Brothers and sisters, we welcome you to the Church Educational System Devotional forYoung Adults. We especially want to welcome those who are attending a CES devotional forthe very first time. We hope these devotionals will strengthen and bless your lives.
This broadcast is originating from the Cannon Activities Center on the campus of BrighamYoung University-Hawaii, located in Laie. This devotional is being translated into 36languages for young adults throughout the world. I am Arthur Hannemann, state presidentin the Laie Hawaii Young Single Adult 1st Stake. We welcome Elder Russell M. Nelson of theQuorum of the Twelve Apostles and are grateful that Sister Nelson has accompanied himthis afternoon. Elder Nelson will be introduced later in the program as today's speaker.
We are grateful for the attendance of our local Area Seventy, stake and ward young adultpriesthood leaders, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion leaders, and officials from BrighamYoung University-Hawaii, with their wives. In addition, we are pleased to acknowledge thepresence on the stand of Elder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of the Church EducationalSystem. We remind you that on Sunday, November 3rd, Brother Russell T. Osguthorpe,Sunday School General President, will be our CES devotional speaker.
We will begin this afternoon with the choir and congregation singing "Carry On," hymnnumber 255 in the English hymnbook. We appreciate the assistance of Harmopny Laufou,who will conduct the music, and Ryo Hayashi as her accompanist. After the hymn, Freddie Ika will offer the invocation.
[MUSIC - CARRY ON] (SINGING) "Firm as the mountains around us, / Stalwart and brave westand / On the rock our fathers planted / For us in this goodly land-- / The rock of honor andvirtue, / Of faith in the living God. / They raised his banner triumphant-- / Over the desertsod. / And we hear the desert singing: / Carry on, carry on, carry on! / Hills and vales andmountains ringing: / Carry on, carry on, carry on! / Holding aloft our colors, / We march in theglorious dawn. / O youth of the noble birthright, / Carry on, carry on, carry on!
"We'll build on the rock they planted / A palace to the King. Into its shining corridors / Oursongs of praise we'll bring, / For the heritage they left us, / Not of gold or of worldly wealth, / But a blessing everlasting / Of love and joy and health. / And we hear the desert singing: / Carry on, carry on, carry on! / Hills and vales and mountains ringing: / Carry on, carry on,carry on! / Holding aloft our colors, / We march in the glorious dawn. / O youth of the noblebirthright, / Carry on, carry on, carry on!"
Our dear and most gracious Father who art in heaven, as we bow our heads before Thee, we are so grateful for the abundant blessings Thou hast blessed us with. We're so grateful for the opportunity to be gathered here in this Cannon Activities Center for this CES fireside.We're so grateful to have an Apostle in our midst to be able to counsel us. We're grateful forthe fulness of the gospel and its restored Restoration. We ask You to bless those that arehere and those from afar that are watching and listening to this CES broadcast, that theymay be able to have an open heart and open mind for the things that will be said. We are sograteful, Father, for all Thou hast blessed us with, and we ask Thee, Lord, to please orderspecial blessings upon our Apostle, Elder Nelson, that he may be able to direct us in what weneed to do. We're so grateful for all that Thou hast done. We're so grateful for theRestoration. We ask Thee, Lord, to forgive us for our shortcomings and wrongdoings, and wesay these things in the nme of Jesus Christ, amen.
This afternoon we are joined by a combined choir from Brigham Young University-Hawaii,directed by Michael Belnap and accompanied by Stacey McCarry, Alex Chowen, and Ryo Oshiro. They will sing "True to the Faith," after which we will be pleased to hear from ElderNelson. At the conclusion of Elder Nelson's remarks, the choir will sing "We'll Bring the WorldHis Truth." The benediction will then be offered by Sonali Fonseka.
