At the coming of Elijah, not only was power given to the priesthood, but also hearts were to be turned: "The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelation, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven."7
That feeling of his heart turning has already come to my friend and to his family. It may have come to you in this meeting. You may have seen in your mind, as I have, the face of your father or your mother. It may have been a sister or a brother. It may have been a daughter or a son.
They may be in the spirit world or continents away from you. But joy came from a feeling that connections with them are sure because you are or can be bound to them by priesthood ordinances that God will honor.
Melchizedek Priesthood holders who are fathers in sealed families have been taught what they must do. There is nothing that has come or will come into your family as important as the sealing blessings. There is nothing more important than honoring the marriage and family covenants you have made or will make in the temples of God.
The way to do that is clear. The Holy Spirit of Promise, through our obedience and sacrifice, must seal our temple covenants in order to be realized in the world to come. President Harold B. Lee explained what it means to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise by quoting Elder Melvin J. Ballard: "We may deceive men but we cannot deceive the Holy Ghost, and our blessings will not be eternal unless they are also sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. The Holy Ghost is one who reads the thoughts and hearts of men, and gives his sealing approval to the blessings pronounced upon their heads. Then it is binding, efficacious, and of full force."8
When Sister Eyring and I were sealed in the Logan Utah Temple, I did not understand then the full significance of that promise. I am still trying to understand all that it means, but my wife and I decided at the start of our nearly 50 years of marriage to invite the Holy Ghost as much as we could into our lives and into our family.
- Henry B. Eyring, “Families Under Covenant“, April 2012 General Conference
The priesthood is the authority of God delegated to men on the earth to act in all things for the salvation of mankind (see Spencer W. Kimball, "The Example of Abraham," Ensign, June 1975, 3). Priesthood is the means whereby the Lord acts through men to save souls. One of the defining features of the Church of Jesus Christ, both anciently and today, is His authority. There can be no true Church without divine authority.
Ordinary men are given the authority of the priesthood. Worthiness and willingness--not experience, expertise, or education--are the qualifications for priesthood ordination.
The pattern for obtaining priesthood authority is described in the fifth article of faith: "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." Thus, a boy or a man receives the authority of the priesthood and is ordained to a specific office by one who already holds the priesthood and has been authorized by a leader with the necessary priesthood keys.
A priesthood holder is expected to exercise this sacred authority in accordance with God's holy mind, will, and purposes. Nothing about the priesthood is self-centered. The priesthood always is used to serve, to bless, and to strengthen other people.
The higher priesthood is received by a solemn covenant that includes the obligation to act in the authority (see D&C 68:8) and the office (see D&C 107:99) that have been received. As bearers of God's holy authority, we are agents to act and not objects to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The priesthood is inherently active rather than passive.
- David A. Bednar, “The Powers of Heaven” – April 2012 General Conference
It needs to be taught and understood that we love and respect all of the people whom Lehi described.8 Remember, it is not up to us to judge. Judgment is the Lord's.9 President Thomas S. Monson has specifically asked us to have the "courage to refrain from judging others."10 He has also asked every faithful member to rescue those who have tasted of the gospel fruit and then have fallen away, as well as those who have not yet found the strait and narrow path. We pray that they will hold to the rod and partake of the love of God, which will fill their "soul[s] with exceedingly great joy."11
While Lehi's vision includes all people, the culminating doctrinal concept is the eternal significance of the family. "The family is ordained of God. It is the most important unit in time and in eternity."12 As Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree of life (the love of God), he was desirous that his "family should partake of it also."13
Our great desire is to raise our children in truth and righteousness. One principle that will help us accomplish this is to avoid being overly judgmental about conduct that is foolish or unwise but not sinful. Many years ago, when my wife and I had children at home, Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that it was important to distinguish between youthful mistakes which should be corrected and sins that require chastening and repentance.14 Where there is lack of wisdom, our children need instruction. Where there is sin, repentance is essential.15 We found this to be helpful in our own family.
Religious observance in the home blesses our families. Example is particularly important. What we are speaks so loudly that our children may not hear what we say. When I was nearly five years old, my mother received word that her younger brother had been killed when the battleship on which he was serving was bombed off the coast of Japan near the end of World War II.16 This news was devastating to her. She was very emotional and went into the bedroom. After a while I peeked into the room to see if she was OK. She was kneeling by the bed in prayer. A great peace came over me because she had taught me to pray and love the Savior. This was typical of the example she always set for me. Mothers and fathers praying with children may be more important than any other example.
-Quentin L. Cook, “In Tune with the Music of Faith“, April 2012 General Conference
In Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, the Lord teaches us what it means to sow in the Spirit and what really places us in the Lord's territory, as follows: humble ourselves before God, come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, witness before the Church that we have truly repented of all our sins, take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, have a determination to serve Him to the end, manifest by our works that we have received the Spirit of Christ, and be received by baptism into His Church. Our disposition to fulfill these covenants prepares us to live in God's presence as exalted beings. The remembrance of these covenants must guide our behavior in relation to our family, in our social interaction with other people, and especially in our relationship with the Savior.
