Monday, October 13, 2014
#LDSConf Highlights October 2014: Sunday Afternoon Session
Most of us experience periods in our lives where the tranquil waters of life are appreciated. At other times, we encounter white-water rapids that are metaphorically comparable to those found in the 14-mile stretch through Cataract Canyon—challenges that may include physical and mental health issues, the death of a loved one, dashed dreams and hopes, and—for some—even a crisis of faith when faced with life’s problems, questions, and doubts.
The Lord in His goodness has provided help, including a boat, essential supplies such as life jackets, and experienced river guides who give guidance and safety instructions to help us make our way down the river of life to our final destination.
Let’s think about rule number one: stay in the boat!
President Brigham Young commonly employed “the Old Ship Zion” as a metaphor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He said on one occasion: “We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard. ‘I am not going to stay here,’ says one; ‘I don’t believe this is the “Ship Zion.”’ ‘But we are in the midst of the ocean.’ ‘I don’t care, I am not going to stay here.’ Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the ‘Old Ship Zion,’ let us stay in it.”...
Given the challenges we all face today, how do we stay on the Old Ship Zion?
Here is how. We need to experience a continuing conversion by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ and our faithfulness to His gospel throughout our lives—not just once but regularly. Alma asked, “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren [and sisters], 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?”
The experienced river guides today can be likened to the Church’s apostles and prophets and inspired local priesthood and auxiliary leaders. They help us arrive safely to our final destination.
Recently, I spoke at the new mission presidents’ seminar and counseled these leaders:
“Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church. … We will not and … cannot lead [you] astray.
“And as you teach your missionaries to focus their eyes on us, teach them to never follow those who think they know more about how to administer the affairs of the Church than … Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ do” through the priesthood leaders who have the keys to preside.
“I have discovered in my ministry that those who have become lost [and] confused are typically those who have most often … forgotten that when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice, it is the voice of the Lord for that time. The Lord reminds us, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ [D&C 1:38].”...
On another occasion this year, I spoke to the young adults of the Church in the May CES devotional broadcast. I said:
“I have heard that some people think the Church leaders live in a ‘bubble.’ What they forget is that we are men and women of experience, and we have lived our lives in so many places and worked with many people from different backgrounds. Our current assignments literally take us around the globe, where we meet the political, religious, business, and humanitarian leaders of the world. Although we have visited [leaders in] the White House in Washington, D.C., and leaders of nations [and religions] throughout the world, we have also visited the most humble [families and people] on earth. …
“When you thoughtfully consider our lives and ministry, you will most likely agree that we see and experience the world in ways few others do. You will realize that we live less in a ‘bubble’ than most people. …
“… There is something about the individual and combined wisdom of the [Church leaders] that should provide some comfort. We have experienced it all, including the consequences of different public laws and policies, disappointments, tragedies, and deaths in our own families. We are not out of touch with your lives.”
Along with rule number one as I’ve applied it, remember rules two and three: always wear a life jacket, and hold on with both hands. The words of the Lord are found in the scriptures and the teachings of the apostles and prophets. They provide us counsel and direction that, when followed, will act like a spiritual life jacket and will help us know how to hold on with both hands...
As I have known people who have not stayed in the boat and have not held on with both hands during times of trials and troubles or who have not stayed in the boat during times of relative calm, I have observed that many of them have lost their focus on the central truths of the gospel—the reasons why they joined the Church in the first place; the reasons they remained fully committed and active in living gospel standards and blessing others through dedicated, consecrated service; and the ways in which the Church has been in their lives “a place of spiritual nourishment and growth.”
Joseph Smith taught this central truth: “The fundamental principles of our religion [are] the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, … ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.”...
The important questions focus on what matters most—Heavenly Father’s plan and the Savior’s Atonement. Our search should lead us to become kind, gentle, loving, forgiving, patient, and dedicated disciples. We must be willing, as Paul taught, to “bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
To bear another’s burdens includes helping, supporting, and understanding everyone, including the sick, the infirm, the poor in spirit and body, the seeker and the troubled, and also other member-disciples—including Church leaders who have been called by the Lord to serve for a season.
Brothers and sisters, stay in the boat, use your life jackets, and hold on with both hands. Avoid distractions! And if any one of you have fallen out of the boat, we will seek you, find you, minister to you, and pull you safely back onto the Old Ship Zion, where God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are at the helm and will guide us right, to which I humbly testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
We live in trying times. I need not list all of the sources of evil in the world. It is not necessary to describe all of the possible challenges and heartaches that are a part of mortality. Each of us is intimately aware of our own struggles with temptation, pain, and sadness.
