Saturday, December 25, 2010

Maybe Linus Was Right -- My Christmas Message 2010

Maybe Linus was right.

In the 1965 TV special "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Charlie Brown proclaims to nobody in particular, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" His friend Linus speaks up, quoting from the second chapter of Luke:

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

Sometimes, we may feel like Longfellow:

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

A large portion of my employment the last several years has been in the realms of sports and politics. My eyes were opened a little to my own contributions of hate while listening to President Uchtdorf this past General Conference:

Perhaps there is no better laboratory to observe the sin of pride than the world of sports. I have always loved participating in and attending sporting events. But I confess there are times when the lack of civility in sports is embarrassing. How is it that normally kind and compassionate human beings can be so intolerant and filled with hatred toward an opposing team and its fans?

I have watched sports fans vilify and demonize their rivals. They look for any flaw and magnify it. They justify their hatred with broad generalizations and apply them to everyone associated with the other team. When ill fortune afflicts their rival, they rejoice.

Brethren, unfortunately we see today too often the same kind of attitude and behavior spill over into the public discourse of politics, ethnicity, and religion.

My dear brethren of the priesthood, my beloved fellow disciples of the gentle Christ, should we not hold ourselves to a higher standard? As priesthood bearers, we must realize that all of God’s children wear the same jersey. Our team is the brotherhood of man. This mortal life is our playing field. Our goal is to learn to love God and to extend that same love toward our fellowman. We are here to live according to His law and establish the kingdom of God. We are here to build, uplift, treat fairly, and encourage all of Heavenly Father’s children.

After all, "When ye have done it unto the least of these, my bretheren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt 25:40). May we remember this Christmas season that "God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men."

And may God bless us, everyone.

Christmas in the Book of Mormon

‎"Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets." -3 Nephi 1:13

1 Nephi 11:13-24

13And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.

14And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?

15And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.

16And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

17And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

18And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.

19And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

20And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.

21And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

22And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

23And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.

24And after he had said these words, he said unto me: Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him.

2 Nephi 19:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Quotes

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal life with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. -New York Sun, 1897

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home. ~Carol Nelson

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through! ~Author Unknown

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~Charles Dickens

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. ~Dr Seuss

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. ~Oren Arnold

It might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see. -Bob Cratchit

I pray that during this season and always, we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and feel sincere gratitude for His life, teachings, and saving sacrifice for us. May this gratitude cause us to renew our determination to follow Him. May it also lead us to draw closer to our family, our church, and our fellowmen. And may we look steadfastly forward to that blessed day when the resurrected Christ will walk the earth again as our Lord, our King, and our blessed Savior. =President Deiter F Uchtdorf

Many of you will in the Christmas season find ways to give food to people who are hungry. As you do, you bring joy to the Lord. Yet He taught us that there is a way to give an even more priceless and lasting gift. He said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”7 With all the kindnesses we give for Him, the greatest we can offer is to point those we love and serve toward Him, the only source of eternal life. -President Henry B Eyring

My brothers and sisters, may the spirit of love which comes at Christmastime fill our homes and our lives and linger there long after the tree is down and the lights are put away for another year. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, amen. -President Thomas S Monson

On earth: peace, good will toward men. That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. -Linus

Mr Kruger's Christmas

Thursday, December 23, 2010

President Thomas S Monson -- Christmas Devotional 2010

My beloved brothers and sisters, it’s somewhat amazing to realize that an entire year has passed since the First Presidency Christmas Devotional of 2009. It seems that time goes by ever faster as the years pass.

As we have approached this special and sacred season, I have contemplated past Christmases. In looking back over the years, I find it is obvious that the Christmases I remember best, the Christmases which touched my heart the most, are Christmases filled with love and giving and the Spirit of the Savior. I believe that such would be true for all of us as we reminisce concerning our best-remembered Christmases. Bringing the Christmas spirit into our hearts and homes takes conscious effort and planning but can surely be accomplished.

My Christmas reading each year helps bring to me the spirit of the season. I always read the same three texts and have done so for more years than I can remember. I read once again a very small volume entitled The Mansion, by Henry Van Dyke. Its message always touches my heart. Also, I read the timeless Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. Who could fail to be inspired and taught by the changes which come to Ebenezer Scrooge as he is instructed by the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future? Finally, I read from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, where the birth of the Savior of the world is recounted.

This year, as I was glancing through my extensive collection of Christmas stories, poems, and songs, I reread an account by John B. Matheson Jr., wherein he told of an experience he had 65 years ago, indicating that it was his most memorable Christmas. My heart was touched as I read of his poignant experience, and so I have felt to share it with you tonight, hoping that it will engender the Christmas spirit in you as well.

During Christmas 1945, John Matheson found himself serving in the army of occupation in Frankfurt, Germany. World War II had ended about seven months earlier, but during the conflict the city of Frankfurt had suffered much destruction. Most of the city was rubble. Many of the homes which had been left unscathed were taken over for housing the United States military. John and two other officers lived in a three-story house that easily could have served as a home for three families.

Each weekday, John and the other two officers would go to their office and return in the evening to find the beds made and the house spotlessly cleaned by an elderly German woman who was hired by the United States Army to be housekeeper for a number of houses in the area. Only occasionally would they see this frail little lady as she busily engaged in her tasks. Their conversations with her were limited, for she spoke no English and their German was poor; but through a sort of sign language and through smiles, they indicated satisfaction with her work.

Weekly, John went to the post exchange to get his ration of candy bars, soap, and incidentals. Though he sometimes grumbled about the poor selection available, he always purchased all he was allowed and put the excess into his footlocker.

As Christmas approached, John thought he should give some gift to the housekeeper; so from the abundance of his footlocker, he filled a large cardboard box with candy bars, soap, and cans of fruit juice. He knew that in the system of barter among the Germans, his gift to her was worth many, many dollars, but the cost to him was negligible.

Knowing she would not work on Christmas Day, as John left for the office on December 24th, he placed on the table where it would be seen his gift box and a Christmas greeting. All day he felt rather smug as he thought of his generous gift. The housekeeper would be like an heiress in the poverty of her neighborhood. How lucky she was, he thought. How beholden she would be to him—to the generous American. And yet his gift was not given in compassion but merely out of pity and for self-satisfaction.

As he approached the house in the darkness of the December evening, he saw the dim glow of the lamp filtering through the window. The house was still. He entered the home and saw that his gift and the recipient were gone. However, in the glow of that lamp, he saw on the table her Christmas note and her gift to him. He had expected no gift, but there it was—all she could afford and given in the spirit of Christmas.

What could a poor little old lady give? She could give from her poverty and from her heart her fondest memories of her beloved city of yesteryear, and she could give the Christmas star.

On that dimly lit table, along with her painstakingly written “Merry Christmas,” were 10 old and dog-eared picture postcard scenes of Frankfurt as it had appeared before the war had so devastated it. The housekeeper had placed each card on edge and fastened them together so that every 2 cards formed a point and all 10 together formed the Christmas star.

She had little to give. In fact, it was all she had. Though John Matheson lived to see many more Christmases, that little housekeeper’s Christmas star shone brightly throughout his life. He said that her “star of Bethlehem” implanted within him the Christmas spirit and taught him the true meaning of love and giving.1

Brothers and sisters, this joyful season brings to all of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree to which we have turned our minds, feelings, and actions to the Savior, whose birth we celebrate.

