Archive for the ‘Church talk’ Category

Mother’s Day 2010 sacrament meeting talk

As I considered what I could talk about that would be appropriate for Mother’s Day, I decided on these few things:

1. Help Mothers and motherly sisters in the ward feel the love Heavenly Father has for them for the divine work they do, and that they are appreciated by their families and by the ward.

2. Help educate those who support mothers on the magnitude of the motherly role, so their families can better appreciate and sustain them.

3. Prepare young women to be mothers.

Feel good

I’d like to start then, with a statement issued by the First Presidency:

“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.”

In James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 6:178

Nurturing children

When a woman chooses to become a mother, she chooses a course that will change her life permanently. My mom still spends time on the phone with my 32-year-old sister, and still raises my youngest sister at home who is just 13 who now is an “only child”. If my mom quit being a mom after my youngest sister reached 32 she would have been a mom for 51 years; but of course I know she’ll keep on serving her children for the rest of her life. She will be coming up from California with my sister to babysit our two kids while Cheryl and I take our first week-long vacation.

The March 1976 Ensign explains why motherhood is so important:

Motherhood is a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s work, a consecration and devotion to the rearing and fostering, the nurturing of body, mind, and spirit of those who kept their first estate and who came to this earth for their second estate to learn and be tested and to work toward godhood.

The role of mother, then, is to help those children to keep their second estate, so that they might have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.

Mar 1976 Ensign “Mothers Had Taught Them”

Elder N. Eldon Tanner in his article “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role” describes the impact mothers have on the family:

A mother has far greater influence on her children than anyone else, and she must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, her attitude, even her appearance and manner of dress affect the lives of her children and the whole family. It is while the child is in the home that he gains from his mother the attitudes, hopes, and beliefs that will determine the kind of life he will live and the contribution he will make to society.

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31

I wonder how many Eagle scouts there would be in the Boy Scouts of America, if it had not been for mothers. I know my mother was critical to keeping me on the track to earning my Eagle. How fitting it is that with each rank advancement in scouting, that traditionally the mother also receives a pin alongside her son’s badge.

Biological mothers are not the only women who can fulfill their divine calling to nurture children. Cheryl has expressed to me repeatedly how nice it is to be in a ward with so many sisters that she feels comfortable leaving our children with. Our children adore them, and these women nurture our children.

And girls, don’t underestimate your influence on your brothers and your sweethearts. As you live worthy of their love and respect, you can help greatly to determine that they will be clean and virtuous, successful and happy. Always remember that you can go much further on respect than on popularity. I was reading the other day of a report of a conversation between two young prisoners of war in Vietnam. One said, “I am sick of war, bombers, destruction, prison camps, and everything and everybody.”

“I feel much like that myself,” said the other. “But there is a girl back home who is praying that I will come back. She cares, and it really helps me endure all these atrocities.”

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31


Elder Holland said:

In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.

Elder Holland, Ensign, May 1997

If you as a mother feel overwhelmed by raising your children, Elder Ballard has something that may help you:

…even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it.

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10

I am grateful for mothers groups, which provide mothers with the much needed opportunities for mothers to chat with others at an adult level while children play together. An exchange of ideas on how to parent children often happens here and is often healthy to mother and family. Elder Ballard stresses that it’s important to keep advice from others in perspective though and not get caught up comparing yourself to other women, and to not push your advice on others too strongly:

There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10

While Heavenly Father and the brethren of the Church understand that circumstances sometimes require mothers to spend time outside the home, they also stress the importance and irreplaceability of mothers. President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it. Hired help cannot do it; kind relatives cannot do it. Only by mother, aided as much as may be by a loving father, brothers and sisters, and other relatives, can the full needed measure of watchful care be given.”

President Spencer W. Kimball

I think the balance between President Kimball’s statement and Elder Ballard’s is the motivation behind a mother’s choice to delegate a portion of her divinely appointed calling to someone else. President Kimball continues…

The mother who entrusts her child to the care of others that she may do nonmotherly work, whether for gold, for fame, for civic service should remember that in Proverbs we read, “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Prov. 29:15.)