We were taught in the premortal world that our purpose in coming here is to be tested, tried, and stretched.3 We knew we would face the evils of the adversary. Sometimes we may feel more aware of the negative things of mortality than we are of the positive. The prophet Lehi taught, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.”4 Despite all of the negative challenges we have in life, we must take time to actively exercise our faith. Such exercise invites the positive, faith-filled power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ into our lives.
Our Father in Heaven has given us tools to help us come unto Christ and exercise faith in His Atonement. When these tools become fundamental habits, they provide the easiest way to find peace in the challenges of mortality. Today I have chosen to discuss four of these tools. As I speak, consider evaluating your personal use of each tool; then seek the guidance of the Lord to determine how you could make better use of each one of them.
The first tool is prayer. Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life. Share with Him your full range of feelings and experiences.
Because He respects your agency, Father in Heaven will never force you to pray to Him. But as you exercise that agency and include Him in every aspect of your daily life, your heart will begin to fill with peace, buoyant peace. That peace will focus an eternal light on your struggles. It will help you to manage those challenges from an eternal perspective...
The second tool is to study the word of God in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them. Make them an integral part of everyday life. If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.
Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!...
While you are working to strengthen your family and cultivate peace, remember this third tool: weekly family home evening. Be cautious not to make your family home evening just an afterthought of a busy day. Decide that on Monday night your family will be together at home for the evening. Do not let employment demands, sports, extracurricular activities, homework, or anything else become more important than that time you spend together at home with your family....
The fourth tool is to go to the temple. We all know there is no more peaceful place on this earth than in the temples of God. If you don’t have a temple recommend, qualify to get one. When you have a recommend, use it often. Schedule a regular time to be in the temple. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there.
While you are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning. The temple is one of the best places to come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek Him there. Remember that many more blessings come from providing your own family names in the temple...
I am not suggesting that all of life’s struggles will disappear as you do these things. We came to mortal life precisely to grow from trials and testing. Challenges help us become more like our Father in Heaven, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to endure those challenges. I testify that as we actively come unto Him, we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge we face, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
CARLOS A. GODOY - "The Lord Has a Plan for Us!"
1st Quorum of the Seventy
All of us have experienced or will yet experience moments of great decision in our lives. Should I pursue this career or that one? Should I serve a mission? Is this the right person for me to marry?
These are situations in different areas of our lives in which a small change in direction can have significant future consequences. In the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Through years of serving the Lord … , I have learned that the difference between happiness and misery in individuals, in marriages, and families often comes down to an error of only a few degrees”...
Making decisions that can impact our lives and those we love without having the broader vision of their consequences can bring some risks. However, if we project the possible consequences of these decisions into the future, we can see with greater clarity the best path to take in the present.
Understanding who we are, why we are here, and what the Lord expects from us in this life will help give us the broader vision we need...
We are children of Almighty God. He is our Father, He loves us, and He has a plan for us. We are not here in this life just to waste our time, grow old, and die. God wants us to grow and achieve our potential.
In the words of President Thomas S. Monson: “Each of you, single or married, regardless of age, has the opportunity to learn and to grow. Expand your knowledge, both intellectual and spiritual, to the full stature of your divine potential"...
I know that the Lord has a plan for us in this life. He knows us. He knows what is best for us. Just because things are going well does not mean that we should not from time to time consider whether there might be something better. If we continue to live as we are living, will the promised blessings be fulfilled?
God lives. He is our Father. The Savior Jesus Christ lives, and I know that through His atoning sacrifice we can find the strength to overcome our daily challenges. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
ALLAN F. PACKER - "The Book"
1st Quorum of the Seventy
As we work toward exaltation, we must work on all of the requirements and not become distracted by focusing on one or two requirements or other unrelated things. Seeking the kingdom of God leads to joy and happiness.1 If needed, we must be willing to change. Frequent small corrections are less painful and disruptive than large course corrections.
Not long ago, Sister Packer and I traveled to several foreign countries. We prepared our passports and other documents. We obtained the shots, medical exams, visas, and stamps. As we arrived, our documents were inspected, and when all the requirements were met, we were allowed to enter.
