Notes from Priesthood Session, October 2005

Some rather detailed notes from last night’s priesthood session, in case you missed it.

Elder Bednar

Missionary work. Many have been full time missionaries. We all are lifelong missionaries, every day, in our family, school, job, and community. Proclaiming the gospel is not a periodic, temporary activity. Not restricted to youth/retirement. It is inherent in oath and covenant of the priesthood. It is essentially a priesthood responsibility. All who hold the priesthood are the Lord’s authorized servants on the earth.

This talks applies to all, but is addressed specifically to young men of the church preparing to serve as full-time missionaries.

One of most frequent questions I am asked is “What can I do to prepare most effectively to serve as a missionary?”

Answer: The single most important thing is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission. Emphasis on becoming rather than going.

We use the verb “going” to describe going to church, to the temple, on a mission. “Going” misses the mark. The issue is not going to church, it is worshiping and renewing covenants. It is having in our hearts the spirit, covenants and ordinances of the Lord’s house. It is becoming a missionary and serving throughout our entire life with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength.

It is possible to go on a mission and not become a missionary. However, this is not what the church requires or needs.

Dallin H. Oaks on becoming instead of doing certain expected things:

The Apostle Paul taught that the Lord’s teachings and teachers were given that we may all attain “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This process requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.

Many Bible and modern scriptures speak of a final judgment at which all persons will be rewarded according to their deeds or works or the desires of their hearts. But other scriptures enlarge upon this by referring to our being judged by the condition we have achieved.

The prophet Nephi describes the Final Judgment in terms of what we have become: “And if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God” (1 Ne. 15:33; emphasis added). Moroni declares, “He that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still” (Morm. 9:14; emphasis added; see also Rev. 22:11, 12; 2 Ne. 9:16; D&C 88:35). The same would be true of “selfish” or “disobedient” or any other personal attribute inconsistent with the requirements of God. Referring to the “state” of the wicked in the Final Judgment, Alma explains that if we are condemned by our words, our works, and our thoughts, “we shall not be found spotless;…and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God” (Alma 12:14).

From such teachings we conclude that the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts–what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts–what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.

from Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become”, Ensign November 2000.

The challenge “to become” applies to mission preparation. It doesn’t require that we wear a white shirt and tie at school, or follow rules from the mission handbook before we serve a full-time mission. What we can do is have an increased desire to serve God, and to think, read, pray, and feel as missionaries do. Avoid worldly influences that cause the Holy Ghost to withdraw.

The process is line upon line, gradually. There will not be a sudden transformation on the day you walk into the MTC. What you have become up until then is what you will be. The MTC will be an indicator of your progress in becoming a missionary. The MTC is new and challenging, but if you’re on your way, the adjustment will not be overwhelming, burdensome, or constraining.

Fathers, understand your role in helping your sons become missionaries before they go on a mission. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders have responsibilities to assist parents in helping every young man become a missionary before they go on a mission. The bar has been raised for parents and all members of church, as well as for individuals preparing to serve missions. You should seek inspiration for the young men you serve/raise.

This advice applies to all, since priesthood holders are always missionaries. Even after an honorable release from full-time missionary service comes, you will never cease to be engaged in missionary service.

A missionary is what we are as bearers of the priesthood and the seed of Abraham. Blessings promised to the seed of Abraham are contingent on obedience to commandments. Abraham desired righteousness and was obedient to all commandments, including the command to sacrifice Isaac. He is referred to as father of the faithful, and Heavenly Father established a covenant with Abraham and his posterity.

for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Genesis 22:16-18

The promise is great posterity, and that nations of earth will be blessed through that posterity. How?

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;

And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

“Bear this ministry and priesthood unto all nations” refers to our responsibility to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and recieve ordinances of salvation by proper authority.

How do these promises and blessings relate to us? All priesthood holders are heirs to the Abrahamic covenant by lineage or adoption. Hence patriarchal blessings — they help us understand our role as the seed of Abraham.

