Sunday Afternoon Session

Sunday Afternoon Session


From the Conference Center
at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, this is the
Sunday afternoon session of the 186th Annual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, with speakers selected
from the General Authorities and general
officers of the Church. Music for this
session is provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This broadcast is furnished
as a public service by Bonneville Distribution. Any reproduction,
recording, transcription, or other use of this program
without written consent is prohibited. President Dieter F.
Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
of the Church, will conduct this session. Our dear brothers
and sisters, we welcome you to the concluding
session of the 186th Annual General Conference of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our beloved prophet,
President Thomas S. Monson, who presides at the
conference, has asked that I conduct this session. We extend our
greetings to members of the Church and
friends everywhere in this global and
worldwide conference, who are participating
in these proceedings by radio, television, the
Internet, or satellite transmission. The music for this session will
be by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, under the direction of
Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, with Linda Margetts
at the organ. The choir will open this
meeting by singing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” The invocation will then be
offered by Elder C. Scott Grow of the Seventy. [MUSIC PLAYING – “PRAISE TO THE
LORD, THE ALMIGHTY”] Our Father in Heaven,
with humble hearts and with gratitude,
we approach Thee now as we begin this final
session of general conference. We’re grateful for
Thy Spirit that has been poured out
in abundance upon us in these previous sessions. We thank Thee for the
Restoration of the gospel and for The Church of Jesus
Christ in these latter days through the Prophet
Joseph Smith. We thank Thee for the
keys of the kingdom of God that have been
restored to the earth, for the priesthood
power and authority that allows us to enter into the
ordinances of exaltation and enter into sacred
covenants with Thee, especially in Thy holy temples. We rejoice today
in the announcement of four new temples. We thank Thee for living
apostles and prophets to guide us in these latter days. We pray a special blessing to
be poured out upon each of them and sustain them
in their ministries and especially our beloved
prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, whom we love. We thank Thee for the life
and mission and ministry of Thy Son, for His
atoning sacrifice, and for His glorious
Resurrection. Now, Father, as we begin
this final session, we pray that Thou wilt pour
out Thy Spirit upon each of us, those in the choir, those
who will speak to us, and each one of us who will
hear, here in this sacred hall and throughout the world. Bless us with increased faith
in Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and in Thee, and increase
our determination to seek to know Thy will, and
with the increased ability to do Thy will from
this day forward, we pray in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. The choir will now favor us with
“For I Am Called by Thy Name.” After the singing, we will
hear from Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles. He will be followed
by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency
of the Seventy. Elder Patrick Kearon of the
Seventy will then address us. [MUSIC PLAYING – “FOR I AM
CALLED BY THY NAME”] My beloved brothers
and sisters, I speak today as a
servant of the Lord and also as a great-grandfather. To you and to my
beloved posterity, I teach and bear testimony
of the remarkable gift of the Holy Ghost. I begin by acknowledging
the Light of Christ, which is given to “every
man [and woman] that cometh into the world.” All of us benefit
from this holy light. It is “in all [things]
and through all things,” and it allows us to
distinguish right from wrong. But the Holy Ghost is different
than the Light of Christ. He is the third
member of the Godhead, a distinct personage of spirit
with sacred responsibilities, and one in purpose with
the Father and the Son. As members of the Church, we
may experience the companionship of the Holy Ghost continually. Through the restored
priesthood of God, we are baptized by immersion
for the remission of our sins, then confirmed members
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this ordinance, we are given
the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of
hands of the priesthood. Thereafter, we can receive
and retain the companionship of the Holy Ghost by always
remembering the Savior, keeping His commandments,
repenting of our sins, and worthily partaking of the
sacrament on the Sabbath day. The Holy Ghost provides
personal revelation to help us make major life
decisions about such things as education, missions,
careers, marriage, children, where we will live with
our families, and so on. In these matters,
Heavenly Father expects us to use our agency,
study the situation out in our minds according
to gospel principles, and bring a decision
to Him in prayer. Personal revelation
is essential, but it is only one part of
the work of the Holy Ghost. As the scriptures
attest, the Holy Ghost also testifies of the
Savior and God the Father. He teaches us “the peaceable
things of the kingdom” and causes us to
“abound in hope.” He “leadeth [us] to do good … [and] to judge righteously.” He gives “to every
man [and woman] … a [spiritual] gift … that
all may be profited thereby.” He “giveth [us] knowledge” and
“bring”bring[s] all things to [our] remembrance.” Through the Holy Ghost, we
“may be sanctified” and receive a “remission of [our] sins.” He is the “Comforter,”
the same who was “promised unto [the Savior’s] disciples.” I might remind all of us
that the Holy Ghost is not given to control us. Some of us unwisely seek
the Holy Ghost’s direction on every minor
decision in our life. This trivializes
His sacred role. The Holy Ghost honors
the principle of agency. He speaks out to our
minds and our hearts gently about many
matters of consequence. Each of us may feel the
influence of the Holy Ghost differently. His promptings will be felt in
different degrees of intensity according to our individual
needs and circumstances. In these latter days, we
affirm that only the prophet may receive revelation
through the Holy Ghost for the entire Church. Some forget this, as when Aaron
and Miriam tried to convince Moses to agree with them. But the Lord taught them and us. He said: “If there be a
prophet among you, I the Lord will make
myself known unto him … “With him will I
speak mouth to mouth.” Sometimes the adversary
tempts us with false ideas that we may confuse
with the Holy Ghost. I testify that faithfulness
in obeying the commandments and keeping our covenants will
protect us from being deceived. Through the Holy
Ghost, we will be able to discern those
false prophets who teach for the doctrine and
the commandments of men. As we receive the Holy
Ghost for ourselves, it is wise to remember that
we cannot receive revelation for ourselves … or for others, I mean. I know of a young man
who told a young woman, “I’ve had a dream that
you are to be my wife.” You got it. The young woman pondered that
statement and then replied and responded, “When
I have the same dream, I’ll come and talk to you.” All of us may be tempted to let
our personal desires overcome the guidance of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith
pled with Heavenly Father for permission to lend the first
116 pages of the Book of Mormon to Martin Harris. Joseph thought it
was a good idea. But the Holy Ghost did not
give him confirming feelings. Eventually, Joseph
lent the papers anyway, and Martin Harris lost them. For a season, the Lord
withdrew the Prophet’s gift to translate, and he learned
a painful but valuable lesson that shaped the
remainder of his service. The Holy Ghost is central
to the Restoration. Regarding his boyhood
reading of James 1:5, the Prophet Joseph
recounted: “Never did any passage
of [the] scripture come with more power
to the heart of man than this did at
this time to mine.” The power described
by Joseph Smith was the influence
of the Holy Ghost. As a result, Joseph went into
a grove of trees near his home, knelt down to ask of God. The First Vision then
followed, was truly momentous and magnificent. But the path to the
in-person visitation with the Father and the Son
began with the promptings from the Holy Ghost to pray. The revealed truths
of the restored gospel came through the pattern
of seeking in prayer, then receiving and following the
promptings of the Holy Ghost. Consider these examples:
translating the Book of Mormon; the restoration of the
priesthood and its ordinances, beginning with baptism; and
the organization of the Church, to name a few. I testify that today, revelation
from the Lord to the First Presidency and the
Twelve comes according to these same sacred patterns. These are the same
sacred patterns that allow personal revelation. We pay tribute to all who
have followed the Holy Ghost to receive the restored gospel,
beginning with Joseph Smith’s own family members. When young Joseph told his
father about Moroni’s visit, his father received a
confirming witness for himself. Immediately, Joseph was released
from his farm responsibilities and encouraged to follow
the angel’s direction. As parents and leaders,
let us do likewise. Let us encourage our
children and others to follow the direction
