28 October 2009

Lessons from Life - Part 4: Sunburn

A number of years ago I floated on an inner tube down the Salt River in Arizona with a friend. We had a nice time enjoying the hot sun and cool water. We floated at a leisurely pace - taking a couple hours to reach our destination. It was a great day with my friend (and the thousands of other people around us on the river).

Before going out in the intense Arizona sun it is a good idea to put on sunblock - it is particularly a good idea for someone with skin of an alabaster hue like mine. I've never been very tan in my life (except for a couple times when I spent a lot of time outside) and have always burned easily in the sun. I had done a good job of slathering myself with sunblock - or so I thought. I missed (or, it rubbed off) about an fifteen square inch area on the front of my lower left left (starting just below the ankle and extending upwards about five inches). Over the next couple of days this area of skin turned bright red and then purple. It was blistered, swollen, and very painful; I had a difficult time walking, which was unfortunate because my summer job involved a lot of walking. After a couple weeks the color returned to normal, the blisters drained, the swelling went away, and the pain subsided. I was able to walk without pain once again. However, I still have a patch of freckles over that area - the permanent residuals of my carelessness.

There's a spiritual lesson in this. In Mosiah 4:30 we read: "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not." We need to watch ourselves - our thoughts, words, and deeds. We need to do this all our lives. This is not all. We also need to don the armor of God in order to protect ourselves. "Put on the whole armour of God," the apostle wrote, "that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).

I had covered myself in sunblock, at least I thought I was covered, but I missed a large area of my skin. I did not "put on the whole armor of God" - my "feet were [not] shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15), so to speak. I, like Achilles, had an unprotected spot that led to great pain and suffering (although, unlike Achilles, mine did not result in death). I was severely burned by the sun. There is another spiritual analogy with this and making sure we are in a position where we are not burned at the Second Coming (or in the next life) but I'll not expand on that.

Are you protected against all the wiles of the adversary? Have you completely protected yourself with a spiritual sunblock? Do you reapply it frequently? Have you donned the armor of God? If so, do you wear all your armor all the time? We need to protect ourselves - physically and spiritually.

25 October 2009

Good and Evil - Part 3

Since the beginning, God has called prophets. The first man - Adam - was a prophet, a holy man of God, and one authorized to act in God's name. Other prophets were called after Adam, men such as Enoch, whose city Zion fled, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Then came prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lehi, Alma, Mormon, and many others. Finally came the greatest prophet - John - and Jesus Christ. Jesus established His church after His resurrection with Peter as president and James and John as counselors. This establishment of the Lord's church did not last long. The vineyard became corrupted and the priesthood authority and keys were taken from the earth. For about 1800 years, the Lord's authority was not found on the earth (at least in the Old World; the priesthood lasted until about 400 AD in the Americas). One spring morning a boy sought an answer to a question about which church to join. He retired to a secluded grove of trees near his home and tried to pray vocally to God. As mentioned previously, Joseph's prayer was interrupted by Satan, who sought to kill him. Joseph was saved by the appearance of God, the Father, and then Jesus Christ. They spoke with Joseph. He was called as the Lord's prophet - a modern Abraham - father to a new dispensation. Over time, Joseph received the authority and keys necessary to administer the Lord's affairs on earth through His church. Once again the Lord's authority and church were found on the earth.

It has always been the Lord's will and work to use prophets. Amos wrote, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). This is the Lord's pattern. Moroni wrote: "O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.... And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust." (Mormon 9:15, 19-20).

God is a God of miracles. God changes not. He appeared to Joseph Smith in our day just as He did to prophets of old. He does mighty wonders today, just as He did in ancient times.

For those who might not believe that we need prophets let me ask a hypothetical question. What if we needed someone like Noah today? Would God call someone to be a prophet or would he simply allow all of us, proverbially, to drown? Why if God called prophets in Biblical times would He not call them today? Do prophets become unnecessary with the times? We live in a modern society so there is no need for prophets? Did God speak all He needed to speak unto us in the past so there is no need for Him to reveal more to humankind?

