As we get closer to present day, I decided to do shorter highlights but select something from each talk by each member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, as well as President Julie B. Beck, who was head of the Relief Society from 2007 to 2012.
THOMAS S. MONSON -82
-Henry B. Eyring -76
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf -70
Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-Boyd K. Packer -85
-L. Tom Perry -87
-Russell M. Nelson -85
-Dallin H. Oaks -77
-M. Russell Ballard -81
-Richard G. Scott -81
-Robert D. Hales -78
-Jeffrey R. Holland -69
-David A. Bednar -57
-Quentin L. Cook -70
-D. Todd Christofferson -65
-Neil L. Andersen -59
Relief Society General Presidency
Julie B. Beck
Silvia H. Allred
Since last we met, the Church has continued to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance in various locations around the world. In the past three months alone, humanitarian assistance has been provided in French Polynesia, Mongolia, Bolivia, Peru, Arizona, Mexico, Portugal, and Uganda, among other areas. Most recently we have assisted in Haiti and Chile following devastating earthquakes and tsunamis in those areas. We express our love to our Church members who have suffered in these disasters. You are in our prayers. We express profound gratitude to all of you for your willingness to assist with our humanitarian efforts by sharing your resources and, in many cases, your time, your talents, and your expertise.
This year marks 25 years since our humanitarian program became part of our welfare effort. The number of individuals assisted by this program could never adequately be measured. We will always strive to be among the first on the scene of disasters, wherever they may occur.
TSM - "Preparation Brings Blessings" (from Priesthood session)
The Apostle Paul declared: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Brethren, it is our responsibility to keep our temples clean and pure.
Hard drugs, wrongful use of prescription drugs, alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco products destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Any form of alcohol is harmful to your spirit and your body. Tobacco can enslave you, weaken your lungs, and shorten your life.
Music can help you draw closer to your Heavenly Father. It can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite. However, music can, by its tempo, beat, intensity, and lyrics, dull your spiritual sensitivity. You cannot afford to fill your minds with unworthy music.
Because sexual intimacy is so sacred, the Lord requires self-control and purity before marriage as well as full fidelity after marriage. In dating, treat your date with respect and expect your date to show that same respect for you. Tears inevitably follow transgression.
President David O. McKay, ninth President of the Church, advised, “I implore you to think clean thoughts.” He then made this significant declaration of truth: “Every action is preceded by a thought. If we want to control our actions, we must control our thinking.” Brethren, fill your minds with good thoughts, and your actions will be proper. May each of you be able to echo in truth the line from Tennyson spoken by Sir Galahad: “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.”
TSM - "He Is Risen!"
Centuries ago the man Job—so long blessed with every material gift, only to find himself sorely afflicted by all that can befall a human being—sat with his companions and uttered the timeless, ageless question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” 3 Job spoke what every other living man or woman has pondered.
This glorious Easter morning I’d like to consider Job’s question—“If a man die, shall he live again?”—and provide the answer which comes not only from thoughtful consideration but also from the revealed word of God. I begin with the essentials.
If there is a design in this world in which we live, there must be a Designer. Who can behold the many wonders of the universe without believing that there is a design for all mankind? Who can doubt that there is a Designer?
In the book of Genesis we learn that the Grand Designer created the heaven and the earth: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”...
Last of all, He created man in His own image—male and female—with dominion over all other living things.
Man alone received intelligence—a brain, a mind, and a soul. Man alone, with these attributes, had the capacity for faith and hope, for inspiration and ambition.
Who could persuasively argue that man—the noblest work of the Great Designer, with dominion over all living things, with a brain and a will, with a mind and a soul, with intelligence and divinity—should come to an end when the spirit forsakes its earthly temple?...
There was very little written of the boyhood of Jesus. I love the passage from Luke: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” 6 And from the book of Acts, there is a short phrase concerning the Savior which has a world of meaning: “[He] went about doing good.”
He was baptized by John in the river Jordan. He called the Twelve Apostles. He blessed the sick. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. He taught, He testified, and He provided a perfect example for us to follow.
And then the mortal mission of the Savior of the world drew to its close. A last supper with His Apostles took place in an upper room. Ahead lay Gethsemane and Calvary’s cross.
No mere mortal can conceive the full import of what Christ did for us in Gethsemane. He Himself later described the experience: “[The] suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit.”...
