Weeping along with God

IOne of the most remarkable passages of scripture is that found in the dialogue between Enoch and God found in Chapter 7 of the Book of Moses. Indeed, I recently read Terryl Givens remarkable book “The God Who Weeps” which takes its title and central message from this powerful passage. The God revealed by the Prophet Joseph Smith is one that takes an active part of the world he has created and is far from the detached God of Deist conception. Indeed, God is not removed from feeling sorrow and sadness or happiness and joy! 

 

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon theresidue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

 29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

 30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

 31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace,justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?

 32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

 34 And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them.

 35 Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.

 36 Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all thecreations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.

 37 But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?

 

There is a stereotype in our culture that crying is not ‘masculine’ and that men should not cry. However, if the God of the universe is not beyond feeling sorrow and crying, neither should we be. Christ likewise wept on several occasions including the death of Lazarus and from joy during his visit to the Nephites.

I’ve been thinking a lot about crying, because I have noticed recently that since my conversion and baptism and especially since my mission I find it much easier to tear up when reading particularly happy or sad stories. Indeed, I have become a bit of a sucker for emotional movies that I once would have viewed as emotionally manipulative and really disliked ( Things like Charly or a Walk to Remember come to mind). When I read  in the Ensign stories of converts who struggle alone in the church until miraculously their families hearts are softened, I begin to tear up with great ease. In the past few weeks, reading the profiles of those precious children lost at Sandy Hook also brought many tears of sorrow to my eyes.

One experience early on in my mission really stands out to me in this regard: One day, we were tracting in part of our area without a lot of success. A man opened the door and it was immediately obvious that he was in a bad mood. Indeed, when I mentioned that I was a missionary, he began to criticize and exclaim how he does not believe in God. I asked him why, and he explained that his wife had recently tragically died and therefore he knew God could not exist. He quickly slammed the door before I could say too much more. My companion and I began to walk away, when I was overwhelmed with a sense of love and compassion that brought tears to my eyes. I could feel how much God loved that man and also knew that his wife was up in heaven looking down upon her husband with tears of compassion. I felt strongly prompted to knock on his door again, and when he opened I bore testimony that I knew his wife loved him and that he could once again see her again. He was stunned when I told him that and was obviously moved almost to tears. I asked him for his phone number to try to follow up with him, and he give it to me and then closed the door. He never actually answered the phone or agreed to meet with us, but it was still one of those experiences that I will never forget because of the empathy and love that I felt for this complete stranger.

I’d been thinking a lot about how becoming more like Christ inevitably involves also feeling more empathy and more “Sorrow For Sin,” when I stumbled upon a the words of an Apostle (Marvin j. Ashton) which clearly labels the ability to cry as a gift of the Spirit!

“Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.”

Whenever we are able to feel compassion and charity that is a gift from God. Another favorite scripture comes to mind (Moroni 7:48)

 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

I’ve noticed that as I grow in love towards someone, my feelings of charity and empathy tend to grow. Recently, my Fiance had a minor procedure done to her foot and was in quite a bit of pain. As I comforted her and gave her a blessing, I could literally feel some of the pain that she was feeling. That pain made me want to hold her a bit closer and to comfort her as much as possible. I can only imagine what God, who loves each of us perfectly, must feel when we suffer.

As we grow to become more like God, our bowls will be filled with mercy and charity towards all.

 

Why I didn’t wear Purple to Church today- A Call for Charity (Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8)

Why I didn’t wear Purple to Church today- A Call for Charity (Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8)

Today was Wear Pants to Church day sponsored by a group of Mormon Feminists. Guys were encouraged to wear purple ties in solidarity. Even though I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with girls wearing pants to church,  I intentionally did not wear a purple tie because I do not support the making of political statements during church meetings.  I thought a lot  todayb about why I didn’t support this movement even though I am at least in theory supportive of some of their aims ( elimination of harmful cultural stereotypes ( not doctrine) that hinders the growth of the church), and I came up with two pretty big reasons 
 
1) Sacrament meeting is the most sacred meeting in the Church and where we come together to focus on the Savior of the World. it is absolutely not a place for political statements.  Today, just knowing that this movement was going on actively distracted me from focusing on and enjoying the sacrament. Every time I saw someone in purple I wondered to myself if they were wearing it intentionally or accidentally. Likewise, every time I saw a sister I looked to see if she was wearing pants or a skirt. Instead of fostering equality this generated (at least in me) an Us v. Them mentality that did not promote the spirit.  ( In the Family Ward I attended today in Draper no women wore pants. A few girls wore purple but that could have been coincidence. One guy wore a purple jacket and I did see a few purpleish ties but I don’t know if this was deliberate or not).
 
