My personal experience with Thomas S. Monson

thomasmonsonLast night I felt a special love for Thomas S. Monson, our current President of the Church. Since he will be speaking again this morning in our general conference, I wanted to share some of my feelings about this man Latter-day Saints sustain as prophet, seer, and revelator.

As I’ve written about before, when I was 11 years old my father unexpectedly died. Because my grandparents had been friends with the Monsons for many years, Thomas Monson – who was then 1st Counselor to Church President Gordon B. Hinckley – spoke at my dad’s funeral. At the time I met him very briefly. I never expected to meet him again.

Well several years later, I did. As a young teenager I happened to meet him backstage right before he was to speak at a large gathering. He invited me to sit next to him. He then put his arm around me and for the next 10 minutes treated me like I was the reason he was even there. Without being told anything other than my name, he launched into a brief history of how he knew my family and how much he valued his friendship with my grandparents. He asked about my immediate family – how we were doing, how I was doing, and encouraged me to be good to my mom and to help her. And while I don’t remember everything we talked about, I do remember, like the cliché, how he made me feel.

By any conventional standard, I certainly should have been the least of his worries that night. I’m still amazed that he demonstrated such concern for a little teenager he happened to run into right before his big talk.

Such concern seems to be characteristic for Thomas Monson. There are many stories of his lifelong efforts to reach out to the one. (See this talk and this talk, for two examples.)

You can probably understand why, then, I think this tribute to Thomas S. Monson in 2008 by Joseph B. Wirthlin is the most fitting tribute to I’ve ever heard given to anyone:

While it is a compliment to him that many of the great and mighty of this world know and honor him, perhaps it is an even greater tribute that many of the lowly call him friend. 

Thomas S. Monson points others to Jesus Christ, by word and deed, to live and love and serve as the Savior did. I know TSM is not a perfect man, but he is a very, very good one. More than that though, I believe him to be a special witness of Jesus Christ.

When I study TSM’s messages or hear him speak, I feel the Holy Ghost affirm that he is a prophet of God – a modern Moses. I sustain him as such and look forward to hearing him today at conference (morning session begins at 11am CDT). Watch the proceedings live here and follow on Twitter here, hashtag #LDSconf.

Guest Post: The Sabbath Day and the Change Within Me

By Keith Y.

I grew up in the 1950-60’s as a Baptist.  We went to church on Sundays, but only when there were no conflicting family activities planned.  My Mother was a devoted Christian while my Dad was less inclined to enjoy listening to a sermon.  I suspect that is why my Dad frequently planned family visits to relatives on weekends, thus eliminating the opportunity to attend church.  I loved having two-day weekends for fun and play. 

In 1968 a lot of things changed for me.  I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) after a two-year investigation.  When I found I had a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the Bible, I was baptized.  There were still parts of the Latter-day Saint faith that I didn’t fully comprehend but given more time I felt that I might be able to fully understand.  One of those parts was the importance Mormons placed on keeping the Sabbath day holy.

I must have inherited my Dad’s propensity to avoid Sunday meetings and restrictions, as one of my most difficult adjustments I needed to make was in how I used the Sabbath.  I saw nothing wrong with playing sports or shopping on Sunday afternoon, yet this was considered a violation of the Sabbath.  I made the necessary adjustments to comply but without a full understanding.

While reading the Old Testament I reread the commandments found in Exodus 20.  I learned new things about my Father in Heaven that day, reading the same commandments that I have read and heard all my life.  The commandments vary in length with two commandments as short as four words.  I was surprised in this reading to find the longest commandment by far was about the Sabbath Day—it was four verses and 94 words.  Why would there be so much devoted to the Sabbath I wondered.  This question caused me to reread carefully what it said.  This is what I learned:

  • Verse 8:  We are to keep the day holy.  Since joining the LDS church I had learned more about what holy means.  Holy means to set apart for sacred purposes.  The opposite of holy is common or even profane.  This hit home—the day itself is a day of holiness.
  • Verse: 9: This was always understood, realizing that sometimes work on Sunday can’t be avoided, such as, nurses, emergency workers, transportation, etc.
  • Verse 10:  This verse held the information I needed.  Prior to this reading I saw no issue with buying gas or groceries on a Sunday, yet the LDS faith encourages us not to shop on Sunday.  In this verse it advises us not to work on the Sabbath but also don’t require “thy manservant, nor thy maidservant” to work either.  It was a light bulb that came on for me.  This changed my personal paradigm regarding the Sabbath.
  • Verse 11:  It is a day of rest for the Lord and now it is for us as well.

So my Sabbath days no longer consist of going to stores or making others work for my benefit.  Sunday consists of attending church, participating in Sunday meetings, partaking of the Sacrament to renew my allegiance to the Savior, serving others, studying the scriptures, enjoying family, and resting from my weekly labors.

We are later told in Mark 2:27 that the “Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”  Like all other commandments, they are given to us for our benefit and development.  The Sabbath is for our own development, so we can become more like Him.

I provide this simple insight not to convert you to my beliefs, but perhaps to enlighten you on your own beliefs. Had I understood the concept of the Sabbath earlier I would have been blessed by living by its principles sooner.