Sunday, July 13, 2014

General Conference Highlights: April 1973

General Conferences are online going back to 1971. Continuing to look at what the prophets and future prophets were saying through the years.

APRIL 1973

HAROLD B. LEE - Prophet/President
SPENCER W. KIMBALL - President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles
EZRA TAFT BENSON - 2nd Apostle
HOWARD W. HUNTER - 7th Apostle
GORDON B. HINCKLEY - 8th Apostle
THOMAS S. MONSON - 9th Apostle

Pres. HAROLD B. LEE - "Strengthen the Stakes of Zion"

At that time there was but a small body of Church members just beginning to emerge as an organization, after having experienced harsh treatment from enemies outside the Church, who had then been directed to gather together in Jackson County, Missouri, which the Lord had designated as the “land of Zion.”

As though to impress upon these early struggling members their destiny in the world, the Lord in another revelation told them this:

“Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.” (D&C 97:21.)...

In the preface to all the Lord’s revelations that he gave from the beginning of this dispensation, he issued this fateful warning, which must never be absent from our minds. This prophetic warning of 1831 was given, as the Lord declared, so that “all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion.” (D&C 1:35.)

Now 142 years later we are witnessing the fury of this time, when Satan has power over his own dominion, with such might that even the Master in his day referred to him as the “prince of this world,” the “enemy of all righteousness.”

Despite these dire predictions and the evidences of their fulfillment truly before us today, there is promised in this same revelation even a greater power to thwart Satan’s plans to destroy the work of the Lord. Here the Lord makes this promise to the Saints of the Most High God, to the righteous in heart to whom he has referred as “the people of Zion.”...

I want to bear my sacred witness that because I know of the divinity of this work, I know that it will prevail; and that though there may be enemies within and without the Church who would seek to undermine and would seek to find fault and try to undermine the influence of the Church in the world, this church will be borne off triumphantly and will stand through the test of time when all the man-made efforts and weapons forged against the Lord’s word will fall by the wayside. I know that our Lord and Master Jesus Christ is the head of this church; that he has daily communion through agencies known to him, not only to the leaders of the Church in high positions, but also to individual members as they keep the commandments of God.

HBL - "Follow the Leadership of the Church"

Now we have also had some who claim to be in good standing in order to take advantage of the gathering of the Saints at some of our general conferences, and who have gone so far as to program group meetings for their own interest, with the obvious hope that by doing so, many of our conference visitors may be urged to attend their meetings, even if it may have necessitated their absence from vitally important instructional sessions of the conference.

Furthermore, some designing individuals have solicited opportunities to speak at church gatherings, firesides, priesthood quorums, sacrament meetings. Now, brethren, we feel it is of the utmost importance to lift a warning voice so that our people will be safeguarded against such tactics as an all too obvious self-seeking opportunity to spread their own propaganda for their own interests...

We must call ourselves to new service and new responsibilities, and not stand idly by and let these things go without challenge. Our youth are in danger. Keep your home ties strong, brethren. See to it, as we have all tried to say, and as I have repeated it many times and some have quoted it in this conference, that “the greatest of the Lord’s work you brethren will ever do as fathers will be within the walls of your own home.” Don’t neglect your wives, you brethren. Don’t neglect your children. Take time for family home evening. Draw your children around about you. Teach them, guide them, and guard them. There was never a time when we needed so much the strength and the solidarity of the home. If we will do that, this church will grow by leaps and bounds in strength and influence throughout the world. No longer need you be considered as a hiss and byword. We should stand four-square for the things that are honorable, righteous, pure, virtuous, and true.

HBL - "Stand Ye in Holy Places"

Sitting where we do as the First Presidency, we have been aware these last six months that there has been such a feeling of need to have questions answered, to have spoken from this pulpit at this conference things that are needed by so many in this mixed-up world, to help them to set guidelines for their own lives.

I believe I have never known when the General Authorities have so completely covered the various areas where we have had great concern. If you want to know what the Lord has for this people at the present time, I would admonish you to get and read the discourses that have been delivered at this conference; for what these brethren have spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost is the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. I am sure all who have listened, if they have been in tune, have felt the sincerity and the deep conviction from those who have spoken so appropriately and so effectively...

The great call has come now in the sermons of the brethren to aid those who are in need of aid, not just temporal aid, but spiritual aid. The greatest miracles I see today are not necessarily the healing of sick bodies, but the greatest miracles I see are the healing of sick souls, those who are sick in soul and spirit and are downhearted and distraught, on the verge of nervous breakdowns. We are reaching out to all such, because they are precious in the sight of the Lord, and we want no one to feel that they are forgotten...

And so I come to you today, with no shadow of doubting in my mind that I know the reality of the person who is presiding over this church, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. I know that he is. I know that he is closer to us than many times we have any idea. They are not an absentee Father and Lord. They are concerned about us, helping to prepare us for the advent of the Savior, whose coming certainly isn’t too far away because of the signs that are becoming apparent.

SPENCER W. KIMBALL - "The Family Influence"

It seems that while the world accepts the spurious and the vulgar and the errors, there is an increasing number of wise leaders who write and speak of the importance of the family and home life....

To any thoughtful person it must be obvious that intimate association without marriage is sin; that children without parenthood and family life is tragedy; that society without basic family life is without foundation and will disintegrate into nothingness and oblivion.

