"The Mormon people teach the American religion; their principles teach the people not only of Heaven and its attendant glories, but how to live so that their social and economic relations with each other are placed on a sound basis. If the people follow the teachings of this Church, nothing can stop their progress — it will be limitless. There have been great movements started in the past but they have died or been modified before they reached maturity. If Mormonism is able to endure, unmodified, until it reaches the third and fourth generation, it is destined to become the greatest power the world has ever known." - Leo Tolstoy

Monday, November 23, 2015

Former LDS missionary creates graphic novel based on experience

(by Megan Marsden Christensen ksl.com 11-22-15)

Each day for 18 months, Brittany Long Olsen kept a journal in the form of comics as she served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tokyo, Japan.

On Nov. 11, she published those comics in her new graphic novel, "Dendo: One Year and One Half in Tokyo."  Olsen has been keeping a journal this way since 2008, when she started college. She thought it would be a fun way to keep track of her life events, and she put some comics on her blog.  While on her mission, she found it easy to share her experiences with family as she took pictures of her journal pages and sent them home each week.  "It was a fun way for them to follow along, and it's a really fun memory for me to have as well," Olsen said.  Within the graphic novel are missionary experiences others can relate to, such as learning a new language, adjusting to a different culture and dealing with difficult mission companions.

She also addresses her experience with the influx of missionaries who came into her mission after the LDS Church lowered the age at which missionaries can serve.

"I think one of the most uplifting parts of the book is the spiritual journey that I go through," Olsen said. "... Someone who's reading it can really see how I change from being really self-absorbed and dwelling on how hard it was for me. … Over time, I open up and really love the people and just want to share all the goodness in my life with them and become their friends."  Olsen's graphic novel is available on Amazon's CreateSpace for $24.99. If readers buy it directly through the publisher, Olsen will donate 10 percent of its proceeds to the LDS Church's missionary department.  To keep up with Olsen's comic journal, visit her website, where she draws comics about adjusting to newlywed life.



Sunday, November 22, 2015

4 women witnesses to the Book of Mormon translation process

(by Marianne Holman Prescott deseretnews.com 11-19-15)

Within the first few pages of the Book of Mormon, readers come across the names of 11 witnesses, each who has signed his name as someone who has either seen or felt the ancient plates that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon.

Although their names aren’t included in the official list, four women can be added as additional witnesses of the physical reality and divine process Joseph Smith went through in the translation of the Book of Mormon.

“Each of these women — Mary Whitmer, Lucy Mack Smith, Lucy Harris and Emma Smith — aided in the translation of the Book of Mormon and offered her own witness of the plates' reality,” said Amy Easton-Flake during one of the sessions of the Sperry Symposium on Oct. 23. “By recognizing their contributions, we not only place women back into the narrative in which they were integral actors, but we also expand the scope of ways to witness and what it means to be a witness.”

Recognizing the four names are familiar to many Church members, Sister Easton-Flake joined with Rachel Cope, both assistant professors in the religion department at BYU, in sharing insights regarding the important role the four women played in the translation of the Book of Mormon.

“Touch, sound, spiritual impressions and visions may in fact produce as these women illustrate so clearly, a more lasting and more powerful experience than sight,” said Sister Easton-Flake. “In turn, through these women’s witnesses, we see how the translation of the Book of Mormon both required and created a community — male and female, young and old, family and friends — who worked together on this important project.”

Mary Musselman Whitmer

Sometimes referred to as the “12th witness” by historians because of the parallel experience to that of the canonized witnesses, Mary Whitmer is the only known woman to have physically seen the plates, Sister Easton-Flake said.

In June 1829, Mary and her husband, Peter Whitmer, opened their home to Joseph and Emma Smith, and Oliver Cowdery. Because of the Whitmers' hospitality, Joseph was able to focus his efforts on translation, allowing the process to move forward rapidly.

On top of a large family of her own and many responsibilities of the home, Mary Whitmer began to feel her labor was too much. As those feelings began to grow, a stranger appeared to her, explaining the work that was going on in her home and showed her the plates. He encouraged her in her work and soon vanished.

