Welcome to Conference

President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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My beloved brothers and sisters, how pleased I am to welcome you to the one hundred and eighty-third annual general conference of the Church.

During the six months since last we met, it has been my opportunity to travel a bit and to meet with some of you in your own areas. Following General Conference in October, I traveled to Germany, where it was my privilege to meet with our members at several locations in that country, as well as in parts of Austria.

At the end of October I dedicated the Calgary Alberta Temple in Canada, with the assistance of Elder and Sister M. Russell Ballard, Elder and Sister Craig C. Christensen, and Elder and Sister William R. Walker. In November I rededicated the Boise Idaho Temple. Also traveling with me and participating in the dedication were Elder and Sister David A. Bednar, Elder and Sister Craig C. Christensen and Elder and Sister William R. Walker.

The cultural celebrations held in conjunction with both of these dedications were outstanding. I did not personally attend the cultural celebration in Calgary, inasmuch as it was Sister Monson’s eighty-fifth birthday and I felt I should be with her. However, she and I were privileged to watch the celebration in our living room over closed circuit television, and then I flew to Calgary the following morning for the dedication. In Boise over nine thousand youth from the temple district participated in the cultural celebration. There were so many young people involved that there was not room for family members to attend in the arena in which they performed.

Just last month President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, accompanied by Sister Uchtdorf and Elder and Sister Jeffrey R. Holland, traveled to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to dedicate our newly completed temple there. They were assisted by the Area Presidency members and their wives. A magnificent youth celebration took place the evening prior to the dedication.

There are other temples which have been announced and which are at various stages in the preliminary process or which are under construction.

It is my privilege this morning to announce two additional temples, which in coming months and years will be built in the following locations: Cedar City, Utah and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brothers and sisters, temple building continues unabated.

As you know, in the October General Conference I announced changes in the ages at which young men and young women might serve as full-time missionaries, with the young men now being able to serve at age 18 and the young women at 19.

The response of our young people has been remarkable and inspiring. As of April 4th-two days ago-we have 65,634 full-time missionaries serving, with over twenty thousand more who have received their calls but who have not yet entered a Missionary Training Center and over six thousand more in the interview process with their bishops and stake presidents. It has been necessary for us to create fifty-eight new missions to accommodate the increased numbers of missionaries.

To help maintain this missionary force, and because many of our missionaries come from modest circumstances, we invite you, as you are able, to contribute generously to the General Missionary Fund of the Church.

Now, brothers and sisters, we will hear inspired messages today and tomorrow. Those who will address us have sought prayerfully to know that which the Lord would have us hear at this time.

I urge you to be attentive and receptive to the messages which we will hear. That we may do so is my prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

These Things I Know

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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In 1992, having served nine years as an Assistant to the Twelve and 22 years as a member of the Twelve, I reached the age of 68. I felt impressed to start what I called an “Unfinished Composition.” The first part of that work goes like this:


I had a thought the other night,
A thought profound and deep.
It came when I was too worn down,
Too tired to go to sleep.


I’d had a very busy day
And pondered on my fate.
The thought was this:
When I was young, I wasn’t sixty-eight!


I could walk without a limp;
I had no shoulder pain.
I could read a line through twice
And quote it back again.


I could work for endless hours
And hardly stop to breathe.
And things that now I cannot do
I mastered then with ease.


If I could now turn back the years,
If that were mine to choose,
I would not barter age for youth,
I’d have too much to lose.


I am quite content to move ahead,
To yield my youth, however grand.
The thing I’d lose if I went back
Is what I understand.


Ten years later, I decided to add a few more lines to that poem:


Ten years have flown to who knows where
And with them much of pain.
A metal hip erased my limp;
I walk quite straight again.


Another plate holds neck bones fast-
A wonderful creation!
It backed my polio away;
I’ve joined the stiff-necked generation.

The signs of aging can be seen.
Those things will not get better.
The only thing that grows in stren
With me is my forgetter.


You ask, “Do I remember you?”
Of course, you’re much the same.
Now don’t go getting all upset
If I can’t recall your name.


             I would agree I’ve learned some thing
I did not want to know
But age has brought those precious truths
That make the Spirit grow.


Of all the blessings that have come,
The best thing in my life
Is the companionship and comfort
I get from my dear wife.


Our children all have married well,
With families of their own,
With children and grandchildren,
How soon they all have grown.


I have not changed my mind one bit
About regaining youth.
We’re meant to age, for with it
Comes a knowledge of the truth.