Finally, on a hill called Calvary, while helpless followers looked on, His wounded body was nailed to a cross. Mercilessly He was mocked and cursed and derided. And yet He cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”...
No words in Christendom mean more to me than those spoken by the angel to the weeping Mary Magdalene and the other Mary when, on the first day of the week, they approached the tomb to care for the body of their Lord. Spoke the angel:
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?
“He is not here, but is risen.”
Our Savior lived again. The most glorious, comforting, and reassuring of all events of human history had taken place—the victory over death. The pain and agony of Gethsemane and Calvary had been wiped away. The salvation of mankind had been secured...
I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those who experienced the grief of Christ’s Crucifixion and the joy of His Resurrection. I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those in the New World who were visited by the same risen Lord....
My beloved brothers and sisters, in our hour of deepest sorrow, we can receive profound peace from the words of the angel that first Easter morning: “He is not here: for he is risen.”
He is risen! He is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice.
He has burst his three days’ prison;
Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Death is conquered; man is free.
Christ has won the victory!
As one of His special witnesses on earth today, this glorious Easter Sunday, I declare that this is true, in His sacred name—even the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior—amen.
TSM - "A Word at Closing"
We’re all here because we love the Lord. We want to serve Him. Our Heavenly Father is mindful of us. Of that I testify. I acknowledge His hand in all things. One brief scripture:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
That has been the story of my life.
My dear brothers and sisters, we come now to the conclusion of a most uplifting and inspiring conference. After listening to the counsel and testimonies of those who have spoken to us, I believe we have been richly blessed and are all more determined to live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been good for us to be here. We express our gratitude to each one who has spoken to us, as well as to those who have offered prayers....
I love the words found in Psalms: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; … I will call upon the Lord … so [I shall] be saved from mine enemies.”
The Lord loves us, my brothers and sisters, and will bless us as we call upon Him.
How grateful we are for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and for all the good it brings into our lives. The Lord has poured out His blessings upon us as a people. I bear my testimony to you that this work is true, that our Savior lives, and that He guides and directs His Church here upon the earth.
We help God’s children best by providing ways to build faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel when they are young. And then we must help rekindle that faith quickly before it dims as they wander off the path.
So you and I can expect a nearly continuous opportunity to help travelers among God’s children. The Savior told us why that would be so when He described the perilous journey home for all of God’s spirit children through the mists which sin and Satan create:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat;
“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Foreseeing the needs of His children, a loving Heavenly Father placed directions and rescuers along their way. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to make safe passage possible and visible. He called as His prophet in these times President Thomas S. Monson. Since his youth President Monson has taught not only how to stay on the path but also how to rescue those who have been led away into sorrow.
HBE - "Act in All Diligence" (from Priesthood session)
First, I will speak directly to the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood. You will become more diligent as you feel the magnitude of the trust God has placed in you. There is a message from the First Presidency for you in that Duty to God booklet: “Heavenly Father has great trust and confidence in you and has an important mission for you to fulfill. He will help you as you turn to Him in prayer, listen for the promptings of the Spirit, obey the commandments, and keep the covenants that you have made.”
John the Baptist returned to earth to restore the priesthood you young men hold. He held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood. It was John to whom Jesus turned to be baptized. John knew who called him. He said to the Lord, “I have need to be baptized of thee.”
John knew that the priesthood of Aaron “holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” when the Lord sent him to ordain Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on May 15, 1829. He knew who called him and for what glorious purpose he was sent.
Your priesthood allows you to offer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to the members of His Church today. That is the same privilege the Savior granted the Twelve Apostles in His mortal ministry. He did it again when He called twelve disciples after His Resurrection to lead His Church.
Waiting can be hard. Children know it, and so do adults. We live in a world offering fast food, instant messaging, on-demand movies, and immediate answers to the most trivial or profound questions. We don’t like to wait. Some even feel their blood pressure rise when their line at the grocery store moves slower than those around them.
Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter.
Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace.
As parents, we know how unwise it would be to indulge our children’s every desire. But children are not the only ones who spoil when showered with immediate gratification. Our Heavenly Father knows what good parents come to understand over time: if children are ever going to mature and reach their potential, they must learn to wait.
DFU - "You Are My Hands"
When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation.
That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...
I am deeply impressed by the way our Church members extend themselves to others. As we hear of your selfless sacrifice and overwhelming compassion, our hearts swell with gratitude and happiness. You are a shining light to the world, and you are known for your goodness and compassion all around the globe.
