Thursday, August 21, 2014

General Conference Highlights: April 1985

Back to a full General Conference summary. Spencer W. Kimball was in poor health, as was First Counselor Marion G. Romney, so Second Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley, who was fifth in seniority, carried the leadership load. Still no Relief Society session in April. It was the last Conference at which Pres. Kimball attended in person, and this was also the last Conference for Bruce R. McConkie, who gave a powerful testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and died two weeks later.

APRIL 1985

First Presidency
-Marion G. Romney -87

Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-Boyd K. Packer -60
-Marvin J. Ashton -69
-Bruce R. McConkie -69
-L. Tom Perry -62
-David B. Haight -78
-James E. Faust -64
-Neal A. Maxwell -59
-Russell M. Nelson -60
-Dallin H. Oaks -52


Attended but did not speak.

EZRA TAFT BENSON - "Our Responsibility to Share the Gospel"

Our mission as a Church is to preach the gospel to all the world. That means, in due time, every country, nationality, and people. In a letter to Mr. John Wentworth in March 1842, Joseph Smith prophesied: “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; … the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” (History of the Church, 4:540)

To appreciate the accelerated progress that the Church has made in the last few decades, consider that it took 117 years for the Church to reach its first million members (1947); 16 years to reach its second million (1963); and 9 years its third million (1972). But during President Kimball’s administration as President of the Church, over two million people were added.

Yet there is much to do before the work of God can be pronounced completed. Hearts of leaders of nations must be softened, doors of nations opened, false ideologies overcome, and the gospel presented to all our Heavenly Father’s children...

Missionary service requires great faith. I know how difficult it is for older couples to decide to serve missions. I have two widowed sisters who went on a mission to England together. A brother has just left for his third mission with his wife. Many couples can attest that their missionary service was among their happiest times together because they were completely dedicated to one purpose—missionary work.

Yes, brothers and sisters, the field is “white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.” (D&C 4:4.)

ETB - "Preparing Yourselves for Missionary Service" (from Priesthood Session)

I want to say a few words to you young men who are here tonight because you hold the priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is to prepare you to serve—to serve our Heavenly Father all the days of your life. Most of you within the sound of my voice are preparing for a mission. Let me suggest four ways that you young men can prepare now for your missions.

First, prepare yourselves physically. A two-year mission today requires good physical health. It requires that you keep your body clean. In your early teenage years, when temptations come to you to take things into your body which are unsuitable, have the courage to resist. Live the Word of Wisdom—no smoking, no drinking of any alcoholic beverages, and no drugs. Keep your body pure—a pure vessel for the Lord.

Stay morally clean. This means that you keep a clean mind. Your thoughts will determine your actions, and so they must be controlled. It’s difficult to control those thoughts if you submit yourself to temptation. So you will have to carefully select your reading material, the movies you see, and the other forms of entertainment in order to have good thoughts rather than unwholesome desires.

Second, prepare yourselves mentally. A mission requires a great deal of mental preparation. You must memorize missionary discussions, memorize scriptures, and ofttimes learn a new language. The discipline to do this is learned in your early years.

Establish now the daily practice of reading the scriptures ten to fifteen minutes each day. If you do so, by the time you reach the mission field, you will have read all four of the standard works. I urge you to read particularly the Book of Mormon so that you can testify of its truthfulness as the Lord has directed.

Third, prepare yourselves socially. A mission requires that you get along with others. You must get along with your companion, who is with you twenty-four hours a day. You must learn to meet people and be gracious and practice good manners. One of the greatest assets that a person has in life is the ability to make friends. When you make a friend of a person, you can teach him the gospel.

Fourth, prepare yourselves spiritually. A spiritual person obeys all the Lord’s commandments. He prays to our Heavenly Father, and he gives service to others.

