Really good talks

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Really good talk

A Heavenly Manifestation given to Heber Q. Hale, President of the
Boise Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as
related by him at the Genealogical Conference held in the auditorium
of the Bishops Building, Salt Lake City, Utah on October 1920,
requested by the Presidency of the Church of 1920.

"It is with a very humble and grateful spirit that I attempt to relate
on this occasion, by request, a personal experience which is very
sacred to me.  I must of necessity be brief.  Furthermore there were
certain things made known to me which I don't feel at liberty to
relate here.  Let me say by way of preface that between the hours of
12.00 and 7.30 on the night of January 20, 1920, while alone in a room
at the home of W. R. Rawson in Carey, Idaho, this glorious
manifestation was vouchsafed to me.  I was not conscious of anything
that transpired during the hours mentioned except what was experienced
in this manifestation. I did not turn over in bed nor was I disturbed
by any sound which indeed is unusual for me.  Whether it be called a
dream, an apparition, a vision, or a pilgrimage of my spirit into the
world of spirits, I know not.  I care not.  I know that I actually saw
and experienced the things related in this heavenly manifestation, and
they are as real to me as any experience of my life.  For me, at
least, this is sufficient.

Of all the doctrines and practices of the church, the principle of
vicarious work for the dead has been the most difficult for me to
comprehend and whole heartedly accept.  I consider this vision as the
Lord's answer to the prayer of my soul on this and certain other

I passed but a short distance from my body through a film into the
world of spirits.  This was my experience after going to sleep.  I
seemed to realize that I had passed through the change called death
and I so referred to it in my conversation with the immortal beings
with whom I immediately came in contact.  I readily observed their
displeasure at our use of the word death and the fear which we attach
to it.  They use there another word in reference to the transition
from mortality to immortality which word I do not recall, and I can
only approach its meaning and the impression which was left upon my
mind, by calling it the new birth.

My first visual impression was the nearness of the world of spirits to
the world of mortality.  The vastness of this heavenly sphere was
bewildering to the eyes of the spirit-novice.  Many enjoyed
unrestricted vision and unimpeded action, while many others were
visibly restricted as to both vision and action.  The vegetation and
landscape were beautiful beyond description, not all green as here,
but gold with varying shades of pink, orange, and lavender as the
rainbow, and sweet calmness pervaded everything.  The people I met
there I did not think of as spirits, but as men and women, self
thinking and self acting individuals, going about important business
in a most orderly manner.

There was perfect order there and everybody had something to do and
seemed to be about their business.  That the inhabitants of the spirit
world are classified according to their lives of purity and their
subservience to the Father's will was subsequently made apparent.
Particularly was it observed that the wicked and unrepentant are
confined to a certain district by themselves, the confines of which
are as definitely determined and impassable as the line marking the
division of the physical from the spirit world.  A mere film but
impassible until the person himself was changed.  The world of spirits
is the temporary abode of all spirits pending the resurrection from
the dead and the judgment.  There was much activity within the
different spheres, and appointed ministers of salvation were seen
coming from the higher to the lower spheres in pursuit of their
missionary appointments.

I had a very pronounced desire to meet certain of my kinsfolk and
friends but I was at once impressed with the fact that I had entered a
tremendously great and extensive world, even greater than our earth
and more numerously inhabited.  I could only be in one place at once,
could do only one thing at a time, could only look in one direction at
a time and accordingly it would require many, many years to search out
and converse with all those I had known and all those whom I desired
to meet unless they were especially summoned to receive me.  All men
and women are appointed to special and regular service under a well
organized plan of action directed principally towards preaching the
gospel to the unconverted, teaching those who seek for knowledge, and
establishing family relationships, and gathering genealogies for the
use and benefit of mortal survivors of their respective families, that
the work of baptism and the sealing of ordinances may be vicariously
performed for the departed in the Temples of God on the earth.

The authorized representatives of families in the world of spirits
have access to our temple records and are kept fully advised of the
work done therein, but the vicarious work done there does not become
automatically effective.  The recipients must first believe, repent
and accept baptism and confirmation, then certain consummating
ordinances are performed effectualising these saving principles in the
lives of these regenerated beings.  And so the great work is going
on...  They are doing work there which we cannot do here, and we a
work here that they cannot do there for the salvation of all God's
children who will be saved.

I was surprised to find that there were no babies in arms there.  I
met the infant son of Orson W. Rawlings, my first counselor.  I
immediately recognized him as the baby who died a few years ago, and
yet he seemed to have the intelligence, and in certain respects, the
appearance of an adult, and was engaged in matters pertaining to his
family and its genealogy.  My mind was quite contented upon the point
that mothers will again receive into their arms their children who
died in infancy and will be fully satisfied by the fact that entrance
into the world of spirits is not an inhibition to growth but the
greatest opportunity for development.  Babies are adult spirits in the
infant bodies.

I presently beheld a might multitude of men.  The largest I had ever
seen gathered in one place, who I immediately recognized as soldiers,
the millions who died, who had been slaughtered and rushed to the
spirit world during the first world war.  Among them moved calmly and
majestically a great general in supreme command.  As I drew nearer, I
received the kindly smile and generous welcome of a great, loving man,
General Richard V. Young.  Then came the positive conviction to my
soul that of all the men living or dead, there is no one who is more
perfectly fitted for the great mission unto which he had been called.
He commands immediately the attention and respect of all the soldiers,
he is at once a great general and a great High Priest of God.  No
earthly field of labour to which he could have been assigned, could
compare with it in importance and extent.  I passed from this scene to
return later when I found General Young and his vast army of men
completely organized with officers over successive divisions, and he
was preaching the gospel on great earnestness to them.  As I passed
forward, I soon met my beloved mother, she greeted me most
affectionately and expressed surprise at seeing me there, and reminded
me that I had not completed my allotted mission on earth.  She seemed
to be going somewhere and was in a hurry, and accordingly took her
leave saying that she would see me again soon.

