Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thomas S. Monson General Conference Highlights: October 1999 - October 2004

More Thomas S. Monson highlights. I've noticed a pattern that about every other talk in Priesthood session by him is about the duty of priesthood holders.

OCTOBER 1999 - "Becoming Our Best Selves"

In His earthly ministry, the Master outlined how we should live, how we should teach, how we should serve, and what we should do so that we could become our best selves.

One such lesson comes from the book of John in the Holy Bible: “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

“And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

In our mortal journey, the advice of the Apostle Paul provides heavenly guidance: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Then came the concluding charge: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”...

It is in the home that we form our attitudes, our deeply held beliefs. It is in the home that hope is fostered or destroyed. Our homes are to be more than sanctuaries; they should also be places where God’s Spirit can dwell, where the storm stops at the door, where love reigns and peace dwells.

Not long ago a young mother wrote to me: “Sometimes I wonder if I make a difference in my children’s lives. Especially as a single mother working two jobs to make ends meet, I sometimes come home to confusion, but I never give up hope.

“My children and I were watching a television broadcast of general conference, and you were speaking about prayer. My son made the statement, ‘Mother, you’ve already taught us that.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he replied: ‘Well, you’ve taught us to pray and showed us how, but the other night I came to your room to ask something and found you on your knees praying to Heavenly Father. If He’s important to you, He’ll be important to me.’” The letter concluded, “I guess you never know what kind of influence you’ll be until a child observes you doing yourself what you have tried to teach him to do.” What a magnificent lesson a child learned from his mother.

OCT99 - "Priesthood Power" (from Priesthood session)

In a proclamation of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles issued on April 6, 1980, this declaration of testimony and truth was set forth:

“We solemnly affirm that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in fact a restoration of the Church established by the Son of God, when in mortality he organized his work upon the earth; that it carries his sacred name, even the name of Jesus Christ; that it is built upon a foundation of Apostles and prophets, he being the chief cornerstone; that its priesthood, in both the Aaronic and Melchizedek orders, was restored under the hands of those who held it anciently: John the Baptist, in the case of the Aaronic; and Peter, James, and John in the case of the Melchizedek.”

On October 6, 1889, President George Q. Cannon expressed this plea:

“I want to see the power of the Priesthood strengthened. … I want to see this strength and power diffused through the entire body of the Priesthood, reaching from the head down to the least and most humble deacon in the Church. Every man should seek for and enjoy the revelations of God, the light of heaven shining in his soul and giving unto him knowledge concerning his duties, concerning that portion of the work of God that devolves upon him in his Priesthood.”

The Lord Himself summed up our responsibility when He, in the revelation on the priesthood, urged, “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.”

Brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood, whether deacon, teacher, or priest, learn your duty. Brethren of the Melchizedek Priesthood, learn your duty...

Miracles are everywhere to be found when priesthood callings are magnified. When faith replaces doubt, when selfless service eliminates selfish striving, the power of God brings to pass His purposes.

The priesthood is not really so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift, and an opportunity to bless the lives of others.

Brethren, let us who have responsibility with the Aaronic Priesthood young men not only provide them opportunities to learn but also set before them examples worthy of emulation.

For those of us who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, our privilege to magnify our callings is ever present. We are shepherds watching over Israel. The hungry sheep look up, ready to be fed the bread of life. Are we prepared to feed the flock of God? It is imperative that we recognize the worth of a human soul, that we never give up on one of His precious sons.

APRIL 2000 - "Your Eternal Voyage" (from Priesthood session)

We who have been ordained to the priesthood of God can make a difference. When we qualify for the help of the Lord, we can build boys. We can mend men. We can accomplish miracles in His holy service. Our opportunities are without limit.

Though the task seems large, we are strengthened by this truth: “The greatest force in this world today is the power of God as it works through man.” If we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. That divine help, however, is predicated upon our worthiness. To sail safely the seas of mortality, to perform a human rescue mission, we need the guidance of that eternal mariner—even the great Jehovah. We reach out, we reach up, to obtain heavenly help.

Are our reaching hands clean? Are our yearning hearts pure? ...

The priesthood represents a mighty army of righteousness—even a royal army. We are led by a prophet of God, even President Gordon B. Hinckley. In supreme command is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our marching orders are clear. They are concise. Matthew describes our challenge in these words from the Master:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
“And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them.”

APR00 - "Your Eternal Home"

When we remember that each of us is literally a spirit son or daughter of God, we will not find it difficult to approach our Heavenly Father in prayer. He appreciates the value of this raw material which we call life. “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” His pronouncement finds lodgment in our souls and inspires purpose in our lives.

There is a Teacher who will guide our efforts if we will but place our faith in Him—even the Lord Jesus Christ. He invites us: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It was said of Jesus that He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” 10 Do we have the determination to do likewise? One line of holy writ contains a tribute to our Lord and Savior, of whom it was said, “[He] went about doing good.”...

Be an example in charity. From Corinthians comes the beautiful truth, “Charity never faileth.”

Satisfying to the soul is the ready response the Church has made to disasters of nature, such as in Mozambique, Madagascar, Venezuela, and many other locations. Frequently we have arrived first on the scene following such disasters, and with the most help. There are other organizations which likewise respond in a generous fashion.