of the Holy Ghost. In doing so, let us follow
the example of the Holy Ghost ourselves, leading through
gentleness, meekness, kindness, long-suffering,
and love unfeigned. The Holy Ghost is a medium
for God’s work in families and throughout the Church. With that understanding, may I
share a few personal examples of the Holy Ghost in my own
life and Church service? I offer them as a
personal witness that the Holy Ghost
blesses us all. Many years ago, Sister Hales
and I planned to host some of my work associates at a
special dinner at my home–at my home, at our home. On my way home
from the office, I had an impression to stop at
the house of a widow whom I home taught. When I knocked on the
sister’s door, she said, “I have been praying
for you to come.” Where did that
impression come from? The Holy Ghost. Once, following a
serious illness, I presided at a
stake conference. To conserve my energy, I planned
to leave the chapel immediately after the priesthood
leadership session. However, following
the benediction, I was inspired to
shake hands–in fact, the Holy Ghost said to
me, “Where are you going?” I was inspired to shake
hands with everyone as they left the room. As one young elder
stepped forward, I was prompted to give
him this special message. He was looking down, and
I waited for his eyes to come up and meet mine. And I was able to say, “Pray
to the Heavenly Father, listen to the Holy Ghost, follow
the promptings you are given, and all will be
well in your life.” Later the stake
president told me how the young man had
just returned early from his mission. Based on a clear impression,
the stake president had promised the
young man’s father that if he brought his son
to the priesthood meeting, Elder Hales would speak to him. Why did I stop and
shake everybody’s hand? Why did I pause to talk
to this special young man? What was the source
of my counsel? It’s simple. The Holy Ghost. In early 2005, I was guided to
prepare a conference message about senior missionary couples. Following the conference,
a brother recounted: “As we listened to
the conference, … immediately the Spirit of the
Lord touched my very soul. … There was no mistake. The message was for
me and my sweetheart. We were to serve a mission,
and the time was now. When I … looked at my wife, I
realized that she had received the very same impression
from the Spirit.” What had brought this strong
simultaneous response? The Holy Ghost. To my own posterity and all
within the sound of my voice, I offer my testimony of
the personal revelation and constant flow of daily
guidance and caution, encouragement, strength,
spiritual cleansing, comfort, and peace that have come to our
family through the Holy Ghost. Through the Holy
Ghost we experience “the multitude of
his tender mercies” and miracles that do not cease. I bear my special witness
that the Savior lives. I express my love and
gratitude to Heavenly Father for the gift of the Holy
Ghost, through which He reveals His will and
sustains us in our life. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. Dear brothers and sisters,
when I served in Asia, people sometimes
asked, “Elder Gong, how many people live in the
Asia Area of the Church?” I said, “Half the world’s
population–3.6 billion people.” Someone asked, “Is it hard
to remember all their names?” [LAUGHTER] Remembering–and forgetting–are
part of everyday life. For example, once,
after looking everywhere for her new mobile
phone, my wife finally decided to call
it from another phone. When she heard her phone
ring, my wife thought, “Who could be calling me? I haven’t given that
number to anyone!” [LAUGHTER] Remembering–and forgetting–are
also part of our eternal journey. Time, agency, and memory
help us learn, grow, and increase in faith. In the words of a favorite hymn: “We’ll sing all
hail to Jesus’ name, And praise and honor give. … Ye Saints, partake and testify Ye do remember him.” Each week, in partaking
of the sacrament, we covenant to
always remember Him. Drawing on a few of the more
than 400 scripture references to the word remember,
here are six ways we can always remember Him. First, we can
always remember Him by having confidence in
His covenants, promises, and assurances. The Lord remembers His
everlasting covenants–from Adam’s time to the day Adam’s
posterity “shall embrace the truth, and look upward,
then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall
shake with gladness, and the earth shall
tremble with joy.” The Lord remembers His
promises, including promises to gather scattered Israel
through the Book of Mormon: Another Testament
of Jesus Christ, and promises given to every
member and missionary who remembers the worth of souls. The Lord remembers and
assures nations and peoples. In these days of
motion and commotion, “some trust in horses,
some in chariots, but we will remember the
name of the Lord our God,” who guides “the future
as he has the past.” In “perilous
times,” we “remember that it is not the work
of God that is frustrated, but the work of men.” Second, we can
always remember Him by gratefully acknowledging
His hand throughout our lives. The Lord’s hand is often
clearest in our lives in hindsight. As Christian philosopher
Soren Kierkegaard put it, “Life must be
understood backward. But … it must
be lived forward.” My dear mother recently
celebrated her 90th birthday. She gratefully testified
of God’s blessing at each major
junction in her life. Family histories, family
traditions, and family ties help us savor
remembrance of things past while providing
future patterns and hope. Priesthood lines of authority
and patriarchal blessings witness God’s hand
across generations. Have you ever
thought of yourself as your own living book of
remembrance, reflecting what and how you choose to remember? For example, when I
was younger, I really wanted to play
school basketball. I practiced and practiced. One day the coach pointed to
our 6-foot-4 all-state center and our 6-foot-2 all-star
forward and said to me, “I can put you on the team,
but you’ll likely never play.” I remember how kindly he
then encouraged, “Why not try out for soccer? You’d be good.” My family cheered when
I scored my first goal. We can remember
those who give us a chance, and a second chance,
with honesty, kindness, patience, and encouragement. And we can become
someone others remember when they most needed help. Gratefully remembering
the assistance of others and the Spirit’s
guiding influence is a way we remember Him. It is a way we count
our many blessings and see what God hath done. Third, we can
always remember Him by trusting when the Lord
assures us “he who has repented of his sins, the same is
forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” When we fully repent, including
by confessing and forsaking our sins, we ask with Enos,
as our guilt is swept away, “Lord, how is it done?” and
hear the answer, “Because of thy faith in Christ”
and His invitation to “put me in remembrance.” Once we repent and priesthood
leaders declare us worthy, we need not continue to confess
and confess these past sins. To be worthy does not
mean to be perfect. His plan of happiness
invites us to be humbly at peace on our
life’s journey to someday become perfected in Christ, not
constantly worried, frustrated, or unhappy in our
imperfections today. Remember, He knows all the
things we don’t want anyone else to know about
us–and loves us still. Sometimes life tests our trust
in Christ’s mercy, justice, and judgment, and in His
liberating invitation to allow His Atonement
to heal us as we forgive others and ourselves. A young woman in
another country applied to work as a journalist, but
the official who assigned jobs was merciless. He said to her,
“With my signature, I guarantee you will
not become a journalist but will dig sewers.” Imagine being the
only woman digging sewers in a gang of men. Years later, this woman
became an official. One day a man came in, needing
her signature for a job. She asked, “Do you remember me?” He did not. She said, “You do not remember
me, but I remember you. With your signature,
you guaranteed I never became a journalist. With your signature, you sent
me to dig sewers, the only woman in a gang of men.” She told me, “I feel I
should treat that man better than he treated me, but I
do not have that strength.” Sometimes that strength
is not within us, but it can be found in
remembering the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. When trust is betrayed,
dreams broken, hearts shattered and
then broken again, when we want justice and need
mercy, when our fists clench and our tears flow, when we
need to know what to hold onto and what to let go of, we
can always remember Him. Life is not as cruel as
it can sometimes seem. His infinite
compassion can help us find our way, truth, and life. When we remember His
words and example, we will not give
or take offense. My friend’s father
worked as a mechanic. His honest labor showed even
in his carefully washed hands. One day someone at a temple
told my friend’s father he should clean his hands
before serving there. Instead of being
offended, this good man began to scrub the family dishes
by hand with extra soapy water before attending the temple. He exemplifies those who “ascend
into the hill of the Lord” and “stand in his holy place”
with the cleanest of hands and the purest of hearts. If we have unkind feelings,
grudges, or resentments, or if we have cause to
ask forgiveness of others, now is the time to do so. Fourth, He invites us to
remember that He always welcomes us home. We learn by asking
and searching. But please do not cease
exploration until you arrive–in the words of T.S.
