Youth Conference 2012 Talk: A Covenant People

Elder Holland has said (quoting President Clark) not to water down the truth for the youth today, to be direct and bold and deliver the full serving because you are able to handle it, prepared to take it, hungry for the meat of the gospel.

So I will be “bold to speak… as allowed by God and trusted of Him… by the ability given by God, and as a witness that we have behaved ourselves – holily, justly, and unblameabley – and that we are worthy… because of this, He has called us unto His kingdom” (1 Thessalonians 2:2, 4, 10, 12; 1 Peter 4:11).

Notice that He does not call us INTO his kingdom.

He only calls us UNTO his kingdom.

He has given us our agency, our ability to choose, that we might choose to actually enter His kingdom (Moses 4:3 ; D&C 29:36). He has sent us here for our mortal experience, to prove what is in our hearts and whether we will keep his commandments or not (Deuteronomy 8:2). Each kingdom has its own laws, and we choose the kingdom we enter by being obedient to those laws (1 Corinthians 15:40–42 ; D&C 76:96–98). Which kingdom are you choosing?

You are choosing your kingdom by the laws you choose to obey, the commandments you follow, and the covenants you keep. You are choosing your kingdom every moment of every day with every choice you make.

Choosing your kingdom means to separate yourself from all that is not-of-God, to purge out of you all that is not-of-God – which we do by repentance and the Sacrament and following the prophets – and to fill yourself up with what IS-OF-GOD – by prayer and scripture study and temple worship – to be so filled with Light – that is knowledge, understanding, and testimony – that you literally shine to those around you.

Moses did it.

He got so shiny that he literally had to cover his face with a veil (Exodus 34:29-35).

The same thing happened to Abinadi (Mosiah 13:5).

If your Spirit, the premortal part of you that has already made covenants, works hard to keep those covenants, works hard to commune with our Father, works hard to testify of what you know to be true, works hard to be the child of God He created you to be, the child of God you promised to be, then you will SHINE.

The people around you will be able to feel it, to sense it, to notice it, even in the midst of a crowd.

The Holy Spirit of God will confirm to those around you the spirit which you bring – because it is from HIM.

Each of us is spirit son or daughter of Heavenly Parents, and we have been sent here to become like Them.

Our task on earth is to teach our physical bodies to keep the same covenants our spirits have already made.

This is why sometimes it feels like such a great struggle, because our physical bodies cannot yet do what our spiritual selves have already mastered. We know what we need to do, but are not yet able to do it. This is why we so often fail, or why we are weak when we should be strong.

We repent of these failings in real and sincere prayer, which must be constant and ongoing, for it is the only way to get to know Him. You cannot know Him if you will not talk to Him. The atonement provides a way that we can repent when we fail and do wrong, but also it also provides strength where we are weak and need help beyond ourselves. The atonement has a power that is both enabling and empowering, so that we can truly do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13; D&C 50:27).

But that empowering and enabling is for us to “go and do” (1 Nephi 3:7); “otherwise, we will perish” (Alma 27:10). He has not provided so much just so that we can be lazy or idle. He tells us to “Arise”, so that we can go and do: arise with healing (Malachi 4:2), arise and walk (Matthew 9:6), and arise and serve (Matthew 9:25).

He has not blessed us so that we can be careless with sacred covenants we made premortally. Instead, He has enabled us and empowered us – an act of great grace and deep mercy – so that we will be able to keep those covenants we made already.

Making and keeping covenants are how we progress.

Making and keeping covenants is what cleanses us. It removes from us what is not-of-God, and refines our physical bodies to match the spiritual beings we were before we came to Earth. This is what it means to be sanctified, to sanctify ourselves, to choose the right.

Before we can “arise, and shine forth”, the Savior first says that we must “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11; Alma 39:9; D&C 6:35, 24:2, 82:7). We must make ourselves worthy now of all He has to offer, and practice even now being ready to do exactly what He instructs. It is now that we prove ourselves. Now is the time for keeping covenants!

Many of you are good kids, even young adults (almost), who are really good at making good choices. You have heard leaders say again and again that you are a chosen generation, noble spirits that will be our bishops and stake presidents and authorities and auxiliary leaders. You cannot be our leaders without power. Now is the time to develop the power you will nee, that will qualify you to be called.