What is charity? Moroni, in writing a few of the words of his father, Mormon, recorded, “Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.”

OCTOBER 2000 - "The Call to Serve" (from Priesthood session)

Noble leaders of young men, you stand at the crossroads in the lives of those whom you teach. Inscribed on the wall of Stanford University Memorial Church is this truth, that we must teach our youth that all that is not eternal is too short, and all that is not infinite is too small.

President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized our responsibilities when he declared: “In this work there must be commitment. There must be devotion. We are engaged in a great eternal struggle that concerns the very souls of the sons and daughters of God. We are not losing. We are winning. We will continue to win if we will be faithful and true. … There is nothing the Lord has asked of us that in faith we cannot accomplish.”

Brethren, is every ordained teacher given the assignment to home teach? What an opportunity to prepare for a mission. What a privilege to learn the discipline of duty. A boy will automatically turn from concern for self when he is assigned to “watch over” others.

And what of the priests? These young men have the opportunity to bless the sacrament, to continue their home teaching duties, and to participate in the sacred ordinance of baptism.

We can strengthen one another; we have the capacity to notice the unnoticed. When we have eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that know and feel, we can reach out and rescue those for whom we have responsibility.

From Proverbs comes the counsel, and I love it, “Ponder the path of thy feet.”..

The world seems to have slipped from the moorings of safety and drifted from the harbor of peace. Permissiveness, immorality, pornography, and the power of peer pressure cause many to be tossed about on a sea of sin and crushed on the jagged reefs of lost opportunities, forfeited blessings, and shattered dreams.

Anxiously some may ask, “Is there a way to safety?” “Can someone guide me?” “Is there an escape from threatened destruction?” The answer, brethren, is a resounding “Yes!” Look to the lighthouse of the Lord. There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost but what its beacon light can rescue. It beckons through the storms of life. The lighthouse of the Lord sends forth signals readily recognized and never failing.

OCT00 - "Dedication Day"

The need for personal dedication and recommitment is essential in today’s society. Just a hurried glance at several newspaper stories describes our plight.

From the Associated Press came the following: “In the name of free speech, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that shielded children from sex-oriented cable TV channels.”

From the San Jose Mercury News came this story: “Germany may be the economic engine of Europe, but on Sundays it stops. … But global market forces are beginning to disturb Germany’s traditional day of rest. With … American-style [7-day-a-week] shopping [already being offered], and the Internet providing 24-hour access to the world’s goods, such rigid store regulations ‘are like a castle from the old century.’ … To vie with other world-class cities, Berlin must be more aggressive. … ‘We want to make more money.’”

As we view the disillusionment that engulfs countless thousands today, we are learning the hard way what an ancient prophet wrote out for us 3,000 years ago: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase.”

The revered Abraham Lincoln accurately described our plight: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power. … But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”...

On the journey along the pathway of life, there are casualties. Some depart from the road markers which lead to life eternal, only to discover that the detour chosen ultimately leads to a dead end. Indifference, carelessness, selfishness, and sin all take their costly toll in human lives. There are those who, for unexplained reasons, march to the sound of a different drummer, later to learn they have followed the Pied Piper of sorrow and suffering.

Today there goes forth from this pulpit an invitation to people throughout the world: Come from your wandering way, weary traveler. Come to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Come to that heavenly haven called home. Here you will discover the truth. Here you will learn the reality of the Godhead, the comfort of the plan of salvation, the sanctity of the marriage covenant, the power of personal prayer. Come home.

APRIL 2001 - "Compassion"

Jesus provided us many examples of compassionate concern. The crippled man at the pool of Bethesda; the woman taken in adultery; the woman at Jacob’s well; the daughter of Jairus; Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha—each represented a casualty on the Jericho road. Each needed help.

To the cripple at Bethesda, Jesus said, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” To the sinful woman came the counsel, “Go, and sin no more.” To help her who came to draw water, He provided a well of water “springing up into everlasting life.” To the dead daughter of Jairus came the command, “Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.” To the entombed Lazarus, “Come forth.”

The Savior has always shown unlimited capacity for compassion.

On this, the American continent, Jesus appeared to a multitude and said:

“Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you. …
“And he did heal them every one.”

One may well ask the penetrating question: These accounts pertain to the Redeemer of the world. Can there actually occur in my own life, on my own Jericho road, such a treasured experience?

I phrase my answer in the words of the Master, “Come and see.”

We have no way of knowing when our privilege to extend a helping hand will unfold before us. The road to Jericho each of us travels bears no name, and the weary traveler who needs our help may be one unknown....

At some period in our mortal mission, there appears the faltering step, the wan smile, the pain of sickness—even the fading of summer, the approach of autumn, the chill of winter, and the experience we call death, which comes to all mankind. It comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life’s journey. Often it hushes the laughter of little children.

Throughout the world there is enacted daily the sorrowful scene of loved ones mourning as they bid farewell to a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father, or a cherished friend.