Eliot–“where [you] started and know the place
for the first time.” When you are ready,
please open your heart to the Book of Mormon,
again, for the first time. Please pray with real intent,
again, for the first time. Trust that early
or faint memory. Let it enlarge your faith. With God, there is no
point of no return. Prophets ancient and modern
implore us not to let human foibles, faults, or
weaknesses–others’ or our own–cause us to miss
the truths, covenants, and redeeming power in
His restored gospel. This is especially
important in a church where we each grow through
our imperfect participation. The Prophet Joseph said, “I
never told you I was perfect; but there is no error
in the revelations which I have taught.” Fifth, we can always
remember Him on the Sabbath through the sacrament. At the end of His
mortal ministry and the beginning of His
resurrected ministry, both times, our Savior
took bread and wine and asked that we remember
His body and blood, “for as oft as ye do this ye
will remember this hour that I was with you.” In the ordinance
of the sacrament, we witness unto God
the Father that we are willing to take upon
us the name of His Son and always remember Him and
keep His commandments, which He has given us,
that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. As Amulek teaches,
we remember Him when we pray over our fields,
our flocks, and our households and when we remember the
needy, the naked, the sick, and the afflicted. Finally, sixth, our Savior
invites us to always remember Him as He always remembers us. In the New World, our
resurrected Savior invited those present
to come, one by one, to thrust their
hands into His side and to feel the prints in
His hands and in His feet. The scriptures describe
resurrection as “every limb and joint shall
be restored to … their proper and perfect frame,”
and “even a hair of the head shall not be lost.” That being so,
please consider how it is that our Savior’s
perfect, resurrected body still bears the wounds in His side
and the nail prints in His hands and feet. At times in history,
mortal men have been executed by crucifixion. But only our Savior,
Jesus Christ, embraces us still carrying
the marks of His pure love. Only He fulfills the prophecy of
being lifted up upon the cross that He might draw each
of us, by name, to Him. Our Savior declares: “Yea, they may forget, yet
[I will] not forget thee.” “Behold, I have graven thee
upon the palms of my hands.” He testifies: “I am
he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.” I humbly testify and pray that
we will always remember Him–in all times, all things, and
all places we may be in. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. “For I was an hungred, and ye
gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a
stranger, and ye took me in: “Naked, and ye clothed me. … “… Verily I say unto
you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the
least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” There are an estimated 60
million refugees in the world today, which means that
“one in every 122 humans … has been forced to
flee their homes,” and half of these are children. It is shocking to consider
the numbers involved and to reflect on what this
means in each individual life. My current assignment
is in Europe, where one and a quarter
million of these refugees have arrived over the last
year from war-torn parts of the Middle East and Africa. We see many of them coming
with only the clothes they are wearing and what they
can carry in one small bag. A large proportion of
them are well educated, and all have had to abandon
homes, schools, and jobs. Under the direction of
the First Presidency, the Church is working
with 75 organizations in 17 European countries. These organizations range
from large international institutions to small
community initiatives, from government agencies
to faith-based and secular charities. We are fortunate to
partner with and learn from others who
have been working with refugees around the
world for many years. As members of the
Church, as a people, we don’t have to look
back far in our history to reflect on times when
we were refugees, violently driven from homes and
farms over and over again. Last weekend in speaking of
refugees, Sister Linda Burton asked the women of the Church to
consider, “What if their story were my story?” Their story is our story,
not that many years ago. There are highly charged
arguments in governments and across society
regarding what is the definition of
a refugee and what should be done to assist them. These thoughts are not
intended in any way to form part of that
heated discussion, nor to comment on anyone’s
immigration policy, but rather to focus on the
people who have been driven from their homes
and their countries by wars that they had
no hand in starting. The Savior knows how it feels
to be a refugee–He was one. As a child, Jesus and
His family fled to Egypt to escape the murderous
swords of Herod. And at various points
in His ministry, He found Himself threatened
and His life in danger, ultimately submitting to
the designs of evil men who had plotted His death. Perhaps, then, it is all
the more remarkable to us that He repeatedly taught
us to love one another, to love as He loves, to love
our neighbor as ourselves. Truly, “pure religion
and undefiled before God and the
Father is this, To visit the fatherless and
widows in their affliction” and to “look to the
poor and the needy, and administer to their relief
that they shall not suffer.” It has been inspiring to witness
what Church members from around the world have
generously donated to help these individuals and
families who have lost so much. Across Europe specifically, I
have seen members of the Church who have experienced a joyful
awakening and enriching of the soul as
they have responded to that deep, innate desire
to reach out and serve those in such extreme
need around them. The Church has provided
shelter and medical care. Stakes and missions
have assembled many thousands of hygiene kits. Other stakes have provided
food, water, clothing, waterproof coats,
bicycles, books, backpacks, reading glasses, and much more. Individuals from
Scotland to Sicily have stepped in to
every conceivable role. Doctors and nurses have
volunteered their services at the point where refugees
arrive, soaked and chilled and often traumatized from
their water crossings. As refugees begin the
resettlement process, local members are
helping them learn the language of
their host country, while others are lifting
the spirits of both children and parents by providing toys,
art supplies, music, and play. Some are taking donated
yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks and teaching
these skills to local refugees, old and young. Seasoned members
of the Church who have given years of service
and leadership attest to the fact that ministering
to these people so immediately in need has provided the
richest, most fulfilling experience in their
service so far. The reality of these situations
must be seen to be believed. In winter I met,
amongst many others, a pregnant woman from Syria
in a refugee transit camp, desperately seeking
assurance that she would not need to deliver her baby on
the cold floor of the vast hall where she was housed. Back in Syria, she had been
a university professor. And in Greece, I spoke with a
family still wet, shivering, and frightened from their
crossing in a small rubber boat from Turkey. After looking into their eyes
and hearing their stories, both of the terror they had fled
and of their perilous journey to find refuge, I will
never be the same. Extending care and
aid are a vast range of dedicated relief workers,
many of them volunteers. I saw in action a member of the
Church who, for many months, worked through the
night, providing for the most immediate
needs of those arriving from Turkey into Greece. Among countless other endeavors,
she administered first aid to those in most
critical medical need; she saw that the women and
children traveling alone were cared for;
she held those who had been bereaved along
the way and did her best to allocate limited
resources to limitless need. She, as so many like her, has
been a literal ministering angel whose deeds
are not forgotten by those she cared for, nor
by the Lord, on whose errand she was. All who have given of themselves
to relieve the suffering around them are much like the
people of Alma: “And thus, in their prosperous
circumstances, they did not send away
any who were naked, or that were hungry,
or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that
had not been nourished; … they were liberal to
all, both old and young, both bond and free,
both male and female, whether out of the
church or in the church, having no respect to persons
as to those who stood in need.” We must be careful that the
news of the refugees’ plight does not become commonplace
when the initial shock wears off and yet the wars continue
and the families keep coming. Millions of refugees
worldwide, whose stories no longer make the
news, are still in desperate need of help. If you are asking,
“What can I do?” let us first remember
that we should not serve at the expense of families
and other responsibilities, nor should we expect our leaders
