I’m grateful for a living prophet who helps bring hope to the world.
Ancient and modern prophets have warned repeatedly of what follows, if people and nations turn away from God, abandon their moral foundations and allow wickedness to rule their lives and their societies. Numerous examples offer critical instruction and a desperate warning for the time we live in.
Ancient and modern prophets have warned repeatedly of what follows, if people and nations turn away from God, abandon their moral foundations and allow wickedness to rule their lives and their societies. Numerous examples offer critical instruction and warning for the time we live in.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in his time, declaring to the people, “…Amend your ways and your doings, …if ye thoroughly execute judgement between a man and his neighbor; If ye oppress not the stranger, and fatherless, and the widow, …neither walk after other gods… Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7:3-7)
In the Book of Mormon during a time just before the birth of Jesus Christ, we read of a civilization in dire circumstances, where many of the people had become hardened with great wickedness. Ultimately, two nations of people faced destruction at the hands of a large army of men, known as the Gadianton robbers, who had banded together to support one another as they robbed, plundered and terrorized the two nations. The people who desired peace and righteousness eventually united. Their righteous leader declared, “As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton robbers.” (3 Nephi 3:15)
In the New Testament, Jesus lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” (Mathew 23:37-38)
The people from the civilizations mentioned above who responded to the prophet’s warnings, found peace and protection in following the words of God. However, many who chose not to listen to the prophets were eventually destroyed. Will we hear the warning today?
The ancient prophet Mormon foresaw the modern world, and wrote, “…there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, …unto envying, and strifes and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; …For behold ye do love money, and your substance, … more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:36-37)
James, who is commonly believed to be the brother of Jesus, wrote: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. …Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:8,10)
King Benjamin, beloved by his people, taught them: “And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.” (Mosiah 4:10)
What promise do we have if we follow the prophets’ warnings, repent and forsake our sins, and choose God? “…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18)
This is not the easy path, but it is the better path and it ultimately leads to peace and eternal joy. I know that the Savior, Jesus Christ, has the power to cleanse us, heal us, change our hearts and minds, and pardon sin. He is our judge and also our advocate. His plea on behalf of those who choose to follow Him is this: “spare these… that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life”. (D&C 45:3-5)
In church the other day a missionary spoke and shared the story of when his father was being taught by the missionaries. His father had been meeting with LDS missionaries for a while and was skeptical of the fact that we claim to have a living prophet that receives revelation to lead and guide the church. One day the missionary told him boldly, why wouldn’t there be a prophet alive today? With all the turmoil in the world, with all the wars and political and social conflict and unrest? With all the immorality in the world? Why wouldn’t God send a prophet like he did in other times of the world’s history to help show us the way? Why not now? He has sent a prophet today!
I share my own testimony that God loves all of his children throughout history and sends prophets, even today to teach us the truth, and sometimes just to remind us of what is right. Here’s some recent words from President Monson on the happiness that comes from following God’s laws and not giving in to voices that would persuade us to do otherwise:
Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.”7 We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”8
I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls: Just this once won’t matter; everyone is doing it; don’t be old-fashioned; times have changed; it can’t hurt anyone; your life is yours to live. The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.
Great courage will be required as we remain faithful and true amid the ever-increasing pressures and insidious influences with which we are surrounded and which distort the truth, tear down the good and the decent, and attempt to substitute the man-made philosophies of the world. If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them.
May we realize that our greatest happiness in this life will come as we follow God’s commandments and obey His laws! I love the words found in Isaiah chapter 32, verse 17: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Such peace, such assurance can come only through righteousness.
A great message for anyone who struggles with sore trials, and especially for those who struggle with sore trials that those around them don’t always understand even though they may care for the one who is struggling and try to understand. It’s evident to me that Elder Holland has struggled through much of the worst of such trials and I feel that he speaks here with authenticity, as one who does understand to great extent what it’s like.
[Some favorite excerpts]
Of course our faith will be tested as we fight through …self-doubts and second thoughts. Some days we will be miraculously led out of Egypt—seemingly free, seemingly on our way—only to come to yet another confrontation, like all that water lying before us. At those times we must resist the temptation to panic and give up. At those times fear will be the strongest of the adversary’s weapons against us.
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. … The Lord shall fight for you.” In confirmation the great Jehovah said to Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”
…Remember what the Savior said to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. What was the problem in 1820? Why was Joseph not to join another church? It was at least in part because “they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” God’s grace is sufficient! The Lord would tell Joseph again and again that just as in days of old the children of Israel would be “led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. … Therefore, let not your hearts faint. … Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.”
