President Anderson’s Letter – 26 January 2014

This is the first time I have kept this blog going between missions but I feel that it is important to at least post President’s very spiritual letters each week. While the most important part for me is the missionary experiences he shares, they also contain a teaching section to help the missionaries become more committed and effective. I found this week’s message something that all members  can learn from.

Dear Missionaries,

I hope everyone enjoyed Stake Conference as much as I did. I thing Elder Gay, Sister McConkie, Elder Kopischke, and of course Elder Nelson were talking to our Mission. I loved Elder Nelson’s discourse on doctrine. His description of the Gospel being like a beautiful diamond with 9 facets of doctrine was masterful. These facets of doctrine are what we regularly teach as Representatives of Christ:

Facet # 1- The Godhead

Facet # 2- The Plan of Salvation

Facet # 3- The Atonement

Facet # 4- Dispensation, Apostasy, Restoration

Facet # 5- Prophets and Revelation

Facet # 6- Priesthood and Priesthood Keys

Facet # 7- Ordinances and Covenants

Facet # 8- Marriage and Famil

Facet #- 9 Commandments

We bring people to the knowledge of these Doctrines every day, in fact they all relate to the Doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 32, 3 Nephi 11). As we better understand these Doctrines and teach them by the power of the Spirit, the Church will be enhanced, the people will be motivated and inspired to come to Christ and desire to accomplish “good works”. Elder Ballad explains:

“It seems clear to me, as this great work continues to roll forth, that the leaders of the Church at every level…  need to understand God’s plan for his children and then teach these principles to their people…The building up of the Church will surely be enhanced if all …  will teach the pure, simple, doctrinal truths that bring the children of God to a spiritual understanding. The Lord said: ‘And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom: Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you.’ (D&C 88:77-78)…In my judgment, the greatest motivator that we have in the Church is to have Church members understand the plan of salvation… Every leader should strive to motivate the people to good works by teaching the doctrines of the kingdom. The scriptures are our text, for “in them ye think ye have eternal life.” ( John 5:39)…  From them we glean the truths that will open to us a clear understanding of man’s eternal possibilities.” (M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 1986)

President Uchtdorf teaches us clearly of the “why, what, how” of missionary work. Since missionary work is a function of and directed by Priesthood keys, I inserted “missionary” with “Priesthood”:

“The what is important in our work, and we need to attend to it. But it is in the why of priesthood [missionary] service that we discover the fire, passion, and power of the priesthood [missionary work]…The what of priesthood [missionary] service teaches us what to do. The why inspires our souls…The what informs, but the why transforms…My dear brethren, divine blessings for priesthood [missionary] service are activated by our diligent efforts, our willingness to sacrifice, and our desire to do what is right. Let us be the ones to act and not be acted upon. Preaching is fine, but sermons that do not lead to action are like fires without heat or water that cannot quench thirst… It is in the application of doctrine that the purifying flame of the gospel grows and the power of the priesthood ignites our souls…Thomas Edison, the man who bathed the world in glowing electric light, said that “the value of an idea lies in the using of it.” In a similar way, gospel doctrine becomes more precious when it is put to use.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference April 2012)

Teaching doctrine amplifies the Spirit:

“… we decided that we needed this time tomorrow filled so we needed to Harvest now. We decided that we would be looking for a young family that was really looking to come to Church and turn their lives around, and at first we weren’t having any luck. Then we saw a man on his porch and we offered the blessing. As soon as we said, ‘we are representatives of Jesus Christ’ he started to back off and tried to tell us that he didn’t like Churches. We asked if we could leave a prayer before we leave, He said why not. We left the blessing and the spirit was so strong, you could eat it with a spoon. When we invited him to be baptized he said he had never done that before and thought it was something he wanted. We invited him to church he said he would need a ride and we told him no worries, and when we said that we would be by tomorrow to pick him up he said that he couldn’t make it tomorrow but he was definitely coming. We still felt good on our way back to the car and we took a minute at the car to get a drink of water (because we don’t drink water in the car) and all of the sudden we turn around and there he is. He says ‘after you left I felt like I should have said yes, I haven’t been to church in 10 years, I hated it, but I think it’s something that my family needs. He went to Church and later when we followed up on Monday, he said that that was the First time he remembers really feeling the spirit.”

Teaching Doctrine will help them to keep the commandments:

“His son was baptized in the YSA branch two weeks ago, and when he saw the baptism he told the elders that he wanted to be baptized as well. They passed him to us and we went to visit him. He committed to living the Word of Wisdom at the first visit as he had problems with drinking and smoking. But he was having a hard time keeping his commitment until we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ focusing on the doctrine of being clean before God (3 Nephi 27:19-20)… we were able to connect the dots using doctrine (no unclean thing can dwell with God), principle (be clean by keeping the commandments and being free from addictive substances), and application (live the word of wisdom). He recommitted to keeping the Word of Wisdom and told us a few days later that he had lost all desire to smoke or drink.”

Teaching doctrine will help increase their faith and desire to come to Church:

“Our investigator was SET on getting baptized on the 26th since we harvested him. He accepted everything we taught him and fed us multiple times after lessons. We went to teach him on Saturday and the first thing he told us was that he wouldn’t be able to come to church the next day because his boss told him he had to come into work early. We began to teach simple doctrine that God wanted him at church and that because God is omnipotent, He could make it happen if we prayed and if he acted. We then kneeled and our investigator offered one of the most faith-filled prayers I have ever heard. All four of us had faith that he would make it. However, he didn’t call us or answer our calls; he didn’t answer the door on Sunday morning when we went to round him up. We waited and waited for him at church and just before we gave up on him coming, he rides into the parking lot on his bike! He asked his boss to get the time off and his prayer was answered, he got to attend sacrament and he is so excited to be baptized on the 26th!”

Following the doctrine of faith and the Spirit will lead us to those that need rescue:

“We had set aside an hour and a half on Sunday night to harvest, and we had prayed and felt inspired to go to this complex… As we knock, we look for opportunities to oym, and have a few. Then we knock on a door, and a man opens it and says ‘did my mom send you guys here?’ We respond that she didn’t but that we were here as Representatives of Christ to bless his home. He quickly explains that he is a member and his mom has been trying to get him to go back to church! We go inside and all he asks for in the prayer is to help him get back to church! We had a powerful blessing and he is excited to come to FHE the next day and to church. We said a gratitude prayer and kept going. After 15 or so minutes, we get a call from him. He told us his mom had told him to tell us that she was on her knees at 5:30 pleading that her son would come back in contact with the Church. We knocked his door at 5:45. It was such a powerful experience. He came to [Church] last night and was enveloped by the branch. “

President Uchtdorf teaches us that doctrine, principle, and application (why,what,how) relates to obedience. Elder Nelson taught this as “Facet # 9” with obedience in keeping the commandments:

“While understanding the “what” and the “how” of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the “why.” When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet…Let us not walk the path of discipleship with our eyes on the ground, thinking only of the tasks and obligations before us. Let us not walk unaware of the beauty of the glorious earthly and spiritual landscapes that surround us… The “what” and “how” of obedience mark the way and keep us on the right path. The “why” of obedience sanctifies our actions, transforming the mundane into the majestic. It magnifies our small acts of obedience into holy acts of consecration.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference October 2011)

We will get closer to God as we teach doctrine and follow the doctrine of obedience:

“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;” (D&C 93:1)

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