Give Heed unto the Prophets’ Words
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve

Elder Quentin L. Cook

We admire those who risk their lives to rescue those in danger. When I visited Southern California during the devastating Santa Ana Wind fires late last year, I came away with two impressions. The first was how the Church members came to the assistance of those in need. The second was how appreciative they were to the firefighters …

From time to time, as individuals and as a Church, we go through periods of crisis and danger. Some arise quickly like a fire. Others are subtle and go almost undetected before they are upon us. Some require heroic action but most are less spectacular. The way we respond is crucial.

My purpose this evening is to reemphasize to priesthood holders the importance of heeding the words of the prophets. This is the one sure way to respond to physical and spiritual dangers of all kinds …

Throughout history a loving Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church, have blessed us with prophets who counsel and warn about future dangers …

Prophets are inspired to provide us with prophetic priorities to protect us from dangers. As an example, President Heber J. Grant, the prophet from 1918 to 1945, was inspired to emphasize adherence to the Word of Wisdom, the principle with a promise revealed by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He stressed the importance of not smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages, and directed the bishops to review these principles in temple recommend interviews.

At that time smoking was accepted by society as an appropriate, even glamorous, behavior. The medical profession accepted smoking with little concern because the scientific studies linking cigarette smoking with several kinds of cancer were far in the future. President Grant counseled with great vigor, and we became known as a people who abstained from drinking and smoking …

We want you young people to know that President Thomas S. Monson has been prepared by the Lord from his youth to be the prophet …

President Monson’s rescue efforts … have been particularly exemplary. As a bishop he learned to minister to the members of his ward … Despite a demanding schedule, he was able to speak at the funerals of all 84 of the widows who lived in his ward when he was bishop … His personal ministry has been Christ-like and has given comfort and peace to countless numbers of people …

And Who Is My Neighbor?
Bishop H. David Burton
Presiding Bishop

Bishop H. David Burton

Tonight the scripture passages “as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” and “remember in all things the poor and the needy” take on special meaning as we review highlights of humanitarian endeavors during the past year …

In 2007, Church humanitarian assistance responded to major earthquakes in five countries, massive fires in six countries, hunger and famine in 18 countries, and flooding and severe storms in 34 countries. In total, the Church and its members responded to 170 major events in 52 countries — nearly one event every two days for the entire year. It was a busy year, with many opportunities to serve.

In addition to responding to natural disasters, thousands of public health initiatives were undertaken during the year. Over 1 million people benefited from Church-sponsored clean water projects in 25 countries. More than 60,500 people received wheelchairs in 60 countries … In 11 countries, over 54,000 individuals now enjoy improved vision. Over 16,500 health-care professionals were trained in infant neonatal resuscitation; they, in turn, will train many others.

In a quest to eliminate measles, 2.8 million children and youth in 10 countries received immunizations. The combined effects of these outreach endeavors directly touched nearly four million people in 85 different countries …

The Church’s continuing four-year effort to help those devastated by a tsunami in Indonesia and Southern Asia continued. Funding was provided to help build 902 homes, three community centers, 24 village water systems, 15 schools, and three medical centers.

A community leader said: “Community members feel happy and blessed to have the community center … It is a place [where] we can pray … and teach the children…Thank you to [the Church] for building this center for our people … It will increase our economic and social well-being. We will pray to God to give [the Church] blessings and success in the future. Thank you.”…

Thank you for you compassion, goodness and generosity. May we press forward to lighten the load of neighbors, encourage and assist the downtrodden, open our purses to assist the poor, and extend our helping hands …

Do You Know Who You Are?
President Dean R. Burgess
First Counselor of the Young Men General Presidency

President Dean R. Burgess

One Sunday, following one of those warm and long sacrament meetings, the first counselor in our bishopric called me aside to talk to me. This unscheduled priesthood interview became a blessing in my life as I have pondered the question he asked during our brief but significant visit.

Brother Bateman looked me in the eye and asked, “Dean, do you know who you are?” There was complete silence and then he gave me a quick and powerful reminder, “You are the son of Reid Burgess.”

