Sister LaNell L. Moore
Former Member of the Relief Society General Board
"What Are You Thinking?"
LaNell L. Moore
June 1, 2004
Good afternoon. When my children were younger, I’d sit on the floor at the end of my bed with a story book in hand, a child on my lap, and one or two little ones on either side of me.
I love to tell stories. Good stories have a way of portraying great truths. Our minds might not recognize the imbedded gems when we first hear them, but because they’re packaged in a story they can be preserved in our memory. Later, when the story is recalled we can have those “ah hah” moments as the truths before hidden are revealed.
Today, I’d like to tell you a story about a missionary. As I do so, I’d like you to consider what this Elder was thinking: “On a rainy summer afternoon, . . . [Elder Cracroft was] tracting along a gravel road on a hillside above Baden, Switzerland.” In his own words, he states,
As I walked from home to home, I was suddenly laid low by a speck of dust in my right eye. I learned, as one who had worn brand-new contact lenses for only five days, that a mote feels like a beam. I quickly extracted the lens, cleaned it, and prepared to reinsert it. As I held my finger at the ready, a gust of wind swept the lens from my fingertip. My lens was gone with the wind, and I was aghast -- and virtually blind, being plunged instantly into 20/600 vision in one eye, which had been miraculously corrected only a week earlier to 20/20.
Elder Neil Reading and I began to search on hands and knees in the wet gravel, sweeping an eight-foot radius about my point of loss; we searched unsuccessfully for twenty minutes. Half-blind and half-despairing, I suggested that while we were already in position, we should pray. I reasoned with the Lord, told him about my need to see; about our need to meet our three investigator families that evening; about my feeling that there was more to be gained by finding the lens than by my learning whatever I was to learn from the loss. As I concluded the prayer and stood up, I received one of those Joseph Smith ‘flashes of intelligence.’ It surprised me, but I reacted at once. Explaining the plan to my startled companion, I stood on my feet in the same place I had stood earlier, squeezed out my left contact lens, and was plunged into the distorted virtual blindness of 20/600 vision. I had begun my step into the dark.
Assured that my companion was on his knees and at the ready, I put my left lens in my mouth, extracted it, and, mounting it on my finger some six inches from my face, I waited - but not for long. A slight breeze caught my left lens, and it was gone: my step into the dark was now complete. I stood stock-still, heart in throat, until Elder Reading said, ‘I see it. It’s still in the air.’
‘Don’t lose it,’ I pled.
‘It’s still up,’ he whispered, now 10 feet away. Then, from even further away, he exclaimed, ‘It’s starting to fall!’
‘Keep your eye on it,’ I pled again.
‘I see it! I see it!’ he said. There was a long pause and then, ‘Oh my! Oh my!’ I braced.
‘You see the other lens?’ I shouted.
‘Yes, it’s right here!’ Unable to see a thing, I crawled over to him. Slowly, he planted in my palm, in order, my left and right lenses - my seer stones. I wet the lenses and, with my back to the wind and sheltered by my companion’s hovering frame, I implanted them: ‘And there was light, and it was good.’ And we knelt, and full of gratitude I thanked our God for tender mercies. We pressed on to the next house, filled with wonder at a God who knows each sparrow’s fall and the exact whereabouts in Switzerland of Elder Cracroft’s right contact lens (Richard H. Cracroft, Divine Designs: Tracing the Lord’s “Pattern in All Things,” http: //speeches.byu.edu).
Natural Man Thinking Denies the Miracle’s of God
Now, what was this Elder thinking?
Elder Cracroft was virtually blind without his contacts. This happened almost fifty years ago and contact lenses were new then, they were untried and they were expensive, so expensive, in fact, that his mission president had to help him buy them. He’d only had them one week and now one was gone. And if he followed the impression to take the other one out, logic would tell him he’d surely lose them both. Then what would he tell his mission President? I can just hear the conversation after his companion, Elder Reiding led a blind Elder Cracroft back to the mission office “Well, you see, President, it was like this: I had to clean some dust off my right lens because it was bothering me. It blew away so I took the other one out to see if it’d blow away too . . . and it did. But hey, this was bound to happen sooner or later. With 20/600 vision I should never have even come on a mission. Call my parents, President, let ‘em know I’m coming home.”
