Then Jesus Beholding Him Loved Him

The conference talk that I am teaching on in Relief Society this week is “Then Jesus Beholding Him Loved Him” by Elder S. Mark Palmer. It is a great talk and I learn new things every time that I read it.

First he tells a personal story relating to Mark chapter 10. He tells of how as a Mission President he was listening to the New Testament while driving and he heard a new part of this chapter…

“There came one running … and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

“And Jesus said unto him, …

“Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

“And he answered … , Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

His take on those six words

As I heard these words, a vivid image filled my mind of our Lord pausing and beholding this young man. Beholding—as in looking deeply and penetratingly into his soul, recognizing his goodness and also his potential, as well as discerning his greatest need.

Then the simple words—Jesus loved him. He felt an overwhelming love and compassion for this good young man, and because of this love and with this love, Jesus asked even more of him. I pictured what it must have felt like for this young man to be enveloped by such love even while being asked to do something so supremely hard as selling all he owned and giving it to the poor.

He then speaks about how with this new information, he was able to love more and be a better Mission President.

Next he gave 4 lessons he has learned that he believes will help us. I agree. I have learned some of them and am hopefully learning more each day.

As we learn to see others as the Lord sees them rather than with our own eyes, our love for them will grow and so will our desire to help them.

I am slowly learning this. But I do have some very positive experience with it. As I pray daily for the ability to love all of Heavenly Father’s children as He does, I am a better person and I can treat other’s better.

No true teaching or learning will ever occur when done in frustration or anger, and hearts will not change where love is not present.

This one is a principle that Heavenly Father is currently trying to teach me. He has been attempting to show me this for a bit now, and I am finally starting to be able to apply it to my daily life. I pray that I will be able to continue to apply this consistently in my life.

Love should never be withdrawn when a child, friend, or family member fails to live up to our expectations.

God taught this to me through the 12 steps. He revealed to me that I am to love people and accept them for exactly who and where they are. I am not suppose to try to control them, I am just suppose to love them. I even wrote a blog about acceptance recently which talks about this, you can read it here.

Because He loves us, the Lord expects much of us.

This one I do not have much personal conscious experience with. I do know that as I have developed my relationship with Heavenly Father I have consciously decided to obey more and more of His commandments, and as I have done so, I get to a new level of understanding and obedience and that just continues to grow as my faith, trust and journey continue.

I love this next paragraph:

My dear brothers and sisters, now anytime you feel you are being asked to do something hard—give up a poor habit or an addiction, put aside worldly pursuits, sacrifice a favorite activity because it is the Sabbath, forgive someone who has wronged you—think of the Lord beholding you, loving you, and inviting you to let it go and follow Him. And thank Him for loving you enough to invite you to do more.

That is so wonderful to me!! I know in my heart that Heavenly Father and Jesus love me! I have much personal experience with this. I also know that as I have allowed it, Jesus has guided me in my life and brought me to where I am today. But just the thought of Jesus looking into my eyes and “beholding” me almost brings me to tears.

I testify that Jesus lives, He loves you and me! He wants us to succeed in our lessons in this life and He is ready and waiting to guide us in this journey! We just have to be willing to do our part.

In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

Sunday afternoon session of General Conference (4/2/2017)

NOTE: This post is just a quick cap of what this session was about. My short simple notes. Hopefully after the talks are published I will do a more extensive blog about what I truly learn from studying each. For now this is mostly about how I “feel” during the talks.

This session President Uchtdorf conducted.

MoTab sang for us! Thanks so much MoTab for all of your beautiful music this weekend and always!!

1st to talk was D. Todd Christofferson. He talked on how God loves us and therefore He warns us to turn away from our wickedness. He said that “to warn is to care”. “Far from being anxious to condemn, our Heavenly Father & our Savior seek our happiness and plead with us to repent” This talk had good, strong teaching for me in today’s society. I felt his concern for me as he spoke.

2nd was Joaquin E. Costa.  He spoke of the lessons he learned before he was baptized. He also encouraged us to learn from his lessons.

3rd was S. Mark Palmer. I liked his accent. I love things related by personal stories, they are sharing their self with me!! He shared a personal revelation he received about Mark chapter 10. He learned about loving others in order to help them grow. “Let it go and follow Him” This was an awesome talk, I got so into it I didn’t take good notes, but I loved the feelings I felt during it.

