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This Week from the Pulpit: Elder Holland Details the Course to Christ and Other Messages about the Covenant Path

by | Feb. 14, 2020

Editor's note: "This Week from the Pulpit" highlights recent messages by General Authorities and General Officers of the Church. 

How do we stay on the course to Christ? It seems like there are a myriad of different paths we can take in our lives. Sometimes the road back to Heavenly Father might seem challenging or confusing—we do not know which path to choose. 

This past week, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave messages about simplifying the course to Christ and which path to take. From Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles detailing how to stay on the covenant path to Elder Terence M. Vinson explaining that Heavenly Father is our ever-present guide, here are a few summaries of their messages and other messages shared this last week.  

Elder Jeffery R. Holland, Stanford University Devotional

Church News reported that Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently spoke at an event for young adults at the Stanford University's Memorial Church. Elder Holland’s message echoed the sentiment of the words engraved on the stone walls: “The test of a Christian life lies in deeds and actions. . . . The instinct given to all of God’s children to seek happiness is a proof that happiness is a reality and within the reach of all.”

“The wonderful thing about this invitation to receive [Christ], to come to Him and pursue the fulness of His stature, is that anyone can do it,” Elder Holland said, according to Church News. “In fact, everyone is supposed to do it, with a child being the scriptural example of what success looks like."

Elder Holland also spoke to the effect that every function of the Church moves toward a united goal and purpose. 

“We are here together in the ongoing task of embracing the life and teaching of the Holy One of Israel, of having the image of Christ permanently stamped upon our countenance and His gospel fixed firmly in our hearts. We are here in the ongoing task of making His love, His godliness, His manner our own and to have that characterize the way we live and the way we talk and the way we think and the way we act.”

READ A FULL SUMMARY OF ELDER HOLLAND'S REMARKS AT Church News.

Image: Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 

Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Paul V. Johnson, CES Teacher Devotional

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Paul Johnson, Commissioner of the Church Education System spoke to teachers from Seminaries and Institutes during a Thursday broadcast, “An Evening with a General Authority.” Both Elder Bednar and Elder Johnson shared remarks about revelation, guidance, and the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Elder Bednar spoke about the importance of teaching with the Spirit and ways to be receptive to personal revelation. In order to receive personal revelation, we need our personal companion of the Spirit. Elder Bednar emphasized that moments when we feel guided by the Spirit should be the norm, not the exception.

“As we honor our covenants, we may always have the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion—but we talk about it and we treat it as if hearing the voice of the Lord through His Spirit is the rare event,” Elder Bednar said in reference to the Holy Ghost. 

READ A FULL SUMMARY OF ELDER BEDNAR'S AND ELDER JOHNSON'S REMARKS AT LDS Living.

Image: Broadcast Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Elder Neil L. Andersen, Thailand Ministry

“I want to hug you all or ‘wai’ (Thai bow) to each of you,” Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said on his recent ministering visit to Thailand. 

Church Newsroom Hong Kong reported that Elder and Sister Andersen were only in Thailand for two days but managed to travel all over Bangkok to visit Saints. Elder Andersen spoke about the importance of the temple to members there. Though the Bangkok Thailand Temple is still under construction,  Elder Andersen still encouraged members to prepare themselves for the temple. He emphasized that the most important part of the temple preparation was the spiritual preparedness of the saints. 

Elder Andersen also focused on raising children in the gospel; especially in Thailand where only 0.03% of the population is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “How is it that you believe and so many others do not?” Elder Andersen asked. “Your faith is not in vain…The Church grows slowly but surely in Thailand. We need to do a better job with our children and young people. We must share our testimonies with them.”

Elder Andersen also spoke to 120 missionaries serving in Thailand and Myanmar about the importance of the work they are doing. Where Christianity is the minority, the missionaries have a great responsibility in Thailand. “Here we have to get a conviction of Jesus Christ way down deep into the bones, into the DNA," Elder Andersen said in regards to spreading the Gospel. 

READ A FULL SUMMARY OF ELDER ANDERSEN'S VISIT AT Church Newsroom Hong Kong.