President Spencer W. Kimball


Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to miss the joys of parents by getting lost in the work of it. She said:

The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less

Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11


I’d like to close with a quote from Elder Ballard:

There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman.

Elder Ballard, General Conference April 2010

I love and appreciate both mothers in my life: my mom and my wife.


Letter to Elder Holland:

One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn’t measure up or somehow wasn’t going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like “goo goo.” Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.

But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him. I am deeply moved that God finds His ultimate purpose and meaning in being a parent, even if some of His children make Him weep.

“It is this realization,” she says, “that I try to recall on those inevitably difficult days when all of this can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious,” she said, “and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered. I like that idea,” she concludes. “It gives me hope. If I can be right before my Father in Heaven, perhaps His guidance to our children can be unimpeded. Maybe then it can be His work and His glory in a very literal sense.” 7

Elder Holland, Ensign, May 1997

To Young Men

Elder Nelson said:

You young men need to know that you can hardly achieve your highest potential without the influence of good women, particularly your mother and, in a few years, a good wife. Learn now to show respect and gratitude. Remember that your mother is your mother. She should not need to issue orders. Her wish, her hope, her hint should provide direction that you would honor. Thank her and express your love for her. And if she is struggling to rear you without your father, you have a double duty to honor her.

Ensign, May 1999

Chastity of Women

President Spencer W. Kimball stressed the importance of the chastity of women because it impacts their role as a mother:

Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Could there be a more sacred trust than to be a trustee for honorable, well-born, well-developed children? We affirm the Church’s strong, unalterable stand against innovations or any unchastity or breaking of the laws that could possibly reflect in the lives of the children.

President Spencer W. Kimball

Consider this quote and how applicable it is:

It is of great concern to all who understand this glorious concept that Satan and his cohorts are using scientific arguments and nefarious propaganda to lure women away from their primary responsibilities as wives, mothers, and homemakers. We hear so much about emancipation, independence, sexual liberation, birth control, abortion, and other insidious propaganda belittling the role of motherhood, all of which is Satan’s way of destroying woman, the home, and the family—the basic unit of society.

Some effective tools include the use of radio, television, and magazines where pornography abounds and where women are being debased and disgracefully used as sex symbols—sex-ploited, some call it. Immodest dress, drugs, and alcohol daily take a tremendous toll through the destruction of virtue and chastity and even lives. With modern electronic devices of communication and speedy transportation, much more is being heard throughout the world by many more people than would be possible otherwise, and it is having its degrading influence and effect.

N. Eldon Tanner, “No Greater Honor: The Woman’s Role,” New Era, Jan 1977, 31

When do you think this was said? … This quote was by N. Eldon Tanner—in 1977! If it was true then, how much more true must it be today?

The King of Kings offers us TRUE freedom

I moved here from New Zealand when I was 17, I have recently completed my paper work and will soon have the privilege of taking the oath that comes with citizenship. The Statue of Liberty has traditionally been the greeter to immigrants. She has become an image of hope and freedom to many an immigrant who has passed by her. Her message is one of compassion:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

For centuries people have answered that call, and come seeking greater opportunity, a better job, a home of their own, land to grow crops, religious freedom and prosperity. For many of these wanderers, they have paid a great price for this promise of a better life, they have traveled great distances, overcome disease and rough seas, and have finally found shelter and respite on the shores of Ellis Island.

Even though I did not have to endure a stormy ocean voyage or the persecution that sparks immigration for some, I too know the joy of coming to this country from a foreign land and the exciting prospect of becoming a Citizen of the United States.

American society is made up of native born citizens and immigrants. In the Church some of us have been members of this Gospel all our lives, we were born into the Church. Others were found by the missionaries and have come into the fold in that way. All of us however have to become spiritually reborn if we are to truly be followers of Christ and be called “His people”. As I thought about what it means to become spiritually reborn, I recalled the process to becoming a citizen. Allow me to take it step by step and help you understand that each one of us is eligible and can attain this wonderful gift of belonging to the fold of Christ.

