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LDS leaders urge strong discipleship as refuge from world’s worries, spiritual dangers

By Mark Shenefelt - | Oct 2, 2022
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Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during the faith's semiannual conference on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
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Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks during the faith's semiannual conference on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

SALT LAKE CITY — Leaders urged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday to reject enticements of the modern world and more fully embrace, or return to, obedient and rewarding discipleship as the answer to life’s troubles.

At the conclusion of the two-day conference at the Conference Center, church President Russell M. Nelson announced plans to build 18 more temples around the world. Planned temples in the United States are at Jacksonville, Florida; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Prosper, Texas; Lone Mountain, Nevada; and Tacoma, Washington. Church officials say there are 168 operating temples and another 68 announced, 41 under construction and five undergoing renovation, including ones in Layton and Syracuse.

Nelson said he knows members “are accosted daily by an onslaught of sobering news,” and said, “I weep over your heartaches, disappointments and worries.” But he urged members to look forward to “so many wonderful things” that are ahead “through manifestations of the savior’s power.”

Several speakers in the Sunday morning and afternoon sessions spoke along similar themes, decrying social ills that pull people away from righteousness and pleading with people to stay on the faith’s covenant path.

Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stressed obedience, using the parable of the royal marriage feast. One feast attendee wore inappropriate attire and could not explain his transgression, both actions considered to be grave insults to the king, Bednar said. The king’s reaction was swift and decisive: “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Bednar related.

Bednar described the parable as illustrative of God’s call and an individual’s response to that call. “You and I ultimately can choose to be chosen through the righteous exercise of our moral agency,” he said. “Our hearts, our desires, our honoring of sacred gospel covenants and ordinances, our obedience to the commandments and, most importantly, the savior’s redeeming grace and mercy determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.”

He warned that the “commotion of the contemporary world” can be damaging. “We may be distracted from the eternal things that matter the most by making pleasure, prosperity, popularity and prominence our primary priorities,” he said. “Our short-term preoccupation with ‘the things of the world’ and the ‘honors of men’ may lead us to forfeit our spiritual birthright for far less than a mess of pottage.”

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the church’s First Presidency, urged members “to continue striving to qualify to return to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.” He added, “Wherever you are on the covenant path, you will find a struggle against the physical trials of mortality or the opposition of Satan.”

He said the faith’s commandments and covenants “are not tests to control you” but rather are gifts to lift the faithful toward exaltation.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said church leaders are cognizant of conditions besetting the physically disabled and mentally ill, those afflicted by poverty, and other ills. Also, he said, “I know many who wrestle with wrenching matters of identity, gender and sexuality. I weep for them, and I weep with them, knowing how significant the consequences of their decisions will be.”

Holland and other speakers also exhorted members to live lives of providing charity. “To be a follower of Jesus Christ one must sometimes carry a burden — your own or someone else’s — and go where sacrifice is required and suffering is inevitable,” Holland said.

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