‘Choose you this day’: 1 theme Latter-day Saints can take away from April 2019 general conference

The Old Testament prophet Joshua lived over 3,000 years ago. He never tweeted or hosted a podcast. But he remains a modern-day influencer.

Joshua’s timeless challenge — “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” — is found prominently framed and displayed in Latter-day Saint kitchens and living rooms around the world.

Examine the key words found in Joshua 24:15: Choose. You. This day. Serve. Together they form a charge to make personal choices — and then own each choice by becoming individually accountable to the Lord.

Decide today (not tomorrow, not next year) to serve Him.

Joshua’s latter-day associates — the prophets, apostles and general Church leaders — echoed his ancient charge for individual action and accountability throughout the 189th Annual General Conference.

On Sunday morning, President Russell M. Nelson taught that one’s ultimate ambition — living and progressing in the eternities with God and beloved family members — is achieved only when individuals exercise their personal agency and make individual covenants.

Conferencegoers sing outside the Conference Center while attendees leave after the Sunday morning session of the 189th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2019.
Conferencegoers sing outside the Conference Center while attendees leave after the Sunday morning session of the 189th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2019. Credit: Silas Walker, Deseret News, Deseret News

Qualifying for exaltation demands personal accountability, he added. Pray to God. Seek His assurances. Follow His covenant path. Decide this day and every day moving forward to serve God and learn His commandments.

“And then abide by them.”

Repentance is perhaps the gospel’s defining principle of personal accountability. No one can repent for another’s sins. It’s only done individually.

Concluding Saturday’s priesthood session, President Nelson challenged any who have slipped from the covenant path to make amends with God. He called for immediate action.

“Prayerfully seek to understand what stands in the way of your repentance. Identify what stops you from repenting. And then change! Repent! All of us can do better and be better than ever before.”

Individuals must choose wisely today to realize the opportunities of eternity, said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency. Then stand on guard to warn others when danger looms.

"Where the consequences are immediate and serious, we cannot afford to do nothing,” he said. “We must sound appropriate warnings or support appropriate preventive efforts while there is still time."

Conferencegoers sing a congregational hymn during the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2019.
Conferencegoers sing a congregational hymn during the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2019.

Meanwhile, President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, said raising one’s hand to voluntarily sustain Church leaders marks a sacred, personal choice. “In the priesthood quorum and in the family, increased faith to sustain each other is the way we build the Zion the Lord wants us to create.”

Progressing toward perfection, qualifying for the blessings of covenants and preparing to meet God are all individual responsibilities, said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“We need to be self-reliant and anxiously engaged in making our homes a refuge from the storms that surround us and a sanctuary of faith.”

Elder Cook’s apostolic associate, Elder David A. Bednar, said in his Sunday afternoon address that every Latter-day Saint is assigned “individual responsibility” to learn and live the Lord’s teachings and to receive exaltation’s saving ordinances.

“We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end,” he said. “Rather, our personal responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become who the Master would have us become.”

Elder David P. Homer, a General Authority Seventy, said on Saturday afternoon that individuals must choose to hear Christ’s voice amid the world’s distracting din.

Conferencegoers arrive at the Conference Center prior to the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
Conferencegoers arrive at the Conference Center prior to the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

"The Spirit speaks to different people in different ways, and He may speak to the same person in different ways at different times. As a result, learning the many ways He speaks to us is a lifelong quest."

Light and truth come to individuals via “still and small” communication with the Holy Ghost, said Elder Mathias Held, a General Authority Seventy.

"If we rely only on our rational mind and deny or neglect the spiritual understanding we can receive through the whisperings and impressions of the Holy Ghost, it is as if we were going through life with only one eye."

Elder Held’s testimony of the power of personal interaction with the Holy Ghost was seconded by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Accountability for one’s actions, he added, is the next essential individual step. “Our actions must reflect what we learn and teach.”

Individuals are accountable to remain on the right track: the covenant path, said Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.

Choosing the right means active Sabbath-day worship, prayer, scripture study, modesty and ministering. Don’t justify poor personal choices.

“We can rationalize all we want,” she said, “but the fact is, there is not a right way to do the wrong thing.”

Sister Yian Chang and Sister Mehgyuan Han pause during the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2019.
Sister Yian Chang and Sister Mehgyuan Han pause during the 189th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

Enemies are at "the gates" of our homes, warned Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday afternoon. Each individual has a personal duty to make their home a fortress against evil. The "Come, Follow Me" curriculum is a proven weapon to strengthen individuals and families.

"But remember, our homes are only as powerful as the spiritual strength of each one of us within the walls."

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said Sunday morning that the “great and last dispensation” is building steadily to its climax. Easter offers each individual a reason to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and all that it portends.

There’s no need to passively wait for Christ’s return. “Let us be about building up Zion to hasten that day.”