presidency

Follow-up on September’s Council Meeting “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?”

  • I have a kind of a funny story. We had a short Family Home Evening last Monday and we read, The Wasp Trap which teaches kids what to do if they see an image and one of the questions asked, what does modesty mean to you? My eight-year-old said, ‘modesty means not wearing an immodest zucchini.’ [Laughter] She meant to say bikini. We had a good laugh about it but it’s nice to know that she recognizes when she sees something on a magazine or out in the store. Dressing appropriately makes a big difference.
  • My daughter and I were watching football games last night and some of the commercials embarrassed us. I was kind of surprised that some of the commercials were pretty bad and we had to turn the sound down. I think anywhere you are nowadays you can never let your guard down.
  • I was discussing the topic with my sister-in law and she said, ‘ironically, throughout the week she had found out that her daughter who is a senior in high school had downloaded some app that was innocent, but a stranger was trying to ask her questions. So, they looked more into it and they still don’t know because it was under an anonymous name, but the person knew her full name, where she lived, what school she went to, and it was kind of scary.’ She said that was a wide awakening for us that any app can give away all the information or when you’re posting pictures, if she’s posting first day of school and it has the big school name on it, that’s kind of a red flag that people need to be aware of.
    • There was something I meant to mention last week about those apps. Parents, you need to investigate the apps that are on your kid’s phones because a lot of them have location services already running in the background. When somebody else looks, like when they’re communicating through these apps, they can see where your child is at. They can see the address, they can see exactly where your kid is at. So, we need to really investigate those apps.

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“The Heart of a Prophet” by Elder Gary E. Stevenson

I think we are so lucky to be living on the earth at this time, for one reason is a living prophet. There were times, way back, that there was no living prophet, but how grateful and exciting to live in this time that we have a living prophet. We know that the Lord communicates through the prophet to us. We have loved President Monson. Laurels, is he the only prophet you knew?

  • (YW) President Hinkley died when we were pretty little, so we mostly remember President Monson

Of course, we were all sad when he passed away. The first prophet that I can remember was President McKay. I asked [one of our older sisters] who she remembered and what did you say?

  • President Grant and President McKay, I remember them both very well.

We have learned from and loved each prophet that we have gone through and it’ll be no different with President Nelson. Elder Stevenson said, “As each of our beloved prophets has passed on, it is only natural to feel a sense of sorrow and loss. But our sadness is tempered by the joy and hope that come as we experience one of the great blessings of the Restoration: the calling and sustaining of a living prophet on the earth.”

That is a wonderful blessing isn’t it? “President Spencer W. Kimball explained:

“As one star sinks behind the horizon, another comes into the picture, and death spawns life. […]”

Elder Stevenson said, “The period of time between the death of a prophet and the reorganization of the First Presidency is referred to as an “apostolic interregnum.””

It began when President Monson died on January 2, 2018 and it ended twelve days later on Sunday, January 14, 2018. Do you think our church is just left helter-skelter during this time? No leadership?  Definitely not. It’s put into place; the Lord has everything in order.

“[…] under the leadership of the quorum president, jointly holds the keys to administer the leadership of the Church. President Joseph F. Smith taught, “There is always a head in the Church, and if the Presidency of the Church are removed by death or other cause, then the next head of the Church is the Twelve Apostles, until a presidency is again organized.””

I was reading back, after Joseph Smith died, I think it was 3 months before they called President Young because the Twelve were out in different places and it took that long. Sill, there was leadership in place.

Just think for a minute, that Sunday morning, the apostles went to the temple. I was thinking- can you imagine being there? I can’t imagine the Spirit and the direction that was there.

“In this sacred and memorable meeting, following a well-established precedent in unity and unanimity, the Brethren were seated by seniority in a semicircle of 13 chairs and raised their hands first to sustain the organization of a First Presidency and then to sustain President Russell Marion Nelson as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This sustaining was followed by the Quorum of the Twelve gathering in a circle and placing hands upon the head of President Nelson to ordain and set him apart, with the next most-senior Apostle acting as voice.”

I think that would have been pretty special to have been there.

