Gary Adna Ames
Accounting Faculty Member
Prior to joining the BYU-Idaho faculty in 2002, Gary Adna Ames taught accounting at Illinois State University and the University of Nebraska. He also worked in the accounting division at State Farm Insurance.
He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from BYU, and his Ph.D in accounting from the University of Georgia.
Brother Ames served in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro mission. He is currently the president of the Iona Idaho South Stake.
He and his wife, Lynn, are the parents of nine children and have 20 grandchildren.
Please respond to the question below on the devotional discussion board:
What experiences have you had in following the counsel of latter-day prophets?
Your presence here at the devotional shows at least a desire to love the Lord and cling to Him. Yet, so often we can relate to the words of that beautiful hymn that has just been played for us. That is, we feel “prone to wander” and “prone to leave the God we love.” This isn’t a surprise when we reflect that.
In the most recent general conference, President Russell M. Nelson twice described Satan’s influence as increasing at “an exponential rate.”  In President Monson’s last public address in general conference he said, “We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness.”  Many hundreds of years ago the Apostle Paul saw our day and described it as “perilous times.” 
Just last week Elder and Sister Joaquin E. Costa said that “The Lord wants you to succeed”
Despite what might seem like a message of doom and gloom, the prophets are actually very upbeat and optimistic about the world now and the future. It’s easy to find examples of their cheery attitude. Let me share with you just three of many examples that are easy to find.
- First, Elder L. Tom Perry said, “The best is yet to come.” 
- President Boyd K. Packer said this: “When I think of the future, I am overwhelmed with feelings of positive optimism.”
And a final example from President Henry B. Eyring. President Eyring is, in fact, so cheerful about the future that he seemed to imply that if you aren’t optimistic, then maybe you aren’t truly a believing Latter-day Saint. He said, “Any believing Latter-day Saint is an optimist about what lies ahead for him or her, however difficult the present may be.” 
So, why in the world are the prophets so optimistic and upbeat when they know that we live in “perilous times,” “in a time of great wickedness,” and that “Satan’s influence is increasing”?
I believe it is because they also know that the Lord has provided us with the means to prosper in these days. Please note, that does not necessarily mean that we will not go through difficult experiences. Nephi certainly knew something about hard times.
Recall that Nephi’s own brothers more than once were not just annoyed with him; they didn’t just make fun of him; they actually tried to kill him. He was spared by the Lord’s intervention repeatedly. Finally, things seemed to come to a head, after Lehi died and Nephi was left as the spiritual leader of the Lehites. Nephi records that his brothers were angry with him.  That doesn’t seem to be anything new, but now, Nephi doesn’t have his venerated father there to help. As a result, Nephi turned to the Lord in prayer, seeking some relief. What was the result? Nephi says that “their anger did increase.”  What kind of an answer to prayer is that? Turns out that Nephi’s answer came later when the Lord warned him to flee and directed him to an even better place. 
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said that “faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us.”  One of the lessons that each of us must learn is that we will all go through hard times but that our Father has something better in mind for us if we just keep His commandments, hold on, and trust Him.
I’m sure that you are familiar with the story of the stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon. What we normally remember is that despite the horrible and bloody battles that those young men endured, not a single one of them lost their lives. Helaman says that their “preservation was astonishing”  and that the only explanation was the trust that these young men put in the miraculous power of God.  What we often overlook is that Helaman also records that every single one of those young men “received many wounds.” 
There is normally (perhaps I should say always) a price to pay in order for us to have great blessings. One of the remarkable examples of faith and endurance in the last days is that of the Martin and Willie handcart companies. Members of those companies endured pain and deprivation that I am confident few of us will ever know. Years after their rescue it is recorded that one of the members of that experience allowed that they had indeed experienced more than you or I can even imagine. But he added, “Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives.” 
When I first came to love the Book of Mormon as a young man, some of my favorite chapters were those that are sometimes called the war chapters. After years of ongoing war with the Lamanites, the great Captain Moroni has had about enough of the suffering and dying while he thinks that the government isn’t doing as much as it should be. As a result, he wrote a blistering letter to Pahoran, and in that letter are two statements that apply to what we are talking about today.
The statements are pretty much the same, just shared twice. The first time, he asks Pahoran, “[Do] ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you? Behold, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain.”  Several verses later, Moroni rephrases his question thusly: “Do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?” 
Clearly the answer is no. Well, we could reasonably ask ourselves, “What means has the Lord provided for us to win the battle against evil in our day?” After all, President Nelson said that Satan’s influence is increasing. What can we do?
Let me share with you some specific examples. The first promise of a way to decrease the influence of Satan in our lives comes from two members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Richard G. Scott, speaking specifically to you and to those of your generation. First let’s hear Elder Bednar’s:
I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. . . . As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives. 
