My attempt to cover 150 psalms in 40 minutes, was modified to point out parallelisms of the Hebrew poets and how the practice of prayerfully searching scriptures can bring a greater understanding of our purpose in life–which hopefully is to serve others.
(((every so often, I insert a thought or idea which might seem random, but follows the pattern in Psalms.)))
[[red-italicized ==reading by a class member]]
Lesson 25: “Let Every Thing That Hath Breath Praise the Lord”
Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 117–22
Has anyone here ever experienced déjà vu?
Or, have you ever had a dream about something, that eventually happened?
What about a recurring dream, that seems to intensify, or maybe make more sense the older you get?
I’d like to start by reading Psalm 41:9 “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”
Who do you think this is referring to? (Jesus is speaking of Judas.)
Remember when Cain offered a sacrifice, but it was rejected? It wasn’t done right. It wasn’t pure.
I have a testimony that Jesus was perfect back then, before Mary gave birth to him. I believe He lived His mortal life without committing any sins. I believe He is now perfect. I firmly believe that He will always be perfect.
There is a technique that the Hebrew poets used, to make their point. This lesson refers to it as parallelism. One common characteristic of parallelism is the repetition of a thought in different words. Such repetition expands or intensifies the meaning of an idea. One example of this kind of parallelism is in Psalm 102:1-2
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.
2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.
The same thought is expressed in different words five times
“hear my prayer,”
“let my cry come unto thee,”
“hide not thy face from me,”
“incline thine ear unto me,” and
“in the day when I call answer me speedily”).
The repetition intensifies the message.
Now, think of Abraham, being commanded to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham was a righteous man.
In the Marines, we have what some might call a proud attitude about not allowing the enemy to see us die.
And we all want an honorable death. Each of us, defining the meaning of an honorable death, for ourselves as individuals. In bootcamp it is considered an honor, for us to be able to sing the Marine Hymn. The melody is always butchered because we aren’t really singing, it is more of a yelling with a drawl. Every real Marine believes in God. If you ever have the opportunity to listen to a platoon full of recruits singing that hymn, you will have no doubt the pride we take in the words—
“If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.”
It won’t sound like a song, it sounds like a bloodcurdling scream, and you will see fire in their eyes and a smile on their faces knowing they are speaking the absolute truth.
We believe we have job security in the hereafter, guarding the streets in heaven. With this understanding, we concede that when our shifts are over, we all go back to hell and wait for our next shift to start.
Several psalms speak of singing as making a “joyful noise unto the Lord”
1 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
How can we make hymns more meaningful? (maybe research their meaning?, look up the scriptures referenced at the bottom of the hymnal page? Search for hymns based upon scriptures you are currently reading/studying? Listen to how the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings them? Listen to them, instead of the Devil’s music?[LOL])
Going back to my earlier statement.. I believe Jesus was without sin. I believe that He is perfect. I believe that He will always be perfect.
Who crucified our Savior?
Why did they crucify him?
How was he arrested, or taken into custody?
Why did Judas do that?
Why was he greedy?
What did he want?
Do you think maybe his wife and kids were hungry?
Maybe they needed some clothes, or had to pay some bills?
What was the driving force behind his greed?
Was he beaten as a child?
Was someone holding his wife hostage?
Does anyone here know, for themselves the state of mind or the true intent of Judas’s heart, when he delivered Jesus to the Italians (romans lol)? We don’t know it and we can’t know it. And it would condemn us to judge him to be evil.
11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
Purpose of this Lesson is–
To help us show our gratitude for the Savior and for the many blessings that He and our Heavenly Father have given us.
God has given us scripture, with point after point of how to enjoy life, how to serve him, how to serve each other… the options are many and the course is unique to each of us.
My intent was not to exonerate Judas, but to illustrate how scripture proves the purity of Christ, even if the writers of those scriptures, or the translators of scriptures deliver an inadequate portrayal, causing us… or rather, giving us the opportunity to inquire of the Lord, to gain a greater understanding.
