By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

I Wonder...

Brigham Young has made comments on how we must "improve" on the knowledge we have been given by God before He will give us more. By that, I take it that President Young means we need to incorporate that knowledge into our lives and act upon it. An example would be tithing. We could be taught about tithing until the cows come home, but until we start paying tithing, we have not "improved" upon that knowledge.

It seems to me that the Church emphasizes the basic teachings of the gospel more now than it did when I joined the Church in 1975. If I am remembering correctly, it seems that there were more lessons on deeper doctrine, more doctrinal articles in the Ensign, etc. It could be that as we gain more converts, it is necessary to make sure they are getting a solid foundation in the gospel basics. It could also be that we are not improving on the knowledge that we have and so we aren't being given more, but rather are being retaught the basics because we longtime members don't have as solid a foundation as we should have.

Just speculating here. I know I need to improve on the knowledge I already have and live the gospel more fully. I need to make better choices and develop more patience and so forth.

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 11:16-19 when He said, "But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets and calling unto their fellows, and saying, we have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."

I had another question about a scripture, but now I can't find it, so it will have to wait.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

And the Rains Came

We in Oklahoma and surrounding states have been getting some much needed rain lately. It is wonderful! We had a dry, mild winter and have already had some really hot days this spring. For it to rain and cool down has been a blessing. Of course, with said blessing came a few tornados. Some of you may have seen a clip of a tornado hitting a hangar at the El Reno airport, taken by a local news channel's helicopter. It was shown on some national news shows. El Reno is about 40 or so miles west of where I live. The storms fell apart just about the time they approached Oklahoma City and environs.

I have had some stresses at work and some health issues, which could be considered to fall into the metaphorical category of rain (as in "into each life some rain must fall"). However, I have noticed that the more I diligently pursue my daily scripture reading/study and prayer and come closer to the Lord, the more he sustains me and helps to me bear these things with equanimity. I had gotten somewhat sporadic with scriptures and prayers last year and had been feeling somewhat estranged from the Lord. Now I feel that sustaining power and comfort. He does not solve my problems for me, of course, but rather I find that I now have more courage and also more peace in dealing with the adversities of life. I see where I need to change and improve. I also see what I have no control over and can accept that and deal with it, as well.

I have been spending some time reading books by Elder Maxwell and President Hinckley and find their counsel and explanations useful and inspirational. I have also been studying up on depression and diabetes and find that knowledge leads to useful action, and also to comfort--to erasing of the fear of the unknown, or at least the lessening of that fear. I believe that nudges from the Holy Ghost led to my finding good sources of help and comfort. Also useful is the intelligence and sense that Heavenly Father created me with. All these things work together--God helps us and also we help ourselves--we do our part. One might call it a partnership made in Heaven.

Knowledge is power. Trust in God is power. These things are also comfort, help, guidance, and inspiration. My current trials are not that great (well, they are to me, but others have had much worse to go through), but they are my trials and I need help with them and appreciate that our Heavenly Father is concerned for each and every one of us, including me.

Friends have helped me, too. That awakens me to the importance of reaching out to others. I tend to keep to myself too much, for reasons I don't care to go into now. As I am helped by friends, though, I look to see if there is anything I can do for others.

All in all, my life gains in richness. It's a life-changing experience.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Blog Recommendation

I just discovered a new blog, sketching of thoughts by Miss Sarah, that I highly recommend. Her posts cover a wide range of topics, commented on in a well-written and lively manner. I've added this blog to my Bloggernacle list on the sidebar, but I wanted to point it out specifically.

Miss Sarah, I really enjoy your blog!


Sunday, April 16, 2006


I am filled with gratitude this morning to our Heavenly Father for His plan of salvation and to His Son, Jesus Christ, for His great sacrifice that makes the Resurrection available to all and the Atonement available to all who will accept it and repent and be believing.

Even so, I am sure I don't fully comprehend the wonder of the gifts and blessings we are given by our Heavenly Father. I think it is beyond my finite human mind to realize the magnitude of His great love for us. That Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost also love us and care for us is also evident in Their work for our salvation. I ponder today on all that the Godhead does for us and "I Stand All Amazed."

I hope today to appreciate these gifts and blessings and to do my best to understand how great they are. I hope to maintain, not just for today, an eternal perspective of my life so that I might see the big picture and remember the reasons for obeying the commandments and for having faith, hope, and charity.

I am grateful for the Restoration--that our Lord's true church is again on the earth and its teachings and doctrines are available to us for our own benefit and to share with all of our brothers and sisters around the world. The priesthood authority has been restored, as have temple ordinances and blessings. We can partake of the sacrament each Sunday and renew our covenants with our Heavenly Father.

I am grateful to the Prophet Joseph Smith for his faith and courage in restoring the gospel under the direction of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and with the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph sacrificed much and is sometimes still reviled today, but his life and work and death stand as a testimony to his goodness and righteousness and faith.

