Archive for December 2010

Home Teaching Is Missionary Work Never Worthless But Always Worthy Of Best Efforts   Leave a comment

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My Beloved Brethren,

I pray the Spirit of the Lord is ever present as we all consider not just this upcoming lesson on Sunday, but also upon the arrival of the new year. Many of us, if not all, try to make some goals for ourselves to make and keep- alongside those is our commitment to the Lord to righteously make those decisions. This is the time of year, where most people reflect on the things they need to change, and attempt to stand firm on the first day of the New Year. As commendable as this effort is – we need to be careful of what we set ourselves to do.

We certainly do not wish to place a goal, (regardless of how admirable others may look upon it to be) that we simply cannot fulfill. These desires and commitments are the testing of the resolve of each of our individual desires to continue to be better Latter-Day Saints, in and out. The most meaningful of these choices are the choices that come through careful reflection and diligent study and prayer. In short, the changes and commitments one makes with a heart devoted to “Suffer The Will Of The Father In All Things…”
(3rd Nephi 11:11) is a righteous commitment.

We need to consider a few additional things as well. We learn from both Prophets now living, and the Prophets of old of all that which is worthwhile, and all that which is not. Is it any wonder that the Lord demonstrated this personally when he spoke to his Disciples saying: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; emphasis added). Elsewhere, Moroni declared the need for us to deny ourselves “all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32), thus including both large and small sins. While boulders surely block our way, loose gravel slows discipleship, too. Even a small stone can become a stumbling block.

In the diligent effort to demonstrate the need for greater commitment to both God, and ourselves, our Stake Presidency “surgically” applies demonstrated love from the Charity that comes by being disciples of Christ and helps us perhaps to see what the greater picture is. We need not assume any sort of pride is the source of the great attention given to the Lubbock Texas Mission- No, it is actually quite the opposite. The Lord has placed the humble men in the position he has for a reason, and it is a reason I bear testimony to you now; To get the brethren to approach new ideas, a new approach can be helpful. Our Stake Presidency was specially selected to lead us here and now to fulfill the will of the Lord. If you do not have this confirmation for yourself, I appeal to you to visit the Lord earnestly, and go do it now. Don’t wait for this marvelous Spiritual manifestation to overtake you- because should you wait, one might be less inclined to speak until later, or, be less driven to act on a prompting- The business of “doubt” is not any business the Kingdom of Heaven dabbles in.

As has been my blessing to see nearly twice a month (Although once for sure) our Stake Presidency, and to see their genuine care and concern for us as members of the church, and the Spiritual rest stop between Lubbock and Amarillo. Their care and concern for us, serves and encourages me to try harder all the time. The Spiritual Conviction they have, reminds me of a talk given by Elder Neal A. Maxwell- The Leadership of the Church has been aware of the prophetic words given by this late Apostle of Christ. Watch the video- and consider what he says.

Ultimately we know and understand that one portion of the three main focus points in the “Vision Of The Vine” is to”Rescue” or bring back those that are lost. The Home Teaching program is so very unique to help us not only perfect ourselves and others. Those who are gone out from the truth of this glorious gospel, do now, or someday will admit their hope to be invited back to church and into full fellowship. Home Teaching is a grand tool of activation.

How do we come to know the will of the Lord? Which family is one to start with, and who of them is ready to hear the word of the Lord again? All of those are good questions- and our Stake President has continually admonished us to pray diligently. Consider this video from Elder David Bednar:

To be strong in the fight to establish the standard or truth as given from God- we need to understand and use our “Moral Agency.”

Every ward and every branch has its inactive members—and every ward and branch has leaders who wish they knew a way to make a difference in the lives of their inactive brothers and sisters.

Nor is this concern a modern one. Jesus spoke of the lost sheep, the lost silver coin, the lost son—all of which had been part of the fold, the purse, the family. That which once belonged had become lost. Along with those parables, the Savior gave a charge, in the form of a question:
 
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? …

“Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?” (Luke 15:4, 8; see entire chapter.)

Our assignment is clear. And with it, the Lord has given us the means of fulfilling it: home teaching. As Elder Harold B. Lee said in 1964, “Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members.” (General Conference, October 1964.)

In a masterful discourse on the “work of reactiviation,” Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve stated that “activation requires conversion”—just as missionary work to nonmembers requires conversion. He then noted that there are ways to teach people besides regular quorum and Sunday School classes:

“Surveys indicate 30 percent of those invited to attend seminars will attend! Of the remainder, experience shows that eight out of ten, properly approached, will permit priesthood leaders to go into their homes to teach them. Brethren, in view of such realities, what are we afraid of?

“These encouraging statistics suggest how important it is not to stand by and wring our hands but to do something! The reason, frankly, brethren, that so little is happening is that so little is being tried, An experienced woodcarver was asked how one begins to be a woodcarver. He said bluntly, ‘Start making some chips.’ Brethren, let’s start making some chips!” (General Conference, April 1982.)

The challenge is great, but some leaders and their home teachers are really making chips! By stepping up their efforts with the members in their charge, they’re making progress in ways they never before thought possible.
In one area encompassing several stakes, quorum leaders and home teachers visited more than 500 homes of inactive members, most of whom had earlier refused an invitation to attend a temple preparation seminar.

