This is the fifth Thursday of the month. Which means it is time to think about all the great talks and quotes you've heard recently and share with the rest of us. How you do that is you either write about it in the comments of this post or you can email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put it in the comments for you.
Below are some great references in finding articles:
The opportunity to learn the gospel is just as important as the admonition to teach the gospel. In D&C 50: 22, we read the following: "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." Let us teach and receive of one another so we can ALL be edified and rejoice together in the sweetness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
I can't wait to be edified by you wonderful friends and family.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
This is the fifth Thursday of the month. Which means it is time to think about all the great talks and quotes you've heard recently and share with the rest of us. How you do that is you either write about it in the comments of this post or you can email it to me at email@example.com and I will put it in the comments for you.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I blew it today! Big time! Usually I prepare all week to provide you with a little insight and spiritual nourishment but this week it was just too much. Actually this time I just plain forgot! I have 5 children. This week one of them is fighting a stomach bug, my baby is teething, my daughter is having issues with rolling her eyes at her Kindergarten Teacher, another daughter has a field trip tomorrow which she is FREAKING OUT about, and then there is my son who has yet to have any issues this week…but it’s still only Thursday.
I LOVE being a mother. I love that Heavenly Father has chosen me to nurture and love these special little spirits. Sometimes, however, I get so wrapped up in the day to day and I forget to make time for me. How can I help them grow if I am neglecting myself? If I’m so busy how can I give them what is best? I’m sure you all have felt that way one time or another. Whether you have children or not I am sure you can relate to that…How are we able to be our best selves if we are getting sidetracked and neglecting our Spiritual needs?? What can I do to strengthen my family without foregoing myself? What choices do I need to make to guide my children down the right path?
I will admit that I prayed to find the proper talk to address my own needs this week. However, I know that you will all gain a tremendous amount of insight as well and I am grateful that the Lord guided me to this talk on such short notice. He always knows what we need if we just ask.
We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.
Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources. I. We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives. Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. While she was "cumbered about much serving" (Luke 10:40), her sister, Mary, "sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word" (v. 39). When Martha complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, Jesus commended Martha for what she was doing (v. 41) but taught her that "one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (v. 42). It was praiseworthy for Martha to be "careful and troubled about many things" (v. 41), but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more "needful." The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others (see Acts 20:35; Alma 32:14–15). A childhood experience introduced me to the idea that some choices are good but others are better. I lived for two years on a farm. We rarely went to town. Our Christmas shopping was done in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. I spent hours poring over its pages. For the rural families of that day, catalog pages were like the shopping mall or the Internet of our time. Something about some displays of merchandise in the catalog fixed itself in my mind. There were three degrees of quality: good, better, and best. For example, some men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).1 As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all. Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom" (D&C 88:118; emphasis added). II. Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, "I just didn't spend enough time with my job." In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best. A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. "The thing I liked best this summer," the boy replied, "was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked." Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent. The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children's values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children. Family experts have warned against what they call "the overscheduling of children." In the last generation children are far busier and families spend far less time together. Among many measures of this disturbing trend are the reports that structured sports time has doubled, but children's free time has declined by 12 hours per week, and unstructured outdoor activities have fallen by 50 percent.2 The number of those who report that their "whole family usually eats dinner together" has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together "eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children's academic achievement and psychological adjustment."3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children's smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: What your children really want for dinner is you. President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we "work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it." He continued: "I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting."5 The First Presidency has called on parents "to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles. . . . The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place . . . in . . . this God-given responsibility." The First Presidency has declared that "however worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform."6 III. Church leaders should be aware that Church meetings and activities can become too complex and burdensome if a ward or a stake tries to have the membership do everything that is good and possible in our numerous Church programs. Priorities are needed there also. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve have stressed the importance of exercising inspired judgment in Church programs and activities. Elder L. Tom Perry taught this principle in our first worldwide leadership training meeting in 2003. Counseling the same leaders in 2004, Elder Richard G. Scott said: "Adjust your activities to be consistent with your local conditions and resources. . . . Make sure that the essential needs are met, but do not go overboard in creating so many good things to do that the essential ones are not accomplished. . . . Remember, don't magnify the work to be done—simplify it."7 In general conference last year, Elder M. Russell Ballard warned against the deterioration of family relationships that can result when we spend excess time on ineffective activities that yield little spiritual sustenance. He cautioned against complicating our Church service "with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. . . . The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. . . . What is most important in our Church responsibilities," he said, "is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed."8 Stake presidencies and bishoprics need to exercise their authority to weed out the excessive and ineffective busyness that is sometimes required of the members of their stakes or wards. Church programs should focus on what is best (most effective) in achieving their assigned purposes without unduly infringing on the time families need for their "divinely appointed duties." But here is a caution for families. Suppose Church leaders reduce the time required by Church meetings and activities in order to increase the time available for families to be together. This will not achieve its intended purpose unless individual family members—especially parents—vigorously act to increase family togetherness and one-on-one time. Team sports and technology toys like video games and the Internet are already winning away the time of our children and youth. Surfing the Internet is not better than serving the Lord or strengthening the family. Some young men and women are skipping Church youth activities or cutting family time in order to participate in soccer leagues or to pursue various entertainments. Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death. Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families. IV. Here are some other illustrations of good, better, and best: It is good to belong to our Father in Heaven's true Church and to keep all of His commandments and fulfill all of our duties. But if this is to qualify as "best," it should be done with love and without arrogance. We should, as we sing in a great hymn, "crown [our] good with brotherhood,"9 showing love and concern for all whom our lives affect. To our hundreds of thousands of home teachers and visiting teachers, I suggest that it is good to visit our assigned families; it is better to have a brief visit in which we teach doctrine and principle; and it is best of all to make a difference in the lives of some of those we visit. That same challenge applies to the many meetings we hold—good to hold a meeting, better to teach a principle, but best to actually improve lives as a result of the meeting. As we approach 2008 and a new course of study in our Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and Relief Societies, I renew our caution about how we use the Teachings of Presidents of the Church manuals. Many years of inspired work have produced our 2008 volume of the teachings of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of this dispensation. This is a landmark among Church books. In the past, some teachers have given a chapter of the Teachings manuals no more than a brief mention and then substituted a lesson of their own choice. It may have been a good lesson, but this is not an acceptable practice. A gospel teacher is called to teach the subject specified from the inspired materials provided. The best thing a teacher can do with Teachings: Joseph Smith is to select and quote from the words of the Prophet on principles specially suited to the needs of class members and then direct a class discussion on how to apply those principles in the circumstances of their lives. I testify of our Heavenly Father, whose children we are and whose plan is designed to qualify us for "eternal life . . . the greatest of all the gifts of God" (D&C 14:7; see also D&C 76:51–59). I testify of Jesus Christ, whose Atonement makes it possible. And I testify that we are led by prophets, our President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. NOTES1. Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog, Fall and Winter 1944–45, 316E.2. Jared R. Anderson and William J. Doherty, "Democratic Community Initiatives: The Case of Overscheduled Children," Family Relations, vol. 54 (Dec. 2005): 655.3. Anderson and Doherty, Family Relations, 54:655.4. See Nancy Gibbs, "The Magic of the Family Meal," Time, June 12, 2006, 51–52; see also Sarah Jane Weaver, "Family Dinner," Church News, Sept. 8, 2007, 5.5. "Each a Better Person," Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 100.6. First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999; printed in Church News, Feb. 27, 1999, 3.7. "The Doctrinal Foundation of the Auxiliaries," Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 5, 7–8; see also Ensign, Aug. 2005, 62, 67.8. "O Be Wise," Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2006, 18–20.9. "America the Beautiful," Hymns, no. 338.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
When I heard this talk I KNEW that I had to share it with each of you again! I have never taken so many notes on a conference talk in my life. I had been personally praying to know more deeply of God's love for me and to feel more happiness and joy in my life. This beautiful talk spoke right to my spirit. I felt so uplifted and I know that you will too! Truly happiness is our heritage and our birthright! May you find joy in creating! May you feel your weariness lifted to such a degree that His pure light fills you to overflowing. There is so much we can give when we are filled ourselves! Have a truly blessed week! ~Sarah
Happiness, Your Heritage - Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
My dear sisters, I am grateful for this, my first opportunity to speak to the women of the Church gathered together in all parts of the world. We are especially honored today with the presence of President Monson and President Eyring. The choir has touched our hearts. We have been inspired by the messages of Sister Thompson, Sister Allred, and Sister Beck. Since learning that I would be with you today, I have thought about the many women who have shaped my life: my wonderful wife, Harriet; my mother; my mother-in-law; my sister; my daughter; my daughter-in-law; and many friends. All my life I have been surrounded by women who inspired, taught, and encouraged me. I am who I am today in large part because of these singular women. Each time I meet with the sisters of the Church, I sense that I am in the midst of similar remarkable souls. I am grateful to be here, grateful for your talents, compassion, and service. Most of all, I am grateful for who you are: treasured daughters of our Heavenly Father with infinite worth. I'm sure it comes as no surprise, but the differences between men and women can often be quite striking—physically and mentally, as well as emotionally. One of the best ways I can think of to illustrate this is in the way my wife and I cook a meal. When Harriet prepares a meal, it's a masterpiece. Her cuisine is as wide-ranging as the world, and she frequently prepares dishes from countries we have visited. The presentation of the food is awe inspiring. In fact, it often looks so beautiful that it seems a crime to eat it. It's as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the sense of taste. But sure enough, no matter how perfect everything is, looks, and tastes, Harriet will apologize for something she thinks is imperfect. "I'm afraid I used a touch too much ginger," she will say, or, "Next time, I think it would be better if I used a little more curry and one additional bay leaf." Let me contrast that with the way I cook. For the purpose of this talk, I asked Harriet to tell me what I cook best. Her answer: fried eggs. Sunny-side up. But that isn't all. I have a specialty dish called Knusperchen. The name may sound like a delicacy you might find at an exclusive restaurant. Let me share with you how to make it. You cut French bread into small slices and toast them twice. That is the recipe! So, between fried eggs, even when they are greasy, and Knusperchen, even when they are burned, when I cook, I feel pretty heroic. Perhaps this contrast between my wife and me is a slight exaggeration, but it illustrates something that may extend beyond preparing meals. To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they really are. Perhaps you recognize this trait in someone you know really well. The good news is that this also points to an admirable quality: the innate desire to please the Lord to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, it can also lead to frustration, exhaustion, and unhappiness. To All Who Are Weary Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us. I also pray that the Holy Ghost will amplify my words and bestow upon them additional meaning, insight, and inspiration. We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow. I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn't a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial. These things are not insignificant. However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress. I want to speak about God's happiness and how each one of us can taste of it in spite of the burdens that beset us. God's Happiness Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God's happiness. This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father's happiness? This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God's] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts."1 Though we cannot understand "the meaning of all things," we do "know that [God] loveth his children"2 because He has said, "Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."3 Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father's perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate. The Work of Creation The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don't need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty. Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children. You might say, "I'm not the creative type. When I sing, I'm always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop." If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn't it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination. But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy.4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things. If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next. You may think you don't have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter. What you create doesn't have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don't let fear of failure discourage you. Don't let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it. Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. "There is a great work for the Saints to do," he said. "Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ."6 The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you. Being Compassionate Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees."7 Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior "mourn with those that mourn . . . and comfort those that stand in need of comfort."8 When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children. As we lift others, we rise a little higher ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, "The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls."9 President Gordon B. Hinckley believed in the healing power of service. After the death of his wife, he provided a great example to the Church in the way he immersed himself in work and in serving others. It is told that President Hinckley remarked to one woman who had recently lost her husband, "Work will cure your grief. Serve others." These are profound words. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness. President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: "When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated."10 In today's world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn't lead to lasting happiness. An Instrument in the Hands of the Lord I believe that the women of the Church, regardless of age or family status, understand and apply best the words of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan: "Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."11 Often I have witnessed quiet acts of kindness and compassion by noble women who extended themselves in unselfish charity. My heart swells when I hear stories of the sisters of the Church and how they rush to the aid of those in need. There are those in the Church—both men and women—who wonder how they can contribute to the kingdom. Sometimes women who are single, divorced, or widowed wonder if there is a place for them. Every sister in the Church is of critical importance—not only to our Heavenly Father but also to the building of the kingdom of God as well. There is a great work to do. One year ago in this meeting, President Monson taught that "you are . . . surrounded by opportunities for service. . . . Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another."12 Look around you. There at sacrament meeting is a young mother with several children—offer to sit with her and help. There in your neighborhood is a young man who seems discouraged—tell him you enjoy being in his presence, that you feel his goodness. True words of encouragement require only a loving and caring heart but may have an eternal impact on the life of those around you. You wonderful sisters render compassionate service to others for reasons that supersede desires for personal benefits. In this you emulate the Savior, who, though a king, did not seek position, nor was He concerned about whether others noticed Him. He did not bother to compete with others. His thoughts were always tuned to help others. He taught, healed, conversed, and listened to others. He knew that greatness had little to do with outward signs of prosperity or position. He taught and lived by this doctrine: "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant."13 In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers. Conclusion My dear sisters, I have a simple faith. I believe that as you are faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, as you draw closer to Him in faith, hope, and charity, things will work together for your good.14 I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the work of our Father—as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others—God will encircle you in the arms of His love.15 Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment. As spirit daughters of our Heavenly Father, happiness is your heritage. You are choice daughters of our Heavenly Father, and through the things you create and by your compassionate service, you are a great power for good. You will make the world a better place. Lift up your chin; walk tall. God loves you. We love and admire you. Of this I testify, and leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. NOTES1. Isaiah 55:9.2. 1 Nephi 11:17.3. Moses 1:39.4. See 2 Nephi 2:25.5. See D&C 46:11–12.6. Brigham Young, Deseret News, Aug. 8, 1860, 177.7. D&C 81:5.8. Mosiah 18:9.9. Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 254.10. Lorenzo Snow, in Conference Report, Apr. 6, 1899, 2–3.11. Barrie, J. M., A Window in Thrums (1917), 137.12. Thomas S. Monson, "Three Goals to Guide You," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 120.13. Matthew 23:11.14. See D&C 90:24.15. See D&C 6:20.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
We are in the midst of summer. I am sure you all are so very busy and so are we here at The Talk of the Week Club. For the next few weeks we will be reposting some of our favorite talks from previous weeks. This is a great chance to review a talk you've already heard or if you hadn't had the time to partake of it yet now is your chance! We hope you all have a wonderful summer and continue to enjoy this blessed opportunity to learn and grow your personal testimony.
Bonnie D. Parkin Relief Society General President
CES Fireside for Young Adults March 7, 2004 Brigham Young University
Thank you to President Keetch, and thank you to that wonderful choir. You are wonderful, and I appreciate it.
First of all I’d like to clear up that rumor making the rounds in certain singles wards: I did not date Brigham Young. (At least give me the benefit of Heber J. Grant!)
Some of you may be wondering what I could say that you haven’t heard before. Well, I’ve been wondering the same thing! I can promise you that I won’t talk about the saving powers of scrapbooking or tuna casseroles—I don’t do either of those very well.
You see, the reason I’ve worried so much about this talk is because I know who you are. I see how valiantly you strive to live the gospel. I feel a great love for you. And so I have wanted to say something that would matter in your lives, that would give you hope to not give up, that would lift and inspire you.
But I wasn’t getting any answers. So I finally resigned myself to stand here and sing “‘Give,’ Said the Little Stream” or other Primary songs. I can guarantee you haven’t heard that before!
To spare you that fate worse than death, I returned to the temple, fasting and praying. And this time I received specific direction. Oh, for a spiritual laser printer.
President Gordon B. Hinckley recently described you as being “faithful and true”1 in your desires for righteousness. Heavenly Father sees your goodness; that is why He has inspired me with a message specifically for you.
As my four sons were growing up, I had a few sayings that I used repeatedly to help keep them on track—my oldest son calls them “Bonnie-isms.” Here are a few examples:
The Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight. Truth is truth wherever it is found. Fair is where you go to see the pigs.
Among my many Bonnie-isms there were two I used frequently. If I had to remind my sons about an unfinished chore and they responded, “I know!” my standard reply was, “To know is to do!”
And almost every time they ran out our back door for a date, a football game, or a dance, I would call another Bonnie-ism after them: “Remember who you are!”
There is power in these two phrases. Let me explain. When we know something—truly understand it—then we do it.
For example, once you know it’s easier to get a date when you use deodorant, you’ll use it, right?
One of the most important things to know is something Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: “You have been you for a long time.”2 He’s trying to help us remember who we are. Because knowing who you are changes what you do.
Case in point: If you know—and remember—who you are and remember your divine birthright, you will date noble people, wear modest clothing, use clean language, surf worthy Web sites, listen to good music, watch enriching movies, keep the Word of Wisdom, and stay morally clean. You will study your scriptures, forgive each other, say your prayers, repent of your sins, serve others, magnify your callings, and love one another.
But remembering what you know can be especially tricky during this time of your life. You’re pursuing so many worthwhile goals: an education, a job, an eternal companion. (Get out there and find each other, will you please!) Sometimes, in pursuit of worthy goals, we lose sight of what matters most.