There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. Let it be a time that lights the eyes of children and puts laughter on their lips. Let it be a time for lifting the lives of those who live in loneliness. Let it be a time for calling our families together, for feeling a closeness to those who are near to us and a closeness also to those who are absent.

Let it be a time of prayers for peace, for the preservation of free principles, and for the protection of those who are far from us. Let it be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing the true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings.

Most of all, let it be a time to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the Wise Men.

My brothers and sisters, may the spirit of love which comes at Christmastime fill our homes and our lives and linger there long after the tree is down and the lights are put away for another year. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, amen.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

President Henry B. Eyring -- First Presidency Christmas Devotional 2010

I am grateful for this opportunity to greet you as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The prophet Isaiah spoke of Him centuries before His birth: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”1

This little child, born in a stable and cradled in a manger, was a gift from our loving Heavenly Father. He was the promised Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the Son of the living God. He was with His Father before He came to earth in mortality, the Creator of the earth upon which we stand.

The great Apostle John gives us a sense of the greatness of this child in the courts on high, from which He came: “Without him was not any thing made that was made.”2 Yet He came to earth in humble circumstances.

He worked as a boy and a youth in the carpenter’s shop of Joseph in Nazareth. In His mortal ministry He walked the dusty roads of Palestine, healed the sick, raised the dead, taught His gospel to people who rejected Him, gave His life on Calvary’s hill, and rose on the third day in what began the Resurrection to break the bands of death for us all and so became “the firstfruits of them that slept.”3

Above all, the Savior whose birth we remember this season of the year paid the price of all of our sins. Again the prophet Isaiah, long before our Lord’s birth, saw the gift beyond price of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

He gave us this description of what the Savior did for us:

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”4

Those who have felt that peace and healing have their hearts filled with gratitude. And so do those who love them. My wife and I read messages and see photographs sent by two of our granddaughters serving as the Lord’s missionaries in South America. They send us photos of smiling people with joy shining in their faces. My granddaughters send messages of gratitude and love for the effects of the Atonement in the lives of people they have taught and seen transformed by their choice to follow the Savior’s example to be baptized and receive the ministration of the Holy Ghost.

As Latter-day Saints, we feel our hearts drawn out in gratitude to a loving Father and His Beloved Son. We are thankful to feel that blessing because of the faith of a 14-year-old boy, Joseph Smith. His prayer on a spring morning in 1820 made possible our receiving the sure witness that the Father, the great Elohim, and His Son, Jehovah, live and love us. They appeared and spoke with him in the full light of day. They called him by name.

The gift of that glorious assurance that we are known and loved can sustain us in the trials life will surely bring. We need never feel that we are alone. We need never give up hope.

I saw that on a day when I visited my elderly aunt in a rest home a few years ago. She was a widow. The effects of age left her unable to care for herself. Though I had known her since I was a little boy, she did not recognize me or others of her family in the crowded sitting room of the rest home.

I looked into her face expecting to see the pain of loneliness and of loss. Yet her face shone with love and radiant joy. Her voice had the happy sound I remembered from the days of long before. Most of the time I was with her that day she just looked at us pleasantly as we spoke to her.

Then, every few minutes, she would repeat with a radiant smile these six words, as if they were part of the conversation: “I know that my Redeemer lives.” It seemed to me that her joy and a sound of gratitude in her voice grew with each repetition of that declaration.

I cannot know all the sources of that miracle of peace in her life. But I know one. Since she was a little girl, she had been in sacrament meetings. She had bowed her head and heard words spoken in prayer to our Heavenly Father. Uncounted times she had pledged to take upon her the name of the Son, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments that she might have His Spirit to be with her.5

And so, while the passing years had stripped away from her life so much of what had brought her joy, she retained the supernal gifts we can feel at Christmastime. She remembered her Redeemer. She knew that He lived. She felt His love. And she felt His love for all of Heavenly Father’s children, wherever they were and whatever their circumstances.

I realized, as we left her smiling presence, that she had been giving us the gift she had received. She knew the source of the peace she felt. And out of her gratitude and love for the Savior, she wanted us to share in the blessing with her. I had gone to comfort her and came away comforted.

That is the spirit of Christmas, which puts in our hearts a desire to give joy to other people. We feel a spirit of giving and gratitude for what we have been given. The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember Him and His gifts to us. And that remembrance creates a desire in us to give gifts to Him.

He has told us what we could give Him to bring Him joy. First, we can, out of faith in Him, give a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We can repent and make sacred covenants with Him. Within the sound of my voice are some who have felt His invitation to the peace His gospel brings but have not yet accepted it. You would give Him joy if you would act now to come unto Him while you can.

Second, you can give Him the gift of doing for others what He would do for them. Many of you have already done that and felt His appreciation. It may have been visiting a lonely widower. It may have been joining with others in a project to help those in need.

There is a long list of possibilities in the book of Matthew. There we read words from our Redeemer, which we all hope to hear and to speak when we see Him after this life:

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”6

In those words the Lord makes clear what gifts we might give Him out of our gratitude. Each act of kindness to anyone becomes a kindness to Him because He loves all of Heavenly Father’s children. And because that brings joy to Him, it also brings joy to His Father, to whom we owe thanks beyond measure.

Many of you will in the Christmas season find ways to give food to people who are hungry. As you do, you bring joy to the Lord. Yet He taught us that there is a way to give an even more priceless and lasting gift. He said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”7 With all the kindnesses we give for Him, the greatest we can offer is to point those we love and serve toward Him, the only source of eternal life.

The most precious gift I have to give is my witness of the Savior. I testify that He was born of Mary as the Son of God. He lived a perfect life. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, He restored His gospel to the earth and the keys of His priesthood to those who have passed them on to this blessed day. I know by the Spirit that Thomas S. Monson holds and exercises those keys in our time.

I leave you my love and my blessing. I am grateful for your inspiring examples of love, faith, and service, which bring joy to my life. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf -- First Presidency Christmas Devotional 2010

Isn’t this a wonderful time of the year! So many things fill our hearts with the spirit of Christmas: the melody of Christmas carols, the lights, the decorations, and the happy greetings of “Merry Christmas!”

There are certain words that ring like bells in my soul and remind me of the beauty and meaning of Christmas—words such as “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus”1 and, of course, “Joy to the World!” “Away in a Manger,” and “Silent Night.”

There are other words, more cautionary, that are worthy of our consideration as well—words such as:

Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot . . .
But the Grinch,
Who lived just north of Who-ville,
Did NOT!2
The Grinch, that memorable character from a classic children’s story by Dr. Seuss, had a heart that “was two sizes too small,” and he hated everything about Christmas. Through the course of the story, however, he undergoes a dramatic transformation when he learns that there is more to Christmas than decorations and gifts.

Perhaps the Grinch’s story is so memorable because, if we are honest, we may be able to relate to him. Who among us has not felt concern over the commercialization and even greed of the Christmas season? Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed by the packed calendars, the stress of finding gifts, the pressure of planning meals and events? In fact, psychologists tell us that during this season of cheer and goodwill, many feel sorrow and depression.

We know what the Christmas season ought to be—we know it should be a time of reflection on the birth of the Savior, a time of celebration and of generosity. But sometimes our focus is so much on the things that annoy and overwhelm us that we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch: “Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! . . . But HOW?”