Now a similar promise from Elder Scott:
Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you grow older, you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well. I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life. 
Did you notice that they promised that you could be protected from the intensifying influence of Satan?
The next warning of how to protect ourselves in these days comes from President Thomas S. Monson. This comes from the last talk he ever gave publicly. It was in general conference, and the talk was less than three and a half minutes long. I do not know if President Monson knew that this would be his last address to the Church, but certainly, our Heavenly Father knew it would be. Please note that in the short time of his final talk he asked us to please do something:
If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. . . . My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. 
Did you notice that he asked us to read each day; he didn’t ask us to read regularly or often? He said each day.
You are familiar with many of the stories of the Children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness after being freed from slavery in Egypt. It is remarkable that they had just been freed from being slaves and all they seemed to be able to do was whine. They whined when they saw the Egyptian army coming after them, but then they witnessed the Lord protect them by destroying the army. They whined that they didn’t have food, and then the Lord provided manna for them every day. They complained that they didn’t have meat, and the Lord provided meat miraculously. They witnessed miracle after miracle and it just never seemed to be good enough. Do you ever wonder what kind of dimwits these people seem to be?
Well, before we get too judgmental, it is well if we ask ourselves if we are pretty similar to them. We have just watched clips from modern prophets. Ask yourself if you are diligently following the counsel we have received. Are you engaged in family history work? Are you reading the Book of Mormon every day? If not, then perhaps we shouldn’t be wondering what kind of dimwits the Children of Israel are, but instead what kind of dimwits are we to ignore such clear pleadings and promises.
Maybe you feel like that just isn’t the type of person you are and that you can be excused from such counsel. Maybe you just aren’t the type who likes family history or maybe you just have never liked to read. Listen to a story about Eli H. Peirce, who was a member of the Church and was called on a mission even though he said, in effect, “I’m not really the missionary type.”
He was almost 50 years old  when he was called on a mission from the pulpit in general conference. Brother Pierce was not at all active in the Church when he received his call. He wasn’t present at the tabernacle, and he learned about the call when a friend sent him a telegram with the news. His personal history records that at that point in his life he purchased cigars 1,000 at a time. When he received the telegram at work, he records, “I was sitting lazily thrown back in an office rocking chair, my feet on the desk, reading a novel and simultaneously sucking an old Dutch pipe, of massive proportions, just to vary the monotony of cigar smoking.” 
Knowing the type of person he was and the type of life he was leading, it would be easy to conclude that calling him on a mission was a colossal waste of time. However, his personal history records his reaction to a call from a prophet. He records that as soon as he received the notice of his call that he threw both the novel and pipe away, resigned from his job at the railroad, and started into town to buy scriptures. Then he makes this amazing statement: “Remarkable as it may seem . . . a thought of disregarding the call or of refusing to comply never once entered my mind.”  When you heard the invitation from Elders Scott and Bednar and the pleading from President Monson, did you have the same determination? That is, could you say honestly that the “thought of disregarding the [invitation] or of refusing to comply never . . . entered [your] mind?”
Brother Pierce did serve the mission to which he was called. He served honorably, and he was involved in several miraculous events as a missionary. At the end of his history, looking back on his life, a life that included years of inactivity in the Church as well as years of faithful service, he observed, “Though my missions cost me more than a thousand dollars, besides more than double that in wages, I have never, for one moment, regretted the sacrifice. . . . And now, after years have passed, I repeat, in words of soberness, that the happiest period of my life was spent in the Master’s service.” 
Clearly, Brother Pierce responded to a prophet’s invitation and his life was changed.
If you are thinking “I’m not a daily scripture reading type” or “I’m not really into family history”—in other words, “That’s just not the way I am”—let me share a statement from Elder Holland:
If there is one lament I cannot abide . . . it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” . . . Though not a swearing man, I am always sorely tempted to try my hand when I hear that. Please spare me your speeches about “That’s just the way I am.” I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology. 
Fourteen years ago, President Henry B. Eyring prophesied about the future. I believe that prophesy has been, and is even now, continuing to be fulfilled. He said:
Too many of our young people want the blessings of a mission and the temple and yet fail to meet the qualifications to claim them. For many of our youth, next year is a long way away, and beyond a year looks like forever. To them, missions and the temple are far distant, in some future time when the joys of youth have flown away. Those goals are distant enough that too many, far too many, say to themselves: “Well, I know I may have to repent someday, and I know that a mission and temple marriage will require big changes, but I can always take care of that when the time comes. I have a testimony. I know the scriptures. I know what it takes to repent. I’ll see the bishop when it’s time, and I’ll make the changes later. I’m only young once. For now, I’ll go with the flow.