I find all those explanations insufficient. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He continues to speak to prophets today. Their words and revelations provide direction and comfort. However, they are more than just comforters and tour guides - they hold the Lord's priesthood and the keys that authorize the use of that priesthood. They administer the affairs of the Lord here on earth. They are in charge of His church and are responsible not just for the members of the church but also for all humankind. They are responsible to oversee and direct the missionary efforts of the church. They are as laborers in the vineyard or shepherds to a flock. The roles of prophets (and seers and revelators) and apostles are not honors taken by those with those responsibilities. All were called of God as was Aaron (see Hebrews 5:4). The honor and glory of the callings all belongs to God, for they direct His church.

Again I ask, what if the Lord needed to tell us something important today like He told the world through Noah or Jonah or Moses? Would He leave us to our own devices or would He call a prophet who would speak His words and do His work? I testify that God does speak to prophets today. He does not lead us without a guide. He does love us as much as He loved His children in ancient days. Satan is real and God is real. Prophets of God have been called to counter the prophets of Satan. The prophets of Satan are myriad, the prophets of God are few but the Lord's prophets have His power and His authority. They direct His church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Christ's church is on the earth. We can know God's will and plan for us by listening to His prophets.

22 October 2009

Good and Evil - Part 2

None of us remember our life before this earth when we lived with our Father in Heaven as His children. However, just because we do not remember this does not mean it was not real or did not happen. Few people remember much of anything from their lives before the age of two. Many people do not remember anything from before the age of four. This is called infantile amnesia - the loss of memory from our earliest years. There are explanations why we do not remember but for now what is important is that even though we do not remember, those years of our lives actually occurred.

We know they occurred because we are here now - reading these words at some later stage in life. We might have photos or video of our youngest years. We might have heard stories about when we were born or about other things early in life. All of our knowledge about our first year or two of our lives comes from other people. We have to trust them (and photographs or video if we have them) but again, we know that those first years of our lives occurred because we are here now. This is the same as with our premortal existence. We do not remember that time but we know it occurred because we are here now. We have the testimony of latter-day prophets to trust. We have scriptural accounts in Abraham and Job referencing our premortal life. We are experiencing an amnesia now but some day we will remember our life before we came to earth.

While there we saw two plans presented - one by Jesus Christ and one by Lucifer. All of us here on earth now chose to follow God's plan - we rejected Satan's plan and watched as he and his followers were cast out - maybe some of us assisted with his expulsion. Evil at that point was definitely out of fashion.

Then we started coming to earth. It did not take long for Adam and Eve's children to leave the Lord and lust after worldly things. They were no longer in the presence of God, although they had access to His Spirit if they sought it. They were, however, in the presence of Satan and his followers, even if they could not see them (although they probably could sometimes). Even though Satan is on the earth, he has no power over people except as they give him power. Make no mistake, he has great power. He tried to kill Joseph Smith as Joseph knelt to pray in what became known as the Sacred Grove. Satan also wields power indirectly through governments, mobs, gangs, murders, lies, wealth, and armies. He calls himself the prince of this world and he is to an extent. He is given nearly free reign over the earth. Satan is very real with real power. Twice in my life I have met people who had evil spirits within them. I still remember how I felt in their presence - it was not good. I have met and talked with many people who were what we would call strong "anti-Mormons" and none of them were like these two men. These two men were full of evil. Satan is there but he only has strength over us when we give it to him.

Throughout the ages God has given us a way to counteract the influence of Satan. He has given us people who speak with authority and clarity against the wiles and insidiousness of Satan. All are entitled to the influence of the Holy Ghost. All are entitled to discern good from evil but the Lord's way is even grander and broader than that. He calls men who have been given His authority and authorization to act in His name.

19 October 2009

Consider the Lilies

Happy birthday to my dear little flower!

"Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Luke 12:27).

"For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these." (D&C 82:82).

"Consider the lilies of the field--how they grow, how they grow.
Consider the birds of the sky--how they fly, how they fly.
He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the birds in the sky
and He will feed those who trust Him and Guide them with His eye.

Consider the sheep of his fold--how they follow where he leads.
Though the path may wind across the mountains,
He knows the meadows where they feed.
He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the birds in the sky
and He will feed those who trust Him and Guide them with His eye.

Consider the sweet tender children who must suffer on this earth.
The pains of all of them he carried from the day of his birth.
He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the lambs of his fold
and He will heal those who trust Him and make their hearts as gold.