Because of that experience, Mary was able to continue in her labors, helping the work move forward. Many of her family would later be witness to the plates.

Although the Whitmer family members had a falling out with the Church, Mary is among those who “never altered or denied her testimony of [the plates'] reality, their divine origin and the message contained in the book translated from them.”

Lucy Mack Smith

“As a memoirist and as a participant in the events surrounding the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon, Lucy Mack Smith introduces various ways of witnessing beyond the visual, including record keeping, sensory experiences and spiritual impressions,” said Sister Cope.

The prophet Joseph would often share his experiences with his family, including descriptions of the account on the plates before he even had them in his possession.

“Although the Smiths lacked tangible evidence of the plates at this time, they experienced spiritual confirmation and thus they anxiously awaited the day when Joseph would receive the important record he had described,” Sister Cope said. “Together, the family became witnesses of the Book of Mormon even prior to Joseph’s acquiring of the plates.”

After Joseph had obtained the plates, Lucy and other family members saw their outline through the cloth that covered them, and even handled them on occasion.

In addition to the visual and audible witness, Lucy would help find hiding places for the plates' protection, and oft defended the reality of the plates.

Lucy Harris

“I know she is a little bit more unusual, but I think there is a lot more to her story than we know or recognize,” said Sister Cope. “Within the pages of her memoir, Lucy Mack Smith introduces her readers to Lucy Harris. Although Lucy Harris is typically remembered for her antagonism toward the Book of Mormon … it is important to recognize that Lucy Smith’s history reveals another side to this complex figure.”

Shortly after Joseph and Emma had obtained the plates, Joseph asked his mother if she would speak with their wealthy acquaintance, Martin Harris. The mother agreed, but decided to first meet with Harris’s wife.

According to Lucy Smith’s account, Lucy Harris was intrigued and expressed an immediate interest in the plates, offering to donate a considerable sum of money from her own private purse for Joseph’s translation efforts. But prior to the donation, Lucy Harris wanted to see the plates and Joseph refused.

“[Lucy] Harris, who was staying in the Smith home overnight, retired to bed following her conversation with Joseph,” said Sister Cope. “The following morning, Lucy Harris shared a very remarkable experience that she had had that night with the Smith family.”

In her dream she recalled a personage that appeared to her and chastised her for interfering with the work. The angel then showed her the plates, resulting in a powerful witness. Upon waking up, Lucy Harris insisted on giving Joseph $28 — personal money she had received from her mother prior to her mother’s death.

“Although Lucy Harris did eventually become antagonistic to the work, … Lucy Smith confided that she continued to believe in their physical reality,” said Sister Cope.

Emma Smith

As the person closest to Joseph and with him from the beginning to the very end of the translation process, Emma “was arguably more intimately involved with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon than any other individual besides Joseph,” said Sister Easton-Flake.

Emma’s involvement began the day she accompanied Joseph to the Hill Cumorah to obtain the plates and continued as she later acted as a scribe, witnessing the translation process. Although she never saw the plates, at times they were placed under their bed, she would sometimes move them as she cleaned and other times she would see them wrapped in a small cloth.

“Her witness of the plates physically takes on an added dimension when she describes, ‘tracing their outline and shape,’” Sister Easton-Flake said. “She reports that the plates seemed to be pliable and would rustle with a metallic sound. … This complete assurance of the reality of the plates — despite her never seeing them — is a powerful statement about the validity of every witness to see beyond the visual. …

“Almost two centuries later, the miracles of this great work may resonate more and grow greater faith when we recognize how God used dedicated men and women to bring forth this great work of translation and restoration.”



Friday, November 20, 2015

Israel, Israel, God Is Calling‏


(by D. Rolling Kearney mormonchronicle.com 4-27-15)

A homosexual friend of my wife recently read my article on homosexuality and commented that it was a good article but did not present anything new to the discussion. I was not offended; I do not claim to be a prophet. Rather, it is my contention that we have everything we need already before us and that deep insights can be found if we will properly utilize what we have. Pres. Benson basically said this same thing when he called the Church to repentance for neglecting The Book of Mormon, the most foundational of all our scriptures.

