Monday, April 7, 2014

Talk about it.

I was asked to give a talk in my Ward (congregation) a few Sundays ago and felt it might be fun to share. Here goes:

In two weeks we will be privileged to hear counsel from our church leaders, The Prophet President Monson and other prophets, seers and revelators. People whom the Lord has selected to bring forth his word to the world. I always love these semiannual conferences. They remind me of how much Heavenly Father loves me and when I listen to their council I am blessed. In 1997 at just such a conference Elder Henry B. Eyring, a member of the quorum of the 12 apostles, reminds us how important listening to prophetic council is:

“The Savior has always been the protector of those who would accept His protection. He has said more than once, “How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not” (3 Ne. 10:5).
The Lord expressed the same lament in our own dispensation after describing the many ways in which He calls us to safety:
“How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” (D&C 43:25).
There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. And those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety.”
Since Adam Our Heavenly Father has been warning us and guiding us and as we act upon His council we are protected and blessed. At times the council given to us may seem simplistic or irrelevant to our current conditions, but I submit to you that the Lord sees much more of the picture then we realize. For example when the First Presidency came out with the proclamation to the world about the divine roles of families and what God has set forth as the family unit back in 1995 we thought, “well of course.” Little realizing how much that knowledge would be questioned as it now is on nearly a daily basis in and out of courts of law throughout the world. Looking back now with the oh, so keen eyes of hindsight, we can understand how the Lord was preparing the world for a battle it could not then foresee.
“In our own time, we have been warned with counsel of where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in these general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third. Each of us who has listened has heard President Kimball give counsel on the importance of a mother in the home and then heard President Benson quote him, and we have heard President Hinckley quote them both. The Apostle Paul wrote that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1). One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time.”
 Repetition is necessary. Anyone who has tried to learn something will tell you that the more often you do that thing the easier it becomes, the more efficient you get until it is second nature. My first job was working at Cinnabon. When I was learning how to make the rolls I thought my arms would fall off.  Heft, roll, repeat. It was difficult, but after a week or so my mussels adapted and I no longer struggled with the process and in fact came to enjoy it. Even today years later I enjoy making cinnamon rolls with the same skills I learned there. I needed that constant repetition to teach me how the process worked so that I could eventually enjoy it. And as we are told in 2 Nephi 2:25  “Men are that they might have joy.” 
 At times we may make the mistake of choosing not to follow prophetic council, in our history one such decision, as it all too often does, led to tragedy. “When tensions ran high in northern Missouri in the fall of 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith called for all the Saints to gather to Far West for protection. Many were on isolated farms or in scattered settlements. He specifically counseled Jacob Haun, founder of a small settlement called Haun’s Mill. A record of that time includes this: “Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message” Later, the Prophet Joseph recorded in his history: “Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who [had abided] by my counsel” (History of the Church, 5:137). Then the Prophet recorded the sad truth that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun’s Mill had his counsel been received and followed.”
 We will experience sorrow and pain. These are facts of life that come to all, but we can save ourselves unnecessary anguish if we will but listen to the Lord’s servants and apply our faith in His wisdom and plan. In Moroni 7:25-28 it reads: Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.
  And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens”.
Everything that the Lord has asked of you through his servents what ever it may be, we are obligated to exercise our faith and ask God if it is right. Heavenly Father will never lead you astray. Ask him, prove him and then stand fast.
“God offers us counsel not just for our own safety, but for the safety of His other children, whom we should love. There are few comforts so sweet as to know that we have been an instrument in the hands of God in leading someone else to safety. That blessing generally requires the faith to follow counsel when it is hard to do. An example from Church history is that of Reddick Newton Allred. He was one of the rescue party sent out by Brigham Young to bring in the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies. When a terrible storm hit, Captain Grant, captain of the rescue party, decided to leave some of the wagons by the Sweetwater River as he pressed ahead to find the handcart companies. With the blizzards howling and the weather becoming life-threatening, two of the men left behind at the Sweetwater decided that it was foolish to stay. They thought that either the handcart companies had wintered over somewhere or had perished. They decided to return to the Salt Lake Valley and tried to persuade everyone else to do the same.
Reddick Allred refused to budge. Brigham had sent them out and his priesthood leader had told him to wait there. The others took several wagons, all filled with needed supplies, and started back. Even more tragic, each wagon they met coming out from Salt Lake they turned back as well. They turned back 77 wagons, returning all the way to Little Mountain, where President Young learned what was happening and turned them around again. When the Willie Company was finally found, and had made that heartrending pull up and over Rocky Ridge, it was Reddick Allred and his wagons that waited for them. (See Rebecca Bartholomew and Leonard J. Arrington, Rescue of the 1856 Handcart Companies [1992], 
  While the record does not prove it, I am confident that Brother Allred prayed while he waited. I am confident that his prayers were answered. He then knew that the counsel to stand fast was from God. We must pray to know that. I promise you answers to such prayers of faith.
Sometimes we will receive counsel that we cannot understand or that seems not to apply to us, even after careful prayer and thought. Don’t discard the counsel, but hold it close. If someone you trusted handed you what appeared to be nothing more than sand with the promise that it contained gold, you might wisely hold it in your hand awhile, shaking it gently. Every time I have done that with counsel from a prophet, after a time the gold flakes have begun to appear and I have been grateful.”
I know that our Heavenly Father is mindful of us. He knows and understands our struggles and our desires. I know that with the help of the Holy Ghost our leaders both Generally and locally receive inspiration personally for our benefit and I know that Our Heavenly Father rejoices when he hears our prayers. He does answer them and He does send us the aid we need. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
 You can watch the latest General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints here.  

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