Because, ultimately… was it Judas, the Jews and the Romans who crucified Jesus? Or, was it all of us, individually, spitting upon our Savior, with our inaction? Our pacified acceptance of the moral degradation of a society built up upon this promised land? Our, willful negligence to respect the Sabbath and hammering that nail into His sinless feet, as we tell ourselves “I am pretty good. 98% isn’t too bad.” Then we laugh and mock him up on the cross, when we don’t share the gift of the testimony He has allowed us? When we speak ill of anyone, he has completely bled out.
What do you think happened to the men who were tasked with torturing our Savior? Have you seen The Green Mile? Of course, I mean the edited for tv version… Men who are workers of death, in my experience, seem to be some of the most spiritual people I have ever known.
Believing we have a Loving Father in Heaven, I have no doubt that the men who delivered our savior up on that cross, god chose each of them and their names aren’t known to us. Think about that.
24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.
I believe this inadequacy is what brings us closer to God, because we have to search for answers. We always appreciate more, the things we have to work for. A really neat thing about the book of Psalms… it is a collection of poems originally sung as praises or petitions to God. Many were written by David. This book is like a hymnal from ancient Israel. Its lyrics constitute some of the world’s best inspirational literature, expressing faith in the Lord and an earnest desire to live righteously.
Many psalms prophesy of Christ’s mission as the Messiah. The resurrected Savior declared, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44). Discuss the fulfillment of a few of the following prophecies about Christ that are written in the book of Psalms:
Jesus Christ is the only person whose birth, life, death, and resurrection were prophesied before his birth.
Why do you think such detailed prophecies were given about the Savior’s life? (These prophecies made it clear that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.)
How were these prophecies a blessing to those who received them? (The prophecies helped people learn of the Savior and gain testimonies of him even before he was born [see Mosiah 3:13]. The prophecies also helped some people recognize him when he came.)
2. “The Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee” (Psalm 116:7).
In addition to prophesying of the Savior’s life and mission, many psalms express gratitude for blessings such as the creation of heaven and earth; the Savior’s mercy, forgiveness, and love; the scriptures; and the temple.
The Creation of Heaven and Earth
Discuss the following psalms that express gratitude to the Lord for the creation of heaven and earth:
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
What words did David use in Psalm 19:7–10 to describe the scriptures? (Synonyms for the scriptures include law, testimony, statutes, commandment, and judgments. Adjectives describing the scriptures include perfect, sure, right, pure, true, and righteous. The scriptures are also described as more desired than gold and sweeter than honey.)
What blessings can the scriptures bring into our lives, as recorded in Psalm 19:7–11?
They convert our souls (verse 7).
They make the simple wise (verse 7).
They cause our hearts to rejoice (verse 8).
They enlighten our eyes (verse 8).
They give us warning (verse 11).
How have the scriptures blessed your life in these or in other ways?
How have you been blessed as you have trusted him?
The psalms bear powerful witness of the divine mission of Jesus Christ. They also remind us of the great blessings that he and our Heavenly Father have given us. And they suggest ways we can express gratitude for those blessings.
(hand-out page 2, part 2)
Praise God in His sanctuary—Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
(end hand-out page 2, part 2)
The final Psalm, made me think of this tune… I think it is good anytime of year!
I am grateful for the limitations of scripture that force me to seek answers through prayer and study. I encourage you all to bear your testimonies more frequently, whether in word or deed, or screaming it out in blood-curdling fashion… itNoJC,a!!
My mother, Mildred Bennion Eyring, grew up in the farming community of Granger, Utah, USA. One of her brothers, Roy, followed the family business of raising sheep. As a young man he spent many weeks away from home. Over time he became less interested in the Church. Eventually he moved to Idaho, USA, married, and had three children. He died at the age of 34 when his wife was 28 years old and their children were small.
