Priesthood session notes, October 2006, first hour

From the first hour of last night’s session. Second hour notes will go up later today.

(the second hour notes are now posted here: )

Elder Henry B. Eyring

All of us are members of a quorum in the priesthood. I was ordained a deacon in a tiny branch with only one family. There was no chapel; we met in our house. I was the only deacon, and my brother was the only teacher. I know what it is like to serve alone in the priesthood, without a quorum. I have since learned the strength that a quorum can bring. The strength of a quorum derives not simply from numbers or age and maturity alone, but from how completely its members are united in righteousness. That unity is not like that which exists in any athletic team, club or other organization.

And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.–Mosiah 18:21

Alma commanded the priests that they “should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.” (Mosiah 18:20)

Alma is teaching that the quorum members’ hearts are being changed through the atonement of Christ — that is how their hearts are knit together.

In D&C 107, the Lord decribes the duties of quorum presidents of deacons, teachers, priests, and elders using almost same words each time: Teach members their duties as given in the covenants.

85 And again, verily I say unto you, the duty of a president over the office of a deacon is to preside over twelve deacons, to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another, as it is given according to the covenants.
86 And also the duty of the president over the office of the teachers is to preside over twenty-four of the teachers, and to sit in council with them, teaching them the duties of their office, as given in the covenants.
87 Also the duty of the president over the Priesthood of Aaron is to preside over forty-eight priests, and sit in council with them, to teach them the duties of their office, as is given in the covenants
88 This president is to be a bishop; for this is one of the duties of this priesthood.
89 Again, the duty of the president over the office of elders is to preside over ninety-six elders, and to sit in council with them, and to teach them according to the covenants.
D&C 107:85-89

God wants his quorums taught according to covenants. Covenants are solemn promises. He has promised us eternal life if we will make and keep covenants.

The people we baptize promise to have faith, repent, and keep commandments. Every covenant requires us to have faith in Christ, repent, and obey in order to qualify for eternal life.

Does this mean that every quorum lesson be about faith, repentance, and obedience? No, but helping members gain a testimony of these should be the aim and goal of every lesson. Not just in quorum meetings — in a truly united quorum, this extends to members wherever they are.

A deacons quorum I was advising had some members that didn’t come to their meetings. I asked the deacons quorum president, “What should I teach to the quorum?”. He (the quorum president) had been given responsibility for the quroum members. One Sunday, I noticed a recording device on an empty chair — a deacon left with it to bring it to another deacon who had said he wouldn’t be there that day, and was taking it to him. This deacon had learned according to his covenants and helped his friend.

The priesthood is a service unit. Members learn through their service, not just in lessons. Quorum power is multpilied by more than just numbers. Each quorum has a leader who organizes. The effectiveness of church in organizing in giving help. It seems like a miracle.

Miracles of power come in service to others, and service to members within the quorum. A story about a deacons quorum meeting: The president was inspired to invite a deacon to invite another deacon who had never attended quorum meetings (he had no support from his parents). The boy invited came only a few times. The deacon who did the inviting did so somewhat reulctantly.

At a stake conference sometime later, grandfather of boy who was invited found Elder Eyring, asked him to thank the deacon who had made that invitation (Bryce’s note: my notes are garbled here — this might not be quite right)

Quorum unity lasts when it is forged in the Lord’s service and in the Lord’s way. One of hallmarks of unity is in the feeling of fellowship among its members. Remember the Lord’s purpose for untiy in the quorum is so they will lift and encourage each other in helping the Master in his work in bringing people to Him. It might change the way a teachers quorum plays basketball –not only to win, or to have fun for themselves, but to encourage a less active member. “If ye are not one, ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27)

An elders quorum party. The man who planned it was a convert. He invited members and non-members alike. I felt fellowship with not only the members of the quorum, but with others outside the quorum as well.

My Aaronic Priesthood leader understood this. He arranged with the owner of a wood lot for the quorum to chop wood and bundle it for widows so they could have heat in the winter. I felt fellowship with quroum members, also with the Savior.

Accept the Lord’s invitation to be united as one in our priesthood quorums.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (Presidency of the Seventy)

As a boy, our mother had cancer surgery and nearly died. Much of her neck and shoulder was removed, and it was painful for her to use her right arm. A year later, my father took her to an appliance store to see an appliance called an Ironright — a machine to iron clothes operated using one’s knees. This would make ironing much easier in a family of 5 boys. They bought it. My father paid cash. As a veterinarian, he made good money, but medical bills had taken their toll. He had gone without lunch for a year to save the money. Now when you iron, you won’t have to stop and cry until the pain stops. This was a man.

