At the end of 1998, LDS Church membership was over 10.3 million. The conflict in Kosovo was still going on.
GORDON B. HINCKLEY -88
THOMAS S. MONSON -71
-James E. Faust -78
Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-Boyd K. Packer -74
-L. Tom Perry -76
-David B. Haight -92
-Neal A. Maxwell -73
-Russell M. Nelson -74
-Dallin H. Oaks -66
-M. Russell Ballard -70
-Joseph B. Wirthlin -81
-Richard G. Scott -70
-Robert D. Hales -67
-Jeffrey R. Holland -58
-Henry B. Eyring -65
Relief Society General Presidency
Mary Ellen Smoot
Virginia U. Jensen
Sheri L. Dew
We are constructing chapels in large numbers to accommodate the needs of our people. There is an old proverb that says it is an ill wind that blows no good. The economic problems that have afflicted Asia and other parts of the world have brought lower real estate prices, thus permitting us to acquire building sites at lower costs.
In many areas of the Church, sacrament meeting attendance is up and the level of activity is increasing.
I mention these items simply to indicate the robust growth of the work throughout the world.
We are prone to speak of large numbers such as the total membership of the Church. But we must never forget that we are all individuals with our own needs and problems, our own hopes and dreams, our own faith and convictions. Some are strong, some weak, but we all try. We have problems to deal with; they are serious and difficult. We need one another, to build and strengthen each other. We must never lose sight of the fact that we are to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).
We must never forget that we live in a world of great diversity. The people of the earth are all our Father’s children and are of many and varied religious persuasions. We must cultivate tolerance and appreciation and respect one another. We have differences of doctrine. This need not bring about animosity or any kind of holier-than-thou attitude.
At this moment our hearts reach out to the brutalized people of Kosovo. It is difficult for us to understand how those who claim to be Christians can act so barbaric to those of another faith. I am grateful that we are rushing humanitarian aid to the victims of these atrocities.
GBH - "The Shepherds of the Flock" (from Priesthood session)
As we have been reminded, this is a season of great evil in the world. No one needs to be reminded of that. We are constantly exposed to the muck and filth of pornography, to salacious and evil behavior totally unbecoming anyone who holds the priesthood of God. It is a challenge to work in the world and live above its filth.
Dishonesty is rampant. It is manifest in cheating that goes on in schools, in the operation of clever schemes, in businesses that rob and defraud. Temptations are everywhere about us; unfortunately, some succumb to these.
Brethren, be strong. Rise above the evils of the world. We need not be prudish. We need not adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. We need only let our personal integrity, our sense of right and wrong, and simple honesty govern our actions.
Let us live the gospel in our homes. Let there be an honest manifestation of love between husbands and wives, between children and their parents. Control the voice of anger. Be absolutely loyal one to another.
Simply “do what is right [and] let the consequence follow” (Hymns, no. 237). So live that each morning you may kneel in prayer, seeking the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, as well as its protective power, as you go about your work of the day. So live that each night, before retiring, you may come before the Lord in prayer without shame or embarrassment or the need to plead for forgiveness. I do not hesitate to say that God will bless you if you will do so. Someday you will grow old and look back upon your life. You will be able to say: “I lived with integrity. I cheated no one, not even myself. I reveled in the companionship of my wife, who is the mother of our children. I am proud of those children. I am grateful to God for His manifest blessings.”
It is essential, even critical, that we study the Aaronic Priesthood pathway, since far too many boys falter, stumble, then fall without advancing into the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood, thereby eroding the active priesthood base of the Church and curtailing the activity of loving wives and precious children.
What can we as leaders do to reverse this trend? The place to begin is at the headwaters of the Aaronic Priesthood stream. There is an ancient proverb which purports to correctly determine the sanity of an individual. A person is shown a stream of water flowing into a stagnant pond. He is given a bucket and asked to commence to drain the pond. If he first takes steps to effectively dam the inflow to the pond, he is adjudged sane. If, on the other hand, he ignores the inflow and tries to empty the pond bucket by bucket, he is designated as insane.
The bishop, by revelation, is the president of the Aaronic Priesthood and is president of the priests quorum in his ward. He cannot delegate these God-given responsibilities. However, he can place accountability with those called as quorum advisers, men who can touch the lives of boys.
The bishop’s counselors, other ward officers and teachers, and particularly the fathers and the mothers of our young men can be of immeasurable help. Also very effective can be the service rendered by Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies.
This, then, is our goal: to save every young man, thereby assuring a worthy husband for each of our young women, strong Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, and a missionary force trained and capable of accomplishing what the Lord expects.
TSM - "For I Was Blind, But Now I See"
When the Prophet Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees made sacred by what occurred there, he described the event:
“It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.” 11
After enduring a harrowing experience from an unseen power, Joseph continued:
“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. …
“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Joseph listened. Joseph learned.
On occasion I will be asked, “Brother Monson, if the Savior appeared to you, what questions would you ask of Him?” My reply is always the same: “I would ask no question of Him. Rather, I would listen!”