“President Nelson then named his counselors, President Dallin Harris Oaks, President Henry Bennion Eyring, with President Oaks as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and President Melvin Russell Ballard as the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Following similar sustaining votes, each of these Brethren was set apart to his respective office by President Nelson.”

Wouldn’t that be something to be set apart by the prophet? I’ve read a couple of different things that the Quorum of the Twelve have written, but this is what Elder Stevenson said, “This was a deeply sacred experience, with an outpouring of the Spirit. I offer to you my absolute witness that the will of the Lord, for which we fervently prayed, was powerfully manifest in the activities and events of that day.”

He offers his absolute witness. As soon as this ended and President Nelson was set a part, the church continued operating without any interruption at all.

Who knows what a solemn assembly is?

  • It’s at the beginning of conference where they set apart all the new leadership in front of the church members and we all sustain them.
  • I see it as a place where we as members can support and promise to give our support to the new leaders and sustain them as the head of the church. It’s a wonderful assembly where all can gather together for a special event.

“Elder David B. Haight described [it as], “[…] a sacred, sober, and reverent occasion when the Saints assemble under the direction of the First Presidency.””

At the beginning of his talk he mentioned that he hoped that everybody would see how important a solemn assembly is. He said, “As I sought guidance to know the topic the Lord would have me address today, my mind was directed to a recent conversation with the newly called First Presidency. In this discussion, one of the counselors shared […], “It has been 10 years, and many, especially the youth of the Church, do not remember or have not experienced this before.””

I was thinking back and tried to remember for myself. It struck more home to me this time. Maybe it’s being older, I don’t know. Can someone look up D&C 28:13?

“For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.”

This is why we have solemn assemblies, for all things to be done in order and by common consent. When President Hinkley was sustained as the prophet, this is what he said, “This morning we all participated in a solemn assembly. That is just what the name indicates. It is a gathering of the membership where every individual stands equal with every other in exercising with soberness and in solemnity his or her right to sustain or not to sustain those who, under the procedures that arise out of the revelations, have been chosen to lead.”

I had watched it on TV and I hadn’t remembered the different people standing, so I thought was pretty neat- the priesthood and the young women, etc.

  • This may be kind of changing the subject, but when you said that, the thought came to my mind of I wonder what kind of solemn assemblies we had in the pre-existence? We had to support Christ and I’m sure we had solemn assemblies to where we had the opportunity to sustain or not sustain. We know that we were given that ability and we had choices that we had to make. It’s the same thing as today. Do we sustain or do we not sustain?
  • (YW) I had a friend who had an extra ticket to a general conference session and it was actually the solemn assembly. I was sitting there in between two of my friends and we didn’t remember when President Monson was sustained, so we didn’t know what was going on, but my friend and I were able to watch our other friend stand with the priesthood and sustain. Then we got to stand with all the young women and sustain our prophet. The solemn assembly is a great way, it’s actually no better description because it was so quiet and reverent.
  • I can’t help but think of the turmoil that we are faced with in this time and the people who are having hurt feelings towards the church or towards family members or towards anything that the church teaches. What a great reminder as we stood together to say, ‘I support and I know that this is our prophet.’ I think that anybody who is struggling with teachings of the church, the doctrine, or their own testimony, to be able to stand and say, ‘without a doubt, this is the prophet of God.’ It’s an amazing gift that the Lord gives us to strengthen our own testimonies.
  • They encourage us that if we have issues or a problem with somebody that is being sustained, to go to your local leaders and take care of it because this is such a solemn and such a sacred place that it’s not a place to do those things. I know if I had a problem, I would want to take care of it privately.
  • As we talk about it, it just brings back the warm feelings that we felt in our home as we watched and participated in the solemn assembly. It was beautiful to watch my children and they knew that something was happening. They knew that it was different, it wasn’t just the conference, the usual thing of sustaining. They knew that it was different and even my four-year-old, he knew, he felt something. They watched their dad stand and they watched me stand and then they had their chance and it was beautiful- to have that as a family in our home and to feel an outpouring of the Spirit. It was a beautiful moment for our family. I’m grateful that we participated in that. I hope it will stay in their little hearts.

