174th Semi-annual General Conference

Choose You This Day

Thomas S. Monson
First Counselor in the First Presidency

“I have been thinking recently about choices and their consequences.  It has been said that the gate of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives.  The choices we make determine our destiny…

“When the Savior sought a man of faith, He did not select him from the throng of self-righteous who were found regularly in the synagogue.  Rather, He called him from among the fishermen of Capernaum.  While teaching on the seashore, he saw two ships standing by the lake.  He entered one and asked its owner to put it out a little from the land so He might not be pressed upon by the crowd.  After teaching further, He said to Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets.’

“Simon answered, ‘Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing:  nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.’

“’And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes…

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me:  for I am a sinful man, O Lord’ (Luke 5:4-6, 8)

“Came the reply, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19).

“Simon the fisherman had received his call.  Doubting, disbelieving, unschooled, untrained, impetuous Simon did not find the way of the Lord a highway of ease nor a path free from pain.  He was to hear the rebuke, ‘O thou of little faith’ (Matthew 14:31)  Yet when the Master asked him, ‘Whom say he that I am,’ Peter answered, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:15,16).

“Simon, man of doubt, had become Peter, apostle of faith.  Peter made his choice.

“When the Savior was to choose a missionary of zeal and power, He found him not among His advocates, but amidst His adversaries.  The experience of Damascus’ way changed Saul.  Of him the Lord declared, ‘He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings and the children of Israel’ (Acts 9:15)

“Saul the persecutor became Paul the proselyter.  Paul made his choice.”

Finding Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

Elder Robert B. Hales
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“I have a dear friend who, one day, in a moment of brotherly tenderness, asked:  “Elder Hales, I want to believe, I’ve always wanted to believe, but how do I do it?”  This morning I desire to answer that question.

“The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (Romans 10:17).  The very fact that you are viewing, listening to, or reading the proceedings of this conference means that you are hearing God’s word.  The first step to finding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to let His word—spoken by the mouth of His servants, the prophets—touch your heart.  But it is not enough merely to let those words wash over you, as if they alone could transform you.  We must do our part.  Or, as the Savior himself said, ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear’ (Matthew 11:15).  In other words, hearing requires an active effort.  It means taking seriously what is taught, considering it carefully, studying it out in our minds.  As the prophet Enos learned, it means letting others’ testimonies of the gospel ‘[sink] deep in [our] heart[s].”  Let us review some of the elements of Enos’ profound, faith-building experience…

“We cannot find Enos-like faith without our own wrestle before God in prayer.  I testify that the reward is worth the effort.  Remember the pattern:  (1) Hear the word of God, spoken and written by His servants, (2) let that word sink deep into your heart, (3)  hunger in your soul for righteousness, and (4) raise your voice in mighty prayer and supplication, asking in faith to know that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  I promise that if you do these things sincerely and unceasingly, the words Christ spoke to His disciples will be fulfilled in your life:  ‘Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find;  knock, and it shall be opened unto you’” (Matthew 7:7).

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdort

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Having received a call and been given a sacred trust that will completely influence my life forever, my feelings are tender and emotions often close to tears.

“I have a great sense of inadequacy and I feel a sweet agony of a deep and often painful examination of my soul during the many hours which have passed day or night since Friday morning this week.

“After President Gordon B. Hinckley had extended the call to me to become an Apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve I left my busy office to share this totally unexpected news with my beloved Harriet.  At this most important time in our life we cherished the quiet sacredness of our home as a place of refuge and of defense.  How grateful I am for my wife, for the loving comfort and strong support she has been throughout my life. Next to the gift of life itself and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, Harriet is the greatest blessing which came into my life…

“My life was eternally blessed by one choice member who reached out more than 50 years ago.  One day after World War II my grandmother was standing in line for good, when an elderly single sister, with no family of her own, invited her to sacrament meeting in Zwickau, East-Germany.  My grandmother and my parents accepted the invitation.  They went to Church, felt the Spirit, were uplifted by the kindness of the members, and edified by the hymns of the restoration.  My grandmother, my parents, and my three siblings all were baptized.  I had to wait two years because I was only six.  How grateful I am for a spiritually sensitive grandmother, teachable parents and a wise, white-haired, elderly single sister who had the sweet boldness to reach out and follow the Savior’s example by inviting us to ‘come and see.’  Her name was Sister Ewig, which translates in English to Sister Eternal.  I will be eternally grateful for her love and example.”

