As I'm getting closer and closer to present day, I'm finding that these talks are reverberating more with me, feel more closely related to me, and it beings to mind the counsel from Pres. Monson when he encouraged members, after Conference, to go back and study the words and ponder them more in depth.
THOMAS S. MONSON
-Henry B. Eyring
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Quorum of the 12 Apostles
-Boyd K. Packer
-L. Tom Perry
-Russell M. Nelson
-Dallin H. Oaks
-M. Russell Ballard
-Richard G. Scott
-Robert D. Hales
-Jeffrey R. Holland
-David A. Bednar
-Quentin L. Cook
-D. Todd Christofferson
-Neil L. Andersen
Relief Society General President
Linda K. Burton
For some time the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have allowed young men from certain countries to serve at the age of 18 when they are worthy, able, have graduated from high school, and have expressed a sincere desire to serve. This has been a country-specific policy and has allowed thousands of young men to serve honorable missions and also fulfill required military obligations and educational opportunities.
Our experience with these 18-year-old missionaries has been positive. Their mission presidents report that they are obedient, faithful, mature, and serve just as competently as do the older missionaries who serve in the same missions. Their faithfulness, obedience, and maturity have caused us to desire the same option of earlier missionary service for all young men, regardless of the country from which they come.
I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.
As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.
We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service.
TSM - "See Others As They May Become" (from Priesthood session)
There is absolutely nothing in this world that will provide more comfort and happiness than a testimony of the truth. Although to varying degrees, I believe every man or young man here tonight has a testimony. If you feel that you do not yet have the depth of testimony you would wish, I admonish you to work to achieve such a testimony. If it is strong and deep, labor to keep it that way. How blessed we are to have a knowledge of the truth.
My message tonight, brethren, is that there are countless individuals who have little or no testimony right now, those who could and would receive such a testimony if we would be willing to make the effort to share ours and to help them change. In some instances we can provide the incentive for change...
We have the responsibility to look at our friends, our associates, our neighbors this way. Again, we have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become. I would plead with you to think of them in this way.
Brethren, the Lord told us something about the importance of this priesthood that we hold. He told us that we receive it with an oath and a covenant. He gave unto us the instruction that we must be faithful and true in all that we receive, and that we have the responsibility to keep this covenant even unto the end. And then all that the Father has shall be given unto us.
Courage is the word we need to hear and hold near our hearts—courage to turn our backs on temptation, courage to lift up our voices in testimony to all whom we meet, remembering that everyone must have an opportunity to hear the message. It is not an easy thing for most to do this. But we can come to believe in the words of Paul to Timothy:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”
TSM - "Consider the Blessings"
My brothers and sisters, the Lord’s purposes are often accomplished as we pay heed to the guidance of the Spirit. I believe that the more we act upon the inspiration and impressions which come to us, the more the Lord will entrust to us His errands.
I have learned, as I have mentioned in previous messages, never to postpone a prompting. On one occasion many years ago, I was swimming laps at the old Deseret Gym in Salt Lake City when I felt the inspiration to go to the University Hospital to visit a good friend of mine who had lost the use of his lower limbs because of a malignancy and the surgery which followed. I immediately left the pool, dressed, and was soon on my way to see this good man.
When I arrived at his room, I found that it was empty. Upon inquiry I learned I would probably find him in the swimming pool area of the hospital, an area which was used for physical therapy. Such turned out to be the case. He had guided himself there in his wheelchair and was the only occupant of the room. He was on the far side of the pool, near the deep end. I called to him, and he maneuvered his wheelchair over to greet me. We had an enjoyable visit, and I accompanied him back to his hospital room, where I gave him a blessing.
I learned later from my friend that he had been utterly despondent that day and had been contemplating taking his own life. He had prayed for relief but began to feel that his prayers had gone unanswered. He went to the pool with the thought that this would be a way to end his misery—by guiding his wheelchair into the deep end of the pool. I had arrived at a critical moment, in response to what I know was inspiration from on high.
My friend was able to live many more years—years filled with happiness and gratitude. How pleased I am to have been an instrument in the Lord’s hands on that critical day at the swimming pool...
I never cease to be amazed by how the Lord can motivate and direct the length and breadth of His kingdom and yet have time to provide inspiration concerning one individual—or one cultural celebration or one Jumbotron. The fact that He can, that He does, is a testimony to me.