 
2)I am completely supportive of girls choosing to wear pants if they truly believe that pants are their ‘Sunday best.’ The Church doctrine is supportive or at least not hostile to them wearing pants. If that’s the case then why be so concerned about some people in the church that are less comfortable with it. At the very least, such a focus on the opinions of others and the open desire to be provocative that some displayed is petty and takes away from the reason we come to Church. Of course, it would be better if members ignored fashion and gossip all together and focused on the gospel. However, each one of us is responsible only for his  or her own conduct. We can choose to not be offended when others are petty and focus on the trivial. We can do so by bearing testimony and loving. The best way to show that wearing pants is normal would be to be the best members of the church we can be and to not engage in discussion over what we wear to church but instead to focus on the savior of the world and his atoning sacrifice. 
 
3) Ultimately, my deeper concern that underlies my feeling is that to me this whole movement comes across as very selfish and me centered. Simply put, if you are going to church each week thinking about yourself and how you can be affirmed and empowered, you are doing something wrong! We go to church to partake of the sacrament with humble hearts and contrite spirits. We go to church to serve others and to edify our brothers and sister. When we lose ourself in service of others, that is precisely the moment when we most fully grow ourselves. The Church isn’t there to serve our needs, but to allow us an opportunity to serve others.
 
When I started in the church a couple of years ago I was focused on myself. I tried to find the most creative ties I could to show off my style ( Van Gogh or Klimt ties for instance). I often wore colored shirts because I wanted to show that I was creative and not a follower. I tried to make the most creative comments I could in class to show off how smart I was. One day, one of the gospel essentials teachers, who was a really good friend of mine, pulled me a side and told me how my comments sometimes made it hard for her to teach the new people that came to church seeking edification. From that day forward, I really switched my mentality. Instead of thinking of showing off my smarts, I became focused on helping others. Every time I raised my hand I prayed to God that he would help me to edify someone else through my comment. I realized that white shirts and ties are what we wear in order to be unified ( similar to how we all wear white in the temple) and to allow us to not be distracted by superficial things and to focus on the sacrament. It is counter intuitive in a way, but having a pseudo dress code actually means that the focus on church becomes less on fashion and more on the sacred ordinances. If everyone goes along with it, then we do not have to think about it (as I had to today in church) while partaking of the sacrament and listening to talks. There is one less point of contention and one less distraction. If everyone goes along with it, such a standard promotes the reverent partaking of the sacrament. 
 
 
Indeed,  I think those that are arguing that there is nothing wrong with wearing pants to church en masse are really missing the point. In church, anything we do purposefully or even simply knowingly to upset, provoke or distract our brothers and sisters is wrong. 
 
The apostle Paul grappled with many similar issues as the early church was divided as to whether or not to eat (certain types of) meat. Purists decried those that would eat unclean meats and some even advocated vegetarianism. Likewise, many realized that because of Christ all meat had become pure and Kosher for consumption and viewed these purists as opposed to the spirit of the gospel. Paul, however, was much more disturbed by the dissension and contention that filled the church than the actual resolution of the doctrinal question. He was horrified to see some members of the church of Christ judging each other and others engaging in provocative acts that caused their weaker brothers and sisters to stumble. I  heartily recommend reading Romans 14 in Full because it is a truly provocative argument that those on both sides of the pants debate would do well to head…I made my own paraphrase here attempting to make it relevant to the present debate.
 
 “10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy (outfit), now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy (clothing), for whom Christ died.

16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

17 For the kingdom of God is not (pants and skirts); but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

20 For (pants) destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who (weareth )with offence.

21 It is good neither to (wear pants), nor to (wear purple ties), nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

23 And he that doubteth is damned if he (weareth), because he (weareth) not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

 
1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”

 
Paul understood that in the Church of Christ we are to be more focused on the well-being of our brother and sisters then ourselves. If wearing pants angers, upsets and drives people away from Christ then it is wrong. LIkewise, if criticizing those who wear pants offends and drives people away from the church, that is also wrong. Both sides are in error for focusing on themselves rather than on edifying  and helping others. Paul is urging a spirit of loving kindness and charity.  I was of course disappointed with the vitriol that those promoting the day encountered on Facebook (including Death Threats!), but two wrongs clearly does not make a right. Both parties are wrong if they act knowing that they will take people away from Christ. 
 
