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M. Russell Ballard
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Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions or investigating our history, doctrine, and practices. The Restoration began when Joseph Smith sought an answer to a sincere question.

When I have a question that I cannot answer, I often turn to those who can help me—such as trained scholars and historians. Blessed by the information they provide, I am better equipped to seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

To those of you with questions, I invite you to turn to your parents; auxiliary leaders; Church teachers, including seminary and institute; bishops; and stake presidents.

And to those of you offering answers I say, please do not simply brush the question off. Do not tell him or her to not worry about the question. Please do not doubt the person’s dedication to the Lord or His work. Instead, help the person find answers to their questions. We need to do better in responding to honest questions. Although we may not be able to answer every question about the cosmos or about our history, practices, or doctrine, we can provide many answers to those who are sincere. When we don’t know the answer, we can search to find answers together—a shared search that may bring us closer to each other and closer to God.

Of course, we may not always find satisfying answers to our questions. At such times, it’s good to remember that there is still a place in religion for faith. Sometimes we can learn and study and know; sometimes we have to believe and trust and hope.

When my wife and I attend various gatherings, occasionally young women come up to Barbara and say, “Oh, Sister Ballard, how did you ever marry an Apostle?” She sometimes will fire back, “He was not an Apostle when I married him!”

And she was right! We have grown and matured as a result of each other’s influence. This is a beautiful aspect of family life. The divine differences that exist between men and women are intentional and eternal.

Men and women have different gifts, different strengths, and different points of view and inclinations. That is one of the fundamental reasons why we need each other. It takes a man and a woman to create a family, and it takes men and women to carry out the work of the Lord in the Church. A husband and wife righteously working together complete each other. 

As an Apostle, I ask you a question: Do you have any personal quiet time? I have wondered if those who lived in the past had more opportunity than we do now to see, feel, and experience the presence of the Spirit in their lives.

Seemingly, as our world gets brighter, louder, and busier, we have a greater challenge feeling the Spirit in our lives. If your life is void of quiet time, would you begin tonight to seek for some?

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I invite you to go to the temple. Go as often as you can, and turn off your smartphones and put them away before you enter the temple grounds.

In all the ordinances in the house of the Lord, you will hear beautiful language, words, and promises given by the Lord to His children. It is the only place you can hear those beautiful, inspiring words.

If you do not qualify for a temple recommend right now, visit the temple grounds. Let me make a very important point in case you have never heard it before: nothing prevents you or anyone else from visiting the temple grounds. The Lord wants you to prepare yourself to be worthy of a temple recommend and come to the temple as soon as you can. Walking the grounds will plant in your heart a desire to get a recommend and attend the temple regularly.

I assure each of you that as you go to the temple or visit the temple grounds, you will walk on sacred, holy ground. If you choose, you can hear the still, small voice of the Spirit in the temple or on its sacred grounds in ways you never will at the mall, in restaurants, and in public places. In fact, you will find that the temple is a wonderful place to receive answers to your prayers.
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One of the most heart-wrenching stories in scripture occurred when “many of [the Lord’s] disciples” found it hard to accept His teachings and doctrine, and they “went back, and walked no more with him.”

As these disciples left, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?”

Peter responded: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

If any one of you is faltering in your faith, I ask, where will you go? What will you do? The decision to “walk no more” with Church members and the Lord’s chosen leaders will have a long-term impact that cannot always be seen right now. There may be some doctrine, some policy, some bit of history that puts you at odds with your faith, and you may feel that the only way to resolve that inner turmoil right now is to “walk no more” with the Saints.

If you live as long as I have, you will come to know that things have a way of resolving themselves. An inspired insight or revelation may shed new light on an issue. Remember, the Restoration is not an event, but it continues to unfold.

Never abandon the great truths revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Never stop reading, pondering, and applying the doctrine of Christ contained in the Book of Mormon.

Never fail to give equal time to the Lord through honest attempts to understand what the Lord has revealed. As my dear friend and former colleague Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, “We must not assume … that just because something is unexplainable by us, it is unexplainable.”

So before you make that spiritually perilous choice to leave, I encourage you to stop and think carefully before giving up whatever it was that brought you to your testimony of the restored Church of Jesus Christ in the first place. Stop and think about what you have felt here and why you felt it. Think about the times when the Holy Ghost has born witness to you of eternal truth.

I promise you in the name of the Lord that He will never abandon His Church and that He will never abandon any one of us. Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer, and His restored gospel will lead us safely back to the presence of our Heavenly Parents if we remain on the gospel path and follow in His footsteps.

Unfortunately, we are bound to face disappointment in life. It is inevitable. But we would do well to be prepared for disappointments. There may be health issues, family issues, or financial situations that you face.

But I want you to know that even when disappointment is in front of you, there is a secure way to handle it. And that is through turning your heart to your Heavenly Father and particularly to the Lord Jesus Christ. Stay close to the Savior. Whatever the problem, if we are sincere in our affection, devotion, and commitment to Him, He will help us carry our burdens.

In my own life, I have felt His caring arm around me. I could not go on the assignments I’ve been sent to and not know the warmth and reassurance that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and that the Savior, through the power of the Holy Ghost, stays in touch with us. You can expect that and live for the same thing in your own life. 

Pornography is a tool of the devil. He uses it to damage our spirituality and pull us away from God.

If any of you tamper with this evil, I ask you to stop. Use all the power you have been given as a child of God. Draw a clear line and stay on the right side—the Lord’s side—of that line!

None of us are perfect. God knows this. That is the very reason He provided an escape—the cleansing power of repentance. Please properly repent of this temptation and return to God.

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Everywhere I go, I carry a small picture of the Savior in my pocket. With His help, I can do anything He wants me to do. And so can you.

I shared this message with members on my recent trip to Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, and Estonia. I felt impressed that Jesus taught and focused on basic principles—such as baptism, the Holy Ghost, repentance, and enduring to the end. This is the foundation of all that we do as a Church, and it is the message we preach to the world.

The Savior let His Apostle Thomas feel His wounds. If you can imagine Him visiting you, I believe that He would do the same for you. But how blessed are those who do not see with their eyes, but believe! May our testimonies always burn in our bosoms. He calls to each of us, “Come, follow me, and I will bring you back to the Father.”
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Sister Ballard and I were taught by President Harold B. Lee 65 years ago when we got married that we should hold hands and say prayers at the end of each day. It’s a great blessing. Each evening, we hold hands and just thank our Father for the day.

It’s so wonderful for me to hear Barbara’s voice thank the Lord for watching over and protecting me for one more day. And I hope she feels the same way when I pray for her.

I have a dear friend who was dying of severe bone cancer. We served missions in Europe 65 years ago.

“Russ,” he said, “tell God to let me die.”

I replied, “I am not going to tell God to do anything, and neither are you! It doesn’t work that way. But I will give you a blessing to see what Father will have you do at this time.”

He said, “Well, if that is all you are going to do, then OK.” Shortly thereafter, he died.

My point in sharing this story is that we should never tell our Father what to do. I happen to believe that God must have a glorious sense of humor. People order Him around in prayers all the time! I often hear those prayers and think God must smile and think, “Someday they will understand.”

We should ask God for guidance and be patient. Move forward step by step in the plan of salvation and perform whatever He asks you to do. It is simple: have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His plan for you.
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