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Brothers and sisters, do you have any idea,
do you have any notion or inkling whatsoever of how much
we love you?
For 10 hours you watch, fixed on one face at this pulpit,
But for those same 10 hours, those of us
seated behind this pulpit are fixed on you.
You thrill us to the center of our soul.
Whether that's the 21,000 here in the Conference Center
or multitudes in meetinghouses and chapels or, finally,
millions around the globe, in homes in some distant
location--maybe huddled around a family computer screen--there
you are, here you are, hour after hour in your Sunday best,
being your best.
You sing and you pray, wherever you are in the world.
You listen and you believe.
You are the miracle of this Church, and we love you.
What another remarkable, wonderful general conference
We've especially been blessed by President Monson's presence
and his prophetic messages.
President, we love you.
We pray for you.
We thank you.
And above all, we sustain you.
We are grateful to have been taught
by you and your marvelous counselors and so
many of our other great men and women
leaders who have come to this pulpit.
We've heard, again and again, always incomparable music.
We've been urgently prayed for and pled with.
Truly the Spirit of the Lord has been here in rich abundance.
What an inspirational weekend it has been, again, in every way.
Now, I do see a couple of problems.
One is the fact that I am the only person
standing between you and the ice cream you always
have ready at the close of general conference.
I feel the weight of that burden.
The other potential problem is captured in this photo
that I saw recently on the Internet.
Now, my apologies to all of the children who are now
under the sofa, but the fact of the matter is, none of us
want tomorrow, or the day after that,
to destroy the wonderful feelings we
have had this weekend.
We want to hold fast to the spiritual impressions we've had
and the inspired teachings we have heard.
But it is inevitable that after heavenly moments in our lives,
we, of necessity, return to earth, so to speak,
where sometimes less-than-ideal circumstances again face us.
Paul warned us of this when he wrote, "Call to remembrance
the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated,
ye endured a great fight of afflictions."
That post-illumination affliction
can come in many ways, and it can come to all of us.
Surely every missionary who has ever served
soon realized that life in the field
wasn't going to be quite like the rarified atmosphere
of the missionary training center.
So too for all of us upon leaving
a sweet session in the temple or concluding a particularly
spiritual sacrament meeting.
Remember that when Moses came down from his singular
experience on Mount Sinai, he found
his people had "corrupted themselves,"
it said, and had "turned aside quickly."
There they were at the foot of the mountain,
busily fashioning a gold calf to worship,
in the very hour that Jehovah, at the summit of the mountain,
had been telling Moses, "Thou shalt have no other gods
before me," and "Thou shalt not make unto
thee any graven image."
Moses was not happy with his flock of wandering Israelites
During His earthly ministry, Jesus took Peter, James,
and John to the Mount of Transfiguration,
where, the scriptures say, "his face did shine as the sun,
and his raiment was white as the light."
The heavens opened, ancient prophets came,
and God the Father spoke.
After such a celestial experience,
what does Jesus come down the mountain to find?
Well, first, an argument between His disciples
and their antagonists over a failed blessing
administered to a young boy.
Then He tried to convince the Twelve--unsuccessfully,
it turns out--that He would soon be delivered up to local rulers
who would kill Him.
Then someone reminded that a tax was due,
which was forthrightly paid.
Then He had to rebuke some of the brethren
because they were arguing about who would
be the greatest in the kingdom.
All this led Him to say: "O faithless generation, ...
how long shall I suffer you?"
He had occasion to ask that question more than once
during His ministry.
No wonder He longed for the prayerful solitude
Realizing that we all have to come down from peak experiences
to deal with the regular vicissitudes of life,
may I offer this encouragement as general conference
First of all, if in the days ahead
you see not only limitations in those around you
but also find elements in your own life
that don't yet measure up to the messages you've
have this weekend, please don't be cast down in spirit
and don't give up.
The gospel, the Church, these wonderful semiannual gatherings
are intended to give hope and inspiration.
They're not intended to discourage you.
Only the adversary, the enemy of us all,
would try to convince us that the ideals outlined
in general conference are depressing and unrealistic,
that people don't really improve,
that no one really progresses.
