[Why bother to go to Conference if you are opposed to the Brethren?]
[Excited that our friend Roy Tunnicliffe was called as an Area Seventy]
The First Presidency has issued the following statistical report concerning the growth and status of the Church as of December 31, 2016.
|Wards and branches
|New children of record
(Suva Fiji, Freiburg Germany)
(Provo City Center, Sapporo Japan, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Fort Collins Colorado, Star Valley Wyoming, Hartford Connecticut)
|Temples in operation at the end of 2016
Elder Robert D Hales
[Looking gaunt and frail but voice was strong]
Genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.
Listen to the Apostle Peter’s invitation to become a disciple of the Savior:
“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
“And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
“And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” [2 Peter 1:5–7].
As you can see, weaving the spiritual tapestry of personal discipleship requires more than a single thread.
In the Saviour’s day there were many…who practised selective obedience.
The attributes of the Savior, as we perceive them, are not a script to be followed or list to be checked off. They are interwoven characteristics, added one to another, which develop in us in interactive ways. In other words, we cannot obtain one Christlike characteristic without also obtaining and influencing others. As one characteristic becomes strong, so do many more.
D&C 4 – faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation.
Faith is the catalyst.
Virtue is more than sexual purity.
Virtue is also a power.
We embody Christ not only in what we say and do but in who we are.
As tempered disciples we live the gospel in a tempered and balanced way.
When faced with the storms of tribulation we ask ‘What wouldst thou have me learn from this experience?’
We delight in the agency of others and the opportunity it gives them to grow.
We bless them that curse us. We do good to them that spitefully abuse us.
Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, we cannot be “part-time disciples”! We cannot be a disciple on just one point of doctrine or another.… The constellation of characteristics that result from faith in Christ—including the ones we have talked about today—are all necessary to our standing strong in these last days
I testify that everyone can be a disciple of the Savior. Discipleship is not constrained by gender, age, ethnic origin or calling. …Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples with all diligence.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland
Among the realities we face as children of God living in a fallen world is that some days are difficult, days when our faith and our fortitude are tested. These challenges may come from a lack in us, a lack in others, or just a lack in life, but whatever the reasons, we find they can rob us of songs we so much want to sing and darken the promise of “springtime in [the] soul” that Eliza Hewitt celebrates in one of her verses [“There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today,” Hymns, no. 227].
So what do we do in such times?
Hope for that which we see not and in patience wait for it.
We should stand as close as humanly possible to the Saviour and Redeemer of the world who has ‘perfect pitch’.
On those days when we feel a little out of tune…remember that it is by divine design that all the voices in God’s choir are nor the same.
Diversity is not cacophony and choirs do require discipline.
Our Heavenly Father delights to have us sing in out own voice and not in someone else’s.
When I see the staggering economic inequality in the world I feel guilty…
…guns and slurs and vitriol are not the way to settle human conflict.
Brothers and sisters, we live in a mortal world with many songs we cannot or do not yet sing. But I plead with each one of us to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir, where we will be able to savor forever that most precious anthem of all—“the song of redeeming love” [Alma 5:26; see also Alma 26:13]. Fortunately, the seats for this particular number are limitless.
There is room for the single, the married, for those with large families and for the childless.
There is room in this choir for all who wish to be there.
“Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.
In this great oratorio that is His plan for our exaltation, may we humbly follow His baton and keep working on the songs we cannot sing, until we can offer those “carol[s] to [our] King” [Hymns, no. 227].
And then one day we will sing and we will shout with the armies of heaven Hosanna Hosanna to God and the Lamb as Jesus descends in his chariot of fire.
[Another masterful address by Elder Holland]
Elder Gary B Sabin
The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind [see D&C 64:34]. Our whole heart! When we are baptized, we are fully immersed as a symbol of our promise to fully follow the Savior, not half-heartedly. When we are fully committed and “all in,” heaven shakes for our good [see D&C 21:6]. When we are lukewarm or only partially committed, we lose out on some of heaven’s choicest blessings [see Revelation 3:15–16].
[Story of taking scouts camping in the desert – boy freezing all night because he didn’t want to unroll his sleeping bag]
When we are complacent with our covenants, we are complicit with the consequences. The Lord has counseled us “to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life” [D&C 84:43]. And He further declared, “My blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not” [D&C 29:17].
In reality, it is much easier to be “all in” than partially in. When we are partially in or not in at all, there is, in the Star Wars vernacular, “a disturbance in the force.” We are out of sync with God’s will and therefore out of sync with the nature of happiness [see Alma 41:11].
