President Henry B. Eyring: Welcome to all, participating in person or via TV, satellite broadcast, or the Internet. The Choir is composed of families from three Utah stakes.
Choir: Home Can Be A Heaven on Earth
Opening Prayer: Elder Von G. Keetch
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Sustaining of Church Leaders. Releasing Elders Godoy and Pingree and Sisters Burton, Stephens, Reeves and the current Relief Society Board. Also releasing Sisters Bingham and Cordon of the Primary Presidency. Sustaining Sister Bingham as Relief Society President with two new Counselors, one of whom has the Christian name of Reina, Spanish for “Queen.” Sister Cordon and Sister Franko are sustained as Primary Counselors. Numerous individuals are now named as new Area Seventies (it appears a new quorum of the Seventies is being formed). The voting has been noted. Any opposed should contact their Stake presidents.
Sister Franko is currently serving in Argentina with her husband. She will assume her new role in the Primary Presidency in July, when she is released.
Six new temples were dedicated in 2016.
Choir – How Will They Know?
Some think a disciple is just a follower. But it is much more. Looking at 2 Peter 1:5-7, the admonition to the disciples was rigorous (c.f., D&C 4).
In Jesus’s day, there were those who gave an outward impression of righteousness, but their hearts were far from righteousness. Jesus said there would be those who had professed to believe who in the final day would not be known to the Lord.
As we strive to attain the characteristics of Christ, all other characteristics will be improved, bringing us closer to God. Virtue is more than just sexual purity. Our minds become more receptive to the Holy Ghost.
Add to your virtue knowledge. If we strive to be like Jesus, we will know the doctrine. By our virtuous living, we make the journey from “I believe” to “I know.”
Add to knowledge temperance and patience. Being temperate in our lives, we learn patience. We can be still and know He is God. When faced with the storms of tribulation, we can ask “What wouldst Thou have me learn from this experience?” As we are humbled by God’s patience with us, we become patient with others.
Add to patience godliness and brotherly kindness. We reach out to others, even when they are not our friends. We bless those who curse us. This love is a defining attribute of the disciples of Christ. It is faith, hope, and charity which qualify us for the work of God, but of these charity is the greatest.
All these attributes are necessary to us standing strong in these last days. These characteristics will be interwoven and added upon. We will be kind to all, friend and foe alike. We will be as honest when we are alone as when others are watching. Discipleship is not constrained by age, gender, or calling.
Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples. Let this conference by your opportunity to begin as in times of old. I bear my testimony that Christ lives. Amen.
There is sunshine in my soul today
More radiant and bright
But there are times when peaceful, happy moments do not roll.
Yet Jesus, listening, can hear the songs you cannot sing. Some days are difficult. Our faith and fortitude is challenged. For whatever reason, these times can rob us of the songs we wish to sing.
What do we do? We hope for that which we see not and with patience wait for it. We may have to stand silent for a time and listen to others, drawing strength from the music around us. How many of us have bolstered our own singing by positioning ourselves near those who are confident in their singing? As we position ourselves near the Savior, His perfect pitch will allow the dove of peace to sing in our heart.
Remember it is by divine design that not all the voices in God’s choir are the same. As two ladies wrote, “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir.” Diversity is wonderful. But choirs are not cacophony. Once we have been instructed by God, we can sing in our own voice the hymns of Zion. The loss of even one voice diminishes the great Choir. Even the loss of those who believe they are on the margins.
I struggle with songs I should be singing when I see the economic deprivation in the world. Poverty harms families and destroys dreams. If we could do more to alleviate poverty, then perhaps some in the world could hum a few notes, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
I find it hard to sing happy lyrics when so many are suffering from mental illness. I pray we will not let these children of God suffer in silence.
Someday I hope a great global chorus will harmonize across all ethnic and racial lines, declaring that the only way complex issues can be satisfactorily resolved is loving God and one another. The prophet Ether taught we should love one another. Moroni declared that the way to that better world is through Jesus Christ.
There are times when our love is unutterable, like the prayer Jesus spoke over the Nephites children. These sanctified moments are so sublime that to attempt to speak of them is to desecrate them.
Please stay permanently and faithfully in the choir, that we may together sing the song of redeeming love. There is room for all, in all cultures around the world. There is room for the single, married, childless. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions. There is room for all who love God and honor God’s commandments.
With love and faith, repentance and compassion, there is room in this choir for all who wish to be there. Plan to come, but don’t plan to stay as you are. God plans to make of us much more than we are. Let us keep working on those songs we cannot sing, until we sing and shout with the armies of heaven, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb, as Jesus descends with His chariot of fire.
I testify that this day will come, when Christ shall rule as King of Kings and bring the saving ordinances of the gospel to all the world. In that day there will indeed be sunshine in our souls. Amen.
Choir and Congregation: Go Forth With Faith
Modern GPS programs do not tell us we are idiots. They politely say, “Recalculating route. When possible, make a legal U-turn.”