He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the lambs of his fold
and He will heal those who trust Him and make their hearts as gold."

18 October 2009

Good and Evil - Part 1

I recently saw an ad for a Halloween party sponsored by a major corporation. The main tag-line of the ad was: "Evil never goes out of fashion." That line succinctly summarizes one of the major problems in our world - that evil does not go out of fashion. The love of evil is not new to our world. Thousands of years ago lived a man named Cain. His parents were illustrious - they were our first parents. Adam was a prophet of God; he and his wife Eve were a couple of the most chosen among all the sons and daughters of God. Some of their children quickly stopped following their counsels though. Among them was Cain who "loved Satan more than God" (Moses 5:18). Cain was not the first of Adam and Eve's children to leave God and love Satan: "And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish." (Moses 5:12-13). After that time Cain was born. He became notorious when he killed his brother and lied to the Lord. Before he killed his brother Cain did not love the Lord. He was one of the most secular in a rapidly-secularizing world. He was Satan's protege.

Since that time, Satan's influence has continued to flourish. Satan is the father of all lies (see Moses 4:4), one who seeks to destroy the agency of man (see Moses 4:3) by deceiving them and leading them carefully down to hell. Satan likes to spread rumors and contentions. He enjoys being a troublemaker. What's more is that he enjoys the fact that not only do many people in today's world not believe in God, even more do not believe that Satan exists. If Satan, and therefore evil, does not exist then moral relativism reigns. Further, if there is no devil then soon people will believe there is no God. That is not to say that God only exists if Satan exists - that is not true; however, once people stop believing that there is absolute evil, namely Satan, they will soon stop believing there is absolute good, namely God.

Satan exists as no more than an abstraction for many people (the same could be said for their conceptions of God but it is my impression that more people believe in God than believe in the Devil). Many believe that They are nothing more than unknowable concepts and not visible percepts. Even more, because of mistaken beliefs about the nature of God, many cannot conceive of the existence of a literal devil. If God created everything, did He create evil (i.e., the devil)? If so, why? Does that make Him not all good? Many arguments continue on in a similar manner. We as Latter-day Saints have a much clearer understanding of how Satan came to be, even if our understanding is limited.

13 October 2009

John - Overthrowing the Kingdom of the Jews

"For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight says old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power" (D&C 84:28). This verse is about John the Baptist. He was a great prophet - someone who prepared Israel for the coming of the Messiah. An interesting part of this verse is how John was ordained in part, "to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews." How did John overthrow, or at least pave the way for the kingdom of the Jews to be overthrown?

Joseph Smith listed three reasons John the Baptist was not only a great prophet but also one who would overthrow the kingdom of the Jews: "First. [John] was entrusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.

"Secondly. He was entrusted with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize the Son of Man. ...

"Thirdly. John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey his instructions or be damned, by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law. ...The son of Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven, and these three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], pp. 275–76).

John "wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven." By the time John lived, the scribes and pharisees had perverted and distorted the Judaic Law. Even the priests had largely gone astray. There were many good ones, such as Zacharias - John's father, but they did not rightly hold any priesthood keys. John was blessed when eight days old and told that he would later receive the Aaronic Priesthood as well as the keys of that priesthood. He did. When John received the keys, he had the authority to administer the temporal ordinances of the Lord, including baptism. He also held the authority to teach the gospel and hold the Israelites accountable unto God if they refused John's message.

John's whole mission was to prepare the way for the Savior. His light diminished once the Savior's arose. John did not seek fame nor did he feel threatened when Jesus' mission started. To the contrary, John understood his mission and fulfilled it admirably. He was one of God's elect, chosen before the world began to prepare the way of the Lord. There were few others like him. He gave His life - literally - for God's kingdom. He condemned sin and spoke boldly in the face of opposition. He unflinchingly faced Herod and Herodias when they sought and later, took his life.

Many might look at John's life and think his life was a failure, that he accomplished little of significance; that he certainly did not overthrow the kingdom of the Jews. They might say, "The kingdom of the Jews was not overthrown by John; the Jews were already under governance of the Romans and would shortly be destroyed and scattered with such finality that they would not have their own land again where the morning sun would reveal hill and plain for nearly two thousand years. John had nothing to do with their overthrow." But that is not what was meant in the Doctrine and Covenants. John did not overthrow the earthly kingdom of the Jews any more than the Savior did during His ministry. John overthrew the Jew's spiritual kingdom. Hepaved the way for the Savior to fulfill the law of Moses. John was "the greatest prophet born of woman."

