Today. (8-12-2012) we had a very lovely multi-stake conference in which they reorganized 4 ysa stakes and formed a 5th one. The conference was attended by two members of the seventy
Von G. Keetch of the fifth quorum of the seventy and Elder C Scott Grow of the First Quorum of the Seventy. After the lengthy business of stake reorganization which was handled deftly and with great humor by Elder Keetch, they both addressed the assembled saints which gathered into the Smith Fieldhouse. I want to type up some of my notes because it’s unlikely that these talks were recorded or will otherwise be available. (my notes are certainly not perfect and not necessarily through, but I hope they will be enlightening to some nonetheless)
Elder Keetch began addressing the Youth saying that we often hear the cliche statement that we will be the leaders of the church in 10 or 20 years, he said that this is true, but that equally true is that the lord needs us RIGHT NOW as well. He said that we need to prepare ourselves spiritual and temporarily for the lord’s service.
He recalled a very amusing story about a young man who stormed into his office right after his calling as a stake president. The young man told Elder Keech about the girl of his dreams and lamented that the girl didn’t even notice him. He told Elder Keech that he had decided that the way to reach her was to increase his spirituality and that he would do so by doubling all of the things he already did. This young man proposed doubling his scripture study, the amount of prayers he made daily, temple attendance and his fast and other offerings. Elder Keech advised this sincere but somewhat misguided young man that instead of doubling those things he should build on his foundation and use the time to serve others selflessly. At first, the young name was disappointed at this advice, but he agreed to put it into place. One year later the man and his fiancée, the very girl, we’re in the stake presidents office seeking a recommend and elder Keech asked her what led her to have interest in her future husband and she responded ‘I noticed that he we always serving others and that’s exactly what I want in my future husband and fathe rid my children.”
Elder Keech spoke about one of his favorite chapters of scripture John 13. He said that of all the very many important things Christ could have taught his disciples in their last hours together, he chose to first serve them and then to speak about loving and serving one another.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you….
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
(New Testament, John, Chapter 13)
He mentioned that if Christ had only focused on himself he could have been the greatest scriptorion or scholar in the world, but he never could have completed his miraculous atonement. We too need to build a strong foundation if faith, study, prayer etc but we need to move on and serve others once that foundation is built.
Elder Keech then spoke about how we can be angels to those that we serve. He quoted the credit song from the movie Angels In The Outfield which talks about how there are angels among us. He testified that we are those Angela when we serve and invite us to step up to the challenge of ministering to our brothers and sisters!
I really enjoyed Elder Keech’s remarks and especially his call to action that I think resonated with the audience
Elder grow delivered a very powerful talk that gripped my attention throughout. At the very beginning he spoke about his experience as a young mission president in South America and the experience he has had watching his missionaries grow and develop in the past 20 years since that time. He said that amidst the triumph of those that are happy and active in the church ( filling a plethora of leadership callings) he is most pained by those that have been inactive. Even among that group of returned missionaries some are inactive and others even were excommunicated or spent time in prison. He said that he often wondered exactly what things one needs to do to stay strong and active despite the trials that come
Elder Grow emphasized that our religion is not a static one. We can not be complacent. We are always either moving closer to our father in heaven or to Satan. God’s plan is to help us become like him. Often we think that eternity is in the far future, but we are living in eternity right now as we speak.
Elder Grow proceeded to speak extensively about The Family: A Proclamation To The World as a roadmap or guideline given by our father to help us navigate life and become more like our savior Jesus Christ. He urged us to not just hang it on our walls but to engage in serious study of it.
Elder Grow then spoke about temptation and the importance of having the spirit with us in order to overcome the challenges that come our way. He emphasized that we should do nothing that could offend the spirit no matter how small and he emphasized that the promise that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear is predicated on our continued watchfulness and prayer
Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
He then went and talked about temple marriage and the challenges to the family which was an appropriate topic for this YSA group for sure.
He first told a really cute story about a young woman in a branch in Europe. She went to her priesthood leader and told him the challenges she faced: there were no eligible men in her area except for one guy and he was not attractive, socially awkward and generally strange. She didn’t know what to do. The priesthood leader told her that the role of a companion in a marriage and a relationship is to help our companions become all that they can be. Encouraged by this advice, this young sister was courted by the young man and helped him become a strong priesthood leader, husband and patriarch. Elder Grow encouraged each of us to ask ourselves the key question: what are we looking for? And emphasized that we are all not perfect but can be good enough. He urged us not to focus on external looks but inner spirituality.
Next, he spoke about the sealing ceremony and emphasized that marriage in the temple is not just about the husband and wife but it is a covenant with the Lord himself. He said that temple marriages bless families to a large extent because once sealed in the temple each becomes accountable before God for the result of the marriage. This accountability is a key layer of protection. He spoke of the triangle relationship with God at the head and that as we draw closer to him we will also draw closer to our companions.
He asked all the returned missionaries to stand and then asked all the young women who wanted to marry a returned missionary to stand and pretty much the whole audience stood for one or the other question which was a pretty powerful sight. He urged each and everyone of us to not settle for less than a temple marriage or even consider anything less!
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
One of the themes that Elder Grow returned to was the importance of establishing in courtship righteous traditions and discussing details of married life. He spoke about the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth and spoke sorrowfully that today’s members are having fewer children. Therefore, he urged couples to discuss this topic well before marriage to be on the same page. He promised us that if we commit to a temple marriage and to discussing these things before the marriage that we will be blessed to raise a righteous posterity!
Next, Elder Grow spoke of the importance of fidelity both emotionally and physically. He spoke about the dangers of pornography in depth and read the letter of a man who had lost everything due to pornography including his marriage and his temple ordinances. He emphasized that Satan is real- as real as heavenly father- and is set in destroying relationships. He memorable said. ” when Satan knocks and you open the door you may not see anyone but the door is then open and he will come”
Yet Elder Grow also offered a message of hope in overcoming these challenges. He spoke of a women who almost left her husband because of his struggles with pornography and then related that she found the strength to stay because she realized that he battle was not one between her and her husband but between them and Satan.
He also spoke briefly about the youth of the church and how many leave because of a perceived historical or intellectual concern, but he urged us to instead of worrying about what there may have done to worry about the well being of ones own soul.
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
Next, Elder Grow spoke to the future fathers and urged them to take the lead in family spiritual life and especially on such things as family scripture study and prayer. He also urged couples to discuss these things before marriage begins.
Finally, Elder Grow returned to the topic of the excommunicated man who had fallen into the sins of pornography and worse. Elder Grow had interviewed him before the restoration of his blessings and asked him why he thought that this time would be different. The man said that earlier in his life he had always thought of repentance as more of an action than a process and a change of heart and that he now understood that only the spirit can help us change. Elder Grow emphasized that the goal of life is NOT to repent as little as possible, but to repent of as much of our sins as possible.
He bore a really strong testimony as he did a year ago in conference about the atonement and it’s continuous impact on us. He emphasized that Christ suffered more than we could bear and that he bore not just the big sins but all of them!
Elder Grow bore powerful and moving testimony that President Monson is a prophet and that the apostles are truly called of God. He also emphasized that the family proclamation is inspired and that if we follow it it will lead us to the tree of life, to the savior himself and to exaltation!
I loved Elder Grow’s remarks and I received quite a bit of revelation about how to become a better boyfriend and future husband and father! I am so thankful for the lord and his servants and the powerful council they share with us!