From the cruel cross, the Savior’s tender words of farewell to his mother are particularly poignant:

“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
“Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

Let us remember that after the funeral flowers fade, the well wishes of friends become memories, and the prayers offered and words spoken dim in the corridors of the mind. Those who grieve frequently find themselves alone. Missed is the laughter of children, the commotion of teenagers, and the tender, loving concern of a departed companion. The clock ticks more loudly, time passes more slowly, and four walls can indeed a prison make.

I extol those who, with loving care and compassionate concern, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless. He who notes the sparrow’s fall will not be unmindful of such service.

APR01 - "To the Rescue" (from Priesthood session)

Amidst the storms of life, danger lurks; and men, like boats, find themselves stranded and facing destruction. Who will man the lifeboats, leaving behind the comforts of home and family, and go to the rescue?

President John Taylor cautioned us, “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty.”

Brethren, our task is not insurmountable. We are on the Lord’s errand, and therefore we are entitled to the Lord’s help. But we must try. From the stage play Shenandoah comes the spoken line which inspires: “If we don’t try, then we don’t do; and if we don’t do, then why are we here?”

When the Master ministered among men, He called fishermen at Galilee to leave their nets and follow Him, declaring, “I will make you fishers of men.” And so He did. Tonight He issues a call to each of us to “come join the ranks.” He provides our battle plan with His admonition, “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.”

I love and cherish the noble word duty. Let us hearken to the stirring reminder found in the epistle of James: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

OCTOBER 2001 - "Duty Calls" (from Priesthood session)

Many of us assembled tonight hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, while others bear the Aaronic Priesthood. All of us have a solemn duty to honor the priesthood and labor to bring many precious souls unto the Lord. We remember His declaration: “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” Are we doing all we should? Do we remember the words of President John Taylor: “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty.”

The desire to help another, the quest for the lost sheep, may not always yield success at once. On occasion, progress is slow—even indiscernible...

As a 12-year-old boy, I had the privilege to serve as the secretary of my deacons quorum. I recall with joy the many assignments we members of that quorum had the opportunity to fill. Passing the sacred sacrament, collecting the monthly fast offerings, and looking after one another come readily to mind. The most frightening one, however, happened at the leadership session of our ward conference. The member of our stake presidency presiding was William F. Perschon. He called on a number of the ward officers to speak. Then, without the slightest warning, President Perschon stood and said, “We will now hear from Thomas S. Monson, secretary of the deacons quorum, to give us an accounting of his service and bear his testimony.” I don’t recall a thing I said, but I have never forgotten the experience.

Brethren, remember the Apostle Peter’s admonition, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”

OCT01 - "Now Is the Time"

My brothers and sisters, death eventually comes to all mankind. It comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life’s journey, and often it hushes the laughter of little children. Death is one fact that no one can escape or deny.

Frequently death comes as an intruder. It is an enemy that suddenly appears in the midst of life’s feast, putting out its lights and gaiety. Death lays its heavy hand upon those dear to us and at times leaves us baffled and wondering. In certain situations, as in great suffering and illness, death comes as an angel of mercy. But for the most part, we think of it as the enemy of human happiness.

The darkness of death can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

This reassurance—yes, even holy confirmation—of life beyond the grave could well provide the peace promised by the Savior when He assured His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Out of the darkness and the horror of Calvary came the voice of the Lamb, saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” 4 And the dark was no longer dark, for He was with His Father. He had come from God, and to Him He had returned. So also those who walk with God in this earthly pilgrimage know from blessed experience that He will not abandon His children who trust in Him. In the night of death, His presence will be “better than [a] light and safer than a known way.”...

As we remember that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,” we will not find ourselves in the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ immortal A Christmas Carol. Marley spoke sadly of opportunities lost. Said he: “Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused! Yet such was I. Oh! such was I!”

Marley added: “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

Fortunately, as we know, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life for the better. I love his line, “I am not the man I was.”

Why is the story A Christmas Carol so popular? Why is it ever new? I personally feel it is inspired of God. It brings out the best within human nature. It gives hope. It motivates change. We can turn from the paths which would lead us down and, with a song in our hearts, follow a star and walk toward the light. We can quicken our step, bolster our courage, and bask in the sunlight of truth. We can hear more clearly the laughter of little children. We can dry the tear of the weeping. We can comfort the dying by sharing the promise of eternal life. If we lift one weary hand which hangs down, if we bring peace to one struggling soul, if we give as did the Master, we can—by showing the way—become a guiding star for some lost mariner.

Because life is fragile and death inevitable, we must make the most of each day.

OCT01 - "Be Thou An Example" (from Relief Society session)

Let us review words of wisdom written by the Apostle Paul to his beloved Timothy:

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.”

Then came Paul’s rallying call to Timothy—equally applicable to each one of us: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

With you dear sisters assembled here in the Conference Center and in congregations throughout the world, I share a three-part formula to serve as an unfailing guide to meet this challenge issued by the Apostle Paul:

1. Fill your mind with truth;
2. Fill your heart with love;
3. Fill your life with service.

First, fill your mind with truth. We do not find truth groveling through error. Truth is found by searching, studying, and living the revealed word of God. We adopt error when we mingle with error. We learn truth when we associate with truth...

