Episode 39. October 23, 2016. Today is our daughter-in-law Kelsi’s birthday so I want to give a shout out to her. We love you Kelsi and are grateful you are part of our family.
While working out in the gym yesterday I listened to Sister Bonnie Oscarson’s talk from the women’s session in the October 2016 General Conference. As a result, today I want to talk about “perilous times”.
Since the world changing events of September 11th, 2001, it feels to me like the world is descending faster and faster into chaos, contention, wickedness, apostasy, godlessness, secularism, pride, dishonesty and hate.
I opened the web version of USA Today yesterday and here are a few of the headlines:
- A New Hampshire-based company that monitors and routes Internet traffic, was the victim of a massive attack that began at 7:10 a.m. ET Friday morning.
- Amid ‘rigged’ election charges, Russia wants to monitor U.S. vote
- Venezuelans’ plan to overthrow their president has hit a snag
- What would legalized marijuana mean for California?
And these are only a very few of the troubling news stories to grace the headlines of a single newspaper. But I am not telling anyone listening to this podcast anything new. The nasty, divisive and contentious presidential race in the US is really just a surrogate for the deep emotions and fears that divide today’s America, and in many ways the entire world. For example, living here in the Philippines it has been sad to see the growing anti-American sentiment among Filipino leaders as well as the encroaching reach of China in the South China Sea. The Brexit vote in the UK which has created a deep chasm in European unity and where it now appears that revenge for the UK vote is masked in new policies that will make it more difficult for the UK in a post Brexit world than it was before the European Union even existed. The refugee crisis in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan where good, honest, hard working families are being forced to flee their homes in order to survive. The list of hotspots in the world is growing ever longer and ever hotter. Truly it seems that the 27th verse in the tenth Chapter of Luke is becoming ever less relevant to the Christian nations of the world. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”
I went into the Gospel Library app on my iPhone and did a search General Conferences since 9/11 and I found this phrase of “perilous times” mentioned 48 times. I think it is worth sharing a few of them:
Here are two quotes from President Hinckley in October 2001 given in two different talks during that conference: “I need not remind you that we live in perilous times. I desire to speak concerning these times and our circumstances as members of this Church.”
And the second quote: “But wonderful as this time is, it is fraught with peril. Evil is all about us. It is attractive and tempting and in so many cases successful. Paul declared:
‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness; but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ (2 Tim. 3:1–5).
We see today all of these evils, more commonly and generally, than they have ever been seen before, as we have so recently been reminded by what has occurred in New York City, Washington, and Pennsylvania, of which I shall speak tomorrow morning. We live in a season when fierce men do terrible and despicable things. We live in a season of war. We live in a season of arrogance. We live in a season of wickedness, pornography, immorality. All of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt our society. Our young people have never faced a greater challenge. We have never seen more clearly the lecherous face of evil.”
Here is another one from President Hinckley in the April 2004 conference: “Our times are fraught with peril. We hear frequently quoted the words of Paul to Timothy: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come”
In October 2004, Elder Cecil O. Samuelson said: “How grateful I am, in these perilous times, for the protection and guidance given to us by the sacred assurance that Jesus Christ lives today.”
In April 2005, from President Monson, then a counselor in the First Presidency: “We cannot afford to be complacent. We live in perilous times; the signs are all around us.”
In that same conference, Sister Susan W. Tanner, General YW President said: “You and I can not only survive but prevail, as did Moroni, in our efforts to stand for truth in perilous times. “
President Packer in October 2008: “We live in those ‘perilous times’ which the Apostle Paul prophesied would come in the last days.”
And again from President Packer in October 2013: “We live in very precarious times.“
In that same October 2013, Elder Adrian Ochoa added: “We live in the stormy, perilous days that Paul described.”
A year ago in the October 2015 conference Elder Gary E. Stevenson said: “Heavenly Father’s generous compensation for living in perilous times is that we also live in the fullness of times.”
And lastly, from Sister Oscarson’s talk earlier this month: “Sisters, we live in “perilous times.” The conditions of our day should not be a surprise to us. They have been foretold for millennia as a warning and admonition so that we can be prepared.”
A few years ago I did some research on the increasing frequency of earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or greater around the world. You can see the chart itself on my blog. But here is what it says.
In the 10 year period between 1901-1910, there we 18 of these 7.0+ earthquakes. In the next decade from 1911-1920 there were 17. In the subsequent decades between 1921 and the year 2000, there were respectively 25, 33, 31, 31, 38, 35, 34 and 44. A gradual increase, but an increase nevertheless. Beginning in 2001, the number of these large quakes increased significantly, so I began to look at 3 year increments. From 2001-2003, there were 66, from 2004-2006, there were 57. 2007-2009 shows 71. 2010 to 2012 there were 88 and 2013-2015 there were more than 90. This means that in the decade beginning in 2001 thru 2010, there 218 of these destructive earthquakes. Remember that compares with just 44 during the decade of the nineties.
I think it is fair to say that we indeed do live in perilous times!
So what are we to do. Since there have been so many church leaders address this issue over the last 15 years, I thought I would take a look at each and every talk and try to summarize and group the most important counsel that we must heed. Now I have to tell you this turned out to be a much more difficult and daunting task than I thought it would be. There were 47 talks that I needed to review and then identify and classify the counsel that I found there. Based on my review I found 138 pieces of counsel, which I grouped into 28 topics. Here are my top 7.
How enlightening! There was other counsel that I feel is worth mentioning: Achieving person peace, repenting of our sins, paying a full tithe, getting out of debt and sharing the gospel with others. For those interested, I have posted all perilous-times-research on my blog at znukmot.wordpress.com.
Okay, one more tidbit of information. In the 1970’s, there were 16 talks given in conference which included the phrase “perilous times”. In the 1980’s that dropped down to 4. In the 90’s it went back up to 10. Well what do you think happened after the turn of the century as earthquakes and other natural disasters began to increase? From 2000 – 2009 there were a whopping 33 talks with the phrase, and since 2010 there have been an additional 15. This means in the last 16 years there has been a 60% increase over the previous 30 years! That is definitely data that we simply cannot ignore.
To those of you who are listening, I want to reaffirm with my own testimony that we indeed live in perilous times. The moment of indecision and complacency is gone. The wickedness of the world is increasing exponentially. It is time to burn the summer cottage in Babylon and put both hands on the temple. May we rise up and awaken and press forward with firmness in Christ, that we might be worthy to to build Zion as we ultimately prepare for his Second Coming.
Since beginning work on this episode I have felt such a sense of urgency around this topic. May we all feel that same sense of urgency is my hope and my prayer.