Thursday, October 8, 2015

#LDSConf October 2015: Saturday Afternoon Session

ROBERT D. HALES - "Meeting the Challenges of Today's World"

Research shows that many resist organized religion. Many are in debt and unemployed. A majority like the idea of marriage, but many are reluctant to take that step. A growing number don’t want children. Without the gospel and inspired guidance, many are wandering in strange paths and losing their way.

Fortunately, young adult members of the Church lag behind in these troubling trends, in part because they are blessed with the gospel plan. That eternal plan includes holding fast to the iron rod—cleaving to God’s word and the word of His prophets. We need to tighten our grip on the rod that leads us back to Him. Now is the “day of choosing” for all of us...

Beloved young adult brothers and sisters, I want to help you “fly right” in the gathering storms of the last days. You are the pilots. You are responsible to think about the consequences of every choice you make. Ask yourself, “If I make this choice, what is the worst thing that could happen?” Your righteous choices will keep you from getting off course.

Think of it: If you choose not to take a drink of alcohol, you will not become an alcoholic! If you never choose to go into debt, you will avoid the possibility of bankruptcy!

One of the purposes of the scriptures is to show us how righteous people respond to temptation and evil. In short, they avoid it! Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife. Lehi took his family and left Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph fled into Egypt to escape Herod’s wicked plot. In every instance, Heavenly Father warned these believers. Similarly, He will help us know whether to fight, flee, or go with the flow of our unfolding circumstances. He will speak to us through prayer, and when we pray, we will have the Holy Ghost, who will guide us. We have the scriptures, the teachings of living prophets, patriarchal blessings, the counsel of inspired parents, priesthood and auxiliary leaders, and, above all, the still, small voice of the Spirit.

The Lord will always keep His promise: “I will lead you along.” The only question is, will we let ourselves be led? Will we hear His voice and the voice of His servants?...

Speaking plainly, please don’t date all through your 20s just to “have a good time,” thus delaying marriage in favor of other interests and activities. Why? Because dating and marriage aren’t final destinations. They are the gateway to where you ultimately want to go. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.”

Your responsibility now is to be worthy of the person you want to marry. If you want to marry a wholesome, attractive, honest, happy, hardworking, spiritual person, be that kind of person. If you are that person and you are not married, be patient. Wait upon the Lord. I testify that the Lord knows your desires and loves you for your faithful devotion to Him. He has a plan for you, whether it be in this life or the next.

JEFFREY R. HOLLAND - "Behold Thy Mother"

Today I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us.

This kind of resolute love “suffereth long, and is kind, … seeketh not her own, … but … beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Most encouraging of all, such fidelity “never faileth.” “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed,” Jehovah said, “but my kindness shall not depart from thee.” So too say our mothers.

You see, it is not only that they bear us, but they continue bearing with us. It is not only the prenatal carrying but the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat. Of course, there are heartbreaking exceptions, but most mothers know intuitively, instinctively that this is a sacred trust of the highest order. The weight of that realization, especially on young maternal shoulders, can be very daunting...

I need not remind us that Jesus died of a broken heart, one weary and worn out from bearing the sins of the world. So in any moment of temptation, may we “behold [our] mother” as well as our Savior and spare them both the sorrow of our sinning...

To all of our mothers everywhere, past, present, or future, I say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.” To Mother Eve, to Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, to Mary of Nazareth, and to a Mother in Heaven, I say, “Thank you for your crucial role in fulfilling the purposes of eternity.” To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle—and all will—I say, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are. In fact, you are saviors on Mount Zion, and like the Master you follow, your love ‘never faileth.’"

BRADLEY D. FOSTER - "It's Never Too Early and It's Never Too Late"
of the Seventy

Brothers and sisters, we are engaged in a battle with the world. In the past, the world competed for our children’s energy and time. Today, it fights for their identity and mind. Many loud and prominent voices are trying to define who our children are and what they should believe. We cannot let society give our family a makeover in the image of the world. We must win this battle. Everything depends on it...

These are perilous times. But the good news is God knew this would be the case, and He has provided counsel in the scriptures for us to know how to help our children and our grandchildren...

