President Monson notes growth of LDS Church during Saturday morning conference session

Published: Saturday, Oct. 5 2013 1:35 p.m. MDT

While it is natural to have questions ("the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding," he said), "one of the purposes of the church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith — even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty."

"If you expect to find perfect people here, you will be disappointed," President Uchtdorf said. "But if you seek the pure doctrine of Christ, the word of God 'which healeth the wounded soul' and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost, then here you will find them. In this age of waning faith — in this age when so many feel distanced from heaven's embrace — here you will fid a people who know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you. Come, join with us!"

Two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also spoke during the opening session, including Elder Robert D. Hales, who gave his listeners a behind-the-scenes view of general conference.

"These conference are always under the direction of the Lord, guided by his spirit," said Elder Hales. "As speakers, we are not assigned specific topics. Over weeks and months, often through sleepless nights, we wait upon the Lord. Through fasting, prayer, study and pondering, we learn the message that he wants us to give."

Elder Hales said the prayerful preparation for general conference should also apply to "all members of the church as we prepare to participate in ward, stake and general conferences."

"We study out in our minds what we need and desire from Heavenly Father," he said, "and we pray to understand and apply what we are taught."

Elder Hales explained that "Heavenly Father has provided the way" so that "97 percent of the church can hear these messages in their own tongue."

"Millions of members in 197 countries will watch this conference in 95 languages," he said. "In just two or three days, the messages will appear on LDS.org in English, and within one week they will begin to be available in 52 languages," and he urged members to use "the resources on the church's websites and mobile apps" to read, study and understand conference messages.

"This is (the Lord's) general conference," Elder Hales testified. "I promise you in his name that if you pray with sincere desire to hear your Heavenly Father's voice in the messages of his conference, you will discover that he has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you and to lead you home to his presence."

The other apostle who spoke during the Saturday morning session was Elder David A. Bednar, who shared with listeners "two important lessons I have learned about the law of tithing," which Mormons believe means paying to the church 10 percent of one's increase.

The first, he said, is that "as we live the law of tithing, we often receive significant but subtle blessings that are not always what we expect and easily can be overlooked."

"Sometimes we may ask God for success, and he gives us physical and mental stamina," Elder Bednar said. "We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental and spiritual difficulties, he may increase our resolve and reslience.

"As we are spiritually attentive and observant, we will be blessed with eyes that see more clearly, ears that hear more consistently and hearts that understand more fully the significance and subtlety of his ways, his thoughts and his blessings in our lives."

The second lesson about tithing that Elder Bednar spoke about is what he called "the simplicity of the Lord's way." He told of serving on the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes, which has the responsibility of overseeing and disbursing the tithing funds of the church.

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