“Speaking Today,” Liahona, June 2005, N9–N11
Elder Nelson Urges Young Adults to Keep Eternal Perspective
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded young adults during a February 6 Church Educational System broadcast to keep an eternal perspective and asked them to focus on how they would like to see their lives 50 years from now.
Less than a week before the death of his wife, Dantzel, on February 12, 2005, Elder Nelson stressed that although some may long for fame and fortune, the most important things in his and his wife’s lives have been their membership in the Church and their family.
“We have learned that unshakable faith in the Lord enriches married life and love,” Elder Nelson said.
Elder Nelson spoke of the importance of the role his children have played in his life. “How thankful we are that we heeded the counsel of the Church leaders to marry in the temple, to invite children into our family, and to serve the Lord,” he said. “If we had placed our education ahead of our family, we would not be so blessed now.”
Elder Nelson joked about the fact that the first 9 of his 10 children were all girls. “It was like a girls’ dormitory until our one and only son came along. Poor boy—he didn’t know who his real mother was for his first two years.”
Elder Nelson also praised women who decide to give birth, saying that they are helping to fulfill the role Heavenly Father gave them. “When a mother worthily bears and cares for a child, she not only helps the earth reach the end of its creation—she glorifies God.”
He addressed the fact that some people won’t marry in this life and some will not be able to have children, despite a desire to do so. “The Lord is aware of these circumstances. He will bestow all of the blessings that He has in store for His faithful children in His own way and in His own time.”
Elder Nelson told young adults that in these days, Satan has chosen to wage war on the heart of our Father in Heaven’s plan by attacking the family. As evidence of this attack he cited a decline in the number of married adults, a decrease in birthrate, and an increase in the number of unmarried couples who live together.
“With such spiritual sickness all about us, it takes real faith in the Lord and in His gospel to withstand attacks from the adversary,” he said.
Elder Nelson urged those listening to strengthen their faith by denying themselves of all ungodliness.
Elder Nelson taught that although the family is under attack, by heeding the counsel given in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” people can overcome much of the hardship faced in their lives.
He also taught of the importance of understanding the purpose of temple marriage and comprehending how actions here can affect eternity. “This welding together of generations is so important that the purposes of the earth and the purposes of the Church both would be defeated if families were not sealed in the holy temple,” he said.
Elder Cook Teaches Students That Suffering Brings Blessings
Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy taught at a Brigham Young University devotional on February 1 that trials and suffering are blessings from Heavenly Father and prove that He loves His children.
“I bear testimony that often in the midst of suffering, trials and affliction, and discouragement that those very circumstances tutor us in developing increasing love and trust in God,” Elder Cook said. “Consequently, what a great blessing these trials are.”
Although Elder Cook mentioned situations in which there has been suffering on a large scale, he focused most of his remarks on the suffering that occurs in individual lives.
He taught five reasons why the Lord might allow a person to suffer. Elder Cook said suffering allows a person to prove oneself; it creates a witness against sin; it teaches obedience; it teaches patience and faith; and it assists one to repent and to be forgiven.
“It’s evident, brothers and sisters, that the Lord will use tragedy and sorrow to help humble His people and thereby cause them to repent and be saved,” Elder Cook said.
While Elder Cook said that there are reasons why God lets His children suffer, he added that no mortal can understand the full purpose of suffering.
He shared a personal experience, saying that for the first five years of his married life, he and his wife were unable to have children. After adopting their first child, Elder and Sister Cook were then able to have seven children naturally.
“Does the Lord fulfill His promises?” Elder Cook asked. “He does. Be patient. Wait upon the Lord. He loves us.”
Elder Cook suggested that there are six things we can do to bear our afflictions well. First, keep the commandments of the Lord with exactness. Second, endeavor to see more fully the Lord’s hand in our lives. Third, when faced with adversity, trials, or suffering, do our best to increase our faith. Fourth, be patient. Wait on the Lord. Fifth, do not be discouraged along the way. Sixth, humble ourselves and repent of our sins.
Elder Cook taught that although trials can be difficult, they can bring great blessings if we suffer them in the Redeemer’s name.
