Bishop Edgley (1st Councilor in Presiding Bishopric):
Bishop Edgley spoke to a couple whose 5 year old daughter had been killed in an accident. They wanted to speak to a general authority. He visited with them, but mostly he listened to them. This couple had waited for a long time to have this little girl. She was the light of their life. She was the one who brought them back into church activity. She made sure that they took her to Primary. This couple expressed their grief and anger.
Bishop Edgley asked why they were angry. The mother was angry at herself. She felt guilty that she had not watched her daughter closely enough. The father was angry at God.
Bishop Edgley read some scriptures with them. He discussed the Plan of Happinees and the Council in Heaven. None of us would likely have been excited about the plan, knowing their would also be heartache and sorrow (along with happiness and joy) if One hadn't spoken up to say, "Out of pain and suffering, I'll give you hope. Upon covenants, I will sestore famlies." Christ indeed made it so that everything would be all right.
Another family, the Bastians, were in a car accident. Two of their children died. As the parents were sitting on the lawn of the hospital, they made some promises to each other. First, they would never blame God, and second, they would never ask why. Instead, they would have gratitude to our Savior. First, they would praise God who made it all okay. Second, they would seek to bless the lives of others who needed their help. They would reach out to others.
When Bishop Edgley came across two other families who had lost a child, he directed them to speak to the Bastians, only to find out that the Bastians had already visited with these families to offfer them comfort and hope. These were families that the Bastians had not previously known.
Then Brother Rick Bastian died of a heart attack when he was 55. Bishop Edgley wondered, How much is enough for this family?
Sister Bastian said, "While I've temporarily lost my children and my husband, I know what I know, and that cannot be taken from me.
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21)
Do we face tragedies with anger, or do we give thanks to the One who made it all right.
How will these challenges define our remaining lives? (Who can we reach out to help?)
Touch the lives of others. Often these challenges will increase our capacity for love, for adversity, and for understanding. Reaching out to others provides the greatest capacity for healing.
Bishop Edgley promised the couple whose 5-year-old died that their anger could be turned into gratitude. He told them that as they would get on their knees, thank God for the great gift of His Son, and reach out to others, their own burden would be made lighter. He prayed with them and gave them Priesthood blessings. He thanked God for the One who made it all right.
Vicki Matsumori (2nd Councilor in the General Primary Presidency):
Sister Matsumori's New Year's resolutions that focused on her physical heath (weight) and on getting more organized (decluttering and dejunking) are not the most important of her resolutions.
This world is not our real home--it is temporary.
Our real home is with our Heavenly Father.
We need to take stock of where we are currently. Now is the time to prepare to meet God.
1. Live what I believe
We need to "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places."
We need to be continually progressing. We need to press forward and endure so that we may
gain Eternal Life.
2. Always be worthy to attend them temple
If we live what we believe, we will be worthy. President Uchtdorf said that the temple is the
binding link between generations. The House of the Lord helps us to see the ennd from the
3. Leave a legacy of faith to our children and to future generations
There was a family who didn't have any means to buy Christmas gifts for each other. But
someone came into their home and left a room full of presents. Years later, this widowed
mother still didn't have much as to worldly possessions. She was a school teacher and the
sole provider for her family. At tithing settlement the Bishop was startled by the generosity of
this woman's fast offering. He was going to counsel her to save the money instead of donating
it, until the woman related the story of the Christmas presents. She said she'd probably never
know who had given to them so generously and never be able to repy them, but as long a she
was able, she would give a generous fast offering. The Bishop was humbled by the lesson
taught, telling her that her offering put him to shame, and that he had resolved to do better.
Elder Holland said that we should live the gospel conspicuously. We need to let our children see us living the gospel.
There was a family whose little son was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus. The pressure in his head caused him much pain. When one night, this 5 month old boy awakened, the parents were decided who would get up to help him this time. But then all was quiet. They walked into the baby's room to check on him. There was his 2 1/2 year old sister. She had climbed into the cradle with him; she had her hands on her little brother's head, and she was giving him a blessing.
Our children need the experience of seeing us live the gospel.
Elder Holland (of the Council of the Twelve):
This year let's work on resolving instead of resolutions. Resolving is the verb form of resolution, and it implies action.
Let's work on resolving issues in our lives. We will discover principles of blessins.
I. Forgive yourself of something. Often we are more forgiving of the mistakes of others. Let's be forgiving of other's past mistakes and of our own. Let's resolve some issues once and for all.
The Path of Repentance (for serious sins):
1. Seek forgivenss of others.
2. Meet with the Bishop. Seek forgiveness of the Lord and of His Church.
3. Get it resolved.
Analogy with dental decay:
We have to get the decay out and let the healing begin.
Mistakes and Errors (the dumb things we do that we wish we didn't do):
1. Stop berating yourself
2. Keep working, praying, and striving.
Don't keep berating yourself. When one has a negative view of self, it often leads to negativity towards others and negativity towards life.
We have heard that the Lord is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.
1. Start with pleasing.
2. Every good thing we do pleases Him.
3. Deal with sin properly; when repentance is complete, forgive self and move on.
4. Move on--move up.
5. Be kind to yourselves.
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. (D&C 58:42) Shouldn't we follow the example of our Lord?
II. Forgive someone else.
1. The work of the atonement is forgiveness.
2. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)
It is the Christian's duty to share in the work of forgiving others of their sins.
