Thursday, August 21, 2014

General Conference Highlights: April 1989

This was around the time that the Soviet Union fell, which delighted conservative Pres. Benson, a lifelong enemy of communism. Poor health prevented him from speaking this Conference, but he'd prepared two talks which others read. In fact, he missed the rest of the Conferences due to poor health from this point on. He had two talks read at the October 1989 Conference, and afterwards it was just Presidents Hinckley and Monson taking care of First Presidency duties until Benson's death in 1994.

Also, I missed it in my summaries but Dwan J. Young, then the General Primary President of the Church, became the first woman to speak in a General Session of General Conference. Joy F. Evans, first counselor in the General Relief Society presidency, spoke at this April 1989 session, so I included highlights from her talk too.

APRIL 1989

First Presidency

Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-Boyd K. Packer -64
-Marvin J. Ashton -73
-L. Tom Perry -66
-David B. Haight -82
-James E. Faust -68
-Neal A. Maxwell -63
-Russell M. Nelson -64
-Dallin H. Oaks -56
-M. Russell Ballard -60
-Joseph B. Wirthlin -71
-Richard G. Scott -60

Pres. EZRA TAFT BENSON - "Beware of Pride" (as read by Pres. Hinckley)

Pride is a very misunderstood sin, and many are sinning in ignorance. (See Mosiah 3:11; 3 Ne. 6:18.) In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby. (See 2 Ne. 4:15; Mosiah 1:3–7; Alma 5:61.)

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.

Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)...

Contention in our families drives the Spirit of the Lord away. It also drives many of our family members away. Contention ranges from a hostile spoken word to worldwide conflicts. The scriptures tell us that “only by pride cometh contention.” (Prov. 13:10; see also Prov. 28:25.)

The scriptures testify that the proud are easily offended and hold grudges. (See 1 Ne. 16:1–3.) They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.

The proud do not receive counsel or correction easily. (See Prov. 15:10; Amos 5:10.) Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize their frailties and failures. (See Matt. 3:9; John 6:30–59.)

The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.”..

We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; 3 Ne. 13:33; Moro. 10:32.) Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can.

My dear brethren and sisters, we must prepare to redeem Zion. It was essentially the sin of pride that kept us from establishing Zion in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was the same sin of pride that brought consecration to an end among the Nephites. (See 4 Ne. 1:24–25.)

Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. I repeat: Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. We must cleanse the inner vessel by conquering pride. (See Alma 6:2–4; Matt. 23:25–26.)

ETB - "To the Children of the Church" (as read by Pres. Monson)

For my closing message at this conference, I would now like to speak to the children of the Church—yes, to you, our precious children. And as you listen, I pray that you will know that this is a personal message just for you.

How I love you! How our Heavenly Father loves you! Just like the beautiful Primary song you sing, each of you truly is a child of God. For you, rich blessings are in store, and if you learn to do His will, you will live with Him once more. I know this to be true. (See “I Am a Child of God,” Hymns, 1985, no. 301.)

Today I desire to teach you what our Heavenly Father wants you to know so that you can learn to do His will and enjoy true happiness. It will help you now and throughout your life...

He wants you to pray to Him every day. He wants to help you because He loves you, and He will help you if you pray to Him and ask Him for His help. In your prayers, also thank Him for your blessings. Thank Him for sending our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, into the world. He made it possible for us to return to our heavenly home. Thank Him for your family. Thank Him for the Church. Thank Him for this beautiful world you live in. Ask Him to protect you. In your prayers, ask Him to help you know what to do in your life. When you make mistakes, your Heavenly Father still loves you. So pray to Him, and He will help you try again to do right.

Pray to Heavenly Father to bless you with His Spirit at all times. We often call the Spirit the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is also a gift from Heavenly Father. The Holy Ghost helps you to choose the right. The Holy Ghost will protect you from evil. He whispers to you in a still, small voice to do right. When you do good, you feel good, and that is the Holy Ghost speaking to you. The Holy Ghost is a wonderful companion. He is always there to help you.

HOWARD W. HUNTER - "The God That Doest Wonders"

Not surprisingly, these signs and marvels were most evident in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the very Son of God himself. But startling and wonder-filled as they were, Christ’s many miracles were only reflections of those greater marvels which his Father had performed before him and continues to perform all around us. Indeed, the Savior’s humble performance of such obviously divine acts may be just one very special application of the declarations he made:

“The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19) and “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me” (John 8:28).

