God uses prepared vessels, no substitute. God is not looking for a rocket scientist, he's looking for those with a mind, and then he will finish the rest. It's like, 'God, here I am, send me,' and He will do the rest. He will prepare you. He will provide for your preparation. One thing I have seen in all my years of travel all over the world and in teaching and in proclaiming the Gospel, whoever is hungry for the word, God will break every barrier to get to that person. And who wants to know God, God will make Himself available to that person - somewhere somehow. The problem the church is having today is we have so many unprepared vessels in the church, and it's showing everywhere.
When God issues a call to us, it is always a holy call. The vocation of dying is a sacred vocation. To understand that is one of the most important lessons a Christian can ever learn. When the summons comes, we can respond in many ways. We can become angry, bitter or terrified. But if we see it as a call from God and not a threat from Satan, we are far more prepared to cope with its difficulties.
The Word we study has to be the Word we pray. My personal experience of the relentless tenderness of God came not from exegetes, theologians, and spiritual writers, but from sitting still in the presence of the living Word and beseeching Him to help me understand with my head and heart His written Word. Sheer scholarship alone cannot reveal to us the gospel of grace. We must never allow the authority of books, institutions, or leaders to replace the authority of *knowing* Jesus Christ personally and directly. When the religious views of others interpose between us and the primary experience of Jesus as the Christ, we become unconvicted and unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited.
Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us. As we engage in this communion with God more deeply and come to know the One with whom we are speaking more intimately, that growing knowledge of God reveals to us all the more brilliantly who we are and our need to change in conformity to Him. Prayer changes us profoundly.
Without love even the most radical devotion to God is of no value to Him. Let me make sure that sinks in You can gain all the spiritual gifts in the world. You can take the most radical steps of obedience. You can share every meal with the homeless in your city. You can memorize the book of Leviticus. You can pray each morning for four hours like Martin Luther. But if what you do does not flow out of a heart of love - a heart that does those things because it genuinely desires to do them - it is ultimately worthless to God.
... the powerful changes that happen in the life of a disciple never come from the disciple working hard at doing anything. They come from arriving at a place where Jesus is everything, and we are simply overwhelmed with the gift. Sometimes it seems as if God loves us too much. His love goes far beyond our ability to stop being moral, religious, obedient, and victorious, and we just collapse in his arms.Out of the gospel that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and humanity comes a Christian life that looks like Jesus, a life Jesus would recognize. It's a life that looks like Jesus, because Jesus does everything, and all we do is accept his gift. And to accept his gift, we have to give up trying to be Jesus.Out of that discovery comes a Christian life that is free from the tyranny of unnecessary adjectives - even my preferred modified, Jesus-shaped - and simply follows after the One who loves us beyond words or repayment.
This Jesus of Nazereth without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caeser, Muhammad and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on matters human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoke before or since and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.
There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what our Church teaches... We are living in a world saturated with all kinds of voices. Perhaps now, more than ever, we have a major responsibility as Latter-day Saints to define ourselves, instead of letting others define us.