My brothers and sisters, the Lord is in all of our lives. He loves us. He wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His help. As He guides us and directs us and as He hears and answers our prayers, we will find the happiness here and now that He desires for us.
TSM - "God Be With You Till We Meet Again"
As always, the proceedings of this conference will be available in the coming issues of the Ensign and the Liahona magazines. I encourage you to read the talks once again and to ponder the messages contained therein. I have found in my own life that I gain even more from these inspired sermons when I study them in greater depth...
I wish also to commend you, my brothers and sisters, wherever you are throughout the world, for all that you do in your wards and branches, your stakes and districts. As you willingly fulfill callings when you are asked, you are helping to build the kingdom of God on earth.
May we ever watch over one another, assisting in times of need. Let us not be critical and judgmental but let us be tolerant, ever emulating the Savior’s example of loving-kindness. In that vein, may we willingly serve one another. May we pray for the inspiration to know of the needs of those around us, and then may we go forward and provide assistance.
Let us be of good cheer as we go about our lives. Although we live in increasingly perilous times, the Lord loves us and is mindful of us. He is always on our side as we do what is right. He will help us in time of need. Difficulties come into our lives, problems we do not anticipate and which we would never choose. None of us is immune. The purpose of mortality is to learn and to grow to be more like our Father, and it is often during the difficult times that we learn the most, as painful as the lessons may be. Our lives can also be filled with joy as we follow the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Lord admonished, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” What great happiness this knowledge should bring to us. He lived for us and He died for us. He paid the price for our sins. May we emulate His example. May we show our great gratitude to Him by accepting His sacrifice and living lives that will qualify us to return and one day live with Him.
The women of the Church of Jesus Christ have been moving toward becoming the society of sisters that the Prophet Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, described in these words: “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.”
There are three parts to that remarkable description of the qualifications to associate in a state of happiness with God. One is to care for each other. Another is to teach each other and be taught. And the third is to sit down together with God...
With all your differences in personal circumstances and past experiences, I can tell you something of what lies ahead for you. As you keep the faith, you will find yourself invited by the Lord often to serve someone in need when it will not seem convenient. It may appear to be an unpleasant and perhaps even impossible task. When the call comes, it may seem you are not needed or that someone else could easily give the succor.
Remember that when the Lord lets us encounter someone in distress, we honor the good Samaritan for what he did not do as much as for what he did. He did not pass by on the other side even though the beaten traveler on the road was a stranger and perhaps an enemy. He did what he could for the beaten man and then put in place a specific plan for others to do more. He did that because he understood that helping may require more than what one person can do.
HBE - "Help Them Aim High" (from Priesthood session)
Every person is different and has a different contribution to make. No one is destined to fail. As you seek revelation to see gifts God sees in those you lead in the priesthood—particularly the young—you will be blessed to lift their sights to the service they can perform. With your guidance, those you lead will be able to see, want, and believe they can achieve their full potential for service in God’s kingdom.
With my own children, I prayed for revelation to know how I could help each of them individually prepare for specific opportunities to serve God. And then I tried to help them visualize, hope, and work for this future. I carved a board for each son with a quotation from scripture that described his special gifts and an image that represented this gift. Beneath the picture and the legend, I carved the dates of each boy’s baptism and ordination into priesthood offices, with his height marked at the date of each milestone...
The boy you are encouraging may seem too timid to be a powerful priesthood servant. Another one of my sons was so shy as a little boy that he wouldn’t walk into a store and talk to a clerk. He was too afraid. I worried as I prayed over his priesthood future. I thought of him in the mission field—that didn’t sound promising. I was led to a scripture in Proverbs: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
I carved “Bold as a Lion” on his board, beneath an image of a large lion’s head roaring. On his mission and in the years that followed, he fulfilled the hope in my carving. My once-shy son preached the gospel with great conviction and faced dangers with bravery. He was magnified in his responsibilities to represent the Lord.
That can happen for the young man you are leading. You need to build his faith that the Lord can transform him into a servant braver than the timid boy you now see.
HBE - "Where Is the Pavilion?"
In the depths of his anguish in Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith cried out: “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” Many of us, in moments of personal anguish, feel that God is far from us. The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible. Our own desires, rather than a feeling of “Thy will be done,” create the feeling of a pavilion blocking God. God is not unable to see us or communicate with us, but we may be unwilling to listen or submit to His will and His time.