09 October 2009

On Time

One night Wilford Woodruff had a vision of Joseph Smith and others in heaven. Joseph was at the door of the temple in heaven. He was in a hurry and could not stop to talk with Wilford. Many people were in a hurry. After a bit, Joseph passed by Wilford again. Wilford stopped him and asked why he and everyone were hurried. Joseph replied, "I will tell you Brother Woodruff. Every dispensation that has had the Priesthood on the earth and has gone into the Celestial Kingdom has had a certain amount of work to do to prepare to go to the earth with the Savior when He goes to reign on the earth. Each dispensation has had ample time to do this work. We have not. We are the last dispensation and so much work has to be done [that] we need to be in a hurry in order to accomplish it!"

In other words, we do not have much time before the Second Coming. We must be anxiously engaged in the work of the Lord. We must not waste time! We have so much to do and so little time. Those who have already passed on are engaged in the work from the other side of the veil. They continue their work with all the energy they have.

General Conference was one week ago. I marvel at the wonderful technology that allows us to watch Conference as it happens, even though we might be across the globe. Mp3s of the sessions were up hours after each was over. As soon as each session ended, we could watch it (again) via streaming video. Shortly later each talk and song were available to download as videos or audio. On Thursday the full text of the talks was posted.

The Church is constantly working on new ways to reach more people more quickly and with less effort. We can watch church videos on YouTube, we can listen to an LDS radio station - online and over the air in some locations, we can read scriptures online or on our iPods or iPhones, we can send out emails to the whole ward announcing activities, we can report home teaching via email, we can share the gospel using Twitter or Facebook or blogs. The Lord has blessed us with technological advances so that we might have more time to devote to fulfilling His work. We need to take advantage of these advances and labor and time-saving inventions by making sure we fulfill our gospel responsibilities and our duties to God.

We have little time to do the Lord's work; let's not squander what time we have. Those like the Prophet Joseph or Pres. Hinckley or many of our ancestors on the other side of the veil are working with all diligence to do the Lord's work. They need willing and active hearts and hands from us to fulfill our duties. We need to remember the words of Amulek who said, "Behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors" (Alma 34:32). We have much work to accomplish in this life - there are things we can only do here. We have work enough to do ere the sun goes down. How are you spending your time?

04 October 2009

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts - Sunday Afternoon Session

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - Witness of the Book of Mormon

Elder Holland's talk was one of the most powerful testimonies of the Book of Mormon you will likely hear in your life!

Prophecies regarding the last days often reveal calamities - political and economic.

The Savior warned that even the very elect could be deceived in the last days. Think of the heart as the poetic location of our loyalties and values. Heavenly Father knows all of our troubles of the heart and soul. The Book of Mormon begins with a great parable of life - hope vs. fear, salvation vs. destruction, etc. Mists of darkness arose to make the hard way even harder. There was a rod of iron that led the way - it was a manifestation of God's love - it was His word.

The power of Christ [will counter] all troubles in all times, including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in public or personal despair. As we are faithful, we can be made strong.

Elder Holland told of the martyrdom of Hyrum and Joseph. Many testify of the truth of the Book of Mormon and of the truthfulness of Joseph's calling as a prophet of God. Joseph and Hyrum were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon has been denied and attacked since its publication and no attack has ever held.

"No wicked man could write a book like this [the Book of Mormon] and no good man would write it, unless it were truth and he had been commanded of God."

The Book of Mormon is a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to the unbeliever.

"My testimony is as binding and unequivocal as [Joseph's]...I give my witness to the world [that the Book of Mormon is true...I lie not."

God always provides safety for the soul and with the Book of Mormon He has again done that.

Elder Quentin L. Cook - Stewardship

We have the freedom to choose our course in this life...but we will be accountable for our choices.

We are stewards over our minds, bodies...

Stewardship for ourselves and family.

