Then the church audit department said everything passed.
Then the church gave its statistical report for growth.
Standing with the Leaders of the Church"
My dear brothers and sisters, we have just participated in a most blessed experience as we have raised our hands to sustain prophets, seers, and revelators and other leaders and general officers called of God in these very days. I have never taken lightly or casually the opportunity of sustaining and being guided by the Lord’s servants. And being just months into my own new calling as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I am humbled by your sustaining vote and confidence. I treasure your willingness to stand with me and with all of these great leaders.
Soon after I was sustained last October, I traveled to Pakistan on an assignment and, while there, met the magnificent and dedicated Saints in that country. They are few in number but large in spirit. Shortly after returning home, I received the following note from Brother Shakeel Arshad, a dear member I had met on my visit: “Thank you, Elder Rasband, for coming to Pakistan. I want to tell you that we … Church members … sustain you and love you. [We are] so lucky that you were here and we heard from you. It was just a golden day in my family’s life that we met an Apostle.”
Meeting Saints like Brother Arshad was an overwhelming and humbling experience and, using his words, “a golden day” for me as well...
By reading many hundreds of our youth’s questions, what did we learn? We learned that our youth love the Lord, sustain their leaders, and desire to have their questions answered! Questions are an indication of a further desire to learn, to add to those truths already in place in our testimonies, and to be better prepared to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.”...
We have sustained leaders today who, by divine inspiration, have been called to teach and guide us and who are calling out to us to beware of the dangers we face each day—from casual Sabbath-day observance, to threats to the family, to assaults on religious freedom, and even to disputing latter-day revelation. Brothers and sisters, are we listening to their counsel?...
As we press forward, choosing to follow the counsel and the warnings of our leaders, we choose to follow the Lord while the world is going in another direction. We choose to hold fast to the iron rod, to be Latter-day Saints, to be on the Lord’s errand, and to be filled “with exceedingly great joy.”
The growing question of today is clear: are you standing with the leaders of the Church in a darkening world so that you might spread the Light of Christ?
Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me"
God loves children. He loves all children. The Savior said, “Suffer [the] little children … to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Children today find themselves in many different and complex family configurations.
For example, today, twice as many children in the United States are living with only one parent than were 50 years ago. And there are many families that are less unified in their love of God and willingness to keep His commandments. In this increasing spiritual commotion, the restored gospel will continue to carry the standard, the ideal, the pattern of the Lord...
But my plea today is for the hundreds of thousands of children, youth, and young adults who do not come from these, for lack of a better term, “picture-perfect” families. I speak not only of the youth who have experienced the death, divorce, or diminishing faith of their parents but also of the tens of thousands of young men and young women from all around the world who embrace the gospel without a mother or father to come into the Church with them...
While a child’s earthly situation may not be ideal, a child’s spiritual DNA is perfect because one’s true identity is as a son or daughter of God.
President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life.” Let’s open our arms and our hearts a little wider.
To the Rescue; We Can Do It"
of the Seventy
President Thomas S. Monson, who has sounded the clarion call to go to the rescue, noted, “Our members need to be reminded that it is never too late when it comes to our … less-active members … who could have been considered a hopeless cause.”5
Like many of you, I have shared the gospel with some who are soon baptized or activated, and others ... take much more time...
The Lord has provided all of the tools necessary for us to go to the rescue of our less-active and nonmember friends. We can all do it!
I invite each of you to heed the Savior’s call to go to the rescue. We can do it! I solemnly testify that I know Jesus is the Good Shepherd, that He loves us, and that He will bless us as we go to the rescue. I know He lives; I know it.
The Sacred Place of Restoration"
of the Seventy
I was not religious, but I had been raised by parents who were, and I had seen what was good in other religions. At that point in my life, I thought all religions were acceptable to God.
After my visit to the temple open house, I sought an answer through prayer, having faith and a sure confidence that God would answer me, which was His Church on earth.
After a great spiritual struggle, I finally received a clear answer. I was invited to be baptized. My baptism happened on October 31, 1978, the night before a session of the São Paulo Temple dedication.
I realized that the Lord knew and cared about me as He answered my prayers...
What happened at Cumorah was an important part of the Restoration, as Joseph Smith received the plates which contained the Book of Mormon. This book helps us get closer to Christ than any other book on earth.
I bear witness that the Lord raised up prophets, seers, and revelators to guide His kingdom in these latter days and that in His eternal plan families are meant to be together forever. He cares about His children. He answers our prayers.
Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins"
In mortality we experience physical birth and the opportunity for spiritual rebirth. We are admonished by prophets and apostles to awake unto God, be “born again,” and become new creatures in Christ by receiving in our lives the blessings made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The “merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” can help us triumph over the self-centered and selfish tendencies of the natural man and become more selfless, benevolent, and saintly. We are exhorted to so live that we can “stand spotless before [the Lord] at the last day.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith summarized succinctly the essential role of priesthood ordinances in the gospel of Jesus Christ: “Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances.” This penetrating statement emphasizes the roles of both the Holy Ghost and sacred ordinances in the process of spiritual rebirth.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit and bears witness of all truth. In the scriptures, the Holy Ghost is referred to as the Comforter, a teacher, and a revelator. Additionally, the Holy Ghost is a sanctifier who cleanses and burns dross and evil out of human souls as though by fire...
Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost is an ordinance administered in the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the process of coming unto the Savior and spiritual rebirth, receiving the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost in our lives creates the possibility of an ongoing cleansing of our soul from sin. This joyous blessing is vital because “no unclean thing can dwell with God.”
As members of the Lord’s restored Church, we are blessed both by our initial cleansing from sin associated with baptism and by the potential for an ongoing cleansing from sin made possible through the companionship and power of the Holy Ghost.
Family councils have always been needed. They are, in fact, eternal. We belonged to a family council in the premortal existence, when we lived with our heavenly parents as their spirit children.
A family council, when conducted with love and with Christlike attributes, will counter the impact of modern technology that often distracts us from spending quality time with each other and also tends to bring evil right into our homes.
Please remember that family councils are different from family home evening held on Mondays. Home evenings focus primarily on gospel instruction and family activities. Family councils, on the other hand, can be held on any day of the week, and they are primarily a meeting at which parents listen—to each other and to their children.
I believe there are at least four types of family councils:
First, a general family council consisting of the entire family.
Second, an executive family council consisting of a mother and father.
Third, a limited family council consisting of parents and one child.
Fourth, a one-on-one family council consisting of one parent and one child...
Please remember that a family council held regularly will help us spot family problems early and nip them in the bud; councils will give each family member a feeling of worth and importance; and most of all they will assist us to be more successful and happy in our precious relationships, within the walls of our homes.