Our feelings of separation from God will diminish as we become more childlike before Him. That is not easy in a world where the opinions of other human beings can have such an effect on our motives. But it will help us recognize this truth: God is close to us and aware of us and never hides from His faithful children...
As we do what He would have us do for His Father’s children, the Lord considers it kindness to Him, and we will feel closer to Him as we feel His love and His approval. In time we will become like Him and will think of the Judgment Day with happy anticipation.
The pavilion that seems to be hiding you from God may be fear of man rather than this desire to serve others. The Savior’s only motivation was to help people. Many of you, as I have, have felt fear in approaching someone you have offended or who has hurt you. And yet I have seen the Lord melt hearts time after time, including my own. And so I challenge you to go for the Lord to someone, despite any fear you may have, to extend love and forgiveness. I promise you that as you do, you will feel the love of the Savior for that person and His love for you, and it will not seem to come from a great distance. For you, that challenge may be in a family, it may be in a community, or it may be across a nation.
But if you go for the Lord to bless others, He will see and reward it. If you do this often enough and long enough, you will feel a change in your very nature through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Not only will you feel closer to Him, but you will also feel more and more that you are becoming like Him. Then, when you do see Him, as we all will, it will be for you as it was for Moroni when he said: “And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.”
My dear brothers and sisters, my dear friends! We are all mortal. I hope this does not come as a surprise to anyone.
None of us will be on earth very long. We have a number of precious years which, in the eternal perspective, barely amount to the blink of an eye. And then we depart. Our spirits “are taken home to that God who gave [us] life.” We lay our bodies down and leave behind the things of this world as we move to the next realm of our existence.
When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us.
However, the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly. And we begin to think about the choices we made and the things we have done. In the process, we remember many sweet moments that give warmth to our souls and joy to our hearts. But we also remember the regrets—the things we wish we could go back and change...
Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.
I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.
I can’t see it.
Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.
In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can “connect” with thousands of “friends” without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones. My wife and I live far away from precious family members; we know how that is. However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet. I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it...
When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and then claimed he went swimming. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be.
Declaring our testimony of the gospel is good, but being a living example of the restored gospel is better. Wishing to be more faithful to our covenants is good; actually being faithful to sacred covenants—including living a virtuous life, paying our tithes and offerings, keeping the Word of Wisdom, and serving those in need—is much better. Announcing that we will dedicate more time for family prayer, scripture study, and wholesome family activities is good; but actually doing all these things steadily will bring heavenly blessings to our lives.
Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.
Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents...
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?
Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.
Do we say our prayers with only the “amen” or the end in mind? Of course not. We pray to be close to our Heavenly Father, to receive His Spirit and feel His love.
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”..
To avoid some of the deepest regrets of life, it would be wise to make some resolutions today. Therefore, let us:
• Resolve to spend more time with those we love.
• Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be.
• Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.
It is my testimony that many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today. If we have sinned or made mistakes—if we have made choices that we now regret—there is the precious gift of Christ’s Atonement, through which we can be forgiven. We cannot go back in time and change the past, but we can repent. The Savior can wipe away our tears of regret and remove the burden of our sins. His Atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart, and a determination to do better and especially to become better.
DFU - "The Joy of the Priesthood" (from Priesthood session)
Brethren, we are bearers of the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God! Each of us had hands laid upon our head, and we received the priesthood of God. We have been given authority and responsibility to act in His name as His servants on earth. Whether in a large ward or a small branch, we are called upon to serve, to bless, and to act in all things for the good of everyone and everything entrusted to our care. Could there be anything more exhilarating?
Let us understand, appreciate, and feel the joy of service in the priesthood...
We know and understand that the priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God. We can easily recite this definition from memory. However, do we truly comprehend the significance of what we’re saying? Let me repeat: the priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God.
Think of it. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth.
Through this power, He redeems and exalts His children, bringing “to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
The priesthood, as the Prophet Joseph Smith explained, is “the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing His glory at the … creation of this earth, and through which He has continued to reveal Himself to the children of men to the present time, and through which He will make known His purposes to the end of time.”