"We live in a time when virtue and chastity are not safeguarded." The wellsprings of life are to be kept pure. This is one of the reasons why virtue and chastity are so important in our Father's Plan. When our thoughts or actions are impure, we violate His standard.

Those who rationalize, remind us of little children who cover their eyes convinced that they can't see us and we can't see them.

All can repent and return to a state of cleanliness. "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is repented and I remember them no more." We have a duty to secure the physical and spiritual well-being of our children. Having religious observance in our home is as important as having food, shelter, and clothing.

Stewardship for the poor and needy.

We are accountable as stewards over earthly blessings.

Story of 80 year old Sarah who was one of first to give service or donations. He also spoke of the Church's humanitarian efforts, including fast offerings.

We should be diligent. Because of contributions, the church can respond quickly without fanfare to needs/disasters around the world. In all our stewardship actions, we try to follow the Savior.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson - The Principle of Discipline

We all possess the God-given gift of moral agency. For positive outcomes, moral agency must be coupled with moral discipline.

The root of the word discipline is shared with the word "disciple." Our moral discipline is rooted in loyalty and devotion to the Father and Son. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that provides the foundation of moral discipline.

The world sees moral as relative. This leads to lack of internal control, which requires external coercion by governments. We rely on external laws to regulate behavior, which shows how uncivilized we have become.

We need an internal moral compass within each individual that can deal with the root causes of personal and societal ills. Moral discipline is learned at home. We can't dictate what others will do [but we can what we do]. There must be constant teaching, mostly by example [of the gospel]. The intelligent use of agency requires knowledge of truth to see things how they are.

Satan and his followers are not promoting objectivity. We should not have to learn by sad experience that wickedness never was happiness. Early discipline [of children] can bring an abrupt end to crime [or prevent it outright].

"While therapy can support a person's will, it cannot substitute for it."

Pres. Thomas S. Monson - Closing Remarks

We live in a time when many in the world have slipped from the moorings of safety. Many are routinely disregarding the laws of God.

May we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. "I love you my brothers and sisters. I pray for you. I ask that you would remember me and all the general authorities [in your prayers]." Jesus guides and directs His church here upon the earth.

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts - Sunday Morning Session

Pres. Henry B. Eyring - The Road of Improvement

Different as we may be, we share a desire to be better than we are. We can and must expect to become better as long as we live. We will all meet the Savior someday and need to prepare for that time. Any believing Latter-day Saint is an optimist about what may come. Even the most humble person can take comfort in the invitation to become like the Savior.

I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in His way. I'm trying to love as He did, in all that I do and say.

It is a commandment to become like the Savior. He has prepared a way through His Atonement and example. Love is the motivator along the way to becoming like Him. Love of God will lead us to keep His commandments. The family is an example of the ideal setting in which we can experience love [and service]. Sorrow [in our families] comes primarily from selfishness.

I pray that there will be no empty chairs in your family in the life to come. Pray for the love to make your companion's joy your own.

[He talked about wayward children]. Orson F. Whitney quote: "Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them...Pray for your careless and disobedient children...Love them, reach out to them with confidence..."

Honor thy father and mother - the only commandment with a promise.

You can feel the approval our your Heavenly Father when you do what He asks. I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did.

Elder L. Tom Perry - Temple and Missionary Work

Talked about the Manti Temple pageant and temple. There is a special spirit about these older temples that were constructed [with great sacrifice]. I can hear the pioneers saying, "Look what we built with our own hands!"

Stories of the pioneers. Settling in Sanpete and promised to have a temple. They waited and no temple was started so they, with the Church leaders' permission, started building the Manti temple. They used the principles of ship-building to build a solid roof for the temple (they designed it like a ship and turned it upside-down). The principles of building a sound ship also applied to the temple.

We have all accepted the responsibility to share the gospel with others. The church eliminated the stake missions and brought it down to the ward level; it increases involvement by the members. Pres. Hinckley said: "So many of look upon missionary work simply as tracting...there is a better...wherever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is a built-in support system."

How prepared are you to give witness and testimony of the gospel...to play that supporting role to the full-time missionaries as they teach investigators?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the divine way to face the future.

Elder Russell M. Nelson - Revelation

Modern technology is amazing. But more amazing is our ability to receive knowledge from heaven without hardware, software, or monthly fees. This offer to receive personal revelation is extended to all God's children. We always need to be ready to receive [personal revelation].

