Week after week, I sit at my computer reading and thinking about these General Conference addresses spoken long ago. I have loved reading through their messages, paying particular attention to the prophet’s words. After forty or so years, it’s easy to see prophecies fulfilled. In fact, that has become a personal joyful journey for me. So far, the prophets have always been right.
But I don’t need that kind of proof to know if what the prophet says is true. Whether it was forty years ago, or today, the spirit bears testimony to me instantly, and I am ready to respond. I feel motivated to implement and apply the principles that will lead toward assured happiness.
“All Church members, from kindergarten to high priests groups and all Relief Society sisters should be so plainly, accurately, and inspirationally taught that they will be motivated to implement applicable welfare principles and procedures in their personal lives and in their family and Church responsibilities.”
Part of living in the last days is that evil and wickedness are abundant, cunning, and overwhelming. We must choose righteousness over wickedness; but many find themselves in the middle because they haven’t chosen yet, they are confused, or they have been tricked into thinking that the middle is righteousness. When we choose righteousness we are taking our first steps to overcoming the wickedness that surrounds us, in other words we are overcoming the world.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
What does Christ mean when he said that he had overcome the world? Christ’s entire mission was to overcome the world – the natural man, temptations, sin, etc. – so that we could have the possibility of returning to our Heavenly Father. Jesus was baptised, so we must as well. Jesus introduced the sacrament, and so we partake weekly. Jesus performed the Atonement, so that we may be forgiven of our sins when we repent. Jesus was resurrected three days after his death, and so we will be able to be resurrected as well. Jesus overcame the world, and so we must, in our own way as well:
“For verily I say unto you, I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.” (D&C 64:2)
Jesus Christ overcame the world, but he was perfect. How are we, fallible natural men and women supposed to overcome the world? In the April 2017 general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen taught us four ways to do so.
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:16-19)
Jesus loves us, and as we learn about and feel that love, we grow to love him. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” When we love Jesus, we will have the courage to follow Him, and make righteous decisions, even when the world is taunting and screaming at us to do the opposite. Elder Andersen said that this love is not a one event thing, but a lifelong process. It starts with learning how to pray, singing songs about Jesus, hearing and reading the stories about Jesus, developing a relationship with Him, and putting all that we have learned to action.
Accountability to God
Elder Andersen described the difference between those who do not want to be accountable to God, and those who know that we are:
“Those overcoming the world know that they will be accountable to their Heavenly Father. Sincerely changing and repenting of sins is no longer restraining but liberating, as ‘sins [of] scarlet…[become] white as snow.’
Those of the world have difficulty with accountability to God – like a child who parties in his parents’ home while they are out of town, enjoying the ruckus, refusing to think about the consequences when the parents return 24 hours later.”
When I was younger, I attended an activity wearing an inappropriate outfit, my mom found out and disciplined me the next day. In frustration I said, “Why can’t you just let me do what I want, and God can punish me later?!” Her response still touches my heart, “Because I am your mother, and God entrusted me to teach you what is right and to lead you back to Him.” The natural man argues that earthly consequences shouldn’t exist, that they infringe on our agency; but our accountability to God must begin here on earth. We cannot wait until later.
How do we show accountability to God here on earth?
Keeping the commandments
Keeping our baptismal and temple covenants
Staying faithful to our eternal companions
Taking the sacrament each week.
Repenting of our sins
The list goes on…
In chapter 23 of the book of Matthew Jesus describes the Pharisees as being worldly. He explains that their motivation for their works is to be seen and praised by others. Jesus says that this is not the way to live and in verses 10 and 11 says:
“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:10-11)
We are to serve others, not expect others to serve us. We are to serve others for love of them and Christ, not for the praise of the world. Elder Andersen gave some examples of selflessness that we should all embody:
“The happiness of our spouse is more important than our own pleasure. Helping our children to love God and keep His commandments is a primary priority. We willingly share our material blessings through tithing, fast offerings, and giving to those in need.”
Safety in the Prophets
In choosing to follow the Savior, we will be ridiculed by the world, we will be hated by the world, and we will be ignored. But if we focus on our connection with God, and following the guidance from His chosen prophets, we will find safety in this world. The teachings of our prophets – both ancient and modern – are inspired by God, and are literally a road map back to our Heavenly Father. Of course there is safety and blessings in following their counsel! When I follow the teachings of the prophets, I feel the Holy Ghost tell me that I made the right choice. He will do the same for you.
So what does overcoming the world accomplish? According to Elder Andersen, “greater peace in this life and a greater assurance of your eternal destiny.” What a blessing to have greater peace in this life! The scriptures expand on what that eternal destiny is. When we overcome the world we will be clothed in white in the eternities, our names will remain in the book of life, and Jesus will acknowledge us before our Father. (Revelation 3:5) When we overcome the world we will have a part in the first resurrection. (D&C 76:64) When we overcome the world we will gain eternal life. (Revelation 2) When we overcome the world we will live with God. (Revelation 3:12)
Trying to overcome the world may seem daunting at first, but I testify that if we follow the advice that Elder Andersen has given us, we will succeed. When we love Jesus Christ, accept our accountability to God, become selfless, and look to our prophets, we will have the strength and ability to overcome the world.
This is Part 2 of a 2-part post. Part 1 talked about the path to true happiness and can be read here.