4th was Elder Gary E. Stevens. His talk was “How can the Holy Ghost help you?” He gave 3 things about the Holy Ghost them 3 things it can do. My chair broke during this talk, so now I am hurting and not able to pay very good attention. I know he said that we need to stay close to the spirit and the spirit will stay close to us. Good information for my every day living and learning in this talk.

5th was S. Scott Grow. He talked on the blessing of coming to know God and Jesus Christ. He quoted John 3:16 (how many times is that this conference?)  God knows me personally. Our ultimate example is Jesus Christ, learn of him. They live and they love me!

6th was Benjamin De Hoyos. His talk was Let Our Light Shine. Hurting more now so my notes are not good, but I know his teaching was for me too. He told me the voice of God’s servants is as good as the voice of the Lord. He said that unto him that receiveth, more will be given. He talked about learning line upon line, precept upon precept. I love this because now that I have experienced that type of learning myself and crave more, I always hear and rejoice in learning about ways to get closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior!!

Last to address us was Quentin L. Cook. He spoke of building faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ. Talked about it takes 10,000 hours to become considered at master at a subject, but we forget to take the same time with our spiritual development. Three questions that most of his decisions will be based on the answers: Was Jesus Divine?   Was the Book of Mormon true?  Was Joseph Smith the prophet of the restoration? He said I need to have the humility necessary to get a sure foundation in Christ.

I love all of the reminders I have been given this weekend to continue in the simple daily things that first gave me a testimony to keep my testimony strong and sure. I tend to forget easily what works or try to look past the mark. Heavenly Father knows that I need reminding to keep at the small simple things!!

I hope all of you have a wonderful rest of your Sabbath day!!

(((HUGS)))

Sunday morning session of General Conference

NOTE: This post is just a quick cap of what this session was about. My short simple notes. Hopefully after the talks are published I will do a more extensive blog about what I truly learn from studying each. For now this is mostly about how I “feel” during the talks.

President Eyring conducted this session

The Mormon Tabernacle choir provided the beautiful music for us.

First we got to hear from our Prophet Thomas S. Monson!! He announced 5 new temples. His message was short but oh so sweet. He said that we each need to be reading the Book of Mormon prayerfully daily. We need to have a testimony and do those things that keep it alive and strong, this will help us through. It was wonderful to hear his voice, see his face and feel his love and concern on this beautiful Sabbath morning.

2nd Joy D. Jones of the primary presidency talked about raising a sin resistant generation. Lots of good info, but my feeling was and is that I need to prayerfully ask Heavenly Father what I need to be doing to help teach my grandchildren as He wants them to be taught. I will study this talk later with all of the other wonderful information we have been given during this conference.

3rd was Yoon Hwan Choi with his wonderful “Look Up”! He said, don’t lose your faith because of people around you, this is such a good suggestion! This talk to me was all about developing a strong relationship with Christ and using it in all areas of my life.

I love the positive vibe of our General Conference!!

4th was Elder Ronald A Rasband. My heart is so full and my spiritual cup is overflowing! He discussed the Godhead and then ways to keep the Holy Ghost with us. Such good info for me to study and remember! I love the emphasis on the daily things necessary for me to do this conference! I want to be a “spiritual first responder”!!

5th was L Whitney Clayton – such good stuff. “Over time simple habits of belief lead to miraculous results.” “Such simple acts of faith deepen our well of spiritual capacity to deal with life.” So many good things for me to do to keep me on the right path.

6th was Elder Dallin H. Oaks. he too talked of the Godhead and explained the nature of the Godhead and then how each of those relates to the plan of happiness. He talked about how the plan of salvation if a great gift and road map for me. I am excited to study this talk later too! So much good info that I couldn’t take in right this minute. I feel so very blessed to be able to go back and read and study all conference talks as I need to. So many blessings!

And 7th was President Uchtdorf. He talked about fear. A very relevant subject. He told me to contemplate how I use fear to motivate myself and others, then to change things up if I do. God doesn’t use fear as a motivator and He doesn’t want me to either. God wants me to have and use love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, etc., the fruits of the spirit. Pres Uchtdorf stressed for me to be not afraid, but to be of good cheer. I need to fill myself with the love of Christ! This talk, and so many talks this weekend, has been a “hope shot” to me!!

Such uplifting and instructional messages today, as always! I am so looking forward to the next session.

