The Need for Greater Unity

Nothing steals our happiness more than disharmony. This is true for marriages, families, neighbors and nations. Sadly, conflict seems to be everywhere right now! Contention is one of Satan’s greatest weapons. Clearly he and his troops are out in unprecedented numbers waging war wherever they can! So how can we stop this army of animosity?

One of the lessons we learn from the war chapters in the Book of Mormon is that victory only came when there was unity. The same is true today. When we are at odds with each other, there is no chance for unity. And the Lord has made it very clear that if we are not one, we are not His. (See D&C 38:27).

In order to have unity, we must avoid contention. Differences and disagreements will inevitably arise. And while there are many things in life we cannot control, one thing we always have control over is how we speak. We can eliminate gossip, fault-finding and comparisons from our thoughts and our language.  You and I cannot control how someone acts toward us, but we can always choose how we will react to them. We can choose to not be offended. Unity is only possible when we put aside our pride. Challenging as these things may be, the rewards will be well worth it!

Marion G. Romney – “There is but one way that we can be united, and that way is to seek the Lord and His righteousness (see 3 Nephi 13:33). Unity comes by following the light from above. It does not come out of the confusions below.”1

It is undeniable that contention drives away the Spirit. Many years ago, Russell M. Nelson warned that contention “is a corroding canker of the spirit.”2 Many times since becoming the prophet he has reminded us of the need to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Perhaps the most powerful was when he said, “If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation. … In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”3

We cannot afford to let contention rob us of the essential and spiritually life-saving influence of the Holy Ghost. With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can know how to better create harmony and unity in our lives. Each day as we work on being more unified with those around us, we get a little closer to becoming who the Savior has asked us to become.


1.  Unity – Marion G. Romney

2.  The Canker of Contention – Russell M. Nelson

3.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

What Faith Can Do

Helen Keller said, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” That is exactly what happened in the Sacred Grove two hundred years ago. There a 14 year-old boy went to pray, having faith enough to know that if he asked his Heavenly Father a question he would get an answer. And he did get an answer! Because Joseph Smith prayed in faith and then acted in faith on the answer he received, the world has been filled with the incredible light of the gospel!

There have been many times in my life when I have had to rely totally on faith – faith is built on our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world. I know that faith in Him can give us the strength to emerge triumphant in times when we feel our world shattering is around us. Without a doubt we will all have times when we feel like our world is shattering around us, because, honestly, that is part of our mortal learning. Those are the refining moments in our lives. During those times, we get to choose if we will have faith, if we will trust Heavenly Father to shape and mold us into the person He wants us to be. While I can’t say that I have loved my trials, I can say I love what my trials have helped me become. I cannot say I have loved watching those I love go through their trials, but I love how they have come through them better and stronger than ever!

Russell M. Nelson reminds us, “If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children. The Prophet Joseph Smith set a pattern for us to follow in resolving our questions. … The boy Joseph took his question directly to Heavenly Father. He sought personal revelation, and his seeking opened this last dispensation. … What will your seeking open for you?”1

Do we have the kind of faith that young Joseph had? Do we really know that Heavenly Father will answer our sincere prayers? Do we have enough faith in Him to trust how He answers our prayers? 

I love the beautiful reminder in Alma 58:11 that says, “Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”

At the beginning of the year, President Nelson issued this challenge, “In this remarkable year as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision, I invite you to think deeply and often about this key question: How do you hear Him?”2 Speaking peace to my soul and granting me great faith are some of the sweetest ways I hear Him. Trusting God, having faith in His Son, and listening for the whisperings of the Holy Ghost are things I have to do every day. Then I can hear Him better. And as I learn to hear Him better, I know He will lighten my burdens and brighten my days.  


1.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

2.  How Do You Hear Him? – Russell M. Nelson

Silver Linings

The last five months have been interesting, to say the least. Life has changed dramatically for most people. There is so much chaos and commotion. It is difficult to watch and not be affected by it to some degree. The best word to describe how I have been feeling is gloomy. The most challenging thing for me during this pandemic has been not being able to go to the temple. No matter how overwhelming my life has gotten in the past, I could always go to the temple and find peace. Spending time in the temple grounded me, recharged my batteries, if you will, and gave me the strength to go back out and face the world.

