Personal revelation. Take a minute and think back to the last time when you experienced a personal revelation. {pause} Now, jump into the time machine with me and let’s go back to the year 1829. Can you imagine what life was like? America boasted a population of approximately 13,000,000 people across 25 states. Michigan was still a territory and although Ann Arbor had been established 4 years earlier, Saline wouldn’t be a village until 1832. Andrew Jackson “the Great Commoner” was the 7th President of the United States. The revolution that created the country had ended only 46 years earlier. So if today – 2011 – was 1829 the revolutionary war would have ended in 1965. Not really that long ago. America was truly a new country filled with the optimism of youth.

Economically,1829 was a time of expansion and growth. The Erie Canal – the liquid pathway to the West – was open for business. The first locomotive made a successful run. Railroads were being built. Roads to the west were paved with gold.

Socially, married women did not have the right to retain her own property in 1829, nor did she have any rights to acquire property, make contracts, keep or control wages or bring about a lawsuit. The United States had the highest illiteracy rate in the western world. The opportunity to attend school was very limited. Few textbooks were available and instructors changed often, usually each season. And by season, I mean Fall, Winter, Spring. The 1-room schoolhouse typically lacked windows and was generally overcrowded with 60 to 80 pupils aged 4 to 20. The majority of young people were either educated at home or not educated at all.

Culturally in 1829, Romanticism was a key global social and cultural movement. It emphasized intuition, imagination, feeling, and nature. Stylistically, The Hudson River School emerged with artists that were shifting their focus from indoor classical portraiture to going outside and painting the natural beauty of the US. In literature, Romanticism was energized by American authors such as: William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Their poetry and literature as well as the artistry and music of the time elevated intuition and imagination, rather than reason, as the supreme faculty of the mind.

And so, in 1829, we know Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were hard at work in Harmony PA translating the Book of Mormon. Hyrum Smith had been managing affairs as the oldest surviving son in the Smith home in Manchester, NY, near Palmyra. In early April 1829, his brother Samuel returned from his journey—having taken Oliver Cowdery to Harmony to meet Joseph.

By the latter part of May, Samuel returned feeling much improved in health, and overjoyed at the progress made by Joseph. While with Joseph, Samuel had obtained a testimony of the truth of Joseph’s work and had been baptized.

Samuel’s story about his conversion and baptism left no question in Hyrum’s mind about the importance of baptism; but when Samuel shared the visit of John the Baptist, appearing in his resurrected state to confer the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, Hyrum wondered. However, he thought, such an occurrence was quite reasonable. If the divine authority of the gospel had been taken from the earth, then at some time God would surely restore it.

Samuel explained the details of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. Samuel’s story so greatly impressed Hyrum that plans were made immediately for Hyrum to depart for Harmony. Samuel agreed to take Hyrum’s place in looking after things at home. Hyrum needed to have a serious visit with his prophet brother, for there were several questions to be answered; and he felt a great concern over what his own work was to be.

The roads had dried out, the countryside had donned its spring attire, and the air was warm and balmy…. When he arrived, the brothers hugged each other affectionately; it had been months since they last had seen each other. And then they talked and talked.

They discussed baptism. Had not the Savior told Nicodemus, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’? (John 3:5.) They talked about authority. Hyrum knew that Joseph had not acted of his own volition but had been called as had Moses and Aaron. And John the Baptist had been sent under the direction of Peter, James, and John, who in turn had been ordained by Jesus Christ. Thus Joseph’s authority could be traced directly to the Savior himself.

Hyrum’s one remaining question concerned his place in the great work of restoration.

D&C 11 tells us about this time and teaches us about personal revelation. Hyrum was told through the prophet Joseph, Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good.” (D&C 11:12.) We know by this that promptings to do good are manifestations of the Spirit. Have you ever learned of someone in need and felt strongly impressed to help? That is a personal revelation from the Lord. Have you ever talked with someone and been led to say the right thing, even when you might later wonder where did that come from? Revelation. Have you ever suddenly felt a need to fix something in the house or to weed the garden or to check the sump pump is still working in the basement? This is how the Spirit can work—he leads us to do good.