The meaning and significance of that question has burned in my heart for a long time, and I often reflected on it throughout my teenage years. This good brother’s question — “Do you know who you are?” — has given me inspired direction throughout my life and a commitment to bring respect and honor to my family and to the priesthood …

Knowing who you are makes you spiritually strong, sound, and steadfast in your priesthood duties. You become confident with faith and determination to make right decisions. You have courage to stand up for what you know is right. You realize that it is a privilege to hold the priesthood of God and have the authority to act in His name …

I ask you young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, “How do you come to receive a knowledge and witness of who you are?”

Please consider the following three questions and related principles that are essential in understanding your true identity.

First, do you know that you are a son of God? …

Second, do you know who you are in God’s plan? …

Third, do you know who you are as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

You have been baptized and have received the Holy Ghost. You are a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. It is His Church, and He has given us a prophet of God to teach, lead, and guide us, and to direct His work here on earth. I testify that President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet in these “perilous times.” Listen to him. He and other modern-day prophets will teach you who you are and how to become like the Savior.

A 12-YearOld Deacon
Elder John M. Madsen
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

My beloved brethren of the priesthood, as I begin, I would like to direct my remarks to each 12-year-old deacon attending this general priesthood session! Wherever you are, I want to acknowledge your presence, and to tell, or mind you, of the experience that President Gordon B.


Hinckley had when he was, like you are, a 12-year-old deacon.

From his biography, we read:

Not long after he was ordained a deacon, he attended his first stake priesthood meeting with his father. He felt a little out of place as he found a seat on the back row of the Tenth Ward chapel while … ([his father,] who was serving in the stake presidency) took his place on the stand. To pen the meeting, the three or four hundred men present stood and sang William W. Phelp’s triumphant anthem …”Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!/ Jesus anointed that prophet and seer./ Blessed to open the last dispensation,/kings shall extol him and nations revere.

Reflecting back on that experience, President Hinckley said:

Something happened within me as I heard those men of faith sing. It touched my heart. It gave me a feeling that was difficult to describe. I felt a great moving power, both emotional and spiritual. I had never had it previously in terms of any Church experience. There came into my heart a conviction that the man of whom they sang was really a prophet of God. I knew then, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God.

Even as that experience had by President Hinckley, as a 12-year-old deacon, was “one he would remember for the rest of his life,” I pray that the experience you are having will be one you will remember for the rest of your lives!

… President Joseph Fielding Smith declared, “Our young people … are the nobility of Heaven, a choice and chosen generation who have a divine destiny. Their spirits have been reserved to come forth in this day when the gospel is on the earth, and when the Lord needs valiant servants to carry on his great latter-day work …”

President Spencer W. Kimball declared, “We are rearing a royal generation … who have special things to do.”

A Matter of a Few Degrees
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Of the First Presidency

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In 1979, a large passenger jet with 257 people on board left New Zealand for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica and back. Unknown to the pilots, however, someone had modified the flight coordinates by a mere two degrees. This error placed the aircraft 28 miles (45 km) to the east of where the pilots assumed they were. As they approached Antarctica, the pilots descended to a lower altitude to give the passengers a better look at the landscape. Although both were experienced pilots, neither had made this particular flight before, and they had no way of knowing that the incorrect coordinates had placed them directly in the path of Mount Erebus, an active volcano that rises from the frozen landscape to a height of more than 12,000 feet.

As the pilots flew onward, the white of the snow and ice covering the volcano blended with the white of the clouds above, making it appear as though they were flying over flat ground. By the time the instruments sounded the warning that the ground was rising fast toward them, it was too late. The airplane crashed into the side of the volcano, killing everyone on board.

It was a terrible tragedy brought on by a minor error — a matter of only a few degrees.

Through years of serving the Lord and in countless interviews, I have learned that the difference between happiness and misery in individuals, marriages, and families often comes down to an error of only a few degrees …

The difference of a few degrees, as with the Antarctica flight, or Saul’s failure to hold fast to the counsel of the prophet just a little longer, may seem minor. But even small errors, over time, can make a dramatic difference in our lives.

Let me share with you how I taught the same principle to young pilots.