I know you think life has yet to begin, but gaining the knowledge of your eternal identity happens right now—at your very stage of life. Not after you’re married or after you’ve graduated or after you’ve learned to use deodorant. It comes right now, before all that stuff! “Seek not the things of this world,” said Jesus, “but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (JST, Matthew 6:38).
Part of seeking the kingdom first is seeking your specific place in the kingdom. That changes everything!
The Making of a Prophet
Let me tell you a story. A few years ago a little baby was taken from his poor family to be raised by a wealthy family as their son. Initially he knew nothing of his true identity. He lived like royalty, taking advantage of the poor—including his own family—to increase his adoptive family’s wealth. But one fateful day he learned the truth of his origin. Even his religion was different. He was heartsick about having inflicted such pain on those he should have protected and loved. And so he knew he would have to make things right. That man’s name was Moses.
After this mighty change of heart, Moses became a great prophet. He knew the Lord. He witnessed and participated in incredible miracles—escaping from Egypt, parting the Red Sea, and receiving the Ten Commandments. He had innumerable spiritual experiences. Yet he never stopped asking Heavenly Father for further light and knowledge. Thus the more he learned from God, the more he became like God. Isn’t that our desire?
Let’s look at chapter 1 of the Pearl of Great Price. Let’s figure out firsthand what we must do to learn what Moses knew. As we think about his journey, liken it unto yours (see 1 Nephi 19:23), for what was promised to Moses is promised to you.
A Mountain of the Lord
The chapter opens with Moses at the top of a high mountain (see Moses 1:1). Frequently in the scriptures, a mountain represents a holy place away from the world, a place of revelation—like the temple (see Micah 4:1). To learn the things of heaven, Moses removes himself from the world. This is significant!
I recently asked a group of sisters your same age what single thing kept them from knowing who they truly are. Can you guess their first answer? They said the loud, distracting, powerful pull of the world. Can you relate? Separating ourselves from the world both in distance and in worthiness is an act of great struggle—like Moses scaling that mountain. But what incredible blessings await those who do so.
A Son of God in Glory
Verse 2 tells us that here, away from the world, Moses “saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses.” Can you imagine such an experience! I hope so, because Heavenly Father also wants to talk to you face to face and shine His glory upon you. As of right now, you probably haven’t experienced God’s full glory. But each time you feel the love of the Lord in your life, you are experiencing a portion of His glory. Never take those experiences for granted—because the glory of God is powerful stuff. It enables Moses to endure God’s presence, to judge between good and evil, to receive saving strength.
Would you like to know what Moses and Heavenly Father talked about in that glory?
First, Heavenly Father introduces Himself. He speaks tender, comforting words to Moses: “Behold, thou art my son” (Moses 1:4; emphasis added). What a powerful statement. Moses is a child of the living God! Throughout this chapter Heavenly Father continually calls Moses “my son.” This revelation should be no less powerful for you—because you, too, are a child of the living God!
A Work to Do: Look, and He Will Show
“Wherefore,” says Heavenly Father—or, in other words, because you are my son—“look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands” (Moses 1:4). And so it is with you! Because you, too, are His child, look, and He will show you what you need to know.
And then Heavenly Father reveals, “I have a work for thee, Moses, my son” (Moses 1:6; emphasis added). Wow! He who can do all things had a mission—a purpose—for Moses. Moses was being entrusted to assist God. Do you think at that moment Moses might have felt a little inadequate? (See Exodus 4:10–16.) I certainly would have.
When President Hinckley extended my current calling as Relief Society general president, I was more than overwhelmed—I was flusterpated! But remembering my divine heritage gave me confidence to accept this assignment. I imagine it was similar for Moses. Maybe that’s why President Harold B. Lee once observed, “What a difference it would make if we really sensed our divine relationship to God, our Heavenly Father.”3
You are a child of God, and He has sent you here. Thus it is essential that you learn why you are here. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Unless [the Saints of God] have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God they will grow weary in their minds, and faint.”4
What might your work be? You have unique talents and abilities to develop. You need to marry and have a family, you have callings to fulfill, you have brothers and sisters to love and serve. You see, those gifts that make you most unique are those that require your energy. Some assignments can be accomplished by anyone, but others require someone special. Think of Jesus or Joseph Smith or Moses. Think of yourself, for “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Who knoweth? Well, your Father in Heaven knows—that’s who.
How can He tell you the work He has for you? Of course there are many ways, but chief among them is your patriarchal blessing. President Hinckley explains that when you receive your blessing, “A man of God lays his hands upon [your] head and speaking as a prophet bestows a blessing, setting forth the great possibility that you have in this life.”5 Your patriarchal blessing protects you from becoming weary in your mind. It reminds you who you are. It is personal scripture of the work you have to do and what you need to know about yourself.
Look what Heavenly Father tells Moses about himself: “Moses, my son, . . . thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior” (Moses 1:6; emphasis added). Moses’ mission was not to unlock the gate to eternal life, but, in similitude of the Savior, he saved the children of Israel from bondage and led them to the promised land.
Moses is not alone at being in the similitude of Jesus with a unique work to do. You are right there with him with your unique mission, which includes being a savior on Mount Zion (see Obadiah 1:21).
Have you received your patriarchal blessing? Do you read it often? Do you pray about it? I hope so, because it’s pretty hard to do what you don’t know! Right now is the time to discover your mission. And if you’ll oppose the world’s pull, Heavenly Father will show you.
Spiritual Eyes versus Natural Eyes
Heavenly Father shows Moses this world and worlds without end “and all the children of men which are, and which were created.” And of this Moses “greatly marveled and wondered” (Moses 1:8).
But then, after such awesome enlightenment, “the presence of God withdraws from Moses, that his glory is not upon Moses.” Now listen to this next phrase: “And Moses [is] left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he [falls] unto the earth” (Moses 1:9; emphasis added). There is a great truth there: When we are separated from God’s glory, we are left to ourselves. And when we are left to ourselves, it is much easier to fall.