Yesterday President Nelson put out a video where he talked about the weighty decision to close the temples. At the end, he said, “Even through clouds of sorrow, there can be silver linings found.”1 A friend asked what silver linings I have found during the temple closures. I knew immediately what the answer was.

About a month ago, I felt an overwhelming urge to research and study the histories of my ancestors. Almost immediately, I felt the cloud of gloom lifting. I felt a peace and strength very similar to what I would feel in the temple. It has been amazing! This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. In general conference in April, President Russell M. Nelson reminded us, “Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son. … As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional.”2 Where I hear the Savior the best has always been in the temple. I needed to trust Him more so that I could hear Him other places too. Oh that I had listened in April and not in June to this promise from President Nelson, “While worshipping in the temple is presently not possible, I invite you to increase your participation in family history, including family history research and indexing. I promise that as you increase your time in temple and family history work, you will increase and improve your ability to hear Him.”2

There was something else that President Nelson said in yesterday’s video that piqued my interest. “Even though temples have been closed, family history research and work has taken a huge leap forward; more names are being added.”1 Family history research has definitely taken a huge leap forward in my life. I am sad to admit that I have not been as familiar with my amazing family as I should have been. The gratitude I feel for their examples and sacrifices is overwhelming. Because of them, I have the gospel in my life. Their example of unwavering faithfulness is something I want to emulate! This has certainly been a silver lining while I am unable to go to the temple.

But President Nelson said silver linings. After watching the video, I felt compelled to look through names and ordinances I had done the month or two before the temple closed. Some of those ancestors still have ordinances that need to be done but at that time they were not able to be reserved. I decided to look for every person that didn’t have all their work done. To my delight, more had been added! I was able to reserve seventeen more ordinances for my relatives! I can hardly wait for the temples to reopen so I can do this work! What a beautiful silver lining!

We are surely living through some pretty cloudy days right now. The reality of life is that there will always be cloudy days. And there will also always be silver linings! Jeffery R. Holland said, “Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek.”3 As we seek the light and love of our Heavenly Father and strive to hear His Son ever more intentionally, every day we can feel the peace that comes only from Him. And on our cloudy days, I hope we will remember to look for the silver linings.


1.  President Nelson video on decision to close temples amid Covid-19

2.  Hear Him – Russell M. Nelson

3.  An High Priest of Good Things to Come – Jeffrey R. Holland

Always Look for the Sunshine!

There is a quote hanging in my home that I see every time I go out the front door that says, “Come what may, and love it.”1  It is a gentle reminder to always look for the sunshine, especially on cloudy days. And there will always be cloudy days! Sometimes lots of dark cloudy days! If we are not careful, discouragement and despair can creep in. I think this scripture teaches us how to avoid that, “In the world ye shall have tribulation (sounds like the assurance of cloudy days to me!): but be of good cheer (don’t forget to look for the sunshine); I have overcome the world (always look to the Son!).”2 Because the Son of God overcame the world, when we look to Him, we will find the strength we need to endure our trials, whatever they may be.

Everyone will have trials. That is part of life – an essential part! In order to become who Heavenly Father wants us to become, we need the tutoring that can come in no other way. And because He loves us, He does not intend for us to go through our trying times alone. We can be assured that “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”3

Russell M. Nelson reminds us, “With celestial sight, trials impossible to change become possible to endure.”4

Keeping an eternal perspective is imperative! With that perspective, we will be able to see the miracles and blessings that come while we are enduring. And the eternal blessings are even more than we can comprehend!

I love this quote by Howard W. Hunter, “Life is wonderful, even in the hard times, and there is happiness, joy, and peace at stops all along the way, and endless portions of them at the end of the road.”5

May we allow our trials to teach us, to stretch us, to refine us and to sanctify us so that one day we will be prepared to live with our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ again.