To illustrate the second part of our formula—namely, fill your heart with love—I turn to a beautiful account recorded in the book of Acts which tells of a disciple named Tabitha, or Dorcas, who lived at Joppa. She was described as being a woman “full of good works and almsdeeds.”

“It came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
“And forasmuch as … the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
“Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which [Tabitha] made, while she was with them.
“But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
“And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
“And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.”

To me the scriptural reference to Tabitha, which describes her as a woman “full of good works and almsdeeds,” defines some of the fundamental responsibilities of Relief Society; namely, the relief of suffering, the caring for the poor, and all which that implies. Women of Relief Society, you truly are angels of mercy. This is demonstrated on a grand scale through the humanitarian outreach to the cold, the hungry, and to suffering wherever it is found. Your labors are also very much in evidence in our wards and in our stakes and missions. Every bishop in the Church could testify of this truth....

To the third part of our formula—namely, fill your life with service—I mention two separate examples. One features a teacher and the profound influence she has had in the lives of those whom she taught, while the other pertains to a missionary couple whose service helped to bring the light of the gospel to those who had lived in spiritual darkness.

Many years ago there was a young woman, Baur Dee Sheffield, who taught in Mutual. She had no children of her own, though she and her husband dearly longed for children. Her love was expressed through devotion to her special young women as each week she taught them eternal truths and lessons of life. Then came illness, followed by death. She was but 27.

Each year, on Memorial Day, her Mutual girls made a pilgrimage of prayer to the graveside of their teacher, always leaving flowers and a little card signed “To Baur Dee, from your girls.” First there were 10 girls who went, then five, then two, and eventually just one, who continues to visit each Memorial Day, always placing on the grave a bouquet of flowers and a card, inscribed as always, “To Baur Dee, from your girls.”

One year, nearly 25 years after Baur Dee’s death, the only one of “her girls” who continued to visit the grave realized she would be away on Memorial Day and decided to visit her teacher’s grave a few days early. She had gathered flowers, tied them with a ribbon, attached a card, and was putting on her jacket to leave when her doorbell rang. She opened the door and was greeted by one of her visiting teachers, Colleen Fuller, who said she had experienced difficulty getting together with her visiting teaching partner and so had decided to come alone and unannounced in an effort to complete her visiting teaching before the end of the month. As Colleen was invited in, she noticed the jacket and flowers and apologized for obviously interrupting whatever had been planned.

“Oh, no problem,” came the response. “I’m just on my way to the cemetery to put flowers on the grave of the woman who was my Mutual teacher, who had a profound influence on me and the other girls she taught. Originally about 10 of us visited her grave each year to express our love and thanks to her, but now I represent the group.”

Colleen asked, “Could your teacher’s name have been Baur Dee?”

“Why, yes,” came the answer. “How did you know?”

With a catch in her voice, Colleen said, “Baur Dee was my aunt—my mother’s sister. Every Memorial Day since she died, my family has found on her grave a bouquet of flowers and a card inscribed from Baur Dee’s girls. They’ve always wanted to know who these girls were so they could thank them for remembering Baur Dee. Now I can let them know.”

Said American author Thornton Wilder, “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”

APRIL 2002 - "Pathways to Perfection" (from Young Women's session)

President George Albert Smith, eighth President of the Church, urged: “Let us plant our feet upon the highway that leads to happiness and the celestial kingdom, not just occasionally, but every day, and every hour, because if we will stay on the Lord’s side of the line, if we will remain under the influence of our Heavenly Father, the adversary cannot even tempt us. But if we go into the devil’s territory … we will be unhappy and that unhappiness will increase as the years go by, unless we repent of our sins and turn to the Lord.”

In speaking to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, I have frequently quoted the advice of a father to a precious son: “If you ever find yourself where you hadn’t ought to be—then get out!” The same truth is applicable to you young women here in the Conference Center and to you assembled in meetinghouses throughout the world.

I have always felt that if we speak in generalities, we rarely have success; but if we speak in specifics, we will rarely have a failure. Therefore, I urge that you exemplify in your lives four tested, specific virtues. They are:

1. An attitude of gratitude,
2. A longing for learning,
3. A devotion to discipline, and
4. A willingness to work.

First, an attitude of gratitude. In the book of Luke, chapter 17, we read the account of the 10 lepers. The Savior, in traveling toward Jerusalem, passed through Galilee and Samaria and entered a certain village where He was met on the outskirts by 10 lepers who were forced, because of their condition, to live apart from others. They stood “afar off” and cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”...

Second, a longing for learning. The Apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers.”

President Stephen L Richards, who was a counselor in the First Presidency many years ago, was a profound thinker. He said, “Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.” My advice is to seek faith and dispel doubt.

The Lord counseled, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”...

Third, may we discuss a devotion to discipline. Our Heavenly Father has given to each of us the power to think and reason and decide. With such power, self-discipline becomes a necessity.

Each of us has the responsibility to choose. You may ask, “Are decisions really that important?” I say to you, decisions determine destiny. You can’t make eternal decisions without eternal consequences...