To access information from heaven, one must have firm faith and sincere desire. One needs to ask with real intent and with faith in Jesus Christ. Study the matter diligently.

Some revelations have been given for specific circumstances, like Noah's ark.

A desire to follow the prophet takes much effort because the natural man knows little of the Lord. The natural man is an enemy to God and will be forever unless he [submitteth unto the Lord].

Personal revelation can be honed to become spiritual discernment. This is a supernal gift. It allows us to see things not visible and feel things not tangible. Can detect trends in the world...things that are flashy and fleeting and those that are [worthwhile and lasting].

"None of the callings in the Priesthood are for the personal benefit or fame of those who have them. They are to fulfill the purposes of God." ~ Pres. John Taylor (paraphrased)

Revelation need not all come at once. It may be incremental. "Line upon line, precept upon precept." Unto him who receiveth, I will give more.

Pres. Thomas S. Monson - Service

Volunteers in Medicine founder - Dr. McConnell - giving service

Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose in life. Giving service can, in effect, save your life.

"Man's greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others" - David O. McKay.

At baptism we covenant to bear one another's burdens that they may be light. Too often we think, "oh, someone else will fill that need." We spend too much time thinking about things that do not matter much in the grand scheme of things.

"I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight that to somebody's need made me blind; But I never have yet felt a tinge of regret for being a little too kind."

"Warm fuzzies jar" - based on acts of service. A girl in a ward babysat for free for a family who did not have a lot of money. [Other examples of service were shared].

We have to live a long time to learn how empty a room can be that is filled only with furniture. The memories of the past can burn within our hearts.

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.

If we truly listen we may hear that voice say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

03 October 2009

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts - Priesthood Session

The following notes are only from talks by the Apostles.
Elder M. Russell Ballard - Communication Between Fathers and Sons

Priesthood and family are two of the most powerful things in the gospel.

Fathers and sons - how to talk to each other. We are all on a journey of becoming who we will become someday. No one has arrived yet. Fathers are the primary model of manhood for their sons.

Sons - how to take full advantage of your relationship with your father.
  1. Trust your father. He is not perfect but can help you. Talk to him, let him know your thoughts and dreams. You dad wants you to be happy and successful.
  2. Take an interest in your father's life and his job and who he is. Find out what you don't know about him.
  3. Ask your father for his advice on friends, dating, school, church, and so forth. This can also motivate him to give better advice and be a better person.


  1. Listen to your sons. Ask the right kind of questions. Need to know what is going on in his life. Don't assume you know how he feels or is thinking. Find a best way to connect. Have a one on one relationship. At least one really good conversation per month. Ask about feelings as often as you can without overdoing it. Listen more than you talk.
  2. Pray with and for your sons. Give them blessings. Share your testimony. Never give up even when fervent prayer in behalf of any who wander is all you can do.
  3. Have the big talks with your sons - drugs, girls, gospel, sex, pornography. Have open and frequent conversations on these topics. Talk about wholesome sexual relationships within marriage.

The most important decision for returned missionaries is to marry the right girl in the temple. Court and date and do not just "hang out". Do not go the way of the world.

Honor your priesthood and love one another by making relationships with each other.

Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Adversity and Work

The brethren pray always for us. Winter will always give way to Spring. Remain steadfast in hope.

Shared story when he was 11 and living in the loft/attic of a barn. He was a refuge for the 2nd time in a few years. Boys made fun of him because of his East German accent. Now he can look back and see the great personal growth he made in the midst of that adversity.

Two important principles that sustain through adversity.

1. Work. Keep working, regardless of what you do. His parents worked various jobs to survive - truck driving, mining, laundry. Work kept their minds off their difficult circumstances. As they kept working, things got better. Those who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and work are a benefit to all. Don't compare your efforts to others. Just do the best we can. Work is an ointment for anxiety.

If stuck in the mud, the Lord will be more willing to him who gets out and pushes instead of just praying. The righteous work we do in our homes cannot be delegated. Do not devote ourselves solely to worldly things.

Retirement is not part of the Lord's plan of happiness. We need to consecrate everything to the Lord's word. Endure joyfully to the end. Whether you are the youngest Deacon or the oldest High Priest, there is work to do.

