Saturday, June 29, 2013


A long time ago, before the invention of the internet, or movies, many people improved their minds and derived enjoyment by means of strange, small, rectangular objects.  These objects were not Nintendos, X-Boxes, Playstations or computers. These objects, some hard, some soft, contained many sheets of paper with words printed upon them.  In a former time, people opened these objects, turned the pages, and read the words that were printed upon the pages.  The words were combined into sentences, paragraphs and chapters in such a way as to communicate meaning.  There are still some among us today who remember palpating and even reading from these strange, small, rectangular objects that at one time were known by the appellation "books".  These relics were once considered an essential part of a well-rounded education.

I wonder, however, if it is humanly possible to listen to the Reading Rainbow theme song or the California Raisin Books Rap of a bygone era without feeling an urgent, nay, a consuming desire, to read?  Probably not... but don't take my word for it.

Perhaps the only thing standing between you and the library, or you and the bookshelf, or you and that rectangular object on your night stand, is a recommendation.  If you are anything like me, you might have even started reading a book, then put it down to start another
one, and then put that one down to start yet another one.  Don't despair.  The following is a list of ten books that, even if they are only sampled, and even if you have read them before, will enrich your life immeasurably:

10. Antoine de St. Exupery's The Little Prince
9. Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America
8. John Milton's Paradise Lost
7. William Shakespeare's Complete Works
6. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy
5. Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
4. Plato's The Republic
3. Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey
2. God's The Bible
1. God's The Book of Mormon (and the Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price)

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Death Cannot Conquer the Hero Again

Today marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his beloved brother Hyrum Smith.  Joseph Smith was only 38 years old when he was brutally shot and killed by members of an angry mob.  Of him, John Taylor (who was present at the Prophet's martyrdom) wrote:

"Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!" (D&C 135:3)

Several years before his death, while enduring unimaginable suffering in the cell of Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith received this promise from the Lord Jesus Christ:

"The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee; While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand. And thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors. And although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in honor; and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce lion, because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever." (D&C 122:1-4) 

Joseph Smith himself recorded these words about his encounter with the angel Moroni:

"He [Moroni] called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me [Joseph Smith] to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people." (JS-H 1:33)

On this anniversary of his martyrdom, I add my testimony to millions of other testimonies that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, a choice seer.  He truly did live great and die great in the eyes of God and his people.  So let it be sung this day and forever, Praise to the Man!  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Five Minutes of Heaven

On the topic of revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith once stated: "Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject.” (TPJS, p. 324; cf. HC 6:50). He also declared that "the best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching" (TPJS, p. 191).

Of course, this does not mean that we should not read voraciously and study assiduously to obtain as much knowledge as we can on any and every subject, but that an understanding of the truth concerning the things that matter most cannot be granted by any one other that God himself through the power of His messenger, the Holy Ghost.

The Apostle Paul wrote: "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 Cor. 2:11) and "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:13-14)

In the preceding verses of his first epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul wrote: "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

The Prophet Joseph Smith, who had a great affinity with the Apostle Paul, exemplified this principle of receiving truth directly from God:

"During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.”

“My mind at times was greatly excited, the cry and tumult were so great and incessant. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think they were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others.”

“In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right, or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”

“While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

“Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.”

“At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’ concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.”

“So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.”

“After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.”

“But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.”

“It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.”

“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’"

Thus, the best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to follow the example of Paul or of Joseph Smith by going to God in prayer to obtain divine teaching.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sing It!: The Top Ten Musicals of All Time

Every now and again I imagine that life is a musical.  I imagine that the noise of war, politics, media, sports, and opinions comes to a hush, and people are poised to spontaneously break out into song.  It could happen.  Any time.  Anywhere.

But since it probably won't (except for the occasional flash mob), I have compiled a list of my top ten favorite musicals of all time, accompanied by a favorite song or two (or more) from each musical.  Some perspicacious readers will note that Book of Mormon the Musical is conspicuously absent from this list.  There are many reasons for this, the foremost of which is that in my estimation, in spite of its title, Parker and Stone's production does not actually qualify as a musical. Neither does High School Musical.

My list may be lacking in some ways, and it may be missing some very good musicals (some that are perhaps included in this article).  Nevertheless, it represents a good sample of what is, in my opinion, an underappreciated art form.  Thus, without further ado, I give you my Top Ten Musicals of All Time:

10. Oklahoma! : Rodgers and Hammerstein's first production together, based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play Green Grow the Lilacs, features good old fashioned courtship, marriage, romance, and musical masterpieces such as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'", "People Will Say We're in Love" (I also like Sophie Milman's Jazz rendition), and of course, "Oklahoma!"  In light of the recent tragedies in Oklahoma, this musical is one that offers hope, as well as enjoyment.

9. The Wizard of Oz : Just north of Oklahoma, this time in Kansas, a young farm girl named Dorothy (played by the lovely Judy Garland) dreams of a place "Somewhere over the Rainbow".  In response to her wish, she and her dog Todo get swept away by a tornado into the magical land of Oz, where she journeys along a yellow brick road, meeting delightful characters along the way to the Emerald City.  With the help of her friends, including the cowardly lion, Dorothy defeats the Wicked Witch of the West, discovers the true identity of the Wizard of Oz, and finally, thanks to a pair of magical ruby slippers provided by Glinda the Good Witch, Dorothy and Todo return to Kansas, having learned the valuable lesson that "There's no place like home".   The Wizard of Oz is a classic.  I have yet to hear an argument persuasive enough for me to consider watching the modern offshoot musical Wicked.

8. South Pacific : Set on an island in the South Pacific during World War II, this musical explores the themes of war and racism with candor and grace.  This Rodgers and Hammerstein classic includes lyrical treasures such as the mysterious "Bali Ha'i", the sassy "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right outa my Hair", the romantic "Some Enchanted Evening", and a song that speaks volumes "There is Nothing Like a Dame".  I'm not going to lie. I even like "Happy Talk" and "Younger than Springtime".

7. Singin' in the Rain : Considered by many critics to be the best musical ever created, Singin' in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly and the beautiful Debbie Reynolds, features hits such as "Make 'em Laugh, "Beautiful Girl", and "You are my Lucky Star".  Well worth watching.

6. The King and I : Anna, an indomitable school teacher, travels to Bangkok to tutor the many children of the King of Siam.  Anna tells the king's wives of her late husband in a song, "Hello Young Lovers" and shows her love for the children with the song "Getting to Know You", and her love for the king in "Shall We Dance".  By the end of the musical, Anna has begun the process of modernization in Siam and challenged the king's traditions concerning women.

5. The Sound of Music : Yet another Rodgers and Hammerstein chef d'oeuvre, The Sound of Music exhibits many unforgettable songs such as "Maria", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Every Mountain" and "Edelweiss", just to name a few.  And tell me, what nun has never imagined roaming the mountains of Austria and Switzerland while singing these songs?

4. West Side Story : Inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, this story by Aurthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, is a model of musical genius, and not just because it stars Natalie Wood as Maria (although that certainly helps).  I could watch this musical over and over and still learn something new every time.  I don't think that there is a song in this musical that I don't like, although "Cool" and "Maria" are certainly among my favorites.

