 15. "Home Teacher Quietly Changes Lives"
Ensign Mar 1981, pg. 76-78. "Policies and Announcements"
Church News 11 Apr. 1981, pg. 5. "Watch Costs..."
Ensign Jul. 1981, pg. 1-10. "Increasing our effectiveness in home teaching"
Church News 8 Aug. 1981, pg. 15. "Home Teaching Secret - It's Love"
Ensign Sep 1981, pg. 12-13. "I'm Brother Hughes, your home teacher"
Church News 12 Sep 1981, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements"
Ensign Nov 1981, pg. 79-82. "Love extends beyond convenience"
Church News 2 Jan 1982, pg. 4. "Cord of Wood...shows home teacher's love"
Church News 1 May 1982, pg. 7. "Home Teacher for 80 Years"
Church News 22 May 1982, pg. 13. "Invalid's Life Brightened by Home Teacher"
Church News 5 Jun. 1982, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements: Home Teaching lessons for new members" booklet
Ensign Jul. 1982, pg. 22-25. "'Only by persuasion': Handling criticism in home teaching situations"
Ensign Jul. 1982, pg. 79. "Home teaching lessons for new
Ensign Oct. 1982, pg. 6-10. "The missionary work we call home teaching"
Ensign Jan 1983, pg. 16-20. "The worth of one: a home teacher's guide for working with inactive members".
Ensign Feb. 1983, pg. 19-20. "What personal matters are the concern of the Bishop, Quorum leader and Home Teacher"
Ensign Jun. 1983, pg. 54-55. "Home teacher's blessing"
Ensign Nov 1983, pg. 92. "1st Pres'y Statement on home teaching and reactivation"
Ensign Feb. 1984, pg. 79-80. "Message from 1st Pres'y: 'Strengthening Priesthood Quorum members'"
Ensign Feb. 1984, pg. 17. "When my home teacher called"
Ensign Mar 1984, pg. 79. "Home teaching interviews"
Church News 4 Mar 1984, pg. 8-9. "Home Teachers Strengthen Families"
Church News 22 Jul. 1984, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements"
Ensign Oct. 1984, pg. 30. "What can I do to encourage and involve my junior companion?"
Church News 21 Apr. 1985, pg. 15. "How to Develop Fired Up Effective Home Teachers"
Ensign May 1985, pg. 24-25. "The invitation of the Master"
Church News 1 Dec. 1985, pg. 13. "Welsh leader never misses in Home Teaching"
Church News 12 Jan 1986, pg. 16. "Home Teaching - Never Done"
Church News 20 Apr. 1986, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements: Questions to review with Home Teachers"
Ensign Jun. 1986, pg. 22-23. "My home teacher, my friend"
Church News 7 Dec. 1986, pg. 8-9. "Audio-Visual display injects Home Teaching with adrenaline shot"
Ensign Feb. 1987, pg. 14-18. "Links in the chain of good"
Church News 21 Feb. 1987, pg. 16. "Serious Service"
Church News 11 Apr. 1987, pg. 4,20. "Shepherds to seek lost sheep"
Church News 25 Apr. 1987, pg. 5,11. "I will do as God commands"
Ensign May 1987, pg. 48-51. "To the home teachers of the Church"
Church News 4 Jul. 1987, pg. 9. "Key concepts to help leaders"
Ensign Sep 1987, pg. 3-5. "Feed my sheep"
Ensign Sep 1987, pg. 73-77. "June videoconference: Accomplishing the mission of the Church"
Church News 23 Jan 1988, pg. 6. "Going visiting each day keeps the lethargy away" (illus.)
Ensign Mar 1988, pg. 12-13. "Messengers from the Prophet"
Church News 9 Apr. 1988, pg. 5,23. "Remembered and Nourished"
pg. 4. "We have lives to brighten Reg'l leaders are told"
Ensign May 1988, pg. 39-41. "Because of your steadiness"
Ensign May 1988, pg. 92-93. "Seminar held for regional representatives"
Church News 11 Jun. 1988, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements: Guidelines for Home Teachers"
Church News 18 Jun. 1988, pg. 2. "Official Policies and Announcements: Teaching inactive members with Home Teachers"
Ensign Aug. 1988, pg. 65. "Hello, you're our new home teacher"
Church News 6 Aug. 1988, pg. 16. "Successful Home Teaching"
Ensign Nov 1988, pg. 37-39. "Inviting others to 'Come unto Christ'"
Church News 11 Feb. 1989, pg. 15. "How to gain trust, confidence of the families you Home Teach"
Ensign May 1989, pg. 7-10. "Seeds of renewal"
Church News 5 Aug. 1989, pg. 10. "Ward treasures its 101-year old home teacher"
Church News 16 Sep 1989, pg. 10. "Visits harvest baptisms and reactivate members"
Ensign Nov 1989, pg. 4-8. "To the elderly in the Church"
Ensign Nov 1989, pg. 64-67. "Modern Pioneers"
Ensign Nov 1989, pg. 73-75. "Running your marathon"
Ensign Dec. 1989, pg. 20-23. "An invitation from the Lord"
Church News 27 Jan 1990, pg. 12. "He looked for ways in which he could serve"
Church News 24 Feb. 1990, pg. 15. "How to make Home Teaching appealing to a young companion"
Ensign Apr. 1990, pg. 40-41. "Brother Higgins' inspiration"
Church News 5 May 1990, pg. 9-10. "3 Nonagenarians are pace setters in their group of 78 High Priests"
Church News 12 May 1990, pg. 3,5. "Royal priesthood 1.7 million strong"
Church News 7 Jul. 1990, pg. 12. "Keep-in-touch caring spreads light over years"
Ensign Sep 1990, pg. 20-21. "What if this is really true?"
