Preparing Today for a Better Tomorrow

16 Oct. 1996

Transcript

Preparing Today for a Better Tomorrow


I am pleased to have the opportunity of being with you again as we attend another devotional at LDS Business College. I bring you greetings from the Board of Trustees who firmly believe the administration, faculty, and student body here are special. We recognize that. You have chosen wisely to come to a place where you can prepare yourself for the future.
I like the theme you have adopted this year of "Preparing Today for a Better Tomorrow." We live in a chaotic world and as we look to the future, preparation is absolutely essential. This is a great time to be young and educated. As a matter of fact, and time is great to be young! But you who are here at LDS Business College are poised on the threshold of a new century, a global society, a knowledge expansion. Technology is advancing so fast that it is impossible to keep up with it. We are in a scientific hey day.
Yet with this rapid change that is occurring in the world, it is sort of like the opening line of Dickens' great work, A Tale of Two Cities. "It is the best of times, but it is also the worst of times." We are challenged as never before in our society. Sixty-five percent of America currently believes the country has seriously gotten of on the wrong track. Nearly two-thirds of all the children are now born to single mothers. Children under the age of eight watch television an average of twenty five to thirty hours per week and have forty percent less time with parents than they had just twenty years ago. For every two marriages, there is one divorce. Over the next four years, if our population trends continue, the under eighteen population will experience 600,000 alcoholic deaths, 359,000 deaths from drugs, 338,000 will be killed violently. What has happened in the way we live that is causing so much turmoil? I can guess it is what we could have expected to have happen. In 2 Nephi 2:11 we read:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so,... righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefor, all things must needs be a compound in one; Wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
The Lord, in his great design for mankind to help prepare them for the eternities to come, instituted a plan whereby there would be opposition. As I have followed the history of mankind, the more he gives to us here on earth, the more opposition there is. We live in this final dispensation of times when the Lord has blessed us with so much. Therefore, we can expect even greater opposition to come our way. Again, this was emphasized in 2 Nephi 2:27:
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
It always amazes me when I read the Book of Mormon how we find account after account of how the Lord revealed his will to his people and yet time and time again, they changed from righteousness to wickedness. There had been a great cleansing before the Savior appeared to the Nephites, and the people were blessed with many years of righteousness living after his appearance. But then once again they started to divide themselves into classes and began to build up churches unto themselves, turning worldly to get gain, and beginning to deny the true Church of Christ. In 4 Nephi 1:27-29 we read:
And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.
And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity, and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts.
And again, there was another church which denied the Christ; and they did persecute the true church of Christ, because of their humility and their belief in Christ; and they did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them.
I was very interested in an address given by Allen Plantiga at the latest BYU Commencement in August. His words helped me to see what happens when we start teaching man-made doctrines which are in opposition to the prophetic words which are received from the Lord. He said:
This battle is a three-way contest. There are at present three main spiritual responses in the world. Our perspectives on the world are pictures of the world. Three fundamental ways of thinking about what the world we live in is really like, what we ourselves are like, and what we must do to live a good life.
Then he went on to explain these three contests.
The first contest he described is what is called naturalism. To understand naturalism, think first of the Christian view of the world, which teaches that there is a god who created the world and all that is contained therein. As Christians, we believe that we are created in the image of God and the most important thing we can do is to get into the right relationship with him. To get the naturalist prospective, you have to erase God from the picture and leave just the world. According to the naturalists there is no god. There is only nature. We human beings are insignificant parts of the great universe that pays no attention to us at all. It is wholly indifferent to our needs, our desires, our hopes, our aspirations, our ideas of wrong and right. And the right way to understand what is more important and distinctive about us--our ability to love, to act, think, use language, or humor, and playacting, or art, philosophy, literature, history, science, or morality, or even our religion--says the naturalism is not in terms of our being images of God because there is no god, but in terms of our similarities to nonhuman nature. We are best seen as parts of nature and are to be understood in terms of our place in the natural world. Naturalism is enormously influential at present. Newspapers, magazines, Sunday supplements, television programs--all of these are regularly full of talk about understanding ourselves from a naturalistic point of view or in terms of our evolutionary origin, not our divine origin. Those who endorse this view often seem to think that the way to find out how we human beings live is to see how other animals manage things.