Even though Roy’s little family was in Idaho and my mother had moved about 2,500 miles (4,025 km) to New Jersey, USA, she often wrote them letters of love and encouragement. My uncle’s family affectionately referred to my mother as “Aunt Mid.”
Years passed, and one day I received a phone call from one of my cousins. I was told that Roy’s widow had died. My cousin said, “Aunt Mid would want you to know.” Aunt Mid had long since passed away, but the family still felt her love and reached out to tell me.
I was struck by how much my mother had filled a role in her family similar to the role the Nephite prophets had filled in their families by staying close to relatives they wanted to bring to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nephi wrote a record that he hoped would influence the children of his brothers to return to the faith of their patriarch, Lehi. The sons of Mosiah showed that same love as they preached the gospel to the descendants of Lehi.
The Lord has provided ways for us to feel love in families that can continue forever. Young people in the Church today are feeling their hearts turn to their families. They are searching for names of family members who did not have the opportunity to receive the ordinances of salvation in this life. They take those names to the temple. When they enter the waters of baptism, they have the opportunity to feel the love of the Lord and of the family members for whom they are performing proxy ordinances.
I can still remember the love in the voice of my cousin who called and said, “Our mother has died, and Aunt Mid would want you to know.”
Those of you who perform ordinances for family members are reaching out in love, as did the sons of Mosiah and the prophet Nephi. Like them, you will feel joy for those who accept your offering. You can also expect to feel the same great satisfaction as Ammon, who said of his missionary service among distant family members:
“Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel” (Alma 26:16).
I bear testimony that the feelings of love you have for your family members—wherever they may be—are a fulfillment of the promise that Elijah would come. He did come. Children’s hearts are turning to their fathers, and fathers’ hearts are turning to their children (see Malachi 4:5–6; Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39). When you feel the urge to find the names of your ancestors and take those names to the temple, you are experiencing the fulfillment of that prophecy.
It is a blessing to live in the time when the promise of hearts turning is being fulfilled. Mildred Bennion Eyring felt that urge in her heart. She loved her brother’s family, and she reached out to them. They felt their hearts turn in love to Aunt Mid because they knew she loved them.
Teaching from This Message
You may want to read the prophecies about the spirit of Elijah with those you visit (see Malachi 4:5–6; Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39). Discuss ways to become involved with family history, including tools such as indexing, photography, and blogging. If those you visit are unfamiliar with FamilySearch.org, consider taking some time to show it to them.
Getting to Know My Grandmother
By Jewelene Carter
The author now lives in Virginia, USA.
For one of my Young Women projects, I volunteered to help my grandmother find her ancestors by scrolling through sheets of microfilm at the family history center in Mesa, Arizona, USA. As we sat side by side and searched for our family, I began to wonder: “Do I really know very much about my grandmother who’s right beside me?”
We found many family members, prepared their information, and went to the Mesa Arizona Temple to perform their baptisms and confirmations. Not long after, my grandmother gave me a bound compilation of her family history.
Because she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, it is very painful for my grandmother to type. I enjoy helping her on the computer. Together, we write the stories from her life for our family’s spiritual benefit. I love being a part of her life and learning so much about Church history as we collaborate on these projects.
Love at Home
Kindly heaven smiles above
When there’s love at home;
All the world is filled with love
When there’s love at home.
(“Love at Home,” Hymns, no. 294)
Heavenly Father wants us to love our families so that we can be happy. The more we serve our families, the more we will love Heavenly Father and our family members.
Draw hearts like this one on a piece of paper and cut them out. Write happy notes or draw pictures on them and secretly deliver them to the members of your family. Watch how happy it will make them!
We all know, or should know, that we have no right to judge another person. We can judge for ourselves the course of action and behaviors we will engage.
