On Sunday, Feb 5, 2012, Elder David A Bednar of the 12 apostles spoke at the Dixie State College Institute of Religion.
Jared and I ventured over to the Institute and were there 20 or 25 minutes before the fireside was to begin. All the seats in the chapel and overflow were full. Institute students were sitting on every available chair in the foyer and were quickly filling up every classroom to listen to the apostle of the Lord.
I am currently enrolled in an Institute class and almost felt guilty going to an institue fireside because I am nearly 40. However, it was a wonderful opportunity to see the faith of the students and to see how willing they were to come and hear an apostle speak on Super Bowl sunday. The Building was packed, the parking lots were exploding with cars.
Jared and I found a seat in a study room/library with exceptionally comfortable chairs and less than 10 minutes later Elder Bednar, his wife, and Elder and Sister Snow walked by. A silent hush fell over the chapel and overflow, the whole building, as the students stood and gave their respect to the Apostle of the Lord. It was awe inspiring!
Sister Bednar was the first to speak. She not only bore her testimony, she shared a little bit about Elder David A. Bednar and their courtship. She explained that Elder Bednar grew up in Northern California during a wicked times of drugs, sex, and Rock-n-Roll. His father was not a member of the church, but his mother was active. He served a mission and then went to BYU where they met.
She said she was impressed with the way he passed the sacrament. She said she could tell that the sacrament was important to him and that holding the priesthood was a “big deal”. Elder Bednar had played football. She met him at an FHE football activity. He was playing quarterback and she was a “receiver” on his team. In her own words she said, “He threw a pass and I caught it.”
He said it was the only football she ever caught. They dated, fell in love, got married and had 3 children and 11 grandchildren. She bore a fervent testimony that even though she knows Elder Bednar’s weaknesses, she knows that he has been called to serve as a special witness of Christ!
I’ve recently been studying Elder Bednar’s new book, “Increase in Learning” (2011). I love the book and was anxious to see if he would demonstrate some of the principles so beautifully illustrated in his book. I was not disappointed. After he stood up, he asked the students to raise their hands if they would be willing to participate, he then went on to explain that he would be doing things differently. He was NOT going to share a traditional fireside message, but allow the students to ask him questions.
Before allowing questions, he explained why and provided some guidelines. He explained the simple principle- We are agents to Act and not merely objects to be acted upon. He testified that we are not objects, though sometimes learners are in a position where they are treated like objects and not like agents.
Elder Bednar invited the students and those in the audience to be agents and to act. He explained that those actions are demonstrations of Faith. Faith is a principle of action and power. He said when we choose to act we invite the Holy Ghost to teach us and will be united by our Faith.
He invited us to not take traditional notes that will be lost and forgotten but to be an active participant in the discussion. In fact, he invited us to STOP taking notes! He encouraged us to not write what the person was saying, but to write down spiritual impressions!
Next, he gave us guidelines for asking questions. He kindly asked us not to stand up and try to impress others with questions or try to stump the apostle. He said, “You win”. He invited the students to ask questions that he could answer being an apostle of the Lord. He had microphones throughout the room and asked that the microphone only be given to those he chose from the audience. At the end of the night, he thanked and commended the students for their thoughtful questiones.
The students asked, “How have you become what you are today?” “I am going on a mission in a few months. What recommendations would you give me to help me prepare for the mission?” “What is the process by which missionaries called by to serve in specific missions? “No one is perfect. While dating, how can we know if a person’s weakness is “too much”. How can we know if we should continue dating or break up?” “You are an apostle of the Lord and have had experiences where you have come to know him. Will you share with us something about Him and help us to learn how we can come to know him better?” “How can I help my brother, who has fallen away from the church, come back to the church?” “I am a new convert. Sometimes I find it easier to talk to less active or non members. How can I build unity with the members?” “How can I help others gain a testimony of the Temple?” “How can I never fall away?”
Elder Bednar spent an hour and a half answering and responding to these wonderful young adults. In fact, after he answered it he would ask them, if they felt he responded to their question. He also allowed Elder & Sister Snow, and his wife to share their responses to the questions.
Here are some of the principles I learned from his responses and from the Spirit.
1) Who we are and who we become in this life and in eternity is influenced greatly by who we choose to marry!