Of course, naturalism is completely out of accord with the Christian way of thinking. It threatens the intellectual wholeness and integrity if its Christian community and makes it hard for us to think about ourselves in the world in the Christian way.
Mr. Plantiga goes on to say:
The second rival to Christian thinking is what is called relativism. This picture begins with the startling idea that we, as human beings, are somehow responsible for the basic struggles of the world and that the world is the way it is because of what we human beings think and do. Those who believe in relativism apply categories and concepts to the world, and the world in which we live is the way it is because of those categories and conceptions. The easy but fateful step to relativism, as such, is the thought that there simply isn't any such thing as the way the world really is. There is the way it looks to me and the way it looks to you. There is no such thing as truth. Instead, there is my version of reality, the way things are relative to me, and your version of reality, the way things are relative to you. What is true in one version need not be true in another version. So there isn't any such thing as plain truth. There is only truth relative to you and to me and so on. There is no such thing as the way the world is. There are only these different versions, and any one of them is as good as another.
Relativism is extremely influential and seems to have seeped down into high school and junior high. The whole idea of objective truth is an illusion or silly mistake. Like naturalism, relativism is obviously and deeply inconsistent with the Christian way of thinking.
These conflicting beliefs being taught today completely remove us from having a concrete set of values--values so necessary for the governance of mankind on earth. Values by their inherent nature embody priorities--priorities that both build and hold or entire civilization together. Many loud and persuasive voices in our society are proclaiming that all differences in ideals, values, and the way we live our lives are equally valid, and that any attempt to prefer one over another is an act of prejudice. Tolerance, not just for other people, but for all ideas and actions, becomes the ultimate virtue.
As we survey the social landscape, it is now abundantly evident that in America the traditional laws of right and wrong, while frequently ignored, have not been repealed. The unfortunate reality, however, is that the inevitable consequence of irresponsible choices is not restrictive to only the individual, but reverberates widely and impacts our children, families, and communities.
As I sort through these conflicting beliefs, how grateful I am for the blessings of the Lord to his children to not leave them alone to struggle through life. In his divine plan, he sent his messengers to earth to teach and instruct us in his law. In our day even at the very time the church was being organized, he declared:
Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,
Wherefore, meaning the church, 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 by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory (D&C 21:1, 4-6).
Thank goodness we have a great scriptural history on which to rely. A history that has proven if we follow the right course we are blessed abundantly form it. When we turn from it, that is when we find the great problems that beset mankind. In the Old Testament we find Israel commemorating celebrations, not simply for pleasure, but for purpose and meaning. Their celebrations were times of remembering and restoration to again bring back balance into their lives. The seventh day of each week was a day of worship and rest. The seventh month of each year was a special time of celebrating and remembering. Every seventh year was consecrated to the Lord. The land was given a time to rest and replenish. The years of seven times seven, or every 50th year was declared to be a year of jubilee--a time of celebration. Balance was again restored by returning the land to the families to which it had belonged in their original settlement, and all bondsmen of the Israelite birth were set free. It was truly a time of remembering and restoration.
Those ideas of remembering and restoration would be a good pattern for us to follow as we cling fast to the great virtues taught to us by those who have worked so hard to establish an understanding of the gospel of our Lord and Savior in our lives.
Of course, we live today in a time of rapid change. The speed at which change occurs had deprived us of the opportunity to stand back and look at where we are really going if we are not careful. We face a multitude of problems which descend on us as rapidly as change itself, and as a result we find ourselves building outside the firmed-up foundation which the Lord has established for his children here on earth. The new structure, in many ways, is not in accordance to the Lord's building code. Surely it would not stand as a protection for his people as a time of remembering and restoration.
Is it not time to stand back and more carefully analyze the course we are following. What suggestions could I offer to this very talented group that is seated before me today? Perhaps I could refer to one of the greatest leadership lessons taught to mankind by the Lord as he prepared Moses for his most challenging assignment. Imagine the magnitude of the assignment given to Moses. While dates and numbers are difficult to reconcile exactly, the time interval and the size of the congregation he was called to lead was overwhelming. Depending on the period covered, Israel was in bondage in Egypt somewhere between 215 and 440 years. The numbers Moses was called to lead out of Israel has been estimated to be between one million and two million people. There would have been little strong leadership left in Israel after being slaves for so long.