It is now my privilege to introduce this afternoon's speaker. Elder Russell M. Nelson wascalled as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints on April 7, 1984. An internationally renowned surgeon and medicalresearcher, Dr. Nelson received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Utah. ElderNelson was born September 9, 1924. Elder Nelson is the son of Marion C. and Edna Anderson Nelson. He and his wife, the former Danza White, have 10 children. Sister Nelsonpassed away in February 2005. In April 2006, he married Wendy L. Watson. The choir willnow sing "True to the Faith."
[MUSIC - "TRUE TO THE FAITH"] (SINGING) "Shall the youth of Zion falter / In defending truthand right? / While the enemy assaileth, / Shall we shrink or shun the fight? No! / True to thefaith that our parents have cherished, / True to the truth for which martyrs have perished, / To God's command, / Soul, heart, and hand, / Faithful and true we will ever stand.
"While we know the powers of darkness / Seek to thwart the work of God, / Shall the childrenof the promise / Cease to grasp the iron rod? No! / True to the faith that our parents havecherished, / True to the truth for which martyrs have perished, / To God's command, / Soul,heart, and hand, / Faithful and true we will ever stand.
"We will work out our salvation; / We will cleave unto the truth; / We will watch and pray andlabor / With the fervent zeal of youth.
"We will strive to be found worthy / Of the kingdom of our Lord, / With the faithful onesredeemed / Who have loved and kept his word. Yes! / True to the faith that our parents havecherished, / True to the truth for which martyrs have perished, / To God's command, / Soul,heart, and hand, / Faithful and true we will ever stand. We will ever stand. We will everstand."
That was wonderful, choir. We need to have an encore. Thank you President Hannemann foryour very generous introduction.
My wife, Wendy, and I are very grateful to be with you. From the Cannon Activities Center onthe campus of BYU-Hawaii, we are broadcasting to congregations of young adultsthroughout the entire world.
Again, we extend a special welcome to those who are attending a CES devotional for the firsttime. As you enroll in institutions of higher learning, you will want to participate in instituteclasses and these devotionals to maintain a spiritual balance to your secular learning.
And if you're soon headed for a mission, we are most grateful. You'll be in the Lord's servicefull time. I bring greetings and love from President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eyring, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and my beloved associates in the Quorum of the TwelveApostles.
I also bring greetings from the Board of Trustees of the Church Educational System and fromElder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of Education. Gratefully, we also acknowledge thepresence of Elders Robert C. Gay and Aley K. Auna of the Seventy, President and SisterSteven R. Warner of the Hawaii Honolulu Mission. Sister Warner's name is Elizabeth; I call herQueen Elizabeth. And these wonderful stake presidents and their wives who are seated withus on the stand. We're grateful for President and Sister Steven C. Wheelwright for hisleadership here in the university.
We have had three previous speakers at our CES devotionals this year. Remember them?President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk was entitled "What Is Truth?" He taught us how to find realtruth in an age when so much information is available, much of which is not true.
The title of Elder David A. Bednar's talk was "That We Might 'Not ... Shrink.'" He strengthenedour spirits as he taught us how to increase our faith through a powerful question thathelped a young couple as the husband battled cancer. The question posed by Elder Bednarwas, "Do you have the faith not to be healed?" Elder William R. Walker strengthened ourtestimonies about the ministry and matchless example of our beloved President, Thomas S. Monson.
Today, the title of my message is "Youth of the Noble Birthright: What Will You Choose?" You,as youth of the noble birthright, are literally sons and daughters of God, born at thisparticular time in the world's history for a most sacred purpose.
Although the moral and religious values of society seem to be weakening across the globe,youth of this Church are to be standard bearers of the Lord and beacons of light to attractothers to Him. Your identity and purpose are unique. What is your identity? You are childrenof the covenant. What covenant? That which God made with Father Abraham when Abrahamwas promised that "in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."
You are also children of the promised day, this period of world history when the gospel willbe broadly proclaimed across the entire planet. Now, what is your purpose? You brethrenwere foreordained in a premortal realm to bear the priesthood. Think of that! And you, dearsisters, were chosen before the foundation of the world to bear and care for God's children,and in doing so, you glorify God.