to organize projects for us. But as youth, men,
women, and families, we can join in this great
humanitarian endeavor. In response to the invitation
from the First Presidency to participate in Christlike
service to refugees worldwide, the general presidencies of the
Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary have
organized a relief effort entitled “I Was a Stranger.” Sister Burton introduced
this to the women of the Church last weekend in
the general women’s session. There are multiple
helpful ideas, resources, and suggestions for service
on IWasAStranger.lds.org. Begin on your knees
in prayer, then think in terms of doing
something close to home, in your own community,
where you will find people who need
help in adapting to their new circumstances. The ultimate aim is
their rehabilitation to an industrious and
self-reliant life. The possibilities for us to
lend a hand and be a friend are endless. You might help
resettled refugees learn their host
country language, update their work skills, or
practice job interviewing. You could offer to mentor
a family or a single mother as they transition to an
unfamiliar culture, even with something as simple
as accompanying them to the grocery
store or to school. Some wards and stakes have
existing trusted organizations to partner with. And, according to
your circumstances, you can give to the Church’s
extraordinary humanitarian effort. Additionally, each one of us
can increase our awareness of world events that drive
these families from their homes. We must take a stand
against intolerance and advocate respect
and understanding across cultures and traditions. Meeting refugee families
and hearing their stories with your own ears, and not
from a screen or newspaper, will change you. Real friendships
will develop and will foster compassion and
successful integration. The Lord has instructed
us that the stakes of Zion are to be “a defense” and
“a refuge from the storm.” We have found refuge. Let us come out
from our safe places and share with them, from our
abundance, hope for a brighter future, faith in God
and in our fellowman, and love that sees beyond
cultural and ideological differences to
the glorious truth that we are all children
of our Heavenly Father. “For God hath not given
us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love.” Being a refugee may
be a defining moment in the lives of those who are
refugees, but being a refugee does not define them. Like countless
thousands before them, this will be a period–we hope
a short period–in their lives. Some of them will go on
to be Nobel laureates, public servants, physicians,
scientists, musicians, artists, religious leaders, and
contributors in other fields. Indeed many of them
were these things before they lost everything. This moment does
not define them, but our response
will help define us. “Verily I say unto
you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the
least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. Thank you, brethren. On a signal from the
conductor, the congregation will stand and join in singing
with the choir “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah.” After the singing, we
will be pleased to hear from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He will be followed by Elders
Kent F. Richards and Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy. The choir will then sing
“The Day Dawn Is Breaking.” This is the 186th Annual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. [MUSIC PLAYING – “GUIDE US, O
THOU GREAT JEHOVAH”] Central to the gospel
of Jesus Christ is the Father’s
plan of salvation for the eternal progress
of His children. That plan, explained
in modern revelation, helps us understand many
things we face in mortality. My message focuses
on the essential role of opposition in that plan. The purpose of mortal life
for the children of God is to provide the
experiences needed “to progress toward
perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny
as an heir of eternal life.” As President Monson taught us
so powerfully this morning, we progress by making
choices, by which we are tested to show that we
will keep God’s commandments. To be tested, we
must have the agency to choose between alternatives. To provide alternatives on
which to exercise our agency, we must have opposition. The rest of the plan
is also essential. When we make wrong choices–as
we inevitably will–we are soiled by sin and must be
cleansed to proceed toward our eternal destiny. The Father’s plan
provides the way to do this, the way to satisfy
the eternal demands of justice: a Savior pays the price to
redeem us from our sins. That Savior is the
Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of
God the Eternal Father, whose atoning sacrifice–whose
suffering–pays the price for our sins if we
will repent of them. One of the best explanations of
the planned role of opposition is in the Book of Mormon,
in Lehi’s teachings to his son Jacob: “It must needs be, that there
is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness
could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither
holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” As a result, Lehi continued,
“the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could
not act for himself save it should be
that he was enticed by the one or the other.” Similarly, in modern
revelation the Lord declares, “It must needs be
that the devil should tempt the children of men,
or they could not be agents unto themselves.” Opposition was necessary
in the Garden of Eden. If Adam and Eve had not made
the choice that introduced mortality, Lehi taught, “they
would have remained in a state of innocence, … doing no
good, for they knew no sin.” From the beginning,
agency and opposition were central to
the Father’s plan and to Satan’s
rebellion against it. As the Lord revealed to Moses,
in the council of heaven Satan “sought to destroy
the agency of man.” That destruction was inherent
in the terms of Satan’s offer. He came before the Father
and said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son,
and I will redeem all mankind, that [not] one soul shall … be lost, and surely
I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” Thus, Satan proposed to
carry out the Father’s plan in a way that would prevent the
accomplishment of the Father’s purpose and give
Satan His glory. Satan’s proposal would have
ensured perfect equality; it would “redeem all
mankind,” that not one soul would be lost. There would be no agency
or choice by anyone, and therefore no
need for opposition. There would be no test, no
failure, and no success. There would be no
growth to attain the purpose the Father
desired for His children. The scriptures record that
Satan’s opposition resulted in a “war in heaven,”
in which two-thirds of the children of
God earned the right to experience mortal life by
choosing the Father’s plan and rejecting Satan’s rebellion. Satan’s purpose was to give
himself the Father’s honor and power. “Wherefore,” the Father said,
“because that Satan rebelled against me, … I caused that he
should be cast down” with all the spirits who
had exercised their agency to follow him. Cast down as unembodied
spirits in mortality, Satan and his followers
tempt and seek to deceive and captivate
the children of God. So it is that the evil
one, who opposed and sought to destroy the Father’s plan,
actually facilitated it, because it is opposition
that enables choice, and it is the opportunity of
making the right choices that leads to the growth that is the
purpose of the Father’s plan. Significantly, the
temptation to sin is not the only kind of
opposition in mortality. Father Lehi taught that if
the Fall had not taken place, Adam and Eve “would
have remained in a state of innocence,
having no joy, for they knew no misery.” Without the experience of
opposition in mortality, “all things must
needs be a compound in one,” in which there would
be no happiness or misery. Therefore, Father
Lehi continued, after God had
created all things, “to bring about his eternal
purposes in the end of man, … it must needs be that
there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in
opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet
and the other bitter.” His teaching on this part
of the plan of salvation concludes with these words: “Behold, all things have been
done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. “Adam fell that men
might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” Opposition in the
difficult circumstances we face in mortality
is also part of the plan that furthers
our growth in mortality. All of us experience
oppositions that test us. Some of these tests
are temptations to sin. Some are mortal challenges
apart from personal sin. Some are very great. Some are minor. Some are continuous. Some are mere episodes. None of us is exempt. Opposition permits us to
grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become. After Joseph Smith had completed
translating the Book of Mormon, he still had to
find a publisher. This was not easy. The complexity of this
lengthy manuscript and the cost of printing and
binding thousands of copies were intimidating. Joseph first approached E. B.
