Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
?We do not serve our Savior well if we fear man more than God. He rebuked some leaders in His restored Church for seeking the praise of the world and for having their minds on the things of the earth more than on the things of the Lord. Those chastisements remind us that we are called to establish the Lord’s standards, not to follow the world’s. Elder John A. Widtsoe declared: “We cannot walk as other men, or talk as other men, or do as other men, for we have a different destiny, obligation, and responsibility placed upon us, and we must fit ourselves [to it].” That reality has current application to every trendy action, including immodest dress. As a wise friend observed, “You can’t be a life saver if you look like all the other swimmers on the beach.”
Those who are caught up in trying to save their lives by seeking the praise of the world are actually rejecting the Savior’s assurance that the only way to save our eternal life is to love one another and lose our lives in service.
C.S. Lewis explained this teaching of the Savior:
“The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake…What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside of God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come…the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
A selfish person is more interested in pleasing man—especially himself—than in pleasing God. He looks only to his own needs and desires. He “walks in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world.” Such a person becomes disconnected from the covenant promises of God and from the mortal friendship and assistance we also need in these tumultuous times. In contrast, if we love and serve one another as the Savior taught, we remain connected to our covenants and to our associates.
Honorably Hold a Name and Standing (D&C 109:24)
Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
We live in a great day of temple building around the world. And the adversary surely is mindful of the increasing number of temples that now dot the earth. As always, the building and dedicating of these sacred structures are accompanied by opposition from enemies of the Church as well as by ill-advised criticism from some within the Church.
Some antagonism is not new. In 1861 while the Salt Lake Temple was under construction, Brigham Young encouraged the Saints: “If you wish this Temple built, go to work, and do all you can…Some say, ‘I do not like to do it, for we never began to build a temple without the bells of hell beginning to ring.’ I want to hear them ring again. All the tribes of hell will be on the move…But what do you think it will amount to? You have all the time seen what it has amounted to.”
We as faithful Saints have been strengthened by adversity and are the recipients of the Lord’s tender mercies. We have moved forward under the promise of the Lord: “I will not suffer that [mine enemies] shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.”
For many years Sister Bednar and I hosted faithful men and women as devotional speakers at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Many of these speakers were emeritus of released members of the Seventy who had served as temple presidents following their service as General Authorities. As we talked with these stalwart leaders, I always asked this question:
“What have you learned as a temple president that you wish you had better understood when you were a General Authority?
As I listened to their answers, I discovered a consistent theme that I would summarize as follows: “I have come to understand better the protection available through our temple covenants and what it means to make an acceptable offering of temple worship. There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple.”
The similarity of their answers impressed me greatly. Each response to my question focused upon the protecting power of the ordinances and covenants available in the house of the Lord. Their answers precisely paralleled the promises contained in the dedicatory prayer offered upon the Kirtland Temple in 1836.
“We ask thee, Holy Father, to establish the people that shall worship, and honorably hold a name and standing in this thy house, to all generations and for eternity;
“That no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself;
“That no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house.
“And if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them;
“And if they shall smite this people thou wilt smite them; thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of their enemies” (D&C 109:24-28)
Please consider these verses in light of the current raging of the adversary and what we have discussed about our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and the blessing of protection promised to those who honorably hold a name and standing in the Holy Temple. Significantly, these covenant blessings are to all generations and for all eternity.
Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples
Elder Gary E. Stevenson
Of the First Quorum of Seventy
I remember a warm sunny afternoon when spring was trying to nudge its way through a long winter in Cache Valley, Utah. My father, whose Saturdays were always filled with chores for his grandsons, stopped by our home with an offer to “go for a ride.” Always happy to ride in Grandpa’s truck, our four and six-year-old sons scurried into the back jump seat, and I joined my father in the front. Our drive took us through the streets of downtown Logan which wrap around the Logan Temple, prominently situated on a hill, centered beautifully in the city. As we moved further away from the city, we turned from paved busy streets to seldom-used dirt roads where we crossed old bridges and weaved through trees far into the country. We were far from any other traffic and all alone.
Realizing his grandsons were in a place they had not been before, my father stopped the truck.
“Do you think we are lost?” he asked the wide-eyed boys as they gazed out the windshield across the valley. Followed by a moment of silent assessment, came the profound reply of a young child. “Look,” he said pointing his finger, “Grandpa, you are never lost when you can see the temple.”
Gifts to Help Us Navigate our Life
Elder Jose A. Teixeira
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
One gift that will help us navigate our lives is the gift [God] has given to all, the ability and power to choose.
