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The Priesthood of Aaron

Elder L. Tom Perry

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Perry_L._Tom_smallAs I spoke in General Conference 25 years ago, I introduced a visual aid who stood beside me.  It was my eldest grandson.  He had recently received the Aaronic Priesthood and been ordained a deacon. I took the opportunity on the occasion to address my remarks to him on the importance of receiving the Aaronic Priestood…

I…taught my grandson, Terry, four lessons based on the story of Daniel in the Old Testament.  I told him to 1) keep his body healthy and clean; 2) develop his mind and become wise, 3)            be strong and resist temptation in a world filled with it; and, 4) trust in the Lord; especially when you need His protection…

It is a very special blessing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood…

Not only do young men of the Aaronic Priesthood receive the power and authority to be agents of the Lord in carrying out their priesthood responsibilities, but they receive the keys of the ministering of angels.

Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, I testify to you that the Lord is bound by solemn covenant to bless your lives according to your faithfulness.  If you will heed the voice of warning of the Holy Ghost and will follow His direction, you will be blessed with the ministering of angels.  This blessing will add wisdom, knowledge, power, and glory to your life.  This is a sure blessing promised to you by the Lord…

President Ezra Taft Benson once said:  “Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and faithfully attended his Church meetings.  Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout.  Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon.  Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life.”…

Young men, I challenge you to build your lives on a foundation of truth and righteousness.  It is the only foundation that will stand the pressures of this life and endure through the eternities.  The priesthood you bear is a special gift, for the giver is the Lord, Himself.  Use it, magnify it, and live worthy of it.

Receive the Holy Ghost

Elder David A. Bednar

Of the Quorum of the Twelve

Bednar_David_A_smallMy message focuses on the importance of striving in our daily lives to actually receive the Holy Ghost…

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead; he is a personage of spirit and bears witness of all truth.  In the scriptures the Holy Ghost is referred to as the Comforter, a Teacher, and a Revelator.  Revelations from the Father and the Son are conveyed through the Holy Ghost.  He is the messenger for and the witness of the Father and the Son.

The Holy Ghost is manifested to men and women on the earth both as the power and as the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The power can come upon a person before baptism; it is the convincing witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Through the power of the Holy Ghost sincere investigators can acquire a conviction of the truthfulness of the Savior’s gospel, of the Book of Mormon, of the reality of the restoration, and of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed only after proper and authorized baptism by the laying on of hands by those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood…

The ordinance of confirming a new member of the Church and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost is both simple and profound.  Worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders place their hands upon the head of an individual and call him or her by name.  Then, in the authority of the holy priesthood and in the name of the Savior, the individual is confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and this important phrase is uttered: “Receive the Holy Ghost.”

The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance.  These four words—“Receive the Holy Ghost”—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not to be acted upon.  The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken.  As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed “receive the Holy Ghost” and its attendant spiritual gifts…

What should we do to make this authorized admonition to seek for the companionship of the third member of the Godhead an ongoing reality?  Let me suggest that we need to 1) sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost, 2) appropriately invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, and 3) faithfully obey God’s commandments…

Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a gospel checklist of things to do.  Rather, each of these righteous practices is an important element in an overarching spiritual quest to fulfill the mandate to receive the Holy Ghost.

 

Courageous Parenting

Elder Larry R. Lawrence

Of the Quorum of the Seventy

Lawrence_Larry_R_smallI would like to speak today to the parents of teenagers.  Your bright and energetic youth are the future of the church, and for that reason, that are a prime target of the adversary.  Many of you faithful mothers and fathers are listening to Conference today, praying for answers to help your children through these important years…

The Young Men and Young Women’s Mutual theme for 2010 was taken from the Book of Joshua.  It begins:  “Be strong and of a good courage; Be not afraid…”  This phrase from the scriptures would be a good theme for parents as well.  In these last days, what the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand…

Challenges and temptations are coming at our teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train.  As we are reminded in the Family Proclamation, parents are responsible for the protection of their children.  That means spiritually as well as physically…

Years ago, our 17-year-old son wanted to go on a weekend trip with his friends, who were all good boys.  He asked for permission to go.  I wanted to say yes, but for some reason, I felt uncomfortable about the trip.  I shared my feelings with my wife, who was very supportive.  “We need to listen to that warning voice,” she said.’

Of course, our son was disappointed and asked why we didn’t want him to go. I answered honestly that I didn’t know why.  “I just don’t feel good about it,” I explained, “and I love you too much to ignore these feelings inside.” I was quite surprised when he said, “That’s okay, Dad, I understand.