Grandin, a Palmyra printer, who refused. He then sought another
printer in Palmyra, who also turned him down. He traveled to
Rochester, 25 miles away, and approached the most
prominent publisher in western New York, who
also turned him down. Another Rochester
publisher was willing, but circumstances made this
alternative unacceptable. Weeks had passed,
and Joseph must have been bewildered at the
opposition to accomplishing his divine mandate. The Lord did not make it easy,
but He did make it possible. Joseph’s fifth attempt,
a second approach to the Palmyra publisher
Grandin, was successful. Years later, Joseph
was painfully imprisoned in Liberty
Jail for many months. When he prayed for
relief, the Lord told him that “all these things
shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” We are all acquainted with other
kinds of mortal opposition not caused by our personal sins,
including illness, disability, and death. President Thomas S.
Monson explained: “Some of you may at times have
cried out in your suffering, wondering why our
Heavenly Father would allow you to go through
whatever trails you are facing. … “Our mortal life,
however, was never meant to be easy or
consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father …
knows that we learn and grow and become refined
through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows,
and difficult choices. Each one of us experiences dark
days when loved ones pass away, painful times when our
health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we
love seem to have abandoned us. These and other
trials present us with the real test of
our ability to endure.” Our efforts to improve our
observance of the Sabbath day pose a less stressful
example of opposition. We have the Lord’s commandment
to honor the Sabbath. Some of our choices may
violate that commandment, but other choices in how to
spend time on the Sabbath are simply a question of whether
we will do what is merely good or what is better or best. To illustrate the opposition of
temptation, the Book of Mormon describes three
methods the devil will use in the last days. First, he will “rage in the
hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger
against that which is good.” Second, he will “pacify,
and lull [members] away into carnal security,”
saying “Zion prospereth, all is well.” Third, he will tell us
“there is no hell; and … I am no devil, for there
is none,” therefore there is no right and wrong. Because of this
opposition, we are warned not to be “at ease in Zion!” The Church in its divine mission
and we in our personal lives seem to face increasing
opposition today. Perhaps as the Church
grows in strength and we members grow in
faith and obedience, Satan increases the
strength of his opposition so we will continue to have
“opposition in all things.” Some of this opposition even
comes from Church members. Some who use personal reasoning
or wisdom to resist prophetic direction give themselves a
label borrowed from elected bodies–“the loyal opposition.” However appropriate
for a democracy, there is no warrant
for this concept in the government of God’s
kingdom, where questions are honored but opposition is not. As another example, there are
many things in our early Church history, such as what
Joseph Smith did or did not do in every
circumstance, that some use as a basis for opposition. To all I say, exercise
faith and put reliance on the Savior’s teaching
that we should “know them by their fruits.” The Church is making great
efforts to be transparent with the records we have, but
after all we can publish, our members are sometimes
left with basic questions that cannot be resolved by study. That is the Church
history version of “opposition in all things.” Some things can only
be learned by faith. Our ultimate reliance
must be faith in the witness we have
received from the Holy Ghost. God rarely infringes on the
agency of any of His children by intervening against some
for the relief of others. But He does ease the
burdens of our afflictions and strengthen us to bear them,
as he did for Alma’s people in the land of Helam. He does not prevent
all disasters, but He does answer
our prayers, as He did with the uniquely powerful
cyclone that threatened to prevent the dedication
of the temple in Fiji, or He does blunt
their effects as He did with the
terrorist bombing that took so many lives in
the Brussels airport but only injured our
four missionaries. Through all mortal
opposition, we have God’s assurance that
He will “consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain.” We have also been
taught to understand our mortal experiences
and His commandments in the context of His great plan
of salvation, which tells us the purpose of life and gives
us the assurance of a Savior, in whose name I testify of
the truth of these things. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. Just a few months before the
death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, he met with
the Twelve Apostles to talk about the greatest
needs the Church was facing in that very difficult time. He told them, “We need the
temple more than anything else.” Surely, today in these
trying times, each of us and our families need the
temple more than anything else. During a recent
temple dedication, I was thrilled with
the entire experience. I loved the open
house, greeting many of the visitors who
came to see the temple; the cultural celebration
with the vibrancy and excitement of
the youth; followed by the wonderful
dedicatory sessions. The Spirit was sweet. Many people were blessed. And then the next
morning, my wife and I entered the baptismal font
to participate in baptisms for some of our own ancestors. As I raised my arm to
begin the ordinance, I was nearly overcome by
the power of the Spirit. I realized again that the
real power of the temple is in the ordinances. As the Lord has revealed, the
fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood is found in the
temple and its ordinances, “for therein are the keys of
the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive
honor and glory.” “Therefore, in the ordinances
thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.” This promise is for you
and for your family. Our responsibility
is to “receive” that which our Father offers. “For unto him that receiveth it
shall be given more abundantly, even power”: power to receive
all that He can and will give us–now and eternally; power
to become sons and daughters of God, to know the “powers of
heaven,” to speak in His name, and to receive the
“power of [His] Spirit.” These powers become available
personally to each one of us through the ordinances and
covenants of the temple. Nephi saw our day
in his great vision: “I, Nephi, beheld the
power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon
the saints of the church of the Lamb, and
upon the covenant people of the Lord,
who were scattered upon all the face of
the earth; and they were armed with righteousness
and with the power of God in great glory.” I had the privilege recently
of being in a temple open house with President Russell M. Nelson
and his family as he gathered them around the sealing altar
and explained to them that everything we do in the
Church–every meeting, activity, lesson, and
service–is to prepare each of us to come to the temple and
kneel at the altar to receive all the Father’s promised
blessings for eternity. As we feel the blessings of
the temple in our own lives, our hearts turn to our
families, both living and dead. Recently, I witnessed a
three-generation family participate in baptisms
together for their ancestors. Even the grandmother
participated–though she had some trepidation about going
under the water herself. As she emerged from the
water and hugged her husband, she had tears of joy. The grandfather and father then
baptized each other and many of the grandchildren. What greater joy could a
family experience together? Each temple has a
family priority time to allow you as a family to
schedule time in the baptistry. Shortly before his death,
President Joseph F. Smith received the vision of the
redemption of the dead. He taught that those who
are in the spirit world are fully dependent
upon the ordinances that we receive on their behalf. The scripture
reads, “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through
obedience to the ordinances of the house of God.” We receive the ordinances
in their behalf, but they make and
are held accountable for each covenant associated
with each ordinance. Surely, the veil is
thin for us and parts completely for
them in the temple. What then is our
personal responsibility to be engaged in this work,