Jesus Christ established the perfect behavior pattern by which we can build upon our attitudes to be able to fulfill these sacred covenants. The Savior banished from His life any influence that might take His focus away from His divine mission, especially when He was tempted by the enemy or by his followers while He ministered here on earth. Although He never sinned, He had a broken heart and a contrite spirit, full of love for our Heavenly Father and for all men. He humbled Himself before our Father in Heaven, denying His own will to fulfill what the Father had asked of Him in all things until the end. Even at that moment of extreme physical and spiritual pain, carrying the burden of the sins of all mankind on His shoulders and shedding blood through His pores, He told the Father, "Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt" (Mark 14:36).
My prayer, brothers and sisters, as we think about our covenants is that we may keep ourselves strong against "the fiery darts of the adversary" (1 Nephi 15:24), following the Savior's example so that we may sow in the Spirit and abide in the Lord's territory. Let us remember President Monson's formula: "You can't be right by doing wrong; you can't be wrong by doing right."
- Ulisses Soares, “Abide in the Lord’s Territory!“, April 2012 General Conference
We need to be constantly reminded of the eternal reasons behind the things we are commanded to do. The basic gospel principles need to be part of our life's fabric, even if it means learning them over and over again. That doesn't mean that this process should be rote or boring. Rather, when we teach the foundational principles in our homes or in church, let the flame of enthusiasm for the gospel and the fire of testimony bring light, warmth, and joy to the hearts of those we teach.
From the newest ordained deacon to the most senior high priest, we all have lists of what we could and should do in our priesthood responsibilities. The what is important in our work, and we need to attend to it. But it is in the why of priesthood service that we discover the fire, passion, and power of the priesthood.
The what of priesthood service teaches us what to do. The why inspires our soul.
The what informs, but the why transforms.
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Why of Priesthood Service“, April 2012 General Conference
Dear young men of the Church, let me ask you a question that I hope you will carry in your heart for the rest of your life. What greater power can you acquire on earth than the priesthood of God? What power could possibly be greater than the capacity to assist our Heavenly Father in changing the lives of your fellowmen, to help them along the pathway of eternal happiness by being cleansed of sin and wrongdoing?
Like any other power, the priesthood needs to be exercised to accomplish any good. You are called to "arise and shine forth" (D&C 115:5), not to hide your light in darkness. Only those who are brave will be counted among the chosen. As you exercise the power of your sacred priesthood, your courage and confidence will increase. Young men, you know that you are at your best when you are in the service of God. You know that you are happiest when you are anxiously engaged in a good work. Magnify the power of your priesthood by being clean and being worthy.
I add my voice to the call Elder Jeffrey R. Holland made to you six months ago from this pulpit. "I am looking," he said, "for men young and old who care enough about this battle between good and evil to sign on and speak up. We are at war." He continued, "... I ask for a stronger and more devoted voice, a voice not only against evil ... , but a voice for good, a voice for the gospel, a voice for God" ("We Are All Enlisted," Liahona andEnsign, Nov. 2011, 44, 47).
Yes, Aaronic Priesthood holders, we are at war. And in this war, the best way to defend against evil is to actively promote righteousness. You cannot listen to foul words and pretend you don't hear. You cannot watch, alone or with others, images you know are filthy and pretend you don't see. You cannot touch any unclean thing and pretend it's no big deal. You cannot be passive when Satan seeks to destroy that which is wholesome and pure. Instead, stand up boldly for what you know is true! When you hear or see anything that violates the Lord's standards, remember who you are--a soldier in the army of God Himself, empowered with His holy priesthood. There is no better weapon against the enemy, the father of lies, than the truth that will come out of your mouth as you exercise the power of the priesthood. Most of your peers will respect you for your courage and your integrity. Some will not. But that doesn't matter. You will gain the respect and trust of Heavenly Father because you used His power to accomplish His purposes.
I call on every Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidency to once again raise the title of liberty and organize and lead your battalions. Utilize your priesthood power by inviting those around you to come unto Christ through repentance and baptism. You have the mandate and power of Heavenly Father to do it.
-Adrian Ochoa, “Aaronic Priesthood: Arise and Use the Power of God“, April 2012 General Conference
There were several things I learned or was reminded of with this and similar interviews:
- I learned that many less-active members have loved ones on their knees daily petitioning the Lord for help in rescuing their loved one.
- I learned that it is not all that easy or comfortable for a less-active member to just walk back into the Church. They need help. They need support. They need fellowship.
- I learned we have less-active members who are trying and willing to find the path back to activity.
- I learned that many less-active members will hold callings if asked.
