Welcome to the Talk Of The Week Club. I began this club as a way to share my love of learning and growing in the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My hope and desire is for you to learn and grow in your faith and love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Each Thursday a new talk will be posted, come back, open your heart and mind, allow yourself to receive and I promise you will be spiritually fed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Week 47: And Always Remember Him

Dear Friends,

As we approach the celebration of the birth of the Savior, I thought it was appropriate to share this beautiful talk about “remembering Him”.

I pray that we can all enjoy some quiet stillness in the midst of all the hustle and bustle to remember Him - always remember Him. The question that most helped me as I read and listened to this talk was – “When you remember to remember the Savior, what is it specifically that you contemplate?”

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Have a wonderful week!


I am humbled this morning to share a few words and pray I might say some things that will increase our desire and ability to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for university devotionals. They are a nice break from academic work and let us focus on the weightier matters of the kingdom. I know you students appreciate the chance to get away from writing papers and studying for exams. I have heard how difficult some of those exams can be.

I was told of a zoology professor who is so tough a grader that nobody has ever received an A in his course. Last semester, history was being made because an especially bright student had A’s on the two midterms. If he could get an A on the final he would have the first A in this professor’s class—ever. The final test was on birds, and so the student practically memorized the three chapters on birds. He went to the library, checked out extra readings, and felt ready for anything that might appear on the final........To read more of this talk please follow this link.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Week 46: Spiritual Preparednss: Start Early, Be Steady

As I listened to this talk recently, I felt it had even more application now than it did when President Erying first taught us as I have felt the intensity of opposition and difficulties heating up for all of us. I found his words encouraging--a reminder to cheer up our hearts. I also appreciated his references to the Savior and his teaching of the Savior's great care and love for each of us as individuals. I am grateful for his reminder that faith has a short shelf life--it must be replenished regularly and recently--and the reminder that the Lord will give us the power to do what He asks of us. As we celebrate the birth of the Savior, may it be a time to strengthen and increase our love for and faith in Him.

May you feel joy in His service this season,


MP3 Link

Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady
Elder Henry B. Eyring
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God's commands in the midst of the storms of life.

Most of us have thought about how to prepare for storms. We have seen and felt the suffering of women, men, and children, and of the aged and the weak, caught in hurricanes, tsunamis, wars, and droughts. One reaction is to ask, "How can I be prepared?" And there is a rush to buy and put away whatever people think they might need for the day they might face such calamities.

But there is another even more important preparation we must make for tests that are certain to come to each of us. That preparation must be started far in advance because it takes time. What we will need then can't be bought. It can't be borrowed. It doesn't store well. And it has to have been used regularly and recently.

What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends. That test is part of the purpose God had for us in the Creation.

The Prophet Joseph Smith gave us the Lord's description of the test we face. Our Heavenly Father created the world with His Son, Jesus Christ. We have these words to tell us about the purpose of the Creation: "We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."1

So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God's commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.

We are the spirit children of a Heavenly Father. He loved us and He taught us before we were born into this world. He told us that He wished to give us all that He had. To qualify for that gift we had to receive mortal bodies and be tested. Because of those mortal bodies, we would face pain, sickness, and death.

We would be subject to temptations through the desires and weaknesses that came with our mortal bodies. Subtle and powerful forces of evil would tempt us to surrender to those temptations. Life would have storms in which we would have to make choices using faith in things we could not see with our natural eyes.

We were promised that we would have Jehovah, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Redeemer. He would assure that we would all be resurrected. And He would make it possible for us to pass the test of life if we exercised faith in Him by being obedient. We shouted for joy at the good news.

A passage from the Book of Mormon, another witness of Jesus Christ, describes how hard the test is and what it will take to pass it:

"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.

"Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen."2

It will take unshakable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to choose the way to eternal life. It is by using that faith we can know the will of God. It is by acting on that faith we build the strength to do the will of God. And it is by exercising that faith in Jesus Christ that we can resist temptation and gain forgiveness through the Atonement.

We will need to have developed and nurtured faith in Jesus Christ long before Satan hits us, as he will, with doubts and appeals to our carnal desires and with lying voices saying that good is bad and that there is no sin. Those spiritual storms are already raging. We can expect that they will worsen until the Savior returns.

However much faith to obey God we now have, we will need to strengthen it continually and keep it refreshed constantly. We can do that by deciding now to be more quick to obey and more determined to endure. Learning to start early and to be steady are the keys to spiritual preparation. Procrastination and inconsistency are its mortal enemies.

Let me suggest to you four settings in which to practice quick and steady obedience. One is the command to feast upon the word of God. A second is to pray always. A third is the commandment to be a full-tithe payer. And the fourth is to escape from sin and its terrible effects. Each takes faith to start and then to persevere. And all can strengthen your capacity to know and obey the Lord's commands.

You already have had the Lord's help to get started. In August, you received this promise from President Gordon B. Hinckley if you would read the Book of Mormon through by the end of the year: "Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."3

That is the very promise of increased faith we need to be spiritually prepared. But if we delayed the start of our obedience to that inspired invitation, the number of pages we had to read each day grew larger. If we then missed reading for even a few days, the chance of failure grew. That's why I chose to read ahead of my daily plan to be sure I will qualify for the promised blessings of the spirit of resolution and testimony of Jesus Christ. When December ends, I will have learned about starting at the moment a command from God comes and being steady in obedience.

More than that, as I read in the Book of Mormon, I will pray that the Holy Ghost will help me know what God would have me do. There is a promise of that plea being answered in the book itself: "Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."4

I will act quickly on what the Holy Ghost tells me I should do as I read and ponder the Book of Mormon. When I complete the project in December, I will have had many experiences of stretching my faith to be obedient. And so my faith will be strengthened. And I will know from my own experience what comes from going to the scriptures early and consistently to know what God wants me to do and then doing it. If we do that, we will be better prepared for the greater storms when they come.

We will then have a choice of what to do after January 1. We can choose to sigh with relief and say to ourselves: "I have built a great reservoir of faith by starting early and being steady in obedience. I will store it away against the times when I will be tested in storms." There is a better way to prepare, because great faith has a short shelf life. We could decide to persist in studying the words of Christ in the scriptures and the teachings of living prophets. This is what I will do. I will go back to the Book of Mormon and drink deeply and often. And then I will be grateful for what the prophet's challenge and promise did to teach me how to gain greater faith and maintain it.

