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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
President Thomas S. Monson waves to the congregation after a session Sunday of the 179th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City.

LDS Church members were encouraged Sunday during the final day of the 179th Semiannual General Conference to reach out and help others each day and also to heed God's words and commandments to survive this time of worldly permissiveness.

"Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and, figuratively, lose their life, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish — and in effect save their life," church President Thomas S. Monson said during Sunday morning's conference session.

He stressed that Latter-day Saints should step back from the busyness of their lives and take a good look at their doings. "We may find that we have immersed ourselves in the 'thick of thin things,' " he said.

"In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things."

President Monson said we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, encouragement, support, comfort or kindness — be they family members, friends, acquaintances or strangers.

"We are the Lord's hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift his children. He is dependent upon each of us."

President Monson closed conference Sunday afternoon by advising members how to survive today's permissive times.

"My brothers and sisters, he has prepared us. If we heed his words and live the commandments, we will survive this time of permissiveness and wickedness — a time which can be compared with the waves and the winds and the floods that can destroy. He is ever mindful of us. He loves us and will bless us as we do what is right."

Other highlights:

Morning session:

President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, challenged church members to become better examples by being more like Jesus Christ.

"Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others. There is no surprise in that, since the Lord proclaimed that as the first and great commandment. It is love of God that will lead us to keep his commandments. And love of others is at heart of our capacity to obey him."

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve spotlighted immigrant shipbuilders from Norway who constructed the roof of the Manti Temple. He said their example teaches us two important lessons:

1. Of using the principles and truths of the past to help us face the future; and 2. We learn from their desire to share what they knew with others to help build the kingdom of God."

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve said, "Every Latter-day Saint may merit personal revelation. The invitation to ask, seek and knock for divine direction exists because God lives and Jesus is the living Christ. It exists because this is his living church."

Presiding Bishop David H. Burton spoke on "Let virtue garnish thy thoughts." He said, "Now is the time for us to join in rescuing and preserving that which is virtuous, lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy."

Afternoon session:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve focused on "Pressing Forward and Holding Fast" to avoid spiritual destruction, He said one cannot come to full faith until they embrace the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ of whom it testifies. He said the Book of Mormon provides safety for the soul.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve elaborated on the sacred trust of stewardship.

"My hope is that each of us will review individually and as families the stewardships for which we have responsibility and accountability."

Moral discipline was the topic of Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and he said prayerfully considering the messages we have learned in general conference can fortify us in what we need to walk uprightly before the Lord.

Elder Joseph W. Sitati of the Seventy said a promising "celestial culture" is developing in some households in his home continent of Africa, thanks to the blooming of the gospel there.

"As a result, many are able to break free from the shackles of traditions that restrict the exercise of their agency," he said.

He noted that three of his children were recently married in the temple without the encumbrance of dowry, a traditional practice in his homeland that drives many men and women to live together without any commitment to each other.

Morning conferencegoers arrived during a heavy rainstorm. After a midday break, rain fell again in the afternoon and temperatures were only in the 50s.

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com