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As ships need anchors to keep them from drifting away on the open seas, so do people need spiritual anchors in their lives if they are to remain steadfast and not drift into the sea of temptation and sin, said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve.

He spoke in the first of six historic satellite firesides for college-age young adults being telecast from BYU via the Church's satellite system to about 3,000 meetinghouses throughout North America. The firesides, which are among the many 19-stake firesides held at the Marriott Center, are sponsored by the Church Educational System and produced by the Audiovisual Department.During the first fireside Sept. 6, at which about 18,000 attended in the Marriott Center, Elder Ballard admonished: "Faith in God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the main anchor we must have in our lives to hold us fast during times of social turbulence and wickedness that seem to be everywhere today. Our faith, for it to be meaningful and effective and to hold us fast, must be centered in Jesus Christ, His life and His Atonement, and in the restoration of His gospel to the earth in the last days."

Nothing is more important in this life than to know that God our Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have spoken again from the heavens and have called prophets and apostles to teach the fullness of the everlasting gospel once again upon the earth, he explained.

"When you know it, that knowledge changes the course of your life to a safer one because it provides an anchor that helps hold you fast to the teachings of the gospel despite the evil influences all around you that entice you to drift toward sin and transgression."

Elder Ballard continued, "I make the same argument for the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood through John the Baptist and the Melchizedek Priesthood through Peter, James and John. Either the priesthood of God has been restored or it has not. When you know that it has, you have secured your spiritual anchor even more firmly against the turbulence and storms of life."

Similarly, either the Book of Mormon is the word of God or it is not, he said. "If the Book of Mormon is, in fact, the word of God, as I testify that it is, then the question of whether or not we should apply its principles and teachings in our own lives is already decided, isn't it?"

Elder Ballard explained that the same test applies to living prophets and apostles today.

"If we know these things to be true, we really have no question about how we should live and what we should do with our lives," he counseled.

"Becoming firmly grounded to these simple truths and focusing your attention on the lessons of eternity will keep your life moving in the right direction at all times and in all situations, regardless of which way the winds of current worldly trends may be blowing," he said.

He also spoke of what it takes to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, which means learning and knowing of Him, studying the principles of truth and receiving answers - "in other words, to receive knowledge.

"President [Ezra Taft] Benson knows this. He has called upon Church members to study the scriptures every day. Once we have knowledge of the simple principles of the restoration, coupled with a deep and abiding faith in the truths we do not yet know, we become true disciples of Jesus Christ. . . ."

Elder Ballard said that testimony and knowledge come as a result of personal faith and prayers. "Ask your Heavenly Father to bless you with faith and courage, and He will help you endure any challenges you may face. Your faith and your knowledge of the restoration of the gospel will give you the strength to be faithful and true to the covenants you have made with the Lord, and to share your strengths and talents gladly to build up the Kingdom of God here on the earth.

"As each of you receives the education and the degree for which you are working and becomes successful in your chosen fields of endeavor, whether within or outside of the home - all the while remaining disciples of Christ - think what a light you will be for those around you.

"Please understand that the future of the Church will be yours and that you must do your part to help people turn their hearts to God. You can be the antidote to much of the moral decline in America and the world. . . . You who have the light of the Holy Ghost within you can be a spiritual lighthouse to the people of the world."

Elder Ballard returned to the analogy of the ship's anchor, especially the massive anchor chain. "Suppose a beautiful sailing ship had been manufactured from the finest materials and had been reinforced and strengthened for the roughest seas. The mast and sails had been prepared carefully and were sturdy and seaworthy. Suppose the anchor was above standard in size and weight and craftsmanship. But suppose, by some inadvertent error, the chain attached to the anchor was inferior and weak. Visualize what would happen the first time the anchor was lowered, or the first time a strong wave tried to push the anchored ship out to sea. If any link of the chain holding the anchor broke, the anchor would be left to rust on the bottom of the ocean floor and the ship would drift and perhaps be destroyed.

"The links in our chain of faith and testimony that enable our personal anchor to keep us safe and secure are the simple doctrines and teachings of the gospel."

He exhorted those listening to partake of the sacrament, which is a renewal and reminder of covenants made with the Lord, and to be involved in temple work.

"My young brothers and sisters, your personal chain that anchors your souls to the gospel can be as strong as you want to make it through a daily review of your life. Be grateful for the principle of repentance, which provides the way for us to strengthen any weak links in our chain. Be worthy and at peace within yourself."