It’s Conference Once Again
President Thomas S. Monson
President Monson started the conference by announcing three new temples to be built in North America: Ft. Collins, Colorado, Meridian, Idaho and Winnipeg, Canada. With the announcement of these three new temples, in addition to the 134 temples already in operation worldwide, it brings the total to 160 temples in operation, announced or under construction.
President Monson said: “The past six months seem to have passed rapidly as I’ve been busy with many responsibilities. One of the great blessings during this time was to rededicate the beautiful Laie Hawaii Temple, which had been undergoing extensive renovations for nearly two years.
“The Church continues to provide humanitarian aid in times of disaster. Most recently our hearts and our help have gone out to Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami and the resultant nuclear challenges. We have distributed over 70 tons of supplies, including food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing and fuel. Our young single adults have volunteered their time to locate missing members using the Internet, social media and other modern means of communication. Members are delivering aid, via scooters provided by the Church, to areas that are difficult to reach by car… Thus far, over 40,000 hours of service have been donated by more than 4,000 volunteers. Our help will be ongoing in Japan and in any other areas where there is need…
As of the end of the year 2010 there were 52,225 missionaries serving in 340 missions throughout the world. Missionary work is the lifeblood of the kingdom. May I suggest that if you are able, you might consider making a contribution to the General Missionary Fund of the Church.
The Sabbath and the Sacrament
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Twelve
I can think of no better way for us to begin or continue to be an example of the believers than in our observance of the Sabbath Day.
Beginning with the creation of the world, one day was set apart from all others. “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” Even God rested from His labors on this day, and He expects His children to do the same. To the children of Israel He delivered the commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. . . . wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
The pattern of Sabbath day observance must always include worship…
As we consider the pattern of the Sabbath and the Sacrament in our own lives, there appear to be three things the Lord requires of us. First, to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Second, to go to the house of prayer and offer up our sacraments. And third, to rest from our labors.
It is a glorious thing to be a Christian, to live as a true disciple of Christ. Of us He said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” To keep ourselves unspotted from the world, He expects us to avoid such worldly distractions of businesses and recreational facilities on the Sabbath Day.
I believe He also desires us to dress appropriately. Our youth may think the old saying “Sunday best” is outdated. Still we know that when Sunday dress deteriorates to everyday attire, attitudes and actions follow. Of course it may not be necessary for our children to wear formal Sunday attire until the sun goes down. However, by the clothing we encourage them to wear and the activities we plan, we help them prepare for the Sacrament and enjoy its blessings throughout the day.
What does it mean to offer up our sacraments to the Lord? We acknowledge that all of us make mistakes. Each of us has need to confess and forsake our sins and errors to our Heavenly Father and others we may have offended. The Sabbath provides us with a precious opportunity to offer up these—our sacraments—to the Lord. He said, “Remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.”
Elder Melvin J. Ballard has suggested, “We want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters.”
As we worthily partake of the Sacrament, we witness that we are willing to take the Savior’s name upon us and keep His commandments and do always remember Him that we may have His Spirit to be with us. In this way the covenant of our baptism is renewed. The Lord assured His disciples, “As oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you.”
Sometimes we think of resting from our labors as merely letting the hay baler stand idle in the field and putting a “Closed” sign on the business door. Yet in today’s world, labors include the everyday work of our lives. This could mean business activities we may accomplish from home, athletic competitions, and other pursuits that take us away from Sabbath Day worship and the opportunity to minister to others.
“Trifle not with sacred things,” the Lord revealed to the early Saints, as if to remind us of what he told his disciples, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”…
Let us prepare and conduct ourselves on the Sabbath in a manner that will call down those blessings promised us upon ourselves and our families.
Become as a Little Child
Sister Jean A. Stevens
Of the Primary General Presidency
Our Father in Heaven, in His great wisdom and love, sends His spirit sons and daughters to this earth as children. They come to families as precious gifts with a divine nature and destiny. Our Heavenly Father knows children are a key to helping us become like Him. There is so much we can learn from children.