EZRA TAFT BENSON - "Watchman, Warn the People"

As watchmen on the tower of Zion, it is our obligation and right as leaders to speak out against current evils—evils that strike at the very foundation of all we hold dear as the true church of Christ and as members of Christian nations.

As one of these watchmen, with a love for humanity, I accept humbly this obligation and challenge and gratefully strive to do my duty without fear. In times as serious as these, we must not permit fear of criticism to keep us from doing our duty, even at the risk of our counsel being tabbed as political, as government becomes more and more entwined in our daily lives.

In the crisis through which we are now passing, we have been fully warned. This has brought forth some criticism. There are some of us who do not want to hear the message. It embarrasses us. The things which are threatening our lives, our welfare, our freedoms are the very things some of us have been condoning. Many do not want to be disturbed as they continue to enjoy their comfortable complacency....

How strong is our will to remain free—to be good? False thinking and false ideologies, dressed in the most pleasing forms, quietly—almost without our knowing it—seek to reduce our moral defenses and to captivate our minds. They entice with bright promises of security, cradle-to-grave guarantees of many kinds. They masquerade under various names, but all may be recognized by one thing—one thing they all have in common: to erode away character and man’s freedom to think and act for himself.

Effort will be made to lull us away into a false security. Proposals will be and are being offered and programs sponsored that have wide appeal. Attractive labels are usually attached to the most dangerous programs, often in the name of public welfare and personal security. Again, let us not be misled.  Freedom can be killed by neglect as well as by direct attack.

Too long have too many Americans, and people of the free world generally, stood by as silent accessories to the crimes of assault against freedom—assault against basic economic and spiritual principles and traditions that have made nations strong.

(In this talk he has a lengthy quote from a speech by Governor Ronald Reagan from 1969 where he compares the times to that of Rome right before it fell.)

HOWARD W. HUNTER - "This Is My Gospel"

This thought comes to me because we are approaching the season of the year when Christians around the world celebrate Easter by commemorating the events of the Savior’s last few days in mortality, his death, and his resurrection from the tomb. These happenings, which occurred many years ago in Jerusalem, are recalled to us by the writings of the New Testament. His death, however, did not bring his personal ministry to a conclusion.

An account in the Book of Mormon, a second witness for Christ, gives us additional knowledge of the teachings of the Master. This record tells of his appearance to the people of this Western Hemisphere after his death and resurrection, adding much to our understanding of the great atoning sacrifice.

GORDON B. HINCKLEY - "The True Strength of this Church"

The Savior did not equivocate when he said to Nicodemus: “Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5.) There were no exceptions. There was no permissiveness in complying with the rule. It was so in other matters of which he spoke.

Paul never hedged nor quibbled when setting forth the requirements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is so today. The Lord himself declared that “strait is the gate and narrow is the way.” Any system dealing with the eternal consequences of human behavior must set guidelines and adhere to them, and no system can long command the loyalties of men that does not expect of them certain measures of discipline, and particularly of self-discipline. The cost in comfort may be great. The sacrifice may be real. But this very demanding reality is the substance of which come character and strength and nobility.

Permissiveness never produced greatness. Integrity, loyalty, strength are virtues whose sinews are developed through the struggles that go on within a man as he practices self-discipline under the demands of divinely spoken truth...

We are gathered today on Temple Square in this historic Tabernacle, surrounded by other remarkable buildings, but the strength of the Church is not in these buildings, nor in its thousands of houses of worship across the world, nor in its universities and hospitals. These are all facilities, desirable, means to an end, but only auxiliary to that which is the true strength. As President Lee indicated yesterday, the strength of this church lies in the hearts of its people, in the individual testimony and conviction of the truth of this work. When an individual has that witness and testimony, the requirements of the Church become challenges rather than burdens. Declared the Savior: “… my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:30.)

The yoke of Church responsibility, the burden of Church leadership become opportunities rather than problems to him who wears the mantle of dedicated membership in the church of Jesus Christ.

THOMAS S. MONSON - "Yellow Canaries with Gray on Their Wings"

All of us are prone to excuse our own mediocre performance. We blame our misfortunes, our disfigurements, or our so-called handicaps. Victims of our own rationalization, we say silently to ourselves: “I’m just too weak,” or “I’m not cut out for better things.” Others soar beyond our meager accomplishments. Envy and discouragement then take their toll.

Can we not appreciate that our very business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves? To break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever—this is the true idea: to get ahead of ourselves.

To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility. You ask, “How might we achieve these goals?” I answer, “By getting a true perspective of who we really are!” We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created. Think of that truth: “Created in the image of God.” We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power, even the strength to live the commandments of God, the power to resist the temptations of Satan...

The Master could be found mingling with the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed, and the afflicted. He brought hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and freedom to the captive. He taught of the better life to come—even eternal life. This knowledge ever directs those who receive the divine injunction: “Follow thou me.” It guided Peter. It motivated Paul. It can determine our personal destiny. Can we make the decision to follow in righteousness and truth the Redeemer of the world? With his help a rebellious boy can become an obedient man, a wayward girl can cast aside the old self and begin anew. Indeed, the gospel of Jesus Christ can change men’s lives.

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