Our all-powerful Father in Heaven has entrusted priesthood authority to us—mortal beings who, by definition, are flawed and imperfect. He grants to us the authority to act in His name for the salvation of His children. By this great power we are authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances of salvation, help build the kingdom of God on the earth, and bless and serve our families and our fellowmen...
The priesthood, or any responsibility within it, cannot be purchased or commanded. The use of priesthood power cannot be influenced, swayed, or compelled by position, by wealth, or by influence. It is a spiritual power that operates on heavenly law. It originates in the great Heavenly Father of us all. Its power can be controlled and directed only through principles of righteousness, not self-righteousness.
Christ is the source of all true priesthood authority and power on earth. It is His work, in which we are privileged to assist. “And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.”
We do not act for personal gain, but rather we seek to serve and to lift up others. We lead not by force but through “persuasion, … long-suffering, … gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”
It was understood from the beginning that in mortality we would fall short of being perfect. It was not expected that we would live without transgressing one law or another.
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.”
From the Pearl of Great Price, we understand that “no unclean thing can dwell [in the kingdom of God],” and so a way was provided for all who sin to repent and become worthy of the presence of our Father in Heaven once more.
A Mediator, a Redeemer, was chosen, one who would live His life perfectly, commit no sin, and offer “himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.”
Concerning the importance of the Atonement, in Alma we learn, “For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; … or else all mankind must unavoidably perish.”
If you have made no mistakes, then you do not need the Atonement. If you have made mistakes, and all of us have, whether minor or serious, then you have an enormous need to find out how they can be erased so that you are no longer in darkness...
No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions may have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out. To me, perhaps the most beautiful phrase in all scripture is when the Lord said, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
That is the promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement: to take anyone who comes, anyone who will join, and put them through an experience so that at the end of their life, they can go through the veil having repented of their sins and having been washed clean through the blood of Christ.
You young people listening to or reading this talk may not be too impressed with 90 years of life, but at the time I was born, living this long was considered a great achievement. Every day I am grateful to Heavenly Father for blessing me with a long life.
So much has changed during my lifetime. I have seen the development of the industrial age and the information age. Mass-produced automobiles and telephones and airplanes were great innovations of my early days. Today the way we find, share, and use information changes almost daily. At my age I marvel at the rapidly changing world in which we all live. So many of today’s breakthroughs excite the imagination with their potential to better our lives...
The first instruction to Adam for his mortal responsibility is found in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
The joining together of a man and a woman to be legally and lawfully wed not only is preparation for future generations to inherit the earth, but it also brings the greatest joy and satisfaction that can be found in this mortal experience. This is especially true when the powers of the priesthood proclaim a marriage to be for time and for all eternity. Children born to such marriages have a security that is found nowhere else.
Lessons taught in the home by goodly parents are becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread. As we know, he is attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society—the family. In clever and carefully camouflaged ways, he is attacking commitment to family life throughout the world and undermining the culture and covenants of faithful Latter-day Saints. 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), this responsibility ultimately rests on the parents. According to the great plan of happiness, it is goodly parents who are entrusted with the care and development of Heavenly Father’s children.
The true name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the reestablished original Church of Jesus Christ. When He walked upon the earth, He organized His Church. He called Apostles, Seventies, and other leaders to whom He gave priesthood authority to act in His name. After Christ and His Apostles passed away, men changed the ordinances and doctrine. The original Church and the priesthood were lost. After the Dark Ages, and under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ brought back His Church. Now it lives again, restored and functioning under His divine direction.
We follow the Lord Jesus Christ and teach of Him. We know that after His glorious triumph over death, the resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples on numerous occasions. He ate with them. He walked with them. Before His final Ascension, He commissioned them to “go … and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The Apostles heeded that instruction. They also called upon others to help them fulfill the Lord’s command...
Missionaries can help in many ways. For example, some of you might want to know more about your ancestors. You may know the names of your parents and your four grandparents, but what about your eight great-grandparents? Do you know their names? Would you like to know more about them? Ask the missionaries! They can help you! They have ready access to the vast family history records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Some of you are members but not presently participating. You love the Lord and often think of returning to His fold. But you don’t know how to start. I suggest that you ask the missionaries! They can help you! They can also help by teaching your loved ones. We and the missionaries love you and desire to bring joy and the light of the gospel back into your lives.