2. Learn. Education is not the filling of a bucket, it is the lighting of a fire. Learning is not merely a good idea, it is a commandment. You do not progress faster than you gain knowledge. Knowledge does away with darkness, anxiety, and doubt.

Books can become your university. Seek knowledge by study and faith. Apply faith to your study. It will amplify your intellectual capacity. Do not neglect the fountain of revelation. Seek out the knowledge that leads to peace and truth.

It is often in the trial of adversity that we learn the most important things.

Pres. Henry B. Eyring - Spiritual Preparation

His containers of consecrated olive oil. Be prepared for any emergencies. When the call comes be ready. Preparation begins long before the crises that we might face.

Make choices to rise to your destiny as children of God. We don't know what will come but know what you need to be ready.

1. Have faith. Priesthood is power to act in the name of God. You have to have faith that God lives and has confidence in you. Faith dies not come on a moment, it comes from courageous and sustained labor in the Lord's Kingdom.

Deacons and Teachers an Priests can give as inspired and powerful talks as you hear in General Conference.

Some do not prepare as they should. We will be held accountable if we can help and do not.

2. Confidence to live up to the promises and blessings. Courage to stand firm in the face of temptations and adversities. We can be examples for the youth. D&C 121 - pattern of righteous priesthood action.

Be unwearying in the Lord's work. No lights out method of shepherding the youth.

Don't tell your kids to do something or make a sacrifice you are not willing to do yourself. Have a feeling of wanting to do more to rise to the occasion and he prepared.

Pres. Thomas S. Monson - Anger

Anger is the root of many of the tragic stories in the news. Cease from anger and forsake wrath.

Story of husband and wife arguing in the car, thrown toy that was aimed at wife but hit the 18 month old son and damaged his brain.

Anger doesn't solve anything. It doesn't build anything and can destroy everything.

There are many causes for anger. We can get upset for perceived wrongs or insult. A man is a fool who takes an insult where none is intended.

Can you be angry and not sin? Can you feel the Spirit when you are angry? No. The spirit of contention is of the Devil. God's doctrine is to do away with anger.

No one can make us angry - it is a choice. Becoming angry is following the influence of the devil.

Shared story of Elder Marsh's wife saving the strippings of the milk. Thomas B. Marsh became angrier and angrier and swore before a magistrate that the Mormons were dangerous. This was a factor in Bogg's extermination order. 19 years later Marsh came back, saying he had lost much because of his choices.

Don't given in to the feelings that lead to anger - irritation and so forth. Think of the consequence of anger. Leave unsaid the harmful and hurtful things you might say. School thy feelings.

The Oath & Covenant of the priesthood applies to all of us priesthood holders. Great promises await us if we are true to the Oath & Covenant of the priesthood. Harbor no animosity but be peacemakers.

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts - Saturday Afternoon Session

Note: These are not necessarily direct quotes. Many times they are my paraphrasing and additional notes of what was said.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks - God's Love and Commandments

God's love is shown in all the blessings of His gospel plan. God's love should guide parents in their teachings.

Some people disbelieve eternal laws based on their own understanding of [what God should act like, or what His love should be like].

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. He sent His son to suffer and die for us because He loves us so much!

God's love is tied to His laws. It is not completely unconditional. Mercy cannot rob justice. Those who receive mercy are they who received the covenant and kept the commandment. God's anger and wrath are part of His love. He wants us to become like Him and is displeased when we do not follow Him.

We obtain blessings from God based on obedience to His laws. Agency is fundamental to the plan that brings us to earth. God will bless us if we endure the poor choices of others but He will not stop them [most of the time].

Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth.

The straying of our loved ones will detract from our happiness but should not from our love.

Elder Robert D. Hales - The Nature of God

Prophets and apostles testify of God.

Some people might be surprised that we look like God. Some theologians even think it is making a "graven image" to even picture God as looking like us. But God Himself said, "Let us make man in our own image and likeness."

God has a face. He walks and talks. Enoch spoke with Him. God has a body with parts like ours. His glory and countenance are greater than the sun.

Joseph saw and talked with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Joseph's was a special witness of God.

