I have written numerous times since the re-election of Barack Obama of how my feelings have changed about our future. Before the election, I found hope in the possibility of improvement in our world; I have no such hope since his re-election. I believe that we had a true choice between good and evil when we voted for the next President of the United States. Mitt Romney is one of the most decent, honest, charitable men who have campaigned for President in my life time while Barack Obama, in my opinion, is one of the most evil men to do so. When the people voted and chose evil, I knew in my heart that the end is near. I am obviously not the only person to feel this way.
I recently received a copy of the remarks given by a Stake President in one of the stakes in Sandy, Utah; I understand that the remarks were presented in the general session of his Stake Conference on February 3, 2013. Some of the material was local in nature, but most of the information is useful for all of us and is as follows.
Another year has come and gone, but not just any year. It was the year 2012, a year about which much was speculated, predicted, and some would even argue prophesied. And while the most discussed prediction or prophecy – that of the Mayans concerning the end of the world – did not come to pass, I feel and believe that 2012 will still prove to be one of the more significant years in our life time. Let’s take a moment and look back at a few things that happened in 2012: Gaza fired missiles on Jerusalem causing heightened unrest in the Middle East; the Director of the CIA, a man considered to be of the highest moral integrity, resigned due to improprieties and adultery; the UN Ambassador was instructed by the White House to cover up what happened in Libya, attempting to minimize the deaths of four Americans who were murdered; there was an attempt to raise taxes during the worst economic times since the Great Depression; Hurricane Sandy, called the “perfect storm” hit the east coast causing great devastation; Iran came closer to having a nuclear weapon; the use of marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado; some states legalized same sex marriage; 23 states began a petition to secede from the nation; Russia strengthened its coalitions with North Korea and Iran; forces aligned to stop school prayer, but allowed the handing out of birth control; the government used tax dollars to fund abortions; examples of violence, gambling, drug misuse, and infidelity were more prevalent than ever; Hollywood promoted parenthood without marriage; education scores of our youth plummeted to their lowest levels ever; and finally, we were brought to the edge of the fiscal cliff.
In my opinion, the first 30 days of 2013 have proven to be the same. In fact, my head is spinning at all of the insanity and craziness that is happening in the world. Now, I want to make it clear that it is not my intent today to be controversial, political, or even dire. My intent is to state the facts as I see them, as the Stake President, having been moved upon by the Holy Ghost. When I speak form this pulpit as the Stake President, the primary intent of my voice is one of love and compassion, but I also have an obligation to use my voice as a warning when it is necessary. Today is a day when I choose to use it primarily as a voice of warning hoping you will realize and understand that it is in love and compassion for you that I do.
Each of us has our agency, and we are free to act for ourselves. We are agents unto ourselves, and each of us is free to take what I say as he or she will. You may choose to disagree with me. You may even choose to ignore me, but I have been impressed by the Spirit to say what I must say.
Never in my life have I witnessed a more stark difference between good and evil than I did in 2012. Never has there been a greater moral, economic, or political decline in society, than there was in 2012 and over the last few years. These climates combined, were as bad in 2012 as they have ever been in the history of the world. The current moral condition of our world and country reminds me of the condition described in Helaman, chapter 5, verse 2, and I quote: “For their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening with destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.” End quote.
In 2012 the voice of the people spoke loudly and clearly as it chose: socialism over capitalism, entitlements over free enterprise, and redistribution and regulation over self-reliance.
Unfortunate as it is, this should not come as a surprise to any of us who have spent the better part of our lives as members of this church. The scriptures and the prophets have warned us for hundreds of years, and have been trying to prepare us for this time. The scriptural and modern-day prophesies we have read and heard throughout our lives are no longer prophesies to us – they are now our living reality.
Let me take a moment and share with you a few of the scriptural and modern-day prophesies and quotes that I find interesting and revealing. First, on November 9th, 2012 (just a few months ago) the First Presidency issued the following statement: “We invite Americans everywhere, whatever their political persuasion, to pray for the President, for his administration and the new Congress as they lead us through difficult and turbulent times. May our national leaders reflect the best in wisdom and judgment as they fulfill the great trust afforded to them by the American people.”
The most glaring part of this statement, to me, is the acknowledgement from our prophet and the First Presidency that we are living in difficult and turbulent times. Now, listen carefully to these two quotes. To me, these quotes are fascinating, and they reflect the ability of our leaders to see and predict the future.
In 1976 (this statement was made over 35 years ago) while serving as a President of the Seventy, Neal A. Maxwell said the following: “I fear, that, as conditions worsen, many will react to the failures of too much government by calling for even more government. Then there will be more and more lifeboats launched, because fewer and fewer citizens know how to swim. Unlike some pendulums, political pendulums do not swing back automatically; they must be pushed. History is full of instances when people have waited in vain for pendulums to swing back.”
