“Stand…in Holy Places”

President Thomas S. Monson

President:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I recently read in the Wall Street Journal an article by Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief rabbi.  Among other things, he writes—and I quote—“In virtually every Western society in the 1960’s there was a moral revolution, an abandonment of its entire traditional ethic of self-restraint.  All you need, sang the Beatles, is love.  The Judeo-Christian moral code was jettisoned.  In its place came [the adage]:  [Do] whatever works for you.  The Ten Commandments were rewritten as the Ten Creative Suggestions.”

Rabbi Sacks goes on to lament, “We have been spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital…There are large parts of [the world] where religion is a thing of the past and there is no counter-voice to the culture of buy it, spend it, wear it, flaunt it, because you’re worth it.  The message is that morality if passé, conscience is for wimps, and the single overriding command is “Thou shalt not be found out.”

My brothers and sisters, this—unfortunately—describes much of the world around us.  Do we wring our hands in despair and wonder how we’ll ever survive in such a world? No. Indeed, we have in our lives the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we know that morality is not passé, that our conscience is there to guide us, and that we are responsible for our actions.

Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant.  They have not changed;  they will not change.  The ten commandments are just that—commandments.  They are not suggestions.  They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel.  If we but listen, we hear the echo of God’s voice, speaking to us, here and now.

The Importance of a Name

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve

Because the full name of the Church is so important, I echo the revelations from the scriptures, the First Presidency’s instructions in letters of 1982 and 2001, and the words of other apostles who have encouraged the members of the Church to uphold and teach the world that the Church is known by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the name by which the Lord will call us at the last day.  It is the name by which His Church will be distinguished from all others. 

            I have thought a lot about why the Savior gave the nine-word name to His restored Church.  It may seem long, but if we think of it as a descriptive overview of what the Church is, it suddenly becomes wonderfully brief, candid, and straight forward.  How could any description be more direct and clear and yet expressed in such few words? 

            Every word is clarifying and indispensible.     The word The indicates the unique position of the restored Church among the religions of the world.

            The words Church of Jesus Christ declare that it is His Church.   In the Book of Mormon Jesus taught, “And how be it my church save it be called in my name?  For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man [like Mormon] then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8).

            Of Latter-day explains that it is the same Church as the Church that Jesus Christ established during His mortal ministry but restored in these latter days.  We know there was a falling away or an apostasy necessitating the restoration of His true and complete church in our time. 

            Saints means that its members follow Him and strive to do His will, keep His commandments, and prepare once again to live in His and our Heavenly Father’s presence.  Saint simply refers to those who seek to make their lives holy by covenanting to follow Christ.

            The name the Savior has given to His Church tells us exactly who we are and what we believe.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of all mankind.  He atoned for all who would repent of their sins, and He broke the bands of death and provided the resurrection from the dead.  We follow Jesus Christ.  And as King Benjamin said to his people, so I reaffirm to all of us today, “Ye should remember to retain. . . [His] name written always in your heart” (Mosiah 5:12).

            We are asked to stand as a witness of Him “at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9).  This means in part that we must be willing to let others know who we follow and to whose Church we belong–The Church of Jesus Christ.  We certainly want to do this in the spirit of love and testimony. We want to follow the Savior by simply and clearly, yet humbly, declaring that we are members of His Church.  We follow Him by being latter-day saints–latter-day disciples. 

People and organizations are often given nicknames by others.  A nickname may be a shortened form of a name or it may be derived from an event or some physical or other characteristic.  While nicknames do not have the same status or significance as actual names, they can be properly used.

            The Lord’s Church in both ancient and modern times has had nicknames.  The Saints in New Testament times were called Christians because they professed a belief in Jesus Christ.  That name, first used derogatorily by their detractors, is now a name of distinction; and we are honored to be called a Christian church. 

            Our members have been called Mormons because we believe in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  Others may try to use the word Mormon more broadly to include and refer to those who have left the Church and formed various splinter groups.  Such use only leads to confusion.  We are grateful for the efforts of the media to refrain from using the word Mormon in a way that may cause the public to confuse the Church with polygamists or other fundamentalist groups.  Let me state clearly that no polygamist group, including those calling themselves Fundamentalist Mormons or other derivatives of our name, have any affiliation whatsoever with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

            While Mormon is not the full and correct name of the Church, and even though it was originally given by our detractors during our early years of persecution, it has become an acceptable nickname when applied to members rather than the institution.  We do not need to stop using the name Mormon, when appropriate, but we should continue to give emphasis to the full and correct name of the Church itself.  In other words, we should avoid and discourage the term “Mormon Church.” 