I moved forward covering an appreciable distance and consuming
considerable time, viewing the wonderful sights of landscapes, parks,
trees, and flowers, and meeting people.  Some I knew, but many
thousands I did not recognize.  I presently approached a small group
of men standing in a path lined with spacious stretches of flowers,
grasses, and shrubs, all of gold and hue, marking the approach to a
beautiful building.  The group was engaged in earnest conversation.
One of their number parted from the rest and came walking down the
path.  I at once recognized my esteemed President Joseph F. Smith.  He
embraced me as a father would his son and after a few words of
greeting, quickly remarked "You have not come to stay."  This remark I
understood as a declaration and not an interrogation.

For the first time I became fully conscious of my uncompleted mission
on earth and as much as I would have liked to remain, I at once asked
President Smith if I might return.  "You have expressed a  righteous
desire," he replied "and I shall take the matter up with the
authorities and let you know later."  We then returned and he led me
toward the little group of men from whom he had just separated.  I
immediately recognized President Brigham Young and the Prophet Joseph
Smith.  I was surprised to find the former a shorter and heavier built
man than I had pictured him to be in my mind.  On the other hand I
found the latter to be taller than I expected to find him.  Both they
and the president were possessed of a calm and holy majesty which was
at once kind and friendly.  We then traced our steps and President
Smith took his leave, saying he would see me again.

From a certain point of vantage, I was permitted to view the earth and
what was going on there, there was no limitation of my vision and I
was astounded to this.  I saw my wife and my children at home, I saw
President J. Grant at the head of the great Church and Kingdom of God
and felt the divine power that radiates from God giving it light and
truth and guiding its destiny.  I beheld this nation founded as it is
upon correct principles and designed to endure, but beset by evil and
sinister forces that seek to lead man to thwart the purpose of God.  I
saw towns and cities, the sins and sickness of men and women.  I saw
vessels sailing the oceans and scanned the battle scarred fields of
France and Belgium.

In a word, I beheld the whole world, as if it were put a panorama
passing before my eyes, then there came to me the unmistakable
impression that this earth and scenes and persons upon it are open to
the vision of the spirits only when special permission is given or
when they are assigned to special service here.  This is particularly
true of the righteous who are busily engaged in the fields of activity
at the same time, the wicked and unrepentant have still, like the
rest, their free agency and applying themselves to no useful or
wholesome undertaking, seek pleasure, bout their old haunts, and exalt
in the sins and wickedness of degenerated humanity.

To this extent they are still tools of satan.  It is these idle
mischievous and deceptive spirits who appear as miserable counterfeits
at spiritualist seances, table dancing and ouija board operations.
The noble and great ones do not respond to the call of the mediums and
to every group of meddlesome enquirers, they would not do it in the
world of mortality.  These wicked and unrepentant spirits are allies
of satan and his host, operating through willing mediums in the flesh.

These three forces [Satan, his host, and the unrepentant spirits]
constitute an unholy trinity upon the earth and are responsible for
all the sin, wickedness, distress and misery among men and nations.

I moved forward feasting my eyes upon the beauty of everything about
me glorying in the indescribable peace and happiness that abound in
everybody and through everything.  The further that I went the more
glorious things appeared.  While standing at a certain vantage point I
beheld a short distance away, a wonderful beautiful temple, capped
with golden domes, from which emerged a small group of men dressed in
white robes who paused for a brief conversation.  They were in
uniforms, in this little group of holy men my eyes centered upon one
more splendorous and holy than the rest.  While I thus gazed,
President Joseph F. Smith parted from the others and came to my side.
"Do you know him?" he inquired.  I quickly answered "Yes I know him,
my eyes behold my Lord and Saviour."  "It is true" said President
Smith, and oh how my soul thrilled with rapture and unspeakable joy
filled my heart.

President Smith informed me that I had been given permission to return
and complete the mission on the earth which the Lord had appointed to
me to fulfill, and then with his hand upon my shoulder, uttered these
memorable and significant words.  "Brother Heber you have a great work
to do.  Go forward with a prayerful heart and thou shall be blessed in
thy ministry.  From this time on never doubt that God lives, that
Jesus Christ is the Son, the Saviour of the world, that the Holy Ghost
is God of spirit and the messenger of the Father and the Son.  Never
doubt the resurrection of the dead and immortality of the soul—that
the destiny of man is eternal progress.  Never again doubt that the
mission of the Latter-day Saints is for all mankind, both the living
and the dead and that the great work in the Holy Temples for the
living and the dead has only begun.  Know this, that Joseph Smith was
sent of God to usher in the gospel dispensation of the fullness of
times, which is the last unto mortals upon the earth.  His successors
have recognized and ordained head of the Church of Jesus Christ upon
the earth.  Give him your confidence and support.  Much you have seen
and heard you will not be permitted to repeat when you return.  Thus
saying he bade me good bye and God bless you."

I traveled quite a distance through various scenes and passing
innumerable people before I reached the spheres which I first entered.
On my way I was greeted by many friends and relatives certain of whom
sent word of greetings and counsel to their dear ones, my mother being
one of them.  One other I will mention, I met Brother John Adamson,
his wife and his son James and their daughter Isabelle, all of whom
were killed by a foul assassin in their home at Carey, Idaho in the
mortality and immediately said, "Tell the children that we are very
happy and very busy and they should not mourn at our departing, nor
worry their minds over the manner by which we were taken.  There is a
purpose in it, and we have work to do here which required our
collective efforts and which we could not do individually."  I was at
once made to know that the work referred to was that of Genealogy on
which they were working in England and Scotland.