Hyrum Smith also learned in this verse that the Spirit leads us “to do justly.” (D&C 11:12.) In checking the Webster 1828 dictionary, I learned there were several contemporary meanings for the word just, but I think the one most pertinent is: acting in conformity with what is morally upright, correct, or good. Satan can lead us to lie, or cheat, or take advantage of others. The Spirit, though, prompts a different behavior from us. Have you ever felt that you should forgive someone? Have you ever been prompted to pay tithing before you pay certain bills, even the late ones that arrive with large threatening red letters? Have you ever seen a child learn to share her toys? These are a few times in which the Spirit can prompt a person, even a small child, to do justly.

Hyrum Smith further learned that the Spirit leads us “to walk humbly.” (D&C 11:12.) A proud walk or demeanor, by which people draw attention to themselves through arrogant speech or conduct, is the antithesis of the way in which the Spirit leads. Have you felt at times that, though you may be a teacher or a leader, you are really learning more than those you lead? Have you sometimes felt during a disagreement that your point should not be pressed any further and you bite your tongue or just walk away? When several people, including you, have worked on a project, have you given them the credit? These are some of the ways in which the Spirit can lead us to walk humbly.

Hyrum Smith also learned in this one verse that the Spirit leads us “to judge righteously.” Though we must curb the tendency to judge others, judgment is inevitable. Every decision we make requires a judgment. Have you ever helped to resolve an argument among your children and restored peace? Have you ever realized that your opinion of someone is incorrect? These are instances where the Spirit may be leading you to judge righteously.

There’s a gospel pattern in these verses where God lays the groundwork for our trial and then provides answers our questions. But we must do the asking. Joseph Smith was prepared in the pre-existence to be a prophet but it wasn’t until he prayed with sincere intent that the outpouring of revelation came to him. Joseph Smith continued to exercise the skill of revelation repeatedly as the Lord taught him.

Revelation from God comes to mankind both individually and collectively. It may come in the form of visions, dreams, angelic visitations, voices and other inspiration. In every dispensation, God has appointed his prophet to guide his people, reveal truth and His commandments to the world. Today, only Thomas S Monson, has the authority to receive revelation for the entire church, but each member who has been baptized may receive personal revelation for themselves and those for whom they are responsible.

Personal revelations are received in both the mind and in the heart. These impressions come to the mind as thoughts and to the heart as feelings. Elder Packer has taught,” This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. At times, the Spirit will impress both the mind and the heart at the same time.

In talking about this subject with some of my Relief Society sisters and other members of the church online, it was interesting that many of us have questions about how to receive revelation. I know for me, the challenge I have had to overcome was not how to get revelation, but to understand the revelation I had received. What I’ve learned is simple: obey the revelation.

**Share Personal Example as Directed by the Spirit**

Having read extensively what the Apostles and other Church Authorities have written on the topic of personal revelation, I realized there were 4 core elements that I’ll call the 4 P’s: Preparation, Prayer, Promptings & Promises.

1. Prepare.

How do I prepare for revelation? Get to a clean slate which means to repent and be obedient. The Savior gave this counsel: “When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:21). He promised, “But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom” (D&C 63:23).

Part of the preparation is ongoing – we must remain pure in thought and deed. The Savior counsels us: “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:45).

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled, “Inspiration comes more easily in peaceful settings.” He added, “Irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary by obstructing the delicate channels of revelation in both mind and spirit,” and “Reverence invites revelation.”

2. Prayer

It has been said that we talk to the Lord through prayer and He answers us through the scriptures and service of others. We must make scripture study a part of our daily schedule. We must not just read but must search diligently as did the sons of Mosiah. Nephi gave a marvelous promise to all who searched the scriptures: “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:3).

