14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 3

Welcome to day three of our series about Ezra Taft Benson’s classic talk, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” Here are the sixth, seventh, and eighth fundamentals In his own words:

Sixth: The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.

Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you” (D&C 21:4; italics added).

And speaking of taking counsel from the prophet, in D&C 108:1, the Lord states: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed” (italics added).

Said Brigham Young, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot], 13:95).

Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

“Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear,” complained Nephi’s brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:1, 3). Or, to put it in another prophet’s words, “Hit pigeons flutter.”

Said President Harold B. Lee:

You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]

But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones” (Instructor, 95:257).

Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on.

How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.

Said President Marion G. Romney, “It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets.” And then he gives this illustration:

One day when President Grant was living, I sat in my office across the street following a general conference. A man came over to see me, an elderly man. He was very upset about what had been said in this conference by some of the Brethren, including myself. I could tell from his speech that he came from a foreign land. After I had quieted him enough so he would listen, I said, “Why did you come to America?” “I am here because a prophet of God told me to come.” “Who was the prophet;” I continued. “Wilford Woodruff.” “Do you believe Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God?” “Yes, I do.” “Do you believe that President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet of God?” “Yes, sir.”

Then came the sixty-four dollar question. “Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?” His answer, “I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old age assistance.”

Now I tell you that a man in his position is on the way to apostasy. He is forfeiting his chances for eternal life. So is everyone who cannot follow the living Prophet of God.” [In Conference Report, April 1953, p. 125]

Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.

There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men—between the prophet and the politician or professor. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire” (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173).

Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay, and applying it to the man’s eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6-7.) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. [Isaiah 55:8, 9]

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General Conference Preparation tip of the day: Three and a half years ago, I started an online  General Conference Book Club  here on the blog, and our next round will begin this coming weekend with the October 6-7, 2012 General Conference.  I invite you to join us! (For the past six months, Becca at My Soul Delighteth has been babysitting my book club at her blog while I finished up my book, and I’m so grateful to her for doing that.)  This coming Sunday, after you’ve soaked up all the amazing talks, come on back here and join in a conversation with us about your favorite moments and messages from conference.  Then every Sunday a new talk will be posted, and we will study discuss them one at a time. It usually works out just perfectly to get through all the talks before the next conference.  Here’s a button with a code that you’re welcome to grab or pin or whatever best reminds you to join us in carefully studying the prophetic counsel we are given at General Conference.

genconfbutton1


<a href=”https://diapersanddivinity.com/gcbc” _mce_href=”https://diapersanddivinity.com/gcbc”><img border=”0″ src=”https://diapersanddivinity.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/genconfbutton1.jpg” _mce_src=”https://diapersanddivinity.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/genconfbutton1.jpg” /></a>

14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 2

Today we continue our series about Ezra Taft Benson’s classic talk, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” In his own words:

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean “Today’s News Today.” God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each week in the Church Section of the Deseret News and any words of the prophet contained each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the general conference addresses, which are printed in the Ensign magazine.


I am so grateful that the current conference report is studied as part of one of your religion classes—the course entitled “Teachings of the Living Prophets,” number 333. May I commend that class to you and suggest that you get a copy of the class manual at your bookstore whether you’re able to take the class or not. The manual is entitled “Living Prophets for a Living Church.”

Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

President Wilford Woodruff stated: “I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)

President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him:

I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home. . . .Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: “My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.” Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” [In Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78]

Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. We haven’t yet had a prophet who earned a doctorate in any subject, but as someone said, “A prophet may not have his Ph.D. but he certainly has his LDS.” We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you’ll be blessed and time will vindicate you.

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General Conference Preparation Tip: I have collected a large number of resources, including general conference packets for all ages, activities, FHE lessons, etc. on my Pinterest board. ←You can access them by clicking on that link. Just click on any picture, it will appear larger, and then click on it again. It should take you to the original link where you can find printable documents and/or instructions. Jocelyn also has a fantastic collection here.

Tomorrow, I will reintroduce the General Conference Book Club, and invite you to join us.

14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 1

In preparation for General Conference, I wanted to do a series about the importance of heeding the words of our living prophet. It has pained me to see a lot of online and media discussion, both among non-members and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where people freely criticize some of the counsel and direction we have been given by our prophets and apostles. Some people claim that the Church is misguided on certain doctrinal principles that have social and political implications. Others suggest that the prophets are slow in bringing about change that they are sure the Church needs to make. I personally reject this kind of speculation. I think Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing, and I believe the prophets are acting and speaking with authority. I am convinced that when I heed their counsel, I am protected from dark forces that seem to be railing with greater and greater intensity. I really believe that there is safety in their counsel, and I really believe that our prophet is a spokesman for the Lord in as much of a sense as Moses, Noah, Isaiah, Joseph Smith, and other great prophets were in their time.