Ensign Sep 1990, pg. 56. "Pipes walking through the snow"
Ensign Oct. 1990, pg. 67-68. "A new life for Sister Elliot"
Church News 20 Oct. 1990, pg. 4. "They understand true commitment"
Church News 15 Dec. 1990, pg. 16. "Keyboard of Life"
Ensign Apr. 1991, pg. 38. "We are all enlisted"
Ensign May 1992, pg. 29. "Please hear the call"
Ensign Jan 1993, pg. 74. "Home teaching the whole family"
Ensign Jun. 1993, pg. 62. "I have a question"
Ensign Jul. 1993, pg. 26. "The inaccessibles"
Ensign Jan 1994, pg. 60. "Too busy to need home teachers?"
Ensign Aug. 1994, pg. 14. "Shepherds, lambs & home teachers"
Ensign Dec. 1995, pg. 57. "Alone and freezing"
Reference: MEMBER PARTICIPATION
Church News 25 Jul. 1981, pg. 7. "'Mr. Zion' brings in 400 converts: still going strong"
Ensign Aug. 1982, pg. 78. "Referrals"
Church News 14 Aug. 1982, pg. 14. "Seed to harvest, 10 years"
Church News 13 Feb. 1983, pg. 3. "Missionary unity: Converts bring ward to near bursting its seams"
Church News 4 Dec. 1983, pg. 6. "This ward has 36,000 neighbors"
Ensign Feb. 1984, pg. 26-28. "Warming our neighbors"
Ensign Mar 1984, pg. 50-52. "Building bridges"
Ensign Jul. 1985, pg. 6-11. "President Kimball's vision of missionary work"
Church News 24 Jan 1987, pg. 13. "83 in Tonga ordained Elders after year's effort"
Church News 4 Jul. 1987, pg. 3. "'Apply Savior's Teachings' says Prophet"
Church News 26 Sep 1987, pg. 15. "How to include less actives, non-members"
Church News 8 Apr. 1989, pg. 6. "'Fellowship converts, reach out to singles and those in inactivity' Regional Representatives Seminar"
Church News 19 Aug. 1989, pg. 15. "How to help bring back children who have fallen away from the Church"
Church News 25 Aug. 1990, pg. 15. "How to get back on track after being away from activity in the Church"
Church News 22 Dec. 1990, pg. 9-10. "Couple renews hopes, spiritual goals"
Ensign Mar 1980, pg. 62. "The miracle mile"
Ensign Apr. 1980, pg. 70. "Every member a convert"
Ensign May 1980, pg. 44. "You can be the voice"
Ensign May 1980, pg. 46. "Teaching by the Spirit"
Ensign Oct. 1980, pg. 10 ."Strengthening the less active"
Church News 27 Feb. 1982, pg. fc, 3. "Stake reactivates enough for a ward"
Ensign May 1982, pg. 34-36. "Priesthood activation"
Church News 8 May 1982, pg. 3,5. "Activation adds 'missing something' to families"
Ensign Sep 1982, pg. 27-28. "Love was the key"
Ensign Nov 1982, pg. 37. "How we promote activation"
Ensign Nov 1982, pg. 48-51. "Activating young men of the Aaronic Priesthood"
Church News 13 Feb. 1983, pg. 12. "Reactivation effort brings results in Stockton"
Ensign May 1984, pg. 39-41. "Restoring the lost sheep"
Church News 20 May 1984, pg. 6. "Reactivations, conversions enough to fill a ward"
Church News 14 Jul. 1985, pg. 6. "Activate a 10th each quarter quorums urged"
Ensign APR 1986, pg. 72. "A reactivation story: letter to the editor"
Ensign May 1986, (CR) pg. 69-70. "They taught and did minister one to another"
Church News 7 Sep 1986, pg. 5. "Happy Birthday gift: 51 are reactivated"
Ensign Nov 1986, (CR) pg. 27-28. "Touching the hearts of less-active members"
Church News 24 Jan 1987, pg. 16. "A spiritual reclamation"
Church News 6 Jun. 1987, pg. 16. "Why come back?"
Church News 30 Jan 1988, pg. 11. "Stake reaping benefits from reactivation effort"
Ensign Feb. 1988, pg. 55-56. "The key to the Thompson branch"
Church News 8 APR 1989, pg. 6. "Love is catalyst that spurs reactivation (Reg'l Repr Seminar)
Ensign Nov 1989, pg. 45-48. "The service that counts"
Church News 2 Dec. 1989, pg. 12. "Personal interest was the spark for reactivation"
Ensign Jun. 1990, pg. 55-57. "My friend Larry"
Ensign Aug. 1990, pg. 6-11. "Fire where once were ashes"
Ensign Jan 1991, pg. 56. "The empty chair"
Ensign Apr. 1991, pg. 73. "We owe it to Sister Brown"
Ensign Apr. 1991, pg. 74. "We shared a wonderful moment"
Ensign Sep 1991, pg. 54. "She saved me a place"
Ensign Oct. 1991, pg. 27. "How could he have known?"
