Sacrament Meeting Talks, “What did the Prophet say?” and “Ministering to the one”

Our turn to give talks came up again. Brother Esquerra originally asked me to base my talk on a talk by Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf from the Oct 2017 General Conference, titled “3 Sisters”, which was an excellent talk on the topic of discipleship that featured 3 sisters, named, Sad, Mad, and Glad. However, after Conference, Bro. Esquerra gave me permission to base my talk on subjects that were addressed during Conference. So here’s the result:

What did the Prophet say?

April 2018 General Conference

In recent General Conferences, prior to the one held last week, we heard precious few words from our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, because of his failing health.

Of course we miss our beloved Pres. Monson who was part of our lives for so many years.

Nevertheless, it was refreshing to see our newly ordained Prophet, Pres. Russell M. Nelson, sitting on the stand this past weekend during General Conference, looking healthy and fit, despite his 93 years.

It was a thrilling experience as we, along with members of the church throughout the world, were given the opportunity to stand and sustain Pres. Nelson during the Solemn Assembly on Saturday morning.

If anyone wondered whether Pres. Nelson has the energy to take on the challenges facing the church, I think he settled the question very well. It would be an understatement to say that he had much to say to us during this conference.

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland put it toward the conclusion of the conference,

the most memorable moments in life are those in which we feel the rush of revelation. President Nelson, I don’t know how many more “rushes” we can handle this weekend. Some of us have weak hearts. But as I think about it, you can take care of that too. What a prophet!

This morning, I will attempt to give a summary of what our Prophet said last week, along with related comments by members of the Quorum of the Twelve, as well as a little background information and my own thoughts and testimony.

Much of what I say will simply be a repeat of what we heard just one week ago, but I feel it bears repeating.

Pres. Nelson spoke 4 times during the conference, 3 of which were very short, but powerful messages.

His first brief, but memorable, announcement occurred during the Priesthood Session on Saturday evening when he explained

We have felt a pressing need to improve the way we care for our members

Tonight we announce a significant restructuring of our Melchizedek Priesthood quorums to accomplish the work of the Lord more effectively. In each ward, the high priests and the elders will now be combined into one elders quorum.

And added

these adjustments are inspired of the Lord … [and] have been under study for many months.

President Nelson was immediately followed by Elders D. Todd Christofferson and Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who explained this change in greater detail.

Elder Elder Christofferson reminded us:

Patterns for priesthood organization and service have been revealed from time to time, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith when priesthood offices and quorums were established in our day. Significant refinements were revealed and implemented during the tenures of Presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Spencer W. Kimball, among others, with respect to the Quorum of the Twelve, the Seventy, high priests, and other offices and quorums in both the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods.

While the change in the organization of our quorums announced last week will not seem like news to those outside the church, the announcement was big news to those of us who are long-time members of the church.

Although the offices of the priesthood haven’t changed since the church was restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, the way they are organized has undergone many changes over the years.

When I joined the church in the late 1970s, for example, the role and organization of the Seventies was undergoing major changes. At one time, men were called as Seventies on a local level only, but in 1975, under the leadership of Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, the First Quorum of the Seventy was formed, which answered directly to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Then in 1986, the local quorums of Seventies were discontinued and those brethren were directed to return to membership in the elders quorums of their wards.

So the restructuring of priesthood quorums just announced by Pres. Nelson  is not so new, and is the result of the changing needs of the church and of continuing revelation.

Returning to Elder Christofferson’s talk, he explained the changes in more detail through a series of questions and answers.

What are the adjustments for ward high priests groups and elders quorums?

members of elders quorums and high priests groups will now be combined into one Melchizedek Priesthood quorum with one quorum presidency. This quorum…will be designated the “elders quorum.” High priests groups are discontinued.

How is the presidency of the elders quorum to be organized?

The stake presidency will release current high priests group leaderships and elders quorum presidencies and will call a new elders quorum president and counselors in each ward. The new elders quorum presidency may include elders and high priests… These quorum adjustments should be implemented as soon as conveniently possible.

Does this adjustment in quorum structure change the priesthood office held by quorum members?

No, this action does not rescind any priesthood office to which any quorum member may have been ordained in the past.  

What are the purposes of the adjustments to Melchizedek Priesthood quorums?

Having one Melchizedek Priesthood quorum in a ward unifies priesthood holders to accomplish all aspects of the work of salvation,

And he added,

I cannot adequately express how excited I am to contemplate the increasingly vital role that elders quorums will play in the future. The wisdom, experience, capacity, and strength that will be found in these quorums portend a new day and a new standard of priesthood service across the Church.

Elder Rasband then spoke, answering other questions:

Can a ward have more than one elders quorum?

The answer is yes. When a ward has an unusually large number of active Melchizedek Priesthood bearers, leaders may organize more than one elders quorum.

Elder Rasband also explained that

wards and stakes will no longer hold priesthood executive committee meetings. If a special ward issue arises, such as a delicate family matter or an unusual welfare challenge, it could be addressed in an expanded bishopric meeting. Other less-sensitive matters can be addressed in the ward council.