Have you sisters considered what it really means to be cocreators with God? Each of youyoung men and young women was commissioned by your Heavenly Father to build up thekingdom of God on earth right now and prepare a people to receive the Savior when He willrule and reign as the Millennial Messiah. Your noble birthright, identity, purpose, and divinecommission set you apart from all others.
But neither your birthright nor your premortal ordinations and commissions can save orexalt you. That you will do through your individual decisions and as you choose to access thepower of the Lord's Atonement in your lives. You know that "every soul is free / To choosehis life and what he'll be." That great eternal principle of agency is vital to our Father's plan.So, you youth of the noble birthright, what will you choose?
Will you choose to increase in learning?
Education is yours to obtain. No one else can gain it for you. Wherever you are, develop adeep desire to learn. For us as Latter-day Saints, gaining an education is not just a privilege,it is a religious responsibility. The glory of God is intelligence. Indeed, our education is for theeternities. "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us inthe resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life, ... he [orshe] will have so much the advantage in the world to come."
Such a long-range perspective will help you make good choices about learning. I remember aconversation many years ago with a very bright 16-year-old high school student. He wasuncertain about his religious commitment and undecided about his career. He wonderedabout the possibility of becoming a doctor of medicine.
He asked me a simple question: "How many years did it take for you to become a heartsurgeon?" Well, I quickly made the calculations: "From the time I graduated from high schooluntil I first collected a fee for service as a surgeon, it took me 14 years." "Wow!" he replied."That's too long for me!" Then I asked, "How old will you be 14 years from now if you don'tbecome a heart surgeon?" "Just the same," he replied. "Just the same!"
I had a special interest in this young man. On occasion I took him in my car on his early-morning route to deliver newspapers. Over the years his faith became strong. He was apowerful missionary. He decided to pursue his educational goal. First, he married hissweetheart in the temple. Then, while he studied medicine and surgery, they became the parents of four wonderful children. Now he is fully board certified as a heart surgeon--afterintensive education and training over a period of 14 years.
Brothers and sisters, don't be afraid to pursue your goals--even your dreams! There is noshortcut to excellence and competence. Education is the difference between wishing youcould help other people and being able to help them.
Here is another question: What manner of living will you choose?
You, as youth of the noble birthright, are expected to live differently than others. You knowwhat Paul said to young Timothy: "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, inconversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." Choose to think and act differently thanthose of the world. Choose to look different and see what an influence for good you willbecome.
As Sister Ardeth G. Kapp once said, "You can't be a life saver if you look like all the otherswimmers on the beach." As youth of the noble birthright, you have a great start in life. Butyou also have an additional responsibility. "For of him [or her] unto whom much is givenmuch is required." Part of that requirement is to be a recruit. Have you ever thought ofyourself as an army recruit?
When you were baptized, you were actually reenlisted in the Lord's army. Premortally youstood by Jesus Christ during the War in Heaven. And now the conflict between the forces ofgood and evil continues here on earth. It is real! That conflict in which we are now engaged isstill between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
On God's side is Jesus Christ, foreordained to be the Savior of the world. On the other side isSatan--a rebel, a destroyer of agency. God's plan allows the adversary to tempt you so thatyou, now in this mortal world, can exercise your agency to choose good over evil, to chooseto repent, to choose to come unto Jesus Christ and believe His teachings and follow Hisexample.
What a huge responsibility and a huge trust! Your freedom to choose is clearly explained inthe Book of Mormon: "Men are free according to the flesh. ... They are free to choose libertyand eternal life, ... or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power ofthe devil, for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself." Now, what willyou choose?
Another verse reveals that "wickedness never was happiness." Many youth have tried tochallenge that truth and have failed every time. Your freedom to act for yourself is so centralto your eternal progress and happiness that the adversary exerts extraordinary efforts toundermine it. Satan truly is an incorrigible insomniac, which means he never sleeps. Many ofyou have already experienced that!
Here is another question: Will you establish priorities to help you make your choices in life?