Ensign Oct. 1991, pg. 56. "The Impact of one"
Ensign Mar 1992, pg. 61. "Love, Olive"; "The Smith's Circle"
Ensign May 1992, pg. 95. "Spit and mud and Kigatsuku"
Ensign Jul. 1992, pg. 22. "Is there any reason you can't come to church?"
Ensign Sep 1992, pg. 22. "A view to the top"
Ensign Oct. 1992, pg. 2. "The heritage of the servants of the Lord"
Ensign Oct. 1992, pg. 45. "Where had I found her name?"
Ensign Feb. 1993, pg. 56. "I knew she'd be here today"
Ensign Apr. 1993, pg. 62. "The blackness and the moon"
Ensign May 1993, pg. 48. "Search and rescue"
Ensign Jun. 1993, pg. 24. "Crossing the divide"
Ensign Dec. 1994, pg. 32. "Welcome Home"
Ensign Jan 1995, pg. 10. "The power to change"
Ensign Mar 1995, pg. 2. "And Peter went out and wept bitterly"
Ensign Dec. 1995, pg. 22. "3 Months to live"
MAKING THE PROGRAM WORK
This is the most important part! This is the Lordís work and we are but instruments in His hand used to bring about His purposes. Submitting our will totally into his care and keeping is an important step for us to learn. With this in mind, this section is an abridgment of the ideas previously set forth. If we can focus on and keep in mind the following eleven points, and apply them into our lives, we will find the power of virtue increased in our lives, spiritually enabling us to be usable instruments for the Lordís work.
"When the servants of the Lord determine to do as He commands, we move ahead. As we proceed, we are joined at the crossroads by those who have been prepared to help us.
"They come with skills and abilities precisely suited to our needs. And, we find provisions; information, inventions, help of various kinds, set along the way waiting for us to take them up.
"It is as though someone knew we would be traveling that way. WE SEE THE INVISIBLE HAND OF THE ALMIGHTY PROVIDING FOR US."
Elder Boyd K. Packer,
(as quoted by Earl C. Tingey),
Ensign, May 1991, pg. 26.
"In the 29th chapter of Alma, the counsel is very clear that it is not necessary to strive for or 'desire more than to perform the work to which (we) have been called.' THE LORD KNOWS OUR NEEDS AND WILL GIVE TO US IN ACCORDANCE WITH WHAT WE DESIRE, but our desire should be, to do that to which we have been called today....WHEN (WE ARE) CALLED TO SERVE, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE, BUT HOW."
Dallas N. Archibald,
Mission Presidents' Seminar,
Church News, 27 Jun. 1992, pg. 4.
"AFTER UNDERSTANDING THE ESTABLISHED METHODS, LEADERS ARE THEN IN A POSITION TO RECEIVE INSPIRATION....Follow a pattern of responsive orthodoxy and inspired initiative. To me, responsive orthodoxy means you actively seek direction of the presiding Brethren....It means once you have learned the will of the Lord and the expectations of the Brethren, you exercise voluntary obedience. It means you act in a spirit of unity, not in a spirit of grudging compliance. Inspired initiative means you seek the Lord's guidance to carry out the approved program. I WOULD EMPHASIZE THAT INSPIRATION COMES MOST FREELY WHEN YOU SEEK IT IN BEHALF OF OTHERS."
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Mission Presidents' Seminar,
Church News, 27 Jun. 1992, pg. 4.
(1) FAST AND PRAY to GAIN A TESTIMONY THAT THE PROGRAM WILL WORK AND PUT FORTH YOUR FAITH. This is the Lord's work. He planned the work; now let's work the plan. When you do this, you gain HOPE.
"'If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.' It is from this principle that Latter-day Saints receive the strength of their testimonies, the assurance of their convictions, as they practice what they preach in their daily lives."
Elder Angel Abrea,
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 26.
(2) STUDY THE SCRIPTURES daily and LOOK FOR SOMETHING YOU CAN APPLY INTO YOUR OWN LIFE. Emphasize the Book of Mormon and then read the current conference talks. As we read, let's pray for understanding.
"Amidst circumstances seemingly impossible, I have...experienced the joyous relief that comes when one's understanding is deepened by scriptural insight."
Elder Russell M. Nelson,.
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 33.
"We should let these conference addresses Ďbe the guide to [our] walk and talk during the next six months. These are important matters...í."
President Ezra Taft Benson,
(Quoting Harold B. Lee)
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 84.
(3) PURGE OR PURIFY OUR LIVES: Do all we can to RID OURSELVES OF WORLDLY EFFECTS -- TV, radio, movies, print, etc..
"We will have more harmony in our homes and in our lives as we seek the Lord's help in controlling negative feelings. Any time people must interact with one another..., there is the possibility that contention will arise. Contention means argument, dispute, quarreling or discord. Everyone has different likes and dislikes. We cannot always be in agreement, but we need not allow differences of opinion to lead to contention. Contention breeds contention--causing a chain reaction of hurt feelings among family members and friends. THE LORD ESTABLISHED HIS GOSPEL TO HELP US FIND SOLUTIONS TO OUR PROBLEMS. By applying gospel principles found in the scriptures, we can find help in dealing with the problem of contention."