Unfortunately, from time to time we also hear of Church members who become discouraged and subsequently quit coming to and participating in our Church meetings because they think they don’t fit in....
I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home.
When we are tempted to judge, let us think of the Savior, who “loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. …
“[And] he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, … [for] all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.”...
Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn. We are commanded “to mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
It is unworthy of us as Christians to think that those who suffer deserve their suffering. Easter Sunday is a good day to remember that our Savior willingly took upon Himself the pain and sickness and suffering of us all—even those of us who appear to deserve our suffering.
In the book of Proverbs we read that “a friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Let us love at all times. And let us especially be there for our brothers and sisters during times of adversity.
DFU - "Your Happily Ever After" (from Young Women's session)
In most languages there exists a phrase as magical and full of promise as perhaps any in the world. That phrase is “Once upon a time.” Aren’t those wonderful words to begin a story? “Once upon a time” promises something: a story of adventure and romance, a story of princesses and princes. It may include tales of courage, hope, and everlasting love. In many of these stories, nice overcomes mean and good overcomes evil. But perhaps most of all, I love it when we turn to the last page and our eyes reach the final lines and we see the enchanting words “And they lived happily ever after.”...
Isn’t it remarkable to know that our eternal Heavenly Father knows you, hears you, watches over you, and loves you with an infinite love? In fact, His love for you is so great that He has granted you this earthly life as a precious gift of “once upon a time,” complete with your own true story of adventure, trial, and opportunities for greatness, nobility, courage, and love. And, most glorious of all, He offers you a gift beyond price and comprehension. Heavenly Father offers to you the greatest gift of all—eternal life—and the opportunity and infinite blessing of your own “happily ever after.”...
In each of these stories, Cinderella, Belle, and the miller’s daughter have to experience sadness and trial before they can reach their “happily ever after.” Think about it. Has there ever been a person who did not have to go through his or her own dark valley of temptation, trial, and sorrow?
Sandwiched between their “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” they all had to experience great adversity. Why must all experience sadness and tragedy? Why could we not simply live in bliss and peace, each day filled with wonder, joy, and love?
The scriptures tell us there must be opposition in all things, for without it we could not discern the sweet from the bitter. Would the marathon runner feel the triumph of finishing the race had she not felt the pain of the hours of pushing against her limits? Would the pianist feel the joy of mastering an intricate sonata without the painstaking hours of practice?
In stories, as in life, adversity teaches us things we cannot learn otherwise. Adversity helps to develop a depth of character that comes in no other way. Our loving Heavenly Father has set us in a world filled with challenges and trials so that we, through opposition, can learn wisdom, become stronger, and experience joy...
If you ever feel your burden is too great to bear, lift your heart to your Heavenly Father, and He will uphold and bless you. He says to you, as He said to Joseph Smith, “[Your] adversity and [your] afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if [you] endure it well, God shall exalt [you] on high.”
Enduring adversity is not the only thing you must do to experience a happy life. Let me repeat: how you react to adversity and temptation is a critical factor in whether or not you arrive at your own “happily ever after.”
Some years ago I gave a talk entitled “What Every Elder Should Know: A Primer on Principles of Priesthood Government.” Later, when it was to be published, I changed the title to read “What Every Elder Should Know—and Every Sister as Well.”
I include the sisters because it is crucial for everyone to understand what is expected of the brethren. Unless we enlist the attention of the mothers and daughters and sisters—who have influence on their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers—we cannot progress. The priesthood will lose great power if the sisters are neglected.
Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. 23 When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present.
We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.
Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family. Parents must resolve that teaching in the home is a most sacred and important responsibility. While other institutions, such as church and school, can assist parents to “train up a child in the way he [or she] should go” (Proverbs 22:6), ultimately this responsibility rests with parents. According to the great plan of happiness, it is parents who are entrusted with the care and development of our Heavenly Father’s children. Our families are an integral part of His work and glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). On God’s eternal stage, it is usually intended that parents act as the central cast members in their children’s lives. Fortunately, there are understudies involved in the production who may step in when parents can’t. It, however, is parents who have been commanded by the Lord to bring up their children in light and truth (see D&C 93:40).
Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home.
When I think of the love I feel for each member of our family, I sense, to a slight degree, the love that our Heavenly Father bears for His children. While the family is under attack throughout the world, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims, promotes, and protects the truth that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and our vast family history efforts are but two evidences of how this Church brings hope and help to the sacred institution of the family.
