A few weeks ago I accepted a Facebook challenge to read seventy talks given by Russell M. Nelson from the time that he became an Apostle until his calling as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. The challenge is to study the seventy talks in seventy days. I was about a week into the challenge and was patting myself on the back for my consistency.
My focus changed suddenly one morning when I awoke with this idea: Start over and take notes. So, I found a suitable notebook and started the challenge over. I am no longer attempting to complete the task in seventy days, but I am taking notes on my daily study. I do not know why, but I am a little surprised at the depth and width of the subjects of the talks. I will share a few quotes to illustrate this variety of topics.
Then-Elder Nelson spoke as an Apostle for the first time in April 1984 on the topic of “Call to the Holy Apostleship.” He is the 85th Apostle called since 1820. He suggested in this first address that we would be wise to “put exclamation points and not question marks when calls are issued through inspired priesthood channels.” Other bits of counsel given are: (1) He committed to live the law of consecration when he received his endowment. (2) Desired blessings come only by obedience to divine laws. (3) One loves best who serves best. (4) The Creation, Fall, and Atonement are three fundamental components of God’s eternal plan.
In the October 1984 General Conference, then-Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “Protect the Spiritual Power Line.” He said, “Power, if misused, can cut into the very source of that power…. Proper use of our spiritual power line allows us to learn, to labor, to be obedient to law, and to love….”
Elder Nelson spoke on the topic “Reverence for life” in the April 1985 General Conference. He said that we should have reverence for all life, but he used his medical knowledge as he focused on abortion. “It is not a question of when `meaningful life’ begins or when the spirit `quickens’ the body. In the biological sciences, it is known that life begins when two germ cells unite to become one cell, bringing together twenty-three chromosomes from both the father and from the mother. These chromosomes contain thousands of genes. In a marvelous process involving a combination of genetic coding by which all the basic human characteristics of the unborn person are established, a new DNA complex is formed. A continuum of growth results in a new human being. The onset of life is not a debatable issue, but a fact of science. Approximately twenty-two days after the two cells have united, a little heart begins to beat. At twenty-six days the circulation of blood begins.”
In the October 1985 General Conference, Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “Self-Mastery.” He taught that the only way to gain self-mastery is to know ourselves and to make the spirit more powerful than the physical body. He reminded us that the body is a temple and must be treated with reverence and that the spirit and the body are the soul.
Elder Nelson spoke about caring for the poor “In the Lord’s Own Way” in the April 1986 General Conference. He said, “The Lord’s `own way’ includes, first, reliance on self, then on the family … If one’s family can’t help, the Lord’s `own way’ includes the Church organization….” He also said that those who are able to work and provide for themselves and their family are required to do so in the Lord’s `own way.’
In the October 1986 General Conference, Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “Joy Cometh in the Morning.” He said that “in order to experience true joy in the morning, or at any time, at least three factors are needed. (1) You need to feel good about the people with whom you live and work – your companions in life. (2) You must feel good about yourself – not in any sense of conceit, but simply a proper esteem for yourself, well deserved. (3) And possibly most important, you must feel good about your relation to God and sincerely love him.”