He cannot enable you or empower you to become what you promised to be if you are asleep.

WAKE UP!

The prophet basically calls you zombies in Ephesians (5:14). You are asleep! It is time to wake up and live! (D&C 43:18) Stop fooling around and focus on who you are and why you are here!

If you are awake, and full of light, you will have no part in darkness.

He tells us to “Arise, and go to the city” (Acts 9:6; 22:10), and we know that “the city” means “The City of Holiness”, which is the Temple (Psalm 48:1; Jeremiah 31:23; Moses 7:19). It is in the Temple that ordinances are performed in which we make covenants after the pattern of those covenants we made premortally.

Most of you were either born into the covenant or have been sealed into the covenant. This means you have been called UNTO His kingdom, invited to His celestial kingdom, to be where He is! Are you choosing to enter INTO that kingdom by obeying its laws?

You don’t get your driver’s license until you have demonstrated not just a knowledge of the rules of the road, but also an ability to follow them.

You don’t get a date simply by looking at their pictures on Facebook. You have to talk to the person, share with them, and actually ask – and be worthy enough and kind enough and happy enough for them to want to spend time with you.

(All of this after you turn 16, of course)

You don’t graduate from high school just because you can find your way around campus. You have to turn in your homework and complete the requirements.

And, if you want to gain entrance to the best colleges, you must do MORE than simply passing your classes. You need higher scores, service projects, and participation in a variety of activities.

Those of you who want to do trade school or tech instead of college know that being able to find Best Buy or AutoZone is not enough. You have to develop your skills by practicing until it becomes a craft worthy of your hire. There are certifications and skill levels that determine what kind of work you are allowed to do and how much you will get paid for it.

This, whether the secular world is aware of it or not, is after the pattern our Heavenly Father has set for us. To successfully complete our mortal experience, there are certain requirements we must all fulfill. We were trained and prepared premortally, and agreed before we ever were born on Earth to complete these tasks (Abraham 3:22–23; Jeremiah 1:5; D&C 138:53–56).

Before we were born on Earth

WE MADE COVENANTS!

In the premortal realm, we made covenants!

(D&C 138:56; Abraham 3:26; Alma 13:3,7).

Even you, who have not been all the way through the temple yet, have already made covenants that Heavenly Father expects you to fulfill – and upon which many blessings are predicated. There are ways that He wants to help you and bless you, but is not free to do so until you do your part of being faithful to those covenants, of being obedient to Him.

We covenanted to choose the right, to stand for righteousness, to follow the Savior, to listen to the prophets, and to testify of these things. We also made personal covenants that are unique to each of us, but no less important.

This means that covenant keeping is not just your parents’ problem.

This is your problem.

These are your covenants.

These covenants include preparing for missions NOW, and preparing NOW for the sealing ordinance – for marriage in the Temple. Keeping your covenants NOW means being worthy RIGHT NOW for both.

This is why we need the Spirit, and must be obedient to the promptings we receive – whether it is correction, instruction, or guidance, the Holy Spirit is our link to Heavenly Father, the only way in which we are not banished from Him entirely while in mortality. To maintain this connection, we must be obedient.

Obedience is only difficult when we are fighting against it (Acts 9:5).

Heavenly Father, who knows us better than anyone possibly could, says that “these are the things that are good for you and that will make you happy. I want you to be happy, so please do these things.”

We, the murmuring humans, say “but that’s no fun. I can’t do this, and I can’t do that. It’s oppressive. It’s unfair. It’s too hard for me.”

Helaman 12:7-8 says that even the dirt is more obedient than we are:

O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.

We are nothing, less than the dirt, because we are not obedient.

Yet – we are His children! His sons and daughters!

That is everything!

He is our Father, and provided the atonement of Jesus Christ as the way for us to return home to Him. He provided the atonement because He wants us to return home to us. He knows us so well that He provided a way even for our weaknesses and our failings.

When we say, “it is too hard for me!”

He says, “No! It is not! It is only hard if you want to remain as you are. But you are not finished. I have created you to become something more.”

This is when the Spirit teaches us, prompts us, urges us to step forward in faith and become.

The Spirit says to us, “this is how the world is. But you are not of the world. You are a child of the Man of Holiness, and you are called as a member of His family, a member of His house – you are called to be a child of Holiness. Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord!”