1.  Come What May, and Love It – Joseph B. Wirthlin

2.  John 16:33

3.  Alma 36:3

4.  With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible – Russell M. Nelson

5.  Fear Not, Little Flock – Howard W. Hunter

True and Enduring Freedom

Yesterday we took a Sunday drive to see an enormous American flag flying in a nearby canyon. It was breathtaking! When I saw our beautiful flag blowing in the breeze, I couldn’t help but have a lump in my throat, a tear in my eye and a deeper my love for this great country! I am sure part of my patriotism comes from having a father who served in the military. After celebrating the 4th of July with fewer freedoms than we usually have, I was grateful for the tender reminder of the precious gift of freedom. I truly am grateful to live in America. I am thankful for those who have fought, and continue to fight, to make us free and for those who promote freedom.

In the early 1950s, my dad served in the Coast Guard. He spent most of his time on the St. George Reef Lighthouse, off the coast of northern California. A few years before he passed away, my family had the privilege of going back with him to visit. Although we weren’t able to go out to the lighthouse, which is six miles out to sea, one clear day, we could see this sturdy granite structure from the shore. Parts of the lighthouse, including the huge Fresnel lens, were on display at the museum we visited in Crescent City. As he looked at that massive lens, my dad recounted many wonderful experiences on the lighthouse. And while cleaning that lens was one of his most important jobs, and certainly the most dangerous, it was definitely his least favorite! It was time-consuming and tedious. But it was essential. The light from the lens could warn weary travelers some twenty miles away.

Thinking about my dad’s experiences as a lightkeeper made me think a little deeper about freedom. The captains of the boats knew they could trust that there would be a light burning brightly to warn of danger, keeping them free from inevitable harm if not for that light. We, too, have lightkeepers who want to ensure our freedom by warning us of imminent dangers. They are our prophets and apostles!

A profound warning was given by Ezra Taft Benson when he was the prophet. He said, “Wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. … As the forces of evil increase under Lucifer’s leadership and as the forces of good increase under the leadership of Jesus Christ, there will be growing battles between the two until the final confrontation. As the issues become clearer and more obvious, all mankind will eventually be required to align themselves either for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom of the devil. As these conflicts rage, either secretly or openly, the righteous will be tested. … But God will provide strength for the righteous; … and eventually and finally truth will triumph.”1

We know there will always be an ongoing battle between freedom and bondage, between right and wrong, between good and evil. While we are being warned about the need to cherish, honor and protect our freedoms, many of the talks I read during my study remind us that the best way to do that is through obedience to God’s commandments.

Here are a few quotes from some of those talks.

“Living the commandments makes us free. … Real freedom is found only in obedience—in subjecting ourselves to God’s will. … One of Satan’s most effective tools is to clothe bondage in the costume of liberty.”2 – Paul V. Johnson

“How can we best … secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven? First and foremost, we must be righteous.”3 – Ezra Taft Benson

“Freedom and liberty are precious gifts that come to us when we are obedient to the laws of God and the whisperings of the Spirit. … Obedience leads to true freedom. The more we obey revealed truth, the more we become liberated.”4 – James E. Faust

“There is no true freedom without responsibility, and there is no enduring freedom without a knowledge of the truth.”5 – Boyd K. Packer

“The Lord has revealed His sacred standard to guide people in a troubled world. You and I were born free to follow His divine guidance. … For freedom and joy, choose to ‘be faithful in Christ.’”6 – Russell M. Nelson

“Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it. … It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually, … prepared in all things to join Him in His celestial kingdom.”7 – D. Todd Christofferson

“Freedom is a God-given eternal principle. … One of the privileges of mortal life is the opportunity to rise in freedom’s defense.”8 – Ezra Taft Benson

On my way back to the car after seeing the beautiful flag, there was an older man, a veteran I am sure, who with help from his family stood, staring at the flag. You could see from the expression on his face that he loves what the flag stands for. He, like so many others, fought for our freedoms. Does a love of freedom show in our faces and in our actions? What are we doing to cherish, honor and protect our freedoms?