While it’s true that we can find materialism and anxiety in Christmas, it is also true that if we have eyes to see, we can experience the powerful message of the birth of the Son of God and feel the hope and peace He brings to the world. We, like the Grinch, can see Christmas through new eyes.

Looking for Christ
As an old family tradition, our family has always celebrated the Advent of Christmas. Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, we would get together on Sunday afternoons, light wax candles on a pine Advent wreath, enjoy delicious homemade cookies, and read passages of scriptures that center on the Christ.

We read accounts of ancient prophets who yearned for the coming of the Messiah. We read scriptures that proclaim the wondrous story of His birth. Each week by singing beautiful Christmas songs and having a fun time together, our family tried to refocus on the true meaning of the season. I must admit that delicious hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and tasty homemade cookies helped a lot to catch the joyful feeling of the Christmas season!

While celebrating the Advent of Christmas is not part of all cultures around the globe, there is something we can learn from this widespread Christian tradition. Perhaps even this year we might carve from our busy schedules some time to study and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas—personally and as families.

When we prepare for Christmas by pondering its real meaning, we prepare to experience the Christ and His message. May I suggest three things we may want to study, ponder, and apply in this season of preparation.

Rejoice in the Birth of Our Savior
First, rejoice in the birth of our Savior. We celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the Creator, our Messiah. We rejoice that the King of kings came to earth, was born in a manger, and lived a perfect life. When Jesus was born, the joy in heaven was so great it could not be contained, and angelic hosts parted the veil, proclaiming unto shepherds “good tidings of great joy, . . . praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”3

Wise Men “rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when . . . they saw the young child with Mary his mother, [they] fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts.”4

It is only fitting that we—like the Wise Men, shepherds, and angels—take time to rejoice and celebrate that glorious first Christmas Day.

Ponder His Influence in Our Lives Today
Second, ponder His influence in our lives today. The more commercialized and busy the Christmas season becomes, the easier it is for the sublime message of the Savior’s life to get lost along the way. If we notice that planning for parties and scrambling for presents begin to detract from the peaceable message of Jesus Christ and distance us from the gospel He preached, let us take a step back, slow down a little, and reconsider what matters most.

Christmas is a time for remembering the Son of God and renewing our determination to take upon us His name. It is a time to reassess our lives and examine our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Let this be a time of remembrance, of gratitude, and a time of forgiveness. Let it be a time to ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its meaning for each of us personally. Let it especially be a time of renewal and recommitment to live by the word of God and to obey His commandments. By doing this, we honor Him far more than we ever could with lights, gifts, or parties.

Look Steadfastly for His Coming
Third, look steadfastly for His coming. The early disciples of Jesus Christ yearned for the time when He would come again. For them, mortality was a time of preparation and growth, of sifting and refining, a time for trimming their lamps and preparing for the return of their beloved Savior.

Brothers and sisters, 2,000 years later we also stand as His disciples. We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The term latter-day is significant. We live and serve in a time prior to the Lord’s triumphant return. Our work is to prepare ourselves and the world for the coming of the Messiah in glory!

Not long after His mortal ministry, Christ said to the Apostle John, “Surely I come quickly.” And John answered, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”5

We live in the 11th hour before the coming of the day of our Lord. Let us therefore look forward to that blessed day when the King of kings descends with a shout,6 takes away death, dries up tears, and ushers in a new era of peace, joy, and learning.

While the Christmas season is typically a time for looking back and celebrating the birth of our Lord, it seems to me that it should also be a time of looking to the future. Let us look forward. Let us prepare for that blessed day when He will come again. Let us be as wise as those ancients who watched for His coming. As His disciples, let us have in our hearts and minds the words of John: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Seeing Christmas with New Eyes
If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season, we can surely find it. Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Nevertheless, if we look for the good, we can see this time of year with new eyes—perhaps even with the eyes of a child.

The Grinch saw the good in Christmas when he learned to look past its worldly trappings. If we do the same, we can, with the Grinch, proclaim: “Maybe Christmas . . . doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!”

Our heart may not grow three sizes as the Grinch’s did, but our heart will change. Our eyes will open to the miracles all around us—at Christmastime and throughout the year.

I pray that during this season and always, we will see the purity of the story of the Savior’s birth and feel sincere gratitude for His life, teachings, and saving sacrifice for us. May this gratitude cause us to renew our determination to follow Him. May it also lead us to draw closer to our family, our church, and our fellowmen. And may we look steadfastly forward to that blessed day when the resurrected Christ will walk the earth again as our Lord, our King, and our blessed Savior.

I pray that each and every one of you will have a wonderful and merry Christmas season. I leave you my love and blessings in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sorry I've been gone....

Sorry I haven't posted on here for a few weeks. I've had a few things fall onto my plate, and some new opportunities that may be coming up in 2011 that I need to prepare for (if they happen. If not, then the preparation will be for my good.)

However, I plan to get things moving on here in the next week or so. Meanwhile, I feel very blessed to have been able to get really good seats to tonights First Presidency Christmas Devotional:

I'll post more about the experience when I have the chance.  Stay tuned!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 20, 2010

"If we can look back through the generations, we see those who helped us to get where we are now—those who forged the way before us, whether they were members of the Church or not. And in the restored gospel we realize even more deeply our responsibility to link them to us through the ordinances of the temple. In a letter from the Prophet Joseph Smith to the members of the Church, we read: 'These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over. . . . For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, . . . they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect' (D&C 128:15; see also verse 18)."

Neil L. Andersen, "Looking Back and Looking Forward," New Era, Aug. 2009, 5

Friday, November 19, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 19, 2010

"We will each face times of difficulty, and the question is not when we will face them but how we will face them."

James B. Martino, "All Things Work Together for Good," Ensign, May 2010, 101

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 18, 2010

"A testimony is not thrust upon you; a testimony grows. We become taller in testimony like we grow taller in physical stature; we hardly know it happens because it comes by growth."

Boyd K. Packer, "The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge," New Era, Jan. 2007, 4

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 17, 2010

"In a world where everyone is granted agency, some of our loved ones may stray for a season. But we can never give up. We must always go back for them—we must never stop trying."

Bradley D. Foster, "Mother Told Me," Ensign, May 2010, 99

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 16, 2010

"Presidents Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball tried to discourage Thomas B. Marsh's murmuring, but to no avail. A repentant Brother Marsh later said of that time:" 'I must have lost the Spirit of the Lord out of my heart. . . ." 'I became jealous of the Prophet, . . . and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time in looking for the evil; . . . I thought I saw a beam in Brother Joseph's eye, but it was nothing but a mote, and my own eye was filled with the beam; . . . I got mad and I wanted everybody else to be mad. I talked with Brother Brigham Young and Brother Heber C. Kimball, and I wanted them to be mad like myself; and I saw they were not mad, and I got madder still because they were not. Brother Brigham Young, with a cautious look, said, "Are you the leader of the Church, Brother Thomas?" I answered "No." "Well then," said he, "why do you not let that alone?" ' "Laborers in the Lord's vineyard who murmur over life's inequities, declared Jesus, murmur 'against the goodman of the house.' (Matt. 20:11.) The goodness of the Lord is attested to in so many ways—mansions await!—yet we ungrateful guests still complain about the present accommodations."Those of deep faith do not murmur. They are generously disposed, and they are reluctant to murmur, even while in deep difficulties."