This is how we progress.

This is how we build spiritual muscles, just like any other muscles.

This is how He orchestrates our eternal life, even as a great performance comes after much practice.

We know that there is opposition in all things. We know that He is so holy, and the return of the Savior is so soon, that darkness surrounds us in opposition to the dawning of such great Light.

President Packer has been giving us reference after reference to being “behind enemy lines”.

We do not come to battle unprepared (Alma 49:8):

They were prepared for them, in a manner which had never been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni.

When we read that verse, it is the second preparation of the Nephites. They had previously been prepared – we can read it in Alma 43:19-20 – and the Lamanites thought they could win the battle by numbers because they knew how the Nephites would fight. The Lamanites even came to battle with their own protective gear this time, trying to match the Nephite tactics.

But this was not enough, because the Nephites advanced in their preparation!

The Nephites were prepared like never before!

It is interesting to me that the enemy tried to win the battle by matching the protective gear the Nephites had worn. It was not the same, but it was similar. Looking at our generation, I think of the illusions of the virtual world, whether we are talking violent video games or other illusions that replace real relationships, desensitize us, or delay our development. Video games and pornography and too much texting or chatting or other virtual communications are in “like manner”, similar to real battles, real relationships, or real conversations.

But they are not real.

They are illusions, like a mirage in which you will find yourself eating only sand.

In contrast, we are given the traits of Moroni that we can look to as an example, spiritual gifts that we can pray for and work to develop (Alma 48:11-17):

And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;

Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.

Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion

yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.

And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;

and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it (by) doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.

Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

I also think it is interesting that their advanced preparation came from the “instructions of Moroni”. It is Moroni who hid up the Book of Mormon for us, and it is Moroni who delivered them to this dispensation. It is Moroni whose trumpet – his call to battle – is atop the Temple.

It is by the Scriptures and the power of Temple covenants that we receive our instructions for battle, even while we already live behind enemy lines.

But we are in battle, even now!

So are those around us, and we are called to rescue them.

If your friend has done a thing (whatever that “thing”) might be, you embrace them like the father of the prodigal, and testify of the atonement, and walk them to Christ.

But if your friend has not yet done a thing, or is doing it now, then you are commanded to draw a line in the sand, to warn them, to be a prophet-voice testifying of the requirements of God.

The Savior’s love is unconditional.

But there are requirements for living in His presence.

Even if your friend never speaks to you again, even if no one sees through the drama to know what really happened, you must say something. You are held accountable to saying something, because you have already agreed to testify.

You may lose a friendship, but you will have saved a soul.

If your friend listens to your counsel and feels your love, and humbles themselves and seeks out Heavenly Father, other lives and families will be saved, rescued, and restored. There will be evidence of this healing, even if you are not invited to celebrate.

If your friend does not, then the consequences are theirs.

But you are the one held responsible if you say nothing (2 Nephi 25; Jacob 1:19; Jacob 2:2). We cannot be covenant keepers without testifying!

This is how we become like Christ: we testify.

This is how we take His name upon us: we testify.

We become like Christ by taking upon ourselves the blood (Jacob 1:19) and sins (Jacob 2:2) of our “generation” (2 Nephi 25:6,9), accepting the responsibility of their consequences if we do not testify to them, if we do not preach to them, if we do not share with them what we know.

This is why we must testify.

Then, as we testify, they have their own agency and become responsible to make choices in response to our testimony.

But they first need our testimony in order to respond to it.

Once they have it, then, like Jacob, we are cleansed from the blood and sins of our generation.

But this cleansing cannot be separated from our testifying.

We are cleansed through our faithfulness (to the premortal covenant, in which He agreed to atone for us and we agreed to testify of Him).

That is covenant keeping.

There cannot be covenant keeping without testifying, no matter how many rules you follow. Covenant keeping isn’t about rules, it is about testifying. Part of testifying includes the witness of our “good” behavior and positive interactions (charity), absolutely. But that is more than just following the rules. That’s loving. Loving Him, and loving others.

And part of loving others is sharing, testifying, prophesying.

This is the gospel. We are called to stand in holy places and not be moved. We can invite others unto the kingdom, but they must choose what is required to come into the kingdom. His love is unconditional, but his presence is absolutely conditional.

