For Peace at Home

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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The ideal place for [peace] is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord, Jesus Christ, the centerpiece.

Some homes have a father who is a worthy priesthood holder joined by a faithful, devoted mother who together lead in righteousness. Many homes have a different configuration. Regardless of your circumstances, you can center your home and your life on the Lord, Jesus Christ, for He is the source of true 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.

The fulfillment of this counsel does not rest upon parents alone… It is important for parents to teach children to recognize how their actions affect each individual who lives in the home. Children who are made to feel accountable for their actions, whether righteous or otherwise, grow to become trustworthy citizens in the kingdom of 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. Without these regular practices it will be difficult to find the desired and much needed peace and refuge from the world.

Be obedient to the prophetic teachings Christ would have you follow. Don’t rationalize away future happiness by taking shortcuts instead of applying sound gospel principles.

… There is real danger in the environment surrounding you. Your great potential and ability could be limited or destroyed if you yield to the devil-inspired contamination around you. However, Satan is no match for the Savior. Satan’s fate is decided. He knows he has lost, but he wants to take as many with him as he can. He will try to ruin your goodness and abilities by exploiting your weaknesses. Stay on the Lord’s side and you will win every time.

You live in a world where technology advances at an astounding pace… Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat, but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication.

For example: many of us have a personal electronic device that fits in our pocket… Unfortunately, these devices can be a source of filth and wasted time. But, used with discipline, this technology can be a tool of protection from the worst of society.

Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit in your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments each day will enhance communication through the Spirit.

Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need.

Doing all we can to invite the gentle, guiding influence of the Holy Ghost into our lives is critical in our attempts to center our homes on the Savior. Acting obediently on those promptings strengthens us even more.

Greater peace will come to you as you couple your efforts to be obedient with serving those around you… 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 of 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.

As you center your home on the Savior, it will naturally become a refuge not only to your own family, but also to friends who live in more difficult circumstances. They will be drawn to the serenity they feel there… Become friends with your children’s friends. Be a worthy example to them.

One of 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.

…Reach out to those living in adverse circumstances. Be a true friend. This kind of enduring friendship is like asphalt that fills the potholes of life and makes our journey smoother and more pleasant. It should not be a resource used to gain personal advantage, but a treasure to be appreciated and shared. Welcome into your home others who need to be strengthened by such an experience.

I offer some final thoughts for those who love a family member who is not making good choices. That can challenge our patience and endurance. We need to trust in the Lord and in His timing that a positive response to our prayers and rescue efforts can occur. We do all that we can to serve, to bless, and to submissively acknowledge God’s will in all things. We exercise faith and remember that there are some things that must be left to the Lord. He invites us to set our burdens down at His feet. With faith we can know that this straying loved one is not abandoned but is in the watch care of a loving Savior.

Recognize the good in others, not their stains. At times a stain needs appropriate attention to be cleansed, but always build on his or her virtues.

When you feel that there is only a thin thread of hope, it is really not a thread but a massive connecting link like a life preserver to strengthen and lift you. It will provide comfort so you can cease to fear. Strive to live worthily and place your trust in the Lord.

Catch the Wave

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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Since President Monson’s historic announcement last October, thousands of elders, sisters, and couples have been called, and many more are preparing.  Now we get questions like, “What are we going to do with all these missionaries?”  The answer is simple.

  They will do what missionaries have always done. They will preach the gospel!  They will bless the children of Almighty God!

More of you young men and women will catch this wave as you strive to be worthy of mission calls.  You see this as a wave of truth and righteousness.  You see your opportunity to be on the crest of that wave.

You teenagers embrace your new curriculum and teach one another the doctrine of Jesus Christ.  Now is your time to prepare to teach others about the goodness of God.

Young men and women, your education is ever important-to us, to you, and to God.  Where feasible, if you wish to attend a college or university after your mission, we encourage you to apply to your institution of choice before beginning your mission.  Many institutions of higher learning will grant an 18- to 30-month deferral to prospective missionaries. 

You parents, teachers, and others catch the wave as you prepare our rising generation to be worthy of missionary service.  Meanwhile, your exemplary lives will attract the interest of your friends and neighbors.  Be ready to give an answer to those who ask why you live as you do.  Be ready to give a reason for the hope and joy that they see in you. When such questions come, you might respond by saying, “Let’s ask the missionaries!  They can help us!  And, if you desire, I will be at your side as the missionaries respond and teach.”