Let us consider how the Lord prepared Moses for his great assignment. Moses was born in the house of Levi and it was soon evident that he was a goodly child. In order to prevent him from being destroyed in accordance with the order of Pharaoh who was trying to kill the Israelite children to control their population, Moses was hid in the bull rushes where he was found by the daughter of Pharaoh. She had compassion on the young child and took him into her house to be raised. Here he was probably given the best education a young man could receive in a home of this powerful ruler of this great nation. He grew in stature and wisdom and knowledge and leadership ability.
Because of his early training, he knew who he was and who his people were. When he saw them under such burdens, especially when he saw one of the Egyptians smiting his brother, he could not resist the temptation to defend him. This act of defense caused him to be banished from the land and he had to flee for his life from the face of Pharaoh. He came to the land of Midian where he was introduced in the household of Jethro, a descendant of Abraham, a man of God.
After spending forty years in the household of Pharaoh where he received secular training, Moses' second period of training was forty years in the household of Jethro where he was taught the spiritual things necessary for his leadership ability. The Lord entrusted his final preparation of this special leader to no man. Therefor, as Moses kept the flocks of Jethro, his father-in-law, the Lord prepared him and instructed him out of the midst of a burning bush so that he would understand the duties and responsibilities needed to lead the children of Israel out of their captivity.
The Lord's way of instruction is most interesting to me. He did not give Moses a textbook full of commands or systems to follow. He taught him by example and instructed him in the creation of the world. Moses could then gain an understanding for himself of the leadership principles necessary to enable him to move forward with his tremendous assignment. It is the Lord's preparation of Moses that I would like to have you consider with me today. In the Book of Moses we read:
And the earth was without form, and void; and I caused darkness to come up upon the face of the deep; and my Spirit moved upon the face of the water; for I am God.
And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was light (Moses 2:2,3).
The first step in preparation is to search for light and the great truths established by our Eternal Father. The story of Lehi and his family in the Book of Mormon illustrates the necessity for light as we build a foundation of truth. As you remember the story of Lehi, his family left their home to journey into the wilderness. Lehi had a dream that his family should not depart into the wilderness until they had the foundation they needed to direct them on the course they should live and follow. Lehi sent his sons back to the household of Laban to get the record of their genealogy and of their family, and the dealings of the Lord with his people. After two unsuccessful tries, Nephi was able to obtain the record when Laban was delivered into his hands. A great lesson was taught to Nephi as he obtained the record. We cannot leave to chance the obtaining of our foundation of seeking truth. The things of the world will not give us a foundation of the truth we seek, but it is only when we exercise out faith that our search for eternal truth brings satisfaction. Nephi was taught this valuable lesson:
Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.
And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that:
Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law (1 Nephi 4:13-15).
In order to prevent ourselves from dwindling and perishing in unbelief, how important it is that we receive the light and inspiration of the foundation which the Lord has established for his children here on earth as contained in the Holy Scriptures.
In our search for light, let us remember the source of all truth and to be vigilant in restoring those basic values which seem to find degrees of erosion in our worldly ways.
Second,
And again, I, God, said: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and it was so, even as I spake; and I said: Let it divide the waters from the waters; and it was done;
And I, God, called the firmament Heaven; and the evening and the morning were the second day (Moses 2:6, 8).
During the second creative period, the separation of the heavens from the earth occurred. The Lord used the light that was now visible to enter into an organizational phase.
I was working on a project the other day of trying to determine who among the Church departments should be connected to Internet. As I got into the project, I was astounded at the amount of information that is now flowing to us. We literally have a tidal wave of information that is completely burying us on the computer-generated age. Possibly the best organizational efforts we can use in our personal lives is to attempt to unclutter them. With all the light that it is now possible for us to receive, there must be a way of sorting through and finding out what is useful for us. We must get back to basics. Today we must pick and choose what will be of value to us. A cluttered life is a life you don't have much control of. It is a life in which material and worldly things are allowed to control you. Our lives can become cluttered with so many things. Some are obvious, such as materials things, the stuff we collect. There must be a way in which was can prioritize the material things and sort through them, and yes, even to dispose of those things that are not useful to us. Too much focus in our life in our worldly possessions. We must look at them squarely now and determine what is of value and what is not, and seek after those things that will only give us the real joy and satisfaction we are seeking. Could I encourage you to remember the great heritage which is yours and continually strive to unclutter your lives by restoring balance you need to develop your talents to your best use.