We know the story of the Prodigal Son, where the son takes his inheritance and wastes it, until humbly returning in all his shame to his father. It is a tender story of repentance, as the father is waiting for him “a long way off”, already having faith that the son would come home. We love the moment of the embrace, the power of the atonement when the father welcomes the son back into his presence.

But there is one more part to the prodigal son story. The prodigal son had an older brother, who had been very good and well-behaved. He was jealous when the naughty brother was welcomed home (Luke 15:25-32). He threw a little fit because his brother got a welcome home party, and complained that he was the rightful son because he had behaved.

We see the same pattern in The Book of Mormon, all of it comes through the story of a family very much like the Prodigal Son and his older brother. At the beginning of the Book of Mormon, there is a father named Lehi. His older sons are Laman and Lemuel, who were disobedient complainers and so do not get the privilege of caring for the sacred records that need to be passed down generation after generation. They were jealous and angry. They felt the younger brother, Nephi, had stolen their inheritance, and their resentment was passed down to their children. Instead of passing down sacred records and holy teachings to the next generation, these brothers passed down hatred and bitterness. The children were taught to hate their cousins, and then they grew up and taught their own children to hate also, until entire peoples were the descendants of hate, until entire nations destroyed themselves in war.

We see this in the Old Testament as well. Abraham’s son Jacob had two sons. The oldest was Ishmael, but the inheritance was given to the younger brother Isaac. Ishmael felt cheated, and passed this on to his children, whom we now call Muslims. They fight with their cousins, the Jews, about who is the rightful heir of covenant blessings. The Muslims and Jews become so busy fighting against each other that sometimes they forget they share the same grandfather who was promised blessings for ALL his children.

LISTEN:

We cannot take the full gospel to the Muslims and Jews until we ourselves get better at keeping covenants.

They do not have the full gospel as has been revealed to us, but they are better than we are at honoring and keeping the covenants they have made thus far.

This is the same with the Lamanites. The Nephites were destroyed because they had access to the full gospel and made covenants related to the full gospel, but did not keep them. The Lamanites were not destroyed, but only scattered, because they kept the covenants they had made thus far but did not embrace the full gospel. This sacred land is promised to them, and we cannot successfully or effectively deliver the full gospel to them until we learn to love the land as they do. It is not enough to love our country or its history – we must love the land, and care for it.

Your missionary work begins now, by keeping the covenants you made at baptism, by keeping the covenants you made premortally.

Making and keeping covenants is not just something that happens in the temple later.

You will build on your covenants then, but making and keeping covenants is something that you are to be doing now, is something you have already done. These are your covenants, for which you were prepared and agreed to premortally, into which you were born, and upon which you will build upon as you begin making your own covenants.

This is how we become the grandchildren of Abraham and receive the blessings promised to him and promised to us.

It is God who sets the terms for the covenants, laying out the contract of what He will do and what we will do.

We learn about covenants from the Old Testament, and we see the Savior interacting with covenant people in the New Testament. In the Book of Mormon, we learn that when we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in many instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience.

We make our first mortal covenants at baptism. We read our baptismal covenant in Mosiah 18:8-10:

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places (sound familiar, ladies?) that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

And in Alma 7:15-16:

Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism. And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.

We also build on these covenants in the temple when we perform sacred ordinances that are essential for our exaltation. These are your covenants you have made to go on missions and be sealed in the temple, things you have already agreed to do. We cannot pretend it is a choice we can debate or think about later or maybe consider someday or that we don’t have to do if we do not feel like it – those are lies from the adversary to distract us from what we have already promised to obey. It is commanded of us, and we must be preparing for it even now.

Serving a mission is not a choice that is up for debate. We already signed up! Being alive in this mortal life is our sign that we have already agreed to do so! Our choice now is to be obedient to that commandment and keep our premortal covenants to testify, or else choose the penalties that come from rejecting the Savior, His gospel, and His prophets.

Even as a convert, I kept my covenants by serving a mission. I was called for thirty months, and have served 22 so far. Now my mission has already been extended, and I will keep serving until the Lord calls me to another task.