It took “many hours” for Moses to regain his strength. And he sums up his experience thus far with a new perspective, saying, “I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). Can you relate? Moses sees his place amongst God’s creations and is astonished. And yet, of all those creations, God appeared to Moses to show him his mission. I find that astonishing. Nevertheless, I know this is how He operates with each of His children, including you.
Reflecting on it all, Moses does not question what he has seen. In fact, he acknowledges how he saw it: “But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face” (Moses 1:11).
As was true for Moses, we cannot come to know our calling with our natural eyes—natural eyes do not require faith! Paul teaches us that the beautiful truths of the kingdom are “revealed . . . unto us by his Spirit. . . .
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10–11; emphasis added).
The Test of Faith
Even after such a life-changing experience, Moses’ struggles are not over. In fact, because there is “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11), his great highs will be matched with deep lows. After all, it’s easy to remain true to our faith without the challenges to try that faith; true faith is only made manifest in the face of heart-piercing trials. Moses—like all of us—has to learn and prove just how stalwart he is with his new knowledge.
As Moses rejoices in what he had witnessed, “Behold, Satan [comes] tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me” (Moses 1:12).
Did you notice the very first thing Satan says to Moses? It is the direct opposite of what God had said! Listen to Lucifer again: “Moses, son of man, worship me.” Do you see it? Satan goes for the jugular by calling into question Moses’ divine birthright and, thus, his very identity. “You’re no son of God,” Satan says, “you’re a mere son of man.” For Satan understands that the slide into captivity begins with doubts about who we really are.
But Moses is a pretty smart guy. He doesn’t say, “Okay, you’re probably right. Let’s go eat, drink, and be merry.” Instead, he fires right back: “Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God.” And then Moses strengthens that declaration by adding, “I am . . . in the similitude of his Only Begotten” (Moses 1:13). Do you see the power that comes from knowing who you are?
Lucifer’s Need for Idolization
And did you detect one of Satan’s fixations? It is two simple words: “Worship me” (Moses 1:12, 19). That obsession hasn’t changed.
Because of their past, Lucifer is insanely jealous of his brother Jehovah. Lucifer craves being idolized. But he mistakes idolization for adoration, reverence, and veneration. Thus, like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum, he screams, “Worship me—not Him.”
But most of us aren’t that stupid to just worship Satan outright—are we? We need a little enticement. So Old Scratch is happy to provide it. When tempting Jesus—who was Jehovah in the flesh—Lucifer used the same bait he still uses today: appetites, riches, and power.6 In short, the things of this world. And Jesus could have all that cash and those fabulous prizes—if He would only worship Satan (see Luke 4:1–13).
I know that you are a choice group of Heavenly Father’s children. But the Lord has very specific counsel for His chosen: “There are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
“Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” (D&C 121:34–35; emphasis added). Lucifer knows this! Why else would he put so much energy into showing us the things of this world?
You see, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
Unfortunately, there are legions listening to Lucifer’s calls to worship him. Just two months ago President Hinckley said something that stopped my heart. He said, “I do not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah [than today]. . . . Similar conditions . . . prevail all across the world. I think our Father must weep as He looks down upon His wayward sons and daughters.”7 This is a powerful pronouncement. But I agree.
Again, you are a choice group of Heavenly Father’s children; your attendance at this fireside further demonstrates your desire for righteousness. But, like Moses, this also makes you a larger target for the adversary. Every righteous soul that Satan seduces from the truth becomes a game hunter’s trophy, prominently mounted and displayed on the walls of hell.
How Lucifer Entices Us
How does Satan entice us to worship him? By indulging our appetites, offering us riches, and promising us power. Of course he needs someone to show us his wares, and he has no end of eager salesmen.
One of the most powerful persuasives is the visual image. A brother I know calls television “the devil’s home teacher.” And aside from the Lord, nobody understands the power of images, decibels, and repetition better than Satan. Satan knows the sway of “everybody’s doing it.” He knows if he dangles his merchandise in front of you long enough, your heart just might get hooked on the things of this world.
In last October’s general conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “The choices we make in media can be symbolic of the choices we make in life. Choosing the trendy, the titillating, the tawdry in the TV programs or movies we watch can cause us to end up, if we’re not careful, choosing the same things in the lives we live.”8
And then he encouraged us to follow the counsel in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth:
“Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable. . . .
“Have the courage to walk out of a movie or video party, turn off a computer or television, change a radio station, or put down a magazine if what is being presented does not meet Heavenly Father’s standards. Do these things even if others do not.”9
What words do you use to describe the temple? I use words like holiness, peace, worthiness, calmness, and light. The Lord Himself says His house is “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119). The increase in temples around the world is another testament to me of the truthfulness of the gospel.
But as God’s temples spread across the world, so, too, do Satan’s. The success of his missionary work also requires a place for his converts. After all, how can he be worshiped without a sanctuary? Opposites of the words we just used for God’s temples describe Satan’s: filthy, wicked, loud, and dark. Consider the ever-lengthening strip of Las Vegas’s casinos. In Lucifer’s temples—now advertised as “family friendly”—appetites are satisfied in spades; more is not enough; anarchy trumps order. And all the while our spirits are blinded by the lights, deafened by the din, and bludgeoned by the beats.
One day that power will be shut off; the lights and music will cease. And “they who are filthy shall be filthy still . . . and . . . shall go away into everlasting fire” (2 Nephi 9:16).
The State of the World
I don’t emphasize these things to scare you. But “we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” said Paul, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Listen to what President Boyd K. Packer taught just over a month ago: “I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. . . .
“The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.
“It is my purpose to . . . put you on alert. These are days of great spiritual danger for our youth.”10
Of course Lucifer’s temples are not just casinos. You know where and what they are—they are places where men and women are persuaded “to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God” (Moroni 7:17). They are places where Satan’s demand of “Worship me!” is heeded, where loud music and rough language drown out the still small voice, where darkness—not glory—is desired.
