I can understand why someone who lacks an eternal perspective might see the horrifying news footage of starving children and man’s inhumanity to man and shake a fist at the heavens and cry, “If there is a God, how could he allow such things to happen?” The answer is not easy, but it isn’t that complicated, either. God has put his plan in motion. It proceeds through natural laws that are, in fact, God’s laws. Since they are his, he is bound by them, as are we.
It is the parents' duty to intervene when they see wrong choices being made. That doesn't mean parents take from children the precious gift of agency. Because agency is a God-given gift, ultimately the choice of what they will do, how they will behave, and what they will believe will always be theirs. But as parents we need to make sure they understand appropriate behavior and the consequences to them if they pursue their wrongful course.
Remember, there is no such thing as unlawful censorship in the home. Movies, magazines, television, videos, the Internet, and other media are there as guests and should only be welcomed when they are appropriate for family enjoyment. Make your home a haven of peace and righteousness. Don't allow evil influences to contaminate your own special spiritual environment...
Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, “Don’t worry about it!” Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the Church.
Service opens a window by which we understand the life and ministry of Christ. He came to serve, as the scriptures teach, “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”10 Peter may have given the best description of the Savior’s mortal ministry in five words when he referred to Jesus, “who went about doing good.”11
All of these things are based on the divine commandments to love God and to love our neighbors. Can there be anything more basic, more fundamental, and more simple than that? Living the true, pure, and simple gospel plan will allow us more time to visit the widows, widowers, orphans, lonely, sick, and poor. We will find peace, joy, and happiness in our life when serving the Lord and our neighbors.
I'm wondering if many of you parents, you couples, have lost that essential moment of kneeling together at the end of the day, just the two of you, holding hands and saying your prayers. If that has slipped away from your daily routine, may I suggest you put it back - beginning tonight!
"...I know something of a mother's emotions that accompany her commitment to be at home with young children. There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they recieve little or no appreciation for the choice they have made. Sometimes even husbands seem to have no idea of the demands upon their wives.
During the past few months I have had the impression come to me that the best way to help the current world situation is for all people to rely more fully upon God and to turn their hearts to Him through sincere prayer. Humbling ourselves and seeking heaven’s inspiration to endure or conquer what is before us will be our safest and surest way to move confidently forward through these troubling times.
We know that a father's role does not end with presiding, providing, and protecting family members. On a day-to-day basis, fathers can and should help with the essential nurturing and bonding associated with feeding, playing, storytelling, loving, and all the rest of the activities that make up family life.
Parents should work to create loving, eternal connections with their children. Reproof or correction will sometimes be required. But it must be done sensitively, persuasively, with an increase of love thereafter lest the child esteem the parent to be an enemy (see D&C 121:43).
We live in a world of comparison. Social media has made this worse as we go online and compare our seemingly less exciting lives with the “fake lives” we see online. Many of those fake lives are edited, boastful, and unreal. Some may have unrealistic expectations that they should be happy all the time, and if they are not, they feel like something is wrong with them.
It is the parents' duty to intervene when they see wrong choices being made. That doesn't mean parents take from children the precious gift of agency. Because agency is a God-given gift, ultimately the choice of what they will do, how they will behave, and what they will believe will always be theirs. But as parents we need to make sure they understand appropriate behavior and the consequences to them if they pursue their wrongful course. Remember, there is no such thing as unlawful censorship in the home. Movies, magazines, television, videos, the Internet, and other media are there as guests and should only be welcomed when they are appropriate for family enjoyment. Make your home a haven of peace and righteousness. Don't allow evil influences to contaminate your own special spiritual environment...The same principle applies to you bishops, teachers, and other leaders in the Church as you work to assist families. You don't have to stand idly by as those over whom you have stewardship make poor moral choices. When one of our youth stands at a moral crossroad in life, almost always there is someone - a parent, a leader, a teacher--who could make a difference by intervening with love and kindness.
Often the media's most devistating attacks on family are not direct or frontal or openly immoral. Intelligent evil is too cunning for that, knowing that most people still profess belief in family and in traditional values. Rather the attacks are subtle and amoral - issues of right and wrong don't even come up.