You adults catch the wave with help for the spiritual, physical, and financial preparation of future missionaries.  Pinching pennies for piggy banks becomes part of your practice.  You senior couples 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…

Increasing numbers of selected men and their dear companions catch the wave as they are called to preside over missions of the Church.  In that service, they will shape the destiny of generations born and unborn.  Mission presidents hold keys of responsibility for the welfare, safety, and success of their missionaries. 

Stake presidents and bishops catch the wave as they spend more and more hours interviewing prospective missionaries.

Brothers and sisters on each ward council are beginning to catch the wave.  On that council is the ward mission leader. I would like to speak specifically to each of you ward mission leaders.  You have been called by your bishop to lead missionary work in the ward.  And some of you are so successful that an assistant has also been called to help you.  Along with others on the ward council, you identify less-active members, part-member families, and interested neighbors.  You meet regularly with assigned full-time missionaries.  You advise and assist the missionaries.  Please fill their daily planners with focused and meaningful teaching opportunities.  This is your responsibility.  Your role is truly crucial to the success of this work.  If you catch the wave with faith and enthusiasm, others will also.  You, as the ward mission leader, are the connecting link between members and missionaries in this sacred work of rescuing God’s children.

Our inquiring friends and neighbors not of our faith can also catch the wave.  We encourage them to keep all that is good and true in their lives.   And we invite them to receive more…

This wave of truth and righteousness is wondrous!  It is not man-made!  It comes from the Lord, who said, “I will hasten my work in its time.”  This wave is empowered by a divine announcement made 193 years ago.  It consisted of only seven words: “This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him!“… Those seven words launched the Restoration of His gospel

For this glorious purpose, our missionaries teach of the Restoration… 

I cannot speak of the Restoration in tempered tones.  This fact of history is absolutely stunning!  It is incredible!  It is breathtaking!  How amazing is it that messengers from heaven came to give authority and power to this work?

Our Eternal Father and Jesus Christ made multiple appearances to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Under Their direction, other heavenly messengers came, each with a specific purpose. 

In addition, the Restoration added knowledge that Saints had anciently.  The Lord provided a new book of scripture.  To the Holy Bible He added the Book of Mormon-Another Testament of Jesus Christ. 

The Restoration fulfills many biblical prophecies

Old Testament teachings about tithing have been restored. As a result, more tithe payers are blessed because of their obedience…

The Restoration also clarifies New Testament scriptures.  Its reference to baptism for the dead is now better understood…

The Book of Mormon is the centerpiece of the Restoration.  It was written, preserved, and transmitted under the Lord’s direction.  It was translated “by the gift and power of God.”… The book of Doctrine and Covenants contains many additional revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith. 

Together, members and missionaries invite all to learn of God, of Jesus Christ, and His gospel. 

The Lord’s Way

Elder Stanley G. Ellis of the Seventy

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…The Seventy are called to be messengers-to share the word of the Lord as we receive it from the Apostles and Prophets, and from the Spirit; and to be especial witnesses of the name of Christ, in preaching the gospel in all the world, in building up the Church and in regulating its affairs. (See D&C 107:25, 34). 

I grew up on a farm near Burley, Idaho-a real “Idaho Farm Boy”!  As such I learned:

1.To work-if you don’t plant, you don’t harvest.

2.To work smart-if you irrigate and fertilize, you harvest more.

3.The importance of timing-if you don’t plant at the right time, an early frost can destroy the harvest.

4.To do what is needed or ought to be done regardless of what is enjoyable, preferable or convenient-you milk the cow when she needs to be milked, not when you want to.

5.To be direct-with livestock and machinery involved, you don’t have time to “beat around the bush” or to worry about being politically correct.

(In this respect, as I have served throughout the Church, I have often asked, “Do you want me to speak directly, or with sugar?”  As a rule the Saints have chosen “direct”!  I will be direct today.)

6.Finally, as an Idaho Farm Boy I learned to stick to the

Nothing is more basic to all of us, and our doctrine, than the truths of the first Article of Faith, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”

Further, He is Our Heavenly Father who knows us, loves us and wants us to return to Him.

  Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer, who through the Atonement made it certain we will overcome death and live again, and possible for us to be exalted and have Eternal Life.  The Holy Ghost is our comforter, revelator, teacher, testifier and guide.