both as patrons and as workers? The Prophet Joseph Smith
taught the Saints in 1840 that “considerable
exertion must be made, and means will be required–and
as the work [to build the temple] must be
hastened in righteousness, it behooves the Saints to weigh
the importance of these things in their minds, … and
then take such steps as are necessary to carry
them into operation; and arming themselves
with courage, resolve to do all they can,
and feel themselves as much interested as though the whole
labor depended on themselves alone.” In the book of
Revelation we read: “What are these which are
arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? “… These are they which came
out of great tribulation, and have washed their
robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore are they
before the throne of God, and serve him day and
night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the
throne shall dwell among them.” Can’t you just see
in your mind’s eye those who serve in
the temple today? There are more than
120,000 ordinance workers in the 150 operating
temples around the world. Yet there is opportunity
for even more to have this sweet experience. When President
Gordon B. Hinckley announced the concept
of many smaller temples throughout the world, he taught
that “all ordinance workers would be local people
who would serve in other capacities in
their wards and stakes.” Normally, workers are called to
serve for two to three years, with the possibility
of extending beyond. It is not intended that
once you are called, you will stay as
long as you are able. Many long-serving
workers carry their love for the temple with them as
they are released and allow other, new workers to serve. Nearly 100 years ago,
Apostle John A. Widtsoe taught: “We need more
workers to accomplish [this] wonderful work. … We need more converts to temple
work, drawn from all ages. … The time has come, … in
this new temple movement, to bring into active service
all the people, of all ages. … Temple work is … of as
much benefit to the young and the active, as
it is to the aged, who have laid behind them
many of the burdens of life. The young man needs his
place in the temple even more than his father and
his grandfather, who are steadied by
a life of experience; and the young girl,
just entering life, needs the spirit,
influence and direction that come from participation
in the temple ordinances.” In many temples,
temple presidents are welcoming newly called and
endowed missionaries, young men and women, to serve for just a
short time as ordinance workers before going to the MTC. These young people are
not only blessed to serve, but “they enhance
the beauty and spirit for all serving in the temple.” I asked a number of
young men and women who have served before
and after their missions to share their feelings. They used phrases
like the following to describe their
experience in the temple: When I serve in
the temple, I feel “a sense of being closer to
my Father and the Savior”; I feel “complete
peace and happiness”; I have a feeling
of “being home”; I receive “sacredness,
power, and strength”; I feel “the importance
of my sacred covenants”; “The temple has become a part
of me”; “Those whom we serve are close during
the ordinances”; “It gives me the strength
to overcome temptations”; and “The temple has
changed my life forever.” Serving in the temple is a
rich and powerful experience for people of all ages. Even some newly married
couples are serving together. President Nelson has taught,
“Service in the temple … is a sublime activity
for a family.” As ordinance
workers, in addition to receiving ordinances
for your ancestors, you can also officiate
in ordinances for them. As Wilford Woodruff said: “What greater calling
can any man [or woman] have on the face of the earth
than to hold in his [or her] hands power and authority
to go forth and administer in the ordinances of salvation? … “… You become an instrument
in the hands of God in the salvation of that soul. There is nothing
given to the children of men that is equal to it.” He continues: “The sweet whisperings
of the Holy Spirit will be given to [you] and
the treasures of Heaven, the communion of angels, will
be added from time to time.” “This is worth all
you or I can sacrifice [during] the few years we have
to spend here in the flesh.” President Monson
recently reminded us that “the blessings of
the temple are priceless.” “No sacrifice is too great.” Come to the temple. Come often. Come with and for your family. Come, and help
others to come too. “What are these which
are arrayed in white?” My brothers and
sisters, you are they, you who have received the
ordinances of the temple, who have kept your covenants
even by sacrifice, and you who are
helping your families find the blessings
of temple service and who have helped
others along the way. Thank you for your service. I testify that each temple
is His holy, sacred house and that therein each
of us may learn and know the powers of godliness. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. A week ago was Easter,
and our thoughts were focused again
on the atoning sacrifice and Resurrection
of the Lord Jesus Christ. This past year I have been
thinking and pondering about the Resurrection
more than normal. Nearly one year ago,
our daughter Alisa died. She had struggled with cancer
for almost eight years, with several surgeries,
many different treatments, exciting miracles, and
deep disappointments. We watched her
physical condition deteriorate as she came to
the close of her mortal life. It was excruciating to see
that happen to our precious daughter–that bright-eyed
little baby who had grown up to be a talented, wonderful
woman, wife, and mother. I thought my heart would break. Last Easter, a little over a
month before she passed away, Alisa wrote: “Easter
is a reminder of all that I hope for myself. That someday I will be healed,
and someday I will be whole. Someday I won’t have any
metal or plastic inside of me. Someday my heart
will be free of fear and my mind free of anxieties. I am not praying that
this happens soon, but I am so glad I truly believe
in a beautiful afterlife.” The Resurrection of Jesus
Christ ensures the very things Alisa hoped for and instills
in each of us “a reason [for] the hope that is in [us].” President Gordon B. Hinckley
referred to the Resurrection as “the greatest of all events
in the history of mankind.” The Resurrection
is brought to pass by the Atonement of
Jesus Christ and is pivotal to the great
plan of salvation. We are spirit children
of heavenly parents. When we come to this
earth life, our spirit is united with our body. We experience all the
joys and challenges associated with mortal life. When a person dies, their spirit
is separated from their body. Resurrection makes it possible
for a person’s spirit and body to be united again, only this
time that body will be immortal and perfect–not subject
to pain, disease, or other problems. After resurrection, the
spirit will never again be separated from the
body because the Savior’s Resurrection brought
total victory over death. In order to obtain
our eternal destiny, we need to have this immortal
soul–a spirit and body–united forever. With spirit and immortal
body inseparably connected, we can “receive a
fulness of joy.” In fact, without
the Resurrection, we could never receive
a fulness of joy but would be miserable forever. Even faithful, righteous
people view the separation of their bodies from their
spirits as captivity. We are released
from this captivity through the Resurrection, which
is redemption from the bands or chains of death. There is no salvation without
both our spirit and our body. Each of us has physical, mental,
and emotional limitations and weaknesses. These challenges, some of
which seem so intractable now, will eventually be resolved. None of these problems
will plague us after we are resurrected. Alisa researched survival
rates for persons with the type of cancer
she had, and the numbers were not encouraging. She wrote: “But there is
a cure, so I’m not scared. Jesus has already cured
my cancer, and yours.” We can replace the
word cancer with any of the other physical,
mental, or emotional ailments we may face. Because of the
Resurrection, they have already been cured too. The miracle of resurrection,
the ultimate cure, is beyond the power
of modern medicine. But it is not beyond
the power of God. We know it can be done
because the Savior is resurrected and will bring to
pass the resurrection of each of us too. The Resurrection of
the Savior proves that He is the Son of God and
that what He taught is real. “He is risen, as he said.” There could be no stronger