Neal A. Maxwell, "Murmur Not," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 83–84

Monday, November 15, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 15, 2010

"Joseph Millett, with his large family, was suffering through very, very difficult times. He wrote in his journal: " 'One of my children came in and said that Brother Newton Hall's folks was out of bread, had none that day. " 'I divided our flour in a sack to send up to Brother Hall. Just then Brother Hall came. " 'Says I, "Brother Hall, are you out of flour?" " ' "Brother Millett, we have none."" ' "Well, Brother Hall, there is some in that sack. I have divided and was going to send it to you. Your children told mine that you was out." " 'Brother Hall began to cry. He said he had tried others, but could not get any. He went to the cedars and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord told him to go to Joseph Millett. " ' "Well Brother Hall, you needn't bring this back. If the Lord sent you for it you don't owe me for it." ' "That night Joseph Millett recorded a remarkable sentence in his journal: " 'You can't tell me how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew there was such a person as Joseph Millett' (Diary of Joseph Millett, holograph, Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City). "The Lord knew Joseph Millett. And He knows all those men and women like him, and they are many. Theirs are the lives that are most worth recording. "This rank and file of the Church—150 years of them—have brought the truth to this generation. It is planted where it is most likely to bear an abundant harvest—in the hearts of the ordinary people."

Boyd K. Packer, "A Tribute to the Rank and File of the Church," Ensign, May 1980, 63

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Love to See the Bismarck North Dakota Temple

By Bobjgalindo [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0
(], from Wikimedia Commons
The Bismark North Dakota Temple is the 61st Operating Temple in the Church. Announced on July 29, 1998, it was dedicated on September 19, 1999 by Gordon B Hinckley. The dedication marked the first visit to North Dakota by President Hinckley, the only state he had not yet visited.

Containing 2 ordinance rooms and 2 sealing rooms, this 10,700 square foot Temple sits on 1.6 acres of land. The exterior has a Granite veneer brought in from Quebec.

I Love to See the Helsinki Finland Temple

By Teveten [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
The 124th Operating Temple is the Helsinki Finland Temple. When this Temple, the second northernmost in the Church, was dedicated, its Temple District stretched 2 continents and 12 time zones.

Announced on April 2, 2000, the Temple was dedicated on October 22, 2006. It was the last Temple dedicated by Gordon B Hinckley.

Containing two ordinance rooms and two sealing rooms, this 16,350 square foot Temple sits on 7.4 acres. The exterior is light gray Italian granite.

Daily Thought -- November 14, 2010

"We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit."

Julie B. Beck, "And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit," Ensign, May 2010, 12

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 13, 2010

"The purpose of our missionary work is to help the children of God fulfill a condition prescribed by our Savior and Redeemer. We preach and teach in order to baptize the children of God so that they can be saved in the celestial kingdom instead of being limited to a lesser kingdom. We do missionary work in order to baptize and confirm. That is the doctrinal basis of missionary work."

Dallin H. Oaks, "Why Do We Do Missionary Work?" New Era, Sept. 2009, 2

Friday, November 12, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 12, 2010

"A stronger personal faith in Jesus Christ will prepare [your children] for the challenges they will most surely face."

Neil L. Andersen, "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus," Ensign, May 2010, 110

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 11, 2010

I deeply appreciate those who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of human liberty. … There are no better Latter-day Saints anywhere on earth than many of those in uniform, and there are faithful representatives of this church in the armed forces of many nations.”

—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “In Grateful Remembrance,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 20–21.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 10, 2010

"The central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ."

D. Todd Christofferson, "The Blessing of Scripture," Ensign, May 2010, 34

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 9, 2010

"Even though the Prophet was haggard, pale, and penniless after his long confinement [in Liberty Jail], it did not take him long to make his leadership felt. He found a swamp where the Mississippi makes a horseshoe bend. It was practically deserted; there were only a half-dozen houses. It was a place in which nobody seemed to have a great interest. The owners of this mosquito-infested swamp were happy to sell the land to the penniless Saints for promissory notes, payable over a term of years. " 'Characteristic of the Prophet, he renamed the place to meet his desires. Not what it was, but what, with the faith and work of man, the region might become—"Nauvoo, the City Beautiful" ' (William E. Berrett, The Restored Church, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965, p. 149). "The faith of the Prophet rallied the people, and a special zeal seldom witnessed in all of man's history swept over this people. 'That deep and abiding strength was to change a swamp into a great city; miserable shelters into splendid houses; penniless people to the most prosperous citizens of Illinois. That missionary zeal was to carry the gospel into many lands and double the membership of the Church. And all of this in the short time of five years! " 'What a program. And what an accomplishment! A people stripped of all earthly possessions, money, homes, factories, lands, rebuilt in five short years, a city-state which was the envy of long-settled communities' (Berrett, The Restored Church, p. 150). A miracle had occurred!"

L. Tom Perry, "Nauvoo—A Demonstration of Faith," Ensign, May 1980, 74

Monday, November 8, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 8, 2010

"It is a privilege to enter the holy temple. If you are eligible by the standards that are set, by all means you should come to receive your own blessings; and thereafter you should return again and again and again to make those same blessings available to others who have died without the opportunity to receive them in mortality."

Boyd K. Packer, "Come to the Temple," Ensign, Oct. 2007, 19

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Love to See the Rexburg Idaho Temple

By Pavili255 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
The Rexburg Idaho Temple is the Church's 125th Operating Temple. Located on 10 acres adjacent to the campus of BYU-Idaho, it is the third Temple in the state of Idaho.

This Temple was announced on December 12, 2003. Dedication was scheduled for February 3, 2008, but that was delayed due to the death of Gordon B Hinckley. It was dedicated on February 10, 2008 by Thomas S Monson.

It has four ordinance rooms and five sealing rooms in its 57,504 square feet. The exterior consists of precast concrete panels with white quartz rock finish.

I Love to See the Kansas City Missouri Temple

The Kansas City Missouri Temple was announced on October 4, 2008. Ground was broken on May 8, 2010. It will sit on 8.07 acres of land.

Daily Thought -- November 7, 2010

"As we look heavenward, we inevitably learn of our responsibility to reach outward. To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy. We do not live alone—in our city, our nation, or our world. There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor's wretchedness. 'Love thy neighbor' is more than a divine truth. It is a pattern for perfection."

Thomas S. Monson, "The Joy of Service," New Era, Oct. 2009, 4

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 6, 2010

"As men have attempted to assess the Church at a given period of time, in many instances they have not been able to see its forward movement and potential. The growth of the Church, like the growth of grass or trees, has been almost imperceptible to the eye, but little by little, line by line, precept by precept, the Church has matured. "Simultaneous with the early development of the Church was a spirit of opposition and persecution. Wherever the tiny 'mustard seed' was planted, attempts were made to frustrate its growth. But notwithstanding all the efforts to destroy the work—even the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother—the Church prospered and grew. There were those who thought the Church would fail with the deaths of the martyrs Joseph and Hyrum, but they did not perceive, as Daniel foretold, that this latter-day kingdom should 'never be destroyed' (Dan. 2:44). "Just before the Prophet's death, Brigham Young said, 'The kingdom is organized; and, although as yet no bigger than a grain of mustard seed, the little plant is in a flourishing condition' (History of the Church, 6:354)."