HOWARD W. HUNTER - "Christ, Our Passover"

When Jesus was but twelve years old, he went to Jerusalem with his parents to take part in the Passover celebration. Luke’s account tells us that Jesus remained behind in the temple after his parents had departed for home. They returned with fear and anxiety to find him among the doctors of the law “both hearing them, and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46.) Luke records that all who “heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” (Luke 2:47.)

Could it have been possible that Jesus was teaching these older and formally trained men about the meaning of the Passover just celebrated? Would it have surprised them that one so young and seemingly inexperienced would have known so much about the meaning of that fateful night in Egypt so long ago and so far away? Would they have been amazed at his knowledge of the lamb and the blood and the firstborn and the sacrifice? The scriptures are silent on such questions.

As the Gospel of John makes clear, the feast of the Passover marked significant milestones during the mortal ministry of Christ. At the first Passover in his ministry, Jesus made his mission known by purifying the temple when he drove from its portals the money changers and those who sold animals. In the second Passover Jesus manifested his power by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Christ here introduced the symbols that would later have even greater meaning in the Upper Room. “I am the bread of life,” he said. “He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35.)...

With the suffering of Gethsemane, the sacrifice of Calvary, and the resurrection from a garden tomb, Jesus fulfilled the ancient law and ushered in a new dispensation based on a higher, holier understanding of the law of sacrifice. No more would men be required to offer the firstborn lamb from their flock, because the Firstborn of God had come to offer himself as an “infinite and eternal sacrifice.” This is the majesty of the Atonement and Resurrection, not just a passover from death, but a gift of eternal life.

GORDON B. HINCKLEY - "Opening Remarks"

My beloved brethren and sisters, my heart reaches out to you, wherever you are, with a great overflowing spirit of gratitude. This vast congregation spans the continents of the world as we are assembled in this great general conference.

We are so delighted to have President Kimball with us this morning. He recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday. While he is unable to speak to us, his very presence stirs within each of us a great sense of appreciation to the Lord, who has spared his life during these four score and ten years. That is a long season for the life of a man in this generation. He is here because of the manifest power of the Lord. I assure you that we meet with him frequently and that no action for which there is not a well-established pattern is taken without his approval. He customarily meets with us in the weekly temple meetings of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve. His presence is a blessing and an inspiration to all of us. Unitedly we invoke the favor of the Lord upon him that he may be preserved in comfort and ease.

GBH - "To Please Our Heavenly Father"

What would your Father in Heaven have you do that would please Him? First, you boys. He would have you live honestly. That means no cheating in your schoolwork. No boy anxious to please his Heavenly Father would fail to take advantage of educational opportunities. Through words of modern revelation the Lord has laid upon us responsibilities to seek learning “by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118.) The Lord expects each of us to live productive and useful lives. Youth is the season of preparation, and we will please him if we apply ourselves to train our minds and hands that we may make a more substantial contribution to the society of which we are a part.

No boy anxious to please his Heavenly Father could belittle or degrade a daughter of our Father in Heaven through immorality. He would realize that to degrade or dishonor a girl would be to insult her Father in Heaven who loves her and who expects great and good things of her.

Every young man seeking to please his Heavenly Father would be willing and anxious to give approximately a tithe of his life at the age of nineteen or twenty to go into the world to preach the gospel. He would save his money for this; he would plan his life’s program around it; he would keep himself physically, mentally, and morally alert, as well as spiritually strong, to be prepared for this great and sacred responsibility.

GBH - "The Victory Over Death"

Thanks be to God for the wonder and the majesty of His eternal plan. Thank and glorify His Beloved Son, who, with indescribable suffering, gave His life on Calvary’s cross to pay the debt of mortal sin. He it was who, through His atoning sacrifice, broke the bonds of death and with godly power rose triumphant from the tomb. He is our Redeemer, the Redeemer of all mankind. He is the Savior of the world. He is the Son of God, the Author of our salvation.