We need to be ready to put aside our pride and echo the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 8: 8-13 (Again additions mine and I recommend reading the original)
 
 8 But (pants) commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we (wear), are we the better; neither, if we (wear) not, are we the worse.

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit (in pants )in the (lord’s) temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to (do) those things which are (contrary to the sabbath day);

11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

13 Wherefore, if pants make my brother to offend, I will (wear no pants) while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

 
It doesn’t matter who is right, just as to Paul it didn’t really matter that meat was technically acceptable according to the gospel of Christ. What mattered was that these issues were sources of contention. Each side of the debate needs to choose to be Christlike regardless of the actions of others. We can choose to not be offended or to take offense. Choose to hold our tongues or choose to accept criticism constructively even when mean spirited or harsh. In short, what we all need is Charity, the pure love of Christ and love for our fellow man. 

Love One Another: Mormons and Gays a big step forward

I really like the new website that the church put out this week www.MormonsandGays.org. I have been asked by non-member friends all week what this site means and what its significance is, and at first my reaction was actually kind of indifferent. When I looked at just the text on the website I didn’t see anything all that different from what the Church has been saying for the four years since I have been involved with it. I enjoyed the focus on compassion as well as the clear articulation of the Church’s stance at the top of the page and the plea to parents and families to not shun or disown children, but didn’t really think that this was a big change.

However, because of my busy week with law school finals, today was the first time I had a chance to sit down and really watch all the video clips that were put up and I was pretty impressed with the quality and emotional depth of the stories. Just as with Mormon.Org, the Church seems to be going out of the way to emphasize diversity and variety of member experiences. These people speaking are not cookie cutter members. There are family members that speak about how the dealt with the news that their children and grand children are gay, members that went inactive for years as part of the gay subculture and those that fully remained active never wavering. There one gay guy that is now happily married to a woman of the opposite sex and another gay guy who left his wife before eventually making it back to the church. It’s pretty refreshing to see the church not take a one sized fits all approach to dealing with this difficult topic.

 

I was equally impressed by the video clips of the Apostles that are featured. These man are so filled with love and compassion as they speak and it is obvious that THEY GET IT. Back when Same Sex Marriage was an issue that almost kept me from accepting Church doctrine this was one of the most important things for me to understand and feel. These twelve men are truly called of God and understand what a difficult topic this is for members and non-members across the world .

 

Elder Cook movingly talks about his experience as a Stake President in San Francisco during the AIDS epidemic and then adds this beautiful statement:

 

I think the lesson that I learned from that is that as a Church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. No family who has anybody who has a same-gender issue should exclude them from the family circle. They need to be part of the family circle. Do we teach the Proclamation on the Family, do we teach Heavenly Father’s plan, do we teach the first chapter in the second handbook, yes we do. We have a plan of salvation. And having children come into our lives is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. But let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion, and outreach to those and lets not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender. I’m sorry, I feel very strongly about this as you can tell. I think it’s a very important principle.”

Likewise, Elder Christofferson shares his prayer for increased empathy and understanding:

Our hope is that with this site, and other endeavors we might make, that empathy will grow in families where a member of the family says “I’ve got same-sex attraction we need to deal with this.” And that empathy will grow on that part of that individual as well who can sense what this means for the other members of the family, the distress the parents may feel for example. With time, with love, with diligent effort and listening to one another there can be accommodations made and resolutions found that protect the integrity of the family and each member of the family.

“I think what’s critical is that we try to resolve this in patience and with a divine perspective, not trying to dictate to God how and what His answers will be to our prayers or when and how He might intervene in this situation, but trying to achieve and understand His perspective on things so that everyone’s desire is to do what the Lord would want done, to do it in the Lord’s way, and not one’s own way, and not simply to be thinking of one’s own feelings exclusively. And that might work out differently in one family than another. We’re trying to communicate that our love is inclusive, that we want to have the family remain intact, and the relationships we’ve treasured over the years to remain and to grow. So there will be some work to be done but its work that ought to always be with the question, ‘what does the Lord want, how would He have us do this together?’”