For example, the first miracle by Jesus recorded in the New Testament was the turning of water into wine at the marriage at Cana. (See John 2:1–11.) But poor, indeed, was the making of the wine in the pots of stone, compared with its original making in the beauty of the vine and the abundance of the swelling grapes. No one could explain the onetime miracle at the wedding feast, but then neither could they explain the everyday miracle of the splendor of the vineyard itself.

It is most remarkable to witness one who is deaf made to hear again. But surely that great blessing is no more startling than the wondrous combination of bones and skin and nerves that lets our ears receive the beautiful world of sound. Should we not stand in awe of the blessing of hearing and give glory to God for that miracle, even as we do when hearing is restored after it has been lost?

GORDON B. HINCKLEY - "Magnify Your Calling" (from Priesthood session)

Oliver, with Joseph Smith, received the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist, and subsequently the Melchizedek Priesthood under the hands of Peter, James, and John. He magnified that priesthood as a witness to the Book of Mormon, as a Counselor to the Prophet, as one to select the Twelve Apostles and to instruct them, as a missionary in moving the Church across the frontiers of the western territories, and as a teacher and speaker whose voice rang with great and persuasive power.

But he turned and began to look through the wrong end of the lens. He found fault. He complained. His calling shrank, he diminished his priesthood, he distanced himself from those in authority in the Church.

Gone was the voice of persuasion, gone was the power of the priesthood of God which he once held and magnified. For eleven years, he walked almost alone, without friends. He walked in poverty and in sickness.

Then in the fall of 1848, he and his family made their way to Council Bluffs and found themselves again among many of the Saints who at that time were moving to the West. At a conference held in Kanesville on the 24th of October, 1848, he stood and said:

“Friends and Brethren:
“My name is Cowdery—Oliver Cowdery. In the history of the Church I stood … in her councils. Not because I was better than other men was I called … to fill the purposes of God. He called me to a high and holy calling. I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and he translated it by the power and gift of God, by means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by that book, ‘Holy Interpreter.’
“I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was translated. … That book is true, Sidney Rigdon did not write it; Mr. Spaulding did not write it; I wrote it myself as it fell from the lips of the Prophet. …
“I was present with Joseph when an Holy Angel from Heaven came down and conferred upon us … the Aaronic Priesthood, and said to us, at the same time, that it should remain on earth while the earth stands. I was also present with Joseph when the Higher or Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred by the Holy Angels from on high. …
“Brethren, for a number of years, I have been separated from you. I now desire to come back. I wish to come humble and be one in your midst. I seek no station. I only wish to be identified with you. I am out of the Church, but I wish to become a member. I wish to come in at the door: I know the door, I have not come here to seek precedence. I come humbly and throw myself upon the decision of the body, knowing as I do, that its decisions are right.” (Stanley R. Gunn, Oliver Cowdery, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962, pp. 203–4.)

He was accepted. He was baptized again. He longed to gather with the Saints in the valleys of the mountains, but he died March 3, 1850, without ever realizing that dream.

GBH - "Let Love Be the Lodestar of Your Life"

A distinguished Protestant minister called on us the other day. In the course of our conversation he asked, “How do you feel about things?”

I replied, “I feel very optimistic. Things are happening in the world that are salutary and good. There are wars, yes. There is conflict, yes. But there also is much of peace among the nations of the earth. Something of tremendous significance is happening in the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. There is growing freedom of expression and activity. A new openness is developing. I feel the spirit of Christ is brooding over the nations of the earth.

“Of course there are problems, many and serious. We sorrow over the plague of drugs with its bitter harvest. We deplore the terrible scourge of pornography. We grieve over the wicked flood of immorality and abortion. We are concerned with the epidemic of infidelity, of divorce and broken homes. We are disturbed over the plight of the homeless and over stark hunger in many parts of the earth.

“But the remarkable thing is that so many people care. More than at any time in the history of the world, I believe, there are men and women by the tens of thousands who are reaching out with their strength and their substance to help those in distress. Modern science and medicine are doing wonders to alleviate pain and prolong life. There is greater fulfillment in the lives of millions."...

The Church is moving forward because it is true. It is growing because there is a broadening love for that truth. It is growing because of a love for God, a love for the Savior, a love for neighbor, and a strengthening spirit of love in the homes of the people. It is this love which is the great constant in all of our work. It stems from that love which is divine:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.)...

