L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve
Twenty-five years ago in General Conference, Elder Perry recalls speaking about four lessons from the story of Daniel; he did so with his 12-year-old grandson, Terry, by his side. Recently, Terry's son just turned 12 and received the priesthood. Elder Perry relates the story of the restoration of the priesthood in latter days. The Aaronic priesthood has the power of the keys of ministering angels and outward ordinances (story of a YM advisor in a ward fast and testimony meeting telling of walking to church and seeing the deacons collect the fast offerings). Ezra Taft Benson said, "Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life." Prepare to advance in the Aaronic priesthood and to receive the Melchizedek priesthood.
Elder David A. Bednar, of the Quorum of the Twelve
Elder Bednar spoke about the phrase, "Receive the Holy Ghost." In 1839, while Joseph Smith was in Washington DC speaking with the President, he explained that the belief in and understanding of the role of the Holy Ghost is a major difference between the church's beliefs and those of other religions. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead; He is a personage of spirit. Revelation is conveyed throught the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the Savior. The power of the Holy Ghost can come upon anyone--this is how people gain a testimony of gospel principles. The Gift of the Holy Ghost, though, comes only after baptism and only through those worthy to bestow it. Baptism by immersion is the introductory ordinance and baptism by fire follows. Although the confirmation ordinance is simple, it is profound and should not be overlooked. The Holy Ghost does not become operative just because of the ordinance; rather, we must live and act worthy of it:
1. We must sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost.
2. We must appropriatly invite the Holy Ghost into our lives.
3. We must faithfully obey God's commandments.
President Larry R. Lawrence, of the Seventy
Elder Lawrence speaks to parents of teenagers. The current YM/YW theme is "Be strong and of a good courage." Now is a time when courageous parenting is needed. Challenges and temptations are coming at our teens at the speed of a train. If your daughter was on the tracks and a train was coming, would you not warn her? Alma the Younger, in counselling his son Corianton, said, "Command thy children to do good..." Alma taught his sons and let them know when they were doing wrong. In contrast, Eli's sons went unrestained and caused many problems. Parents should not be intimidated by their children; it is not a popularity contest. If parents do not feel good about something, have the courage to say 'no.' Prevent heartache by disallowing teens to pair off too early--speak up and intervene beforehand. This is vital. Sleepovers are not good. Five fundamental ways to fortify our kids are family prayer, scripture study, FHE, family dinner, and 1-on-1 interviews.
President Per G. Malm, of the Seventy
In downtown Stockholm, Sweeden there is a tree-lined boulevard. One tree was very hollow and full of waste. A steel belt and wire anchored the tree to buildings and helped it to remain standing. As we grow step by step in the gospel we are able to stand tall and strong. There is an invitation for all to come unto Him. We can find rest by tearning after and following Jesus Christ. This gives us a firm hope that is an anchor to our souls. If we turn away from the Lord then a hollow feeling will come and our thoughts and actions will turn to waste. We need to lift our thoughts daily. "Wickedness never was happiness." President Malm tells the story of his grandmother who sent a child to buy eggs. The hollow tree eventually burned down and was destroyed. Beware of things that can destroy us from the inside out.
President Jairo Mazzagardi, of the Seventy
President Mazzagardi's granddaughter asked him, "What is sin?" Sin is intentional disobedience to God's commandments. President Mazzagardi tells a parable of a fence post and a tree. Sin can sneak into our lives if we let it (D&C 88:144). We should go to bed early and rise early. Forms of sin are everywhere, including on the computer and cell phone. Pornography is destructive. We need to confess and forsake sins. In 1 Nephi 10 - 12 there is another tree, but this tree can bring us great blessings. If we partake of this tree's fruit we will have great blessings.
President Mervyn B. Arnold, of the Seventy
We take upon us the name of Christ when we partake of the sacrament. What have you done with His name? President Arnol's parents died leaving very little earthly goods behind; but they had given their children something greater than silver or gold. They had taught their children the gospel, to give service, and to live well. Helaman named his sons after Lehi and Nephi to help them to remember. How will our names be remembered? In For the Strength of Youth it talks of freedom of choice and that this comes with consequences. President Arnold tells a story about when his wife, at age 15, was to take care of a herd of cows. Fences are there to help protect us. Protect your good name for future years. The grass is never greener and "Wickedness never was happiness." Before you act, picture the Savior standing by your side. For surely He is there.
M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In fall, all nature is in a state of transition. Fall is a good time for fly fishing because the trout are extra hungry. Fly fishermen make lures by hand to try and trick the trout. Lucifer does the same to ensnare us. He knows our hunger and weaknesses. He will not voluntarily let go because he wants us to be miserable. He is clever and cunning. He uses addiction to steal away our agency. In addiction, the brain's pleasure center is activated and overpowers judgment and morality. Trying to break free is hard. Too many people are becoming addicted to and abusing prescription medications (story of addicted woman who lost family). Stay away from any substance that may entrap you. Follow dosages carefully and keep them away from kids. Gaming and cell phone texting are also addictive. To escape addiction one must start with fervent, sincere prayer and speak to priesthood leaders. The church offers additional resources to help.
President Thomas S. Monson
Take time to read the conference talks in the Ensign. Serve selflessly and effectively. We live in a troubled world, but will endure and overcome if we nourish our testimonies. Show increased kindness to one another.