Guided by the Holy Spirit
President Boyd K. Packer
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Our scriptures today consist of the Bible, the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants.
Because of the Book of Mormon, we are frequently called the Mormon Church, a title we do not resent, but it is really not accurate.
In the Book of Mormon, the Lord revisited the Nephites because they prayed to the Father in His name. The Lord said, “What will ye that I shall give unto you?
“And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.
“And the Lord said…why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?”
“Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ…? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day…
“Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
“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 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.”
Obedient to revelation, we call ourselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather than the Mormon Church. It is one thing for others to refer to the Church as the Mormon Church or to us as Mormons, it is quite another for us to do so.
The First Presidency stated, “The use of the revealed name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 115:4), is increasingly important in our responsibility to proclaim the name of the Savior throughout all the world. Accordingly, we ask that when we refer to the Church we use its full name wherever possible…When referring to Church members, we suggest ‘members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’ As a shortened reference, ‘Latter-day Saints’ is preferred.”
Face the Future with Faith
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
…We live in a time of turmoil. Earthquakes and tsunamis wreak devastation, governments collapse, economic stresses are severe, the family is under attack, and divorce rates are rising. We have great cause for concern. But we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith.
Start with your children. You parents bear the primary responsibility to strengthen their faith. Let them feel your faith, even when sore trials come upon you. Let your faith be focused on our loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach that faith with deep conviction. Teach each precious boy or girl that he or she is a child of God, created in His image, with a sacred purpose and potential. Each is born with challenges to overcome and faith to be developed.
Teach of faith in God’s plan of salvation. Teach that our sojourn in mortality is a period of probation, a time of trial and testing to see if we will do whatever the Lord commands us to do.
Teach of faith to keep all the commandments of God, knowing that they are given to bless His children and bring them joy. Warn them that they will encounter people that pick which commandments they will keep and ignore others that they choose to break. I call this the Acafeteria@ approach to obedience. This practice of picking and choosing will not work. It will lead to misery. To prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith.
Obedience allows God’s blessings to flow without constraint. He will bless His obedient children with freedom from bondage and misery. And He will bless them with more light. For example, one keeps the Word of Wisdom knowing that obedience will not only bring freedom from addiction, but it will also add blessings of wisdom and treasures of knowledge.
Teach of faith to know that obedience to the commandments of God will provide physical and spiritual protection. And remember, God=s holy angels are ever on call to help us. The Lord so declared: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” What a promise! When we are faithful, He and His angels will help us.
Establishing a Christ-Centered Home
Elder Richard J. Maynes
Of the Quorum of Seventy
The principle of eternal families is an essential element in Heavenly Father’s great plan for His children. Fundamental to that plan is the understanding that we have a heavenly family as well as an earthly family. The Apostle Paul teaches us that Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits:
“That they should seek the Lord…and find him…
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being…For we are also his offspring.”
Being offspring of a loving Heavenly Father is such a basic principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ that even our children proclaim its truth as they sing the primary song, “I Am a Child of God,” remember the words?
I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must doTo live with him someday.
Recognizing that we have a heavenly family helps us understand the eternal nature of our earthly families. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that the family is fundamental to the order of heaven: “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory…”
Understanding the eternal nature of the family is a critical element in understanding Heavenly Father’s plan for His children. The adversary, on the other hand, wants to do everything in his power to destroy Heavenly Father’s plan. In his attempt to defeat God’s plan, he is leading an unprecedented attack on the institution of the family. Some of the more powerful weapons he uses in his attack are selfishness, greed, and pornography.
Our eternal happiness is not one of Satan’s objectives. He knows that an essential key to making men and women miserable like himself is to deprive them of family relationships which have eternal potential. Because Satan understands that true happiness in this life and in the eternities is found in the form of family, he does everything in his power to destroy it…
Brothers and sisters, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we understand and believe in the eternal nature of the family.
This understanding and belief should inspire us to do everything in our power to establish a Christ-centered home.
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson
First Quorum of the Seventy
One of the great blessings of my life over many years has been the opportunity to be surrounded by and work with the young people of the Church…
During these interactions, I have also had the privilege of conferring with some who have had various doubts or challenges with their testimonies…
Let me now share ten of the observations and suggestions of my valued and faithful young friends. The ideas they share have a commonality in their thinking and experience; thus, they likely will not be surprising to any of us. Unfortunately, and especially, at times of our own struggle and distress we may temporarily forget or discount their applicability to us personally.
First, everyone has worth because we are all children of God. He knows us, loves us and wants us to succeed and return to Him. We must learn to trust in His love and in His timing rather than in our own sometimes impatient and imperfect desires.
Second, while we believe fully in the “mighty change of heart” described in the scriptures, we must understand it often occurs gradually, rather than instantaneously or globally, and in response to specific questions, experiences and concerns as well as by our study and prayer.
Third, we need to remember that a fundamental purpose of life is to be tested and stretched and thus we must learn to grow from our challenges and be grateful for the lessons learned that we cannot gain in an easier way.