Anyway, in 1980, Ezra Taft Benson, then a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, gave a devotional at BYU called Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.  It’s a great talk; a classic, really, and it has been on my mind quite a bit. I wanted to share these points two or three at a time. I acknowledge that this is hardly cutting-edge blogging, but I don’t care. I know it won’t generate a lot of traffic or comments, but it felt important to me, so here it is.  In President Benson’s own words, starting with fundamental number one:

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First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet—the President—and says: “There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred.”

Then in section 21, verses 4–6, the Lord states:

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to “give heed unto all his words”—as if from the Lord’s “own mouth.”

Second:The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: “You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.”

When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, “Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.” Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,” said he, “when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.” [In Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18–19]

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At the bottom of each of these “Fourteen Fundamentals” posts, I will be sharing some kind of tip, testimony, or idea to get the most out of General Conference.  The first is a link full of invitations that you can share with friends and family, maybe via email or Facebook or your own blog, to invite them to join us in watching what the Lord is saying today through living prophets.  Here’s a quick glance at the video invitation you can share.

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Family Proclamation Prize Winners:

The winner of the Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy is Karen @ Still Crazy After All These Years.

The winner of the $50 gift certificate for a Family Proclamation Photo Book courtesy of VioVio is Carin @ Building Eternity.

The winner of the gift certificate for the Family Proclamation Photo Art by Family Tree and Me is This LDS Military Wife.

Congratulations to all the winners! Please send an e-mail to Montserrat at chocolateonmycranium {at} live {dot} com to claim your prize.

GCBC Week 1 and contest winners

[image credit: ksl.com]

Wasn’t general conference absolutely wonderful?  So much to love and feel.  The first week of General Conference Book Club is now up and running over at Becca’s blog, My Soul Delighteth (<– Just click right there.).  Don’t be shy.  Head on over and share your favorite conference moments.  I’m headed there next.

Here are the answers and winners of the questions for the general conference guessing game.  Answers are in red, followed by the winner for each question.  If there was more than one winner, then I shuffled them up and picked a winner using random.org.

General Conference Guessing Game

1.  How many new temples do you think will be announced?  None were announced.  😦  The winner with the closest number was Heidi.

2.  What’s your guess for any auxiliaries to be reorganized? (RS, YW, YM, SS, none)  Both RS and presiding bishopric were reorganized.  Oh, how I will miss Sister Beck!  Eight of you guessed right, but the winner was Becky.

3.  Take a guess at one location of a new temple.  Name a state in the US or a country outside of the US.  Again, none, so no winner for this question.

4.  Barring any absence, 11 of the 12 apostles speak in the four Saturday and Sunday sessions. Who’s your guess for the one apostle that only speaks in Priesthood session?  Elder Bednar.  Allyall was the only one who guessed this right.

5.  Who will conduct the first session of conference (Sat. AM)?  President Uchtdorf.  Twelve of you were spot on, and the winner was Mel.

6.  How many members of the church will be announced in the statistical report?  14,441,346 members worldwide.  Becky’s guess came closest.

7.  What color dresses will the women of the Tabernacle Choir wear on Sunday morning?  They wore purple/lavender dresses.  None of us guessed that right, so no winner to that question.

8.  Who will be the first woman to speak in this session of conference?  Sister Cheryl Esplin spoke first.  Shari won this one.

9.  What color tie will President Monson wear on Sunday?  Well, it looked to me like periwinkle :), so I took the three closest answers.  The winner was Lisa.

10.  Make a guess for a congregational hymn that might be sung at any of the four sessions.  There were four congregational hymns:  How Firm a Foundation, Called to Serve, Rejoice the Lord is King, and Hope of Israel.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one got this one right.

Okay, so there ended up being SEVEN question winners.  When they were all entered into a separate drawing, the grand prize winner was:  Mel.  Congratulations!  Send me an email (look up by my profile picture to get the address) and I’ll send you a copy of this great book that includes a couple of my very own essays:

Okay, what are you waiting for?  Head on over to GCBC.  Have a great week, everyone!

GCBC Update

So the countdown is on.  24 hours until General Conference.  So. Excited. (We got tickets to the Saturday AM session, and I can’t wait to take my boys.)

In case you missed it, you still have time to make your guesses for the General Conference guessing game contest.

This Sunday marks the beginning of the SEVENTH round of our semi-annual General Conference Book Club.  It is such a great opportunity to study and review all the talks from our prophets and apostles.  I have been hosting the GCBC here for three years. But because I’m taking a little sabbatical, Becca will be adopting and hosting this next round of GCBC at her blog:  My Soul Delighteth.

She will do a great job with my “baby” and I hope that all of you that have been so faithful in participating will continue to make your contribution there.  I also hope that those of you who keep thinking and trying to participate will take this chance to jump in and be a part of a great discussion and powerful study material.  So starting this Sunday, almost as immediately as conference is over, hop on over to week one of GCBC.  The first week will be a place for you to share your favorite conference moments, thoughts, quotes, topics, talks, etc.: a forum for celebrating what you heard.  Then starting the next Sunday, you’ll go through all the talks one by one.

It’s awesome.  Do it.

And have a FANTASTIC weekend!