Missionary work is not an assignment. It is a manifestation of our identity and heritage. We were born into mortatlity to fulfill the promise made unto Abraham. That is who we are and why we are here, today and always. Our professions do not define who we are. First and foremost we are spiritual beings, sons of God, the seed of Abraham.

For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.

They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

D&C 84:33-34

Elder Charles Didier

Topic: Man’s search for divine truth. It must become the spiritual foundation that leads us to live according to the principles of righteousness. Where is divine truth to be found?

And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;

D&C 1:14

Hear and heed. To hear is simple. To heed is life’s perpetual challenge.

First, we should hear the voice of the Lord. This can be done through scriptures and revelation (which means to make known or uncover), We can learn how to worship and what to worship. Without revelation all would be guesswork, darkness and confusion.

Second, hear the voice of his servants.

7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7

Third, give heed to the words of prophets and apostles. To give heed is to pay special attention. We should give heed especially to those who have been called as special witnesses of Christ.

The Lord has a pattern of sharing divine truth through prophets. Hear and heed. Our personal spiritual foundation must be built upon this pattern if we want to enjoy the blessings of the Lord. Knowing the will of the Lord is not enough, it must be followed by an act of faith.

A personal spiritual manifestation of this process becomes the prayer of a lifetime. Here is a three-word summary of the process: revelation, commandments, blessings. Our lifetime challenge is to hear and heed the voice of the Lord and his servants. Why? The natural man is an enemy to God. We must become as saints through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient. When we obtain any blessing, it is by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.

An example of hearing then heeding: The First Presidency invited all members of the church to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. The challenge came with a promise:

Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, First Presidency Message: A Testimony Vibrant and TrueEnsign, August 2005

Why would we need a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God as found in the Book of Mormon? There is much confusion about Jesus Christ in the Christian world, about His divine nature, His atonement, gospel, and commandments. The result is belief in a man-made, silent, crucified Christ which leads to incorrect behaviors. The living reality of Christ is associated with the restoration of his gospel and his message: Jesus Christ is the Savior, Joseph Smith is his prophet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth. Spiritual manifestation is given on the Lord’s conditions of asking in faith believing that an answer can come.

I am a convert to the church. When the missionaries came, I was mostly curious. At church I heard more and liked it but was missing the essential: giving heed. I had to build a foundation: confirmation of Christ and Joseph Smith. Confirmation only came when I gave heed. Acquiring that knowledge wasn’t enough. It had to be followed by a commitment. My faith in Christ had never been in question. Peace was the answer. The foundation was set, followed by a commitment to be baptized. Then the Holy Ghost came to guide me to help me endure to the end.

Do not let your private doubts separate you from the divine source of knowledge. Prayerfully go forward, humbly seeking eternal light, and your unbelief will be dispelled. I testify that if you continue in the purposeful process of searching for and accepting spiritual light, truth, and knowledge, it will surely come.

Pres. James E. Faust, “Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief”, Ensign, November 2003

Following this pattern (hear and heed) will help you build an spiritual foundation.

Elder Paul V. Johnson

I have good memories of attending general Priesthood sessions with my sons. These meetings have had a good influence on my sons, and Aaronic priesthood holders around the world. My remarks are addressed to the Aaronic Priesthood. We live in a wonderful time: the gospel has been restored, keys of priesthood restored, millions of good people are striving to do right in their lives. This time is also filled with peril, with many temptations. You have been exposed to many, and you may have seen some fall away. How can you as an Aaronic priesthood holder be safe in these challenging times and find true eternal happiness? The Lord does not leave us to find our own way on our own. There is guidance if we will listen. You have the gift of the Holy Ghost, scriptures, parents, church leaders, words of prophets.

You won’t make mistakes unless you consciously ignore the guidance available to you. This talk focuses on one source in particular: prophets, especially through general conference.