“Could these good home teachers come to your home once a week to teach you the gospel?” the leaders asked. “We won’t pressure you or ask you to do anything. We’ll just explain the principles of the gospel, and you and your family can make your own decisions.”

The answer? In 80 percent of the homes, the family accepted the proposal. That’s 400 families who were now receiving the benefits of the missionary-work aspect of home teaching! And the success stories have been numerous:

One inactive elder’s business took him out of town six nights a week. He was usually home only on Saturday night and during the day on Sunday. Yet when he was approached to see if he would accept weekly teaching in his home, he accepted. After the first Saturday-night lesson, he decided to attend church the next day. He now serves in his elders quorum presidency.

In another family the father was an alcoholic. He accepted the home teachers into his home on a weekly basis, and gradually his wife and children became active. Even though the man is still a prospective elder, he’s made great strides. And his oldest son, who was reactivated through the teaching, is now a full-time missionary!
One young couple acknowledged that they should go to the temple, but they weren’t yet willing to attend the temple preparation seminars. They did allow their home teachers to come by weekly to teach them, however. Now the young man says, “I wasn’t rebellious. But I didn’t quite understand the gospel.” At one point he commented to his home teachers: “I know you have families and are busy. We appreciate your coming. We need your teaching.”

A common thread runs through these successes, as well as the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of others that could be shared. The basic idea is that we don’t teach the family everything we’d like them to hear; rather, we start by teaching them what they’re ready and able to hear.

The distinction is a critical one. If we teach beyond a family’s capacity to hear and accept, we might well create a negative situation. The family may become defensive, tune us out, or ask us to stop teaching. The message doesn’t get through, the Spirit has no opportunity to testify to the hearts of the people, and the opportunity is lost.

Here are the basic steps to making home teaching work when approaching inactive members:
1. Pray for the Spirit in preparing and delivering your lesson. No other single factor is as important as having the Spirit testify to those you teach. It is “by the power of the Holy Ghost” that we “may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5.)

2. Make sure the family knows you’re going to use a no-pressure teaching approach. When you initially approach the family at the door to see if they’ll let you teach them, tell them your teaching won’t involve any pressure. Later, you may be moved by the Spirit to challenge them to make some commitments, but that will be later—if and when the time is right, and when the Spirit inspires you to do so. For now, they need to be assured that they won’t be subjected to high-pressure tactics. The door approach might go something like this:

“Brother Brown, we’ve come tonight with an idea we think you might be interested in. My companion and I would like to come to your home on a weekly basis to teach you more about the gospel. Our teaching approach doesn’t involve any pressure or expectations. We’ll just tell you about the principles of the gospel, and then you can decide for yourselves what you’ll do with them.”

One quorum leader says he’s almost never been turned down when he uses that approach. “First, I make sure that I talk to both the husband and wife,” he says. “If both aren’t there, I don’t even bring it up, but tell the one who’s home that I’ll visit again later.

“Second, I avoid giving them an easy way to say no. I once visited a man who had requested no home teachers. I asked him if home teachers could come by each week to teach his family. Before I was even finished with my sentence, I could tell he was going to say no. So I didn’t ask for an answer. I just said, ‘Why don’t you think this over, and I’ll be back next week.’

“The next week when I returned—I think he was surprised to see me. I told him a little bit about the first lesson. But again I could tell he was going to turn me down. So I didn’t give him a chance. I told him to think about it some more, and I’d be back a week later.

“The next week the same thing happened. I was beginning to think I’d never make any progress. But the following week he didn’t wait for me to come. He called me!

“After we started teaching him, his wife came up to me with tears in her eyes. ‘This is the first time I’ve ever seen Mac interested in the Church,’ she said.”

3. The next step in home teaching inactive members is to avoid the “recognition and attack” method of teaching. If you recognize that a family has a particular problem with gospel living, don’t attack that problem. Avoid it for the time being. Most people already know what they’re doing wrong. The home teacher can strengthen them by not attacking their practices, but instead concentrating on other areas and letting the Spirit witness to them.

For example, one prospective elder refused to come to church because he smoked. “I didn’t feel the Church was that important,” he says. But he and his wife decided to let their home teachers come by every week to teach them. There was no mention of smoking until the husband himself brought up the subject several weeks later. After three months they attended the temple preparation seminar, and now they attend church every week. He still struggles with his smoking, but he’s accepted a call to be a home teacher. He now understands that “the Church is ‘for the perfecting of the Saints’ (Eph. 4:12)” and “not a well-provisioned rest home for the already perfected.” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, General Conference, April, 1982.)

4. Avoid question-form teaching. Many inactive members are uncomfortable answering gospel questions. Instead, the teacher can present the material in a lecture mode (a lot of visual aids will enliven the lesson), while encouraging the family to ask as many questions as they like.

5. Always let the father preside in the home. He has the authority in his home to select who should say the opening and closing prayers. When he’s ready to pray, he’ll offer the prayer himself. Until he does, the home teachers should let him exercise his authority to call on other people.

