Sunday, June 30, 2013

What I learned from Church 6/30/13

The Priesthood of Aaron

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The priesthood you bear is a special gift, for the giver is the Lord Himself. Use it, magnify it, and live worthy of it.
Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, I testify to you that the Lord is bound by solemn covenant to bless your lives according to your faithfulness. If you will heed the voice of warning of the Holy Ghost and will follow His direction, you will be blessed with the ministering of angels. This blessing will add wisdom, knowledge, power, and glory to your life. This is a sure blessing promised to you by the Lord.
A few months ago I had the opportunity of attending a ward fast and testimony meeting. One who stood to bear his testimony was an Aaronic Priesthood adviser. His testimony provided me with a new appreciation of what it means for an Aaronic Priesthood bearer to hold the keys of the ministering of angels.
This adviser described some of his experiences with the ward Aaronic Priesthood that morning. As he was walking to church he noticed two young deacons with fast-offering envelopes going to the homes of the members. He was impressed with the way they were dressed in their Sunday best and how they approached their assignment with quiet dignity. He then accompanied two priests to administer the sacrament in a residential home for physically and mentally disabled men. This was the first opportunity for these two young men to visit this home, and their adviser noted the respectful and caring way in which they approached their priesthood assignment.
Then the adviser shared a brief experience that deeply touched his heart, because one of the priests reminded him of what it really means to be a true minister of Jesus Christ—literally, a ministering angel. The young priest who was passing the water to the congregation came to a man who appeared to have Down syndrome. The man’s condition prevented him from taking the cup from the tray to drink from it. This young priest immediately assessed the situation. He placed his left hand behind the man’s head so he would be in a position to drink, and with the right hand he took a cup from the tray and gently and slowly lifted it to the man’s lips. An expression of appreciation came to the man’s face—the expression of someone to whom someone else has ministered. This wonderful young priest then continued his assignment to pass the blessed water to the other members of the congregation. 

The Powers of Heaven

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Priesthood holders young and old need both authority and power—the necessary permission and the spiritual capacity to represent God in the work of salvation.

A Lesson from My Father

I was reared in a home with a faithful mother and a wonderful father. My mom was a descendant of pioneers who sacrificed everything for the Church and kingdom of God. My dad was not a member of our Church and, as a young man, had desired to become a Catholic priest. Ultimately, he elected not to attend theological seminary and instead pursued a career as a tool and die maker.
For much of his married life, my father attended meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with our family. In fact, many of the people in our ward had no idea that my dad was not a member of the Church. He played on and coached our ward softball team, helped with Scout activities, and supported my mother in her various callings and responsibilities. I want to tell you about one of the great lessons I learned from my father about priesthood authority and power.
As a boy I asked my dad many times each week when he was going to be baptized. He responded lovingly but firmly each time I pestered him: “David, I am not going to join the Church for your mother, for you, or for anyone else. I will join the Church when I know it is the right thing to do.”
I believe I was in my early teenage years when the following conversation occurred with my father. We had just returned home from attending our Sunday meetings together, and I asked my dad when he was going to be baptized. He smiled and said, “You are the one always asking me about being baptized. Today I have a question for you.” I quickly and excitedly concluded that now we were making progress!
My dad continued, “David, your church teaches that the priesthood was taken from the earth anciently and has been restored by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith, right?” I replied that his statement was correct. Then he said, “Here is my question. Each week in priesthood meeting I listen to the bishop and the other priesthood leaders remind, beg, and plead with the men to do their home teaching and to perform their priesthood duties. If your church truly has the restored priesthood of God, why are so many of the men in your church no different about doing their religious duty than the men in my church?” My young mind immediately went completely blank. I had no adequate answer for my dad.
I believe my father was wrong to judge the validity of our Church’s claim to divine authority by the shortcomings of the men with whom he associated in our ward. But embedded in his question to me was a correct assumption that men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently. Men who hold the priesthood should not only receive priesthood authority but also become worthy and faithful conduits of God’s power. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 38:42).
I have never forgotten the lessons about priesthood authority and power I learned from my father, a good man not of our faith, who expected more from men who claimed to bear God’s priesthood. That Sunday afternoon conversation with my dad many years ago produced in me a desire to be a “good boy.” I did not want to be a poor example and a stumbling block to my father’s progress in learning about the restored gospel. I simply wanted to be a good boy. The Lord needs all of us as bearers of His authority to be honorable, virtuous, and good boys at all times and in all places.
You may be interested to know that a number of years later, my father was baptized. And at the appropriate times, I had the opportunity to confer upon him the Aaronic and the Melchizedek Priesthoods. One of the great experiences of my life was observing my dad receive the authority and, ultimately, the power of the priesthood.
I share with you this pointed lesson I learned from my father to emphasize a simple truth. Receiving the authority of the priesthood by the laying on of hands is an important beginning, but it is not enough. Ordination confers authority, but righteousness is required to act with power as we strive to lift souls, to teach and testify, to bless and counsel, and to advance the work of salvation. 

Doctrine and Covenants 88:81
Behold, I sent you out to atestify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to bwarn his neighbor.

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