In all the world there is nothing quite like the office of bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Except for parents, the bishop has the best opportunity to teach and to cause to be taught the things that matter most. And a bishop has the remarkable opportunity to teach parents about their responsibility; then he must allow them time to teach their children.
The bishop is responsible for the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and for the young women as well. He receives and accounts for tithes and offerings. He is responsible for the temporal affairs of the Church, to seek out the poor, and he has many other duties.
The bishop is “to judge his people by the testimony of the just, and by the assistance of his counselors, according to the laws of the kingdom which are given by the prophets of God.” 2 He is to judge them as to their worthiness to receive the ordinances and serve in offices.
He is to counsel and correct and to preach the gospel to his flock, individually and collectively. In all of this, he is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Crucifixion, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Restoration.
I have heard this described as voluntary service because neither the bishop nor his counselors are paid for what they do. They too pay their tithes and offerings, and they devote endless hours to their calling. They are paid only in blessings, as are those who serve with them.
But one does not exactly volunteer or aspire to be bishop. He is called to be bishop, “called of God, by prophecy.” Then he is both ordained and set apart “by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”...
Do not doubt that an ordinary soul called from the ranks to be bishop can give inspired counsel and correction. Unfortunately, some who could be helped so much are reluctant to seek counsel from the bishop, while others endlessly seem to need counseling and comfort and feel neglected if they are not constantly tended.
Bishops are inspired! Each of us has agency to accept or reject counsel from our leaders, but never disregard the counsel of your bishop, whether given over the pulpit or individually, and never turn down a call from your bishop.
Many years ago the First Presidency issued a statement that has had a profound and lasting influence upon me. “Motherhood,” they wrote, “is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”
Because mothers are essential to God’s great plan of happiness, their sacred work is opposed by Satan, who would destroy the family and demean the worth of women.
You young men need to know that you can hardly achieve your highest potential without the influence of good women, particularly your mother and, in a few years, a good wife. Learn now to show respect and gratitude. Remember that your mother is your mother. She should not need to issue orders. Her wish, her hope, her hint should provide direction that you would honor. Thank her and express your love for her. And if she is struggling to rear you without your father, you have a double duty to honor her...
We who bear the holy priesthood have a sacred duty to honor our sisters. We are old enough and wise enough to know that teasing is wrong. We respect sisters—not only in our immediate families but all the wonderful sisters in our lives. As daughters of God, their potential is divine. Without them, eternal life would be impossible. Our high regard for them should spring from our love of God and from an awareness of their lofty purpose in His great eternal plan.
Hence, I warn against pornography. It is degrading of women. It is evil. It is infectious, destructive, and addictive. The body has means by which it can cleanse itself from harmful effects of contaminated food or drink. But it cannot vomit back the poison of pornography. Once recorded, it always remains subject to recall, flashing its perverted images across your mind, with power to draw you away from the wholesome things in life. Avoid it like the plague!...
As fathers we should have love unbounded for the mothers of our children. We should accord to them the gratitude, respect, and praise that they deserve. Husbands, to keep alive the spirit of romance in your marriage, be considerate and kind in the tender intimacies of your married life. Let your thoughts and actions inspire confidence and trust. Let your words be wholesome and your time together be uplifting. Let nothing in life take priority over your wife—neither work, recreation, nor hobby.
An ideal marriage is a true partnership between two imperfect people, each striving to complement the other, to keep the commandments, and to do the will of the Lord.
The Savior’s Atonement is stunningly inclusive! “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22; emphasis added). Come one, come all, the Lord has invited. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for every man and woman, boy and girl. He doesn’t change the rules for the rich or the poor, the married or unmarried, the Portuguese or the Chinese. The gospel is for every one of us, and the spiritual requirements and rewards are universal. In matters pertaining to salvation, “all are alike unto God” (2 Ne. 26:33; emphasis added). The Lord’s motives stand in stark contrast to those of Lucifer, who is obsessed with attempting to make us feel less than who we are as sons and daughters of God. He despises a consecrated people and delights at obscuring our vision and enticing us away from the path that leads back to our heavenly home...
The Lord knows the way because He is the way and is our only chance for successfully negotiating mortality. His Atonement makes available all of the power, peace, light, and strength that we need to deal with life’s challenges—those ranging from our own mistakes and sins to trials over which we have no control but we still feel pain.
The Lord has promised to heal our broken hearts and “to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18); to give power to the faint, to heal the wounded soul, and to turn our weakness into strength (see Isa. 40:29; Jacob 2:8; Ether 12:27); to take upon Him our pains and sicknesses, to blot out our transgressions if we repent, and loose the bands of death (see Alma 7:11–13). He promised that if we will build our lives upon His rock, the devil will have no power over us (see Hel. 5:12). And He has vowed that He will never leave us or forsake us (see Heb. 13:5). There is simply no mortal equivalent. Not in terms of commitment, power, or love. He is our only chance.