Getting married in the Temple is not a choice that is up for debate. Our choice is to be obedient to the covenants we have made and to the plan of salvation we agreed to and even celebrated premortally when our Heavenly Father set it before us or choose the penalties that come from rejecting His plan of salvation.

I am engaged! To be married! I have found a worthy priesthood holder, one who is obedient, one who communicates to his Father-in-Heaven, one who follows the promptings of the Spirit, one who knows the work of repentance as he learns to keep covenants. He is a good man, a respectful and compassionate man, and he is kind to me, soft in spirit and in comfort. That is what builds love, and that is why I am going to marry him in the temple 78 days from today!

If we are covenant-keepers, we will serve a mission.

If we are covenant-keepers, we will be sealed in the Temple.

If we are covenant-keepers, we will testify, even now.

These are the tokens we offer as evidence to Heavenly Father that we remember our covenants. It is our proof, our evidence, our “fruit”.

The blessings that come from doing so are the signs Heavenly Father gives us as evidence that He remembers His part of the covenant.

It is by making and keeping covenants that we get power, that we receive the power of godliness: the power to become who He created us to be, the power to become like Him.

The saving ordinances of the priesthood are always accompanied by covenants. D&C 84:19-20 says:

And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

We make personal covenants as the Spirit helps us understand who our Father wants us to become. Obedience is the greatest gift we can give our Father-in-Heaven. We are nothing, and we have nothing except what He has already given us. The one thing we have that is only “ours” is our agency. Using our agency to act in faith, to demonstrate that we understand His plan and believe it to be good for us, and so being obedient to it – this is the only thing we can give Him that we are not already borrowing from Him. Everything else is already His: our clothes, our homes, the people in our lives, our jobs, our food, everything we have, even the bounds of time and place in which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). But to give Him our obedience is the greatest act of love we can do to show Him how much we love Him.

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

However, this obedience must be with “real intent”. We have to keep it real. It has to be sincere. That is the part where we show our love. When a new issue comes up and I want to know how to solve the problem and still keep my covenants, I ask myself the question: “What do the Prophets say?” Then I read my scriptures and study talks and pray until I know what to do. The Holy Spirit always shows me the way.

It is the relationship between my Heavenly Father and me that makes it real. It is the atonement He has provided for my weaknesses and errors, and the Spirit by which He corrects me and instructs me. This is what makes it real, what brings me into His presence, what shines Light within me, what makes it possible for me to become shiny, what prepares me to be like my Heavenly Parents waiting for me – from a long way off – to return to them.

Does He know you? From the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah (29:13):

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Are you close to Him in the thoughts and intents of your heart? From Mosiah 5:12-13:

I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you. For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

How often do you talk to your Heavenly Father? Thank Him? From Psalms (55:16-17), David says,

Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

How often do you tell your Heavenly Father that you love Him, what is important to you, what you need, or ask for help? From Alma 37:36-37:

Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

How often do you confess your sins? From John 1:8-9:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Do you see why it is so important to confess our sins?

Do you understand He wants you to become something more, that He has a great plan of happiness already in store for you, and that He does receive you the moment you turn to Him?

Our Father is calling us home, to the place where He lives, and it is holy. He wants to prepare us to feel comfortable there, to be happy, to choose come home to Him. We must learn to recognize the invitation, so that we can greet Him with the embrace of grateful children.

He is our Father, and we need Him.

The Lord has promised to fight our battles, but we must surrender them to Him so that He can.

This is why it is so important for us to be worthy of having the presence of His Spirit. This is why we need to be praying and to be reading our Scriptures. That premortal battle is still happening now; it is not yet finished. We see the evidence of destruction everywhere around us, and it requires great strength to battle it.

President Eyring said (“Always”, CES Fireside 01/03/99):

As the forces around us increase in intensity, whatever spiritual strength was once sufficient will not be enough. And whatever growth in spiritual strength we once thought was possible, greater growth will be made available to us. Both the need for spiritual strength and the opportunity to acquire it will increase at rates which we underestimate at our peril.

What was “good enough” in the past is no longer enough.

We must do more to be spiritually strong.

The Spirit will quicken us for this task, making us stronger than we have ever been, but we must do the work of embracing what is made available to us.