These are beautiful and powerful remarks and I hope that they and this site will begin a transition towards greater love and tolerance on the part of members. I hope that we can take from the example of these servants of the Lord and put behind us or prejudice and hatred in order to become true and charitable disciples of Christ. If we do so, I know that many more members when faced with a difficult trial of faith will feel welcome and loved and be able to remain in the Church and in the Gospel.

Conducted after the workings of the spirit

Conducted After the Workings of the Spirit.

In Moroni Chapter 6, Moroni looks back at the Church of Christ that led to hundreds of years of peace on the American Continent. He gives us advice that is very relevant to the Church in our days and filled with insight that would strengthen our words and branches. I see his counsel echoing the wise instruction of the Apostles and Prophets urging us to baptize converts that are truly converted, fellowship those that enter the fold, and to have the spirit present in our meetings.

True Conversion

 1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.

2 Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.3 And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.

In my mission and missions across the world, converts are baptized well before they are ready to take that sacred step. Perhaps they came to church and ‘felt something’ that they liked, perhaps they fell in love with a particular missionary or felt good around him or her. People make the choice to be baptized for many different reasons. However, only a true conversion to the gospel evidenced by a broken heart and a contrite spirit as well as fruits of repentance and a determination to serve God to the end can lead to abiding fellowship and membership in the church and the covenant.
Elder Hales exhorted each of us to ensure that those that we help prepare for baptism ( be it our children, or friends and neighbors) truly understand the commitment they are making (The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom and Of the Kingdom, October 2000 General Conference)
“We cannot take lightly the law given to us to teach our children the doctrine of repentance; faith in Christ, the Son of the living God; and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands when eight years old, which is the age of accountability appointed by God. We need to do a better job of teaching our children and our grandchildren to understand what it means to enter the kingdom of God, for we will be held accountable. Many members of the Church do not fully understand what happened when they went into the waters of baptism. It is very important for us to understand the marvelous gift of the remission of sins, but there is much more. Do you understand and do your children understand that when they are baptized they are changed forever? Adult converts to the Church often have a better understanding of this transformation because they feel the contrast as they come out of the world into the kingdom of God.

When we are baptized, we take upon ourselves the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Taking upon us His name is one of the most significant experiences we have in life. Yet sometimes we pass through that experience without having a full understanding…..

How many of our children—how many of us—really understand that when we were baptized we took upon us not only the name of Christ but also the law of obedience?I urge all parents to prepare your children, and missionaries to prepare your converts, for the sacred baptismal ordinance. Teach of its significance so that their baptism will be impressed upon their spiritual memory for the rest of their lives. Take them to sacrament meeting weekly to renew their baptismal covenants through the ordinance of the sacrament. Be a good example for them to follow. Teach them that because of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the way they look at the things of the world should change. A mighty change must take place in their hearts and in their minds so they will be able to turn from temptations of the world and from that time forward put their “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2) into being citizens in the kingdom of God.”
Nourishment by the good word of God

4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.

Everyone of course remembers President Hinckley’s plea that every recent convert be given: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with “the good word of God.” In my mission we were woefully inadequate at doing so. New Converts went for months without a calling and without friendship outside of the full time missionaries. Bishops/branch presidents would regard callings as a gift that needed to be reserved for those that ‘earned’ their trust rather than an opportunity to help strengthen a new members testimony. So many wonderful people fell away due to the return of old habits and the pressures of family and friends.  Sadly, when a new convert would make a mistake members would be judgmental rather than loving.  How dramatic would be the growth in the church if we took to heart Moroni and President Hinckley’s plea and truly strove to accept, love and integrate these new coverts.

Moroni suggests that we can do better if we truly love these new converts and exhort them to remember the savior and rely on him. We can help people be truly anchored in the gospel and in the church. Moroni’s words of forgiveness are also very critical in our ever diversifying and growing Church.

7 And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of the church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ.8 But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.

I am reminded of President Uchtdorf’s eloquent evocation
“I am deeply impressed by the way our Church members extend themselves to others. As we hear of your selfless sacrifice and overwhelming compassion, our hearts swell with gratitude and happiness. You are a shining light to the world, and you are known for your goodness and compassion all around the globe.

Unfortunately, from time to time we also hear of Church members who become discouraged and subsequently quit coming to and participating in our Church meetings because they think they don’t fit in….

