"Reach out to new members and those seeking to come back to church." I remember that during my mission this was a large focus for President Hinckley as well. Every new convert needs a calling, a friend, and nourishment from the word of God. This is so important. I saw it on my and I've seen it at home, especially within my wife's family.
Catie has told me that as a new convert you have so much attention and the spirit is so strong, but after you have been baptized for a while, it doesn't feel as strong anymore and the members begin to see you as another part of family who just belongs so you don't need the extra attention anymore. I personally think that part of that is the Lord is going to try you to see if you really want to do this for him and not for the attention. We had a really when we moved into the Bridgerland Park 2nd ward. We had just come from an amazing ward where I was the ward mission leader, we had a new baby, and Catie was still considered a new convert, so we got lots of attention. Then, we moved to the 2nd ward and it seemed as if we were just forgotten. In fact, we moved in the same time as my brother who only went to church once before they moved back into my parents. The ward confused us with them for several month (I think they even moved the wrong records). Catie wanted to attend the student ward, she hated it so bad. About a year later, Catie was called to the primary presidency. She started loving the ward, so of course we had to move away. If you look on her facebook and blog, you'll see that a majority of her friends came from that ward.
I know the Lord is going to try us to see how much we really love Him and want to do what he wants us to do. But as President Monson, this is the time they need us to reach out that hand of fellowship. Perhaps, it's not even the new convert who is needed that extra strength.
"Gideon was chosen to lead 3000 men but ended up taking 300 to fight a battle again a lot of people (sorry don't remember the exact numbers and don't want to look it up right now)"
"We have positive feelings about what lies ahead. Gideon's men succeeded because they stood every man in his place."
Sometimes we look at our challenges and enemies and think there is no way I can do this. It's too hard or perhaps we are just too lazy. I realized recently as I was thinking back to my childhood that I have a tendency to be a quitter. In kindergarten, I started playing soccer. I think it was the first practice, the coach threw the ball at me. It hit me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me, so I quit. I took piano lessons, didn't want to practice, so I quit. I took Karate (as the neighborhood bullied, or so I thought, I wanted something to defend myself), the other kids were throwing apples after practice. When one hit me in the eye, I decided to quit. Of course, I also hid in he bathroom whenever the teacher had one-on-one combats. Basketball, football, anything that was a little hard, I quit. I wish someone would have taken me aside and explained that I could do this. It might be painful as you are going through the experience, but with God's help you will be able to do it and will be a better person because you have endured through something.
"The father presides in the home even if a church leader is present." He then tells a story about a boy who had asked someone to ordain him prior to his mission. President Packer saw his father and suggested (commanded) that his father should give him the blessing. The father and son embraced for the first time and the father said, "I didn't get to ordain my other boys."
I think it's interesting how important of a role fathers have. In church, if someone with higher authority (stake president, apostle...) attends sacrament, they preside instead of the bishop. But in the home there is no higher authority than they father even if he does not hold the priesthood.
I wish I had known how important the role of a father was when I was younger. When I turned eight, my mom suggested that I could choose who I wanted to baptize me. I thought it was like picking someone to drive me to school or something. We had just visited my uncle in California and I thought he was a pretty cool guy because he did science experiments (FYI- I don't even like science now), so I chose him. He said he couldn't. My mom suggested that I could have my dad do it, but the idea was already in my head that I could have someone else besides this guy who lived with me and punished me for throwing rocks at cars. So, I called my other uncle who was happy to do it for me. Can you imagine how my dad felt? He didn't even get to baptize his oldest son not because he was unworthy, but because I chose his younger brother simply because of the novelty. I vaguely remember going in to get dressed; I asked my dad if he was going to change as well, but he said no because he wasn't performing the ordinance. I've regretted this decision ever since I realized how important the father's role is.