Glory versus Darkness
How ironic for Satan, then, that this very contrast between glory and darkness helps Moses recognize Satan. Had Moses not experienced God’s glory, the darkness would have been less obvious. But Moses remembers, so he asks Lucifer, “And where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?
“For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me. . . . But I can look upon thee in the natural man. . . .
“ . . . Thy glory . . . is darkness unto me[.] And I can judge between thee and God” (Moses 1:13–15; emphasis added). What empowering words!
All of you have experienced some level of God’s glory. If not, you would not be here. And all of you have experienced some level of Satan’s darkness. In this you are no different from Moses either. So, like Moses, you can judge! You know the pain of your spirit being wounded by sin or the devastation of the Holy Ghost leaving when offended or the despair of losing self-control. But you also know the sweetness of forgiveness, the transcendence of testimony, and the humble gratitude for answered prayers. You have felt the love of the Lord in your life; you have felt His glory. This is why you can judge between glory and darkness, between God and Lucifer!
Knowing that God is completely honest (see Deuteronomy 32:4), Moses also knows that Satan is deceitful. Thus Moses doesn’t invite the father of lies to stay for lunch so as not to offend him. No, Moses cuts right to the chase: “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not” (Moses 1:16).
This is a powerful command—but not too powerful for a son or daughter of God to make! You, too, are a child of God. And you, too, can say, “Get thee hence, Satan.” In fact, there will be times you will have to say it.
Moses is strengthened by knowing his divine birthright and thus declared an unwavering commitment to Heavenly Father. He reminds Satan that “God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.
“And he also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me” (Moses 1:16–17; emphasis added).
In other words, Moses is going to honor his covenants. He reiterates his commitment, saying, “I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan” (Moses 1:18; emphasis added).
You see this pattern again and again. Moses has seen God’s glory (or felt the love of the Lord in his life), he remembers it—his judgment is not impaired by Satan’s deceptions—and thus he can cast Satan out with confidence. Make this your pattern, too.
Further, if a man of Moses’ stature and testimony is still humble enough to realize that he cannot cease to call upon God, what does that mean for you? Brothers and sisters, at all times and in all places—but especially in the face of great trials and tribulations—you cannot give up praying to Heavenly Father! You must just keep trying, even if the heavens seem sealed and silent.
President Hinckley said, “We must get on our knees and plead with the Lord for help and strength and direction.”11
So after Moses commands Satan to leave, “Satan crie[s] with a loud voice, and rant[s] upon the earth, and command[s,] saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me” (Moses 1:19; emphasis added). That is a lie, plain and simple. Lucifer is forever trying to be someone he’s not.
Faith and Fear
Lucifer’s exit must have exceeded anything Moses had ever witnessed, because “Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell” (Moses 1:20).
Verse 20 is crucial to remember because it shows us that Satan does not give up easily, or go quietly. He might preach instant gratification and self-indulgence, but he knows the power of patience and self-denial. Why else is he called the “cunning one”? (2 Nephi 9:39). Thus, Satan’s fury can strike fear into the hearts of men, even men like Moses—and like you. That is a scary thought, because as soon as Moses became afraid, he could see into the very depths of hell. But did you know that fear can overcome faith? All of us have times of fear—remember Peter walking on the water?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught a most extraordinary truth:
“For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not there faith is weak; and where faith is weak the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.”12
Jesus told Peter: “Behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31–32; emphasis added). Jesus knew that faith—not fear—will conquer Satan.
It is fear that overtakes Moses. But his fear does not last long enough to give Satan any advantage. Do you know why? Look at verse 20 again: “Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory. . . .
“And . . . he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses” (Moses 1:20, 22; emphasis added).
What did Moses, the great prophet, do to escape his fear? He had no secret weapon that you don’t have. He prayed. He needed that divine assistance because Satan is persistent. It takes Moses four times to drive Satan out. Four times! (Even my sons usually minded after three times—well, most of the time.) Imagine if Moses had given up after three times.
In your deepest times of temptation and fear, like Moses, you must plead with Heavenly Father as frequently and as long as necessary to retain your faith. If you do not, Lucifer will lurk nearby until your defenses drop—and then return with enticings to worship him and fears to stop your heart. It is not easy—but nothing of worth is.
Nearly thirty years ago Elder Eldred G. Smith gave some wonderful counsel about standing up to Lucifer. “The only power I know of that will bind Satan, or render him powerless, is righteous living.
“ . . . Even Jesus Christ had to bind Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness. . . .
“When you have resisted a temptation until it no longer becomes a temptation, then to that extent, Satan has lost his power over you, and as long as you do not yield to him, to that degree he is bound.”13
With Satan finally gone, “Moses lift[s] up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son” (Moses 1:24).
You have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, who testifies of the truth. You are entitled to His presence and direction according to your faithfulness. Let Him help you!
The Rewards of Faithfulness
“And calling upon the name of God, he [Moses] beh[olds] his glory again, for it [is] upon him” (Moses 1:25). Did you notice that Heavenly Father’s glory has returned?
Continuing in verse 25, Heavenly Father begins pouring out blessings upon Moses to reward his loyalty. God’s first words are ones of comfort and encouragement: “Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee” (emphasis added). Being chosen by God is no small thing. Do you remember why many are called but few are chosen? Satan had offered Moses the worldly menu, but Moses denied himself “of all ungodliness” (Moroni 10:32; emphasis added). Thus Moses is chosen because his heart is set upon the things of his Father.
And now, after that crucible of temptation, God knows Moses can be trusted completely, and—just as important—Moses knows he is completely trustworthy. So Heavenly Father is able to further reward Moses with increased knowledge about his mission. Listen: “And thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.
“And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen” (Moses 1:25–26). What great promises! Can you hear the foreshadowing of “all that my Father hath shall be given unto [you]”? (D&C 84:38).