Now third,
And I, God, said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and it was so; and I, God, said: Let there be dry Land; and it was so.
And I, God, called the day land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, called I the Sea; and I, God, saw that all things which I had made were good.
And the earth brought forth grass, every herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed should be in itself, after his kind; and I, God, saw that all things which I had made were good;
And the evening and the morning were the third day (Moses 2:9,10,12,13).
Thus during the third creative period the Lord recognized the need for a support system to nourish and feed his people while they sojourned in mortality. what a remarkable system he developed. I marvel each time I prepare a seed bed, rototilling carefully to work up the soil, and then with the plumb line, mark a straight line. I walk down the rows with a hoe and a pocket full of corn seed. I strike the first hole and place three small seeds in it. Then I strike the next hole, pull the dirt to cover up the first hole, then three more seeds are placed in the second hole. And so it goes up and down the rows until all the seeds have been used up. Then with watering and weeding, I watch those three seeds literally jump up from the ground, form tall cornstalks higher than my head. Each ear formed and matured yields maybe a hundred times the increase of those three seeds originally planted. What a remarkable system of replenishing he has developed for us. The earth, with proper care and attention, brings forth abundance.
the third creative period reminds us of the need to contribute to the welfare of our Father in Heaven's children as he has contributed to ours.
President Kimball had said:
Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world. It is by serving that we learn to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellow men, not only do our deeds assist them, but we also put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves. In the midst of serving, there is the promise of Jesus, that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves.
Is it not time to remember the great contribution of those who have gone before us and restore those pioneer virtues of caring for and serving others of our Father in Heaven's children who need nourishment and replenishment of their needs, both temporal and spiritual.
The fourth period is very interesting. During the creative period the Lord blessed us with a system of recording time. Days were given for periods of activity and rest. Seasons were given for times of planting and harvesting. Seasons grow into years of childhood, youth, adult, and old age. Each with their challenges and opportunities. The challenge is to take time to think--it is the source of power. Time to read--it is the foundation of knowledge. Time to play--it is the secret of perpetual youth. Time to be friendly--it is the road to happiness. Time to laugh--it is the mirror of our soul. A time to give--it is ungodly to be selfish. Time to work--it is the price of success. A time to love and be loved--it is God's given privilege. A time to pray--it is the greatest power on earth. Take time. It is yours. (Especially for Mormons, page 365).
We have all been blessed with the same amount of time each day. How we use it is what will benefit us here in mortality and in the eternities to come. Each day must be planned and nurtured for the best use possible. And if we use it wisely, it will be multiplied for us so that we will have the benefit of ever increasing the time we have to use to develop our talents, our abilities, for our joy, for our recreation, for our spiritual refreshment and understanding of the laws of the Lord.
The instructions of the Lord to his servant Moses certainly define a system to bring about balance in our lives. You will note that each of these steps was accomplished before the beginning of any of the creative periods of animals life. The Lord's instructions to Moses, as we apply them our lives, would be to first seek for light, the eternal truths, the foundation of all learning. Second, organize that light to give balance to our lives. Third, use our time and our talents in worthwhile service for the benefit of others of our Father in Heaven's children. Finally, in the use of our time, be certain that we put our priorities in order. Use our time wisely for understanding the things the Lord has blessed us with and developing of our talents and our abilities for the opportunities that are ahead of us in this glorious world in which we live.
Yes, the gospel of our Lord and Savior has given us so much to love for. It gives us hope for the future. It defines for us values that, if followed, will bless our lives even in the eternities to come. It gives us direction in which we can plan our lives. God grant that this will be a time of remembering the special blessings we have received and a time of being thankful for those eternal truths which will give us the greatest fulfillment and happiness as we progress through our mortal experience.