You’ve heard similar dialogues before. They make sense to our natural man mind and they explain away a multitude of failures. Had Elder Cracroft entertained the fatalistic thinking of the natural man, an enemy to both God and man, he would have walked away and never known about the miracle that was in the making that day. Instead of succumbing to the obvious impossibility of his situation, Elder Cracroft chose “gospel thinking.”
What Gospel Thinking Is
When we talk about “gospel thinking” we’re not talking about a casual experience. The word, “gospel” literally means good tidings. In its original form, it was godspel or God-story, the story of a God who through his love for His Father and his heed and diligence as His spirit son received a fullness of truth from him (Doctrine and Covenants 93:26). In doing so he became like his father in might, majesty and power, and was thus able to offer to become for us, his brothers and sisters, our Savior (Moses 4:2). The Gospel encompasses all truth, however, we focus principally on those truths which have the power to create out of man a god. For this reason as well the gospel might be called, “the god story.” We wanted so much to be like our Heavenly Father that when we heard the plan, we “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). And we’re still shouting. I can feel it in your presence. The gospel is the plan for our exaltation. It is the most exciting, exhilarating, promising, powerful, hopeful, rewarding, plan ever imagined. I get excited every time I think about it.
The word “think” comes from the base word meaning “to know.” Sometimes it’s confused with thinchen which means “to seem or to appear.” Webster says “to think” is to bring to the mind, to have in the mind, or to believe (Webster’s New World College Dictionary 1997, p. 1390, see thank p. 1385). Elder Cracroft, with the gospel in his mind, was able to think beyond the power of man and reach heavenward for divine help. Gospel thinking links earth with heaven, and man to God. When done deeply, thinking can be synonymous with pondering or meditating. I appreciate President Marion G. Romney’s expression: “Pondering is, in my feeling, a form of prayer . . . an approach to the Spirit of the Lord” (CR, Apr. 1973, p. 117).
President McKay expressed it this way: “Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord.” He points out that, “Jesus set the example for us when . . . during forty days of fasting, he communed with himself and his Father and contemplated the responsibility of his own great mission (David O. McKay, CR, Apr. 1967, p. 85).
Elder Cracroft’s tender prayer opened the sacred doors of communion with the Lord that day. Let’s look into this young missionary’s situation a little more carefully. By doing so we’ll find some patterns that may be duplicated in our own lives.
Gospel Thinking Recognizes that Challenges Can be Blessings
First of all, how many of you are familiar with Murphy’s law? Murphy’s law says “if anything can go wrong, it will.” Things often go wrong for each of us. We could safely say that Murphy's Law was in operation when Elder Cracroft lost his lens.
Now, you physics majors listen in, while the rest of us really listen: Elder Tad R. Callister in his book, Infinite Atonement, explains that, “In the world of physics there is a law of thermodynamics known as the law of entropy. It suggests that the universe, left to itself, would constantly move toward a state of disorder” (68). He then quotes a noted mathematician by saying, “It is a matter of common experience that disorder will tend to increase if things are left to themselves” (Ibid., 68,69).
For example, all of us have seen a cup fall off a table and shatter in a thousand pieces on the floor. Why don’t the broken pieces just as quickly gather together and jump back onto the table?
Quoting once again from Elder Callister,
An intact cup on the table is in a state of high order, but a broken cup on the floor is in a disordered state. One can go readily from the cup on the table . . . to the broken cup on the floor . . . but not the other way around.
This disorder, or condition of progressive randomness, would proceed uninterrupted unless there were an intelligent, powerful force in the universe that could somehow reverse this natural course.
President John Taylor spoke of such an intelligent force: ‘These laws [which govern the universe] are under the surveillance and control of the great Law-giver, who manages, controls, and directs all these worlds. If it were not the case, they would move through space in wild confusion, and system would rush against system, and worlds upon worlds would be destroyed, together with their inhabitants.’ (Ibid. P. 69; Taylor, Gospel Kingdom, p. 67-68).
As it is in the macro world of the universe, so it is in our own micro worlds. Consider your bedroom: try not cleaning up for a few weeks and you could lose yourself in the piles of books and papers, clothes and dishes. How about your appearance? How do you look, or smell for that matter, when things are left to themselves? I, for one, am a scary sight because disorder increases when things are left to themselves.