My daughter was able to go and I asked her to write what she felt. She said, “I have never witnessed it beforehand and had remembered it from when it happened in the past. It was very powerful and spiritual to be there in person. As they called each of the different groups, it was cool to see the different rows and leadership of the church stand up. I figured it was just the priesthood that was going to stand, but I don’t know why, but then they called the young women and the Relief Society. It was neat to be involved as a member of the Relief Society. I then thought it was so awesome to be able to stand up with everyone in the congregation at the conference center, all at once. They say there is strength in numbers and there was indeed strength and an overpowering Spirit while sustaining a new prophet. It was great to be there and witness such a special thing.”

It was so great to raise our hands and sustain our prophet and as President Hinkley had said, “Your uplifted hands in the solemn assembly this morning became an expression of your willingness and desire to uphold us, your brethren and your servants, with your confidence, faith, and prayer.”

What do you think it means to sustain someone like the prophet with confidence?

  • It makes me think first of all, you’ve got to be paying attention. You don’t just flippantly raise your hand whenever they say something. I think you’re probably more confident the stronger your testimony is about it. You believe and know that these people or this man, is going to lead us in the right direction. I’m sustaining them knowing that I’m going to follow them.
  • And we’re told that it’s not a vote. When we’re sustaining someone it’s more with your heart. You will give whatever you need to in your life to sustain this man as a prophet.
  • I think often it is trust. Trust that they’ll do what the Lord wants them to do. We have the confidence in them to ‘pull it off,’ that they can do it. The trust that they’re doing what the Lord wants.
  • I think we have gotten so used to when they sustain the presidency during conference, we hear those people in the background who are saying ‘no.’ We didn’t hear it during the solemn assembly. There was no outburst. That to me was a calming, peaceful feeling during that. We’re all sustaining him and there weren’t any dissenters that we could hear anyway. I appreciated that. That [the outbursts] usually takes away from it for me.
  • It feels one on one to me and how the Spirit speaks to us so individually that when we stood there and when we raised our hand and sustained him, it was personal. It was with the angels writing down our testimonies and us having a connection with the prophet in that moment even though there were millions of us.
  • I also think that with him and the other apostles in that moment to see all of the support. Not only to sustain them on our end, but for them to see the support. To do anything in life, when you have support matters and to see 21,000 hands plus millions at home that you don’t see, sustain you and support you, I’m sure that added a huge comfort and strength.

I think offering in our prayers to bless him and help him and to also do all that we can for the things he asks of us. A lot of it is faith. Sometimes it takes faith to obey and that’s part of our sustaining.

How does the pattern of the succession of the church eliminate errors, conflicts, and ambitions, and ulterior motives? You think about how the world handles putting presidents into office, or CEOs, or other political roles.

  • After the appropriate amount of time has passed, there’s no general election, there’s no campaigning, there is a way that it is done. There is a way that the Lord has said how it’ll be and they all agree on it. How much more smoothly could it go? Not saying that I’d like a say in the matter, I don’t necessarily, but it’s nice to know we don’t have to worry about choosing and researching candidates. Heavenly Father has ordained this to be the order of things. We basically know who will be the next prophet. It’s not like ‘oh your dad was the prophet, so now you get to be the prophet.’ It’s a very smooth, preordained process.

Back after Joseph Smith died, it so many months before most of the Twelve came back. If you remember Sidney Rigdon, he was in the First Presidency with Joseph Smith, and he called a meeting of people in Nauvoo and said that he thought he should be the next prophet. Then Brigham Young started talking to the people and that’s why there is order in this, to help it work out.