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Stand Ye in Holy Places

13 Nov. 1996

Transcript

Stand Ye in Holy Places


Yours is the honor and blessing of being students at a wonderful institution directly affiliated with a highly interesting and distinct Church, the restored Church of Jesus Christ. The graduates and faculty of this college have accomplished remarkable things. Karl G. Maeser was your first principal in 1886-87, and James E. Talmage presided here for four years. Most of you are members of the Church with which the college is affiliated. The men, for the most part, also hold the holy priesthood of God. Those attending who are not members have committed themselves to live the high and distinctive standards of this college. This is a great blessing and benefit, but at the same time gives you the challenge of being a distinctive people with a great birthright.
Recently another distinctive group of people, the Jews, analyzed what they believe today and discussed their challenges in today's secular America. I believe our challenges are somewhat similar to those of the Jews and at the same time vastly different. I will draw occasionally from the 47 essays written by American Jewish leaders in America about what they believe today. These essays are published in the August 1996 issue of Commentary. For the most part, however, I will concentrate on the challenges and opportunities awaiting you in this unique hour of the earth's existence. You stand in the Saturday evening of the earth's present status. More about that later, but what does living in this unique era of the world's history mean to you and me? Does your generation have a long-term future? If so, what is our counsel for you?
If I were your age, seeking training and education and just beginning my career, I would try always to remember and keep in the back of my mind the Lord's admonition to STAND IN HOLY PLACES AND NOT BE MOVED FROM THEM. I don't know the day or hour the Son of Man will appear, but I believe it is coming soon. I also believe we will receive warnings and signs ahead of that day and when the hour seems very near, I would try to heed the admonition "to gather together, and stand in holy places." (D&C 101:22) I would try to keep the frame of mind that the Lord is coming quickly, as he has said so many times, and "stand...in holy places, and not be moved, until the day of the Lord come." (D&C 87:8)
Today I propose to stimulate your thoughts about these things and share counsel from my perspective. In doing so I have the advantage of raising questions I anticipate might occur to you and responding briefly to them. Let me try a few to show you what we believe about the days ahead and your part in them.
Question One: Isn't invoking the second coming of Christ a scare tactic, and an old and tired one at that? Doesn't that just use the discredited tactic of motivating through fear?
Yes, that is one way of looking at it, but it is a method the Lord uses over and over in dealing with humankind. For instance in Section 64 of the Doctrine and Covenants he calls the period starting then, 1831, until the coming of the Son of Man "today." (D&C 64:25) Then he motivates us by promising "he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming." (vs. 23)
The Lord has used a similar motivational tool with the Jews for millennia. The coming of the Messiah has motivated believing Jews throughout their history. This belief still forms enough of the fabric of their beliefs or folklore that Jewish leaders in Commentary were asked specifically to state their beliefs on the Jewish Messiah. Himmelfarb, one of the Jewish essayists, warned Jews that when the Messiah comes they "must examine his credentials," having suffered the arrival of many false messiahs. Many modern Jewish leaders no longer believe in a personal Messiah who will come and save the Jews, but rather believe in a messianic or golden age of great progress to come in the future.
Latter-day Saints, in contrast, believe Christ is the Messiah, that he came to earth once as a baby born to Mary in Bethlehem, and that he will come again as promised. In a revelation given 165 years ago, the Lord told this dispensation that his coming would be soon (D&C 87:8) and in the Meridian of Time, Peter said he would come again during the "times of restitution of all things." There is value to Latter-day Saints in so living that if he came tonight we would be found in holy places. Holy places include any places where we are living righteously, prepared to see his face, and accept him. Holy places include any place where we are associating with righteous and wholesome people or where we are sharing the gospel and our love with those who need it. It would especially include our sincere presence in a temple room performing sacred ordinances, worshiping in a sacrament meeting, or at home with our families or friends doing righteous things.
Our presence in a bar room or in a movie house watching an x-rated movie would hardly qualify as being in a holy place. Caught in an immoral or unclean situation, for example viewing pornographic or suggestive pictures and books, would clearly find us in a precarious and dangerous situation, akin to the predicament the Savior describe the five foolish virgins as being in–without oil for their lamps when the bridegroom arrived.
Question Two: Doesn't this put negative pressure on us? Couldn't you motivate us better with positive reinforcement such as trusting us and sharing your testimony of the Savior's love?