6. Never teach beyond a family’s willingness to receive. A teacher who is sensitive to the Spirit, as well as to the needs of the family he’s teaching, can tell when a family is responding negatively to the message. One thing that will help is to stick to the basics. Some home teachers have found that it helps to start with a few foundational lessons, such as the plan of salvation, the atonement of Jesus Christ, how revelation comes, the laws God gives and the blessings that come with obedience, the apostasy and restoration of the gospel, and the Book of Mormon. Many basic lesson materials may be found in the temple preparation seminar lesson manual, the Gospel Principles manual, and the Gospel Essentials class manual.

7. Don’t try to push the family into commitments. Joseph Smith said, “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” Home teachers can take the same approach with their inactive families by simply teaching and testifying. Later, as the family grows and progresses, the home teacher may be prompted by the Holy Ghost to suggest that they set some goals—but the nature of those goals should usually be left to the family to decide.

A prospective elder in Utah was afraid to go to church because he didn’t want to be called on to pray or answer questions. After two months of being taught the gospel in their home, he and his wife accepted an invitation to attend the temple preparation seminar. Shortly afterward, they made church attendance their goal, despite the man’s fears. It was their decision, arising out of their progress in learning the gospel. He’s now been ordained an elder, and he and his wife have been sealed in the temple.

8. Follow the Lord’s counsel to his servants as found in Doctrine and Covenants 4:6 [D&C 4:6]. “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.”
The home teacher who follows these guidelines will find himself more concerned with the needs of the family than with statistics or other such concerns. He’ll be tolerant of a slow rate of change. He’ll be willing to become involved in a labor of love and sacrifice, recognizing that impatience and quick commitment won’t bring the lasting results he seeks.

9. Finally, remember that more important than any material the home teacher presents is the feeling the family has when he’s there. Rapport is more important than information.

One couple who were having marital problems agreed to let their home teachers come by to teach every week. As the teachers came week after week, gradually the husband and wife were able to become more and more reconciled. The wife explained later, “When the home teachers are here, my husband is the neatest man in the world. I hope they can keep coming for the next forty years!”

The beauty of home teaching in this way is that it meets the family right at the point where they’re living. One man wanted to hear nothing at all about the beliefs of the Church, having been deeply hurt by another Church member years before. “They’re all hypocrites,” he said.

The quorum leader who was visiting neither agreed nor disagreed. Instead, he said, “I’ve seen some things in my life that weren’t fair and equitable too. It’s too bad things are like that sometimes.”

The man was surprised at the leader’s response. He invited the visitors into his home to talk about it.
“We listened with real intent until he had exhausted his bitterness,” the leader said. “Then we talked about the Savior’s all-encompassing love and forgiveness, being careful not to refer to specific Church members’ actions. We explained that he had a great opportunity to develop the capacity to forgive. When we prepared to leave, we asked if we could come again and discuss the gospel. He told us we were welcome to come to his home any time.”

The home teachers have since visited that home many times, and have witnessed a complete change of attitude in the man.

Not all instances of home teachers doing missionary work among inactive members have ended in dramatic success. But the remarkable thing is that teaching opportunities seldom just end: once families agree to enter the teaching process, they almost never choose to discontinue it, and whether they become active or not, they will make advancements in their lives.

Effective home teachers can make a difference in people’s lives. By teaching a person and his family the gospel, the family will gain more “divine data” on which to base life’s decisions. The teaching process can bring the Spirit of God into the hearts and homes of those involved. And the family will feel more loved and accepted than they ever have before.

Furthermore, the teaching can have tremendous impact on the home teachers as well. “There may be problems and trials,” said one home teacher. “But if you hang in there and let the family know you’re going to stick with them, they’ll progress. To home teach your families effectively takes time and effort. But when you get in and get committed to it, you can really see that Spirit directing the work. I’m not exaggerating when I say my work as a home teacher has literally changed my life. I’m becoming the kind of person I’d always hoped I could be.”

I pray this message touches you, as it has I.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Lubbock Texas Announcements:

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 Plainview Branch Elders & High Priest Lessons By Date:

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Sunday December 26th, 2010 : Schedule   Leave a comment

Brethren & Sisters:

President Roberts has confirmed to me this morning (Thursday December 23rd, 2010) That the upcoming Sunday services on December 26th, 2010, will only be the first hour (Sacrament) and that we will not be having the normally scheduled Sunday School and Priesthood / Relief Society hours that follow. Please, Notify your families that you Home Teach or Visit Teach, inform your fellow Quorum or Society members, and most importantly, have a blessed and Merry Christmas!

On behalf of the Elders Quorum Presidency,

Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

Posted December 23, 2010 by rexfordgbeardsleyjr in 2010 : Schedule, Sunday December 26th

"Look To The Light" Christmas Videos From 2009 & 2010   Leave a comment

Visit http://plainvieweq.blogspot.com ! This post contains videos!

“Look To The Light” Mormon Messages Christmas Video Of 2009

There is real significance to this video, and to the following video. They have helped me…. and I know they will help you, nomatter your difficulties.


“Look To The Light” Mormon Messages Christmas Video of 2010

May the Lord Bless Us All!