Suppose you were to take off from an airport at the equator, intending to circumnavigate the glove, but that your course was off by just one degree. By the time you returned to the same longitude, how far off course would you be? A few miles? A hundred miles? The answer might surprise you. An error of only one degree would put you almost 500 miles off course, or one hour of flight for a jet …

Small errors and minor drifts away from the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring sorrowful consequences into our lives. It is therefore of critical importance that we become disciplined enough to make early and decisive corrections to get back on the right track and not wait or hope that errors will somehow correct themselves.

The longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become, and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course — even to the point where a disaster might be looming.

Faith and the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood
President Henry B. Eyring
Of the First Presidency

President Henry B. Eyring

Let me describe some of the blessings you will receive as you go forward in faith [keeping the oath and covenant of the priesthood].

First, the very fact that you have been offered the oath and covenant is evidence that God has chosen you knowing your power and capacity. He has know you since you were with Him in the Spirit World. With His foreknowledge of your strength He has allowed you to find the true Church of Jesus Christ and to be offered the priesthood. You can feel confidence because you have evidence of His confidence in you.

Second, as you will try to keep your covenants, the Savior has promised His personal Help. He has said that as you forward in honoring the priesthood, “There I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D&C 84:88)

You may at times need reassurance, as I do, that you will have the strength to meet your obligations in this sacred priesthood. The Lord foresaw your need for reassurance. He said, “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies” (D&C 84:33).

I have seen that promise fulfilled in my own life and in the lives of others. A friend of mine served as a mission president. He told me that at the end of every day while he was serving he could barely make it upstairs to bed at night, wondering if he would have the strength to face another day.

Then, in the morning, he would find his strength and his courage restored.


You have seen it in the lives of aged prophets who seemed to be renewed each time they stood to testify of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Restored Gospel.

 

That is a promise for those who go forward in faith in their priesthood service.

You are also promised that you will be given the power to bear testimony and that in that process you will be cleansed and made fit for the eternal life which you have been promised.

“For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment — that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.

“Therefore, go ye unto all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you unto all the world unto every creature” (D&C 84: 61-62).

President Thomas S. Monson
Of the First Presidency

President Thomas S. Monson

As bearers of the priesthood, we have been placed on earth in troubled times. We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political machinations ruin the stability of nations, despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity and left with a feeling of failure.

We who have been ordained to the priesthood of God can make a difference. When we qualify for the help of the Lord, we can build boys, we can mend men, we can accomplish miracles in His holy service. Our opportunities are without limit.

Ours is the task to be fitting examples. We are strengthened by the truth that the greatest force in this world today is the power of God as it works through man. If we re on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. That divine help, of course, is predicated upon our worthiness. Each must ask: Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure? Am I a worthy servant of the Lord?

We are surrounded by so much that is designed to divert our attention from those things which are virtuous and good and to tempt us with that which would cause us to be unworthy to exercise the priesthood we bear. I speak not just to the young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, but to those of all ages. Temptations come in various forms throughout our lives.

Brethren, are we qualified at all times to perform the sacred duties associated with the Priesthood we bear? Young men — you who are priests — are you clean in body and spirit as you sit at the sacrament table on Sunday and bless the emblems of the sacrament? Young men who are teachers, are you worthy to prepare the sacrament? Deacons, as you pass the sacrament to the members of the Church, do you do so knowing that you are spiritually qualified to do so? Does each of you fully understand the importance of all the sacred duties you perform?

My young friends, be strong. Te philosophies of men surround us. The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that façade is heartache, unhappiness and pain. You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that. The character of transgression remains the same. If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong — you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone.

Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness — and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so.

Brethren of the Melchizedek Priesthood, do you strive diligently each day to live as you should? Are you kind and loving to your wife and your children? Are you honest in all your dealings with those around you — at all times and in all circumstances?

If any of you has slipped along the way, there are those who will help you to once again become clean and worthy. Your bishop or branch president is anxious and willing to help, and will, with understanding and compassion, do all within his power to assist you in the repentance process, that you may once again stand in righteousness before the Lord.