Progressive disorder apparently wasn’t the condition in the Garden of Eden. There, it appears that things were in a constant state of order with flowers and fruits coming forth spontaneously. But in our present state of mortality, opposition & challenges are alive and well. Our present condition may be nothing more than the “curse” the Lord put on the earth. The scriptures teach us that this curse was “for our sake” for without the need to work just to keep even, let alone get ahead, this probationary state wouldn’t be a test at all and we wouldn’t grow. Imagine Olympic champion, Rulon Gardner, trying to get stronger with nothing but feathers to lift. Without a force resisting our efforts there would be no growth in our physical body or in our spirit.
Interestingly enough, researchers have measured activity in the reward and pleasure centers of our brains and discovered that our brains are more stimulated when we have to work for what we get. (Deseret News, 14 May 2004 p. A1). Lottery winners and free loaders don’t enjoy what they receive as much as those who work for what they get. You might say, “work works!” So don’t even consider asking your professor for an A if you didn’t work for it. You wouldn’t enjoy it anyway! You and I are hardwired for work.
Our work, requiring challenges, are often tailor made for our growth. They are sometimes more a matter of things going right, not wrong. Remember, Heavenly Father chastens whom he loves (Doctrine and Covenants 95:1). I love the description Harold W. Wood gives of just such a challenge.
On my way to visit the Jameses the other evening, I saw a wheat field that appeared to be greener and taller than the others. Thinking about it for a while, I concluded that occasionally some loving farmer drives over the field with his tractor and pumps manure all over it. I thought, ‘My, it’s just like life. Here we are minding our business, growing our little hearts out. We’re really quite green, somewhat productive, and very sincere. When out of the blue, life deals us a dirty one, and we’re up to our eyebrows in manure.’
We, of course, conclude that life as we know it has just ended and will never be the same again. But one day, when the smell and the shock are gone, we find ourselves greener and more productive than we have ever been. Unfortunately, no matter how often we go through these growing experiences, we are never able to appreciate the sound of the tractor or the smell of the manure. (The Smell of Manure, quote by Harold W. Wood).
Gospel Thinking Results in Miracles
Elder Cracroft’s experience with Murphy’s law, a supposed “bad thing happening to good people,” or simply the sound of the tractor and the smell of manure, brought him to a holy place, a realization of his need for the Lord’s help. Unlike the scientist who was conducting an experiment that called for the amount of strychnine that would fit on the head of a dime and because he didn’t have a dime used two nickels, Elder Cracroft knew that when we obtain help from the Lord it’s by strict obedience to the laws upon which the blessing we seek is predicated (Doctrine and Covenant 130:21).
He knew that Heavenly Father delights to bless us with blessings small and great (Doctrine and Covenants 130:21) but that he had to do his part. The Bible Dictionary says that, “Blessings require some work on our part . . . and prayer is a form of work” (Prayer, p. 753) The Lord pleads with us to ask of him in prayer. In fact he does it more than 700 times in the scriptures. Elder Cracroft knew that those who ask receive an answer (3 Nephi 14:7,8). The Lord told Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine and Covenants 6:14, “as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit.” The Lord is “bound when [we] do what [he] says” Doctrine and Covenants 82:10). Gospel truths such as prayer and faith in the Lord were a part of the fiber of Elder Cracroft’s very being. President Joseph Fielding Smith tells us how that happens: “through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fiber and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten” (Doctrines of Salvation Vol. 1, p. 47). These truths were a living power in this young missionary’s life. They sustained him through the entire experience, for after receiving the impression from the Holy Ghost to use the same means to locate the lens that had led to its loss he still had to take the classic step into the dark. He understood our faith can’t be rewarded until it’s tried for, as Moroni teaches, “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).
Just like Elder Cracroft, we’ll never know what the Lord has in store for us if we stop somewhere in the middle of the process. A good “bad example” of this is found in the experience of Oliver Cowdery who, serving as Joseph Smith’s scribe, was granted his request to be able to translate part of the Book of Mormon. Apparently Oliver began well but the Lord had to chasten him for stopping short. He told him “it is because you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you” (Doctrine and Covenants 9:5).
John Greenleaf Whittier wisely wrote, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Had Elder Cracroft not continued as he commenced he would have denied himself the miracle.
Most often the answers to our prayers are neither instantaneous nor dramatic. Just because they are not, however, doesn’t mean that the end result can’t be the same. President Joseph F. Smith who was only 15 when he left on a mission to Hawaii, said:
When I as a boy first started out in the ministry I would frequently go out and ask the Lord to show me some marvelous thing, in order that I might receive a testimony. But the Lord withheld marvels from me, and showed me the truth, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, until he made me to know the truth from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and until doubt and fear had been absolutely purged from me. He did not have to send an angel from the heavens to do this. By the whisperings of the still small voice of the spirit of the living God, He gave to me the testimony I possess (CR, April 1900, pp. 40, 41, emphasis added).