Lehi pled “arise from the dust, my sons, and be men” (2 Ne 1:21) Laman and lemuel were men by age, but children in spiritual maturity. They murmured, complained, were prone to violence, and played the victim.

Many are like this today. Pleasure is the object of their existence. They father children out of wedlock. To such, dodging committment is smart– committing is naive.

Young men stuck in neutral. A psychologist describes this scenario:

“I was struck by how well its central idea resonates with what I’m seeing in my office with greater and greater frequency. Justin goes off to college for a year or two, wastes thousands of dollars of his parents’ money, then gets bored and comes home to take up residence in his old room, the same bedroom where he lived when he was in high school. Now he’s working 16 hours a week at Kinko’s or part time at Starbucks.

His parents are pulling their hair out. “Justin, you’re 26 years old. You’re not in school. You don’t have a career. You don’t even have a girlfriend. What’s the plan? When are you going to get a life?”

“What’s the problem?” Justin asks. “I haven’t gotten arrested for anything, I haven’t asked you guys for money. Why can’t you just chill?” — Leonard Sax Link to full article

We can’t afford to drift. We have work to do. We must become men.

It’s a wonderful thing for a boy to become a man.

It’s a wonderful thing for those of us who are older to become examples of manhood.

Much is defined by our relationship to women.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. — The Family: A Proclamation to the World

I have met with members in many countries, and have been everywhere impressed with the faith and capacity of our women, even the young. Do we have men to match these women? Are our young men developing into worthy companions?

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley at April 1998 Priesthood Session:

The girl you marry will take a terrible chance on you. She will give her all to the young man she marries. He will largely determine the remainder of her life.

Work for an education. Get all the training that you can. The world will largely pay you what it thinks you are worth. Paul did not mince words when he wrote to Timothy, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8).

Integrity — being truthful AND accepting responsibility, honoring covenants.
N. Eldon Tanner told the following story

A young man came to me not long ago and said, ‘I made an agreement with a man that requires me to make certain payments each year. I am in arrears, and I can’t make those payments, for if I do, it is going to cause me to lose my home. What shall I do?’

I looked at him and said, ‘Keep your agreement.’

‘Even if it costs me my home?’

I said, ‘I am not talking about your home. I am talking about your agreement; and I think your wife would rather have a husband who would keep his word, meet his obligations, keep his pledges or his covenants, and have to rent a home than to have a home with a husband who will not keep his covenants and his pledges.’

Good men sometimes make mistakes. A man of integrity owns up to his mistakes. True manhood is not measured by the fruits of one’s labors, but by his labors themselves, by his strivings.

The true man lives a rewarding life. He gives much, receives more.

Think of Jesus Christ. When Pilate brought him forth and said “Behold the man,” he may not have undestood the significance of his own words — He stands today the highest ideal of manhood.

He has taught us, “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Ne 27:27)

How did He provide an example of being a man?

He rejected temptation. He quoted scriputure to Satan — we should rely on the scriptures.

He was obedient, forsaking the natural man and submitted His will to the Father.

He did good, using the power of the priesthood to bless those in need, healing the sick, performing miracles, and raising the dead.

27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. —Matthew 20:27-28

We can become great in His kingdom through love and service.

He was fearless in opposing evil and error — throwing out the moneychangers in the temple.

He called upon all to repent and be forgiven — we should stand firm in doing so as well.

He gave His life to redeem mankind.

Let us be men, even as He is.

Elder Marcus B. Nash

As a deacon, my father and I fished for trout. He told me I would need to set the hook or it would get away. He explained the hook had to be embedded so it would not come out of the mouth. I stood on the stream bank, saw the movement, jerked back to set the hook, waiting for a fight. The trout flew out of the water onto the ground.

Two observations

  1. A fish out of water is miserable.
  2. The fish died because it was decieved into thinking something fatal was worth a closer look.

To the Aaronic Priesthood: A basic purpose of your life is to have joy. You need to understand that you inherit divine traits and spiritual needs from your Father, and you need the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be truly happy. It is not possible to do wrong and be happy. Peace, joy and happiness come only from living the gospel. If not, you will be as miserable as a fish out of water. Alma taught his son to Corianton

Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. —Alma 41:10-11

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the (singular, only) great plan of happiness. Any other way of life will cheat you of the full joy for which you were designed.

