From the Conference Center
at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, this is the
Saturday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual
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. The music for this
session is provided by a combined choir of
individuals residing in stakes in the Provo, Utah, area. 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 Dallin H.
Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency
of the Church, will conduct this session. Brothers and sisters,
we welcome you to the Saturday afternoon
session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Russell M. Nelson,
who presides at the conference, has asked that I
conduct this session. We extend our
greetings to all who are in attendance or
who are participating by means of television,
radio, or the internet. We likewise welcome
those who are viewing the proceedings in stake centers
in various parts of the world where the conference
is being carried by satellite transmission. The music for this
session will be provided by a combined choir of
individuals residing in stakes in the Provo, Utah, area under
the direction of Jim Kasen, with Joseph Peeples
at the organ. The choir will open
this meeting by singing “The Lord Is My Light.” The invocation will then be
offered by Elder Matthew L. Carpenter of the Seventy. [MUSIC PLAYING: “THE LORD IS MY
LIGHT”] Our beloved Heavenly Father, we
love Thee and we love Thy Son, our Redeemer. We thank Thee for that
magnificent music, for the angels that
we feel are here. We are grateful to be gathered
for this session of conference. Heavenly Father, we ask that
the Holy Ghost will be here in abundance, that those
who will speak to us and all of us who
will listen may have messages of eternal truth
sink deep into our hearts, that we may be better
followers of Thee and Thy Son. This is the desire
of our hearts. We ask for it in the name of
Thy Son, Jesus Christ, amen. President Henry
B. Eyring will now present the General
Authorities, Area Seventies, and General Officers of the
Church for sustaining vote. Brothers and sisters,
it is proposed that we sustain Russell Marion
Nelson as prophet, seer, and revelator and President
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;
Dallin Harris Oaks as First Counselor in the
First Presidency; and Henry Bennion Eyring as
Second Counselor in the First Presidency. Those in favor may manifest it. Those opposed, if
any, may manifest it. It is proposed that we sustain
Dallin H. Oaks as President of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles and M. Russell Ballard as Acting President of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Those in favor, please signify. Any opposed may manifest it. It is proposed that we
sustain the following as the members of the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles: M. Russell Ballard, Jeffrey R. Holland,
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D.
Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, Ronald A. Rasband,
Gary E. Stevenson, Dale G. Renlund, Gerrit W. Gong,
and Ulisses Soares. Those in favor,
please manifest it. Any opposed may so indicate. It is proposed that we sustain
the counselors in the First Presidency and the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers,
and revelators. All in favor,
please manifest it. Contrary, if there be
any, by the same sign. It is proposed that we
release with appreciation for their devoted service Elders
Wilford W. Andersen, Kim B. Clark, Lawrence E. Corbridge,
Claudio R. M. Costa, Bradley D. Foster, O. Vincent Haleck,
Donald L. Hallstrom, Steven E. Snow, and Larry Y. Wilson as
General Authority Seventies and grant them emeritus status. Those who wish to join with
us in expressing gratitude to these Brethren
and their families for their remarkable
service, please so manifest. It is proposed that we
release the following as Area Seventies: Julio C. Acosta,
Blake R. Alder, Alain L. Allard, Omar A. Alvarez, Taiichi
Aoba, Carlos F. Arredondo, Aley K. Auna Jr., Grant C.
Bennett, Michael H. Bourne, Romulo V. Cabrera, Wilson B.
Calderon, Hernando Camargo, Jose C. F. Campos, Nicolas
Castaneda, Walter Chatora, Zeno Chow, Robert J. Dudfield,
J. Kevin Ence, Meliula M. Fata, K. Mark Frost, Claude R.
Gamiette, Mauricio G. Gonzaga, Leonard D. Greer, Jose L.
Isaguirre, Tae Gul Jung, Sergio L. Krasnoselsky, Milan
F. Kunz, Bryan R. Larsen, G. Kenneth Lee, Geraldo
Lima, W. Jean-Pierre Lono, Khumbulani Mdletshe, Dale
H. Munk, Norman R. Nemrow, Yutaka Onda, Wolfgang Pilz,
Raimundo Pacheco De Pinho, Gennady N. Podvodov, Abraham E. Quero, Marco A. Rais,
Steven K. Randall, Francisco J. Ruiz de Mendoza, Edwin A.
Sexton, Raul H. Spitale, C. Walter Trevino, ‘Aisake K.
Tukuafu, Juan A. Urra, Raul S. Villanueva, Leonard Woo. Those who wish to join us
in expressing appreciation for their excellent
service, please manifest it. It is proposed that we sustain
the following as new Area Seventies: Michel J.
Carter, Alfred Kyungu, R. Pepper Murray, Ryan
K. Olsen, Iotua Tune. Those in favor, manifest it. Those opposed, if
any, may manifest it. It is proposed that we sustain
the other General Authorities, Area Seventies, and General
Officers of the Church as presently constituted. All in favor,
please manifest it. Contrary, if there be
any, by the same sign. Those who opposed any of
the proposals should contact their stake president. Brothers and sisters,
we are ever grateful for your continued faith
and prayers in behalf of the leaders of the Church. The choir will now favor us
with “Sweet Is The Work.” Following the singing, we
will hear from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles. He will be followed
by Elder Ruben V. Alliaud of the Seventy. We will then hear from
our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson,
who will be followed by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles. [MUSIC PLAYING: “SWEET IS THE
WORK”] I earnestly pray for the
assistance of the Holy Ghost for you and for me as we rejoice
and worship together in this session of general conference. In April of 1976, Elder Boyd
K. Packer spoke specifically to the youth of the Church
in general conference. In his classic message entitled
“Spiritual Crocodiles,” he described how during
an assignment in Africa he observed well-camouflaged
crocodiles preying on unsuspecting victims. He then likened the
crocodiles to Satan, who preys on unwary youth by
camouflaging the deadly nature of sin. I was 23 years old when
Elder Packer gave that talk, and Susan and I were
anticipating the birth of our first child
in just a few days. We were impressed with the
content of his message about avoiding sin and the masterful
way he used the ordinary behavior of animals to
teach an important lesson. Susan and I also have traveled
to Africa on many assignments. And we have had opportunities
to see the magnificent animals that live on that continent. Remembering the impact of Elder
Packer’s talk in our lives, we have tried to observe and
learn lessons from the behavior of African wildlife. I want to describe the
characteristics and tactics of two cheetahs Susan and I
watched hunting their prey and relate some of the things
we observed to the daily living of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Cheetahs are the fastest land
animals on earth and reach running speeds as high
as 75 miles an hour. These beautiful animals can
accelerate from a standstill position to running as fast
as 68 mph in less than three seconds. Cheetahs are predators
that sneak up on their prey and sprint a short distance
to chase and attack. Susan and I spent almost two
hours watching two cheetahs stalking a large group of
topis, Africa’s most common and widespread antelopes. The tall, dry grass of the
African savanna was golden brown and almost totally
obscured the predators as they pursued a group of topis. The cheetahs were separated from
each other by approximately 100 yards but worked in tandem. While one cheetah sat upright
in the grass and did not move, the other cheetah crouched low
to the ground and slowly crept closer to the
unsuspecting topis. Then the cheetah that had been
sitting upright disappeared in the grass at exactly the same
moment that the other cheetah sat upright. This alternating pattern of
one cheetah crouching low and creeping forward while
the other cheetah sat upright in the grass continued
for a long time. The stealthy subtlety of
the strategy was intended to distract and deceive the
topis and thereby divert their attention away from
the approaching danger. Patiently and steadily, the
two cheetahs worked as a team to secure their next meal. Positioned between the
large group of topis and the approaching cheetahs
were several older and stronger topis standing as sentinels
on termite mounds. The enhanced view of the
grasslands from the small hills enabled these guardian topis
to watch for signs of danger. Then suddenly, as the cheetahs
appeared to be within striking distance, the entire group
of topis turned and ran away. I do not know if or how the
sentinel topis communicated with the larger group, but
somehow a warning was given, and all the topis moved
to a place of safety. And what did the
cheetahs do next? Without any delay, the
two cheetahs resumed their alternating pattern
of one cheetah crouching low and creeping forward while
the other cheetah sat upright in the grass. The pattern of
pursuit continued. They did not stop. They did not rest
or take a break. They were relentless in
following their strategy of distraction and diversion. Susan and I watched the cheetahs
disappear in the distance, always moving closer and
closer to the group of topis. That night Susan and I had a