We teach that God’s love for His children is infinite. Regardless of race, nationality, or gender, He loves all of them. He has done so from the beginning and will continue to do so. He invites all to gain eternal exaltation for their family. His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life—the exaltation—of His children. “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.”
The Atonement of His Beloved Son enabled both of the Father’s objectives to be fulfilled. Without the Atonement, there would be no immortality. Without the Atonement, there would be no return to the presence of the Father and no continuation of the family beyond the grave.
Because of the Atonement, these consummate blessings can be realized by each of God’s children who obey His eternal laws. Through the ages, many of His children have had access to the blessings of the gospel, but many more have not. Before the foundation of the world, our Heavenly Father instituted the ordinance of baptism for those who die without a knowledge of the gospel. He loves those children too.
Latter-day Saints believe in applying the best available scientific knowledge and techniques. We use nutrition, exercise, and other practices to preserve health, and we enlist the help of healing practitioners, such as physicians and surgeons, to restore health.
The use of medical science is not at odds with our prayers of faith and our reliance on priesthood blessings. When a person requested a priesthood blessing, Brigham Young would ask, “Have you used any remedies?” To those who said no because “we wish the Elders to lay hands upon us, and we have faith that we shall be healed,” President Young replied: “That is very inconsistent according to my faith. If we are sick, and ask the Lord to heal us, and to do all for us that is necessary to be done, according to my understanding of the Gospel of salvation, I might as well ask the Lord to cause my wheat and corn to grow, without my plowing the ground and casting in the seed. It appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge, and [then] to ask my Father in Heaven … to sanctify that application to the healing of my body.”
Of course we don’t wait until all other methods are exhausted before we pray in faith or give priesthood blessings for healing. In emergencies, prayers and blessings come first. Most often we pursue all efforts simultaneously. This follows the scriptural teachings that we should “pray always” (D&C 90:24) and that all things should be done in wisdom and order.
We know that the prayer of faith, uttered alone or in our homes or places of worship, can be effective to heal the sick. Many scriptures refer to the power of faith in the healing of an individual. The Apostle James taught that we should “pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” adding, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). When the woman who touched Jesus was healed, He told her, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). Similarly, the Book of Mormon teaches that the Lord “worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men” (Moroni 10:7)....
Young men and older men, please take special note of what I will say now. As we exercise the undoubted power of the priesthood of God and as we treasure His promise that He will hear and answer the prayer of faith, we must always remember that faith and the healing power of the priesthood cannot produce a result contrary to the will of Him whose priesthood it is.
My dear wife, Barbara, has had an eternally significant influence on our daughters and granddaughters—and they, in turn, on her. Mothers and daughters play a critical role in helping each other explore their infinite possibilities, despite the undermining influences of a world in which womanhood and motherhood are being corrupted and manipulated.
Speaking to the women of the Church nearly a century ago, President Joseph F. Smith said: “It is not for you to be led by the women of the world; it is for you to lead the … women of the world, in everything that is praise-worthy, everything that is God-like, everything that is uplifting and … purifying to the children of men” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 184).
Sisters, we, your brethren, cannot do what you were divinely designated to do from before the foundation of the world. We may try, but we cannot ever hope to replicate your unique gifts. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.
I understand that some of you young women do not have mothers with whom you can discuss these issues. And many of you women do not presently have daughters in your lives. But because all women have within their divine nature both the inherent talent and the stewardship to mother, most of what I will say applies equally to grandmothers, aunts, sisters, stepmothers, mothers-in-law, leaders, and other mentors who sometimes fill the gaps for these significant mother-daughter relationships.
Young women, your mothers adore you. They see in you the promise of future generations. Everything you accomplish, every challenge you overcome brings them pure joy. And likewise your worries and heartaches are their worries and heartaches.
How our Father in Heaven must have rejoiced that sacred day when His totally obedient, completely worthy Son shattered the chains of death. What eternal purpose would our Father’s plan of happiness have had except it be made alive through the infinite and eternal Atonement of His gloriously obedient Son? What eternal purpose would have come from the Creation of the earth, where intelligences tabernacled with spirits would receive a body, if death were the end of existence and none would be resurrected? What a glorious moment that morning was for all who understood its significance.
Easter is that sacred season when the heart of each devout Christian turns in humble gratitude to our beloved Savior. It is a season that should bring peace and joy to all who love Him and show it by obeying His commandments. Easter brings thoughts of Jesus, His life, His Atonement, His Resurrection, His love. He has risen from the dead “with healing in his wings”...
Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior, our Redeemer. He is a glorious, resurrected being. He has the capacity to communicate love that is so powerful, so overwhelming as to surpass the capacity of the human tongue to express adequately. He gave His life to break the bonds of death. His Atonement made fully active the plan of happiness of His Father in Heaven.
Jesus administers the balance between justice and mercy conditioned upon our obedience to His gospel. He is the light for all mankind. He is the fountain of all truth. He fulfills all of His promises. All who obey His commandments will earn the most glorious blessings imaginable.
Throughout my life as a father and grandfather, I have pondered the question, what is my duty to God in relation to the youth? May I share some of what I have learned by way of personal reflection and testimony.
For all of us, doing our duty to God as parents and leaders begins with leading by example—consistently and diligently living gospel principles at home. This takes daily determination and diligence.
For youth, there is no substitute for seeing the gospel lived in our daily lives. The stripling warriors did not have to wonder what their parents believed. They said, “We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (see Alma 56:47–48). Do our children know what we know?...
It is our imperative duty to help youth understand and believe the gospel in a deeply personal way. We can teach them to walk in the light, but that light cannot be borrowed. They must earn it for themselves. They must obtain their own light of testimony directly from the source of spiritual light—God Himself—through prayer and study and pondering. They must understand who they are and who Heavenly Father wants them to become. How do we help them?
JEFFREY R. HOLLAND - "Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul"
Why is lust such a deadly sin? Well, in addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact it has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about—as I am about Sister Holland; we shout it from the housetops. But lust is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine—the later and darker the hour the better, with a double-bolted door just in case. Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite.
These are just some of the reasons that prostituting the true meaning of love—either with imagination or another person—is so destructive. It destroys that which is second only to our faith in God—namely, faith in those we love. It shakes the pillars of trust upon which present—or future—love is built, and it takes a long time to rebuild that trust when it is lost. Push that idea far enough—whether it be as personal as a family member or as public as elected officials, business leaders, media stars, and athletic heroes—and soon enough on the building once constructed to house morally responsible societies, we can hang a sign saying, “This property is vacant.”...
Most people in trouble end up crying, “What was I thinking?” Well, whatever they were thinking, they weren’t thinking of Christ. Yet, as members of His Church, we pledge every Sunday of our lives to take upon ourselves His name and promise to “always remember him.” So let us work a little harder at remembering Him—especially that He has “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows … , [that] he was bruised for our iniquities … ; and with his stripes we are healed.” Surely it would guide our actions in a dramatic way if we remembered that every time we transgress, we hurt not only those we love, but we also hurt Him, who so dearly loves us. But if we do sin, however serious that sin may be, we can be rescued by that same majestic figure, He who bears the only name given under heaven whereby any man or woman can be saved. When confronting our transgressions and our souls are harrowed up with true pain, may we all echo the repentant Alma and utter his life-changing cry: “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me.”
Inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon builds on reading and talking about the Book of Mormon and bearing testimony spontaneously in the home. Imagine, for example, a family home evening in which children are invited and expected to come prepared to ask questions about what they are reading and learning in the Book of Mormon—or about an issue that recently was emphasized in a gospel discussion or spontaneous testimony in the home. And imagine further that the children ask questions the parents are not prepared adequately to answer. Some parents might be apprehensive about such an unstructured approach to home evening. But the best family home evenings are not necessarily the product of preprepared, purchased, or downloaded packets of outlines and visual aids. What a glorious opportunity for family members to search the scriptures together and to be tutored by the Holy Ghost. “For the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; … and they did all labor, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26).
Are you and I helping our children become agents who act and seek learning by study and by faith, or have we trained our children to wait to be taught and acted upon? Are we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to act, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable? Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking? (See 3 Nephi 14:7.)
The spiritual understanding you and I have been blessed to receive, and which has been confirmed as true in our hearts, simply cannot be given to our children. The tuition of diligence and of learning by study and also by faith must be paid to obtain and personally “own” such knowledge. Only in this way can what is known in the mind also be felt in the heart. Only in this way can a child move beyond relying upon the spiritual knowledge and experiences of parents and adults and claim those blessings for himself or herself. Only in this way can our children be prepared spiritually for the challenges of mortality.