Ezra Taft Benson, "A Marvelous Work and a Wonder," Ensign, May 1980, 32

Friday, November 5, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 5, 2010 - Hinckley on Revelation

"How wonderful it is that we believe in modern revelation. I cannot get over the feeling that if revelation were needed anciently, when life was simple, that revelation is also needed today, when life is complex. There never was a time in the history of the earth when men needed revelation more than they need it now."

Gordon B. Hinckley, "Inspirational Thoughts," Ensign, Sept. 2007, 6

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 4, 2010 - Cook on Being a Saint

"What does it mean to be a Saint? In the Lord's Church, the members are Latter-day Saints, and they attempt to emulate the Savior, follow His teachings, and receive saving ordinances in order to live in the celestial kingdom with God the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ (see 2 Nephi 9:18)."

Quentin L. Cook, "Are You a Latter-day Saint?" New Era, Dec. 2009, 2

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 3, 2010 - Wirthlin on Loving the Lord

"Why must we love the Lord? Because as we do so, we become refined, pure, and holy. When we love the Lord, the benefits of the Atonement can wash away our earthly stain. Though our sins be as scarlet, they can become white as snow (see Isaiah 1:18), and we can become new creatures, filled with new life, new thoughts, and a renewed desire to do good continually."

Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Two Guiding Lights," Ensign, Aug. 2007, 66

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 2, 2010 - Scott on Understanding

"Our understanding of and faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ will provide strength and capacity needed for a successful life."

Richard G. Scott, "He Lives! All Glory to His Name!" Ensign, May 2010, 77

Monday, November 1, 2010

Daily Thought -- November 1, 2010 - Faust on Happy Singles

"Being single does not mean you have to put off being happy. As President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) once said: 'Happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you, but on what happens inside of you. It is measured by the spirit with which you meet the problems of life.' "

James E. Faust, "Welcoming Every Single One," Ensign, Aug. 2007, 8

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Love to See the Manaus Brazil Temple

© 2008, Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
Ground was broken for the Manaus Brazil Temple on June 20, 2008. Currently, the Temple is expected to be completed in 2011.

The Manaus Brazil Temple will be the first Temple to have a port entrance for patrons arriving via the adjacent Rio Negro (Black River).

I Love to See the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple

Photo by Eric Ward, Provo UT
The Church's 73rd Operating Temple is the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple. Announced on April 7, 1997, it was dedicated on March 5, 2000 by Gordon B Hinckley.

The Temple sits on 8.3 acres of land, and has two ordinance rooms and three sealing rooms in its 34,245 square feet of space. Its exterior is Desert Rose pre-cast concrete trimmed with Texas pearl granite.

Daily Thought -- October 31, 2010 - Fear

“If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30)

Our young people in many ways are much stronger and better than we were. They and we should not be afraid of what is ahead.

Encourage our young people. They need not live in fear (see D&C 6:36). Fear is the opposite of faith.

-Boyd K. Packer, “Do Not Fear,” Liahona, May 2004, 77–80

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." 1 Jn 4:18

Who among us can say that he or she has not felt fear? I know of no one who has been entirely spared. Some, of course, experience fear to a greater degree than do others. Some are able to rise above it quickly, but others are trapped and pulled down by it and even driven to defeat. We suffer from the fear of ridicule, the fear of failure, the fear of loneliness, the fear of ignorance. Some fear the present, some the future. Some carry the burden of sin and would give almost anything to unshackle themselves from those burdens but fear to change their lives. Let us recognize that fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness. Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

We need not fear as long as we have in our lives the power that comes from righteously living by the truth which is from God our Eternal Father.

Nor need we fear as long as we have the power of faith

-Gordon B. Hinckley, “Words of the Prophet: God Will Make a Way,” New Era, Jan 2002, 4

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 30, 2010

"In these last days it is essential—even critical—that parents and children listen to and learn from one another."

M. Russell Ballard, "Mothers and Daughters," Ensign, May 2010, 21

Friday, October 29, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 29, 2010

"The gospel is so very simple when we understand it properly. It is always right, it is always good, it is always uplifting. Obedience to gospel principles brings forth joy and happiness. Disobedience has a day of reckoning and will only bring forth heartache, misery, strife, and unhappiness."

L. Tom Perry, "What Should We Do on the Sabbath?" New Era, July 2010, 3

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 28, 2010 - Oaks on Priesthood

"We have this priesthood power, and we should all be prepared to use it properly."

Dallin H. Oaks, "Healing the Sick," Ensign, May 2010, 48

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 27, 2010 - Nelson on Genealogy

"Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple."

Russell M. Nelson, "Generations Linked in Love," Ensign, May 2010, 92

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 26, 2010

"Is there a happy future for you and your posterity in these latter days? Absolutely! Will there be difficult times when those ominous latter-day warnings and prophecies are fulfilled? Of course there will. Will those who have built upon the rock of Christ withstand winds, hail, and the mighty shafts in the whirlwind? You know they will."

Jeffrey R. Holland, "This, the Greatest of All Dispensations," Ensign, July 2007, 57–58

Monday, October 25, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 25, 2010 -

"My dear young friends, when the captain of a long-range jet passes the point of safe return, and the headwinds are too strong or the cruising altitudes too low, he might be forced to divert to an airport other than his planned destination. This is not so in our journey through life back to our heavenly home. Wherever you find yourselves on this journey through life, whatever trials you may face, there is always a point of safe return; there is always hope. You are the captain of your life, and God has prepared a plan to bring you safely back to Him, to your divine destination."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Is There a Point of No Return?" New Era, June 2010, 3

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Love to See the Washington D.C. Temple

Located 10 miles north of the United State Capitol Building, the Washington D.C. Temple is the Church's 16th Operating Temple. Built with reinforced concrete sheathed in Alabama white marble, the Temple stands at 288 feet tall, which makes it the tallest Temple.

It contains six ordinance rooms and 14 sealing rooms in its 160,000 square feet. Its 52 acre wooded lot also contains a stake center and visitors center. Announced on November 16, 1968, it was dedicated on November 19-22, 1974 by Spencer W Kimball.

I Love to See the Hermosillo Sonora México Temple

The Hermosillo Sonora México Temple is the Church's 72nd Operating Temple. It was announced on July 20, 1998 and dedicated on February 27, 2000 by Gordon B Hinckley.

The Temple, with it's white marble veneer sits on 1.54 acres. It contains two ordinance and two sealing rooms in its 10,769 square feet.

Daily Thought -- October 24, 2010 - Packer on Perfection

"Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service—all these have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family, for the Lord has said, 'This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39)."

Boyd K. Packer, "The Power of the Priesthood," Ensign, May 2010, 9–10

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 23, 2010 - Eyring on Atonement

"If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life. For that reason and many others, you would do well to put yourself in places and in tasks that invite the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost works both ways: the Holy Ghost only dwells in a clean temple, and the reception of the Holy Ghost cleanses us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You can pray with faith to know what to do to be cleansed and thus qualified for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the service of the Lord. And with that companionship you will be strengthened against temptation and empowered to detect deception."

Henry B. Eyring, "Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times," Ensign, June 2007, 23

Friday, October 22, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 22, 2010 - Scott on Prayer

"A key to improved prayer is to learn to ask the right questions. Consider changing from asking for the things you want to honestly seeking what He wants for you. Then as you learn His will, pray that you will be led to have the strength to fulfill it."