Just as a fish must be careful of lures, so must we be wise to avoid being pulled away from a happy, gospel centered life. The devil seeks that all men might be miserable like unto himself. Do not be decieved, do not even nibble at unworthy things. Satan stands ready to set the hook.

Moroni, who saw our day, warned us to “touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.” (Moro. 10:30) This can come in the form of music, movies, the internet, magazines, alcohol, drugs, tobacco.

It can be an excruciatingly painful process to repent. Alma described the process as the process; “there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains.” (Alma 36:21).

Some of you have been involved in things that have caused you to become unclean. Take hope that Alma experienced such happiness in his repentance that he said “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (Alma 36:21).

All of us require repentance in some degree. It is the great enabling principle of the gospel.

11 And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls. —Helaman 5:11

Christ has all power to redeem all who believe on His name.

Joseph Smith learned first hand that the Lord expects us to avoid misery by living his gospel, and to learn that we can repent. When he lost the 116 pages, he was told

Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.
9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.
10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work; —D&C 3:8-10.

Avoid evil and the misery it brings, and if you have become involved in evil or unclean things, make the changes that the Lord asks of you, and you will reap lasting happiness, and you will build the foundation of your life on the rock of your Redeemer.

Elder Stanley Ellis

Several years ago, I was called to preside over the Brazi Sao Paulo mission. I kept my home and business in Houston. I had to make arragnements for things to be taken care of in my absence. I needed a power of attorney, giving someone else the power to do things in my name. This would include the power to sell our house, spend our money, or sell our buisness. It was scary to give such power to someone else. We gave this power to a trusted friend and partner who excercised that power and authority well.

Think of what the Lord has given us — the power and authority to act for Him in all things pertaining to His work. We can perform the ordinances of salvation in His name — baptism, confirmation, ordination, temple ordinances, administration of the church, bless, home teach, heal the sick. Think of it — He trusts us!

Before we received the priesthood, each of us exercised faith in Jesus Christ, repented, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. The level of experience we brought to our ordinations varied, but the procedure was the same. We were sustained by members, prayed about by leaders, and ordained by those with power and authority. The Lord is careful with his priesthood. How wonderful that we have earned the trust of God.

We recieve the priesthood by covenant. As we keep our promises, the Lord always keeps His word. Usually He gives us more than we are promised. The Melchizedek Priesthood is given the oath and covenant of the priesthood. We promise to be fatihful unto obtaining of these two priesthoods, and magnifying our callings, and He promises that we will be sanctified by His Spirit, and that we will have “all that my Father hath.”

The Lord blesses us thhrough his priesthood servants. He guides us through our leaders and through the Holy Ghost. He gives us direction and warning.

In section 121 of the D&C, the Lord teaches us that the priesthood can only be exercised in righteousness. Patience, charity, virtue lead to having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

We can lose priesthood power if we aspire to honors of men, “when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121:37). If we lose priesthood power, we are then practicing priestcraft — and in the service of Satan.

Study D&C 121 regularly. It is easy to understand why prophets have emphasized the need to maintain our worthiness. We never know when we will be called on to exercise it.

Our son was 5, when he fell from a high dive, and suffered a fractured skull and a concussion. He was airlifted to a hospital. Our home teacher and priesthood leaders were both worthy and prepared to give a blessing.

Scouting: Be Prepared

I was a counselor in the stake presidency, studying parable of the talents. A man went away, givng talents to his servants; to one five, to another two, and to another one. When he returned and asked for an accounting, the servant given five returned ten, thhe servant with two returned four. These were good and faithful servants. The servant who received one returned it safely to his Lord, but Master said,

Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. —Matt. 25:26-30

This seems to be a harsh reaction to one who is trying to take care of what he is given — I learned that the Lord expects a difference. We will be held to account. Did we make a difference? Was the stake better after than before I was called?

If we exercise His priesthood in His way following His direction from His servants and Spirit, we will be good and faithful servants.

Jesus Christ lives, knows us, and loves us. He has placed His trust in us, giving us His priesthood power and authority.

3 thoughts on “Priesthood session notes, October 2006, first hour

  1. “As a boy, our mother had cancer surgery and nearly died… Now when you iron, you won’t have to stop and cry until the pain stops”

    The guy’s wife has cancer, and his big concern is getting his shirts ironed??!?

  2. Wouldn’t the easier and more economical solution to the ironing problem be to have those five supposedly healthy boys do it? Aside from that bit, I look forward to reading that particular talk (I know some who could benefit from it), but that bit does leave me baffled.

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