Watching this humble older man reminded me of something Vaughn J. Featherstone said, “I think it is time we should all awaken. Our concern isn’t about the flames of freedom which burn so brightly in our generation; the concern is that in the upcoming generation the fire has never been kindled. … Freedom ought to ring in the heart of every Latter-day Saint regardless of his country. The United States of America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. We ought to love it and we ought to talk about it. We need to be true, we need to have faith. If we do this, God will give us strength to brace against the winds. He will make this country like a giant pillar of granite. He will make us a mighty people, a pure people, a Christlike people, a worthy people, a free people.”9

Elder Featherstone’s generation was my dad’s generation and the generation of the veteran I saw yesterday! The flames of freedom definitely burned brightly in them! Gratefully I was blessed with a father who kindled the fire of freedom in me!

The granite lighthouse my father served on was built to withstand the ocean beating on it from every side. And perched atop was a bright, guiding beacon. If we are righteous, God will make this country, which was founded on freedom, like a great pillar of granite. Every latter-day prophet has reminded us that America is a chosen land, chosen because it was necessary to have a free country where the gospel could be restored. We know that there will be opposition from every side, not just here in America. The prophets and apostles, our lightkeepers, can be our beacon in this ever-darkening world. If we will follow them, they will lead us to safety in these treacherous times.


1.  I Testify – Ezra Taft Benson

2.  Free to Choose – Paul V. Johnson

3.  Our Divine Constitution – Ezra Taft Benson

4.  Obedience: The Path to Freedom – James E. Faust

5.  Agency and Control – Boyd K. Packer

6.  Addiction or Freedom – Russell M. Nelson

7.  Free Forever, to Act for Themselves – D. Todd Christofferson

8.  October 1972 Ensign – Ezra Taft Benson

9.  But Watchman, What of the Night? – Vaughn J. Featherstone

Away From Danger

A few weeks ago, as I was out watering my flowers, I had something happen that has never happened before—a bird flew out of one of my hanging plants. It frightened me a bit! Then it happened again the next day, and the next. Could this bird be building a nest in my hanging plant? I asked my son take down the planter and, sure enough, there in my hanging plant is a nest with five little eggs in it. Interestingly, the nest is at the front of the planter where the direct water never hits. Since I’m so short, even on my tippy toes and with the longest attachment on the hose, I am unable to reach that spot.

This little mother bird taught me a valuable lesson. To give her children the best possibility for survival, she protected them in a most unusual way. Although there are many trees both large and small nearby, she chose to build her nest in the most obscure, protected place possible.

This reminded me of the counsel given to Emma Smith to “lay aside the things of this world and seek for the things of a better.”1  Using this scripture, President Nelson issued the same challenge to the women of the Church last year to “put aside many things of this world.” He said, “Sometimes we speak almost casually about walking away from the world with its contention, pervasive temptations, and false philosophies. But truly doing so requires you to examine your life meticulously and regularly.”2

There is so much going on around us, so many things calling for our attention and priorities. If we aren’t careful, we can get caught up in things that will take us away from the peace we so desperately need, or possibly even from the safety of the gospel. Seemingly innocent things can take us away from the things of eternal significance without our even noticing. Likewise, seemingly small and simple gospel principles consistently lived will take us almost imperceptibly toward the things of eternal significance.

President Nelson said, “As you shift your focus away from worldly distractions, some things that seem important to you now will recede in priority. You will need to say no to some things, even though they may seem harmless. As you embark upon and continue this lifelong process of consecrating your life to the Lord, the changes in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you!”2

In the idyllic setting of my hanging plant, this mother bird has, in a way, taken herself out of the world. She is doing all in her power to protect herself and her loved ones from danger. So should we! The prophet reminds us, “We Latter-day Saints are not of the world; we are of covenant Israel. We are called to prepare a people for the Second Coming of the Lord.”2

What a great calling! I hope we can each give greater heed to our dear prophet’s challenge to put aside the things of this world and more fully consecrate our lives to the Lord.