Church News, 20 Jun. 1992, pg. 16.
(4) ATTEND THE TEMPLE at least individually, but more especially as a group. When the group attends, those involved with the group, who may not yet hold recommends, could fast along with those who do. The results will not only bring answers to questions and help whatever program with which you are involved, but also increase the desire of non-recommend holders to live worthy so that they might get their recommends. (This pre-supposes that we are attending all our church meetings.)
"I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life as you bless those who have died."
President Ezra Taft Benson
April 1987, page 108
(5) LIVE SO AS TO BE WORTHY OF THE GUIDANCE OF THE SPIRIT. LEARN TO RECOGNIZE the promptings of the Spirit AND THEN FOLLOW those promptings. Nothing will be too hard for you to accomplish because you will be partnered with the Lord. And there is nothing too hard for the Lord.
"If your neighbors talk about you, and you think that they do wrong in speaking evil of you, do not let them know that you ever heard a word, and conduct yourselves as if they always did right, and it will mortify them, and they will say, 'We'll not try this game any longer.'"
Discourses of Brigham Young,
Selected by John A. Widtsoe.
[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941]
(6) WRITE DOWN THE GOALS YOU HAVE for your callings and responsibilities. Make them practical goals. Put the list where you can see them daily. Review them. Know them. Someone once said that a goal not written down is only a wish.
"The responsibility of showing to the world that the gospel of Jesus Christ will solve its problems rests upon the men (and women) who make the claim....EVERY...PROBLEM MAY BE SOLVED BY OBEDIENCE TO THE PRINCIPLES OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST."
Elder L. Tom Perry,
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 13.
(7) MEMORIZE ALMA 26:22
"Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing--unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and IT SHALL BE GIVEN UNTO SUCH TO BRING THOUSANDS OF SOULS TO REPENTANCE."
(8) LEARN THE INDIVIDUAL NEEDS of the members and non-members with whom, and on whom, you are working with this program.
Emotional problems Physical problems
Educational needs Medical problems
Financial needs Legal problems
Gospel orientation Children's problems
Family Counseling Abuse Clinics
Social Services Hobbies and interests
"You will be trained in greater depth than any generation...before you were ever trained. Your fears, your concerns, your sacrifices are not new. They have been felt by those who have similarly gone forth since the earliest days of the Church."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Mission Presidents' Seminar,
Church News, 27 Jun. 1992, pg. 4.
(9) FOLLOW THE LIVING PROPHETS
(And these are words of our modern day prophets:)
"President Ezra Taft Benson spoke to the students at Brigham Young University on 'The 14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet', cautioning the students to beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets. He told them, 'You are part of a generation which might well witness the return of our Lord.' and he presented them with a 'grand key' to help them pass 'the crucial tests which lie ahead'. He explained that the key is to FOLLOW THE LIVING PROPHET, and he then outlined 14 fundamentals.
1st: The prophet is the ONLY MAN WHO SPEAKS FOR THE LORD in everything--we are to give heed unto all of his words, as if from the Lord's own mouth.
2nd: The living prophet is MORE VITAL TO US THAN THE STANDARD WORKS. In a meeting in Kirtland, Joseph Smith asked Brigham Young to give his views on the living oracles and the written word. Brother Brigham said, "When compared with the living oracles, these books are nothing to me; I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in these books." Joseph Smith told the congregation "Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord and the truth."
3rd: The living prophet is MORE IMPORTANT TO US THAN A DEAD PROPHET. The most important reading we can do is any of the words of the Prophet contained in the Church News or in the monthly Church magazines.
4th: The Prophet will NEVER LEAD THE CHURCH ASTRAY. Wilford Woodruff has said, "I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.
5th: The Prophet is NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE ANY PARTICULAR EARTHLY TRAINING OR CREDENTIALS to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time. "There are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His Prophet on the same subject. They feel the Prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the Prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling."
6th: The Prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture. Those who haggle over words might say, "The Prophet gave us counsel, but we are not obliged to follow it unless he says it is a commandment." But the Lord says of the Prophet, "Thou shalt GIVE HEED UNTO ALL HIS WORDS and commandments which he shall give unto you." (D&C 21:4)
7th: The Prophet TELLS US WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW--NOT ALWAYS WHAT WE WANT TO KNOW. President Kimball has said, "It is the living Prophet that really upsets the world. Even in the Church, many are prone to garnish the sepulchres of yesterday's prophets and mentally stone the living ones."
8th: The Prophet is NOT LIMITED BY MEN'S REASONING. There will be times when you have to choose between the revelations of God and reasoning of men--between the prophet and the politician or professor.
9th: The Prophet CAN RECEIVE REVELATION ON ANY MATTER--temporal or spiritual. Joseph Smith once asked the elders to draw the line of demarcation between the spiritual and temporal so he may understand it. No one could do it. The Prophet said, "Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected and ever will be."
10th: The Prophet MAY BE INVOLVED IN CIVIC MATTERS. When people are righteous, they want the best to lead them in government. Great leaders in the Book of Mormon and in recent Church history have been involved deeply in political matters. THOSE WHO WOULD REMOVE PROPHETS FROM POLITICS WOULD TAKE GOD OUT OF GOVERNMENT.