“I pray that the Lord will help us recognize even these unique gifts of suffering,” he said. “Give thanks for them and give thanks to the Giver of the gifts.”
Elder Pace Teaches of Diversity, Divine Purposes of Life
Using experiences from his own life, Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy taught students at Brigham Young University that they are on the earth at this time for a divine purpose.
Elder Pace, who spoke at a devotional in the Marriott Center on January 11, recounted a near-death experience he had last year that reemphasized to him the importance of using this life to understand our divine roles in the gospel plan.
After a sudden heart attack, Elder Pace underwent an operation that required six bypasses. During a second heart attack one hour later, his heart stopped beating for three minutes, and he went into shock. Much of his heart muscle was lost, and he was put on life support. Despite the doctors’ worries, Elder Pace’s heart began to beat on its own five days later, and his body recovered from the trauma.
After the ordeal, Elder Pace said a single phrase has affected his thoughts and actions enormously. “To this day, etched indelibly on my soul are the words: ‘Your work is not yet finished,’” Elder Pace said. “There’s a challenge and a blessing with not knowing either why you got sent back or how much time you’ve got left.”
Elder Pace then told students that their time is not finished either. He explained that Heavenly Father puts us on the earth for a purpose and that it is our responsibility to fulfill that purpose.
Elder Pace taught that Heavenly Father has given to all His children unique differences that qualify them to do special things while on the earth, adding that He loves us in our diversity.
“We know that we are not on earth at this time by accident or by luck of the draw,” Elder Pace taught. “Once we understand and have conviction of this reality, we can obtain the faith to move forward and overcome any obstacle that stands in the way of fulfilling our foreordained destiny. We can and will make a difference.”
Elder Pace also spoke of the importance of avoiding sin and of having strong ties to the Spirit so that we may understand what role we need to play during different times in our lives. “You simply cannot afford to cut off the inspiration needed in making these decisions by veering off into forbidden areas, jamming the communication lines,” he said.
Bishop Burton Tells Youth to Follow the Prophets
Just a few months before the Tabernacle on Temple Square closed for renovation, Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church, described to thousands of youth the importance of the building and its history at a devotional on November 3, 2004.
He began by telling of his love for the building, in which 14 of the 15 prophets of this dispensation have spoken. Throughout his presentation he projected video clips onto a large screen erected in front of the organ pipes. The first was of President Hinckley’s announcement of the Tabernacle’s renovation in the October 2004 general conference: “This marvelous structure has been used for 137 years this month. The time has come when we must do something to preserve it. It is one of the unique architectural masterpieces in the entire world and a building of immense historical interest.”
Bishop Burton described how the unique building was built: trusses were steamed to make arches, set in cold water, pegged together, and wrapped with rawhide that made steel-tight binding once the rawhide was dry. “There is not another structure just like this in all the world,” he said.
He then presented to the audience old video clips of latter-day prophets speaking at general conferences in the Tabernacle. In a choppy black and white clip from 1949, President George Albert Smith (1870–1951) said: “Don’t we live in a wonderful age. I wonder if we appreciate [what we have].” It was the first time general conference was recorded with audio and video.
In another clip President David O. McKay (1873–1970) introduced a speaker, and as the speaker stood to speak, a light blue curtain was rapidly raised behind him to block distractions.
In a clip from 1967, President Marion G. Romney stood to speak. He and the other General Authorities all wore sunglasses as they sat on the stand because the lights for the television were so bright. He quipped that his favorite story from the Old Testament was of Daniel but now his sympathy goes to the three young men thrown into the fiery furnace.
The last clip showed Elder LeGrand Richards stopping mid-sentence to ask if the flashing red button on the pulpit meant it was time for him to quit. Bishop Burton assured the audience that he probably still continued for 10 or 15 minutes after.
It doesn’t matter how the words of the Lord are broadcast to the world. What matters is that we seek to receive the words of our prophets today. Bishop Burton suggested that every member of the congregation read what the First Presidency has to say in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.
“I am grateful for living prophets who have tutored us for many years in this building. … May the Lord bless you that you will have the ability to focus on the words of prophets for the rest of your lives,” he said.