Korihor not only disbelieved in God but also ridiculed Him. He mocked the believers. Alma replied, "All things denote there is a God."

Cultivate a diligent desire to know that God lives. This will lead to a softened heart. Most of us will not see God as the prophet has but the still small voice of the Holy Ghost will give us an undeniable knowledge that God lives.

With your own testimony of God you will be able to bless your family, your posterity, your friends, and many others.

Elder Neil L. Andersen - Repentance

The Savior's arms are open and extended. They are arms of mercy and safety. They are lengthened all the day long, open unto us. God is He who comforts us.

When we sin we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back unto God. The call to repent is a call to turn around and re-turn to God. It is a call to change and feel the happiness of keeping the commandments.

We each need to feel the arms of mercy through the repentance of our sins.

If it feels too difficult to change and if you feel if no one can understand what you are going through, the Savior understands. He will provide the strength to change.

Repentance becomes part of our daily lives. Partaking of the sacrament is a way to acknowledge our dependence upon the Lord.

The scriptures do not say that we will forget our forsaken sins in mortality but rather that the Lord will forget. [We should not, however, dwell to much upon our sins].

In this life it is never too late to repent.

Pres. Boyd K. Packer - Personal Revelation and Prayer

We are part of God's great plan of happiness. There was a war in heaven where Satan rebelled against God.

We have been given agency and must use it wisely.

The Holy Ghost can communicate through the mind more than the physical senses. We might feel the promptings of the Spirit more than hear them.

Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind and heart. Pray on your knees. Prayer is your personal key to heaven.

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts - Saturday Morning Session

One note about Elder Scott. He is not large in stature but he is a spiritual giant. I met him when I was serving as a missionary. He requested that the missionaries all shake his hand. When I shook his hand and looked him in the eyes, I felt my soul bared open to him. I've shaken the hands of a number of apostles in my life but that was the only time one was actively filled with and using the spirit of discernment. He based his talk on what he discerned we needed to hear as missionaries. He said some things I needed to hear and I know he said things others there needed to hear.

What follow are a series of quotes and paraphrased quotes from the apostles who spoke during the Saturday morning session of conference.

Richard G. Scott - Seeking inspiration in your life

Father in Heaven knew that you would be faced with decisions that would beyond your individual capacity. "Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help [the guidance of the Holy Spirit] by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

Promptings can be special experiences, very personal, like Patriarchal blessings. Some you will keep sacred.

You need to respond to the first promptings that come to you. "Sometimes the Lord reveals truth to you when you are not actively seeking it, such as when you are in danger. However, the Lord will not force you to learn."

Promptings can be masked by strong emotions: Anger, pride, fear.

[Elder Scott also spoke about the dangers of pornography. Much of this portion of his talk was almost word-for-word what he has said about pornography in conference in the past].

Elder David A. Bednar - Love and Hypocrisy

Hopefully children hear and see the regular expression of love between their parents in their daily lives.

Do our words [of love] match our deeds?

Within the walls of our own homes we can and should bear testimony of the divinity of God's Son. When was the last time you shared your testimony with your spouse or children or parents?

What we know is not always reflected in what we do. We are not only striving to know more but also do more. We need to live and bear our testimonies.

We invite the Holy Ghost when we witness of truth.

Each scripture study, each family prayer, each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls.

Avoid hypocrisy by living at home and in private what you preach in public.

Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Love

Love is the great commandment; it ought to be at the center of everything we do - in our lives, family, and at church. Love is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love should be our walk and our talk.

At the heart of misery, you will find the love of evil things. At the heart of joy you will find the love of good things.

Why does Heavenly Father love us? God's love is infinite. God does not look on the outward appearance. Though we are incomplete, God love us completely. God does not care whether we live in a cottage or a castle. Regardless of our current state, there is hope for us.

Don't ever get discouraged if you stumble at times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. Choose to listen to the Father and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible.

Listen for God's voice in everything you do. As we draw near to Heavenly Father, we become more holy. As we become more holy we overcome disbelief.

Why is love the great commandment. Love of God for His children is the core message of the Plan of Salvation. It is given power by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Love is the way of the disciple. God is mindful of you. He hears your prayers and knows the desires of your hearts.

Let us be known as a people who love God with all our heart and who love our neighbor as ourselves.


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