The Power of Deliverance

 

Elder L. Tom Perry

Of the Quorum of the Twelve

perry conferenceAll photographs Copyright Intellectual Reserve Inc., Used by Permission.

I wish to speak about how the Book of Mormon, which is a tender mercy of the Lord preserved for these latter-days, delivers us by teaching us, in a pure and “most correct” way, the doctrine of Christ.

Many of the stories of the Book of Mormon are stories of deliverance. Lehi’s departure into the wilderness with his family was about deliverance from the destruction of Jerusalem. The story of the Jaredites is a story of deliverance, as is the story of the Mulekites. Alma, the Younger, was delivered from sin. Helaman’s stripling warriors were delivered in battle. Nephi and Lehi were delivered from prison. The theme of deliverance is evident throughout the Book of Mormon.

There are two stories in the Book of Mormon which are very similar and teach an important lesson. The first is from the book of Mosiah, starting with the 20th chapter. Here we learn of King Limhi living in the land of Nephi. The Lamanites had waged war against the people of Limhi. The result of the war was the Lamanites would allow King Limhi to rule his people but they would be in bondage to them. It was a very uneasy peace.

When Limhi’s people had their fill of Lamanite abuses, they convinced the king to go against them in battle. Three times they were defeated. Heavy burdens were laid upon them. Finally they humbled themselves and cried mightily unto the Lord that he would deliver them. Verse 15 in chapter 21 tells us of the Lord’s response:

And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage (Mosiah 21:15).

Soon after Ammon and a small band of men from Zarahemla arrive and with Gideon, one of the leaders of Limhi’s people, they worked out a plan which was successful and they escaped from the Lamanite abuses. The Lord was slow to hear their cries. Why? Because of their iniquities.

The second story is similar in many respects, but also different. The account is recorded in Mosiah 24.

Alma and his people had settled in the land of Helam when an army of the Lamanites came into the border of the land. They met and worked out a peaceful solution. Soon the leaders of the Lamanites began to impose their will on the people of Alma and placed heavy burdens on them to bear. In verse13 we read:

And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage (Mosiah 24:13).

The people of Alma were delivered from the hands of the Lamanites and safely made their way back to be united with the people of Zarahemla.

What was the difference between the people of Alma and the people of King Limhi? Obviously, there were several differences-the people of Alma were peaceful and more righteous; they had already been baptized and entered into a covenant with the Lord; they humbled themselves before the Lord even before their tribulations started. All these differences made it appropriate and fair that the Lord delivered them quickly in a miraculous way from the hand which kept them in bondage. These scriptures teach of the Lord’s power of deliverance.

Prophecies foretelling the life and mission of Jesus Christ promise us the deliverance that He will provide. His Atonement and Resurrection provide all of us an escape from physical death, and, if we repent, an escape from spiritual death, bringing with it the blessings of eternal life. The promises of the Atonement and Resurrection, the promises of deliverance from physical and spiritual death, were declared by God to Moses, when He said: “For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

 

That the Lost May Be Found

Elder M. Russell Ballard

Of the Quorum of the Twelve

ballard conference

What can we do to avoid becoming lost? First may I suggest that we prioritize Put everything you do outside the home in subjection to and in support of what happens inside your home. Remember President Lee’s counsel that the most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home; and President McKay’s timeless “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (David O. McKay quoting J.E. McCulloch, Home: The Savior of Civilization (1924), 42; in Conference Report, Apr. 1935.116).

Organize your personal lives to provide time for prayer and scripture and family activity. Give your children responsibilities in the home that will teach them how to work. Teach them that living the gospel will lead them away from the filth, promiscuity and violence of the Internet, media and video games. They will not be lost, and they will be prepared to handle responsibility when it is thrust upon them.

Second, we need to do things in the right order! Marriage first, and then family. Too much of the world has forgotten this natural order of things and thinks they can change or even reverse it. Remove any of your fear with faith. Trust the power of God to guide you.

To you who are not yet married, pay careful attention to finding your eternal companion. Young men, remember something else President Joseph F. Smith said: “Bachelorhood….carries to the superficial mind the idea that it is desirable because it brings with it the minimum of responsibility. The real fault lies with the young men. The license of the age leads them from paths of duty and responsibility….Their sisters are the victims…(and) would marry if they could, and would accept cheerfully the responsibilities of family life.”