We have so many blessings. We have prayer and we have scriptures so that we are able to communicate directly with our Father in Heaven and learn of His ways and what He would have us to do. We have temple ordinances, for ourselves and for others. We know the significance of genealogy. We know why missionary work is so important. We know the need for and the blessings of service and charity. We know our own need for forgiveness and mercy and the need to extend those blessings to others.

So often we lose sight of eternity and the fact that the choices we make here and now will affect how we spend eternity. Nevertheless, we can change and be more appreciative and grateful and can ponder and meditate on the doctrines of the gospel and the wonders of eternal life. We can repent and sin no more. We can persist and be diligent in keeping the commandments and living the gospel and serving others. We can remember that we are not required to run faster than we have strength and means, but that we do need to be diligent and persistent. And patient with ourselves and with others.

We are here for a purpose--to repent and learn and progress and to share those things with all of our brothers and sisters. Our Heavenly Father could have kept us all safe with Him in the premortal existance, but He loved us enough to want us to progress and become like He is and to have what He has. Sometimes we lose sight of this, but we can regain that sight, that vision of eternity that will help us to stay on the strait and narrow path ourselves and to help others along the way.

I pray that I will do better and be better and I pray for that for all of us. Whatever trials we have, our Heavenly Father is mindful of us and is there to comfort and strengthen and heal us. May we always be mindful of and grateful to Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

General Conference Talks--Text Version Online

The text version (in English) of the General Conference talks is now up online here. Those who like to read can have a feast.

Someone on the 'nacle was wanting to find the poem, "The Carpenter of Nazareth," that Elder Holland read in his talk. I'm sorry I don't remember who it was or where I saw the query, but it's in his talk with a footnote telling who wrote it and where it's from. I loved that poem, too, so enjoy!

I really have appreciated General Conference this year. I always do, but the exercise of taking notes really helped me focus on what was said. It's so nice that either online or in the Ensign, we can go back and study the talks more carefully. Blessings abound!


Sunday, April 02, 2006

General Conference Sunday Afternoon Notes

President Faust conducting.

Elder Ballard—We are blessed to know the Atonement of Christ. Because of Joseph Smith, we have been given much. Without the restoration, we would not know the true nature of the godhead or our divine nature or many other things. We would assume all of God’s word is in the Bible. We would not have additional scripture or Priesthood ordinances. Would not have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Mighty change of heart because of knowledge we have. Our love for the Lord and appreciation for the restoration of the gospel should be all the motivation we need to share the gospel. Preach My Gospel increases missionaries abilities to teach and to adjust to meet needs of those they teach. They need more people to teach. Focus on love for the Lord, testimony, and gratitude. That will lead us to do all we can to assist the Lord. The Savior showed us the way when he called his disciples. He was teaching them. They could see and experience his message first hand. Our homes can be gospel-sharing homes. We can set an example and let the spirit of our home and family be our message. The D & C says we can be forgiven when we help another to be forgiven. We pray for many when we are in our homes. Create a gospel-sharing home. Easy. Families, college students, older couples, single members can all do this. Guests are welcome and feel comfortable and love to be there. These homes are ordinary, but family members clearly love each other and visitors feel the spirit of the Lord. It is not a program—it is a way of life. It means inviting friends and neighbors into the ongoing flow of gospel and church activities. We don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time developing friendships. We just have to be open. Be open about our church membership. Gospel-sharing home is not defined by people joining. We are to care, share, and invite and then leave it to them whether they accept or not. We do not just pray for the missionaries around the world—we pray for our own missionary experiences. Listen to the promptings. They will come. The Lord will guide us as we seek His divine help. Example of a French woman who is successful in sharing the gospel. Other examples. People join the church because of the example and attitude of those they know. Invite people to activities and open houses, etc. Invite them to sacrament meeting. Support the Ward leaders and mission activities. If we do some of these simple things, the Lord will lead us to find tens of thousands with whom to share the gospel.

Elder Scott—Hard to imagine anything more exciting than being a full-time missionary. Message of gospel is vital. Replaces turmoil with peace, sorrow with happiness. Preach My Gospel provides help. It has improved teaching around the world. It has strengthened our capacity to teach the gospel, the plan of salvation. Raising the bar has made a big difference, improvement in many areas. How to prepare to be a full-time missionary. Process begins in the home long before missionary age. Children best taught gospel truths in the home. Teaching can be tailored to each child. Young men should go, young women may go. Many parents are using Preach My Gospel to teach concepts to children. Children will be strengthened to do well, to go to the temple, to live worthily, to serve missions, be good spouses and parents. It’ll give you a head start. Just under 1,000,000 copies of Preach My Gospel have been distributed so far. Encourage potential missionaries to serve missions. Gives example of his daughter, Mary Lee. His grandchildren are following the example to serve. Missionaries arrive in the field better prepared. Help those who need to work to meet the standards. Urgent need for missionaries. Tells what an honorable full-time mission meant to him. After his mission, his parents became strong members. His future wife made it clear she would only marry in the temple to a returned missionary. He learned much on his mission. He pleaded with God for help. He came to love the people. His later life has brought many opportunities that his mission prepared him for. He is anxious to motivate young men to serve a mission. Also older couples and young women. It brings many blessings. Seek counsel of parents, bishop, stake president. Pray about serving a mission. Ask the Lord to guide you in whatever may be necessary to become a prepared full-time missionary. You won’t regret serving a mission, but you will regret not serving.