Your choices will not all be between good and evil. Many will be choices between two goodoptions. Not all truths are created equal, so you will need to establish priorities.
In your pursuit of knowledge, know that the very most important truth you can learn comesfrom the Lord. In His Intercessory Prayer to His Father, the Savior Himself confirmed this. Hesaid, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ,whom thou hast sent." Above everything else you're seeking to learn, seek to know God,your Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Come to know Them and love Them, as I do.
Another priority scripture that has helped me throughout my life is this one: "Seek ye first tobuild up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all these things shall beadded unto you." More than anything else in this world, you want to make choices that leadto the ultimate and glorious destiny of eternal life. That is God's great glory for you.
Choose eternal life as your highest priority! Study the scriptures, such as sections 76 and 88of the Doctrine and Covenants, in order to understand more about the different blessingsawaiting those who choose eternal life and those who don't. Choose eternal life as yourhighest priority and notice how other choices fall into place.
Another question: With whom will you choose to associate?
As youth of the noble birthright, you will mingle with many good people who also believe inGod. Whether they be Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim, believers know that thereactually is absolute truth.
In President Uchtdorf's earlier message, he stressed that there really is right and wrong, andthe willful breaking of one of God's commandments really is sin. Believers in God also have aconscience. Believers obey civil and divine law voluntarily, even laws that might otherwise beunenforceable. With your commitment to obey civil and divine law, you stop for a red light,even if no other traffic is in sight. You, as a child of God, know that even if the police don'tcatch you, that if you were to steal, murder, or commit adultery, these acts are wrong, andGod will ultimately hold you accountable.
You know that the consequences for not playing by the rules are not only temporal buteternal. As you move along life's journey, you will also become acquainted with people whodo not believe in God. Many of them have not yet found divine truth and don't know whereto look for it. But you youth of the noble birthright are coming to their rescue. In greatnumbers, you are rallying to the call of God's prophet for more missionaries.
We're deeply grateful for each one! Many of you have already served; others are preparingto go. As you mingle with nonbelievers, be aware that there may be a few who do not haveyour best interest at heart. As soon as you make that judgment--as soon as you discern that--flee from them quickly and permanently.
Sadly, you will meet people whose desperate search for something that seems to them likehappiness takes them down the slippery slopes of sin. Beware of that slimy slide! Anypleasure in sin is only fleeting, and haunting memories are smeared by gnawing andgrinding guilt. The sinful warping of the embrace divinely designed to unite husband andwife is but a hollow counterfeit. Each unlawful experience is stripped of deep meaning andsweet memory.
One more question: Will you choose freedom or bondage?
Godless forces are all around. You are literally living in enemy-occupied territory. A plague ofpoisonous pornography abounds. It ensnares all who yield to its insidious grasp. This wasforeseen by the Lord, who said, "And now I show unto you a mystery, a thing which is had insecret chambers, to bring to pass even your destruction in process of time, and ye knew itnot." Then He added a second warning. "And again, I say unto you that the enemy in thesecret chambers seeketh your lives."
Consider how many people, in however many secret chambers, are seeking to destroy yourlife and happiness! If you brothers and sisters are viewing pornography, stop it right now!Stop it absolutely! It is as destructive as leprosy, and as addicted as meth, and as corrosive aslye. Carnal temptation is not new. The Apostle Peter warned of this same snare when hewrote: "They allure through the lusts of the flesh ... those that were clean. ... While theypromise them liberty, they themselves are servants of corruption: for of whom a man isovercome, of the same is he brought in bondage."
Avoid that bondage, my beloved brothers and sisters. If you are presently viewingpornography, stop it! And stop it now! Seek help from your bishop. None are smart enoughto outwit the adversary on their own once they have been poisoned by pornography.
Now let me move to another serious question: Will you choose to follow the Lord or thephilosophies of men?
