I gave this talk to the Harvest Hills 3rd and 6th Wards in May 2008 while serving as a High Councilor for the LDS Church. Based on President Thomas S Monson’s talk in the Apr 2008 General Conference.
Letter from an old Roommate – Ricks College ’90-’91:
Well, I am sorry to say I haven’t kept up with anyone. Things did not go to well for me after that year. If you remember, I was engaged to [Sue], one of our Family home evening sisters, but that didn’t not happen. I went home and just kinda got lost in depression. For years I, just played racquetball and just spent my life living for the moment. I fell into inactivity pretty quickly. I met [Becky] whom I married and have one son (now 10yrs old). About 6yrs ago I decided to get reactivated and did so. Unfortunately, the different lifestyle changes in me started to weaken the already shaky foundation that my marriage had. Last year we divorced. But, All is good. I am dating again and this time doing it according to the gospel standards and have a very nice prospective lined up for a possible future wife.
In some ways I feel as if my life has been on pause for several years. I have done a few things but have struggled to gain back the ground that was lost so early in my 20’s when I should have been working on my future.”
[Fred’s] story is nothing out of the ordinary. Many of us know people in our lives whether they be friends, family, or even ourselves that at one point or another have strayed from the gospel path. Some may feel that the gospel is too hard to live by, or they begin to question and doubt its teachings, or for many it may be that they’ve simply allowed the fire to slowly burn out. Having forgotten their testimonies, they turn to the world to fill the emptiness they feel.
Many of us can relate to the story of the Prodigal Son. For some we can relate to the Father, or the resentful brother, or the prodigal son himself or perhaps all three at different stages in our lives. The son had rejected the teachings of his parents, squandered his inheritance, lived a riotous life and who seemed lost to all except for his kind and loving parents and a watchful Father in Heaven. So pleased was the father upon the return of his prodigal son that he killed the fatted calf and welcomed him back home.
Our loved ones that have strayed from the gospel path are never lost to our Father in Heaven.
Elder Orson F Whitney said, “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”
The Adversary is waging war against the Family
Our youth are being bombarded with all kinds of temptations. Inappropriate and destructive material is present everywhere and easily accessed through a click of the mouse or as a message on our smart phones. As Satan has perfected his tactics and techniques our youth need to be stronger and more valiant than ever. As parents it is our responsibility to give them the armor they need to defend themselves in this increasingly wicked world.
Remember what the Lord said in the 68th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”
As parents we must teach our children even as Alma did to his son Corianton that regardless of what the world may say, “Wickedness was never happiness.” If you give in to the enticing of the Adversary he will eventually lead you to your destruction for we know that the “Devil will not support his children” (Alma 30:60).
President Monson taught, “Throughout the journey along the pathway of life, there are casualties. Some depart from the road markers which point toward life eternal, only to discover the detour chosen ultimately leads to a dead end. Indifference, carelessness, selfishness, and sin all take their costly toll in human lives.
“Change for the better can come to all. Over the years we have issued appeals to the less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor—to come back. ‘Come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the Saints’.
The Atonement is meant for all and all can become clean again.
President Boyd K. Packer has taught: “There is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ”.
Live life to the Fullest!
“Adam fell that man might be; and men are that they might have joy” (2N 2:25).
What is the best way for us to find joy?
President Ezra Taft Benson, “That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely approaches the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ. He is the right way, the full truth, and the abundant life.”
President Benson, “Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.”
Service brings Joy, what can we do to serve?
- Home teaching/Visiting teaching
- Magnifying your calling
- Attending your meetings
- Visiting the sick, comforting the needy
If you’re feeling down and depressed go out and serve.
We have such an incredible potential for doing good in this world. We’ve been given much and where much is given much is required.
President Brigham Young said, “There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God’s people, he may have the Spirit of the Lord to signify to him his will, and to guide and to direct him in the discharge of his duties, in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied, however, that in respect, we live far beneath our privileges.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. and arr. by John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. 1973, p. 32; emphasis added.)
President Ezra Taft Benson also taught:
“God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the second coming of the Lord. Some individuals will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head—even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of His strongest children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. …
“…Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 104–5).
It’s not enough to just be content with not “sinning”. We must be actively engaged in a good cause. We will find strength and energy as we serve our fellow man and rise up to our true potential as sons and daughters of God.
We come to Church to be uplifted and edified. To teach and share with one another how we can all better our lives. Let us all help each other to reach our true and full potential.
Joseph Smith, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”