Elder Stone—Saw Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Would be nice to have an early warning system of approaching evil. Babylon – decadence. Every man walketh in his own way and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world. Live in the world but not be of that world. Create Zion in the midst of Babylon. Babylon is becoming more widespread. We have to create Zion in the midst of it and not be engulfed in Babylon’s culture. The people of God were an island in the midst of an ocean of idolatry in early times (Israel). How could Israel forget the Lord? The culture pressured them. Molded by the ethos or zeitgeist or culture. People in every culture move in a cocoon of self-satisfied…. They are influenced to think their way is right. Like puppets on a string as culture decides what is cool. Peter says we are a peculiar people (chosen generation, royal priesthood). Follow God, live by every word that cometh out of the mouth of God. Lesson of silence in the Manhattan Temple—minimal contact with outside walls to the world. This is how we can minimize Babylon’s influence on our Zion. Daniel. Young men refused to do that which they believed to be wrong. The Lord blessed them. Seduced by our culture, we often seldom recognize our idolatry. We do not need to adopt the standards of Babylon. We can have our own standards. We can live in accordance with the Lord’s moral laws. We can limit how much of Babylon can come into our Zion homes through media, etc. We will need courage to have Zion in the midst of Babylon. Sometimes we imagine courage in great episodes of danger. The opportunity to stand for that which is right come along far more frequently. No journalist will record it. We will know, though, that we did right. If Babylon is the city of the world, Zion is the city of the Lord. Zion is the pure in heart. Wherever we are, we can build Zion by the principles of the celestial kingdom. Our homes can be a refuge and protection. We do not need to be puppets of the culture and the times. We seek Zion because it is the habitation of our Lord. He will rule forever.

Elder Wood—We appear to live in an era when people are encouraged to speak without thinking, to speak from emotion, to give and take offense. Scriptures tell us that Satan and evil men will try to stir up contention and agitate people. Days of wickedness and vengeance. Wrath poured out in the last days upon the earth. First casualty of human wrath are truth and understanding. Beware of those who stir us up to such anger that calm feelings are suppressed. We must remain true to the way, the truth, and the life who is Jesus Christ. Have we slipped unknowingly into habits of stereotyping and other things? We need to raise the level of public discourse. Do not cast aspersions. Recognize good people wherever they be found. It is too easy to fall into a spirit of mockery and cynicism. There are those who watch for iniquity and make a man an offender for a word. We must cease to find fault with one another per the Lord. Hatred, …, unkindness wrong. It is not for us to criticize but rather to share our truth. World in darkness but righteous and truth also spread from heaven. We cannot afford to be caught up in a world prone to give and take offense. We must not be envious or prideful, etc. We must represent pure love of Christ. Never let us become a party to works of evil toward our brothers and sisters around the world. Let us not fall into the darkness so that we cannot see afar off. Let us be fruitful…. We must overcome with our Master the darkness of the world.

Elder Stucki—Tells story of going hunting at age 9 with new bow and arrow. Lost arrow. Prayed for help. Found arrow and ran home to get there before dark. That was the first time he’d prayed for the Lord to help him and He did. God hears our prayers and gives us the guidance we seek. Scriptures instruct us to pray. James 1:5 D & C 112:10. Prayer is a 2-way communication. It is one of the stepping stones that leads us on the path to our return to our Heavenly Father. Faith is another such stepping stone. Story of a doctor on an island. 8-year-old boy injured. Brain surgery required. All involved prayed. All helped. After 6 hours the surgery was completed and a successful outcome was achieved. Doctor grateful for all help and blessings. Neal Hutchison was the doctor. He’s now a bishop in New Zealand. Met the boy and his father. Boy is now an electrician with no ill effects from his head injury. Faith. Trust in God and in His willingness to help when needed. Joseph Smith displayed unwavering faith at 14 and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. We need to pray always. If we haven’t been, we can begin now. God will hear and give us guidance and comfort. Third stepping stone is the family. Divinely ordained. Our love, loyalty, and respect for each other can become a shield to protect us from the fiery darts of the adversary, from the wickedness of the world. Use these three stepping stones to return to God.