memorable conversation about what we had observed
and learned. We also discussed this
experience with our children and grandchildren and identified
many valuable lessons. I now will describe just
three of those lessons. Lesson number one: Beware of
evil’s beguiling disguises. To me, cheetahs are
sleek, alluring, and captivating creatures. A cheetah’s yellowish-tan to
greyish-white coat with black spots acts as a beautiful
disguise that makes these animals almost invisible as they
stalk their prey in the African grasslands. In a similar way, spiritually
dangerous ideas and actions frequently can appear to
be attractive, desirable, or pleasurable. Thus, in our contemporary world,
each of us needs to be aware of beguiling bad that
pretends to be good. As Isaiah warned, “Woe unto
them that call evil good, and good evil; that
put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” In a paradoxical period when
violating the sanctity of human life is heralded as a right and
chaos is described as liberty, how blessed we are to live in
this latter-day dispensation when restored gospel light can
shine brightly in our lives and help us to discern the
adversary’s dark deceptions and distractions. “For they that are wise and
have received the truth, and have taken the Holy
Spirit for their guide, and have not been
deceived–verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn
down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.” Lesson number two: Stay
awake and be alert. For a topi, a brief moment of
carelessness or inattentiveness could invite a swift
attack from a cheetah. Likewise, spiritual complacency
and casualness make us vulnerable to the
advances of the adversary. Spiritual thoughtlessness
invites great danger into our lives. Nephi described how in the
latter days Satan would attempt to pacify and lull the children
of God into a false sense of “carnal security, that they
will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all
is well–and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and
leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” Constant vigilance is required
to counteract complacency and casualness. To be vigilant is the state or
action of keeping careful watch for possible danger
or difficulties. And keeping watch denotes the
act of staying awake to guard and protect. Spiritually speaking, we need
to stay awake and be alert to the promptings of the Holy
Ghost and to the signals that come from the Lord’s
watchmen on the towers. “Yea, and I also exhort you …
that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not
be led away by the temptations of the devil, … for behold,
he rewardeth you no good thing.” Focusing our lives in and on the
Savior and His gospel enables us to overcome the tendency
of the natural man to be spiritually snoozy and lazy. As we are blessed with eyes
to see and ears to hear, the Holy Ghost can increase
our capacity to look and listen when we may not typically
think we need to look or listen or when we may not think
anything can be seen or heard. “Watch, therefore,
that ye may be ready.” Lesson number three: Understand
the intent of the enemy. A cheetah is a predator that
naturally preys on other animals. All day, every day, a
cheetah is a predator. Satan “is the enemy of
righteousness and of those who seek to do the will of God.” All day, every day, his only
intent and sole purpose are to make the sons and daughters
of God miserable like unto himself. The Father’s plan of happiness
is designed to provide direction for His children, to
help them experience enduring joy, and to bring them safely
home to Him with resurrected, exalted bodies. The devil labors to make the
sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and
to hinder their eternal progression. The adversary works relentlessly
to attack the elements of the Father’s plan
he hates the most. Satan does not have a body, and
his eternal progress has been halted. Just as water flowing in a
riverbed is stopped by a dam, so the adversary’s eternal
progress is thwarted because he does not have a physical body. Because of his rebellion,
Lucifer has denied himself all of the mortal blessings and
experiences made possible through a tabernacle
of flesh and bones. One of the potent scriptural
meanings of the word damned is illustrated in his inability
to continue progressing and becoming like
our Heavenly Father. Because a physical body is so
central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our
spiritual development, Lucifer seeks to frustrate
our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly. President Russell M. Nelson has
taught that spiritual safety ultimately lies in “‘never
taking the first enticing step toward going where you should
not go and doing what you should not do.’ … As human beings we all have
[physical] appetites necessary for our survival. ‘These appetites are absolutely
essential for the perpetuation of life. So, what does the
adversary do? … He attacks us through
our appetites. He tempts us to eat
things we should not eat, to drink things we
should not drink, and to love as we
should not love!'” One of the ultimate ironies of
eternity is that the adversary, who is miserable precisely
because he has no physical body, invites and entices us
to share in his misery through the improper use of our bodies. The very tool he does not
have and cannot use is thus the primary target of his
attempts to lure us to physical and spiritual destruction. Understanding the intent of
an enemy is vital to effective preparation for
possible attacks. Precisely because Captain
Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, he was
prepared to meet them at the time of their
coming and was victorious. And that same principle and
promise applies to each of us. “If ye are prepared,
ye shall not fear. “And that ye might escape
the power of the enemy.” Just as important lessons
can be learned by observing the behavior of
cheetahs and topis, so each of us should look for
the lessons and warnings found in the simple events
of everyday life. As we seek for a mind and
heart open to receive heavenly direction by the power
of the Holy Ghost, then some of greatest
instructions that we can receive and many of the most
powerful warnings that can safeguard us will originate in
our own ordinary experiences. Powerful parables are contained
in both the scriptures and in our daily lives. I have highlighted only three
of the many lessons that can be identified in this adventure
Susan and I had in Africa. I invite and encourage you to
reflect on this episode with the cheetahs and the topis and
identify additional lessons for you and your family. Please remember always that
your home is the true center of gospel learning and living. As you respond in faith
to this invitation, inspired thoughts will
come to your mind, spiritual feelings will
swell in your heart, and you will recognize actions
that should be undertaken or continued so that you can
“take upon you [the] whole armor [of God], that ye may be
able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye
may be able to stand.” I promise that the blessings
of effective preparation and spiritual protection will
flow into your life as you are watchful unto prayer
vigilantly and continually. I testify that pressing forward
on the covenant path provides spiritual safety and invites
enduring joy into our lives. And I witness that the risen
and living Savior will sustain and strengthen us in
times both good and bad. Of these truths I testify in the
sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. While visiting their homes, one
of the questions I frequently like to ask converts is how
they and their families learned about the Church and how
they came to be baptized. It doesn’t matter if the person
in that moment is an active member or hasn’t attended
Church for many years. The answer is always
the same: with a smile and their countenance glowing,
they begin to tell the story of how they were found. In fact, it seems that the
story of conversion is always the story of how we are found. Jesus Christ Himself is
the Lord of lost things. He cares for lost things. That is surely why He taught
the three parables that we find in the 15th chapter of Luke:
the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and,
finally, the prodigal son. All of these stories have
a common denominator: It doesn’t matter
why they were lost. It doesn’t matter, even, if they
were aware that they were lost. There reigns supreme a
feeling of joy that exclaims: “Rejoice with me; for I have
found [that] which was lost.” In the end, nothing
is truly lost to Him. Allow me to share,
this afternoon, with you one of the most
precious things to me–the story of how I myself was found. Just before I turned 15,
I was invited by my uncle, Manuel Bustos, to spend some
time with him and his family here in the United States. That would be a great
opportunity for me to learn some English. My uncle had converted to
the Church many years before, and he had a great
missionary spirit. That is probably why my
mother, without me knowing, spoke with him and said that she
would agree to the invitation on one condition: that he
did not try to convince me to become a member
of his Church. We were Catholics, and we
had been for generations, and there was no
reason to change. My uncle was in complete
agreement and kept his word up to the point that he didn’t want
to answer even simple questions about the Church. Of course, what my uncle and
his sweet wife, Marjorie, could not avoid was
being who they were. I was assigned a room that
contained a large library of books. I could see that in that library