proof of His divinity than Him coming forth from the
grave with an immortal body. We know of witnesses
to the Resurrection in New Testament times. In addition to the women and men
we read about in the Gospels, the New Testament assures
us that hundreds actually saw the resurrected Lord. And the Book of Mormon
tells of many hundreds more: “The multitude went forth, and
thrust their hands into his side, … and [they] did see
with their eyes and did feel with their hands,
and did know of a surety and did bear record,
that it was he, of whom it was written by the
prophets, that should come.” To those ancient witnesses
are added witnesses in the latter days. In fact, in the opening
scene of this dispensation, Joseph Smith saw the resurrected
Savior with the Father. Living prophets
and apostles have testified of the reality of
the resurrected, living Christ. So we may say, “We
also are compassed about with so great a
cloud of witnesses.” And each of us can be part of
a cloud of witnesses who knows through the power of the Holy
Ghost that what we celebrate on Easter actually
happened–that the Resurrection is real. The reality of the Resurrection
of the Savior overwhelms our heartbreak with hope because
with it comes the assurance that all of the other promises
of the gospel are just as real–promises that are
no less miraculous than the Resurrection. We know He has the power to
cleanse us from all our sins. We know He has taken upon
Himself all our infirmities, pains, and the injustices
we have suffered. We know that he has
“rise”rise[n] from the dead, with healing in his wings.” We know that He can
make us whole no matter what is broken in us. We know that He “shall wipe
away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more
death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall
there be any more pain.” We know that we can be “made
perfect through Jesus … , who wrought out this
perfect atonement,” if we will just have
faith and follow Him. Toward the end of the
inspiring oratorio Messiah, Handel put to beautiful music
the Apostle Paul’s words that rejoice over the Resurrection. “Behold, I [tell] you a
mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, “In a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, at the last [trumpet]: … the trumpet shall
sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed. “For this corruptible
must put on incorruption, and this mortal must
put on immortality. “… Then shall be brought to pass
the saying that is written, Death is swallowed
up in victory. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? … “But thanks be to
God, which giveth us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ.” I am grateful for
the blessings that are ours because of the
Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For all who have laid
a child in a grave or wept over the
casket of a spouse or grieved over the death of a
parent or someone they loved, the Resurrection is a
source of great hope. What a powerful
experience it will be to see them again,
not just as spirits but with resurrected bodies. I long to see my mother again
and feel her gentle touch and look into her loving eyes. I want to see my father’s
smile and hear his laugh and see him as a
resurrected, perfect being. With an eye of faith, I
picture Alisa completely beyond the reach of any earthly
troubles or any sting of death–a resurrected,
perfected Alisa, victorious and with
a fulness of joy. A few Easters ago, she wrote
simply: “Life through His name. So much hope. Always. Through everything. I love Easter to remind me.” I testify of the reality
of the Resurrection. Jesus Christ lives, and because
of Him, we will all live again. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING – “THE DAY DAWN
IS BREAKING”] Brothers and sisters,
dear friends, as we come to the conclusion
of this wonderful general conference, we express
sincere appreciation and extend our
blessings to all who have worked so diligently to
prepare for these services. We thank those who
have spoken and those who have provided
the uplifting music. Our concluding speaker
for this session will be Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Following his remarks, the
choir will close this conference by singing “Sing
We Now at Parting.” The benediction will then be
offered by Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy, and
this general conference will be adjourned. Brothers and sisters,
do you have any idea, do you have any notion or
inkling whatsoever of how much we love you? For 10 hours you watch, fixed
on one face at this pulpit, sequentially. But for those same
10 hours, those of us seated behind this
pulpit are fixed on you. You thrill us to the
center of our soul. Whether that’s the 21,000
here in the Conference Center or multitudes in meetinghouses
and chapels or, finally, millions around the globe,
in homes in some distant location–maybe huddled around
a family computer screen–there you are, here you are, hour
after hour in your Sunday best, being your best. You sing and you pray,
wherever you are in the world. You listen and you believe. You are the miracle of this
Church, and we love you. What another remarkable,
wonderful general conference we’ve had. We’ve especially been blessed
by President Monson’s presence and his prophetic messages. President, we love you. We pray for you. We thank you. And above all, we sustain you. We are grateful to
have been taught by you and your marvelous
counselors and so many of our other
great men and women leaders who have
come to this pulpit. We’ve heard, again and again,
always incomparable music. We’ve been urgently
prayed for and pled with. Truly the Spirit of the Lord
has been here in rich abundance. What an inspirational weekend it
has been, again, in every way. Now, I do see a
couple of problems. One is the fact that
I am the only person standing between you and
the ice cream you always have ready at the close
of general conference. [LAUGHTER] I feel the weight
of that burden. [LAUGHTER] The other potential problem
is captured in this photo that I saw recently
on the Internet. Now, my apologies to all
of the children who are now under the sofa, but the fact
of the matter is, none of us want tomorrow, or
the day after that, to destroy the
wonderful feelings we have had this weekend. We want to hold fast to the
spiritual impressions we’ve had and the inspired
teachings we have heard. But it is inevitable that after
heavenly moments in our lives, we, of necessity, return
to earth, so to speak, where sometimes less-than-ideal
circumstances again face us. Paul warned us of this when
he wrote, “Call to remembrance the former days, in which,
after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great
fight of afflictions.” That post-illumination
affliction can come in many ways, and
it can come to all of us. Surely every missionary
who has ever served soon realized that
life in the field wasn’t going to be quite
like the rarified atmosphere of the missionary
training center. So too for all of
us upon leaving a sweet session in the temple
or concluding a particularly spiritual sacrament meeting. Remember that when Moses
came down from his singular experience on Mount
Sinai, he found his people had
“corrupted themselves,” it said, and had
“turned aside quickly.” There they were at the
foot of the mountain, busily fashioning a
gold calf to worship, in the very hour that Jehovah,
at the summit of the mountain, had been telling Moses, “Thou
shalt have no other gods before me,” and “Thou
shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” Moses was not happy with his
flock of wandering Israelites that day! During His earthly ministry,
Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the Mount
of Transfiguration, where, the scriptures say,
“his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was
white as the light.” The heavens opened,
ancient prophets came, and God the Father spoke. After such a
celestial experience, what does Jesus come down
the mountain to find? Well, first, an argument
between His disciples and their antagonists
over a failed blessing administered to a young boy. Then He tried to convince
the Twelve–unsuccessfully, it turns out–that He would soon
be delivered up to local rulers who would kill Him. Then someone reminded
that a tax was due, which was forthrightly paid. Then He had to rebuke
some of the brethren because they were
arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom. All this led Him to say: “O
faithless generation, … how long shall I suffer you?” He had occasion to ask that
question more than once during His ministry. No wonder He longed for