Our choices have the undeniable power of transforming our lives. This gift is an extraordinary sign of trust in us and simultaneously a cherished personal responsibility to use it wisely. Our Father in Heaven respects our freedom to choose and will never force us to do what is right nor will He impede us from making mediocre choices. His invitation, however, concerning this important and vital gift is clearly expressed in the scriptures:
“But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him is inspired of God.”
The words “to do good continually” depict well the standard we need to apply as we use our free agency.
His Servants the Prophets
Elder F. Michael Watson
Of the First Quorum of Seventy
President Harold B. Lee in General Conference counseled us to give heed to the words and commandments the Lord shall give through His prophet. “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views,…your social views [or] it may interfere with your social life. But if [we] listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is “the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and His name’s glory.
Prior to his passing in December 1973, President Lee, speaking to an assembled group of Church employees and their families, posed the question after giving a history of the Church’s Welfare Program: “Do you believe these prophets knew what they were talking about?” Later in the same address, concerning the Brethren’s counsel to guard against the permissiveness invading the home through inappropriate literature and television, he asked “…are you too close to the Brethren to think of them not as prophets, but as men just guessing [such counsel] might be a good thing?”
Bring Souls Unto Me
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“In Section 88, verse 81 of the Doctrine and Covenants we read: ‘…and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.’ I have had the privilege of traveling to many of the stakes of the Church to encourage the growth and development of ward missions. It has been a very rewarding and spiritual experience for me. I have discovered in these travels, and a recent survey has confirmed the fact, that over one-half of the people in the United States and Canada have little of no awareness of our practices and beliefs. I am certain the percentage would be much higher in other parts of the world. This same survey also showed that when non-members interact with faithful Church members over an extended period of time or are exposed to clear and accurate information regarding Church beliefs and doctrines, their attitudes become positive and open.
“The Church has over 50,000 full-time missionaries serving around the world. Preach My Gospel has helped make them the best teachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we have ever had in the history of the Church. Unfortunately most of our full-time missionaries spend more of their time trying to find people rather than teaching them. I view our full-time missionaries as an underutilized teaching resource. If you and I did more of the finding for the full-time missionaries, and freed them up to spend more of their time teaching the people we find, great things would begin to happen. We’re missing a golden opportunity to grow the Church when we wait for the full-time missionaries to warn our neighbors instead of doing it ourselves…
“The Gospel is centered in the Atonement of our Lord and Savior. The Atonement provides the power to wash away sins, to heal and to grant eternal life. All the imponderable blessings of the Atonement can only be given to those who live the principles and receive the ordinances of the Gospel—faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Or great missionary message to the world is that all mankind is invited to be rescued and enter the fold of the Good Shepherd, even Jesus Christ.
“Our missionary message is strengthened by the knowledge of the Restoration. We know that God speaks to His prophets today, just as He did anciently. We also know that His Gospel is administered with the power and authority of the restored priesthood. No other message has such eternal significance to everyone living on the Earth today. All of us need to teach this message to others with power and conviction. It is the still small voice of the Holy Ghost that testifies through us of the miracle of the Restoration, but first, we must open our mouths and testify. We must warn our neighbors.”
President Thomas S. Monson
Of the First Presidency
My brothers and sisters, may we strive to live closer to the Lord. May we remember to “pray always, lest [we] enter into temptation.”
To you parents, express our love to your children. Pray for them, that they may be able to withstand the evils of the world. Pray that they may grow in faith and testimony. Pray that they may pursue lives of goodness and of service to others.
Children, let your parents know you love them. Let them know how much you appreciate all that they have done and continue to do for you.
Now, a word of caution to all—both young and old, both male and female. We live at a time when the adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us in his web of deceit, trying desperately to take us down with him. There are many pathways along which he entices us to go—pathways that can lead to our destruction. Advances in many areas that can be used for our good can also be used to speed us along that heinous pathway. I feel to mention one in particular, and that is the Internet. On one hand, it provides nearly limitless opportunities for acquiring useful and important information. Through it we can communicate with others around the world. The Church, itself, has a wonderful website, filled with valuable and uplifting information and priceless resources.
On the other hand, however—and extremely alarming—are the reports of the numbers of individuals who are utilizing the Internet for evil and degrading purposes, the viewing of pornography being the most prevalent of these purposes.
My brothers and sisters, involvement in such will literally destroy the spirit. Be strong. Be clean. Avoid such degrading and destructive types of content at all costs—wherever they may be! I sound this warning to everyone, everywhere. I add—particularly to the young people—that this includes pornographic images transmitted via cell phones.