October 31, 2016

November Visiting Teaching Message 2016

Visiting Teaching Message November 2016

I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel into My Home

First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency

We can bring the light of the gospel into our homes, schools, and workplaces if we look for and share positive things about others.
In response to Sister Linda K. Burton’s invitation at April’s general conference,1 many of you have been involved in thoughtful and generous acts of charity focused on meeting the needs of refugees in your local area. From simple, one-on-one efforts to community-wide programs, those acts are the result of love. As you have shared your time, talents, and resources, your—and the refugees’—hearts have been lightened. The building of hope and faith and even greater love between receiver and giver are inevitable results of true charity.
The prophet Moroni tells us that charity is an essential characteristic of those who will live with Heavenly Father in the celestial kingdom. He writes, “Except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God.”2
Of course, Jesus Christ is the perfect embodiment of charity. His premortal offering to be our Savior, His interactions throughout His mortal life, His supernal gift of the Atonement, and His continual efforts to bring us back to our Heavenly Father are the ultimate expressions of charity. He operates with a singular focus: love for His Father expressed through His love for each of us. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus answered:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”3
One of the most significant ways we can develop and demonstrate love for our neighbor is through being generous in our thoughts and words. Some years ago a cherished friend noted, “The greatest form of charity may be to withhold judgment.”4 That is still true today.
Recently, as three-year-old Alyssa watched a movie with her siblings, she remarked with a puzzled expression, “Mom, that chicken is weird!”
Her mother looked at the screen and responded with a smile, “Honey, that is a peacock.”
Like that unknowing three-year-old, we sometimes look at others with an incomplete or inaccurate understanding. We may focus on the differences and perceived flaws in those around us whereas our Heavenly Father sees His children, created in His eternal image, with magnificent and glorious potential.
President James E. Faust is remembered to have said, “The older I get, the less judgmental I become.”5 That reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s observation:
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became [older], I put away childish things.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”6
When we see our own imperfections more clearly, we are less inclined to view others “through a glass, darkly.” We want to use the light of the gospel to see others as the Savior does—with compassion, hope, and charity. The day will come when we will have a complete understanding of others’ hearts and will be grateful to have mercy extended to us—just as we extend charitable thoughts and words to others during this life.
Some years ago, I went canoeing with a group of young women. The deep blue lakes surrounded by green, thickly forested hills and rocky cliffs were breathtakingly beautiful. The water sparkled on our paddles as we dipped them into the clear water, and the sun shone warmly while we moved smoothly across the lake.
However, clouds soon darkened the sky, and a stiff wind began to blow. To make any progress at all, we had to dig deeply into the water, paddling without pausing between strokes. After a few grueling hours of backbreaking work, we finally turned the corner on the large lake and discovered to our amazement and delight that the wind was blowing in the direction we wanted to go.
Quickly, we took advantage of this gift. We pulled out a small tarp and tied two of its corners to paddle handles and the other corners to my husband’s feet, which he stretched out over the gunwales of the canoe. The wind billowed the improvised sail, and we were off!
When the young women in the other canoes saw how we moved along the water with ease, they quickly improvised sails of their own. Our hearts were light with laughter and relief, grateful for the respite from the challenges of the day.
How like that glorious wind can be the sincere compliment of a friend, the cheerful greeting of a parent, the approving nod of a sibling, or the helpful smile of a co-worker or classmate, all supplying fresh “wind in our sails” as we battle the challenges of life! President Thomas S. Monson put it this way: “We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude.”7
Words have surprising power, both to build up and to tear down. We can all probably remember negative words that brought us low and other words spoken with love that made our spirits soar. Choosing to say only that which is positive about—and to—others lifts and strengthens those around us and helps others follow in the Savior’s way.

