Saturday, November 15, 2014

Week Seventy-one

WEEK SEVENTY-ONE November 10, 2014

Following is a brief synopsis of our mission conference with Elder Wilford W. Andersen, Of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife Kathleen. We met all day Monday from 9:00 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Then again Tuesday with a Senior couple luncheon and evening meeting as well.

President Lutz, of the mission presidency presented a training on “Inviting Members to Use Social Media.” Since Sister H and I are not on any social media nor have we had any experience in this area, the fact that one can learn at was about all we got out of it.

The assistants then made a presentation on the Power of Inviting, suggesting these four steps: 
1.       Lesson review before extending invitation
2.       Promise blessing of keeping commitment and bear testimony
3.       Make a powerful and bold invitation
4.       Explain why they want to keep their commitment

Sister Orgill, the mission president’s wife used Ether 2-6 to demonstrate that the process of coming to Christ requires we do very hard things. So if you have a problem
1.       Ask the Lord
2.       Follow his counsel
3.       Don’t know what your promised land may be, but keep moving forward
4.       Repent
5.       Go to work, God will show you the way
6.       Work out your problems as best you can Ether 2:23-25
7.       Trust God will direct you Ether 6:8
8.       Trust the Lord even in your distress Ether 6:4-8
9.       Express gratitude and thanksgiving continually
10.     You will arrive where God wants you to be

President Orgill then shared training they had recently received at the western missionary president’s conference under the direction of Elder D. Todd Christofferson concerning the elements of conversion. Elder Christofferson promised

          As you feast upon the Book of Mormon your conversion will deepen
          Because in our day the Book of Mormon is the instrument of conversion
          Give more time in your morning study of the Book of Mormon
          Make sure your investigators are doing the same

The following Keys to Conversion were discussed in detail:
1.       Know Jesus Christ not just about him
2.       Commit to “thy will be done”
3.       Remember no rebellion or resistance
4.       Do your own waiting on the Lord, be patient
5.       Dig deep, build your foundation on a rock
6.       Fast and pray often
7.       Be faithful and obedient
8.       Take ownership, don’t be an observer
9.       Hang on forever and always
10.     Nourish testimony consistently
11.     Exercise faith to continue in faith (Faith – knowledge – more faith – more knowledge

Sister Kathleen Andersen then spoke of the “Goodness of God,” defining good to mean “of God.” She told the missionaries “You are good. You are “of God” so feel good about yourself, draw closer to God. She then shared patterns they should be learning to feel good and to feel happy and committed them to follow those patters throughout their lives.

Elder Wilford W. Andersen presentation was on “Enlarging Your Vision as Missionary.” He wanted us to see that everything was dependent upon something, i.e., to enjoy Eternal Life one has to Endure to the End. To endure to the end one must have the guidance of the Holy Ghost. To receive the Holy Ghost one has to be Baptized, which cannot happen unless we first Repent, which as a precondition requires us to have exercised faith.

He then spoke of how to build another’s faith.  The missionaries’ responsibility is to ignite faith in another. It has to start with desire. Desire comes from the Holy Ghost. Desire leads to faith. Faith grows through obedience as you desire to repent then are baptized. Does every investigator keep their commitments? No. Why not? They don’t have the desire. Remember only the Holy Spirit can create desire in another. So our responsibility is to do things that invite the spirit. Then the Spirit an take the information the head has received and move it to the heart which instills desire. Again, only the Holy Ghost can do this, missionaries cannot. Two other things missionaries can do to invite the Spirit are avoiding contention and teaching in love and kindness

If the investigator makes a commitment without first being filled with desire, they probably won’t keep the commitment. The heart takes the knowledge and edifies, lifts, fills, and completes. Investigators keep commitments because desire has first been established. Don’t invite until they feel desire in their heart. After the confirmation of desire (Mosiah 5:5) they will enter into a covenant to do God’s will and keep it

What can you do to assist your investigators in keeping their commitments? Answers included follow up by leaving something with them and returning, texting, daily contact of some kind, prayer, reading scriptures together.

Sacrament is our renewal covenant of baptism. As we partake correctly we are forgiven and we are reborn. He shared a story while he was mission president. “I had a missionary tell me he was not feeling the spirit as he was before. I asked, Are you getting along with your companion? Yes, best companion ever. Are you obedient? Yes. Are you keeping at bay impure thoughts? Yes. I was stumped and then a thought came to me. Have you been partaking the sacrament regularly? His answer was no. They had investigators who was always running late and feeling they needed to stay with them to get them to church so they were late and missing the sacrament.

Please keep in mind we don’t have to convince anyone. We teach pure doctrine and ask them study, repent and pray to obtain a witness for themselves.

At the luncheon we were seated by the Andersen’s so I shared with him my observation as bishop with returned missionaries that I had noticed those whose presidents had focused on doctrine and Christ came back well-adjusted and able to handle whatever life threw at them. Whereas those whose presidents focused on procedures, routines, and numbers were absolutely lost when things didn’t go their way. I asked him what he had seen. Said he, “The results the Brethren have seen validate your observation.”