1.  Doctrine & Covenants 25:10

2.  Spiritual Treasures – Russell M. Nelson

A Father’s Example

Today as we honor our fathers, I want to pay a special tribute to three incredible men – my father, my father-in-law and my husband. D. Todd Christofferson said, “Perhaps the most essential of a father’s work is to turn the hearts of his children to their Heavenly Father. If by his example as well as his words a father can demonstrate what fidelity to God looks like in day-to-day living, that father will have given his children the key to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.”1

I was blessed to have father who did just that! By his word and his deed, I absolutely knew my dad was a man of God. He taught me the gospel by living it. Even in his final words to the family, he was still preaching the gospel. He loved the Lord and he wanted his posterity to know that he loved the Lord. Because my earthly father was so compassionate, kind and loving, it has always been easy for me to know that I have a Heavenly Father who is full of compassion, kindness and love. I love my dad!

The same could be said about my “other” father. He, too, was a man who lived and loved the gospel. And in his final hours, he, too, proclaimed the gospel with boldness to his family. His righteous example has blessed many, especially his family, but none more profoundly than his only son. I am eternally grateful to him for that!

Heber J. Grant taught, “The best inheritance that you can leave to your sons and daughters is an investment in the kingdom of God.”2 These two incredible fathers definitely left their children the best inheritance!

Elder Christofferson also said, “Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy.”1 I know of no father who has sacrificed more for his children than my wonderful husband. His willingness to give of himself now includes his grandchildren as well. Without a doubt, each one has brought him incomparable joy! There has not been a time in our children’s lives when they haven’t seen their dad faithfully serving God, honoring his priesthood and cherishing his covenants. He is a marvelous example! I love him dearly!

Russell M. Nelson said, “Our faith now becomes part of our posterity’s faith later.”3 What an amazing legacy these men have left and are leaving their posterity! I am so grateful for the tremendous impact they each have had on my life and on my family’s lives. Their Christlike examples have blessed us immeasurably.

Especially today I thank a loving Heavenly Father for the wonderful men in my life, many more than just these three men! To each of you, I hope you know how much better this world is because of you! Happy Father’s Day!


1.  Fathers – D. Todd Christofferson

2.  Teaching Children in the Nurture and Admonition of the Gospel – Heber J. Grant

3.  Face the Future With Faith – Russell M. Nelson

Sabbath Day Blessings

So many things in our lives have changed over the last few months. When suddenly I couldn’t buy toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, I thought, “I wish I would have known before so I could have stocked up!” Luckily I had enough of those things in my storage to get by during the shortages. Those are temporal and temporary. What about my spiritual needs? How well is my spiritual storage room stocked? Because one thing is for sure, we have been warned that there are and will continue to be spiritually hard times ahead! For as long as I can remember, those warnings have been given. However, I don’t recall a time when they have been so emphatic.

Think about this and where we are today! In August 2015, Neil L. Andersen said, “In recent months, the First Presidency and the Twelve have felt an undeniable direction from the Lord to declare and reemphasize the Sabbath day and the importance of worthily partaking of the sacrament. As we take the sacrament, we remember the Savior and His Atonement. We come repenting of our sins, pledging our loyalty to covenants made with Him, and hearing again the promises He makes to us. To always have His Spirit with us is a pearl of enormous value. Receiving the sacrament on Sunday is more and more like an oasis in the desert, bubbling with cool spring water, quenching our spiritual thirst, and relieving our parched souls.”1

Two months later, Quentin L. Cook reminded us that “the storms and temptations of this life are often unpredictable. But this we know: they will come! In order to overcome the challenges and temptations that each of us inevitably faces, it will require righteous preparation and the use of divinely provided protections.”2 One of those divinely provided protections is honoring the Sabbath day.  Elder Cook taught, “Honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath … allows us to be in the world but not of the world. Truly keeping the Sabbath day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life.”2