The Book of Mormon – A Book from God

President Tad R. Callister
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

Years ago my great-great-grandfather picked up a copy of the Book of Mormon for the first time.


 

He opened it to the center and read a few pages. He then declared: “That book was either written by God or the devil, and I am going to find out who wrote it.” He read it through twice in the next 10 days and then declared: “The devil could not have written it—it must be from God.”

 

That is the genius of the Book of Mormon—there is no middle ground. It is either the word of God as professed, or it is a total fraud. This book does not merely claim to be a moral treatise, or theological commentary, or collection of insightful writings. It claims to be the word of God – every sentence, every verse, every page. Joseph Smith declared that an angel of God directed him to gold plates, which contained the writings of prophets in Ancient America, and that he translated those plates by divine powers. If that story is true then the Book of Mormon is holy scripture, just as it professes to be; if not, it is a sophisticated, but nonetheless, diabolic hoax.

C. S. Lewis spoke of a similar dilemma faced by someone who must choose whether to accept or reject the Savior’s divinity – where there is likewise no middle ground: [quote]

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher…You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”(2) [end quote]

Likewise we must make a simple choice with the Book of Mormon – it is either of God or the devil. There is no other option. For a moment I invite you to take a test that will help you determine the true nature of this book. Ask yourself if the following scriptures from the Book of Mormon draw you closer to God or the devil:

“Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).

Or these words of a loving father to his sons:

“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” (Helamen 5:12).

Or these words of a prophet:

“Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32).

Could these statements from the Book of Mormon have possibly been authored by the evil one?

Love Her Mother

Sister Elaine S. Dalton
Of the Young Women General Presidency

No words describe the sacred occasion when a new father holds a baby daughter in his arms for the first time. This year three of our sons have become new fathers of baby girls. As I have watched our rugged, strong, rugby-playing son, Jon, hold his first baby daughter in his arms, he looked at her with a reverent tenderness and then he looked at me with an expression that seemed to say—“How do I raise a girl?”

This morning I would like to speak to our sons and to all fathers. How can a father raise a happy, well-adjusted daughter in today’s increasingly toxic world? The answer has been taught by the Lord’s prophets. It is a simple answer, and it is true—“The most important thing a father can do for his [daughter] is to love [her] mother.”  By the way you love her mother, you will teach your daughter about tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion and devotion. She will learn from your example what to expect from young men and what qualities to seek in a future spouse. You can show your daughter by the way you love and honor your wife that she should never settle for less. Your example will teach your daughter to value womanhood. You are showing her that she is a daughter of our Heavenly Father who loves her.

Love her mother so much that your marriage is celestial. A temple marriage for time and all eternity is worthy of your greatest efforts and highest priority. It was only after Nephi had completed the temple in the wilderness that he stated, “And…we lived after the manner of happiness.” The “manner of happiness” is found in the temple. It is covenant keeping. Don’t let any influence come into your life or your home that would cause you to compromise your covenants or your commitment to your wife and family.

In Young Women we are helping your daughter understand her identity as a daughter of God and the importance of remaining virtuous and worthy to receive the blessings of the temple and of a temple marriage. We are teaching your daughter the importance of making and keeping sacred covenants. We are teaching her to commit now to live so that she can always be worthy to enter the temple and not to allow anything to delay, distract or disqualify her from that goal. Your example, as her father, speaks louder than our important words. Young women worry about their fathers. Many express that their greatest desire is to be united eternally as a family. They want you to be there when they go to the temple or get married in the temple. Stay close to your daughter and help her prepare and remain worthy for the temple. When she turns twelve, take her with you to the temple often to perform baptisms for your ancestors and others. She will cherish these memories forever.

Today’s popular culture tries to erode and demean your eternal role as a patriarch and father and minimize your most important responsibilities. These have been given to you “by divine design” and as fathers you are “to preside over [your] families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for [your] families.”

Fathers, by definition, you are the guardians of your homes, your wives and your children. Today, “it is not an easy thing to protect one’s family against intrusions of evil into [their] minds and spirits…. These influences can and do flow freely into the home.  Satan [is very clever]. He need not break down the door.”