As a young Primary girl, I worked diligently to cross-stitch a simple saying which read, “I will bring the light of the gospel into my home.” One weekday afternoon as we girls pulled our needles up and down through the fabric, our teacher told us the story of a girl who lived on a hill on one side of a valley. Each late afternoon she noticed on the hill on the opposite side of the valley a house that had shining, golden windows. Her own home was small and somewhat shabby, and the girl dreamed of living in that beautiful house with windows of gold.
One day the girl was given permission to ride her bike across the valley. She eagerly rode until she reached the house with the golden windows that she had admired for so long. But when she dismounted from her bike, she saw that the house was abandoned and dilapidated, with tall weeds in the yard and windows that were plain and dirty. Sadly, the girl turned her face toward home. To her surprise, she saw a house with shining, golden windows on the hill across the valley and soon realized it was her very own home!8
Sometimes, like this young girl, we look at what others might have or be and feel we are less in comparison. We become focused on the Pinterest or Instagram versions of life or caught up in our school’s or workplace’s preoccupation with competition. However, when we take a moment to “count [our] many blessings,”9 we see with a truer perspective and recognize the goodness of God to allof His children.
Whether we are 8 or 108, we can bring the light of the gospel into our own environment, be it a high-rise apartment in Manhattan, a stilt house in Malaysia, or a yurt in Mongolia. We can determine to look for the good in others and in the circumstances around us. Young and not-so-young women everywhere can demonstrate charity as they choose to use words that build confidence and faith in others.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told of a young man who was the brunt of his peers’ teasing during his school years. Some years later he moved away, joined the military, received an education, and became active in the Church. This period of his life was marked with wonderfully successful experiences.
After several years he returned to his hometown. However, the people refused to acknowledge his growth and improvement. To them, he was still just old “so-and-so,” and they treated him that way. Eventually, this good man faded away to a shadow of his former successful self without being able to use his marvelously developed talents to bless those who derided and rejected him once again.10 What a loss, both for him and the community!
The Apostle Peter taught, “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”11Fervent charity, meaning “wholehearted,” is demonstrated by forgetting the mistakes and stumblings of another rather than harboring grudges or reminding ourselves and others of imperfections in the past.
Our obligation and privilege is to embrace improvement in everyoneas we strive to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a thrill it is to see light in the eyes of someone who has come to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is making real changes in his or her life! Missionaries who have experienced the joy of seeing a convert enter the waters of baptism and then enter the doors of the temple are witnesses of the blessing of allowing—and encouraging—others to change. Members who welcome converts who might have been considered unlikely candidates for the kingdom find great satisfaction in helping them feel the love of the Lord. The great beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the reality of eternal progression—we are not only allowed to change for the better but also encouraged, and even commanded, to continue in the pursuit of improvement and, ultimately, perfection.
President Thomas S. Monson counseled: “In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. … Rather than being judgmental [or] critical of [one] another, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her [or his] best to deal with the challenges which come [her or his] way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.”12
Charity, in positive terms, is patient, kind, and content. Charity puts others first, is humble, exercises self-control, looks for good in others, and rejoices when someone does well.13
As sisters (and brothers) in Zion, will we commit to “all work together … to do whatsoever is gentle and human, to cheer and to bless in [the Savior’s] name”?14 Can we, with love and high hopes, look for and embrace the beauties in others, allowing and encouraging progress? Can we rejoice in the accomplishments of others while continuing to work toward our own improvement?
Yes, we can bring the light of the gospel into our homes, schools, and workplaces if we look for and share positive things about others and let the less-than-perfect fade away. What gratitude fills my heart when I think of the repentance that our Savior, Jesus Christ, has made possible for all of us who have inevitably sinned in this imperfect and sometimes difficult world!
I bear my witness that as we follow His perfect example, we can receive the gift of charity, which will bring us great joy in this life and the promised blessing of eternal life with our Father in Heaven. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“Into My Home”


Peace and tranquility
finding roots within
3 years olds to 16
terrors with legs/arms
children to be loved
precious ones of Father
our responsibility always
in this mortal estate
teaching lifelong lessons
repeatable and righteous
into my home this love
peace and tranquility
will I bring this day!

