For those new members in our ward who may not know me, I’m Brynn Hallsted. Soon I’ll be referred to as “Sister Hallsted” because in case you didn’t know, I am going on a mission to Utica New York in 17 days. I’ve always wanted a musical number for my farewell and my dream came true because today I got the whole primary to sing for us! Even though it’s kind of different for a farewell, I’m glad that I get to be up here with them because I honestly feel more comfortable with my Primary Kids than I do in Relief Society :) So, for my talk I was given the topic of Following the counsel of the prophet.
-One thing that signifies our church from the rest is that we know we have a living prophet who speaks to us. In Preach My Gospel it reads:
“One important way that God shows His love for us is by calling prophets; who are given the priesthood-the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Prophets learn the gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation. They in turn teach the gospel to others and testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer…In essence the prophet acts as a steward to oversee the household of God here on earth.”
We are so honored to have our prophet speak to us next week. I think it’s important that we all begin to prepare now to hear the prophet speak to us at General Conference this weekend.
-When I was a little kid I LOVED General Conference. In Junior High I had countdowns on my phone till the next Conference Weekend. To me, General Conference meant my mom makes german pancakes, that I’d get a lot of drawing practice done as I drew every speaker’s face and I’d anxiously wait for one of Elder Uchtdorf’s “feel-good” talks. Thankfully I’ve grown up a little and Conference means so much more! But I still love those same things about General Conference :)
A lot of times I think we take for granted how easily we are able to listen to our prophet and his apostles speak to us. There are still people who have to travel far to be able to listen to the Prophet and we usually don’t have to sacrifice much more than our time. I am grateful every Conference Weekend that I don’t even have to get out of my pajamas to hear the prophet speak to the world! There are many ways to hear the words of the prophet and I think we should make it known that one of those ways is only a few clicks away! We are so lucky to have the technology that we have these days, but we all need to ask ourselves if we’re taking full advantage of it.
Today, I kind of just want to remind everyone how lucky we are to be living on this earth today. We were chosen to be part of a dispensation where a prophet of God is alive on the earth. We have a man who God has chosen to hold the keys of the Priesthood and Christ’s gospel has once again been restored on the earth. If you have nothing else in your life to be happy about, we ALL can at least be grateful for that.
The prophet’s that have presided over the church in what we know to be the last dispensation were probably some of the strongest, most faithful men in the pre-earth life. In a CES fireside, Elder William R. Walker gave a talk on the Prophet’s life, he said,”This is the Lord’s Church. He plans the lives of these great Apostles, and He places them in the position to lead His Church. It is a fact that one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Lord’s Church is that He has apostles and prophets on the earth today. There are no coincidences, there are no mistakes, and there are no campaigns. When it comes to succession in the Presidency of the Lord’s Church, the Lord is in charge, and surely His will is done.”
I know that President Monson has been our prophet these past 6 years for a reason and that it was Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning. The people on the earth today are more wicked than ever; the prophets of old had prophesied the great wickedness that would be on the earth during this time for centuries. …..God would only send down his strongest people to lead the church in the last days. He would only give us the wisest men to strengthen us as we resist temptations from the world. And He would only place, on the earth, the most faithful prophets to prepare the world for the coming of the Savior.
We are SO super blessed to be able to hear from them so often!
It is so important that we learn about President Monson, his apostles and the prophets we have had in the past. It’s good to read back on past general conference talks and devotionals, but it’s also a good idea to learn about the lives of the prophets.
-Following the prophet also means to follow the example of the prophet! In Elder Walker’s talk, he talks of how much his love has grown for President Monson as he has personally come to know him and know more of his past. He says, “I believe one of the important patterns in our lives is the life of the prophet who guides and directs the Lord’s Church in our day. I have always felt that I can be a better person when I pattern my life after righteous individuals that the Lord has placed in my path: my grandparents, my parents, my bishops, my mission president, and of course, the prophet of God... We would all be blessed to seek to pattern our lives after and learn from the Lord’s prophet…. As we follow the prophet and try to be more like him, we will inevitably succeed in being more faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
When I found out I was giving my talk on Following the Prophet, I knew I had to share one of my favorite ways I’ve found to learn more about the Prophet. Last year, I was looking around on the Mormon Channel on our TV. I was looking for new Mormon Messages, but I somehow found a short movie about the life of Thomas S. Monson. Many of you have probably already seen it, but I had never even heard of it. It’s called ‘On the Lord’s Errand’ and I invite all of you to watch it with your families. It’s a great way to prepare to hear the prophet speak at General Conference. I absolutely LOVED learning about our current prophet in a way I had never before. and I more realized that he was once a teenager like me, making mistakes & learning & growing in the gospel... and I’m sure he still is! :)
I think it’s also a good idea to take some time and review the words of the prophets. Lot’s of us like to find different “themes” in every General Conference, but it’s even more fascinating to find themes in the current prophet’s talks over the years and find what things are for you personally or were for the church as a whole. From looking for common things past prophets have said over the years, we can learn what is most important to Heavenly Father and know better what we should be making a priority in our life. When we have General Conference, the words of our leaders should take a prevalent place in our personal and family study.
