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As We Meet Together Again

President Thomas S. Monson

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May I mention a matter close to my heart and which deserves our serious attention.  I speak of missionary work.

First to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men who are becoming elders.  I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission.

Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation that the Lord expects of us who have been given so much. Young men, I admonish  you to  prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord.  Maintain your health and strength.  Study the scriptures. Where such is available, participate in Seminary or Institute.  Familiarize yourself with the missionary handbook, Preach My Gospel.

A word to young sisters:  While you do not have the same priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time missionaries, you make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome your service.

And now to you mature brothers and sisters, we need many, many more senior couples.  To the faithful couples now serving or who have served in the past, we thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You serve willingly and well and accomplish great good.

To those of you who are not yet to the season of life when you might serve a couples mission, I urge you to prepare now for the day when you and your spouse might do so.  As your circumstances allow, as you are eligible for retirement, and as your health permits, make yourselves available to leave home and give full-time missionary service.  There are few times in your life when you will enjoy the sweet spirit and satisfaction that come from giving full-time service together in the work of the Master.


Because of Your Faith

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve

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When I was called to serve a mission back before the dawn of time, there was no equalization of missionary costs.  Each had to bear the full expense of the mission to which he or she was sent. Some missions were very expensive and as it turned out, mine was one of those.

As we encourage missionaries to do,  I had saved money and sold personal belongings to pay my own way as best I could. I thought I had enough money, but I wasn’t sure how it would be in the final months of my mission.  With that question on my mind, I nevertheless left my family for the greatest experience anyone could hope to have.  I loved my mission as I am sure no young man has ever loved one before or since.

Then I returned home just as my parents were called to serve a mission of their own.  What do I do now?  How in the world could I pay for a college education? How could I possibly pay for board and room?  And how could I realize the great dream of my heart, to marry the breathtakingly perfect Patricia Terry? I don’t mind admitting that I was discouraged and frightened.

Hesitantly I went to the local bank and asked the manager, a family friend, how much was in my account.  He looked surprised and said, “Why, Jeff, it’s all in your account.  Didn’t they tell you? Your parents wanted to do what little they could to help you get started when you got home.  They didn’t withdraw a cent during your mission.  I supposed that you knew.”

Well, I didn’t know. What I do know is that my Dad, a self-educated “bookkeeper”as they were called in our little town, with very few accounts, probably never wore a new suit or a new shirt or a new pair of shoes for two years so his son could have all of those for his mission.  Furthermore, what I did not know, but then came to know, was that my mother, who had never worked out of the home in her married life, took a job at the local department store so that my mission expenses could be met.  And not one word of that was ever conveyed to me on my mission. Not a single word was ever said regarding any of it.  How many fathers in this Church have done exactly what my father did?  How many mothers in these difficult economic times, are still doing what my mother did?

My father has been gone for 34 years, so like President Faust, I will have to wait to fully thank him on the other side.  But my sweet mother, who turns 95 next week, is happily watching this broadcast at home today, so it’s not too late to thank her.  To you, Mom and Dad, and to all the moms and dads and families and faithful people everywhere, I thank you for sacrificing for your children (and other people’s children!), for wanting so much to give them advantages you never had,  for wanting so much to give them the happiest life you could provide. My thanks to all you wonderful members of the Church—and legions of people not of our faith—for proving every day of your life that the pure love of Christ “never faileth.” We know how good the human heart can be because we know you.


Stay on the Path

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom
Primary General President

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The world will teach our children if we do not, and children are capable of learning all the world will teach them at a very young age. What you want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today.  Teach them in every circumstance;  let every dilemma, every consequence, every trial that they may face provide an opportunity to teach them how to hold on to gospel truths.