And to the young women I would add that you must also not lose sight of this responsibility. No career can bring you as much fulfillment as rearing a family. And when you are my age you will realize this even more.

Third, Husbands and wives, you should be equal partners in your marriage. Read often and understand the Proclamation on “The Family” and follow it. Avoid unrighteous dominion in any form. No one owns a spouse or our children; God is the Father of us all and has extended to us the privilege of our own family, which was previously only His, to help us become more like Him.


As His children we should learn at home to love God and to know that we can ask Him for the help we need. Everyone, married or single, can be happy and supportive within whatever family you may have.

And finally, use the family resources of the Church. In raising children, families can draw upon the help of the ward. Support and work in tandem with priesthood and auxiliary leaders and take full advantage of the Church’s youth and family programs. Remember another of President Lee’s insightful phrases-that the Church is the scaffolding with which we build eternal families.

Now, if for any reason you individually or as a family have lost your way, then you need only apply the Savior’s teachings from Luke, chapter 15, to correct your course. Here the Savior tells of the effort of a shepherd searching for the lost sheep, of a woman searching for a lost coin, and of the welcome received by the prodigal son returning home. Why did Jesus teach these parables? He wanted us to know that none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His atonement and His teachings.

As you seek to live the gospel and doctrine of Christ, the Holy Ghost will guide you and your family. You will have a spiritual GPS to tell you always where you are and where you are going. I bear witness that the resurrected Redeemer of mankind loves all of us, and He has promised if we will follow Him, He will lead us safely back into the presence of our Heavenly Father.

 

Having the Vision to Do

By Elder O. Vincent Haleck

Of the Seventy

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Like all good parents, my own parents desired a bright future for their children. My father was not a member, and because of unusual circumstances that existed at that time, my parents determined that my brothers and sisters and I should leave our island home of American Samoa, in the South Pacific, and travel to the United States in order to go to school. The decision to be separated from us was a difficult one for my parents, especially my mother. They knew that there would be unknown challenges as we were put into new surroundings. However, with faith and determination, they pressed forward with their plan. Because of her Latter-day Saint upbringing, my mother was familiar with the principles of fasting and prayer, and both of my parents felt that they needed the blessings of heaven to help their children. In that spirit, they began to set aside a day every week to fast and pray for us. Their vision was to prepare their children for a bright future. They acted on this vision, and they exercised their faith by seeking the Lord’s blessings. Through fasting and prayer, they received the assurance, comfort, and peace that all would be well.

How do we, amidst the challenges of our lives, gain the vision necessary to do those things that will bring us closer to the Savior? Speaking of vision, the book of Proverbs teaches this truth: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). If we are to prosper rather than perish, we must gain a vision of ourselves as the Savior sees us.

The Savior saw more in those humble fishermen whom He called to follow Him than they initially saw in themselves; he saw a vision of who they could become. He knew of their goodness and potential, and He acted to call them. They were not experienced at first, but as they followed, they saw His example, felt His teachings, and became His disciples. There was a time when some of His disciples departed from Him because the things that they heard were hard for them. Aware that others might also depart, Jesus inquired of the Twelve, “Will ye also go away?” Peter’s response reflects how he had changed and had caught the vision of who the Savior was. “To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68), he responded.

With that vision, these faithful and devoted disciples were able to do hard things as they traveled to preach the gospel and establish the Church after the Savior departed. Eventually, some of them made the ultimate sacrifice for their testimonies.

There are other examples in the scriptures of those who caught the vision of the gospel and then went out to act upon that vision. The prophet Alma gained his vision when he heard Abinadi boldly teaching and testifying before King Noah. He acted on Abinadi’s teachings and went about teaching the things he had learned, baptizing many who believed on his words. While persecuting the early Saints, the Apostle Paul was converted on the road to Damascus and then acted by teaching and testifying of Christ.