Richard G. Scott, "Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer," Ensign, May 2007, 8

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 21, 2010 - Uchtdorf on Patience

"It is my prayer that patience will be a defining characteristic of we who hold the priesthood of Almighty God; that we will courageously trust the Lord's promises and His timing; that we will act toward others with the patience and compassion we seek for ourselves; and that we will continue in patience until we are perfected."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Continue in Patience," Ensign, May 2010, 59

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 20, 2010 - Faust on Trials

"President Brigham Young offered the profound insight that at least some of our suffering has a purpose when he said:" 'All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. . . . Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation' (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A Widtsoe [1954], 345). "We have much reason to hope. Joy can be ours if we are willing to sacrifice all for the Lord. Then we can look forward to the infinitely priceless possibility of overcoming all the challenges of this life. Then we will be with the Savior forever and, as President Brigham Young also said, "anticipate enjoying the glory, excellency and exaltation which God has prepared for the faithful' ("Remarks," Deseret News, May 31, 1871, 197)."

James E. Faust, "Where Do I Make My Stand?" Ensign, Nov. 2004, 18–21

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 19, 2010 - Dalton on Repentance

"If I were going the wrong way in the middle of a marathon, and I realized my mistake, would I keep going? I would immediately turn around! . . . I wouldn't stay on the wrong course because no matter how long I ran there, I would never reach the finish line. And yet for many who have made a moral mistake, a little voice keeps saying: 'You blew it. You can't change. No one will ever know anyway.' To you I would say, Don't believe it. 'Satan wants you to think that you cannot repent, but that is absolutely not true' (For the Strength of Youth [2001], 30)."

Elaine S. Dalton, "You Can Return," New Era, Mar. 2010, 11

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 18, 2010 - Haight on the Sacrament

"Worthy partakers of the sacrament are in harmony with the Lord and put themselves under covenant with Him to always remember His sacrifice for the sins of the world, to take upon them the name of Christ, and to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. The Savior covenants that we who do so shall have His Spirit to be with us and that, if faithful to the end, we may inherit eternal life."

David B. Haight, "The Sacrament—and the Sacrifice," Ensign, Apr. 2007, 18

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Love to See the Columbus Ohio Temple

The Columbus Ohio Temple, located 150 miles south of historic Kirtland, is the Church's 60th operating Temple. It was announced on April 25, 1998 and dedicated on September 4-5, 1999 by Gordon B Hinckley.

The 10,700 square foot temple sits on 1.35 acres and has two endowment rooms as well as two sealing rooms. It has an exterior of Imperial Danby White variegated marble quarried from Vermont.

I Love to See the Tampico México Temple

The Tampico México Temple is the Church's 83rd operating Temple. The temple was announced on July 8, 1998 and was dedicated on May 20, 2000 by Thomas S Monson.

It sits on 2.96 acres in the city of Madero and has an exterior of Blanco Guardiano white marble from Torreón, Mexico. It has two ordinance rooms and two sealing rooms in its 10,700 square feet.

Daily Thought -- October 17, 2010 - Monson on Labels

"No one baptized in Kingston. Just ask any missionary who labored there. Time in Kingston was marked on the calendar like days in prison. A missionary transfer to another place—any place—would be uppermost in thoughts, even in dreams."While I was praying about and pondering this sad dilemma, for my responsibility then as a mission president required that I pray and ponder about such things, my wife called to my attention an excerpt from the book A Child's Story of the Prophet Brigham Young. She read aloud that Brigham Young entered Kingston, Ontario, on a cold and snow-filled day. He labored there about 30 days and baptized 45 souls. Here was the answer. If the missionary Brigham Young could accomplish this harvest, so could the missionaries of today."Without providing an explanation, I withdrew the missionaries from Kingston, that the cycle of defeat might be broken. Then the carefully circulated word: 'Soon a new city will be opened for missionary work, even the city where Brigham Young proselyted and baptized 45 persons in 30 days.' The missionaries speculated as to the location. Their weekly letters pleaded for the assignment to this Shangri-la. More time passed. Then four carefully selected missionaries—two of them new, two of them experienced—were chosen for this high adventure. The members of the small branch pledged their support. The missionaries pledged their lives. The Lord honored both."In the space of three months, Kingston became the most productive city of the Canadian Mission. The grey limestone buildings still stood; the city had not altered its appearance; the population remained constant. The change was one of attitude. The label of doubt yielded to the label of faith."

Thomas S. Monson, "Labels," Ensign, Sept. 2000, 5

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 16, 2010 - Scott on Rough Roads

"Recently . . . I encountered a large temporary sign declaring Rough Road Ahead, and indeed it was. Had I not been warned, that experience would have been disastrous. Life is like that. It's full of rough spots. Some are tests to make us stronger. Others result from our own disobedience. . . . Each one of us encounters unique challenges meant for growth."

Richard G. Scott, "Finding Forgiveness," New Era, Mar. 2010, 3

Friday, October 15, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 15, 2010

"For those who eschew evil and live good lives, who strive for a brighter day and keep the commandments of God, things can get better and better even in the face of tragedy. The Savior showed us the way. From Gethsemane, the cross, and the tomb, He rose triumphant, bringing life and hope to us all. He bids us, 'Come, follow me' (Luke 18:22)."President Thomas S. Monson has counseled: 'If we are to walk with head held high, we must make our contribution to life. If we are to fulfill our destiny and return to live with our Father in Heaven, we must keep His commandments and pattern our lives after the Savior. By so doing, we will not only achieve our goal of eternal life, but we will also leave the world richer and better than it would have been had we not lived and performed our duties' (Thomas S. Monson, used with permission)."

Keith B. McMullin, "Our Path of Duty," Ensign, May 2010, 13

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 14, 2010 - Aoyagi on helping others

"Sometimes we feel that we are weak and lack the strength to rescue others, but the Lord reminds us, 'Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40)."

Koichi Aoyagi, "Helping Hands, Saving Hands," Ensign, May 2010, 37

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 13, 2010 - President Hinckley's Testimony

"I want to give you my testimony. I know that God our Eternal Father lives, that He is the great Governor of the universe, and that we are His children, and that somehow He hears and answers the prayers of His children. I want you to know that I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that He left His royal home on high and came down among men—hated and abused of men—and that He went about doing good [see Acts 10:38]. He was crucified out of the hatred of the people; He rose the third day—'the firstfruits of them that slept' (1 Corinthians 15:20). I want you to know that the Father and the Son appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and ushered in this marvelous dispensation—the greatest dispensation in the history of the entire world."

Gordon B. Hinckley, "Inspirational Thoughts," Ensign, Feb. 2007, 4

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 12, 2010 - Packer on The Spirit

"The voice of the Spirit is described in the scriptures as being neither loud nor harsh, not a voice of thunder, neither a voice of great tumultuous noise, but rather as still and small, of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it can pierce even the very soul and cause the heart to burn. The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting."