(((HUGS)))

 

Saturday afternoon session of General Conference

NOTE: This post is just a quick cap of what this session was about. My short simple notes. Hopefully after the talks are published I will do a more extensive blog about what I truly learn from studying each. For now this is mostly about how I “feel” during the talks.
So, I was very excited to watch this session too! It is the 187th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. President Henry B. Eyring conducted this session.

I had the privilege of raising my hand in the affirmative to sustain Thomas S. Monson as the President of this church, and also to sustain the other 14 apostles. I do believe and sustain them to be true apostles just as in the days that Jesus walked the earth!!

There was a new Relief Society presidency put in place and the 1st & 2nd counselors in the primary presidency were changed. There were also changes in the general authorities.

I absolutely loved the choir that performed this session. I dearly loved the medley of “I am a Child of God and How Will They Know”!!

Elder Robert D Hales talked to us about what a disciple truly is. He spoke of how the characteristics of Christ should be woven into our very being. For us not to have selective obedience but to work at having all of the attributes of the Savior. Begin with faith, then add virtue then add knowledge, then add temperance, patience and then move to charity (the pure love of Christ). So much good info for me. I will be grateful to study this talk for fully than just my note taking..

Up next was the magnificent Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He always speaks to my heart. He did again today. He took a line from “There Is Sunshine In My Soul” and gave a wonderfully “melodious” talk. He talked about borrowing hope from others while we are unable to find our own. Then he moved quickly into the beauty of “It is by devine design that all voices in God’s choir are not the same” He told us to be weary of “fictitious stereotypes” that cause us to lose our own voice. He stressed to my heart that “I” am important to the whole. That I am not a mistake!! He told me to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir. He said that there is room in God’s choir for everyone that wants to be there. He stated that God says “Come as  you are, but don’t plan on staying as you are”!! I love being reminded that God loves me just as I am, but is more than willing to help me become the person that I truly can be with His help!

The next up was Gary B. Sabin. He started out with a GPS metaphor and talking about recalculating the route when necessary, he talked about being “all in” and about “standing on the inside” He said we need to let go of the world so that we can hang on to eternity. He gave hope to my soul too. That I am not bad, that Christ gave us a way to “recalculate our route” and make adjustments as needed.

Next was Valeri V. Cordon. He talked about language loss and how not to lose the language of the spirit in our homes.

Elder Neil L. Anderson talked next. He talked about overcoming the world. I listened hard, this is something that I know I have to work diligently at. It does not come easily for me. He said that it is possible to overcome the world, this gives me hope!! He said that we need to work at subduing the natural man. I know this as truth. He gave practical instructions on ways to overcome the world. I am looking forward to studying the truths of this talk later also.

Last was M. Russell Ballard, who started off making me laugh out loud!! He said his assignment was to talk and ours was to listen and he hoped to finish before we did. I had trouble taking notes I was so tickled. I am having trouble typing this now because I am laughing again, it was so cute. Then he went on and gave lots of good information about goals and plans. He whittled it down to “Return & Receive” because simpler is better in goals. He suggested many things including prayerfully studying “The Living Christ” document to expand my understanding of my Savior. He closed with “They love us perfectly” which love I truly feel from those here at Gen Conf.

The closing prayer was by Hugo Montoya. He is awesome, he attended our Stake conference a couple of years ago with Elder Bednar.

I hope the rest of your Saturday is exceptional!!

(((HUGS)))

 

 

 

Saturday am General Conference

NOTE: This post is just a quick cap of what this session was about. My short simple notes. Hopefully after the talks are published I will do a more extensive blog about what I truly learn from studying each. For now this is mostly about how I “feel” during the talks.

Wow! So very happy to have watched live the Saturday morning session of General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

I felt love from my Heavenly Father and my Savior and the leaders of this church. I received lots of good teaching and instruction!

As usual the MoTab Choir was wonderful!

President Uchtdorf conducted the meeting

Pres. Henry B. Eyring gave the first talk. He touched on unity (“be one with us’), he touched on the plan of salvation then he moved to the Elijah prophecy and the gathering of the family of God. I felt his love and concern in his talk!

Elder M Joseph Brough then spoke about “care packages”. He gave us great meme material when he talked about his grandmother getting onto his dad. I love where he stated that repentance is not punishment, it is privilege! I have personal experience with this and genuinely agree with him! I also like his story of how Heavenly Father showed him personally that he cares!

