Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bears, Steroids and Exact Obedience Part 1

We just got back Friday from a trip to the Mormon Mecca, Nauvoo, (a journey for rededication of self to spiritual roots.) We saw the temple site in Independence, Liberty Jail, Adam ondi Ahman, Winter Quarters, Kanesville Tabernacle and ended in Nauvoo at the temple there. We felt a  beautiful spirit and enjoyed videos and talks all given by youth and senior missionaries with great spiritual influence. 

The overwhelming take-away for me of the entire trip was the stories of early saints and how obedient they were—the ones that acted on the prophets words.  These people, through their obedience became the people we admire—they became a people of note and of worth,  “noteworthy.”

The missionaries serving at all these sites are doing a work of great worth, and through obedience, they are becoming “noteworthy.”  One young sister missionary had the courage to say something so powerful to my husband, '“So does your son ask weekly like Elder Bednar did to his dad?  “When are you going to be baptized Dad?”' 
From Elder Bednar’s talk, April conference 2013, Powers of Heaven.As a boy I asked my dad many times each week when he was going to be baptized. He responded lovingly but firmly each time I pestered him: “David, I am not going to join the Church for your mother, for you, or for anyone else. I will join the Church when I know it is the right thing to do.”

I believe I was in my early teenage years when the following conversation occurred with my father. We had just returned home from attending our Sunday meetings together, and I asked my dad when he was going to be baptized. He smiled and said, “You are the one always asking me about being baptized. Today I have a question for you.” I quickly and excitedly concluded that now we were making progress!

My dad continued, “David, your church teaches that the priesthood was taken from the earth anciently and has been restored by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith, right?” I replied that his statement was correct. Then he said, “Here is my question. Each week in priesthood meeting I listen to the bishop and the other priesthood leaders remind, beg, and plead with the men to do their home teaching and to perform their priesthood duties. If your church truly has the restored priesthood of God, why are so many of the men in your church no different about doing their religious duty than the men in my church?” My young mind immediately went completely blank. I had no adequate answer for my dad. 
I believe my father was wrong to judge the validity of our Church’s claim to divine authority by the shortcomings of the men with whom he associated in our ward. But embedded in his question to me was a correct assumption that men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently. Men who hold the priesthood should not only receive priesthood authority but also become worthy and faithful conduits of God’s power. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 38:42).

I have never forgotten the lessons about priesthood authority and power I learned from my father, a good man not of our faith, who expected more from men who claimed to bear God’s priesthood. That Sunday afternoon conversation with my dad many years ago produced in me a desire to be a “good boy.” I did not want to be a poor example and a stumbling block to my father’s progress in learning about the restored gospel. I simply wanted to be a good boy. The Lord needs all of us as bearers of His authority to be honorable, virtuous, and good boys at all times and in all places.

You may be interested to know that a number of years later, my father was baptized. And at the appropriate times, I had the opportunity to confer upon him the Aaronic and the Melchizedek Priesthoods. One of the great experiences of my life was observing my dad receive the authority and, ultimately, the power of the priesthood.I share with you this pointed lesson I learned from my father to emphasize a simple truth. Receiving the authority of the priesthood by the laying on of hands is an important beginning, but it is not enough. Ordination confers authority, but righteousness is required to act with power as we strive to lift souls, to teach and testify, to bless and counsel, and to advance the work of salvation.

In this momentous season of the earth’s history, you and I as bearers of the priesthood need to be righteous men and effective instruments in the hands of God. We need to rise up as men of God. You and I would do well to learn from and heed the example of Nephi, the grandson of Helaman and the first of the twelve disciples called by the Savior at the beginning of His ministry among the Nephites. “And [Nephi] did minister many things unto them. … And Nephi did minister with power and with great authority” (3 Nephi 7:17).

See part II

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