The first conference was held 2 months after the church was organized. We meet two times a year. Print and electronic distribution are available.

My mother loved general conference. She turned the tv and radio on loud enough so the whole house could hear. She wanted her children to hear and remember what was said. I played ball during one Saturday session. We brought a radio. We played, and took break occasionally to listen. That is no way to listen to general conference.

In college, all alone, listening to conference, the Holy Ghost witnessed to me that Harold B. Lee was truly a prophet of God. This was before going on a mission. I was excited to testify of this on my mission. I have since received the same assurance for all subsequent prophets. On my mission, we had no satellite broadcast, so I listened to audiotapes sent by mother. I listened to them over and over on my mission.

My grandfather Nathaniel Hodges was called on a mission to England, and attended conference while in Utah to prepare for his mission. He included a description of general conference: Lasted all day. Joseph F. Smith, George Q. Cannon etc. Some said they had never attended a more powerful or spiritual conference.

In order for messages of general conference to change our lives, we must be willing to follow the counsel we hear.

Knowing how to act isn’t enough. “Ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me”.

A year ago, President Hinckley spoke on the dangers of pornography. Those who listened and heeded have been blessed and will continue to be blessed for your obedience. Imagine the impact if every priesthood holder followed his counsel. Every time we are obedient to counsel of prophets and apostles, we receive great blessings, and even long after our decision to be obedient.

On the day the church was organized, Joseph Smith received revelation:

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

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

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.

D&C 21: 4-6

“Thou shalt give heed to all his words….as if from mine own mouth.” “for by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you, and the lord god shall cause……for your good.” These are powerful promises that can keep us safe.

Decide now to make general conference a priority in your life. Listen carefully and follow counsel. Listen to and/or read talks more than once, and promised blessings will come.

President James E. Faust

This talk is about those who have been called and chosen to lead the church. This year is special for the 200-year anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith, and 95th birthday of Gordon B. Hinckley. Joseph Smith was called and chosen as first prophet of this dispensation and Gordon B. Hinckley is the present prophet.

In Pres. Hinckley’s interview with Mike Wallace, Wallace said: “People will say that this is a church run by old men.” Pres. Hinckley’s reply: “Isn’t it wonderful to have a man with maturity at the head. A man with judgment who is not blown away by every wind of doctrine.” For those who think the leaders of the church are too old, Pres. Hinckley may need to give you further counsel about the wisdom that comes with age (joke).

Of the 101 apostles in this dispensation, only 14 served longer than Pres. Hinckley. I feel like I am standing on the edge of eternity. I am 85, 3rd oldest of all living General Authorities. I have not sought this honor, I have just lived for it (joke). Never before has there been more unity than exists among the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve and the others who are called to guide the church. The present leadership has enjoyed the Savior’s guiding inspiration longer than any other group. We are the oldest group to ever lead the church. My brethren are without exception good, honorable and trustworthy men. They are proven, tried and true men. Some are not physically strong, but their hearts are pure, and their experience is great and minds sharp, spiritual wisdom deep. It is a comfort just to be in their presence.

33 years ago I was called to be an assistant to the Quorum of Twelve. Hugh B. Brown counseled him to be in harmony with his brethren. “Stick with the brethren”. I took it to mean I should follow the counsel of the First Presidency, the Quorum of Twelve, and other General Authorities. Others may not agree with this interpretation, but it warrants consideration. Spiritual guidance requires being in harmony with the First Presidency and the Twelve, all of whom are sustained as prophets, seers and revelators.

As a deacon, my father took me to general priesthood meeting at the Tabernacle, in the presence of Heber J. Grant and others. I listened intently. The subjects of those talks have been repeated many times. They are essential for our salvation and we need the repetition.

History has recorded examples of those not in harmony with the Brethren. At beginning of this dispensation, several of the Twelve were not faithful, including Lyman Johnson. He later lamented his spiritual downfall. “I would suffer my right hand to be cut off if I could believe it again. I was happy and cheerful, full of peace and joy. Now it is darkness, pain, misery in the extreme.” He died in 1856 at the age of 45.