…We are not spiritual orphans!!  We are not alone.

What are the advantages of having parents-of not being an orphan?  We can learn from them, benefit from their experience, avoid pitfalls they warn us about, and understand better because of their perspective.  We don’t have to be lost, confused, deceived or  less effective.  This is especially true in the case of our Heavenly Father who has taught and shown us not just a way, but the way.

In fact God has the way to live, to love, to help, to pray, to interact with each other, to lead, to marry, to raise children, to learn, to know the truth to share the gospel, etc.

Along with the scriptures, there are great sources for finding the Lord’s way in True to the Faith, For the Strength of Youth, and other teachings of the living Apostles and Prophets.

1.For example He has taught us in the scriptures-
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.   For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

2.One of the evils of these last days is that “every man walketh in his own way.”  (D&C 1:In Proverbs we are warned to: “be not wise in thine own eyes,” and to “lean not unto thine own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5-7)

3.We are taught that if we do things the Lord’s way, He is bound to bless us and we have claim to His promises; and if not His way, we have no promise. (D&C 82:10)

4.The Lord contrasted His way with our way in His training of the Prophet Samuel who was sent to find a new king,-” But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart..” 

5.Even with the universally accepted desire to help the poor and needy, the Lord concurs in our goal, but warns “But it must needs be done in mine own way. . .” Otherwise in our efforts to help, we may actually hurtThe Lord has taught us the need to promote self-reliance.  Even if we are able to help, we should not give or provide what they can and should do for themselves.  Everywhere it is tried, the world learns the evils of the dole.  Truly God knows best.

… Joseph Smith was taught from his youth the ways of the Lord.  When asked how he led the church, he explained that he taught correct principles and the members governed themselves. 

One thing we have often been taught is to bloom where we are planted.  Yet sometimes we are tempted to migrate to some new area thinking our children will have more friends, and therefore better youth programs.

… Do we really think the critical factor in the salvation of our children is the neighborhood where we live?  The Apostles and Prophets have often taught that what happens inside the home is far more important than what they encounter outside.  How we raise our children is more important than where we raise them. 

… Another question is where are we needed?  For sixteen years I served in the Presidency of the Houston Texas North Stake.  Many moved to the area during those years.  We would often receive a phone call announcing someone moving in, and asking which was the best ward?  Only once in sixteen years did I receive a call asking which ward needs a good family?  Where can we help?

With all that is happening in the Church today, and as the Lord is hastening His work on every side, it is even more critically important that we do all we do in His way!

Especially in the work of salvation we learn that “in the gift of His Son hath God prepared a more excellent way. . .” (Ether 12:11)  The doctrine of Christ “is the way; and there is no other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.”  (2N 31:21)

The Gospel to All the World

Elder John B. Dickson of the Quorum of the Seventy

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The Savior’s mortal ministry was complete.  His suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross was over.  We learn from Acts chapter one that: He had ministered for forty days after his resurrection “being seen” of the apostles and “speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). 

He told them that, “. . . ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Shortly thereafter, “. . . he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). Indeed the Savior would come again in his second coming, but in the meantime, the gospel of Jesus Christ was to go to “the uttermost part of the earth”.

From Matthew we learn of a special mandate to the Apostles to take the gospel to all nations:  “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt 28:18-19).

During the early days of the Church in the Meridian of time the gospel was taken to the House of Israel only, then revelation came to Peter, the Senior Apostle, that the time had come to take the gospel beyond Israel and unto the Gentiles… Using Cornelius, who was a gentile, a centurion and a good man, the Lord impressed upon Peter that the gospel would go to the Gentiles, a concept new and foreign to the saints of that day. The revelation making that change in the affairs of the Church came to Peter, the Senior Apostle.  We know that the gospel then went rapidly to the nations of the Gentiles. 

… Now let us move 1,800 years forward to the time of the restoration of the gospel or the restitution of all things prior to the Second Coming.  I testify that through the Prophet Joseph Smith the Church has been restored and continues to move forward under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Their mandate to take the gospel to the world is the same as that of the apostles of old.

From the time of the organization… in 1830 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. 

Then in 1978 following the established pattern of revelation through the Senior Apostle, this time President Spencer W. Kimball, came the Revelation on Priesthood allowing all worthy males across the world to receive the priesthood and every blessing of the restored gospel.  This time, not only more, but all of Heavenly Father’s children worldwide could partake of all of the blessings of the gospel.  How appropriate to the kingdom of God on earth in the days approaching Christ’s second coming.