In this article, I would like to take a deeper look at one of our most beloved hymns, “Israel, Israel, God is Calling,” currently hymn number 7 in the hymn book. Often with hymns, as with scriptures, we hear things so frequently that they lose their meaning. The Lord has said that songs are the same as prayer (see D&C 25:12), and that when we pray we should avoid “vain repetition” (3 Nephi 13:7; Matthew 6:7). It would seem, then, that we ought to know what it is that we are singing about!
The First Presidency preface to the hymn book, which most members have never read, includes the following guidance:
“Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns…We hope leaders, teachers, and members who are called on to speak will turn often to the hymnbook to find sermons presented powerfully and beautifully in verse…We hope the hymnbook will take a prominent place among the scriptures and other religious books in our homes.”
Israel, Israel, God is calling,
Calling thee from lands of woe.
Babylon the great is falling;
God shall all her tow’rs o’erthrow.
To begin with, this message is directed to us–you and I, the members of the LDS Church–since we are modern-day Israel. He is calling us out from “lands of woe,” from Babylon, as the next line informs us. Woes are curses, or promised destruction. D&C 130:21 explains that “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Curses work the same way, simply because they are the opposite of blessings. You will always get one or the other, depending on what choices you make, because they are two sides of the same coin. Babylon is the world and its ways. As the world moves itself further and further away from the ways of the Lord, they inherit greater and greater woes, perpetually worse and more numerous.
If we are already members of His Church, why must the Lord call us out from Babylon? Well, unfortunately, we love Babylon and all she has to offer. We love her entertainment, we worship her idols, we prefer her philosophies to the Gospel, and we are content to have one foot in Heaven and the other in Hell:
“Elder Neal A. Maxwell…once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon” (as quoted in The Best Is Yet to Be, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU devotional address, January 13, 2009.).
All throughout the scriptures, the pride of the world is represented by lofty things: tall trees (Isaiah 37:24), hills and mountains (Isaiah 40:4), and enormous buildings in the air (1 Nephi 11:36). Here, the pride of the world is represented by towers. When we place our own ideals above those of the Lord, we exalt them, lift them up, build them up as towers. Here, He warns us to leave those towers behind because they will all be “overthrown,” or toppled. As mentioned previously, the lofty ideals of the world always “bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World), because they are not founded upon eternal principles.

Israel, Israel, God is speaking.
Hear your great Deliv’rer’s voice!
Now a glorious morn is breaking
For the people of his choice.
We are here reminded to heed the words of the Lord if we wish to be delivered from the calamities that are forthcoming. We are also told that “a glorious morn is breaking for the people of his choice.” What does this mean? Isaiah, in chapter 58, verses 8 and 9, informs us that after we have sanctified ourselves (partially through fasting, which is the focus of this chapter), then our “light [shall] break forth as the morning…and [our] righteousness shall go before [us]; the glory of the Lord shall be [our] rearward. Then [shall we] call, and the Lord shall answer; [we shall] cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” What greater blessing could we ask for? But how do we become “the people of his choice”? We turn our backs on Babylon and our hearts fully to the Lord. Blessings or cursing, we decide. Father Lehi laid it on the line for his own sons this way, in 2 Nephi 1:19:
“O my sons, that these things might not come upon you, but that ye might be a choice and a favored people of the Lord. But behold, his will be done; for his ways are righteousness forever.”
In other words, you can have it your way for a little while, but God will always have His way in the end.
Israel, angels are descending
From celestial worlds on high,
And to man their pow’r extending,
That the Saints may homeward fly.
Heavenly Father wants so badly for us to return to Him that He sends angels to assist us and give us the power necessary to do so. This includes the priesthood, of course, but it is also courage, faith, hope, charity, endurance, and the blessings and gifts of the Spirit.
Israel! Israel! Canst thou linger
Still in error’s gloomy ways?
Mark how judgment’s pointing finger
Justifies no vain delays.

