Sunday, December 29, 2013

President's Weekly Letter #67

Every one of you had hands laid on your head and was set apart as a missionary by your Stake President who holds keys to do so by virtue of his ordination via a General Authority.  Your ordination brought with it power and authority.  PMG p. 4 teaches spiritual power comes from and is contingent on your prayerful and worth exercising of your authority.  Worthiness shows itself in many ways but may be best stated as we are, “…set apart from the world to a higher plane of thought and activity.”  This is more than just obeying the commandments. With this power and authority, you have the responsibility to make a difference in God’s kingdom and to be a tool in the hands of the Lord.  

On Thursday 21 June 2012, I entered the office of Elder Quinton L. Cook of the Quorum of 12 Apostles in Salt Lake City to be set apart to serve as Mission President in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  As a member of the 12 he holds all keys necessary to operate the kingdom of God on earth except the presiding power is active only with senior Apostle and ordained President of the Church, President Monson.  I had been called by President Monson and confirmed by the Quorum of 12 and Elder Cook was acting under their authorization.  Elder Cook had previously suggested I bring with me any close family members.  My three children, their spouses, my mother and mother in law and my wife were with me.  Elder Cook is a fascinating and engaging person.  He did most of the original heavy lifting in writing Preach My Gospel along with Elder Ballard and Elder Holland.  Also present was Elder Patrick Kearon who assisted and set apart my wife.

We visited for 40 minutes while Elder Cook gave me sound council.  He then laid his hands on my head and set me apart as a mission president; he gave me keys for my responsibilities and spoke a blessing from the Lord that is personal to me and powerful.

I have since reflected may times on DC 112 which was given to Thomas B. Marsh.  Marsh was then the president of the quorum of 12 apostles, as Elder Packer is today.  Joseph, Sidney and Hyrum had other assignments so Marsh was chosen by the Lord and authorized by the Quorum:

 16 … to hold the keys of my kingdom, as pertaining to the Twelve, abroad among all nations—…
 21 … whosoever ye shall send in my name, by the voice of your brethren, the Twelve, duly recommended and authorized by you, shall have power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation whithersoever ye shall send them—

Elder Cook literally did with my ordination what is commanded here of Marsh.  This section contains great instruction, commandments and blessings for mission presidents but is also applicable for all full-time missionaries.  The Lord begins and ends with the most encouraging words we could hear:

“2 Verily I say unto you, there have been some few things in thine heart and with thee with which I, the Lord, was not well pleased.
 3 Nevertheless, inasmuch as thou hast abased thyself thou shalt be exalted; therefore, all thy sins are forgiven thee…
19 … and I will be with you; and in whatsoever place ye shall proclaim my name an effectual door shall be opened unto you, that they may receive my word.”

DC 79 was written to us as missionaries as well as to Jared Carter. The verses contain the classic format of presenting a principle of doctrine, commandments, and promises.  The doctrine teaches us much about the power of our ordination.

“1 Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that my servant Jared Carter should go again into the eastern countries, from place to place, and from city to city, in the power of the ordination wherewith he has been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel.
 2 And I will send upon him the Comforter, which shall teach him the truth and the way whither he shall go;
 3 And inasmuch as he is faithful, I will crown him again with sheaves.
 4 Wherefore, let your heart be glad, my servant Jared Carter, and fear not, saith your Lord, even Jesus Christ. Amen.”  (DC 79:1-4)

To go with power and authority, He commands us to be faithful, to be glad and to fear not.  I equate that to choosing to feel optimism and enthusiasm in our work.  Finally, the promised blessings include receiving truth and guidance by the Comforter and being crowned with sheaves.

It requires faith to be glad and fear not.  Faith is a gift, but you must choose to nurture it and seek after it in order to possess it.

“Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision. He would need to choose faith.”  (Niel L. Anderson Oct. Conf. 2008, Is It Enough)

PMG ties power and authority to receiving personal revelation and then ties personal revelation to prayer and scripture study.

“As you learn to receive personal revelation, you will teach with power and authority.” (PMG p.90)  “Pray about and ponder the scriptures.  The scriptures open the window to revelation.”  (PMG p.95)

For several months we have studied each week on a rotating basis one of the 9 attributes of Jesus Christ contained in PMG Chapter 6.  We have learned together as one member of each District taught and lead the discussion about the assigned attribute each week in District Meeting.  Christ said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19) This invitation means to learn of him, follow his example, and seek to incorporate or internalize his attributes into your own life.  This increases your spirituality and in turn the power and authority of your ordination.

I think it is important to possess Christ-like attributes because the final judgment will be more about who we are than what we have done.  Elder Oaks stated:

“The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”  (D. Todd Christofferson  (April 2011 Conference)  “Quote: Elder Dallin H. Oaks)

You cannot possess the attributes of Christ by studying the attributes of Christ.  You develop the attributes of Christ by internalizing them through your daily conduct. 

Therefore, in the future we will still discuss an assigned attribute in District Class but will study passages where Christ displays the attribute and relate experiences in our own lives during the past week that shows we are learning to possess the attribute.

The following questions put in perspective the difference between learning about an attribute and internalizing the attribute:

How do you treat people who don’t matter to you?
When you receive trials, difficulties and adversity do you feel optimistic or pessimistic?
Is Jesus Christ really your friend?
Do you lift hands that hopelessly hang down?
Where are your inter-most thoughts?
How do you react under pressure?
Do you rely on the Lord or yourself?
In what part of your life do you extend persistent, steady and consistent effort?
What is your first consideration when you choose a behavior?
President Robinson

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