In our own day, many young men, women, and senior couples have answered the call of a prophet of God to serve missions. With faith and courage they leave their homes and everything that is familiar to them because of their faith in the great good they can do as missionaries. As they act on their vision to serve, they bless the lives of many and, in the process, change their own lives. In the past general conference, President Monson thanked us for the service we give to one another and reminded us of our responsibility to be God’s hands in blessing His children here on earth. The fulfillment of this charge has been heartwarming as members of the Church have acted upon his vision.

Before the Savior departed, understanding that we will need help, He said, “I will not leave you comfortless” (John 14:18). He taught His disciples, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). This is the same Holy Ghost that can empower and motivate us to do the things that the Savior and our modern-day prophets and apostles teach.

As we put into action the teachings of our leaders, we gain a deeper understanding of our Savior’s vision for us. Throughout this conference, we have received inspired counsel from prophets and apostles. Study their teachings and ponder them in your hearts, while seeking the Spirit of the Holy Ghost to help you catch a vision of these teachings in your life. With that vision, exercise your faith in acting upon their counsel.

Only upon the Principles of Righteousness

By Elder Larry Y. Wilson

Of the Seventy

wilson

A month or so after we were married, my wife and I were taking a long road trip in the car. She was driving and I was trying to relax. I say “trying” because the highway we were traveling had a reputation for speed traps, and my wife might have had a slight tendency toward a lead foot in those days.

I said, “You’re going too fast. Slow down.”

My new bride thought to herself, “Well, I’ve been driving for nearly 10 years, and other than my driver’s education teacher, no one ever told me how to drive before.


” So she replied, “What gives you the right to tell me how to drive?”

Frankly, her question caught me off guard. So, doing my best to step up to my new responsibilities as a married man, I said, “I don’t know. Because I’m your husband, and I hold the priesthood.”

Brethren, just a quick tip: if you are ever in a similar situation-that is not the right response. And I’m happy to report, it was the one and only time I ever made that mistake.

The Doctrine and Covenants explains that the right to use the priesthood in the home or elsewhere is directly connected with righteousness in our lives: “The powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” It goes on to say that we lose that power when we “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of [others], in any degree of unrighteousness.”

This scripture says we must lead by “principles of righteousness.” Such principles apply to all leaders in the Church, as well as to all fathers and mothers in their homes. We lose our right to the Lord’s Spirit and to whatever authority we have from God when we exercise control over another person in an unrighteous manner. We may think such methods are for the good of the one being “controlled.” But any time we try to compel someone to righteousness who can and should be exercising his or her own moral agency, we are acting unrighteously. When setting firm limits for another person is in order, those limits should always be administered with loving patience and in a way that teaches eternal principles.

We cannot simply force others to do the right thing. The scriptures make clear that this is not God’s way. Compulsion builds resentment. It conveys mistrust, and it makes people feel incompetent. Learning opportunities are lost when controlling persons pridefully assume they have all the right answers for others. The scriptures say that “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men to engage in this “unrighteous dominion,” so we should be aware that it’s an easy trap to fall into. Women, too, may exercise unrighteous dominion, though the scriptures identify the problem especially with men.

Unrighteous dominion is often accompanied by constant criticism and the withholding of approval or love. Those on the receiving end feel they can never please such leaders or parents and that they always fall short. Wise parents must weigh when children are ready to begin exercising their own agency in a particular area of their lives. But if parents hold on to all decision-making power and see it as their “right,” they severely limit the growth and development of their children.

Our children are in our homes for a limited time. If we wait until they walk out the door to turn over to them the reins of their moral agency, we have waited too long. They will not suddenly develop the ability to make wise decisions if they have never been free to make any important decisions while in our homes. Such children often either rebel against this compulsion or are crippled by an inability to make any decisions on their own.


Was It Worth It?

Elder David F. Evans

Of the Quorum of the Seventy

evans

During this conference and in other recent meetings[i], many of us have wondered “What can I do to help build up the Lord’s Church and see real growth where I live?”

