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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
President Thomas S. Monson shakes hands with President Boyd K. Packer as he and his Counselors Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf walk onto the stand prior to the start of the morning session of 183 annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Saturday, April 6, 2013 inside the Conference Center.

President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, began his Saturday morning talk by reciting a poem he has written over the past two decades. The poem is rich with the apostle's trademark humor and wisdom as he reflects on the realities and demands of age. Yet, ultimately, he decides he would not trade the vigor of youth for the knowledge granted by experience and time. He concludes his poem with his testimony of the Savior:

I know that He will come anew

With power and in glory.

I know I will see Him once again

At the end of my life's story.

I'll kneel before His wounded feet;

I'll feel His Spirit glow.

My whispering, quivering voice will say,

"Oh Lord, my God, I know."

President Packer then spoke of a pair of hungry snakes that once invaded the ivy that covers an outside wall of his home and along a backyard dog run, seemingly safe places. Witnessing the snakes preying on the finches caused him to consider the warnings spoken by the prophets. "We will not always be safe from the adversary's influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings."

A dangerous world threatens those things which are spiritual, President Packer cautioned.

"The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded."

Latter-day Saints recognize the importance of the family and strive to live in such a way that the adversary cannot steal into their homes. "We find safety and security for ourselves and our children by honoring the covenants we have made and living up to the ordinary acts of obedience required of the followers of Christ."

Isaiah promised that the "work of the righteous" shall be peace — and those that are prepared "shall not fear."

"The consummate power of the priesthood has been given to protect the home and its inhabitants," he said. "The father has the authority and responsibility to teach his children and to bless and provide for them the ordinances of the gospel and every other priesthood protection necessary. He is to demonstrate love and fidelity and honor to the mother so that their children can see that love."

Few things, he added, are more powerful that the faithful prayer of a righteous mother.

"Teach yourself and teach your families about the gift of the Holy Ghost and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You will do no greater eternal work than within the walls of your own home."

The scriptures define agency as a "moral agency" — which means one can choose between good and evil. President Packer said the adversary seeks to tempt people to misuse their agency. While the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, it is important to separate the sin from the sinner. President Packer used the example of the woman taken in adultery; the Lord forgave the woman of her sins and admonished her to "'sin no more. That is the spirit of His ministry."

"Tolerance is a virtue, but, like all virtues, when exaggerated it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the 'tolerance trap' so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the spiritual consequences that result from the violation of God's law of chastity."

President Packer encouraged members "to stay in condition" to respond to divine inspiration. "The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, to warn us."