Salvation and Exaltation
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In Church callings, we are subject to release. But we cannot be released as parents. From the first days of human history, the Lord has commanded parents to teach the gospel to their children. Moses wrote: “Thou shalt teach … diligently thy children, and shall talk of [God’s words] when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
In our day the Lord has added, “Bring up your children in light and truth” (D&C 93:40). The Church is to assist and not to replace parents in their responsibilities to teach their children.
In this day of rampant immorality and addictive pornography, parents have a sacred responsibility to teach their children the importance of God in their lives. These evils, so highly destructive of divine potential, are to be strictly shunned by children of God.
We are also to teach our children to honor their parents. The fifth commandment states: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
How can we best teach our children? The Lord has given us specific instruction. “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guile —
“”Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved lest he esteem thee to be his enemy” (D&C 121: 41-43).
When a child needs correction, you might ask yourself, “What can I say or do that would persuade him or her to choose a better way?” When giving necessary correction, do it quietly, privately, lovingly, and not publicly. If a rebuke is required, show an increase in love promptly so that seeds of resentment may not remain. To be persuasive, your love must be sincere and your teachings based on divine doctrine and correct principles.
Do not try to control your children. Instead, listen to them, help them to learn the gospel, inspire them, and lead them toward eternal life. You are God’s agents in the care of children He has entrusted to you. Let His divine influence in your hearts as you teach and persuade.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
Of the Presidency of the Seventy
Brothers and sisters, think of the special experiences you have been blessed with in your life that have given you conviction and joy in your heart. Remember when you first knew that Joseph Smith was God’s Prophet of the Restoration? Remember when you accepted Moroni’s challenge and knew that the Book of Mormon was indeed another testament of Jesus Christ? Remember when you received an answer to fervent prayer and realized that your Heavenly Father knows and loves you personally? As you contemplate such special experiences don’t they give you a sense of gratitude and resolve to go forward with renewed faith and determination.
Not long ago, Sister Rasband and I had an experience we shall never forget. I was assigned to preside at two stake conferences in Peru. Whie there, we went to the city of Puno, high in the Andes Mountains on Lake Titicaca. At 12,000 feet above sea level, we were amazed at this simple and beautiful city, high on this Andean lake. We met with stake presidents in the area and had a wonderful youth fireside with hundreds of young people from the Puno area.
One morning, we were invited to visit a small group of local members who lived out on the floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca.
The people who live there are known as the Uros Indians of Bolivia and Peru.
We were told that a few Latter-day Saint families had joined together and built their own small, new floating island. With excitement, we took a boat out to the island and were greeted warmly by these wonderful members.
We held their babies wrapped in the most beautiful, handmade, colorful blankets. We ate the fish they caught that very day from the lake, which had been so carefully prepared and generously shared. We saw their wares and handicrafts and exchanged gifts with one another.
As we visited, we learned that their children paddled by canoe 45 minutes to and from Puno for seminary and school each day. “We were also pleased that these members knew the scriptures well, understood them, and loved them. Eagerly they showed us their current temple recommends, having been endowed and sealed in the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple.
Before we were to leave, one of the mothers asked if we would kneel with them and have a family prayer. I remember well kneeling on the spongy reeds with these faithful Saints. As we knelt, she asked if I would say the prayer, and using the Melchizedek Priesthood, dedicate their new island and home …
As I consider this special experience that the Lord blessed us with, I know a new building block has been added to my house of faith.
Sister Cheryl C. Lant
Primary General President
For as long as I can remember, my father wore a beautiful red ruby ring on his left hand. It was passed on to my only brother. I suppose it will become a tradition in our family — a legacy passed from generation to generation. It will be a good tradition, with sweet memories associated to it.
Each of us has traditions in our families. Some of them are material. Some of them have deep meaning. The most important traditions are connected with the way we live our lives and will last beyond us as our children’s lives are influenced and shaped. In the Book of Mormon, we read of the Lamanites, who were deeply affected by the traditions of their fathers. King Benjamin said they were a people who knew nothing about the principles of the gospel — “or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct” (Mosiah 1:5).
What kinds of traditions do we have? Some of them may have come from our fathers and now we are passing them along to our own children. Are they what we want them to be? Are our traditions being created in response to the loud voices of the world, or are they influenced by the still, small voice of the Spirit? Are the traditions that we are creating in our families going to make it easier for our children to follow the living prophets, or will they make it more difficult for them?
How should we determine what our traditions will be? The scriptures give us a great pattern. In Mosiah 5:15 it states: “Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works.”
I love this because we know that traditions are formed over time as we repeat the same actions over and over again.
As we are steady and unchanging from doing that which is good, our traditions become firmly rooted in righteousness.
Restoring Faith in the Family
Elder Kenneth Johnson
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
With knowledge of the great Plan of Happiness we have the opportunity and also the responsibility to help Restore Faith in the Family.
In many ways our commission is comparable to those who work in the field of medicine and scientific research. Using established laws they determine how suffering can be alleviated and the quality of life improved.
In the realm of religious belief, men and women of faith, using proven principles, can help to heal a grieving heart, restoring hope and assurance to the troubled mind.
The scientist’s success has been achieved by complying with what are often referred to as natural laws. The great scientists of the past and present did not create the laws associated with these naturally occurring processes, they discovered them.
In a letter to the Cortinthians, the Apostle Paul poses a thought-provoking question concerning the source of man’s intellectual capacity: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11)
Through logic and learning, knowledge is increased and understanding enhanced. Using this process, theories and laws are identified and accepted as authentic.