Next came Elder Clayton. I really liked him. I like his mannerisms, his speaking voice. How he showed his emotions. I felt comforted by him. He talked about the plan of salvation or “Father’s glorious plan” as he referred to it. I didn’t write down a lot of what he said, I was too interested in just feeling how I felt during his talk.

Then came Elder Renlund!! He talked about how we can find out about the character of God as we look at how he treats sin versus sinners! This was such a wonderful talk! I love his kind and gentle reminders of how I should act as a follower of Jesus Christ!

Then Elder Soares gave his talk. He mentioned replacing fear with faith. This rung a bell with me as this tends to be one of the lessons I am working on recently. My anxiety disorder tends to bring fear to my mind so very often and I am learning to remember to pray sooner and make a conscious decision to replace that fear with faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Elder Mark Bragg spoke next. He spoke about the “light” I felt comfort and love as he spoke of the different kinds of light.

The final speaker was President Russel M. Nelson. For me his talk was a great education. He referenced John 3:16 for I think the 3rd time this am. He talked about studying about Jesus. He said it: changed him. I know it has changed me too. He reminded me to not disconnect my savior from the events. It is not the “atonement”, it is the “atonement of Jesus Christ”. I need reminders like this sometimes. I don’t want to get caught up in the wrong stuff. I have to remember the importance is in what my Savior did, not just that it was done. No one else could have done these things. Only the Savior. Thank you Pres Nelson for your gentle and loving reminders to me!!

I am so excited to watch the rest of General Conference!!

Hope you have a great afternoon

(((HUGS)))

Chapter 4: The Pioneer Heritage of Faith and Sacrifice

Chapter 4: The Pioneer Heritage of Faith and Sacrifice

This is the lesson that I am blessed to get to teach in RS this Sunday morning. I thought that I would share it with y’all too. I hope you enjoy it.

 

The introduction of this lesson talks of Pres. Hinckley’s ancestors and his connection to pioneers.

The final paragraph of the introduction jumped out at me and I wanted to emphasize it:

“When President Hinckley spoke of the early pioneers, his purpose was much bigger than focusing on those who lived in the past. He looked to the future, hoping that the faith and sacrifices of those Saints would “become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family.” ”

Section 1

Section 1 is all about faith!!

The questions at the back of the lesson for this section are:

Why was faith essential for the pioneers who wanted to gather in the Salt Lake Valley?

How did they put their faith into action?

How can we put our faith into action to help bring about the “great future” ahead of us?

Paul’s Hebrews 1:11 was quoted (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”)

And some of the quotes from Pres Hinckley are very notable:

“The power that moved our gospel forebears was the power of faith in God. It was the same power which made possible the exodus from Egypt, the passage through the Red Sea, the long journey through the wilderness, and the establishment of Israel in the Promised Land. …

We need so very, very much a strong burning of that faith in the living God and in his living, resurrected Son, for this was the great, moving faith of our gospel forebears.”

And I absolutely love: “A personal and individual recognition of God their Eternal Father to whom they could look in faith was of the very essence of their strength”

And this last paragraph of section 1 is wonderful: “Behind us is a glorious history. It is bespangled with heroism, tenacity to principle, and unflagging fidelity. It is the product of faith. Before us is a great future. It begins today. We cannot pause. We cannot slow down. We cannot slacken our pace or shorten our stride.”

I know that for me, building a relationship with Heavenly Father has been a long process. I looked for a “spiritual connection” for many, many years but was  unable to find a rewarding connection. In the last 10 ½ years I have been blessed to have developed a beautiful relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It has taken a lot of work, and it still takes work today, But that work is so worth the many, many blessings that I receive! I had to find my own relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus before I could find the faith that President Hinkley is talking about. I know and understand about faith today. It took a lot of faith and courage to come back to church 4 years ago, by myself. But, now look at me, I get the blessing of sharing with you ladies once a month a lesson from the Presidents of the Church! I never could have imagined that 4 years ago.

So, now let’s look back at those questions and discuss them.

 

Section 2

This section is about how the Mormon pioneers overcame enormous heart break and heart ache trying to find “Zion”

He stated of them:

“They had doubts, yes. But their faith rose above those doubts. Their optimism rose above their fears. They had their dream of Zion, and they were on their way to fulfill it.”