So much is available. I have the Scriptures on my phone, on my computer, and on my iPad. There are apps with the discourses of the past prophets, collections of talks, and every General Conference of this dispensation. MP3 links for past General Conferences are being added frequently, further and further back, so that I can listen to them in the car or when I run or while I work. We have access, to everything, like never before.

I think we will be held accountable for that access, and to what degree we utilized it.

I think also that we will receive blessings to the degree that we do.

No one in previous generations could have imagined having so much literally in the palm of their hands. What are we going to do with that information? What is it preparing us for?

This last February, I went to Israel. I saw sacred sites where the Savior lived and walked and taught the people. I met church members there, and talked with them about their sacrifices of obedience and how much they love our Father. I saw how they testify even when it puts their lives at risk, and I saw how they lived in these places were war is real and hunger is not a game. I felt their spirits, and their love, and their firm faith that the gospel is true.

I also met many of other faiths, even Muslims and Jews. I met people of different cultures than ours, the Arabs and the Palestinians and the Israelis. I met people whose faith is deeply rooted in them, and I met others who were born into a faith or raised in a faith but who no longer practice their faith.

The one thing they all agree on, when they can agree on nothing else, is that the Jesus is returning soon. They know that things are so bad that no one else can make peace but the Messiah. They know the timeline of events, testifying of latter-day prophesies without realizing what they are saying. They all agree there will be an earthquake followed by a great battle, and that the Savior will come unexpectedly to finish the war and be our King.

They know that the millennium will be a time of peace because we will bind Satan by our righteousness.

The millennium is not a freebie. Satan doesn’t just disappear.

The adversary will no longer have power because we choose to stop giving it to Him.

The adversary will not lose just because the Messiah returns – the Savior has already done His part in conquering Him.

It is time for us to do our part.

The adversary is going to lose because we will finally start doing what the Messiah told us would save us.

That is our choice, and we are choosing now.

We are in the latter days of the Latter-days.

The earth groans with its final testimony, sending tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis to testify of Her Maker. These are the final testimonies, after our testimonies have been rejected, after the testimonies of the prophets have been rejected. The Gospel goes into all the world. Temples fill the earth!

We cannot be asleep to these things!

We opened the first Family History Center in Pakistan, and the land for the first real chapel in the Middle East has been dedicated in Jordan. This will serve Israel, too, were converts are not allowed to be baptized. They can leave the country, be baptized, and come back, but they cannot be baptized in Israel. So this chapel is for them as much as the people in Jordan. This is preparing the way for the Isaiah 19 prophecy that there will be a temple for the Arab and Jewish people, even in Egypt as a gate to Heaven for those people, a highway for their ancestors to receive their temple ordinances.

The Savior is our peacemaker.

Our Father calls us to be at-one with each other, and the atonement makes it possible.

The Nephites were not the good guys, and the Lamanites were not the bad guys.

The Nephites were hot and cold and had trouble being consistently faithful.

The Lamanites were consistent, but rejected the peace the gospel brings.

They destroyed each other in war because they could not be at-one.

It was not about who was right and who was wrong.

The whole point was that they needed each other.

We need each other.

We need the atonement to make us at-one.

We need to be at-one, whether we are talking about families or countries.

We cannot be at-one with God if we are not at-one with His children.

Say your personal prayers on your knees every night and morning. He loves to hear you say you love Him, that you’re grateful for all He has done for you.

Pray with sincerity, earnestness, humility and genuine feeling.

Ask in each prayer for forgiveness and to forgive others.

Ask for help and guidance.

Let this change your very soul, and learn to treat your parents the same way you treat your Father-in-Heaven. Thank them. Smile at them. Do what they say. Be helpful. Be kind. Hug them – i keep telling you that they miss your tender touch since you have become so grown-up and independent.

Read the Book of Mormon every day. I pray that you’ll ponder and consider making personal covenants with Heavenly Father in many aspects of your life, and that you’ll keep your covenants with all sincerity and truthfulness.

Through all this, you will develop a very personal, close, loving relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son – who is our Advocate and Friend. Then you will see the fulfillment of these beautiful words scriptures:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3)

and (D&C 93:1):

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.

The only way to know is to try it out (Alma 32:27), by keeping sacred covenants, and testifying that the Savior has kept His.

I say these things to you according to the Father, by the power of His Spirit, in the sacred name of His Son, even Jesus the Christ –

Amen.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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