Finally, let each of us cultivate a willingness to work. President J. Reuben Clark, many years ago a counselor in the First Presidency, said: “I believe that we are here to work, and I believe there is no escape from it. I think that we cannot get that thought into our souls and into our beings too soon. Work we must, if we shall succeed or if we shall advance. There is no other way.”

“Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along” is more than a line from a favorite hymn; it is a summons to work...

On this Easter eve, may our thoughts turn to Him who atoned for our sins, who showed us the way to live, how to pray, and who demonstrated by His own actions how we might do so. Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, this Son of God—even Jesus Christ the Lord—beckons to each of us to follow Him. “Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’”

APR02 - "Hidden Wedges"

In April 1966, at the Church’s annual general conference, Elder Spencer W. Kimball gave a memorable address. He quoted an account written by Samuel T. Whitman entitled “Forgotten Wedges.” Today I, too, have chosen to quote from Samuel T. Whitman, followed by examples from my own life.

Whitman wrote: “The ice storm [that winter] wasn’t generally destructive. True, a few wires came down, and there was a sudden jump in accidents along the highway. … Normally, the big walnut tree could easily have borne the weight that formed on its spreading limbs. It was the iron wedge in its heart that caused the damage.

“The story of the iron wedge began years ago when the white-haired farmer [who now inhabited the property on which it stood] was a lad on his father’s homestead. The sawmill had then only recently been moved from the valley, and the settlers were still finding tools and odd pieces of equipment scattered about. …

“On this particular day, it was a faller’s wedge—wide, flat, and heavy, a foot or more long, and splayed from mighty poundings [—which the lad found] … in the south pasture. [A faller’s wedge, used to help fell a tree, is inserted in a cut made by a saw and then struck with a sledge hammer to widen the cut.] … Because he was already late for dinner, the lad laid the wedge … between the limbs of the young walnut tree his father had planted near the front gate. He would take the wedge to the shed right after dinner, or sometime when he was going that way.

“He truly meant to, but he never did. [The wedge] was there between the limbs, a little tight, when he attained his manhood. It was there, now firmly gripped, when he married and took over his father’s farm. It was half grown over on the day the threshing crew ate dinner under the tree. … Grown in and healed over, the wedge was still in the tree the winter the ice storm came.

“In the chill silence of that wintry night … one of the three major limbs split away from the trunk and crashed to the ground. This so unbalanced the remainder of the top that it, too, split apart and went down. When the storm was over, not a twig of the once-proud tree remained.

“Early the next morning, the farmer went out to mourn his loss. …

“Then, his eyes caught sight of something in the splintered ruin. ‘The wedge,’ he muttered reproachfully. ‘The wedge I found in the south pasture.’ A glance told him why the tree had fallen. Growing, edge-up in the trunk, the wedge had prevented the limb fibers from knitting together as they should.”

My dear brothers and sisters, there are hidden wedges in the lives of many whom we know—yes, perhaps in our own families...

The spirit must be freed from tethers so strong and feelings never put to rest, so that the lift of life may give buoyancy to the soul. In many families, there are hurt feelings and a reluctance to forgive. It doesn’t really matter what the issue was. It cannot and should not be left to injure. Blame keeps wounds open. Only forgiveness heals. George Herbert, an early 17th-century poet, wrote these lines: “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need of forgiveness.”

Beautiful are the words of the Savior as He was about to die upon the cruel cross. Said He, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

There are some who have difficulty forgiving themselves and who dwell on all of their perceived shortcomings. I quite like the account of a religious leader who went to the side of a woman who lay dying, attempting to comfort her—but to no avail. “I am lost,” she said. “I’ve ruined my life and every life around me. There is no hope for me.”

The man noticed a framed picture of a lovely girl on the dresser. “Who is this?” he asked.

The woman brightened. “She is my daughter, the one beautiful thing in my life.”

“And would you help her if she were in trouble or had made a mistake? Would you forgive her? Would you still love her?”

“Of course I would!” cried the woman. “I would do anything for her. Why do you ask such a question?”

“Because I want you to know,” said the man, “that figuratively speaking, Heavenly Father has a picture of you on His dresser. He loves you and will help you. Call upon Him.”

A hidden wedge to her happiness had been removed.

In a day of danger or a time of trial, such knowledge, such hope, such understanding will 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.

APR02 - "They Pray, and They Go" (from Priesthood session)

If I were to ask you which of all the passages in the Book of Mormon is the most widely read, I venture it would be the account found in 1 Nephi concerning Nephi, his brothers, his father, and the command to obtain from Laban the plates of brass. Perhaps this is because most of us, from time to time, pledge to again read the Book of Mormon. Usually we begin with 1 Nephi. In reality, the passages found therein portray beautifully the need to pray and then to go and do. Said Nephi, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”...

There are now more than 60,000 full-time missionaries serving the Lord throughout the world. Many of this vast throng are listening in tonight and viewing this priesthood session of general conference. They pray and then they go, trusting in the Lord concerning where they are sent and trusting in their mission president as to where they serve within their missions...

Brethren, whatever our calling, regardless of our fears or anxieties, let us pray and then go and do, remembering the words of the Master, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who promised, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

In the Epistle of James we are counseled, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

Let us, as a mighty body of priesthood, be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Let us pray; then let us go and do.