Fourth, we must learn to trust the things that we believe in or know to sustain us in times of uncertainty or with issues where we struggle.
Fifth, as Alma taught, gaining a testimony is usually a progression along the continuum of hoping, believing and finally knowing the truth of a specific principle, doctrine or the gospel itself.
Sixth, teaching someone else what we know strengthens our own testimony as we build that of another. When you give someone money or food, you will have less. However, when you share your testimony, it strengthens and increases for both the bearer and the hearer.
Seventh, we must do the little but necessary things daily and regularly. Prayers, scripture and gospel study, attendance at Church meetings, temple worship, fulfilling visiting teaching, home teaching and other assignments all strengthen our faith and invite the Spirit into our lives. When we neglect any of these privileges, we place our testimonies in jeopardy.
Eighth, we should not have higher standards for others than we do for ourselves. Too often we may let the mistakes or failures of others, especially leaders or Church members, influence how we feel about ourselves or our testimonies. Other people’s difficulties are not an excuse for our own deficiencies.
Ninth, it is good to remember being too hard on yourself when you make a mistake can be as negative as being too casual when real repentance is needed.
Tenth, we must always be clear that the Atonement of Christ is fully and continuously operative for each of us when we allow it to be so. Then, everything else fits into place even when we continue to struggle with certain details, habits or seemingly missing parts in the mosaic of our faith.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
I have chosen to talk about the importance of desire. I hope each of us will search our hearts to determine what we really desire and how we rank our most important desires.
Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving and our becoming.
First, I speak of some common desires. As mortal beings we have some basic physical needs. Desires to satisfy these needs compel our choices and determine our actions. Three examples will demonstrate how we sometimes override these desires with other desires we consider more important.
First, food. We have a basic need for food, but for a time that desire can be overridden by a stronger desire to fast.
Second, shelter. As a 12-year-old boy I resisted a desire for shelter because of my greater desire to fulfill a Boy Scout requirement to spend a night in the woods. I was one of several boys who left comfortable tents and found a way to construct a shelter and make a primitive bed from the natural materials we could find.
Third, sleep. Even this basic desire can be temporarily overridden by an even more important desire. As a young soldier in the Utah National Guard, I learned an example of this from a combat-seasoned officer.
In the early months of the Korean War, a Richfield, Utah National Guard field artillery battery was called into active service. This battery, commanded by Captain Ray Cox, consisted of about 40 Mormon men. After additional training and reinforcement by reservists from elsewhere, they were sent to Korea, where they experienced some of the fiercest combat of that war. In one battle they had to repel a direct assault by hundreds of enemy infantry, the kind of attack that overran and destroyed other field artillery batteries.
What does this have to do with overcoming the desire for sleep? During one critical night, when enemy infantry had poured through the front lines and into the rear areas occupied by the artillery, the Captain had the field telephone lines wired into his tent and ordered his numerous perimeter guards to phone him personally each hour on the hour all night long. This kept the guards awake, but it also meant that Captain Cox had scores of interruptions to his sleep. “How could you do that?” I asked him. His answer shows the power of an overriding desire.
“I knew that if we ever got home I would be meeting the parents of those boys on the streets in our small town, and I didn’t want to face any of them if their son didn’t make it home because of anything I failed to do as his commander.”
What an example of the power of an overriding desire on priorities and on actions! What a powerful example for all of us who are responsible for the welfare of others—parents, Church leaders and teachers!…
To achieve our eternal destiny we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being. For example, eternal beings forgive all who have wronged them. They put the welfare of others ahead of themselves. And they love all of God’s children. If this seems too difficult—and surely it is not easy for any of us—then we should begin with a desire for such qualities, and call upon our loving Heavenly Father for help with our feelings. The Book of Mormon teaches us that we should “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Joy in Serving
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
Brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, no matter how much we try to make it complicated. We should strive to keep our lives similarly simple, unencumbered by extraneous influences, focused on those things that matter most.
What are the precious, simple things of the gospel that bring clarity and purpose to our lives? What are the flecks of gospel gold whose patient accumulation over the course of our lifetime will reward us with the ultimate treasure–the precious gift of eternal life?
I believe there is one simple but profound–even sublime–principle that encompasses the entirety of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we wholeheartedly embrace and make this principle the focus of our lives, it will purify and sanctify us so we can live once again in the presence of God.
The Savior spoke of this principle when He answered a Pharisee who asked, “Master, what is the great commandment in the law?”
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”
It is only when we love God and Christ with all of our hearts, souls, and minds that we are able to share this love with our neighbors through acts of kindness and service—the way that the Savior would love and serve all of us if He were among us today.
When this pure love of Christ–or charity–envelops us, we think, feel and act more like Heavenly Father and Jesus would think and feel and act. Our motivation and heartfelt desire is like unto that of the Savior’s. He shared this desire with His apostles on the eve of His crucifixion:
He said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you…
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
The love the Savior described is an active love. It is not manifested through large and heroic deeds, but rather through simple acts of kindness and service. There are a myriad of ways and circumstances in which we can serve and love others.