To the Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ:
Jesus told us to let our lights shine. Isaiah talks about light and darkness and a time when the light and darkness would be reversed: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
Sadly, the light for many Americans has been going out, and will do so for many more of our citizens in the near future. We are a nation that is deeply divided. In 1831, the prophet Joseph Smith told us: “and will that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh – the hour is not yet but is nigh at hand – when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the Devil shall have power over his own dominion” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:6b). Do you think this division in the United States is what the prophet was referencing? Do you believe it is going to be resolved in the near future? If you do, in what way?
Abraham Lincoln, when he was a candidate for congress, gave a speech about a house that is divided. Quoting the Bible, basically it said that “a house divided against itself, cannot stand.” Wisely, he predicted the house would eventually become all one thing, or all another thing. Which direction do you think America will move if Mr. Lincoln is correct?
The Lord has given us advice regarding the times before us: “And it shall come to pass, among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor, must needs flee unto Zion for safety” (Doctrine & Covenants 45:13a).
If you believe our immediate future is the time being referenced, what should you do? What should be your choice? Where do we find Zion in January 2021? Should we start trying to buy swords? For understanding regarding the events which are likely before us, read (from the Book of Mormon) chapters 20-30 of the Book of Alma.
Our present economy is certain to fail, just like every nation that has done what we have been doing as an American nation. When Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, our national debt passed 1 trillion dollars. This part of our debt had accumulated from 1776 to about 1982. What is the debt today? As I write, the national debt is close to 28 trillion and we are spending trillions more every year. Credit card debt is over 1 trillion. Student loan debt is over 1 trillion. Unfortunately, we as Americans are behaving similarly to our government. At what cost? A $1,200 refrigerator costs more than $1,800 on a common credit card. An ordinary house costs more than an additional $100,000 for interest. One thing every consumer ought to keep firmly in mind is that just because the bank will loan you the money, does not mean it is a good deal. One couple I know owed $13,000 in credit card debt, so they borrowed money to pay it off. A year later, they still owed most of the credit card debt and had run up an additional $18,000 in new credit card debt.
Tithes and offering are paid out of our surplus. If you have nothing left after you pay your bills, you have nothing left to assist with the work. My advice to the saints is to save 10% of your income, invest 10%, and live on the other 80%. I know that many think it would be impossible for them to live that way. Thank goodness we do not take credit cards when the offering plate comes by (at least I hope we do not)! The Lord needs stewards that have the ability and desire to restrict unnecessary spending and thus are able to build a surplus of funds to use as a steward. Repression of unnecessary wants is a basic stewardship principle (Doctrine & Covenants 130:7(d).
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 is a great illustration of what the Lord expects if you are in finance. If you are a farmer, the Lord expects you to produce fruit. Jesus illustrated his principles in so many differing ways, that none have an excuse for not understanding. As acting Bishop for some of the saints, I have seen the faces of those that have suffered from typhoons, famine, loss of parents, covid-19 outbreaks, and violence in various countries. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to have a small part in helping these saints. Much more is needed in aid than we have the resources to remedy the distress. Remember, most of the world does not have the blessings we have in America. If the saints in other countries need surgery, they must pay in advance. If they are hungry, no one will help them. If a child’s parent dies, the child is often on their own, no matter how young and desperate they are. Visualize these conditions when you are comfortably sitting on your couches, watching television, and eating Doritos. Your master will show you these people again when you see him face to face. What do you think He might say to you about these people you are seeing?
Conference of Restoration Branches
Note: The full message is available for download in PDF.