Talk Excerpts

Speakers in this session:

Elder L. Tom Perry
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Elder Koichi Aoyagi
Elder Bruce A. Carlson
Elder David A. Bednar
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Mothers Teaching Children in the Home
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Please allow me to reminisce for a few moments and share a few of the lessons I learned from my mother about teaching the Gospel in the home.  My mother understood the value of teaching her children about standards, values, and doctrine while they were young.  While she was grateful to others who taught her children outside the home at either school or church, she recognized that parents are entrusted with the education of their children, and ultimately, parents must ensure their children are being taught what their Heavenly Father would have them learn.

I used to think some days as I ran home from school that I was through learning for the day, but this illusion was quickly destroyed when I saw my mother standing at the door waiting for me.  When we were young we each had a desk in the kitchen where we could continue to be taught by her as she performed household duties and prepared supper.  She was a natural teacher and far more demanding of us than our teachers at school and church.

The scope of my mother’s teaching included both secular and spiritual lessons.  She made sure none of us were falling behind in our school work, which she would often supplement.  She also would practice her Relief Society lesson with us.  We, of course, received the unabridged versions found in her notebooks, not the abridged versions that had to fit in a single class period.

Part of our learning at home also involved memorizing scriptures, the Articles of Faith, and the words of prophets, seers, and revelators.  My mother was someone who believed a mind would become weak if it was not constantly exercised.  She taught us as we would wash the dishes, churn the butter, and help in other ways.  She did not believe in letting idle thoughts enter her children’s minds even when they were engaged in physical labor.

I am not using my mother as a role model for parents in today’s world.  Times are very different today, but while times may change, a parent’s teaching must never be devalued.  Many activities link the values of one generation to the next, but perhaps the most central of these activities is parents teaching children in the home.  This is especially true when we consider the teaching of values, moral and ethical standards, and faith.

The Blessing of Scripture
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

William Tyndale was not the first nor the last of those who in many countries and languages have sacrificed, even to the point of death, to bring the word of God out of obscurity.  We owe them a great debt of gratitude.  We owe perhaps an even greater debt to those who faithfully recorded and preserved the word through the ages, ten with painstaking labor and sacrifice-Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, John, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, Joseph Smith and many others.  What did they know about the importance of scriptures that we also need to know?…

The scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us always to remember the Lord and our relationship to Him and the Father.  They remind us of what we knew in our premortal life.  And they expand our memory in another sense by teaching us about epochs, people, and events that we did not experience personally.  None of us was present to see the Red Sea part and cross with Moses between walls of water to the other side.  We were not there to hear the Sermon on the Mount, to see Lazarus raised from the dead, to see the suffering Savior in Gethsemane and on the cross, and we did not with Mary, hear the two angels testify at the empty tomb that Jesus was risen from the dead.  You and I did not go forward one by one with the multitude in the land Bountiful at the resurrected Savior’s invitation to feel the prints of the nails and bathe His feet with our tears.  We did not kneel beside Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove and gaze there upon the Father and the Son.  Yet we know all these things and much, much more because we have the scriptural record to enlarge our memory, to teach us what we did not know.  And as these things penetrate our mind and heart, our faith in God and His Beloved Son takes root.

God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects.  He is a tender parent who would spare us needless suffering and grief and at the same time help us realize our divine potential.

Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity.  We find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them.

In the end, the central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ-faith that They exist, faith in the Father’s plan for our immortality and eternal life, faith in the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ which animate this plan of happiness, faith to make the gospel of Jesus Christ our way of life, and faith to come to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He] sent.”

Helping Hands, Saving Hands
Elder Koichi Aoyagi
Of the Second Quorum of the Seventy

Today I would like to focus on hands that help and save spiritually.

As a new convert to the Church, I experienced a spiritual rescue through the saving hands of a faithful member of the Church.  I grew up in Matsumoto Japan.When I was 17 years old, I met two American missionaries, Elder Carter and Elder Hayashi.  Though our ages were only two or three years apart, the elders had something wonderful that I had never felt before.  They were diligent, cheerful and filled with love and light.  I was deeply impressed by their qualities, and I wanted to become like them.  I listened to their message and decided to be baptized.  My parents, who were Buddhist, strongly opposed my baptism.  Through the help of the missionaries and the Lord I received permission and miraculously, was baptized.

The next year I entered the university in Yokohama.  Living alone, far from my hometown and the people I knew, I became lonely and strayed from the Church.  One day, I received a postcard from a Church member back home.  She wrote that she had heard I was not attending church meetings, quoted a scripture and invited me to return to church.  I was overwhelmed by the words of the scripture.  This helped me realize that maybe I had lost something important, and I pondered and struggled for many days.  This also caused me to remember a promise the missionaries has made to me, “If you read the Book of Mormon and ask in fervent prayer if the promise found in Moroni is true, you will know the truth through the power of the Holy Ghost.

I realized I was not praying with all of my heart, and decided to do so.  One morning, I woke up early, knelt in my small apartment and prayed sincerely.  To my surprise, the confirmation of the Holy Ghost poured upon me as promised.  My heart burned, by body shook, and I was filled with joy.  Through the power of the Holy Ghost I learned that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ live and that they truly appeared to Joseph Smith. I made a commitment in my heart to repent and faithfully follow Jesus Christ for the rest of my life.

This spiritual experience changed my life completely!  I decided to serve a mission out of gratitude to the Lord and to the Church member who rescued me.  Following my mission, I was sealed in the temple to a wonderful girl and we have been blessed with four children.  Not coincidentally, this is the same girl who saved me by sending a postcard to that lonely apartment in Yokohama many years ago.