there were roughly 200 copies of the Book of Mormon
in different languages, 20 of them in Spanish. One day, out of curiosity, I
took down a copy of the Book of Mormon in Spanish. It was one of those copies
with a sky-blue soft cover, with the figure of the
angel Moroni on the front. Upon opening it,
on the first page, there was written the
following promise: “And when ye shall
receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would
ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if
these things are not true; and if ye shall ask
with a sincere heart, with real intent,
having faith in Christ, he will manifest the
truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” And then it added: “And by the
power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” It is difficult to explain the
impact that these scriptures had on my mind and heart. To be honest, I was not
looking for “the truth.” I was just a teenager,
happy with his life, enjoying this new culture. Nevertheless, with
that promise in mind, I secretly began
reading the book. As I read more, I understood
that if I really wanted to get anything from this, I
had better start to pray. And we all know what happens
when you decide not only to read but to pray
about the Book of Mormon. Well, that just happened to me. It was something so
special and so unique–yes, just the same that had happened
to millions of others around the world. I came to know by the power of
the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon was true. I then went to my uncle
to explain to him what had happened and that I was
ready to be baptized. My uncle could not
contain his astonishment. He got into his car,
drove to the airport, and returned back with a
plane ticket to fly back home, with a note addressed to my
mother that simply stated, “I had nothing to do with this!” In a way, he was right. I had been found directly by
the power of the Book of Mormon. There may be many who have
been found through wonderful missionaries around the
world, in every case through miraculous ways. Or maybe they have been found
through friends that God has deliberately placed
in their path. It might be even that they have
been found by someone from this generation or through
one of their ancestors. Whatever the case, in order
to progress towards a true personal conversion,
sooner rather than later, they all must experience and be
found by the power of the truth contained in the Book of Mormon. At the same time, they must
personally decide to make a serious commitment to God that
they will strive to keep His commandments. Upon returning to Buenos Aires,
my mother realized that I truly wanted to be baptized. Since I had, somewhat,
a rebellious spirit, instead of opposing me, she
very wisely took my side. And without even knowing it,
she did my baptismal interview herself. Indeed, I believe that her
interview was even more in-depth than those that
our missionaries conduct. She told me, “If you want to be
baptized, I will support you. But first I’m going to
ask you some questions, and I want you to think very
hard and answer me honestly. Do you commit to attend church
absolutely every Sunday?” I told her, “Yes, of course,
I’m going to do that.” “Do you have any idea
how long church is?” “Yes, I know,” I said. She replied, “Well,
if you get baptized, I am going to make
sure that you attend.” Then she asked me if I was truly
willing to never drink alcohol or smoke. I answered her, “Yes, of course,
I am going to comply with that as well.” To which she added,
“If you get baptized, I am going to make sure
that that is the case.” And she proceeded on
in that way, almost, with every commandment. My uncle had called my mother
to tell her not to worry, that I would get over this soon. Four years later, when I
received my call to serve in the Uruguay
Montevideo Mission, my mother called my uncle to
ask him when exactly I was going to get over all this. The truth is that from
the time I was baptized, my mother was a happier mother. I came to know that the
Book of Mormon was crucial in the conversion process
by experiencing firsthand the promise that “a man would
get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts.” Nephi explained the central
purpose of the Book of Mormon in this way: “For we labor
diligently to write, to persuade our children,
and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and
to be reconciled to God. … “And [so] we talk of Christ,
we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, [and]
we prophesy of Christ, … that our children may know
to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” The entire Book of Mormon is
imbued with that same sacred purpose. For this reason, any reader
who commits to a sincere study of it, with the
spirit of prayer, will not only
learn about Christ, but he will learn from
Christ–especially if he makes the decision to “try
the virtue of the word” and not reject it prematurely
due to prejudiced unbelief by what others have said about
things they have never read. President Russell
M. Nelson reflected: “When I think of
the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of
Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor,
strengthen, console, and cheer our souls.” My invitation this
afternoon to each of us, regardless how long we’ve
been a member of the Church, is to allow the power of the
truths of the Book of Mormon to find us and embrace us once
again and day after day as we diligently seek for
personal revelation. It will do so if we allow it. I solemnly testify that the Book
of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ
and that the Holy Ghost will confirm the truth of it time
after time to anyone who, with a sincere heart, seeks
knowledge unto the salvation of their soul. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. Thank you, Elder Alliaud
and Elder Bednar, for your messages. Dear brothers and sisters, it is
wonderful to be with you again in general conference. Earlier this week, announcements
were made to members of the Church about changes in
policy regarding who may serve as witnesses to baptism
and sealing ordinances. I would like to highlight
those three points: 1. A proxy baptism for a deceased
person may be witnessed by anyone holding a
current temple recommend, including a
limited-use recommend. 2. Any endowed member with a
current temple recommend may serve as a witness to sealing
ordinances, living and proxy. 3. Any baptized member of the
Church may serve as a witness of the baptism of
a living person. This change pertains to all
baptisms outside the temple. These policy adjustments
are procedural. The underlying doctrine and
covenants are unchanged and are equally efficacious
in all ordinances. These changes should greatly
enhance family participation in these ordinances. I also wanted to speak with
you at this time to introduce adjustments that pertain to
our youth and their leaders. You will remember that I have
invited the youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints to enlist in the Lord’s youth battalion
to participate in the greatest cause on earth today–the
gathering of Israel. I issued this invitation to
our youth because they are unusually gifted in reaching out
to others and sharing what they believe in a convincing fashion. The cause of the gathering is
an essential part of helping to prepare the world and its
people for the Second Coming of the Lord. In each ward, the Lord’s youth
battalion is led by a bishop, a dedicated servant of God. His first and foremost
responsibility is to care for the young men and
young women of his ward. The bishop and his counselors
direct the work of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums and the
Young Women classes in the ward. The adjustments we will now
announce are intended to help young men and young women
develop their sacred personal potential. We also want to strengthen
Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women classes and
provide support to bishops and other adult leaders as they
serve this rising generation. Elder Quentin L. Cook will now
discuss the adjustments that relate to the young men. And tonight, at the
general women’s session, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon,
Young Women General President, will discuss the adjustments
that relate to the young women. The First Presidency and the
Twelve are united in endorsing these efforts to
strengthen our youth. Oh, how we love them
and pray for them! They are the “hope of
Israel, Zion’s army, children of the promised day.” We express our complete
confidence in our youth and our gratitude for them
in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. Thank you, dear
President Nelson, for that joyful revelatory
guidance with respect to witnesses at baptisms and
the direction you have asked us to share to help strengthen
youth and develop their sacred potential. Before I share
those adjustments, we express our
sincere appreciation for the exceptional way members
have responded to developments in the ongoing
Restoration of the gospel. As President Nelson
suggested last year, you have taken your vitamins! You joyfully study
Come, Follow Me at home. You have also responded
to adjustments at church. Members of the elders quorum and
Relief Society sisters unitedly do the work of salvation. Our gratitude is overflowing. We are particularly grateful
that our youth continue to remain strong and faithful. Our youth live in an exciting
but also challenging time. The choices available have
never been more dramatic. One example: the modern
smartphone provides access to incredibly important
and uplifting information, including family history