To receive personal revelation requires a constant, concentrated effort in which we continue to petition Heavenly Father about our concerns. Our individual prayers should not be rote recitations; they should be personal in nature. It is the depth and intensity of our desire that results in revelation from our prayers.

I used to struggle with how to get to the depth required in praying for revelation to occur. My ‘aha!’ moment was when I read D&C 9:8: “Study it out in your mind; then you must ask me (the Savior) if it be right”. Study, meditate, and seek for enlightenment concerning the matters for which we seek personal revelation.

To record revelations during lessons, I have a moleskine journal where I jot down key thoughts and impressions as I’m being taught by the holy ghost. Journaling is a great tool for recording our prayers, notes from scripture study.

Lately I’ve been using the great tools on lds.org for personal scripture study. I like bookmarking pages and writing notes online because I type faster than I write, I can pick up where I left off quickly and I can access it from wherever in the world I may be AND from anyone’s computer. It is completely private and secure. And I actually did visit my notes on lds.org to prepare this talk and literally within a minute of searching, found the perfect example to illustrate my point about praying with intensity: Enos.

Enos wanted more than anything else to be forgiven of his sins. He described his desire and the level of intensity of his prayer: “And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul” (Enos 1:4).

To pray intently and with energy of heart involves focusing with faith on your conversation with Heavenly Father. It also involves closing out the world as if only you and He are present during this divine discussion.

I testify that prayers of faith are heard and answered. The Savior gave a powerful promise concerning the power of faith in our prayers: “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Ne. 18:20).

3. Promptings

One of the most crucial parts of our communications with Heavenly Father is the ability to recognize the means by which He speaks to us through the promptings of the Spirit. If we have properly prepared, we will become sensitive to these promptings.

But we do need to be patient. I do know God always answers prayers, but He does it in His own way and in His own time. Revelation is spiritual in nature. We can only understand the things of the Spirit by communication with our spirit. Elder Marion G. Romney reminds us: “…there still persists in the spirit of every human soul a residuum from his pre-existent spiritual life which instinctively responds to the voice of the Spirit until and unless it is inhibited by the free agency of the individual.”

The Spirit is sensitive and cannot be subjected to constraint, control, and compulsion. It is independent and responds only to invitations and not to impositions. If we try to force it, we may be deceived. The Lord gave great insight into the nature of receiving revelation: “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Ne. 28:30; see also D&C 98:12).

This pattern for receiving promptings follows the principle by which the Savior was taught and tutored during the meridian of time. It is through this process that we grow, develop, and become more perfect. He is not always concerned about mundane matters unless they are not in keeping with sacred principles.

How does one receive these promptings? The scriptures indicate that manifestations of the Spirit come to the mind in a variety of ways. They come as an enlightenment, just as scriptures seem to be illuminated with understanding. They may come in the form of instant recall of things or as a clear, audible voice. Sometimes they come by way of counsel from leaders. They come in dreams, visions, and visitations.

“When you feel pure intelligence flowing into you,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.

President Harold B. Lee further taught, “When there come to you things that your mind does not know, when you have a sudden thought that comes to your mind, if you will learn to give heed to these things that come from the Lord, you will learn to walk by the spirit of revelation.”

4. Promises

The Lord has given us powerful promises concerning personal revelation. Think about it – we can petition our Heavenly Father in sincere, heartfelt prayer and know that He will respond with personal revelation. His promises are sure, but we must properly prepare to be receptive to the promptings of the Spirit in receiving this guidance.

Our Ninth Article of Faith states:

“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

Revelation will come as a result of the 4 P’s: Preparation. Prayer. Promptings. Promises. We have to earn our testimony but we are entitled to revelation about our own lives and those in our stewardship. When revelation comes, it brings peace to our souls. We should act on it promptly and with gratitude for the blessing it is.