Qualifying for exaltation is like entering another country. We must each obtain our spiritual passport. We do not set the requirements, but, individually, we must meet all of them. The plan of salvation contains all of the doctrines, laws, commandments, and ordinances needed for all to qualify for exaltation. Then, “through the Atonement of [Jesus] Christ, all mankind may be saved.” The Church helps but cannot do it for us. Qualifying for exaltation becomes a quest of a lifetime.
Christ organized His Church to help us. He has called 15 men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators to guide the Church and to teach the people. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are of equal power and authority, with the senior Apostle designated as the President of the Church. The Seventy are called to assist. The leaders did not set the requirements for exaltation. God did! These leaders are called to teach, expound, exhort, and even warn so that we stay on course....
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Our success, individually and as a Church, will largely be determined by how faithfully we focus on living the gospel in the home.” Temple and family history work is part of living the gospel at home. It should be a family activity far more than a Church activity.
There has been a renewed emphasis on family history and temple work from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. Your response to this emphasis will increase your individual and family joy and happiness...
This work needs to be done, not for the benefit of the Church but for our dead and for ourselves. We and our deceased ancestors need the stamps in our spiritual passports.
The “welding together” of our families across generations can occur only in the temples through the sealing ordinances. The steps are simple: just find a name and take it to the temple. Over time you will be able to help others do it also.
With few exceptions, everyone—everyone—can do this!
HUGO E. MARTINEZ - "Our Personal Ministries"
2nd Quorum of the Seventy
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are given the opportunity and personal blessing to serve. For as long as I have been a member, I have served in many ways. Like Brother Udine Falabella, father of Elder Enrique R. Falabella, used to say, “He who serves in some thing is good for something; he who serves in no thing is good for nothing.” These are words that we need to keep in our minds and in our hearts.
As I have sought guidance during my service, I have found comfort in remembering that the Savior focuses on the individual and the family. His love and tender attention to the individual have taught me that He recognizes the great worth of each of Heavenly Father’s children and that it is essential for us to ensure that each individual is ministered to and strengthened by the gospel of Jesus Christ...
The love of Jesus Christ must be our guide if we are to become aware of the needs of those we can help in some way. The teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, show us the way. And that is how our personal ministry begins: discovering needs, then tending to them. As Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, said, “First observe, then serve"...
On September 21, 1998, Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico, causing extensive damage. Sister Martinez, our five children, and I managed to survive that great storm and its hurricane-force winds by staying in our home. However, we went two weeks without running water and without power.
When our supply of water ran out, obtaining more was difficult. I will never forget the brethren who ministered to us by providing that precious liquid, nor will I forget the loving way the sisters also served us.
Germán Colón came to our house with a large plastic water container in a pickup truck. He told us he was doing it because, in his words, “I know you have little children who need water.” A couple of days later, Brothers Noel Muñoz and Herminio Gómez loaded three large water tanks onto a flatbed truck. They showed up at our house unexpectedly and filled every available water bottle with drinking water, also inviting our neighbors to fill theirs.
Our prayers were answered by their personal ministries. The faces of those three brethren reflected the love that Jesus Christ has for us, and their service—in other words, their personal ministry—brought much more than drinking water into our lives. To every son or daughter of God, knowing that people are interested in and watching out for his or her welfare is essential.
I testify to you that Heavenly Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ, know us individually and personally. For that reason, They provide what we need so we will have the opportunity to reach our divine potential. Along the road, They place people who will help us. Then, as we become instruments in Their hands, we are able to serve and help those They show to us by revelation.
In this way, the Lord Jesus Christ will reach all of Heavenly Father’s children. The Good Shepherd will gather all His sheep. He will do so one by one as they make good use of their moral agency—after hearing the voice of His servants and receiving their ministrations. Then they will recognize His voice, and they will follow Him. Such personal ministry is integral to keeping our baptismal covenants.
LARRY S. KACHER - "Trifle Not with Sacred Things"
2nd Quorum of the Seventy
I was baptized with my friends in 1972. This new current I chose to follow, the gospel of Jesus Christ, provided direction and meaning to my life. However, it was not without its challenges. Everything was new to me. At times I felt lost and confused. Questions and challenges were posed by both friends and family.
I had a choice to make. Some of their questions created doubt and uncertainty. The choice was an important one. Where would I turn for answers? There were many who wanted to convince me of the error of my ways—“riptides” determined to pull me away from the peaceful current that had become a wonderful source of happiness. I learned very clearly the principle that there is “opposition in all things” and the importance of acting for myself and not forsaking my agency to others.