Lucas Johnson, an original member of the Twelve, left in 1837. “I lost the spirit of God, the consequence was that at 1837 I was cut off from the church.” He joined a group of apostates in 1838 and was excommunicated in Kirtland. In 1846 he returned to fellowship: “I have stopped by the wayside and stood aloof” He came west in 1847 and died in 1861 in Salt Lake City at age 54 in full fellowship.

Counsel: support the General Authorities with your whole hearts and souls. If we do we will be in a safe harbor.

Brigham Young said: Many times Joseph Smith said that he had to pray all of the time, exercise faith, live his religion and magnify his calling to receive revelations and remain steadfast in the faith.

All of us have challenges. You may not like the counsel. They are not trying to be popular. They are trying to help us avoid misery.

Support local leaders who have been CALLED and CHOSEN. None of these have asked for their callings. None are perfect, but they have been called of the Lord by inspiration. They are entitled to our sustaining support.

I have admired and sustained every bishop I ever had. By following their counsel I have been protected because they were all entitled to divine inspiration that comes with the calling. we should look past perceived imperfections, and uphold the office which they hold.

In the past we had money raising activities to pay for facilities: bazaars, fairs, dinners. Our neighboring ward found a dunking machine to be good money raiser. Someone in our ward wanted to use it and use the bishop as a target to raise money. He consented and got dunked. After 30 minutes he began to shake with cold. My father was offended that the office of bishop had been belittled and held in contempt. Even though the money was for good cause, I remember feeling ashamed that some of our people did not show respect for the office and the man who night and day served us so well as our shepherd. We should set examples of sustaining leadership to family and friends.

All my life the brethren have urged our people to keep out of debt and save for a rainy day. I have lived through great economic difficulty (Great Depression, WWII). It makes me afraid not to do what I can to protect my family from such catastrophe and grateful for this wise counsel. The president of the church will not lead this people astray. His counselors, the Twelve, the Seventy, and the presiding bishopric all sustain him. A special love and harmony exists in governing counsels for President Hinckley and each other.

The priesthood of God is a shield against the evils of the world. that shield must be kept clean, otherwise our vision will be limited. The cleansing agent is personal righteousness. But not all will pay the price to keep their shields clean. “Many are called but few are chosen”. We are called when we receive the priesthood, but not chosen until we demonstrate our righteousness, faithfulness and commitment.

Joseph Smith did see the Father and the Son. That was beginning of this great work, the responsibility for which now rests on us.

President Monson

This audience ranges from deacons to high priests. To each, the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by John the Baptist and of the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John are sacred and treasured events.

I remember being ordained a deacon. I was taught of my responsibility for the sacrament, the importance of dress, and being clean inside and out. I was told how we should assist Louis McDonald, who had a palsy, so he could partake. I was assigned to pass the sacrament to his row. I was fearful and hesitant until I saw his smile and desire to partake. I took a piece and pressed it to his lips. I felt like I was on holy ground. The privilege of passing the sacrament to him made better deacons of us all.

Recently I was at Fort A. P. Hill for the Boy Scout jamboree. 5000 LDS scouts and leaders. A 400 voice Aaronic Priesthood chorus sang “I am a Mormon boy” The sacrament was administered with 65 priests officiating. 180 deacons passed the sacrament in the same time it takes a large ward. It is important for reach deacon to have spiritual awareness of the sacredness of his calling.

Fast offering collection: Deacons & teachers collected on fast day. The deacons were disgruntled because they had to wake early. The bishopric took deacons and teachers to Welfare Square where they saw needy children receiving clothes and food to illustrate to them what fast offerings were used for. The men of the Aaronic Priesthood served more willingly thereafter.