In this and every other important endeavor, our most important work is always within our own home and family.[ii] It is within families that the Church is established and real growth occurs.[iii] We are to teach our children the principles and doctrines of the gospel. We need to help them have faith in Jesus Christ and prepare them for baptism when they are eight years old.[iv] We must be faithful ourselves so that they can see our example of love for the Lord and His Church. This helps our children feel joy in keeping the commandments, happiness in families, and gratitude in service to others. Within our homes, we should follow the pattern given by Nephi when he said,

“We labor diligently . . . to persuade our children . . . to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God . . . We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”[v]

We labor diligently to bring these blessings to our children by attending church with them, holding family home evening, and reading the scriptures together. We pray daily with our family, accept callings, visit the sick and the lonely, and do other things that let our children know that we love them and that we love our Heavenly Father, His Son, and Their Church.

We talk and prophesy of Christ as we give a family home evening lesson or sit with a child and tell of our love for him or her and of our testimony of the restored gospel.

We can write of Christ by writing letters to those who are away. Missionaries serving, sons or daughters in the military, and those we love are all blessed by letters we write. Letters from home are not just quick emails. Real letters provide something tangible that can be held, thought about and cherished.

We help our children rely on the Savior’s Atonement and know the forgiveness of a loving Heavenly Father by showing love and forgiveness in our own parenting. Our love and forgiveness not only draw our children closer to us, but also build faith in knowing that their Heavenly Father loves them and that He will forgive them as they repent and strive to do and be better. They trust this truth because they have experienced the same from their earthly parents.

 

To Hold Sacred

 Elder Paul B. Pieper

Of the Seventy

pieper

Some fifteen hundred years before Christ, a shepherd was drawn to a burning bush on the slopes of Mount Horeb. That divine encounter began the transformation of Moses from a shepherd to a prophet and his work from herding sheep to gathering Israel. Thirteen hundred years later, a privileged young priest in a king’s court was captivated by the witness of a condemned prophet. That encounter began Alma’s evolution from a civil servant to a servant of God, and his focus from seeking status to simply serving.


Nearly two thousand years later, a fourteen-year-old boy entered the woods seeking an answer to a sincere question. Joseph Smith’s encounter in the grove placed him on the path to prophethood and a restoration.  

 

Moses, Alma, and Joseph Smith’s lives were all changed by encounters with the divine. These experiences strengthened them to remain faithful to the Lord and His work throughout their lives, despite overwhelming opposition and subsequent difficult trials. 

 

Our experiences with the divine may not be as direct or dramatic, nor our challenges as daunting. However, as with the prophets, our strength to endure faithfully depends upon recognizing, remembering and holding sacred that which we receive through our encounters with the divine. 

 

Today, authority, keys, and ordinances have been restored to the earth. There are also scriptures and special witnesses. Those who seek God may receive baptism for the remission of sins and confirmation “by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. . . .” (D&C 20:41). After we receive these restored gifts, our divine encounters will mostly involve the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. 

 

“Through a still small voice, the Spirit speaks to me, to guide me, to save me from the evil I may see”  (Children’s Songbook, 106). “Let the Holy Spirit guide, let him teach us what is true, He will testify of Christ, light our minds with heaven’s view” (Hymns no. 143). As we seek light and truth, we feel the still, small voice whisper to our spirits. The feelings-the impressions-are so natural and so subtle that we may overlook them or attribute them to reason or intuition. Daily reflecting upon and recording the impressions that come from the Spirit serves the dual purpose of helping us 1) to recognize our personal encounters with the divine and 2) to preserve them for ourselves and our posterity. Recording them is also a formal acknowledgement of our gratitude to God, for; “in nothing doth man offend God or against none is his wrath kindled save those who confess not his hand in all things. . .” (D&C 59:21).  

 

With respect to that which we receive by the Spirit, the Lord said: “Remember, that which cometh from above is sacred” (D&C 63:64). His statement is more than a reminder; it is also a definition and an explanation. Light and knowledge from heaven is sacred. It is sacred because Heaven is its source.

 

Sacred means worthy of veneration and respect. By classifying something as sacred, the Lord signals that it is of higher value and priority than other things. Sacred things are to be treated with more care, given greater deference, and regarded with deeper reverence. Sacred ranks high in the hierarchy of heavenly values. 

 

That which is sacred to God becomes sacred to us only through the exercise of agency; each must choose to accept and hold sacred that which God defines as sacred. He sends light and knowledge from heaven. He invites us to accept and treat it as sacred.   