When I kneel down to pray at night, there is no doubt in my mind to whom I am speaking. I am praying to a loving Heavenly Father who has all power to provide personal revelation and wants to do so. I feel this blessing and love through the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been bestowed upon me. Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Redeemer. I love him. I serve him, and I obey him. I’m so happy to be a member of His church. I love that there is so much truth available to me. I know my purpose here on earth. And I know it’s the truth because the Holy Ghost confirms it for me every time I go to church or visit the Temple, read the scriptures or pray. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Based on a talk given by Elder Richard G. Scott at the October, 2009 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Click on Mormonmom to see my other Teachings for our Times (TFOT) lessons.

Opening Hymn: Guide Us O Thou Great Jehovah

Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk on Acquiring Spiritual Guidance was inspiring, uplifting and filled with instructions that each of us can apply in our daily lives.  Earlier this year, the General Relief Society Presidency directed each of us to seek our own personal revelation as we strengthen our ward and stake Relief Societies, I felt this was timely information coming now from Elder Scott.

One of the key doctrines of our Church is that, once we are baptized and confirmed, we have the Holy Spirit as our guide for ANY concern we have in this life. That is a great comfort, but, like many of the blessings given to us from our Heavenly Father, it must be honed, practiced, and used regularly. Right now – I pray each of you is being taught by the Spirit. I’m just the eye candy who brings along pretty images, uplifting music, quotes from Spiritual Giants like Elder Scott that I was impressed to include after praying about each of you and hiw I can use my talents to invite the Spirit who will teach.

Joseph Smith said, “Follow the influence of that Spirit, and it will lead you into all truth, until by and by, it will BECOME in you a principle of revelation.”  In other words, second nature to you.  Elder Scott testifies that this is the true source of peace and happiness.

Learning how to be led by the Spirit takes a strengthening of faith in our Father and in Jesus Christ.  It is not a casual expectation, but a purposeful period of growth.

I spoke about the importance of inviting the Spirit to teach. Let me take a minute to talk about “The Spirit”. As far as I’ve been able to learn there are three ways to understand the term ‘The Spirit”:

1. The Light of Christ
Everyone is given the light of Christ as a Child of God.

2. The Holy Ghost
Many religions reference the Holy Ghost. Cite OT/NT

3. The Gift of the Holy Ghost
Reserved for those who receive the ordinance of baptism by those having authority to confer the gift. This gift isn’t enjoyed in its fullness until fire and the Holy Ghost baptize the recipient.

Back to Elder Scott’s talk. After noting that in times past if one sought guidance they would turn to mentors or advisors, the information overload that is a characteristic of our time, means turning to others for advice can be a very risky proposition. As a digital marketing executive, I often use the analogy ‘it’s like drinking from a firehose’ to describe this phenomenon. Think about it – so much information, but none of it is filtered or curated. Whom do we trust? What criteria do we use?

Rather than bemoaning the plight of the times we live in, we should welcome the excuse to turn our eyes upward for inspiration. Elder Scott seems to be saying that humans as trust agents will always be inadequate and that we will be better served by seeking to commune with the Lord directly through appealing to the Holy Ghost.

Think about this for a minute – our Father has created a condition where if we, of necessity, are dependent upon the Spirit to guide us through the vicissitudes of life, We are entitled to seek personal inspiration in all of life’s decisions – especially the important ones that affect the family.

I loved this thought! Personally, it has been a year of uphill trials. I do not know where I would be without specific guidance that I have received through the relationship I have personally developed with my Heavenly Father that allows me the blessing of personal answers and spiritual guidance. The impressions I receive from the Spirit are like my own Liahona, leading, guiding, helping me reset after yet another prideful, headstrong battle I’ve lost because I was a little too much “in the world”, ignoring the clear message I wrote down in my journal or margin of my scripture study notes. Again and again I return with humility and a real understanding of what “broken” feels like, each time a bit more contrite and determined to make the correct choice.