I want so much to be a part of the American People. My process of naturalization began and continues to be fueled by this great desire I have. Faith is a lot more than that, but it sure begins with a desire. If we allow “the desire to work within us” it becomes faith. Once we have faith, it continues to increase as we experiment upon the word and practice obedience. This is the first step and as the fourth article of faith states the first principle of the Gospel. It is important to realize that faith is not “something we get and then keep it is something to be strengthened and nurtured much like a testimony. President Faust said that “To be born again means that we must exercise a faith that does not waver and is not easily distracted.”

Just as my application for citizenship began with me detailing my past, and the kind of moral decisions and character I have had, repentance is an essential step in the process to being spiritually reborn. Just like faith, this principle is not just something we practice once, right before we are baptized. It requires constant attention and vigilance. Just because we are spiritually reborn does not mean we will not make mistakes, but it does mean we will want to continually be repenting and experiencing the blessing of the Atonement so that we can be always worthy of the spirit.

The citizenship oath includes the words: I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen. These should not be difficult words to promise if one truly desires to be a citizen of this country. How often do we pick and choose the things we will and will not give up in order to give our whole souls to God. In fact, HOW CAN WE profess to be a disciple of Christ when we still give place in our hearts to anything that detracts us from obedience to his commandments. There are so many distractions in this world, not all of them inherently evil either, but we all have things that we like just a little too much to get rid of. We are told that the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. This does not mean that we are expected to be perfect, but we should be doing all we can to be as close to it as possible.

I recently heard of a painting in which the artist painted an old man loaded up with packages and bags of every kind. He has maps and books under his arms and is barely able to move with this heavy load. Above his head is the iron rod…he sees it, and wants so badly to be able to reach it, but cannot seem to part with the things that are keeping him from being able to reach up and grasp hold of it. We can see how silly and seemingly easy his decision should be, however, we sometimes give priority to things in this life that cannot bring us peace and joy.

Alma 5 suggests that the things we should be giving up are pride, envy, mocking of one another, turning our backs from the poor and needy, setting our hearts on the vain things of this world among other things. We know, many of us from experience, that these things, are not only part of the natural man and therefore an “enemy to God” but are also an enemy to our happiness. As we become as a little child and submit to the will of our Father in Heaven, he looses the bands of our captivity and we become truly free. When we align our will with His we can realize all the blessings he has in store for us and we can be more open to bless others lives too.

In order to prepare for citizenship I have to study about 100 questions, present official documents, fill out paperwork and write a hefty check to cover…expenses…? The Lord requires something much different. Something we ALL can give no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or where we’ve been. He requires a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Baptism is the ordinance that opens the gate for our entrance into the kingdom of God. It is a cleansing of our bodies and our spirits and is perhaps what we most often think about when we hear the term, spiritual rebirth. I remember going to a baptism of an elderly lady a few years ago. When she came up out of the water, she looked up at the witnesses of this ordinance and said “oh, THANKYOU!” it really struck me that here she was, near the end of her mortal journey, being in a real sense “re born” and how grateful she was for that. Do we take it for granted, this great blessing of baptism?

When I take my oath of citizenship I promise that I will:

  • Support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies
  • Bear true faith and allegiance to the same and that I will ;
  • Bear arms on behalf of the United States and perform noncombatant service

When we are baptized we make promises to:

  • Obey the commandments and keep any covenants we have made.
  • Take upon ourselves the name of Christ and to always remember Him.
  • Be always ready and willing to stand for and to defend the truth.

Elder Theodore M. Burton said of this taking of the name of Christ upon us as part of Spiritual rebirth:

If we truly understand the full stature of the name by which we then are called, we will live different lives. No longer will we do less than our best in our work or at school. No longer will we be dishonest in paying our bills or in the treatment of our family members, nor will we take unfair advantage of anyone in any way. Our word will be as binding on us as our bond. No longer will we be unkind to our associates or be immoral or selfish in any way, either secretly or openly. We will do nothing to bring dishonor or shame to that holy name we carry as children of Jesus Christ. We will respect and honor our covenant Father, Jesus Christ, and be righteously jealous and protective of the holy name we bear. We will judge everything we do on the basis of how it might reflect on Him whose name we carry, not only on our lips but in our very hearts.