Elder Wirthlin—Starts with story of horse auction. Bought horse named Snowman. Was gentle and reliable, but had had a hard life. Turned out to be a jumper. Became an example of hidden, untapped potential. Elder W. has met many types of people. Some overcome trials and some do not. Some are happy and live lives of abundance. First, they drink deeply of living waters. The gospel of Jesus Christ heals and binds people together. The faith of our fathers is one of hope and joy. The abundant life is a spiritual life. Some live the gospel on the surface, but need to drink deeply of living waters. Develop an unshakable faith in Christ. Prayer, study, keep commandments. Second, fill our hearts with love. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Joseph Smith reached out to others in love. Story of eight African-Americans who walked to Nauvoo to meet the prophet. Those who reach out to lift and serve others will find happiness (President Hinckley). We must get the selfishness out of our lives. Excuses will sound hollow to our Heavenly Father. Third, we can create a masterpiece of our lives. We are sons and daughters of an eternal Heavenly Father. We have potential we can scarcely imagine. There is a spark of greatness in each one of us. What we do with that gift is up to us. The abundant life does not come packaged and ready. It comes through faith and hope and charity. “In the depth of winter lies an invincible summer.” It is in the quest of the abundant life that we fulfill our eternal destiny.

President Hinckley—As we return to our homes, may we remember and express in our lives the counsel we have received. May we be fortified against the adversary. Blessing.


General Conference Sunday Morning Notes

President Monson conducting.

President Faust—We care about all of God’s children, who live now or have ever lived or will lived. Refers to 1978 official declaration. The LDS church has many beliefs in common with other churches, but we have differences, too. Testifies of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ established his true church, but then there was a great apostasy or falling away. Priesthood keys were lost and ordinances and doctrines were changed. Falling away was seen by the Apostle Peter. Restitution would only be necessary if there had been a falling away. Reformation came in the 16th century. John Lathrop in England (Joseph Smith was descended from him.) recognized that apostolic keys were not on earth. Roger Williams believed there was no authorized person on earth. They recognized a need for restoration. Apostle John saw an angel flying in the heavens to restore the gospel. Joseph Smith restored the gospel. We want to give every person a chance to know these things. We have the authorized Priesthood, Aaronic and Melchizedek. We can act in the name of God. More priesthood keys restored in Kirtland temple in this, the final dispensation of the fullness of times. The windows of heaven are opened to those who pay tithing. Temple worship restored. Temple work unique to us, and is important and sacred. Knowledge is received there. We are here to prepare to return to God’s presence. Eternal covenants made in the temple. Families are sealed there. All, living or dead, should have the opportunity to hear the gospel. No one’s agency is taken away—they may accept or reject the gospel. Moroni was the angel that John saw restoring the gospel. Book of Mormon comes forth. It is another testament of Christ. Prior to the Restoration, the heavens had been closed for centuries. After the Restoration, they were open again. The D & C and the Pearl of Great Price are in our canon of scripture also. The gospel taught to all prophets from Adam on. We are not a break off from any other church. We should not feel superior, but should feel a great obligation to love and serve others. Philosophers (e.g., Plato, Socrates, Confucius, and others) through the ages were given a portion of the truth to help people. We respect others and need to be respected ourselves.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland—The first words Jesus spoke in his Sermon on the Mount were to the troubled and downtrodden. Elder H. speaks to those suffering trials, to those who feel their lives are broken. Offer of hope—come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest…. “Come unto me” is crucial and is key to the peace we seek. Jesus called the apostles to come and follow him. This is the key to what we are doing here. Following Jesus leads us out of darkness. No other way to be safe or to carry our burdens or find happiness. How does one follow Christ? The scriptures give many answers. First is the desire of our heart (see Alma 32). Just believing with a molecule of faith is the beginning. Next, we must change anything that holds us back. We must repent. We do so only with Jesus’ and God’s divine assistance. In this way our access to Christ’s atonement becomes as unimpeded as possible and Christ does the rest. Next we become as like him as we can. We start with baptism and go on to temple covenants. Follow the son with full purpose of heart…take upon you the name of Christ, said Nephi. Prayer and fasting and meditation and savoring the scriptures and serving others and, above all else, loving with the pure love of Christ (charity). Every time we reach out to Christ, however feebly, we find that he has been waiting to reach out to us. We need to have more experience of following the Savior’s example. True discipleship. Trouble with addiction, trouble with marriage, disease, or depression—come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust in heaven’s promises. Alma says whoever trusts in God will be supported in their trials. The Savior’s Atonement lifts us from all sins and afflictions. It gives us a reason and a way to improve. The soul that comes unto Christ finds strength beyond our own. Christ will not turn his back on us now. Whatever your distress, don’t give up and don’t yield to fear. “Be not afraid, only believe.” Christ is the answer to every disappointment. If you are broken, please know you can be mended. Quotes a poem (“The Carpenter of Nazareth” ? ). Christ mends all. Come unto Christ and be made whole.