On this occasion, Jesus told a story about planting seeds—the parable of the sower.5 In explaining this to His disciples, and ultimately to us, He said, “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.” The message for parents is clear: there is a difference between hearing and understanding. If our children merely hear but do not understand the gospel, then the door is left open for Satan to remove these truths from their hearts.

However, if we can help them grow roots of deep conversion, then in the heat of the day, when this life gets tough—and it will—the gospel of Jesus Christ can give them something within that cannot be affected from without. How can we ensure that these powerful truths are not just going in one ear and out the other? Hearing words just might not be enough...

It is my witness that our Heavenly Father loved us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son to live the life of a mortal so that Jesus could say to us, “I’ve been where you are, I know what comes next, and I’ll help you through it.” I know He will.

HUGO MONTOYA - "Tested and Tempted - But Helped"
of the Seventy

We have the responsibility to help each other. That responsibility can come from a Church calling, an assignment, or a friendship or as part of our divine duty as parents, spouses, or family members—or simply from being part of God’s family.

I will illustrate four ways our burdens are lightened as we help each other.

1. The Savior said, “Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” For example, we are asked to attend the temple regularly, as our individual circumstances allow. Attending the temple requires sacrifice of time and resources, especially for those who must travel a great distance. Nevertheless, this sacrifice could be considered part of the first mile...

2. Smile. This small action can help those who are overwhelmed or burdened. During the priesthood session of this past April general conference, I was seated on the stand as one of the five newly called General Authorities. We were sitting where the sisters of the auxiliary presidencies are now seated. I was feeling very nervous and overwhelmed with my new call.

When we were singing the intermediate hymn, I felt a strong impression that someone was watching me. I thought to myself: “There are more than 20,000 people in this building, and most of them are facing this way. Of course someone is watching you.”

While I continued singing, I again felt the strong impression that someone was watching me. I looked over to the row where the Twelve Apostles were sitting and saw that President Russell M. Nelson was turned all the way around in his seat, looking at where we were seated. I caught his eye, and he gave me a big smile. That smile brought peace to my overwhelmed heart...

3. Express feelings of compassion to others. If you are a priesthood holder, please use your power on behalf of the children of God, giving blessings to them. Express words of consolation and comfort to people who are suffering or experiencing afflictions.

4. The cornerstone of God’s plan is the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. At least once a week, we should meditate as President Joseph F. Smith did on “the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world.” Inviting others to come to church and to worthily partake of the sacrament will allow more of Heavenly Father’s children to reflect on the Atonement. And if we are not worthy, we can repent. Remember that the Son of the Highest descended below all and took upon Him our offenses, sins, transgressions, sicknesses, pains, afflictions, and loneliness. The scripture teaches us that Christ “ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things.”

VERN P. STANFILL - "Choose the Light"
of the Seventy

We live in a world in which we will experience challenges to our faith. We may feel confident that we are ready to face these challenges—only to find that our preparations have been insufficient. And just as my friend had warned me about the darkness, we are warned today. Apostolic voices urge us to prepare ourselves with the powerful light of spiritual strength.

Likewise, we might feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or confused spiritually when we encounter a challenge to our faith. Generally, the intensity and duration of these feelings will depend upon our reaction to them. If we do nothing, doubt, pride, and eventually apostasy may drive us from the light...

When we consider thoughtfully, why would we listen to the faceless, cynical voices of those in the great and spacious buildings of our time and ignore the pleas of those who genuinely love us? These ever-present naysayers prefer to tear down rather than elevate and to ridicule rather than uplift. Their mocking words can burrow into our lives, often through split-second bursts of electronic distortions carefully and deliberately composed to destroy our faith. Is it wise to place our eternal well-being in the hands of strangers? Is it wise to claim enlightenment from those who have no light to give or who may have private agendas hidden from us? These anonymous individuals, if presented to us honestly, would never be given a moment of our time, but because they exploit social media, hidden from scrutiny, they receive undeserved credibility.