Boyd K. Packer, "How Does the Spirit Speak to Us?" New Era, Feb. 2010, 3

Monday, October 11, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 11, 2010 - Haight on Foundations

"As the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple was being laid, with footings sixteen feet wide, President Brigham Young discovered the workmen were using a soft stone. The work was halted, the soft stone taken out and replaced with giant blocks of granite. He declared: 'We are building this temple to stand through the millennium' (LeGrand Richards, Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 81.) . . . "You Aaronic Priesthood holders are setting your personal foundation stones in place—stones of granite—character stones that hopefully will last forever. Your foundation stones should include principles taught by the Savior: of faith, prayer, obedience, honesty, truth, and accountability for your actions. And, of course, a keystone of your foundation will be the priesthood—the power and authority of God delegated to you to act in matters pertaining to salvation—with its accompanying obligations and blessings."You are a member of a quorum of the priesthood with officers of your peers—with duties, powers, and responsibilities. You are learning how Church members reach out to rescue and assist those who drift away or have a sorrow or a hurt. You are beginning to develop a sensitivity for Christlike service to others that brings joy to one's soul."God our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ determined—just imagine!—that Joseph Smith was old enough at fourteen to begin his instruction that would bring about the mighty work of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph saw the living God! He saw the living Christ! He was trusted with a heavenly task, and he completed it. You, too, are old enough to be trusted with ever-increasing tasks."

David B. Haight, "A Time for Preparation," Ensign, Nov. 1991, 37

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Love to See the Córdoba Argentina Temple

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will preside over the groundbreaking ceremony for the Córdoba Argentina Temple on Saturday, October 30, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. Services will be broadcast live to all stake centers belonging to the future temple district. Attendance at the temple site and the adjoining stake center will be by invitation only to priesthood leaders and special guests.

The Temple was announced at General Conference on October 4, 2008 by President Thomas S Monson. It will be the second Temple in Argentina.

No construction timetable is available.

I Love to See the Dallas Texas Temple

Groundbreaking for the Dallas Texas Temple was held on April1, 1981. The Temple was dedicated as the 30th operating Temple on October 19-24 1984 by Gordon B Hinckley. In 1987, the Temple was closed so that a 22,749 square foot addition could be added. This addition created a larger baptistry and laundry facilities, as well as a cafeteria and an additional ordinance room. The Temple was the rededicated on March 5, 1989 by Gordon B Hinckley.

The Temple now has five ordinance rooms and four sealing rooms in it's 46,956 square feet. It sits on six acres. It is faced with light-colored marble tiles and topped with a dark gray slate roof.

Daily Thought -- October 10, 2010 - Rasband on Missionary Work

"Missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church and the lifesaving blessing to all who accept its message."

Ronald A. Rasband, "The Divine Call of a Missionary," Ensign, May 2010, 51

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 9, 2010 - Scott on Courage

"As an exceptional son or daughter of God, you are sorely needed. There is an urgent need for men and women who will stand for principles against the growing pressures to compromise those very principles. Men and women are required who will act nobly and courageously for what the Lord has defined as right, not for what is politically correct or socially acceptable. We need individuals who have the spiritual, righteous influence that will motivate others to enduring good."

Richard G. Scott,, "Living Right," Ensign, Jan. 2007, 14

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 8, 2010 - Benson on Chastity

"I recognize that most people fall into sexual sin in a misguided attempt to fulfill basic human needs. We all have a need to feel loved and worthwhile. We all seek to have joy and happiness in our lives. Knowing this, Satan often lures people into immorality by playing on their basic needs. He promises pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment. But this is, of course, a deception. As the writer of Proverbs says: 'Whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul' (Prov. 6:32). "

Ezra Taft Benson, "The Law of chastity," New Era, Jan. 1988, 4–5

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 7, 2010 - Aoyagi on Fellowship

"The Lord's work and glory truly is 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39). Many around us need spiritual help. As we offer a saving hand to less-active members, to part-member families, and to those not of our faith, we invite all to 'come unto Christ.' "

Koichi Aoyagi, "Helping Hands, Saving Hands," Ensign, May 2010, 36

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 6, 2010 - Faust on Spirituality

"In the marvelous experience of Brigham Young in February of 1847, when the Prophet Joseph appeared to him in a dream or vision, Brigham pleaded to be united with the Prophet. Brigham Young asked the Prophet if he had a message for the Brethren. The Prophet said:" 'Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and to be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the still small voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the Brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it.'"The Prophet further directed Brigham Young as follows: 'They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God.' (Manuscript History of Brigham Young: 1846–47, Historical Dept., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pp. 528–31.) . . ."I testify that as we mature spiritually under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, our sense of personal worth, of belonging, and of identity increases. I further testify that I would rather have every person enjoy the Spirit of the Holy Ghost than any other association, for they will be led by that Spirit to light and truth and pure intelligence, which can carry them back into the presence of God."

James E. Faust, "The Gift of the Holy Ghost—A Sure Compass," Ensign, May 1989, 33

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Daily Thought -- October 5, 2010 - Bednar on Obedience

"Obedience opens the door to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. And the spiritual gifts and abilities activated by the power of the Holy Ghost enable us to avoid deception—and to see, to feel, to know, to understand, and to remember things as they really are."

David A. Bednar, "Things as They Really Are" Church Educational System fireside for young adults, May 3, 2009

Monday, October 4, 2010

My two favorite October 2010 Conference talks

Here are my two favorite talks from this weekend's General Conference.

Bishop Richard C. Edgley - The Choice Is Yours (Saturday Afternoon)

President Dieter Uchtdorf - Pride and the Priesthood (Priesthood Session)

What were some of your favorites?

Daily Thought -- October 4, 2010 - Uchtdorf on Patience

"Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter."Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Continue in Patience," Ensign, May 2010, 56

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I Love to See the Concepción Chile Temple

The Concepción Chile Temple was announced on October 3, 2009. It is currently in the design and planning stages, and no timetable for groundbreaking and construction has been set. It is believed that the Temple will be built on a 2.5 acre site in a beautifully forested area on the Biobío River.

I Love to See the Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

The Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple is the Church's 94th Operating Temple. It was announced on October 14, 1998 and dedicated on July 16, 2000 by President Gordon B Hinckley.

The 10,700 square foot temple sits on 6.3 acres and has two ordinance and two sealing rooms. It has an exterior of Imperial Danby White marble from Vermont.

Daily Thought -- October 3, 2010 - McMullin on Comfort

"This is a troubled world. Discord and disaster are everywhere. It sometimes feels as though mankind itself may be hanging in the balance."Foreshadowing our day, the Lord said, 'The heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve' (Moses 7:61; emphasis added). We should take great comfort in this promise."

Keith B. McMullin, "Our Path of Duty," Ensign, May 2010, 13

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2010 Conference Highlights -- Saturday Afternoon

"While our primary effort must be to seek light and truth, we would be wise to black out from our homes the lethal bombs that destroy spiritual development and growth. Pornography, in particular, is a weapon of mass moral destruction. Its impact is at the forefront in eroding moral values. Some TV programs and Internet sites are equally lethal. These evil forces remove light and hope from the world." -Elder Quentin L Cook

"Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions. Our agency is essential to the plan of salvation. With it, we are 'free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil'" (2 Nephi 2:27). -Elder Robert D Hales

"Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today's world, I wish to suggest a single choice — a choice of peace, protection, and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. ... Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen and choose faith over pessimism." -Bishop Richard C Edgley

"I have never witnessed the removal of an actual mountain. But, because of faith I have seen a mountain of doubt and despair removed and replaced with optimism and hope. Because of faith I have personally witnessed a mountain of sin replaced with repentance and forgiveness. And because of faith I have personally witnessed a mountain of pain replaced with peace, hope and gratitude. Yes, I have seen mountains removed." -Bishop Richard C Edgley