My answer to question one might have put some tension and pressure on some of us. Its purpose was to motivate us to keep in the right way. Although I don't apologize for it I see your point. I could have started with the less dramatic but positive aspects of the Lord's motivating principles. He is a God of love. It is true that he rules with justice and cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but he is also merciful. His arm is stretched out to save us. All men and women to whom we may go for counsel and assistance in time of need are susceptible, in one degree or another, to sin and self-centeredness since they are mortal. People may fail us, but he is perfect and will never fail us. His purposes fail not. Neither are there any that can stay his hand.
When I have been in serious trouble about anything during my life and when it seems I am destined for some awful or horrible fate, the Lord has ever been there for me. I know he will likewise never fail you. In Gethsemane and on the cross he suffered "pains and afflictions, and temptations of every kind." (Alma 7:11) He did this for us, taking on himself our sins and even our sicknesses if we would repent. (See Alma 7:12-13) He died that we might not have to fear the long-term consequences of death, and he gave us a great plan of salvation that would assure us of triumph over all our enemies and thus qualify for eternal life and everlasting joy. Some have called this the plan of happiness. That is an apt label. All of our infirmities and all of our enemies will melt before his great love and atoning sacrifice. He is our advocate with the just Father in Heaven. What more could any of us ask!
And all he asks is that we humble ourselves, overcome the hardness of our hearts and our pride, and seek his help. He will point the way for us to gain faith, repent of our sins, and get onto that strait and narrow path. When we have found the way, we need to continue and endure to the end.
Question Three: Living so close to the end of time–perhaps in the Saturday night of time–we sometimes wonder if we have a future. Are we destined to be a generation without a normal and stable existence?
I will not sugar-coat my answer. Many of you will face difficult times and situations. But, so what? All ages about which I know anything, with the possible exception of the centuries immediately following Jesus's visit to America, have been filled with trials and challenges. My father and mother, for example, raised their children in a withering and desperate time of economic chaos and downturn. I was born in 1931, my sister in 1929. Dad lost the building he had used for his business. He continued his labors as an automobile mechanic on a vacant lot. He never thought of stopping. He had a wife and five children to house and feed. Then World War II came just as he was gaining economic success. The war made it impossible to get new automobiles or even parts for the agency he had acquired. These circumstances caused him to close his business and move to California to find employment. Through all of those trials we never went without food and clothing. We always felt secure and blessed. That move proved to be a great help to him financially, even as he assisted in the war effort.
Many died in that great worldwide struggle. Many others were preserved to carry on. The priesthood of God operated on both sides of the battle lines. I missed fighting in that war and then barely missed the Korean conflict. I arrived in Korea as a soldier just after the war, but was there to meet the first Latter-day Saint missionaries ever to serve in Korea. We helped them keep the work of establishing the Church moving. LDS soldiers had begun to share the gospel during the desperate war years. Now we have some 60,000 members and a temple in Korea.
Others got caught in the Vietnam conflict. During that conflict LDS soldiers sowed the seeds of the gospel in South Vietnam. One day that country will reap greater benefits of the restored gospel. I accompanied the first humanitarian missionaries into Hanoi just after New Years in 1993. "So amidst the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all."
I suggest you consider taking the attitude–I will live the gospel and not fear any future conditions that may come. I will trust the Lord and glory in assisting in difficult situations and trials. Let them come! I love the spirit of the great prophet Isaiah in chapter 40.
Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:15, 28-31)
We needn't fear or faint. I promise you that your generation will live to see marvelous things. You can count on the Lord's protection if you need it. If necessary the Lord will intervene in your behalf.
Has he not promised that "the righteous shall not perish; for the time surely must come that all they who fight against Zion shall be cut off." (1 Nephi 22:19) "Wherefore the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire." (vs. 17)
Question Four: Is our generation deteriorating as compared with yours? What do you observe in conditions faced by our generation?
I do see rising use of drugs and alcohol in your generation. I see more heterosexual and homosexual immorality and more sexual abuse such as rape, child abuse, sexual perversions, and abuse of women in both of our generations. I resonated to the rebuke President Hinckley issued at General Conference in October to men who abuse their wives and children. I see the results of our generation's family failures leading to many of the conditions and aberrations mentioned as associated with your generation.
But I have also toured scores of missions and have met our youth all over the world. I see greater numbers of committed young people than ever before, better educated, better prepared, and more Christ-centered. In testimony meeting after testimony meeting I have asked young people what they are most grateful for in their lives. An astonishing and encouraging number of them say that they are most grateful for the Savior.