I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home….
I am not suggesting that we accept sin or overlook evil, in our personal life or in the world. Nevertheless, in our zeal, we sometimes confuse sin with sinner, and we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion. We know from modern revelation that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” 4 We cannot gauge the worth of another soul any more than we can measure the span of the universe. Every person we meet is a VIP to our Heavenly Father. Once we understand that, we can begin to understand how we should treat our fellowmen. ” (You are my Hands, April 2010 General Conference)

After the manner of the workings of the spirit

5 And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.6 And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.9 And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.

It’s no secret that at times our church meetings can be dull, dry, formulaic and predictable.  I firmly believe that what Spencer W. Kimball was right when he said that he had never been to a boring sacrament meeting. So much of what we can get from our church meetings is based on what we bring. We can receive personal revelation in even a very dull and poorly prepared lesson as illustrated by this story told by Elder Scott
“Subsequently, I visited the Sunday School class in our ward, where a very well-educated teacher presented his lesson. That experience was in striking contrast to the one enjoyed in the priesthood meeting. It seemed to me that the instructor had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to illustrate the principles of the lesson. I had the distinct impression that this instructor was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge. At any rate, he certainly did not seem as intent on communicating principles as had the humble priesthood leader.

In that environment, strong impressions began to flow to me again. I wrote them down. The message included specific counsel on how to become more effective as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I received such an outpouring of impressions that were so personal that I felt it was not appropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location, where I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately expressed them in writing. As a result, I made a few minor changes to what had been written. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own life.

Subsequently I prayed, reviewing with the Lord what I thought I had been taught by the Spirit. When a feeling of peace came, I thanked Him for the guidance given. I was then impressed to ask, “Was there yet more to be given?” I received further impressions, and the process of writing down the impressions, pondering, and praying for confirmation was repeated. Again I was prompted to ask, “Is there more I should know?” And there was. When that last, most sacred experience was concluded, I had received some of the most precious, specific, personal direction one could hope to obtain in this life. Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance.” ( To Acquire Spiritual Guidance; October 2009)

This is true, and I bear testimony that we can always seek revelation if we are seeking it. HOWEVER, it is also equally true that our church meetings would be even more uplifiting, revelatory and inspiring if we more frequently followed the admonition of Moroni and conducted our meetings after the workings of the spirit.
I recently had two really great experiences that illustrated this principle and showed me once again that those men called of God to lead this Church truly understand the Gospel and are urging us to emulate them and the savior more fully.
In October, I went to New York and Boston for a couple of days. I had the opportunity to attend the University Ward in Cambridge and that evening attend a fireside hosted by Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Anderson spoke about receiving the promptings of the spirit and following his guidance. However, what impressed me was how he illustrated this principle in his talk. On the stand sat his wife as well as several bishops and stake presidents from the area. Elder Anderson got up to talk and said that he felt prompted to try something a bit different. He called upon those that he knew in the audience ( including my bishop Roger Porter who was sitting in the back of the audience and had not been told in advance that he would speak- indeed none of them had been told in advance) to come up and share an experience or teach about a particular principle relating to revelation. What amazed me was how beautifully the spirit led the meeting and how the various short talks from about 10 different people came together like a symphony to illustrate gospel principles. It was actually similar to the experience at general conference when dozens of talks are not coordinated in advance but yet are able to compliment each other so beautifully.
A few weeks ago, we had a stake conference here in Provo and Bishop Dean M. Davies of the President Bishopric presided over the meeting. As I came in to the sacrament hall, Bishop Davies was walking around and shaking hands with members and find out where they were from and about them. This seemed like a pretty standard practice and I didn’t think much of it until halfway through the meeting Bishop Davies said that he would call on some people that he had met earlier to get up and bear their testimony of the savior.  He chose a few of those with whom he had spoken and invited them to bear a short testimony of the savior. These were very sweet and powerful testimonies and it brought the spirit quite powerfully. Again, these short testimonies really complimented his overall message and left a deep impression.
I love how these two general authorities are leading by example by following the promptings of the spirit and conducting after the manner of the spirit. I hope that Bishops and Stake Presidents will continue to take inspiration from these men and learn how to conduct with spontaneity and spiritual power. I know that as we strive to have the spirit more ever present in our meetings, our communities will improve as we are more fully led by the spirit of God.