A guide back
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God loves His children and wants to guide them back into His presence. That was the unmistakable message to observers of the 181st Semiannual General Conference held Oct. 1-2. Heavenly Father has not left His children alone to wander in darkness. He has provided many things, especially inspired leadership, to help them.
Latter-day Saints understand the sacred nature of the Church's general conferences, held every six months. They understand how this is an opportunity to hear the Lord's anointed servants tell the world what He would have them know and do in troubled times.
This last conference provided plenty of inspired instruction, advice and comfort. Most of all, it was a resounding reaffirmation that the Lord has called a prophet, apostles and other General Authorities to lead His children today.
The messages from President Thomas S. Monson could not have been clearer. The world is growing in technological knowledge as modern wonders enhance our lives, but its moral compass is faltering.
Twice he touched on this theme. In the priesthood session he referenced a New York Times report on a study that found young people generally lacking in moral training. Most of them were unable to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, being unable to grasp the concept. The fallback position was that they felt it important to do whatever made them feel happy.
President Monson said no one should be in doubt as to what is or isn't moral. "We have been and continue to be taught God's laws," he said. "Despite what you see or hear elsewhere, these laws are unchanging."
Later, in the Sunday morning session, he returned to this theme, referencing a Wall Street Journal piece by Britain's chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, who noted that many are spending their "moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital."
"The message," Rabbi Sacks wrote, "is that morality is passé, conscience is for wimps, and the single overriding command is, 'Thou shalt not be found out.'"
To this, President Monson said, "Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The Ten Commandments are just that — commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel."
We will be better able to weather the storms of moral relevancy "if we have the gospel at our core and the love of the Savior in our hearts," he said. Prayer is a necessary part of being in the world but not of it, as is the inspiration Heavenly Father will give to us through prayer.
This is what the Lord wants the world today to understand. It is His instruction through His earthly spokesman. Members of the Church would do well to study and restudy these and all other talks from this general conference.
This conference also was noteworthy in that President Monson announced plans to construct six new temples, including one that will be built on the site of the Provo Tabernacle, which burned nearly to the ground last December.
Other temples will be built in Paris, France; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Durban, South Africa; Barranquilla, Colombia; and Star Valley, Wyoming.
The new Provo temple, the second one in that city, will no doubt come to symbolize how the Lord can help us rise above problems, disasters and mistakes in life, replacing a lost historical landmark with something even better. All the temples, however, are symbols of God's love for His children and of the Redemption. They are sanctuaries from the world, in which faithful members can perform saving ordinances for themselves and on behalf of the dead.
Temples are reminders that God has not left His children alone, but that He is available in abundant ways to help them through life.