This important truth was evidenced some years ago as a member of the Seventy was on assignment in Hong Kong. He visited a very humble ward that was struggling in many ways, unable to provide for its own needs. As the bishop described their situation, the General Authority felt the impression to have the members pay their tithing. The bishop, knowing their dire circumstances, was concerned about how he could carry out that counsel. He thought about it and decided he would approach some of the most faith-filled members of his ward and ask them to pay their tithing. The next Sunday he went to the Primary. He taught the children about the Lord’s law of tithing and asked if they would be willing to pay tithing on the money they earned. The children said they would.
And they did.
The bishop later went to the adults in the ward and shared with them that for the past six months their faithful children had been paying tithing. He asked them if they would be willing to follow the example of these children and do the same. The people were so touched by the sacrifices the children were willing to make that they did what was necessary to pay their tithing. And the windows of heaven were opened. With the example of these faithful children, a ward grew in obedience and in testimony.
It was Jesus Christ Himself who taught us to look to children as an example. The New Testament records His answer when His Apostles disputed who should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus answered their question with a small yet powerful object lesson. He called a little child to Him and set him in the midst of them and said:
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).
What is it we should learn from children? What qualities do they possess and what examples do they demonstrate that can help us in our own spiritual development?
These precious children of God come to us with believing hearts. They are full of faith and receptive to feelings of the Spirit. They exemplify humility, obedience, and love. They are often the first to love and the first to forgive.
Followers of Christ
Elder Walter F. González
Of the Presidency of the Seventy
As Latter-day Saints, ours is the duty to invite millions…to come and see what our Church can add to the good things that they already have. Any person from any continent, climate, or culture can know for themselves that the Prophet Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son in a vision. They can know that heavenly messengers restored the priesthood and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. In the words of Enoch, “. . . righteousness [has been sent] down out of heaven; and truth [has been sent] forth out of the earth to [testify of the] Only Begotten [of the Father].”…
Followers of Christ pattern their lives after the Savior and walk in the light. Two characteristics can help us recognize to what extent we follow Him. First, followers of Christ are loving people. Second, followers of Christ make and keep covenants…
We follow Christ because we love Him. When we follow the Redeemer out of love, we are following His own example. Through love, the Savior was obedient to the will of the Father under any circumstance. Our Savior was obedient even when it meant great physical and emotional pain; even when it meant being whipped and mocked; even when it meant that His enemies would torture Him while His friends abandoned Him. The atoning sacrifice, which is unique to the mission of the Savior, is the greatest expression of love ever. “…the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with his stripes we are healed.”…
The second characteristic that followers of Christ have is making and keeping covenants. Moroni pointed out that “. . . the shedding of the blood of Christ, . . . is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.”
Covenants made by means of the restored priesthood are an important part of the gospel. The prophet Joseph Smith taught that even before the organization of this earth, covenants were made in heaven. Ancient prophets and patriarchs made covenants.
The Savior himself gave the example. He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness by one with the proper authority. Through His baptism, the Savior witnessed unto the Father that He would be obedient in keeping all the Father’s commandments. As in days of old, we also follow Christ and make covenants through priesthood ordinances. Making covenants is something that millions who are not members of our Church can add to the very good things that they already have. Making covenants is an expression of love. It is a way of saying to Him, yes, I will follow thee.
The Atonement Covers All Pain
Elder Kent F. Richards
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
As a surgeon, a significant portion of my professional time was taken up with the subject of pain. Of necessity I surgically inflicted it almost daily—and much of my effort was then spent trying to control and alleviate pain.
I have pondered about the purpose of pain. None of us is immune from experiencing pain. I have seen people cope with it very differently. Some turn away from God in anger, while others allow their suffering to bring them closer to God.
Like you, I have experienced pain myself. Pain is a gauge of the healing process. It often teaches us patience. Perhaps that is why we use the term “patient” in referring to the sick.
Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility…It is through sorrow and suffering, toil, and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”
Similarly, Elder Robert D. Hales has said: “Pain brings you to a humility that allows you to ponder. It is an experience I am grateful to have endured… I learned that the physical pain and the healing of the body after major surgery are remarkably similar to the spiritual pain and the healing of the soul in the process of repentance.”
Much of our suffering is not necessarily our fault. Unexpected events, contradicting or disappointing circumstances, interrupting illness, and even death surround us and penetrate our mortal experience. Additionally, we may suffer afflictions because of the actions of others. Lehi noted that Jacob had “suffered…much sorrow because of the rudeness of [his] brethren.” Opposition is part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. We all encounter enough to bring us to an awareness of our Father’s love and of our need for the Savior’s succor and help.