Besides making our voices heard, let me conclude with seven things that every parent can do to minimize the negative effect media can have on our families: (1) We need to hold family councils and decide what our media standards are going to be. (2) We need to spend enough quality time with our children that we are consistently the main influence in their lives, not the media or any peer group. (3) We need to make good media choices ourselves and set good examples for our children. (4) We need to limit the amount of time our children watch TV or play video games or use the internet each day. Virtual reality must not become their reality. (5) We need to use Internet filters and TV programming locks to prevent our children from "chancing upon" things they should not see. (6) We need to have TVs and computers in a much-used common room in the home, not in a bedroom or a private place. (7) We need to take time to watch appropriate media with our children and discuss with them how to make choices that will uplift and build rather than degrade and destroy.
We should strive to change the corrupt and immoral tendencies in television and in society by keeping things that offend and debase out of our homes. In spite of all the wickedness in the world, and in spite of all the opposition to good that we find on every hand, we should not try to take ourselves or our children out of the world. Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven," or yeast. (Matt. 13:33.) We are to lift the world and help all to rise above the wickedness that surrounds us.
The Lord does not need a society that hides and isolates itself from the world. Rather, he needs stalwart individuals and families who live exemplary lives in the world and demonstrate that the joy and fulfillment come not of the world but through the spirit and the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Find some quiet time regularly to think deeply about where you are going and what you will need to do to get there. Jesus, our exemplar, often 'withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed' (Luke 5:16). We need to do the same thing occasionally to rejuvinate ourselves spritually as the Savior did.
Because of its sheer size, media today presents vast and sharply contrasting options. Opposite from its harmful and permissive side, media offers much that is positive and productive. Television offers histroy channels, discovery channels, education channels. One can still find movies and TV comedies and dramas that entertain and uplift and accurately depict the consequences of right and wrong. The Internet can be a fabulous tool of information and communication, and there is an unlimited supply of good music in the world. Thus our biggest challenge is to choose wisely what we listen to and what we watch.
We read in 2 Nephi: “Wo unto him that has the law given, … that wasteth the days of his probation” (2 Ne. 9:27). How does one waste the days of his or her probation? Turning to sin is surely part of it, but there is another, more subtle way, a way that may not seem evil at all. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord gave a similar warning in these words: “Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known” (D&C 60:13). Why would I speak of that with you? Because one of the ways Satan lessens your effectiveness and weakens your spiritual strength is by encouraging you to spend large blocks of your time doing things that matter very little. I speak of such things as sitting for hours on end watching television or videos, playing video games night in and night out, surfing the Internet, or devoting huge blocks of time to sports, games, or other recreational activities.
Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all. There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, "We are steward-parents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised."
My calling and life experiences allow me to respond to certain types of questions. There are other types of questions that require an expert in a specific subject matter. That is exactly what I do when I need an answer to such questions. I seek help from others, including those with degrees and expertise in such fields.
Prayer will lift us and draw us together as individuals, as families, as a church, and as a world. Prayer will influence scientists and help them toward discoveries of vaccines and medications that will end this pandemic. Prayer will comfort those who have lost a loved one. It will guide us in knowing what to do for our own personal protection.
Oh, my dear young brothers and sisters, these are the days of your probation. This time is a precious window of opportunity to prepare for your future. Do not waste this time away. Get out a paper and pencil and write down the things that matter most to you. List the goals that you hope to accomplish in life and what things are required if they are to become a reality for you. Plan and prepare and then do.
“Remember, you can be exalted without a college degree. You can be exalted without being slender and beautiful. You can be exalted without having a successful career. You can be exalted if you are not rich and famous...So focus the best that you can on those things in life that will lead you back to the presence of God - keeping all things in their proper balance.”
Many of us are on amazing journeys of discovery—leading to personal fulfillment and spiritual enlightenment. Some of us, however, are on a trek that leads to sorrow, sin, anguish, and despair. In this context, please ask yourself: What is your final destination? Where are your footsteps taking you? And is your journey leading you to that “multiplicity of blessings” the Savior has promised? A trek back to our Heavenly Father is the most important trek of our lives, and it continues each day, each week, each month, and each year as we increase our faith in Him and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We must be careful where our footsteps in life take us
The effort for gospel transparency and spiritual inoculation through a thoughtful study of doctrine and history, coupled with a burning testimony, is the best antidote we have to help students avoid and/or deal with questions, doubt, or faith crises they may face in this information age.