The final two days of the Savior’s mortal ministry prior to His Crucifixion are profoundly important and in some ways beyond comprehension. So much of what is essential to our eternal destiny occurred on Thursday and then Friday, the day Christ was crucified. The Last Supper, a Passover supper, the “established memorial of Israel’s deliverance from bondage,” was commenced Thursday evening. Ordinances and doctrines of great importance were initiated at the Last Supper. I will mention just three. First, the Savior introduced the ordinance of the sacrament. He took bread, broke it, prayed over it, and passed it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” In this manner He instituted the sacrament. Second, His overwhelming emphasis was on doctrines teaching love as a preeminent principle. He taught, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Third, through Christ’s intercession or direction, “the Holy Ghost was promised to the apostles” as another Comforter.
The Savior subsequently accomplished the Atonement. He took upon Himself the “burden of the sins of mankind” and the “horrors that Satan … could inflict.” 5 In this process He endured the fraudulently concocted trials and the terrible, tragic events leading to His Crucifixion. This ultimately culminated in Christ’s triumphant Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christ fulfilled His sacred mission as Savior and Redeemer. We will be resurrected from death and have our spirits reunited with our bodies. Based on personal worthiness, we may through His grace have the glorious opportunity of entering back into the presence of God.
William Tyndale was not the first, nor the last, of those who in many countries and languages have sacrificed, even to the point of death, to bring the word of God out of obscurity. We owe them all a great debt of gratitude. We owe perhaps an even greater debt to those who faithfully recorded and preserved the word through the ages, often with painstaking labor and sacrifice—Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, John, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, Joseph Smith, and many others. What did they know about the importance of scriptures that we also need to know? What did people in 16th-century England, who paid enormous sums and ran grave personal risks for access to a Bible, understand that we should also understand?
Not long before his death, the prophet Alma entrusted the sacred records of the people to his son Helaman. He reminded Helaman that the scriptures had “enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls” (Alma 37:8). He commanded Helaman to preserve the records so that through them God might “show forth his power unto future generations” (Alma 37:14).
Through the scriptures, God does indeed “show forth his power” to save and exalt His children. By His word, as Alma said, He enlarges our memory, sheds light on falsehood and error, and brings us to repentance and to rejoice in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.
We hold in our arms the rising generation. They come to this earth with important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. We cannot be casual in how we prepare them. Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith.
This afternoon I wish to emphasize the plea of a child from a Primary song:
Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear,
Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here.
In our world today, each child, each young man and young woman needs his or her own conversion to the truth. Each needs his or her own light, his or her own “steadfast and immovable” faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, independent of parents, youth leaders, and supportive friends.
The stories of Jesus can be like a rushing wind across the embers of faith in the hearts of our children. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The stories of Jesus shared over and over bring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strength to the foundation of testimony. Can you think of a more valuable gift for our children?
Are the life and teachings of Jesus Christ embedded in the minds and souls of our children? Do they think about the Savior’s life when they wonder what to do in their own lives? This will be more and more important in the years ahead.
There has grown in me an overwhelming testimony of the value of daughters of God. So much depends on them. In my visits with the sisters, I have felt that there has never been a greater need for increased faith and personal righteousness. There has never been a greater need for strong families and homes. There has never been more that could be done to help others who are in need. How does one increase faith, strengthen families, and provide relief? How does a woman in our day find answers to her own questions and stand strong and immovable against incredible opposition and difficulty?
A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.
The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. Qualifying for the Lord’s Spirit begins with a desire for that Spirit and implies a certain degree of worthiness. Keeping the commandments, repenting, and renewing covenants made at baptism lead to the blessing of always having the Lord’s Spirit with us. Making and keeping temple covenants also adds spiritual strength and power to a woman’s life. Many answers to difficult questions are found by reading the scriptures because the scriptures are an aid to revelation. Insight found in scripture accumulates over time, so it is important to spend some time in the scriptures every day. Daily prayer is also essential to having the Lord’s Spirit with us. Those who earnestly seek help through prayer and scripture study often have a paper and pencil nearby to write questions and record impressions and ideas...
A revelation in the book of Joel states that in the last days, sons and daughters of God will prophesy and the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon His servants and His handmaids. President Spencer W. Kimball echoed this prophecy when he said:
“Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world. …
“Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.”
I bear my witness that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. The Lord depends on His daughters to do their part to strengthen the homes of Zion and build His kingdom on the earth. As they seek and qualify for personal revelation, the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon His handmaids in these latter days. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.