We can all remember our feelings when a little child cried out and reached up to us for help. A loving Heavenly Father gives us those feelings to impel us to help His children. Please recall those feelings as I speak about our responsibility to protect and act for the well-being of children.
I speak from the perspective of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including His plan of salvation. That is my calling. Local Church leaders have responsibility for a single jurisdiction, like a ward or stake, but an Apostle is responsible to witness to the entire world. In every nation, of every race and creed, all children are children of God.
Although I do not speak in terms of politics or public policy, like other Church leaders, I cannot speak for the welfare of children without implications for the choices being made by citizens, public officials, and workers in private organizations. We are all under the Savior’s command to love and care for each other and especially for the weak and defenseless.
Children are highly vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being. Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests.
Worldwide, we are shocked at the millions of children victimized by evil adult crimes and selfishness. In some war-torn countries, children are abducted to serve as soldiers in contending armies. A United Nations report estimates that over two million children are victimized each year through prostitution and pornography...
We remember our Savior’s teaching as He placed a little child before His followers and declared:
“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:5–6).
When we consider the dangers from which children should be protected, we should also include psychological abuse. Parents or other caregivers or teachers or peers who demean, bully, or humiliate children or youth can inflict harm more permanent than physical injury. Making a child or youth feel worthless, unloved, or unwanted can inflict serious and long-lasting injury on his or her emotional well-being and development. Young people struggling with any exceptional condition, including same-gender attraction, are particularly vulnerable and need loving understanding—not bullying or ostracism.
With the help of the Lord, we can repent and change and be more loving and helpful to children—our own and those around us.
Honeybees are driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and condense the nectar into honey. It is their magnificent obsession imprinted into their genetic makeup by our Creator. It is estimated that to produce just one pound (0.45 kg) of honey, the average hive of 20,000 to 60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of two times around the world. Over its short lifetime of just a few weeks to four months, a single honeybee’s contribution of honey to its hive is a mere one-twelfth of one teaspoon.
Though seemingly insignificant when compared to the total, each bee’s one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey is vital to the life of the hive. The bees depend on each other. Work that would be overwhelming for a few bees to do becomes lighter because all of the bees faithfully do their part.
The beehive has always been an important symbol in our Church history. We learn in the Book of Mormon that the Jaredites carried honeybees with them (see Ether 2:3) when they journeyed to the Americas thousands of years ago. Brigham Young chose the beehive as a symbol to encourage and inspire the cooperative energy necessary among the pioneers to transform the barren desert wasteland surrounding the Great Salt Lake into the fertile valleys we have today. We are the beneficiaries of their collective vision and industry.
The beehive symbol is found in both the interiors and exteriors of many of our temples. This podium where I stand is made from the wood of a walnut tree grown in President Gordon B. Hinckley’s backyard and is adorned with carved beehive images.
All of this symbolism attests to one fact: great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27). Imagine what the millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ...
What do we need to do to become like the dedicated honeybees and have that dedication become part of our nature? Many of us are dutiful in attending our Church meetings. We work hard in our callings and especially on Sundays. That is surely to be commended. But are our minds and our hearts just as anxiously engaged in good things during the rest of the week? Do we just go through the motions, or are we truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ? How do we take the seed of faith that has been nurtured in our minds and plant it deep in the fertile soil of our souls? How do we make the mighty change of heart that Alma says is essential for our eternal happiness and peace? (see Alma 5:12–21).
The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith sublime doctrine concerning the sacred ordinance of baptism. That light came when other Christian churches taught that death irrevocably, eternally, determined the destiny of the soul. They taught the baptized were rewarded with endless joy while all others faced eternal torment without hope of redemption.
The Lord’s revelation that through proper priesthood authority, baptism could be performed vicariously for the dead preserved the justice of His statement: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Vicarious baptism can mercifully provide this essential ordinance for all worthy deceased who did not receive it in mortality.
This glorious doctrine is another witness of the all-encompassing nature of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He made salvation available to every repentant soul. His Atonement conquered death, and He permits the worthy deceased to receive all ordinances of salvation vicariously...
President Howard W. Hunter taught: “We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life. Doing work for others is accomplished in two steps: first, by family history research to ascertain our progenitors; and second, by performing the temple ordinances to give them the same opportunities afforded to the living."...