Personal prayer can also build our faith to do what God commands. We are commanded to pray always that we will not be overcome. Some of the protection we need will be direct intervention of God. But more of it will come from building our faith to obey. We can pray every day to know what God would have us do. We can commit to start to do it quickly when the answer comes. My experience is that He always answers such petitions. Then, we can choose to obey. As we do, we will build faith enough that we will not be overcome. And we will gain the faith to go back again and again for further instruction. When the storms come, we will be ready to go and do what the Lord commands.

The Savior showed us a great example of such a prayer of submission. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane as He worked out the Atonement that His Father's will would be done. He knew that His Father's will would be for Him to do what was so painful and so terrible that we cannot comprehend it. He prayed not simply to accept the Father's will but to do it. He showed us the way to pray in perfect and determined submission.

The principle of exercising faith early and steadily applies as well to the commandment to pay tithing. We should not wait until the annual tithing settlement to decide to be a full-tithe payer. We can decide now. It takes time to learn to control our spending with faith that what we have comes from God. It takes faith to pay our tithing promptly and without procrastination.

If we decide now to be a full-tithe payer and if we are steady in paying it, blessings will flow throughout the year, as well as at the time of tithing settlement. By our decision now to be a full-tithe payer and our steady efforts to obey, we will be strengthened in our faith and, in time, our hearts will be softened. It is that change in our hearts through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, beyond the offering of our money or goods, that makes it possible for the Lord to promise full-tithe payers protection in the last days.5 We can have confidence that we will qualify for that blessing of protection if we commit now to pay a full tithe and are steady in doing it.

The same power of an early choice to exercise faith and to be persistent in obedience applies to gaining the faith to resist temptation and to gain forgiveness. The best time to resist temptation is early. The best time to repent is now. The enemy of our souls will place thoughts in our minds to tempt us. We can decide early to exercise faith, to cast out evil thoughts before we act on them. And we can choose quickly to repent when we do sin, before Satan can weaken our faith and bind us. Seeking forgiveness is always better now than later.

As my father lay in his bed near death, I asked him if he didn't think it was a time to repent and pray for forgiveness for any sins that were not yet resolved with God. He probably heard a little hint in my voice that he might fear death and the Judgment. He just chuckled quietly, smiled up at me, and said, "Oh no, Hal, I've been repenting as I went along."

Decisions now to exercise faith and be steady in obedience will in time produce great faith and assurance. That is the spiritual preparedness we all will need. And it will qualify us in the moments of crisis to receive the Lord's promise that "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."6

That will be true when we face the storms of life and the prospect of death. A loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son have given us all the help They can to pass the test of life set before us. But we must decide to obey and then do it. We build the faith to pass the tests of obedience over time and through our daily choices. We can decide now to do quickly whatever God asks of us. And we can decide to be steady in the small tests of obedience which build the faith to carry us through the great tests, which will surely come.

I know that you and I are children of a loving Heavenly Father. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, lives and that He is our Savior and that He paid the price of all of our sins. He was resurrected, and He and Heavenly Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated through the gift and power of God. I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ.

I know that through the Holy Ghost we can learn what God would have us do. I testify that He can give us the power to do what He asks of us, whatever it is and whatever trials may come.

I pray that we will choose to obey the Lord quickly, always, in quiet times and in storms. As we do, our faith will be strengthened, we will find peace in this life, and we will gain the assurance that we and our families can qualify for eternal life in the world to come. I so promise you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


1. Abraham 3:24–25.
2. 2 Nephi 10:23–25.
3. "A Testimony Vibrant and True," Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2005, 6.
4. 2 Nephi 32:3.
5. See D&C 64:23.
6. D&C 38:30.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Week 45: Thanksgiving

I am thankful.

I am thankful that Heavenly Father has entrusted me with 5 of his choice spirits.

I am thankful for my husband and the ability that we had to enter into the temple and be sealed together, not just for time, for all eternity.

I am thankful for Christ’s atonement. I have seen it work wonders in my life. He died for my sins. He died for your sins. He died for the sins of the world. He did it all for us.

I am thankful for the Prophet Joseph Smith’s humble prayers to our Heavenly Father and for the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel on the earth.

I am thankful for the opportunity that the Lord has given me to serve as an instrument in his hands to further his work.

I am thankful for a loving father in Heaven who gave me EVERYTHING. Everything I have and everything I need.

Yes, I am thankful.


MP3 link
Thanksgiving - LeGrand Richards

I greet each one of you individually and feel proud to think that you would have enough interest to come here to this devotional and listen to the oldest living General Authority of the Church. I have outlived them all by many years.

I enjoyed the opening prayer, the beautiful music of the choir, the introduction given by your wonderful president, and your presence here this morning. What a beautiful day. What a glorious opportunity to be able to meet and worship in the name of the Lord, our God.
I have talked here so many times, I've almost run out of subjects. In trying to decide what I might say to you today that would be appropriate, I was reminded that next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day all over this great land of freedom and liberty in which we are privileged to live. And I thought of the words of the Lord to the Prophet Joseph contained in the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord said that "against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things" (D&C 52:21). If we stop to think about it, there isn't one thing that we have in this world that we are not indebted to the Lord for. He created the earth and placed everything upon it--the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, the animals, the trees, the flowers, the fruit, the vegetables, the seeds with power to reproduce themselves. And then he created man and put him upon the earth and gave him dominion over it all. Isn't that wonderful? And then he enabled man and the animals and those other forms of life to reproduce themselves.......... To view more of this talk click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Week 44: Gratitude: A Path to Happiness

Dear Talk-Of-The-Week Friends,

Yesterday I got a letter in the mail from a friend. She spoke of how the last year has been a year of trials for her. She spoke of how the thing that helped her stay afloat through all the turmoil was to remember her blessings and to focus on them. Inside was a blank list called “50 Things I am most Grateful for…”. It really inspired me to start thinking of all the things I am grateful for. When I woke early this morning I decided to continue my study of gratitude and happened upon this talk after listening to many others. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I recreated the Gratitude list and have included it for your own personal list. May we all be blessed with the abundance God has in store for us as we focus on the things we are most grateful for. I testify that our Heavenly Father loves us and wants to open the windows of heaven for us! Have a wonderful week! I am off to search for our family “Blessing Basket”!