"The world is full of so many self-help books, so many self-proclaimed experts, so many theorists, educators and philosophers who have advice and counsel to give on any and all subjects. With technology today, information on a myriad of subjects is available with the click of a keystroke. It is easy to get caught in the trap of looking to the 'arm of flesh' for advice on everything from how to raise children to how to find happiness. While some information has merit, as members of the Church we have access to the source of pure truth, even God Himself. We would do well to search out answers to our problems and questions by investigating what the Lord has revealed through His prophets. With that same technology today, we have at our fingertips access to the words of the prophets on nearly any subject." -Elder Kevin R. Duncan

"A miracle of the images we discern in temple mirrors of eternity is they — we — can change. When [my parents] Jean and Walter Gong entered the new and everlasting covenant, they opened the way for ancestors (such as First Dragon Gong) to be sealed and for posterity to be born in the covenant. Please remember, as we reach out to each brother and sister, we bless generations." - Elder Gerrit W Gong

"Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time.
"Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix, and forgive others when it hurts.
"Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely.
"Will we be astonished at times to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord's Church, and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak? Yes. But this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ." -Elder Neil L Andersen

"Life may seem difficult now, but hold tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize. Your struggles are defining character, discipline and confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as you consistently obey Their commandments." -Elder Richard G Scott

"Faith in the power of obedience to the commandments of God will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need. Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is intended to be used. Your exercise of faith in true principles builds character; fortified character expands your capacity to exercise more faith." -Elder Richard G Scott

Vera Lynn - When The Lights Go On Again.

The song mentioned in Elder Cook's General Conference talk today:

Ezra Taft Benson -- Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet

Since this talk by Ezra Taft Benson has been quoted twice in this year's General Conference, I thought it might be worth posting. Enjoy!

My beloved brothers and sisters, I am honored to be in your presence today. You students are a part of a choice young generation--a generation which might well witness the return of our Lord.

Not only is the Church growing in numbers today, it is growing in faithfulness and, even more important, our young generation, as a group, is even more faithful than the older generation. God has reserved you for the eleventh hour--the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It will be your responsibility not only to help bear off the kingdom of God triumphantly but to save your own soul and strive to save those of your family and to honor the principles of our inspired constitution.

To help you pass the crucial tests which lie ahead I am going to give you today several facets of a grand key which, if you will honor them, will crown you with God's glory and bring you out victorious in spite of Satan's fury.

Soon we will be honoring our prophet on his eighty-fifth birthday. As a Church we sing the song, "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet." Here then is the grand key--follow the prophet--and here now are fourteen fundamentals in following the prophet, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet--the President-- and says: "There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred."

Then in section 21, verses 4 6, the Lord states:

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to "give heed unto all his words"--as if from the Lord's "own mouth."

Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: "You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them."

When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, "Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God." Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: "There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now," said he, "when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books." That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: "Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth." [In Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18 19]

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean "Today's News Today." God's revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each week in the Church Section of the Deseret News and any words of the prophet contained each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the general conference addresses, which are printed in the Ensign magazine.

I am so grateful that the current conference report is studied as part of one of your religion classes--the course entitled "Teachings of the Living Prophets," number 333. May I commend that class to you and suggest that you get a copy of the class manual at your bookstore whether you're able to take the class or not. The manual is entitled "Living Prophets for a Living Church."

Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

President Wilford Woodruff stated: "I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)

President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him:

I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home. . . .Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: "My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, "But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray." [In Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78]

Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. We haven't yet had a prophet who earned a doctorate in any subject, but as someone said, "A prophet may not have his Ph.D. but he certainly has his LDS." We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you'll be blessed and time will vindicate you.

Sixth: The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.

Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, "Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you" (D&C 21:4; italics added).

And speaking of taking counsel from the prophet, in D&C 108:1, the Lord states: "Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed" (italics added).

Said Brigham Young, "I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture" (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot], 13:95).

Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

"Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear," complained Nephi's brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, "the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center" (1 Nephi 16:1, 3). Or, to put it in another prophet's words, "Hit pigeons flutter."

Said President Harold B. Lee:

You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let's keep our eye on the President of the Church. [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]

But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. "Even in the Church," said President Kimball, "many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday's prophets and mentally stone the living ones" (Instructor, 95:257).

Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on.

How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.

Said President Marion G. Romney, "It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets." And then he gives this illustration:

One day when President Grant was living, I sat in my office across the street following a general conference. A man came over to see me, an elderly man. He was very upset about what had been said in this conference by some of the Brethren, including myself. I could tell from his speech that he came from a foreign land. After I had quieted him enough so he would listen, I said, "Why did you come to America?" "I am here because a prophet of God told me to come." "Who was the prophet;" I continued. "Wilford Woodruff." "Do you believe Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God?" "Yes, I do." "Do you believe that President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet of God?" "Yes, sir."

Then came the sixty-four dollar question. "Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?" His answer, "I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old age assistance."

Now I tell you that a man in his position is on the way to apostasy. He is forfeiting his chances for eternal life. So is everyone who cannot follow the living Prophet of God." [In Conference Report, April 1953, p. 125]

Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning.

There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men--between the prophet and the politician or professor. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, "Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire" (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173).

Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay, and applying it to the man's eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6-7.) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. [Isaiah 55:8, 9]

Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter--temporal or spiritual.

Said Brigham Young:

Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs. . . .

In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, "Ye Elders of Israel, . . . will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?" Not one of them could do it. . . .

I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. [Journal of Discourses, 10:363-364]

Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.

When a people are righteous they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord Himself said, "Great are the words of Isaiah" (3 Nephi 23:1). Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government.

Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them; otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion--speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet.

In the Book of Mormon we read:

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches--yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. [2 Nephi 9:28, 29, 42; emphasis added]

Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn't exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out. As we come closer to the Lord's second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them.

Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord refers to the First Presidency as "the highest council of the Church" (107:80) and says, "whosoever receiveth me, receiveth those, the First Presidency, whom I have sent" (112:20).

Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency--the living prophet and the first presidency--follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.

President Harold B. Lee relates this incident from Church history:

The story is told in the early days of the Church--particularly, I think, at Kirtland--where some of the leading brethren in the presiding councils of the Church met secretly and tried to scheme as to how they could get rid of the Prophet Joseph's leadership. They made the mistake of inviting Brigham Young to one of these secret meetings. He rebuked them, after he had heard the purpose of their meeting. This is part of what he said: "You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the threat that binds you to the prophet of God and sink yourselves to hell." [In Conference Report, April 1963, p. 81]

In a general conference of the Church President N. Eldon Tanner stated:

The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday morning, telling us what our responsibilities are. . . .

A man said to me after that, "You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn't right, and it doesn't appeal to them, then that's different." He said, "Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn't want."

I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow. When we decide that there are some of them that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep. [In Conference Report, October 1966, p. 98; emphasis added]

"Look to the Presidency and receive instruction," said the Prophet Joseph Smith (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 161). But Almon Babbitt didn't, and in the Doctrine and Covenants section 124, verse 84, the Lord states: "And with my servant Almon Babbitt, there are many things with which I am not pleased; behold, he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even that of the Presidency of my Church."

In conclusion, let us summarize this grand key, these "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," for our salvation hangs on them.

First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

Sixth: The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.

Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning.

Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.

Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.

Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.

Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church.

Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency--the living prophet and the First Presidency--follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.

I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain. How closely do our lives harmonize with the words of the Lord's anointed--the living prophet, the President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency?

May God bless us all to look to the prophet and the presidency in the critical and crucial days ahead is my prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.