No place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair

“Knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, there really is no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair. . . .

“I promise you in the name of the Lord whose servant I am that God will always protect and care for his people. We will have our difficulties the way every generation and people have had difficulties. But with the gospel of Jesus Christ, you have every hope and promise and reassurance. The Lord has power over his Saints and will always prepare places of peace, defense, and safety for his people. When we have faith in God we can hope for a better world—for us personally, and for all mankind.”
President Howard W. Hunter, “An Anchor to the Souls of Men,” Ensign, Oct. 1993, 70.

“From the holy scriptures we read, “Behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in [Him], they who have endured the crosses of the world, … they shall inherit the kingdom of God, … and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Nephi 9:18.)

“I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.”

“My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”

“I declare that God lives and that He hears and answers our prayers. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and our Redeemer. Heaven’s blessings await us.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “Be of Good Cheer,” May 2009 Ensign

“…any believing Latter-day Saint is an optimist about what lies ahead for him or her, however difficult the present may be.”
President Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example,” Nov. 2009 Ensign

“Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].” (John 14:18, 23.)”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were With Him,” May 2009 Ensign

“I promise you that the light of His everlasting gospel can and will again shine brightly where you feared life had gone hopelessly, helplessly dark.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, May 2010

Helping those who cry out to us

Often we live side by side but do not communicate heart to heart. There are those within the sphere of our own influence who, with outstretched hands, cry out, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”

I am confident it is the intention of each member of the Church to serve and to help those in need. At baptism we covenanted to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.” How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that “oh, surely someone will take care of that need.”

We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes.

Thomas S. Monson, “What Have I Done for Someone Today?,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 84–87

Faith in the future

I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives….

One of my favorite books of the New Testament is Paul’s too-seldom-read letter to the Philippians. After reviewing the very privileged and rewarding life of his early years—his birthright, his education, his standing in the Jewish community—Paul says that all of that was nothing (“dung” he calls it) compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase: “I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me.’” Then comes this verse:

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13–14]

…Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us where we will win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Jeffrey R. Holland, “Remember Lot’s Wife,” BYU Devotional, 13 January 2009

It would be easy to become discouraged and cynical about the future—or even fearful of what might come—if we allowed ourselves to dwell only on that which is wrong in the world and in our lives. Today, however, I’d like us to turn our thoughts and our attitudes away from the troubles around us and to focus instead on our blessings as members of the Church. The Apostle Paul declared, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

None of us makes it through this life without problems and challenges—and sometimes tragedies and misfortunes. After all, in large part we are here to learn and grow from such events in our lives. We know that there are times when we will suffer, when we will grieve, and when we will be saddened. However, we are told, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
How might we have joy in our lives, despite all that we may face? Again from the scriptures: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.”….

My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.
President Thomas S. Monson, “Be of Good Cheer,” April 2009 General Conference, (italics added)

Measuring performance, dealing with specifics

When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.
Thomas S. Monson, October General Conference, 1970

Generalities simply will not do. When we deal in generalities, we will never have a success; but as we deal in specifics, we will rarely have a failure.
Thomas S. Monson, “The Aaronic Priesthood Pathway,” Ensign, Nov 1984, 41

Abandon a doubt, gain a truth; have the best Christmas ever

If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth.

It was said of Jesus of Nazareth that He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Do we have the determination to do likewise? One line of holy writ contains a tribute to our Lord and Savior, of whom it was said, He “went about doing good … ; for God was with him.”

My prayer is that at this Christmas season and all the Christmastimes to come, we may follow in His footsteps. Then each Christmas will be the best Christmas ever.

Thomas S. Monson, “The Best Christmas Ever,” Liahona, Dec 2008, 2–6

Pres. Monson on Scouting

Youth need fewer critics and more models. One wise builder of faith counseled, ‘It does not pay to scold. I believe you can get people to do anything, if you can get them to do it at all, by loving them into doing it.’ . . .
“We are builders of boys and menders of men. In doing so, we remember that the greatest verb in the vocabulary is to love; the second is to help.

“It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to serve others by helping to instill values in young people and, in other ways, to prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime in achieving their full potential.

“I commend you leaders of boys, for you demonstrate by your lives that the greatest gift a man can give a boy is his ‘willingness to share a part of his life with him’ ” (Church News, June 7, 2003, 4).

For statements from other church leaders, see this site.

Awakening men to God

A great quote from President Thomas S. Monson, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, given at October conference, 2004 (italics added):

Those who have felt the touch of the Master’s hand somehow cannot explain the change which comes into their lives. There is a desire to live better, to serve faithfully, to walk humbly, and to be more like the Savior. Having received their spiritual eyesight and glimpsed the promises of eternity, they echo the words of the blind man to whom Jesus restored sight: “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

How can we account for these miracles? Why the upsurge of activity in men long dormant? The poet, speaking of death, wrote, “God . . . touch’d him, and he slept.” I say, speaking of this new birth, “God touched them, and they awakened.”

Two fundamental reasons largely account for these changes of attitudes, of habits, of actions.

First, men have been shown their eternal possibilities and have made the decision to achieve them. They cannot really long rest content with mediocrity once excellence is within their reach.

Second, other men and women and, yes, young people have followed the admonition of the Savior and have loved their neighbors as themselves and helped to bring their neighbors’ dreams to fulfillment and their ambitions to realization.

The catalyst in this process has been the principle of love.

The passage of time has not altered the capacity of the Redeemer to change men’s lives. As He said to the dead Lazarus, so He says to you and to me, “Come forth.” I add: Come forth from the despair of doubt. Come forth from the sorrow of sin. Come forth from the death of disbelief. Come forth to a newness of life.