Challenge: Fill out this 50 things I am grateful for list.

MP3 Link

Gratitude: A Path to Happiness - Bonnie D. Parkin

Gratitude: A Path to Happiness

Bonnie D. Parkin
Recently Released Relief Society General President

Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God.

This afternoon I am honored to represent those Relief Society leaders who, here in this very Tabernacle, shared the doctrines of the kingdom, emphasized the significance of women's roles in the home and family, called each other to charitable service, and reminded their sisters of the joy that comes from righteous living.

From this pulpit in 1870, Eliza R. Snow asked thousands of women a question that I'd like to repeat today: "Do you know of any place on the face of the earth, where [a] woman has more liberty, and where she enjoys such high and glorious privileges as she does here, as a Latter-day Saint?"1 I bear witness that the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do enjoy grand and glorious privileges.

Blessing Basket

Let me share a sweet story with you. A family was going through a difficult time. It was hard for them not to focus on their challenges. The mother wrote: "Our world had completely crumpled, so we turned to Heavenly Father for guidance. Almost immediately we realized that we were surrounded by goodness and were being cheered on from every side. We began as a family to express our gratitude to each other as well as to the Lord daily. A close friend pointed out to me that our family's 'blessing basket' was overflowing. From that conversation came a sort of game, which my children and I grew to love. Before family prayer each night we would talk about how our day had gone and then share with each other all of the many blessings that had been added to our 'blessing basket.' The more we expressed gratitude, the more there was to be grateful for. We felt the love of the Lord in a significant way as opportunities for growth presented themselves."2

What would a "blessing basket" add to your family?

A Spirit-Filled Principle

Gratitude requires awareness and effort, not only to feel it but to express it. Frequently we are oblivious to the Lord's hand. We murmur, complain, resist, criticize; so often we are not grateful. In the Book of Mormon, we learn that those who murmur do not know "the dealings of that God who . . . created them."3 The Lord counsels us not to murmur because it is then difficult for the Spirit to work with us.

Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God's love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence. "Live in thanksgiving daily," said Amulek, "for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."4

Mercies and blessings come in different forms—sometimes as hard things. Yet the Lord said, "Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things."5 All things means just that: good things, difficult things—not just some things. He has commanded us to be grateful because He knows being grateful will make us happy. This is another evidence of His love.

How do you feel when someone expresses gratitude to you? One Sunday I sat next to a sister in Relief Society and got to know her a little better. A few days later I received an e-mail: "Thank you for sitting next to my daughter in Relief Society. You put your arm around her. You will never know how much that meant to her and to me."6 This mother's words surprised me and brought me happiness.

How do you feel when you express gratitude to another? I'd like to express gratitude to someone who cares about my grandchildren. A few months ago, while visiting in Texas, I asked six-year-old Thomas to tell me about his bishop. He said, "Oh, Grandmother, you will know him. He wears a dark suit, a white shirt like Papa, and he has shiny shoes and a red tie. He wears glasses and always has a smile." I recognized Thomas's bishop as soon as I saw him. My heart was filled with gratitude for him. Thank you, Bishop Goodman, and thank you, all you wonderful bishops.

An Expression of Faith

Luke chapter 17 records the experience of the Savior when He healed 10 lepers. As you recall, only one of the cleansed lepers returned to express his appreciation. Isn't it interesting that the Lord did not say, "Your gratitude has made you whole"? Instead, He said, "Thy faith hath made thee whole."7

The leper's expression of gratitude was recognized by the Savior as an expression of his faith. As we pray and express gratitude to a loving but unseen Heavenly Father, we are also expressing our faith in Him. Gratitude is our sweet acknowledgment of the Lord's hand in our lives; it is an expression of our faith.

Gratitude in Tribulations: Hidden Blessings

In 1832 the Lord saw the need to prepare the Church for coming tribulations. Tribulations are frightening. And yet the Lord said: "Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.

"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious."8

The kind of gratitude that receives even tribulations with thanksgiving requires a broken heart and a contrite spirit, humility to accept that which we cannot change, willingness to turn everything over to the Lord—even when we do not understand, thankfulness for hidden opportunities yet to be revealed. Then comes a sense of peace.

When was the last time you thanked the Lord for a trial or tribulation? Adversity compels us to go to our knees; does gratitude for adversity do that as well?

President David O. McKay observed, "We find in the bitter chill of adversity the real test of our gratitude . . . , which . . . goes beneath the surface of life, whether sad or joyous."9


To my remarkable, faithful sisters of the Church, I thank you for the ways you extend the Lord's love through your service: your care for families at the death of a loved one, your watchcare as you visit teach, your willingness to build testimonies in children as you serve in Primary, your time preparing young women for womanhood. Thank you for your devotion. I have experienced the love of the Lord through your faithfulness. I have been blessed to serve among you; my heart is brimming over with gratitude and love for each of you. I have deep gratitude for the priesthood brethren with whom I've served.

My most profound gratitude is for my Savior—an obedient Son, who did all that His Father asked and atoned for every one of us. As I remember Him and acknowledge His goodness, I desire to be like Him. May we be blessed to feel of His love in our lives daily. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."10 In His sacred name, Jesus Christ, amen.


1. In Jill C. Mulvay, "Eliza R. Snow and the Woman Question," Brigham Young University Studies, winter 1976, 251.
2. Personal correspondence.
3. 1 Nephi 2:12.
4. Alma 34:38.
5. D&C 59:7; emphasis added.
6. Personal correspondence.
7. Luke 17:19; emphasis added.
8. D&C 78:18–19; emphasis added.
9. Pathways to Happiness, comp. Llewelyn R. McKay (1957), 318.
10. 2 Corinthians 9:15.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Week 43: Being Missionary to Your Spouse

This talk was sent to me a few weeks ago.(Thanks Rebecca!) I loved it and felt that it held many answers to what I was seeking.