… As a people West Africans believe in God, have absolutely no shame in declaring and sharing their belief with others and have tremendous leadership capacity.  They are coming into the Church by the hundreds and every week or so a couple of wards or branches are created somewhere in the Africa West Area with, in nearly every case, all African priesthood and auxiliary leadership.  

How I wish you could join the Saints in the temple in Aba, Nigeria or Accra, Ghana where you would sense the commitment of the saints and come to know the all African Temple Presidencies or introduce you to the African Area Seventy, who are assembled with us here in the Conference Center today, and are attorneys, professors, and business managers, or have you become acquainted with the African stake and ward leaders and their families.

In Africa, to see young men at church early, preparing the Sacrament in their white shirts and ties and the young women preparing classes and all carrying their scriptures and preparing for missions is very normal.

… 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 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.

Knowing them as we do, it is no surprise that they would be such an important part of the expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ in the last days.

Personal Peace:  The Reward of Righteousness 

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve

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Two events in the past few months have touched me deeply.  First, I spoke at the funeral for Emilie Parker, a precious six year old, who lost her life along with 25 others including 19 young children in a tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  I mourned with her family and recognized that many had been deprived of peace. I found strength and faith in her parents, Robert and Alissa Parker.

Second, I met with thousands of faithful members of the Church in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan.  This French speaking West African country has endured economic hardship, a military coup, and two recent civil wars concluding in 2011.  Yet I felt a special peace in their presence.

Events often occur that rob us of peace and heighten our sense of vulnerability.

… In contemplating these events, I have been impressed with the doctrinal difference between universal or world peace and personal peace.

At the birth of the Savior a multitude of the heavenly host praised God and proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

However, it has been poignantly noted that even in this eternally significant period following the birth of the Son of God, Herod the king carried out the slaughter of innocent infants in Bethlehem.’

Agency is essential to the plan of happiness.  It allows for the love, sacrifice, personal growth, and experience necessary for our eternal progression.  This agency also allows for all the pain and suffering we experience in mortality, even when caused by things we do not understand and the devastating evil choices of others.  The very war in heaven was waged over our moral agency and is essential to understanding the Savior’s earthly ministry.

 As recited in the tenth chapter of Matthew, the Savior instructed the Twelve and acknowledged that His mission would not achieve universal peace in this mortal life.  The Apostles were told to leave peace upon the worthy houses they visited, but warned that they would be “in the midst of wolves….”   “And… hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”  A significant pronouncement is made in verse 34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth….”  It is clear that universal peace did not exist on the earth during Christ’s mortal ministry and it does not now. 

In the Lord’s preface to the Doctrine and Covenants a number of very important principles are taught.  With respect to those who do not repent, His Spirit (the Spirit of Christ) which is given to every person who comes into the world “…shall not always strive with man …”  Also, “…peace shall be taken from the earth.

” Prophets have declared that peace has indeed been taken from the earth. 

The heavenly aspiration of good people everywhere, has and always will be for peace in the world.  We must never give up on achieving this goal… We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness.This peace is a promised gift of the Savior’s mission and atoning sacrifice.

This principle is succinctly captured in the Doctrine and Covenants: “But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”

 The peace to which I am referring is not just a temporary tranquility.  It is an abiding deep happiness and spiritual contentment.

The Ivory Coast Saints, during the period of civil war in their country, found peace by focusing on living the gospel of Jesus Christ with particular emphasis on family history and temple work for their ancestors.

We all long for peace.  Peace is not just safety or lack of war, violence, conflict, and contention.  Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are, knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life’s devastating trials and tragedies…. Remember, God is not the author of confusion, but the author of peace.  For those who reject God, there is no peace. 

WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF PEACE?  Many search for peace in worldly ways, which never have and never will succeed.  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.

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. 

The Church is a refuge where followers of Christ attain peace.  Some young people in the world say they are spiritual but not religious.  Feeling spiritual is a good first step.  However, it is in the Church that we are fellowshipped, taught, and nourished by the good word of God.  More importantly it is priesthood authority in the Church that provides for sacred ordinances and covenants that bind families together and qualify each of us to return to God, the Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom.  These ordinances bring peace because they are covenants with the Lord.

