Last night our family had a rare treat. Our stake in Florida was able to participate in an evening fireside with Elder Neil L. Anderson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We were excited to take our children to a meeting where they would be in the same room as an apostle, and we could all hear his counsel.
Our Stake President spoke briefly first. He challenged youth and adults to do five things this year
1) daily prayer morning and night
2) daily scripture study
3) live worthy to hold a temple recommend
Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last two (in between dealing with my children). I wish I had written it down!
Elder Rulon Munns of the Seventy was also present and spoke briefly. He quoted Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Patience is tied very closely for faith in our Heavenly Father”.
Sister Kathy Anderson then took some time to address us. She had been born and raised in Florida and thinks Florida is the best place to live! Her ancestors were some of the first people in Florida to join the church, and she spoke about their legacy of faith. She quoted Helaman 5:12, which was especially significant to me since that is our family scripture for this year. My children all perked up at the word “foundation”.
Elder Anderson then spoke for the remainder of the meeting. He focused on and testified of Jesus Christ, declaring that having a testimony of Jesus Christ is the most important thing. He made reference to a talk he gave in General Conference in 1999 (a talk given in interesting circumstances, since President Hinckley called him the Friday before and asked him to speak and fill in for Elder Hales who was ill). In that talk he talked about mole crickets (a common threat to grass in Florida) and how they eat away at the roots and destroy the grass. Satan works the same way, by eating away at our spiritual roots. Be watchful!
It was interesting to me that he referred to that talk, since I had actually just come across it this week while preparing for our Family Home Evening Lesson on prayer. Below are the points that stood out to me from his 1999 talk.
“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform” (“Policies, Announcements, and Appointments,” Ensign, June 1999, 80).
We all know the struggle necessary to retain family home evening. There are thieves among us who would steal our Monday nights. But the promises of the Lord made to families who hold family home evening, that were spoken by the First Presidency 84 years ago and reiterated by our Prophets today, have never been revoked and are there for us:
“If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75], 4:339).
Who within the sound of my voice would be willing to sell these promises to those who would confiscate our Monday nights? Not one of us.
For you and me, the disciples of Christ, these moments of building faith in the lives of our children must be strengthened. We will at times fall short as parents. I know I do. But we must begin again. The Lord sees our righteous efforts and will open the blessings of heaven as we give our families our highest priority.”
What a blessing it was to hear an apostle speak in our own stake center, and feel his powerful witness of Jesus Christ.