Thanking them for their service to their country, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to military personnel during a fireside at the Layton Utah Kays Creek Stake Center on Sunday evening, April 27.
Military men and women from various branches of the service attended as well as their families, spouses and family members of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other Church members. A week earlier, Elder Ballard spoke to a similar congregation at a fireside in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake Center.
On behalf of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Ballard expressed appreciation and love for members of the military and assured them they are remembered in the prayers of the Brethren.
While the United States is engaged in the War on Terror, Elder Ballard reminded listeners at the Utah gathering that another battle is raging that for the souls of men.
He read the words of Moroni recorded in Mormon, chapter 8, where Moroni saw "what we're starting to see," quoting: "a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth" (Mormon 8:31).
Elder Ballard stated, "I think the pollutions that Moroni was seeing was not the pollution of the air or global warming. I think he saw the pollutions of pornography, he saw the pollutions of evil that would be falling across the face of the earth."
He said, "We are at war. It's a spiritual war that is the same war that existed in the premortal world."
Satan and his followers continue to wage the war on the earth and one of his most evil designs is "to lull the human family into a sense of apathy and indifference, and lack of really caring about spiritual things or caring in depth about what matters most in the eternal scheme of things."
While a lack of the knowledge and understanding of God and His plan has led to that spiritual apathy, members of the Church, down to the Primary children, know who God is because of the restoration of the gospel, Elder Ballard said.
He counseled listeners to be alert, attentive and aware in the spiritual battle that continues.
"Now we have something we call the Internet that is just fluttering all over the world. ... Has (Lucifer) got some interest in it?" Elder Ballard asked. "Is he captivating the human family by the filth and the sleaze and the ugliness that is coming over the Internet and other media?"
He stressed, "Pornography is absolutely destroying the spirituality of our Heavenly Father's children. We cannot tamper with pornography and get involved with it and not have a spiritual challenge. Who is the author of it? The father of all lies."
He continued, "There are a lot of great things on the Internet. Terrific. Use them, but stay on the Lord's side of it. Don't allow yourselves to get over on the devil's side of it."
He also noted video games which have become popular, especially among youth.
"I wish they would put away those video games," he said. "They're blowing their minds with them. Consequently, when they get out into the mission field, they're not used to hard work and they're not used to being focused on studying the things of righteousness. They have too many things entertaining them all the time."
Develop the spiritual sides of life, Elder Ballard told the congregation, and listen to the promptings of the Lord.
"I could keep you here all night telling you how the Lord micromanages spiritual affairs in the lives of our Heavenly Father's children," he said. "He micromanages it through you and through me. You'll be in the military or you'll be somewhere else and you'll have a prompting to say something or to do something in relationship to those that you serve with or in your neighborhood or so forth. Do it! Trust the Lord."
He added, "The more strength and power you get in responding to those promptings, the greater possibility we have of winning this war, because the war is over the souls of the children of God. Will they find the gospel, will they find the truth, will they find it important in their lives, will they seek to embrace it, will they look to understand the ordinances and the simple plan of salvation, the great plan of happiness, and try to align their lives to it?"
He encouraged all members of the Church to join him and the other apostles in "calling people to come unto Christ, to repent of their sins, to accept the ordinance of baptism, to receive the Holy Ghost and to get on the path that leads to immortality and eternal life. That's the quest that all of us should be doing as Latter-day Saints."
Elder Ballard delivered a similar message in the Virginia fireside. He counseled that while service to country is rightfully honored, those who serve must always be mindful of the importance of "anchoring ourselves to the teaching of Jesus Christ" and staying secured "to His great cause." He cautioned that "we can be destroyed spiritually by the evils that exist."
Following both firesides, Elder Ballard greeted those who attended. One in Virginia was 87-year-old Major Ray Gulick (Ret.) who flew 30 bombing missions during World War II. Brother Gulick said, "It was fantastic to meet such an inspired leader and I was very impressed by his sensitive and direct message."
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