"Authority comes from ordination. Power in the priesthood comes from righteousness." A while back, I was placed in an interesting circumstance where I was asked to help administer a healing blessing. I knew the other elder had not attended church for several months and had heard he was even attended another denomination. I was not sure how to respond to this request,He did have the priesthood and even had a current temple recommend. Obviously, I was not this elder's bishop so I couldn't tell him he was not worthy. I decided to proceed with the blessing on that reasoning. I did feel the spirit as I placed my hands upon the sick, but it has still bothered me a little. I've also wondered, when are you unworthy to perform priesthood ordinances? If you stop paying your tithing, you can't have a temple recommend. Does that also make you unworthy to perform blessings through the priesthood? I assume from President Packer's story about the inactive father that it does not. For he even said "luckily, he was an elder. but that could've been taken care of if he was not."
"A woman (or man) can have the comfort from the spirit when dealing with an unruly child, but if you lose your temper with your children, you lose the spirit." Unfortunately, this weekend, as with many weekends, I lost my temper with my son. I was completing our taxes when suddenly, the screen went blank. He had climbed under the computer to turn the power switch off. I obviously yelled at him and sent him to his room. A few minutes later, I called him down and asked why he did that. He said, "I thought it would be funny, but it was not." I felt bad and the spirit was gone not because of this trick, but because a tyrannical father who lost his patience.
Keith B. McMullin
I like the story he told of the concentration camp victim who had a sister killed. Years later, he was approached by one of the guards of the camp. [My wife thought the guard had actually killed the sister, but as told here it was a guard of the camp.] He had converted to Christianity and seeking for God's forgiveness. He struck out his hand and said, "Will you forgive me." The boy said that it felt like ages as he was asked to do the hardest thing he had ever been asked to do. He said a prayer, "I can lift my hand, you provide the feeling." He proceeded to receive the forgiveness he needed for this man. I had the thought "How can I harbor feelings over a few harsh words (especially when most are not meant to be malicious) or an inconsequently act of neglect or pain when this person was required and able to forgive such a horrific crime?
"As I read notes of the pioneers leaving Nauvoo, they were not filled with discouragement. They were homeless, but not hopeless [I added or helpless].... Hope, happiness, and joy are not product of circumstances, but of faith in Christ." I so often say something like, "when I get [fill in the blank, usually something to do with a job or money] then I'll be happy or be able to have peace. Elder Andersen makes it pretty clear here that that's not the case. We can be happy or at least have joy regardless of our circumstances if we will but trust in Christ. The pioneers had a lot to be scared, angry, and depressed about. They had been driven from three states, were leaving their beautiful home once again, and their prophet had been murdered. Yet, they put their trust in God and followed where he wanted them to go. They even sang as they did or so an annoyingly repetitive primary song would have you believe. "Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked . . ."
We can look at what the Lord or the world gives us and say, "This suck! I hate my life. blah blah blah." and choose to make ourselves and our loved ones miserable. Or we can look at what the Lord or the world gives us and say, "What can I learn from this? How can I turn this into an advantage for me or for someone? or Lord, this is hard, please help me." and then listen and know that he will. He may not remove the trial, but will make the burden light at least.
"Love your mother and be patient with her imperfections" I know my wife and I both struggle with this. It's difficult because my mom will say whatever she thinks without thinking no matter how hurting the sentence. My wife takes what my mom says to heart and often assumes that many of these things she says or implies is intended to be a personal insult. My parents' adoption of these kids make it even harder because our parenting techniques are so different. It's really quite interesting to watch because I was raised by these guys but we're completely different (other than that incident I described above that seems to be an inherited/learned trait I've carried over). In addition, I have a hard time with the way my mom treats my dad and her money management. But I think Elder Ballard is right. I just need to love her and be patient with her imperfections.
"Our Heavenly Father needs our help to bring [I wrote] our children back to him. . . Rescue those who have been led away into sorrow. The most important place is in the family--parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters. . ." He told a story about his child who decided to walk home, but soon found that he did not know the way. He ventured off the path to pray where he was met by a young couple who proceeded to rescue him. President Eyring was grateful to these two rescuers. I liked this talk, but it's 1:00 in the morning and I only finished typing the first session. The other two were just as good. I recommend watching a rebroadcast if you haven't seen it at lds.org.