You ask, What will the future bring?
Just what will be my fate?
We’ll go along and not complain.
Ask when I’m eighty-eight!


And last year I added these lines:            

And now you see I’m eighty-eight.
The years have flown so fast.
I walked, I limped, I held a cane,
And now I ride at last.


I take a nap now and again,
But priesthood power remains.
And for all the physical things I lack
There are great spiritual gains.


I traveled the world a million miles
And another million, too.
And with the help of satellites,
My journeys are not through.
             I now can say with all certainty
That I know and love the Lord.
I can testify with them of old
As I preach His holy word.


I know what He felt in Gethsemane
Is too much to comprehend.
I know He did it all for us;
We have no greater Friend.


I know that He will come anew
With power and in glory.
I know I will see Him once again
At the end of my life’s story.


I’ll kneel before His wounded feet;
I’ll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
“My Lord, my God, I know.”


The consummate power of the priesthood has been given to protect the home and its inhabitants. The father has the authority and responsibility to teach his children and to bless and provide for them the ordinances of the gospel and every other priesthood protection necessary. He is to demonstrate love and fidelity and honor to the mother so that their children can see that love.

There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.

Teach yourself and teach your families about the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You will do no greater eternal work than within the walls of your own home.

We know that we are spirit children of heavenly parents here on earth to receive our mortal bodies and to be tested. We who have mortal bodies have the power over beings who do not. We are free to choose what we will and to pick and choose our acts, but we are not free to choose the consequences. They come as they will come.

Agency is defined in the scriptures as a “moral agency,” which means that we can choose between good and evil. The adversary seeks to tempt us to misuse our agency.

The scriptures teach us “that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”

Alma taught that “the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”  In order to understand this, we must separate the sin from the sinner.

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 consequences that result from the violation of God’s law of chastity.

Each of us must stay in condition to respond to inspiration and the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, to warn us. Each son or daughter of God can know the things they need to know instantly. Learn to receive and act on inspiration and revelation.

A Sure Foundation

Bishop Dean M. Davies Of the Presiding Bishopric

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On October 17, 1989, while driving home after work, I was approaching a stop light at the intersection of Market and Beale streets in San Francisco, California. At that moment I felt the car shake and thought, “I must have a flat tire.” As the car continued to shake, I noticed a bus quite close to me and thought, “That bus just hit me!” Then the car shook more and more, and I thought, “I must have four flat tires!” But it wasn’t flat tires or the bus-it was a powerful earthquake! As I stopped at the red light, there were ripples in the pavement like waves of the sea rolling down Market Street.

In front of me a tall office building was swaying from side to side, and bricks began falling from an older building to my left as the earth continued to shake.

The Loma Prieta earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area at 5:04 p.m. that day and left as many as 12,000 people homeless.

The earthquake caused severe damage in the San Francisco Bay Area, most notably on unstable soil in San Francisco and Oakland.In San Francisco, the Marina District had been built on a landfill made of a mixture of sand, dirt, rubble, and other materials containing a high percentage of groundwater.Some of the fill was rubble dumped into the San Francisco Bay after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

In about 1915, apartment buildings were erected on the landfill. In the 1989 earthquake, the water-saturated unconsolidated mud, sand, and rubble converted to a liquid-like mass causing the buildings to collapse. Simply, the buildings were not built on a sure foundation.

The earthquake in San Francisco impacted many lives, including my own.

The Nephite Prophet Helaman gave unmistakable clarity to the importance of building our lives on a sure foundation, even the foundation of Jesus Christ:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm? shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)

In the development of modern day temples, careful attention is given to the design, engineering, and use of building materials. Thorough testing of the soils and geology takes place on the site where a temple will be built. Studies of wind, rain, and changes in weather for the area are considered so that the completed temple can withstand not only storms and climate common to an area, but the temple is designed and positioned to withstand the unexpected earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and other natural calamities that may occur. In many temples, concrete or steel piles are driven deep into the earth to anchor the temple foundation.

Like the designers and builders of our time, our loving and kind Father in Heaven and His Son have prepared plans, tools, and other resources for our use so that we can build and frame our lives to be sure and unshaken. The plan is the plan of salvation, the great plan of happiness. The plan lays out for us a clear picture and understanding of the beginning and the end, and the essential steps, including ordinances, which are necessary for each of Father’s children to be able to return to His presence and dwell with Him forever.

Faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are part of the “blueprints” of life. They help to form the appropriate building blocks that will anchor our lives to the Atonement of Christ. These shape and frame the supporting structure of a person’s life. Then, just as temple plans have “specifications” that give detailed instructions about how to form and integrate essential components, prayer, reading the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament, and receiving essential priesthood ordinances become the “specifications” that help integrate and bind together the structure of life.

Balance in the application of these specifications is vital. For example, in the process of making concrete, precise amounts of sand, gravel, cement, and water are used in order to achieve maximum strength. An incorrect amount or exclusion of any portion of these elements would make the concrete weak and not able to perform its important function.

In like manner, if we do not provide for an appropriate balance in our lives of daily personal prayer and feasting from the scriptures, weekly strengthening from partaking of the sacrament, and frequent participation in priesthood ordinances such as temple ordinances, we too are at risk of being weakened in our spiritual structural strength.

Prayer is one of the most basic and important foundational building blocks of our faith and character. Through prayer we are able to express our gratitude, love, and devotion to God. Through prayer we can submit our will to His and in return receive the strength to conform our lives to His teachings. Prayer is the avenue we can follow to seek His influence in our lives, even revelation.

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.  

Searching the scriptures on a daily basis will also fortify our faith and character. Just as we need food to nourish our physical bodies, our spirits and souls will be replenished and strengthened by feasting upon the words of Christ as contained in the writings of the prophets. Nephi taught, “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).

While reading the scriptures is good, reading by itself is insufficient to capture the full breadth and depth of the Savior’s teachings. Searching, pondering, and applying the words of Christ as taught in the scriptures will bring wisdom and knowledge beyond our mortal understanding. This will strengthen our commitment and provide the spiritual reserves to do our best in all situations.

One of the most important steps we can take to strengthen our lives and remain firmly attached to the foundation of the Savior is to worthily partake of the sacrament each week. The sacrament ordinance affords every Church member the opportunity to ponder his or her life in advance, to consider the actions or non-actions that may need to be repented of, and then to partake of the bread and water as sacred emblems in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a witness of His Atonement. If done with sincerity and in humility, we renew eternal covenants, are cleansed and sanctified, and receive the promise that we will have His Spirit to be with us, always. The Spirit acts as a type of mortar, a welding link that not only sanctifies but also brings all things to our remembrance and testifies again and again of Jesus Christ.Worthily partaking of the sacrament strengthens our personal connection to the foundation rock, even Jesus Christ. 

Brothers and sisters, none of us would knowingly construct our homes, places of work, or sacred houses of worship on sand, rubble, or without appropriate plans and materials. Let us accept the Savior’s invitation to come unto Him.

Let us build our lives upon a safe and a sure foundation. I humbly testify that by anchoring our lives to Jesus Christ and 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.

We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father

Sister Elaine S.Dalton of the Young Women General Presidency

In every country and on every continent, I have met confident, articulate young women, filled with light, refined by hard work and trial, possessing pure and simple faith.They are virtuous.  They are covenant keepers who “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.”[1] They know who they are and that they have a significant role to play in building the kingdom of God.

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When I was in college, I was a member of the BYU International Folk Dancers. One summer, our group had the unique privilege to tour the missions in Europe. It was a difficult summer for me because a few months earlier, my father had unexpectedly passed away. While we were in Scotland, I felt alone and became discouraged. We danced at a chapel that night, and then after our performance, went next door to the mission home. As I proceeded up the walk, I saw a stone placed in a well-kept garden by the gate. On it I read the words, “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” At that moment, those words went deeply into my heart and I felt the powers of heaven reach out and give me a message.  I knew I was known by a loving Heavenly Father. I felt I was not alone.   I stood in that garden with tears in my eyes. “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” That simple statement renewed my vision that Heavenly Father knew me and had a plan for my life and the spirit I felt helped me understand that my part mattered.

Recently my magnificent, 92-year-old mother passed away. She left this mortal existence as she had lived-quietly. Her life was not what she had planned. Her husband, my father, passed away when he was 45, leaving her with three children-me and my two brothers. She lived 47 years as a widow. She supported our family by teaching school during the day and teaching piano lessons at night. She cared for her aging father, my grandfather, who lived next door. She made sure that each of us received a college education. She insisted on it so we could be “contributors.” And she never complained. She kept her covenants, and because she did, she called down the powers of heaven to bless our home and to send miracles. She relied on the power of prayer, priesthood, and covenant promises. She was faithful in her service to the Lord. Her steadfast devotion steadied us, her children. She often repeated the scripture: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”[1] That was her motto and she knew it was true. She understood what it meant to be a covenant keeper. She was never recognized by the world. She didn’t want that.  She understood who she was and whose she was-a daughter of God.  Indeed it can be said of our mother that she acted well her part.

