General Conference: Sunday morning

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Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve speaks at the Sunday morning session of General Conference, Oct 6. (Photo by Mormon Newsroom)

Church leaders and authorities addressed the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a worldwide broadcast from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Oct. 6.

President Henry B. Eyring,  First Counselor in the First Presidency

President Henry B. Eyring discussed the choices that lead to happiness in families and relationships. He admonished Church members that there is but one plan of happiness — to follow God’s commandments.

He said there is one overarching commandment that applies to all relationships in order to live forever, in loving happiness: to love the Lord.

President Eyring said for him, feeling the forgiveness and joy that come from the Atonement has led to loving the Lord. He spoke of the power of the Atonement as he retold the story of a young man who came out of the waters of baptism uttering the words, “I’m clean, I’m clean.”

“By the power of the Atonement, people I know well and love became new, and the effects of sin were wiped away,” he said. “My heart has been filled with love for the Savior and the loving Father who sent Him.”

President Eyring urged members to accept and magnify the callings extended to them and said choice is a key to family happiness.

“The pressures at every stage of life can tempt us to reject or neglect calls to serve the Savior,” he warned. “That can put us in spiritual peril for ourselves, our spouse and our families.”

He said that by serving others, not only are the lives of others blessed but also their own. When they serve, they plead for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

He also spoke of how the companionship of the Holy Ghost is essential in achieving the goal of living together in the presence of Heavenly Father and the Savior. He told the story of his mother and father and their love and sacrifice for each other.

He said life in families will test us through mortality. He retold the story of a friend whose grandson was in prison. She wondered why if she had lived a good life, she had such great tragedy.

“The way for loving parents and grandparents and all of God’s servants will not be easy in a decaying world,” he said. “We cannot force God’s children to choose the way to happiness.”

He concluded by expressing the example of God’s love for His children, no matter what they choose to do or who they become.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke of the ultimate priority of having families and following God’s plan.

He began by explaining the first two commandments and explained part of breaking those commandments includes having other priorities or serving our desires ahead of serving God.

“The principle is not whether we have other priorities,” he said. “The question posed by the second commandment is, ‘What is our ultimate priority?’”

He also spoke of the deteriorating nature of the family and God’s plan in the modern world. Even when the law is different from God’s law, we still have higher standard of behavior, he said.

“If we who have been given this knowledge do not establish our priorities in accord with this plan, we are in danger of serving other gods,” Elder Oaks said.

He warned and admonished against the danger of a decaying world and the pressures of society.

Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine give us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in laws that permit them. Our policies are determined by the truths God has declared to be unchangeable,” Elder Oaks said.

He said he hoped the temporary challenges of mortality do not cause us to forget the commandments and priorities given by God.

“We should remember our first priority — to serve God — and like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited,” he said.

He warned, “We must not set our hearts so much on the things of the world and aspire to the honors of men. We must never deviate from our paramount desire, which is to achieve eternal life. We must never dilute our first priority — to have no other gods and to serve no other priorities ahead of God the Father and his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson spoke about true conversion and how living a principle helps us become converted to that principle.

She directed her statements primarily to the youth of the Church as she told a story from her family history about Agnes Hoggan, who joined the church in Scotland and had eight children. One of her daughters, Isabelle, found employment as a servant, and her employers soon accepted her as part of the family. In this non-LDS family, Isabelle was receiving many privileges, including dance lessons, beautiful clothing and the ability to attend the theatre.

Eventually, the family asked to adopt Isabelle, but Agnes would not trade her daughter’s membership in the Church for worldly promises. Sister Oscarson spoke about how this decision impacted generations to come.

“Young friends, we live in perilous times, and the decisions which you are called upon to make on a daily, or even hourly, basis have eternal consequences,” she said. “The decisions you make in your daily life will determine what happens to you later.”

Sister Oscarson spoke of the definition of true conversion. She said it is more than a testimony of the principles.

