“Excerpts from Talks Given at the One Hundred and Forty-Fourth Annual General Conference of the Church,” New Era, June 1974, 9–11
To be sure your life will be full and abundant, you must plan your life. What you plan now when you are deacons can assure you an abundant life. Have you already been saving money dedicated to your missions?
You may not yet have chosen your business or profession or life’s work, but there are many generalities which you can already set up in your lives, even though you may not yet know whether you will be a lawyer or a doctor or a teacher or an engineer. There are decisions you should already have made or now be making. What are you going to do in the years between now and your marriage? And what will you do about your marriage?
You can determine now that you will be the most faithful deacon and teacher and priest. You can decide that now with an irrevocable covenant. You can be a good student; you can use your time properly and efficiently. All the balance of your life you can be happy if you use your time well.
You can make up your mind this early that you will fill an honorable mission when you reach mission age and to that end that you will now earn money and save it and invest it for your mission, that you will study and serve and use every opportunity to properly prepare your mind and heart and soul for that glorious period of your life.
Now let us ponder the words “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Again we are reminded that God is our Father, and acknowledge that the kingdom we seek is his, and that all good is accomplished not in and of ourselves, but by his power and to his glory. We must give thanks to him for all that we receive, realizing the importance of expressing our gratitude by the way we live and serve him and our fellowmen.
May we always remember and acknowledge that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, came and gave his life for you and me, and accept his teachings as the way of life and salvation, and be prepared to so live that we may be found worthy of his sacrifice as we prepare ourselves to enjoy immortality and eternal life. As we do this, we will bring glory to his name and salvation to ourselves.
“Amen” is a word used in closing to express solemn ratification or hearty approval of what has been said. Let us truly mean it and show it by our words and deeds.
Because we live in a Sabbath-breaking society, we must—if we would magnify our callings in the priesthood—live in the world but not be of the world, for the Lord has said, “… the inhabitants of Zion shall … observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” (D&C 68:29.)
We need not shop on the Sabbath day. There will be no shopping in the city of Zion on the Sabbath.
We need not attend recreational events, nor hunt or fish on the Sabbath.
If we are really intent on magnifying our callings in the priesthood, we will on the Sabbath day live within the framework of the instructions given by the Lord in that section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
One hundred and forty-four years have come and gone since that first humble missionary set out to carry the message of salvation to a confused world. In fulfillment of the all-important, God-given mandate, this great work has gone forward through the years unabated. It is a dramatic chapter in the history of a “peculiar people.” But in all the annals of Christendom there is no greater evidence of courage, willingness to sacrifice, and unbounded devotion to duty. Men, women, and children all have joined in this heroic effort with no hope of material reward.
These ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, as they firmly believe themselves to be, have trudged through mud and snow, swum rivers, and gone without the common necessities of food, shelter, and clothing in response to a call. Voluntarily fathers and sons have left homes, families, and jobs to go to all parts of the world, enduring great physical hardship and unrelenting persecution. Families have been left behind, often in dire straits; willingly laboring the harder to provide means for “their missionary.” And through it all there has been a joy and satisfaction which has caused families at home to express gratitude for special blessings received and missionaries to refer to this period as “the happiest time of my life.”
As you and I walk the pathway Jesus walked, let us listen for the sound of sandaled feet. Let us reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. Then we shall come to know him. He may come to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside he came to those men who knew him not. He speaks to us the same words, “… follow thou me” (John 21:22), and sets us to the task which he has to fulfill for our time. He commands, and to those who obey him, whether they be wise or simple, he will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in his fellowship; and they shall learn in their own experience who he is.
We discover he is more than the babe in Bethlehem, more than the carpenter’s son, more than the greatest teacher ever to live. We come to know him as the Son of God. He never fashioned a statue, painted a picture, wrote a poem, or led an army. He never wore a crown or held a scepter or threw around his shoulder a purple robe. His forgiveness was unbounded, his patience inexhaustible, his courage without limit. Jesus changed men. He changed their habits, their opinions, their ambitions. He changed their tempers, their dispositions, their natures. He changed men’s hearts.
It was as though the Lord by his own voice said: “My servant President Harold B. Lee was true and faithful in all things that I appointed him to do; his ministry among you is completed; and I have called him to other and greater labors in my eternal vineyard. And I, the Lord, now call my servant President Spencer W. Kimball to lead my people and to continue the work of preparing them for that great day when I shall come to reign personally upon the earth. And I now say of him as I said of my servant Joseph Smith: ‘… thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
“‘For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
“‘For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard.’” (D&C 21:4–5, 7.)
It seems easy to believe in the prophets who have passed on and to suppose that we believe and follow the counsel they gave under different circumstances and to other people. But the great test that confronts us, as in every age when the Lord has a people on earth, is whether we will give heed to the words of his living oracles and follow the counsel and direction they give for our day and time.
Frequently we hear the expression “I can’t afford to pay tithing.” Persons who make such statements have not yet learned that they can’t afford not to pay tithing. There are many members who from experience can and do testify that nine-tenths carefully planned, budgeted, and spent wisely, with the blessings of the Lord, will go much farther than ten-tenths spent haphazardly without planning and without the Lord’s blessings.