Of women and mothers, President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “We must never lose sight of the strength of the women. . . .It is mothers who most directly affect the lives of their children. . . . It is mothers who nurture them and bring them up in the ways of the Lord. Their influence is paramount.  They are the creators of life. They are the nurturers of children. They are the teachers of young women. They are our indispensable companions. They are our co-workers in building the kingdom of God. How great is their role, how marvelous their contribution.”[1]

How does a mother or a father instill in their daughter the ennobling and eternal truth that we are daughters of God? How do we help them step out of the world and step into the kingdom of God?

In a morally desensitizing world, young women need women and men to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” Never before has this been more important than now. Young women need mothers and mentors who exemplify virtuous womanhood. Mothers, your relationship with your daughter is of paramount importance, and so is your example. How you love and honor her father, his priesthood, and his divine role, will be reflected and perhaps amplified in your daughter’s attitudes and behavior.

 What is that part we all must “act well”?  The Family Proclamation is clear: “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners… We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”[1]

Again, I renew the call for a return to virtue. Virtue is the strength and power of daughters of God. What would the world be like if virtue-a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards[1]-were reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value? If immorality, pornography, and abuse decreased, would there be fewer broken marriages, broken lives, and broken hearts? Would media ennoble and enable rather than objectify and degrade God’s precious daughters? If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,” how would women be regarded and treated?

Several years ago, as this Conference Center was being built and nearing completion, I entered this sacred building on the balcony level in a hard hat and safety glasses, ready to vacuum the carpet that my husband was helping to install. Where the rostrum now stands was a front-end loader moving dirt, and the dust in this building was thick.  When it settled, it did so on the new carpet.  My part was to vacuum.   And so I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed.   After three days, my little vacuum burned up!

The afternoon before the first general conference in this beautiful building, my husband called me. He was about to install the last piece of carpet under this historic pulpit. He asked, “What scripture should I write on the back of this carpet and I said-Mosiah 18:9: Stand as [a] witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.'”

In an extremely challenging world, that is what the young women and all women of this Church are doing.

They are an influence for good. They are virtuous and exemplary, intelligent and industrious.  They are making a difference because they are different.  They are acting well their part.

Years ago, when I was vacuuming this carpet-trying to act well my small part, I didn’t realize that I would one day stand with my feet on the carpet under this pulpit.   Today as a daughter of God, I stand as a witness that He lives.  Jesus is the Christ. He is our Redeemer. It is through His infinite, atoning sacrifice that I will one day return to live with Him-proven, pure, and sealed in an eternal family. I shall ever praise Him for the privilege of being a woman, a wife, and a mother.

The Savior Wants to Forgive

Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy

During the time of our Savior’s mortal ministry many followed after Him, including scribes and Pharisees, “out of every town of Galilee …Judea, and Jerusalem.” A bedridden, paralyzed man desiring to be healed was brought to a large gathering, but unable to get close to the Savior, his friends took him to the roof of the house where the Savior was and lowered him down.  Seeing this demonstration of faith, with great purpose not yet known to His listeners, the Savior declared, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”

cardon sat amThis must have surprised the man-and although the scriptures say nothing of his reaction, he may have wondered if the Savior really understood why he had come. 

The Savior knew that many people followed Him because of His mighty miracles.  Already He had turned water to wine, cast out unclean spirits, healed the nobleman’s son, a leper, the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law and many others, and had restored to life the widow’s son. But with this paralyzed man, the Lord chose to give evidence to both disciple and detractor of His unique role as Savior of the world. 

Hearing the Savior’s words, the scribes and Pharisees had begun to reason among themselves, ignorantly speaking of blasphemy while concluding that only God can forgive sin.  Perceiving their thoughts, the Savior addressed them saying:  “What reason ye in your hearts?  Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?”

Not waiting for their response, the Savior continued: “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, [He then turned to the paralyzed man] I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.”  And he did! 

By this miraculous physical healing the Savior confirmed to all of us this infinitely more powerful spiritual truth:  The Son of Man forgives sins!  