One of the grandest and most sacred things of heaven is the family
relationship.  The establishment of the complete chain without any
broken links being a fullness of joy.  Links wholly bad will be
dropped out and either new links put in or the two adjoining links
welded together.  Men and women everywhere throughout the world are
being moved upon by their departed ancestors to gather genealogies.
These are the links for the chain.  The ordinances of Baptism,
Endowments, and Sealings performed in the Temples of God by the living
for the dead are the welding of the links.  Ordinances are performed
in the spirit world effectualizing the individual recipient for their
receiving the saving principles of the gospel vicariously performed

As I was approaching the place where I entered, my attention was
attracted towards a number of small groups of women, preparing what
appeared to be wearing apparel.  Observing my inquiring countenance
one of the women remarked, "We are preparing to receive Brother
Phillip Worthington very soon."  As I gasped his name in repetition I
was admonished, "If you knew the joy and the glorious mission that
awaits him here you would not ask to have him longer detained upon the
earth."  Then came flooding my consciousness this awful truth, that
the will of the Lord can be done on earth as it in is heaven, only
when we resign completely to His will and let His will be done in and
through us.  On account of the selfishness of many, persons who might
have otherwise been taken in innocence and peace, have been permitted
to live, and have lived to their own perils, man and the assertion of
the personal will as against the will of God.  Phillip Worthington
died January 22, 1920, for which I was advised by telegram, and
returning to Boise, preached his funeral sermon on January 25, 1920.

Men, women and children are often called to missions of great
importance on the other side, and some respond gladly while others
refuse to go and their loved ones will not give them up.  Also, many
die because they have not the faith to be healed.  Others yet live
among and pass out of the world of mortals without any special
manifestation of action of the divine will.  When a man is stricken
ill, the question of prime importance is not... is he going to live?
Or is he going to die?  What matter is not whether he lives or dies as
long as the will of the Father is done.

Surely we can trust him with God.  Herein lies the special duty and
privilege of administration by the right and authority of the Holy
Priesthood.  Namely, it is given to the Elders of the Church of Jesus
Christ to divine the will of the Father concerning the one upon whose
head their hands are laid.  If for any reason they are unable to
presage the Father's will, then they should continue to pray in faith
for the afflicted ones, humbly conceding supremacy to do the will of
God, that His will may be done in earth as it in done in heaven.

To the righteous person, birth into the world of spirits is a glorious
privilege and blessing.  The greatest spirits in the family of the
Father have not usually been permitted to tarry longer in the flesh
than to perform a certain mission; then they are called to the world
of spirits where the field is greater and the workers fewer.  This
earthly mission, may therefore, be long or short, as the Father wills.

I passed quietly out where I had entered the world of spirits and
immediately my body was quickened, and I was to ponder over and record
the many wonderful things I had seen and heard.

Let me here and now declare to the world that irrespective of the
opinion of others I do know of my own positive knowledge and from my
own personal experience, that God is the Father of the spirits of all
men, and that He lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son and the Savior of
the world, that the spirit of man does not die but survives the change
called death and goes to the world of spirits, that the world of
spirits is on or near this earth, that the principles of salvation are
now being taught to the spirits and the great work of joining the
Father's family among the living and the dead is now in progress, and
that but comparatively few will ultimately be lost, that spirits will
literally take up their bodies again in the resurrection, and that the
gospel of Jesus Christ has been established upon the earth with all of
its keys, powers, authority, and blessings through the instrumentality
of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that this is the power that will not only
save and exalt everyone who yields obedience to its principles, but
will ultimately save the world, that the burden of our mission is to
save souls unto God, and that the work for the salvation of the dead
is of no less importance than the work for the living.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

General Conference Highlights

I have read this great scripture and continue to be impressed with how clearly the Old Testament prophet describes the conditions of today. Almost daily we read of those who invest for little return. We eat food so refined that the nourishment is lacking. We witness the drink that can never satisfy the thirst for those who drink; the dressing for style, rather than warmth, comfort, and modesty; the high wages of the wage earner today which still do not satisfy or supply his needs.

Material belongings, relative wealth or poverty, physical environment--the things on which we are prone to set our hearts and anchor our aspirations, the things for which we sweat and strive, ofttimes at the sacrifice of happiness and to the forfeiture of real success--these after all are but externals, the worth of which in the reckoning to come shall be counted in terms of the use we have made of them.”

A few weeks ago on a day when this area was experiencing one of its worst snowstorms, and that is saying quite a bit because we had plenty of severe weather this past winter, a handsome young serviceman and his beautiful bride-to-be encountered extreme difficulty in getting to the Salt Lake Temple for their marriage appointment. She was in one location in the Salt Lake Valley and he was to come from another nearby town. Heavy snows and winds had closed the highways during the night and early morning hours. After many hours of anxious waiting, some of us were able to help them get to the temple and complete their marriage plans before the day was over.
      How grateful they, their families, and friends were for the assistance and concern in their keeping this most important appointment. My friend--we will call him Bill--expressed his deep gratitude with, “Thank you very much for all you did to make our wedding possible. I don’t understand why you went to all this trouble to help me. Really, I’m nobody.”
      I am sure Bill meant his comment to be a most sincere compliment, but I responded to it firmly, but I hope kindly, with, “Bill, I have never helped a ‘nobody’ in my life. In the kingdom of our Heavenly Father no man is a ‘nobody.’”
      This tendency to wrongfully identify ourselves was again brought to my attention the other day during an interview with a troubled wife. Her marriage is in great difficulty. She has tried earnestly to correct the communication blocks with her husband but with little success. She is grateful for the time her bishop has spent in counseling. Her stake president has also been most patient and understanding in his willingness to try and help.
      All of her problems are not resolved, but she is making progress. Her many contacts with properly channeled priesthood direction have left her not only grateful, but somewhat amazed. Her concluding observation the other day was, “I just don’t understand all of you people giving so much time and showing so much concern. After all, I’m really ‘nobody.’”
      I am certain our Heavenly Father is displeased when we refer to ourselves as “nobody.” How fair are we when we classify ourselves a “nobody”? How fair are we to our families? How fair are we to our God?
      We do ourselves a great injustice when we allow ourselves, through tragedy, misfortune, challenge, discouragement, or whatever the earthly situation, to so identify ourselves. No matter how or where we find ourselves, we cannot with any justification label ourselves “nobody.”

