President's Pen 10-12-15 (Plain & Simple)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

We love you, I hope you are all happy, healthy, and ready for a wonderful day at the temple this week.  Please make sure you arrive on time and come prepared to be taught by the Spirit.  The question we have asked you to ponder in advance is, “What do I want/expect in regard to my mission and my life?”  You should also consider another question that is personal to your spiritual progress and needs.  We are blessed to have the temple accommodate this special session for us; please be sure to thank President & Sister Crane for their goodness.

I also sent you an email last week that will help you prepare for Elder Corbridge’s visit on October 29th and 30th.  Please begin writing your talks and studying the material you have been asked to review in advance. 

Of the many talks given at General Conference a week ago, President Uchtdorf’s talk, “It Works!”, continues to come to my mind.  If you recall, he asked us to “simplify our approach to discipleship”.   When I consider how I can apply this principle to our missionary work I turned to the scriptures to understand how we might follow through on his counsel. 

There are few synonymous terms in the scriptures that speak to his teaching; simple plain, clear, easy.  I would highlight for you the terms of simple and plain. Both words mean that something is easily understood or that it presents no difficulty.  “Simple” in the scriptures can be used a few ways, but I would focus you on the definitions of; simple people, meaning pure, without guile, innocent or simple as defined by the message, being clear or easily understood.  “Plain” is also used and can be described as clearly understood, obvious, or not complicated. 

A quick lookup of these terms yields about 250+ references, where the prophets or even the Savior mention the people or the message being simple or plain. 

Here are few examples of how “simple” is used to describe the people…

Probers 9:5 - O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

D&C 1:23 - That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers. (That’s us by the way!)

Psalms - 19:130 - The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

There are also references to “simple” in how the Lord brings about his work…

Alma - 37:6 - Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

D&C 133:57 - And for this cause, that men might be made partakers of the glories which were to be revealed, the Lord sent forth the fulness of his gospel, his everlasting covenant, reasoning in plainness and simplicity

The Prophet Nephi understood this principle and spoke often of how he felt about “plainness” and wrote of it more than any prophet in scripture.   

2 Nephi 33: 6 - I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.

2 Nephi 31:3 - For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men.

2 Nephi 2 31:2 - Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.

Nephi was especially sensitive to this topic because he was given the vision of our day.  He saw what Satan was able to achieve as many “plain” and precious parts were removed from the bible…

1 Nephi 13:29 - And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. (We all know why the world is so confused!)

Nephi regularly felt disheartened by men and women who chose not to follow the plainness of the gospel message.

2 Nephi 32:7 - …for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.

2 Nephi 9:47 - Would I harrow up your souls if your minds were pure? Would I be plain unto you according to the plainness of the truth if ye were freed from sin?

Alma teaches how plainness benefits us…

Alma 13:23 -  And they are made known unto us (The Gospel of Jesus Christ) in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err;

These are only a few references to get you thinking about how the Lord works.  He teaches simply and in plainness, so that we will understand and cannot err.  Take some time to study more on this topic.

If we are to take to heart President Uchtdorf’s message, I would ask you to consider how simply or plainly you are making the Lord’s work.  Do we at times behave like the children of Israel, where Nephi taught that, “because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.” (1 Ne. 17:41)  Could it be because the tools are right in front of us that we forget how simple this work truly is?

As a mission we have focused on teaching simply and plainly, by studying the lessons, removing memorized scripts, object lessons, redundant teaching, improving through companionship role-play, and bringing the lessons into our own words.  Are you doing this?

In our personal study I have asked us all to make our sacred hour simple by focusing on the Book of Mormon, Preach My Gospel, and other approved study materials.  Are you doing this? It might be fun to find out where Kolob is, but does it really matter? :) 

We desire for all missionaries to be exactly obedient by following the Mission Handbook; rising on time, exercising, personal study hour, companionship study hour, using our time wisely, locking our hearts, arriving home on-time, companionship planning, being kind to one another.  Could there be a more simple way to live? Have you made obedience difficult, the opposite of simple?

We make the work simple by working the best we can with stake and ward leadership, recognizing priesthood keys, communicating, serving and helping.  Are you anxiously engaged here?

Our purpose is even simple – Every day we get to invite others to come unto Christ and to help them!  Our purpose is so crystal clear that we should never forget why we’re here.

Elders & Sisters, our work is simple, the message is simple, and we must do as President Uchtdorf suggested, simplify our discipleship.  If you’ve made the road too difficult, it may be because we tend to get in our own way, D&C 3:3, “Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men!” 

Simplifying still requires your diligence, devotion, dedication, and hard work.  I don’t mean to suggest that we wake up every morning and it’s easy.  We all know this isn’t true, but let’s all make an honest effort to simplify our approach so the Lord can bring to pass his work!  We love you!

Mission Update

Elders & Sisters, we’re off to a great start this month as 14 souls have entered the waters of baptism for a remission of their sins.  Do you desire to baptize? Consider this question in advance of Elder Corbridge’s visit.  Desire leads to hope, hope leads to belief, and belief leads to faith.  In other words, do you have the faith that the Lord will put people in your path to receive a remission of their sins?  Keep up the great work, your faithfulness, although often tested, will yield results. 

Saludos y abrazos,

President Hall