On the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley

gordonbhinckley.png (Photo from newsnet.byu.edu)

I wrote this note this morning in response to the news of the death of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, who passed away last evening at age 97.

To the American Fork North Stake Council and Bishops,

Brethren and Sisters,

I feel, as I am sure you do, sadness at the news of the passing of President Hinckley. We will all miss his intelligence, common sense, conviction and encouragement. As Brother Puckett notes below, his faith and unwavering certainty will be missed beyond what words can express. We have all been witnesses to an era in which the Lord has spoken and acted boldly and courageously through one of His anointed and foreordained servants to move the work forward in unprecedented ways.

One of my favorite quotes from President Hinckley is this passage in which he speaks about the certainty of the resurrection and bears witness of the Savior:

“There is nothing more universal than death, and nothing brighter with hope and faith than the assurance of immortality. The abject sorrow that comes with death, the bereavement that follows the passing of a loved one are mitigated only by the certainty of the Resurrection of the Son of God that first Easter morning.

“Whenever the cold hand of death strikes, there shines through the gloom and the darkness of that hour the triumphant figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, He, the Son of God, who by his matchless and eternal power overcame death. He is the Redeemer of the world. He gave His life for each of us. He took it up again and became the first fruits of them that slept. He, as King of Kings, stands triumphant above all other kings. He, as the Omnipotent One, stands above all rulers. He is our comfort, our only true comfort, when the dark shroud of earthly night closes about us as the spirit departs the human form. Towering above all mankind stands Jesus the Christ, the King of glory, the unblemished Messiah, the Lord Emmanuel. In the hour of deepest sorrow we draw hope and peace and certitude from the words of the angel that Easter morning, “He is not here: for he is risen as he said” (Matt. 28:6).” (Ensign, May 1996, p. 67)

In our mourning of the loss of a great prophet, we will certainly seek and receive the peace President Hinckley promises – peace that comes from the Savior’s Resurrection and Atonement. Let us also pray for the faith to accomplish the work that remains before us, continuing to strive to act and teach as effectively as his example and words have invited us to do. With the Prophet Joseph, he would want us most to “go on in so great a cause;” to “Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!” (D&C 128:21-22)

To that end, and in honor of his memory, we have much to do: “…verily thus saith the Lord: Let the work of my temple, and all the works which I have appointed unto you, be continued on and not cease; and let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts” (D&C 127:4).

May each of you be blessed as you ponder President Hinckley’s remarkable life and teachings, and find therein instruction for your daily lives and the work to which you have been called.

Thank you for your dedicated and committed service to the cause for which President Hinckley gave his all.

President Jones

(You are welcome to forward this to other stake and ward leaders and members as you wish. – SMJ)

On 1/27/08 9:52 PM, “Gene Puckett” wrote:

Brethren – I expect that you have all heard of president Hinckley at
about 7:00 this evening. I first met him in 1966 when I was a
missionary in Taiwan. I have no words. Gene

Your life is carefully watched over

Henry B. Eyring  Your life is carefully watched over, as was mine. The Lord knows both what He will need you to do and what you will need to know. He is kind and He is all-knowing. So, you can with confidence expect that He has prepared opportunities for you to learn in preparation for the service you will give. You will not recognize those opportunities perfectly, as I did not. But when you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning and you will be motivated to work harder. You will recognize later that your power to serve was increased, and you will be grateful.

Your service may not be in what the world would recognize as a lofty calling. When the real value of service becomes clear in the judgment of God, some people who worked in quiet anonymity will be the real heroes. Many of them, perhaps most of them, will be the underpaid and under-recognized people who nurtured others. I never visit an elementary school and watch the teachers without thinking about that future day when the rewards will be eternal. I never visit a hospital and watch those who nurse and those who clean without thinking of that. And I never visit a workplace where someone serves me and others well, earning wages barely enough to provide the necessities for a family, without thinking of the future. And I never see a mother juggling three little children who are crying while she is smiling, as she shepherds them gently, without seeing in my mind’s eye that day of honor in the presence of the only Judge whose praise will finally matter.

President Henry B. Eyring, “Education for Real Life”, CES Fireside, 6 May 2001

"Did He ask easy things of His disciples then?"

President Henry B. Eyring said this in last October’s Priesthood Conference:

“You can get assurance in your service. You can forget yourself and begin to pray for and love those you are to serve. And you can choose what to do and measure success by the degree to which it changes the hearts of the people you serve.

“But it is never going to be easy for you or for those you serve. There will always be pain in service and in the repentance necessary to bring the power of the Atonement to change hearts. That is in the nature of what you are called to do. Think of the Savior, whose service you are in. At what point in His mortal life can you see an instance when it was easy for Him? Did He ask easy things of His disciples then? Then why should it ever be easy in His service or for His disciples?”

Ensign, November 2007, p. 57, emphasis added.

President Eyring, in a 1997 BYU Devotional, made a similar remark:

“You are the future of the Church. God knows that. And so he now asks more of you than he has asked of those who were here before you, because the kingdom will need more.”

