Build a Fortress of Spirituality and Protection

Build a Fortress of Spirituality and Protection


My dear brothers and
sisters, as this conference comes to a close, I give
thanks to our Father in Heaven for the counsel,
truths, and revelation shared at this pulpit
during the past two days. We have been taught
by servants of God called to speak His holy words. The Lord has reminded us
in latter-day revelation, “Whether by mine own voice or
… the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Looking over this vast
congregation of Saints and picturing members
watching general conference all over the world, I
think of the gathering in the Book of Mormon
when Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites
following His Crucifixion. He taught them the
gospel, and then He encouraged, “Go ye
unto your homes, and ponder upon the
things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my
name, that ye may understand.” “Go ye unto your
homes, and ponder” is the next step
in taking to heart the words of prophets
and Church leaders spoken in this sacred setting. Christ-centered homes are
fortresses for the kingdom of God on earth in a
day when, as prophesied, the devil “rage[s] in the
hearts of the children of men, and stir[s] them up to anger
against that which is good.” People have built fortresses
throughout history to keep the enemy outside. Often those fortresses
included a guard tower where watchmen–like prophets–warned
of menacing forces and coming attacks. In early Utah pioneer times,
my great-grandfather Thomas Rasband and his family were
some of the first settlers to enter the Heber Valley
in the beautiful Wasatch mountains of Utah. In 1859, Thomas helped
construct the Heber fort built for their protection. It was a simple structure
of cottonwood logs, positioned one
next to the other, forming the perimeter
of the fort. Log cabins were built
inside the fortress using that common wall. The structure provided
both security and safety for those pioneer
families as they put down roots and worshipped the Lord. So it is with us. Our homes are fortresses
against the evils of the world. In our homes we come
unto Christ by learning to follow His commandments,
by studying the scriptures and praying together, and
by helping one another stay on the covenant path. The new emphasis on
personal and family study in the home through
the curriculum Come, Follow Me is designed
“to deepen our conversion and help us become more
like Jesus Christ.” In so doing we will become what
Paul called “new creature[s]” with our hearts and
souls in tune with God. We need that strength
to face and deflect the assaults of the adversary. As we live with devotion born
of faith in Jesus Christ, we will feel the peaceful
presence of the Holy Ghost, who guides us to truth,
inspires us to live worthy of the Lord’s blessings,
and bears witness that God lives and loves us. All this within the
fortress of our own homes. But remember, our
homes are only as powerful as the spiritual
strength of each one of us within the walls. Dear President Russell M. Nelson
has taught, “In coming days, it will not be possible
to survive spiritually without the guiding,
directing, comforting, and constant influence
of the Holy Ghost.” As the Lord’s living
prophet, seer, and revelator in this day, the watchman on
the tower of our fortress, The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints, he sees the advances
of the enemy. Brothers and sisters,
we are at war with Satan for the souls of men. The battle lines were drawn
in our pre-earth life. Satan and a third of our
Father in Heaven’s children turned away from His
promises of exaltation. Since that time, the
adversary’s minions have been fighting the faithful
who choose the Father’s plan. Satan knows his
days are numbered, and that time is
growing shorter. As crafty and cunning as
he is, he will not win. However, his battle for each
one of our souls rages on. For our protection, we
must build a fortress of spirituality and
protection for our very souls, a fortress that will not be
penetrated by the evil one. Satan is a subtle snake,
sneaking into our minds and hearts when we have
let our guard down, faced a disappointment, or lost hope. He entices us with
flattery, a promise of ease, comfort, or a temporary
high when we are low. He justifies pride, unkindness,
dishonesty, discontent, and immorality, and in time
we can be “past feeling.” The Spirit can leave us. “And thus the devil
cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away
carefully down to hell.” In contrast, we often feel
the Spirit so powerfully as we sing praises to God
with words like these: “A mighty fortress is our God, A tower of strength
ne’er failing. A helper mighty is our God, O’er ills of life prevailing.” When we build a fortress
of spiritual strength, we can shun the advances
of the adversary, turn our backs on him, and
feel the peace of the Spirit. We can follow the
example of our Lord and Savior, who, when tempted
in the wilderness, said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” We each have to learn by
the experiences of life how to do that. Such righteous purpose is well
described in the Book of Mormon when Captain Moroni prepared
the Nephites to face attacks from a deceitful, bloodthirsty,
power-hungry Amalickiah. Moroni constructed fortresses
to protect the Nephites, “that they might live
unto the Lord their God, and that they
might maintain that which was called
by their enemies the cause of Christians.” Moroni was “firm in
the faith of Christ,” and the people were faithful “in
