Saturday, 30 January 2016
A stake president and his counselors were released this past Sunday. A stake is a collective group of 6-12 congregations of 300-400 people or "wards." Our mission covers 59 stakes and 387 wards. Stakes have been discussed since the earliest days of the bible. Isaiah 54: "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;"
As I consider the transition that took place I am amazed at the Lords succession plans. There is no campaigning, no politicking, no negotiation or favors. Mans ways are not Gods ways. A letter is issued by the first presidency indicating a change will take place. They choose two men who are in the quorum of the seventy to go to the stake and interview between twenty and thirty men. The quorum of seventy has also been a part of the Church since its earliest days. Numbers 11:24 "And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. 25 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease." The key phrase is "...the spirit rested upon them, and they prophesied."
Through the keys delegated by the president of the quorum of the twelve apostles, these two seventies choose, through the spirit of prophecy and revelation, a new stake president, who within hours chooses two counselors who are also called. They don't review a resume or pedigree. They interview the person for about 10 minutes and follow the promptings of the spirit. In the most recent case, an elderly gentleman was released and a young man with a young family was called. The transition was completed within a day. The 3000 people that they lead ratified the decision by raising their hands in ascent and approval of the choice. D&C 26:2 "And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen." And now it is done, and the work moves forward with average men and women who do their best and the Lord qualifies their work.
After they were called, these brethren and their wives shared their love of God through testimony. I was impressed with their humility. They didn't choose this. No doubt they would rather spend more time at home. They will work for the next 10 years furthering the work of God through their service. There is no compensation for their 30-40 hours of service each week. They work and serve above and beyond their current vocation. One of the brothers is a software engineer, another a physician and the last a plumber.
Every member of the LDS church is "called to serve" in some capacity as a volunteer in the church. Some serve the toddlers in the nursery, others as Sunday school teachers, others as shepherds of young men and women or adult men and women. Sisters serve in the relief society and various councils in the church. The Relief Society is one of the oldest women's organizations in the United States. These volunteers receive no compensation but serve with all their "heart, might, mind and strength." I am amazed at the capacity of these good brothers and sisters to serve. They do so because they believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God. We love serving Him as well. He Lives!
Tuesday, 5 January 2016
As I interviewed 7 departing missionaries the first week of December I found the direction of their questions and my responses going naturally to relationships and the goal each of them had to develop healthy relationships and be married to someone for time and all eternity in one of God's Holy Temples.
I believe one of the challenges of a lifetime is to develop healthy relationships that are built upon a foundation of unconditional love and selflessness. Of course selfishness is the antithesis to love and the primary root of unhealthy relationships, divorce, conflict in the world and many other self-inflicted difficulties in life.
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43 ¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."
Jesus challenge to us then is to love like he does. How does He love? What is His love? Moroni, the great last Nephites prophet in the Book of Mormon wrote in Moroni 7 taught...
"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.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."
Many young missionaries come to the mission field and don't understand how to communicate their feelings or to build healthy relationships through love. They have spent an abundance of their pre-mission lives in media. The artificial entertainment that comes when too much time is spent on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Xbox, PlayStation, television or movies creates a void of personal love that is difficult to fill without significant practice. They practice here in the mission field.
As the young missionaries come to understand who Jesus is and how to feel of his love, they convey that same love to others.
One of my favorite books that Amy and I read early in our marriage that helped us to communicate and love in a more selfless way was Gary Chapmans, The Five Love Languages. He gives practical advice to those who want to love more deeply. Based on years of research he categorizes the way we like to be loved into five languages.
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
God bless you if you are in a relationship with one who's language is "receiving gifts." ;)
I have learned that Amy is receptive to words of affirmation and feels more loved when I offer those words freely. What is your language? I'm grateful for simple and
practical guides, books, articles etc.
The week before Christmas, Sister Jaggi and I gave a gift to the missionaries that we received many years ago...A Book of Mormon Read-A-Thon. We personalized a hard copy of the Book of Mormon with a picture of the Ogden temple in the front. We gave them 5 highlighters. One for each of the principles in the missionary purpose. "My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end." And we read... We started at 8:00am and read till 9:00pm one day...we started at 8:00am and read till 5:00pm the next day, missing only the book of Ether along the way. 33 hours of intense reading, pondering and praying. We were uplifted and edified and we rejoice together in the knowledge that God loves all of His children. God had prophets in the Jerusalem area and they wrote books in the bible. God also had prophets in the Americas anciently and they wrote books in the Book of Mormon. What a blessing to know God is the same yesterday, today and forever. We testify He is real and He lives!
Christmas time on a mission is wonderful. We were far less focused on ourselves and more focused on the Savior, His birth and what He has done for so many. We were also focused on our missionaries. More than half of them had never been away from home for Christmas. For some it was hard, for most it was sacred. Time spent in the service of our fellowmen and women, teaching what Jesus taught is precious. About 40 of our missionaries received very little for Christmas from home, especially those who came from foreign lands. We were blessed by local Utah members who provided anonymous gifts and gift cards for our indigent missionaries. The Saints in Utah provide so much to our missionaries as well as to the rest if the world. My eyes have been opened to their charity and love. I'm stunned when I contemplate their contribution to the growth of the church in every way. The Members here in Ogden are so committed, hard-working and humble. We truly love them.
Happy new year to our friends and family. If you are ready for change, embrace and set simple goals. We use the SIMPS model. Goals that are
All our missionaries wrote their SIMPS goals to me yesterday. Moms and Dad's...ask them about their goals.
We love you.