See: http://stephenjones.us/2008/04/01/the-plan-of-salvation-eyring/

Permissiveness never produced greatness

gordon-b-hinckley-1973.jpg “Permissiveness never produced greatness. Integrity, loyalty, and strength are virtues whose sinews are developed through the struggles that go on within as we practice self-discipline under the demands of divinely spoken truth.”

Gordon B. Hinckley, “The True Strength of the Church,” Ensign, Jul 1973, 48; repeated in “‘It’s True, Isn’t It?’,” Ensign, Jul 1993, 2.

Art and media filled with light

“The promoters of darkness often seem to have direct access to the media microphone. We may not be able to take that away from them, but we can at least raise our own voices. We can teach correct principles often and in as many ways as possible.

“Since darkness is the absence of light, surely the most powerful way to counter darkness is to fill the world with light. One of my associates observed recently:

“Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
“Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. More importantly, darkness cannot conquer light unless the light is diminished or departs” (Robert D. Hales, in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 80-81; or Ensign, May 2002, 70).

“Is it not part of our work as sons and daughters of God to encourage creative efforts that dispel darkness and replace it with light? Indeed, one objective of the Lighted Candle Society is to promote “positive and uplifting . . . education and entertainment.” How powerful a force for good would be a renaissance in literature, art, technology, and science that adds light rather than takes it away! Such a renaissance is possible. There are among us artists and artisans who need only to receive a little more support and encouragement from men and women of conscience to produce works that could rival those that half a millennium ago marked the end of Europe’s Dark Age and the rise of a wonderful new cultural and spiritual Renaissance.

“As we fill the earth with art (and media) that is good and uplifting—as we fill the earth with light and knowledge—our children will see the darkness for what it is. They will see that it is counterfeit, that it brings only sorrow, pain, and emptiness. They will come to prefer light and be attracted to that which is good and true.”

From a speech given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at the Fourth Annual Guardian of the Light Award Dinner of the Lighted Candle Society.

Work first, play later

A note about Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ work habits:

Elder Oaks has often quoted his motto, “Work first, play later.” His family jokes that it is really “Work first, play never.”

“I don’t do anything for fun. I just have fun at what I do,” he explains.

“Time is a stewardship, and my goal is simply not to waste any.”

(Don L. Searle, “Elder Dallin H. Oaks: ‘It Begins by Following the Other Apostles’,” Ensign, Jun 1984, 15.)

I am afraid my family would say the same about me: work first, play never!

Elder Oaks repeated similar counsel to students at Brigham Young University, shortly after his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“I know of no better words of advice on the subject of ceasing to be idle than to “work first and play after.” The discipline of forcing oneself to work first, until the job is completed–whether it be a daily assignment, a term paper, or other needed task–and only then to enjoy the pleasure of play, is a master secret of life. It bears immediate fruits in accomplishment, but its most important effects are long-range. In following this priority we learn self-discipline, which unlocks the door to undreamed-of accomplishments.

How do you spend your time? Are you the master of your time, or do others control it by flicking the switch on a television or by impromptu invitations to pleasures or diversions that you have no willpower to resist? Work first and play after.”

(Counsel for Students, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, BYU Devotional, 18 September 1984.)

Irony, the crust on the bread of adversity

Several excerpts from Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s great talk on irony:

“Irony is the hard crust on the bread of adversity. Irony can try both our faith and our patience. Irony can be a particularly bitter form of such chastening because it involves disturbing incongruity. It involves outcomes in violation of our expectations. We see the best laid plans laid waste.

“Words then issue, such as Why me? Why this? Why now? Of course, these words may give way to subsequent spiritual composure. Sometimes, however, such words precede bitter inconsolability, and then it is a surprisingly short distance between disappointment and bitterness.

“In coping with irony, as in all things, we have an Exemplary Teacher in Jesus. Dramatic irony assaulted Jesus’ divinity almost constantly.

“For Jesus, in fact, irony began at His birth. Truly, He suffered the will of the Father “in all things from the beginning.” (3 Ne. 11:11.) This whole earth became Jesus’ footstool (see Acts 7:49), but at Bethlehem there was “no room … in the inn” (Luke 2:7) and “no crib for his bed” (Hymns, 1985, no. 206.)

“At the end, meek and lowly Jesus partook of the most bitter cup without becoming the least bitter. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; D&C 19:18–19.) The Most Innocent suffered the most. Yet the King of Kings did not break, even when some of His subjects did unto Him “as they listed.” (D&C 49:6.) Christ’s capacity to endure such irony was truly remarkable.

“You and I are so much more brittle. For instance, we forget that, by their very nature, tests are unfair.”

Maxwell notes many more ironies associated with Jesus, then, near the end of his talk, writes:

“We come now to the last and most terrible irony of Jesus: His feeling forsaken at the apogee of His agony on Calvary. The apparent withdrawal of the Father’s spirit then evoked the greatest soul cry in human history. (See James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1916, p. 613.) This deprivation had never happened to Christ before—never. Yet, thereby, Jesus became a fully comprehending Christ and was enabled to be a fully succoring Savior. (See Alma 7:11–12.) Moreover, even in that darkest hour, while feeling forsaken, Jesus submitted Himself to the Father.”

What a teacher irony in adversity can be, but only if we are humble in trial, as was Jesus.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity,” Ensign, May 1989, 62. Italics mine.