Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Conference Time

                General Conference is one of my favorite times of the year and comes each spring and fall. One reason why I enjoy it so much is that I have the opportunity to listen to the prophet of the Lord and His apostles. I am grateful that I live in a time when prophets and apostles walk among us to teach us. I am also grateful that their counsel is available in numerous modes to remind me and to help me apply it to my life.

                Some months or years ago, I adopted the habit of reading at least one Ensign article each morning as part of my personal devotional. Since I added the Ensign to my daily study, I am blessed to read the most recent magazine each month. The only exceptions are the conference issues, which take a couple of months. I somehow read enough articles to read the May 2016 Ensign fast enough that I could start over on the talks. This has been a great blessing to me as it reminds me – again – of the counsel given by prophets and apostles.

                I recently read again the short talks given by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of his advanced age and possible health problems, President Monson speaks only twice during a conference. He speaks to the priesthood brethren and to the general Church members. I miss his opening and closing remarks. I always felt that the Prophet gave some of the most important counsel during the final fifteen minutes of the conference.

                In his talk given to the priesthood brethren in April 2016, President Monson reminds them that the priesthood is “a sacred trust” given to them by God. He explains, “Ours is the responsibility to guard and protect that priesthood and to be worthy of all the glorious blessings our Father in Heaven has in store for us – and for others through us….This precious gift of priesthood power brings with it not only solemn responsibilities but also special blessings for ourselves and for others. May we, in whatever place we may find ourselves, always be worthy to call upon its power, for we never know when our need and our opportunity to do so may come.”

                President Monson then proceeds to share an experience of one of his friends during World War II. His friend’s plane was shot down in the South Pacific, and the entire crew was able to escape the burning plane, inflate their life rafts, and cling to the rafts for three days.

                “On the third day they spotted what they knew to be a rescue vessel. It passed them by. The next morning it passed them by again. They began to despair as they realized that this was the last day the rescue vessel would be in the area.
                “Then the Holy Spirit spoke to my friend: `You have the priesthood. Command the rescuers to pick you up.’
                “He did as prompted: `In the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the priesthood, turn about and pick us up.’
                “Within a few minutes the vessel was beside them, helping them on deck. A faithful and worthy bearer of the priesthood, in his extremity, had exercised that priesthood, blessing his life and the lives of others” (“A Sacred Trust,” Ensign, May 2016). 

                That was a powerful message to the priesthood brethren to “always be worthy” to exercise the power of the priesthood. The next morning the Prophet spoke to the general membership of the Church and said that he had been thinking about choices. “It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.”

                Explaining that we brought the gift of agency with us when we came to earth, President Monson says, “Our goal is to obtain celestial glory, and the choices we make will, in large part, determine whether or not we reach our goal."

                President Monson shares an experience of Alice in Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “You will remember that she comes to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward but in opposite directions. As she contemplates which way to turn, she is confronted by the Cheshire Cat, of whom Alice asks, `Which path shall I follow?’
                “The cat answers, `That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.’
                “Unlike Alice, we know where we want to go, and it does matter which way we go, for the path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life.
                “May we choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith which will be our most effective defense against the designs of the adversary – a real faith, the kind of faith which will sustain us and will bolster our desire to choose the right. Without such faith, we go nowhere. With it, we can accomplish our goals….
                “May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
                “As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day – whether to make this choice or that choice – if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice” (“Choices,Ensign, May 2016). 

                This counsel given by the living prophet supports and strengthens some verses I read in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ yesterday. The prophet Moroni shares some counsel given to him by his father, Mormon – another prophet.

                “Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy of God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
                “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:12-13).

                The counsel of prophets, ancient and modern, tells us that we have a “precious” and “sacred power” among us. We can be worthy to bear the power and/or receive the blessings of the priesthood if we are worthy. We can remain worthy by making good choices for our decisions determine our destinies. We can be certain that our choices are good if we choose Christ. Anything that “inviteth and enticeth” us to “do good continually,” “to love God, and to serve him” will lead us to Christ.

                 I am anxious to study the words of the prophets and apostles given to us this weekend. I know they will strengthen my faith and help me to choose Christ.

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