Elder Earl Tingey—The prophet Jacob asked why not speak of the Atonement of Christ…? Alma refers to this as the Great Plan of Happiness. The immortality of the soul and man’s relation to deity. Five truths of the Great Plan of Happiness. First, knowledge of God and his Son, Jesus Christ. They have bodies of flesh and bones. Second, knowing the identity of God & Christ tells us our purpose to come and get a body. Justice and Mercy. Sin and the need to repent through the Atonement of Christ. Third, through the infinite Atonement we can overcome our sins and become completely clean again. Mercy. Alma teaches about this in his talk with his son Corianton. Only unto him that has faith unto repentance…. Adam & Eve were taught the great plan of salvation. Fourth, we are subject to two deaths, physical death and spiritual death after Adam’s Fall. We are all currently separated from God. We want to return to him. Christ’s Atonement overcame both deaths. Resurrection applies to all. Unconditional gift from God. This does not overcome the second death. We must repent for that. This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. Do not procrastinate. Fifth, Jesus Christ was born of an earthly mother and God as his father. Inherited from both. Was mortal, but was able to give up his life and to take it again. The condescension of Christ. John Taylor said it was necessary that Christ descend below all things so He could lift others. Gethsemane shows Christ’s perfect love. The Atonement allows us to be reconciled to God.

Sister Ann Pingree—Story of older sister missionaries. They demonstrated true spiritual maturity. All of us must grow up unto the Lord. This idea is compelling. We will not mature spiritually until we put away childish things. Prayer, scripture study, keep commandments and covenants. As we do this, we grow spiritually. Willing to take upon us the Name of Christ. Being steadfast and immovable. Determined service to others is required of those who truly desire to grow up unto the Lord. Know how the Lord would have us serve each other. Lift, comfort, and encourage one another. “Hearts knit together in unity and love.” Another way is our willingness to press forward in faith, even when we don’t know what to do. Nephi looked for resolutions rather than looking at roadblocks. 1 Nephi 3:7. Trust in the Lord to help us. We will be asked to do all we can, and sometimes more than we know how to do, but if we have steadfast determination to serve others and press forward in faith, we will be shown great things. Gentle loving steadfast maturity.

Elder Dallin H Oaks—Last year millions read the Book of Mormon. We grew in many ways. What was learned depended on the reader. Desire, readiness to learn, and attunement to the Lord. God loves his children in every nation. The gospel of Jesus Christ is universal in its promise and effect. Scriptures were read by Elder Oaks showing this. Expand our vision and increase our understanding. The BoM teaches that the Savior invites all to come unto him and he denieth none of them. “Bond” includes those with physical or emotional disabilities, those subject to addictions, bound by erroneous ideas, etc. All are alike unto God. God manifesteth himself to all through the Holy Ghost. To every nation, tongue, and people. Gives examples from around the world. The BoM also teaches that Christ died for all men. We must comply with the conditions he has prescribed. Faith, repentance, and baptism. We must hearken to his voice. He desires that all men come to him. Deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind, strength…. The Abrahamic covenant opens the door to God’s choicest blessings to all. All then become the covenant people of the Lord. None of us are better than another. Some of Abraham’s descendents scattered all over the world among all nations. The Book of Mormon is a great witness that God loves all people everywhere. God has created all men and remembers all. God’s work is not yet finished. Other scriptures to come forth.

President Hinckley—Different type of talk. Faces sunset of his life. Still has some residual problems per his doctors. Expresses gratitude for God’s blessings. The Lord has watched over and guided his choices. Quotes Robert Frost “The Road Less Traveled.” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” Has spoken in every General Conference for the last 48 years since he became a GA. Misses his wife. Owes every good thing in his life to his activity in the church. Quotes from one of his old journals. His heart is full of love and gratitude. Not an obituary. Looks forward to speaking to us in October. Bears testimony.


General Conference Saturday Afternoon Notes

President Monson conducting.

Reports & sustaining votes.

Elder Boyd K. Packer—Talks of Alma and his son Corianton. Neglected his mission and allowed Satan to lead him into immorality. Cannot hide one’s crimes from God. Drove away investigators because they saw Corianton’s bad conduct. The preaching of the word of God is more powerful than anything else, including the sword. The coming of Christ spoken of. Alma teaches Corianton some gospel truths about resurrection. The justice of God and the punishment of the sinner explained. Justice and mercy each have their role. Mercy depends on an Atonement. The unwavering stand of eternal law. Alma knew personally about punishment and repentance. He felt the agony of guilt. His mind caught hold of the thought of Jesus Christ and he pleaded for mercy. He was redeemed. Joy and light. Alma then worked unceasingly to save others. Mercy cannot rob Justice. Alma rebuked Corianton then showed him love. Joseph Smith taught that we may have to reprove, but should afterwards show an increase of love. Corianton’s grandfather, Alma, had served as a priest in King Noah’s court. He was converted by Abinadi’s words. Corianton repented. Sent to preach more. He stayed faithful. It is a wicked world we live in today. No way to escape influence. Many are tempted. Satan harvests his crop and binds them down. He is the deceiver. He convinces some they are born into a life of sin and that they can’t repent and be forgiven. But the Atonement means that they can repent and be forgiven. Gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of repentance and forgiveness. Those who may stumble and fall are not cast off forever. The Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but the soul that repents is forgiven and the Lord remembers their sins no more.