President Joseph F. Smith’s posterity, the power of his service, and the depth of his writings testify of a miracle that took place, but over an extended time. His very life became the miracle. And this because, “the gospel is a living, abiding, eternal, and unchangeable principle,” according to President John Taylor (Gospel Kingdom, p. 88) and through the power of the Holy Ghost its truths are woven into the fibers and sinews of our body and we are never the same.
What We Think of the Gospel Makes All the Difference
Elder Dallin H. Oaks says, “There are few things more important in this life than knowing your place in mortality and your potential in eternity (“The Gospel in Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2002, 35). Achieving our full potential in eternity depends on what we think about and therefore do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is clear in Doctrine and Covenants 76. Look at this: Telestials don’t accept the gospel, choosing instead to gratify the thoughts and appetites of the natural man as liars, sorcerers and adulterers. They live in a world of hurt where misery, pain and destruction run rampant.
Terrestrials may accept the gospel on earth but they aren’t valiant in it. They’re honorable men and women of the earth who experience a measure of external peace and safety. According to President Kimball, the five foolish virgins represent these less than valiant members of the church (Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 253-54). President George Albert Smith lamented terrestrial level living when he said, “my feelings are wounded at the indifference, the carelessness, yea blindness, of many who belong to this great Church, because I know what the result will be” (Conference Report, October 1935, p. 122).
Celestials accept the gospel of Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and are valiant in their testimony. Celestials are Christlike for no one, according to Joseph Smith, can possess this kingdom except Christ “or one like him” (Lectures on Faith 7:9). Remember, however, that just like Joseph F. Smith it's line upon line and precept upon precept. In the process they begin to experience “a peace that passeth all understanding” here (Philippians 4:7) and they inherit “eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23). “They are gods, . . . wherefore, all things are theirs . . .” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:58, 59) These are the five wise virgins who received the truth, and took “the Holy Spirit for their guide” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:57).
Our eternal lives depend on whether we reject the gospel, lukewarmly accept it, or are valiant in it. Let’s get a little perspective here. Raise your hands up. Now stretch to the left as far as you can. This might represent our life in pre-mortality when we were first taught the gospel.
Now stretch to the right. Keep going. This could represent life in eternity. It stretches on and on without end. OK, hands straight up. Now, clap your hands. That could represent mortality.
In relationship to eternity, it’s about how long we’re here. Think we can make it?
This ditty I learned in Relief Society captures the importance of how we use our time.
Just a tiny little minute, only 60 seconds in it.
But it’s up to me to use it, give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.
We Are Responsible for Educating and Training Our Thoughts
You and I will become what we think about, whether it be the gospel or satisfying the appetites of the flesh for, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). In fact, President McKay was famous for saying, “Tell me what you think of when you don't have to think, and I'll tell you what you are” (Llewelyn R. McKay, Home Memories of President David O. cKay [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1956], 253). Understanding the importance of our thoughts in determining what we do, what we become, and what we inherit in the life hereafter, is it any wonder that we are encouraged to study the scriptures daily? To sing the songs of Zion? To listen to wholesome and inspiring music? Or to read uplifting literature? All of these help us have worthy thoughts. Likewise, are you suprised that Satan works so hard on our thoughts? The world in which we live is full of Satan’s way of thinking.
The battle is constant because we can’t think of nothing at all. Let me illustrate: Try for a moment to think of nothing at all. OK. What are you thinking? At best you’re probably thinking, “I need to be thinking about nothing.” Because the mind isn’t likely to be empty, we have to be absolutely proactive in our quest to fill our minds with worthy thoughts and worthy music. As my husband used to tell our missionaries, “Music is powerful for (fill in the blank) - for good or for evil?” What’s the answer? Music is powerful for good or for evil, depending on the spirit that produced it. For everything which inviteth to do good comes from God and everything which enticeth to do evil comes from Satan (Moroni 7:16, 17).