Elder Kofford gave a talk in the April 1999 General Conference, which has helped me immensely. Anytime, anyone is speaking ill of another person, they are lying! Even if there is a factual basis for their remarks, no one has the ability to portray the whole story. Just as people lied about Jesus and had him imprisoned, or when people lied about Joseph Smith and had him imprisoned, when someone is speaking ill of another, that is the Spirit of the Devil working. If you should ever hear such chatter, consider this ‘If the devil is sharing this, clearly he does not want me to know something good about this person.’
As Christians, we know the Devil doesn’t want us to partake of the Atonement. As Latter Day Saints, we know the Devil doesn’t want us to know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, in this true and living church.
When anyone speaks ill of another person, KNOW that if you look into that lie, you will discover a nugget of gold that will enrich your spiritual well-being.
There are those among us who would recoil in horror at the thought of stealing another person’s money or property but who don’t give a second thought to stealing another person’s good name or reputation.
I wonder if you have any idea how easy you are to love and how much I love you. Just before this session started, some of our grandchildren stopped by our hotel room. They had obviously been talking about Elder Marlin Jensen’s talk of this morning. One of them said, “Are you scared, Grandpa?” I lied and said, “Not very.” Another one said, “Don’t worry, Grandpa, if you mess up, we’ll still love you.” But then reality came back into the room when someone added, “But, Grandpa, it would be very embarrassing.” So I am going to try very hard not to mess up.
On June 26, 1858, what I believe to be the largest standing army in the history of the United States up to that date began its prearranged entry into Salt Lake Valley. They had come to quell a nonexistent rebellion. Almost anyone remotely familiar with the history of the Church can tell you that they marched in relative silence within a few yards of where this building now stands, through a city described by one writer as “deserted,” and encamped some distance to the west. What followed is far less well known. In due course the army moved approximately 40 miles south of Salt Lake City to the village of Fairfield, a small farming community in Cedar Valley, home to what is estimated to have been less than 200 people. Their local spiritual leader was John Carson, my great-grandfather.
Imagine how this small congregation must have felt. After all, how would you like to wake up some morning and find that several thousand soldiers, together with over 3,000 wagons, 10,000 oxen, and 12,000 mules, had moved into your ward? The challenges were immediate. From our oral family history, and subject to all of the romanticizing and inaccuracies of such histories, we learn that Bishop Carson was gravely concerned about the welfare of the people over whom he presided. All of the challenges that attended army encampments of that time descended upon Fairfield almost overnight.
To protect the members of the congregation as much as possible, Bishop Carson met with the commander of the fort, who often dined at his hotel and with whom he developed a good relationship based upon mutual respect. The two leaders surveyed the situation and then by agreement drew a line upon the ground. No army personnel would cross into the civilian community without specific approval of their superiors. And members of the congregation would not cross into the fort without specific approval from Bishop Carson. The line on the ground represented an unspoken command: “Over this line you may not cross.”
When we were children, a line on the ground had special significance. Whenever boyhood tempers caused disagreement, the time-honored solution called for a line on the ground. The antagonists stood on opposite sides of the line, attempting to act as intimidating as possible. Someone would say, “Step over the line and you’ll be sorry,” though they usually didn’t say it in those genteel words. In those moments I learned the great value of a line on the ground and the consequences of stepping over it. In the years that have followed, I have come to understand that figurative lines on the ground are placed there by a loving Heavenly Father who seeks to protect us from Lucifer’s army.
While each of us may have dozens of lines on the ground in our life today, I would like to discuss just one of them—the line that says, “Keep each person’s name safe in your home.”
During the early years of my service as a General Authority, I was privileged to be in company with Elder Marion D. Hanks on one occasion when he related the following story. I use it here with his permission:
Oscar Kirkham was one of the great men of the Church and among the Church’s most respected Scouters. He served in the First Council of the Seventy and was a significant presence wherever he went. Often in meetings he would rise to a “point of personal privilege” and then, when recognized, would proceed to say something good about someone. Near the end of his life, he spoke briefly at Brigham Young University on the theme “say the good word.” On the morning that Elder Kirkham died, Elder Hanks was invited to the Kirkham family home. There he was handed a small, inexpensive notebook in which Elder Kirkham had kept his notes. The last two entries were: “Say the good word” and “Your name is safe in our home” (see Marion D. Hanks, foreword to Say the Good Word, by Oscar A. Kirkham , 4).