I have tasted enough of the fruits of this sublime work to know that the keys Elijah restored to Joseph Smith permit our hearts to be bound and each of us linked to those of our ancestors who are waiting for our help. Through our efforts in holy temples here on earth using the authority delegated by the Savior, our progenitors receive the saving ordinances that allow them to enjoy eternal happiness.
In the past, motivated by a deep conviction of the sanctity of the work, individuals have valiantly faced a challenge that seemed like single-handedly endeavoring to harvest all the grain in Nebraska. Now, many mighty combines are at work. Together we can and will accomplish the required work.
I testify that the Spirit of Elijah is touching the hearts of many of Father’s children throughout the world, causing the work for the dead to accelerate at an unprecedented pace.
What does it mean to be a Christian? A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal Son of God, sent by His Father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement.
A Christian believes that through the grace of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can repent, forgive others, keep the commandments, and inherit eternal life...
For many, the call to be a Christian can seem demanding, even overwhelming. But we need not be afraid or feel inadequate. The Savior has promised that He will make us equal to His work. “Follow me,” He said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” As we follow Him, He blesses us with gifts, talents, and the strength to do His will, allowing us to go beyond our comfort zones and do things we’ve never before thought possible. This may mean sharing the gospel with neighbors, rescuing those who are spiritually lost, serving a full-time mission, working in the temple, raising a child with special needs, loving the prodigal, serving an ailing companion, enduring misunderstandings, or suffering affliction. It means preparing ourselves to answer His call by saying, “I’ll go where you want me to go; I’ll say what you want me to say; I’ll do what you want me to do; I’ll be what you want me to be.”
To be who Heavenly Father wants us to be, we follow Jesus Christ. I testify that He is continually calling us to follow Him. If you are just learning about the Christian commitment of Latter-day Saints or if you have not been fully participating in the Church and want to follow Him again—fear not! The Lord’s first disciples were all new members of the Church, newly converted to His gospel. Jesus patiently taught each one. He helped them fulfill their responsibilities. He called them His friends and laid down His life for them. And He has already done the same for you and for me.
I testify that through His infinite love and grace, we can become more Christian Christians. Consider the following Christlike qualities. How are we doing in strengthening them within ourselves?
Christian love. The Savior valued everyone. Kind and compassionate to all, He left the ninety and nine to find the one, for “even the very hairs of [our] head are … numbered” to Him.
Christian faith. Despite temptations, trials, and persecutions, the Savior trusted our Heavenly Father and chose to be faithful and obedient to His commandments.
Christian sacrifice. Throughout His life the Savior gave of His time, His energy, and ultimately, through the Atonement, gave Himself so that all of God’s children could be resurrected and have the opportunity to inherit eternal life.
Christian caring. Like the good Samaritan, the Savior was continually reaching out to rescue, love, and nurture people around Him, regardless of their culture, creed, or circumstances.
Christian service. Whether drawing water from a well, cooking a meal of fish, or washing dusty feet, the Savior spent His days serving others—lifting up the weary and strengthening the weak.
Christian patience. In His own sorrow and suffering, the Savior waited upon His Father. With patience for us, He waits upon us to come to ourselves and come home to Him.
Christian peace. Throughout His ministry He urged understanding and promoted peace. Especially among His disciples, He taught that Christians cannot contend with other Christians, notwithstanding their differences.
Christian forgiveness. He taught us to bless those who curse us. He showed us the way by praying that those who crucified Him would be forgiven.
There is almost no group in history for whom I have more sympathy than I have for the eleven remaining Apostles immediately following the death of the Savior of the world. I think we sometimes forget just how inexperienced they still were and how totally dependent upon Jesus they had of necessity been. To them He had said, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me … ?”
But, of course, to them He hadn’t been with them nearly long enough. Three years isn’t long to call an entire Quorum of Twelve Apostles from a handful of new converts, purge from them the error of old ways, teach them the wonders of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then leave them to carry on the work until they too were killed. Quite a staggering prospect for a group of newly ordained elders.
Especially the part about being left alone. Repeatedly Jesus had tried to tell them He was not going to remain physically present with them, but they either could not or would not comprehend such a wrenching thought. Mark writes:
“He taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.
“But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.”...
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.