and the holy scriptures. On the other hand, it contains
foolishness, immorality, and evil not readily
available in the past. To help our youth navigate
this maze of choices, the Church has prepared three
profound and comprehensive initiatives. First, curriculum has been
strengthened and expanded to the home. Second, a children and youth
program that includes exciting activities and personal
development was presented just last Sunday by President
Nelson, President Ballard, and the General Officers. A third initiative is
organizational changes to make youth a more significant
focus of our bishops and other leaders. This focus must be spiritually
powerful and help our youth become the youth battalion
President Nelson has asked them to become. These efforts, together with
those announced during the last few years, are not
isolated changes. Each of the adjustments
is an integral part of an interlocking pattern to
bless the Saints and prepare them to meet God. One part of the pattern relates
to the rising generation. Our youth are being asked
to take more individual responsibility at younger
ages–without parents and leaders taking over what
youth can do for themselves. Today we announce organizational
changes for youth at ward and stake levels. As President Nelson
explained, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon will discuss changes
for young women this evening. One purpose for the changes
I will now discuss is to strengthen Aaronic
Priesthood holders, quorums, and quorum presidencies. These changes align our practice
with Doctrine and Covenants section 107:15, which
reads, “The bishopric is the presidency of this
[Aaronic] priesthood, and holds the keys or
authority of the same.” One of the scriptural duties of
the bishop is to preside over the priests and to sit
in council with them, teaching them the
duties of their office. In addition, the first counselor
in the bishopric will have specific responsibility
for teachers and the second counselor, for deacons. Accordingly, to align with
this revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants, Young Men
presidencies at the ward level will be discontinued. These faithful brethren
have done much good, and we express
appreciation to them. It is our hope that bishoprics
will give great emphasis and focus to the priesthood
responsibilities of young men and help them in
their quorum duties. Capable adult Young Men advisers
will be called to assist the Aaronic Priesthood quorum
presidencies and the bishopric in their duties. We are confident that more young
men and young women will rise to the challenge and stay on
the covenant path with this laser-like focus on our youth. In the Lord’s inspired pattern,
the bishop has responsibility for everyone in the ward. He blesses the parents of
youth as well as the youth. One bishop found that as he
counseled with a young man struggling with pornography, he
could help the young man in his repentance only as he helped
the parents react with love and understanding. The young man’s healing was a
healing for his family and was possible through the bishop
working in behalf of the entire family. The young man has now become a
worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder and full-time missionary. As this account suggests,
these adjustments will: Help bishops and their
counselors focus on their core responsibilities to the
youth and Primary children. Place the power and duties
of the Aaronic Priesthood at the center of every young
man’s personal life and goals. These adjustments also: Emphasize the responsibilities
of Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies and their
direct reporting line to the bishopric. Motivate adult leaders to assist
and mentor Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidencies in
magnifying the power and authority of their office. As noted, these
adjustments do not lessen the bishoprics’ responsibility
for young women. As President Nelson just
taught, “[The bishop’s] first and foremost responsibility
is to care for the young men and young women of his ward. How will our beloved and
hardworking bishops fulfill this responsibility? As you remember, in 2018,
Melchizedek Priesthood quorums were adjusted to work even more
closely with Relief Societies so that elders quorums
and Relief Societies can, under the direction
of the bishop, help shoulder important
responsibilities that previously consumed
much of his time. These responsibilities include
missionary work and temple and family history work in
the ward–as well as much of the ministering
to ward members. The bishop cannot delegate
some responsibilities, such as the youth,
being a common judge, caring for those in need,
and overseeing finances and temporal affairs. These are, however, fewer
than we may have understood in the past. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
explained last year when the adjustments to the
Melchizedek Priesthood quorums were announced: “The
bishop remains, of course, the presiding high
priest of the ward. This new alignment [of elders
quorums and Relief Societies] should let him preside over
the work of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Relief
Society without requiring him to do the work of
either of those bodies.” For instance, a Relief Society
president and an elders quorum president, as assigned, can take
a greater role in counseling with adults–as can a Young
Women president in counseling with young women. While only the bishop can
serve as a common judge, these other leaders are entitled
to revelation from heaven to help with challenges that
do not require a common judge or involve abuse of any kind. That doesn’t mean a young
woman cannot or should not talk to the bishop or to her parents. Their focus is the youth! But it does mean that a Young
Women leader may best meet the needs of an
individual young woman. The bishopric is as concerned
for young women as for young men, but we recognize the
strength that comes from having strong, engaged, and focused
Young Women leaders who love and mentor, not taking over
the roles of class presidencies but helping youth
succeed in those roles. Sister Cordon will share
additional exciting changes for young women tonight. I, however, announce that ward
Young Women presidents will now report to and counsel directly
with the bishop of the ward. In the past, this assignment
could be delegated to a counselor,
but going forward, young women will be a direct
responsibility of the one who holds presiding
keys for the ward. The Relief Society president
will continue to report directly to the bishop. At the general and stake levels,
we will continue to have Young Men presidencies. At the stake level, a high
councilor will be the Young Men president and will, with
the high councilors assigned to Young Women and Primary,
be part of the stake Aaronic Priesthood-Young
Women Committee. These brethren will work
with the stake Young Women presidency on this committee. With a counselor to the
stake president as chair, this committee will have
increased importance because many of the programs and
activities in the new “Children and Youth” initiative will
be at the stake level. These high councilors, under
the direction of the stake presidency, can serve as
a resource to the bishop and Aaronic Priesthood
quorums in a manner similar to the service provided by
high councilors to ward elders quorums. As a related matter, another
high councilor will serve as the stake Sunday School
president and, as needed, could serve on the stake
Aaronic Priesthood-Young Women Committee. Additional organization changes
will be further explained in information sent to leaders. These changes include: The bishopric youth committee
meeting will be replaced by a ward youth council. The word Mutual will be
retired and become Young Women activities, Aaronic
Priesthood quorum activities, or youth activities and will
be held weekly where possible. The ward budget for youth
activities will be divided equitably between the young
men and young women according to the number of youth
in each organization. A sufficient amount will
be provided for Primary activities. At all levels–ward, stake, and
general–we will use the term organization rather
than the term auxiliary. Those who lead the General
Relief Society, Young Women, Young Men, Primary, and Sunday
School organizations will be known as General Officers. Those who lead organizations at
the ward and stake levels will be known as ward officers
and stake officers. The adjustments announced today
may begin as soon as branches, wards, districts, and stakes
are ready but should be in place by January 1, 2020. These adjustments, when combined
and integrated with previous adjustments, represent a
spiritual and organizational effort consistent with doctrine
to bless and strengthen every man, woman, youth, and
child, helping each to follow the example of our
Savior, Jesus Christ, as we progress on
the covenant path. Dear brothers and sisters, I
promise and testify that these comprehensive adjustments, under
the direction of an inspired president and prophet,
Russell M. Nelson, will empower and strengthen
every member of the Church. Our youth will develop
greater faith in the Savior, be protected from the
temptations of the adversary, and stand prepared to
meet life’s challenges. In the sacred name of
Jesus Christ, amen. The congregation will now join
the choir in singing “Redeemer of Israel.” After the singing, we will be
pleased to hear from Brother Mark L. Pace, who was sustained
last April as Sunday School General President. He will be followed by Elders
L. Todd Budge and Jorge M. Alvarado of the Seventy. [MUSIC PLAYING: “REDEEMER OF
