A Brief Report of the Proceedings
General Conference is not only a wonderful time for filling our reservoirs and strengthening our testimonies, it is just a wonderful weekend filled with traditions and family love.
Meridian will bring you brief excerpts of each of the talks of General Conference.
Saturday Morning Session, April 1, 2006
Elder Robert D. Hales
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency
“If we could leave one lesson of greatest importance for our children and grandchildren, what would it be? Of all the glorious principles of the gospel, Lehi chose to teach his son about the plan of salvation-and the gift of agency.
“He taught that ‘men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.’ This sacred instruction began in the heavens. There, in a grand council, our Heavenly Father would continue the gift of agency to prove us in mortality, ‘to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command’…
“You and I were among those who used our agency to accept our Heavenly Father’s plan. ‘We shouted for joy…to have the opportunity of coming to earth to receive bodies, [for we knew] that we might become, through faithfulness, like unto [our] father, God.’
“Now we are here on earth, where opportunities to use our agency abound; for here ‘there is an opposition in all things.’ This opposition is essential to the purpose of our lives. As Lehi explained, ‘To bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man…the Lord God have unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one of the other.’…
“We have been given agency, we have been given the blessings of the priesthood, and we have been given the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost for a reason. That reason is our growth and happiness in this world and eternal life in the world to come.”
Bishop H. David Burton
“Tender Hearts and Helping Hands”
“A group of men were talking with the Prophet Joseph Smith one day, when news arrived that the house a poor brother who lived some distance from town was burned down. Everyone expressed sorrow for what had happened. The Prophet listened for a moment, then ‘put his hand in his pocket, took out five dollars and said, “I feel sorry for this brother to the amount of five dollars; how much do you all feel sorry?”‘ The immediacy of the Prophet’s response is significant. Las year millions of you responded to the sorrow of others with your means, tender hearts, and helping hands. Thank you for your wonderful measure of generosity.
“Compassion for others has always been a fundamental characteristic of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…
“In recent years, Mother Nature has displayed her vengeance and supremacy in unusual and powerful ways. Late December 2004 brought a terrible earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, creating a deadly tsunami that killed thousands and shattered the lives of those who remained behind…
“Northern Pakistan and India experienced the strongest earthquake in a hundred years, with thousands of lives lost and many left without homes. Because of the extreme winters in the area, concern was extended not only for the injured but also for those left without shelter…
“The 2005 hurricane season in the southern United States and the western Caribbean was the costliest and most devastating on record. Storm after storm lashed at homes and businesses from Honduras to Florida…
“Under the direction of local priesthood leaders and adult missionary couples, help was mobilized immediately, providing urgent assistance to hospitals, first responders, and communities…
“When floods hit Central America, meetinghouses were opened to provide temporary shelter for evacuees. In areas where vehicles couldn’t go, Church members strapped supplies upon their backs and walked over flooded streams and treacherous terrain to bring relief to those in distress…
“The Church joined with other prominent charitable organizations to help vaccinate millions of African children in a campaign to eradicate measles. Two thousand African Church members volunteered many hours in advertising, gathering children, and providing help as the shots were given…
“This modern-day humanitarian effort in a wonderful manifestation of the charity that burns within the souls of those whose hearts are tender and whose hands are ready to help. This selfless service truly demonstrates the pure love of Christ.”
Sister Julie B. Beck
First Counselor, Young Women’s General Presidency
“An Outpouring of Blessings”
“I hope our granddaughters and grandsons grow up knowing that they are not and have never been third-party observers of the priesthood. The blessings of the priesthood which are ‘available to all men and women alike’ are woven in and through and around their lives. Each of them is blessed by sacred ordinances, and each of them can enjoy the blessings of spiritual gifts by virtue of the priesthood.
“All faithful members of the Lord’s Church are equally blessed by priesthood ordinances. The first ordinance in a child’s life usually takes place when they are babies and are given a name and a blessing. When children reach the age of accountability, they are baptized. There is not a separate baptism for boys and girls. The same baptismal ordinance is performed for a young girl and a young boy who are baptized in the same font. When those children are confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost, the same power is given to each of them. They qualify for the help of that holy power through their faithfulness and not in any other way.
“As members of the Church, we are equal before the Lord as we partake of the sacrament. Through our faith in Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement made possible because of that ordinance, we can all repent and become better.
“Each of us is equally entitled to a priesthood blessing when we are sick or need added support from the Lord in our lives. A young woman who desires a patriarchal blessing is equally entitled to know her lineage and potential as a young man her same age. The blessings that come to each of them through Abraham are powerful and important.