But, there is an opposition in all things. (See 2 Nephi 2:11.) The opposite of sacred is profane or secular-that which is temporal or worldly.  The worldly constantly competes with the sacred for our attention and priorities. Knowledge of the secular is essential to our daily temporal living. Further, the Lord instructs us to seek learning and wisdom, to study and learn out of the best books, and to become acquainted with languages, tongues and people. (See D&C 88:118 and 90:15). Thus, choices related to the sacred and the secular are choices of relative priority, not exclusivity; “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29, emphasis added).

 

 

What Thinks Christ of Me?

Elder Neil L. Andersen

Of the Quorum of the Twelve

andersen

I recently met a family who is a beautiful example of how we believe Him. Olgan and Soline Saintelus from Port-au-Prince, Haiti told me their story.

On January 12, 2010, Olgan was at work and Soline was at the church when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Their three children, Gancci, age five, Angie, age three, and Gansly, age one, were at home in their apartment with a friend.

Massive devastation was everywhere. As you will remember tens of thousands lost their lives that January in Haiti. Olgan and Soline ran as fast as they could to their apartment to find the children. The three story apartment building where the Saintelus family lived had collapsed.

The children had not escaped. No rescue efforts would be devoted to a building that was so completely destroyed.

Olgan and Soline Saintelus had both served as full-time missionaries and had been married in the temple. They believed in the Savior and in His promises to them. Yet, their hearts were broken. They wept uncontrollably.

Olgan told me that in his darkest hour he began to pray. “Heavenly Father, if it be thy will, if there could be just one of my children alive, please, please help us.” Over and over he walked around the building, praying for inspiration. The neighbors tried to comfort him and help him accept the loss of his children. Olgan continued to walk around the rubble of the collapsed building hoping, praying. Then something quite miraculous happened. Olgan heard the almost inaudible cry of a baby. It was the cry of his baby

For hours, the neighbors frantically dug into the rubble, risking their own lives. In the dark of the night, through the piercing sounds of hammers and chisels, the rescue workers heard another sound. They stopped their pounding and listened. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing. It was the sound of a little child – and he was singing. Five-year-old Gancci later said that he knew his father would hear him if he sang. Under the weight of crushing concrete that would later result in the amputation of his arm, Gancci was singing his favorite song, “I Am a Child of God.”

As the hours passed, amid the darkness, death, and despair of so many other precious sons and daughters of God in Haiti, the Saintelus family had a miracle. Gancci, Angie, and Gansly were discovered alive under the flattened building.

Miracles are not always so immediate. At times we thoughtfully wonder why the miracle we have so earnestly prayed for does not happen here and now. But as we trust in the Savior, promised miracles will occur.


Whether in this life or the next, all will be made right.The Savior declares: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I testify that as you love Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him, you will feel His love and approval. As you ask, “What thinks Christ of me?” you will know that you are His disciple, you are His friend. By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

 

As We Close this Conference

President Thomas S. Monson

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

monson conference 2

How blessed we are, my brothers and sisters, to have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives and in our hearts. It provides answers to life’s greatest questions. It provides meaning and purpose and hope to our lives.

We live in troubled times. I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face. He loves each of us and desires to bless us and to help us. May we call upon Him in prayer, as He admonished when He said: “Pray always, and I will pour out my spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing-yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth.”

My brothers and sisters, may your homes be filled with love and courtesy and with the Spirit of the Lord. Love your families. If there are disagreements or contentions among you, I urge you to settle them. Said the Savior, There shall “be no disputations among you. . .For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. But behold, this is not my doctrine. . .but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”

As your humble servant, I echo the words of King Benjamin in his address to his people, when he said, “I have not commanded you to. . .think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen. . .by the hand of the Lord. . .and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.” My beloved brothers and sisters, I desire with all my heart to do God’s will and to serve Him and to serve you.

_____________________________________


[i]       Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Saturday, February 11, 2012

[ii]      The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 280.

[iii]     Boyd K. Packer, “Priesthood Power in the Home,” Worldwide Leadership Training, February 2012

[iv]     Doctrine and Covenants 68:25-29

[v]      2 Nephi 25:23, 26