For example, arguments swirl around that the earth is dangerously overpopulated and thatcouples should restrict the number of their children. Have you heard that one? However, atthe fifth World Congress of Families, in 2009, Sister Nelson and I heard a scholar present apaper in which he made a stunning statement. He said that if each man, woman, and childnow living upon the earth were allotted a quarter of an acre of land, all 6.8 billion peoplewould fit in the country of Brazil, with 20 percent of Brazil still left unoccupied. Does thatsound like the earth is overcrowded?
I checked that calculation. It is correct. I adjure you to believe the Lord, who said that "theearth is full, and there is enough and to spare." Another reality is that you live at a time whenunemployment is high and financial markets throughout the world are jittery. Again, aworldly solution is to look at alternatives to God's plan. But we know that strong marriagesand families actually help the economy to thrive. And we are not alone in those feelings.
The scholar Dr. Patrick F. Fagan wrote: "The indispensable building block upon which thefortunes of the economy depends [is] the married-parent household--especially the child-rich family that worships weekly. ... Every marriage creates a new household, anindependent economic unit that generates income, spends, saves, and invests. Dr. Faganadded that "the married mother at home exerts a more far-reaching impact on the economythat [does] the married father in the workplace. ... While the husband contributes to thepresent economy, the mother contributes to both present and future economy."
Dr. Fagan's report confirms concepts expressed years ago by the First Presidency and theTwelve Apostles in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I hope that each of you has acopy. Study it carefully. While the family is under attack across the entire world, the truths ofthe family proclamation will fortify you.
Now you wonderful youth of the noble birthright, you need to understand the far-reachingconsequences of society's current skirmish over the very definition of marriage. The presentdebate involves the question of whether two people of the same gender can be married. Ifyou have a question about the position of the Church on this or any other important issue,carefully ponder it, and then heed the prophetic messages at this forthcoming Octobergeneral conference of the Church. Those inspired addresses, plus inspiration from the HolyGhost, will bring your mind a fuller and truer understanding.
The marriage debate is but one of the many controversies that will challenge you in thefuture. Against the strident voices of the adversary, you, as youth of the noble birthright, willchoose to stand for the Lord and His truth. Remember the words of the hymn that was sungto us by this magnificent choir. Repeat them. Memorize them. This hymn is all about you:
"Shall the youth of Zion falter / In defending truth and right? / While the enemy assaileth, / Shall we shrink or shun the fight? No! / True to the faith that our parents have cherished, / True to the truth for which martyrs have perished, / To God's command, / Soul, heart, andhand, / Faithful and true we will ever stand."
The Apostle Paul prophesied about the plight of our day. His description sounds like our 10o'clock nightly news broadcast. Listen! "In the last days perilous times shall come. For menshall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient toparents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers,incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady highminded, lovers ofpleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the powerthereof: from such turn away." That's the end of his warning.
Paul's accurate vision of the spiritual devastation of our day was followed by his reassuringconclusion, telling us how to stay safe: "From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures,which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
To his advice I would add my own: Keep studying the scriptures. Keep doing the things thatbuild your faith in Jesus Christ. And then notice the wise choices you are naturally drawn tomake. Your faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel will give you the courage to marry and tobring children into your family while you're young and able to have them. When you are myage, you will prize your children, your grandchildren, and their children above any fame orfortune that otherwise might have come.
Now for a question I pray that you will consider on a daily basis: How will you prepare for yourpersonal interview with the Savior?
You youth of the noble birthright are not perfect yet. None of us are. So, you, along with therest of us, are very grateful for the Atonement of the Savior, which provides full forgivenessas you truly repent. You also know that your stay here in mortality is relatively brief. (And theolder you get, the more you realize that.) In time, each of you will graduate from this frailexistence and move on to the next world. Judgment day awaits each one of us.
I don't know whether the heavenly gate is pearly or not, but I do know, as do all students ofthe Book of Mormon, that "the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employ[s]no servant there; ... for the Lord God is his name." Yes, each one of us will have a personalinterview with Jesus Christ. Each day on earth gives you time and opportunity to prepare forthat interview.