Shannon, a young mother, did not expect that she would teach her children the power of prayer when they piled into their van to drive to their home just 40 minutes away. There was no storm when they left their grandmother’s home, but as they began to drive through the canyon, the light snow turned into a blizzard.  The van began sliding on the surface of the road. Soon visibility was near zero. The two youngest children could sense the stress of the situation and began to cry.  Shannon said to the older children, Heidi and Thomas, ages 8 and 6, “You need to pray.  We need Heavenly Father’s help to get home safely.  Pray that we will not get stuck and that we will not slide off the road.  Her hands shook as she steered the car, yet she could hear the whisper of little prayers repeatedly coming from the back seat.


“Heavenly Father, please help us get home safely; please help us so we will not slide off the road.”

In time the prayers calmed the two little ones, and they stopped their crying, just as they learned that a road closure prevented them from driving any farther.

Cautiously, they turned around and found a motel for the night.  Once in the motel, they knelt down and thanked Heavenly Father for their safety.  That night a mother taught her children the power of holding true to prayer.

What trials will our children face? Like Joseph Smith, our children can find the courage to “do whatever is necessary.”  When we are intentional about holding them and teaching them of Heavenly Father’s plan through prayer and scriptures, they will know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.


Obedience to the Prophets

Elder Claudio R.M. Costa
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

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In 1980 when President Ezra Taft Benson was serving as president of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, he gave a powerful message about obedience to the prophets at a BYU devotional in the Marriott Center.  His great talk entitled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” touched my heart. It made me feel good that I had made the decision to follow the prophets for the rest of my life when I accepted baptism in the Lord’s true Church.

I would like to share with you some of the principles that President Benson taught:

“First:  The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything” (1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, BYU Devotional and Fireside Addresses)

In our day the prophet of God has told us to love our fellow man, to serve, to take care of the rising generation, to rescue the inactive or less active, to do many things that we call Prophetic Priorities.  We  need to understand that these priorities are God’s priorities, and the prophet his is voice is His voice in communicating it to all of the Church and the world.

We are counseled to “give heed to all his words and commandments.” We also learn, “For his word ye shall receive, as if mine own mouth, in all patience and faith…For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21: 4-6).

Second fundamental: “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.”

The living prophet is receiving specific revelations for us.  I can remember many times when I have been present to hear one of the servants of the Lord speak about a specific thing for a city or a country.  I remember at least of three of the living prophets, seers and revelators, who have spoken about my country, Brazil.  One of these servants said that Brazil would become a great economy in the world, to be free of inflation. At the time, we had two-digit inflation every month.  It was difficult for many people to believe what the prophet said, but I believed.  Brazil has had about 5 percent inflation each year for many consecutive years now. Brazil has become ninth in the world economy, and Brazil is doing great!

Third fundamental:  “The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.”

We learn a great lesson about this from the scriptures. In the times of Noah it was easier for the people to believe in the dead prophets, but it was difficult for them to believe in Noah.  We know that because of their incredulity, they did not survive the flood.

Fourth fundamental:  “The prophet will never lead the Church astray.”

Again, we learn from the living prophets. President Wilford Woodruff said, “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray.  It is not in the program.  It is not in the mind of God.  If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty (“Excerpts from Three Addresses by Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto,” (D&C, p. 292).

Fifth fundamental:  “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.”

The Lord called a young man, Joseph Smith to restore His Church.  Do you think that the young Joseph Smith was a doctor in theology or science?  We know that he was a humble and not-academically educated young man.  But he was chosen by the Lord, and he received the Lord all that was necessary to honor and magnify the calling of a prophet of the Restoration.

President Benson continued:  “Sixth:  The prophet does not have to say, ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture.

“Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.”

