During a whirlwind visit to Northeast Texas March 16-17, President Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged some 14,000 members at two regional conferences to "seek for the eternal things of God - to look to God and live," and to find root in Jesus Christ.
On a busy Saturday, President Hinckley addressed 654 leaders at the Denton Texas Stake center, and then traveled 45 minutes to the Plano Texas Stake Center where 567 leaders were gathered to hear his remarks. Later that evening, President Hinckley spoke to almost 300 missionaries of the combined Texas Ft. Worth and Dallas missions.Two regional sessions were held on Sunday, one in the morning for the stakes in the Ft. Worth region, and another in the afternoon for Plano region stakes.
The conferences, held in the University of North Texas auditorium, provided for many a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see and hear the prophet of God. The Saints traveled as long as three hours on the sunny, clear day to attend the conference. As the area is in the grip of a drought, prayers petitioned for rain.
Accompanying President Hinckley during the weekend were Elders L. Tom Perry and Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elders W. Mack Lawrence and Lynn E. Mickelsen of the Seventy and members of the North America Southeast Area Presidency. Their wives, Sister Marjorie Hinckley, Barbara Perry, Mary Hales, Jacqueline Lawrence and Jeanine Mickelsen, also attended.
In both regional meetings, President Hinckley emphasized that the Church is growing and on the move.
"I can scarcely believe that here in this Denton area, with these stakes of Zion, we would have Saints in such a large number as have gathered here this morning," he said.
"The Church is growing. The Church is moving across the earth. Wonderful things are happening. What a glorious time to be alive and to be a part of this great organization. You young people, how grateful you ought to be to be alive in this season of the earth when the power of the Lord is being made manifest in so very, very many ways. . . .
"What a glorious thing it is to be a part of an organization that is doing something - it is improving the lives of people, it is changing their ways of doing things, it is lifting their sights to the good things of heaven and earth - that is what this Church is doing wherever it goes."
He thanked the Texan members for their welcome. "You are so kind and so gracious and so generous. We have had many letters welcoming us to come down here to Texas. . . . This is a good part of the world. I love the `Lone Star State' and the beauty of it, the breadth of it, the strength of it, the kindness and the goodness of the people.
"We were given last night a whole sheaf of letters written by Primary children expressing their love. It's a terrifying burden to carry the love of the people of this Church, really. It's a wonderful thing, but it's a terrifying burden to carry that great trust which has been placed in me. Thank you very much for your kindness. Thank you for your expressions of love."
In the morning session, President Hinckley spoke specifically to the youth, encouraging them in the areas of chastity, humility and being true to the Church. Regarding testimony, President Hinckley stated, "It is the right of every member of the Church to know that the Church is true."
In the afternoon session, President Hinckley took advantage of an artificial flower at the podium to teach an object lesson. Taking a flower in his hand, he showed it to the congregation.
"Beautiful, isn't it? But it isn't real. It's silk. It looks like a beautiful natural flower, but it's artificial. It has no life. It has beauty, but it has no life. It has no power to recreate itself, to carry on and produce future generations. It is here today and gone tomorrow, without root or life.
"That's the way with the people of the world. There is much of beauty about them, but without the root that finds itself in faith and conviction concerning God and the risen Lord, there isn't much of real substance when it comes to a crisis or a showdown of some kind.
"Seek for the real things, not the artificial. Seek for the everlasting truths, not the passing whim. Seek for the eternal things of God, not for that which is here today and gone tomorrow. Look to God and live, as the scripture enjoins us." (See Alma 37:47.)
He indicated to the congregation that when he was a young man he had heard one of the Brethren state that the gospel "has the answer to all of life's problems." He said at the time he wondered whether this could be true. "I've discovered it is true!" he declared.
"How grateful I am for the gospel of Jesus Christ, my brothers and sisters. I only want to say this - that whatever the problem is, I've become satisfied, there is an answer in the gospel of Jesus Christ and as you apply the principle you learn to know the truth of it and the divine origin of it.
"God help us to be true and faithful to the great gifts that will come to us through this wonderful thing which we call the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Speaking to the young people, President Hinckley said, "I'm going as fast as I know how to go . . . I want you to know that you heard me say that I know that God our Eternal Father lives; that you heard Gordon B. Hinckley say, in a conference in Denton, Texas, that he knows that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world through whose atoning sacrifice has come that which is eternal and everlasting in behalf of the sons and daughters of God.
"I want you to know that you heard me say that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. This is not fiction, this is not the writing of somebody who tried to put together a story. This is an accumulation of centuries of God's dealings with His children, of their successes and their failures, their sorrows and their triumphs, and the fact that when they were obedient they were happy and prosperous and when they became disobedient they were involved in conflict and trouble and oppression and pain.
"I want you to know that I know that the priesthood, the living priesthood of the Almighty, the authority to act in His name is upon the earth and among this people. I want you to know and I want you to be able to say that you heard me say that the way of happiness, the way of peace, the way of accomplishment is the way of the Lord; following the gospel pattern."