3. My Fair Lady : This musical, based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, tells the story of one Eliza Doolittle, a flower girl who takes lessons in elocution from professor Henry Higgins.  But of course it is Eliza who ends up being the teacher, with songs such as "Show Me" (Audrey Hepburn).

2. Fiddler on the Roof : I have written of this musical elsewhere, but Fiddler on the Roof is one of the best musicals, if not the best, ever made.  Each song is a masterpiece in and of itself, including "Now I Have Everything".         

And drumroll.... the number one musical on my list of personal favorites is...

1. The Music Man : When it comes to music, professor Harold Hill's think system is unmatched.  In Iowa, he knows there is trouble, but it's worth every effort to win the heart of Marian the Librarian, especially when she reciprocates ('Till there Was You").  Needless to say, Shirley Jones is magnificent, and The Music Man, like the Wells Fargo Wagon, has something special for everyone.

(There are also a few musicals that deserve at least an honorable mention:  Les MiserablesSeven Brides for Seven Brothers, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mary Poppins, Guys and Dolls, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and Evita; and several on my list of musicals to watch in the future, for example: Newsies,  The Court Jester, Meet Me in St. Louis, Top Hat, Carousel, and Camelot.)  Which are your favorite musicals?

Monday, June 17, 2013

(Arche)typical: Observations on Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel"

As is characteristic of heroes, Superman has arisen again victoriously.  Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, played by Henry Cavill, is a respectable contemporary remodeling of the idea that was spawned by two high school students, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, in 1933.  That this hero originated in the minds of two children of Jewish immigrants during the interim between World Wars gives cause for reflection, but that such a hero would reemerge now is perhaps a harbinger of things to come.  Though Siegel and Shuster first envisaged Superman as a powerful telepathic villain (inspired in part by Nietzsche's  idea of an Übermensch), he was eventually transformed into the hero of epic proportions that has found his niche in pop-culture, filling comic books and movie screens ever since.  In brief, Man of Steel resurrects the superhero par excellence in a way that is both recognizably traditional and conspicuously modern, complete with effects and a musical score (see also here) that are entertaining enough (if such a thing is possible) for a postmodern audience.

Almost as intriguing as Superman's biography is the evolution of this "Man of Steel" over time.  Struggling to escape depression era poverty, Siegel and Shuster made several attempts to publish their story, but with little success.  At one point Shuster was so discouraged that he burned all of the pages of the book.  Only the cover survived when Siegel rescued it from the fire.  Finally, Superman appeared in what is now the most valuable comic of all time, the June 1938 edition of Action Comics #1 (one copy sold for over $2 million).  Superman gradually progressed from comic books to daily newspaper comic strips to radio, animated cartoons, a television series, and to film.  Superman found renewed vigor in Richard Donner's 1978 film starring Christopher Reeve, and the story was revived yet again, among other places, in the 2001 television series Smallville.     

By now Siegel and Shuster's Superman is an American icon.  Critics have already parsed the story ad infinitum, but Snyder's Man of Steel opens the door for fresh interpretation.  Although I admit to being distracted by the incessant battles and dizzying special effects, Man of Steel still managed to draw my attention toward two major and corresponding archetypes, namely Moses and Jesus Christ.  Snyder's film does not shy away from the Biblical references that Siegel and Shuster may or may not have had in mind while writing the story.  Whether it be Kal-El's (whose name means "Voice of God" - קל-אל - in Hebrew) metaphorical basket of bulrushes, Cavill's cross poses with outstretched arms, the image of Christ in Gethsemane on the stained glass windows of the church, or the symbolic age of 33, Man of Steel abounds with overt Biblical and Christian symbolism.  Despite the gratuitous violence and destruction that are by now Hollywood mainstays, most of Snyder's scenes focus on acts of Christian love: the young Clark Kent saving his drowning fellow students (particularly the class bully), patiently enduring mockery, obediently yielding to his earthly father's (played by Kevin Costner) request not to be saved from an approaching tornado, and of course, Superman's meek and willing surrender to General Zod's forces of evil and a human race that knows not what they do.         

Considering his super good deeds, perhaps it may be instructive to review the circumstances and conditions that called forth the original Superman, written and illustrated by a pair of friends from Jewish immigrant families during the Great Depression between the World Wars.  If ever a Moses figure was needed, was it then?  Furthermore, the resurgence of Superman over the years (albeit in different forms and media expressions), including Snyder's most recent film iteration, may stem from, and even presage (as I have already surmised in a previous blog post), an augmenting communal longing for a modern Moses or a savior figure.  Indeed, setting aside the earth shattering Hollywood wrestling matches, Man of Steel weaves together (whether consciously or not) the Old Testament Moses and the New Testament Jesus almost as naturally as the Bible itself  (see also 1 Ne. 22:20-21).  This is, of course, an exaggeration.  But hyperbole is in some ways what Superman is all about.         

In summary, Man of Steel is a tolerably good, if not mildly enjoyable, portrayal of the father of superheros, a father whose mythical biography is rooted in Judeo-Christian metaphors and whose evolution over time and space may bespeak a growing popular yearning for hope, deliverance and a better world.  If a fictional Man of Steel can be so well received in his return to the big screen, one can only hope that Christ's literal return (see Articles of Faith 1:10) will likewise be a welcomed event.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

LDS General Conference, Distilled

183rd Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

24 ¶Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

invitations to action
key words

Saturday Morning Session

President Thomas S. Monson, Welcome to Conference - "I urge you to be attentive and receptive to the messages which we will hear. That we may do so is my prayer." President Monson welcomed everyone to the conference. He had recently travelled to Germany and Austria, then to Canada to dedicate the Calgary, Alberta temple, and to Idaho to rededicate the Boise, Idaho temple. As he is wont to do, President Monson recounts the story of the cultural celebrations at the temple dedications, but he chose to watch the Calgary, Alberta temple celebration from home since it was his wife's 85th birthday that day. Others of the first presidency and the twelve assisted in the dedication of the Honduras, Tegucigalpa temple, where there was also a magnificent youth celebration. President Monson then announced two new temples to be built, one in Cedar City Utah, and one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.*** Missionary work continues apace, with an inspiring response by youth of the new missionary age (18 for young men, and 19 for young women), including 65,634 full-time missionaries serving, with over 20,000 more on their way, and 6,000 in the interview process. 58 new missions have been created, and President Monson invited all to ***contribute generously to the General Missionary Fund of the Church*** and to ***be attentive and receptive to the conference messages.***