President Hinckley taught that the early pioneers looked to the future, with Zion as their “grand objective,” “great hope,” and “dream”.

Why do you think this was such a powerful motivating force for the early pioneers?

What similar hopes motivate us today?

 

Section 3

This section is about how “The rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers speaks of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Once President Young knew about the need for their rescue, he did not delay! He told the people the next morning. He wasn’t going to wait until Monday, it had to be started on that day, Sunday. Among many other things, he told them “I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you.”

President Hinckley said “My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray, that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives.”

What can we do to rescue and lift those who are in need today?

 

Section 4

“It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. Their tremendous example can become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family, and many of us pioneer daily in trying to establish a gospel foothold in distant parts of the world.”

“Whether you have pioneer ancestry or came into the Church only yesterday, you are a part of this whole grand picture of which those men and women dreamed. Theirs was a tremendous undertaking. Ours is a great continuing responsibility. They laid the foundation. Ours is the duty to build on it.”

“They marked the path and led the way. Ours is the obligation to enlarge and broaden and strengthen that path until it encompasses the whole earth. … Faith was the guiding principle in those difficult days. Faith is the guiding principle we must follow today”

How does looking to the past help you “gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future”?

In what ways is each of us a pioneer? (I know that I am somewhat of a pioneer, I am the only active LDS member in my household. I am the only Mormon among my friends. I get to help alleviate a lot of the bad publicity that we have.)

 

Section 5 – We honor the sacrifices and heritage of the pioneers by following their example and building on their foundation:

“Our forebears laid a solid and marvelous foundation. Now ours is the great opportunity to build a superstructure, all fitly framed together with Christ as the chief cornerstone.”

“You are the fruit of all of [the pioneers’] planning and of all of their labors. … What a wonderful people they were. There is nothing like their great effort in all of history. … God bless their memory to our good. When the way seems hard, when we are discouraged thinking all is lost, we can turn to them and see how much worse was their condition. When we wonder about the future, we can look to them and their great example of faith. …”

“With so great an inheritance, we must go forward. We must never let down. We must hold our heads high. We must walk with integrity. We must “do what is right [and] let the consequence follow” “

In what sense are all Church members blessed by the faith and sacrifices of those pioneers?

How can the examples of the early pioneers help us as we face challenges?

 

(((HUGS)))

 

 

The life & ministry of Gordon B. Hinkley

My church has many wonderful educational materials. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church is one of these series of materials. This year we are studying Gordon B. Hinkley. Tomorrow I am giving the lesson in Relief Society. The chapters I am teaching on are the “Historical Summary” and “The Life & Ministry of Gordon B. Hinkley” There are about 25 pages of information in these 2 chapters, plus footnotes (5 0r 6 pages). But, I am so very excited to get to study this wonderful man and his teachings!!!

I probably had a personal testimony of President Hinkley being a prophet of the Lord before I personally had a testimony of Joseph Smith Jr being a prophet of the Lord.

You see, part of my story is that I was born into membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But, we were not active attending members most of my childhood. My mother made sure that my sister and I attended enough to be baptized, and I knew that my mother believed. When we were in Van Buren she would always attend and take us with her, but when we were in Arizona and southern Arkansas it was random. Then when I was 15 years old or so, I had some questions about things and instead of going to a member of the Bishopric, or even to anyone to get those questions answered, I just quit going to church. I wandered around spiritually from that time until after my mother died in 1995. At that time I did get a testimony that Heavenly Father was real and I started sporadically attending the church again myself. In the summer of 1996 I was asked to chaperone a Tri-Stake Youth conference that was to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There President Hinkley attended and talked with us at a university. I only saw him from a distance, but I knew from the moment he walked into the stadium, that he was a prophet of God!! I never forgot how I felt that day, even when I was in some of the worst parts of my life later in 2003 through 2006.

So I am going to share most of my lesson here with you:

June 23, 1910 – Born to Bryant S. Hinckley and Ada Bitner Hinckley in Salt Lake City, Utah.

When Gordon Bitner Hinckley was born on June 23, 1910, he was his mother’s first child, but eight older siblings welcomed him into the family. Gordon’s father, Bryant Stringham Hinckley, had married Ada Bitner after the death of his first wife, Christine. Ada and Bryant had four more children after Gordon, and they raised their large family with love—and without distinctions such as half brothers and half sisters. From his earliest days, Gordon learned to treasure his family.