‘My strength is as the strength of 10 because my heart is pure’ – Tennyson
It is time to stand up and defend His plan again.
We may need to let go of the world so that we can hang onto immortality.
It is far better to follow the Creator than the crowd.
Elder Valeri V Cordon
Language loss may happen when families move to a different land.
I noticed a similarity between preserving a mother tongue and preserving the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.
- Be more diligent in speaking the language at home.
One factor that influences language loss is when parents don’t spend time teaching their children the native language. It is not enough to merely speak the language in the home. If parents desire to preserve their language, it must be taught. Research has found that parents who make a conscious effort to be preserve the native language tend to be successful in doing so.
We can therefore conclude that powerful teaching is extremely important to preserve the gospel in our families, and it requires diligence and effort.
2. Strong modelling in the home.
You need to bring the language alive for the children.
[Story of father’s business going bankrupt. Choosing to pay tithing or buy food for the family.]
Another way language can be altered or lost is when other languages and traditions are mixed with a mother tongue.
As families, we need to avoid any tradition that will prevent us from keeping the Sabbath day holy or having daily scripture study and prayer at home. We need to close the digital doors of our home to pornography and all other evil influences. To combat the worldly traditions of our day, we need to use the scriptures and the voice of our modern prophets to teach our children about their divine identity, their purpose in life, and the divine mission of Jesus Christ.
It is my testimony that Heavenly Father will bless us in our efforts as we strive to embrace His language, even until we become fluent in this higher level of communication, which always was our mother tongue.
Elder Neal L Andersen
Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” [John 16:33].
Later He added, “I will that ye should overcome the world” [D&C 64:2].
Overcoming the world is not one defining moment in a lifetime, but a lifetime of moments that define an eternity.
It can begin as a child learns to pray and reverently sings, “I’m trying to be like Jesus” [Children’s Songbook, 78]. It continues as a person studies the life of the Savior in the New Testament and ponders the power of the Savior’s Atonement in the Book of Mormon.
Praying, repenting, following the Savior, and receiving His grace lead us to better understand why we are here and who we are to become.
Overcoming the world is not a global invasion, but a private, personal battle, requiring hand-to-hand combat with our own internal foes.
Overcoming the world is keeping our promises to God.
Overcoming the world leads us to the sacrament every week.
Overcoming the world means turning ourselves outward.
The happiness of our spouse is more important than our own pleasure.
The world builds its universe around itself.
Overcoming the world will always mean that we will have some beliefs that will be ridiculed by the world.
The Lord gives us safety as we listen to the words of his living Prophet and apostles.
Overcoming the world is remembering the times we have felt the love and light of teh Saviour
Overcoming the world does not mean we live a cloistered life, protected from the unfairness and difficulties of mortality. Rather, it opens the more expansive view of faith, drawing us to the Savior and His promises.
[Tribute to Bruce D Porter]
May we each try a little harder in our efforts to overcome the world, not excusing serious offenses yet being patient with minor slips and falls, eagerly hastening our speed and generously helping others.
Elder M Russell Ballard
It is my assignment is to speak to you and your assignment is to listen. My goal is to finish my assignment before you finish.
[Difference between a goal and a plan]
Our greatest and most overriding goals should fit into Heavenly Father’s eternal plan. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” [3 Nephi 13:33].
Experts on goal setting tell us that the simpler and more straightforward a goal is, the more power it will have. When we can reduce a goal to one clear image or one or two powerful and symbolic words, that goal can then become part of us and guide virtually everything we think and do. I believe that there are two words that, in this context, symbolize God’s goals for us and our most important goals for ourselves. The words are return and receive.
To return to His presence and to receive the eternal blessings that come from making and keeping covenants are the most important goals we can set.
We return and receive by having “unshaken faith in [the Lord Jesus Christ], relying wholly upon” His merits, pressing “forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men [and women] … , feasting upon the word of Christ, and endur[ing] to the end” [2 Nephi 31:19–20].
Lucifer did not accept our Father’s plan…in fact he rebelled and attempted to completely modify our Father’s plan.
Because of his premortal choices Satan can neither return nor receive.
I have found that to stay focused..I need to regularly take time to ask myself ‘How am I doing?’
I like to read and ponder the introspective words found in the 5th chapter of Alma…Alma’s questions are a reminder of what our goals and plans should include in order to return and receive.
Place a copy of the Living Christ where you can see it.
Without the Living Christ our fondest expectations will be unfulfilled.
Our long term goal and plans should be that when we return to our Heavenly Father we will receive all that he has prepared for us.