ISRAEL”] This is the 189th Semiannual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints. We rejoice in meeting
together in this great general conference of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a blessing to receive
the mind and will of the Lord through the teachings of
His prophets and apostles. President Russell M. Nelson
is the Lord’s living prophet. And how grateful we are for his
inspired counsel and direction we have received today. I add my witness to
those shared previously. I bear testimony of
God, our Eternal Father. He lives and loves us
and watches over us. His plan of happiness provides
for the blessing of this mortal life and our eventual
return to His presence. I also bear testimony
of Jesus Christ. He is God’s Only Begotten Son. He saved us from death, and
He redeems us from sin as we exercise faith in
Him and repent. His infinite atoning
sacrifice in our behalf brings the blessing of immortality
and eternal life. Indeed, “God be thanked for the
matchless gift of His divine son.” Latter-day Saints around the
world are blessed to worship Jesus Christ in His temples. One of those temples is
currently under construction in Winnipeg, Canada. My wife, Anne Marie, and I
had the opportunity to visit the construction site
in August of this year. The temple is beautifully
designed and will certainly be magnificent when completed. However, you can’t have a
magnificent temple in Winnipeg, or anywhere else, without a
solid and firm foundation. The freeze-thaw cycle and
expansive soil conditions in Winnipeg made it challenging
to prepare the temple foundation. Therefore, it was determined
that the foundation for this temple would consist of 70
steel piles encased in concrete. These piles are 60 feet in
length and 12 to 20 inches in diameter. They are driven into the
ground until they hit bedrock, approximately 50 feet
below the surface. In this way, the 70
piles provide a solid, firm foundation for what will be
the beautiful Winnipeg temple. As Latter-day Saints, we
seek a similar firm and sure foundation in our lives–a
spiritual foundation needed for our journey through
mortality and back to our heavenly home. That foundation is
established on the bedrock of our conversion to
the Lord Jesus Christ. We recall the teachings
of Helaman from the Book of Mormon: “And now,
my sons, remember, remember that it is upon
the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of
God, that ye must build your foundation; that when
the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his
shafts in the whirlwind, … it shall have no power over you
to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo,
because of the rock upon which ye are built, which
is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men
build they cannot fall.” Gratefully, we live in a time
when prophets and apostles teach us of the
Savior Jesus Christ. Following their counsel helps
us establish a firm foundation in Christ. A year ago, in his opening
remarks of the 2018 general conference, President Russell
M. Nelson provided this declaration and warning:
“The long-standing objective of the Church is to assist all
members to increase their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ
and in His Atonement, to assist them in making and
keeping their covenants with God, and to strengthen
and seal their families. In this complex world
today, this is not easy. The adversary is increasing his
attacks on faith and upon us and our families at
an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need
counterstrategies and proactive plans.” Following President Nelson’s
message, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles introduced the Come, Follow Me resource for
individuals and families. His remarks included the
following statements: “The new home-study Come,
Follow Me resource … is designed to help members
learn the gospel in the home.” “This resource is for
every individual and family in the Church.” “Our purpose is to balance the
Church and the home experience … in a way that will greatly
increase faith and spirituality and deepen conversion to
Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Starting in January
of this year, Latter-day Saints worldwide
began studying the New Testament, with the Come,
Follow Me resource as our guide. With a weekly schedule, Come,
Follow Me helps us study the scriptures, the
doctrine of the gospel, and the teachings of the
prophets and apostles. It is a marvelous
resource for us all. After nine months of this
worldwide scripture study effort, what do we see? We see Latter-day Saints
everywhere growing in faith and devotion to the
Lord Jesus Christ. We see individuals and families
setting aside time throughout the week to study the
words of our Savior. We see improving gospel
instruction in our Sunday classes as we study the
scriptures at home and share our insights at church. And we see greater family joy
and unity as we have moved from simply reading the scriptures
to studying the scriptures in a profound way. It has been my privilege to
visit with many Latter-day Saints and hear firsthand of
their experiences with Come, Follow Me. Their expressions of faith
fill my heart with joy. Here are just a few of the
comments I have heard from various members of the Church
in different parts of the world: A father shared, “I enjoy
Come, Follow Me as it provides an opportunity to testify of
the Savior to my children.” In another home, a child said,
“This is a chance to hear my parents bear
their testimonies.” A mother shared: “We have been
inspired as to how to put God first. The time we [thought we] ‘didn’t
have’ has been [filled] with hope, joy, peace, and success
in ways we didn’t know were possible.” A couple observed: “We are
reading the scriptures entirely differently than we have
ever read them before. We are learning so much more
than we have ever learned before. The Lord is wanting us to
see things differently. The Lord is preparing us.” A mother remarked: “I love that
we are learning the same things together. Before, we were reading it. Today, we are learning it.” A sister shared this insightful
perspective: “Before, you had the lesson and the
scriptures supplemented it. Now, you have the scriptures
and the lesson supplements it.” Another sister commented: “I
feel a difference when I do it [compared to] when I don’t. I find it [is] easier to talk
to others about Jesus Christ and our beliefs.” A grandmother remarked, “I call
my children and grandchildren on Sundays, and we share
insights from Come, Follow Me together.” A sister observed: “Come, Follow
Me feels like the Savior is personally ministering to me. It is heaven inspired.” And a father commented,
“[When] we use Come, Follow Me, we are like the
children of Israel, marking the side
posts of our doors, protecting our families from
the influence of the destroyer.” Brothers and sisters, it
is a joy to visit with you and to hear how your
efforts with Come, Follow Me are
blessing your lives. Thank you for your devotion. Studying the
scriptures with Come, Follow Me as a guide is
strengthening our conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel. We are not simply trading one
hour less in church on Sunday for one hour more of
scripture study at home. Learning the gospel is a
consistent effort throughout the week. As one sister
insightfully shared, “The goal is not to make
church one hour shorter; it is to make church
six days longer!” Now, consider again the warning
our prophet, President Nelson, gave as he opened the October
2018 general conference: “The adversary is increasing
his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at
an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need
counterstrategies and proactive plans.” Then (approximately 29 hours
later) on Sunday afternoon, he closed the conference
with this promise: “As you diligently work to
remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, … the
influence of the adversary in your life and in your
home will decrease.” How can the attacks of the
adversary be increasing exponentially while at the
same time the influence of the adversary is
actually decreasing? It can happen, and it
is happening throughout the Church, because the Lord
prepares His people against the attacks of the adversary. Come, Follow Me is the Lord’s
counterstrategy and proactive plan. As President Nelson taught,
“The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated
curriculum has the potential to unleash the
power[s] of families.” However, it does and will
require our best efforts; we need to “[follow] through
conscientiously and carefully to transform [our] home
into a sanctuary of faith.” After all, as President
Nelson also said, “We are each responsible for
our individual … growth.” With the Come,
Follow Me resource, the Lord is preparing us “for
the perilous times that we now face.” He is helping us establish
that “sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men
build they cannot fall”–the foundation of a testimony
anchored firmly in the bedrock of our conversion to
the Lord Jesus Christ. May our daily efforts in
studying the scriptures fortify us and prove us worthy of
these promised blessings. I so pray in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. Our son Daniel got very sick on
his mission in Africa and was taken to a medical facility
with limited resources. As we read his first letter
to us after his illness, we expected that he
would be discouraged, but instead he wrote, “Even as
I lay in the emergency room, I felt peace. I have never been so
consistently and resiliently happy in my life.” As my wife and I
read these words, we were overcome with emotion. “Consistently and
