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Elder Paul B. Pieper: 'To hold sacred'

"Moses, Alma and Joseph Smith's lives were all changed by encounters with the divine," Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy said during the Sunday afternoon session of general conference. "These experiences strengthened them to remain faithful to the Lord and His work throughout their lives, despite overwhelming opposition and subsequent difficult trials.

Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy
Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

"Our experiences with the divine may not be as direct or dramatic, nor our challenges as daunting. However, as with the prophets, our strength to endure faithfully depends upon recognizing, remembering and holding sacred that which we receive from above."

It is through seeking answers from God that individuals are able to feel the still, small voice whisper to their spirits, Elder Pieper said.

"The feelings — these impressions — are so natural and so subtle that we may overlook them or attribute them to reason or intuition," he said. "These individual messages testify of God's personal love and concern for each of His children and their personal mortal missions."

Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy
Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Daily reflection upon and recording the impressions that come from the Spirit serves the dual purpose of helping individuals recognize their personal encounters with the divine, and to preserve them for themselves and their posterity, he said.

"Recording them is also a formal recognition and acknowledgement of our gratitude to God, ..." he said. "Light and knowledge from heaven is sacred. It is sacred because Heaven is its source."

As individuals exercise agency and choose to accept and hold sacred impressions from God, they are able to recognize it as light and knowledge sent from heaven.

"But, there is an opposition in all things," Elder Pieper said. "The opposite of sacred is profane or secular — that which is temporal or worldly. The worldly constantly competes with the sacred for our attention and priorities. Knowledge of the secular is essential for daily living. The Lord instructs us to seek learning and wisdom, to study and learn out of the best books, and to become acquainted with languages, tongues and people. Therefore, the choice to place the sacred above the secular is one of relative priority, not exclusivity."

But, just as in ancient times, there is a battle for priority between the sacred and the secular in each human heart, he said.

"Secular voices are growing in volume and intensity," he noted. "They increasingly urge believers to abandon beliefs the world considers inrrational and unreasonable. Because we see through a 'glass darkly' and do not know the 'meaning of all things,' at times we may feel vulnerable and in need of greater spiritual assurances."

In those cases, individuals must rely on and hold sacred the things that had already been received from God.

"The sacred cannot be selectively surrendered," Elder Pieper said. "Those who choose to abandon even one sacred thing will have their minds darkened and, unless they repent, the light they have shall be taken from them. Unanchored by the sacred, they will find themselves morally adrift on a secular sea. In contrast, those who hold sacred things sacred receive promises."

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