“Once upon a time, there was a little red schoolhouse with one big room for 27 children. The teacher sat with an American flag on one side of her and a blackboard on the other. The children sat in rows facing her, the littlest ones in front. The youngest was seven, and she was very little. The biggest was 16, and he was six feet tall. The youngest was smart, and she could read with the other children. The biggest was dumb, but he was strong and could help the teacher carry in wood. In bad weather, he carried the littlest girl across the puddle in front of the schoolhouse. And sometimes she helped him with his reading.

      “Then one day the state built a big highway, right past the schoolhouse door. And the State Education Department came by and said, ‘Great things are happening in education. There are special teachers for arithmetic, reading, art and music. If you combine with other schoolhouses, you could have a great big school where your children could have all the advantages. And big yellow buses could carry your children over the new highway right up to the school door.’ So the parents voted to consolidate, and the little red schoolhouse was abandoned.
      “At first things went well in the big school. But after a while, the State Education Department said that it wasn’t providing the children with enough meaningful experiences. And some parents complained that the children were not learning to read and write and figure as well as they had in the little red schoolhouse. ‘We will try some new things,’ said the educators. So they tried the ungraded primer, where fast readers were not slowed down by slow readers, and where children who had trouble with numbers did not get moved on to the next grade before they could add 3 and 5. This helped, but not enough.
      “‘We will try something more,’ the educators said. ‘We will tear down some walls at the new school, so the children will be working together in one big room. That way, there will be less peer-group competition.’
      “Finally, an important educator came along, looked at the school and said, ‘This is good, but it is not good enough. It is too big, and the children are losing their identity. There are not enough interpersonal relationships in the infrastructure. What we really need is a one-room schoolhouse. And since red is a cheerful color, I think we ought to paint it red.’” (From Mt. Kisco, N.Y., Patent Trader, in Reader’s Digest, March 1973, p. 68. Used by permission.)
      The educator in this story did not mean that the consolidated school, the special teachers, or the ungraded primer were not advantages. The point of the story is that along with the wonderful new discoveries in education, the emphasis must still be placed upon the individual and upon his needs and relationships with others.

One of my responsibilities as a coordinator was to secure property, eventually erect an institute building, and then provide a religious program for our college youth. We had secured a wonderful institute site adjacent to the Los Angeles State College. Shortly after the transaction was consummated, the State of California indicated to me that they wanted to take the property by right of eminent domain, which was their prerogative. I checked with my superiors and they said, “Look into the legal side and see if we still don’t have a chance.” I did. We went into court for a hearing. The judge was impressed with the program of the Church and what we do for youth and people. We were sent back to do some additional homework and gather added information.
      The day came for the final hearing, and I had about eight hours of work to do in four when at that very moment about ten o’clock one morning a knock came at the door, and because of my frustration I almost said (but I didn’t), “COME IN!” Instead I said, “Come in.” And in the framework of that door stood a 19-year-old USC freshman student who had refused our offers to come and join our group on four previous occasions. His head bowed, hands in his pockets, he said, “Brother Dunn, I have got to see you, now.” And I almost said (but I didn’t), “Can’t you see I am busy?” Because I was. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to invite him in; and as he took a chair, several questions went through my mind.
      Question number 1, “What are you going to court for this morning, Paul?” “Well, to try to save a piece of property.” “What do you want the piece of property for, Paul?” “Well, to erect a building.” “Well, what do you want a building for?” “Well, to teach some students.” “What just knocked on your door?” “Oh, a student.” And wouldn’t you know, he took the whole four hours.
      The time came for legal counsel to arrive, and we went to court. I don’t know all of the ramifications. We lost the hearing and eventually the piece of property, and it took us two years to secure another site. You would be happy with what the Church has done at Los Angeles State College, but more important, we saved the boy. Had it been your son, I think you would agree that we made the right decision.
      God grant us the vision as leaders, teachers, and parents to put people first. Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. I add my personal witness. God lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is his church. This is his prophet. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

“ ’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
          Thought it scarcely worth his while
          To waste much time on the old violin,
          But held it up with a smile:
          ‘What am I bidden, good folks,’ he cried,
          ‘Who’ll start the bidding for me?’
          ‘A dollar, a dollar’; then, ‘Two!’ ‘Only two?
         Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
          Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
          Going for three--’ But no,
          From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
          Came forward and picked up the bow;
          Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
          And tightening the loose strings,
          He played a melody pure and sweet
          As sweet as a caroling angel sings.    
        “The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
          With a voice that was quiet and low,
          Said, ‘What am I bid for the old violin?’
          And he held it up with the bow.
          ‘A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
          Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
          Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
          And going, and gone!’ said he.
          The people cheered, but some of them cried,
          ‘We do not quite understand
          What changed its worth.’ Swift came the reply:
          ‘The touch of a master’s hand.’    
        “And many a man with life out of tune,
          And battered and scarred with sin,
          Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
          Much like the old violin.
          A ‘mess of pottage,’ a glass of wine;
          A game--and he travels on.
          He’s ‘going’ once, and ‘going’ twice,
          He’s ‘going’ and almost ‘gone.’
          But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
          Never can quite understand
          The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought 
          By the touch of the Master’s hand.”