In the Strength of the Lord

Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Brothers and sisters, my heart is filled to overflowing, my mind is spinning, and I find that words are totally inadequate to communicate effectively the feelings and thoughts I desire to share with you…

“I have reflected on the teaching of Paul that ‘…God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty’ (1 Corinthians 1:27).  Today I take great comfort in knowing that I am one of the truly weak things of the world.

“I have pondered the instruction of Jacob contained in the Book of Mormon:  ‘Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy;  and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.

  Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things’ (Jacob 4:6-7).

“Brothers and sisters, please pay attention to the word grace as it is used in the verse I just read.  In the Bible Dictionary we learn that the word ‘grace’ frequently is used in the scriptures to connote a strengthening or enabling power.  ‘The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.  It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means.  This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts’ (p. 697).  Thus, the enabling and strengthening aspect of the atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity. I testify and witness that the enabling power of the Savior’s atonement is real.  Without the strengthening power of the atonement, I could not stand before you this morning. 

“Can we sense the grace and strengthening power of Christ in the testimony of Ammon?  ‘Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak, therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things;  yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever (Alma 26:12).  Truly, in the strength of the Lord we can do and endure and overcome all things.”

Senior Missionaries and the Gospel

Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“When we think of missionaries, we generally picture in our minds young men with shirts and ties and young women dressed modestly.  But along with them are marvelous senior missionaries who have answered the pleadings of prophets and apostles for more missionary couples.

“I express gratitude for our senior missionaries.  They are young in spirit, wise, and willing to work.  They even tolerate remarks from their fun-filled children who might change President Spencer W. Kimball’s pleas, “Lengthen your Stride,” to “Hasten your Shuffle.”  These dear members are willing to serve and strengthen the lives of others.  Even if these seniors don’t know the local language, their accomplishments are great and their spirit of sacrifice is precious…

“No senior missionary finds it convenient to leave.  Neither did Joseph or Brigham or John or Wilford.  They had children and grandchildren, too. They loved their families not one whit less, but they also loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him.  Someday we may meet these stalwarts who helped to establish this dispensation.  Then will we rejoice that we did not seek the shadows when a call to missionary service came from the Prophet, even in the autumn years of life.

“At a general conference in October 1926, President Heber J. Grant issued a clarion call for ‘men of mature years and sound judgment, who have had experience in the preaching of the gospel, to go forth and labor in the mission field.’

That need persists.  At the most recent training broadcast to priesthood leaders throughout the world, President Gordon B. Hinckley issued a similar call: ‘There is a constant need for more couple missionaries,’ he said.  ‘They perform wonderful service throughout the world.  You [leaders] need not wait for the couples to volunteer.  The sacrifices associated with serving the Lord full-time will abundantly bless the couples, their families, and the people they serve.’”

The Women in Our Lives

President Gordon B. Hinckley
Of the First Presidency

“Six months ago, at the close of our conference, I stated that my beloved companion of 67 years was seriously ill.  She passed away two days later.  It was April 6, a significant day to all of us of this Church…

“My children and I were at her bedside as she slipped peacefully into eternity.  As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers I confess I was overcome.  Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular.  She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior.  And now in my old age she has again become the girl of my dreams…

“I have chosen to say a few words today on the women in our lives.

“I begin with the creation of the world.

“We read in the book of Genesis and in the book of Moses of that great, singular, and remarkable undertaking. The Almighty was the architect of that creation.  Under His direction it was executed by His Beloved Son, the Great Jehovah, who was assisted by Michael, the archangel.

“There came first the forming of heaven and earth, to be followed by the separation of the light from the darkness.  Then the waters were removed from the land.  Then came vegetation followed by the animals.  Then followed the crowning creation of man.  Genesis records that:

“’God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31).

“But the process was not complete.

“’For Adam there was not found an help meet for him’ (Genesis 2:20).

“’And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept;  and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

“’And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

“’And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:  she shall be called Woman’ (Genesis 2:21-23).

“And so Eve became God’s final creation, the grand summation of all the marvelous work that had gone before.

“Notwithstanding the preeminence given the creation of woman, she has so frequently through the ages been relegated to a secondary position.  She has been put down.  She has been denigrated.  She has been enslaved.  She has been abused…

“After dealing with hundreds of divorce situations through the years, I am satisfied that the application of a single practice would do more than all else to solve this grievous problem.

“If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion there would be very little, it any divorce.  Argument would never be heard.  Accusations would never be leveled.  Angry explosions would not occur.  Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness…

“Every woman is a daughter of God.

  You cannot offend her without offending Him.  I plead with the men of this Church to look for and nurture the divinity that lies within their companions.  To the degree that happens there will be harmony, peace, enrichment of family life, nurturing love.”