11th: THE TWO GROUPS WHO HAVE THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY IN FOLLOWING THE PROPHETS ARE THE PROUD WHO ARE LEARNED AND THE PROUD WHO ARE RICH. "The learned may feel the Prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them; otherwise, the Prophet is just giving his opinion--speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet."
12th: The Prophet WILL NOT NECESSARILY BE POPULAR WITH THE WORLD OR THE WORLDLY. As a prophet reveals the truth, it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the Prophet or fight him.
13th: The Prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church. In the D&C, the Lord refers to the First Presidency as "the highest council of the Church...and whosoever receiveth me, receiveth those--the First Presidency-whom I have sent....".
14th: THE PROPHET AND THE PRESIDENCY--the living Prophet and the First Presidency--FOLLOW THEM AND BE BLESSED; REJECT THEM AND SUFFER."
"President N. Eldon Tanner said: 'When we decide that there are some covenants or commandments that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophet; and believe me, we will be led astray because WE ARE FALSE PROPHETS TO OURSELVES WHEN WE DO NOT FOLLOW THE PROPHET OF GOD.'
"If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain--how close do our lives harmonize with the words of the Lord's anointed--the living Prophet--President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency."
Ezra Taft Benson
Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1980,[BYU Press: Provo, Utah. 1981] pg. 26-30.
"There is nothing we could do of greater importance than to have fortified in our individual lives an unshakable conviction that Jesus is the Christ, the Living Son of the Living God....
"There is nothing more precious, nothing more wonderful to have a conviction in our hearts concerning the reality and the divinity of the Savior and Redeemer of the world."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Church News, 13 Jan 1996, pg. 10.
All members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a specific endowment from the Lord. We find in the scriptures, references and statements about our pre-mortal existence (see D&C 138:11-22,55-56; Abraham 3:16-19,22-26; 1 Peter 1:17-21 [note verse 20]; Titus 1:2; Alma 12:33, 13:3, 22:13). Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
"During the long expanse of life which then was, an infinite variety of talents and abilities came into being. As the ages rolled on, no two spirits remained alike. Mozart became a musician; Einstein centered his interests in mathematics; Michaelangelo turned his attention to painting. Cain was...a rebel who maintained a close affinity to Lucifer. Abraham and Moses and all of the prophets sought and obtained the talent for spirituality... The whole house of Israel, known and segregated out from their fellows, was inclined towards spiritual things."
Bruce R. McConkie
The Mortal Messiah
[4 Volumes, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-81]
Volume 1 page 23
We who are of the house of Israel, having developed this aptitude for things of a spiritual nature in the pre-mortal existence, have the great privilege to do all we can in this life to build on that spirituality. Then, having prepared ourselves to be directed by the spirit, we will be filled with the desire to share the message of Jesus Christ and the restoration with all those among whom we work and live.
"WE are individually responsible and WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR...THE BREAKING OF COVENANTS BY OTHERS for whom we are responsible insofar as such breaking is the result of our failure to teach them."
President Marion G. Romney,
Ensign, Nov 1975, pg. 73.
(11) WORSHIP AND REMEMBER THE LORD & 'THE GREAT COMMANDMENT'
"...to worship? It means to reverently SHOW love and allegiance to Him, to THINK about Him, to HONOR Him, to REMEMBER His sacrifice for each of us, and to THANK Him."
Elder W. Mack Lawrence,
Ensign, May 1991, pg. 30.
"When we PUT GOD FIRST, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affections, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue and the order of our priorities.... I testify to you that God's pay is the best pay that this world knows anything about. And it comes in full abundance to those who love the Lord and put Him first. THE GREAT TEST of life is obedience to God. THE
GREAT TASK of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then DO IT. THE GREAT COMMANDMENT of life is, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God....'. May God bless us to put the first commandment first and, as a result, reap peace in this life and eternal life with a fullness of joy in the life to come, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
President Ezra Taft Benson,
Ensign, May 1988, pg. 4-6.
E P I L O G U E
Roan A. McClure
"It has been said the Lord shapes the back to bear the burden placed upon it."
President Thomas S. Monson,
Ensign, Nov. 1992, pg. 49.
There comes a time when the research must stop, the final chapter of the book written, and a period put at the end of the last sentence. But there are things that never stop--the work of the Spirit, the desire for good to happen in our lives, the work of the Lord moving steadily forward and more.
This volume has been printed with plenty of space for you to place, in the appropriate sections, notes, scriptural references, and newer conference quotes from your own research. Catch the vision and serve with purpose.
We would enjoy hearing of your successes with any portion of this program, that we might share your insights and inspirations with others who may be struggling with similar problems. If you feel so inclined to share with us so we might all be uplifted and strengthened together in Christ, please send your stories to the publisher, Mr. Roan A. McClure, P.O. Box 183, Cave Junction, OR 97523. (Notation of any corrections needing to be made would also be appreciated. They can be sent to Cordell Vail, Box 35, Auburn, Washington 98071-0035).
This is God's work. He who does it gets God's pay both now and in eternity. To this fact my life is a personal testimony, and to its truthfulness I bear my personal witness. Contained in the following nine statements are written goals that have helped me for the past eight years, to focus on the important things in my life. Only 28 words, but powerful guides when you understand the meanings.