Gospel Learning and Teaching

Brother David M. McConkie
First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency

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In a worldwide leadership training meeting, Elder Jeffrey R.  Holland told this story:

“For many years, I have loved the story that President Packer has told about William E. Berrett’s boyhood Sunday School teacher.  An elderly Danish brother was called to teach a class of rowdy boys.  He didn’t speak the language very well;  he still had a heavy Danish brogue; he was much older, with big farm hands.  Yet he was to teach these young, rambunctious 15-year-olds.  For all intents and purposes, it would not have seemed like a very good match.  But Brother Berrett used to say—and this is the part President Packer quotes—that this man taught them somehow;  that across all those barriers, across all those limitations, this man reached into the hearts of those rowdy 15-year-old kids and changed their lives.  And Brother Berrett’s testimony was ‘We could have warmed our hands by the fire of his faith.”

…Soon after I was called to be a stake president, our stake presidency received training from an Area Seventy.  During the training, I asked a question to which he responded, “That is a good question.  Let’s turn to the General Handbook of Instructions for the answer.”  We then went to the handbook, and there was the answer to my question.  A little later in our training, I asked another question.  Once again he responded, “Good question.  Let’s turn to the handbook.”  I did not venture to ask any more questions.  I thought it best to read the handbook.

Reflections on a Consecrated Life

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

As the Savior demonstrated, the consecrated life is a pure life.


 

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While Jesus is the only one to have led a sinless life, those who come unto Him and take His yoke upon them have claim on His grace which will make them as He is, guiltless and spotless.

  With deep love, the Lord encourages us in these words, “Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:20).

Consecration therefore means repentance.  Stubbornness, rebellion and rationalization must be abandoned, and in their pace submission, a desire for correction, and acceptance of all that the Lord may require.  This is what King Benjamin called putting off the natural man, yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and becoming a saint “through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19).  Such a one is promised the enduring presence of the Holy Spirit, a promise remembered and renewed each time a repentant soul partakes of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper (see D&C: 20: 77, 79).  Elder B. H. Roberts once expressed the process in these words:

The man who so walks in the light and wisdom and power of God, will at the last, by the very force of association, make the light and wisdom and power of God his own—weaving those bright rays into a chain divine, linking himself forever to God and God to him.  This [is] the sum of Messiah’s mystic words, “Thou Father in me, and I in thee”—beyond this human greatness cannot achieve.”

A consecrated life is a life of labor.  Beginning early in His life, Jesus was about His Father’s business (see Luke 2: 48-49).  God Himself is glorified by His work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children (see Moses 1:39).  We naturally desire to participate with Him in His work, and in so doing, we ought to recognize that all honest work is the work of God.  In the words of Thomas Carlyle, “All true Work is sacred; in all true Work were it but true hand-labor, there is something of divineness.  Labor, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven.”

God has designed this mortal existence to required nearly constant exertion.  I recall the Prophet Joseph Smith’s simple statement, “By continuous labor [we] were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance.  By work we sustain and enrich life.  It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of the mortal experience.  Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth.  Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God.  A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated, but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.

Of Things That Matter Most

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

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It’s remarkable how much we can learn about life by studying nature.  For example, scientists can look atg the rights of trees and make educated guesses about climate and growing conditions hundreds and even thousands of years ago.  One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate.  However, during seasons where growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival.

At this point you may be thinking, “That’s all very find and good but what does it have to do with flying an airplane?!”  Well, let me tell you.

Have you ever been in an airplane and experienced turbulence.  The most common cause of turbulence is a sudden change in air movement causing the aircraft to pitch, yaw, and roll.  While planes are built to withstand far greater turbulence than anything you would encounter on a regular flight, it will may be disconcerting to passengers.

What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence?  A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster.  But that may be the wrong thing to do.  Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence.  And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed.  The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.

This is a simple, but critical lesson to learn.  It may seem logical when put in terms of trees or turbulence, but it’s surprising how easy it is to ignore this lesson when it comes to applying these principles in our own daily lives.  When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be.

One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.

Let’s be honest, it’s rather easy to be busy.  We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedule.  Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list.  They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue.  Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, the often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.

It is said that any virtue, when taken to an extreme, can become a vice.  Over scheduling our days would certainly qualify for this.  There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our neck.