To the teachers and priests: All should have assignment to home teach with a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. It is good preparation for a mission. We lose concern for self when assigned to serve others.
Pres. McKay:

“Home teaching is one of our most urgent and most rewarding opportunities to nurture and inspire, to counsel and direct our Father’s children. It is a divine service, a divine call. It is our duty as home teachers to carry the divine spirit into every home and heart. To love the work and do our best will bring unbounded peace, joy, and satisfaction to a noble, dedicated teacher of God’s children”

Home teaching answers prayers, and allows us to see miracles. Johann Dendorfer, from Hungary. converted in Germany, but after WWII, was virtual prisoner in Hungary. Then home teachers visited. They went from Germany to Hungary to fulfill their assignment. Before they left, one said to other, would you like to go home teaching with me this week? We leave tomorrow, and will come back in about a week. Brother Dendorfer had not had home teachers since before war. He was overwhelmed — he took tithing from the past several years, and gave to his home teachers, saying, “Now I can shake your hands.”

To priests: bless the sacrament, home teaching duties, and baptism. 55 yrs ago, Robert Williams was a priest. I was his bishop and quorum president. he stuttered, was shy, rarely accepted an assignment, and didn’t look people in the eye. But one day he accepted an assignment to baptize another. On the day of the baptism, I asked him, “How do you feel?” He stuttered and looked down, and said he felt terrible. We prayed for help. He performed the baptism perfectly and did not stutter once. A miracle. Then two or three other baptisms. Afterwards, when I spoke with him, he gazed down and stuttered. But when acting in authority of the Aaronic priesthood, he did so with power, conviction, and heavenly help.

You might be shy, or feel inadequate. This is not your work alone. We can ask for divine help. I know disappointment and humiliation. I played softball in school and was chosen last. I remember the moment that changed. I had been chosen last but experienced success, and this bolstered my confidence, to become a better player and contributor to the team.

We can have that confidence: “Never give up” From Shenandoah: “If we don’t try, then we don’t do, and if we don’t do, then why are we here?”

Selfless service eliminates selfish striving..

The priesthood is not a gift so much as a commission to serve.

George Albert Smith was a modest yet effective leader: It is your duty first of all to learn what the Lord wants, then magnify your calling in such a way that people will be glad to follow you. How do we magnify our calling? By performing the service that pertains to it.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

Make a renewed effort to qualify for the Lord’s guidance in our lives. There are many who need help. Years ago, as a bishop, I presided over a ward with 1000+ members, including 87 widows. I visited one. Afterwards, her neighbor asked if I was a bishop. She had noticed that I visited often with others. She said, “No one visits me, or my bedridden husband. Do you have time to visit with us, even though we are not LDS?”

I agreed, and when I went in, they were listening to the Tabernacle Choir. I gave her husband a blessing. After subsequent visits, the sister was baptized. Later in her life, she translated pamphlets into Greek for the church.

Do your duty, that is best, leave unto the Lord the rest.

Acts of service in the Aaronic Priesthood prepares you to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, serve a mission, marry in the temple. You will remember always your quorum advisors, other quorum members.

I had a quorum advisor who had pigeons, like me. He invited me to get two pigeons. He told me to put them out — they will come back. The male came back. The female flew back to the quorum advisor’s house, which led to regular priesthood interviews.

Pres. Hinckley

The priesthood is a precious gift, a portion of His divine authority, the power by which He brings to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. It follows that since much has been given, much is required. We know the perfect way, but we do not always act accordingly. But we are trying. It is a high objective.

The Gulf states area of the U.S. has suffered from hurricanes and floods. Many have lost all. There has been astronomical damage, with millions affected.There has also been an outpouring of help. Critics love to talk of failures of Christianity. Any such should look at what many denominations have done in the area to help, including our own. Many men bringing tools, tents, and hope. They have spent thousands of hours to rehabilitate the area. 3 to 4 thousand at a time. Some are there tonight. We thank you.

Credit belongs to the great numbers of men and boys who have given assistance. Some wear shirts which read “Mormon helping hands”. Their assistance goes to great numbers of non-members following the pattern of the Nephites in Alma:

And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.