Fire Damages Historic Provo Tabernacle   Leave a comment

(The following story was released by LDS Newsroom Today, 12/21/10)

The historic Provo Tabernacle was heavily damaged overnight by a four-alarm fire that is believed to have begun in the building’s second story. Firefighters responded to the fire after it was reported at 2:43 a.m., but the intensity of the fire made it impossible for them to fight it from inside the building.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement this morning regarding the fire:
“The fire at the Provo Tabernacle is tragic. The building not only serves our members and the community, but is a reminder of the pioneering spirit that built Utah. The damage appears severe, and until we make a structural assessment we won’t know whether this historic treasure will be able to be saved.”

The Provo Tabernacle was a historic treasure for the Church. The building was originally constructed from 1883 to 1898 at a cost of $100,000. It is located on University Avenue between Center Street and First South. It was used for church meetings, including stake and regional conferences, and cultural events, such as staging Handel’s Messiah each year at Christmastime.

Dozens of tabernacles were built in the early days of the Church. Tabernacles embody the deep and abiding faith that pioneer Saints felt for Jesus Christ and His gospel. The more than 80 buildings that remain from earlier eras stand as edifying symbols to modern-day Saints.

Historically, tabernacles have ranged from simple log cabins (Kanesville, Iowa, constructed in 1847) or adobe (mud brick) buildings (the first tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, 1852) to classically inspired templelike structures (Bountiful, Utah, 1857–63), picturesque Victorian halls (Bear Lake, Idaho, 1884–89, and Provo, Utah, 1883–98), and buildings that hark back to the American colonies (Boise, Idaho, 1924–25). The last tabernacle built by the Church was the Ogden Tabernacle. Made of steel and concrete, it features modern international architecture (1952–56). The Provo Tabernacle featured Gothic-style stained glass windows and a steep roof and corner turrets that gave the exterior a distinctive look. A pipe organ provided a stunning backdrop to the elaborate, hand-carved rostrum.

Tabernacles are larger than the tens of thousands of regular Mormon meetinghouses (or chapels) where Latter-day Saints meet weekly for Sunday services. They also differ from temples, which are sacred buildings reserved for Latter-day Saints to worship and perform sacred ordinances. Tabernacles are typically used today for meetings with several congregations combined.

Where’s The Line To See Jesus?   Leave a comment

Visit http://plainvieweq.blogspot.com ! This post contains videos!

Recently, I have begun to see many more meaningful scriptures as I read the scriptures, and also I must add, the degree of which some online media has been used (For instance You-Tube) has been more and more exciting. My wife had one person forward her this music video titled “Where’s The Line To See Jesus” and the music and the message it gives is absolutely powerful!

Please, watch this video, feel the working of the Spirit and share it with as many people as you can!

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Lubbock Texas Announcements:

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Plainview Branch Elders & High Priest Lessons By Date:

12-12-10 : Chapter 23 Gospel Principles Manual “The Sacrament”

12-19-10 : Chapter 24 Gospel Principles Manual “The Sabbath Day”

12-26-10 : To Be Announced

Posted December 6, 2010 by rexfordgbeardsleyjr in Where's The Line To See Jesus?

"Only An Elder" – Priesthood Lesson (For Sunday, December 5th, 2010) [12-5-10]   Leave a comment

Attention All Priesthood Brethren Readers! 

It is important to know that this Lesson being planned for Sunday, December 5th, 2010, IS NOT going to be the Lesson which will be taught in High Priests. This Lesson was ideally placed to be taught in Elders Quorum by prayerful consideration and Spiritual confirmation of the Elders Quorum Presidency. The expected lesson to be taught in High Priests & Relief Society, will be the First Presidency Message for the month of December : “Can We See The Christ?” (By clicking the name of the talk, you will be automatically directed to the web page which features the First Presidency Message: The Ensign) Should you have any questions concerning this weeks lesson, or future lessons, consult the Lesson Board on the Elders Quorum Blog Home Page – (Click Here).

It has been the prayerful considerations of the Elders Quorum Presidency of which have brought some changes to the original lessons planned on the calendar, but all of the changes have been made with the intention of helping us all realize our full potential, and how careful pondering alongside righteous use of moral agency will continue to assist us in the all too real battle to “Rescue Souls”.

Before I include the talk which will ultimately be the Lesson for this upcoming Sunday, I wish to remind you to reflect upon a few items of scripture- the intent, to fill you with the understanding of what is expected of us from the Lord. First, lets visit The Doctrine & Covenants Section 107: 99-100 which reads…

[Verse 99] –

Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.

[Verse 100] –

He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen. 

Please, allow me to paraphrase these into what should be understood (At least in part) and in what context I am referring these scriptures to be applied by and understood in.  

First, the history and understanding for which these scriptures (revelation) were given to the Prophet Joseph Smith really need to be understood. To best do that, I simply am going to copy and paste the entire section heading (For Section 107) here and have you read it, pray about it, and then ponder it. 