OCTOBER 2002 - "Peace, Be Still"

There appears in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 107, verse 99, a brief but direct admonition to each priesthood bearer: “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” [D&C 107:99] I have always taken this charge seriously and have attempted to live up to its direction.

In the recesses of my mind, I hear over and over again the guiding direction which President John Taylor gave to the brethren of the priesthood: “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those you might have saved, had you done your duty.”

In the performance of our responsibilities, I have learned that when we heed a silent prompting and act upon it without delay, our Heavenly Father will guide our footsteps and bless our lives and the lives of others. I know of no experience more sweet or feeling more precious than to heed a prompting only to discover that the Lord has answered another person’s prayer through you.

Perhaps just one example will suffice. One day just over a year ago, after taking care of matters at the office, I felt a strong impression to visit an aged widow who was a patient at St. Joseph Villa here in Salt Lake City. I drove there directly.

When I went to her room, I found it empty. I asked an attendant concerning her whereabouts and was directed to a lounge area. There I found this sweet widow visiting with her sister and another friend. We had a pleasant conversation together.

As we were talking, a man came to the door of the room to obtain a can of soda water from the vending machine. He glanced at me and said, “Why, you are Tom Monson.”

“Yes,” I replied. “And you look like a Hemingway.” He acknowledged that he was Stephen Hemingway, the son of Alfred Eugene Hemingway, who had served as my counselor when I was a bishop many years ago and whom I called Gene. Stephen told me that his father was there in the same facility and was near death. He had been calling my name, and the family had wanted to contact me but had been unable to find a telephone number for me.

I excused myself immediately and went with Stephen up to the room of my former counselor, where others of his children were also gathered, his wife having passed away some years previous. The family members regarded my meeting Stephen in the lounge area as a response by our Heavenly Father to their great desire that I would see their father before he died and answer his call. I, too, felt that this was the case, for if Stephen had not entered the room in which I was visiting at precisely the time he did, I would not have known that Gene was even in that facility.

We gave a blessing to him. A spirit of peace prevailed. We had a lovely visit, after which I left.

The following morning a phone call revealed that Gene Hemingway had passed away—just 20 minutes after he had received the blessing from his son and me. I expressed a silent prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for His guiding influence which prompted my visit to St. Joseph Villa and led me to my dear friend Alfred Eugene Hemingway.

OCT02 - "Models to Follow"

All of us living in the world today need points of reference—even models to follow. John the Baptist provides for us a flawless example of unfeigned humility, as he deferred always to the One who was to follow—the Savior of mankind.

Learning of others who trusted God and followed His teachings whispers to our souls, “Be still, and know that I am God.” As they resolutely kept His commandments and trusted in Him, they were blessed. When we follow their examples, we too will be similarly blessed in our day and in our time. Each one becomes a model to follow.

All of us love the beautiful account from the Holy Bible of Abraham and Isaac. How exceedingly difficult it must have been for Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, to take his beloved Isaac into the land of Moriah, there to present him as a burnt offering. Can you imagine the heaviness of his heart as he gathered the wood for the fire and journeyed to the appointed place? Surely pain must have racked his body and tortured his mind as he “bound Isaac … and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And … stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” How glorious was the pronouncement, and with what wondered welcome did it come: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

Abraham qualifies as a model of unquestioning obedience...

A model of ideal womanhood is Ruth. Sensing the grief-stricken heart of her mother-in-law Naomi—who suffered the loss of each of her two fine sons—feeling perhaps the pangs of despair and loneliness that plagued the very soul of Naomi, Ruth uttered what has become that classic statement of loyalty: “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Ruth’s actions demonstrated the sincerity of her words.

Through Ruth’s undeviating loyalty to Naomi, she was to marry Boaz, by which she—the foreigner and Moabite convert—became a great-grandmother of David and, therefore, an ancestor of our Savior Jesus Christ.

APRIL 2003 - "In Search of Treasure"

The Savior of the world spoke of treasure. In His Sermon on the Mount He declared:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

The promised reward was not a treasure of ivory, gold, or silver. Neither did it consist of acres of land or a portfolio of stocks and bonds. The Master spoke of riches within the grasp of all—even joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter.

Today I have chosen to provide the three pieces of your treasure map to guide you to your eternal happiness. They are:

1. Learn from the past.
2. Prepare for the future.
3. Live in the present.

First, learn from the past. Each of us has a heritage—whether from pioneer forebears, later converts, or others who helped to shape our lives. This heritage provides a foundation built of sacrifice and faith. Ours is the privilege and responsibility to build on such firm and stable footings...

Second, prepare for the future. We live in a changing world. Technology has altered nearly every aspect of our lives. We must cope with these advances—even these cataclysmic changes—in a world of which our forebears never dreamed.

Remember the promise of the Lord: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” Fear is a deadly enemy of progress.

It is necessary to prepare and to plan so that we don’t fritter away our lives. Without a goal, there can be no real success. One of the best definitions of success I have ever heard goes something like this: Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Someone has said the trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never crossing the goal line...

Third, live in the present. Sometimes we let our thoughts of tomorrow take up too much of today. Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of our opportunity, and we must grasp it.