Young people understand more than we realize; because they too have the gift of the Holy Ghost.  They are trying to recognize the Spirit when it speaks, and they are watching our example.  From us, they learn to pay attention to their promptings, that if they “don’t feel good about something,” it is best not to pursue it…

Courageous parenting doesn’t always involve saying “no.

”  Parents also need courage to say “yes” to the counsel of modern day prophets.  Our church leaders have counseled us to establish righteous patterns in our homes.  Consider five fundamental practices that have the power to fortify our youth: family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, family dinner together, and regular one-on-one interviews with each child…

Parenting teenagers in the latter days is a very humbling assignment…Parents, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid…”

 

“Rest Unto Your Souls”

 Elder Per G. Malm

Of the Seventy

Malm_Per_G_smallIn downtown Gothenburg, Sweden there is a broad boulevard with beautiful trees on each side.  One day I saw a hold in the trunk of one of the huge trees, so I curiously looked inside and saw that the tree was completely hollow.  Hollow yes, but empty no!  It was filled with all sorts of waste.

I was surprised that the tree could still stand.  So I looked up and saw a wide steel belt mounted around the upper part of the trunk.  Attached to the belt were several steel wires, and they in turn were fastened and anchored to nearby buildings.  From a distance it looked like the other trees; it was only when looking inside that one could detect that it was hollow instead of having a solid, strong trunk.  Many years earlier something had started the process of weakening the trunk a little bit here and a little bit there.  It did not happen overnight.  However, just like a young sapling tree grows bit by bit into a sturdy tree, so we can grow step by step in our capacity to be solid and filled from the inside out, in contrast to the hollow tree.

It is through the healing Atonement of Jesus Christ that we may have the strength to stand tall and strong and to have our souls be filled—with light, understanding, joy and love.  His invitation is extended to “all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him.”  His promise is: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”…

To find rest unto our souls includes peace of mind and heart which are the result of learning and following the doctrine of Christ, and to become Christ’s extended hands in serving and helping others.  Faith in Jesus Christ and following His teachings give us a firm hope, and this hope becomes a solid anchor to our souls.  We can become steadfast and immovable.  We can have lasting, inner peace; we can enter into the rest of the Lord.  Only if we turn away from light and truth, a hollow feeling of emptiness, like the tree’s will occupy the innermost chambers of our souls, and we even might attempt to fill that emptiness with things of no lasting value.

 

Avoiding the Trap of Sin

 Elder Jairo Mazzagardi

Of the Seventy

Massagardi_Jairo_smallOn a beautiful, sunny morning, I invited my almost eight-year-old granddaughter to walk with me near a lake…

We walked happily, listening to the soft noise of the crystal clear brook running alongside our path.  The path was lined with beautiful green trees and sweet-scented flowers.  We could hear birds singing.

I asked my blue-eyed, cheerful, and innocent granddaughter how she was preparing for baptism.

She answered with a question:  “Grandpa, what is sin?”

I silently prayed for inspiration and tried to respond as simply as I could: “Sin is the intentional disobedience to God’s commandments, it makes Heavenly Father sad, and its results are suffering and sadness.”…

We must be alert because small choices, such as going to bed early and waking up early, have great consequences…Those who go to bed early wake up rested, with the body and mind invigorated and blessed by the Lord, because of obedience.

What may appear to be of little importance, such as going to bed late, not praying for a day, skipping fasting, or breaking the Sabbath—such little slips—will make us lose sensitivity little by little, allowing us to do worse things…

Often, becoming prey to sin starts with someone choosing friends whose standards are not consistent with the gospel, and in order to be popular or to be accepted by peers, the person then compromised gospel principles and laws, going down a path that will bring only pain and sadness to this person and to his or her loved ones…

Decisions about standards to follow must be made in advance, not when temptation appears.  Our parameters must be:

–This I will do because it is right, it comes from the Lord, and it will bring me happiness.

–This I will not do because it will drag me away from truth, from the Lord, and from the eternal happiness He promises to the faithful and obedient.

 

What Have You Done With My Name?

Elder Mervyn B. Arnold

Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

Arnold_Mervyn_B_smallWhen President George Albert Smith was young, his deceased grandfather, George A. Smith, appeared to him in a dream and asked, “I would like to know what you have done with my name.” President Smith responded, “I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”

Each week as we partake of the sacrament, we covenant and promise that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. We must be willing to do so, and if we are, we are promised that most wonderful blessing—that His Spirit will always be with us.”

Just as President George Albert Smith had to account to his grandfather what he had done with his name, someday each one of us will have to account to our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, for what we have done with His name…

My parents did not have the riches of the world, nor did they have silver or gold.  Nine of us grew up in a two-bedroom, one-bath home with an enclosed back porch where my sisters slept.  When my parents passed away, my brothers and sisters and I gathered to divide their earthly possessions.  The list of worldly possessions was very short.  My mother left a few well-pressed dresses, some used furniture, and a few other personal items.  My father left some carpenter tools, some old hunting rifles, and little else.  The only things of any monetary value were a modest home and a small savings account.