“We teach all young men and women to prepare to go to the temple so they can ‘receive the blessings of [the] fathers that [they] may be entitled to the highest blessings of the priesthood.’…
“Every man and woman who is willing to serve the Lord and can qualify for a temple recommend makes the same covenants. Each is endowed with power from on high.
“Every elder and sister who receives a mission call is set apart to do the Lord’s work, and each is given authority to preach the gospel of Christ.
“A man and a woman who enter into the full partnership of a covenant temple marriage share equally in the blessings of that covenant if they are faithful. The Lord has said that their covenant will be in force after this life, and together they are promised power and exaltation…
“Because the priesthood has been restored, we also share equally in the blessings of spiritual gifts. The Lord gives us spiritual gifts for our own benefit and to help each other.
“Priesthood blessings are the great equalizer. Those blessings are the same for men and women, for boys and girls; they are the same for married and single, rich and poor, for the intellectual and the illiterate, for the well-known and the obscure.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“As a Child”
“The prophets of God have foreseen the times in which we live. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, ‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.’ Anyone with eyes to see the signs of the times and ears to hear the words of the prophets knows that the peril is great. The peril comes from the forces of wickedness. Those forces are increasing. And so, it will become harder, not easier, to keep the covenants we must make to live the gospel of Jesus Christ…
“A loving father told his sons of it this way as he tried to strengthen them against the storms of temptation:
“‘And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail.’
“It has never been more important than it is now to understand how build on that sure foundation. For me, there is no better place to look then in the last sermon of King Benjamin recorded in the Book of Mormon…
“King Benjamin makes it clear how we can…find the way in this life to have our natures changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is the only way we can build on the sure foundation and so stand firm in righteousness during the storms of temptation.
“King Benjamin describes that change with beautiful comparison, used by prophets for millennia, and by the Lord Himself. It is this: that we can, and we must become as a child…a little child…
“Here is King Benjamin’s stirring description of what that change to become like a child is and how it comes to us:
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.’
“We are safe on the rock which is the Savior when we have yielded in faith in Him, have responded to the Holy Spirit’s direction to keep the commandments long enough and faithfully enough that the power of the Atonement has changed our hearts. When we have by that experience become as a child in our capacity to love and obey we are on the sure foundation.”
President Thomas S. Monson
First Counselor of the First Presidency
“True to the Faith”
“Many years ago, on an assignment to the beautiful islands of Tonga, I was privileged to visit our Church school, the Liahona High School, where our youth are taught by teachers with a common bond of faith-providing training for the mind and preparations for life. On that occasion, entering one classroom, I noticed the rapt attention the children gave their native instructor. His textbook and theirs lay closed upon their desks. In his hand he held a strange appearing fishing lure fashioned from a round stone and large seashells. This, I learned, was a maka-feke, or octopus trap. In Tonga, octopus meat is a delicacy.
“The teacher explained that Tongan fisherman glide over a reef, paddling their outrigger canoes with one hand and dangling the maka-feke over the side with the other. An octopus dashes out from its rocky lair and seizes the lure, mistaking it for a much-desired meal. So tenacious is the grasp of the octopus and so firm is its instinct not to relinquish the precious prize that fisherman can flip it right into the canoe.
“It was an easy transition for the teacher to point out to the eager and wide-eyed youth that the Evil One-even Satan-has fashioned so-called maka-fekes with which to ensnare unsuspecting persons and take possession of their destinies.
“Today we are surrounded by the maka-fekes which the Evil One dangles before us and with which he attempts to entice us and then to ensnare us. Once grasped, such maka-fekes are ever so difficult-and sometimes nearly impossible to relinquish. To be safe, we must recognize them for what they are and then be unwavering in our determination to avoid them.
“Constantly before us is the maka-feke of immorality…
“Next, the Evil One also dangles before us the maka-feke of pornography. He would have us believe that the viewing of pornography really hurts no one. How applicable is Alexander Pope’s classic, ‘Essay on Man’:
“‘Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.’…
“I mention next the maka-feke of drugs, including alcohol. Once grasped, this maka-feke is particularly difficult to abandon…
“The final maka-feke I wish to mention today is one which can crush our self-esteem, ruin relationships and leave us in desperate circumstances. It is the maka-feke of excessive debt…
“My brothers and sisters, avoid the philosophy that yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s necessities…
“I urge you to live within your means…
“There are, of course, countless other maka-fekes which the Evil One dangles before us to lead us from the path of righteousness. However, our Heavenly Father has given us life and with it the capacity to think, to reason and to love. We have the power to resist any temptation and the ability to determine the path we will take, the direction we will travel. Our goal is the celestial kingdom of God. Our purpose is to steer an undeviating course in that direction.”
Be watching tomorrow as more excerpts from the other sessions of conference will appear on Meridian.