President Boyd K. Packer (President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles) These Things I Know - "Of all that I have read and taught and learned, the one most precious and sacred truth that I have to offer is my special witness of Jesus Christ." At age 68 Elder Packer was impressed to begin writing a poem called an "Unfinished Composition". Ten years later he added to the poem, including these lines worth remembering: "Of all the blessings that have come,/ The best thing in my life / Is the companionship and comfort / I get from my dear wife." Ten years later (last year), President Packer added more to the poem. After three decades of experience, the most valuable treasure that he offers is still his testimony, that he knows and loves the Lord Jesus Christ. President Packer then recounted a story of how twice a snake had slithered into the ivy near the house and taken finches as prey. He warned that in these perilous times we need to protect the home in particular from the wiles of the devil. Satan's objective is to weaken and destroy the family. The family is under attack by forces seen and unseen. The priesthood is to protect the home and to bless the wife and children. Husbands are to demonstrate love and fidelity to their wives, honor to the mother, so that the children can see and learn. Teach of Christ and the Atonement in the home. "There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother." "Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the 'tolerance trap' so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God's law of chastity." All have moral agency and the light of Christ, and the testimony of Christ is the most precious of all. "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." (Isaiah 32:17)

Bishop Dean M. Davies, A Sure Foundation - "Let us accept the Savior's invitation to come unto Him. Let us build our lives upon a safe and a sure foundation." Bishop Davies recounted an experience of being caught in an earthquake in San Francisco. Severe damage occurred, especially in the areas of the Marina district that were built on the weak foundation of a landfill. We must build our lives on a sure foundation (Helaman 5:12) Careful attention is given in the design, engineering and building materials of modern-day temples. Temples are designed to endure, and to withstand earthquakes, tempests, floods, typhoons, etc. Concrete or steel piles are driven deep into the earth. God has provided a blueprint, plan, tools and everything we need to build lives that are firm and unshaken in Christ. The plan is the plan of salvation. "Faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are part of the “blueprints” of life." "Praying, reading the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament, and receiving essential priesthood ordinances" are the way to implement the basic principles and shape and conform our lives to Christ and his Gospel. "Sharing our thoughts, feelings, and desires with God through sincere and heartfelt prayer should become to each of us as important and natural as breathing and eating." We need to feast upon the words of Christ, not just read. The sacrament is also key. "I humbly testify that by anchoring our lives to Jesus Christ and to His Atonement and by carefully following His plans for our happiness, including daily prayer, daily scripture study, and weekly partaking of the sacrament, we will be strengthened, we will experience real personal growth and a lasting conversion, we will be better prepared to successfully withstand the storms and calamities of life, we will experience the joy and happiness promised, and we will have the confidence that our lives have been built upon a sure foundation—a foundation that will never fall. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Sister Elaine S.Dalton, We are Daughters of our Heavenly Father - "As daughters of God we are each unique and different in our circumstances and experiences. And yet our part matters—because we matter." Sister Dalton reiterates the call for a return to virtue. During a difficult time in her life, Sister Dalton came across the words that had once inspired David O. McKay “What-e’er thou art, act well thy part.”*** The part played by daughters of God matters. Sister Dalton's mother lived quietly and was a covenant keeper who acted well her part. Women and mothers have the greatest influence on their children. Sister Dalton was helping to vacuum the carpet that her husband installed in the conference center, and he asked her which scripture to write on the back of the carpet that would be underneath the pulpit. Sister Dalton replied Mosiah 18:9, "Stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things and in all places." "I shall ever praise Him for the privilege of being a woman, a wife, and a mother."

Elder Craig A. Cardon, The Savior Wants to Forgive - "The Lord loves us and wants us to understand His willingness to forgive." Elder Cardon shared the story from the New Testament of the paralyzed man whose sins Jesus forgave, and whom Jesus then healed physically as well. The Atonement brings enabling power, which "brings hope to all, especially to those who feel that recurring human weakness is beyond the Savior’s willingness to help and to save." The Lord desires our improvement over time rather than immediate perfection. Elder Cardon emphasizes God's willingness to forgive, and his compassion. We are to forgive 70 times 7, ourselves and others. The Lord does not condone sin, but as often as we repent and seek forgiveness, He forgives. Do not rationalize sin like the Nicolaitan band. “We need to bear in mind that people can change. They can put behind them bad habits. They can repent from transgressions… We can help them to overcome their shortcomings. We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become.” - President Monson. The Savior wants to forgive. "Show confidence in the individual - surely they merit our steadiness, patience, love and forgiveness."

Elder M. Russell Ballard, This is my Work and my Glory - "God has freely given His power to those who accept and honor His priesthood, which leads to the promised blessings of immortality and eternal life." The Priesthood is the power by which God created worlds without number. The source of the power is God and Jesus Christ. It is the same power that the Savior used to heal and bless during his mortal ministry, and to perform miracles, including the raising of the dead. It is the power that enabled him to endure the suffering of Gethsemane and the cross. The Lord delegates the keys of this priesthood power to his servants, beginning with Peter, James and John, and on to his other apostles, to bless all of God's children and to seal on earth and in heaven. There is a difference between priesthood power and priesthood authority. Power in the priesthood only comes by personal righteousness: "The power of the priesthood comes only when those who exercise it are worthy and acting in accordance with God’s will." Heavenly Father -> Jesus Christ -> John the Baptist (Aaronic) / Peter, James and John (Melchizedek) / Moses (gathering of Israel, missionary work) / Elias (forerunner) / Elijah (sealing power - hearts of children to fathers, fathers to children, eternal families) -> Joseph Smith (restoration of all priesthood keys and authority for the work of God in the last days). Men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but men are not the priesthood). Men and women work together. "The procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife." Priesthood is for the succoring of the weak and afflicted, feeble knees and hands that hang down. It requires Christ-like love and humility. Elder Ballard shares a parable of a 7 year old girl who cared for a tomato plant. She told her grandfather sorrowfully that she thought she had accidentally killed the plant, but then joyfully recounted the miracle of how the plant was brought back to life. According to her mother's instructions, she gave it water and light, setting it by a window: "Her small tomato plant, so full of potential but so weakened and wilted from unintentional neglect, was strengthened and revived through the simple ministration of water and light by the little girl’s loving and caring hands." The proper exercise of the priesthood means doing the things that the Savior would do if he were present: "And the primary purpose of this priesthood power is to bless, sanctify, and purify us so we can live together with our families in the presence of our heavenly parents, bound by priesthood sealings, participating in the marvelous work of God and Jesus Christ in forever expanding Their light and glory." Elder Ballard participated in the creation of a video-based worldwide leadership training presentation called "Strengthening the Family and the Church through the Priesthood". Elder Ballard's mother's great-grand mother was like the girl who cared for the tomato plant. Study and implement this training in families, councils, quorums. Joseph Smith said, “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 104). Be wise. Honor the priesthood. Strengthen our own lives and the lives of our family members through the power of the priesthood.
Christ is the living water, the light of the world (Christ, His Spirit and His Priesthood are the water, the light, and all the nutrients we need to revitalize our lives like the tomato plant). The work of Jesus Christ is accomplished through the priesthood (Moses 1:39)