The Savior is not a silent observer. He himself knows personally and infinitely the pain we face. Paul wrote: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Sometimes in the depth of pain, we are tempted to ask, ”Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?” I testify the answer is “yes;” there is a physician. The Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all these conditions and purposes of mortality.
LDS Women Are Incredible!
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
Author and historian Wallace Stegner wrote about the Mormon migration and gathering to the Salt Lake Valley.
He did not accept our faith, and in many ways was critical; nevertheless, he was impressed with the devotion and heroism of our early Church members, especially the women. He stated, “Their women were incredible.” I echo that sentiment today. Our LDS women are incredible!
God placed within women divine qualities of strength, virtue, love, and the willingness to sacrifice to raise future generations of His spirit children.
A recent United States study asserts that women of all faiths “believe more fervently in God, ….” and attend more religious services. “By virtually every measure they are more religious.”
I was not surprised by this result, particularly as I reflected on the pre-eminent role of families and women in our faith. Our doctrine is clear; women are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves them. Wives are equal to their husbands. Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family.
We know there are many challenges for women, including those striving to live the gospel.
A predominant attribute in the lives of our pioneer ancestors is the faith of the sisters. Women by divine nature have the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings. In light of this the faith of the sisters in being willing to leave their homes to cross the plains for the unknown was inspiring. If one had to characterize their most significant attribute, it would be their unwavering faith in the restored gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ…
Much of what we accomplish in the Church is due to the selfless service of women. Whether in the Church or in the home, it is a beautiful thing to see the priesthood and the Relief Society work in perfect harmony. Such a relationship is like a well-tuned orchestra and the resulting symphony inspires all of us…
Our women are not incredible because they have managed to avoid the difficulties of life – quite the opposite. They are incredible because of the way they face the trials of life. Despite the challenges and tests life has to offer from marriage or lack of marriage, children’s choices, poor health, lack of opportunities, and many other problems, they remain remarkably strong and immovable and true to the faith. Our sisters throughout the Church consistently succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. One Relief Society president who acknowledged this extraordinary service said, “Even when the sisters serve, they are thinking – if only I could have done more!” Though they are not perfect and all face individual struggles, their faith in a loving Father in Heaven and the assurance of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior permeates their lives.
Opportunities to Do Good
President Henry B. Eyring
Of the First Presidency
My dear brothers and sisters the purpose of my message is to honor and celebrate what the Lord has done and is doing to serve the poor and the needy among His children on earth. He loves His children in need and also those who want to help. And He has created ways to bless both those who need help and those who will give it.
Our Heavenly Father hears the prayers of His children across the earth pleading for food to eat, clothes to cover their bodies, and for the dignity that would come from being able to provide for themselves. Those pleas have reached Him since He placed men and women on the earth.
You learn of those needs where you live and from across the world. Your heart is often stirred with feelings of sympathy. When you meet someone struggling to find employment you feel that desire to help. You feel it when you go into the home of a widow and see that she has no food. You feel it when you see photographs of crying children sitting in the ruins of their home destroyed by an earthquake or by fire.
Because the Lord hears their cries and feels your deep compassion for them, He has from the beginning of time provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with Him in serving others.
His way of helping has at times been called “Living the Law of Consecration.” In another period His way was called the “United Order.” In our time it is called the “Church Welfare Program.”
The names and the details of operation are changed to fit the needs and conditions of people. But always the Lord’s way to help those in temporal need requires people who out of love have consecrated themselves and what they have to God and to His work.
He has invited and commanded us to participate in His work to lift up those in need. We make a covenant to do that in the waters of baptism and in the holy temples of God. We renew the covenant on Sundays when we partake of the sacrament.
My purpose today is to describe some of the opportunities He has provided for us to help others in need. I cannot speak of them all in our brief time together. My hope is to renew and strengthen your commitment to act.
There is a hymn about the Lord’s invitation to this work that I have sung since I was a little boy. In my childhood I paid more attention to the happy tune than to the power of the words. I pray that you will feel the lyrics in your hearts today. Let’s listen to the words again:
Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
The Lord regularly sends wake-up calls to all of us.