Back in January I mentioned that Carol and I started reading Elder Lund’s new book, Hearing the Voice of the Lord. This is one that we chose to read out loud together at the end of each day. We discuss what we read so we are only halfway through the book even though we have been reading it for over two months. Sometimes a few pages read aloud and discussed together are better than whole chapters read silently alone.
I have come to the conclusion that the book is not just good. I pronounce it a masterpiece. It is destined to become a classic. Obviously Elder Lund knows how to write. Which General Authority other than Elder McConkie and Elder Maxwell has written so many books? Of course, The Work and the Glory series of books are not doctrinal treatises but historical novels. Nevertheless, the man is a skilled writer and this book proves it.
Prior to reading Elder Lund’s book on “Principles and Patterns of Personal Revelation,” my favorite book on the subject was “The Holy Ghost” by Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet (Bookcraft 1989). My copy of that book has been marked and highlighted as the results of many readings. I anticipate Elder Lund’s book will soon receive the same treatment. That replaced my earliest book on the subject, N. B. Lundwall’s “Discourses on the Holy Ghost.”
Elder Lund’s book is still in the Top Ten of the bestsellers list at Deseret Book. It was number one for several months. Marketing and name recognition got it there but the content is going to keep it there for a long time to come. Elder Lund wrote an article about the book that contains a great overview of the contents so I won’t duplicate any of that here. I would like to share just one story that touched me deeply and comment on one principle that I have learned from his book. It was a major ‘aha’ moment for me.
Choosing a new Stake President
I had long wondered about the process of choosing a new Stake President. I listened carefully as it was explained by the outgoing Stake President, but still wondered why I was being interviewed. Even though I was a member of the High Council, I knew I was not the man. I dutifully went to the interview and was asked two questions. “Tell me about your family.” and “Who do you think should be the next Stake President?” were the only questions that were asked (OK, so one wasn’t a question – it was more of a command). Then the visiting general authority knew right away what I already knew.
On pages 54 to 59 of Elder Lund’s book he goes into great detail about the process of interviewing the counselors in the Stake Presidency, each high counselor and each bishop. Occasionally they ask the Stake President for others to interview. The two General Authorities confer after each visit and share impressions. After discussion and prayer, the answer is usually clear and known to both the Brethren.
Elder Lund concluded this section by telling an amazing story in which the call was issued based on shared feelings that this was the Lord’s will that had been manifest. However, he said a silent prayer even while issuing the call, “O Lord, this feels right, but it is so important. I hope we read Thy inspiration correctly.” As they stood up to leave, the newly called Stake President said, “Now I understand the dream I had the other night.”
When asked what he meant, he related that in his dream he was being interviewed by the Stake President. This was not unusual because he was a bishop. However at the end of the interview, the Stake President got up and placed his suit coat on this good bishop’s shoulders. To Elder Lund, this was one of the manifestations of the tender mercies of the Lord. It was a “second witness” that they had indeed read the inspiration of the Lord correctly in this calling.
Being taught by the spirit
The “aha” moment I wish to share in conclusion came just last night as we read on page 210 about priesthood keys. The epiphany was not so much from what was written and what I read, but what I felt as I read this simple statement. “Someone who has not been given the right to preside and direct the affairs of the Church…cannot…unveil a new interpretation of scripture.” I know, this is not new and it is hardly deep doctrine.
As I read this statement aloud, the spirit bore witness to me again how important this is for teachers of the gospel. We need to be so careful that we do not teach our personal opinion about a scripture. It is imperative that the doctrine taught is consistent with the official view of the Brethren. Of course, that can best be done by teaching what is found in the manual. If we do not understand a scripture, look on lds.org for additional references that can be used.
It never ceases to amaze me how many Google hits I get on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings from people searching for lesson commentary on some subject that I happen to have written about on a previous post in my blog. Hello people! Read the manual. It has all the quotes you need. Google is the last place I would be looking to find material to teach in Primary or Sunday School. Maybe for the High Priest’s group – nah, I’m just kidding.
I’m happy you are reading my posts but don’t quote my retelling of the apocryphal story about the bullet that was stopped in the Isaiah chapters of Second Nephi. And my insights on the Liahona were shared freely but I would stick with whatever is in the manual. For goodness sake, my opinion on where the Ten tribes are should never be taught in a Gospel Doctrine class. And why is everyone wondering if President Monson will change the doctrine of the church?