Remember in October 2018, when President Russell M. Nelson said, “It is time for a home-centered Church. … The adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate.” It is undeniable that we are surely seeing that these days! He continued, “To survive spiritually, we need counterstrategies and proactive plans.”3 He also encouraged us to “conscientiously and carefully” transform our homes into sanctuaries of faith. He then gave this profoundly personal and individual promise, “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. … [T]he influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease.”4

David A. Bednar has said, “The Sabbath is God’s time, a sacred time specifically set apart for worshipping Him and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises. … On His holy day, our thoughts, actions, and demeanor are signs we give to God and an indicator of our love for Him. … the Sabbath is to elevate our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity.”5

Sundays definitely look a lot different today than they did eighteen months ago. Churches aren’t open for worshipping. Religious experts are worried that when they do reopen many people will not return. In a newspaper article the other day, Nancy Ammerman, a professor of the sociology of religion at Boston University, said, “People who stop attending church rarely develop or maintain spiritual practices at home.”6

Clearly our prophet feels differently! Home-centered church is a proactive plan that, if followed, will not only help us maintain spiritual practices but where we can “learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.”3

M. Russell Ballard called home-centered church “an opportunity to renew our spirit and our devotion to God within the walls of our homes.”7

And Elder Bednar said, “Our most instructive Sunday School classes should be our individual and family study in our places of residence.”8

Hopefully soon we will be able to gather in our churches to worship together. Until then, may we be ever vigilant in creating sanctuaries of faith in our homes. Elder Bednar gives this prophetic warning we would do well to heed, “Making our homes sanctuaries wherein we can ‘stand in holy places’ is essential in these latter days. And as important as home-centered and Church-supported learning is for our spiritual strength and protection today, it will be even more vital in the future.”8 (emphasis added)

Then Elder Bednar gives us this encouraging reminder, “Compensating blessings will come as we strive to fulfill our individual responsibility to learn and love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”8

Elder Andersen gives this impressive list of compensating blessings for our righteous efforts that should help ease some of the inevitable anxieties we are all feeling, “The Lord has long anticipated this most important period of human history. He knows the end from the beginning. The Savior has assured us in our day, ‘Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.’ As we find our way in a world less attentive to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed. The Lord will bless His Saints with the added spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day. … As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.”1

May we find peace and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ every day but especially on the Sabbath day.


1.  A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous – Neil L. Andersen

2.  Shipshape and Bristol Fashion: Be Temple Worthy—in Good Times and Bad Times – Quentin L. Cook

3.  Opening Remarks – Russell M. Nelson

4.  Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints – Russell M. Nelson

5.  Exceeding Great and Precious Promises – David A. Bednar

6.  Church participation has been declining for decades. Will the pandemic make it worse? – Nancy Ammerman

7.  The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ – M. Russell Ballard

8.  Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing – David A. Bednar

The Second Great Commandment

I had a conversation with my neighbor about a month ago that I have thought about a lot. She moved here from back east a few years ago. Before coming to Utah, she didn’t really know much about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And while she has had many positive interactions, she mentioned how surprised she has been at times by what seems to be a lack of tolerance for differences, even among family members of the same faith. Her comment to me was, “I know you have your ‘words of wisdom,’ but isn’t it better to drink a cup of coffee than to be unkind?” She is absolutely right! There is only one commandment the Savior taught us is more important than to love our neighbor and that is to love God. That is something every Christian religion teaches. Yet sadly we see too much anger and hatred in the world. Too often in society unkindness is normalized and intolerance is celebrated. Too often the second great commandment is not being lived very well at all.

To help us change this culture, Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave what he called a two-word sermon. He said, “When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!” Then he reminded us, “There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.”1

If we want to be disciples of Christ, we must stop all those things! You will notice there is no conditional clause in President Uchtdorf’s words or anywhere in the scriptures that says, “unless someone is doing something hurtful to you.” Our behavior should never be conditional on how we are being treated. No matter how someone treats us, as followers of Jesus Christ, we should be more loving and forgiving, more conscientious of our words and actions. As we follow the perfect example of the Savior, we will be able to look past others’ shortcomings, turn the other cheek, give a soft answer, be a peacemaker, and love as He loved.