“Being truly converted means we are acting upon what we believe and allowing it to create ‘a mighty change in our hearts,’” she said.

She said that to become converted to a principle, whether it be tithing, the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity, we must first live the principle and the testimony will follow.

“True conversion occurs as you continue to act upon the doctrines you know are true and keep the commandments, day after day, month after month,” she said.

Elder Richard J. Maynes, Presidency of the Seventy

Elder Richard J. Maynes spoke about the principle and importance of enduring to the end.

“Endurance is an important principle found within the doctrine of Jesus Christ,” he said. “It is important because the quality of our eternal future is proportional to our ability to endure in righteousness.”

He began with the story of Joseph Smith as he suffered in Liberty Jail.

“Joseph pled with the Lord in humble prayer that the Saints might be relieved from current suffering,” Elder Maynes said. “The Lord responded by teaching the Prophet Joseph, and all of us, that the challenges we face, if successfully endured, will be for our ultimate good.”

He also told a personal anecdote about when he returned from his mission and played basketball. He needed to run a cross-country course, and it was difficult. It took Elder Maynes weeks to be able to run the course. He used the analogy that to play basketball, he needed to be in good shape, and good physical condition comes at a price, similar to true conversion.

“To keep our testimonies in shape, we can’t just watch Conference but study and learn the fundamental principles of the gospel. That is how we become disciples of Jesus Christ, and that is how we build an enduring testimony,” he said.

“Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and the depth of our conversion,” Elder Maynes said.

He also told the story of his great grandfather who at 53 went to England and died on his mission after stopping to repair his bike. Elder Maynes saw him as an example of spiritual stamina.

“In order to honorably and successfully finish the race and return to our Heavenly Father, we will need to pay the price of dedication, perseverance and self-discipline,” he said. “We need to get into spiritual shape. We need to develop spiritual stamina. We need strong testimonies that will lead to true conversion.”

Elder Richard G. Scott,  Quorum of the Twelve

Elder Richard G. Scott expounded on the personal strength we receive from the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He spoke of how to build eternal fortifications as spiritual protections to overcome weaknesses.

He began with the scriptural story of the people of Ammon as they covenanted with the Lord to lay down their weapons of rebellion. He relayed the story of how the people of Ammon, particularly fathers, must have felt much sorrow when they could not break their covenant and rather had to send their guiltless sons to fight.

However, they were fortified by faith and explained how the Atonement of Jesus Christ brings strength to the lives of the children of God.

“It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleaned. We can become virtuous and pure,” he said. “However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences.”

He warned to not fall into Satan’s trap of luring us into his influence by bringing to our memory our previous guilt. For the Ammonite fathers, they needed to protect themselves spiritually. Their sons, who were blessed with righteous traditions, were not as vulnerable to the same temptations. Therefore, they were able to defend their families faithfully without compromising their spiritual well-being.

“The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than he does rebellion,” Elder Scott said.

To build fortifications, Elder Scott called members to repent sincerely, then to make covenants, share the gospel, serve faithfully in callings and to serve members of their families.

“Fill your life with service to others. As you lose your life in the service of Father in Heaven’s children, Satan’s temptations lose power in your life,” he said.

President Thomas S. Monson,  President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Monson began the last talk of the Sunday morning of session by calling it the most inspiring session he has ever attended. He expressed tender feelings about his wife and how the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought comfort to his life.

He spoke of the challenges that will inevitably come to all of our lives. He said that as we keep faith we will be able to face those challenges.

“(The gospel of Jesus Christ) is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head on and emerge victorious,” President Monson said.

He relayed the universal sadness and suffering he had witnessed as he has traveled all over the world.

He told the story of Brother Brems, one of his boyhood Sunday School teachers. As he reached 105 years of age and was close to death, Brems Brems could no longer see or hear. Still, he had great faith and asked to have “Tommy Monson” come and give him a blessing. Brother Brems was filled with gratitude and faith.

“Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass,” he said. “We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits.

“However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were — better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.”

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