Our Hearts Did Burn
After Christ was crucified and rose the third day. He appeared to two disciples as they walked on the road to Emmaus. They had been talking about what had happened over the last few days. They described what had happened and that they thought Jesus was the one that would redeem Israel, but he had been dead for three days and now some were saying he was no longer dead. When Christ taught them the scriptures related to his death and resurrection they wanted to know more and invited Jesus to dine with them. It wasn’t until he broke the bread and blessed it and gave it to them, that they recognized the Lord. The scripture said:
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:32)
Today I had one of those experiences where my heart did burn as I listened to an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I attended a Priesthood Leadership Conference for the Stake Presidencies, Bishops and Elders Quorum Presidents of all the student stakes here in Logan, Utah. Here in Logan we have eight young single adult stakes and two married student stakes. I serve as one of the bishops in a married student stake. I was one of about 130 leaders in attendance. We had the opportunity to be taught by Elder Jeffery R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Craig C. Christensen, a member of the presidency of the Seventy, Bishop Dean M. Davies, 2nd Counselor in the Presiding Bishop and Elder Bryan R. Larsen our Area Seventy. It was a spiritual experience that I will never forget and I can say as the disciples did while Christ taught them, my heart did burn as the Holy Ghost bore testimony to me that these brethren were there representing the Lord Jesus Christ whom we all serve.
Elder Holland talked about the growth of the church and how it is getting difficult for the twelve to get around to stake conferences as much as they did in years past. He said that if there was no more growth in the church, with the number of stakes in the church, it would take 30 years for them to get to all the stakes so it is in Priesthood Leadership Conferences like this one that they get to meet with the leaders. He expressed his appreciation and the Lord’s love for the brethren that lead the stakes and wards in the church. Based on a revelation to a teenage boy (Joseph Smith) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church of volunteer leadership. Each of the leaders has families and professional lives that are busy and yet they willingly give many hours in service to God’s Kingdom and the members of the church. Some of the counsel he gave was:
“Brethren, you are not called to be administrators, we are called to focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to get to the hearts of the people. You are not called to be managers, you are called to be shepherds, you are called to be disciples, and you are called to be witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. After every meeting, after every interview and contact ask yourself did I build faith. If not, you need to ask why did we do it? If it doesn’t build faith, if it doesn’t point them to Jesus Christ and enhance salvation, then why are we doing it? There may be some things we need to do that doesn’t build faith, but I cannot think of many things so be a shepherd. In all that we do we must cultivate faith and build people’s conviction of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“There is going to come a time of sifting, a wheat and tares thing. The wheat and the tares have been allowed to grow together, but the closer we get to apocalyptic hours there is going to be a sifting. What it is going to take any man, women, or child is to have a burning conviction in our souls, deep in the marrow of our bones, that this is God’s truth. There is not a lot of discussion about that, there are things to sort out, there are things to learn, things to do and things to improve, but THIS IS GOD’s TRUTH. Until we know that and we can declare that we will be at risk. This is war, we have an enemy and it is real. This is not dress rehearsal time, the play is on and we are in the second act already. We have got to strengthen each other in the only way we can and that is to have the burning conviction of the truth of Jesus Christ and his divinity and all that goes with that.
“I do not know when the second coming of Jesus Christ will be, but it is coming. We are 24 hours closer than we were yesterday. It started in the spring of 1820 and it is coming. Whenever that final time will come, we need to get to a place of security in our testimony and then turn around and help the next generation to get there.
“How do we build faith, how do we get conversion, how do we get the fire in our bones? That is the only way it will work and we need to do it with as many as we can.” (Priesthood Leadership Conference, Logan Utah Student Stakes, September 13, 2014)
Elder Christensen spoke about how the Lord is hastening his work in our time. He told of how his son and daughter-in-law met and married. They both had attended BYU and were in the same singles ward together. They did not have much to do with each other at that time. They both went to the same graduate school in Virginia and he was called as a counselor in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency and she was called as the Relief Society President. It was there that they saw each other as they were serving and ministering to others. It was in that environment that they saw each other in a more spiritual experience and they fell in love and married. We need to provide opportunities for our members to serve in callings and grow.
He quoted from Doctrine and Covenants section 88:73 “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” He asked who was the person that was doing the hastening? It is the Lord. We sometimes think we need to get to work and do it, but it is the Lord that is hastening his work and we assist in that process. Hastening is a matter of velocity and magnitude and it includes both. The Lord is preparing his children to be receptive of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He testified that this work has everlasting consequences and it is up to us to take it to other people.
Bishop Davies spoke of when he was called along with Bishop Stevenson and Bishop Causse to be in the presiding bishopric. He and Bishop Causse had never served as s bishop. They both had served as a stake president but never a bishop. When they were set apart as a member of the presiding bishopric they were first ordained to the office of a bishop and then as a member of the presiding bishopric.
He spoke about how at the time of King Benjamin’s address to the people they had young children that grew up not believing the things he taught and they were not members of the church. He talked about what we need to do teach our families so the rising generation will believe. We need to teach our families to have faith in God the Eternal Father, in his Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. We also need to teach the doctrines of Christ and his atonement and faith in the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. These are the things we need to concentrate on.
At the end of the meeting Elder Holland again expressed his love for those that were in the meeting. He also said that because he is called by the Lord and represents him he also expresses the love that our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have for us. God also called us to our callings and we represent him in our stakes and wards and we need to tell the members how much God loves them.
To hear that testimony from an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and the other brethren, it did cause my heart to burn. What a blessing it was to be there and be instructed in our duty as members and leaders in the Lord’s church.
I know these men as well as all those that serve with them are called of God by prophecy from him. I also know that the calling I have as one of the bishops in this student stake has come from God. I know he lives and that His Son Jesus Christ lives, that he died and rose again the third day. I know that there is more to this life and after we die we will live again. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored again in these days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God and that it is another testament that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I know we have a prophet today, Thomas S. Monson.
I also know anyone can know the truth of all things and that God will cause your heart to burn if you will seek him in prayer and obey his commandments.
Your comments and questions are welcome.