the prayerful solitude of mountaintops! Realizing that we all have to
come down from peak experiences to deal with the regular
vicissitudes of life, may I offer this encouragement
as general conference concludes. First of all, if
in the days ahead you see not only limitations
in those around you but also find elements
in your own life that don’t yet measure
up to the messages you’ve have this weekend, please
don’t be cast down in spirit and don’t give up. The gospel, the Church, these
wonderful semiannual gatherings are intended to give
hope and inspiration. They’re not intended
to discourage you. Only the adversary,
the enemy of us all, would try to convince us
that the ideals outlined in general conference are
depressing and unrealistic, that people don’t
really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer
give that speech? Because he knows
he can’t improve, he can’t progress,
that worlds without end he will never have
a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound
by eternal limitations, and he wants you to
be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. With the gift of the
Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven
to help us, we can improve, and the great thing
about the gospel is we get credit for trying,
even if we don’t always succeed. When there was a controversy in
the early Church regarding who was entitled to heaven’s
blessings and who wasn’t, the Lord declared
to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Verily I say unto you,
[the gifts of God] are given for the benefit of those
who love me and keep … my commandments, and [for them]
that seeketh so to do.” Boy, aren’t we all thankful for
that added provision, “and … seeketh so to do”! That has been a lifesaver
because sometimes that is all we can offer! We take some solace in
the fact that if God were to reward only
the perfectly faithful, He wouldn’t have much
of a distribution list. Please, please remember
tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the
Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept
the need for commandments and try to keep them, who
cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of
their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that
pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to
help you keep going. If you fall, summon
His strength. Call out, like Alma, “O
Jesus, … have mercy on me.” He’ll help you to get back up. He’ll help you repent, and
repair, and fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have
the success you seek. “As you desire of me so it
shall be done unto you,” the Lord has declared. “… Put your trust in that Spirit
which leadeth to do good–yea, to do justly, to walk
humbly, to judge righteously. … “… [Then] whatsoever you
desire of me [in] righteousness … you shall receive.” I love that doctrine! It says again and
again and again that we’re going to be blessed
for our desire to do good, even as we actually strive to be so. And it reminds us that to
qualify for those blessings, we must make certain we do
not deny them to others: we are to deal justly, never
unjustly, never unfairly; we’re to walk humbly, never
arrogantly, never pridefully; we’re to judge righteously,
never self righteously or unrighteously. My brothers and sisters, the
first great commandment of all eternity is to love God
with all our heart, might, mind and strength–that’s the
first great commandment–but the first great truth of all
eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart,
might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation
stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation
stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that
reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the
confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking
forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that
grace to our neighbor. President George Q.
Cannon once taught: “No matter how
serious the trial, how deep the distress, how
great the affliction [God] will never desert us. He never has, and He never will. He cannot do it. It is not His
character [to do so]. … He will [always] stand by us. We may pass through
the fiery furnace; we may pass through deep waters;
but we shall not be consumed nor overwhelmed. We shall emerge from all these
trials and these difficulties the better and the
purer for them.” Now, with that majestic
devotion ringing from heaven as the great constant
in our lives, manifested most purely and
perfectly in the life, death, and Atonement of the
Lord Jesus Christ, we can escape the consequences
of both sin and stupidity–our own or that of others–in
whatever form they may come to us in the course
of daily living. If we give our heart to God, if
we love the Lord Jesus Christ, if we do the best we
can to live the gospel, then tomorrow and
every other day is ultimately going to be
magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly
Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant,
and eternal life is the very object of His
merciful plan for His children! It is a plan
predicated on the truth “that all things work
together for good to them that love God.” So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on
today, tomorrow, and forever. “Hast thou not known? hast thou not
heard,” Isaiah cried. “”[God] giveth
power to the faint; and to them that have no
might he increaseth strength. … “They that wait upon [Him]
shall renew their strength; they shall mount up
with wings as eagles. … “For … the Lord … God will hold [their] right
hand, saying unto [them], Fear not; I will help thee.” Brothers and sisters, may
a loving Father in Heaven bless us tomorrow to
remember how we felt today. May He bless us to strive with
patience and persistence toward the ideals we have heard,
and heard proclaimed this conference weekend, knowing that
His divine love and unfailing help will be with us even
when we struggle–no, will be with us especially
when we struggle. If gospel standards seem high
and the personal improvement needed in the days ahead
seems out of reach, remember Joshua’s
encouragement to his people when they faced a
daunting future. “Sanctify yourselves,”
he said, “for to morrow the Lord will do
wonders among you.” I declare that same promise. It is the promise
of this conference. It is the promise
of this Church. It is the promise of Him
who performs those wonders, who is Himself “Wonderful,
Counselor, the mighty God, … the Prince of Peace.” Of Him, I bear witness,
of Him I am a witness, and to Him this
conference stands as a testament in this ongoing
work in this latter day. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING – “SING WE NOW AT
PARTING”] Our Father in
Heaven, we love Thee, and we love Thy
Son, Jesus Christ. We are grateful for
Thy plan of happiness. We have been instructed today. We have been edified
and sanctified by the power of the
Holy Ghost, and pray that we may now go forward and
bind ourselves in all holiness before Thee. We pray, Father,
that we may always choose the tougher
right, or the harder right, as Thou has instructed us
through our wonderful prophet, President Thomas Monson. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. This has been a broadcast
of the 186th Annual General Conference of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Speakers were selected from
the General Authorities and general officers
of the Church. Music was provided by the
Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This broadcast has been
furnished as a public service by Bonneville Distribution. Any reproduction,
recording, transcription, or other use of this program
without written consent is prohibited.

9 comments

  1. the conference never ceases to amaze me ,yes spencer it really touched me its the first time I have seen him that emotional…and elder Holland…  our prophets and apostles have so much love for us all..  It made  me feel  very  emotional and  uplifted  my spirits ….we are so very blessed…

  2. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! We are all so blessed!!! May our hearts be opened to grow and apply when we hear truth!!! His church is truth it is who he is and I am so very grateful for my personal testimony of him and his gospel! It has saved my soul and his atonement daily walks me thru hard times and allows me to choose joy and feel that(even when I thought I couldn't)! Never forget eternal perspective in this life, it is how our Heavenly Father sees all things, our potential, our eternal salvation!!! He loves you, show him how much you love him!!! It is worth it!!!!!!!

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