As Elder Rasband pointed out

These adjustments will help elders quorums and Relief Societies harmonize their work. They will also simplify the quorum’s coordination with the bishopric and ward council.

Adding my own 2 cents here, I have no doubt that this change will help us, as priesthood holders, to work together more efficiently and effectively.

For example, there will no longer be a question as to which quorum a family should be assigned to for home teaching (now called “ministering”)  purposes. There will be no division or confusion over responsibilities for things like Temple work or temporal service, such as helping families move.

This change also eliminates confusion in determining exactly which quorum a man should be part of, and it reduces the number of leadership positions that need to be filled, making former High Priest group leaders available to fill other callings in the ward.  

Both Pres. Nelson and Elder Rasband mentioned the fact that the number of priesthood holders in some units of the church is very small. In cases like this, it’s not even practical to have separate quorums for elders and high priests.

These are just some of the advantages to this change. I’m sure there are others that I am not aware of.

Moving on to Pres. Nelson’s main conference talk, which occurred on Sunday morning, he spoke of another important matter – that of personal revelation. He said,

I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.

He urged us to

do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.

I find this term “spiritual work” interesting. While we realize that it takes effort to read the scriptures, to pray, and to obey all the commandments, how many of us understand that it also takes work to receive personal revelation?

I am probably as guilty of this as anyone, not putting in the effort required to to receive personal revelations. Spiritual blessings require “spiritual work”.

Pres. Nelson also assured us that God really does want to speak to us even though there may be times when we feel as though the heavens are closed.

He made this promise:

as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek

He continued with this counsel:

Find a quiet place.

Humble yourself.

Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father.

Then listen!

Record your feelings and follow through with actions you are prompted to take.

As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation.’”

Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.

Pres. Nelson’s counsel regarding person revelation was direct and clear. He gave us a simple formula to follow as we strive to receive our own personal revelation over the coming months and years.

Moving on, during the final session of Conference on Sunday, when things usually slow down, President Nelson made another short, but surprising announcement when he said:

For months we have been seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people in the Savior’s way.

We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as “ministering.”

That announcement was followed by talks given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Jean B. Bingham, General President of the Relief Society, who explained “ministering” in more detail.

Quoting Pres. Holland:

We will no longer use home teaching and visiting teaching language. That is partly because much of our ministering effort will be in settings other than the home and partly because our contact won’t be defined by teaching a prepared lesson,

We will continue to visit homes as possible, but local circumstances … may preclude a visit to every home every month.

He counseled,

do the best you can … visits… can be supplemented with telephone calls, written notes, texts, emails, video chats, conversations at Church meetings, shared service projects, social activities, and a host of possibilities in the world of social media.

Then Elder Holland explained that monthly reporting will no longer be required, and added,

The only report that will be made is the number of interviews leaders had with the ministering companionships in the ward that quarter. Simple as that sounds, my friends, those interviews are absolutely crucial.

Here, again, this change is not without precedent. Although it seems like the term “home teaching” has been with us forever, in reality it only dates back 50 years or so. Before that, we had block teachers, and before that ward teachers and before that acting teachers – all with the same charge – that of watching over the church.

I see this latest change, from “home teaching” and “visiting teaching” to “ministering”, as an admonition and an opportunity to live a higher law. With this change, t’s now clear that the spirit of the law, which is the love and care we have for each other –  is more important than the letter of the law, which was the monthly reporting we used to do.

To some, the elimination of monthly reporting will seem like a relaxing of requirements, but to those who have a true understanding of the gospel, this change will be seen as a greater opportunity to exercise our free will and to prove ourselves. The Lord has said “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them”. (Abraham 3:25)

I want to conclude by simply bearing my testimony of the importance of continuing revelation from God through His Prophet. I testify that Pres. Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s Prophet for our day.

I know without any doubt that the changes he announced last week are for our good. In fact, I think they are wonderful changes that will benefit each of us here in the Sage Ward, along with the entire membership of the church.

In addition, I can testify that the counsel offered by Pres. Nelson regarding personal revelation, and the “spiritual work” required to receive it, is correct and absolutely vital as we strive to find peace, joy and meaning in our lives.

Susan was originally asked to speak on the topic: “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, but after Brother Esquerra gave her permission to change the subject, she chose:

Love and ministering to the one

I based this talk off Elder Massimo De Feo’s talk that he gave during the April 2018 Sunday morning session entitled: Pure Love: The True Sign of Every True Disciple of Jesus Christ.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: “The first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life.”

Elder Massimo De Feo of the 70’s reminded us that,”Love indeed is the true sign of every true disciple of Jesus Christ.”

As true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ we know that we should love one another, but sometimes this is easier said than done.

Mosiah 23

21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.

22 Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.

When I was young, the pitch of my voice used to do this to my mother…….  Sometimes, our initial reaction to a person is …………….