I testify from the bottom of my heart, with the intensity of my soul, to all who can hear my voice that those apostolic keys have been restored to the earth, and they are found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To those who have not yet joined with us in this great final cause of Christ, we say, “Please come.” To those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few cultural hors d’oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the Restoration and leave the rest of the feast, I say that I fear you face a lot of long nights and empty nets. The call is to come back, to stay true, to love God, and to lend a hand. I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.” That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well.
As Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He posed this penetrating question to His disciples: “Whom say ye that I am?”
Peter responded forthrightly:
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15–17).
As is evidenced in Peter’s reply and the Savior’s instruction, a testimony is personal knowledge of spiritual truth obtained by revelation. A testimony is a gift from God and is available to all of His children. Any honest seeker of truth can obtain a testimony by exercising the necessary “particle of faith” in Jesus Christ to “experiment upon” (Alma 32:27) and “try the virtue of the word” (Alma 31:5), to yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” (Mosiah 3:19), and to awaken unto God (see Alma 5:7). Testimony brings increased personal accountability and is a source of purpose, assurance, and joy.
Seeking for and obtaining a testimony of spiritual truth requires asking, seeking, and knocking (see Matthew 7:7; 3 Nephi 14:7) with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in the Savior (see Moroni 10:4). Fundamental components of a testimony are knowing that Heavenly Father lives and loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that the fulness of the gospel has been restored to the earth in these latter days...
For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience.
Samuel the Lamanite identified five basic elements in becoming converted unto the Lord: (1) believing in the teachings and prophecies of the holy prophets as they are recorded in the scriptures, (2) exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, (3) repenting, (4) experiencing a mighty change of heart, and (5) becoming “firm and steadfast in the faith” (see Helaman 15:7–8). This is the pattern that leads to conversion.
In one of the most profound verses in all of scripture, Alma proclaims, “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”
Local leaders across the world report that when viewed as a whole, Church members, especially our youth, have never been stronger. But they almost always raise two concerns: first, the challenge of increased unrighteousness in the world and, second, the apathy and lack of commitment of some members. They seek counsel about how to help members to follow the Savior and achieve a deep and lasting conversion.
This question, “Can ye feel so now?” rings across the centuries. With all that we have received in this dispensation—including the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the outpouring of spiritual gifts, and the indisputable blessings of heaven—Alma’s challenge has never been more important...
How we treat those closest to us is of fundamental importance. Violence, abuse, lack of civility, and disrespect in the home are not acceptable—not acceptable for adults and not acceptable for the rising generation. My father was not active in the Church but was a remarkably good example, especially in his treatment of my mother. He used to say, “God will hold men responsible for every tear they cause their wives to shed.” This same concept is emphasized in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It reads, “[Those] who abuse spouse or offspring … will one day stand accountable before God.” Regardless of the culture in which we are raised, and whether our parents did or did not abuse us, we must not physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse anyone else.
The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes. It is not surprising that our public discourse has declined in equal measure with the breakdown of the family. The family is the foundation for love and for maintaining spirituality. The family promotes an atmosphere where religious observance can flourish. There is indeed “beauty all around when there’s love at home.”
In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those who denigrate men and their contributions. They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female—that one must dominate the other, and now it’s the women’s turn. Some argue that a career is everything and marriage and children should be entirely optional—therefore, why do we need men? In too many Hollywood films, TV and cable shows, and even commercials, men are portrayed as incompetent, immature, or self-absorbed. This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect.
In the United States, for example, it is reported: “Girls outperform boys now at every level, from elementary school through graduate school. By eighth grade, for instance, only 20 percent of boys are proficient in writing and 24 percent proficient in reading. Young men’s SAT scores, meanwhile, in 2011 were the worst they’ve been in 40 years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), boys are 30 percent more likely than girls to drop out of both high school and college. … It is predicted that women will earn 60 percent of bachelor’s, 63 percent of master’s and 54 percent of doctorate degrees by 2016. Two-thirds of students in special education remedial programs are guys.”
Some men and young men have taken the negative signals as an excuse to avoid responsibility and never really grow up. In an observation that is too often accurate, one university professor remarked, “The men come into class with their backward baseball caps and [their lame] the ‘word processor ate my homework’ excuses. Meanwhile, the women are checking their day planners and asking for recommendations for law school.” One female movie reviewer expressed the rather cynical view that “what we can count on men for, if we’re lucky and we choose to have a partner, is to be just that—a partner. Someone who stands in his own space even as he respects our standing in our own.”