A scripture in Mosiah describes this commitment:

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.

When I become American others will look to me as an example of what “an American” does and says. When I travel abroad without meaning to I will be an ambassador. Are there things that we are doing that are not in line with what a disciple of Christ should be doing? We need to be good examples of what we believe or we make ourselves into hypocrites. Being spiritually reborn changes not just our outward expressions of a commitment we’ve made, but we ourselves feel different, we are changed.

Following our baptism we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost as a guide and companion to us. I testify that having the Holy Ghost with us is so valuable. I have felt the power of the Spirit in my own life when I have been in danger several times with regard to dating, without knowing it myself, I was approached by someone who would not value and respect me and the quiet yet firm prompting of the Holy Ghost were a shield and protection.

Having the Holy Ghost with us will also prompt us to lift and help others and steer us in the paths of others we can bless. It is through doing the work of the Savior that we truly come to know the love he has for each of us.

President Faust says:

Those who take upon themselves His work shall be twice born, renewed in heart and in spirit. It is the message that they who drink of the water that the Master gives them “shall never thirst,” but that this water may be in them “a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).  They who take upon themselves the burdens of others shall find unspeakable joy. This great transcending happiness is available to all, even the most humble and forlorn. It is within the grasp of all. We reach the Creator through His children. Whoso gives a cup of water to the thirsting gives it to the Savior, and whoso receives that water receives the infinite Father who sent Him.

So, if we have exercised faith, repented, been baptized, and received the Holy Ghost, how can we know whether we have been spiritually reborn – what does that feel like and how can we measure our progress? Elder Oaks answers this with examples from the scriptures:

After King Benjamin’s great sermon, many of his hearers cried out that the Spirit of the Lord “has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). If we are losing our desire to do evil, we are progressing toward our heavenly goal.

The Apostle Paul said that persons who have received the Spirit of God “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). I understand this to mean that persons who are proceeding toward the needed conversion are beginning to see things as our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, see them. They are hearing His voice instead of the voice of the world, and they are doing things in His way instead of by the ways of the world. End Quote.

As we work toward our salvation, trying harder each day to be better, we can get ever closer to Christ.

Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters (Mosiah 5:7).

Elder Bednar comments saying:

The spiritual rebirth described in this verse typically does not occur quickly or all at once; it is an ongoing process—not a single event. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. This phase of the transformation process requires time, persistence, and patience.

Whether we are born into the Gospel, or have to join the Church as an adult, all of us need to become spiritually reborn and truly converted.

President Romney says of this:

Membership in the Church and conversion are not necessarily synonymous. Stated simply, true conversion is the fruit of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience. Faith comes by hearing the word of God and responding to it. You will receive from the Holy Ghost a confirming witness of things you accept on faith by willingly doing them. You will be led to repent of errors resulting from wrong things done or right things not done. As a consequence, your capacity to consistently obey will be strengthened. This cycle of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience will lead you to greater conversion with its attendant blessings. True conversion will strengthen your capacity to do what you know you should do, when you should do it, regardless of the circumstances.

All of us are familiar with the great freedoms available to citizens of this nation, they are included and protected by the Constitution. We have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press the list goes on.

Christ offers those who follow him a freedom far greater than any of these. Some of these blessings are described in Alma chapter 5. They include freedom from the bondage of sin which weighs us down with feelings of inadequacy and guilt. We experience that “mighty change” in our hearts, we have the companionship of the Holy Ghost which testifies of truth and brings all things to our remembrance. We have an assurance of our divine nature as sons and daughters of God and are promised eternal life and exaltation if we are “faithful until the end.” What greater gifts can we hope for? What is not worth giving up for all that? The benefits of spiritual rebirth are lasting and eternal and bring a happiness the world cannot duplicate.

