Saturday, January 30, 2016

Priesthood Leadership Training with President Russell M. Nelson

Our Ward Selfie. Left to right, the Bishop's Counselor, our Elders Quorum President, and this blogger.
There was much more to this wonderful meeting last Saturday than the question I asked and the later, tragic connection.

Notice went out just a few days ahead of time that the Stake Presidencies, each Bishop-or a Counselor, the High Priest Group Leader-or an Assistant, and the Elders Quorum President-or a Counselor from each ward were invited to a muti-stake, Saturday morning training session with President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The call to me came from our Stake Exec Sec who happens to be my son-in-law's father. As a shortened relationship status, we refer to each other as Co-Grandpas.

The meeting involved seven or eight stakes and we met in a stake center in North Centerville filling the chapel with no overflow but packed in with a few extra folding chairs added. Just before the meeting began we were invited to file by, row by row, to shake hands with President Nelson and the others. I gave Elder Ulisses Soares, of the Presidents of the Seventy, a hearty "Bem-vindo, Elder Soares!" as he is native Brazilian. He conducted the meeting and noted in opening the warm greetings he had from several in Portuguese or Spanish.

Also present on the stand was a Seventy from our Area Presidency, newly called, Elder Gene Chidester, President Spendlove from the Salt Lake City North Mission, and President Winegar of the Bountiful Temple. Only later did I learn that their wives were at a similar training session with the women leaders of the same stakes and wards as my daughter went as part of a Primary Presidency. She said Sister Nelson spoke for two-hours straight!

My rough notes follow in my usual style, occasionally enhanced with notes shared by my bishopric counselor buddy:

President Russell M. Nelson, President, Quorum of Twelve Apostles:

No planned or prepared speeches - we're here to reason together.
Teach one another according to the office in which called.
3,716 Stakes in the church as of this morning, probably different number by Monday.
We would like to meet with all the Stake Presidents within a year but that's not going to happen now.
The world darkens - the church grows and in light.
Sec. 107 [of the Doctrine and Covenants] Quorum is limited to twelve. [:23]
Jacob 1:19 We must magnify our office.
We won't teach you anything new -
The gospel really is old and the doctrine is ancient and everlasting.
Purposes of God - Christ sent to church
God's purpose, Moses 1:39
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
If you don't memorize any other scripture, that would be the one to know.
We send our children off to war, missions, marriage, with hope that they will come back with success.
We want a warm homecoming and welcome for each of our children.
That's what our Heavenly Father wants.
His first desire for his children is immortality. Christ is the first fruits of the resurrection.
All who ever lived will live again. This is an unconditional gift. It's done and guaranteed for all.
One half of Heavenly Father's goal is guaranteed.
Eternal Life is a conditional gift. Conditional upon:
1. Faith. 2. Repentance. 3. Baptism. 4. Gift of the Holy Ghost and then Priesthood and Temple ordinances.
Endowment and sealing.
Endure to the end is more than inhaling and exhaling - we have to qualify.
God's work and glory is to welcome his children home sealed as families.
God's purpose become our purpose.
Ask the question: Is this going to help that family unit be together forever?
We may have policy choices - Is the Mission President going the approve the baptism of a 17-year-old girl? What is best for the family? Every case is a unique situation.
What did Christ do? The will of the Father 3 Nephi 27:13-14
Lifted upon the Cross to draw all me unto Him
Gospel=Atonement His mission in mortality
3 Nephi 27:21 He provided the example for us to follow
We have to focus on the ordinances - how to pray - endure to the end.
It's a tough road - the example was His ministry. Live righteously and qualify.
Purposes of the Church: Preach the gospel of Faith and Repentance, qualify for the ordinances, prepare the world for the Second Coming.
1. Gather Israel
2. Qualify Families for ordinances
3. Prepare for Zion
He doesn't know when the Second Coming will be but we are a day closer today than yesterday.
Satan's purpose is to make us miserable by telling lies - there's no way to do it, or any other way -
he is there to deceive us by telling us we can break the commandments.
Satan  provides opposition. 2 Nephi 2:11
This allows us to choose liberty and eternal life or destruction and eternal death.2 Nephi 2:27.
We do vicarious work in the Temple and they choose.
Section 38:28 Satan works in the secret chambers of your own heart
Pornography - great evil of these days - very addictive - turn it off immediately - can't ever get rid of it - only effective way is not to let it come in.
There are very good helps at 12-step program.
Same gender marriage is only the beginning - various manifestations of satan coming.
Defend marriage - central to his plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
Purpose of the Book of Mormon - Title Page
He recently had the privilege of dedicating the Priesthood Restoration site [Pennsylvania]
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in translating the Book of Mormon worked on a little tiny table with turkey quills for writing. Had to be room for plates, inkwell, and two men to work - rarely sees the mark of any correction in original manuscript.
Process is one thing, purpose is another - to the convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.
Romans 5:11 only place Atonement is mentioned in New Testament
In the Book of Mormon it's mentioned 39 times.
"that they are not cast off forever" [still from the Title Page of the Book of Mormon]
Purpose of the Priesthood
Preside over the church - willing, ordinary men
Ordinances, covenants - our purpose is to show fidelity to these. He sends us to earth to have a very high risk experience - (he gives an aside of the police officer recently shot "he didn't deserve that")
He shows us how to get blessings along the way.
What if it were only 12 or 70 men who could give blessings?  When we lay on hands we give a blessing in the name of the Lord.
Sec. 132:47 "Whomsoever you bless, I will bless"
No "road rage" bless the people instead.
Our purpose is to learn by experience
We came to earth to have a body - one per customer
And also to have Joy. 2 Nephi 2:25
Always approach people with joy in our heart
Why do they want to be with you if you are grumpy or unattractive? Park the car and keep walking.
Our purpose as a church leader is in Handbook 2.3 and .4
Priesthood - His church and His disciples.
President Monson is doing well.