I have been asking Heavenly Father to help me understand the great changes he has required of me over the past few years. I wondered what it was that I was supposed to learn. One of the greatest answers for me has been the word Unity. I have felt that our families' recent moves have been provided to teach us unity. Unity as a family, as husband and wife, unity with God and the Savior. Trusting in their time, their love, their wisdom. Becoming one with them as we rely on them to get us through the challenges and changes.

I hope you will find the answers you seek. I know that as you unify yourself in love and gratitude with the Savior and our Heavenly Father you will be given answers when you need them most. I know that the principles of love, patience, long suffering and free agency bring unity to our lives as spouses, family members, church members, and members of society.

Have a blessed week,


NO MP3 this week

Being Missionary to Your Spouse
By Mollie H. Sorensen
Ensign, Sep 1983, 58
“By Gentleness and Love Unfeigned …”

Unspeakable joy came over me as my husband walked to the stand to be sustained second counselor in the stake presidency. As he bore his testimony of his love for the Savior and of the gospel, he also gave thanks for his wife. I recalled the time I came home and found a poster tacked up on the dining room wall, proclaiming, “I love my wife because she has faith in me!”
It seemed not long ago that he emphatically announced, “They’d better not ever ask me to give a sacrament meeting talk, because that’s something I’ll never do.” He now is one of the favorite speakers in the stake.
I remembered, too, that my husband had said: “Just because you’re into dramatics, don’t think you can persuade me to be in a play. I’m just not an actor.” He was great in the lead part of a stake play.
“I’m not a reader,” he had insisted. Now he reads the scriptures faithfully every day and teaches them to all of us each morning.
“I don’t understand how to use the priesthood,” he once said. But since then he has blessed our family with the power of the priesthood on numerous occasions.
Yes, my husband has changed! Sixteen years ago he was a prospective elder.
What brought about this mighty change? For my sisters who stand in the perplexing situation of being missionary to their husbands, I would like to share a few insights. Since I speak from experience, I speak as a wife. But the principles could be used as well by a husband who has need of being missionary to his wife.
It is not easy to have faith in your spouse if he has disappointed you over and over. And for the woman who enjoys spiritual truths, it is frustrating not to be able to openly share them. Her desire to have her husband understand and appreciate the gospel becomes almost unbearable at times. And this is normal; for having achieved great joy, the natural consequence is to want to share it with loved ones.
But in these cases, a very delicate situation can arise. The man is the head of the house—the one who should lead, not be led. The woman, while being an equal partner in the marriage, should support and sustain her husband in his leadership role. But if he is not active or isn’t a member of the Church, she is placed in a very frustrating position. Often, if she wants Sabbath attendance, family home evenings, and other Church activities, she faces an inner battle and may even have open conflict with her husband—thus defeating her purpose to bring unity and spirituality into the home.
Where can a woman go for guidance and direction in her role as missionary to her husband? Great insights can be found through studying the scriptures. For example, I learned an important lesson when I studied about the council in heaven and the issues discussed there.
Satan proposed a plan of forcing everyone to obey the principles of their Father in Heaven. “I will redeem all mankind,” he said, “that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it.”
But Heavenly Father did not want “to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him.” Instead, he made available the plan of salvation through his Only Begotten Son, whereby we could enjoy freedom of choice. (See Moses 4:1–4.)
From this scriptural account we can conclude that trying to force another to accept the gospel is not pleasing to our Father. He cares not only that they return again to him, but also that they do so of their own free will and choice. He wants them to discover for themselves that the truths he has given are right and good and will bring the greatest joy. In order to do this, everyone needs to be free to experience and discover for himself.
Some true methods of exerting influence are listed in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“Only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile.” (D&C 121:41–42.)
These qualities, the Lord’s methods of persuasion, can become part of our very nature if we live worthy to obtain an endowment of his Spirit. I’ve learned that although a wife can encourage and be a light unto her husband, it is still the Spirit of the Lord that changes lives.
In Galatians 5:22–23 we find: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” [Gal. 5:22–23]
There are those who would counsel wives to pretend to have these qualities of love, gentleness, and meekness in order to establish a better relationship with their husbands. But in this pretense or guile, they bypass the Savior, who condemned hypocrisy.
I have found that the very core of our being must be purged of its natural inclination to criticize and to lose faith. To do this, we must obtain greater power than we alone possess. Heavenly Father can give us this ability to change—to make a faultfinding, sour disposition sweet again, as a little child’s. “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” we might plead; “and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10.) He can bless us with the ability to see better, to uncover beautiful and lovable qualities of character in our spouses.
Although it may not be easy to love those who have disappointed us, we are promised that the Spirit can endow us with the power to love even those whose actions make them difficult to love:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.” (Moro. 7:48.)
One woman who attained this loving nature with the Spirit’s help expressed it in this way: “There was a time when I was so frustrated with what my husband wasn’t doing that I didn’t appreciate the good he was doing. I was hung up on the letter of the law and forgot the more important things, such as love, patience, forgiveness, and faith. I seemed obsessed with impatience for him to change.
“Then, somehow, I realized I was wrong. I knew my attitude towards my husband was without hope. I sought Heavenly Father for a change of heart, praying and fasting. Like a miracle, gradually my heart began to change. The more I felt the warmth of the Spirit in my life, the more I lost the compulsion to criticize. Not only that, but I was able to love and respect him in ways that I had overlooked before. I began deeply appreciating his patience with the children, his tolerance for others, his cheerful disposition, and his way of working with his hands—he could accomplish in one hour what many men would in half a day!
“Oh, of course I still wish he would become active in the Church, but I’ve gained a real tolerance for him to grow in his own way, and I pray that I will be the example of love that he needs in order to feel free to grow. I want him to see by my actions that the gospel of Jesus Christ is really wonderful, sweet, and exciting.”
Contrast this with the woman who uses bitterness, anger, hopelessness, and the spirit of contention as her tools of persuasion. In her frustration to have things right, she displays an example of what the gospel of Jesus Christ is not—pushing her husband further away and leaving him without a taste of its goodness.
Satan would thwart us in our attempts to influence with love, for it is truly our most powerful tool. He would have us be contentious and exercise coercion. He would have us neglect our own spiritual nourishment—prayer, fasting, study—for a fury of impatience. He would have us be as the Pharisees, nit-picking over practices and forgetting principles.
It is right, for example, to have family home evenings. But it is not right for a wife to force her husband, through embarrassment, into this practice. There are times when wives of inactive or nonmember husbands must be content to leave part of the law undone and patiently wait for their husbands to lead the way. In such cases, the “weightier matters of the law” (Matt. 23:23) need not be left undone—for these are the gifts of the Spirit, which will help a wife “have no more disposition to do evil [nag, preach, judge], but to do good continually” to her husband. (see Mosiah 5:2).
We have all probably experienced being caught up in the spirit of a meeting and enjoying the feelings of warmth and love. As we drive home, the feeling lingers. The whole world looks different—filled with love, excitement, and promise. The same children whose prattlings may have disturbed us on the way to the meeting now seem to glow with angelic countenance.
Such is the influence of the Spirit, which is love, peace, and joy. We should plead for this influence daily. Only with it are we able to overcome and block Satan’s efforts to destroy our marriages.
One woman came up to me in tears after Relief Society one day and said, “I’m about ready to give up on him. I thought a year would bring some changes, but he’s no more ready to become active than he was last year. I feel like the Lord has failed me. Why should I keep trying if he’ll never change?”
After listening and searching for understanding, I asked, “You say you are still trying. Have you been devoting yourself to your own spiritual nourishment lately, as you were a year ago when you felt such promise for the relationship?”
“No,” she answered, “I haven’t felt like praying, and with moving to another home, I haven’t felt like I’ve had time for studying.”
“Well,” I confided, “I know that when I begin to lose faith in my husband and in our relationship, or when I start to become critical, I find that I have been starving my own spirit. But as I begin to restore a sweet spirit within me, I see my husband with new faith and love.”
A few weeks later, this woman called to tell me that through recommitting herself to a program of spiritual feedings, she once again had hope in her husband and in their marriage. She said, “I was wrong. There has been a change in him. It is so slight that I had overlooked it before.”
Each week when we partake of the bread and water in remembrance of the Savior, we are given the promise that if we keep his commandments, we will have his Spirit to be with us. And with his Spirit, spouses may know how best to truly be a help and a strength to each other.