keeping the commandments of God … and resisting iniquity.” When the Lamanites
came to battle, they were astonished by
the Nephites’ preparation, and they were defeated. The Nephites thanked “the
Lord their God, because of his matchless power
in delivering them from the hands of
their enemies.” They had built fortresses for
protection on the outside, and they had built faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ on the inside–deep
in their souls. What are some ways we
can fortify ourselves in troubled times, that
we may be “instruments in the hands of God to bring
about this great work”? Let’s look to the scriptures. We are obedient. The Lord commanded Father
Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to
“seek the records, and bring them down hither
into the wilderness.” Lehi didn’t question; he
didn’t wonder why or how. Nor did Nephi, who
responded, “I will go and do the things which the
Lord hath commanded.” Do we act with the willing
obedience of Nephi? Or are we more inclined
to question God’s commands as did Nephi’s brothers,
whose lack of faith eventually turned them
away from the Lord? Obedience, exercised
with “holiness of heart,” is what the Lord asks of us. We trust the Lord, who said to
Joshua as he prepared to lead the Israelites into the promised
land, “Be strong and of … good courage; be not afraid,
neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with
thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua trusted those words
and counseled the people, “Sanctify yourselves:
for to morrow the Lord will do
wonders among you.” The Lord parted the
waters of the Jordan, and the Israelites’ 40 years
of wandering in the wilderness ended. We stand for the truth,
as did the prophet Abinadi in the Book of Mormon. Arrested, brought before King
Noah and his wicked priests, Abinadi taught the Ten
Commandments and preached powerfully that Christ would
“come down among the children of men, and …
redeem his people.” He then, with faith
deep within him, proclaimed, “O God,
receive my soul,” and Abinadi “suffered
death by fire.” We make and renew our covenants
by partaking of the sacrament and by worshipping
in the temple. The sacrament is the centerpiece
of our Sunday worship, where we are receiving the promise
to “always have his Spirit to be with [us].” With that sacred
ordinance we commit to take upon us the name of
Jesus Christ, to follow Him, and to shoulder our
responsibilities in this divine work as He did. In the temple, we can “lay
aside the things of this world” and feel the Lord’s presence
and His transcendent peace. We can focus on our ancestors,
our families, and eternal life in the presence of the Father. No wonder President Nelson
stated recently in Rome, “The good that will
emanate from this temple is incalculably great.” We should have integrity
in all that we do. We should develop
discernment and discipline so that we do not have to
continually determine what is right and what is wrong. We should take to
heart the caution of Peter, the early Church
Apostle, who cautioned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because
your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” As we diligently strengthen
our fortifications, we become like Jesus Christ,
as His true disciples, with our very souls
in His protection. Your testimony of Jesus Christ
is your personal fortress, the security for your soul. When my grandfather
and his fellow pioneers built the Heber fort, they
put up one log at a time until the fort was
“fitly framed together” and they were protected. So it is with testimony. One by one we gain a
witness from the Holy Spirit as He speaks to our own
spirit, teaching “truth in the inward parts.” When we live the gospel
of Jesus Christ, when we draw upon the
Savior’s Atonement and press forward
with faith, not fear, we are fortified against
the wiles of the adversary. Our testimonies connect
us to the heavens, and we are blessed with
“the truth of all things.” And like a fortress,
we are safely encircled in the arms
of the Savior’s love. The prophet Ether taught,
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety
hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the
right hand of God, which hope cometh of
faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would
make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works,
being led to glorify God.” My dear brothers and
sisters, I leave you with my blessing to go forth
with confidence in the Lord and in His gospel. Put your arms around
those who stumble, and with the strength of
the Spirit within you, lead them lovingly
back to the fortress of spirituality and protection. Seek “to be like Jesus”
in all that you do; shun evil and temptations;
repent, as we were admonished yesterday by our dear
prophet; be honest in heart; be upright and pure; show
compassion and charity; and love the Lord your
God with the devotion of a true disciple. Our testimonies of the gospel
of Jesus Christ, our homes, our families, and our membership
in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
will be our personal fortress of protection, surrounding
us and shielding us from the power of the evil one. Of this I bear my solemn
witness in the name of our Lord and Savior,
even Jesus Christ, amen.

1 Reply to “Build a Fortress of Spirituality and Protection”

  1. I know that Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is in the name Quorum founded by Jesus Christ a millennia ago and that he is a prophet, seer, and revealator.

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