PRAY WITH FAITH
READ WITH PURPOSE
SERVE WITH HUMILITY
HELP WITH LOVE
ORGANIZE THROUGH INSPIRATION
LIVE BY THE SPIRIT
TESTIFY WITH POWER
LEAD BY REVELATION
INHERIT BY MEEKNESS
In closing we would like to share some final words from the Lord and His servants. The Lord has shared His promises with us in these words from the Old Testament:
"...Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts....
"...And prove me now, herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
In general conference, April 5, 1953, Joseph L. Wirthlin quoted Brigham Young speaking about tithing.
"Here is a character-a man-that God has created, organized, fashioned and made-every part and particle of my system from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, has been produced by my Father in heaven; and He requires one-tenth part of my brain, heart, nerve, muscle, sinew, flesh, bone, and OF MY WHOLE SYSTEM, for the building of Temples, for the ministry....and one-tenth part is all sufficient if it is devoted properly, carefully and judiciously for the advancement of my kingdom on the earth."
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16, pg. 69.
From a man who once was and a man who now is (1996) the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we join two quotes from general conference addresses. From the October Conference of 1980, President Kimball closed his talk on the Law of Tithing referring to Matt 22:21 stating, Ď...render unto God the things that are God's.í President Gordon B. Hinckley stated at the end of his April 1982 General Conference address on Tithing: An opportunity to prove our faithfulness, ĎThe Lord's work needs the very best you are capable of providing.í (Ensign, Nov. 1980, pg. 78; May 1982, pg. 42.). Tithing is from all the increase which our God has provided for us: our time, our effort, our energies, everything with which he has blessed us, even our very lives and each breath we take. Please let us tithe our time and energies in His service.
"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not my self; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."
Doctrine and Covenants 1:38
The revelation given at the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is explicit in to whom the members of the Church should look for direction.
"Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
"For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
"For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God shall disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and His name's glory.
"FOR THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard."
Doctrine and Covenants 21:4-7.
The "he" and "him" to whom the Lord referred in this revelation is the living President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Note these words from Harold B. Lee in conference.
"The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive Him....There will be inroads within the Church....We will see those who profess membership but secretly are plotting and trying to lead people not to follow the leadership that the Lord has set up to preside in this church.
"Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet,...There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you'....
"Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over His church....
"Let's keep our eye on the President of the Church and uphold his hands...."
President Harold B. Lee,
(at the time he was the First Counselor in the First Presidency and President of the Council of the Twelve), Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, pgs. 126-127.
Here is a current request from the prophet of the Lord to all the church members.
"May I read from a letter from (a missionary): 'The most effective technique we have found in our work is fasting and prayer.'...
"Is it not a miracle in itself that in this day of doubt and disbelief young people, thousands of them, with lives to live and careers to build, spend a year and a half or two years in the service of the Lord, laboring constantly and even willing to fast and pray in behalf of those to whom they seek to teach a better life?...
"Yes, this work requires sacrifice, it requires effort, IT REQUIRES COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT AND FAITH TO TRY. This cause does not need critics; it does not need doubters. It needs men and women of solemn purpose. As Paul wrote to Timothy: 'God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. BE NOT THOU THEREFORE ASHAMED OF THE TESTIMONY OF OUR LORD' (2Tim 1:7-8).
"I wish that every member of this church would put those words where he might see them every morning as he begins his day. They would give us the courage to speak up, they would give us the faith to try, they would strengthen our conviction of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that more miracles would happen over the earth.
"I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that this is their holy work, and I plead with you and with the God of heaven that we shall have the power and the faith and the devotion to roll it forward to its great destiny."
President Gordon B. Hinckley,
Ensign, Feb. 1996, pgs. 4-5.
principle of power 132
home teaching is the way 14
Archibald, Dallas N.
how to serve 131
Asay, Carlos E.
following / knowing the Lord 54
Ashton, Marvin J.
do not be indifferent 14
why the Lord made the 47
Attend the temple 133
Backman, Robert L
one great work 11
Bangerter, William Grant
temple doctrine 12
Be worthy 133
Benson, Ezra Taft
conference talks - guide 132
home teaching is the way 14
how to be Christ-like 65
quoted i, 25, 31
R-rated movies 26
scripture study example 23
single adults 14
temple attendance .133
test, task & commandment 137-138
why follow prophets 136
is the scriptural term 52
Brewerton, Ted E.
donít stand on Ďborrowed lightí 49
teaching them 20
accomplishing the mission of 14
greatest responsibility 38
mission implemented by temple ordinances 32
now a world religion 34
objective of 11
there will be inroads within 141
Coleman, Gary J.
testimony / move in the strength of the Lord 52
place for notes 139
should be our guide 132
is a process 52
apply the principles 67
program of 11
Davila, Julio E
conversion / testimony 52
De Azevedo, Lex
steps to obtain testimony 51
Faith, hope and testimony to a perfect knowledge 45
Family history work
objective of 38
Fast and pray
to gain a testimony 132
history of 69
a perfect law 77
and fast offerings 74
by non-members 75-76
clear purpose 71
definition of 69
failing to feel the spirit 73
how to fast 74
how to have joy in 71
in the scriptures 72
inner strength 71
other reference books on 71
perfection in 70
reasons for 78
self mastery 70
should bring unity 71
spiritual medication 71
why fast 74
Fasting and prayer
most effective way 141
their relationship 76
used together 72, 74
how to 69
articles on 120
effective way of reaching out 100
why write them down 133
restored to prepare a people 141
Gospel essentials class
to be held during Sunday School 99
Grace of God
is the personal witness of the Spirit 45
Haight, David B.
temple attendance brings increased power and effectiveness 30
Hales, Robert D.
caring spirit of the members 13
importance of testimony 55-56
responsibilities of 13
Hinckley, Gordon B.