1922 – Attends a stake priesthood meeting with his father and gains a testimony of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. Of this experience he said:

“When I was a boy, twelve years of age, my father took me to a meeting of the priesthood of the stake in which we lived. I sat on the back row while he, as president of the stake, sat on the stand. At the opening of that meeting, the first of its kind I had ever attended, three or four hundred men stood. They were men from varied backgrounds and many vocations, but each had in his heart the same conviction, out of which together they sang these great words:

Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!

Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.

Blessed to open the last dispensation,

Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.

“Something happened within me as I heard those men of faith sing. There came into my boyish heart a knowledge, placed there by the Holy Spirit, that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of the Almighty.”

His mother died of cancer in 1930 at the age of 50, when Gordon was 20.

1933 to 1935 – Served as a full-time missionary in the European Mission, spending the entire time in England. While on his mission, words from his father encouraged and inspired him: ‘Be not afraid, only believe’ (Mark 5:36) and “Forget yourself and go to work.”

Gordon and Marjorie Pae were married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 29, 1937

Gordon and Marjorie established a home of love, mutual respect, hard work, and gospel living. Daily family prayer provided a window for the children to see their parents’ faith and love. As the family prayed together, the children also sensed the nearness of their Father in Heaven.

Church service was always a part of life for Gordon and Marjorie. Gordon served as the stake Sunday School superintendent and then was called to the Sunday School general board, where he served for nine years. He later served as a counselor in a stake presidency and as stake president, while Marjorie served in Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society. Their children witnessed Church service as a joyful privilege—a model they would each follow in their adult years.

October 5, 1961 – Ordained an Apostle and set apart as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve by President David O. McKay.

On July 15, 1981, after serving in the Quorum of the Twelve for almost 20 years, Elder Hinckley received another surprising calling. President Spencer W. Kimball, then President of the Church, asked him to serve as a counselor in the First Presidency, in addition to Presidents N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney. This was an unusual but not unprecedented departure from the pattern of having two counselors. President Kimball and his counselors were not well physically and needed extra support in the Presidency.

At his first general conference in this new capacity, President Hinckley remarked: “My only desire is to serve with loyalty wherever I am called. … This sacred calling has made me aware of my weaknesses. If I have offended at any time, I apologize and hope you will forgive me. Whether this assignment be lengthy or brief, I pledge my best effort, given with love and faith.

In the April 1982 general conference he counseled:

“We live in a society that feeds on criticism. … I urge you to see the big picture and cease worrying about the little blemishes. … These are only incidental to the magnitude of [Church leaders’] service and to the greatness of their contributions.

December 2, 1982 – Called to serve as the Second Counselor to President Kimball.

November 10, 1985 – Called to serve as the First Counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson.

June 5, 1994 – Called to serve as the First Counselor to President Howard W. Hunter.

March 3, 1995 – Becomes the senior Apostle at the death of President Hunter.

After President Hunter’s funeral, President Hinckley found comfort in the temple. Alone in the meeting room of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple, he pored over the scriptures and meditated on what he read. He reflected on the life, ministry, and Atonement of Jesus Christ. Then he studied the portraits on the wall, depicting all the Presidents of the Church from Joseph Smith to Howard W. Hunter. He recorded this experience in his journal:

“I walked around in front of these portraits and looked into the eyes of the men there represented. I felt almost as if I could speak with them. I felt almost as if they were speaking to me and giving me reassurance. … I sat down in the chair which I have occupied as first counselor to the President. I spent a good deal of time looking at those portraits. Every one seemed almost to come alive. Their eyes seemed to be upon me. I felt that they were encouraging me and pledging their support. They seemed to say to me that they had spoken in my behalf in a council held in the heavens, that I had no need to fear, that I would be blessed and sustained in my ministry.

“I got on my knees and pleaded with the Lord. I spoke with Him at length in prayer. … I am confident that by the power of the Spirit, I heard the word of the Lord, not vocally, but as a warmth that was felt within my heart concerning the questions I had raised in prayer.”