  • It eliminates pride, ulterior motives and miscommunications at all levels. It allows us to the peace of mind that it’s all under control. Our faith is able to build on that without the weaknesses of our personal bias and our own perceptions. Those are all taken out in this special calling.
  • I was thinking that we don’t have to wait long either. Because it’s so smooth and it happens, not right after the previous prophet dies, but we don’t have to wait several months for things to take effect. It transitions from one to the next without missing much of a beat.
  • So, it’s by seniority, right? I think it would be a fun assignment in heaven to orchestrate those apostles lives so that they would be ordained at the right time and the right one will become prophet.
  • I don’t know if I’m mistaken, so I hope that someone is far more knowledgeable than me, I thought that they had said that it has always been by seniority, but it is a decision they reach unanimously. It doesn’t have to be by seniority, but I do love that it is unanimous. It’s not like they vote and go with the majority. It’s something that the Lord gives all witness to, but I do agree, I think angels in heaven may say, ‘she can hold off for ten more minutes because he needs to be born over here.’ I do think we like an order to things. Our faith is needed more in order, so maybe that’s why thus far it has been by seniority.

In the quorum, they might have different opinions, but when they discuss things, they still meet and discuss until they all come to an agreement.

  • I always found it interesting, when I was in high school the Pope died and to see that process versus what we go through in our church. There was so much debate over who would be next and so much secrecy. They go in and there’s this vote and there’s this smoke and it’s very fascinating, but it is this long, drawn out process. In our church I feel like there is this knowledge, that we know who will be next. We don’t have to worry. There’s not this secrecy. We know exactly what happened in this meeting. That example versus what we do in our faith, the differences in how it’s done.
  • I was in high school too when that happened and to imagine if that were our church and if you could back an apostle and be like, ‘I want to take him all the way to the presidency. To think about the chasms that that would open up in our church and between members. If your apostle didn’t make it – I don’t know, I just think we’re really blessed that we don’t have that campaigning and stuff in our church.

Elder Stevenson said how he has had the chance to get an up-close glimpse of the past professional life of President Nelson. We all know that he is a heart doctor. He said he was invited to go with him to a meeting where they were honoring President Nelson [as a pioneer in heart surgery]. He said, “That evening numerous professionals stood and expressed their respect and admiration for President Nelson’s outstanding contribution to his medical specialty. As impressive as each of the presenters was in describing President Nelson’s various accomplishments, I was even more spellbound by a conversation I struck up with a man seated next to me. He did not know who I was, but he knew President Nelson as Dr. Nelson, director of the thoracic surgery residency program at a medical school in 1955.

This man was President Nelson’s former student. He shared many memories. Most interesting was his description of President Nelson’s teaching style, which, he said, brought with it a large measure of notoriety. He explained that much of the teaching of heart surgery residents was conducted in the operating room. There, residents observed and performed surgery under faculty supervision, as a laboratory classroom. He shared that the operating room environment under certain faculty surgeons was chaotic, competitive, pressure filled, and even ego driven. This man described it as a difficult environment, sometimes even demeaning. As a result, resident surgeons even felt their careers were often on the line.

He then explained the unique environment found in President Nelson’s operating room. It was peaceful, calm, and dignified. Residents were treated with deep respect. However, following the demonstration of a procedure, Dr. Nelson expected the highest standard of performance from each of the residents. This man further described how the best patient outcomes and the best surgeons came out of Dr. Nelson’s operating room.”

We know he operated on President Kimball and I also read he operated on Elder Ballard too. [Our teacher then shared a personal family story related to a heart surgery performed by President Nelson. It was not included here as this will be made public in our blog. Please reach out to her if you want to know the story.]

We know President Nelson has dealt with physically the heart and also our hearts. Elder Stevenson said, “When I envision a Christlike heart in daily practice, I see President Nelson. I have not met anyone who exemplifies this trait at a higher level than he does. It has been a remarkable tutelage for me to be in the position to observe firsthand the manifestations of the Christlike heart of President Nelson.”

I want to leave my testimony, I know that he is called of God. I hope that I can follow the things he asks of us, of me and from any prophet, not just him. I’m grateful for the gospel in my life. I am so blessed in more ways than I’ll ever know. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Challenge for this week:

  • Reread or watch the solemn assembly from the April 2018 General Conference. Journal the feelings this relived experience has provided. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/solemn-assembly?lang=eng
  • As a family, discuss ways you have already sustained and supported President Nelson this year. Discuss ways that going forward, you as individuals and as a family can continue to support and sustain our prophet.
  • Each day this week. pray for President Nelson and those who serve with him.

NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “The Prophet of God” by Elder Neil L. Andersen (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018)

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