“But ‘as for me and my house,’ the welfare program began in the Old Field west of Lehi on the Saratoga Road in the autumn of 1918, that terribly climactic year of World War I during which more than 14 million people died of that awful scourge ‘the black plague,’ or Spanish influenza.
      “Winter came early that year and froze much of the sugar beet crop in the ground. My dad and brother Francis were desperately trying to get out of the frosty ground one load of beets each day which they would plow out of the ground, cut off the tops, and toss the beets, one at a time, into the huge red beet wagon and then haul the load off to the sugar factory. It was slow and tedious work due to the frost and the lack of farm help, since my brother Floyd and I were in the army and Francis, or Franz, as everybody called him, was too young for the military service.
      “While they were thusly engaged in harvesting the family’s only cash crop and were having their evening meal one day, a phone call came through from our eldest brother, George Albert, superintendent of the State Industrial School in Ogden, bearing the tragic news that Kenneth, nine-year-old son of our brother Charles, the school farm manager, had been stricken with the dread ‘flu,’ and after only a few hours of violent sickness, had died on his father’s lap; and would dad please come to Ogden and bring the boy home and lay him away in the family plot in the Lehi Cemetery.
      “My father cranked up his old flap-curtained Chevrolet and headed for Five Points in Ogden to bring his little grandson home for burial. When he arrived at the home he found ‘Charl’ sprawled across the cold form of his dear one, the ugly brown discharge of the black plague oozing from his ears and nose and virtually burning up with fever.
      “‘Take my boy home,’ muttered the stricken young father, ‘and lay him away in the family lot and come back for me tomorrow.’
      “Father brought Kenneth home, made a coffin in his carpenter shop, and mother and our sisters, Jennie, Emma, and Hazel, placed a cushion and a lining in it, and then dad went with Franz and two kind neighbors to dig the grave. So many were dying the families had to do the grave digging. A brief graveside service was all that was permitted.
      “The folks had scarcely returned from the cemetery when the telephone rang again and George Albert (Bert) was on the line with another terrifying message: Charl had died and two of his beautiful little girls--Vesta, 7, and Elaine, 5--were critically ill, and two babies--Raeldon, 4, and Pauline, 3--had been stricken.
      “Our good cousins, the Larkin undertaking people, were able to get a casket for Charl and they sent him home in a railroad baggage car. Father and young Franz brought the body from the railroad station and placed it on the front porch of our old country home for an impromptu neighborhood viewing but folks were afraid to come near the body of a black plague victim. Father and Francis meanwhile had gone with neighbors to get the grave ready and arrange a short service in which the great, noble spirit of Charles Hyrum Goates was commended into the keeping of his Maker.
      “Next day my sturdy, unconquerable old dad was called on still another of his grim missions--this time to bring home Vesta, the smiling one with the raven hair and big blue eyes.
      “When he arrived at the home he found Juliett, the grief-crazed mother, kneeling at the crib of darling little Elaine, the blue-eyed baby angel with the golden curls. Juliett was sobbing wearily and praying: ‘Oh, Father in heaven, not this one, please! Let me keep my baby! Do not take any more of my darlings from me!’
      “Before father arrived home with Vesta the dread word had come again. Elaine had gone to join her daddy, brother Kenneth, and Sister Vesta. And so it was that father made another heartbreaking journey to bring home and lay away a fourth member of his family, all within the week.
      “The telephone did not ring the evening of the day they laid away Elaine nor were there any more sad tidings of death the next morning. It was assumed that George A. and his courageous companion Della, although afflicted, had been able to save the little ones Raeldon and Pauline; and it was such a relief that Cousin Reba Munns, a nurse, had been able to come in and help.
      “After breakfast dad said to Franz, ‘Well, son, we had better get down to the field and see if we can get another load of beets out of the ground before they get frozen in any tighter. Hitch up and let’s be on our way.’
      “Francis drove the four-horse outfit down the driveway and dad climbed aboard. As they drove along the Saratoga Road, they passed wagon after wagon-load of beets being hauled to the factory and driven by neighborhood farmers. As they passed by, each driver would wave a greeting: ‘Hi ya, Uncle George,’ ‘Sure sorry, George,’ ‘Tough break, George,’ ‘You’ve got a lot of friends, George.’
      “On the last wagon was the town comedian, freckled-faced Jasper Rolfe. He waved a cheery greeting and called out: ‘That’s all of ‘em, Uncle George.
      “My dad turned to Francis and said: ‘I wish it was all of ours.’
      “When they arrived at the farm gate, Francis jumped down off the big red beet wagon and opened the gate as we drove onto the field. He pulled up, stopped the team, paused a moment and scanned the field, from left to right and back and forth--and lo and behold, there wasn’t a sugar beet on the whole field. Then it dawned upon him what Jasper Rolfe meant when he called out: ‘That’s all of ‘em, Uncle George!’
      “Then dad got down off the wagon, picked up a handful of the rich, brown soil he loved so much, and then in his thumbless left hand a beet top, and he looked for a moment at these symbols of his labor, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.
      “Then father sat down on a pile of beet tops--this man who brought four of his loved ones home for burial in the course of only six days; made caskets, dug graves, and even helped with the burial clothing--this amazing man who never faltered, nor finched, nor wavered throughout this agonizing ordeal--sat down on a pile of beet tops and sobbed like a little child.
      “Then he arose, wiped his eyes with his big, red bandanna handkerchief, looked up at the sky, and said: ‘Thanks, Father, for the elders of our ward.’”
      Isn’t that what the Lord would want us to do if he were here to show us the way, for didn’t he entreat us by saying:
      “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
      “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
      “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30.)
      Who received the greater blessing? Was it the elders who went out into the field and harvested Brother Goates’ load of beets? I want you to know they received a great blessing.
      And now in conclusion, you remember the words of Paul. He said: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13.)
      And I pray that the charity of Jesus Christ will be with and abide with each one of us, that we will understand the total dimension of welfare services in the Church, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Master. Amen.

Self-discipline is essential in helping us make proper choices. It is much easier to drift than to row, to slide downhill than to climb up. Satan is constantly at work to drag us down by placing temptations in our way in the form of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography, deceit, dishonesty, and flattery, always waiting to catch us in our misdeeds.

Can we not appreciate that our very business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves? To break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever--this is the true idea: to get ahead of ourselves.