Please know this: As you choose to live on the Lord's side, you are never alone. God hasgiven you access to His help while you move along through mortality's perilous pathway. Asyou diligently, earnestly pour out your heart to Him in daily prayer, He will send His angels tohelp you, just like angels helped that choir to sing. He has given you the Holy Ghost to be byyour side as you live worthily. He has given you scriptures so that you can fully feast uponthe words of Jesus Christ.
He has given you words to heed from living prophets. He has given you an opportunity toreceive a patriarchal blessing. It will provide insight about your connection to Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob and the covenant made with them for their posterity. Your patriarchalblessing also provides insight about your potential in life here and hereafter. Each of theseand other divine aids will help you to choose well so that you may look forward to yourmeeting, face to face, with our Lord and Savior.
My last question: In whom will you put your trust?
You youth of the noble birthright know that God is your Father. He loves you. He wants youto be happy. Put your trust in Him. Maintain your focus on His holy temple. Be worthy toreceive your endowment and sealing ordinances. Remain faithful to those covenants, andreturn frequently to the temple. Remember, your loftiest goal is to gain the greatest of all theblessings of God, that of eternal life. Ordinances of the temple are essential for that blessing.
I invite you to study prayerfully the scriptural statement of your identity, purpose, andblessing, as recorded in section 86 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is about you. Listen!
"Thus sayeth the Lord unto you [youth of the noble birthright] with whom the priesthoodhath continued through the lineage of your fathers-- For ye are lawful heirs, according to theflesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God-- Therefore your life and thepriesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until therestoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the worldbegan.
"Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, andthrough this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel."
Yes, you truly are youth of the noble birthright, created in God's image. You are the lawfulheirs, to be tried and tested. You may choose to be a light to the world, to help save God'schildren, to have joy, and ultimately to earn the blessing of eternal life.
Now, to assist you in these critical choices before you, I would like to bestow a blessing uponyou. Invoking the keys of the holy apostleship vested in me, I bless you that you may feastupon the words of Jesus Christ and apply His teachings into your lives. I bless you with thepower to live as He would have you live and, through your example of righteousness,become worthy of emulation as a member of the Church that bears His holy name.
I bless you a success in your educational and occupational pursuits, to the end that you canrender service of worth to your fellow human beings. I bless you with health and strengthneeded to fulfill the divine destiny that God has in store for each of you, that His will may bedone by you and through you. I so bless you and bear my testimony that God lives! Jesus isthe Christ. This is His Church. He directs it through His prophets and apostles.
We love and sustain Thomas S. Monson as President of the Lord's Church today. Thistestimony and blessing I leave with you, my beloved brothers and sisters, with my sincereexpression of love for each one of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
[MUSIC - "WE'LL BRING THE WORLD HIS TRUTH"] (SINGING) "We have been born, as Nephi ofold, / To goodly parents who love the Lord. / We have been taught, and we understand, / That we must do as the Lord commands.
"We have been saved for these latter days / To build the kingdom in righteous ways. / Wehear the words our prophet declares: / "Let each who's worthy go forth and share."
"We know his plan, and we will prepare, / Increase our knowledge through study and prayer./ Daily we'll learn until we are called / To take the gospel to all the world. / We are as the army of Helaman. / We have been taught in our youth. / And we will be the Lord'smissionaries / To bring the world his truth. / We have been taught, and we understand, thatwe must do as the Lord commands."
Our dear Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this wonderful day that Thou gave all of usfrom all over the world to gather here in this historical place to listen to Thy Apostle. Wethank Thee for the gospel in our lives and for the freedom to choose. We ask Thee, Father, tobless us that we may be worthy of the Spirit to discern between right and wrong. We thankThee, Father, for the Atonement of Jesus Christ that frees us from sin through repentance.We thank Thee, Father, for the opportunity to study here. We ask Thee, Father, to bless us aswe learn and become leaders and builders of Thy kingdom wherever we may be. That wemay do so in righteousness. That we may have the courage, and that we may trust in Thee topursue our goals and dreams. That we may reach out to those in need, and we say all thesethings in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.