Section 107

Revelation on the priesthood, given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, dated 28 March 1835 (see History of the Church, 2:209–17). On the date named, the Twelve met in council, confessing their individual weaknesses and shortcomings, expressing repentance, and seeking the further guidance of the Lord. They were about to separate on missions to assigned districts. Although portions of this section were received on the date named, the historical records affirm that various parts were received at sundry times, some as early as November 1831.

In our efforts to understand our role in the Plan of Happiness when it comes to “Bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), we have to know where we fit in. Where do we plug ourselves into the equation of helping the Lord “…bring to pass…” all the endless benefits of the Gospel which can be squeezed into the definitions of “...the immortality and eternal life…” of all the children of our Heavenly Father, or to include the grand definition of all his children, we refer back to the scripture which includes the broad term “...man” ?

Well, the idea of “how” we do it seems easy to understand if we do nothing besides read the words of that particular scripture found in the “Pearl Of Great Price”. The Lord has a simple plan in structure, but it is bound by agency. The 107th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants identifies the simplicity of the basic requirements, but identifies the requirements based on whether we act when we are supposed to.

Is it any wonder then, why in Verse 99 the Lord admonishes “…let every man learn his duty…”? Why would the admonition of the Lord be for us all to learn [our] duty, if we know his ideal plan to “… bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man“? It is because before we can go teach the Gospel, or share it, we have to know it for ourselves. It may be better understood if we look for other counsel given by Prophets of old. Let us take Nephi, who at one point found himself giving the answer to the hard-hearted brothers Laman and Lemuel. Indeed, Nephi reminds both Laman and Lemuel as well as any who read his account on the plates of brass, the importance of knowing for ones self , the workings of God.

So, to draw all this commentary together to align with the scriptures previously given (Doctrine & Covenants 107:99-100) I use the interaction of Nephi with his brothers.

[Nephi Asks:]
“...I spake unto my brethren, desiring to know of them the cause of their disputations.” (1 Nephi 15:6)

[Laman & Lemuel Respond:]
“…And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken…” (1 Nephi 15:7)

[Nephi Asks:]

And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 15:8)

[Laman & Lemuel Respond:]
And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” (1 Nephi 15:9]

[Nephi Admonishes:]
Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:11)

 
The lesson to be learned of Doctrine & Covenants 107:99-100 and 1 Nephi 15:6-9, 11 is:

First, we must seek the Lord, and in seeking him, we can know our duty. If we know our duty, we will prayerfully execute it, in the very manner of which way we can only learn through inquiry of the Lord. Our duty as Elders in this church, and Priesthood holders, is to Seek the word, then read it. Read the word, then study it. Study the word, then pray about it. Pray about it, then do it.

Here below now, is the Lesson for Sunday 12-5-2010 Titled “Only An Elder” :

Bruce R. McConkie, “Only an Elder”, Ensign, June 1975, 66–69

From an address delivered at the Regional Representatives seminar, October 3, 1974.

Brethren, what think ye of the office of an elder? Someone asks: “What office do you hold in the Church? What is your priesthood position?” An answer comes: “Oh, I’m only an elder.” 
Only an elder! Only the title by which a member of the Council of the Twelve is proud to be addressed; only the title which honors the President of the Church, who is designated by revelation as the first elder (see D&C 20:2, 5); only the office to which millions of persons are ordained in the vicarious ordinances of the holy temples.
Only an elder! Only the office which enables a man to enter the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and to have his wife and children bound to him with an everlasting tie; only the office which prepares a man to be a natural patriarch to his posterity and to hold dominion in the house of Israel forever; only the office required for the receipt of the fullness of the blessings in the house of the Lord; only the office which opens the door to eternal exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world, where man becomes as God is.
Only an elder! Only a person ordained to preach the gospel, build up the kingdom, and perfect the Saints; only a minister whose every word is scripture; only the holder of that office which carries the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, of having the heavens opened, and of communing with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn, and of enjoying the communion and presence of God the father and Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant. (See D&C 107:19.) 
Only an elder! Every elder in the Church holds as much priesthood as the President of the Church. No apostle can or will rise higher in eternity than the faithful elder who lives the fullness of the gospel law.
What is an elder? An elder is a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. He holds the holy Melchizedek Priesthood. He is commissioned to stand in the place and stead of his Master—who is the Chief Elder—in ministering to his fellowmen. He is the Lord’s agent. His appointment is to preach the gospel and perfect the Saints. 
What is an elder? He is a shepherd, a shepherd serving in the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd. It is written: “And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.” (Ezek. 34:31.) It is also written, and that by Peter, the first elder in his day: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder. …
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Pet. 5:1–4; italics added.) Know this: elders, who are standing ministers in the Lord’s kingdom, are appointed to feed the flock of God, to take the oversight of the flock, to be examples to the flock. 
What is an elder? “And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together. … 
“Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? 
To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.” (D&C 50:10, 13–14; italics added.) 
An elder is the Lord’s representative sent forth to teach his gospel for the salvation of men. 
 