Alma 1:30

Women and girls are providing hygiene and cleaning kits by the tens of thousands. Food, water and comfort are being sent by the church, as well as money to the Red Cross and other agencies. Millions have been given from fast offerings and humanitarian funds. Thanks in behalf of the beneficiaries and the church.

I do not say or imply that this disaster is the punishment of the lord. Many good people, including faithful LDS members, are among those who suffered. But I do not hesitate to say this world is home to calamities and catastrophes. Prophets have prophesied of catastrophes that will come to pass. Floods (Noah). If you doubt the terrible things that can and will afflict mankind, read Matthew 24:

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Matthew 24:6-22

The Book of Mormon recounts the destruction at time of Christ’s crucifixion:

And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.
And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder.
And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land.
And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.
And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.
And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah, that in the place of the city there became a great mountain.
And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward.
But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth;
And the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough.
And many great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned, and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate.

3 Nephi 8:5-14

The black death in the 14th century took millions. Smallpox and other pandemics have killed many as well. In 79 A.D. Pompeii was destroyed by Vesuvius. Fire destroyed Chicago. Tidal waves have damaged Hawaii. In the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 there were 3000 dead. A hurricane in 1900 killed 8000 in Galveston. Thousands of lives were lost in the tsunami in Asia.

For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.

D&C 88:89-91

“The voice of the waves of the sea, heaving themselves beyond their bounds” seems to refer events like the recent tsunami and hurricane.

Man’s inhumanity to man is another calamity. In Darfur, Sudan, tens of thousands have been killed, and a million made homeless. All this has been foretold, and the end is not yet. Calamities have happened in the past, and we expect more in future. What do we do?

It was not raining when Noah built the ark. The Lord has said, “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” The primary preparation:

Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

D&C 87:8

When the earth begins to tremble, Bid our fearful thoughts be still;
When thy judgments spread destruction, Keep us safe on Zion’s hill.

Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah

We can so live that we can call upon the Lord for protection and guidance. We cannot expect help if we are unwilling to keep his commandments. We have examples of the consequences of disobedience in the Nephite and Jaredite nations, which were destroyed. Rain falls on the just and unjust, but just are not lost, through the atonement of Christ.

We can heed warnings. Many were given concerning New Orleans. Seismologists tell us that Salt Lake City is in an earthquake zone. We are renovating tabernacle for this reason. Grain storage and storehouses are stocked in event of a disaster, but best the storehouse is the family storeroom. “Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing.” For 75 years, we have been counseled to make preparation for calamity. Set aside water, food medicine, clothing, money.

Do not panic. This is nothing that has not been said for a very long time. Do not lose sight of the dream of Pharaoh, of the cattle and ears of corn signifying years of plenty/years of scarcity. “I have faith that the Lord will bless us and watch over us and assist us if we walk in obedience to his light, his gospel, and his commandments. He is our Father and our God, and we are his children, and we must be in every way deserving of his love and concern.”

5 thoughts on “Notes from Priesthood Session, October 2005

  1. Wow! Thanks Bryce!

    I am amazed by the detail–did you take your laptop with you? By the by, what are your views on the choir? Does anyone know if the opening arrangement is available publicly?

  2. Yeah, I took the laptop and hung out in the Primary room, so I didn’t see anything, but had the benefit of a lighted room. Oddly, Pres. Monson didn’t announce Elder Didier and Elder Johnson from the pulpit — I had to get their names later.

    I find that this has been a good exercise for me. I really got a lot out of these talks.

    I missed the opening choir number — I was helping my wife get the kids settled down. The other person in the room with me mentioned that he thought it didn’t quite work. Not sure what that means.

  3. It’s the first time ever that there has been a boys choir singing in General Conference (to my knowledge). Quite refreshing, I thought. Boy sopranos make a beatiful sound.

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