resiliently happy.” We had never heard happiness
described that way, but his words rang true. We knew that the happiness
he described was not simply pleasure or an elevated mood but
a peace and joy that comes when we surrender ourselves to God
and put our trust in Him in all things. We too had had those times in
our lives when God spoke peace to our souls and caused us to
have hope in Christ even when life was hard and uncertain. Lehi teaches that if Adam
and Eve had not fallen, “they would have remained
in a state of innocence, having no joy, for
they knew no misery. … “But 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.” In a paradoxical way,
afflictions and sorrow prepare us to experience joy if we will
trust in the Lord and His plan for us. This truth is beautifully
expressed by a 13th-century poet: “Sorrow
prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps
everything out of your house, so that new joy can
find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves
from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves
can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots,
so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes
from your heart, far better things will
take their place.” President Russell M. Nelson
taught the joy the Savior offers us “is constant, assuring
us that our ‘afflictions shall be but a small moment’ and
be consecrated to our gain.” Our trials and afflictions can
make space for greater joy. The good news of the gospel is
not the promise of a life free of sorrow and tribulation
but a life full of purpose and meaning–a life where our
sorrows and afflictions can be “swallowed up in
the joy of Christ.” The Savior declared, “In
the world ye shall have tribulation: but
be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” His gospel is a message of hope. Sorrow coupled with hope in
Jesus Christ holds the promise of enduring joy. The account of the Jaredites’
journey to the promised land can be used as a metaphor for
our journey through mortality. The Lord promised the brother
of Jared and his people that he would “go before [them] into a
land which is choice above all the lands of the earth.” He commanded them
to build barges, and they obediently went to
work building them according to the Lord’s instructions. However, as the work progressed,
the brother of Jared developed concerns that the Lord’s
design for the barges was not sufficient. He cried out: “O Lord, I have performed the
work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges
according as thou hast directed me. “And behold, O Lord, in
them there is no light.” “O Lord, wilt thou suffer that
we shall cross this great water in darkness?” Have you ever poured out your
soul to God in such a way? When striving to live as the
Lord commands and righteous expectations are not met, have
you ever wondered if you must go through this
life in darkness? The brother of Jared then
expressed an even greater concern about their ability
to survive in the barges. He cried, “And also
we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe,
save it is the air which is in them.” Have the difficulties of life
ever made it hard for you to breathe and caused you to
wonder how you can make it through the day, let alone make
it back to your heavenly home? After the Lord worked with the
brother of Jared to resolve each of his concerns,
He then explained, “Ye cannot cross this great deep
save I prepare [a way for] you against the waves of the sea,
and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods
which shall come.” The Lord made it clear that
ultimately the Jaredites could not make it to the
promised land without Him. They were not in control, and
the only way they could make it across the great deep was
to put their trust in Him. These experiences and tutoring
from the Lord seemed to deepen the brother of Jared’s faith
and strengthen his trust in the Lord. Notice how his prayers changed
from questions and concerns to expressions of
faith and trust: “I know, O Lord, that
thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt
for the benefit of man. … “Behold, O Lord,
thou canst do this. We know that thou art able
to show forth great power, which looks small unto
the understanding of men.” It is recorded that the
Jaredites then “got aboard of their … barges, and
set forth into the sea, commending themselves
unto the Lord their God.” To commend means to
entrust or to surrender. The Jaredites did not get into
the barges because they knew exactly how things would
work on their journey. They got aboard because
they had learned to trust in the Lord’s power,
goodness, and mercy, and they were therefore willing
to surrender themselves and any doubts or fears they may
have had to the Lord. Recently our grandson Abe
was afraid to ride one of the carousel animals
that move up and down. He preferred one
that didn’t move. His grandmother finally
persuaded him that it would be safe, so, trusting
her, he got aboard. He then said with a big smile,
“I don’t feel safe, but I am.” Perhaps that is how
the Jaredites felt. Trusting God may not always feel
safe at first, but joy follows. The journey was not
easy for the Jaredites. “They were many times buried
in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain
waves which broke upon them.” Yet it is recorded that “the
wind did never cease to blow [them] towards the
promised land.” As difficult as it
is to understand, especially at the times in our
lives when the headwinds are strong and the
seas are turbulent, we can take comfort in knowing
that God in His infinite goodness is always
blowing us towards home. The record continues,
“They were driven forth; and no monster of the
sea could break them, neither whale that
could mar them; and they did have
light continually, whether it was above the
water or under the water.” We live in a world where
the monster waves of death, physical and mental illness, and
trials and afflictions of every kind break upon us. Yet, through faith in Jesus
Christ and choosing to trust in Him, we too can
have light continually, whether above the water
or under the water. We can have the assurance that
God never does cease to blow us towards our heavenly home. While being tossed
about in the barges, the Jaredites “did sing
praises unto the Lord; … and [they] did thank and praise
the Lord all the day long; and when the night came,
they did not cease to praise the Lord.” They felt joy and
thanksgiving even in the midst of their afflictions. They had not yet arrived
in the promised land, yet they were rejoicing
in the promised blessing because of their consistent
and resilient trust in Him. The Jaredites were driven
forth upon the water 344 days. Can you imagine that? Trusting in the Lord includes
trusting in His timing and requires patience and
endurance that outlasts the storms of life. Ultimately, the Jaredites
“did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet
upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves
down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves
before the Lord, and did shed tears of
joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of
his tender mercies over them.” If we are faithful in
keeping our covenants, we too will one day arrive
safely home and will bow before the Lord and shed tears of joy
for the multitude of His tender mercies in our lives, including
the sorrows that made space for more joy. I testify that as we commend
ourselves unto the Lord and consistently and resiliently
trust in Jesus Christ and His divine purposes in our lives,
that He will visit us with assurances, speak
peace to our souls, and cause us to “hope for
our deliverance in him.” I witness that
Jesus is the Christ. He is the source of all joy. His grace is sufficient,
and He is mighty to save. He is the light, the life,
and the hope of the world. He will not let us perish. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. When I was a child, a member
of the Church offered to help my family fly from Puerto Rico
to Salt Lake so we could be sealed in the temple, but soon
obstacles began to appear. One of my sisters,
Marivid, became ill. Unsettled, my parents prayed
about what to do and still felt prompted to make the journey. They trusted that as they
followed the promptings of the Lord, our family would
be watched over and blessed–and we were. No matter the obstacles
we face in life, we can trust that Jesus Christ
will prepare a way forward as we walk with faith. God has promised that all who
live according to the covenants they have made with
Him will, in His time, receive all His
promised blessings. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught,
“Some blessings come soon, … come late, and some
don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace
the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.” Moroni taught that “faith
is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore,
dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until
… the trial of your faith.” Our question is “What should we
do to best meet the trials that come our way?” In the first public remarks
as President of the Church, President Russell M. Nelson
taught: “As a new Presidency, we want to begin
with the end in mind. For this reason, we’re speaking
to you today from a temple. The end for which each of us
strives is to be endowed with power in [the] house of the
Lord, sealed as families, faithful to covenants made in
[the] temple that qualify us for the greatest gift of
God–that of eternal life. The ordinances of the temple
and the covenants you make there are key to strengthening your