Image: Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 

Sister Sharon Eubank, Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

“First, one seeks to become an artist by training the hand. Then one finds it is the eye that needs improving. Later one learns it is the mind that wants developing, only to find that the ultimate quest of the artist is in the spirit.” This quote by a little-known watercolorist named Larry Brullo was the basis for Sister Sharon Eubank's remarks at  the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts Dallas event, “The Better Part: Women, Art, Faith.” 

Sister Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, spoke of Joseph of Egypt’s decision to forgive his brothers who sold him into slavery. Speaking of the mercy extended by Joseph, Sister Eubank said, “I don’t know what it took. I don’t know if it was hard or easy, but he did it. And he covered over the wounds—the physical wounds and the emotional wounds of being betrayed by his own brothers that he looked up to—and he covered those over with something strong, and he forgave them, and he saved his father’s house.”

Sister Eubank connected scripture to art. She related this story to the Japanese art form called “kintsugi,” which consists of taking broken pottery, piecing it back together, and then filling the broken spaces with gold. When done well, she explained that the broken pieces actually become more valuable than they were beforehand.

“We are all broken and we get to have the chance, like Joseph, to overlay our scars with the gold of forgiveness, the gold of the gospel, the gold of trying to be like Jesus Christ and it makes us stronger and it makes us more valuable,” Sister Eubank said. 

READ A SUMMARY OF SISTER EUBANK'S REMARKS AT LDS Living.

Image: YouTube Screenshot

Sister Harkness, BYU– Idaho Devotional 

Growing up in Southern California, Sister Lisa L. Harkness,  first counselor in the Primary general presidency, was surrounded by Joshua trees and tumbleweeds. Where Joshua trees grow strong, tumbleweeds are tossed around by the wind. 

Church News reported that in a recent devotional to BYU–Idaho students, Sister Harkness compares Joshua trees and tumbleweeds to those that stand fast in their faith and those that do not. The Joshua tree was named by the pioneers traveling through the Mojave Desert after the Old Testament prophet, Joshua. Joshua guided the Israelites across the Jordan River to the promised land. 

Sister Harkness related three spiritual truths to Joshua’s message: choosing to act, choosing to act now, and choosing to serve God. In reference to the importance of agency, Sister Harkness said, “Our whole mortal experience is centered around our agency. It is the engine that facilitates our eternal progression.” 

Choosing whom to serve is a part of our agency and a choice we should not procrastinate. We have the choice to be like the firm Joshua trees and not blow like the tumble weeds. “Choose to stand and be not moved from the roots of your faith and the source of revelation,” Sister Harkness said. “Stand and be not moved from the blessings of your covenants. Stand and be not moved from the work our Father in Heaven has sent you here to do."

READ A SUMMARY OF SISTER HARKNESS' REMARKS AT Church News.

Image: Ericka Sanders, BYU–Idaho

Elder Terence M. Vinson, BYU Devotional 

“The Man from Snowy River,” a poem by Australian bush poet, Banjo Paterson served as inspiration for the 1982 film of the same name and for Elder Terence M. Vinson’s message to BYU students in a recent devotional. The poem tells the story of a cowboy who joins a group of stockmen to round up a prized colt that has joined a pack of brumbies. When the cowboy and stockmen catch up to the herd, all the men except for the cowboy pull back because of pits, loose rocks, and eucalyptus trees that make riding difficult. The cowboy continues ahead because he trusts his horse completely.

Church News reported that Elder Vinson of the Presidency of the Seventy related the story of “The Man from Snowy River” to the need for us to rely upon Heavenly Father. 

“He had absolute faith in his horse. Because they’d worked together for a long time, he knew him perfectly. And his horse was used to this type of terrain and had galloped down mountains like this before,” Elder Vinson said of the fictional cowboy. 

Elder Vinson likened the example of the trusting cowboy and his horse to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father is our trusted guide as we navigate difficult terrain in our lives. 

Elder Vinson said,“We can sometimes feel like we are careening out of control down a mountainside, beset with hidden obstacles. But God has been there and done this before. So why not put our trust in Him — He who knows exactly how to handle it?”

READ A SUMMARY OF ELDER VINSON'S REMARKS AT Church News.

Image: Alyssa Lyman, BYU Photo

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