To Be Like Jesus We Must Think Like Jesus
As children we sang, I’m trying to be like Jesus (Perry, Janice Kapp, Favorite Children's Songs Provo: J.K. Perry, 1983). How do we become like Jesus? We become like him by learning to think like he thinks. Elder McConkie said,
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus . . . is to think what he thinks, to believe what he believes, to say what he would say and do what he would do in the same situation. It is to have the mind of Christ and be one with him as he is one with his Father (CR, Oct. 1974, pp. 45-46).
The thoughts of the Lord are not by nature the thoughts of man. The process of changing our limited mortal view of things for his perfect, unlimited view is called repentance. The Bible Dictionary says “Repentance . . . denotes a change of mind” (p.760). His thoughts are not limited to our mortal sphere: they are infinite. His thoughts never vary from the knowledge of things as they really were, are, and will be (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24): He thinks only truth. He states, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The world heaps great plaudits on men they esteem as great thinkers. Mention Plato, Socrates, or Einstein and our ears perk up. We study them and form societies to preserve their writings and methods. These were great thinkers. Yet, the source of all truth, He whose mercy and love is responsible for the endowment of any truth in any field is often scoffed at by his own children in the very world he created for them. All truth, my dear brothers and sisters, is not of equal value. “2 + 2 = 4" is not of the same importance as the truth that we are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. Because of God’s great mercy, he has revealed those inestimable, essential truths and made them available to all. Note who he uses to take these eternal truths to the world: Doctrine and Covenants 1:23 is graphic, it’s the “weak and simple things . . . of the world.” That’s what qualifies me to be with you today and that’s what qualifed Elder Cracroft.
Thousands of our humble missionaries go forth and as they study and pray, teach and testify, they experience a change of mind, and that change of mind changes them. Each revelation of truth is a revelation of Christ himself for He is the truth. Each commandment is a revelation of his ways for He is the way (John 14:6). Elder Robert R. Steuer said, “[If we love] these truths with all our heart, . . . an affinity develops between us and the source of truth itself” (“Being Teachable,” Ensign, May 2002, 32). This affinity or close relationship with the Lord causes a change in us because we become like those we associate with. Alma asked the members of the church in his time, “Have ye received his image in your countenances?” (Alma 5:14) Our thinking affects our physical appearance as well.
Our Spirits Choose to be Subject to the Spirit of God or the Spirit of the Devil
But which does the thinking? Our body or our spirit? Elder McConkie says, “It is the spirit that thinks, not the mortal tabernacle” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 791). Lehi tells us that our spirits, in order to act for themselves, had to be enticed to do good or evil (2 Nephi 2:16). If left to Satan, he would take away from us all that we have or ever hope to have. He is the master of “take away.” Look what happens when you play the take away game with his name. Take away the “D.” Everything that comes from him is evil. Take away the “E.” He is repulsively vil[e]. Take away the “V.” His ways will make you il[l]. It’s hard to remove Satan’s selfish, self centered “I.” But if we yield to his enticings we may choose to suffer in L. Under so many disguises, he is still the Father of lies and the great destroyer.
Speaking of taking things away, consider the Bible for a moment. Nephi was told that the Bible contained the fullness of the gospel when it came forth from the “mouth of the Jews.” However, after passing through the hands of the great and abominable church, whose founder is the Devil, “many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord” were missing. And “all this have they done that they might . . . blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 13: 6, 24-26, 27).
Think of the confusion that has existed throughout dark ages of human history because plain and precious truths were missing from our precious Bible. For an example, here’s a little comparison between the Old Testament and the same period of time covered by the Book of Mormon. Look at the number of times the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel are mentioned by name in reference to man’s salvation in these two books.
Old Testament Book of Mormon
(B.C. Portion Only)
Faith 2 200
Repentance 3 268
Baptism 0 68
Holy Ghost 0 35
Look at that! Faith is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament, repentance three times and baptism and the word “Holy Ghost” never! All four, a total of five times in the Old Testament compared with 571 times in the B.C. portion of the Book of Mormon alone. Do you get the idea that someone didn’t want the gospel message to get out?! Thank goodness that even with such obvious omissions, these principles are preserved in numerous stories in our priceless Bible. With the “labels” missing, however, the ways of the Lord have been perverted and many have stumbled as a result (2 Nephi 13:29). Man falters and fails without a good gospel understanding to guide and protect him.