Now a word of caution: Please recognize you may come to believe, like many of your students do, that you are a scriptural, doctrinal, and history expert. A recent study revealed that “the more people think they know about a topic, the more likely they are to allege understanding beyond what they know, even to the point of feigning knowledge of false facts and fabricated information.”... The authors of the “overclaiming” study noted that “a tendency to overclaim, especially in self-perceived experts, may actually discourage individuals from educating themselves in precisely those areas in which they consider themselves knowledgeable.”
Additionally, may I suggest you hold a personal interview with yourself on occasion and review 2 Nephi 26:29–32, Alma 5:14–30, and Doctrine and Covenants 121:33–46. That will help to identify the kinds of temptations we all may face. If something needs to change in your life, then resolve to fix it.
Let me help us understand, with clarity and testimony, our belief about Jesus Christ. We declare He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Creator, the Savior, the Captain of our salvation, the Bright and Morning Star. He has taught us that He is in all things, above all things, through all things and round about all things, that He is Alpha and Omega, the Lord of the universe, the first and the last relative to our salvation, and that His name is above every name and is in fact the only name under heaven by which we can be saved.
Here is one final note about answering questions. It is important to teach your students that although the gospel provides many, if not most, answers to life’s most important questions, some questions cannot be answered in mortality because we lack the information needed for a proper answer.
The same principle applies to you bishops, teachers, and other leaders in the Church as you work to assist families. You don’t have to stand idly by as those over whom you have stewardship make poor moral choices. When one of our youth stands at a moral crossroad in life, almost always there is someone—a parent, a leader, a teacher—who could make a difference by intervening with love and kindness.
Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the Church, but equal does not mean the same. The responsibilities and divine gifts of men and women differ in their nature but not in their importance or influence. God does not regard either gender as better or more important than the other.
Sometimes members expect too much from Church leaders and teachings—expecting them to be experts in subjects well beyond their duties and responsibilities...If you have a question that requires an expert, please take the time to find a thoughtful and qualified expert to help you.
I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is one son or daughter of God. I believe our Heavenly Father’s everlasting purpose for His children is generally achieved by the small and simple things we do for one another. At the heart of the English word atonement is the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others.
I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he (or she) will then be able to make a great difference in the results he (or she) attains in this life
Please remember that a family council held regularly will help us spot family problems early and nip them in the bud; councils will give each family member a feeling of worth and importance. Most of all they will assist us to be more successful and happy in our precious relationships, within the walls of our homes.
As our children grow, they need information taught by parents more directly and plainly about what is and is not appropriate. Parents need to teach children to avoid any pornographic photographs or stories. Children and youth need to know from parents that pornography of any kind is a tool of the devil; and if anyone flirts with it, it has the power to addict, dull, and even destroy the human spirit.
I have often wondered why Joseph and Hyrum and their families had to suffer so much. It may be that they came to know God through their suffering in ways that could not have happened without it. Through it, they reflected on Gethsemane and the cross of the Savior. As Paul said, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
The prophet Lehi taught, “Men [and women] are, that they might have joy.” There are many reasons why peace, joy, and happiness may elude us in this life, including poverty, war, natural disasters, and unexpected setbacks in employment, health, and family relationships. But even though we cannot control those external forces that impact our lives here on earth, as we strive to become faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can find peace, joy, and happiness despite the worldly troubles that swirl around us.
Fortunately, the Lord provided this timely and timeless counsel to you teachers: "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith." This is especially applicable today because not all of your students have the faith necessary to face the challenges ahead and because many of them are already exposed through the Internet to corrosive forces of an increasingly secular world that is hostile to faith, family, and gospel standards. The Internet is expanding its reach across the world into almost every home and into the very hands and minds of your students.