Who can measure the worth, the infinite worth, of a soul, a soul for whom Christ died? And yet, is not the soul of an elder worth even more, for an elder is his minister to bring many infinitely precious souls unto him in the kingdom of his Father. Do all the elders feed the flock of God, take the oversight thereof, and stand as examples to the others in the sheepfold? Hear the prophetic answer: 
“Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost. … 
“[Therefore], thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand.” (Ezek. 34:2, 4, 10; italics added.) 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth. It is not a democracy, not a republic, not an oligarchy, not a dictatorship, not any form of government except a kingdom. It operates from the top down. The Lord speaks, and his servants obey. The elders go forth, and the people are taught. 
Our great need, the charge that is laid upon us, is to perfect the elders so they can feed the flock, lest the sheep perish for want of the word of God. The number one need within the Church today is to reclaim the elders so they, in turn, can “feed the flock of God.” 
What are the resources for saving elders? There is no secret formula. We cannot wave a wand and reclaim inactive people without effort and without struggle. But we do have the whole program of the Church, and somewhere within its framework is something which will appeal to every person who is willing to let the blessings of the gospel come into his life. As we approach this problem (and every other one with which we are faced), we must do so with the clear understanding that the only fully approved solution is one that operates within the framework of priesthood correlation. 
What is priesthood correlation? It is that system of Church administration in which we take all of the programs of the Church, wrap them in one package, operate them as one program, and involve all the members of the Church in that operation. It is a system which requires us to operate within the existing framework of the Church. The day is long since past in which we discover some problem and set up a committee or some other organization to solve it. Instead we use the revealed priesthood organization, which means that we use home teachers in the way set forth in section 20, and we correlate all priesthood and auxiliary operations through the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward correlation council. President Harold B. Lee defined priesthood correlation as simply “putting the priesthood where the Lord put it and helping the family to function the way it should function.” (See “Correlation and Priesthood Genealogy” in Genealogical Devotional Addresses, 1968, Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University Press, 1969, p. 55.) 
There are three basic principles of priesthood correlation which guide us in the operation of all Church programs. They grow out of this basic statement: The family is the most important organization in time or in eternity. The Church and all its organizations, as service agencies, are in a position to help the family. Home teachers represent the Lord, the bishop, and the priesthood leader in making available to the father, the family, and the individual the help of the Church and all its organizations. Thus, the three basic principles of priesthood correlation are: 
 
1. All things center in the family and the individual. They do everything in the Church. They are responsible to do missionary work, to do their own genealogical work, to provide for their own personal welfare. We do not call missionaries or appoint committees to preempt the family’s primary responsibility. It is not the high priests group leader who is responsible for priesthood genealogy in the ward. It is not the stake or fulltime missionaries who are responsible for missionary work in the ward or stake. In both cases it is the family and the individual, who are aided and helped by these Church specialists. 
2. The Church and all its organizations are in a position to help the family and the individual. Missionaries, committees, and various specialists in one field of service or another are called to help the family. Parents—not the Church organizations—are responsible to bring up their own children in light and truth and to teach them the principles of the gospel. But these organizations are set up to help the parents do the work the Lord has laid upon them. Properly speaking, we do not help missionaries, but missionaries help us. It is our primary responsibility to warn our neighbors, and the stake and fulltime missionaries are specialists who are called in, for instance, to help in the teaching process.  
3. Home teachers represent the Lord, the bishop, and the priesthood leader in making available to the family and the individual the help of the Church and all its organizations. Without question the greatest defect of the home teaching system in the Church is that it remains almost unused. Instead of letting and expecting home teachers to do their work we often set up some fringe committee and then wonder why home teachers lack interest in their work. If we have a need to reclaim elders, we should not set up some special organization. Rather, we should use home teachers and the existing organizations of the Church. 
The Church has need of every elder. None can be spared. The Church must be perfected and the gospel taught to every creature. There is no way to teach the gospel to three and a half billion people without more missionaries. We need help, and the place to begin is with our inactive and our prospective elders.
Who is responsible to reactivate a delinquent elder? Let’s have our priorities straight. The first and chief responsibility rests with the elder himself. He made the baptismal covenant to serve the Lord; he promised to magnify his calling when he received the Melchizedek Priesthood. It is his salvation which is at stake. He has a personal obligation to return to the Lord and seek his blessings. 
The second responsibility to reactivate an elder rests with his family. Salvation is a family affair. The greatest blessings attending Church service flow to the individual and his family. The preservation of the eternal family unit is the chief of these blessings.
After the individual and family responsibility comes that of the Church. The Church makes salvation available. It is the Lord’s organization through which all men are invited to do those things which they must do to enter the Eternal Presence. In almost all instances, the beginning processes of reactivation, at least, start with an approach by someone in a Church position—one elder, for instance, serving as a home teacher to another. It is neither our purpose nor our province to prescribe the details of Church participation in the reactivation processes. There are many approaches, and the spirit of inspiration must always attend the work, which should be done within the framework of priesthood correlation and using existing organizations and programs. 
In the stake, the stake president is responsible for the reactivation of elders. He is the presiding elder in the stake and serves as chairman of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee. One of his counselors, to whom he may delegate a major responsibility for carrying the work forward, is the vice-chairman. The stake president has the help of the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee, plus all the resources of the stake, at his disposal. He may use a high councilor to aid and work with two or three elders quorums. But specifically and paramountly, the stake president uses the bishops of wards and the presidents of elders quorums in the reactivation processes. 
 