Dallin H. Oaks taught, “Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious.”2

Russell M. Nelson once said, “Because of the long history of hostility upon the earth, many feel that peace is beyond hope. I disagree. Peace is possible. We can learn to love our fellow human beings throughout the world. … We can live together with mutual admiration and respect. … Things we have in common are greater than are our differences. Peace is a prime priority that pleads for our pursuit.”3

Imagine the good that can come if we begin in our homes to be more loving and forgiving, treating others as we want to be treated, overlooking faults and failings, speaking softly and with kindness. Then if our behavior can spill from our homes into our neighborhoods, from our neighborhoods into our communities, from our communities into our nations, our world will slowly become a more peaceful place to live.

Jeffrey R. Holland put it so eloquently, “Notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the path of true healing. That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, ‘Come, follow me.’ In such an invitation to be His disciple and to try to do as He did, Jesus is asking us to be instruments of His grace—to be ‘ambassadors for Christ’ in ‘the ministry of reconciliation,’ as Paul described it to the Corinthians. The Healer of every wound, He who rights every wrong, asks us to labor with Him in the daunting task of peacemaking in a world that won’t find it any other way. … Be peacemakers—love peace, seek peace, create peace, cherish peace.”4

I hope we will try a little harder to love a little better. “Living that second great commandment,” President Nelson taught, “is the key to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”5


1. The Merciful Obtain Mercy – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

2. Loving Others and Living With Differences – Dallin H. Oaks

3. Blessed Are the Peacemakers – Russell M. Nelson

4. The Ministry of Reconciliation – Jeffrey R. Holland

5. The Second Great Commandment – Russell M. Nelson

Priesthood Power Makes All the Difference

Several months ago, President Nelson asked us to ponder this question, “How have the events that followed the First Vision made a difference for me and my loved ones?”1 What happened in the Sacred Grove in 1820 changed Joseph Smith’s life forever! On that day, it became abundantly clear that he was personally known and loved by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. That knowledge was fundamental and foundational for everything else he would need to know and do. The same is true for each of us. When we know our true identity as children of God, it changes everything! It deepens our understanding and appreciation of so many other doctrines. It will enhance our perspective of the important events that followed the First Vision. One of those events is the restoration of the priesthood.

I love this quote from Robert D. Hales, “Can you imagine how dark and empty mortality would be if there were no priesthood? If the power of the priesthood were not upon the earth, the adversary would have freedom to roam and reign without restraint. There would be no gift of the Holy Ghost to direct and enlighten us; no prophets to speak in the name of the Lord; no temples where we could make sacred, eternal covenants; no authority to bless or baptize, to heal or comfort. Without the power of the priesthood, ‘the whole earth would be utterly wasted’. There would be no light, no hope—only darkness.”2

I cannot imagine! I cannot imagine not having all of those blessings in my life every day! But do we fully understand and appreciate the power of the priesthood in our lives? Probably not. Last October President Nelson said, “I entreat you to study prayerfully all the truths you can find about priesthood power.”3 I was intrigued by the word entreat, which means to “ask earnestly; beseech; implore; beg.”4 This was a prophetic plea! What will that kind of study do for each of us? Surely the prophet knows our lives will be greatly blessed as we come to more fully understand and invite the power of the priesthood in our lives.

M. Russell Ballard reminds us, “Our Father in Heaven is generous with His power. All men and all women have access to this power for help in their lives. All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, to commune with God, to receive the fulness of the gospel, and, ultimately, to become heirs alongside Jesus Christ of all our Father has.”5

We are privileged to live when the priesthood of God is upon the earth. I hope it is something we never take for granted! When we learn to recognize the power of the priesthood in our lives, it will become evident to us that it is one of God’s great expressions of love for us as His children.


1. Closing Remarks – Russell M. Nelson

2. Blessings of the Priesthood – Robert D. Hales

3. Spiritual Treasures – Russell M. Nelson

4. Entreat –

5. Men and Women and Priesthood Power – M. Russell Ballard