I had such a reaction when I first met a Anita. She was a sister I was assigned to visit teach. She was loud, opinionated, bossy and a bit scary. Threw our visits I got to know her heart.   My love and respect for her continued to grow as she taught me how to develop a real relationship with the Lord. No one can make me giggle like she can. Nore has anyone taught me more about the love of God, self respect, service, establishing priorities, and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost than Anita has. Thou we don’t see each other, or communicate often, when we do it’s like we have never been apart. I love her with all my heart, and consider her to be my bestest friend!

So, how do we develop or obtain this great ability to love as our Savior and our Heavenly Father loves us?

What does this kind of love look like?

Let’s start with the first question: How do we develop or obtain this great ability to love as our Savior and our Heavenly Father loves us?

It begins with a sincere desire.

The prophet Mormon taught, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.”

Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, and ask to be filled with this love

Charity is a gift from our Heavenly Father that he will give us if we seek it. It is especially important to seek this gift of love if we have been hurt and offended greatly. It is much easier to pray for and forgive when you love the offender. This may take time, but it is worth the effort.

What does this kind of love look like?

It looks like Bro. Mora!

Last week at Bro. Mora’s funeral the chapel was filled to capacity. His daughter, son-in-law, and a couple of his grandchildren spoke of the profound influence he had on their lives. In their comments there was a strong common thread, which was love.

  1. Bro. Mora loved the Lord
  2. He loved his church and his church family
  3. He loved his family
  4. He loved his fellow man
  5. He was always smiling and happy

Bro. Mora worked very hard, but always had time to spend with his family and friends. He was always looking for ways to serve them, and was always nurturing in the way he taught them to love and serve one another.

He made everyone feel special. Bro. Mora did not hide his light under a bushel. His warm smile lit up the hearts of all he came in contact with. The light of love reflected off him and found a home in the hearts of his family, and all who had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with this humble man.

We all need to feel loved and appreciated. No one enjoys being judged critically and harshly. In fact the quickest way to repel someone is to be cold, critical and demeaning.

Love is not critical, demeaning, cold, or harsh.

Moroni 7: 45

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind , and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked , thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

This is the love of God

Bro. Mora exemplified this in his life.

This is the love we seek

The exciting part is that the Lord has given us a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our desire to obtain this wonderful love and to share it with each other. It’s called MINISTERING!

Visiting and Home Teaching are going through a transformation and is now called MINISTERING.

Part of ministering is loving, forgiving, and serving one another.

Sis. Bills

After John and I got married I found myself in a ward that issues with not knowing what to do with me. This ward was the ward where John and his ex-wife raised their children. Although, they had been divorced for many years, accepting a new person in the mix was difficult and awkward for many. One sister in particular was not about to acknowledge me as a member of the ward. One day I was walking down the hall and she was walking towards me. I cheerfully said, “Hello, how are you!” Without making eye contact she continued down the hall as if I was not there. I thought, perhaps she is hard of hearing. So, the next time I found myself in a similar situation I made sure I spoke loudly. Again, she did not acknowledge my presents and continued on her way.

I spoke to John about it and discovered that she was his ex-wife’s best friend!

Well, a couple of years went by with no change in her behavior. Then it happened. I was called to be her Visiting Teacher. I let the RS Pres. know that this might not work well. I asked her to speak with this Sister and ask her if she would be okay with me being her visiting teacher. To my surprise she agreed to give it a try.

I determined that I would focus on her strengths. She had great knowledge of the scriptures and Church History. She had served as Seminary teacher for several years and was an incredible instructor. It was easy to find things to appreciate about her. Each visit I sincerely thanked her for sharing a specific gift or talent.

I was very grateful for the opportunity to come to know this dynamic sister.

I’m afraid it was much harder for her to find things to appreciate about me, but slowly her heart warmed up to me.

In the end, after several years of visits I felt that we had grown to love and appreciate one another. I had to forgive her of her fear to get to know me and she had to forgive me for marrying John and putting her in such an awkward place.

Elder Massimo De Feo stated:

True disciples love to forgive. They know that the Atonement of the Savior covers all sins and mistakes of each one of us. They know that the price He paid is an “all-inclusive price.” Spiritual taxes, fees, commissions, and charges related to sins, mistakes, or wrongdoings are all covered. True disciples are quick to forgive and quick to ask for forgiveness.

“My dear brothers and sisters, if you are struggling to find the strength to forgive, don’t think of what others have done to you, but think of what the Savior has done for you, and you will find peace in the redemptive blessings of His Atonement.”

I would like to add, pray fervently for help to love and forgive the offender. Keep praying until your heart softens and your mind no longer dwells on the event that caused you such sorrow. Then you can truly serve them.

None of us are perfect. We each come with life experiences that helps or hinders our progression, but we all have beauty with in us as well.

Albuquerque is not green, but oh, the beautiful sunsets are breathtaking, the mountains and flora a very interesting and beautiful, and the climate is pleasant.

If I focused on the lack of greenery I would miss out on all the beauty that this area offers.

Let’s not focus on our flaws, search for the beauty each of us possesses. Life is too short not to.

President Thomas S. Monson said: “May we begin now, this very day, to express love to all of God’s children, whether they be our family members, our friends, mere acquaintances, or total strangers. As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”



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