Professor Harold Hill, in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, cautioned: “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”

There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today, and to live most fully today, we must do that which is of greatest importance. Let us not procrastinate those things which matter most...

The old adage “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” is doubly important when it comes to expressing our love and affection—in word and in deed—to family members and friends. Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”

APR03 - "Stand in Your Appointed Place" (from Priesthood session)

President Stephen L Richards, who served as a counselor to President David O. McKay, declared, “The Priesthood is usually simply defined as ‘the power of God delegated to man.’” He continues: “This definition, I think, is accurate. But for practical purposes I like to define the Priesthood in terms of service and I frequently call it ‘the perfect plan of service.’ … It is an instrument of service … and the man who fails to use it is apt to lose it, for we are plainly told by revelation that he who neglects it ‘shall not be counted worthy to stand.’”

In the Pioneer Stake, located in Salt Lake City and where I received both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, we were taught to become familiar with the scriptures, including sections 20, 84, and 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In these sections we learn about priesthood and Church government.

Tonight I wish to emphasize one verse from Section 107: “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.”

President Harold B. Lee frequently taught: “When one becomes a holder of the priesthood, he becomes an agent of the Lord. He should think of his calling as though he were on the Lord’s errand.”...

In certain areas where adequate Melchizedek Priesthood strength is missing, stake presidents and bishops, coordinating with the mission president, may use full-time missionaries to visit less-active and part-member families. Not only does this rekindle the missionary spirit in the home, but it also provides an ideal opportunity for quality referrals to be obtained.

Over the years as I have visited many stakes throughout the world, there have been those stakes where ward and stake leaders, out of necessity or in response to duty, stopped wringing their hands, rolled up their sleeves, and, with the Lord’s help, went to work and brought precious men to qualify for the Melchizedek Priesthood and, with their wives and children, to enter the holy temple for their endowments and sealings.

OCTOBER 2003 - "Bring Him Home" (from Priesthood session)

Brethren, ours is the responsibility, yes, even the solemn duty, to reach out to those who have slipped into inactivity or strayed from the family circle.

Recall with me the beautiful words of the Lord’s revelation from section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. …

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”

As presidencies of Aaronic Priesthood quorums, as advisers to these quorums, we can, with the Lord’s help, reach out and rescue those for whom we have responsibility. Young men, with a smile on your face and determination in your heart, you can take, arm in arm, a less-active boy and together come to priesthood meeting and learn of the Lord and what He has prepared for you to do. You are entitled to His divine help, for He has promised you: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

Brethren of the Melchizedek Priesthood, you have the same sacred charge and obligation as pertains to your duties to other men and to their families. And you have the same promise of the Lord to attend your efforts.

OCT03 - "The Bridge Builder"

In reality, we are all travelers—even explorers of mortality. We do not have the benefit of previous personal experience. We must pass over steep precipices and turbulent waters in our own journey here on earth.

Perhaps such a somber thought inspired the poet Will Allen Dromgoole’s classic poem entitled “The Bridge Builder.”

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide—
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

The message of the poem has prompted my thinking and comforted my soul, for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was the supreme architect and builder of bridges for you, for me, for all mankind. He has built the bridges over which we must cross if we are to reach our heavenly home.
As you succeed, you will be answering a mother’s prayer, the tender though unexpressed feelings of children’s hearts; and your names will forever be honored by those whom you reach out and help...

One of the longest-running musicals in history is Les Miserables. The story is set in the period of the French Revolution. The principal character in the musical is Jean Valjean. In his heartfelt concern for the young man, Marius, who is going off to battle, he expresses in song a sincere prayer:

God on high,
Hear my prayer;
In my need
You have always been there.
He is young,
He’s afraid;
Let him rest,
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home. …
Bring him peace,
Bring him joy.
He is young;
He is only a boy.
You can take,
You can give;
Let him be,
Let him live.
If I die, let me die,
Let him live.
Bring him home.

Brethren, as we go forward as bearers of the priesthood of God, learning our duty and then reaching out to our brethren who stand in need of our help, let us look upward to our Heavenly Father, who is the Father of us all. We may not hear His voice, but we will remember His salutation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”...

We look to the Savior as our example of service. Although He came to earth as the Son of God, He humbly served those around Him. He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. 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.

In the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew, the Savior tells us this concerning the faithful who will be on His right hand at His triumphal return:

“Then shall the King say unto them … , Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

APRIL 2004 - "Your Personal Influence"

It is in the home where fathers and mothers can teach provident living to their children. Sharing of tasks and helping one another set a pattern for future families as children grow, marry, and leave home. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest. President Gordon B. Hinckley continues to stress the avoidance of unnecessary debt, the fallacy of living beyond one’s means, and the temptation to let our wants become our necessities.

The Apostle Paul’s exhortation to his beloved Timothy provides the counsel that will enable our personal influence to find lodgment in the hearts of those with whom we associate: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”...

There is one, above all others, whose personal influence covers the continents, spans the oceans, and penetrates the hearts of true believers. He atoned for the sins of mankind.