Elder David Bednar—Baptism is first ordinance of the gospel. It must be followed by baptism by fire (the gift of the Holy Ghost) to be complete. Blessings flow from the companionship of the Holy Ghost. God determines conditions of all gospel covenants. We can use our agency and accept these conditions. Fundamental convenants of baptism: take upon us Christ’s name and always remember him and keep his commandments. Then we will always have his spirit to be with us. We are then confirmed to “receive” the Holy Ghost. This is a directive to strive for the baptism of the spirit. Joseph Smith taught that both baptisms are necessary. Then cometh a remission of your sins. As we learn about the Holy Ghost, we learn that the promptings aren’t always alike or always easily recognized. The Holy Ghost is a still small voice. Its promptings are delicate and subtle. We should seek diligently to recognize and act on promptings. We should also endeavor to discern when we withdraw ourselves from the Spirit of the Lord. We should attend to and learn from the choices that separate us from the Holy Ghost. We should then stop those choices. Entertainment is one example of something that might drive away the spirit. Taking the Holy Spirit for our guide is possible and it is essential for our salvation. The covenant promises that we may always have the spirit to be with us. Book of Mormon is the primary source to turn to for help in this. Read about the Liahona—it is a type and a shadow for our day and tells what we should do to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost. What caused the Liahona to work and to not work? If we study this, we will receive inspiration tailored to our needs in this matter. What made it work is what makes the Holy Ghost able to work in our lives (faithful, diligent, heed). What made it not work (slothfulness, unfaithful, forgetfulness) will cause us to draw ourselves away from the Holy Ghost. We each have a spiritual compass—the Holy Ghost. As we press forward in life, we receive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi received direction from the Liahona and will show us all things that we should do. Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly…. The Holy Ghost can teach us to understand the Lord and His ways. It can be our guide and can bless us with inspiration, direction, protection. Obedience, faithfulness, diligence, service, humble. Avoid evil that causes us to withdraw ourselves. Also worthily partaking of the sacrament brings the Holy Ghost to us as we renew our baptismal convenants. Then we become worthy vessels in whom the spirit of the Lord can dwell. Joseph Smith emphasized staying close to the spirit—obtain and keep the spirit of the Lord. .

Elder Evans—Joy in doing the work of the Lord. Missionaries often have difficult circumstances, but can still be happy as they serve the Lord. The Lord loves faithful missionaries. It was necessary to raise the bar of standards for missionaries so they will have the protection of the Lord in this day and age. Discouragement is replaced by commitment. Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause (sharing the gospel). This will make you happy. Serve and live faithfully.

Elder Paul—Our road would be chaotic if everyone did just what they want to do. Media promotes this. Our Heavenly Father has given us a better way. The great plan of happiness makes us truly free and happy. We are free to choose liberty and eternal life, or captivity and misery. We brought our agency with us from our heavenly home. Agency is an eternal law. Brigham Young said it has always existed and always will. Jesus Christ defended agency against Lucifer (Satan). “We will prove them herewith to see if they will do all things which the Lord their God shall command them.” In order to use our agency, we must have knowledge of good and evil. We must have agency to choose between them. There must be consequences of our choices. Christ set the perfect example for all of us on how to use our agency. We should make our choices by the same criteria—the will of our Heavenly Father. It may not always be convenient, but if we make the right choice, the Lord will take care of us. We may not see it, but He will. Things will turn into a blessing if we do the Lord’s will. Agency is a great gift.

Elder Russell M.Nelson—This is a day of disintegrating morals. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The family is all important. One of Satan’s cunning methods is to attack marriage and the family. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully. In the Lord’s own way and time, no blessings will be withheld. Step one: comprehend the doctrinal foundation of marriage. One man and one woman. So the earth might answer the ends of its creation. Other definitions of marriage are contrary to the plans of God. Marriage is the foundry for social order. Marriage is an eternal covenant. Should be treasured and honored. (Refers much to the Proclamation on the Family.) Families are eternal. Marriage is a commandment. True happiness is predicated upon personal purity. Marriage should lift husbands and wives to exaltation in celestial glory. Agency and accountability are other doctrines related to marriage. Foremost priesthood duty is to nurture your marriage. Step Two: Specific methods. Appreciate, communicate, and contemplate. Grateful partners should look for the good in each other. Good communication means planning together, talking and listening together, help each other as equal partners, elevate and motivate each other, goals are mutually understand, prayer. If couples contemplate often with each other in the temple, they will remember sacred covenants. They will be in tune with each other and the Lord. Begin with a sincere desire to nurture the marriage. Be selfless and grateful. Set goals. Vision expanded and understanding enhanced. Quotes the song “Because.”

