This was taken from a talk given in the Sharon East Stake in Provo, Utah.
I offer a kind of collage of messages from our last general conference, in the words of the prophets and apostles we sustain, without citation or personal commentary. My personal contribution, if any, and my testimony lie in the gathering and ordering of this prophetic counsel. In other words: all the statements that follow are taken from our April General Conference.
Worldly Threats. What is going on? Is the Garden of Eden being invaded again?
Every man walketh in his own way and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world…
Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.
Coveting has become a far too common way of life.
Recognition, Belonging. The feeling of being accepted by someone we love is a basic human need. Those who cannot find acceptance from desirable sources often seek it elsewhere… For some, striving for a role or a position of prominence can also be a way of seeking acceptance.
Even in the Church we are not always free from this type of thinking. ..Most of us know someone who would say, “If you want to be my friend, you’ll have to accept my values.” …Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the “tolerance trap” …
Lord’s Way: Moral Agency. The Lord’s commandments require His followers to leave behind “that which is highly esteemed among men”.
But … we sometimes find it difficult to separate ourselves from the world and its traditions. Some model themselves after worldly ways because… “they love the praise of men more than the praise of God” These failures … range all the way from worldly practices like political correctness …to deviations from basic values like the eternal nature and function of the family.
[There is a] difference between universal or world peace and personal peace.3
The Savior acknowledged that His mission would not achieve universal peace in this mortal life: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness.
The Savior’s Atonement will overcome and compensate for all of the unfairness of mortal life and bring us peace. To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and that there will be wonderful surprises.
[Life] can be full of challenge and heartbreak, but [this] need not be eternal. We must “cheerfully do all things that lie in [our] power”.
The Atonement also satisfies the debt justice owes to us by healing and compensating us for any suffering we innocently endure. For behold, He suffereth the pains of all men …
Without His Redemption from death and from sin, we have only a gospel of social justice [which] has no power to draw down from heaven perfect justice and infinite mercy.
When our only desire is to please Him, we will be blessed with a deep inner peace.
Agency allows for all the pain and suffering we experience in mortality, even when caused by things we do not understand and the devastating evil choices of others.
“Moral agency,” means that we can choose between good and evil. …, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”
Satan wanted to alter the plan. He said he would redeem all mankind. Not one soul would be lost… But there was an unacceptable cost-the destruction of man’s agency, which was and is a gift given by God.
We exercise faith and remember that there are some things that must be left to the Lord. He invites us to set our burdens down at His feet.
The same priesthood power that created worlds, galaxies, and the universe can and should be part of our lives to succor, strengthen, and bless our families, our friends, and our neighbors-in other words, to do the things that the Savior would do if He were ministering among us today…. But if we are not careful, we can become like the wilted tomato plant.
Even with the universally accepted desire to help the poor and needy, the Lord concurs in our goal but warns, “But it must needs be done in mine own way” (D&C 104:16). Otherwise, in our efforts to help, we may actually hurt.
The Lord’s truth is not altered by fads, popularity, or public opinion polls
[Righteous people are not] concerned about having endless material possessions.
The Church will remain constant, [while] the world will keep moving-that gap is [becoming] wider and wider. … If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it’s going, you will find that you are not where you should be.
We are not authorized to negotiate the conditions of that eternal plan, or to consider the commandments to be a buffet from which we can pick and choose only the most appealing offerings. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity.
When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading …with your “unbelief.” … Be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!
Obedience, Repentance. Obedience is the first law of heaven. Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body-a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage.
No one need suppose that forgiveness comes without repentance
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: … We are defined by our divine heritage …and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.
Balance, Foundation. We need a balanced and integrated development of our character and soul: “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” .
The Spirit acts as a type of mortar, a welding link that not only sanctifies but also brings all things to our remembrance and testifies again and again of Jesus Christ. [This is] a foundation that will never fall.
Stand Up. When we understand and accept this, we are prepared to face the social pressure, ridicule, and even discrimination that will come from the world … to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” .. [to be] the lightning rod, and …”take the heat” for holding fast to God’s standards and doing His work…Our Savior was “despised and rejected of men.” It is our sacred privilege to stand with Him!
Standing obedient and strong on the doctrine of our God, we stand in holy places, for His doctrine is sacred and will not change in the social and political winds of our day.
In the strength of the Lord we are able to stand against any philosophy or creed that denies the Savior and contradicts the great, eternal plan of happiness for all of God’s children.
The Lord will stand by His Church, which stands as a bulwark of safety for its members
Promised Blessings. I do not fear the future. …Tribulation and difficult times may lie ahead, yet we too have cause for good cheer and rejoicing, for …God has restored His Church and kingdom to the earth in preparation for the return of His Son.
In [Heavenly Father’s,] the great Composer’s symphony, you have …your own notes to sing… if you rise up and join the chorus … you will see “the windows of heaven” open, and He will “pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now…The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of His light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul…
We are the children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ … we are to inherit all things. Seen in its true light, the doctrine of the Father and the Son is the doctrine of the eternal family.
Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father [in Heaven] and how familiar his face is to us.
Even in a darkening world, we as Latter-day Saints may sing with joy, knowing that the powers of heaven are with God’s Church and people. We may rejoice in the knowledge that a beautiful morning lies ahead-the dawn of the millennial day, when the Son of God shall rise in the East and reign again on the earth.
As we rise up each morning, may we look to heaven in faith and say, “Oh, what a beautiful morning.”