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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Audience members stand to sing during 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.

In his priesthood session address, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve said that when he was a ninth grade student on a bus ride home from a baseball game he was exposed to language and behavior out of harmony with gospel standards. Afterward, his father, a professional artist, sat down with him and drew a picture of a knight — a warrior capable of defending castles and kingdoms.

"As he drew and read from the scriptures, I learned how to be a faithful priesthood holder — to protect and defend the kingdom of God," he said, quoting Paul's words from Ephesians 6:13-17 about putting on the armor of God.

"Brethren," he declared, "if we are faithful in the priesthood, this armor will be given to us as a gift from God. We need this armor!"

In past ages, when someone wanted trouble he generally had to go searching for it. "Today temptation finds you!" Elder Hales said. "Please remember that! Satan desires to have you, and sin lieth at the door. How will you resist his aggressive tactics? Put on the whole armor of God."

Elder Hales told of speaking at a devotional at BYU, where he invited the congregation to imagine that the Church was on one side of the podium and the world was just a foot or two away on the other. That represented, he said, the short distance between where the world was in relation to Church standards when he was in college. In an address 30 years later, he said the world had gone far afield.

"What we and our children and our grandchildren have to remember is that the Church will remain constant, it's right here [yet] the world will keep moving — that the gap is becoming wider and wider," he remarked in that BYU devotional address. "Therefore, be very careful. If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it's going, you will find that you are not where you should be."

Elder Hales admonished the priesthood congregation that observance of commandments, ordinances and covenants affords protection and prepares one to do God's work.

"When we obey the Word of Wisdom, our agency is protected from addictions like alcohol, drugs and tobacco," he said. "As we pay our tithing, study the scriptures, receive baptism and confirmation, live for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, partake of the sacrament worthily, obey the law of chastity, prepare for and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and make sacred temple covenants, we are prepared to serve."

In addition to progressing along that path, "use your agency to develop yourself personally," Elder Hales admonished. "As you discover your gifts and talents, remember that parents and mentors may assist you, but you must let the Spirit guide you. Choose and act for yourself. Be motivated from within. Make a plan for your life, including education or vocational training. Explore interests and skills. Work and become self-reliant. Set goals, overcome mistakes, gain experience and finish what you begin."