When we repent, we don’t hold back. We should not be like the man who sent cash to the IRS, with a note suggesting that when his conscience got the better of him, he would send the rest. We should be all in.
On a scout camping trip, a cold scout mentioned the fire had gone out. When I asked whether he had been able to snuggle in his sleeping bag. But he hadn’t rolled it out, to save himself the bother of rolling it back up in the morning.
At times we are similarly foolish. When we are complacent with our covenants, we are complicit with the consequences. As mentioned in Star Wars, there is a disturbance in the force.
When we repent and rely on the Lord as a little child, we can hold on His way and become stronger and stronger.
The Lord has counseled, stand ye in holy places and be not moved. A boy was punching an inflatable punching bag in the shape of a man. Every time the boy punched the inflatable man, he rebounded. When the father asked the boy why this was, the boy replied, “I don’t know. I guess he is standing up on the inside.”
Let us stand up on the inside. Let us stand up and defend the plan of our Heavenly Father as we did in the life before this, when we chose Heavenly Father and Jesus as our Christ.
If we cannot be all in the way we are walking, maybe we should run. Make a U-turn.
My father was in the Navy in World War II. His example guided two of his shipmates into the Church. The families from these two shipmates now number in the hundreds. The gospel blessed their lives immeasurably. They knew it was better to follow the creator than follow the crowd.
Sometimes the jangling of the great and spacious building of our day manifests as those who become lost and then accelerate.
My father used to hate watching BYU football games. But with the invention of the VCR, he could record the games and just watch the games where BYU won. He could, as one might say, watch with a perfect brightness of hope.
I pray will be be all in, recalculate our route when necessary, and stand up inside. Amen.
Elder Valeri V. Cordón: I have noticed when families from Spanish-speaking lands moved to the United States and by the third generation the native language has been lost. This is simply called language lost.
Nephi was concerned to obtain the records to preserve their language. But he was also concerned about preserving for his people the gospel.
I would like to emphasize not any earthly language, but the eternal language that must be preserved in our families. Let me suggest three keys to preserving the language of the gospel:
1) Be more diligent and concerned at home. Newel K. Whitney was counseled to be more diligent at home. It is not enough to merely speak the language in the home, it must be taught. Parents who make a conscious effort to preserve the language succeed. Weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home is a key for those families which cease to continue in the gospel. By comparison, powerful gospel teaching in the home will help our families remain strong in the gospel. Don’t wait until it is too late.
2) Model the gospel in the home, bringing the gospel language alive in our homes. My father always asked, “What are you going to do with your money?” I would answer that I would pay my tithing. My father repeated this question for eight years, and hoped that I had learned. But I learned this lesson in a single week. During a difficult time when the choice was being paying tithing and purchasing food for the family. That Sunday I saw my father put his tithing in an envelope and give it to the bishop. That Monday people came to our door and told my father about an urgent sewing order, and order so urgent that they would pay in advance. I learned from this about the importance and blessings of tithing. We must not merely talk about the importance of the temple, they must see us make time to attend the temple. They must see us keep the sabbath holy.
3) Traditions. One way language is lost is when foreign phrases and traditions are mixed with the mother tongue. As families we need to avoid any tradition that would prevent us from keeping the sabbath day holy, or reading our scriptures. We need to use the scriptures and the voice of our prophet to guide us as we avoid harmful traditions, such as pornography. In the Book of Mormon, the gospel became a strange language, which they could not understand.
As children of God we are imperfect people trying to learn the perfect language of God. Heavenly Father treasures our utterances, our first Gospel words. No achievement will be eternally significant if we lose the language of the gospel, which always was our mother tongue. Amen.
“These are they who have overcome the world, who have truly been born again.”
The blessings the Lord has promised to those who overcome the world are breathtaking. They shall arise in the first resurrection and dwell in the presence of God.
We love God because God first loved us. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”
Overcoming the world is not a single event, but a lifetime of actions. It could become as one studies the life of the Savior in the scriptures. Alma said, “A mighty change is wrought in their hearts, and they remain faithful unto the end.” Those who endure to the end know they will be accountable to God, knowing they will have to account to God for what they’ve done at the end.
Overcoming the world is treasuring the greatest commandment, to love the Lord with all they should, might, mind, and strength. Christ says, “Give me all.” He doesn’t want a portion of our time and money and work, He wants us. Overcoming the world leads us humbly to the sacrament table each week, that we may have His spirit to be with us.
The Sabbath doesn’t end when we leave Church, but continues on for a blessed time of peace. Let our focus remain on the Savior and His holy day.
The world is full of enticing and seductive voices. But to overcome the world we listen to the voice of God. We turn outward to help others. We treasure our spouse and our children. We willingly share our material blessings through tithes and fast offerings, and allow God to lead us to those He would help.