life, your marriage and family, and your ability to resist the
attack … of the adversary. Your worship in the temple
and your service there [for you and] your ancestors
will bless you with increased personal revelation and
peace and will fortify your commitment to stay
on the covenant path.” As we follow God’s voice
and His covenant path, He will strengthen
us in our trials. My family’s trip to the temple
years ago was difficult, but as we approached the
temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, my mother, full of
joy and faith, said, “We are going to be OK;
the Lord will protect us.” We were sealed as a family,
my sister recovered, and all this happened only after
the trial of my parents’ faith and following the
promptings of the Lord. This example of my parents still
influences our lives today. Their example
taught us the “why” of the gospel doctrine
and helped us understand the meaning, purpose, and
blessings that the gospel brings. Understanding the “why” of the
gospel of Jesus Christ can also help us face our
trials with faith. Ultimately, everything God
invites and commands us to do is the expression of His love
for us and His desire to give us the blessings reserved
for the faithful. We cannot assume that our
children will learn to love the gospel on their own; it
is our responsibility to teach them. As we help our children learn
how to use their agency wisely, our example can inspire them to
make their own right choices. Their faithful living will
in turn help their children to know the truth of the
gospel for themselves. Young men and young women,
hear the prophet today talking to you, seek to
learn divine truths, and seek to understand
the gospel for yourselves. President Nelson
recently counseled: “What wisdom do you lack? … Follow the example of
the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place. … Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to
your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers.” As you seek guidance from
your loving Heavenly Father, listening to the counsel
of living prophets, and watching the example
of righteous parents, you too can become a strong
link of faith in your family. To parents with children who
have left the covenant path, gently go back, help them
comprehend the gospel’s truths. Start now; it is never too late. Our example of righteous living
can make a great difference. President Nelson taught:
“As Latter-day Saints, we have become
accustomed to think … of ‘church’ as something that
happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what
happens at home. We need an adjustment
to this pattern. It is time for a
home-centered Church, supported by what takes place
inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.” A story is told of a woman
who was upset that her son was eating too much candy. No matter how much
she told him to stop, he continued to satisfy
his sweet tooth. Totally frustrated, she decided
to take her son to see a wise man whom he respected. She approached him
and said, “Sir, my son eats too much candy. Would you please tell
him to stop eating it?” He listened carefully,
then said to her son, “Go home and come
back in two weeks.” She took her son and went home,
perplexed why he had not asked the boy to stop
eating so much candy. Two weeks later they returned. The wise man looked directly
to the boy and said, “Boy, you should stop
eating so much candy. It is not good for your health.” The boy nodded and
promised he would. The boy’s mother asked, “Why
didn’t you tell him that two weeks ago?” The wise man smiled. “Two weeks ago I was still
eating too much candy myself.” This man lived with such
integrity that he knew his advice would carry power only
if he was following his own counsel. The influence we have on our
children is more powerful as they see us walking
faithfully on the covenant path. The Book of Mormon prophet
Jacob is an example of such righteousness. His son Enos wrote of the impact
of his father’s teachings: “I, Enos, knowing my father
that he was a just man–for he taught me in his language,
and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord–and
blessed be the name of my God for it– … “… And the words which I had often
heard my father speak[ing] concerning eternal life,
and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.” The mothers of the stripling
warriors lived the gospel, and their children were
filled with conviction. Their leader reported: “They had been taught
by their mothers, that if they did not doubt,
God [will] deliver them. “And they rehearsed unto me the
words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our
mothers knew it.” Enos and the stripling warriors
were strengthened by the faith of their parents, which helped
them meet their own trials of faith. We are blessed with the
restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our days, which lifts
us when we feel discouraged or troubled. We are reassured that our
efforts will bear fruit in the Lord’s own due time
if we press forward through the trials of our faith. My wife and I, with
the Area Presidency, recently accompanied
Elder David A. Bednar to the dedication of the
Haiti Port-au-Prince Temple. Our son Jorge, who came with
us, said about his experience: “Amazing, Papa! As soon as Elder Bednar started
with the dedicatory prayer, … I could feel the room fill
with warmth and light. The prayer added so much to my
understanding of the purpose of [the] temple. It [is] really … the
house of the Lord.” In the Book of Mormon, Nephi
teaches that as we desire to know the will of God,
He will strengthen us. He wrote, “I, Nephi, being
exceedingly young … and also having great desires
to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did
cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and
[I] did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which
had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel
against him like unto my brothers.” Brothers and sisters, let
us help our children and all around us to follow God’s
covenant path so that the Spirit might teach them to
soften their hearts to desire to follow Him
through their life. As I consider the
example of my parents, I realize that our faith
will show us the way back to our heavenly home. I know miracles come after
the trial of our faith. I bear testimony of Jesus Christ
and His atoning sacrifice. I know He is our
Savior and Deliverer. He and our Heavenly Father
came that morning of the spring of 1820 to young Joseph Smith,
the prophet of the Restoration. President Russell M. Nelson
is the prophet of our day. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. We are grateful for all who
have spoken to us this afternoon and for the beautiful music
that has been provided and for the inspired
organizational changes that have been announced. We remind the Primary
girls, young women, and Relief Society sisters
of the women’s session, which will commence in the
Conference Center this evening at 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time. The nationwide broadcast of
Music and the Spoken Word may be viewed tomorrow morning
from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. mountain daylight time. The Sunday morning session of
conference will immediately follow. The concluding speaker for this
session will be Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles. Following his remarks, the
choir will close this meeting by singing “Thy Spirit,
Lord, Has Stirred Our Souls.” The benediction will then
be offered by Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy. Dear brothers and sisters,
as we close this session, may we each hold in our
hearts the witness borne today of the truths of the
gospel of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to have
this sacred time together to reinforce our promise to the
Lord Jesus Christ that we are His servants and
He is our Savior. The importance of making and
keeping promises and covenants weighs heavy on my mind. How important is it to
you to keep your word? To be trusted? To do what you say you will do? To strive to honor
your sacred covenants? To have integrity? By living true to our promises
to the Lord and to others, we walk the covenant path back
to our Father in Heaven and we feel His love in our lives. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is
our great Exemplar when it comes to making and keeping
promises and covenants. He came to earth promising
to do the will of the Father. He taught gospel principles
in word and in deed. He atoned for our sins
that we might live again. He has honored every
one of His promises. Can the same be
said of each of us? What are the dangers if we
cheat a little, slip a little, or do not quite follow
through with our commitments? What if we walk away
from our covenants? Will others come unto Christ
in light of our example? Is your word your bond? Keeping promises is not a habit;
it is a characteristic of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Ever mindful of our frailties in
mortal life, the Lord promised, “Be of good cheer,
and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you,
and will stand by you.” I have felt His presence when
needing reassurance, comfort, greater spiritual
insight or strength, and I have been deeply humbled
and am grateful for His divine companionship. The Lord has said, “Every
soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me,
and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and
keepeth my commandments, shall see my face
and know that I am.” That is perhaps His
ultimate promise. I learned the importance of
keeping my word in my youth. One such example is when I