Elder L. Tom Perry—Anticipated the day of receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. D & C 13. What it means to bear the holy priesthood. Using God’s power worthily. Passing sacrament. Not all approach taking the sacrament in the same way. For some it is a matter of routine. For others, they approach it with reverence. The sacrament is a reminder of our covenants and our promises. Started with Adam making sacrifices to God, even before he understood why. This continued until Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The night before, Jesus established the ordinance of the sacrament at the Last Supper. Requires that we follow Him and obey His will. Matthew 26. 3 Nephi 18. A testimony to the Father that we shall always remember Jesus and keep His commandments. Promise: we will have His spirit to be with us. Renews baptismal covenants. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is a covenant between us and our Heavenly Father. One of the most sacred ordinances in the church. Meditate on the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. Must not become casual or we will lose the opportunity for spiritual growth. Spiritual wounds are healed. Must partake worthily. Must live by every word that cometh forth from the mouth of God. Renewal and commitment. Prepare. Attend sacrament meeting with reverence and with gratitude. Keep oneself more fully unspotted from the world. Realize the blessing of being able to take the sacrament.


General Conference Saturday Morning Notes

At the encouragement of a fellow blogger (thanks!), I am posting my conference notes. Please forgive the mistakes and the things missed and enjoy!

President Faust conducting.

Elder Hales--Lehi chose to follow the Lord. Led family to land of promise. Laman and Lemuel used their agency to disobey the Lord. Lehi urged repentance and faithfulness. To Jacob, Lehi left one final lesson—the plan of salvation and the gift of agency. Man taught to know right from wrong, starting in pre-mortal existence. Satan cast out for rebellion and took one-third of the hosts of heaven. All used their agency. We used ours to remain faithful to the Lord. We rejoiced at our opportunities on earth. Opposition is essential to bring about the Lord’s purposes. Man to act for himself and must be enticed by good and evil. Adam fell. Earth became a state of probation. “Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy.” Satan wants us to yield to sin. The adversary can never have joy unless we sin. (President Kimball quote) Our sins make the devil laugh. Our sorrows give Satan counterfeit joy. The adversary cannot make us do anything, even though he follows us every day. He must depart if we tell him to. He cannot influence us unless we let him. We do not have to succumb to his enticements. That’s why we have the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost and the Priesthood. Are we holding on to the Iron Rod? Do we get on the strait and narrow path and stay there? Lehi taught Jacob that the Savior freed men—they can act for themselves and not be acted upon. We must act to avoid being acted upon, to avoid evil. Promptings can come to us to flee evil. The Lord prompts us because he is aware of us and our situations. We must heed the gentle promptings of the spirit. If we ignore them, we will lose them and be walking in spiritual darkness at noonday and wander in strange paths and be lost. For example, if we choose to go into debt, our choices are restricted. To retain our agency, we must walk in the light of the Savior and be obedient. We must choose to exercise our agency. We can climb out of black holes, or darkness, by using our agency, which the adversary cannot take away unless we let him. We regain our agency through faith and obedience. Choose to believe that we are the child of God and put everything on his altar and be obedient. Pray and study scriptures, go to church, have wholesome interaction with others. Keep covenants and commandments—baptism, sacrament, temple ordinances. Choose to believe in the Atonement. Accept the Savior’s forgiveness and also forgive yourself. Refuse to feel shame over past sins or to be discouraged. Our agency is not only for us, but we should use it to strengthen others. Invite others to receive the light of the gospel. Through friendship and love, lead them in gospel paths. Agency helps us show our inner spirituality through outward actions. Our use of agency determines who we are and what we’ll be. Faith and obedience strengthens our agency.

Bishop Burton—People responded to help those who suffered Katrina and other natural disasters. Compassion is important. We share one another’s burdens. The Savior asks us to suffer the weak, lift the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. Bishop B. gives many examples of help given to tsunami victims and others all over the world. (Leaders of mosques (in tsunami areas) would announce that another donation from the Jesus church—us—had arrived.) Many letters of gratitude received. Welfare principles of work and self-reliance are maintained and training is provided to many for digging wells and raising gardens and for medical procedures. We collaborate with other agencies. Our giving is not limited to members of our church, but extends to all, no matter their nationality or religion. May we bless humanity. This selflessness demonstrates the pure love of Christ—charity. With what measure we mete out, it shall be meted unto us. Bishop B. expresses gratitude to all who give and help.

Sister Beck (Young Women’s Presidency)—This is truly a day of rejoicing. In Kirtland all remaining priesthood keys were restored. Men and women are given equal responsibilities and blessings. Privileges are enjoyed by all because of the priesthood blessings. Women are not third party observers. All can enjoy gifts and blessings through the priesthood. Same ordinances are for all. We qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost by our faithfulness and no other way. All are taught to prepare to go to the temple. We are all endowed with power from on high. We are empowered and protected by our covenants. We all share equally in all spiritual gifts. Sister Beck was often ill as a child and was blessed by the spiritual gifts of both her parents. President Woodruff said it was the privilege of every man and woman to receive the gift of prophecy. Through the blessings of the priesthood, the Lord shows us that He is no respecter of persons. The poor and materially deprived of the world can have the same spiritual blessings as we more privileged persons. Priesthood blessings are the great equalizer. They are the same for all. Every power and covenant we need to return to God has been given to us all.