[commentary: this was an amazing emphasis on Christ's Atonement from 3 Nephi 27 and 2 Nephi 2 much like I heard in Elder Holland's Book of Mormon teachings in my freshman class at BYU]

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy:

He's grateful to be with President Nelson, one of the 15 Seers, Prophets, and Revelators.
By assignment he is emphasizing Sabbath day observance to strengthen individuals and families.
God established the Sabbath
Gen. 2:3 God blessed the 7th day
Lev. 26:2-6 "Ye shall keep Sabath - I am the Lord - and I will give peace in the land."
Luke 22:19-20 and he took bread and gave thanks - this is my body
The Sacrament should bring us these feelings - feelings of his physical and spiritual sufferings.
See Secs. 20, 59, 68 -
Sec. 59:9, 11-12, 16 - unspotted from the world - "oblations" means offerings, sacrifices, everything we do on Sabbath.
Should be the best of our Hearts.
He refers to instructions to General Authorities to deliver video of President Nelson
1. Strengthen Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in Sabbath observance of church and home.
2. Help leaders improve spirituality of Sacrament Meeting in focus on eternal nature of the Sabbath.
3. Inspire members to make lasting changes to their Sacrament worship and Sabbath day observances.
April Conference to the whole church [Elder Nelson]
Sabbath a delight - turn from thy pleasure - honor the Lord - then shall these delight in the Lord.
One day in seven is like the 1/10 of tithing.
There is no approved list of does and don'ts - we decide
Isaiah 61:10 make it a "delight."
Preach My Gospel p. 74 [Lesson 4]
What opportunities do we have to teach about the Sabbath?
How do we help leaders and members capture the significance?
What actions can ward councils take to make Sacrament Meeting a Remembrance of His Atonement?
What actions can family councils take?
The idea is to DELIGHT to be more fully unspotted from the world.
Examples of believers - keep Sabbath Holy - Moroni's farewell plea - come unto Christ. Moroni 10:32-33

Elder Gene R. Chidester, Seventy, of the Area Presidency:

Increase the effectiveness of our councils. Melchizedek Quorums, Ward, and Family Councils.
Do not get buried in details at the expense of families who are to be sealed up through ordinances.
Moroni 6:4, D&C 84:19-21
Saving Ordinances:
Ordinance                              Power
Baptism/Sacrament             cleansing
Gift of the Holy Ghost          know the will of the Lord
Priesthood                             Bless lives by the power of God
Endowment                           Priesthood power from on high, knowledge to be like God
Sealing                                   eternal lives, relationships continue after death

Can't shift the burden onto anyone else so long as you can provide.
All supply with his labors for himself and family with spiritual and temporal necessities.

Question and Answer Period Conducted by Elder Soares
We were instructed to share inspired questions that came from our heart.
Sec. 43:8-9
Answers were generally referred to Elder Chidester and others of the authorities assembled as appropriate or as they stood up to volunteer an answer (mostly Pres. Nelson).

How can we help members who struggle with problems and can't seem to get answers to prayers?
The Temple is a place of refuge - a shadow from the heat.

What can we do to help with the challenges of the change in age of those serving missions?
(President Spendlove fielded this one) Need to teach obedience - personal righteousness. Teach about girlfriends and boyfriends. Teach about consecration - leave it on the altar. A real challenge is mental and emotional health - be completely and exactly honest in recommendations. Let the Missionary Department deal with it. Physical health as well. Add the "white book" to your Missionary Prep study. Teach them how to work.

How do we help missionaries who return early not be discouraged?
Get them assignments to work in the Temple.
(Elder Nelson): Prepare them to go to the Temple not just to go on a mission. Focus on the Temple. The Temple is essential, not missions.

How do we help a friend who claims he is "stuck" in a calling?
Teach about King Benjamin and Service. Teach Faith.

[Then came my question. I refer you to my previous blogging on this. It's interesting to see how our bishop's counselor recorded it.] I borrow from his notes:
Grant Vaughn re self-removal from the church. Perceive a threat from those on the extreme right politically. Many feel President is evil and Supreme Court is evil. Armed confrontation with Federal building taken over. What can we do as a church to tone down the extremes on both the left and the right?

A Elder Chidester (lots of laughter since tough question): First Presidency issued a statement about that occupation. Look to the Brethren and take our signals and nods from them. Article of Faith 12—sustain the government. This is the promised land and will be as long as we protect freedoms.