When the Lord Commands
Elder Bruce A. Carlson
Of the Seventy

Occasionally we believe that there must be an easier way, a shortcut or modification of the Lord’s commandments that will accommodate our individual circumstances.  Thoughts such as these fail to acknowledge that strict obedience to God’s laws brings His blessings and protection while failure to abide by His laws leads to foreseeable consequences.

At the time of his call as President of the church, Harold B. Lee said, “The safety of the Church lies in the members keeping the commandments.As they keep the commandments, blessings will come.

When we chose to disobey a commandment it is usually because:

  1. We have convinced ourselves that the commandment does not apply to us,
  2. We do not believe the commandment is important or
  3. We are certain that the commandment is too difficult to obey.

At times we may rationalize that the Lord will understand our disobedience because our special circumstances make adherence to His laws difficult, embarrassing or even painful.  However, faithful obedience, regardless of the apparent size of the task will bring the Lord’s guidance, assistance and peace.

The Prophet Joseph Smith petitioned the Lord on two occasions asking if a prominent friend, Martin Harris, could take the first 116 handwritten pages of translated material from the “Book of Lehi,” from Harmony, Pennsylvania back to Palmyra.  Each time the Lord counseled Joseph to avoid entrusting the manuscript to Mr. Harris.

Martin was seeking to use the translated material as evidence to stop his associates from spreading rumors about him and his friendship with Joseph Smith. On the third request the Lord granted Joseph’s appeal.

Martin lost the manuscript and as a result the plates were taken from the Prophet Joseph Smith for an extended period.  This painful lesson led the prophet Joseph to say:  “I made this my rule:  when the Lord commands, do it.”  This should and can be our rule as well.

Watching with All Perseverance
Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Early warning signals are evident in many aspects of our lives.  For example, a fever can be a first symptom of sickness or disease.  Various financial and labor market indicators are used to forecast future trends in local and national economies.  And depending upon the area of the world in which we le, we may receive avalanche, hurricane, tsunami, tornado or winter storm warnings.

We also are blessed by spiritual early warning signals as a source of protection and direction in our lives.  Recall how Noah was alerted by God of things not yet seen, and he “prepared [the] ark to the saving of his house.”

Lehi was warned to leave Jerusalem and take his family into the wilderness because the people to whom he had declared repentance sought to kill him.

The Savior himself was spared through an angelic warning.  “Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word:  for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him”.

Spiritual warnings should lead to increasingly vigilant watching.  You and I live in “a day of warning.”  And because we have been and will be warned, we need to be, as the Apostle Paul admonished, “watching.with all perseverance.”

I pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost as I describe a spiritual early warning system that can help parents in Zion to be watchful and discerning concerning their children.  This early warning system applies to children of all ages and contains three basic components: 1) reading and talking about the Book of Mormon with your children, 2) bearing testimony of gospel truths spontaneously with your children, and 3) inviting children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon.  Parents who do these things faithfully will be blessed to recognize early signals of spiritual growth in or challenges with their children and be better prepared to receive inspiration to strengthen and help those children.

The spiritual understanding you and I have been blessed to receive, and which has been confirmed as true in our hearts, simply cannot be given to our children.  The tuition of diligence and of learning by study and also by faith must be paid to obtain and personally “own” such knowledge.  One in this way can what is known in the mind also is felt in the heart. Only in this way can a child move beyond relying upon the spiritual knowledge and experiences of parents and adults and claim those blessings for himself or herself.  Only in this way can our children be prepared spiritually for challenges of mortality.

No Place for the Enemy of My Soul
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I feel much like Jacob of old who said, “It grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech before.many.whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate.”  But bold we need to be.

Whether we be single or married, young or old, let’s talk for a moment about how to guard against temptation, in whatever form it may present itself.  We may not be able to cure all of society’s ills, but let’s speak of what some personal actions can be.

Above all, start by separating yourself from people, materials and circumstances that will harm you.  As those battling alcoholism know, the pull of proximity can be fatal.  So, too, in moral matters.  Like Joseph in the presence of Potiphar’s wife, just run-run as far away as you can get from whatever or whomever it is that beguiles you.  And please, when fleeing the scene of temptation, do not leave a forwarding address.

Acknowledge that people bound by the chains of true addictions often need more help than self-help, and that may include you.  Seek that help, and welcome it.  Talk to your bishop.  Follow his counsel.  Ask for a priesthood blessing.  Use the Church’s new website, enroll in the Church’s addiction recovery program, or seek other suitable professional help.

  Pray without ceasing.  Ask for angels to help you-from both sides of the veil.

Along with filters on computers and a lock on affection, remember that the only real control is self-control.  Exercise more control over ever the marginal moments that confront you.  If a TV show is indecent, turn it off.  If a movie is crude, walk out.  If an improper relationship is developing, sever it.  Many of these influences may not technically be evil, but they can blunt our judgment, dull our spirituality, and lead to something that could be evil.  An old proverb says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so watch your step.

Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our mind.  But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets and then tell them where the silverware is kept! (You shouldn’t be serving tea anyway.)  Throw the rascals out!  Replace lewd thoughts with hopeful images and joyful memories, picture the faces of those who love you and would be shattered if you let them down.  More than one man has been saved from sin or stupidity by remembering the face of his mother, his wife or his child waiting somewhere for him at home.  Whatever thoughts you have, make sure they are welcome in your heart “by invitation only.”  As an ancient poet once said, let your will be your reason.

Cultivate and be where the Spirit of the Lord is.