In 1966 (this statement was made over 45 years ago) while serving as an Apostle, Howard W. Hunter said this: “The government will take from the `halves’ and give to the `have nots.’ [When this happens] Both have lost their freedom. Those who `have,’ lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who `have not,’ lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got `something for nothing,’ and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift.”
Now I quote from 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 1-4: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
Sound familiar? It does to me, and as the Stake President, I not only see it happening throughout the world, but I also see it happening right here in our stake. These conditions described by Paul, concerning the wickedness of the last days, are being realized right before my very eyes. As the Stake President, I see and hear all manner of sin – violence, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, and immorality of every kind. I believe there are not many things left for my eyes to see and my ears to hear. Evil is escalating at an alarming pace even here at home. Just as the Savior prophesied concerning the conditions in the world that would precede his Second Coming: “Iniquity does abound, the love of men does wax cold” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:30) and “all things are in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts do fail them, for fear has come upon all people” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:91).
I now quote Elder Bednar in a talk he gave one day after the tragic events that occurred only 45 days ago in Connecticut. He said: “We live in a world that grows increasingly confused and chaotic - ever more evil and dark. Nothing could have emphasized that truth more than the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Connecticut.”
With his comments, Elder Bednar also quoted recent comments made by President Packer, who said: “The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace.” Now, pay close attention to this next sentence brothers and sisters – President Packer said: “I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.”
President Packer goes on to say: “I know of nothing in the history of the Church, or in the history of the world, to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now . Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, and even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now, they are spread across the world, and they are among us.”
Brothers and sisters, as I said last year during Ward Conferences – “we are in the count down.” Again, I say to you, that the scriptural and modern-day prophesies we have read and heard all throughout our lives are no longer prophesies to us – they are now our living reality. If there was ever a time in the history of the world for a people to wake up, pay attention, and get it together – now is that time. This is a defining moment for us, and we cannot delay. We need to get our temporal and spiritual houses in order. It is a must. Difficult times are still ahead and we need to be prepared.
In my opinion, the last five years have put us on notice, and they should serve as a wake-up call in both temporal and spiritual matters. All throughout my life I have been counseled by our church leaders to live within my means and get out of debt. In fact, there was no topic talked about more by President Hinckley, during his time as the Prophet, than living within our means and getting out of debt. As I look back on the last five years, it is no wonder to me why he did. We experienced the worst economic, political, and spiritual times in the history of our country, and even globally.
The words of President Packer during his visit to our stake four years ago still ring loudly in my ears when he mentioned this topic and warned us, by saying: “This time is different. We have not experienced this in the past. This time it is global, and it will be deeper and last longer than anything we have economically and spiritually experienced.”
Today, it is easy for us to reflect upon his words and know that he was right. Many of us would be better served today if we had taken his warning more seriously…. [The Stake President then went into some statistics for his stake.]
Now, while temporal and economic conditions appear to be getting somewhat better, let us not kid ourselves about what is really going on. Any improvement is only temporary, and the conditions we have experienced over the last five years will eventually ad certainly return, and even get worse. Let us not forget the last five years, and let us learn from it. Let us all finally follow the counsel of our prophets to live within our means and get out of debt. It is possible to get out of debt if we live within our means, but it is not if we don’t.
Now, not only is temporal preparedness vital for our mortal existence, but it also sets the stage for us to be spiritually prepared. The most important matter for us to consider right now and always is our spiritual preparedness…. [The President discussed Stake goals – particularly encouraging each member of the Stake to personally set a goal to move closer to the Savior, study the Book of Mormon daily, pray daily, and perform a spiritual self-examination.]
Brothers and sisters, President Packer was absolutely right when he said: “I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.” As difficult as it may be to embrace, it is simply God’s plan. The moral, economic, and political conditions of the world will not, overall, get better. You and I were held back for this special time to prepare the earth for the return of the Savior. I believe many within the sound of my voice will be part of, and witnesses to, all of the events that will transpire prior to the return of the Savior. This will require each of us to be temporally and spiritually stronger than we are currently.
In closing let me share a quote from Heber C. Kimball: “The time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to the extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint, from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brothers and sisters, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a TEST, a TEST is coming, and who will be able to stand?
“This church - and each member of it - has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with victory. To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to be temporally and spiritually prepared, and have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess these things will fall.”
Brothers and sisters, the test has come. It is now upon us. No man or woman will be able to endure what is happening now, or what is ahead, if we are not temporally and spiritually prepared. If you are not, you will not stand.
I love you brothers and sisters. I testify to you that I speak the truth. I have a personal witness of the Savior and I know that He lives. He is the Son of Almighty God. He will return in glory and He will sustain us through the difficult times ahead if we do our part and are temporally and spiritually prepared. [End of remarks by Stake President]
I do not personally know this Stake President, but I believe he spoke the truth. I too believe that we are undergoing a TEST – a sifting - to see where we stand. We must each ask ourselves: Do I stand firmly in the Savior’s territory or do I keep a “summer home” in Satan’s territory? I know that we can endure the coming bad times and do it well if we are spiritually and economically prepared