High councilors are men of stability and sense and spiritual maturity—some of the most able and competent leaders in the stake. They are the eyes and ears and voice of the stake president. Suppose each high councilor on the stake Melchizedek Priesthood committee has as his main stake assignment the privilege of giving guidance and help to two or three elders quorums. Such a high councilor is careful not to take over the operation of the quorums; but, drawing on his extensive background of Church experience, think what sound and wise counsel he can give.
What more important work does a stake president have than (1) to involve himself in training quorum leaders, (2) to meet regularly with elders presidents to give instruction and assignments, and (3) to hold (or have one of his counselors hold) regular personal priesthood interviews with elders presidents.
Elders quorums are organized on a ward basis. All the elders in the ward are members of the quorum. All prospective elders in the ward meet with the quorum and receive the same training and guidance given the elders, which prepares them for the Melchizedek Priesthood and to become quorum members. Elders quorum presidents are responsible to watch over and strengthen all elders and prospective elders. 
The bishop has a vital, personal, and important role in the reactivation of elders. He presides in the ward and is a common judge in Israel. He receives tithes and offerings. He determines worthiness for temple recommends. He recommends brethren for advancement to the Melchizedek Priesthood. He calls brethren to positions of responsibility in the ward. As the presiding high priest, he presides over the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward correlation council and gives counsel to its members, including the elders president. He receives priesthood evaluations from the elders president.
But it is to the elders quorum president that we turn for the active, detailed, day-by-day operation of the program of reactivation. He is to preside over his quorum members. He is to “sit in council with them, and to teach them according to the covenants.” (D&C 107:89.) He has a responsibility for their temporal and spiritual well-being. He is appointed to lead them to eternal life in our Father’s kingdom. And his responsibility extends out to all the prospective elders in the ward. Except the bishop himself, who in the ward has a responsibility comparable to that of the elders quorum president? 
Some elders quorum presidents seem to feel that the burdens of reactivating their brethren are so great that it is almost futile to undertake the task. One reason for this view is the nagging feeling on the part of the elders quorum presidents that they must come up with some kind of a program and devise some system to save their brethren. Actually, the reactivation processes already exist. They are available everywhere. They are easy to operate. They divide the load upon many shoulders, and the burden becomes easy and the yoke light. 
The reactivation process consists of (1) using home teachers, (2) using the Church and all its programs, and (3) running the quorum itself in the proper manner. The most effective reactivation is always on a one-to-one basis, on a family-to-family basis. It is personal contacting. It is friendshipping. It is fellowshipping. It is done by home teachers! Use home teachers to reactivate! 
There is no substitute for home teaching. We do not need to appoint special fellowshipping committees to help reactivate elders or prospective elders. We do not need to issue a special call or make special arrangements for fellowshipping work. Instead, we use home teachers to do the things that by revelation they are commanded to do. Home teaching is one of the best resources in the Church. Home teachers visit in the homes of the members, watch over and strengthen the Saints, see that there is no iniquity in their lives, and see that all do their duties. 
Assume an extreme case, one in which the picture is dark, one where discouragement could come easily. Still, something must be done. A start must be made. And the load can be lightened through home teaching. If each active elder, in his role as a home teacher, on a one-to-one basis, on a family-to-family basis, assumed responsibility for only one other elder and his family, if each active elder conscientiously and actively did his duty—how many months would pass before there would be twice as many active elders who could be used? It may not be easy, but it is not insurmountable, and it can be done.
Home teachers have status. Their calls are official. They have been sent by their quorum president, by the bishop, and by the Lord. They should visit frequently in their assigned homes. They are there to do the things listed in section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Home teachers and their families should fellowship inactive families. Social and recreational arrangements are helpful. The home evening approach is excellent. On some evening other than Monday, the inactive family may be invited to a family home evening where family fellowshipping and gospel teaching will be involved. Home teachers tie their contacts into the quorum and its teaching and activity functions. Service is essential to salvation. Every quorum member, active and inactive, should be asked to serve on a task committee or quorum project as soon as it is possible to do so.
A project to encourage families to gain temple blessings is approved. Special seminars may be held for missionary or other assignments. Socials at frequent intervals aid in fellowshipping. Every quorum member should receive a Church assignment. Members should be taught how to administer to the sick. And so it goes, on and on—quorum activities with fellowshipping overtones are limitless. 
As all of you know, the reactivation program is summarized in this way: (1) identify each individual; (2) call home teachers; (3) build personal relationships; (4) fellowship by families; (5) provide quorum socials; (6) assign personal responsibility; (7) teach gospel truths; (8) review current progress; and (9) conduct private interviews. 
One of the greatest and most important things the quorum itself can do is to teach all its members the doctrines of salvation. ”Faith cometh by hearing,” so Paul said, meaning that faith is generated in the hearts of men only when they hear the truths of the gospel taught by a legal administrator and by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Rom. 10:14–15, 17.) 
An elders quorum should be a school of the prophets, a place where every elder and prospective elder learns what he and his family must do to gain peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. 
 