And why does Lucifer give that speech?
Because he knows he can't improve,
he can't progress, that worlds without end
he will never have a bright tomorrow.
He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations,
and he wants you to be miserable too.
Well, don't fall for that.
With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve,
and the great thing about the gospel
is we get credit for trying, even if we don't always
When there was a controversy in the early Church regarding who
was entitled to heaven's blessings and who
wasn't, the Lord declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith,
"Verily I say unto you, [the gifts of God] are given
for the benefit of those who love me and keep ...
my commandments, and [for them] that seeketh so to do."
Boy, aren't we all thankful for that added provision, "and ...
seeketh so to do"!
That has been a lifesaver because sometimes that
is all we can offer!
We take some solace in the fact that if God
were to reward only the perfectly faithful,
He wouldn't have much of a distribution list.
Please, please remember tomorrow, and all the days
after that, that the Lord blesses those
who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments
and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues
and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them.
If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone;
the Savior is there to help you keep going.
If you fall, summon His strength.
Call out, like Alma, "O Jesus, ... have mercy on me."
He'll help you to get back up.
He'll help you repent, and repair, and fix whatever you
have to fix, and keep going.
Soon enough you will have the success you seek.
"As you desire of me so it shall be done unto you,"
the Lord has declared.
Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good--yea,
to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously.
"... [Then] whatsoever you desire of me [in] righteousness
... you shall receive."
I love that doctrine!
It says again and again and again
that we're going to be blessed for our desire to do good, even
as we actually strive to be so.
And it reminds us that to qualify for those blessings,
we must make certain we do not deny them to others:
we are to deal justly, never unjustly, never unfairly;
we're to walk humbly, never arrogantly, never pridefully;
we're to judge righteously, never self-righteously
My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all
eternity is to love God with all our heart, might,
mind and strength--that's the first great commandment--but
the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us
with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength.
That love is the foundation stone of eternity,
and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life.
Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul
that we can have the confidence to keep
trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins,
and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.
President George Q. Cannon once taught:
"No matter how serious the trial, how
deep the distress, how great the affliction [God]
will never desert us.
He never has, and He never will.
He cannot do it.
It is not His character [to do so].
He will [always] stand by us.
We may pass through the fiery furnace;
we may pass through deep waters; but we shall not be consumed
We shall emerge from all these trials and these difficulties
the better and the purer for them."
Now, with that majestic devotion ringing from heaven
as the great constant in our lives,
manifested most purely and perfectly in the life, death,
and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ,
we can escape the consequences of both sin and stupidity--our
own or that of others--in whatever form they may come
to us in the course of daily living.
If we give our heart to God, if we love the Lord Jesus Christ,
if we do the best we can to live the gospel,
then tomorrow and every other day
is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don't
always recognize it as such.
Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be!
He wants to bless us.
A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life
is the very object of His merciful plan for His children!
It is a plan predicated on the truth
"that all things work together for good to them
that love God."
So keep loving.
Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.
"Hast thou not known?
hast thou not heard," Isaiah cried.
""[God] giveth power to the faint;
and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
"They that wait upon [Him] shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles.
"For ... the Lord ...
God will hold [their] right hand, saying unto [them],
Fear not; I will help thee."
Brothers and sisters, may a loving Father in Heaven
bless us tomorrow to remember how we felt today.
May He bless us to strive with patience and persistence toward
the ideals we have heard, and heard proclaimed this
conference weekend, knowing that His divine love and unfailing
help will be with us even when we struggle--no,
will be with us especially when we struggle.
If gospel standards seem high and the personal improvement
needed in the days ahead seems out of reach,
remember Joshua's encouragement to his people
when they faced a daunting future.
"Sanctify yourselves," he said, "for to morrow
the Lord will do wonders among you."
I declare that same promise.
It is the promise of this conference.
It is the promise of this Church.
It is the promise of Him who performs those wonders,
who is Himself "Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, ...
the Prince of Peace."
Of Him, I bear witness, of Him I am a witness,
and to Him this conference stands
as a testament in this ongoing work in this latter day.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.