I testify that He is a teacher of truth—but He is more than a teacher. He is the Exemplar of the perfect life—but He is more than an exemplar. He is the Great Physician—but He is more than a physician. He is the literal Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of Israel, even the risen Lord, who declared:

“I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. … I am the light and the life of the world.”
“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.”

APR04 - "The Call for Courage" (from Priesthood session)

The call for courage comes constantly to each of us. It has ever been so, and so shall it ever be.

The courage of a military leader was recorded by a young infantryman wearing the gray uniform of the Confederacy during America’s Civil War. He describes the influence of General J. E. B. Stuart in these words:

“[At a critical point in the battle,] he waved his hand toward the enemy and shouted, ‘Forward men! Forward! Just follow me!’ …
“… With courage and resolution [they followed] after him like a wide raging torrent,” and the objective was seized and held.

At an earlier time, and in a land far distant, another leader issued the same plea: “Follow me.” He was not a general of war. Rather, He was the Prince of Peace, the Son of God. Those who followed Him then and those who follow Him now win a far more significant victory, with consequences that are everlasting. The need for courage is constant.

OCTOBER 2004 - "If Ye Are Prepared, Ye Shall Not Fear" (from Relief Society session)

The Relief Society organization has had a goal to help eliminate illiteracy. Those of us who can read and write do not appreciate the deprivation of those who cannot read, who cannot write. They are shrouded by a dark cloud which stifles their progress, dulls their intellect, and dims their hopes. Sisters of the Relief Society, you can lift this cloud of despair and welcome heaven’s divine light as it shines upon your sisters.

Some years ago I was in Monroe, Louisiana, attending a regional conference. It was a beautiful occasion. At the airport on my way home, I was approached by a lovely African-American woman—a member of the Church—who said, smiling broadly, “President Monson, before I joined the Church and became a member of Relief Society, I could not read nor write. None of my family could. You see, we were all poor sharecroppers. President, my white Relief Society sisters—they taught me to read. They taught me to write. Now I help teach my white sisters how to read and how to write.” I reflected on the supreme joy she must have felt when she opened her Bible and read for the first time the words of the Lord:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”...

You, my beloved sisters, know who you are and what God expects you to become. Your challenge is to bring all for whom you are responsible to a knowledge of this truth. The Relief Society of this, the Lord’s Church, can be the means to achieve such a goal.

“The first and foremost opportunity for teaching in the Church lies in the home,” observed President David O. McKay. “A true Mormon home is one in which if Christ should chance to enter, he would be pleased to linger and to rest.”

What are we doing to ensure that our homes meet this description? It isn’t enough for parents alone to have strong testimonies. Children can ride only so long on the coattails of a parent’s conviction.

President Heber J. Grant declared: “It is our duty to teach our children in their youth. … I may know that the gospel is true, and so may my wife; but I want to tell you that our children will not know that the gospel is true, unless they study it and gain a testimony for themselves.”

A love for the Savior, a reverence for His name, and genuine respect one for another will provide a fertile seedbed for a testimony to grow.

OCT04 - "Anxiously Engaged"

The Lord speaks rather plainly to us to reach out and rescue such individuals and bring them and theirs to the table of the Lord. We well could pay heed to the Lord’s divine instructions when He declared, “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” He added:

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.”...

The passage of time has not altered the capacity of the Redeemer to change men’s lives. As He said to the dead Lazarus, so He says to you and to me, “Come forth.” I add: Come forth from the despair of doubt. Come forth from the sorrow of sin. Come forth from the death of disbelief. Come forth to a newness of life.

As we do and direct our footsteps along the paths which Jesus walked, let us remember the testimony Jesus gave: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. … I am the light and … life of the world.” “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.”

There are quorum members and those who should be our quorum members who require our help. John Milton wrote in his poem “Lycidas,” “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.” The Lord Himself said to Ezekiel the prophet, “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that … feed not the flock.”

OCT04 - "Choose You This Day"

A familiar hymn provides inspiration in the choices we make:

Choose the right when a choice is placed before you.
In the right the Holy Spirit guides;
And its light is forever shining o’er you,
When in the right your heart confides. …
Choose the right! There is peace in righteous doing.
Choose the right! There’s safety for the soul.
Choose the right in all labors you’re pursuing;
Let God and heaven be your goal.

Do we have a guide to help us choose the right and avoid dangerous detours? Positioned on the wall of my office, directly opposite my desk, is a lovely print of the Savior, painted by Heinrich Hofmann. I love the painting, which I have had since I was a 22-year-old bishop and which I have taken with me wherever I have been assigned to labor. I have tried to pattern my life after the Master. Whenever I have a difficult decision to make, I have looked at that picture and asked myself, “What would He do?” Then I try to do it. We can never go wrong when we choose to follow the Savior...

When the Savior was to choose a missionary of zeal and power, He found him not among His advocates but amidst His adversaries. The experience of Damascus’s way changed Saul. Of him the Lord declared, “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”

Saul the persecutor became Paul the proselyter. Paul made his choice...

May I leave with you today a simple yet far-reaching formula to guide you in the choices of life:

Fill your minds with truth.
Fill your hearts with love.
Fill your lives with service.

By doing so, may we one day hear the plaudit from our Lord and Savior, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

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