We have adopted the standard works themselves, without modification, change, or dilution, as the priesthood study manuals. Every elder and prospective elder should read, ponder, and pray about all that is recorded in holy writ. We must learn directly from the fountain itself. 
We do, however, publish a study guide, which contains teaching aids and outlines the passages to be read by subjects. Under our new system we will do two things: (1) read the assigned standard works verbatim, from beginning to end, and (2) study by subjects (both doctrines and duties), with references drawn from all the standard works. Under our new system of quorum study, it is essential—nay, imperative—that quorum members bring their scriptures to class with them. This is also the express and personal request of President Kimball. Our very able associate, Brother Dean Larsen, director of instructional materials for the Church, tells us that in his high priests group the instructor asked, “How many of you have prepared for the lesson and brought your standard works with you this morning?” Finding none had, he said, “Well, in that case, I can’t teach you a lesson, and so we won’t have one today.” The report is that thereafter the members began to bring their scriptures with them. A brief lesson once a week is only a drop in an ocean of study. Our new study guide is designed to open the door to individual study of the scriptures, as well as to help us to study together as a family.
One of the Sunday School classes is specifically designed to aid in the conversion and reactivation processes. It is the Gospel Essentials class. Here we present 12 lessons on basic subjects on a recurring cycle. After studying this course, adult students go to the Gospel Doctrine class. Home teachers keep track of what lessons are being presented to their contacts, and then consider the same matters in their regular home teaching visits. Those who should take a cycle of Gospel Essentials class lessons include investigators, new converts, prospective elders, and inactive elders. 
There is also one matter—often overlooked—which we desire to recommend and encourage. It is the policy of the Church to have a choir in every ward. It would be most appropriate if all elders and prospective elders having vocal musical ability would sing in these choirs. There may also be special occasions when an elders chorus could be asked to participate in ward or stake meetings. Stake presidents may desire—say, once a year—to have a priesthood chorus present the music in stake conference. But it is important, of course, to keep ward choirs as the most important part of the Church music program. The songs of Zion have converting power, and the Lord says it is pleasing unto him when we sing them. “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart,” he says; “yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” (D&C 25:12.) 
Conversion always attends effective missionary work. Those brethren who are ordained elders at 18 and whose fulltime missionary service is ahead of them need special attention. They have been receiving help and encouragement over the years from their bishop. Now the quorum president must step in and see that everything is done that will make them worthy, qualified, and able when the day of their call comes. Elders are needed as missionaries. The Lord wants more missionaries. Every able young man in the Church should serve a mission. Missionary service blesses the life of a young man more than any other thing could during the time and season involved. Elders quorums must become the Church agency that puts the crowning effort on getting all our able young men out on the Lord’s errand, preaching his gospel, and declaring his message to his other children. 
What is the missionary duty of the elders quorum president? What should an elders quorum president do to be sure that every young elder is prepared for his missionary call? Young men can be taught the gospel with special reference to moral worthiness. They can be encouraged to continue to build up their mission savings account, to read the Book of Mormon and strengthen their testimonies, to learn the proselyting discussions (and perhaps be given opportunity to give them in the homes of their inactive brethren), to find investigators, to breathe and feel the spirit of missionary work; and all this should be guided and encouraged by the elders quorum president. 
A new and revised edition of the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook is being made available for the first time at this seminar. As you study it, you will see that it has been completely rewritten and deals more with principles and less with mechanics. Priesthood leaders will have a greater need than ever before to learn correct principles and then choose the course they should pursue. Greater inspiration than ever is now needed to direct quorum affairs aright. 
But in all this, there is reward!
“Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 

And he that reapeth receiveth wages.” (John 4:35–36; italics added.)

“Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.” (D&C 6:3; italics added.) 
“And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.” (D&C 15:6; italics added.) 
Let us now, however, return to our theme, which is: “Brethren, what think ye of the office of an elder?” Only an elder! Only the office held by apostles and prophets in this life; only the office that they will have when they come forth in immortal glory and enter into their exaltation; only the open door to peace in this life and a crown of glory in the life to come.
Only an elder! Only an elder in time and in eternity! “What are we to understand by the four and twenty elders, spoken of by John?” The revealed answer: “We are to understand that these elders whom John saw, were elders who had been faithful in the work of the ministry and were dead.” (D&C 77:5.) Now, let us hear the words which John wrote relative to those who were faithful elders while in this life and who are exalted elders in the realms ahead: 

“Behold, a door was opened in heaven. …

“And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 
“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment, and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” (Rev. 4:1–2, 4; italics added.) 
Only an elder! “They had on their heads crowns of gold.” Moses prayed, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29.) Well might we pray: “Would God that all the elders among the Lord’s people would be faithful, that they would feed the flock of God, that they would take the oversight of the flock, that they would be examples to the flock—all to the honor and glory of that God whose ministers they are.”

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Lubbock Texas Announcements:

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Plainview Branch Elders & High Priest Lessons By Date: 

12-5-10 : “Only An Elder” – by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in 1974

12-12-10 : Chapter 23 Gospel Principles Manual “The Sacrament”

12-19-10 : Chapter 24 Gospel Principles Manual “The Sabbath Day”

12-26-10 : To Be Announced