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Robert D. Hales
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Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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What does it mean to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ? A disciple is one who has been baptized and is willing to take upon him or her the name of the Savior and follow Him. A disciple strives to become as He is by keeping His commandments in mortality, much the same as an apprentice seeks to become like his master.

Many people hear the word “disciple” and think it means only “follower.” But genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.

Listen to the Apostle Peter’s invitation to become a disciple of the Savior: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

As we earnestly strive to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, these characteristics will be interwoven, added upon, and interactively strengthened in us. There will be no disparity between the kindness we show our enemies and the kindness we bestow on our friends. We will be as honest when no one is looking as when others are watching. We will be as devoted to God in the public square as we are in our private closet.
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There is nothing that we are enduring that Jesus does not understand, and He waits for us to go to our Heavenly Father in prayer.

I testify that if we will be obedient and if we are diligent, our prayers will be answered, our problems will diminish, our fears will dissipate, light will come upon us, the darkness of despair will be dispersed, and we will be close to the Lord and feel of His love and of the comfort of the Holy Ghost.

It is my prayer that we can find the faith, courage, and strength to endure to the end so that we may feel the joy of faithfully returning to the arms of our Heavenly Father.

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I testify that the Savior’s true posture toward us is the one posed by the outstretched arms of Thorvaldsen’s statue Christus. He continues to stretch forth His hands, beckoning, “Come, follow me.” We follow Him by loving and serving one another and keeping His commandments.

I bear my special witness that He lives and loves us with a perfect love. This is His Church. Thomas S. Monson is His prophet on the earth today. That we may love our Heavenly Father and His Son more, and suffer less, is my prayer.

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Some of our most impactful Christian service is given by holding family scripture study, family prayer, and family council meetings. For more than a hundred years, Church leaders have called us to set aside uninterrupted time each week. But many of us are still missing the blessings.

Family home evening is not a lecture from Mom and Dad. It is our family time to share simple spiritual concepts and experiences, to help our children learn to care and share, have fun together, bear testimony together, and grow and progress together. As we hold family home evening every week, our love for one another will grow stronger and we will suffer less.

Let us remember, the most important work we do in our families is through the power of the Holy Ghost. Whenever we raise our voices in anger, the Spirit leaves our companionships and families. When we speak in love, the Spirit can be with us. Let us remember that our children and grandchildren measure our love by how much devoted time we give them. Above all, don’t lose patience and don’t give up!

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was in the hospital recovering from open-heart surgery when he was visited by his five-year-old grandson. As the little boy looked into his grandfather’s eyes, he saw his pain. “Grandpa,” he asked, “if I loved you more, would you [hurt less]?” Today I ask a similar question of each of us: “If we love the Savior more, will we suffer less?”

When the Savior called His disciples to follow Him, they were living the law of Moses, including seeking “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” but the Savior came to fulfill that law with His Atonement. He taught a new doctrine: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

The disciples were taught to turn from the ways of the natural man to the loving and caring ways of the Savior by replacing contention with forgiveness, kindness, and compassion. The “new commandment” to “love one another” was not always easy to keep. When the disciples worried about associating with sinners and certain classes of people, the Savior patiently taught, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Or, as a Book of Mormon prophet explained, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

As the Savior’s latter-day disciples, we come unto Him by loving and serving God’s children. As we do, we may not be able to avoid tribulation, affliction, and suffering in the flesh, but we will suffer less spiritually. Even in our trials we can experience joy and peace.


At general conference, I spoke about Christian love and service. This naturally begins in the home.

Parents, you are called to be loving teachers and missionaries to your children and youth. They are your investigators. You bear the responsibility to help them become converted. In truth, all of us are seeking to be converted—which means being filled with our Savior’s love.

We tend to bemoan the state of the world—that schools are not teaching moral character. But there is much we can do. We can take advantage of the teaching moments in our own families—now. Don’t let them slip by. When an opportunity comes to share your thoughts about the gospel and the lessons of life, stop everything and sit down and talk with your children and grandchildren.

We should not worry that we are not professionally trained gospel teachers. No training class or manual is as helpful as personally studying our scriptures, praying, pondering, and seeking the guidance of the Spirit. The Spirit will lead you along. I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and your children.

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I express gratitude that “in my Gethsemane” and yours, we are not alone. He that watches over us “shall neither slumber nor sleep.” His angels here and beyond the veil are “round about [us], to bear [us] up.”

I bear my special witness that our Savior’s promise is true, for He says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

May we wait upon Him by pressing forward in faith, that we may say in our prayers, “Thy will be done,” and return to Him with honor.

I challenge each of us to follow our spiritual desires and come to ourselves. Let’s have a talk with ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Where do I stand on living my covenants?” We are on the right path when we can say, “I worthily partake of the sacrament each week, I am worthy to hold a temple recommend and go to the temple, and I sacrifice to serve and bless others.”

I share my special witness that God so loves each one of us “that he gave his only begotten Son” to atone for our sins. He knows us and waits for us, even when we are a great way off. As we act on our desires and come to ourselves, we will be “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” and welcomed home.

Sometimes the adversary tempts us with false ideas that we may confuse with the Holy Ghost.

I testify that faithfulness in obeying the commandments and keeping our covenants will protect us from being deceived. Through the Holy Ghost, we will be able to discern those false prophets who teach for doctrine the commandments of men.

The Holy Ghost is central to the Restoration. Regarding his boyhood reading of James 1:5, the Prophet Joseph recounted, “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.”

The power described by Joseph Smith was the influence of the Holy Ghost. As a result, Joseph went into a grove of trees near his home and knelt down to ask of God. The First Vision that followed was truly momentous and magnificent. But the path to that in-person visitation of the Father and the Son began with a prompting from the Holy Ghost to pray.

The revealed truths of the restored gospel came through the pattern of seeking in prayer and then receiving and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Consider these examples: translating the Book of Mormon; the restoration of the priesthood and its ordinances, beginning with baptism; and the organization of the Church—to name a few.

I testify that today, revelation from the Lord to the First Presidency and the Twelve comes according to this same sacred pattern. This is the same sacred pattern that allows personal revelation.
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