The evening meeting was for stake presidents, bishops, ward mission leaders and all ward missionaries. Elder Haynie, from Escondido, our Area Authority Seventy spoke first for about 20 minutes and Elder Andersen took the rest of the time.

Elder Haynie shared counsel from Elder David Bednar that this hastening of the work is being done by the Lord and not us. The Lord has said, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73). The question then are these, 1) Will we keep pace?; 2) Will we learn and teach in the Saviors way? We need to learn and to change if we are to press forward in faith. He asked, “What do we need to be doing today?” We need revelation to answer that question.

Said he, “I don’t think I appreciated just what priesthood keys meant regarding missionary work when I was stake president.” It is the directing authority of the priesthood and in missionary work it is the directing authority of missionary work in your stake, stake presidents, and your ward, bishops. You alone hold the keys to its success.

He asked, “What changes have you noticed in Ward Council formats?” You bishops are to speak less and speak last. The Executive Secretary is to run the council. Everyone there is responsible for everything. No one has an isolated responsibility. The primary president is responsible for missionary work and everything else at that council. The focus is to be on the work of salvation—families and individuals. Ward Mission Plan is everyone’s responsibility. Needs to be brief, simple, ordinance based and all members of the ward need to know it. WML and Assistant WML are to work seamlessly with full-time missionaries, not separately, but together. Missionaries are to be giving 20 minute lessons to al members.

What causes missionary miracles?
1.       Perception of power in those who hold the keys
2.       Lost Israel is all around us, need faith to find them
3.       They must feel something urgent about the message and the messengers
4.       Strength of the message
5.       Prepare ourselves
6.       God chooses to participate ! Thought he should have used Alma 16:16 here

In Mosiah 17 and Alma 26 we learn the Sons of Mosiah were patient in their afflictions before the hand of the Lord was revealed. They fasted and prayed for many days. We need to fast and pray more. It was revealed to Amulek to take Alma into his home in Alma 8.

At a recent meeting I asked Elder D. Todd Christofferson why we have not seen the missionary miracles here. He thought for a bit and then said, “I have the feeling that maybe you are not doing quite enough with the less actives.”

Elder Wilford Andersen told a story Elder Dallin H. Oaks shared. When called to the Quorum of the Twelve he had never served in a bishopric or stake presidency. At the time he was the gospel doctrine teacher in his ward. His first assignment was to a stake in California with Elder Boyd K. Packer. He waited patiently to hear from Elder Packer and finally a few days before they were to depart asked Elder Packer what he should prepare. Elder Packer said bring your scriptures alone and we will think of something. As the first meeting began Elder Packer said, “We have two hours. You take the first hour and I will take the second hour. So Elder Oaks decided to present the last Sunday school lesson he had given the week before. It took him 45 minutes and he sat down. Elder Packer arose and spoke for exactly one hour then said, “I asked Elder Oaks to take the first hour. He only took 45 minutes. He will now take the next 15 minutes.”

You may wonder why my wife is not sitting on the stand. The procedural rule is this: If participating in the meeting it is appropriate to sit on the stand. So were my wife to be speaking tonight she would be here beside me. But she is not, for which she is grateful, and is not sitting on the stand.

He then spoke to the “miracles” that Elder Haynie had introduced. Miracles that can only be quantified by numbers are difficult to assess. I’m not so concerned with numbers as I am with desire. If we have the desire and are doing our part, the numbers will take care of themselves. Remember it is the Lord who is the Lord of the harvest not us. So whether the numbers follow or not is immaterial if our desire and effort is right. Our job as missionaries is to ignite that desire in all ward members to be missionaries.

Let’s talk a bit about desire. The scriptures teach that eternal life will come to all who desire it. See Alma 29:4. You might say well everyone wants eternal life. But I ask, Do they? Does everyone want to home and visit teach the Lord’s way? Does everyone want to commit themselves to the Lord fully? Is everyone willing to allow their will to be swallowed in the will of the Lord? Does everyone want to spend time in family history or in the temple? The answer is no!

The rest of the world is vertically organized. Our factories are built on vertical organization, each group doing its part and a group above that takes their output and adds to the that effort. But the church is horizontally organized. The Lord→Prophet→Stake President→Bishop→Primary Teacher. Each of these has the same reasonability to the individual. The assignments are different but the responsibility is the same.  Why? Because God wants us all to learn what He does.

So I ask, How much do we really desire to participate in this work? D&C 84:19-21 we read, “And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.” The knowledge of God is Eternal life. The ordinances thereof are critical. What are the saving ordinances? Baptism/Confirmation; Melchizedek Priesthood; Endowment/Initiatory; Sealing.