Copyright © 2016 – cji

Home Teaching Message November 2016

The Righteous Judge

Of the Presidency of the Seventy

There is only one way to judge righteous judgment, as Jesus Christ does, and that is to be as He is.
In His mortal life, Jesus Christ was a loving judge, uncommonly wise and patient. He is known in the scriptures as “the righteous judge” (2 Timothy 4:8; Moses 6:57), and His counsel to us is to also “judge righteous judgment” (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:1–2 [in Matthew 7:1, footnote a]) and to “put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good … [and] to judge righteously” (D&C 11:12).
This counsel to the Nephite Twelve will help us judge as the Lord does: “Ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27; emphasis added). We sometimes forget that when He gave the counsel to be as He is, it was in the context of how to judge righteously.

Unrighteous Judgment

A shameful example of unrighteous judgment comes from the parable of the lost sheep, when the Pharisees and scribes ill-judged both the Savior and His dinner company, saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2)—they were oblivious to the fact that they were sinners themselves. Possessed of condemning hearts, the scribes and Pharisees never knew the joy of rescuing lost sheep.
It was also “the scribes and Pharisees” who brought “a woman taken in adultery” (John 8:3) to the Savior to see if He would judge her according to the law of Moses (see verse 5). You know the rest of the story, how He humbled them for their unrighteous judgment and how they were “convicted by their own conscience” and departed “one by one” (verse 9; emphasis added). He then said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. And the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on his name” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 8:11 [in John 8:11, footnote c]).
The natural man and woman in each of us has a tendency to condemn others and to judge unrighteously, or self-righteously. This even happened to James and John, two of the Savior’s Apostles. They were infuriated when the people of a Samaritan village treated the Savior disrespectfully (see Luke 9:51–54):
“And when [they] saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
“But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
“For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (verses 54–56).
Today’s “common judge[s]” (D&C 107:74), our bishops and branch presidents, should avoid any similar impulse to condemn, as James and John did on that occasion. A righteous judge would respond to confessions with compassion and understanding. An erring youth, for example, should leave the bishop’s office feeling the love of the Savior through the bishop and enveloped in the joy and healing power of the Atonement—never shamed or held in contempt. Otherwise, the bishop may unwittingly drive the lost sheep further into the wilderness (see Luke 15:4).


However, compassion doesn’t nullify the need for discipline. The word discipline comes from the Latin word discere, “to learn,” or discipulus, “learner,” making a disciple a student and follower.1 To discipline in the Lord’s way is to lovingly and patiently teach. In the scriptures the Lord often uses the word chasten when speaking of discipline (see, for example, Mosiah 23:21; D&C 95:1). The word chasten comes from the Latin castus, meaning “chaste or pure,” and chasten means “to purify.”2
In the world, it is an earthly judge who condemns a man and lockshim in prison. In contrast, the Book of Mormon teaches us that when we willfully sin, we become our “own judges” (Alma 41:7) and consign ourselves to spiritual prison. Ironically, the common judge in this case holds the keys that unlock the prison gates; “for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation” (D&C 95:1; emphasis added). The proceedings of a righteous judge are merciful, loving, and redemptive, not condemning.
Young Joseph Smith was disciplined with a four-year probation before obtaining the golden plates, “because you have not kept the commandments of the Lord.”3 Later, when Joseph lost the 116 manuscript pages, he was disciplined again. Though Joseph was truly remorseful, the Lord still withdrew his privileges for a short season because “whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven” (D&C 95:1).
Joseph said, “The angel was rejoiced when he gave me back the Urim and Thummim and said that God was pleased with my faithfulness and humility, and loved me for my penitence and diligence in prayer.”4 Because the Lord wanted to teach Joseph a heart-changing lesson, He required a heartrending sacrifice of him—sacrifice being an essential part of discipline.