When we reach the end of this life, it will not matter where we have lived, what our house looked like, what job we had or how popular we were. What WILL matter is what kind of father, mother, sister, brother and friend we were, how we treated our neighbors and how we remained faithful to our covenants. In essence, our goal is to become like Christ. That is the point of our journey here in mortality.

Christ is the head of this Church, our Good Shepherd and the keeper of the gate that leads to our Father in Heaven and eternal life in His presence. His message has always been one of compassion. He welcomes all people regardless of situation or past, who truly repent and come unto Him. Alma 5 instructs that the Gospel be taught to everyone that dwelleth in the land, the old and the young, both bond and free, yea I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation, [that all these] must repent and be born again.”

The Savior says to each one of us “come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”

I testify that true conversion comes as we are tested, and as we cross the rough seas of life, but as we keep our eyes fixed on the Savior he will guide us home and give us the rest and respite we are seeking. We will be His and through the atonement we will inherit all the Father hath.

When one chooses to follow Christ, one chooses to be changed

The following is a talk I gave in church on September 23, 2007.

The need for change

Because we are born the natural man, we must be born again. We must become childlike to return to live with our Heavenly Father. But we are naturally carnal, sensual and devilish. Christ’s atonement gives us the power to make the transition from the natural man to a Christ-like child of God over the course of our entire life.

A portion of the light of Christ is in every one of God’s children. Moroni 7:16 tells us “…the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil…” If you’re thinking about yourself or perhaps a friend not of our faith and thinking “I don’t think he/she is carnal and devilish”, then you recognize the light of Christ in that individual.

But it is not enough to have the light of Christ in our lives sufficient to judge between good and evil. We must pursue good and bring additional light into our lives. Moroni goes on to say:

  18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; …

  19 … search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

It is not enough to stop sinning. Our hearts must be pure, we must keep all the commandments:

Mosiah 27
  25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
  26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

D&C 3
  4 For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.

When we need to change

When are we planning to change? Are we subconsciously just hoping that in the resurrection we will look at ourselves and notice “Hey! I’m suddenly Christ-like!”? Amulek taught the people of Ammonihah when and how this change really needs to take place:

Alma 34
  31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
  32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
  33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
  34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

The change must happen here, in our lives right now.

As Robert Louis Stevenson has said: “You cannot run away from a weakness; you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?”

Who changes us

It is vitally important that we realize who will change us. We cannot change ourselves. Filth cannot clean filth. It takes someone who is pure to make someone else pure.

President Benson said:

The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.

Source: July 1989 Ensign – Born of God

It is our nature that must change. Repentance throughout our lives will only change our nature if we let Christ change us.

President McKay said:

“You do change human nature, your own human nature, if you surrender it to Christ. Human nature has been changed in the past. Human nature must be changed on an enormous scale in the future, unless the world is to be drowned in its own blood. And only Christ can change it.”

(Beverly Nichols, in David O. McKay, Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1971, p. 23.) Source: July 1989 Ensign – Born of God

By acknowledging our dependence on God for this change of heart, we are on the path to the change in our human nature that we so desperately need.

Learning to accept the change

“When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed.”

President Benson

Although Christ does the changing, effort is required on our part.

Corrie Ten Boom’s story

A true story from Corrie Ten Boom illustrates this:

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavy-set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. …

And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent. …

"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard in there." No, he did not remember me.

"But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, …" his hand came out, … "will you forgive me?"

And I stood there — I whose sins had every day to be forgiven — and could not. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." …

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. "Jesus, help me!" I prayed silently. "I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling."

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

"I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.

Copyright © 1972 by Guideposts, Carmel, New York 10512. Source: PBS

My first missionary companion

Toward the end of our time together, my missionary trainer and I got into some kind of argument. I closed myself up in the bedroom to fume over it. This comes from my journal:

I was so angry. I did not want to leave my bedroom. But at the same time, I knew that being angry was not what I was supposed to be. … But I was so angry I could not think straight. I prayed, “Father, I am so angry. I cannot understand what just happened. But though I know I should love my companion, I cannot let go of this anger by myself. Please help me.” I honestly would have taken the whole day to get over this incident. After my prayer, my anger just vanished in under 5 minutes. It truly was a miracle, because I know I could not have given up my anger that fast.