Discussion:

  • What can you do to enhance your capacity to be led to correct decisions in your life?
  • What are the principles upon which spiritual communication depends?
  • What are the potential barriers to such communication that you need to avoid?

Elder Scott admits that learning to consistently recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit, distinguish them from one’s own impulses and desires, and act courageously to fulfill them are accomplishments that we would be lucky to achieve in a lifetime. However, Elder Scott clearly believes that developing these skills is necessary here on Earth for our individual salvation.

And perhaps most importantly, in these times of Internet information overload, his guidance honed over the decades feels achievable through the examples he offers us.

For instance, Elder Scott notes the Prophet Joseph Smith’s instruction to John Taylor to begin each day with prayer – being grateful for another day our Father has granted us. Do you pray first thing every single day with an outpouring of gratitude?

President John Taylor wrote: “Joseph Smith, upwards of forty years ago, said to me: ‘Brother Taylor, you have received the Holy Ghost. Now follow the influence of that Spirit, and it will lead you into all truth, until by and by, it will become in you a principle of revelation.’ Then he told me never to arise in the morning without bowing before the Lord, and dedicating myself to him during that day.”

So I asked the question rhetorically, yet in these hectic latter days, it is too easy to overlook in the daily haste to satisfy the necessities of temporal life. For example, if I’m woken up by my 3 y.o. doing the potty dance, after I escort her to do her necessary business, she’s hungry, so I start breakfast. Then, like mothers (and fathers) around the world every morning, we are joined by 2 more sleepy, hungry children and somewhere in the blur of showering, breakfastimg, teeth brushing, clothes being put on, hair pulled into ribbons, lunches being prepared, and busses arriving – it is all to easy to forget that simple, precious morning prayer of thanksgiving.

What I’ve learned to do is have the scriptures in the kitchen, so that a verse or two can be read during the morning “Waltz of Chaos” (as I call it) to ensure we all have the right start to the day.

{TIME CHECK: ask for other ideas to help remember our gratitude prayer each morning}

Elder Scott teaches through a couple of powerful stories:

In the first, a humble Priesthood leader taught a lesson from his heart. The content of the lesson was less memorable than the impression the leader gave that promoted spiritual guidance:  humility, intense desire to communicate truths, pure love of the Savior, as well as those who are taught, sincerity, pure intent, love, and spiritual strength. The spirit was present and powerful as this man struggled to express himself within the church.

In the second example, Elder Scott attended a Sunday School class where the teacher was using the fruits of his education and study to share insights into the lesson, less from a desire to inspire his pupils and more from what Elder Scott interpreted as pride — of a desire to impress his fellow congregants with his knowledge.

By keeping his lesson simple and focusing on his testimony of his ministry, the priesthood leader in the first story impressed Elder Scott with his sincerity and emotional depth. By contrast, the intellectual approach of the Sunday School teacher left Elder Scott irritated and bored.

As we are blessed to have so many teachers in our Ward who are MDs, PhDs and Professors at the University of Michigan, I realized that too often I’m caught up in the intellectual pursuit of prideful teaching to demonstrate I can teach doctrine just like an MFA class, albeit with more spiritual preparation,

Talk about one of those humbling wake up calls I spoke about earlier!!! Letting the Spirit teach me as I listed to Elder Scott, again, was recognizing the difference here between the emotional and the intellectual – this contrast naturally exists in our brains (right-vs-left), between our ‘brains’ and our ‘souls’ between men and women. Heavenly Father made us this way to learn through both faith and reason together.

As a teacher, I am striving more than ever to embrace the humbleness of the Priesthood Leader’s approach in the first story. Because every time I get up here, I’m cognizant of the fact that many of you have forgotten more about this Gospel, Church Doctrine, lessons of our Presidents, General Conference talks and the like than I will EVER KNOW, even if I focused my studies on these topics for the rest of my life!

So I try to infuse my lessons with whatever material I can bring from my personal experience and talents for emotional storytelling through images + words to bring some shred of relevance to my ability to teach for our times.