While I was on my first mission in Holland, I was invited to speak to a Bible class of businessmen in The Hague. They met every week, holding a Bible class. We met in the home of a prominent furniture dealer; the only woman there was the daughter of the man of the house.
      They invited me to speak for an hour and a half and explain our doctrine of universal salvation, which includes the work for the dead. I gave them chapter and verse and let them read these passages from their own Bibles so they would believe more completely, as they seemed to think we have a different Bible. Then I closed my Bible and laid it on the table, folded my arms, and waited for their comments.
     The first comment came from the daughter of the man of the house. She said, “Father, I just can’t understand it. I have never attended one of these Bible classes in my life that you haven’t had the last word to say on everything, and tonight you haven’t said a word.” 
      The father shook his head and said, “My daughter, there isn’t anything to say.” He said, “This man has been teaching us things we have never heard of, and has been teaching them to us out of our own Bibles.”

Some of these ministers wanted to get away on earlier planes up to the Northwest, so they set the luncheon back a half an hour, and they gave me two and a half hours in that morning meeting. I explained the restoration of the gospel, the difference between a restoration and a reformation, and at the conclusion of my talk I only got one question out of all these ministers and church leaders.
      The man in charge said, “Mr. Richards, you have told us that you believe that God is a personal God.”
      I said, “That is right.”
      He said, “We have heard it said that you believe that God has a wife. Would you explain that to us?”
      I think he thought he had me in trouble, and so rather facetiously I said, “I don’t see how in the world he could have a son without a wife, do you?”
      And they all began to titter. I didn’t have any more trouble with that question.
At the close of my remarks, I told them that while I was the Presiding Bishop of the Church, we had charge of the building program. We had the plans prepared for the Los Angeles Temple. One day we took them and showed them to the First Presidency, but we didn’t have the electrical or plumbing plans completed. We had 84 pages about 4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide, and I imagine you have all seen blueprints. I said, “Now you could take those blueprints and try to fit them to every building in this world, but there is only one building they will fit, and that is the Mormon temple down in Los Angeles.” Then I said, “Of course you can find buildings that have material in them such as cement, lumber, electrical wiring, plumbing, and so forth, but you can’t find any building that they will fit.”
      Then I held up the Bible. I said, “Here is the Lord’s blueprint. Isaiah said the Lord had declared the end from the beginning. It is all here. Now,” I said, “you could take this, the Lord’s blueprint, and try to fit it to every church in this world, but there is only one church that it will fit, and that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now,” I said, “I will proceed to illustrate to you what I mean.
      I said that in Canon Frederick William Farrar’s work Life of Christ (Cassell, 1902), he said there were two passages in the New Testament for which he could find no excuse. The first is John 10:16, where Jesus said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
      I said, “Do any of you men know why that is in the Bible? Do any of you know any church in the world that does know why it is in the Bible? Well, we know all about it.” And then I explained the promise to Joseph of a new land in the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills, and in describing that land, Moses uses the word precious five times in just a few verses. (See Deut. 33:13–16.)
      I said, “Do any of you know where that land of Joseph is?” Then I explained that it was the land of America, and that Jesus visited his people here in America, and he told them that they were the other sheep of whom he spoke to his disciples. (See 2 Ne. 15:21.) He said that not at any time did the Father command him to tell his disciples who the other sheep were, only that he had other sheep. (See 3 Ne. 15:15–17.)
      The other passage they couldn’t understand was the one where Paul said, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29.) I said, “Do any of you know why that is in the Bible? Do any of you know any church in the world that does know why it is in the Bible?” Then I explained this doctrine to them.
      I quoted to them the words of Peter following the day of Pentecost, when he said to those who had put to death the Christ, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:20–21.)
      That is not a reformation; that is a restitution. I said, “That is what I have been telling you here for two hours and a half, and you can’t look for the coming of the Savior as was promised by Peter and the prophets until there has been a restitution, and not a reformation.”
      When I concluded, the man in charge said, “Mr. Richards, this has been one of the most interesting experiences of my entire life.” That is what Isaiah meant when he said, “… the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isa. 29: 14.)
I bear you my witness that there isn’t a man or a woman in this world who really loves the Lord with all their heart who wouldn’t join this church if they would just take time to find out what it is, for I know that it is God’s eternal truth. He has sent his messenger to prepare the way for his coming. I pray God to bless us and help us all to be missionaries. I leave you my blessing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

I wish every adult leader in the Church could have been in attendance to share the spirit of that testimony meeting. With deep emotion, one lovely girl spoke of her reaction when it was discovered that her father had cancer. How she prayed and prayed that he be healed, then came to the realization that her prayers were selfish--that our loving Father in heaven was in control and that she should submit to his will. She evidenced a very mature outlook on life, something that some of us as adults never experience in a lifetime of living.

Another is that we search and ponder the words of eternal life. And a third is that we pray. Over and over again the scriptures teach that men receive from the Lord according to their desires. Alma declared:
      “… I know that [God] granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.” (Alma 29:4.
      Jesus acted on this principle. In John’s parchment record, he wrote:
      “… the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desirest thou? ...
      “And I said unto him: Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.
      “And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.” (D&C 7:1–3.)
      At the opening of this last dispensation, the Lord said to the Prophet’s father: “… if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” (D&C 4:3.)
      And two months later he said to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery: “… as you desire of me so it shall be unto you. …” (D&C 6:8.)
      The importance of desire is dramatically pointed up in this quotation from the 18th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:
      “And now, behold, there are others who are called to declare my gospel, both unto Gentile and unto Jew;
      “Yea, even twelve; and the Twelve shall be my disciples, and they shall take upon them my name; and the Twelve are they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart.
      “And if they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart, they are called. …
      “And now, behold, I give unto you, Oliver Cowdery, and also unto David Whitmer, that you shall search out the Twelve, who shall have the desires of which I have spoken;
      “And by their desires and their works you shall know them.” (D&C 18:26–28, 37–38. Italics added.)

