The base line or starting point for reviewing our life and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ is baptism, he said
“The great debate across much of the world is about temporal day-to-day economic issues,” he noted. “Yet there is very little discussion about returning to Christlike principles focused on preparation to meet God and the condition of our spirits. We need to focus our lives and increase emphasis on spiritual matters.”
The reward of righteous families. “It should be noted that today no community is immune from evil, contention, and unrighteous temptations,” said Elder Cook.
Years ago, he said, Elder Harold B. Lee, then a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave specific advice to Church members worried about temptations in their communities.
Calling the counsel “simple and profound,” Elder Cook said said Elder Lee asked members to: “First, create Zion in our hearts and homes. Second, be a light to those among whom we live. Third, focus on the ordinances and principles taught in the temple.”
Elder Cook said in building Zion in their hearts and homes, individuals need to emphasize religious observance in the home by having daily family prayer and scripture study and holding weekly family home evening. “In this context we can teach and train our children. We do this with love and kindness, avoiding undue criticism of both our children and our spouses.”
However, regardless of where people live — and even if they do everything right — some children may make unwise choices that lead to forbidden paths.
“Accordingly, it is important to help our young people determine in advance what they will say or do when improper or immoral conduct is proposed.”
Elder Cook said he and his wife talked to their own children about accountability to the Lord. “We pointed out that we follow Christ’s example when we dress modestly, use clean and appropriate language, avoid pornography — which, by the way, now needs to be taught to even to Primary-age children so that they can have pure lives.”
Elder Cook said he believes Latter-day Saints can raise righteous children in almost any part of the world if they have a firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His gospel.
“My counsel is that we need to focus our energy on strengthening our families by talking, rejoicing, preaching and prophesying of Christ that we may enjoy the reward of righteous families so we can be eternal families.”
The reward of happiness. “Lucifer has created a counterfeit or illusion of happiness that is inconsistent with righteousness and will mislead us if we are not vigilant,” said Elder Cook.
Many of the problems across the world are occurring because the secular world has been pursuing an incorrect definition of happiness, he said.
Elder Cook quoted a study on success and happiness being conducted over the past 70 years.
“The study showed that college entrance scores and grade averages did not predict either success or happiness in later life,” he said. “One area where there was a high correlation was childhood family happiness.”
He said it was interesting — but not surprising — that the study was completely in line with what the scriptures and the Church have taught about the family. “The emphasis the Church has made on family home evening, family prayer, expressions of love, family togetherness and family traditions are the very kind of activities that the study indicated would produce happy, successful adults.”
Love, he said, is the key ingredient to happiness.
The reward of prospering in the land. “Let me assure you that prospering in the land is not defined by the size of your bank account,” said Elder Cook. “It has a much fuller meaning than that.”