Elder Eyring, Come unto Me - "By His words and His example, Christ has shown us how to draw closer to Him." Draw near unto the Lord, and He will draw near unto you. (D&C 88:63) Easter reminds us why we love the Savior and how faithful disciples of Christ may become his beloved friends. "I experienced the joy of coming closer to the Savior and of His coming closer to me most often through simple acts of obedience to the commandments." One example was during a sacrament meeting in his youth. To rekindle that faith, Elder Eyring kept another commandment, to search in the scriptures. The day after His resurrection, the Lord went before His disciples into Galilee. He came to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus, but they did not recognize him. The sad disciples asked the stranger who walked with them to abide with them at eventide. The Lord came in, blessed bread and broke it for them, and when the disciples then recognized the Lord, he vanished. "And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Luke 24:32) The Lord then appeared to the disciples again in Jerusalem. The disciples were witnesses of these things, and we too are witnesses of these things. We covenant like the people of Alma (Mosiah 18:8-11) in order that the Lord may pour out His Spirit more abundantly upon us. "We are under covenant both to lift up those in need and to be witnesses of the Savior as long as we live." "We will be able to do it without fail only as we feel love for the Savior and His love for us." As we are faithful to the promises we have made, we will feel our love for Him. It will increase because we will feel His power and His drawing near to us in His service."(One of President Monson's favorite and most frequently shared scriptures = D&C 84:88) In serving the Lord, we not only draw near unto Him, but we draw our family, friends and associates closer to Him. This includes drawing back those who stray from the path (Like Alma and Mosiah's prayers for their sons). Satan's purpose is to destroy families in time and eternity, but the Lord's purposes prevail. "My friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power." (D&C 100:1) The day of judgment will be a joyful day for those who have drawn near unto the Lord in service in this life. Draw near unto Christ, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Also, as is assiduously noted in the bloggosphere, a woman gave the closing prayer at the end of the first session of General Conference.

Saturday Afternoon Session

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Sustaining of Church Officers - "Those in favor may manifest it." Yes. Can you name each member of the First Presidency? Quorum of the Twelve? Quorums of the 70?
First Presidency = Thomas Spencer Monson, prophet, seer and revelator and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Henry Bennion Eyring as First Counselor, and Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf as Second Counselor. Quorum of the Twelve Apostles = Boyd Kenneth Packer as President, L. Tom Perry, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, and Neil L. Andersen. Ponder the significance of this statement: "It is proposed that we sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators." (see also, Mosiah 8:15-18) Releases and sustainings. "Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your sustaining vote and for your continued faith and prayers in our behalf."

Robert W. Cantwell, Church Auditing Department Report, 2012 -
"Based upon audits performed, the Church Auditing Department is of the opinion that in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church for the year 2012 have been recorded and administered in accordance with appropriate accounting practices, approved budgets, and Church policies and procedures."

Brook P. Hales, Statistical Report - Stakes = 3,005 / Missions = 347 / Districts = 591 / Wards and Branches = 29,014 / Total Membership = 14,782,473 / New Children of Record during 2012 = 122,273 / Converts Baptized during 2012 = 272,330 / Full-time Missionaries = 58,990 / Church- Service Missionaries = 22,961 / Temples in Operation = 140

Elder Richard G. Scott, For Peace at Home - "One of the the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds." A home where the Lord Jesus Christ is the centerpiece is a place of refuge. Jesus Christ is the true source of peace in this life. "Be certain that every decision you make, whether temporal or spiritual, is conditioned on what the Savior would have you do. When He is the center of your home, there is peace and serenity. There is a spirit of assurance that pervades the home, and it is felt by all who dwell there." Parents and children are accountable before God. "The prophetic counsel to have daily personal and family prayer, daily personal and family scripture study, and weekly family home evening are the essential, weight-bearing beams in the construction of a Christ-centered home." "simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings." Use technology for the Lord's purposes. "Selfishness is the root of great evil. The antidote for that evil is exemplified in the life of the Savior. He shows us how to focus our lives outward in unselfish service to others." "When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God—power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord. His power is a fundamental component to establishing a home filled with peace." Your home can be a refuge, not only to your own family, but to others who are drawn to the serenity they feel there. Elder Scott's wife told him about an elder whom she had met who had grown up without a family, and his desire to learn how to create a Christ-centered home. "Be a true friend." "Recognize the good in others, not their stains."

Elder Quentin L. Cook, Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness - "Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior's Atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace." Tragedy of Newton, Connecticut; Civil War in Ivory Coast; 9/11. Elder Cook's son and family took refuge in a stake center when the buildings collapsed. There is a doctrinal difference between world peace and personal peace. Agency essential to God's plan. Matt. 10:34 “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth.” "There never can come to the world that spirit of peace and love … until mankind will receive God’s truth and God’s message … , and acknowledge his power and authority which is divine." - Joseph F. Smith / D&C 59:23 / D&C 121:7-8 / "But we also knew that the Savior’s Atonement would overcome and compensate for all of the unfairness of mortal life and bring us peace. Elder Marion D. Hanks had a framed statement on his wall by Ugo Betti: “To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and that there will be wonderful surprises." "Peace is not found by attaining great wealth, power, or prominence. Peace is not found in the pursuit of pleasure, entertainment, or leisure. None of these can, even when attained in abundance, create any lasting happiness or peace." "Where can I turn for peace?" Jesus Christ is the answer. The Savior is the Prince of Peace. "How do we stay close to the Savior? Humbling ourselves before God, praying always, repenting of sins, entering the waters of baptism with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ are profound examples of the righteousness that is rewarded by abiding peace" Find peace of conscience through the Atonement, like King Benjamin's people. "Temples are where many of these sacred ordinances occur and are also a source of peaceful refuge from the world." "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Then just before His Intercessory Prayer: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." "Lift up your hearts in praise to God; / Let your rejoicings never cease. / Though tribulations rage abroad, / Christ says, “In me ye shall have peace." - Eliza R. Snow

Elder Stanley G. Ellis, The Lord's Way - "The Lord’s way is that we hearken to our leaders’ teachings, understand correct principles, and govern ourselves." Definition of a 70. Elder Elllis grew up as a farm boy, and thus he learned to 1. work 2. work smart 3. timing 4. to do what is needed 5. to be direct 6. to stick to the basics. Most basic... 1st article of faith. For the Strength of Youth. Do things the Lord's way. Preach My Gospel. Joseph Smith taught correct principles and the people governed themselves.
"Brothers and sisters, our living apostles and prophets are still teaching correct principles. The question is "Are we using these principles to govern ourselves?" Bloom where planted. What happens inside the home is more important than anything outside the home. "Where are we needed?" Alma 29. John 14:6.

Elder John B. Dixon, The Gospel to All the World - "The church has moved steadily across the world from nation to nation, culture to culture, people to people, on the Lord's calendar and in His time." "The gospel in Africa is going to a happy people, very unencumbered by the trappings that affect the lives of many in the West. They are not concerned about having endless material possessions." "It has been said of Africans that they have very little of that which matters least and a great deal of that which matters most. They have little interest in enormous homes and the finest cars, but a great interest in knowing their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and in having eternal families. As a natural result of their faith, the Lord is lifting them in meaningful ways."