Our choice to heed those who mock sacred things will distance us from the saving and life-giving light of the Savior. John recorded: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Remember, those who truly love us can help us build our faith.

JAMES B. MARTINO - "Turn to Him and Answers Will Come"
of the Seventy

When I was a young man, my parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We knew that the missionaries had been teaching them, but my parents had taken the missionary lessons alone.

After this surprising announcement, my brothers and I began to listen to the missionaries as well, and they each received the message of the Restoration with gladness. Although I was curious, my heart was not into changing my life. I did, however, accept the challenge to pray about whether the Book of Mormon was the word of God, but I did not receive an answer.

You might ask why Heavenly Father did not answer that prayer; I certainly wondered. I have learned since that the promise made by Moroni is accurate. God does answer our prayers about the truthfulness of the gospel, but He answers them when we have “a sincere heart” and “real intent.” He does not answer just to respond to our curiosity...

I know some returned missionaries who have had undeniable spiritual experiences, but the lack of certain spiritual habits seems to have caused them to forget the times when God has spoken to them. To those returned missionaries and to all of us, if you “have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” If you do not feel it now, you can feel it again, but consider Nephi’s counsel. Be obedient, remember the times when you have felt the Spirit in the past, and ask in faith. Your answer will come, and you will feel the love and peace of the Savior. It may not come as quickly or in the format you desire, but the answer will come. Do not give up! Never give up!...

If you have been tempted to murmur, if you have had doubt that leads to unbelief, if trials seem more than you can bear, turn to Him. If you are one who has turned away or rationalized your behavior, turn to Him. Can you remember when He did “speak peace to your mind … ? What greater witness can you have than from God?” Ask yourself, “Am I as close to living like Christ now as I was before?” Please, turn to Him.

DALLIN H. OAKS - "Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ"

Our Savior experienced and suffered the fulness of all mortal challenges “according to the flesh” so He could know “according to the flesh” how to “succor [which means to give relief or aid to] his people according to their infirmities.” He therefore knows our struggles, our heartaches, our temptations, and our suffering, for He willingly experienced them all as an essential part of His Atonement. And because of this, His Atonement empowers Him to succor us—to give us the strength to bear it all...

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus explained that He was sent “to heal the brokenhearted” (Luke 4:18). The Bible often tells us of His healing people “of their infirmities” (Luke 5:15; 7:21). The Book of Mormon records His healing those “that were afflicted in any manner” (3 Nephi 17:9). The Gospel of Matthew explains that Jesus healed the people “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:17)...

We all have pains and afflictions and infirmities at one time or another. Apart from what we experience because of our sins, mortality is filled with frequent struggles, heartaches, and suffering.

We and those we love suffer sickness. At some time each of us also experiences pain from traumatic injuries or from other physical or mental difficulties. All of us suffer and grieve in connection with the death of a loved one. We all experience failure in our personal responsibilities, our family relationships, or our occupations.

When a spouse or a child rejects what we know to be true and strays from the path of righteousness, we experience particularly stressful pain, just like the father of the prodigal son in Jesus’s memorable parable (see Luke 15:11–32).

As the Psalmist declared, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

Thus, our hymns contain this true assurance: “Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”5 What cures us is our Savior and His Atonement.

Particularly poignant for teenagers is the feeling of rejection when peers seem to join in happy relationships and activities and deliberately leave them out. Racial and ethnic prejudices produce other painful rejections, for youth and adults. Life has many other challenges, such as unemployment or other reverses in our plans.

I am still speaking of mortal infirmities not caused by our sins. Some are born with physical or mental disabilities that cause personal suffering for them and struggles for those who love and care for them. For many, the infirmity of depression is painful or permanently disabling. Another painful affliction is the circumstance of singleness. Those who suffer this circumstance should remember that our Savior experienced this kind of pain also and that, through His Atonement, He offers the strength to bear it...

Because of His atoning experience in mortality, our Savior is able to comfort, heal, and strengthen all men and women everywhere, but I believe He does so only for those who seek Him and ask for His help. The Apostle James taught, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). We qualify for that blessing when we believe in Him and pray for His help.

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