I had to ask for help to change, and when the change came, I had to accept it. Even after my anger was taken away, it was hard for me to accept it because it meant I had to swallow my pride and walk outside the bedroom and make amends with my companion. It took me two more hours to be willing to accept the gift God gave me that day and get back to the work I was supposed to be doing.

Letting the change happen

Letting the change happen, I believe, would be easy if we were not so prideful. President Benson said that “God can make a lot more out of our lives than we can,” so by accepting God’s help we become the best we can be.

When poisonous serpents bit the Israelites in the wilderness, Moses erected a brazen serpent that people merely had to look at to be healed. Nephi, the son of Lehi writes:

1 Nephi 17

  41 … the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

Some of these Israelites would die before humbling themselves to believe that merely looking up could save them. The prophet Nephi (the one who was alive when Christ came) taught his neighbors about the symbolism of what Moses did:

Helaman 8

  14 Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.

  15 And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.

If we look to Christ through faith and obedience to his commandments, our hearts will change. If we welcome that change and continue on the path we will be ready to greet Him at that great and last day.

The results of change

There are many blessings from this change in our nature while we are still in this life. When we are truly born of God, we will be aware of and enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

President David O. McKay said:

No man can sincerely resolve to apply to his daily life the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth without sensing a change in his own nature. The phrase ‘born again’ has a deeper significance than many people attach to it. This changed feeling may be indescribable, but it is real.

Source: July 1989 Ensign – Born of God

Desire for Service

One of the ways we are changed is in our desire for service. God’s work and glory is to serve others in the highest possible way: leading them to eternal life. Our desire for service must ultimately come to match His if we are to live with Him someday. As we continue in faith and obedience, God will change our nature; and we must be willing to accept and embrace that change when it comes.

President Faust:

This ministering to others must not always be to our own. I am reminded of a time when, as a young missionary, I was stricken with yellow jaundice, which was known to us as “missionaries’ disease.” I was so deathly sick, I was afraid I would not die. A good woman, not of our faith, nursed me back to health. I felt she literally saved my life. That surpassing service to me was unpurchased, for she accepted nothing in return. I am looking forward to seeing her in another world if I should be worthy to go where she is.

If performed in the right spirit, there is no higher worship than the unpurchased service to another soul of whatever faith, belief, or social stratum. The Savior of the world said it simply, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).

Source: June 1998 Ensign – A Second Birth

Closing remarks

I’d like to quote to you one of my favorite scriptures.

D&C 50:24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

I love this because it captures the idea that there is light in me, and that light will seek out more light, and I become filled with joy and love as I progress through this life. I am reminded of my potential as a child of God.


I leave you with my testimony that I know the Savior lives, that he loves us, and that he wants to be a part of our lives. I testify that he can and does change human nature as much as we’ll let him. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that Gordon B. Hinckley is a true prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Additional Resources

May 2007 Ensign, page 19 – Ye Must Be Born Again

Book of Mormon, Alma Chapter 5

May 1975 Ensign, page 4 – Birth

Nov. 2000 Ensign, page 32 – The Challenge to Become

May 2002 Ensign, page 24 – Full Conversion Brings Happiness

Nov 1984 Ensign – Why Do We Serve

Alma 5
28 Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.
29 Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? I say unto you that such an one is not prepared; and I would that he should prepare quickly, for the hour is close at hand, and he knoweth not when the time shall come; for such an one is not found guiltless.

President Benson:

Those who had been born of God after hearing King Benjamin’s address had a mighty change in their hearts. They had “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”

Source: July 1989 Ensign, page 2 – Born of God

More on the results of this change

President Marion G. Romney said:

Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel. A faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.

Source: Full Conversion Brings Happiness