I sincerely believe if we do everything in our power to be obedient to the will of God, we and our families will never lack. If we are obedient as true followers of Christ and share what we have with those less fortunate than we, the Lord will keep his promise to watch over us and care for us. I will then be glad that I have stores of food on hand so I can be of assistance to others. Perhaps like the widow who fed Elijah, the meal will then never fail in our barrels nor the oil ever fail in our cruses until prosperity comes again.
Jesus counseled, “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:5.)
In our individual prayers we should sincerely ask our Father in heaven to help us meet and conquer the temptations of this life, and ask him to deliver us from evil. We have been commanded to ask.
Proper sincere prayer to a living Father in heaven, through a living Savior and Mediator, is essential for protection from the power and evil influence of the devil. It is very important for the Saints to know that during today’s perilous times when peace has been taken from the earth, and Satan has power over his own dominion and over all that will not hearken unto the voice of God, that the Lord gave these comforting words, “… The Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon … the world.” (D&C 1:36.)
A while ago I met a boy, and this week I had the privilege of spending some time with him and his family. This boy has muscular atrophy. He is a remarkable young man, loved by everyone in the ward. He has always wanted to do the things the other fellows do. He has succeeded in Cub Scouting. He is now a First Class Scout and is progressing.
While Jay was a deacon, he passed the sacrament with the others. He can’t walk or stand on his feet, so his dad lined up with the other boys, holding Jay with his strong arm around his waist and helping him hold the tray, since his hands are not strong enough to support it. Jay’s father thus assisted his son from row to row as he passed the sacrament. Jay did a great job as a deacon collecting fast offerings too. His dad carried him from door to door. Can you imagine that scene on the doorstep?
Jay bears a strong testimony; his attitude and outlook are amazing. He gives talks and does well. He has sung in Church, and always when he does these things, his dad is there to hold him in his arms and stand by him and support him.
In all my life I never heard a sweeter story nor a more moving one. God bless such a father, and God bless such a son, and God bless us who have so much and who have yet a little time, that we may take another look at our boy or at the boy who needs some additional help outside his home. God bless you boys to appreciate your dads, to be patient and gracious and forgiving.
All of these prophecies, great and small, bear witness that the Lord has known the end from the beginning and has warned and forewarned those who would listen of the solemn and sure march of the work of Christ to its certain and ultimate conclusion. We who sit here today are a part of that great movement. If we play our part well and sustain the Lord Jesus Christ and his living prophet, all will be well with us.
I desire to include a prayer for President Spencer W. Kimball as I close these remarks.
Thy servant, Lord,
Has answered to thy call
To be thy mouthpiece
On the earth—unto its farthest part.
Give him strong heart
To bear thy burden well;
Enlarge his voice
That he may tell
Thy message to
Thy people, Lord,
And to the far-flung
Who have not yet heard.
O Lord, we know he is thy chosen seer.
As he now speaks,
Give us the ear to hear.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Children also provide strength to the lives of family members. As we celebrate the Easter season, we reverence the most significant demonstration of brotherly love ever shown. The atoning sacrifice of Christ was the supreme example of unselfish love. While Jesus was our only brother who could make such a sacrifice for us, each of us can and should make Christlike sacrifices daily for one another through unselfish actions and willing service. It is in the home that we experience many opportunities to do this.
One day my older brother, Lynn, came hurrying home from high school basketball practice, bringing a teammate with him. Upon entering the house, both made a dash for the kitchen to satisfy their hungry appetites. My brother’s friend loudly described his feeling of hunger by using a few vulgar and profane words to accent his anxious mood. Lynn quickly, quietly, but firmly said, “Hey, don’t talk like that. My little brothers might hear you. I don’t want them to learn words like that. Besides, they might think less of you than they ought to.”
Unknown to my brother, my friend and I did hear that conversation, but the profane words were quickly erased from my mind by the thoughtful concern and courage shown by my older brother. That experience made a positive, lasting impression on my young mind. At the risk of sacrificing a friendship, his kindly chastisement of his friend taught me a lesson of love and concern for others and of courage to uphold the right.
You presidents and counselors in Aaronic Priesthood quorums are the file leaders of all members of your quorums, active and inactive. You have a responsibility for the total well-being and activity of each of your quorum members. This means that you not only conduct the quorum meeting Sunday morning or make assignments at the sacrament table, but you provide leadership in all services and activities. This is why you have been appointed to positions of leadership in the Scouting organization. You see, Scouting is a part of priesthood responsibility. As you gain an understanding of your stewardship, you will recognize your responsibility to your members as clearly as elders quorum presidents recognize theirs for the elders and prospective elders in their quorums.
In our striving to do right, we are beset at times with trials and testing, but the Lord gives us this comforting assurance: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matt. 11:28–29.)
“I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
“Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.” (3 Ne. 9:18, 21.)
“And … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3.)
Now this is the time for us to prepare and be worthy for the fulfillment of this great promise. Many people have lost their proper sense of values and have sought wealth at the expense of spiritual growth. Every task, every duty, every assignment may well be first met by considering how the Son of God would have fulfilled it. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has shown the way for us to gain eternal happiness through the way we live. All of us must rely upon his merits for our salvation and glory.