What a blessing it would be if all of us could follow that counsel, if each of our names truly could be safe in the home of others. Have you noticed how easy it is to cross over the line and find fault with other people? All too often we seek to be excused from the very behavior we condemn in others. Mercy for me, justice for everyone else is a much too common addiction. When we deal with the name and reputation of another, we deal with something sacred in the sight of the Lord.
There are those among us who would recoil in horror at the thought of stealing another person’s money or property but who don’t give a second thought to stealing another person’s good name or reputation.
The old adage “Never judge another man until you have walked a mile in his footsteps” is as good advice today as it was the day it was first uttered. Someone once said,
There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it ill behooves any of us
To find fault with the rest of us.
The principle is not new, nor is it unique to our day and time. The book of Psalms from the Old Testament contains this urgent warning from the Lord: “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off” (Ps. 101:5).
James, a servant of the Lord in the meridian of time, repeated this eternal truth when he said: “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law. …
“… Who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:11–12).
And in this latter day, the Lord renewed His long-taught command in a revelation given through the prophet Brigham Young: “Cease to speak evil one of another” (D&C 136:23).
It is most significant to me that this simple commandment is set forth just a few verses from the Lord’s words on the penalty for disobedience: “Be diligent in keeping all my commandments, lest judgments come upon you, and your faith fail you, and your enemies triumph over you” (D&C 136:42).
To those who doubt the importance of the commandment, may I pose two simple questions: (1) How can you say you love your fellowman when behind his back you seek to diminish his good name and reputation? (2) How can you say you love your God when you cannot even love your neighbor?
Any feeble attempt to justify such conduct only brings more forcibly to mind those explosive words of the Savior found in the book of Matthew:
“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? …
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
“For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:34, 36–37).
I would like to say a few words to the Primary children who may be listening. Children, I’ve been trying to teach your moms and dads something very important, but I need your help. I’ll make you a deal. If you will promise to listen very carefully, I promise not to talk very long.
Do you remember the story of Bambi, the little deer, and all of his friends in the forest? If you do, you will remember that one of Bambi’s good friends was a rabbit named Thumper. Thumper was about your age. He was a neat rabbit, but he had one problem. He kept saying bad things about people. One day Bambi was in the forest learning to walk, and he fell down. Thumper just couldn’t resist the temptation. “He doesn’t walk very good, does he?” Thumper blurted out. His mother felt very bad and said, “What did your father tell you this morning?” And then Thumper, looking down at his feet and kind of shifting his weight, said, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” That’s a good piece of advice that all of us need to follow. What I need you to do, young people, is this. If you hear anyone in your family start to say something bad about someone else, will you please just stamp your foot and say in a loud voice, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Now, even though that isn’t correct English, everyone will understand exactly what you mean. Now, Moms and Dads, that ought to make it a little easier to live the commandment.
I pray that the Lord will bless each of us that we may never cross over the line on the ground and that we may live so that it can be said, “Your name is safe in our home.”
On this special Easter Day, I close with my solemn declaration, born of the Spirit, that Jesus Christ is indeed our Savior and our Redeemer and that salvation comes by and through His atoning sacrifice and in no other way. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Young Latter-day Saints, shape up! Face up! Take hold of your lives! Take control of your mind, your thoughts!
I speak to our children and our youth and ask that you tell your parents and grandparents to sit quietly and not disturb us for a few minutes while we talk.
I want to pass to you something I learned from my brother which has been like a shield and a protection to me. I have spoken of it before, but not in the detail that I will today.