The third finger is the big finger. This is the power finger. It has the best location on the hand. The third law of success says that you must WANT to succeed--in capital letters. If I want to succeed in letters an inch high, I will fail. But if I want to succeed in letters a yard high, then I will succeed.
      The Lord said, “… if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” (D&C 4:3.) If we don’t WANT to do it we can’t do it. Alma said that God grants unto every man according to his desires. (See Alma 29:4.) And we ought to spend a lot more time than we ordinarily do in increasing the volume and intensity of our righteous desires.
      A young man once came to Socrates and said, “Mr. Socrates, I have come sixteen hundred miles to talk to you about wisdom and learning.” He said, “You are a man of wisdom and learning and I would like to be a man of wisdom and learning. Would you teach me how to be a man of wisdom and learning?”
      Socrates said, “Come, follow me.” And he led the way down to the seashore.
      Then they waded out into the water up to their waists. Then Socrates seized his friend and held his head under the water. His friend struggled and kicked and bucked and tried to get away but Socrates held him down. Now if you hold somebody’s head under the water long enough he will eventually become fairly peaceable, and when this man had quit kicking, Socrates carried him out on the bank and laid him out to dry, and he went back to the marketplace.
      After this man had thawed out a little bit he came back to Socrates to find the reason for this rather unusual behavior, and Socrates said to him, “When your head was under the water, what was the one thing you wanted more than anything else?”
      And he said, “More than anything else I wanted air.”
      Then Socrates said, “When you want wisdom and learning like you wanted air, you won’t need to ask anybody to give it to you.”
      When we really WANT to be disciples of Christ, in capital letters, when we really WANT to be servants of the Master, then everything else will be easy. Someone once said to Mozart, “Would you teach me how to write symphonies?” Mozart said, “You are too young to write symphonies.” The young man said, “But you were fifteen years younger than I am when you began writing symphonies.” Mozart said, “But I didn’t have to ask anybody to teach me.” Only when we get some of these great qualities inside of ourselves are we in a position to make progress.

Shakespeare said, “No profit comes where there is no pleasure taken.” You can’t do very well that which you don’t enjoy doing. If we don’t get great pleasure out of our families, we should repent, because we are doing something wrong. If the work of the Lord seems burdensome and makes us weary, or if we don’t get exhilaration and uplift out of that part of the work of the world that life has given us to do, then we should repent. We need some more powerful satisfactions from life.

Perhaps because our 12-year-old son was with us, Sister Lake told us of another 12-year-old with whom she became acquainted in a rehabilitation center in New York where she was working. The boy had been blind and for most of his 12 years had lived a sad existence, thought to be uneducable, incapable of learning. Then he was given a chance, thank the Lord, and a marvelous spirit and fine mind were discovered. He told his friend that he had thought all his life that being blind was the worst thing that could happen to one--until he met Campy. Campy was Roy Campanella, great athlete, who at the height of his career was rendered physically helpless in an automobile accident. The blind boy said he had decided after meeting Campy that his condition was worse than not being able to see. “But there is something even worse than that,” he said. He talked of feeling his way down the hall at the hospital, hearing the scuff of feet as people passed him by. “There is something worse than being blind or crippled, and that is to have people not understand you,” he said. “I guess they think that because I am blind I can’t hear or speak either.”
There is one who always understands, and those who seek to become the manner of person he is must seek to understand. We are never really alone when we love God and accept the friendship of his loving Son. I think of the mother of 14 children who was asked if she had a favorite. “Well,” she said, “if I do, it’s the one who is ill until she gets well, or the one who is away until he gets home.” So it seems to be with the Lord.

Recently my secretary put on my desk an article which reported an experiment carried on by the National Institute of Mental Health. “A tiny Eden for mice” was built. In it was placed everything that could be included “in a mouse’s dream of paradise. Food, housing supplies--everything was there in abundance.” In it were placed four pair of mice. There was room for “4,000 mice. Every 55 days the population doubled. But when there were a little over 600 mice things began happening. Not only did the population fall off; but big problems arose in the mouse society. … the mice were becoming lazy. Many appeared greatly distressed, some utterly frustrated. Their behavior became quite unpredictable. The making of nests dropped off. Some of the mice began to eat each other!
“The planned mouse population never did climb to 4,000. They had reached slightly more than half that figure when reproduction came to a complete halt. The mouse society turned into an emotional mob!
“The population in mouse-Eden has now dropped to a little more than 600. No new baby mice are being born. The mouse society is doomed. And not a mouse shows any interest in saving his dying paradise.” (Lon Woodrum, Applied Christianity, Sept. 1973, pp. 28–30.)
Idleness is just as devastating to men as it is to mice.
“Give [men] everything they ask for while making no demands on their own efforts, and they will deteriorate into an unfit mob.” (Ibid.)

I said, “Brother, this Church demands nothing of you. It just offers you a better way of life.” He said, “But it is awfully hard.” I said, “Let’s see if it is. Let’s go and get a cigar and have a good smoke. Let’s go and hold up a bank and see what happens. Let us go and join a group tonight as they go out on a big drunk.” He said, “President Tanner, don’t be ridiculous.” I said, “All right, I won’t if you won’t.” Then I said, “Just name one commandment that you think you shouldn’t keep, or you would advise your son not to keep.” He could not.

When I was presiding over the Edmonton Branch a man came to me and said, “I can’t pay a full tithing this year. I have had to do some building, some remodeling, and so on.” I told him that the Lord had said that he would pour out blessings that we would hardly be able to contain. He said, “I still can’t do it.” Right after the first of the year that man spent several days in the hospital with a high doctor bill, and he paid it. I am not suggesting that he was there because he didn’t pay a full tithing, but I am suggesting that the evidence is there that he could have paid a full tithing.
      How would you like the Lord to figure out his blessings on the same basis that you do when you are figuring out your tithing? If you were in deep trouble, had physical or mental illness, or your family were suffering and causing you much concern, would you want him to say, “Well now, just how much can I keep from giving him? How close can I figure this blessing?”