Well, the flow has become a flood and soon will be a torrent. It will become a torrent of sounds and sights and sensations that invite temptation and offend the Spirit of God. Swimming back upstream to purity against the tides of the world was never easy. It is getting harder and may soon be frighteningly difficult. 
I want to return to Captain Moroni and his interaction with Pahoran for a moment. After Moroni received a response from Pahoran, he took a small part of his army on a recruitment drive. As Moroni marched toward Zarahemla, he gathered up “thousands”  of additions to his army. Here is my question: why hadn’t those “thousands” come earlier? Surely they knew that there was a great war going on and that the very life of the Nephite nation was in peril.
My suggestion is that they responded when they were reminded and encouraged to come join the ranks. It probably is no different with us. I think that most of already know what we need to do. We know what commandments we should be more vigorously implementing into our lives. We just need to be reminded and encouraged, sometimes repeatedly—and that is one of the jobs that the prophets and apostles are engaged in.
One of the most moving events in the Savior’s life (that included many moving events and life-changing activities) is recorded by Mark.  Mark records that on a particular day, the Savior was walking near Jericho. Sitting by the highway begging was a blind man by the name of Bartimaeus. When he heard the noise of a crowd of people coming, he inquired of someone what was the cause. When he was told that the crowd included Jesus, he recognized that this might be his chance for a miracle in his life—that is, to have his sight restored. He cried out pleading with the Savior. He called Him “Thou Son of David”—in other words, Messiah. At some point, the Savior called for Bartimaeus to come. This is interesting. How come the Savior instructed Bartimaeus to come to Him rather than the Savior coming to Bartimaeus? After all, the Savior could see, and Bartimaeus was blind. But Bartimaeus responded to the Savior’s invitation. Mark then includes four words that seem to be truly insignificant. He states that Bartimaeus cast away his garment. What is the purpose of including such a minute detail? I believe that this is indicative of Bartimaeus’s willingness to throw aside anything that might impede his ability to get to the Savior. After reaching Jesus, Bartimaeus asks for his sight to be restored and received the promised blessing.
While reading student comments on the discussion board, I was impressed with how often some of you cited examples in your life when you ignored counsel and then spoke of how you changed your attitude. You then shared a tender testimony or an example of how your life was blessed by following a prophet.
I would like to show you one last video clip. This is President Nelson at the end of this most recent general conference:
My dear brothers and sisters, the assaults of the adversary are increasing exponentially, in intensity and in variety. Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater. I plead with you to take a prayerful look at how you spend your time. Invest time in your future and in that of your family. . . . I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples. 
I close with two thoughts: Are we as willing as Bartimaeus to receive the blessings we desire by casting aside anything that may be in our way? Are we willing to follow prophetic counsel and receive the miracles we need as they have promised? We have been given the tools needed to protect ourselves in these last days. Are we willing to make use of them? Or are we silly enough to think that we can sit on our thrones and just expect that God will protect us because of His goodness? And second, I restate what President Eyring has said: “Swimming back upstream [against the ways of the world] may soon be frighteningly difficult.”
 Russell M. Nelson, “Opening Remarks,” Ensign, Nov. 2018; see also Russell M. Nelson, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Nov. 2018.
 Thomas S. Monson, “The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, May 2017.
 Dallin H. Oaks, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament,” Nov. 2008; see also 2 Timothy 3:1.
 L. Tom Perry, “Let Him Do It with Simplicity,” Ensign, Nov. 2008.
 Boyd K. Packer, “The Key to Spiritual Protection,” Ensign, Nov. 2013.
 Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example,” Ensign, Nov. 2009.
 See 2 Nephi 5:1.
 2 Nephi 5:2; emphasis added.
 See 2 Nephi 5:5-8.
 Jeffrey R. Holland, “Remember Lot’s Wife,” BYU devotional, Jan. 13, 2009.
 Alma 57:26.
 See Alma 57:26-27.
 Alma 57:25.
 James E. Faust, “The Refiner’s Fire,” Ensign, May 1979.
 Alma 60:11.
 Alma 60:21.
 David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign, Nov. 2011.
 Richard G. Scott, “The Joy of Redeeming the Dead,” Ensign, Nov. 2012.
 Thomas S. Monson, “The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, May 2017.
 The call came on October 5, 1875 , and Brother Pierce was born in Pennsylvania in 1827; see also Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 1884 .
Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 1884.
 Jeffrey R. Holland, “For Times of Trouble,” BYU devotional, Mar. 18, 1980.
 Henry B. Eyring, “We Must Raise Our Sights,” Ensign, Sept. 2004.
 Alma 62:5.
 See Mark 10:46-52.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Nov. 2018.