Whose We Are
Heavenly Father proceeds to reveal His innumerable creations and answer Moses’ questions about those creations. And then Heavenly Father says something that even though I cannot comprehend it, I know to be true: “For behold, there are many worlds. . . . And innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:35; emphasis added).
Can you believe it? Even with all those innumerable creations, God knows Moses. And I testify that He also knows you. How do I know? Because He knows me. Because He has inspired my words for you tonight. We are numbered to Him because we are His.
My counselor and dear friend, Anne C. Pingree, made a wonderful observation that not only are we “blessed to know who we are,” we are blessed to know “whose we are.”14
The Great Reward
Moses had been taught who he was, he had been given his work, and he had been shown whose he was. And then, because he had proven himself unshakable, he was ready to learn Heavenly Father’s work and glory. From this seemingly simple revelation in Moses 1, the gospel and everything we do in it is unified and infused with eternal significance. Here is that stunning revelation in verse 39: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
This sublime statement is the crowning reward for Moses’ faithfulness and steadfastness. Its insight extends to us, changing our actions. It is a perfect example of how knowing leads to doing.
But remember that this pearl of great price came at a great price. It was received only after Moses had removed himself from the things of this world, had experienced divine love and glory, had learned who he was and what his work would be, had made covenants with his Father in Heaven, and had resisted Satan unceasingly with testimony and prayer.
Some of you may be struggling with knowing who you are. There’s a little secret about “to know is to do”: the flip side is also true—“to do is to know!” In other words, if you’re unsure, just do anyway. Jesus has promised, “If any man will do [my Father’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17; emphasis added). Do, and you’ll know.
Remember Who You Are!
Like Moses, you are a son or daughter of God in the similitude of His Only Begotten Son. Like Moses, you can do every single one of these things! And, therefore, like Moses, you can receive every single one of these incredible blessings.
Listen to the words Peter taught, referring to promises the Savior had made to others: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off” (Acts 2:39; emphasis added).
And so this is why I tell my children and my grandchildren and each one of you, “Remember who you are.” Or, as the Lord said, “Remember the worth of souls is great” (D&C 18:10).
This is why I say, “To know is to do.” Or, as the Savior said—and I like what was added—“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17; emphasis added).
I hope you feel energized and, as my boys say, “pumped up” to overcome the challenges that are uniquely yours for this unique time. You can conquer!
When you feel down, remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Many, like Moses, have gone before you and have successfully overcome hard things. You can too. Many—like President Hinckley, the Apostles, your bishop, your parents, and even I—pray for you daily. You can, and you must, pray too. You are children of God, and He has sent you here! His work and His glory is to bring to pass your immortality and eternal life.
Recently President Hinckley gave us wonderful encouragement: “[You] must not give up. [You] must not become discouraged. [You] must never surrender to the forces of evil. [You] can and must maintain the standards for which this Church has stood since it was organized. There is a better way than the way of the world. If it means standing alone, [you] must do it. . . .
“ . . . [You] must get on [your] knees and plead with the Lord for help and strength and direction. [You] must then stand on [your] feet and move forward.
“I am absolutely confident that heaven will smile upon [you]. The Lord will hear and answer [your] prayers if [you] will commit [yourself], giving [your] very best to this work.”15 Moses showed us that this is true.
Tonight as you run out the door to life’s adventures, let me give you two Bonnie-isms for the road. They are filled with all the love in my heart: Remember who you are. To know is to do!
I pray that you, like your brother Moses, will let Heavenly Father lead you, guide you, and walk beside you, because I testify that He will. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” in Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Priesthood and the Auxiliaries of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary, 10 Jan. 2004, 20. 2. In Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 106; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 100. 3. In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 9; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 6. 4. Joseph Smith, comp., Lectures on Faith , 67–68. 5. In “Messages of Inspiration from President Hinckley,” Church News, 6 Dec. 2003, 2; emphasis added. 6. See David O. McKay, “Individual Righteousness, the Strength of the Church,” Instructor, Sept. 1962, 290. 7. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” 20. 8. In Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 15; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 16. 9. For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God (2001), 17, 19. 10. The One Pure Defense (An Evening with President Boyd K. Packer, 6 Feb. 2004), 4; emphasis added. 11. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” 21. 12. Lectures on Faith, 71. 13. In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 142. 14. “Preparing the Greatest Generation of Missionaries: A Mission for Every Woman,” BYU Women’s Conference, 2 May 2003, 3. 15. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” 20–21.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
As I pondered what talk to share, I reflected on the birth of our Nation soon to be celebrated and felt to share something about the great blessings we enjoy here. I have been saddened by the great unraveling of our Constitution and honorable principles upon which this Nation is built we are witnessing, almost minute by minute. I know it is only through our righteousness and study that we will be prepared to bear off the important things which need to happen at this critical time in our Nation's history. I wish to share President Benson's General Conference Talk from the October 1987 Conference. I was inspired, encouraged and comforted by his words and find them so applicable to our day. I wish to add my witness that this Land is a choice land and that our protection and safety come from serving God. He will inspire us to know and do those things we can to build and protect our nation as we seek His guidance.
Best wishes for a joyful July,
Our Divine Constitution
President Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Divine Constitution,” Ensign, Nov 1987, 4
My beloved brethren and sisters, what a glorious blessing to be assembled in another great general conference of the Church. I ask for an interest in your faith and prayers as I speak to you about a subject that is very close to my heart and that affects the worldwide Church.
We have recently celebrated the bicentennial of the signing of the United States Constitution. That commemoration marked the beginning of a series of bicentennial anniversaries of events leading up to the ratification of the Constitution, implementation of the government it created, and the writing and ratification of the Bill of Rights. We look forward to the future commemoration of each of these important events during the next four years. It is as a result of these events that we are able to meet today in peace as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. For this we should all be eternally grateful.