The Spirit of the Lord is the Food of Our Spirits
In the last days Amos said there would be a famine in the land, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). Doctrine and Covenants 84:45 says that the word of the Lord is the Spirit of Christ. Our spirits hunger for the Lord’s Spirit. As Elder Orson F. Whitney explains,
The Spirit of the Lord is the food of our spirits. Without it they would starve . . . [The Spirit of the Lord] is . . . the fountain of revelation, making known the mind and will of our Maker. We can only know the things of God by the Spirit of God (Conference Report, April 1931, pp. 62, 63).
The Lord promises us that the Spirit of God can teach us the truth of all things. If we had to pay for a tutor who was that smart, that intelligent, we would never be able to afford it. And the hours he keeps are remarkable. Valiant members covenant every week “that they are willing to take upon them the name of [the] son, and always remember him and keep his commandments that they may ALWAYS have his Spirit to be with them” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, emphasis added). Even Olympic athletes don’t get that kind of help from their trainers!
On the other hand, when we fail to keep the commandments Satan plays his “take away game” with our thinking. He takes away truth! (Doctrine and Covenants 93:39). In fact the truth is taken away until we know nothing concerning the mysteries of God (Alma 12:11). Our agency gives us the right to choose which spirit we will subject ourselves to but it does not give us the freedom to not subject ourselves. We are constantly subjecting ourselves to Satan's take away tactics or the sanctifying power of the Spirit of God by choosing which of the two we will obey (Alma 3:27).
The Lord set the supreme example when, even in the face of the bitter cup he said, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He also allowed himself “to become subject unto man in the flesh” so that man “might become subject to him” (2 Nephi 9:5). He merits our total allegiance. Apart from His great atoning sacrifice you and I merit nothing on our own. Without the perfect atonement, not only would our bodies be “laid down to rot and crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more” but “our spirits must have become like unto [Satan]” and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself (2 Nephi 9: 7,9).
This isn’t rocket science, folks. This is simple, straightforward stuff. We alone decide the thoughts we will think and the course we will take (Moses 6:56). President Kimball said, “Man alone, of all creatures of earth, can change his thought pattern and become the architect of his destiny” (Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 113-114). Planting a thought in our minds is similar to sowing a seed in the ground. Plant apple seeds to get apples, seed potatoes to get spuds. And weeds . . . oh, they’ll grow on their own. Keep a good weed killer handy, like a hymn or a favorite scripture. Remember the Spirit of Christ is always more powerful than Satan.
We must actively educate and train our thinking. President McKay often said, “Sow a thought, reap an act, Sow an act, reap a habit, Sow a habit, reap a character, Sow a character, reap an eternal destiny” (CR, April 1962, p. 7). You’re in charge. Your thinking is the seed from which your eternity grows. Ask yourself, what are you thinking? Instead of thinking life’s impossible, think gospel truth, “With God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37); Instead of, “I can't do it,” think gospel truth, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). The list goes on. President McKay “plead with members of the Church, and with people everywhere, to think more about the gospel” (CR, April 1968, p. 144).
The Lord Changes Us By Changing Our Thoughts
The Lord works by small and simple means. When men are willing He can help them alter little thoughts and thereby make big changes Think of the thoughts that changed in the mind of a teenage Joseph when he knelt to pray in the spring of 1820. Think of the sanctifying change those thoughts, and others that followed, have created in the lives of millions of men, women and children the world over.
President Benson contrasts the miraculous way the Lord changes people with the way the world tries to change them.
The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature (Born of God, Tambuli, Oct. 1989, 2).
President McKay tells us how it will happen. It
will be accomplished only by a slow but never process of changing men's mental and spiritual attitude. The ways and habits of the world depend upon the thoughts and soul of men and women. If, therefore, we would change the world, we must first change people's thoughts . . . (Conference Report, October 1964, p. 5).
When we began I told you that great stories have a way of portraying great truths. The greatest story ever told is the God-story, the gospel of Jesus Christ. By letting its truths guide our thinking we can succeed in understanding what Brigham Young called “The greatest mystery a man ever learned.” He said that “the greatest mystery a man ever learned, is to know how to control the human mind” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saint Book Depot, 1854-86], 1:46). With Gospel thinking and the deeds that flow from it, “Murphy’s mortal moments” “and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:3), in your transition from manhood to Godhood. God lives, he loves you, President Gordon B. Hinckley is his prophet on earth today. The Church is true and families can be forever. Of this I bear testimony.
© 2004 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
What Are You Thinking?
Audio of Sister LaNell L. Moore's BYU-Idaho devotional address, spring 2004