Mollie H. Sorensen, mother of ten and a 1982 graduate of Brigham Young University, teaches Sunday School in her Napa, California, ward.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Week 42: To Learn and to Teach More Effectively

Hello Friends,

As I pondered what talk to share this week, Elder Scott's 2007 BYU Education Week address "To Learn and to Teach More Effectively" came to mind. My greatest desires are to hear, feel, and heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost and to be an instrument in furthering the Lord's work here on earth. This talk gave precious insights to me for both of these quests. I hope it assists in your learning and growth at this time also. We each have daily opportunities to be teachers, I think some of our greatest come as we fulfill our roles as mothers. Of all the things I hope to instill in my children, the Gift of utilizing the Holy Ghost is the most important to me. I really appreciate Elder Scott's insights about how we can do this. If we consistently and prayerfully use this gift, our passage through this life will be a safe and joyful one. I am so grateful for the great blessing we have to be led by a Prophet and Apostles-they truly are master teachers who show us the way to live happily and return safely Home.

Much love to each of you and a joyful week ahead,

To Learn and To Teach More Effectively - Richard G. Scott

MP3 Link

Richard G. Scott was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given on 21 August 2007 during Campus Education Week

With you I sense the excitement and anticipation of inspiring events as we begin the 85th annual BYU Campus Education Week. I congratulate you for your decision to participate in this extraordinary activity that you may learn and develop from the experience shared here. There is nothing quite like it in scope and quality in all the world. I share with you a constant, continuing thirst to improve and grow through all of the various means of learning that the Lord has provided for us.
As I travel throughout the world, it is evident that knowledge is power. Some use it to their own personal advantage. Many of these employ knowledge improperly, severely limiting others in the use of their agency. Yet there are those whose learning, experience, and talent are used to lift, encourage, motivate, and bless others around them. I feel confident that you are among that group. Not only will you benefit from your invested time and effort here, but others will likewise be helped by how you apply and share what you learn. You are following the admonition of the Lord: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”1
As this activity begins, I express gratitude to President Cecil O. Samuelson, Vice Presidents K. Fred Skousen and Sandra Rogers, and Brother Neil Carlile, director of BYU Campus Education Week, for making this event possible. I likewise thank each of the nearly 200 individuals who have invested themselves in thorough, devoted preparation to bless lives in the almost 1,000 classes and activities which are the focus of this week. I congratulate you for being here. May this be an enriching experience for each of us.
This year’s theme, “The Dawning of a Brighter Day,” is so appropriate. It emphasizes the wonder of the Restoration of the gospel in this dispensation. Any student of history is aware that the Restoration of the Church with its pure doctrine, priesthood authority, and divine guidance initiated an avalanche of discovery, enlightenment, and inventions that continue to powerfully lift mankind. How grateful I am to our Holy Father for the restoration of truth that came through the Prophet Joseph Smith to benefit all mankind. Joseph Smith is a motivating example of an individual who throughout his brief life continually sought knowledge and willingly shared it with others, even though it would cost him his life to do so.
My intent is to share thoughts of how to learn and how to teach effectively.........

For Full Text click Here

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Week 41: Let Us Rejoice Together

This week is the fifth week of the month. It doesn't happen often but I decided that when it does it would be a good time to turn the club over to you the readers. What this means is that this week take the time to find a great talk and feel free to comment about it on this post or you can email me at talkoftheweek@gmail.com and I will put the comment on for you.

Below are some great references in finding articles:

The opportunity to learn the gospel is just as important as the admonition to teach the gospel. In D&C 50: 22, we read the following: "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." Let us teach and receive of one another so we can ALL be edified and rejoice together in the sweetness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Week 40: Good, Better, and Best

I blew it today! Big time! Usually I prepare all week to provide you with a little insight and spiritual nourishment but this week it was just too much. Actually this time I just plain forgot!
I have 5 children. This week one of them is fighting a stomach bug, my baby is teething, my daughter is having issues with rolling her eyes at her Kindergarten Teacher, another daughter has a field trip tomorrow which she is FREAKING OUT about, and then there is my son who has yet to have any issues this week…but it’s still only Thursday.