In all honesty, it was this verse that inspired this article. Think about what the Lord is saying here! He calls us Israel again–a reminder of who and what we are supposed to be, His chosen people–and then He asks why we are still hanging around doing stupid things! He is basically saying, “You know better! Repent!” The final line is the most poignant to me: Mark how judgment’s pointing finger justifies no vain delays. It is hard sometimes to truly understand old English like this without stopping to ponder, and it is difficult to ponder in the few seconds between closing the hymn book and the start of the next talk, or the closing prayer. The message is simply this: the Judgment Day is real, the Judgment Day is coming, and when it does, Satan will be there with a full and complete record of all our sins, ready to accuse and condemn us before the Father. Your days are numbered, yes, but only God knows what that number is! Can you say for certain that you will live through tomorrow? We delay the day of our repentance with all sorts of justifications, but they are all in vain. The word vain here should be taken with both its meanings: 1) without meaning, and 2) in vanity. Think about that for a minute. Go back and read it again. Now, hear it described by the prophet Amulek, as recorded in Alma 34: 31–35:
“Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.”
Come to Zion, come to Zion
Ere his floods of anger flow.
Come to Zion, come to Zion
Ere his floods of anger flow.
[i.e. “ere” is old English meaning “before” or “prior to”]

It should be noted that the chorus is almost half of the song! From a scriptural standpoint, we know that repetition equals importance, therefore the chorus holds the most importance. Throughout the song, the phrase “Come to Zion” is repeated a whopping sixteen times! We can immediately dismiss the ridiculous notion that this refers to Utah, and proceed to the real meaning. On one hand, Zion is a literal place, a city where the Lord will personally come. In order to be in that place, however, we must become a Zion people, and that begins now, before the city has even been built. Zion people forsake Babylon and live the commandments to the fullest; they are loving and kind, patient and loyal. They are earning the right to the presence of the Lord by becoming like Him:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
As you can see, I didn’t have to present any fancy new interpretation or revelation in order to make this hymn meaningful. The meaning was already there, we just haven’t been looking. I hope that this exercise inspires you to ponder more deeply the meaning behind the hymns that you sing on a regular basis, so that they can cease being vain repetitions and begin to represent the true praises and desires of your heart.

Monday, November 16, 2015

God’s Human Delivery System – Sustaining Living Prophets, Seers, and Revelators


(by J Max Wilson sixteensmallstones.org 11-8-15)

Regarding personal testimony in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Uchtdorf, of the First Presidency of the church, has taught that even though each of our individual testimonies are unique and may be a little different from each other, there are five truths that a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will always include.
The five truths are:
  • That God lives and He is our loving Heavenly Father
  • That Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the World
  • That Joseph Smith is the prophet of God through whom the Gospel of Jesus was Restored
  • And that the Book of Mormon of Mormon is the Word of God.
  • That current President of the Church, his Counselors, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators in our day.
It is this fifth truth that is essential to a testimony of the Restore Gospel that I wish to address.

Sustaining the prophets and apostles has become increasingly difficult and controversial. It used to be that what was expected of good members of society aligned reasonably well with the teachings of the church.

But that is no longer true.

In the General Conference of April 1975, Ezra Taft Benson, who was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at that time, said thatpractically all objections that have ever been made against the Church by nonmembers and dissident members alike […] hinge on whether Joseph Smith and his successors were and are prophets of God receiving divine revelation.

In my experience, President Benson was right about this. Objections to the church almost always to boil down to whether or not the modern prophets are really receiving direction from God or not.

I know quite a few members of the church who have lost their confidence in the leadership of our prophets and apostles. It may be that some of you here today have lost, or are losing, confidence because of teachings or policies that seem wrong or don’t make sense to you. And if you are not, you probably know someone who has.

For many years now, there has been a concerted effort by motivated individuals to undermine the faith of members of the church in living prophets. They use the internet to amplify their influence in ways not previously possible. The information they present is more subtle today than in the past.