A Soares: Two things. First as leaders in this church we minister to people individually like the Savior both spiritually and temporally. Need of comfort and to feel the Spirit. We preach by the Spirit and help them to feel it. Second, all church leaders are called to help other people become true followers of the Savior Jesus Christ. From Pres Nelson’s talk re being awakened during the night with thoughts and inspiration and then they Counsel together and watch for the President of the Church to reveal God’s will.

A President Nelson. Great protection in AofF 12 and sustaining the law of the Land where we live. Been to over 130 countries. Use the legal way of changing the law. In the Philippines one night and couldn’t sleep due to noise of a rebellion to overthrow the President but in so doing they undermined their own Constitution. We are working with all nations—every nation kindred tongue & people. Americans are now a minority in the church.  Leaders of other countries often say our members are some of the best citizens in their country and he has “buttons pop off his jacket” with pride.
Question about how to improve Home Teaching:
Not a simple task
President Nelson talked about Congress of World Religions and all the varied types of religious practice. His question was always "do they care about other people?" Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching is the Lord's organized way of caring for other people.

How can we counsel to strengthen marriages?
Pres. Winegar of the Temple said the Temple is the answer. Review D&C 132 [hopefully putting aside the plural marriage parts].
Return to the Temple to do sealings. Elder Soares said those are amazing promises.
Proactive Temple involvement.
Proclamation on the Family

How do we counsel those who do not feel worthy to perform priesthood ordinances?
Faith and know the Holy Ghost will guide and direct
"every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" D&C 84:44.

What about High Priests coasting to the end of their lives?
[retired in the church]
Pres. Winegar: They have more women than they can accommodate as Temple workers. They need more men.
Service in the Temple changes lives.
Family History research - learn how to index,

How can we gain more Trust in God?
First principle of the Gospel. 1 Nephi 4:6 Nephi went not knowing beforehand. Look to heaven and trust in God. Sometimes we won't know the outcome. Elder Soares added emphasis on Sabbath Day observance.

Question about sealing power with regard to a son who is not keeping his covenants.
Elder Soares said he was inspired to bring a quote on this subject by Joseph Smith:
the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God. [found in a talk by Elder Bednar
Then the meeting closed with the testimonies of the five Priesthood leaders.

President G. Scott Spendlove of the Salt Lake City North Mission:

Handbook 2, Chapter 3 - 5 principles of Leadership of the Church.
Group/Quorum meetings should be a council on ministering.
Salvation cannot come without revelation.
Joseph Smith said revelation is vital for our daily work.
Ask for it and rely on it.

President William S. Winegar of the Bountiful Temple:

President William S. and
Sister Barbara B. Winegar

Heavenly Father wants us to come home.
The Temple is the most beautiful parable and story of the Plan of Salvation.
It gives perspective to deal with all challenges even perspectives on government and political issues.
[which reminds me, if anyone ever asks if you have any money  or has a great financial or political proposition for you of that persuasive nature, they really want your soul - politically, economically, and spiritually. No political, economic, or philosophical view is as important as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't sell out.]

Elder Chidester:
Act on our Faith.
Apply what we have learned.
Sec. 84:20-21 In the ordinances of the priesthood [temple] the power of God is made manifest.
Why are you here and why do you serve?
Is it about the praise of men? He was an Assistant Wolf Cub Leader when he was called to be a Seventy.
There is a real spirit of brotherhood in the leadership of the church.

Elder Soares:
but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant Matthew 20:26-27
[Brings back memories of our Mission Conference theme, August, 1977, in Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil]

President Nelson:
He has enjoyed just the sample of these great testimonies these men have shared. President Spendlove has 137 missionaries for 52 Stakes. Many of the missionaries are called from countries all over the world. Imagine the impact on the Nations!
Elder Soares was serving in French-speaking Democratic Republic of the Congo when called as a President of the Seventy.
We have all been foreordained for this privilege of the priesthood.
Our potential is limitless, endless, boundless, eternal.
I would hope that your first and foremost duty is as a husband. Take care of your wife. Surprise her. Tell her you love her. Tell her you would like to give her a blessing. Bless her with an understanding of your love and gratitude for her. Show her by being patient, loving, caring, helping with mundane duties. Show your love with service.
I am concerned about my own children and grandchildren.
Isaiah promised - 49:25 "I will save thy children."
D&C 98:37 The Lord will fight your battles and of your children's children to the 3rd and 4th generations.
D&C 23:3
His children learned that their dad loves the Lord and loved their mother.
And now he's seeing the 3rd and 4th generations and he is seeing the Lord fight their battles.
Reread Chapter 1 of Handbook 2. [Families come first]
First Priesthood duty is to family and to spouse.
[He gave an apostolic blessing on us]:
Bless you that you may know of our love and gratitude and our Lord's
Bless you with strength, vigor and vitality of mind, body, and spirit.
For illness - a blessing of healing and health consistent with the will of the Lord.
Bless you with my testimony that God lives, this is His church, we are His people.
Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of the Lord
Expression of gratitude for all you're doing to help the Lord and His children.

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