Upon the Palm of His Hands
The following is the sacrament talk I gave today in our ward. My wife and I spoke today prior to leaving on our full-time mission.
I am grateful for all of our family and friends that have come here today as we leave you and start on an adventure that we have both planned on doing since we were married 43 years ago. We have always talked about serving a mission together and we finally have that opportunity and are excited to serve in the Indianapolis Indiana Mission.
I want to share with you today why we feel so strongly about serving a mission as a couple. First, we are excited to serve in the assignments that we have been given; my wife as the mission nurse and I will serve as the secretary to the Mission President.
In addition to those assignments we are anxious to be part of what President Nelson, speaking to the youth of the church, said is: “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today? . . . to help gather Israel during these precious latter days.”
President Nelson continued:
“Every child of our Heavenly Father deserves the opportunity to choose to follow Jesus Christ, to accept and receive His gospel with all of its blessings—
There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing.
This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to earth.
So my question to you is “Are you willing to enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord to help gather Israel?” (“Worldwide Devotional for Youth”)
I realize that President Nelson was speaking to the youth of the Church and my wife and I don’t quite fit in the “youth” category, but I believe that he was extending the challenge to all members of the church. Sue and I want to do our part to help the young full-time missionaries in Indiana as they fulfill their calling to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
I know that serving a full-time mission is not always a possibility for all senior couples, but I would recommend it if you can. So if you cannot serve full-time what other ways can you help gather Israel? One of the ways is by sharing your testimony through social media.
In June of 2013, Elder L. Tom Perry invited all members to share the gospel using Facebook and other social media as well as blogs, email, and text messages. I took the challenge and started a blog titled “The Palm of His Hands”, taken from the scripture in Isaiah 49:16. The first message I posted was on June 28, 2013. Since that time I have posted 186 messages that have been read almost 47,000 times. I know these numbers are small compared to some of the more popular LDS bloggers, but each time I post something it grows. In the beginning my messages were read only by two people and I was one of them Now when I post something, people from all over the U.S., France, China, Italy, South Korea, and other countries are reading my messages. Some of the blogs by members that I read are reaching millions every time they post a new message. The full-time missionaries are limited to a small area in their mission and do their best to share the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as they can. The church is limited to the countries that will allow the missionaries to enter their borders. Through social media, the gospel is being shared with millions of people all over the world; there are no limits to where these messages end up.
Elder Bednar, speaking at BYU During Education Week on August 19, 2014 asked the members of the church to:
“sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.” (“To Seep the Earth as with a Flood”)
I invite you to go and read Elder Bednar’s message, it will help teach you how you can share your testimony and minister to your friends on your social media apps.
Many of you may be thinking that you don’t have anything interesting or profound to write about. The best thing to do is to write about your feelings and testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the BYU TV show The Story Trek. The theme of that show is “everyone has a story to tell”. I believe that is true and that as we pray to know what to write you will be prompted by the Holy Ghost. Share your everyday experiences and testimony of how the Lord has blessed your life. When you post those thoughts and someone is searching to know the truth, they may be lead to your posts and you will be an influence in bringing someone closer to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Your messages do not need to be long, they can be just a simple thought. Fred Sellick is a great example of someone that shares his testimony with his friends on Facebook. For those of you that don’t know Fred, he and his wife were members of our ward. He was a truck driver and he often shared pictures and thoughts of his travels. His messages are short but profound, I love reading them.
I have written about the Book of Mormon, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, faith, modern prophets, and various holiday messages. I have used sports, Harry Potter, my thoughts on marriage and family, experiences with my grandchildren, camping, and the declining morals in our society as topics for my weekly messages. Don’t get overwhelmed by it, you don’t need to post something every week, just do it when prompted. You will be surprised at the impact you have.
I try to relate every day experiences I have had to the Gospel and to the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us individually and is involved in our daily lives. One of my messages was titled “The Faith of a Child” and was about an experience we had with our grandson, Nathan, when he was eight years old. In primary that Sunday they had sung “A Child’s Prayer” and he asked his grandma about the first part of the song that says: “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer ev’ry child’s prayer?” He wondered why someone would ask that question? He did not doubt that Heavenly Father was real or that he answered his prayers.
Another reason my wife and I want to serve as full-time missionaries is so we can increase our efforts to be ministers of Jesus Christ Why have the brethren changed home and visiting teaching to ministering? I believe it is to help us all come closer to Jesus Christ by developing that Christ like love for all of Heavenly Father’s children.
The following is a quote from the book “The Message” by Lance Richardson. Lance died from an accident and was allowed the opportunity to visit the spirit world and was told he would be permitted to live again and that he was supposed to write of his experiences in the spirit world. While there he met Samuel and Ben they taught him some of the principles that governed the spirit world.
“The greatest principle in the creation of a society such as ours is Service," Samuel said. "Each person in our society is involved in service to others continually. It is the mode of Heaven. It is one of the great eternal principles that creates heaven. Each seeks for the betterment of the whole, not themselves. Each seeks to serve God, our Father, through following His command of 'Love One Another,"
"Service is the action form of loving one another. When you truly love someone, you seek to serve them. Your concerns are for their happiness and welfare."
“Ben then explained to me that if the people of this nation would go out and begin serving-first the members of their families more fully, then their neighbors and community, and then their extended family (the brothers and sisters of our nation)-it would do more to change the hearts of this people than any other thing that could be done.
"If you will go out and serve one another," Ben continued, "you will learn to love one another in a way that you have never experienced before. If you will serve one another, you will love God and grow closer to Him. And if you will serve one another, your nation will be transformed into a haven of real peace and freedom. It will, indeed, become a Zion one day." (The Message, pages 86-87)
This book was published in 2000 and I was amazed how it correlated with the vision of what our prophet is trying to help us see. President Nelson and the other general authorities are asking us to increase our efforts to minister to Heavenly Father’s children both those that we come in contact with every day as well as those that have passed on from this mortal life.
As we begin to minister in the manner the Lord Jesus Christ would have us minister, we not only bless the lives of those we serve but we are drawn closer to Christ and have a greater love for him and our brothers and sisters. It begins with us, our families, the church, and it will spread from city to city and bless our nation and all of Heavenly Father’s children. We will truly build a Zion society and become prepared for the second coming of the Savior Jesus Christ.
Another way we can help in bringing others to Christ is to treat everyone as our brother and sister. It should not matter what race, religion, gender, or any other distinguishing factor. We should love everyone as Christ would. Everyone deserves the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel and receive it’s blessings. President Oaks speaking at the “Be One Celebration” this past June challenged all members of the church to:
“to put all personal prejudices behind us”, one being is as precious in (Heavenly Father’s) sight as the other” (Jacob 2:21), Let us all look forward in the unity of our faith and trust in the Lord’s promise that “he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). (“A Cause for Celebration”)
President Oaks also said that while we should treat everyone with respect and love, we do should not compromise our standards. The Lord’s commandments are eternal and only through obedience to the commandments will the blessings of the temple and eternal families be realized.
This attitude of ministering to all will have no bounds and it will have no respect to race or nationality. We will treat everyone we meet as children of our Heavenly Father, especially those who feel disadvantaged and rejected by society in general. We will have the same desire as the Sons of Mosiah:
“Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thought that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” (Mosiah 28:3)
We are so excited to have the opportunity to serve our mission in Indiana and we hope that we will be able to minster to the friends that I have there as well as the others that we come in contact with and do our best to be part of the “Lord’s Youth Battalion”
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