Elder David A. Bednar, We Believe in Being Chaste - "Obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness in mortality and make possible our progress in eternity." "My message addresses a fundamental question of great spiritual consequence: Why is the law of chastity so important? I pray the Holy Ghost will confirm the truthfulness of the principles I emphasize." The importance of the physical body in Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness. The sacred power of procreation. "The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness." "Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which pre mortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel." "How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity." "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies." "The precise nature of the test of mortality, then, can be summarized in the following question: Will I respond to the inclinations of the natural man, or will I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord (see Mosiah 3:19)? That is the test." "Heavenly Father desires us to be together in the light and filled with hope." "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. One of the ultimate ironies of eternity is that the adversary, who is miserable precisely because he has no physical body, entices us to share in his misery through the improper use of our bodies. The very tool he does not have is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to spiritual destruction." "To those who know and understand the plan of salvation, defiling the body is an act of rebellion (see Mosiah 2:36–37; D&C 64:34–35) and a denial of our true identity as sons and daughters of God. As we look beyond mortality and into eternity, it is easy to discern that the counterfeit companionship advocated by the adversary is temporary and empty." There are great blessing that come from being chaste. "Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases through impulsive indulgence." The pure in heart will see God. "‘Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God’ " "The results of sincere repentance are peace of conscience, comfort, and spiritual healing and renewal." "But the Lord’s truth is not altered by fads, popularity, or public opinion polls. " Chastity and Virtue are most dear and precious above all things.

Elder Russel M. Nelson, Catch the Wave - "I thank God and His Son, Jesus Christ, for the Restoration and its power to propel a magnificent wave of truth and righteousness across the earth." "You see your opportunity to be on the crest of that wave." New curriculum, "Come follow me". "You senior couples, you plan for the day when you can go on your mission. We will be most grateful for your service. Until then, perhaps some of you could send your dollars on missions by contributing to the General Missionary Fund, as suggested by President Monson again this morning." "In that service they will shape the destiny of generations born and unborn. " "Why? Because our living God is a loving God! He wants His children to know Him and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent!9 And He wants His children to gain immortality and eternal life!10" "•The angel Moroni revealed the Book of Mormon.14 •John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood.15•Peter, James, and John restored the Melchizedek Priesthood.16Moses bestowed keys for the gathering of Israel.17•Elias conferred keys of knowledge about Abraham.18•Elijah restored keys of the sealing authority.19" "The Restoration fulfills many biblical prophecies. For example, Isaiah prophesied that the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains.23 The exodus of Mormon pioneers to the mountains of western America is a fulfilling saga of sacrifice and faith. Isaiah also foretold that God will do “a marvellous work and a wonder.”24 That is now being fulfilled by the sacred work of our growing army of missionaries." "The Book of Mormon is the centerpiece of the Restoration." "I never told you I was perfect, but there is no error in the revelations I have taught" - Joseph Smith

Priesthood Session

Elder Robert D. Hales, Stand Strong in Holy Places - "Standing obedient and strong on the doctrine of our God, we stand in holy places, for His doctrine is sacred and will not change." We are living in the last days, perilous times. "As bearers of the priesthood, we have the responsibility to stand strong with a shield of faith against the fiery darts of the adversary. We are role models to the world, protecting God-given, inalienable rights and freedoms. We stand in defense of our homes and our families." Elder Hales' father, an artist, drew a picture of a knight, reminding him to take on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13-17). "In January of 1982, I spoke in a devotional on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah. I invited the students to imagine that the Church was on one side of the podium, right here, and the world was just a foot or two away on the other side. This represented the “very short distance between where the world was and where the Church standards were” when I was in college. Then, standing before the students 30 years later, I held up my hands in the same manner and explained, “The world has gone far afield; [it has traveled; it is nowhere to be seen;] it has proceeded way, way out, all the way out of this [building and around the world]. … What we and our children and our grandchildren have to remember is that the Church will remain constant, [it’s still right here; yet] the world will keep moving—that gap is [becoming] wider and wider. … Therefore, be very careful. If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it’s going, you will find that you are not where you should be." "A true friend doesn't ask us to choose between the gospel and his or her friendship. To borrow the words of Paul, 'From such turn away.' A true friend strengthens us to stay on the strain and narrow path." Study the youth curriculum, "Come follow me". Remember Nehemiah: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down... why should the work cease?" "Sometimes we become the lightning rod, and we must "take the heat" for holding fast to God's standards and doing His work. I testify that we need not be afraid if we are grounded in His doctrine. We may experience misunderstanding, criticism, and even false accusation, but we are never alone. Our Savior was 'despised and rejected of men.' It is our sacred privilege to stand with Him!" Sometimes this means fleeing the world: "Get thee behind me, Satan" Joseph in Egypt fled from Potiphar's wife. Lehi took his family and left behind Jerusalem. Nephi, Abinadi, 2,000 stripling warriors, Moroni, Samuel, Joseph Smith, Mormon pioneers, and Jesus Christ. Stand in holy places, and be not moved. "Standing obedient and strong on the doctrine of our God, we stand in holy places, for His doctrine is sacred and will not change in the social and political winds of our day."

Elder Tad R. Callister, The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy - "The priesthood in the boy is just as powerful as the priesthood in the man when exercised in righteousness." Boy gives mother blessing. Why is there such dramatic growth during mission years? (1) Trust (2) high but loving expectations (3) train and retrain them to reach those expectations... so why not start earlier, with deacons quorums? Trust and assurance of being called by revelation. Give a greater vision, the Lord's vision... that we can rise to. Inherent in a calling is the right to receive revelation. "If you want to get revelation, do your homework." - Pres. Harold B. Lee "God's answers come by the still, small voice - feelings of peace or comfort, impressions to do good, enlightenment- sometimes in the form of tiny seeds of thoughts which if reverenced and nourished can grow into spiritual redwoods." Rescue the lost. Priority of President Monson... find the lost sheep. "You leaders lift these deacons quorum presidents best when you let them lead out and you step back from the spotlight. You have magnified your calling best not when you give a great lesson but when you help them give a great lesson, not when you rescue the one but when you help them do so."