Holy Ghost 23
inspire others 20
leaders trained 134
Lordís expectations i
nothing more precious 136
priesthood power in temple attendance 30
sacrifice required 142
testimony / bear witness to the world 56
follow the promptings of the Spirit 41
gift of 1
language of the Spirit 43
make every decision correctly with 44
no limits on His power 15
recognize and respond to 1
Holy Ghost continued.....
record and respond to the first promptings of 42
results of teaching by 41
teach what we cannot 23
when our lives are touched 47
work never stops 139
not diligent / burned out 17
a guide for 100
articles on 122
authorized by the Lord 108
Bishopric / Stake Presidency 112
combined efforts of many 109
for Priesthood Leaders 106
for singles 105
how to apply the program 99
how to prepare 111
leaders to take charge of 110
preparation required 111
steps to make it work 104
discouragement comes when we loose 17
be pure in heart 27
builds faith 28
developing within ourselves 19
faith, hope and testimony to a perfect knowledge 45
how to install 19
how to strengthen 17
Hunter, Howard W.
. without the holy priesthood, exaltation would not be possible 34
follow the Son of God 32
history of fast day 69
pattern our life after the Master 36
stirring and wonderful promises of temple 35
supreme mortal experience in temple 39
temple attending people 36
temple symbol of church membership 33
the Lordís invitation 34
understanding atonement in the temple 37
different degrees of 107
learn them 134
Kimball, Spencer W.
fast offerings, give ten times more 75
fast over specifics 77
Kimball, Spencer W. continued.....
how to not be of the world 25
individual spiritual growth 20
patriarchal responsibility over worldliness in home 26
real fasting 78
referred to 11
responsibilities to be like Christ 65
responsibility for scripture study 21
scripture study 21, 22
spirituality built by temple attendance 29
spirituality in meetings 66
strengthening others 19
Law of the fast
purpose of 69
Lawrence, W. Mack
what worship means 137
by example 20
effective leadership in Church 41
lead by inspiration 41
must join others to be effective 111
primary function to instill hope 17
trained in greater depth 134
understand established methods 131
power of the leadership of Christ 34
training concepts 112
Lee, Harold B.
fasting and prayer 77
follow living prophet 141
home teaching 108
missionary work 108
priesthood responsibilities 14
solving problems too great for yourself 66
reasons to follow 134
applying the word of 1
authorized home teachers 108
being the Second Comforter 45
established gospel for solutions 132
has revealed what is essential 39
He is the rock of our salvation 52
His work never stops 139
how to live His will 1
how we walk with Him 54
improves our capabilities 47
love of the Lord i
nothing too hard for 70, 110
our managing partner 112
provides help along the way 131
shapes the back 139
success of 10
the rest of 45
to be like Him - our goal 65
why atonement was made 47
will of i
will prepare the way 110
word of 1
word shall not pass away 140
work of 10
Malan, Jayne B.
conversion / standards 53
Maxwell, Neal A.
eleven leadership concepts 112-113
no new programs 14
overcoming offenses 102
steps for activation 108-109
McConkie, Bruce R
pre-mortal spirituality 137
scripture study 21
McKay, David O.
benefits from fasting 78
Melchin, Gerald E.
blessings of temple attendance 29
Monson, Thomas S.
home basis of righteous life 12
language of the Spirit 43
revelation comes from temple attendance 31
scripture study and prayer 21
shapes the back 139
united purpose 11
Muren, Joseph C.
Ďartistic merití can be false 27
anapestic beat 27
force to be reckoned with 27
rock music 27
Satan uses as a weapon 27
Nelson, Russell M.
scripture insight joy 132
self mastery / fasting 70
Oaks, Dallin H.
influential memories 13
God is requesting this 36
way to show our love for God 34
Pace, Glenn L.
spirituality / testimony 51
Packer, Boyd K.
attitude / correlation 11
lead toward keeping temple covenants 32
Lord provides our help 131
referred to 11
roads lead to temple 12
testimony is a feeling 49
Parry, Jay A.
steps to home teaching 104-105
Perry, L. Tom
embracing gospel a personal decision 13
law of the fast 70
prayer and scripture study 24
scripture study 22
show the world solutions 133
all the standard works of the church instruct us to read and ponder 22
feelings and impressions of the Spirit 42
Prophetís words 23
we are given greater understanding 46
a command 24
attitude in family prayer 24
for guidance 21
how to pray 79
object of 79
pray over all things 24
a day of choosing 45
duty / responsibility 12
more sure word of prophecy 46
the rights of the priesthood 46
third pillar of our faith 34
give heed to the words 141
Pure in heart
comes from temple attendance 31
how to be 27
Purify our lives
rid ourselves of worldly effects 132
Rasmussen, Ellis T.