- I learned that a less-active member deserves to be treated as an equal and be viewed as a son or daughter of a loving God.
Over the years I have wondered how this interview might have gone had I approached her as a less-active Church member. I leave you to be the judge.
Reactivation has always been an important part of the work of the Lord. While the rescue is a responsibility of every member, holders of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood have the responsibility to lead out in this work. After all, that is what priesthood service is all about--bringing all people to the exalting covenants; bringing peace, happiness, and self-worth.
From the Book of Mormon you will recall when Alma the Younger discovered that the Zoramites had fallen away from the Church, he organized a reactivation team to rescue these people. As they approached their assignment, Alma pleaded with the Lord with these words:
"O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
"Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee" (Alma 31:34-35; emphasis added).
The charge to rescue is based on one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Church.
"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. ...
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (D&C 18:10-11, 15; emphasis added).
I have had the privilege of rescuing a few less-active members over my lifetime. Now when I help bring one back to Church activity, I don't visualize a single soul; I see six, seven, or more generations--thousands of souls. And then I think of the scripture: "Bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy" (D&C 18:15).
- Richard C. Edgley, “The Rescue for Real Growth“, April 2012 General Conference
One of the great lessons that each of us needs to learn is to ask. Why does the Lord want us to pray to Him and to ask? Because that is how revelation is received.
When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.
There are some practical principles that enhance revelation. First, yielding to emotions such as anger or hurt or defensiveness will drive away the Holy Ghost. Those emotions must be eliminated, or our chance for receiving revelation is slight.
Another principle is to be cautious with humor. Loud, inappropriate laughter will offend the Spirit. A good sense of humor helps revelation; loud laughter does not. A sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life.
Another enemy to revelation comes from exaggeration or loudness in what is stated. Careful, quiet speech will favor the receipt of revelation.
On the other hand, spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices.
It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.
Revelation can also be given in a dream when there is an almost imperceptible transition from sleep to wakefulness. If you strive to capture the content immediately, you can record great detail, but otherwise it fades rapidly. Inspired communication in the night is generally accompanied by a sacred feeling for the entire experience. The Lord uses individuals for whom we have great respect to teach us truths in a dream because we trust them and will listen to their counsel. It is the Lord doing the teaching through the Holy Ghost. However, He may in a dream make it both easier to understand and more likely to touch our hearts by teaching us through someone we love and respect.
- Richard G. Scott, “How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for your Personal Life“, April 2012 General Conference
In the general Relief Society meeting of September 2006, President Gordon B. Hinckley related an experience shared by a divorced single mother of seven children then ranging in ages from 7 to 16. She had gone across the street to deliver something to a neighbor. She said:
"As I turned around to walk back home, I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: 'Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?' 'Can you take me to the library?' 'I have to get some poster paper tonight.' Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.
"I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, 'Dear Father, I just can't do it tonight. I'm too tired. I can't face it. I can't go home and take care of all those children alone. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? ...'
"I didn't really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: 'No, little one, you can't come to me now. ... But I can come to you.'"2
Thank you, sisters, for all that you are doing to raise your family and maintain a loving home where there is goodness, peace, and opportunity.
Although you often feel alone, in truth you are never totally on your own. As you move forward in patience and in faith, Providence will move with you; heaven will bestow its needful blessings.
Your perspective and view of life will change when, rather than being cast down, you look up.
Many of you have already discovered the great, transforming truth that when you live to lift the burdens of others, your own burdens become lighter. Although circumstances may not have changed, your attitude has. You are able to face your own trials with greater acceptance, a more understanding heart, and deeper gratitude for what you have, rather than pining for what you yet lack.
You have discovered that when we extend lines of hopeful credit to those whose life accounts seem empty, our own coffers of consolation are enriched and made full; our cup truly "runneth over" (Psalm 23:5).
- David S. Baxter, “Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents“, April 2012 General Conference
Our "children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). He knows and loves each one with perfect love (see Moroni 8:17). What a sacred responsibility Heavenly Father places upon us as parents to partner with Him in helping His choice spirits become what He knows they can become.
This divine privilege of raising our children is a much greater responsibility than we can do alone, without the Lord's help. He knows exactly what our children need to know, what they need to do, and what they need to be to come back into His presence. He gives mothers and fathers specific instruction and guidance through the scriptures, His prophets, and the Holy Ghost.
In a latter-day revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord instructs parents to teach their children to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Notice the Lord doesn't just say we are to "teach the doctrine"; His instructions are to teach our children to "understand the doctrine." (See D&C 68:25, 28; emphasis added.)
In Psalms we read, "Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart" (Psalm 119:34).
Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It's helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts in a way that it becomes part of their very being and is reflected in their attitudes and behavior throughout their lives.
- Cheryl A. Esplin, “Teaching Our Children to Understand“, April 2012 General Conference