Fathers, you must be the guardians of virtue. “A priesthood holder is virtuous. Virtuous behavior implies that [you] have pure thoughts and clean actions….Virtue is…an attribute of godliness. [It] is akin to holiness.” The Young Women values are Christlike attributes which include the value of virtue. We now call upon you to join with us in leading the world in a return to virtue. In order to do so, “you must practice virtue and holiness” by eliminating from your life anything that is evil and inconsistent with one who holds the holy priesthood of God. “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and.


 

. .the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.” So, be cautious about what you view in entertainment media or print. Your personal virtue will model for your daughters, and also your sons, what true strength and moral courage are. By being a guardian of virtue in your own life, in your home and in the lives of your children, you are showing your wife and daughters what true love really is. Your personal purity will give you power.

 

Our Charge

President Henry B. Eyring

Of the First Presidency

I was once invited to speak at graduation services at a great university.  The president had wanted President Gordon B. Hinckley to be invited but he was unavailable.  So, by default I got the invitation.  I was then a junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The person who invited me to speak became anxious as she learned more about my obligations.  She called me on the phone and said that she now understood that my call was to be a witness of Jesus Christ.

In very firm tones she told me that I could not do that when I spoke. She explained that the university respected people of all religious beliefs, including those who denied the existence of a God.  She repeated:  “You cannot fulfill your duty here.”

I hung up the phone with questions in my mind.  Should I tell the university that I would not keep my agreement to speak?  It was only weeks before the event.  My appearance there had been announced.  What effect would my failing to keep my agreement have on the good name of the Church?

I prayed to know what God would have me do.  The answer came.  I realized that the examples of Nephi, Abinadi, Alma, Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah had become what I was.  They were bold witnesses of Jesus Christ in the face of deadly peril.

So, there was no choice to be made except how to prepare.  I dug into everything I could to learn about the university.  As the day of the talk grew closer my anxiety rose and my prayers intensified.

Like the red sea parting I found a news article.  The university had been honored for doing what the Church had learned to do in our Humanitarian efforts across the world.  And so in my talk I described what we and they had done to lift people in great need.  I said that I knew that Jesus Christ was the source of the blessings that had come into the lives of those we and they had served.

After the meeting the audience rose to applaud.  I was amazed but still a little anxious.  I remembered what happened to Abinadi.  Only Alma had accepted his witness.  But that night, at a large formal dinner, I heard the university president say that in that talk he heard the words of God in what I said.

Such a miraculous outcome is rare in my experience as a witness of Christ.  But the effect of the Book of Mormon on your character and your power to be a witness for God is certain.  The doctrine and the valiant examples in that book will lift, guide, and embolden you.

Waiting Upon the Lord:  Thy Will Be Done

Elder Robert D. Hales

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I have often pondered, why is it that the Son of God and His holy prophets and all the faithful Saints have trials and tribulations, even when they are trying to do Heavenly Father’s will?  Why is it so hard, especially for them?

I think about Joseph Smith who suffered illness as a boy and persecution throughout his life.  Like the Savior, he cried out, “Oh God, where art thou?”  Yet even when He was seemingly alone, He exercised His agency to wait upon the Lord and carry out His Heavenly Father’s will.

I think of our pioneer forebears, driven from Nauvoo and crossing the plains—exercising their agency to follow a prophet even as they suffered sickness, privation, and some even death.  Why such terrible tribulation?  To what end?  For what purpose?

As we ask these questions, we realize that the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences.  How do we do this? 

The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase:  we “wait upon the Lord.”  Tests and trials are given to all of us.  These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son.

He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstances, “all these things shall [be for our] experience, and [our] good.”

Does this mean we will always understand our challenges? 

Won’t all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, “Oh God, where art thou?”

Yes!  When a spouse dies, a companion will wonder.  When financial hardship befalls a family, a father will ask.  When children wander from the path, a mother and father will cry out in sorrow.  Yes, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  Then, in the dawn of our increased faith and understanding, we arise and choose to wait upon the Lord, saying, “Thy will be done.”

What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord?  In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust.  To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, longsuffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end.

To wait upon the Lord means planting the seed of faith and nourishing it “with great diligence and . . . patience.”

It means praying as the Savior did—to God, our Heavenly Father—saying, “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done.”  It is a prayer we offer with our whole souls, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.