They don’t necessarily need to get you to stop believing in Joseph Smith and the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ, or God the Father. They have found that it is often easier and more effective to cultivate disagreement with the current prophets and apostles, until members start to lose confidence in them. So they emphasize the humanity and fallibility the men who lead the church.

In the October 2004 General Conference, President Henry B Eyring explained:

It has always been hard to recognize in fallible human beings the authorized servants of God. […] Satan will always work on the Saints of God to undermine their faith in priesthood keys. One way he does it is to point out the humanity of those who hold them.[…]

If we look for human frailty in humans, we will always find it. When we focus on finding the frailties of those who hold priesthood keys, we run risks for ourselves. When we speak or write to others of such frailties, we put them at risk.

The reason why it is so easy to fall into this trap is that it is absolutely true that our prophets are fallible. Prophets throughout the history of the church from Joseph Smith to the present have reiterated that fact.

Back in the October 1978 General Conference, Apostle Marvin J. Ashton explained thatThere is a tendency on the part of some to ignore, criticize, or rebel because they cannot accept the human delivery system.

And so I would like to take a few minutes to discuss why it is that we can sustain, trust, and follow the living apostles and prophets, the human delivery system through which the Lord reveals his will, even though they are fallible individuals– and especially when their directions run contrary to our expectations or views.

The Lord has established a specific system by which decisions are made in the church. That system was given by revelation and is defined in verses 22 through 29 of Section 107 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants:

22. Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, [..], form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.

23. The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, […]

24. And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned.

25. The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel […]

26. And they form a quorum, equal in authority to that of the Twelve special witnesses or Apostles just named.

27. And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decisions of the same power or validity one with the other— […]

29. Unless this is the case, their decisions are not entitled to the same blessings which the decisions of a quorum of three presidents were anciently […].

The Lord requires that the presiding quorums of his church make decisions unanimously. Let me use an analogy to help illustrate how this system helps to counteract potential individual error.

In the church, a prophet has often been compared to a metaphorical “watchman on the tower”.

Let’s explore that image a little more closely. Imagine a watchman who stands on a tower of a citadel or fortress to watch for danger. While the eyesight of the watchman may be just as fallible as anyone else’s, the tower upon which he stands allows him to see farther than those with equally good eyes but who are not situated upon the tower. His view is better, not because his eyes are superior, but because his location on the tower allows him to see father and more; not necessarily because of something inherent or different in his person, but because of something inherent in the position in which he has been placed for the protection and benefit of all.

Now, as I have just read from the Doctrine and Covenants, the church is not led by just one watchman on the tower, but by 15 Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.

So, continuing with the analogy: one watchman has a more advantageous view than those who are not on the tower, but still may make a mistakes attributable to normal human error. However, potential errors can be mitigated and minimized by requiring that what one watchman sees be confirmed by additional watchmen who are similarly set on towers of defense.

If one watchman raises a warning cry, his warning should not be cavalierly ignored even though he might be wrong.

If seven watchmen raise the same warning, we should be loath to reject their warning simply because we cannot perceive the danger that they see.

And if all fifteen of the watchmen raise the warning in unanimity, then it would be a very serious thing indeed to declare to your fellows that you know that they are wrong and that they should be ignored or even resisted.

Just over a year ago, in the October 2014 Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson explained how this system is a protection to the church:

The calling of 15 men to the holy apostleship provides great protection for us as members of the Church. Why? Because decisions of these leaders must be unanimous. Can you imagine how the Spirit needs to move upon 15 men to bring about unanimity? These 15 men have varied educational and professional backgrounds, with differing opinions about many things. Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached! They are committed to see that the Lord’s will truly will be done. […] Counterbalances and safeguards abound so that no one can ever lead the Church astray.

So even though individual prophets and apostles are fallible, we can sustain them and follow them because the Lord’s system requires inspiration and revelation to be confirmed by the Holy Spirit to them unanimously.

The corollary of this process established by the Lord is that statements made by individual apostles or prophets on singular occasions are not necessarily considered church doctrine. In the April 2012 conference, Elder Todd D. Christofferson emphasized this saying,

It should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church.