One thing that becomes clear to the enlightened mind is that there are laws that keep life and living things in balance. Discovering the laws of physics and complying with them brings progress, enabling man to rise to higher levels of attainment than would otherwise be possible.
I believe that this premise also applies to ethical standards and moral values. It is, therefore, our responsibility to safeguard the home as a center of learning where these virtues can be instilled in an atmosphere of love and through the power of example.
“Concern for the One”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
Today I would like to talk about those who are lost — some because they are different, some because they are weary, and some because they have strayed.
Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.
Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different to some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
This variety of creation itself is a testament of how the Lord values all His children. He does not esteem one flesh above another but He, “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33)
… Some are lost because they are weary. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. With all the pressures and demands on our time and the stress we face each day, it’s little wonder we get tired. Many feel discouraged because they have not measured up to their potential. Others simply feel too weak to contribute. And so, as the flock moves ahead, gradually — almost imperceptibly — some fall behind.
Everyone has felt tired and weary at one time or another … Joseph Smith, Brigham Young — even Jesus Christ knew what it meant to be tired. I do not wish to underestimate the weight that members of the Church bear upon their shoulders nor do I minimize the emotional and spiritual trials they face. These can be heavy and often difficult to bear.
I do, however, have a testimony of the renewing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that the Lord “Giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40: 29). When I feel tired, I remember the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing…Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord … and let all the sons of God shout for joy!” (D&C 128: 22, 23)
For you members of the Church who hold back because of feelings of inadequacy, I plead with you to step forward, put your shoulder to the wheel and push. Even when you feel that your strength can add little, the Church needs you. The Lord needs you. Remember that the Lord often chooses the weak things of the world to accomplish His purposes.
To all who are weary, let the comforting words of the Savior console you, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy leaden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11: 28)
Let us rely on that promise. The power of God can infuse our spirits and bodies with energy and vigor. I urge you to seek this blessing from the Lord.
Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you for He has promised that, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mounts up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
The True and Living Church
President Henry B. Eyring
Of the First Presidency
I would like to speak of some of the reasons I see for gratitude for a true and living church. Then I will suggest some ways in which I see the Church being prepared for the Savior’s return. And, finally, I will bear my testimony of how I have come to know that this is the true and living Church.
Most of all I am grateful for my experience of the cleansing power available through the ordinances performed by the power of priesthood. I have felt forgiveness and cleansing through baptism by those with authority. I have felt the burning in my bosom that is only possible because of words spoken by servants of God: “Receive the Holy Ghost.”
My sense of gratitude stems also from blessings to my family. It is the sealing power and our knowledge of it which changes and transforms our family life here and our expectations for the joy of family life in the world to come. The thought and the hope that I can have eternal relationships carries me through the trials of separation and the loneliness which are part of mortal existence.
The promise to the faithful in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we may have associations and an expansion of families in the eternities. That assurance changes forever and for the better all of our associations in families.
For example, I am at a stage in my life when because of great distances I cannot come to know well grandchildren and, in time, great-grandchildren. There are also people who have never had the opportunity for marriage and parenthood who have the same yearning as I do to somehow be close to family. Because of the restoration of the knowledge of eternal families, we are more hopeful and more kindly in all our family relations. The greatest joys in this life center in families as they will in the worlds to come. I am so grateful for the assurance I have that if we are faithful, the same sociality which we enjoy here in this life will be forever with us in the world to come, in eternal glory.
I can see evidence of the prophesied perfecting of the Church. For example, as I travel and come to know the members of the Church, I see that there is a steady improvement in their lives. In their simple faith and obedience, the Atonement is changing and edifying the members. Frequently, I am in meetings with obviously humble people who are allowed to teach lessons and give sermons which have in them power like that given to Lehi, Nephi, and the sons of Mosiah. You remember the account:
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did preach unto the Lamanites with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them (Helaman 5:18).
I am confident that the repeated wish of President Gordon B. Hinckley will be granted. He taught that all who come into the Church might be retained in full fellowship if they are nourished by the good word of God. I remember him saying that the last words that he would be speaking at the end of his service would be “retention, retention, retention.” His words live on in the leadership of President Monson and in all of us as we qualify to have the power of a Lehi and a Nephi to nourish with the good word of God.
I am confident that you will continue, as I will, to be amazed by humble Latter-day Saints who home teach, visit teach, and speak to their nonmember friends with ever greater power.
For years we have remembered the words of President David O. McKay, “Every member a missionary.” I am confident that the day is coming that through the faith of the members we will see every increasing numbers of people invited to hear the good word of God and who then come into the true and living Church.
There is another improvement I am confident will come. Families across the Church are searching for ways to strengthen and protect their children against the evils around them. In some causes, those parents are desperately trying to bring back some in their family who have wandered. I am confident that there will be, increasingly, a reward given by God for their efforts. Those who never give up will find that God never gave up and that He will help them. …
Another improvement I see coming in the kingdom is a desire and a capacity to reach out to the poor and those in need. I have seen an amazing increase among the members of the Church in sympathy for victims of natural disasters across the world. In obituary notices I see families asking that donations be sent to the Perpetual Education Fund or to the Church’s Humanitarian Fund.
The Prophet Joseph Smith saw that wonderful development. He said that as a person becomes truly converted, he or she will want to range across the earth caring for Heavenly Father’s children. That is already beginning to happen among more of the members of the Church. What is remarkable to me is that the pattern of giving to those in need extends to those who have less themselves and seems to be unaffected by whether we are in good or difficult economic times. That is evidence to me tat the Atonement is working ever more effectively among the members.