Neutrality is an insufficient stance for disciplines of Christ

Satan need not get everyone to be like Cain or Judas . . . . He needs only to get able men . . . to see themselves as sophisticated neutrals.

Neal A. Maxwell, Deposition of a Disciple (1976), 88.

Give the Lord equal time

Some years ago one of my missionaries came to see me. He said: “President, I am losing my testimony. I have some questions that no one will answer for me. My bishop and stake president just told me to forget them, and they had no answers.”

I asked for his questions in writing and then suggested he come to see me in 10 days, and I would answer every one of his questions.

As he was leaving my office, I was prompted to ask him, “Elder, how long has it been since you have read from the scriptures?”

He acknowledged that it had been a long time.

I said: “You have given me an assignment; it’s only fair that I give you one. You read at least one hour from the scriptures each day until you come back for your answers.”

He agreed to do this.

When he came back, I was ready. He said: “President, I don’t need the answers. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet. I’m OK now.”

I replied: “You will get your answers anyway. I worked hard on them!” All of this anti-Mormon stuff was what we were dealing with.

After our discussion I asked him, “Elder, what have you learned from all of this?”

And he gave me a very significant response: “I’ve learned to give the Lord equal time!”

M. Russell Ballard, “Follow the Doctrine and Gospel of Christ,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, November 7, 2010, Brigham Young University

Whole-souled, deeply held commitment

The ability to stand by one’s principles, to live with integrity and faith according to one’s belief—that is what matters. That devotion to true principle—in our individual lives, in our homes and families, and in all places that we meet and influence other people—that devotion is what God is ultimately requesting of us. It requires commitment—whole-souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment to the principles we know to be true in the commandments God has given.

Howard W. Hunter
Ensign, Oct. 1994, 2–5

And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.

Omni 1:26
The Book of Mormon

When one commits, "providence moves too"

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’

W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951
(About the attribution of this quote and that of the Goethe couplet, see this interesting article.)

Staying in the saddle until the job is done

Elder Monte Brough tells this story of a young man’s commitment to follow with exactness the instructions he was given:

Manasseh Byrd Kearl, born in 1870 and raised near Bear Lake in northern Utah, tells a wonderful story that might be instructional to his descendants, of which I am one. Let me read from his journal:

“That fall father bought some cattle for John Dikens, a very large herd. Dikens had a large ranch on Bear River. … I remember Jimmie was down north buying cattle and he sent father that he needed more money. So father toled me to take some money to him. Mother sewed six hundred dollars in my under clothes, and father put me on a horse and said, ‘Now Byrdie my boy, don’t you get off this horse till you find your brother Jimmie, and keep your mouth shut, and if any one asks you questions don’t reply or tell them where you are going, and do not give this money to any one but Jimmie, no matter what any one tells you.’ Well, when I got to DingleDell, I was toled Jimmie was in Montpelier. So to Montpelier I went to Joe Richs, a friend of father’s, he toled me that Jimmie had gone home. Brother Rich wanted me to go in the house and get something to eat. I toled him no, that father toled me not to get off this horse till I found Jim, and here I stayed. I turned around and headed for home. When I got to Bears Valley, … I could hardly walk. Mr. Potter tried to get me to stop and rest, but I could not stay. At last I got home. Jimmie took me off the horse and carried me into the house. Mother cried to think I had been in the saddle while the horse went over eighty miles.”

Monte J. Brough, “Search for Identity,” Ensign, May 1995, 41

The full attention we need to give to God

As I have read the Book of Mormon recently, I have been impressed with the complete attention we are asked to give to God. This passage in Alma 37 is a good example:

36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.