David L. Beck (Young Men General President), Your Sacred Duty to Minister - "You received he power, the authority, and the sacred duty to minister the moment you were ordained to the priesthood." What does it mean to minister? Story of Chy Johnson who was bullied and Carson Jones who helped stop the bullying... and help Chy feel loved (Spirit whispered). The football team won the state championship, but more importantly the example of the football team motivated people in the school to be more kind and friendly to each other. "What began as an effort to minister to one is inspiring thousands of others to do the same." "Carson and his friends are quick to say that Chy has blessed their lives much more than they blessed hers. That's what happens when you lose yourself in serving others- you find yourself. You change and grow in ways that would not be possible otherwise. These young men have experienced the joy of ministering and continue to seek opportunities to bless others. They are anxious to extend their ministering in the coming months when they serve as full-time missionaries." "You don't have to be a star athlete to minister to others." Jesus Christ came "not to be ministered unto, but to minister." To minister means to love and care for others, and to attend to their spiritual and physical needs. It means to do what the Savior would do if he were present. Start at home, where you will do your most important ministering. "Mom, I would love to help" experiment. :) Speak kind words to family members. Treat siblings as your best friends. Assist father as spiritual leader in the home. Minister in the quorum. To the rescue. Story of Gladwin and Samuel in India rescuing others. "Priesthood holders never use vulgar or filthy language. They never demean or hurt others. They always build up and strengthen others." "Ministering is not just something we do, it defines who we are." There are opportunities all around to minister. Ask the Lord to help you recognize those opportunities, to listen to the Holy Ghost, and act on the promptings He gives you. The more promptings you respond to, the more you will receive. You will grow in your ability to minister. "I testify that as you do, you will be an instrument in God's hands to help others. Your life will be richer and more meaningful. You will find greater strength to resist evil. You will find true happiness- the kind that is known only by true followers of Jesus Christ." Ministering = Joy.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Four Titles - "I would like to suggest four titles... that may help us recognize our individual roles in God's eternal plan and our potential as priesthood holders." 1. Son. We have been, are and ever will be children of God. This changes how we see ourselves and others, and life. Don't listen to Satan and don't define yourself by your sins. We are all like toddlers that stumble in our efforts to become more like our Heavenly Father. One step at a time... not in an instant. Take courage, don't be discouraged. Keep trying. "Our Father in Heaven mentors His children and often sends unseen heavenly help to those who desire to follow the Savior." 2. Disciple of Christ. No one is perfect. The Atonement makes life and progress possible. "But while the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father. Even identical twins are not identical in their personalities and spiritual identities." "It also contradicts the intent and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency—with all its far-reaching consequences—of each and every one of God’s children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences." "The Church thrives when we take advantage of this diversity and encourage each other to develop and use our talents to lift and strengthen our fellow disciples." 3. Healer of Souls. Succor. Privilege and responsibility to walk the walk. "We carry in one hand a vial of consecrated oil for blessing the sick; in the other we carry a loaf of bread to feed the hungry; and in our hearts we carry the peaceable word of God, “which healeth the wounded soul." Jesus Christ is the greatest example of the healer of souls. 4. Heirs. Joint heirs with Christ to inherit all that the Father hath. "So, does it make any sense that many of us spend so much of our valuable time, thoughts, means, and energies in pursuit of prestige or worldly goods or to be entertained by the newest and coolest electronic gadgets?" "Serving God and our fellowmen will challenge us and transform us into something greater than we ever thought possible." All are needed. Great blessings come from serving God and others. The weak and the foolish put to shame the things that are mighty. Ponder priesthood titles. Discover divine wind at your back.

President Henry B. Eyring, We Are One - "I pray that wherever we are and whatever duties we have in the priesthood of god, we will be united in the cause to bring the gospel to all the world." Warning voice. Story of 16 year old boy who was brought to Utah, became an orphan, and then returned to his country and became a priesthood pioneer in his country. The Lord's pattern of building His kingdom. Elder Eyring saw it in New Mexico. Members brought people to be taught, more than 40 hours a month. Now there is a temple there. Elder Eyring saw this pattern in New England as well. There is now a temple in Belmont. Deacons involved. Every member a missionary. (President McKay) Unity in desire to bring souls unto Christ.

President Thomas S. Monson, Come All Ye Sons of God - "May each one of us search the scriptures with diligence, plan his life with purpose, teach the truth with testimony, and serve the Lord with love."
"Missionary work is an identifying feature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Always has it been; ever will it be. As the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, 'After all that has been said , the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.'" "The challenge is to be more profitable servants in the Lord's vineyard. This applied to all of us, whatever our age, and not alone to those who are preparing to serve as full-time missionaries, for to each of us comes the mandate to share the gospel of Christ." Formula to ensure success: 1. search the scriptures diligently 2. plan with purpose, regardless of your age 3. teach the truth by testimony 4. serve the Lord with love / 1. study the scriptures individually, with the family and with the Church curriculum. Youth - school, mission, marriage. Wise parent will help children start their own mission fund and maybe teach him or her a foreign language. "A mission is a family affair." Military is also a missionary opportunity. Education time is also a missionary opportunity. 3. Be ready always to give an answer of the reason of the hope... Story of short missionary in Canada who turned back to testify of Joseph Smith. I know it. Story of missionary to Australia who shared love in letters to father, who was eventually baptized. Bringing souls to Christ = joy.

Sunday Morning Session

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Hope of God's Light - "As we seek to increase our love for God and strive to love our neighbor, the light of the gospel will surround and uplift us." Entrance to Enlightenment painting. Whatever we struggle with, God shows us the way out of darkness into light. Story of Jane, a girl who grew up in darkness, beaten, belittled and abused. To protect herself, Jane learned to stop feeling. At age 18 she discovered the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, and was baptized and liberated from her abuser. Later, she was troubled by the abuse of her past. "the best path for healing was to understand and accept that darkness exists - but not to dwell there." She chose to dwell in light. Now she helps many people who suffer. "There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn." It takes an act of faith. How? 1. Start where you are. "Isn’t it wonderful to know that we don’t have to be perfect to experience the blessings and gifts of our Heavenly Father? We don’t have to wait to cross the finish line to receive God’s blessings. In fact, the heavens begin to part and the blessings of heaven begin to distill upon us with the very first steps we take toward the light." Seek your Heavenly Father. 2. Turn your heart to the Lord. 3. Walk in the light. "Your Heavenly Father knows that you will make mistakes. He knows that you will stumble—perhaps many times. This saddens Him, but He loves you. He does not wish to break your spirit. On the contrary, He desires that you rise up and become the person you were designed to be." Jesus Christ shows us the way. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Follow Him, and walk in the light. Story of saints in West Africa. Singing hymns in the dark. "I testify that with Christ, darkness cannot succeed." "I invite each of you to open your heart to Him. Seek Him through study and prayer. Come to His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Learn of Him and of His gospel, participate actively, help each other, and joyfully serve our God." "Brothers and sisters, even after the darkest night, the Savior of the world will lead you to a gradual, sweet, and bright dawn that will assuredly rise within you."

Elder Neil L. Anderson, It's a Miracle - "If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, 'not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.'" Miracles in missionary work. Pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In modern times there are similar miracles, such as missionary work in England with Elder Wilford Woodruff. Now 65,000 missionaries. 58 new missions. No force in the entire world can stop the work of God. Pray and petition the Lord for doors to be opened for preaching the Gospel in those areas where it is not yet allowed. "And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don't wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle." We need the Lord's help to do missionary work. Pray. Although church attendance is dwindling, people are seeking for the truth. Christ is the light that we hold up to the world. "Come and see" was an invitation not only to see where Christ lived, but how he lived and spent his time. "For those using the Internet and mobile phones, there are new ways to invite others to "come and see." Let's make sharing our faith online more a part of our daily life.,, Facebook, Twitter - all provide opportunities." Blogs. "This isn't missionary work, this is missionary fun." "Please keep the full-time missionaries in your thoughts and prayers. Trust them with you family and friends. The Lord trust them and has called them to teach and bless those who seek Him." Story of couple in Mozambique.

