Disciplinary Councils

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(This is an excerpt from the book Counseling with Our Councils, Revised Edition by Elder M. Russell Ballard.)

I’ve known a few rebellious people who disregard the commandments and who transgress God’s laws. I’ve seen their resultant distress and pain. I’ve also seen their joy when, humbled and fully repentant, they have returned to the Church and have had all of their temple and priesthood blessings restored.

Some time ago I was asked by the First Presidency to visit a man on my way to a stake conference. This man had been excommunicated from the Church, had fully repented, and had been found worthy to be readmitted into the Church by baptism. But baptism alone had not restored his priesthood and temple blessings. That was my assignment, acting on behalf of the Lord at the direction of the President of the Church.

The stake president and I found the man lying in a hospital suffering from a disease that left him unable to move or speak. On seeing him, I realized that it would be impossible to conduct the customary interview. Instead, I felt impressed that I should interview his wife, who was there with him. We found a vacant room in the hospital, and I had a wonderful visit with this stalwart woman, the mother of eight children. She had stood by her husband, remaining true and faithful through all his struggles and difficulties. Now she, like her husband, greatly desired that he have his blessings restored.

As we walked back into the husband’s room, I asked his wife to help me communicate with him. During the two years that his body had deteriorated from disease, he had developed a way to communicate with his eyes. I leaned over his bed and said, “I am Elder Ballard. I have been sent here by the President of the Church. I am authorized to restore your blessings. Would you like that?” I quickly saw I wouldn’t need the help of his wife. Tears filled his eyes and ran down his cheeks in affirmative response.

I placed my hands on his head and, using terminology associated with this ordinance, restored to him the Melchizedek Priesthood. He sobbed—perhaps the first sounds he had made in some time. I restored his office of elder in the priesthood. Then I restored to him, by the power of the priesthood, the holy endowment that he had received when he went through the temple for the first time. Last, I restored what was perhaps most valuable to him—his sealing to his wife and children.

As the blessings concluded we were all filled with emotion. I looked at his wife and had the impression that I was to bless her also. I said, “Sister, would you like us to give you a blessing?”

“Oh, I would love a blessing, Brother Ballard,” she said. “I have not had a blessing in a long time.”

I asked her to sit down; then the other priesthood leaders joined me in placing our hands upon her head. But when I tried to bless her, the words would not come. Suddenly, I realized what was blocking the Spirit. We took our hands off her head and I said, “Brethren, let’s move her chair closer to the bed.” We pushed her chair over to where I could lift her husband’s hand and place it on her head. As we proceeded again with the blessing, the words flowed. Blessings were given; conviction and comfort came.

I have since thought what a marvelous lesson that experience teaches us. This man had sinned, and a loving Heavenly Father had required that he repent so he could be worthy to be once again numbered among the Saints. He had subsequently done our Heavenly Father’s will; he had turned his life around; he had repented. Now, back in the Church and continuing to progress, he was worthy to have his greatest blessings restored. And he was able to use his restored priesthood immediately, participating in giving his wife a special priesthood blessing.

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