In a general way I believe in the Saturday warrior concept popularized in the LDS musical. The youth of the Church today, taken as a whole, are distinct, chosen, and special. They, including some of you, may well play a role testing and requiring that specialness in the days and years ahead. I believe also that the gulf between good and evil is widening. Many people, however, who have lived in harm's way during their youth have found the plan of life and the Savior to help pull them through.
A friend stayed with us during the last General Conference. It was her first such opportunity to attend such a conference in person. I asked her what impressed her. Aside from the fact that she thought almost every speaker had spoken directly to her own family problems and concerns, she was amazed at the number of wholesome and good-looking young people who crowded Temple Square and waited in line with the hope of finding a seat.
These great young people come from all of the corners of the earth. When the latest group of missionaries from the isolated nation of Mongolia enter the MTC this year, Mongolia will have 27 missionaries serving from that land including such missions as Salt Lake Temple Square, Utah South, Russia, and Alaska to name a few. All of this has happened since September of 1992 when a former president of this institution and his wife, Kenneth and Donna Beesley, opened the work in Mongolia for the first time in Church history. A year later other missionary couples entered Cambodia for the first time. Hundreds of young people, thirsting for the gospel, have joined the Church there.
Truly yours is a chosen generation and a royal priesthood. The work you will accomplish in the years ahead will amaze us all. Your generation's young people have greater potential by far than those of our generation. We have tried and will continue to do our part. But soon we will have to leave it to you, including the national deficit, governmental mess, and all else, as our fathers and mothers left for us to confront. Population is exploding as we lead up to the winding up scenes of the earth's present existence. Soon India will reach a billion as China already has. Our first full mission in the great country of India, a modest beginning effort, was only established in January 1993. You, the Saturday night children are coming into influence fast. We have great confidence in you and your future.
Question Five: From the perspective of a General Authority who has been engaged world-wide in the work, what advice and direction do you have for us?
You probably feel that we have worn you out by sharing advice throughout your years, but we dare not do for you what others have done for us.
Our central advice is to stand in holy places and do not move from them. Do you notice how President Hinckley has staked out his ground publicly, despite the risks? He has not apologized for our stand on any righteous or moral principle. You can, if you will, take your cue from him and do the same. Holy places and only holy places should be your habitat. Avoid pollutions such as drugs, immorality including homosexual actions, pornography, fraudulent or questionable business schemes, dishonesty in any form, and the seductive practice of intellectualizing the gospel, forgetting that the gospel is the way to live and not a game of amusement. Don't get involved in activities that in any way compromise the gospel, the Church, or that belittle the prophets. Stand on holy righteous ground, but do so humbly and without self-righteousness, arrogance, or intolerance of any kind.
Next, prepare yourselves educationally for the future. Gain the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the world, such as computer literacy, the will to work hard, and a broad understanding of the world sufficient to give you an overview by which you can make good decisions. Your education at the LDS Business College is a wonderful start for you. Don't think defensively. For example, don't think that the troubles of the last days that loom ahead will render you useless or irrelevant and thus give up on your future. The Lord and the world will need capable and skillful people with creativity and a good work ethic.
Third, wherever you are, share the gospel with friends and less active and committed members. Let your gospel light so shine before men that they will see your good works. Avoid the evil and designing wiles of men who would lead you into tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and get-rich schemes. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. And be distinct and different in a gospel way by avoiding the secularism so pervasive today as people pursue self-centered hedonism. As one of the Jewish writers, Mr. Lapin, observed, "if a nation's trend-setters are hedonistic, the people will be depraved. If the trend-setters are only decent, the people will be hedonistic. For the people to be decent, the trend-setters must be holy." Shouldn't we stand in holy places and strive to be distinct and holy as a people? The Savior said, "Lay not up for yourself treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt..." (Matthew 6:19)
Our Jewish friends, at least many of them, are very concerned that the Jews are becoming a non-distinct part of secular-godless America, rather than playing their historical role as a distinct religious minority exercising a disproportionate moral influence on those around them. Great numbers of them are intermarrying outside of Judaism and raising their families in materialistic and prideful ways. Fewer and fewer truly study and know their Torah and the distinctive ways that have helped them survive for thousands of years despite all manner of persecution and genocide. This sense of community has greatly declined. What about our sense of community? Are we fostering for you what we had in our day? Do we really know our scriptures? Are we prayerful in our marriage and family decisions? Are our goals righteous and not based on materialistic desires? What good is it to merely survive and become a part of the me-centered generation. The manifestations of such lives include men and women living together without even a marriage ceremony and commitment. Too many of our generation are dedicated to themselves as if they, not God, were the center of the universe. One Jewish leader complained about Jewish youth. Said he, even if they decide to marry, they often set aside the sacred and beautiful ceremonies of their religion, writing their own marriage ceremonies on the theory that their ideas are superior to ceremonies having the force and authority of God's commandments and tested through their long religious history. Are we so self-centered that we are anxious to substitute our ideas for God's doctrines?