Together we wept openly, giving thanks, knowing they had left us something much more precious than silver or gold.  They had given us their love and their time.  They had often born testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, which we can now read in their precious journals.


Not so much by words, but more by example, they had taught us to work hard and be honest.  They had also engendered a desire in us to further our education, serve a mission, and most importantly to find an eternal companion, to be married in the temple, and endure to the end.

 

Truly they left us a legacy of a good name for which we will ever be grateful…

Our Lord and Savior invites us on a daily basis to cleanse our names and return to His presence.  His encouragement is full of love and tenderness. Envision with me the Savior’s embrace as I read His words:  “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”

Today I would like to extend the same challenge to each one of us that my “goodly parents” who will be forever remembered because of their good names, extended to me.  Before you act, picture the Savior standing at your side and ask yourself, “Would you think it, say it, or do it, knowing He is there?”  For surely He is there.

 

“O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One”

 Elder M. Russell Ballard

Of the Quorum of the Twelve

Ballard_M._Russell_smallThe goal of the fly fisherman is to catch trout through skillful deception.  The adept fisherman studies trout behavior, weather, the water current, and the types of insects trout eat and when those insects hatch.  He will often craft by hand the lures he uses. He knows these artificial insects embedded with tiny hooks need to be a perfect deception because the trout will identify even the slightest flaw and reject the fly.

What a thrill it is to watch a trout break the surface of the water, inhale the fly and resist until it is finally exhausted and reeled in.  The test is in pitting the fisherman’s knowledge and skill against the noble trout.

The use of artificial lures to fool and catch a fish is an example of the way Lucifer knows our “hunger” or weaknesses and tempts us with counterfeit lures which if taken can cause us to be yanked from the stream of life into his unmerciful influence.  And unlike a fisherman who catches and releases the fish unharmed back into the water, Lucifer will not voluntarily let go.  His goal is to make his victims as miserable as he is.

Lehi said, “And because he [Lucifer] had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind” (2 Nephi 2:18).

Once a son of the morning, Lucifer is a clever and a cunning intelligence.  One of the main methods he uses against us is his ability to lie and deceive to convince us that evil is good and good is evil.  Right from the very beginning in the great Council in Heaven, Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man, which I the Lord God, had given him.  And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will” (Moses 4:3-40).

The battle over man’s God-given agency continues today.  Satan and his minions have their lures all around us hoping that we will falter and take his flies so he can reels us in with counterfeit means.  He uses addiction to steal away agency.  According to the dictionary, addiction of any kind means to surrender to something, thus relinquishing agency and becoming dependent on some life-destroying substance of behavior…

Recently I talked to a sister who was in the psychiatric unit of a local hospital.  She shared with me her sorrowful journey from complete mental and physical health, a wonderful marriage and family, into mental illness, debilitating health, and the break-up of her family – all of which started with the abuse of a prescription painkiller.

Two years prior to our conversation, she hurt her back in a car accident.  Her doctor prescribed a medication to relieve the almost unbearable pain.  She thought she needed something more, so she forged prescriptions, and finally resorted to buying heroin.  This led to her arrest and incarceration.  Her obsession with drugs caused her marriage to fail.  Her husband divorced her and retained custody of the children.  She told that besides helping to dull her pain, the drug also provided a short term but heightened sense of euphoria and well-being.  But each dosage of drugs lasted only a few hours and with each use the duration of relief seemed to lessen.  She began to take more and more of the drugs and got caught up in the vicious cycle of addiction.  Drugs became her life.  That night before I talked with her, she tried to commit suicide.  She said she could no longer deal with the physical, emotional and spiritual pain.  She felt trapped with no way out—with no hope.

This sister’s problem with prescription and other drug abuse is not unique;  it is happening all around us.

 

‘Til We Meet Again

President Thomas S. Monson

Monson_Thomas_S_smallHow blessed we are to have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  It provides answers to questions concerning where we came from, why we are here, and where we will go when we pass from this life.  It provides meaning and purpose and hope to our lives.

We live in a troubled world, a world of many challenges.  We are here on this earth to deal with our individual challenges to the best of our ability, to learn from them and to overcome them.  Endure to the end we must, for our goal is eternal life in the presence of our Father in Heaven.  He loves us and wants nothing more than for us to succeed in this goal.  He will help us and bless us as we call upon Him in our prayers, as we study His words, and as we obey His commandments.  Therein is found safety, therein is found peace.