I have been amazed at the power that comes into my life when I make it a priority to learn and listen to the prophets and apostles, and the confidence that I have when I do this grows and I know, without question, that the counsel I am receiving is coming from God.
-This weekend, we will sustain Thomas S. Monson as our prophet, seer and revelator. That sustaining is also us bearing our testimonies to the world that we believe Thomas S. Monson to be God’s prophet, seer and revelator. When we sustain him as our prophet, we are also saying that we will follow him, his council and the commandments as best we possibly can. We believe that God literally reveals truth to the prophet to help us out here on earth. And in this day and age, we need all the help we can get :) I know at least I do. I am willing to follow anything the prophet asks of me because I know that when he gives us important council, that it is from Heavenly Father.
While I was doing research for my talk, I noticed something repeated throughout a lot of the talks and quotes I read. It is that following the prophet takes a lot of faith. ‘Following the prophet’ is a phrase we hear so often that I think we push it aside, because we already know it’s important to follow the prophet of God. As kids are growing up I think it’s so important to go back to the basics of the gospel. Like Following the Prophet. We sometimes leave the basics up to the primary to teach, but over their years of learning, kids may begin to forget or overlook the simple gospel principles they began with.
The commandment to ‘follow the prophet”, for example, relies on the basic principle of faith.
Elder Eyring said, “Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense to those with strong faith. When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice.”
It takes a lot of faith to follow the prophet when we don’t yet know why a commandment is given or when we don’t quite want to follow it. We can’t always comprehend why we are given certain commandments or instructions nor should we try to understand everything before obedience.
“The longer you follow down a path, the easier it becomes.”
I sometimes think to myself, “Do I follow our prophet like the pioneers followed Joseph Smith?” They weren’t perfect, and our Heavenly Father did not expect them to be, but their faith was strong and they tried with all their might. The pioneers examples strengthened us later and will continue to be examples of having enough faith to follow a prophet for years to come. They are great examples that we achieve the greatest happiness in this life and in the next by following the living prophet.
I know that following the prophet makes you stronger in the long run.
During high school, I was always much younger than everyone else in our grade. At the beginning of my Junior year, I still wasn’t 16. This wasn’t a big deal for me until all the boys in our ward decided to make a group date with all the girls in our ward. and the hardest part, was that I would turn 16 just 2 days after homecoming. I talked with my parents before hand and together we decided that if I got asked, I’d say no. It was really hard for me at the time as I watched all of my best friends getting asked, buying beautiful dresses and get their hair and make-up ready for the dance. They left and I stayed home and watched Pride and Prejudice all by myself to make the whole situation seem even more pathetic (: My friends seemed to talk about how amazing it was for weeks after, but soon I was able to brush it aside because I felt so strongly that I had done the right thing. The decision I made was the right thing for me at the time and it was probably something I needed to learn. It wasn’t about not dating even though I had 2 days till I turn 16, but it was about learning that following the prophet in the smallest ways made me stronger for future decisions. I know that nothing terrible would have happened if I had decided it was okay to date before I turned 16, but it became a strength to me that I knew I had followed the prophet, even though it was really hard. and I knew that I had set an example to my little sisters. The funny thing is that the day after homecoming, when I was sitting in Young Womens at church, we had a lesson on dating. We all had to draw a slip of paper and read a quote from the Strength of Youth. I laughed when I pulled out my slip of paper because it said something about how that prophet has counseled us not to date before we are 16. You could imagine how awkward it would have been if I had dated before I was 16 just the night before! :) I know that following the prophet’s counsel not only saved me from that awkward situation, but it has truly made me stronger in the long run.
-The commandments are meant for all people. No one is the exception to them. No one should assume they know better. or assume they’re “safe” without them.
Joseph smith said, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire.”
-This April, I had the amazing opportunity to sing for the Saturday afternoon session of conference. Initially, I tried out for the Orem Institute choir because I thought it would be cool to have my family and missionary friends see me on TV :) But the closer we got to General Conference, the more the practices became about spiritually preparing ourselves to stand and preach the gospel to the world through the music. Our choir director prepared us to sing for the prophet. He taught us about the prophet and made us understand what an honor it was to be singing not only for the world, but for the prophet of God. At the end of all of our practicing, we were all more excited to be representing Christ to the world and to be so close to President Monson that day. Of course it was still cool to be on TV and my mom got tons of texts when my face came onto the screen :) It was amazing to be in the conference center and it was even more amazing to think that I was sitting so close to the man who is God's representative on the Earth today.
I know that Thomas S. Monson truly is God’s only living prophet on the earth today. I know that he receives revelation directly from our Heavenly Father and I know that his guidance is direction from God to each and every single one of us. I know that if we make it a daily priority to follow the prophet, we will be happy. I know it because I have done it… and I am so full of the happiness that the gospel brings. I am SO excited to go to New York and tell all the people I can find that God has allowed Christ’s gospel to be restored to the earth again... and He has chosen to speak directly through a living prophet today.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
A few of the many people who came to support Brynn