While this truth is readily accepted by all believers, not so easily acknowledged is the essential companion truth:  The Savior forgives sins “upon earth,” and not just at the final judgment.  He does not excuse us in our sins.  He does not condone our return to past sins.  But when we repent and obey His gospel, He forgives us. 

In this forgiveness we see the enabling and the redeeming power of the Atonement harmoniously and graciously applied.  By exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the enabling power of His Atonement strengthens us in our moment of need, and His redeeming power sanctifies us as we “[put] off the natural man.”  This 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 loves us, and wants us to understand His willingness to forgive.  On more than 20 occasions in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord told those to whom He was speaking, “thy sins are forgiven thee,” or similar words.  On about half of those occasions, the Lord’s words were directed specifically to the prophet Joseph Smith, sometimes addressing him alone, sometimes with others. The first of these was recorded in 1830, the last in 1843.  Thus, over a span of many years, the Lord told Joseph repeatedly, “thy sins are forgiven thee.” 

No one needs suppose that this forgiveness comes without repentance.  Indeed, the Lord has declared, “I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness,” and then adds the cautionary qualifier, “who have not sinned unto death.”  While the Lord “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance,” yet He differentiates the relative gravity of some sins.  He stipulates there will be no forgiveness for “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.”  He declares the gravity of murder, and emphasizes the seriousness of sexual sin such as adultery.  With repeated serious sexual sin He makes known the increased difficulty of receiving His forgiveness.  And He has said that he “who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” Yet, in His mercy, He allows for improvement over time rather than demanding immediate perfection.  Even with the multitude of sins occasioned by the weakness of mortality, as often as we repent and seek His forgiveness, He forgives, again and again. 

Because of this, all of us, including those struggling to overcome addictive behaviors such as substance abuse or pornography, and those close to them, can know that the Lord will recognize our righteous efforts and will lovingly forgive when repentance is complete, “Until seventy times seven.”  But this does not mean one may willingly return to sin with impunity. 

The Lord is always interested in our hearts, and rationalized false faith does not justify sin.  In this dispensation the Lord warned one of his servants against such rationalization by declaring, “Let [him] be ashamed of the Nicolaitane band and of all their secret abominations….” The Nicolaitans were an ancient religious sect that claimed license to commit sexual sin by virtue of the Lord’s grace.  This is not pleasing to the Lord. His compassion and grace do not excuse us when “[our] hearts are not satisfied… [and we] obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.”  Rather, after doing all we can do, His compassion and grace are the means whereby “in process of time”  we overcome the world through the enabling power of the Atonement.  By humbly seeking this precious gift, “weak things become strong unto [us],” and by His strength, we are made able to do that which we could never do alone. 

The Lord looks upon the light we have received, the desires of our hearts, and our actions, and when we repent and seek His forgiveness, He forgives.  As we consider our own lives and the lives of our loved ones and acquaintances, we should be equally willing to forgive ourselves and others. 

Preach My Gospel speaks of the difficulty in overcoming addictive behavior and encourages priesthood leaders and members to “not be shocked or discouraged” if investigators or new members continue to struggle with such problems.  Rather, we are counseled to “show confidence in the individual and not be judgmental…[treating] it as a temporary and understandable setback.

”  Could we do less with our own children or family members who struggle with similar problems, having temporarily strayed from the path of righteousness?  Surely they merit our steadiness, patience, and love… and yes, our forgiveness. 

The Lord knows what we are facing, that we all sin and “come short of the glory of God” again and again.  He “knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.”  He teaches us to “Pray always that [we] enter not into temptation.”  We are told to “cry unto him for mercy, for he is mighty to save.”  He commands us to repent, and to forgive.  And although repentance is not easy, as we strive with all our hearts to obey His gospel, He gives this promise:  “Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding [your] sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards [you].  I will not utterly cast [you] off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.” The Savior wants to forgive. 

The Savior loves you.  He wants to forgive. 

This Is My Work and Glory

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve

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In our day, the Hubble deep space telescope has confirmed the magnitude of what Moses saw.  According to Hubble scientists, the Milky-Way Galaxy, of which our earth and sun are just a tiny part, is estimated to be only one of over 200 billion similar galaxies.  For me it is difficult to comprehend, impossible to fathom, so large and so vast are God’s creations.

