Editor’s Note: The following are brief excerpts from the Saturday morning session of General Conference, October 1, 2005.
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Of the First Presidency
As all of you are aware, this year we commemorate the 200th birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the 175th anniversary of the organization of the Church.
The growth of the Church from its infancy to its present stature is phenomenal, and we have only scratched the surface.
The building of temples is an indication of this growth. We now have 122 operating in many parts of the world. Our people are being greatly blessed by these. Every individual who qualifies for a temple recommend is also qualified as a faithful Latter-day Saint. He or she will be a full tithe payer, will observe the Word of Wisdom, will have good family relationships, and be a better citizen of the community. Temple service is the end product of all of our teaching and activity.
Last year, 32 million ordinances were performed in the temples. This is more than have been performed in any previous year. At the moment, some of the temples are crowded to capacity and beyond. The needs and desires of our faithful Saints must be met.
We are also moving forward with new temples in Rexburg and Twin Falls, Idaho, in Sacramento, California, in Helsinki, Finland, in Panama City, Panama, in Curitiba, Brazil, and another which I had better now name at this time because it has not yet been announced. And there are yet others under consideration. On all of those I have named, we have the property, and work in various degrees of completion is going forward.
Blessings Resulting from Reading the Book of Mormon
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
Often we read [the Book of Mormon] primarily as a history of a fallen people, failing to remember that it was compiled by inspired prophets for the purpose of helping us come unto Christ. The major writers of the Book of Mormon did not intend it to be a history book at all. In fact, Jacob said that his brother Nephi commanded him that he “should not touch save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people.” (Jacob 1:2)
Each time we read the book we should probably ask ourselves, “Why did the writers choose these particular stories or events to include in the record? What value are they to us today?”
Among the lessons we learn from the Book of Mormon are the cause and effect of war and under what conditions it is justified. It tells of evils and dangers of secret combinations, which are built up to get power and gain over the people. It tells of the reality of Satan and gives an indication of some of the methods he uses. It advises us on the wise and proper use of wealth. It tells us of the plain and precious truths of the gospel and the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for all mankind. It informs us of the gathering of the house of Israel in the last days. It tells us of the purpose and principles of missionary work. It warns us against pride, indifference, procrastination, the dangers of false traditions, hypocrisy and unchastity.
Now it is up to us to study the Book of Mormon and learn of its principles and apply them in our lives.
“Be Prepared … Be Ye Strong from Henceforth”
Bishop Keith B. McMullin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
It is true that in this life we are only as free as our mortal circumstances allow. We may not be able to stay the course of war in distant lands, or with our puny arm hold back the tempests that rage, or run freely when our body is imprisoned by failing health. But it is verily true that such things do not ultimately control our personal world. We do!
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”
And so … the gospel of Jesus Christ does provide answers to all of the world’s problems, precisely because if provides solutions to the ills of every living soul.
Every time calamity strikes, there is a corresponding sacred obligation that falls upon each of us to become better. We should ask ourselves, “What part of my life needs to change so that the weight of chastisement need not be felt?”
The Sanctity of the Body
Sister Susan W. Tanner
Of the Young Women General Presidency
Modesty is more than a matter of avoiding revealing attire. It describes not only the altitude of hemlines and necklines but the attitude of our hearts. The word modest means “measured.” It is related to “moderate.” It implies “decency and propriety … in thought, language, dress, and behavior.”
Moderation and appropriateness should govern all our physical desires. A loving Heavenly Father has given us physical beauties and pleasures both to “please the eye and gladden the heart” (D&C 59:18), but with this caution: that they are “made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion” (D&C 59:20). My husband used this scripture to teach our children about the law of chastity. He said that the word “extortion” literally means to “twist out [or against].””Our use of … the body must not be twisted [against] … the divinely ordained purposes for which they were given. Physical pleasure is good in its proper time and place, but even then it must not become our god.”
The pleasures of the body can become an obsession for some; so too can the attention we give to our outward appearance. Sometimes there is a selfish excess of exercising, dieting, makeovers, and spending money on the latest fashions. The Lord wants us to be made in His image, not in the image of the world, by receiving His image in our countenances.
I remember well the insecurities I felt as a teenager with a bad case of acne. I tried to care for my skin properly. My parents helped me get medical attention. For years, I even went without eating chocolate and the greasy fast foods around which teens often socialize, but with no obvious healing consequences. It was difficult for me at that time to fully appreciate this body, which was giving me so much grief. But my good mother taught me a higher law. Over and over she said to me: “You must do everything you can to make your appearance pleasing, but the minute you walk out the door, forget yourself and start concentrating on others.”
Journey to Higher Ground
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
On December 26, 2004, a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, creating a deadly tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people. It was a terrible tragedy. In one day, millions of lives were forever changed.
But there was one group of people who, although their village was destroyed, did not suffer a single casualty.
They knew a tsunami was coming.
The Moken people live in villages on the coast of Thailand and Burma. A society of fishermen, their lives depend on the sea. For hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, their ancestors have studied the ocean and they have passed their knowledge down from father to son.
One thing in particular, they were careful to teach was what to do when the ocean receded. According to their traditions, when that happened, the “Laboon” — a wave that eats people — would arrive soon after.
When the Elders of the village saw the dreaded signs, they shouted to everyone to run to high ground.
Not everyone listened.
One elderly fisherman said, “None of the kids believed me.” In fact, his own daughter called him a liar. But the old fisherman would not relent until all had left the village and climbed to higher ground.
The Moken people were fortunate in that they had someone with conviction who warned them of what would follow. The villagers were fortunate because they listened. Had they now, they may have perished …
In our day we face a similar choice. We can foolishly ignore the prophets of God, depend on our own strength and, ultimately reap the consequences. Or, we can wisely draw near to the Lord and partake of His blessings …
But those who journey to higher ground and keep the commandments of God, “are blessed in all things both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”
The Light in Their Eyes
President James E. Faust
Of the First Presidency
I recently recalled a historic meeting in Jerusalem 17 years ago. It was regarding the lease for the land on which the Brigham Young University’s Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies was later built. Before this lease could be signed, President Ezra Taft Benson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, then president of Brigham Young University, agreed with the Israeli government on behalf of the Church and the university not to proselyte in Israel. To our knowledge the Church and BYU have scrupulously kept that non-proselyting commitment. After the lease had been signed, one of our Israeli friends insightfully remarked, “Oh we know that you are not going to proselyte, but what are you going to do about the light that is in their eyes?” He was referring to our students who were studying in Israel.
What was that light in their eyes which was so obvious to our friend? The Lord Himself gives the answer, “And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings” (D&C 88:11). Which did that light come from? Again the Lord gives the answer, “I am the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:2). The Lord is the true light, and the Spirit “enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit” (D&C 84:46). This light shows in our countenances as well as in our eyes.
Paul Harvey, a famous news commentator, visited one of our Church school campuses some years ago. Later he observed: “Each … young face mirrored a sort of … sublime assurance. These days many young eyes are prematurely old from countless compromises with conscience. But [these young people] have that enviable head start which derives from discipline, dedication, and consecration.”