The world wants us to take pride in ourself, and is easily irritated. Overcoming the world will always mean we will have some beliefs that are ridiculed by the world. If we were of the world, the world would love its own.
Disciples of Christ are willing to stand up and speak out. Overcoming the world is being less concerned about our online connections and more concerned with our connection with God.
President Monson said that as we go to the temple, we will be renewed and fortified. The world attempts to beguile the past as foolish deceptions. Overcoming the world is remembering the times we have felt the love and light of the Savior. “I had been blessed, and I knew that God knew that I had been blessed.”
Overcoming the world does not mean we live a cloistered life, but opens up the expanded world of faith. It opens up the hope that some day we will see the Savior, and he will invite us to inherit the kingdom He has prepared for us.
Elder Bruce Porter passed away recently. He was one of the best and brightest. Graduating from Harvard, his brilliance could have led him away from the gospel. But he resisted this temptation, and remained true to his spouse and family. His kidneys began to fail in 1997, and the Porter family returned to Salt Lake City. Bruce was hospitalized many times, including for ten surgeries. Bruce was on dialysis for 12 years of his serving as a General Authority.
When Bruce’s health was not improved despite priesthood blessings, he was confused. Then he received a kidney transplant from his son, and his health was restored for a time. Then infections began again. And he told his wife he knew his time on earth was nearing an end. Before he died, he wrote to his family of his testimony of the Savior, asking them to be faithful and true, always trusting in Christ. Bruce Douglas Porter overcame the world.
May we always continue in our effort to overcome the world. As you trust more fully in the Savior, I promise you a strengthened assurance in your eternal destiny. Amen.
Some have difficulty differentiating between a goal and a plan. A goal is a destination and a plan is the route to that destination. [Story about how he sometimes doesn’t ask for directions, hoping the destination will be around the next corner.] Sometimes the goal is clear, but there isn’t a good plan for getting to that goal.
God’s goal is the immortality and eternal life of man. The plan of salvation is the means to that goal. Families and temple work is the plan to achieving that goal.
If we focus on this eternal plan, we will inevitably qualify to return to God’s presence. It is good to have goals for our work, our education, even our golf game best golf clubs for beginners. And we can have goals for our families But our most important goal should be to return to God.
The simpler and more straightforward our goal is, the more powerful it will be.
There are two words that symbolize God’s goals for us and our most important goals for ourselves.
To Return to God’s presence and to Receive His blessings are those words.
Lucifer did not accept the plan that would allow him to return and receive God’s blessings. He rebelled and was cast out, with those who had followed him. The only thing left for Satan is to oppose God, to bring us down and make us miserable, like himself. His goal and plan applies to everyone, in every culture. Satan desires to prevent us from returning and receiving God.
Satan uses the voices of the world to preach immorality, violence, and all other things that will destroy the faith and divert the focus of those who are simply attempting to return to God and receive all that He hath.
I have to regularly ask myself how I am doing. It is like a personal interview with myself. You know yourself better than anyone else, how you are doing on the path of reviewing to receive God’s blessings.
Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have you experienced that mighty change in your hearts. [And if you have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can ye say so now?]
As we follow Christs’s path to peace, to heal the wounds that bind, we will appreciate the magnitude of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Find time to review your goals and how they align with God’s plan for our happiness. Take the time to prayerfully think about what adjustments are needed to keep your eye single to the glory of God. We must keep God and Christ central to our eternal goal and our plans.
I urge you to study The Living Christ and The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Read the Family Proclamation in light of the saving power of Christ. It is through families, and uniting families, that we can together return to God and receive His blessings. Prayerfully reading The Living Christ will increase your faith in the Savior, as will reading the Gospels and the Book of Mormon accounts of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
No one will escape death. Therefore our long-term goals and plans should be to return at death to God and receive His blessings. It is not just our goal, it is Their goal. They have a perfect love for us. They are completely and eternally aligned with us. More than anything else, they wish for us to return home. As we focus on the Savior during Palm Sunday and Easter, let us look deeply into our own lives, aligning our lives with our precious privilege to return and receive. Amen.
Choir: A Child’s Prayer
Closing Prayer: Elder Hugo Montoya
Presiding – Not specified
Conducting – President Henry B. Eyring
Choir – Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth
Opening Prayer – Elder Von G. Keetch
Sustaining Officers – Speaker 1 – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Auditing Report – Speaker 2 – Kevin Jergensen
Statistical Report – Speaker 3 – Brook P. Hales
Choir – How Will They Know?
Talk – Speaker 4 – Elder Robert D. Hales
Talk – Speaker 5 – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Choir and Congregation – Go Forth With Faith
Talk – Speaker 6 – Elder Gary B. Sabin
Talk – Speaker 7 – Elder Valeri V. Cordón
Talk – Speaker 8 – Elder Neil L. Andersen
Talk – Speaker 9 – Elder M. Russell Ballard
Choir – A Child’s Prayer
Closing Prayer – Elder Hugo Montoya