Brethren, it cannot be this way with us. As men of the priesthood, we have an essential role to play in society, at home, and in the Church. But we must be men that women can trust, that children can trust, and that God can trust. In the Church and kingdom of God in these latter days, we cannot afford to have boys and men who are drifting. We cannot afford young men who lack self-discipline and live only to be entertained. We cannot afford young adult men who are going nowhere in life, who are not serious about forming families and making a real contribution in this world. We cannot afford husbands and fathers who fail to provide spiritual leadership in the home. We cannot afford to have those who exercise the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God, waste their strength in pornography or spend their lives in cyberspace (ironically being of the world while not being in the world).
Brethren, we have work to do.
The gift of faith is a priceless spiritual endowment. “This is life eternal,” Jesus prayed, “that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
Our faith is centered in God, our Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. It is bolstered by our knowledge that the fulness of the gospel has been restored to the earth, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that prophets and apostles today hold the keys of the priesthood. We treasure our faith, work to strengthen our faith, pray for increased faith, and do all within our power to protect and defend our faith.
The Apostle Peter identified something he called a “trial of your faith.” He had experienced it. Remember Jesus’s words:
“Simon, … Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”
Peter later encouraged others: “Think it not strange,” he said, “concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”
These fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish or even destroy your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him. These trials are often camouflaged, making them difficult to identify. They take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us. A real but manageable test for one can be a fiery trial for another.
How do you remain “steadfast and immovable” during a trial of faith? You immerse yourself in the very things that helped build your core of faith: you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you keep the commandments, and you serve others.
When faced with a trial of faith—whatever you do, you don’t step away from the Church! Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view...
A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.
The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father … ; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.”
Joseph Smith said, “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations.” The miracle of God’s hand in the history and destiny of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is understood only through the lens of spiritual inquiry. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Every [person] eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there … must make his stand.” Don’t be surprised when it happens to you!
By definition, trials will be trying. There may be anguish, confusion, sleepless nights, and pillows wet with tears. But our trials need not be spiritually fatal. They need not take us from our covenants or from the household of God.
For some, serving or ministering one by one, following the Savior’s example, doesn’t come easily. But with practice, each of us can become more like the Savior as we serve God’s children. To help us better love one another, I would like to suggest four words to remember: “First observe, then serve.”
Almost 40 years ago my husband and I went to the temple for our Friday night date. We had been married only a short time, and I was nervous because this was only my second time as a newlywed. A sister sitting next to me must have noticed. She leaned over and whispered reverently, “Don’t worry. I’ll help you.” My fears were calmed, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the temple session. She first observed, then served.
We are all invited to follow Jesus’s teachings and to minister to others. This invitation is not limited to angelic sisters...
Jesus said, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.”
Sometimes we are tempted to serve in a way that we want to serve and not necessarily in the way that is needed at the moment. When Elder Robert D. Hales taught the principle of provident living, he shared the example of buying a gift for his wife. She asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” If we adapt that question to ourselves as we serve and ask, “Am I doing this for the Savior, or am I doing this for me?” our service will more likely resemble the ministry of the Savior. The Savior asked, and so should we, “What will ye that I shall do unto you?”
LKB - "Is Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ Written in Our Hearts?" (from Relief Society session)
One of the precious gifts associated with this calling is the assurance that Heavenly Father loves all of His daughters. I have felt His love for each of us!
Like you, I love the scriptures! In the book of Jeremiah we find a scripture that is very dear to my heart. Jeremiah lived in a difficult time and place, but the Lord allowed him to foresee “a time of hope during the latter-day gathering of Israel”—our day. Jeremiah prophesied:
“After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. …
“… They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”...
We, with you, bear witness of the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our testimonies, like yours, have been written in our hearts as we have faced assorted soul-stretching challenges and adversities. Without an understanding of Heavenly Father’s perfect plan of happiness and the Savior’s Atonement as the central feature of that plan, these challenges could seem unfair. We all share in the trials of life together. But in faithful hearts is written, “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Why does the Lord allow suffering and adversity to come to us in this life? Simply put, it is part of the plan for our growth and progress! We “shouted for joy” when we knew we would have the opportunity to come to earth to experience mortality. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught, “Our needed conversions are often achieved more readily by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquillity.”