A Call to Gather to the Family and Fortify

Good evening Brothers and Sisters. I am grateful to be with you this evening. As you can  tell, “Temple Worship” is the theme for our portion of Stake Conference.

As a counselor in the Stake Presidency, I have been assigned to work with the youth. As  part of those responsibilities, President Lundgreen has asked that I speak about helping our  youth get to the temple. I pray that the Spirit may continue to be with us so we can learn  together.

Please turn with me to 3 Nephi chapter three. At this time during the history of the Nephites  the Gadianton Robbers were numerous and causing all kinds of havoc. The governor of the  Robbers, Giddianhi, writes a bold, audacious letter to the Chief Judge of the Nephites,  Lachoneus.

The Robbers and Giddianhi represented an “unprecedented crisis” for Lachoneus and the  people of God. Let’s pick up the story in 3 Nephi 3: 13 and 22.

“Yea, he [Lachoneus] sent a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather  together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their  substance, save it were their land, unto one place.” (3 Nephi 3:13)

And now skip down to verse 22.

“…the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth throughout all the face of the land, and  they had taken their horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and  their herds, and their grain, and all their substance, and did march forth by thousands and  by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed  that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies.”  (3 Nephi 3:22)

Note Brothers and Sisters, a proclamation from a prophet went to the people.

Now let’s go to verse nineteen.

“Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, some one  that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy; therefore, this Gidgiddoni was a great  prophet among them, as also was the chief judge.” (3 Nephi 3:19 italics added)

Prophets, therefore, were called and appointed to lead the people.

Next let’s jump back to verse fourteen.

“And he caused that fortifications should be built round about them, and the strength  thereof should be exceedingly great.” (3 Nephi 3:14)

And now to verse twenty-five.

“And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and  in one body, they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord  their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down  against them to battle.” (3 Nephi 3:25)

Now Brothers and Sisters, what are some of the things we learn from these scriptures?

It was an unprecedented, serious crisis the people of God faced.

  1. So severe were the circumstances that a proclamation was sent to everyone  instructing them to gather as one to face the enemy.
  2. Prophets were called to lead the people through the crisis.
  3. They proactively fortified their defenses.

In the spirit of “likening” the scriptures that we all might “profit” (1 Nephi 19:23) let’s  bridge the gap between “Them, there and then” and “us, here and now”.

The Nephites were in a serious crisis. I am sure we all agree that we are currently in an  “unprecedented crisis”. President Hinckley said the following:

“…the family appears to be falling apart. The traditional family is under heavy attack. I do  not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah.” (Worldwide  Leadership Training Meeting, 10 Jan. 2004, 20.)

Equal to Lachoneus’ response to the Nephite crisis, in our day a proclamation has been sent  to the entire world. This proclamation should have as much, maybe more, significance to us  as Lachoneus’ proclamation had for the Nephites. Listen closely.

“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their  children.”Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty  to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual  needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God  and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and  fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” (“The  Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.)

In Lachoneus’ proclamation, he asks for all to gather, as one body, to a geographical  location. Our proclamation asks us to gather to the family. To make our families the primary  focus of our lives.

And isn’t it wonderful that we too are led by prophets who have “the spirit of revelation and  also prophecy.” (3 Nephi 3: 19) I testify that we are indeed led by men who communicate  with the Lord; who are prophets of God.

And finally, the Nephites, as instructed by their prophets, built fortifications to defend their  families. We too must build!

It is these “fortifications” upon which I want to bring focus and emphasis.

We all know the basics – reading the scriptures, praying, going to church, and serving. They  are all very important and we should not only be doing them ourselves but be teaching our  families to do them.

But there are other “fortifications” our prophets have asked us to erect. In fact, these  fortifications, if put in place by the family, will save the family. They will give our youth the  best chance to choose the right, go to the Temple and go on missions.

Instead of a 50-50 chance of success, these fortifications will heavily increase the odds in  our families’ favor.

In our Stake Aaronic Priesthood – Young Women’s Committee, we affectionately call these  fortifications the “Four Pillars”.

They are:

  1. The Young Womens’ Personal Progress Program
  2. The Aaronic Priesthoods Duty to God and scouting program.
  3. The Primary’s Faith in God program.
  4. The Church’s seminary program.

(Click here for all the handbooks for these programs.)