Ordinances invite us to make covenants. I fear we focus too much on the ordinances and too little on the covenants. Some perform the ordinances but fail in their covenants. Without covenants there is no power to ordinances. If we focus on baptism numbers, the ordinance which can be measured, and fail to focus on the covenants which cannot be measured, we lose power. Hyper focus on measurables loses what is in the heart. When covenants are in place the harvest will come as the Lord wants them. That is our goal. How do we get our hearts right? Mosiah 5:32, spirit changed desire. It is the spirit of the Lord that is needed to change our desire.

Forgiveness changes the heart of the offended. Remission changes the heart of the offendor and only Christ can remit sins. When offended the Holy Ghost leaves. Properly partaking of the Sacrament allows us to regain the power of the Holy Ghost. We then become once again reborn, spiritually begotten sons and daughters of Christ. See Mosiah 5:7. We are the children of God, he is our Heavenly Father. When we are reborn we are the children of Christ, Christ is our father. This is a reason why they are one.

Now focus on building your desire to share the gospel. It can only be done through the Holy Ghost. We must invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, by eliminating sin, pride, immorality and lack of virtue. Embrace your covenants, think about them, and evaluate your life against your covenants. The power is in the covenants. What has the Lord promised? Let your covenants work in you, purify you, fill you with desire. The Holy Ghost moves our covenants from our head to our heart and fills us with desire. We feel the spirit, get desire, and then commit. Our investigators must be filled with desire before they can commit and do. Likewise, our members must be filled with desire before they can commit and so do. So focus on building desire in the hearts of members. You do this be creating opportunities for them to feel the spirit. When you have a thought, do it.

So I ask, what is God telling you tonight. You probably don’t hear it, but feel it. Do it! Don’t reject God’s invitations. The Lord gives us the pattern: Instruct, Edify, Act. In D&C 82:15 we read “bind yourselves by this covenant.”

The Lord says he has engraven us on the palms of his hands. 1 Nephi 21:16 “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” This means the marks of the crucifixion are continually before him to remind us of His covenant in love.

One of the senior couples who have completed their assignment asked for some input he could use when speaking to his ward about preparation for serving a senior mission. So I prepared a little paper including sections of Preparing To Be A Seasoned Missionary, What to Expect as a Seasoned MLS Missionary Couple, and What You Will Learn or Be Reminded Of.

A brother in the Lake Forest Ward called and asked for contact information on 19th Family. We are trying to get ward members involved with these families we have been working with so as we leave there will not be a gap. In this case the husband has a firm testimony of the gospel which is not shared by his wife. The dynamics of the marriage are such that he sees no way to conform to his testimony. The brother called me back later to say the situation was exactly as I had said so he wasn’t sure just what the ward could do. Brother 19 did ask for a blessing on this coming Wednesday morning as he was having some difficulties with new medication and I said I would take care of that as it would be on a work day for the ward brother.

Visited with Sister 39 at church Sunday and learned that her mother, who has been very sick for some time, passed away at 2:30 a.m. that morning. Our sister, even knowing this was best for her mother, was visible shaken. We tried to comfort her as best we could. The next day we received an invite from her to attend the viewing of my mother next week in Cypress, California.

Met with 68, 69 and 70 families with a short lesson on patriarchal blessings in which I shared some stories from my dad and grandfather. Then spent the rest of the evening setting up church accounts on Family Search, and showing them how to use the programs, etc.

On Friday evening, at the invitation of the bishop and his wife, we had a dinner date with them and the 73 Family, at a food court in Foothill Ranch. Half of us got fish tacos at Rubio’s the other halt at an Indian restaurant. We had a very spiritual discussion in which Sister 73, the non-member, readily participated.

This week we also met with Twenty-first family. We arrived early to review with the father again the procedures for giving a name and a blessing for his five and three year old daughters. I had typed up all the pertinent information the ward clerk would need to create their records and gave that to the member of the bishopric who came. He was quite surprised at what was prepared, “I was going to ask you to write all this down. This is great.”

The girls were great. The spirit was rich. The father who had never even witnessed a name and blessing before was flawless. Both blessings were very different yet both cautioned regarding the importance of making and keeping sacred covenants. Clearly with his very young background in church things, he had heard the voice of the Lord and was giving the Lord’s blessing to these beautiful young girls.

Also met with the Six family this week. We had a follow-up lesson to knowing by prayer what is true and then answered several questions that were presented.

The concerns of Brother 15 concerning the existence and nature of God seemed to be well treated in a book I just read, The God Who Weeps. So I offered to share a copy with Brother 15 who declined asking, “Can you give me an executive summary?” I told him I could and wrote up a two page account for him to consider. Introducing five other topics, which should he be interested, I said I would write up a two page executive summary on those as well.

Attended our last Senior Couples family home evening, this time at the president’s home. We were serenaded as Jan danced the hula to the Hawaiian song they were singing. I was given the floor and spoke of our experiences with the Twenty-first family pointing out that for seasoned couples it is not only about baptizing. We will miss these folks.

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