I asked myself, “Why would I turn away from that which had brought me such great comfort?” As the Lord reminded Oliver Cowdery, “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?” My experience had been similar. Therefore, I turned, with yet more commitment, to a loving Heavenly Father, to the scriptures, and to trusted friends.
Still, there were many questions I could not answer. How would I address the uncertainty they created? Rather than allow them to destroy the peace and happiness that had come into my life, I chose to set them aside for a season, trusting that in the Lord’s time, He would reveal all things. I found solace in His statement to the Prophet Joseph: “Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.” I chose not to forsake what I knew to be true by following an unknown and a questionable current—a potential “riptide.” As President N. Eldon Tanner taught, I learned “how much wiser and better it is for man to accept the simple truths of the gospel … and to accept by faith those things which he … cannot understand.”
Does this mean there is no room for honest inquiry? Ask the young boy who sought refuge in a sacred grove wanting to know which of all the churches he should join. Hold the Doctrine and Covenants in your hand, and know that much of what has been revealed in this inspired record has been the result of a humble search for truth. As Joseph found out, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, [who] giveth to all men liberally, … and it shall be given him.” By asking sincere questions and by seeking divine answers, we learn “line upon line, precept upon precept,” as we increase in knowledge and wisdom.
The question is not, “Is there room for honest, sincere inquiry?” but rather, “Where do I turn for truth when questions do arise?” “Will I be wise enough to hold fast to what I know to be true in spite of a few questions I might have?” I testify there is a divine source—One who knows all things, the end from the beginning. All things are present before Him. The scriptures testify that He does “not walk in crooked paths, … neither doth he vary from that which he hath said.”...
Heavenly Father has blessed us with the supernal gift of the Holy Ghost to guide our choices. He has promised us inspiration and revelation as we live worthy to receive such. I invite you to take advantage of this divine gift and examine your choices by asking yourself the question, “Are my decisions firmly planted in the rich soil of the gospel of Jesus Christ?” I invite you to make whatever adjustments are needed, whether small or large, to ensure the eternal blessings of Heavenly Father’s plan for you and those you love.
Devoted disciples of Jesus Christ always have been and always will be valiant missionaries. A missionary is a follower of Christ who testifies of Him as the Redeemer and proclaims the truths of His gospel.
The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior’s Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament:
“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. Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20).
Latter-day Saints take seriously this responsibility to teach all people in all nations about the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. We believe the same Church founded by the Savior anciently has been reestablished on the earth by Him in the latter days. The doctrine, principles, priesthood authority, ordinances, and covenants of His gospel are found today in His Church...
Absolute truth exists in a world that increasingly disdains and dismisses absolutes. In a future day, “every knee [shall] bow” and “every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11). Jesus the Christ absolutely is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father. As members of His Church, we witness He lives and His Church has been restored in its fulness in these latter days.
The invitations we extend to you to learn about and test our message grow out of the positive effects the gospel of Jesus Christ has had in our lives. Sometimes we may be awkward or abrupt or even relentless in our attempts. Our simple desire is to share with you the truths that are of greatest worth to us.
As one of the Lord’s Apostles, and with all of the energy of my soul, I bear witness of His divinity and reality. And I invite you to “come and see” (John 1:39), in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
May we return to our homes with a resolve in our hearts to be a little better than we have been in the past. May we be a little kinder and more thoughtful. May we reach out in helpfulness, not only to our fellow members but also to those who are not of our faith. As we associate with them, may we show our respect for them.
There are those who struggle every day with challenges. Let us extend to them our concern, as well as a helping hand. As we care for each other, we will be blessed.
May we remember the elderly and those who are homebound. As we take time to visit them, they will know that they are loved and valued. May we follow the mandate to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”
May we be people of honesty and integrity, trying to do the right thing at all times and in all circumstances. May we be faithful followers of Christ, examples of righteousness, thus becoming “lights in the world.”
My brothers and sisters, I thank you for your prayers in my behalf. They strengthen me and lift me as I strive with all my heart and strength to do God’s will and to serve Him and to serve you.
As we leave this conference, I invoke the blessings of heaven upon each of you. May you who are away from your homes return to them safely and find all in order. May we all ponder the truths we have heard, and may they help us to become even more valiant disciples than we were when this conference began.
Until we meet again in six months’ time, I ask the Lord’s blessings to be upon you and, indeed, upon all of us, and I do so in His holy name—even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior—amen.