“If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14.) This is the great universal question framed by Job. He spoke what every other living man or woman has pondered. The Christ alone, of all the millions who up to that time had walked the earth, was the first to emerge from the grave triumphant, a living soul complete in spirit and body. He became “the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Cor. 15:20.) Were greater words ever spoken than those of the angel that first resurrection morn—“Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5.) “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” (Matt. 28:6.)

His death sealed the testimony of His love for all mankind. His resurrection opened the gates of salvation to the sons and daughters of God of all generations.

GBH - "God Has A Work for Us to Do"

I love to read of the visit of Moroni to the boy Joseph Smith—that night when he was only a youth, when a messenger clothed in white appeared before him in his bedroom. He was a farm boy, with very little in the way of formal education. But he had received a vision three years earlier, the like of which no man in his generation—or in any generation since—has received, when God the Eternal Father and the resurrected Lord had appeared to him.

Now the angel Moroni came, and according to the Prophet’s testimony, “said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.” (JS—H 1:33.)

THOMAS S. MONSON - "The Spirit Giveth Life"

The Apostle Paul, in his second epistle to the Corinthians, urges that we turn from the narrow confinement of the letter of the law and seek the open vista of opportunity which the Spirit provides. I love and cherish Paul’s statement: “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor. 3:6.)

In a day of danger or a time of trial, such knowledge, such hope, such understanding bring comfort to the troubled mind and grieving heart. The entire message of the New Testament breathes a spirit of awakening to the human soul. Shadows of despair are dispelled by rays of hope, sorrow yields to joy, and the feeling of being lost in the crowd of life vanishes with the certain knowledge that our Heavenly Father is mindful of each of us.

The Savior provided assurance of this truth when He taught that even a sparrow shall not fall to the ground unnoticed by our Father. He then concluded the beautiful thought by saying, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29–31.)

We live in a complex world with daily challenges. There is a tendency to feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. We worry that we walk alone.

From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with the tears of loneliness, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Josh. 1:5.)...

As a bishop, I worried about any members who were inactive, not attending, not serving. Such was my thought as I drove down the street where Ben and Emily lived. They were older—even in the twilight period of life. Aches and pains of advancing years caused them to withdraw from activity to the shelter of their home—isolated, detached, shut out from the mainstream of daily life and association.

I felt the unmistakable prompting to park my car and visit Ben and Emily, even though I was on the way to a meeting. It was a sunny weekday afternoon. I approached the door to their home and knocked. Emily answered. When she recognized me, her bishop, she exclaimed, “All day long I have waited for my phone to ring. It has been silent. I hoped that the postman would deliver a letter. He brought only bills. Bishop, how did you know today was my birthday?”

I answered, “God knows, Emily, for He loves you.”

In the quiet of the living room, I said to Ben and Emily, “I don’t know why I was directed here today, but our Heavenly Father knows. Let’s kneel in prayer and ask Him why.” This we did, and the answer came. Emily was asked to sing in the choir—even to provide a solo for the forthcoming ward conference. Ben was asked to speak to the Aaronic Priesthood young men and recount a special experience in his life when his safety was assured by responding to the promptings of the Spirit. She sang. He spoke. Hearts were gladdened by the return to activity of Ben and Emily. They rarely missed a sacrament meeting from that day to the time each was called home. The language of the Spirit had been spoken. It had been heard. It had been understood. Hearts were touched and lives saved.

I will also include Monson's talk from October 1985:

TSM - "Those Who Love Jesus"

The importance of demonstrating daily a true and an abiding love was convincingly taught by the Master when the inquiring lawyer stepped forward and boldly asked him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Matthew records that “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:36–39.)

Mark concludes the account with the Savior’s statement, “There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31.)

His answer could not be faulted. His very actions gave credence to His words. He demonstrated genuine love of God by living the perfect life, by honoring the sacred mission that was His. Never was He haughty. Never was He puffed up with pride. Never was He disloyal. Ever was He humble. Ever was He sincere. Ever was He true.

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