What goodly land? Well, your goodly land. Your promised land. Your new Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny.
…Fighting through darkness and despair and pleading for the light is what opened this dispensation. It is what keeps it going, and it is what will keep you going. With Paul, I say to all of you:
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”
I really liked the way Elder Bednar presented this topic of social media and sharing the gospel, noting that it’s not about one person trying to be the flood themselves, rather just using the social media tools you normally use in a simple way.
Prior to Joseph Smith’s father’s death his family gathered at his bedside, spoke with him and he gave each member of his family a blessing. This account was written by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith. I find it to be a great insight into the prophet, his parents and family. This occurred about 4 years before Joseph and Hyrum’s martyrdom. Here’s an excerpt from the account:
…Hyrum bent over his father and said: “Father, if you are taken away, will you not intercede for us at the throne of grace, that our enemies may not have so much power over us?”
He then laid his hands upon Hyrum’s head and said: “My son, Hyrum, I seal upon your head your patriarchal blessing, which I placed upon your head before, for that shall be verified. In addition to this, I now give you my dying blessing. You shall have a season of peace, so that you shall have sufficient rest to accomplish the work which God has given you to do. You shall be as firm as the pillars of heaven unto the end of your days. I now seal upon your head the patriarchal power, and you shall bless the people. This is my dying blessing upon your head in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
To Joseph he said: “‘Joseph, my son, you are called to a high and holy calling. You are even called to do the work of the Lord. Hold out faithful and you shall be blest and your children after you. You shall even live to finish your work.’ At this Joseph cried out, weeping, ‘Oh! My father, shall I?’ ‘Yes,’ said his father, ‘you shall live to lay out the plan of all the work which God has given you to do. This is my dying blessing upon your head in the name of Jesus. I also confirm your former blessing upon your head; for it shall be fulfilled. Even so. Amen.'”
…he spoke to me [Lucy Mack Smith], and said:
“‘Mother, do you not know, that you are one of the most singular women in the world?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I do not.’ ‘Well I do,’ he continued, ‘you have brought up my children for me by the fireside, and when I was gone from home, you comforted them. You have brought up all my children, and could always comfort them when I could not. We have often wished that we might both die at the same time, but you must not desire to die when I do, for you must stay to comfort the children when I am gone. So do not mourn, but try to be comforted. Your last days shall be your best days, as to being driven, for you shall have more power over your enemies than you have had. Again I say, be comforted.'”
A few of my favorite quotes from the recent general conference:
“In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return. You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead.”
–Elder Andersen, Spiritual Whirlwinds
“Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.”
–President Uchtdorf, Grateful in Any Circumstances
“…there has been a long history of rejection and a painfully high price paid by prophets and apostles, missionaries and members …In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship). …Friends, especially my young friends, take heart. Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.”
–Elder Holland, The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship
“Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering.”
–President Packer, The Witness
“We live in a world where moral values have, in great measure, been tossed aside, where sin is flagrantly on display …decisions are constantly before us which can determine our destiny… We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us—all of us—have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval.”
–President Monson, Be Strong and of a Good Courage
I add my testimony that I know these men are are living prophets of God, called of him to declare his words.
I remember while growing up my parents would often have conference playing on the radio on conference Saturday but I wasn’t usually very excited about it. My thought was basically, church/conference on Saturday? Who would do that? But my tastes and understanding have improved as I’ve gotten older.
I watched all 5 sessions of general conference this weekend and found them all to have valuable messages I needed to hear. However it was the Sunday morning session that I found to be the most powerful. I was eagerly watching, listening for quotes that would help me– the Lord gave me something more meaningful and more lasting through the Holy Ghost that I won’t forget. As I listened to the prophet speak Sunday morning I felt an overwhelming impression from the Holy Ghost that President Monson was indeed called of God to be a prophet, and that he was prepared and lived a life consistently in line with God’s commandments, that he is guided and directed today by God through revelation to lead the Lord’s church and that he is leading us by example. No force on Earth and no power of darkness can take that knowledge from me. The Holy Ghost has borne witness to me of this and left no doubt. I already knew it but the Lord deepened my testimony. What a great blessing!
Some favorite quotes:
“Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity.”
“…your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.”
“It is only with the companionship of the Holy Ghost that we can hope to be equally yoked in a marriage, free from discord…the miracle of becoming one requires the help of heaven and it takes time.