2) Members of the Church are always Missionaries. We need to become a missionary before the missionary, be a missionary when we are on a mission, and remain a missionary when we are released. You are never released from being a missionary, only released from full-time service in the mission field. Missionary service is bootcamp for the rest of your life. (E. Bednar invited us to ponder the phrase becoming a missionary).
3) Sometimes young adults have shopping lists of what they want in a mate, and they want a guarantee that it will be happily ever after if they choose to marry someone. Become what you hope to find. In marriage, you work together to create the type of marriage you hope to fave. You create it you don’t find it. We have the power to create Celestial Marriages here on earth!
4) Through the scriptures we can come to know the Character of Christ. He invited us to study the scriptures and the attributes of the Savior. He specifically shared JST of Matt 4. He testified that the Savior sent an angel to minister unto John the Baptist. Christ had just been fasting and praying, and was tempted of the Devil, but he sent an angel to minister to another who was suffering less. He taught us that Christ puts off the natural man and turns out towards others.
Man by nature is selfish. However, we can become more like him as we serve in him, by blessing and serving others. He said you can come to know him by qualifying to be his hands. Simply stated, we can come to know him by serving him and serving those whom he loves.
5) When we want to help others who have fallen away from the church, he invited us to pray for the gift of discernment. He said, this gift is the gift to see the good in others, the good that others haven’t seen. He said, Do not talk at them and do not challenge. He said when the timing is right ask questions like, “Can you help me understand what the deal is?” And then the Holy Ghost will help you with additional questions to come to an understanding and possibly to invite him/her to come back!
He invited us to study the terms “Awaken unto God” in the scriptures.
6) Missionaries are called to be a full-time Missionary, but they are assigned to serve and labor in a certain mission. Assignments can change. He said there are 341 missions and only the 12 call missionaries and make assignments. He testified there are few things that have affirmed more the reality of revelation then assigning missions (he repeated that statement several times!)
7) E. Bednar invited us to study the Temple and why it is so important in the Doctrine & Covenants. He said do not simply put a key word search in Lds.org or we would miss the context/content.
He prophesied that if Mitt Romney is elected the Presidential Candidate, the things of God will be made to look foolish in the media, specifically the temple He said, those that are not strong in the faith, may be shaken by the opposition that will arise in the near future. He said, the heat is being turned on and we need to be prepared.
9) He taught temptation is often Invited!
10) He testified we need to be patient with one another while we are serving in the “Laboratory of Perfecting Saints.” We are not a museum of perfected saints, we are practicing on each other and sometimes we get rubbed the wrong way. Be PATIENT! and don’t be offended!
11) He said the scriptures say that we should reprove at times with sharpness, an interpretation of that is to correct or counsel- quickly and with clarity. Sharpness doesn’t necessarily mean with anger, it just means to take care of it clearly and quickly and this should often be done one on one!
12) A testimony is not enough, knowledge is not enough, we must be converted. Conversion is being true to what we know. We must be converted to the Lord and nothing else, so that we will lay down all our weapons of war!
He invited us to ponder what are possible weapons of war that we are holding on to that we need to get rid of?
We will never fall away if we are converted to the Lord!
13) General Conference is not a time to be silly, it is a serious matter to reveal the mind and will of God!
After responding to the questions, he specifically asked, “What have you learned from this pattern?”
Some of the responses were we can receive answers to our questions with out the help of an apostle. Apostles speak straight. We can use this pattern in other settings, not sacrament or general conference. I felt the spirit testify to me of the power of the Holy Ghost in this pattern of asking and receiving answers to questions.
In closing Elder Bednar shared a story of President Hinckley teaching him that this is the greatest season in the History of the restored church. He said, I won’t get to see it, but you will. E. Bednar testified this is the Greatest Season of the History of the Church and the heat is being tured on. He said the greatest wickedness will oppose truth and righteousness.
He said, “Save your fork, the best is yet to come. Go forward with faith, exercise faith, walk into the darkness!”
He blessed the students in their youth that they would come to find the happiness of the Father’s Plan of Happiness, find the eternal joy and happiness doing the simple things. He blessed them that as they find happiness now, that happiness will continue to grow, develop and expand.
As he left the building, he walked by less than 5 feet from where I was standing at the entrance of the study room. The spirit testified to me once again, he is an apostle of the Lord!
While listening and observing, the spirit taught me some very powerful principles that will bless my life if I apply them into my life!
Thank you Elder Bednar for visiting the Dixie State College Institute and allowing the students to ask an Apostle of the Lord questions from their hearts!