Temples are where many of these sacred ordinances occur and are also a source of peaceful refuge from the world.  Those who visit temple grounds or participate in temple open houses also feel this peace.  One experience pre-eminent in my mind is the Fiji Temple open house and dedication.  There had been political upheaval, resulting in rebels burning and looting downtown Suva, occupying the houses of Parliament and holding legislators hostage.  The country was under martial law.  The Fiji military gave the Church limited permission to assemble people for the open house and a very small group for the dedication.  The members as a whole were uninvited due to concerns for their safety.  It was the only temple dedication since the original Nauvoo Temple that was held under very difficult circumstances. 

One person invited to the open house was a lovely Hindu woman of Indian descent, a Member of Parliament who was initially held hostage – but was released because she was female.

In the celestial room, free from the turmoil of the world, she literally dissolved in tears as she expressed feelings of peace that overwhelmed her.  She felt the Holy Ghost comforting and bearing witness of the sacred nature of the temple.


We Believe in Being … Chaste

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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…Why is the law of chastity so important?

The eternal importance of chastity can only be understood within the overarching context of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children.  “All human beings-male and female-are created in the image of God.  Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and … has a divine nature and destiny…”

Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our pre-mortal existence.  Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies.  In the school of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity…

After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden.  Importantly, however, God said “it was not good that the man should be alone” and Eve became Adam’s wife and helpmeet.  The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness.  “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, complete, and perfect each other.

The means by which mortal life is created is divinely appointed.  “The first commandment … God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife.” The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today.  Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality.  Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel.

The power of procreation is spiritually significant.  Misuse of this power subverts the purposes of the Father’s plan and of our mortal existence.  Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of their creative power.  Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan.  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] 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.

To some degree, the natural man described by King Benjamin is alive and well in each of us.The natural man or woman is unrepentant, is carnal and sensual, is indulgent and excessive, and is prideful and selfish. 

In contrast, the “man [or woman] of Christ” is spiritual and bridles all passions, is temperate and restrained, and is benevolent and selfless.  Men and women of Christ lay hold upon the word of God, deny themselves and take up His cross, and press forward along a strait and narrow course of faithfulness, obedience, and devotion to the Savior and His gospel.

As sons and daughters of God, we have inherited divine capacities from Him.  But, we presently live in a fallen world.  The very elements out of which our bodies were created are by nature fallen and ever subject to the pull of sin, corruption, and death… We are dual beings, for our spirit that is the eternal part of us is tabernacled in a physical body that is subject to the Fall.  As Jesus emphasized to the Apostle Peter, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

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? 

The Father’s plan is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them become happy, and to bring them safely home to Him with resurrected, exalted bodies.  Heavenly Father desires us to be together in the light and filled with hope.  In contrast, Lucifer labors to make the sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and to hinder their eternal progression. 

Satan relentlessly works to distort the most important elements of the Father’s plan.  He does not have a body, and his eternal progress has been halted… Because of his rebellion, Lucifer has denied himself all of the mortal blessings and experiences made possible through a body of flesh and bones.  He cannot learn the lessons that only an embodied spirit can learn.  He resents the reality of a literal and universal resurrection of all mankind…  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… The very tool he does not have is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to spiritual destruction. 

President Marion G. Romney declared, “I can think of no blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and the virtuous.  Jesus spoke of specific rewards for different virtues but reserved the greatest… for the pure in heart, for they,’ said He, shall see God…” And not only shall they see the Lord, but they shall feel at home in His presence.

We also are promised that, as we pursue the pathway of virtue, “the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion.” Thus, living the law of chastity invites some of the greatest blessings men and women can receive in mortality-appropriate spiritual confidence… Our innate longing to belong is fulfilled in righteousness as we walk in the light with hope.

Some of you who receive this message need to repent of sexual or other sins.  The Savior is often referred to as the Great Physician, and this title has both symbolic and literal significance.  All of us have experienced the pain associated with a physical injury or wound.  When we are in pain, we typically seek relief and are grateful for the medication and treatments that help to alleviate our suffering… Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body-a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage. From the Atonement of the Savior flows the soothing salve that can heal our spiritual wounds and remove guilt.  However, this salve can only be applied through the principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and consistent obedience. The results of sincere repentance are peace of conscience, comfort, and spiritual healing and renewal.

Please remember… that the extent and intensity of your repentance must match the nature and severity of your sins… Serious spiritual wounds require sustained treatment and time to heal completely and fully.


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