Brothers and sisters, the power by which the heavens and earth were and are created is the priesthood.  Those of us who are members of the Church know that the source of this priesthood power is God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ. Not only is the priesthood the power by which the heavens and earth were created but it is the power the Savior used in His mortal ministry to perform miracles, to bless and heal the sick, to bring the dead to life, and as the Father’s Only Begotten Son to endure the unbearable pain of Gethsemane and Calvary — thus fulfilling the laws of justice with mercy and providing an Infinite Atonement–and overcoming physical death through the resurrection.

It is the keys of this priesthood authority and resultant power that He gave to Peter, James, and John and His other apostles to bless others and to bind in heaven that which is bound on earth.

The power of the priesthood is a sacred and essential gift of God.  It is different from priesthood authority, which is the authorization to act in God’s name.  That authorization or ordination is given by the laying on of hands.  The power of the priesthood comes only when those who exercise it are worthy and acting in accordance with God’s will.  As President Spencer W. Kimball declared, “The Lord has given to all of us, as holders of the priesthood, certain of his authority, but we can only tap the powers of heaven on the basis of personal righteousness” (SWK, April Gen. Conference, 1976).

During the glorious days of the Restoration and the re-establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ in the world today, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, Moses, Elias and Elijah came to the earth and restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith all of the keys and authority of the priesthood for the work of God in these latter days.

It is by these keys, this authority, and this power that the Church of Jesus Christ is organized today with Christ at the head directing His living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and assisted by duly called and ordained Apostles.

In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood.  Men and women have different but equally valued roles.  Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman.  In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by a husband and wife.  And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father.  The Christian virtues of love, humility, and patience should be their focus as they seek the blessings of the priesthood in their lives and for their family.

It is crucial for us to understand that Heavenly Father has provided a way for all of His sons and His daughters to have access to the blessings of and be strengthened by the power of the priesthood.  Central to God’s plan for His spirit children is His own declaration:  “This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).   

In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Section 81 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord explains that the power of the priesthood is to be used to succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.  (D&C 81:5)

As we think about the imagery of succoring the weak, lifting up the hands which hang down and strengthening feeble knees” I am reminded of a sweet 7-year-old showing her grandfather a small tomato plant she had started from seed as part of a second grade school project.

She explained that from one tiny seed would come a plant. And, if the plant were cared for, it would grow many tomatoes that would each have many seeds.  She said, “And if all of those seeds were planted and grew more tomatoes, and you planted all of those seeds, in a few seasons you would have millions of tomatoes.”

All,” she said in amazement, “from one little seed.”  But then she said, “I almost killed my plant. I left it in a dark room and forgot to water it. When I remembered the plant, it was all wilted and dead looking. I cried because I thought of all of those millions of tomatoes that would never grow.”

She was then excited to tell her grandfather about the “miracle” that happened.

She explained, “Momma said maybe the plant wasn’t dead. Maybe all it needed was some water and some light to bring life back. And she was right. I gave the plant some water and put it in the window for light. And, guess what?” she asked.”It came back to life and now it’s going to grow millions of tomatoes!”

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 a little girl’s loving and caring hands.

Brothers and sisters–as the literal spirit children of our loving Father in heaven, we have unlimited, divine potential.  But if we are not careful, we can become like the wilted tomato plant.

  We can drift away from the true doctrine and gospel of Jesus Christ and become spiritually undernourished and wilted having removed ourselves from the divine light and living waters of the Savior’s eternal love and priesthood power.

Those who hold the priesthood and fail to constantly strive to honor it by serving our families and others will be like those who do not receive the blessings inherent in the power of the priesthood and will surely wilt spiritually, having deprived themselves of the essential spiritual nutrients, light, and power of God in their lives-much like the tomato plant so full of potential but neglected and wilted.

The same priesthood power that created worlds, galaxies and the universe can and should be part of our lives to succor, strengthen and bless our families, our friends and our neighbors – in other words, to do the things that the Savior would do if He were ministering among us today.

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

Jesus said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink“(John 7:37).

“Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life“(John 3:14).

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me … shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

If any one of you feels your faith or your testimony of Heavenly Father’s plan is less than you know it should be, then turn more fully to the Savior.  Let His light and His living water do for you and your family what a little water and light did in bringing life back to the weakened tomato plant.

Now, I began with the wonder and awe in the creations of God through the power of the priesthood.  I stand as I suppose most of you also do, wondering if God’s power to instruct and bless us can ever be fully comprehended.  It is so great, so majestic, so wonderful.


Come Unto Me

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency

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