I graduated from flight training and received my silver wings two days before my 20th birthday. Later I was stationed at Langley Field, Virginia, as copilot on a selected B-24 bomber crew trained to use a new secret weapon—radar.
My brother, Colonel Leon C. Packer, was stationed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A much decorated B-24 pilot, he became a brigadier general in the Air Force.
While I was at Langley Field, the war in Europe ended, and so we were ordered to the Pacific. I spent a few days with Leon in Washington before shipping out for combat.
He told me of things he had learned under fire. He flew from North Africa on raids over southern Europe; very few of those planes returned.
On April 16, 1943, he was captain of a B-24 bomber returning to England after a raid in Europe. His plane, the Yard Bird, was heavily damaged by flak and dropped out of formation.
Then they were alone and came under heavy attack from fighters.
His one-page account of that experience says: “Number three engine was smoking and the prop ran away. Number four fuel line was shot out. Right aileron cables and stabilizer cables were shot out. Rudders partially locked. Radio shot out. Extremely large holes in the right wing. Flaps shot out. Entire rear part of the fuselage filled with holes. Hydraulic system shot out. Tail turret out.”
A history of the Eighth Air Force, published just two years ago, gives a detailed account of that flight written by one of the crew.1
With one engine on fire, the other three lost power. They were going down. The alarm bell ordered that they bail out. The bombardier, the only one able to get out, parachuted into the English Channel.
The pilots left their seats and made their way toward the bomb bay to bail out. Suddenly Leon heard an engine cough and sputter. He quickly climbed back to his seat and coaxed enough power from the engines to reach the coast of England. Then the engines failed, and they crashed.
The landing gear was shorn off on the brow of a hill; the plane plowed through trees and crumbled. Dirt filled the fuselage.
Amazingly, though some were terribly wounded, all aboard survived. The bombardier was lost, but he probably saved the lives of the other nine. When smoke poured from the engines and a parachute appeared, the fighters stopped their attack.
That was not the only time Leon had crash-landed.
As we visited, he told me how he was able to hold himself together under fire. He said, “I have a favorite hymn”—and he named it—“and when things got rough I would sing it silently to myself, and there would come a faith and an assurance that kept me on course.”
He sent me off to combat with that lesson.
In the spring of 1945 I was able to test that lesson Leon had taught me those months before.
The war in the Pacific ended before we reached the Philippines, and we were ordered to Japan.
One day we flew out of Atsugi airfield near Yokohama in a B-17 bomber bound for Guam to pick up a beacon light.
After nine hours in the air, we let down through the clouds to find ourselves hopelessly lost. Our radio was out. We were, as it turned out, in a typhoon.
Flying just above the ocean, we began a search pattern. In that desperate situation, I remembered the words of my brother. I learned that you can pray and even sing without making a sound.
After some time we pulled up over a line of rocks jutting out of the water. Could they be part of the chain of the Mariana Islands? We followed them. Soon Tinian Island loomed ahead, and we landed with literally seconds of fuel in the tank. As we headed down the runway, the engines one by one stopped.
I learned that both prayer and music can be very silent and very personal.
Now, while that experience was dramatic, the greater value of Leon’s lesson came later in everyday life when I faced the same temptations you young people and children face now.
As the years passed I found that, while not easy, I could control my thoughts if I made a place for them to go. You can replace thoughts of temptation, anger, disappointment, or fear with better thoughts—with music.
I love the sacred music of the Church. The hymns of the Restoration carry an inspiration and a protection.
I know also some music is spiritually destructive; it’s bad and dangerous! Young people, leave it alone!
I know as well why Leon counseled his children, “Remember, the flak is always the heaviest closer to the target.”
Thoughts are talks we hold with ourselves. Do you see why the scriptures tell us to “let virtue garnish [thy] thoughts unceasingly” and promise us that if we do, our “confidence [shall] wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon [our] soul[s] as the dews from heaven” and then “the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion.”2
“The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”3
Young people, the voice of the Spirit is felt rather than heard. You can learn when you are very young how the Holy Ghost works.