Brothers and Sisters, don’t shut down and quit listening because I have mentioned  programs you have heard about before. They are prophet inspired programs!

Let me say here and I bare testimony that rolling our eyes and complaining about the youth  programs of the church is akin to those who rolled their eyes and complained about Zion’s  Camp. Some of them just didn’t get it. Do we?

If we want our youth to be trained and pointed to the temple, to make and keep sacred  covenants (note all the handbooks have the temple on the front!) and to come to Christ, we  must keep the commandments by:

  • Gathering to our families
  • Following the prophet
  • Building fortifications – following the programs of the church

The instructions to fortify our defenses are found in the “Guidebook for Parents and Leaders  of Youth.”

In it the First Presidency says,

“The books For the Strength of Youth; Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God; and  Young Women Personal Progress help young men and young women understand what  Heavenly Father wants them to do and be. The books provide a resource for you, as parents  and leaders, to help the youth prepare for the temple endowment, missions, temple  marriage, and parenthood.

We hope that every young man earns the Duty to God Award. We hope that every young  woman earns the Young Womanhood Recognition. The requirements for earning these  awards are challenging and rewarding.” (Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth, pages  1-2, italics added)

If you are not sure where to start, start with this guidebook. Each bishop has copies of this  book. The Lord, through His Prophets, will show you how to build up your families  fortifications.

The third pillar is the primary’s “Faith in God” program. Its purpose is stated in its  guidebook.

“The purpose of the Faith in God guidebooks is to help boys and girls ages 8 through 11 live  gospel principles, develop testimonies, build friendships, and prepare to receive the Aaronic  Priesthood or become a righteous young woman.” (“Faith in God”, page 17.)

And finally, seminary is our fourth pillar. I know that early morning seminary can be a battle  but it’s one that if we lose, the enemy absolutely gains the upper hand in the war.

When I speak of seminary, I mean more than just attendance. We are past the days of  saying, “well, at least they’re in the building.” That just isn’t good enough for this  unprecedented crisis.

Parents, PLEASE set the expectation with your youth to go to seminary to learn – not to be  babysat or entertained. They need to actively participate and fortify their own defenses.

For the most part, the youth in our stake are awesome. But, we have some work to do  brothers and sisters. And we can’t afford to NOT listen and heed the prophet’s direction.  Could you imagine if the Nephites had not heeded Lachoneus’ proclamation and  instructions? It would be a much different story.

Building these “four pillars”, these fortifications, brings the blessing and promises of  prophets.

I know there are obstacles, it isn’t easy. School, sports, jobs, cars, etc all present specific  challenges to building our fortifications. However, I’m reminded of the pioneers loading their  wagons to make the trek west. They had to choose what was really important and what  could be left behind.

Can’t you just hear the song that was sung for our Stake’s pageant, “What’s In Your  Wagon?” Do some of you remember that song? We need to ask, “What’s in our family’s  wagon?”

Do sports, school, jobs, video games, computers, TV fill our family’s wagon to overflowing?  Can we fit in our “fortifications” or the “four pillars”?

I know that the majority of us, my family included, could use some wagon reprioritizing and  reorganization.

Brothers and Sisters, we are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. We have received a  proclamation to gather to our families and build fortifications. These fortifications include  the programs of the church, revealed to us by prophets of God. Will we follow?

Can we do two things by next Stake Conference?

  1. Everyone of us (parents and grandparents) read the “Guidebook for Parents and  Leaders of Youth”
  2. Become “anxiously engaged” (D&C 58: 26-28) in the four pillars on behalf of your  family – your children, your grandchildren.

The Lord preserved the people of Lachoneus because of their obedience. We too will be  blessed as we obey the prophet. As we do, we will be able to say with the Nephites:

“And they did rejoice and cry again with one voice, saying: May the God of Abraham, and  the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, protect this people in righteousness, so long as they  shall call on the name of their God for protection.

And it came to pass that they did break forth, all as one, in singing, and praising their God  for the great thing which he had done for them, in preserving them from falling into the  hands of their enemies.

Yea, they did cry: Hosanna to the Most High God. And they did cry: Blessed be the name of  the Lord God Almighty, the Most High God.” (3 Nephi 3:30-32)

And so we will sing as our families come to Christ through the covenants of the temple.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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