I desire, therefore, to speak to you about our divine Constitution, which the Lord said “belongs to all mankind” (D&C 98:5; italics added) “and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (D&C 101:77; italics added).
The Constitution of the United States has served as a model for many nations and is the oldest constitution in use today.
“I established the Constitution of this land,” said the Lord, “by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80).
For centuries the Lord kept America hidden in the hollow of His hand until the time was right to unveil her for her destiny in the last days. “It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,” said Lehi, “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Ne. 1:8).
In the Lord’s due time His Spirit “wrought upon” Columbus, the pilgrims, the Puritans, and others to come to America. They testified of God’s intervention in their behalf (see 1 Ne. 13:12–13). The Book of Mormon records that they humbled “themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them” (1 Ne. 13:16).
Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land: “For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth” (3 Ne. 21:4). America, the land of liberty, was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for His restored church.
The Declaration of Independence affirmed the Founding Fathers’ belief and trust in God in these words: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The Doctrine and Covenants states, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2). Life, liberty, property—mankind’s three great rights.
At the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, they wrote, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This Declaration was a promise that would demand terrible sacrifice on the part of its signers. Five of the signers were captured as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary War; another had two sons captured. Nine died from wounds or from the hardships of the war. The Lord said He “redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (D&C 101:80). Nephi recorded that the Founders “were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Ne. 13:19).
The years immediately preceding the Constitutional Convention were filled with disappointments and threats to the newly won peace. Washington was offered a kingship, which he adamantly refused. Nephi had prophesied hundreds of years before that “this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land” (2 Ne. 10:11; italics added).
Between the critical years of 1783 and 1787, an outsider viewing the affairs of the United States would have thought that the thirteen states, different in so many ways, could never effectively unite. The world powers were confident that this nation would not last.
Eventually, twelve of the states met in Philadelphia to address the problem. Madison said at the beginning of the Convention that the delegates “were now digesting a plan which in its operation would decide forever the fate of Republican Government” (26 June 1787, Records of the Federal Convention, 1:423).
“The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning,” said Nephi, “wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men” (1 Ne. 9:6).
Four months later, the Convention delegates had completed their work. As Gladstone said, it was “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man” (William Gladstone, North American Review, Sept.–Oct. 1878, p. 185), and the Prophet Joseph Smith called it “a glorious standard … a heavenly banner” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 147).
The delegates were the recipients of heavenly inspiration. James Madison, often referred to as the father of the Constitution, wrote: “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution” (The Federalist, no. 37, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1983, p. 222).
Alexander Hamilton, famous as the originator of The Federalist papers and author of fifty-one of the essays, said: “For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interest” (Essays on the Constitution of the United States, ed. Paul L. Ford, 1892, pp. 251–52).
Charles Pinckney, a very active participant and author of the Pinckney Plan during the Convention, said: “When the great work was done and published, I was struck with amazement. Nothing less than the superintending Hand of Providence, that so miraculously carried us through the war … could have brought it about so complete, upon the whole” (Essays on the Constitution, p. 412).
Within ten months, the Constitution was ratified by nine states and was therefore in force for them. Prophecy had been fulfilled.
During his first inaugural address in 1789, President George Washington, a man who was raised up by God, said: “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency” (First Inaugural Address, 30 Apr. 1789).
In compliance with Article 6 of the Constitution, the very first act passed by Congress and signed by President Washington on June 1, 1789, was the actual oath to support the Constitution that was to be administered to various government officers.
The dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, as dictated by the Lord and found in the Doctrine and Covenants, contains these words: “May those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever” (D&C 109:54).
Shortly after President Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, he assigned me to go into the vault of the St. George Temple and check the early records. As I did so, I realized the fulfillment of a dream I had had ever since learning of the visit of the Founding Fathers to the St. George Temple. I saw with my own eyes the record of the work which was done for the Founding Fathers of this great nation, beginning with George Washington.
Think of it: the Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls and had their vicarious work done for them.
President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: “Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God’ ” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946, p. 160).
After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 89).
Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City).
For centuries our forefathers suffered and sacrificed that we might be the recipients of the blessings of freedom. If they were willing to sacrifice so much to establish us as a free people, should we not be willing to do the same to maintain that freedom for ourselves and for future generations?
Only in this foreordained land, under its God-inspired Constitution and the resulting environment of freedom, was it possible to have established the restored church. It is our responsibility to see that this freedom is perpetuated so that the Church may more easily flourish in the future.
The Lord said, “Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land” (D&C 98:6).
How then can we best befriend the Constitution in this critical hour and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven?
First and foremost, we must be righteous.
John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31). If the Constitution is to have continuance, this American nation, and especially the Latter-day Saints, must be virtuous.
The Book of Mormon warns us relative to our living in this free land: “Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Ne. 1:7).
“And now,” warned Moroni, “we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity” (Ether 2:9).
Two great American Christian civilizations—the Jaredites and the Nephites—were swept off this land because they did not “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12). What will become of our civilization?
Second, we must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.
Have we read The Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?
As Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free … it expects what never was and never will be” (Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, 6 Jan. 1816).
Third, we must become involved in civic affairs to see that we are properly represented.
The Lord said that “he holds men accountable for their acts in relation” to governments “both in making laws and administering them” (D&C 134:1). We must follow this counsel from the Lord: “Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:10).
Note the qualities that the Lord demands of those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest.
Fourth, we must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, our teaching, and our advice.
We must become accurately informed and then let others know how we feel. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ‘Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it. … From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get” (History of the Church, 5:286).
I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. It will be saved by the righteous citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—among others—men and women who understand and abide the principles of the Constitution.
I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval upon it.
I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has now sent other choice spirits to help preserve it.
We, the blessed beneficiaries of the Constitution, face difficult days in America, “a land which is choice above all other lands” (Ether 2:10).
May God give us the faith and the courage exhibited by those patriots who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
May we be equally as valiant and as free, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.