After this experience he again recorded his thoughts: “I feel better, and I have a much firmer assurance in my heart that the Lord is working His will with reference to His cause and kingdom, that I will be sustained as President of the Church and prophet, seer, and revelator, and so serve for such time as the Lord wills. With the confirmation of the Spirit in my heart, I am now ready to go forward to do the very best work I know how to do. It is difficult for me to believe that the Lord is placing me in this most high and sacred responsibility. … I hope that the Lord has trained me to do what He expects of me. I will give Him total loyalty, and I will certainly seek His direction.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley was set apart as President of the Church on March 12, 1995, and the next day he spoke at a press conference and answered reporters’ questions. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reported that “near the end of a warm, often witty, always winning exchange on a wide-ranging number of questions posed in this news conference, President Hinckley was asked by a reporter, ‘What will be your focus? What will be the theme of your administration?’

“Instinctively he answered, ‘Carry on. Yes. Our theme will be to carry on the great work which has been furthered by our predecessors.’”

President Hinckley was true to that pledge. With respect for the prophets who had gone before him, he carried on with the work they had done. And with faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ, he followed revelation to perform that work in new ways.

President Hinckley disliked the rigors of travel, but his desire to serve among the Latter-day Saints was more powerful than his desire to stay home. He said that he wanted to “get out among our people to extend appreciation and encouragement, and to bear testimony of the divinity of the Lord’s work.”

In addition to using long-established means of communication, President Hinckley embraced innovations. For example, he saw the Internet as a means of bringing the Church closer to its members and sharing the restored gospel with those of other faiths. During his administration, the Church launched LDS.org, FamilySearch.org, and Mormon.org.

President Hinckley stated: “None of us … knows enough. The learning process is an endless process. We must read, we must observe, we must assimilate, and we must ponder that to which we expose our minds.”  He also said: “Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church. Eternal life will come only as men and women are taught with such effectiveness that they change and discipline their lives. They cannot be coerced into righteousness or into heaven. They must be led, and that means teaching.”

President Hinckley desired to provide more spiritual nourishment for Latter-day Saints throughout the world. In 1995 he enthusiastically approved a plan to publish a new series of books that would provide Church members with a gospel library. The Church soon began publishing this series, called Teachings of Presidents of the Church, of which this book is a part.

In the general Relief Society meeting held on September 23, 1995, President Hinckley said:

“With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this, we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.”

With this introduction, President Hinckley read, for the first time in public, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

In the October 1997 general conference, President Hinckley made a historic announcement: the Church would begin to build smaller temples around the world. He later said, “The concept of small temples came, I believe, as a direct revelation.” In 1998 he announced that 30 new smaller temples, along with other temples already planned or under construction, would make “a total of 47 new temples in addition to the 51 now in operation.” To the delight of all who were listening, President Hinckley then added, “I think we had better add 2 more to make it an even 100 by the end of this century, being 2,000 years ‘since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh’ (D&C 20:1).” Then he promised, “There will be more yet to come.”

On January 1, 2000, President Hinckley, his counselors in the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles published a proclamation titled “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” Of the Savior, they declared, “None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.”

On October 1, 2000, President Hinckley dedicated the Boston Massachusetts Temple, the 100th temple in operation. Before the end of the year 2000, he dedicated two more temples. When he died in 2008, the Church had 124 temples in operation, with 13 more announced. President Hinckley had been involved in the planning and construction of most of them, and he had personally dedicated 85 of them and had rededicated 13 (8 of the rededications were of temples he had previously dedicated)

On June 23, 2004, the day President Hinckley turned 94, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given in the United States. In response he said: “I [am] deeply honored to receive this prestigious award from the President of the United States. I am profoundly grateful. In a larger sense, it recognizes and honors the Church which has given me so many opportunities and whose interests I have tried to serve.”66 He saw this award as symbolic of the growing positive reputation of the Church and evidence that it was indeed being brought out of obscurity.

January 27, 2008 – Dies at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Funeral services were held in the Conference Center and broadcast to Church buildings around the world. The Tabernacle Choir sang a new hymn as part of the meeting, titled “What Is This Thing That Men Call Death?” The words of the hymn were written by President Hinckley—his final testimony of Jesus Christ to his friends who had looked to him as a prophet:

What is this thing that men call death,

This quiet passing in the night?

’Tis not the end, but genesis

Of better worlds and greater light.

O God, touch Thou my aching heart,

And calm my troubled, haunting fears.

Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,

Give strength and peace beyond my tears.

There is no death, but only change

With recompense for victory won;

The gift of Him who loved all men,

The Son of God, the Holy One