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, The Words We Speak - "How we speak to our children and the words we use can encourage and uplift them and strengthen their faith." Story of kind 2nd grade teacher who taught to love being a child and that it is ok to make mistakes. Greatest influence is to influence a child. Increase a child's confidence in him or herself, and his or her faith in Jesus Christ. Voice from heaven is a still small voice of perfect mildness. Story of boy lost in a fabric store who responded to a soft voice and not the screaming. Pray to know a child's needs. Disconnect and listen with love. Write to persuade our children. Story of Jay Hess in Vietnam: "These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year." Helaman 5.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Marriage: Watch and Learn - "The promises of the Lord are extended to all those who follow the pattern of life that builds happy, holy marriage relationships."  4 year old Anna's instructions to "Watch and learn".  Principles from watching and learning from wonderful and faithful marriages.  Principles that build strong and satisfying marriages: 1. "in the happiest marriages both the husband and wife consider their relationship to be a pearl beyond price, a treasure of infinite worth".  "The best marriage partners regard their marriages as priceless". 2. "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of happy eternal marriages". 3. "Repentance and humility build happy marriages" 4. "Terrific marriages are completely respectful, transparent and loyal".  5. "Successful couples love each other with complete devotion".  "Seek after the ideal of forming an eternal marriage, including by striving or preparing to be a worthy spouse.  Keep the commandments, and trust the Lord and His perfect love for you.   One day ever promised blessing concerning marriage will be yours." "Marriage is a gift from God to us; the quality of our marriages is a gift from us to Him."

Elder L. Tom Perry, Obedience to Law is Liberty - "Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws."  Little brown book, gift from niece, for LDS service men containing instruction and revelation, comfort and consolation.  "Today we find ourselves in another war.  This is not a war of armaments.  It is a war of thoughts, words, and deeds.  It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments.  Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children."  "Obedience to Law is Liberty" - parallel between military law and divine law.  Agency is the principle issue over which the War in Heaven was fought.  "Victory in the War in Heaven was a victory for man's agency".  Satan still tries to thwart and alter God's plan.  Satan is motivated by revenge and the desire to make all men miserable like unto himself.  "None of us should ever underestimate how driven Satan is to succeed."  Opposition in all things.  "In many respects, the world has always been at war."  The war is against sin.  "One way to measure ourselves and compare us to previous generations is by one of the oldest standards known to man - the Ten Commandments.  For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil."  Culture takes at least 4 of these commandments seriously, condemning murder, stealing, lying, and supporting the responsibility of children to parents.  "But as a larger society, we routinely dismiss the other six commandments:"  -other gods, idols, name of God in vain, violation of the Sabbath day, sexual relations outside of marriage as recreation and entertainment, and coveting. "Prophets from all dispensations have consistently warned against violations of two of the more serious commandments- the ones relating to murder and adultery.  I see a common basis for these two critical commandments- the belief that life itself is the prerogative of god and that our physical bodies, the temples of mortal life, should be created within the bounds God has set.  For man to substitute his own rules for the laws of God on either end of life is the height of presumption and the depth of sin."  "The main effects of these depreciating attitudes about the sanctity of marriage are the consequences to families—the strength of families is deteriorating at an alarming rate. This deterioration is causing widespread damage to society. I see direct cause and effect. As we give up commitment and fidelity to our marriage partners, we remove the glue that holds our society together." "Indeed our heaven is little more than a projection of our homes into eternity."  Proclamation to the world on the family.  "God reveals to his prophets that there are moral absolutes."  "Wickedness never was happiness."  Blessings predicated upon obedience to divine law: D&C 130:20-21.  God and God's commandments are unchanging.  Do not pick and choose between commandments, observe all of them.  Have perfect confidence in the Lord's consistency and perfect trust in His promises.  Be a light on the hill, a beacon, like the little brown book.      

President Thomas S. Monson, Obedience Brings Blessings - "A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God." "Throughout the ages, men and women have sought for knowledge and understanding concerning this mortal existence and their place and purpose in it, as well as for the way to peace and happiness. Such a search is undertaken by each of us."  Truth abideth.  O say what is truth.  "Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come..." "He that keepeth [God's] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.  Obedience is the way. "There is no need for you or for me, in this enlightened age when the fulness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth. A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide—even obedience. A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God."  Learn obedience young.  Story of fire.  "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Nephi and Abraham are examples of obedience.  "Obedience is the first law of heaven." Story of the obedience of Walter Krause in Germany. Home teaching.  Obedience is the test of life.  Jesus Christ is the greatest example of obedience.  "The Savior demonstrated genuine love of God by living the perfect life, by honoring the sacred mission that was His. Never was He haughty. Never was He puffed up with pride. Never was He disloyal. Ever was He humble. Ever was He sincere. Ever was He obedient." "He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things."

Sunday Afternoon Session

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Lord, I believe - "Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe." Father and afflicted son. "Help thou mine unbelief".  Desire to believe.  Be believing.  To the youth, young in any way, to all.  "When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes."  "The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know."  "I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!" You have more faith than you think you do.  "In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith."  Be patient, kind and forgiving with imperfection.  Hugged 14 year old boy with belief only.  Testimony.  "I know that Joseph Smith, who acknowledged that he wasn’t perfect, was nevertheless the chosen instrument in God’s hand to restore the everlasting gospel to the earth. I also know that in doing so—particularly through translating the Book of Mormon—he has taught me more of God’s love, of Christ’s divinity, and of priesthood power than any other prophet of whom I have ever read, known, or heard in a lifetime of seeking." "Hope on. Journey on."

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Followers of Christ - "Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places."  What does it mean to be followers of Christ?  Examples from the life of Christ.  "Like all other Christians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints study the life of our Savior as reported in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John."  1. Baptism 2. Jesus Began his preaching by inviting his listeners to repent 3. Jesus gave commandments, "peculiar people" Don't follow worldly trends. "These failures to follow Christ are too numerous and too sensitive to list here. They range all the way from worldly practices like political correctness and extremes in dress and grooming to deviations from basic values like the eternal nature and function of the family."  Jesus' teachings not theoretical, but meant to be acted upon.  4. Sacrament 5. Pray always 6. calling of 12 apostles 7. prioritize missionary work 8. marriage - man and wife 9. seek the lost sheep 10. love, and love enemies 11. forgiveness (story of Chris Williams who forgave the drunk driver that killed his family)  12. give to the poor and the needy, fasting, global humanitarian effort, relief effort 12. Jesus directed his followers to bring His message to all the world 13. Sermon on the mount: "Be ye therefore perfect" - heirs of eternal life  14. invitation to all that are heavy laden to come unto Christ.