President Joseph F. Smith said, “The house of the Lord is a house of order and not a house of confusion; and that means,” as the Lord has said, “that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord; and that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone. That is what it means. God instituted marriage in the beginning.” (Conference Report, April 1913, p. 118.)

Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to urge you younger men to marry too early. I think therein is one of the hazards of today’s living. We don’t want a young man to think of marriage until he is able to take care of a family, to have an institution of his own, to be independent. He must make sure that he has found the girl of his choice, they have gone together long enough that they know each other, and that they know each other’s faults and they still love each other. I have said to the mission presidents (some of whom have been reported to us as saying to missionaries, “Now, if you are not married in six months, you are a failure as a missionary”), “Don’t you ever say that to one of your missionaries. Maybe in six months they will not have found a wife; and if they take you seriously, they may rush into a marriage that will be wrong for them.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

General Conference Highlights

After we have done all we can, having studied it out and determined
how best to solve our problems, then we take our decisions to the
Lord; and if they are right, our bosoms will burn within us and we
will have spiritual confirmation as to what to do.

Robert Browning said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” Growth
comes as we constantly seek to achieve that which is just beyond our
immediate capacity. One of the noteworthy aspects of the Church
program is that it constantly motivates men to stretch themselves, to
reach a little higher.

Someone has said that success consists not in never falling, but in
rising every time you fall. Get up one more time than you go down,
young people, and you will win. Stay down, and you lose.

Cicero said, “Control thyself.” I had the opportunity in World War II
to bat against the immortal Bob Feller in a servicemen’s game. If you
ever want a lesson in humility, bat against Feller. Bob Feller had a
unique distinction as a sixteen-year-old boy. He could take a 9
1/2-inch, 5-ounce baseball and throw it from 60 feet 6 inches, 105
miles an hour.
      Now that may not impress you, but you go to bat and you’re very
impressed. To those of you who may not understand that velocity, a
9-inch baseball is the size of an aspirin tablet at 60 feet 6 inches,
at 100 miles per hour. I submit to you, it makes a difference which
side of the plate he throws it.
      Bob Feller at age sixteen had a problem. He lacked control. He
was a great athlete. He had tremendous capacity. He was born to
succeed. He knew himself, but he hadn’t disciplined his great talent
of speed, so that it was questionable as to whether he would stick in
the majors.
      But Bob Feller became the great athlete he was because he
listened to wise counsel. He had great coaches, and one of them took
him aside one day and said, “Bob, it really doesn’t matter whether you
throw 105 miles an hour or 95. If you will take a little speed off
your pitch and put the ball where it belongs, you will succeed!
      We call that control in baseball, and you little leaguers know
how important control is to a pitcher. Bob listened and became the
strike-out artist of his era.
      You don’t know Jim Rusick, I think, unless you are related to
him. I played ball with Jim. Jim Rusick was a sixteen-year-old boy on
the Hollywood High School baseball team. He could throw a 9 1/2-inch
baseball 105 miles an hour, but he wouldn’t listen to counsel. He
didn’t learn to control the talent that he had, and Jim has never been
heard of since.
      It’s one thing to be born with ability to succeed; it’s another
thing to harness it and to control it.
      My young brethren, this is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, to control that which we have been born with. That is the
purpose of the Church and its programs. We need to learn how to
control that which God has given us.
      Finally, the Savior said, Take all that I have given you,
harness it, discipline it, and then give it to the world. Give

Jeffrey Holland, president of Brigham Young University, while working
on his Ph.D. at a prominent eastern American university, got to know
well one of the reference librarians who had helped him with some
      One day he said, “Ilene, I need to know how many books we have
in the University Library which claim to have been delivered by an
      As you can imagine, the librarian gave him a peculiar look and
said, “I don’t know of any books that have been delivered by angels.
Swords maybe, or chariots, but I don’t know of any books.”
      “Well, just run a check for me would you? It may take a little
doing, but I really would like to know.”
      The librarian dutifully did some checking of the nine million
books in the library. For several days she had nothing to report, but
then one day she smilingly said, “Mr. Holland, I have a book for you.
I found one book which, it is claimed, was delivered by an angel,” and
she held up a paperback copy of the Book of Mormon. “I’m told you can
get them for a dollar. My goodness,” she continued, “an angel’s book
for a dollar! You would think angels would charge more, but then
again,” she said, “where would they spend it?” (See Pat Holland,
President’s Welcome Assembly, Brigham Young University, 9 Sept. 1986).
      Think of it--one book has been delivered by an angel, and it
teaches of your eternal salvation. And each of you owns a true copy!

A stake president recently told me that a respected member who had
held Church leadership positions was enticed by some business friends
to try the cocaine drug “crack.” The men were depressed. Their company
was failing, and they succumbed to the evil enticement of illegal
      He wasted $18,000 buying “crack,” lost his job, underwent a
personality change, and finally was hospitalized. Through it all, his
wife stayed by him. She found a job, and they began the struggle of
putting his life back together. His Church friends helped him get
another job.
      His mind is seriously affected. He is still somewhat dependent
on some drugs. The hope and prayer of his family is that he will be
able to hold on to the lifeline.

It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that
determines how your life’s story will develop.

But I am so grateful for her. For 66 years we have walked together,
hand in hand, with love and encouragement, with appreciation and
respect. It cannot be very long before one of us will step through the
veil. I hope the other will follow soon. I just would not know how to
get along without her, even on the other side, and I would hope that
she would not know how to get along without me.

A wise man explained, “When the satisfaction or the security of
another person becomes as significant to one as one’s own satisfaction
and security then the state of love exists.”

            A bell is no bell till you ring it,
            A song is no song till you sing it,
            And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay,
            Love isn’t love till you give it away.

Loving service anonymously given may be unknown to man--but the gift
and the giver are known to God. Of this truth I testify, in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen.

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