stood at attention to recite the Scout Oath. Our association with the
Boy Scouts of America, as it now concludes, will always
be an important legacy to me and this Church. To the Scouting organization, to
the scores of men and women who have served diligently
as Scout leaders, to the moms–real
credit goes there, you know–and to the young
men who have participated in Scouting, we
say, “Thank you.” In this very session, our dear
prophet, President Nelson, and Elder Cook have announced
adjustments that will refocus our attention on youth and align
our organizations with revealed truth. In addition, just last Sunday,
President Nelson and President Ballard explained the
new “Children and Youth” of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints program for the entire Church. It is a worldwide initiative
focused on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The First Presidency and Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles are unified in this new direction,
and I personally bear my witness that the Lord
has guided us every step of the way. I am excited for the children
and youth of the Church to experience this integrated
focus on them both at home and at church–through
gospel learning, service and activities,
and personal development. The youth theme for
this coming year, 2020, speaks of Nephi’s classic
promise to “go and do.” He wrote: “And it came
to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will
go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for
I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto
the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for
them that they may accomplish the thing which he
commandeth them.” Although uttered long ago, we
in the Church stand on that promise today. To “go and do” means rising
above the ways of the world, receiving and acting
on personal revelation, living righteously with hope
and faith in the future, making and keeping covenants
to follow Jesus Christ, and thereby increasing
our love for Him, the Savior of the world. A covenant is a two-way promise
between us and the Lord. As members of the Church we
covenant at baptism to take upon us the name of Jesus
Christ, to live as He lived. Like those baptized at
the Waters of Mormon, we covenant to
become His people, “to bear one another’s burdens,
that they may be light; … to mourn with those
that mourn; … comfort those that stand
in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God
at all times and in all things, and in all places.” Our ministering one to
another in the Church reflects our commitment to honor
those very promises. When we partake
of the sacrament, we renew that covenant to
take upon us His name and make additional promises to improve. Our daily thoughts and
actions, both large and small, reflect our commitment to Him. His sacred promise in return is
“If ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit
to be with you.” My question today is Do we stand
by our promises and covenants, or are they sometimes
half-hearted commitments, casually made and,
hence, easily broken? When we say to someone, “I
will pray for you,” do we? When we commit, “I will be
there to help,” will we? When we obligate ourselves
to pay a debt, do we? When we raise our hands
to sustain a fellow member in a new calling, which
means “give support,” do we? One evening in my youth, my
mother sat with me at the foot of her bed and spoke fervently
of the importance of living the Word of Wisdom. “I know from the experiences
of others, from years ago,” she said, “the loss of
spirituality and sensitivity that comes from not following
the Word of Wisdom.” She looked right into my eyes
and I felt her words penetrate my heart: “Promise me, Ronnie,
today (she called me Ronnie), that you will always
live the Word of Wisdom.” I solemnly made
that promise to her, and I have held to
it all these years. That commitment served me
well when I was in my youth and in later years when I
was in business circles where substances flowed freely. I made a decision in advance
to follow God’s laws, and I never had to revisit it. The Lord has said, “I, the Lord,
am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I
say, ye have no promise.” What is He saying to those who
abide by the Word of Wisdom? That we will have the promise
of health, strength, wisdom, knowledge, and
angels to protect us. Some years ago, Sister Rasband
and I were at the Salt Lake Temple for the sealing
of one of our daughters. As we stood outside the temple
with a younger daughter not yet old enough to
attend the ceremony, we spoke of the importance of
being sealed in the holy temple of God. As my mother had
taught me years before, we said to our daughter,
“We want you safely sealed in the temple, and we want you
to promise us that when you find your eternal companion, you
will make a date with him to be sealed in the temple.” She gave us her word. She has since stated that our
talk and her promise protected her and reminded her
“what was most important.” She later made sacred covenants
as she was sealed to her husband in the temple. President Nelson
has taught, “We … increase the Savior’s power in
our lives when we make sacred covenants and keep those
covenants with precision. Our covenants bind us to Him
and give us godly power.” When we keep promises
to one another, we are more likely to
keep promises to the Lord. Remember the Lord’s words:
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Reflect with me on examples
of promises in the scriptures. Ammon and the sons of Mosiah
in the Book of Mormon committed “to preach the word of God.” When Ammon was captured
by Lamanite forces, he was taken before the
Lamanite king Lamoni. He committed to the king,
“I will be thy servant.” When raiders came to
steal the king’s sheep, Ammon cut off their arms. So astonished was the king,
he listened to Ammon’s message of the gospel and was converted. Ruth, in the Old Testament,
promised her mother-in-law, “Whither thou goest, I will go.” She lived true to her word. The good Samaritan, in a
parable in the New Testament, promised the innkeeper he would
care for the injured traveler: “Whatsoever thou spendest
more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” Zoram, in the Book of
Mormon, promised to go into the wilderness with
Nephi and his brothers. Nephi recounted, “When Zoram
had made an oath unto us, our fears did cease
concerning him.” What of the ancient promise
“made to the fathers” as described in the
scriptures that “the hearts of the children shall
turn to their fathers”? In the pre-earth life,
when we chose God’s plan, we made a promise to help
gather Israel on both sides of the veil. “We went into a partnership
with the Lord,” Elder John A. Widtsoe explained years later. “The working out of the
plan became then not merely the Father’s work,
and the Savior’s work, but also our work.” “[The] gathering is the most
important thing taking place on [the] earth today,” President
Nelson has said as he has traveled throughout the world. “When we speak of the gathering,
we are simply saying this fundamental truth: every one of
our Heavenly Father’s children, on both sides of the veil,
deserves to hear the message of the restored gospel
of Jesus Christ.” As an Apostle of the
Lord Jesus Christ, I conclude with an
invitation and promise. First, the invitation: I invite
you to consider the promises and covenants you make with
the Lord, and with others, with great integrity, knowing
that your word is your bond. Second, I promise
you, as you do this, the Lord will establish your
words and sanction your deeds as you strive with unwearied
diligence to build up your lives, your families,
and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He will be with you, my
dear brothers and sisters, and you can, with confidence,
look forward to being “received into heaven, that thereby [you]
may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness …
for the Lord God hath spoken it.” Of this I testify and promise in
the name of Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING: “THY SPIRIT,
LORD, HAS STIRRED OUR SOULS”] Our Eternal Father in
Heaven, we love Thee, Father, and we’re grateful for
the opportunity to feel and to learn and to hear
the messages of this session of conference. We’re grateful for the
testimonies of the Savior, Thy Son and our Redeemer,
and we love Him. We particularly
recognize, Father, the great battalion of youth
of this Church and the messages shared this day that will
bless their lives as they bless others. We recognize their valiance,
their dedication, their faith, and their desires. We recognize their parents and
pray blessings upon each one of them, their leaders who
have been highlighted today, that their bishops and others
that serve with them will nurture this great spiritual
potential of the battalion that goes out to help gather
scattered Israel. We’re grateful for Thy Son
and for the promised blessings of His Second Coming. May we be ever focused on our
own preparation, spirituality, and dedication. Please bless all of us, Father,
that we will follow prophets, seers, and revelators. And we are grateful for
President Nelson and his leadership and vision done
under the inspiration of heaven. These blessings, Father,
we express our thanks for, recognizing Thy hand
in everything that is good in our life, and do so in the
name of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, amen. This has been a broadcast of
the 189th Semiannual 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. The music for this session was
provided by a combined choir of individuals residing in
stakes in the Provo, Utah, area. 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.