I LOVE being a mother. I love that Heavenly Father has chosen me to nurture and love these special little spirits. Sometimes, however, I get so wrapped up in the day to day and I forget to make time for me. How can I help them grow if I am neglecting myself? If I’m so busy how can I give them what is best? I’m sure you all have felt that way one time or another. Whether you have children or not I am sure you can relate to that…How are we able to be our best selves if we are getting sidetracked and neglecting our Spiritual needs?? What can I do to strengthen my family without foregoing myself? What choices do I need to make to guide my children down the right path?

I will admit that I prayed to find the proper talk to address my own needs this week. However, I know that you will all gain a tremendous amount of insight as well and I am grateful that the Lord guided me to this talk on such short notice. He always knows what we need if we just ask.

:) Alida

Good, Better, Best
Elder Dallin H. Oaks Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.

Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.
We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.
Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. While she was "cumbered about much serving" (Luke 10:40), her sister, Mary, "sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word" (v. 39). When Martha complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, Jesus commended Martha for what she was doing (v. 41) but taught her that "one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (v. 42). It was praiseworthy for Martha to be "careful and troubled about many things" (v. 41), but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more "needful." The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others (see Acts 20:35; Alma 32:14–15).
A childhood experience introduced me to the idea that some choices are good but others are better. I lived for two years on a farm. We rarely went to town. Our Christmas shopping was done in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. I spent hours poring over its pages. For the rural families of that day, catalog pages were like the shopping mall or the Internet of our time.
Something about some displays of merchandise in the catalog fixed itself in my mind. There were three degrees of quality: good, better, and best. For example, some men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).1
As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.
Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom" (D&C 88:118; emphasis added).
Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, "I just didn't spend enough time with my job."
In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best. A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. "The thing I liked best this summer," the boy replied, "was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked." Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent.
The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children's values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.
Family experts have warned against what they call "the overscheduling of children." In the last generation children are far busier and families spend far less time together. Among many measures of this disturbing trend are the reports that structured sports time has doubled, but children's free time has declined by 12 hours per week, and unstructured outdoor activities have fallen by 50 percent.2
The number of those who report that their "whole family usually eats dinner together" has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together "eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children's academic achievement and psychological adjustment."3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children's smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: What your children really want for dinner is you.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we "work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it." He continued:
"I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting."5
The First Presidency has called on parents "to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles. . . . The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place . . . in . . . this God-given responsibility." The First Presidency has declared that "however worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform."6
Church leaders should be aware that Church meetings and activities can become too complex and burdensome if a ward or a stake tries to have the membership do everything that is good and possible in our numerous Church programs. Priorities are needed there also.
Members of the Quorum of the Twelve have stressed the importance of exercising inspired judgment in Church programs and activities. Elder L. Tom Perry taught this principle in our first worldwide leadership training meeting in 2003. Counseling the same leaders in 2004, Elder Richard G. Scott said: "Adjust your activities to be consistent with your local conditions and resources. . . . Make sure that the essential needs are met, but do not go overboard in creating so many good things to do that the essential ones are not accomplished. . . . Remember, don't magnify the work to be done—simplify it."7
In general conference last year, Elder M. Russell Ballard warned against the deterioration of family relationships that can result when we spend excess time on ineffective activities that yield little spiritual sustenance. He cautioned against complicating our Church service "with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. . . . The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. . . . What is most important in our Church responsibilities," he said, "is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed."8
Stake presidencies and bishoprics need to exercise their authority to weed out the excessive and ineffective busyness that is sometimes required of the members of their stakes or wards. Church programs should focus on what is best (most effective) in achieving their assigned purposes without unduly infringing on the time families need for their "divinely appointed duties."
But here is a caution for families. Suppose Church leaders reduce the time required by Church meetings and activities in order to increase the time available for families to be together. This will not achieve its intended purpose unless individual family members—especially parents—vigorously act to increase family togetherness and one-on-one time. Team sports and technology toys like video games and the Internet are already winning away the time of our children and youth. Surfing the Internet is not better than serving the Lord or strengthening the family. Some young men and women are skipping Church youth activities or cutting family time in order to participate in soccer leagues or to pursue various entertainments. Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.
Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.
Here are some other illustrations of good, better, and best:
It is good to belong to our Father in Heaven's true Church and to keep all of His commandments and fulfill all of our duties. But if this is to qualify as "best," it should be done with love and without arrogance. We should, as we sing in a great hymn, "crown [our] good with brotherhood,"9 showing love and concern for all whom our lives affect.
To our hundreds of thousands of home teachers and visiting teachers, I suggest that it is good to visit our assigned families; it is better to have a brief visit in which we teach doctrine and principle; and it is best of all to make a difference in the lives of some of those we visit. That same challenge applies to the many meetings we hold—good to hold a meeting, better to teach a principle, but best to actually improve lives as a result of the meeting.
As we approach 2008 and a new course of study in our Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and Relief Societies, I renew our caution about how we use the Teachings of Presidents of the Church manuals. Many years of inspired work have produced our 2008 volume of the teachings of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of this dispensation. This is a landmark among Church books. In the past, some teachers have given a chapter of the Teachings manuals no more than a brief mention and then substituted a lesson of their own choice. It may have been a good lesson, but this is not an acceptable practice. A gospel teacher is called to teach the subject specified from the inspired materials provided. The best thing a teacher can do with Teachings: Joseph Smith is to select and quote from the words of the Prophet on principles specially suited to the needs of class members and then direct a class discussion on how to apply those principles in the circumstances of their lives.
I testify of our Heavenly Father, whose children we are and whose plan is designed to qualify us for "eternal life . . . the greatest of all the gifts of God" (D&C 14:7; see also D&C 76:51–59). I testify of Jesus Christ, whose Atonement makes it possible. And I testify that we are led by prophets, our President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
NOTES1. Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog, Fall and Winter 1944–45, 316E.2. Jared R. Anderson and William J. Doherty, "Democratic Community Initiatives: The Case of Overscheduled Children," Family Relations, vol. 54 (Dec. 2005): 655.3. Anderson and Doherty, Family Relations, 54:655.4. See Nancy Gibbs, "The Magic of the Family Meal," Time, June 12, 2006, 51–52; see also Sarah Jane Weaver, "Family Dinner," Church News, Sept. 8, 2007, 5.5. "Each a Better Person," Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 100.6. First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999; printed in Church News, Feb. 27, 1999, 3.7. "The Doctrinal Foundation of the Auxiliaries," Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 5, 7–8; see also Ensign, Aug. 2005, 62, 67.8. "O Be Wise," Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2006, 18–20.9. "America the Beautiful," Hymns, no. 338.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Week 39: Happiness, Your Heritage

When I heard this talk I KNEW that I had to share it with each of you again! I have never taken so many notes on a conference talk in my life. I had been personally praying to know more deeply of God’s love for me and to feel more happiness and joy in my life. This beautiful talk spoke right to my spirit. I felt so uplifted and I know that you will too! Truly happiness is our heritage and our birthright! May you find joy in creating! May you feel your weariness lifted to such a degree that His pure light fills you to overflowing. There is so much we can give when we are filled ourselves!