Elder Eyring—The prophets of God have seen the days we live in. The peril of the last days is great and comes from the forces of evil. It will become harder not easier to keep our covenants. For hope, we know that the Lord has spoken of a safe place for us. Paul said it was upon the rock of our Redeemer that we must build, which is a sure foundation. It has never been more important than to know how to build that foundation. See the last sermon of King Benjamin. He could see our day. He knew how to build that foundation of the rock of safety. People have to believe that the danger is real. He made clear the hazards we face because we are free to choose between right and wrong. “For behold there is a woe pronounced upon….” Consequences of those who die in their sins. Lively sense of own guilt which causes him to shrink from the presence of the Lord. King Benjamin wants us to remember the awful situation of those who have fallen into sin. Judgment Day. How to earn the hope of hearing the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Atonement. Change of heart. Become as a little child. This is not to be childish, but rather to be like the Savior who prayed to his father to know his will and then did it. Yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man. Humble, patient, full of love, submit to all our Father seest fit to subject us to. The things we do are the means, not the ends, of what we seek. We become as the Savior as our natures change to be more obedient and loving. We must keep that. Then we will be safe upon that sure rock. Pray when choices can have eternal consequences. Pray for what the Lord wants, want his will is. We may not receive a promise of the outcome, but we will know we are doing God’s will. Our hearts must be still and quiet as a little child so we can receive the promptings of the Holy Ghost. To invite that change, we must build our faith in Jesus Christ to qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Faith in Jesus and love for him—know who He is. We cannot serve a master we do not know. As we love and serve the Savior, we will come to know Him. To be called to serve is a call to come to know our Father and to change our natures. It will take determination and effort. Pray to avoid temptation. Resist temptations. We are responsible for ourselves. King Benjamin warned against sins and said to watch ourselves and our thoughts, words, and deeds. Pray for faith and humility to repent. The standard is not too high for us. The Savior can succor us—we can be cleansed and become pure and strong as a little child.

President Monson—Satan has fashioned lures to ensnare unsuspecting persons and seize control of their futures. To be safe, we must recognize what they are and be determined to avoid them. A current lure is immorality. Chastity and virtue are precious above all things. Paul said that no temptation has taken you but such as is common to man, but God will not tempt you above that you are able, but will make a way to escape. Another lure is pornography. Alexander Pope’s famous poem about Vice. The internet is one of the most accessible sources of pornography. President Hinckley said it is vicious, etc. Victims are impoverished. Long gone are the restraints of yesteryear. We are surrounded by pornography. Resist and avoid it. Another lure is drugs and alcohol. Difficult to abandon. Shatter lives. Often available. We have been commanded to care for our bodies and will be accountable. Paul said we are God’s temples. Keep our bodies clean. Another lure is excessive debt. We want to have things and borrowing is easy. The day of reckoning will come if we continue to live beyond our means. We think luxuries are necessities. We go into debt, then things change. We become ill or laid off of our jobs. Our debts hang over our heads and threaten to destroy us. We must live within our means and then we will be much happier. Debt is bondage. There are many other lures that Satan uses to lead us from the paths of righteousness. The Lord has given us the power to resist any temptation and to choose the right way. Beware the detours, the pitfalls, the traps. Ignore the lures. Do not be deceived. Pause to pray. Listen to that still small voice. Listen to and obey the Master’s invitation to come, follow me. There are those who won’t obey. Cardinal Woolsey was powerful, but prideful ambition brought his fall. He served his king instead of his God. Daniel was tempted, but stayed faithful to God. He rose to great heights, but he listened to God and not man and was thrown into the lions’s den. God protected Daniel and he was safe. Daniel’s determination to remain true and faithful provided God’s protection to him, and a safe place. Story of Bro. & Sis. Walker. The faithful beat a path to their door to partake of the spirit that they had. “Who honors God, God honors.” Resolve to follow that straight path that leads to God. Make corrections in our lives now. Be true to the faith. Quoted from hymn “True to the Faith.”


Saturday, April 01, 2006

General Conference Blogging Round-Up with Links

Actually, I thought I'd link up some of the blog posts about General Conference. First, at conversation where I also blog, there is a conference thread called "I am so excited." Then at Messenger and Advocate Guy Murray is posting some wonderful summaries of the sessions here and here. Times & Seasons is posting an open thread for each session here, here, and here. Kim Siever has an open thread here at Our Thoughts. I'm sure there are others I've missed--drop by Mormon Archipelago to check for them.

I enjoyed both sessions of conference today. No pictures for me--I listen over the internet--but the talks were interesting and insightful.

Edited to add: Guy's notes on the Priesthood session and also Bryce's notes (at Millenial Star) on the Priesthood session. Great job, gentlemen!!!