3. True disciples are pleasant, patient, and forgiving on all days. We need to soldier on and do as He did.
4. Is there someone who needs forgiveness from you in a personal way? Forgive them. It is as important to yoru progress as it is to theirs.
A Scottish minister said that it may be worse to not forgive than it is to murder. To murder is an act of passion; whereas, to not forgive is the heart's choice.
The greater the provocation, the more the reason to forgive and to be delievered from anger and hate. By so doing, we will be happier and more spiritually healthy.
5. Think regularly and often about the Savior of the world.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
With the atonement, Christ bore the pain and suffering of all sins, so that we, or our neighbors, need not carry them one more step.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Elder Holland left us with a blessing:
He blessed us to have an absolutely wonderful, marvelous, blessed New Year; that every need will be met; that every burden be lifted. We have the chance to be free from sin and sorrow. Let's participate in the great, loving work of the Lord.
President Uchtdorf (2nd Councilor in the 1st Presidency):
Heavenly Father loves you and He knows you.
His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Head of the Church. We have a prophet of God on the earth today, President Monson, and he holds all of the keys. He cares about you individually and as families.
The Savior is the One who made it all right. He is the One Author of the Great Plan of Happiness; He is the One who made possible the great miracle of forgiveness.
California is truly the United Nations of the Church. Our stake conference is being broadcast to many stakes in 15 different languages. We are united becuase of our faith in Jesus Christ. We are knit together through our covenants and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. The Church of Jesus Crhist of Latter-day Saints is such a world wide village. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we find the answers and solutions for today's problems. Our faith will help to grow the world wide Chruch. Our faith will help to grow our communities. Our returned missionaries will help in this growth.
There are 1800 missionaries serving from our stakes. President Uchtdorf met a few young men from California on the ski slopes in Utah. There they committed to turn in their papers and serve a mission.
It was a California missionary who brought the gospel to President and Sister Uchtdorf's families.
Youth, prepare yourselves to serve a mission and save for a mission. This is an eternal investment with eternal rewards. Study Preach My Gospel, especially chapter 3. Here you will find the lessons that the missionaries teach. This will help you build your testimony and help you be ready to teach. This will help you recognize your true identity and to see what you need to change. It will help you understand the miracle of forgiveness and the blessings of the atonement.
Decide today to go on a mission. Make a commitment to yourself and to Heavenly Father. You are truly sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. He'll help you to become and to remain worthy. You will be a blessing for generations to come. Don't miss out on this divine experience.
"O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ. Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee." (Alma 31:34-35)
I. Power and wisdom to touch those who are not yet members.
Bring them to our meetings.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Eph 2:19)
II. Reach out warmly to non-particpating members.
There are members on the sidelines. Don't judge them; be forgiving. Invite them to come with you to church. Be a friend to them.
You are part of a great and marvelous work. Actively participate. Internaliz and practice divine teachings. Satan wants to distract us and keep us from the goals that put us on the right path.
If we have good intentions, that is a good start. But we need to have and keep commitments. Use time wisely; set goals in terms of outcomes, not just what we wish to acheive. Engage in calm assessments. Choose what you will do with your time. Have financial goals; but, more importantly, have spiritual goals. Have clearly defined destinations with points and goals along the road so that you can meet the destinations.
The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us defined goals. Evaluate where you are on your journey back to Heavenly Father. Adjust your course; forgiveness will help; repentance is the path. Commandments are not restrictions or obsticles; they have a purpose. Keeping the law of tithing will open the windows of heaven. (See Mal 3:10)
The commandments of God are an important part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are our flight plan. A loving Heavenly Father wants us to succeed in this life and eternally. If you don't think you have the money to put food on the table, still pay your tithing first. Trust in the Lord; be faithful; go to the Bishop for help you need. Tithing will bring greater blessings than food on yoru table. It will bring blessings for generations to come; it will bring eternal blessings.
Avoid those things that are traps set to destroy us, especially pornography. Pornography and violence will tear you down. "Letbvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven." (D&C 121:45) Look for helps on the church website: lds.org. Also, check out the new website for the youth: youth.lds.org. Make the extra effot to learn what help is available and use it.
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:31-32)
The atonement allows us to change the natural man and to become sanctified, born again, a new creature. Our own conversion and the conversion of our loved ones is a life-long task.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) We should not be ashamed. We should never be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ or of being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We can gain spiritual strength and power by accepting and living the principles of the gospel, and we will boost the level of our conversion.
Re-light the fire of your personal conversion. Increase yoru faith in Jesus Christ by living the gospel, declaring the gospel, and by standing up for your values. Refresh and deepen your own coversion. Develop greater faith in the Savior and strengthn your families.
1. Have a current temple recommend.
This is a precious assett. Go to the temple as often as possible. Youth, go to be baptized for your ancestors. CTR does not only stand for Choose the Right, it also stands for Current Temple Recommend. The standards which are found in Strength of Youth are a reliable benchmark for your worthiness.
2. Study the word of God daily.
The scriptures will help your testimonies become stronger; you will be spiritually strengthened. Also, read the General Conference talks.
3. Speak with your Father in Heaven daily.
Nothing can take the place of prayer.
The world needs the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel provides us with a spiritual backbone. It gives us direction.
Your faithfulness is needed. The rising generation needs to see and feel that it is a joy to live the gospel.
Invitation--Have a current temnple recommend; study the word of God daily; Speak with your Heavenly Father daily. God wants you to succeed.
Blessing--Miracles happen: peace, spiritual strength in our families and in our individual lives. Trust God; follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.