Have a truly blessed week!

Happiness, Your Heritage
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Second Counselor in the First Presidency
Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness.

My dear sisters, I am grateful for this, my first opportunity to speak to the women of the Church gathered together in all parts of the world. We are especially honored today with the presence of President Monson and President Eyring. The choir has touched our hearts. We have been inspired by the messages of Sister Thompson, Sister Allred, and Sister Beck.
Since learning that I would be with you today, I have thought about the many women who have shaped my life: my wonderful wife, Harriet; my mother; my mother-in-law; my sister; my daughter; my daughter-in-law; and many friends. All my life I have been surrounded by women who inspired, taught, and encouraged me. I am who I am today in large part because of these singular women. Each time I meet with the sisters of the Church, I sense that I am in the midst of similar remarkable souls. I am grateful to be here, grateful for your talents, compassion, and service. Most of all, I am grateful for who you are: treasured daughters of our Heavenly Father with infinite worth.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but the differences between men and women can often be quite striking—physically and mentally, as well as emotionally. One of the best ways I can think of to illustrate this is in the way my wife and I cook a meal.
When Harriet prepares a meal, it’s a masterpiece. Her cuisine is as wide-ranging as the world, and she frequently prepares dishes from countries we have visited. The presentation of the food is awe inspiring. In fact, it often looks so beautiful that it seems a crime to eat it. It’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the sense of taste.
But sure enough, no matter how perfect everything is, looks, and tastes, Harriet will apologize for something she thinks is imperfect. “I’m afraid I used a touch too much ginger,” she will say, or, “Next time, I think it would be better if I used a little more curry and one additional bay leaf.”
Let me contrast that with the way I cook. For the purpose of this talk, I asked Harriet to tell me what I cook best.
Her answer: fried eggs.
Sunny-side up.
But that isn’t all. I have a specialty dish called Knusperchen. The name may sound like a delicacy you might find at an exclusive restaurant. Let me share with you how to make it. You cut French bread into small slices and toast them twice.
That is the recipe!
So, between fried eggs, even when they are greasy, and Knusperchen, even when they are burned, when I cook, I feel pretty heroic.
Perhaps this contrast between my wife and me is a slight exaggeration, but it illustrates something that may extend beyond preparing meals.
To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they really are.
Perhaps you recognize this trait in someone you know really well.
The good news is that this also points to an admirable quality: the innate desire to please the Lord to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, it can also lead to frustration, exhaustion, and unhappiness.
To All Who Are Weary
Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us.
I also pray that the Holy Ghost will amplify my words and bestow upon them additional meaning, insight, and inspiration.
We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow.
I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn’t a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial.
These things are not insignificant.
However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress. I want to speak about God’s happiness and how each one of us can taste of it in spite of the burdens that beset us.
God’s Happiness
Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God’s happiness.
This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father’s happiness?
This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts.”1
Though we cannot understand “the meaning of all things,” we do “know that [God] loveth his children”2 because He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”3
Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate.
The Work of Creation
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.
Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.
You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”
If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.
But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy.4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.
If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.
You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.
What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.
If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.
Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. “There is a great work for the Saints to do,” he said. “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ.”6
The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.
Being Compassionate
Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”7 Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior “mourn with those that mourn . . . and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”8
When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.
As we lift others, we rise a little higher ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls.”9
President Gordon B. Hinckley believed in the healing power of service. After the death of his wife, he provided a great example to the Church in the way he immersed himself in work and in serving others. It is told that President Hinckley remarked to one woman who had recently lost her husband, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”
These are profound words. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.
President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: “When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.”10
In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness.
An Instrument in the Hands of the Lord
I believe that the women of the Church, regardless of age or family status, understand and apply best the words of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”11 Often I have witnessed quiet acts of kindness and compassion by noble women who extended themselves in unselfish charity. My heart swells when I hear stories of the sisters of the Church and how they rush to the aid of those in need.
There are those in the Church—both men and women—who wonder how they can contribute to the kingdom. Sometimes women who are single, divorced, or widowed wonder if there is a place for them. Every sister in the Church is of critical importance—not only to our Heavenly Father but also to the building of the kingdom of God as well. There is a great work to do.
One year ago in this meeting, President Monson taught that “you are . . . surrounded by opportunities for service. . . . Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another.”12 Look around you. There at sacrament meeting is a young mother with several children—offer to sit with her and help. There in your neighborhood is a young man who seems discouraged—tell him you enjoy being in his presence, that you feel his goodness. True words of encouragement require only a loving and caring heart but may have an eternal impact on the life of those around you.
You wonderful sisters render compassionate service to others for reasons that supersede desires for personal benefits. In this you emulate the Savior, who, though a king, did not seek position, nor was He concerned about whether others noticed Him. He did not bother to compete with others. His thoughts were always tuned to help others. He taught, healed, conversed, and listened to others. He knew that greatness had little to do with outward signs of prosperity or position. He taught and lived by this doctrine: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”13
In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.
My dear sisters, I have a simple faith. I believe that as you are faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, as you draw closer to Him in faith, hope, and charity, things will work together for your good.14 I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the work of our Father—as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others—God will encircle you in the arms of His love.15 Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment.
As spirit daughters of our Heavenly Father, happiness is your heritage.
You are choice daughters of our Heavenly Father, and through the things you create and by your compassionate service, you are a great power for good. You will make the world a better place. Lift up your chin; walk tall. God loves you. We love and admire you.
Of this I testify, and leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
NOTES1. Isaiah 55:9.2. 1 Nephi 11:17.3. Moses 1:39.4. See 2 Nephi 2:25.5. See D&C 46:11–12.6. Brigham Young, Deseret News, Aug. 8, 1860, 177.7. D&C 81:5.8. Mosiah 18:9.9. Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 254.10. Lorenzo Snow, in Conference Report, Apr. 6, 1899, 2–3.11. Barrie, J. M., A Window in Thrums (1917), 137.12. Thomas S. Monson, “Three Goals to Guide You,” Ensign, Nov. 2007, 120.13. Matthew 23:11.14. See D&C 90:24.15. See D&C 6:20.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Week 38: The Tongue of Angels