Elder Christofferson then goes on to repeat a story about President Brigham Young, which was originally recounted by Elder J. Reuben Clark. It goes like this:

During the excitement incident to the coming of [Johnston’s] Army, Brother Brigham preached to the people in a morning meeting a sermon vibrant with defiance to the approaching army, and declaring an intention to oppose and drive them back. In the afternoon meeting he arose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address, the tempo of which was the opposite from the morning talk.

The thing that I find remarkable in this story is not that President Young was fallible and preached something that did not coincide with the Lord’s will. The thing that is remarkable is that the Lord corrected him before the day was done.

The important message of this story is not that leaders of the church can make mistakes, because they can, but that the Lord is perfectly capable of correcting them, regardless of their personal weakness.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell declared in the April 1982 Conference that, “Prophets need tutoring, as do we all. However, this is something the Lord seems quite able to manage without requiring a host of helpers. The Lord provides discreet but needed feedback, as He did to Peter by the shattering sound of a rooster crowing…” (April 1982 Conference)

On closer inspection, saying that the prophets cannot receive clear messages is really saying that God is not powerful enough to make his will known; it is not an expression of doubt in the prophets, but of doubt in a God who speaks.

We are not asked to have faith in the prophet or the apostles as men. We are asked to have faith that, if God has spokesmen at all, He is powerful enough to pierce the smog of human weakness and make His will known to them. If He couldn’t make His will known to even His own authorized representatives, then He wouldn’t be a very powerful God.

The Restoration of the Gospel rests on the truth that God does speak. That He does direct His church. He does speak to man. And not only to prophets and apostles, but to you and me.

Last month in October Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard declared,

Too many people think Church leaders and members should be perfect or nearly perfect. They forget that the Lord’s grace is sufficient to accomplish His work through mortals. Our leaders have the best intentions, but sometimes we make mistakes.[…]

Looking for human weakness in others is rather easy. However, we make a serious mistake by noticing only the human nature of one another and then failing to see God’s hand working through those He has called.

Focusing on how the Lord inspires His chosen leaders and how He moves the Saints to do remarkable and extraordinary things despite their humanity is one way that we hold on to the gospel of Jesus Christ and stay safely aboard the Old Ship Zion.

So how do we gain the confidence that the Lord is directing His church, despite the human delivery system?

Returning to President Eyring’s sermon from 2004, in which he said that it has always been hard to recognize in fallible human beings the authorized servants of God, he taught that:

To keep ourselves grounded in the Lord’s Church, we can and must train our eyes to recognize the power of the Lord in the service of those He has called. We must be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. And we need to pray for the Holy Ghost to help us know that men who lead us hold this power.[…]

The answer to your prayer is not likely to be as dramatic as it was when some saw Brigham Young, as he spoke, take on the appearance of the martyred Prophet Joseph. But it can be as sure. And with that spiritual assurance will come peace and power. You will know again that this is the Lord’s true and living Church, that He leads it through His ordained servants, and that He cares about us.

A witness from the Spirit found through prayer and service will give us confidence that the Lord is guiding His church through His apostles.

We shouldn’t pretend that this is not hard doctrine. It has always been hard. Most of the time God gives us only the information we need right now, not everything we might want to know. When the direction of the prophets and apostles contradicts our own understanding and feelings it takes faith and humility to trust and follow.

Even Brigham Young struggled when he was first introduced to the doctrine of the three degrees of glory recorded in Doctrine and Covenants Section 76. It was so contrary to his traditional understanding of the afterlife that at first he could not understand it. But he did not reject it. He waited and prayed and sustained Joseph Smith.

So let us be patient with each other. We can love and cherish each other when the doctrine is hard and we struggle to sustain our prophets and apostles when their teachings contradict our expectations.

This is God’s church. He leads it and guides it. President Monson is His living prophet. The members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are prophets, seers, and revelators. They possess the authority and priesthood keys to reveal God’s will for us. You can trust them and follow them in deed as well as word. And He will lead us right.