articles on 127
major key to Church success 108
personal and ward-wide goal 66
personal decision 14
requires conversion 108
scriptures on 115
seven steps for 103
talks and articles on 117
Reap the rewards
of your faith, diligence, patience and long-suffering 17
othersí sins on our head 136-137
show world solutions 133
comes from five things 41
comes from temple attendance 31
keys of the spirit of revelation 50
prophet says it comes in the temple 31
a concept 28
Romney, Marion G.
conversion / testimony 52
direction from Holy Ghost 44
fast offerings, promise if you double 74, 75
fasting / prayer 72
scripture study 22
we are accountable for 137
whatís prayer based on 75
Scott, Richard G.
importance of an unshakable testimony 43
importance of testimony 67
receiving and following inspiration 41
temple doctrine 12
greatest treasure 23
intended meanings 24
study 21, 132
study joined with prayer 24
personage of Jesus Christ to attend 57
Simpson, Robert L.
expressing appreciation / renew hope 18
fasting a perfect law 77
do we abhor or enjoy viewing 26
Smith, Joseph F.
know truth thoroughly 66
live on borrowed light 49
priesthood duty / responsibilities 13
Smith, Joseph Fielding
fastingís benefits 78
Smith, Joseph Jr.
power given by temple attendance 32
Second Comforter 57
Snow, Eliza R.
the key to major numerical growth in the kingdom 20
how to acquire 42
keys to 43
search for principles 42
built by temple attendance 29
confirmed by feelings 54
free of worldliness 25
gives needed perspective 51
in meetings 66
arise in all your splendor, and bear 53
obvious if temple worthy 36
our personal conversion 21
words of the living prophets 21
adverse indicators 113
making the program work 131
of any program 19
the moving force 12
Temple / Temple attendance
'come unto Christ and be perfected in him 12
dedication of Kirtland 32
family affair 28
foundations of the eternal family 36
increased effectiveness comes with 30
keeping of covenants 32
key to Ďholy placesí 29
no work equal to whatís done in 38
personal blessings of the 37
power of 29
source of spiritual strength 29
this work must hasten 38
ultimate earthly goal 39
unselfish work 39
work builds spiritual strength 31
constantly growing, either stronger or weaker 22
best described as a feeling 56
emerges over time and through experience 55
essential steps to obtain a 50
faith, hope and 45
greatest achievement 66
how we increase it 46
if you do not have it, how can you stand? 48
importance of receiving a personal 55
increase / decrease 22
is a measurement of our faith 55
is the spirit of prophecy 55
the Lordís servants as they spoken in conference about 47
three steps to make it bright 49
what it is 48
who is the chief cornerstone 52
will determine a firm and true behavior 48
Tuttle, A. Theodore
Alma 5:16 teaches 19
Washburn, J. Ballard
temple covenants kept at home 28
commitive or friendship 99
takes commitment 99
Wickman, Lance B.
power of temple attendance 29
Widtsoe, John A.
revelations come from temple 31
teaching children 20
Wirthlin, Joseph B.
high priest responsibilities 13
home teaching guide 101
leaders must know 131
pure in heart 27
spiritual strength from temple work 31
three steps to a testimony 49-50
the capacity to perceive and discern 45
how it encroaches 25
rejects Spirit and increases pride and hatred 28
removed from the lifestyle 36
what does worship mean 137
Wright, Ruth B.
conversion / testimony 53
attitude of the heart 81
becoming a Zion person 81
bring again 84
characteristics of a Zion person 83
getting and sharing the vision 87
how to experience the attitude 81
is looking forward / visualize 97
outline the plan / delegate jobs 89
principles of Zion leadership 85
teach others & clear goals 91
working together / share burdens 95
About the Authors
Roan A. Mcclure is a disabled Vietnam veteran. He was baptized into the church four months before he entered the military. His service in the military brought many blessings to him as well as those who served around him. During his service in Vietnam, he became friends with Cordell Vail. Roan has had a long interest in writing and publishing. He has been a popular fireside speaker in the Church for many years. He attended the Brigham Young University and later graduated with a B.A. degree in History from the University of Utah. He has had a great interest in genealogy and has helped many others to have similar interests in research, preservation of family records, and temple attendance. He and his wife Kandace live in Cave Junction Oregon. Roan is currently serving as the second counselor in the Cave Junction Ward Bishopric. He has served as a Servicemanís Group Leader, Elders Quorum Counselor and Instructor, Sunday School and Primary Teacher, Scout Master and Early Morning Seminary teacher. He has also served on two stake missions.
E. Cordell Vail married Janice Richmond in 1968. They have six children. He served four years as an officer in the military including one year as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam. He was promoted to the rank of Captain before his discharge from the U.S. Army. He has a B.S. degree from the Brigham Young University, has completed two years of his Masters Degree in professional counseling at the University of Utah and is now working on his Ph. D. in Psychotherapy. Cordell has been a professional genealogist, seminar leader, tour guide, and is now working as a computer programmer in Seattle Washington. He served his first mission in Finland from 1963 to 1965. He has served five other stake missions, on two of which he was called to be the Stake Mission President. He will never allow himself to be called a "Returned Missionary". He has also served as an Elders Quorum President, High Priest Group Leader, Executive Secretary, Bishops Counselor, and High Councilor. Cordell has been a popular teacher, writer and speaker around the church for many years. He is the author of several other books and research papers.