“In ancient days, sacrifice meant to make something or someone holy,”5 which links it, in an interdependent way, to the definition of the word chasten—“to purify.” Likewise, in ancient Israel, forgivenesscame through a sin or trespass offering, or sacrifice.6 The sacrifice not only “point[ed] to that great and last sacrifice” (Alma 34:14) but also helped engender a deeper sense of gratitude for the Savior’s Atonement. An unwillingness to sacrifice as part of our penitence mocks or belittles Christ’s greater sacrifice for the same sin and trivializes His suffering—a callous sign of ingratitude.
On the other hand, through the sweet irony of sacrifice, we actually gain something of eternal worth—His mercy and forgiveness and eventually “all that [the] Father hath” (D&C 84:38). As part of the repentance process, sacrifice also acts as a healing balm to help replace “remorse of conscience” (Alma 42:18) with “peace of conscience” (Mosiah 4:3). Without sacrifice, a person may find it hard to forgive himself or herself, because of a lingering consciousness of something withheld.7

The Parent as a Righteous Judge

While few of us will be called to be common judges, the principles of righteous judgment apply to all of us, especially to parents who have a daily opportunity to use these principles with their children. To effectively teach a child is the very essence of good parenting, and to lovingly discipline is the very essence of being a righteous judge.
President Joseph F. Smith taught, “If children are defiant and difficult to control, be patient with them until you can conquer by love, … and you can then [mold] their characters as you please.”8
It is insightful that in teaching how to discipline, the prophets seem to always refer to Christlike attributes. The Doctrine and Covenantsgives us this well-known advice on discipline:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love” (D&C 121:41–43).
This scripture teaches us to reprove “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” not when moved upon by anger. The Holy Ghost and anger are incompatible because “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger” (3 Nephi 11:29). President George Albert Smith taught that “unkind things are not usually said under the inspiration of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is a spirit of kindness; it is a spirit of patience; it is a spirit of charity and love and forbearance and long suffering. …
“… But if we have the spirit of fault finding … in a destructive manner, that never comes as a result of the companionship of the Spirit of our Heavenly Father and is always harmful.
“… Kindness is the power that God has given us to unlock hard hearts and subdue stubborn souls.”9

Our Children’s True Identity

When the Savior visited the Nephites, He did something extraordinary with the children:
“And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude … , and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things. …
“… And they both saw and heard these children; yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things” (3 Nephi 26:14, 16).
Perhaps more than opening the mouths of babes, the Lord was opening the eyes and ears of their astonished parents. Those parents had been granted the extraordinary gift of a glimpse into eternity and of beholding the true identity and premortal stature of their children. Would that not forever change the way the parents sawand treated their children? I like this variation of a quote attributed to Goethe: “The way you see [a child] is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is [who] they [will] become.”10 To remember a child’s true identity is a gift of foresight that divinely inspires the vision of a righteous judge.


President Thomas S. Monson has taught us, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.”11How vital that principle is in becoming righteous judges, especially with our own children.
There is only one way to judge righteous judgment, as Jesus Christ does, and that is to be as He is. Therefore, “what manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
NOTES 1. See “disciple,” etymonline.com. 2. See Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (2003), “chasten.” 3. Karen Lynn Davidson and others, eds., Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832–1844, vol. 1 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers (2012), 83. 4. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 71; emphasis added. 5. Guide to the Scriptures, “Sacrifice,” scriptures.lds.org. 6. See Bible Dictionary, “Sacrifices.” 7. The sacrifice we offer on the altar of the sacrament table each week is a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see 2 Nephi 2:7; 3 Nephi 9:20; Doctrine and Covenants 59:8). A broken heart is a repentant heart; a contrite spirit is an obedient spirit (see D. Todd Christofferson, “When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 12). 8. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 299. 9. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith (2011), 225, 226, 228; emphasis added. 10. Attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, brainyquote.com. 11. Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 86.

“How To Become Like He Is”


Foregoing the worldly example
becoming as the Savior is
this our goal in the mortality
raising the bar in all way today
rejecting the evil found in anger
rejoicing in the love of forgiveness
reaching out to all within pure love
learning and growing within/without
how to become as he is this hour
truly the way has been shown
for us simply to be obedient!

Copyright © 2016 – cji