As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe in living prophets, just like Moses, Elijah and other Old Testament prophets. Today that prophet is Russell M. Nelson. We believe that he receives revelation in the same manner that all the Old Testament prophets did, directly from God. In the past year that President Nelson has been the president of The Church since January 14, 2018. Members of The Church have witnessed the blessings of having a living prophet to guide us.
We have witnessed the change in home and visiting teaching to “ministering”, a change in Melchizedek priesthood quorums, the change in Sunday meeting times, a change to family centered gospel study, 19 new temples announced in one year, and a change in how young men and women advance in the priesthood and the young women’s program. These changes are just a few examples, there are others that this type of forum does not allow me to discuss due to the sacredness of the topics. I understand that this is just the beginning. just this past October said:
“We’re witnesses to a process of restoration,” said the prophet. “If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There is much more to come. … Wait till next year. And then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.” ()
I can’t wait to see what is next, we live in an exciting time of growth for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But all members have not accepted these changes with the faith that they should. As members of The Church we are taught that we need to have our own testimonies of the restoration of The Gospel of Jesus Christ and living prophets, we do not live by blind faith alone. If we don’t have personal testimonies that President Nelson is the Lord’s living prophet, when changes in policies and programs happen those member’s faith can be challenged.
I know a bishop (not here in Indiana) whose members are angry with him because he wants to have the 11-year-old be ordained deacons, or their 11-year-old daughters leave primary and join the young women’s program. They are also upset their older children are being encouraged to be ordained to other priesthood offices in January instead of on their birthday, the way it used to be before the changes. When they asked this bishop what he thought, he said that they should follow the prophet’s counsel. They were upset when he did not agree with their desire to not follow Lord’s prophet.
It reminded me of something I read in a book called “Boxing The Lord In: And Other Ways We Hinder Revelation” by Stephen K. Hunsaker and Michelle K. Hunsaker. In his book, brother and sister Hunsaker share several habits that we have that limit The Lord in giving us answers to our prayers through revelation. One chapter is titled: “Casting Our Eyes About”. They reminded us of Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 8) where there were two distinct groups that made it to The Tree of Life and were able to partake of the fruit. One group once they had partaken of the fruit took their eyes off the tree and looked to those who were mocking and making fun of them. This group felt ashamed and fell away. The other group after partaking of the fruit kept their focus on The Tree (which represents the Savior Jesus Christ) and did not pay attention to those mocking and making fun of them. Because their focus was on the Savior, they were able to stay strong and not fall away. I highly recommend this book for anyone that would like to improve their relationship with the Savior and their prayers. You can go to find more information.
I think it is interesting that the members of this ward, instead of questioning the change in the programs, were angry with the bishop for following the counsel of The Lord’s prophet. They were taking their eyes off “the tree” and giving in to the mocking of the world and in their own way letting go of the iron rod and falling away.
I must be careful in stating this that I do not criticize the lack of faith of someone to the point that I think that I am somehow better than them or more faithful. There is no place in the Gospel of Jesus Christ for anyone to judge why someone, in our limited opinion, is not following the prophet or other church leaders, including their local leaders. We simply cannot expect to understand what causes a member to think or believe the way they do. We can only love and encourage them to gain a greater testimony of the inspiration that comes to those whom the Lord calls to preside over us. We must accept everyone where they are and hope that we can all progress on the Gospel path to the tree of life together and without letting go of the iron rod as we go.
I am excited for the changes that have come and for those that we anticipate coming. For those that have yet to gain a testimony of the changes I challenge them to put it to the test. Go to the Lord in prayer and find out for yourself “if these things are not true” and I promise that you will know “by the power of the Holy Ghost that they are true” ()
The prophet Jeremiah described the people that do not accept the Lord’s counsel as “foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not” (). I hope that as members of the Lord’s Church we will follow his prophet and have eyes that see and that we will keep our focus on the Savior and not give heed to those who would distract us or cause us to fall away.
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