Elder Christoffel Golden Jr., The Father and the Son - "At the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its power to save is a correct understanding of the Father and the Son."  Gratitude for the faith of Christians throughout the ages.  "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Joseph Smith's first vision. Comparable experiences in the New Testament (Stephen, John) and the Book of Mormon (temple in Bountiful).  "In the four Gospels, Christ Himself refers to His Father in Heaven 160 times, while during His brief three-day ministry among the Nephites, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, He mentions His Father 122 times." "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."  The great intercessory prayer. The Father and the Son are distinct, separate beings, but perfectly united as one in power and purpose.  We become acquainted with the Father and the Son through the Comforter, the Holy Ghost.  "Seen in its true light, the doctrine of the Father and the Son is the doctrine of the eternal family. Every human being has existed previously as a spirit child with heavenly parents, with Christ being the Firstborn of the Father in this heavenly family." "Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father [in Heaven] and how familiar his face is to us."  - President Benson

Elder Enrique R. Falabella, The Home: The School of Life - "Lessons are learned in a home—the place that can become a piece of heaven here on earth."  1. The Temple is the place.  Civil marriage, then marriage in the Mesa, Arizona Temple.  Time and All Eternity.  Celestial marriage, order of the priesthood, required for highest kingdom in the Celestial Kingdom.  2. To contend you need two people.  No contention, no physical or emotional abuse. "Participating in the ceremony of celestial marriage is not enough. We also have to live a celestial life."  3. A child who sings is a happy child.  4. I need you to hug me.  "I love you."  "Thank you very much." "Forgive me".  Words and acts of love necessary to revitalize love.  "A hug like heaven, a kiss like the sun, and an evening like the moon. Happy day, I love you."  5. I love the Book of Mormon and my Savior Jesus Christ.  Study Book of Mormon in courtship.  Wife reads the Book of Mormon, and grandchild Raquel reads the Book of Mormon. Learn to delight in the scriptures: "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"  6. It is not enough to know the scriptures, we have to live them.  Matt. 7:24. "Those who live the celestial principles found in the scriptures give comfort to those who suffer. They bring joy to those who are depressed, direction to those who are lost, peace to those who are distressed, and a sure guidance to those who seek the truth." Home can be a heaven on earth.

Elder Erich W. Kopischke, Being Accepted of the Lord - "Seeking and receiving the acceptance of the Lord will lead to the knowledge that we are chosen and blessed by Him."  Memories from boyhood of working in the garden with dad.  Patient and accepting father.  Funny.  Feeling accepted is a basic human need.  Sometimes people seek acceptance from the wrong sources, such as popularity, or position, status.  The ultimate source of loving acceptance is our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, who know us and love us perfectly. "They do not accept us because of our title or position. They do not look at our status. They look into our hearts. They accept us for who we are and what we are striving to become. Seeking and receiving acceptance from Them will always lift and encourage us."  Pattern for ultimate acceptance: 1. know that our hearts are honest and broken. (sincere self reflection, soft, open, receptive heart)  2. know that our spirits are contrite (willingness and determination to act)  3. Be willing to observe our covenants by sacrifice (living day to day as true disciples of Christ, worthily partake of the sacrament each week, Holy Ghost, accept callings, rescue the lost, reach out to lift others, silent service, finding names of ancestors and doing temple ordinances for them, listen to the promptings of the Spirit, standing firm in the faith amidst storms). "Having the Holy Ghost as our constant companion is the ultimate indicator of being accepted of God." "For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit."  Seek the Lord's acceptance and promised blessings.  Follow the simple pattern.

Elder Bruce D. Porter, Beautiful Mornings - "We need not fear the future, nor falter in hope and good cheer, because God is with us."  The Last Supper.  "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)."  Tribulation and difficult times may lie ahead, but be of good cheer.  Fear not.  God is with us.  "The Church stands as a bulwark of safety for its members."  Sanctuary in the stakes of Zion.  "Armed with righteousness."  "But if we humbly, quietly trust in the Lord, He will give us strength and guidance in every challenge we face. When our only desire is to please Him, we will be blessed with a deep inner peace."  Brigham Young was joyful in trials.  Mission companion Paul radiated good cheer, even with multiple sclerosis. Carried the Olympic torch.  "Paul's faith never dimmed in the storm of life." Roommate Bruce was the most optimistic person. Story of Bruce singing "O What a Beautiful Morning" in the middle of a snow storm.  "His good cheer flowed from an abiding trust in the Savior and in His gospel."  The beautiful morning of the millenium lies ahead!  Two other beautiful mornings: Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, and the empty tomb.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Redemption - "Inasmuch as we follow Christ, we seek to participate in and further His redemptive work."  "Redemptioners".  Significant descriptive title of Christ = Redeemer.  "Redeem can also mean to rescue or set free as by paying a ransom."  Redeem = "to deliver from sin and its penalties, as by a sacrifice made for the sinner."  Two parts of Christ's redemption = 1. atones for Adam's transgression and the consequences of the fall, namely physical and spiritual death.  2. Redemption from own sins on condition of repentance. Sin = "disobedience to divinely instituted law. Accountability and repentance.  "The Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane and His agony on the cross redeem us from sin by satisfying the demands that justice has upon us. He extends mercy and pardons those who repent. The Atonement also satisfies the debt justice owes to us by healing and compensating us for any suffering we innocently endure."  "The greatest service we can provide to others in this life, beginning with those of our own family, is to bring them to Christ through faith and repentance so they may experience His Redemption—peace and joy now and immortality and eternal life in the world to come."  Missionary work = expression of the Lord's redeeming love, opening the way to redemption.  Assist in the Lord's redemption of those beyond the grave.  Repentance and forgiveness are the most important aspects of redemption, but there are temporal aspects as well.  Ministering in the redemptive pattern of the Master. "This kind of redemptive work means helping people with their problems. It means befriending the poor and the weak, alleviating suffering, righting wrongs, defending truth, strengthening the rising generation, and achieving security and happiness at home. Much of our redemptive work on earth is to help others grow and achieve their just hopes and aspirations."  Example, Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, Bishop Bienvenue and Jean ValJean. "Jean Valjean indeed became a new man, an honest man and a benefactor to many. Throughout his life he kept the two silver candlesticks to remind him that his life had been redeemed for God."  Temporal redemption by collaborative effort.  Quorums, wards, stakes, etc. Humanitarian work.  Story of Elder Christofferson's mother redeeming a woman in need.  "As disciples of Jesus Christ, we ought to do all we can to redeem others from suffering and burdens. Even so, our greatest redemptive service will be to lead them to Christ. Without His Redemption from death and from sin, we have only a gospel of social justice. That may provide some help and reconciliation in the present, but it has no power to draw down from heaven perfect justice and infinite mercy. Ultimate redemption is in Jesus Christ and in Him alone."

President Thomas S. Monson, Until We Meet Again - "I pray that the Lord will bless and keep you, my brothers and sisters.  May His promised peace be with you now and always." "I urge you to study the messages further when they are printed in coming issues of the Ensign and Liahona magazines."  Gratitude, thanks to all.  "We are a worldwide Church, brothers and sisters. Our membership is found across the globe. I admonish you to be good citizens of the nations in which you live and good neighbors in your communities, reaching out to those of other faiths as well as to our own. May we be tolerant of, as well as kind and loving to, those who do not share our beliefs and our standards. The Savior brought to this earth a message of love and goodwill to all men and women. May we ever follow His example."  "I pray that we may be aware of the needs of those around us. There are some, particularly among the young, who are tragically involved in drugs, immorality, pornography, and so on. There are those who are lonely, including widows and widowers, who long for the company and concern of others. May we ever be ready to extend to them a helping hand and a loving heart."  "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."  "May we be humble and prayerful, having the faith that our Heavenly Father can guide and bless us in our lives."

General Young Women's Meeting

Sister Ann M. Dibb, Your Holy Places

Sister Mary N. Cook, When You Save a Girl You Save Generations

Sister Elain S. Dalton, Be Not Moved

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Your Wonderful Journey Home

"For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things." (D&C 88:40)