The scriptures are full of help on how good can influence your mind and evil control you, if you let it. That struggle will never end. But remember this:
When you learn to control your thoughts, you will be safe.
One man I know does this: Whenever an unworthy thought tries to enter his mind, he brushes his thumb against his wedding ring. That breaks the circuit and for him becomes an almost automatic way to close out unwanted thoughts and ideas.
I can’t refrain from telling you one other thing about that visit with my brother in Washington. He was to take a B-25 bomber to Texas to pick up something and return to Washington the next day. I went with him. That was the only time we flew together.
Many years later I was honored by Weber State University, where we both had graduated. He had been a student body officer during his college days. Because I would be in South America, he agreed to attend the banquet and accept the award in my behalf.
In his acceptance speech he told this story—part of which is true. He said that in Texas we were lined up side by side on the runway ready to take off. He radioed to me and said, “See you upstairs—if you think you can make it!”
Then he told them that after I became a General Authority of the Church, once in a while I would check on his behavior and add, “See you upstairs—if you think you can make it!”
Well, Leon made it. He is now where I hope one day to be.
Young Latter-day Saints, shape up! Face up! Take hold of your lives! Take control of your mind, your thoughts! If you have friends that are not a good influence, make changes, even if you face loneliness, even rejection.
If you have already made bad mistakes, there are ways to fix things up, and eventually it will be as though they never happened.
Sometimes guilt controls our minds and takes us prisoner in our thoughts. How foolish to remain in prison when the door stands open. Now, don’t tell yourself that sin really doesn’t matter. That won’t help; repentance will.
Take charge of yourself. How wonderful to be a young Latter-day Saint in this wonderful, challenging time.
Paul told young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth.”5
You can do it—you must do it. Our future depends on you, our children and youth.
Well, that’s the advice I pass on to you. Now wake up your parents, and tell them that you have learned a way to help yourself be perfect. Perhaps you won’t be quite perfect, but you can come close enough.
I can give you this encouragement: A teacher, trying to explain what a theory is, asked this question: “If you take a letter half the distance to a mailbox and stop, then start over going half the remaining distance and stop, then repeat the process over and over, theoretically will you ever really get to the mailbox?” One bright student said, “No, but you’ll get close enough to mail the letter.”
You young people will get close enough to perfection to have a life that is filled with challenges and troubles, with inspiration and happiness and eternal joy.
The Lord promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”7
“I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. …
“This is the spirit of revelation. …
“Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you.”8
May God bless you. Already you sang to us, “I know who I am. I know God’s plan.”9 Someday you can bear your testimony to your grandchildren, and they to theirs, and they to another generation, and another.
You look ahead to a long life, to the long, long future before this Church, before the children and youth, before all of us as Latter-day Saints. And I bear witness to you, our youngsters, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. As a grandfather, and as a great-grandfather, I know how much we love you. I tell you how much we love you, how much you are loved in this Church, and invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you as you face the wonderful life before you as young Latter-day Saints. This I do as a servant of the Lord and in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Do you realize that the restored Church was 98 years old before it had 100 stakes? But less than 30 years later, the Church had organized its second 100 stakes. And only eight years after that the Church had more than 300 stakes. Today we are more than 3,000 stakes strong.
Why is this growth taking place at an accelerated rate? Is it because we are better known? Is it because we have lovely chapels?
These things are important, but the reason the Church is growing today is that the Lord indicated it would. In the Doctrine and Covenants, He said, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.”1
We, as spirit children of our Heavenly Father, were sent to earth at this time that we might participate in hastening this great work.