“Endure to the end” is a common phrase found in LDS terminology. The dictionary definition of endure means to suffer patiently or to remain in existence. So it’s common to view the term in a negative way. However, when applied to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to endure is a very positive thing. As briefly introduced in Part 1, endurance and happiness can be misconceived as opposites. I would like to use Part 2 to show how we can find happiness in the face of enduring to the end.
When I was younger I took swimming lessons at my local recreation center. During the final level of lessons, Level 7 (which took a few years to get to), I dreamed of getting on the swim team. I didn’t pass Level 7 the first time around, and my coach told my mom it was because I didn’t have enough endurance that passing required. I took Level 7 again, and passed the second time, but barely. The coach took pity on me and moved the brick from 12 feet to 6 feet so that I could succeed in diving to the bottom of the pool and bringing the brick to the surface – so I guess I didn’t really pass, the coach accommodated for me. The word endurance was brought up frequently that it was something that I didn’t have, so I didn’t attempt the swim team, and I hated the word endurance.
Luckily for people like me, it is spiritual endurance, not physical endurance, that God asks us to have. But why do we have to endure, or suffer patiently, if the gospel is supposed to bring us happiness? Because outside forces, such as temptations, trials, and the actions of others can affect our happiness. This is where enduring to the end comes in. All of the scriptures that talk about enduring to the end promise that those who endure to the end will be saved and receive eternal life. However, each scripture also couples enduring to the end with other aspects of living the gospel. This leads me to believe that in order to successfully endure the tribulations of the world, we must be living the gospel as fully as we can.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
“Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley)
I recently came across an opinion that believed that enduring to the end contradicts happiness. This opinion believed that one can’t be happy while enduring; therefore, one must choose, and happiness (the world’s definition of happiness) is the better choice. Sentiments like this one are quite common today. Happiness has been redefined to meet the world’s standards. And according to the world, happiness redefined trumps following the Lord’s commandments.
I’m sure that most of us have listened to or read phrases such as, “Doing (fill-in-a-choice-contrary-to-the-commandments) makes me happy, and God just wants me to be happy” or “God would rather see me happy than force me to (fill-in-a-commandment-that-they-are-avoiding).” Of course our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. The Plan of Salvation is also called The Plan of Happiness, and throughout the scriptures the message of the gospel is commonly referred to as “glad tidings.” But this idea that the world’s version of happiness is the kind of happiness that God intends for us is a lie perpetuated by Satan. Satan wants us to think that the temptations he is throwing at us will lead to true happiness. But that is not true. What leads us to true happiness can be found in the words of the scriptures and our modern day prophets, not in the philosophies of men.
Will the controversy of modesty ever end? Not likely. However, those of us who have chosen wisely will simply continue holding up the torch beckoning others to join. We have come to know that “our decisions determine our destiny” (Thomas S. Monson, “Believe, Obey, and Endure,” May 2012). “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him. We will stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places.”
This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday morning session of April 1976.
We talk about the work of God, but what exactly are we doing about it? Below is a list from Robert L. Simpson, who spoke on “These Four Things.” He didn’t just talk about the work of God, he asked us to remember our vow when we promised we would actually perform the work necessary to bring salvation to all of Heavenly Father’s children.
First, the obligation to prepare one’s self and one’s immediate family for the presence of the Lord;
He explains how important it is to take care of one’s own spirituality first. We have to complete our own ordinances first. We have to know and understand the doctrines of Jesus Christ’s saving gospel first. We have to commit to righteous living first if we are ever to convince anyone else.
If you’ll recall this past conference, Pres. Russell M. Nelson challenged all of us to “consecrate a portion of [our] time each week to study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the standard works.” After completing his own challenge he said, “I am a different man!” (Apr. 2017)
One of the titles that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, carries is the Prince of Peace. It is through him that we find peace, and one of the ways that happens is when we forgive others. Instead of writing about forgiveness in general, I want to talk about a specific type of forgiveness; and that is forgiving those who have not and may never apologize.
One of the most basic teachings of forgiveness is that when someone hurts us, they apologize/repent, and we forgive them. And when we hurt someone, we hope that they will forgive us when we apologize and repent. But what about when someone hurts us, and they don’t apologize, do we still forgive them? The answer is yes.
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10)
There are several reasons why someone might not apologize to us: they might not know they hurt us, they might have moved on before we did, or they simply might not care. Whatever the situation, we forgive no matter what. In President James E. Faust’s iconic talk The Healing Power of Forgiveness, he said,
“Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurt does not bring happiness.”
I lived in California for forty-five years. My husband and I were serving in a Young Single Adult Ward when Proposition 8 came about. This proposition defined marriage as between one man and one woman and if passed was to be an amendment to the California constitution.
Our ward received a letter, as did every other ward in California, from the First Presidency. In it, they asked us to donate our time, talents and anything that we could to keep marriage between a man and a woman. For the first time in my life, I was going to need to support a political cause that had moral implications, which we did so willingly.
In our YSA ward, we were very involved in the cause for Prop 8 and made phone calls, put up signs, handed out signs, knocked on doors and as a couple attended a Proposition 8 rally in Los Angeles. We were the only ones on our block that had the blue and yellow signs in our front yard. I was very proud of the young adults as they seemed to fearlessly serve as the Prophet had asked. Continue reading →
There is a battle going on all around us. The fight is against Good and Evil. Where Evil is trying to convince us there is no evil, only “honesty within one’s self”, Good is trying to defend, protect, and honor the God of all goodness.
God has taught us that there are eternal laws, that are absolute, that even He must obey. “There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated–” (D&C 130:20). “If they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook” (D&C 19:18-19). Continue reading →