First, scriptures and latter-day prophets confirm that everyone who is faithful in keeping gospel covenants will have the opportunity for exaltation. President Russell M. Nelson taught: “In the Lord’s own way and time, no blessing will be withheld from His faithful Saints. The Lord will judge and reward each individual according to heartfelt desire as well as deed.”10
First, get to know your neighbors. Learn about their families, their work, their views. Get together with them, if they are willing, and do so without being pushy and without any ulterior motives. Friendship should never be offered as a means to an end; it can and should be an end unto itself.
No matter where you live, what language you speak, or the challenges you face, God hears and answers you in His own way and in His own time. Because we are His children, we can approach Him to seek help, solace, and a renewed desire to make a positive difference in the world. Praying for justice, peace, the poor, and the sick is often not enough. After we kneel in prayer, we need to get up from our knees and do what we can to help—to help both ourselves and others.10 The scriptures are full of examples of people of faith who combined prayer with action to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others.
The Mayo Clinic recently noted: “Having a sense of belonging is so important. … Nearly every aspect of our lives is organized around belonging to something.” This report adds, “We cannot separate the importance of a sense of belonging from our physical and mental health”3—and, I would add, our spiritual health.
...I hope and pray that you will be wise enough to learn the lessons of the past. You don't have to spend time as a Laman or Lemuel in order to know that it's much better to be a Nephi or Jacob. You don't have to follow the path of Cain or Gadianton in order to realize that 'wickedness never was happiness'. And you don't have to allow your community to become like Sodom or Gomorrah in order to understand that it isn't a good place to raise a family. Learning the lessons of the past allows you walk boldly in the light without running the risk of stumbling in the darkness. This is the way it's supposed to work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this sense of isolation and loneliness for many. Nevertheless, despite the challenges we face in life, we can, like on that first Easter morning, awake to a new life in Christ, with new and marvelous possibilities and new realities as we turn to the Lord for hope and belonging.
I speak of hope in Christ not as wishful thinking. Instead, I speak of hope as an expectation that will be realized. Such hope is essential to overcoming adversity, fostering spiritual resilience and strength, and coming to know that we are loved by our Eternal Father and that we are His children, who belong to His family. When we have hope in Christ, we come to know that as we need to make and keep sacred covenants, our fondest desires and dreams can be fulfilled through Him.
I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the technique of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When you learn to master the principle of setting a goal, you will then be able to make a great difference in the results you attain in this life…If you want to have success in the goal-setting process, you learn to write your goals down. I would even put them in a prominent place…Spend your energies doing those things that will make a difference.
Too many allow themselves to almost live online with their smart devices—screens illuminating their faces day and night and earbuds in their ears blocking out the still, small voice of the Spirit. If we do not find time to unplug, we may miss opportunities to hear the voice of Him who said, “Be still, and know that I am God.”( Psalm 46:10).
When we speak of reverence, we are talking about much more than mere quietness at our meetings. Reverence is an attitude of mind and heart. It involves a keen sense of God’s majesty and infinite goodness and our unworthiness and our need for Him and His redeeming grace. It includes a profound sense of the sacred and a desire to honor and protect it.
The world’s current chaotic situation may seem daunting as we consider the multitude of issues and challenges. But it is my fervent testimony that if we will pray and ask Heavenly Father for needed blessings and guidance, we will come to know how we can bless our families, neighbors, communities, and even the countries in which we live.
Second, the precise time and manner in which the blessings of exaltation are bestowed have not all been revealed, but they are nonetheless assured.11 President Dallin H. Oaks explained that some of the circumstances “of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children.”12 That doesn’t mean that every blessing is deferred until the Millennium; some have already been received, and others will continue to be received until that day.13
Third, waiting upon the Lord implies continued obedience and spiritual progress toward Him. Waiting upon the Lord does not imply biding one’s time. You should never feel like you are in a waiting room. Waiting upon the Lord implies action. I have learned over the years that our hope in Christ increases when we serve others. Serving as Jesus served, we naturally increase our hope in Him. The personal growth one can achieve now while waiting upon the Lord and His promises is an invaluable, sacred element of His plan for each one of us. The contributions one can make now to help build up the Church on earth and to gather Israel are much needed. Marital status has nothing to do with one’s capacity to serve. The Lord honors those who serve and wait upon Him in patience and faith.14