The Lord has never, to my knowledge, indicated that His work is confined to mortality. Rather, His work embraces eternity. I believe He is hastening His work in the spirit world. I also believe that the Lord, through His servants there, is preparing many spirits to receive the gospel. Our job is to search out our dead and then go to the temple and perform the sacred ordinances that will bring to those beyond the veil the same opportunities we have.
Every good Latter-day Saint in the spirit world is busy, said President Brigham Young (1801–77). “What are they doing there? They are preaching, preaching all the time, and preparing the way for us to hasten our work in building temples here and elsewhere.”2
Now, family history work is not easy. For those of you from Scandinavia, I share your frustration. For example, on my Swedish line, my grandfather’s name was Nels Monson; his father’s name was not Monson at all but Mons Okeson. Mons’s father’s name was Oke Pederson, and his father’s name was Peter Monson—right back to Monson again.
The Lord expects you and me to perform our family history work well. I think the first thing we must do if we are to perform our work well is to have the Spirit of our Heavenly Father with us. When we live as righteously as we know how to live, He will open the way for the fulfillment of the blessings that so earnestly and diligently we seek.
We are going to make mistakes, but none of us can become an expert in family history work without first being a novice. Therefore, we must plunge into this work, and we must prepare for some uphill climbing. This is not an easy task, but the Lord has placed it upon you, and He has placed it upon me.
As you pursue family history work, you are going to find yourself running into roadblocks, and you are going to say to yourself, “There is nothing else I can do.” When you come to that point, get down on your knees and ask the Lord to open the way, and He will open the way for you. I testify that this is true.
Heavenly Father loves His children in the spirit world just as much as He loves you and me. Regarding the work of saving our dead, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “And now as the great purposes of God are hastening to their accomplishment, and the things spoken of in the Prophets are fulfilling, as the kingdom of God is established on the earth, and the ancient order of things restored, the Lord has manifested to us this duty and privilege.”3
Regarding our ancestors who have passed on without a knowledge of the gospel, President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) declared, “Through our efforts in their behalf their chains of bondage will fall from them, and the darkness surrounding them will clear away, that light may shine upon them and they shall hear in the spirit world of the work that has been done for them by their children here, and will rejoice with you in your performance of these duties.”4
There are millions upon millions of spirit children of our Heavenly Father who never heard the name of Christ before dying and going into the spirit world. But now they have been taught the gospel and are awaiting the day when you and I will do the research necessary to clear the way so that we can go into the house of the Lord and perform for them the work that they themselves cannot perform.
My brothers and sisters, I testify that the Lord will bless us as we accept and respond to this challenge.
Teaching from This Message
Think of a favorite story from your family history and share this story with those you visit. You may want to use the questions in the children’s section of the First Presidency Message (page 6) to encourage those you visit to share their stories. Consider reading Doctrine and Covenants 128:15 and discussing the importance of performing temple ordinances on behalf of our ancestors.
Could I Enjoy Indexing?
By Emma Abril Toledo Cisneros
The author lives in Veracruz, Mexico.
I participated in our stake goal to index 50,000 names. At first it was hard. On several occasions the batch I downloaded had difficult handwriting, and sometimes I wanted to return it and download a different one. But then I realized that if everyone thought like that, those batches would be left to the end. I could imagine many lines of people waiting in the spirit world, and I decided to continue trying to read those names and transcribe them without making a mistake.
I learned to have love for those people. I understood that they truly did need help, and we also needed help from them. I came to better understand that Heavenly Father’s perfect plan takes everyone into consideration. When we follow the inspiration and instructions of His chosen leaders, we will witness His mercy and infinite love.
Indexing has been a lovely experience for me. I learned to value and love many things about family history. I also obtained gifts of great value from our Lord by obeying something as simple as participating in indexing.
Know Your Stories
Your parents and grandparents have had many adventures—some you don’t even know about! Some of their stories will make you laugh, and they can help you have faith in Heavenly Father. But even adults feel shy sometimes. Use these questions to help them remember some of their favorite stories and write down or draw pictures of their answers.