I have been reviewing talks this week and have really struggled with which one I should choose. This talk keeps coming back into my mind over and over. It is one of my all time favorites. When I was reading my scriptures this morning I came across the passages Elder Holland based this message on and since then I just couldn't stop thinking about it.

Have a wonderful week!


MP3 Link

The Tongue of Angels - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

The Tongue of Angels
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity.

The Prophet Joseph Smith deepened our understanding of the power of speech when he taught, "It is by words . . . [that] every being works when he works by faith. God said, 'Let there be light: and there was light.' Joshua spake, and the great lights which God had created stood still. Elijah commanded, and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain. . . . All this was done by faith. . . . Faith, then, works by words; and with [words] its mightiest works have been, and will be, performed."1 Like all gifts "which cometh from above," words are "sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit."2
It is with this realization of the power and sanctity of words that I wish to caution us, if caution is needed, regarding how we speak to each other and how we speak of ourselves.
There is a line from the Apocrypha which puts the seriousness of this issue better than I can. It reads, "The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones."3 With that stinging image in mind, I was particularly impressed to read in the book of James that there was a way I could be "a perfect man."
Said James: "For in many things we offend all. [But] if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."
Continuing the imagery of the bridle, he writes: "Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
"Behold also . . . ships, which though they be . . . great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm."
Then James makes his point: "The tongue is [also] a little member. . . . [But] behold, how great a [forest (Greek)] a little fire [can burn].
" . . . So is the tongue [a fire] among our members, . . . it defileth the whole body, . . . it is set on fire of hell.
"For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, . . . hath been tamed of mankind:
"But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
"Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
"Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."4
Well, that is pretty straightforward! Obviously James doesn't mean our tongues are always iniquitous, nor that everything we say is "full of deadly poison." But he clearly means that at least some things we say can be destructive, even venomous—and that is a chilling indictment for a Latter-day Saint! The voice that bears profound testimony, utters fervent prayer, and sings the hymns of Zion can be the same voice that berates and criticizes, embarrasses and demeans, inflicts pain and destroys the spirit of oneself and of others in the process. "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing," James grieves. "My brethren [and sisters], these things ought not so to be."
Is this something we could all work on just a little? Is this an area in which we could each try to be a little more like a "perfect" man or woman?
Husbands, you have been entrusted with the most sacred gift God can give you—a wife, a daughter of God, the mother of your children who has voluntarily given herself to you for love and joyful companionship. Think of the kind things you said when you were courting, think of the blessings you have given with hands placed lovingly upon her head, think of yourself and of her as the god and goddess you both inherently are, and then reflect on other moments characterized by cold, caustic, unbridled words. Given the damage that can be done with our tongues, little wonder the Savior said, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."5 A husband who would never dream of striking his wife physically can break, if not her bones, then certainly her heart by the brutality of thoughtless or unkind speech. Physical abuse is uniformly and unequivocally condemned in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If it is possible to be more condemning than that, we speak even more vigorously against all forms of sexual abuse. Today, I speak against verbal and emotional abuse of anyone against anyone, but especially of husbands against wives. Brethren, these things ought not to be.
In that same spirit we speak to the sisters as well, for the sin of verbal abuse knows no gender. Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? A woman's words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks. Let it never be said of our home or our ward or our neighborhood that "the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity . . . [burning] among our members."
May I expand this counsel to make it a full family matter. We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don't say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child's view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child's faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that "Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright," but all Susan will remember is that she isn't bright and Sandra that she isn't pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture's obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are "enough."
In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak—or at least think—critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable.
I love what Elder Orson F. Whitney once said: "The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience."6 We should honor the Savior's declaration to "be of good cheer."7 (Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than almost any other!) Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. As someone once said, "Even in the golden age of civilization someone undoubtedly grumbled that everything looked too yellow."
I have often thought that Nephi's being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel's constant murmuring.8 Surely he must have said at least once, "Hit me one more time. I can still hear you." Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland's maxims for living—no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse.
Paul put it candidly, but very hopefully. He said to all of us: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but [only] that which is good . . . [and] edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God. . . .
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you. . . .
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."9
In his deeply moving final testimony, Nephi calls us to "follow the Son [of God], with full purpose of heart," promising that "after ye have . . . received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, [ye] can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels. . . . And . . . how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ."10 Indeed, Christ was and is "the Word," according to John the Beloved,11 full of grace and truth, full of mercy and compassion.
So, brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be "perfect" men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail. I pray that my words, even on this challenging subject, will be encouraging to you, not discouraging, that you can hear in my voice that I love you, because I do. More importantly, please know that your Father in Heaven loves you and so does His Only Begotten Son. When They speak to you—and They will—it will not be in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but it will be with a voice still and small, a voice tender and kind.12 It will be with the tongue of angels. May we all rejoice in the thought that when we say edifying, encouraging things unto the least of these, our brethren and sisters and little ones, we say it unto God.13 In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Lectures on Faith (1985), 72–73; emphasis added.2. D&C 63:64.3. Ecclesiasticus 28:17.4. James 3:2–10; emphasis added.5. Matthew 15:11.6. In Conference Report, Apr. 1917, 43.7. Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 16:33.8. See 1 Nephi 3:28–31; 18:11–15.9. Ephesians 4:29–32.10. 2 Nephi 31:13–14; 32:2–3.11. John 1:1.12. See 1 Kings 19:11–12.13. See Matthew 25:40.