The lesson we can learn from this example is to remain the Lord's people, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Most of us learn through our patriarchal blessings that we are descended from or adopted into the tribes of Ephraim or Manasseh, the two sons of Joseph. We need to be distinctive, moral, God-fearing and God-knowing people. Our young people need to be honest, hard-working, practicing Latter-day Saints. We owe that duty to ourselves. We have a wonderful legacy in the gospel that others, including our families and pioneer forefathers, have sacrificed their lives to vouchsafe for us. Our Heavenly Father is counting on us to live honorably and decently.
Most of you are on the right track in these things. Keep trusting in God and living the gospel. If you are not on the right track, you know it and need to decide right now to repent.
Question Six: The final question I ask on your behalf is what do we have to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season?
This is easy to answer. Paul answered by saying, "In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) And in our day the Lord counseled us to do all things "with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance." (D&C 59:15) Remember Corrie Ten Boom who with her sister did her best to practice that thanksgiving principle during her years in the Nazi concentration camp, even giving thanks for the fleas that made life so miserable, but kept the guards away from their bunk bed where they hid their scriptures.
Be thankful that you are the lawful successors to and heirs of the promises given to Israel. Remember that Jacob conferred the birthright on "Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brethren." (Genesis 49:26) No matter which tribe of Israel you are attached to for your heritage and blessings, give thanks for those who went before. Many noble people sacrificed to bring us the great heritage we enjoy.
Be thankful for God our Father, for Jesus the Christ, and for the Holy Ghost. They will lead you to the highways of truth and salvation. As Psalms 100 urges, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto him, and bless his name." (Psalms 100:4)
Be thankful for the Book of Mormon through which we learn of our birthright and which warns and prepares us for the trials in the winding up scenes of life. It also, as we noted earlier, promises protection from the terrors of the last days. And it is true, a second witness for the divinity of the gospel and the mission of the Savior.
Be thankful for the Jews. They preserved the Bible for themselves and us. They also miraculously kept themselves as a distinct people from ancient times, thus preserving their special religious vales and knowledge of God.
Be thankful you live in the last days. No other age is as exciting. All other ages looked with awe at ours. You are in a period the Lord referred to as "today." Find motivation to so live that you will help prepare the world for the coming of Christ, because that is the great duty of those who live in the era designated as "today."
Be thankful for knowledge and skills so inexpensively and readily available to you. Read, practice, know, and keep up.
Be thankful for our great prophet Joseph Smith, the instrument in the Lord's hands in restoring all of the authority, keys, and knowledge necessary in the restoration of all things. And be thankful for President Gordon B. Hinckley, a living Prophet.
"Oh give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth forever." (Psalms 136:26)
Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your blessings; See what God hath done.
Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.
Yes, you may face trials and tribulations associated with the coming of the Lord, who will reign personally on the earth and usher in a thousand years of rest for the earth and peace for those who live during those blessed years. Thrill to the prospect of living in this time. Be thankful that you are a part of this generation and are Saturday night children. Live today. Be faithful. Focus on what you can contribute and retain your distinctiveness.
On Wednesday after General Conference, President Hinckley invited all General Authorities and their wives for a farewell sacrament meeting before those present dispersed to provide leadership throughout the world. He asked us to:
Keep the doctrine pure;
Enjoy our callings, no matter how hard;
And to eat it up!
We say to you:
Go and do likewise.
Today. And while you are finding your destiny and roles in life, STAND IN HOLY PLACES, AND BE NOT MOVED FROM THEM.

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