Let love become the lodestar of our lives. Surely we are a blessed people. We are blessed with the good things of earth, and we are blessed with the precious things of heaven. The holy priesthood is among us; its powers extend beyond the veil of death. In the sacred houses which we call temples, there is opportunity to do for others that which they cannot do for themselves. As surely as Christ offered Himself a vicarious sacrifice for all mankind, so we can engage in vicarious service in behalf of some of mankind, thus affording them the opportunity to move forward on the road of immortality and eternal life. Great is this work of love which goes on in these holy houses. Legion are the men and women who, with total unselfishness, labor day and night in this work which speaks of divinity.

THOMAS S. MONSON - "Go for It!" (from Priesthood session)

Tonight, as I look at you young men and realize who you are and what you may become, I say to you, as that lawyer said to Pip, “My boy, you have great expectations”—not as the result of an unknown benefactor, but as the result of a known Benefactor, even our Heavenly Father, and great things are expected of you.

All of us, before the period known as mortality, lived as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. In His wisdom, He has given us a record, in the book of Abraham, which tells us something of that existence:

“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; …
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
“And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” (Abr. 3:22, 24–26.)

As we journey through mortality, let us remember from whence we came; let us be true to the trust vested in us. Let us remember who we are and what God expects us to become...

Brethren of the priesthood, like the Charles Dickens character Philip Pirrip, we have great expectations. The goal of eternal life awaits. May we strive unflinchingly for its attainment. In the language of the young men assembled tonight, “Let’s go for it!”

TSM - "Thanks Be to God"

Exactly fifty years ago, in 1939, the heads of state in Europe solemnly returned their position papers to leather briefcases, arose from their chairs at the conference table, and returned to their respective countries. Peace had perished. Mighty armies crossed international borders. Warplanes droned overhead; giant tanks lumbered forward. World War II had begun.

Hundreds of missionaries were withdrawn from Europe and reassigned elsewhere in the world. The membership of the Church in those areas, now deprived of missionary leadership, carried on valiantly. Carnage, suffering, and death enveloped Europe.

After six terrible years, the conflict ceased and a mammoth rebuilding effort was commenced. Missionaries returned to some nations, the gospel was taught, and the Church began to grow.

In other countries, new political boundaries sprang up, borders bristled with armaments, and missionaries were denied entry. Our members there endured a period marked by patient waiting, fervent praying, and faithful living.

In October 1988, as my plane droned onward to Berlin, my thoughts were upon these nations and my heart felt concern for their people, particularly our own members who had unflinchingly borne their burdens and suffered in silence. I sat back somewhat in reverie, contemplating my lengthy assignment to the German Democratic Republic. For twenty years this had been a vital part of my ministry. My mind filled with memories. My heart overflowed with gratitude to God. I reflected on the history of the Church in the land to which I was going...

The faith and devotion of our members in that nation have not gone unnoticed by God. The excellent service of other General Authorities, Regional Representatives, and mission presidents has been of inestimable help. The understanding cooperation of government leaders is most appreciated. Assignments have been made to the first ten missionaries from the German Democratic Republic to serve abroad; and just three days ago, on Thursday, March 30, the first full-time missionary representatives in exactly fifty years entered the German Democratic Republic. Their mission president was there to greet them. The long period of preparation is past. The future of the Church unfolds. Thanks be to God.

JOY F. EVANS - "Lord, When Saw We Thee An Hungered?"

Almost every day we have the opportunity to feed the hungry, to visit the sick, to help bear one another’s burdens, even as the Savior taught. Sometimes the service is given to our family, our children, our husbands or wives, our parents, our loved ones. Sometimes it is a neighbor or a friend in need, sometimes a stranger.

Having compassion on those who are hurting for whatever reason and then translating the response of the heart into the needed act is truly ministering as God would have us do.

At the time of the organization of the Relief Society, the Prophet Joseph Smith told the sisters that they were now in a position to act according to those sympathies which God had placed in their bosoms. (See History of the Church, 4:605.)

Today, countless women in the Church reach out to others through visiting teaching and compassionate service, which are still the heart of Relief Society. They bless the lives of others and buoy up those who may be discouraged or homesick, frightened, or disheartened. They remember the counsel given us by a prophet that “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Dec. 1974, p. 5.) The book of Proverbs admonishes us to “withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” (Prov. 3:27.)

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