Pres. Eyring explained how he has prayed for some members of his family that angels would attend them during difficult times in their relationships. This point of needing angels and the Holy Ghost to help overcome relationship struggles is one that was very timely for me. I really like how he went on to emphasize the reality of angels watching over us:
…There is not one of us, but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that he has not been cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that he has not desired to save, and that he has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that he has not given his angels charge concerning us. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God and that he has actually given his angels, invisible beings of power and might, charge concerning us and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”
–President Eyring quoting Pres. Canon
I don’t know a lot about Elder Vinson but I loved his talk from Sunday afternoon. I also felt bad for him having to deal with the fly buzzing around him as he spoke, how frustrating is that? But he handled it with dignity. I’m not sure but they may have edited that out in the recorded version of the video. This is the quote from him:
“[Speaking of the story of the brother of Jared] …the Lord not only left temporarily unsolved the challenge of how to provide light, but he then made it clear that he the lord would allow the buffetings and trials that necessitated its solving. He it would be, that would send forth the winds, the rains and the floods. Why would he do that? And why does he warn any of us to remove ourselves from the source of danger, when he could simply stop the danger from happening? …Rather than solve the problem himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon him in solving our problems, and trust him. Then we can feel his love more constantly, more powerfully more clearly, and more personally. We become united with him, and we can become like him.”
–Elder Terence M. Vinson
Elder Holland is full of surprises. I certainly didn’t expect this talk from him, but I was pleasantly surprised that he would address such a difficult subject, depression, in a conference talk. To know he’s dealt with depression makes it seem more ok to have experienced it, and makes him that much more of hero to me for who he has become.
“Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”
“Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead”
More good quotes:
“The scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection. They contain the doctrine and laws and ordinances that will bring each child of God to a testimony of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.”
“The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel.
…peace can be settled in the heart of each who turns to the scriptures and unlocks the promises of protection and redemption that are taught therein. ”
“It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed. We can become virtuous and pure. However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit.
Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence. We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements.
…The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy …repentance is not punishment. It is a hope-filled path to a brighter future.”
“There is no greater joy in life than being anxiously engaged in the service of the Lord.”
“In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected.
…“The only safety we have as members of this church is to … give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your [personal] views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’.
–Elder Hales (second paragraph quoting Pres. Harold B. Lee)
Checkout out the archive page on LDS.org to watch or listen to the other talks given during the conference:
October 2013 LDS General Conference Archive
So yes I’m copying this idea from another blog post, actually several other blog posts. I don’t mind though because I have some of my own reasons, or at least my own perspective on why LDS general conference is awesome. Here’s a few reasons, in no particular order:
1. Quotes. I need more power quotes that I can glance at daily to feel more inspired and motivated. I’ve mentioned this before, on my desk I have a stack of 3×5 cards, each card contains a quote that is meaningful to me. I flip through them often. Reading these regularly helps keep me grounded and helps bring the Spirit into my life more. The quotes are often played back in my mind when I need them. The talks given by the speakers in conference never fail to produce several powerful quotes that I will treasure for months and years to come. After all, we get to sit and listen to prophets of God give us inspired counsel and direction. Of course there will be something in there, many things in there that I need to hear personally. And there always is. Can’t wait!
2. The Priesthood Session. Ok so for the first time it will be streamed live and we don’t have to go to a chapel to watch the satellite broadcast of this session. That’s cool, but I’ve always liked getting together with my Dad and my brother to watch that session. There’s a feeling of unity that comes to us when we go together. It’s a family tradition, just like it is for my sister and Mom to get together to watch the Relief Society session. I also love the feeling of standing and singing with the congregation at the broadcast. I will miss that. But I can’t wait to see in what ways we’re rebuked and nurtured by the speakers.
3. Another Elder Holland talk to memorize. I’ve been trying to memorize, word for word, a few of Elder Holland’s talks. Even though I probably only have about 50% of each of those talks committed to memory they continue to inspire me. Plus to be fair, some of them are over 20 minutes long. Who speaks with more candor, more boldness, and more power than Elder Holland?
4. No church meetings. I know other people have given this same point for liking conference. I love church, I need church every week, I look forward to taking the sacrament at church. But not having extra morning meetings, not having to work on preparing a lesson or work on coordinating other church things is nice, at least every 6 months or so. Any more than that and I would miss it.
All sessions of Lds conference are streamed live on Oct 5th and 6th this year, 2013. Don’t sleep in too late tomorrow because the first session starts at 10:00 AM MDT.
“Please don’t nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept of your effort.”
–Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rise to the Stature of the Divine within You,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 94