And yet, the more important message here from Elder Scott is that either course can invite the Spirit.

-Pause and repeat-

Remember with both lessons, Elder Scott felt the promptings of the Spirit. He stopped paying attention to his immediate surroundings and started listening to and interacting with the voice of God. Whether interested or biding his time, Elder Scott felt the Spirit and chose to listen to it instead – to be taught by the Holy Ghost – instead of from the content of the lesson being provided to him in sketchy English or served up in an overly intellectualized lesson.

Consider this: the manner in which Elder Scott recorded his personal inspiration in both stories follows the pattern that Joseph Smith directed us to follow based on the revelations he received. Once written, the revelation was examined to see if it conformed to the mind and will of God and changes could be made. It speaks to the imperfection of human intermediaries and the humility needed to keep at revelation until we start to get it right.

And, much like Joseph Smith, Elder Scott teaches that:

A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus [TPJS, p. 151]

Paying attention to the first promptings is valuable not for the promptings, but because it indicates an openness to the process of revelation. Just as it is important for the teacher to be prepared spiritually to guide, the students to be open spiritually in order to receive guidance. 

He gives us ten things we should do as listeners:

1. Attend class prepared, with a readiness to learn
2. Be aware of impressions that may come
3. Write them down as soon as possible
4. Ponder what you have written
5. Study the meaning

-pause-

6. Pray to the Lord, and review what was taught, and what was learned
7. Wait for a feeling of peace and confirmation
8. Thank Heavenly Father for the guidance
9. Ask: “Is there more to learn?” You probably will have additional impressions, but it takes courage to ask.
10. Repeat the process from beginning to end as many times as is necessary. 

Elder Scott says, “Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance.”

One very important warning. 

“Satan is extremely good at blocking spiritual communication.” We have all been sidetracked by the destroyer.  “The Lord will not force you to learn.  You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you.”

Elder Scott encourages us to practice, have patience, and be aware.  Inspiration comes to us in different ways.  By following the above ten steps, realize the unique way Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit communicate with you.

Elder Scott then launches into a critique of pornography, highlighting in particular the potentially corrosive effects of pornography on family relations. Perhaps more importantly, he discuss its effect on the soul. He notes that the adversary is at pains to induce “individuals, through temptation, to violate the laws upon which spiritual communication is founded.”

The notion is that Satan achieves his goal if “he is able to convince them that they are not able to receive such guidance from the Lord.” The presence or absence of revelation in the life of the individual is presented, in this talk, as the surest means of judging one’s current standing with the Lord

So. Whether you are interested or bored by this simple lesson prepared with as much humility as my intellectual pridefulness allows at this point in my mortal journey, your involvement in the process is considered sufficient sacrifice for God to honor it with those first intimations of revelation through the Spirit with whatever you need to learn.

{time check: tell Unicorn story with sketch after 4 hours of being taught the Plan of Salvation}

Elder Scott counsels us: The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit.

For those ensnared in pornography or other damaging, compulsive behaviors: re-establish communication with God! We have to authorize the Spirit to take an active role to guide and teach us. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ won’t interfere in our lives without our consent – our free agency. We must pray and ‘knock’ to ask for help to overcome addictions – anything that can cause us to lose our way and stumble alone into darkness.

Remember the Jalapeno and grape analogy — be more aware of what/who you surround yourself with and how any negative emotions can block out the positive and good all around you.

Intellectual conversion to Christ is fragile, if left solely to ontological syllogisms and epistemological arguments.

Spiritual conversion to Jesus Christ is the emotional bedrock of belief that leads to continuous personal revelation by the Spirit. Adding intellectual enlightenment to sustaining spiritual belief and following the personal guidance offered by the Holy Spirit will help each of us learn what we need to during this mortal existence so we are prepared to be reunited with our Father and family as we journey beyond the veil.

Discussion

(Time permitting — we ran out of time due to the discussion questions raised earlier in the lesson. If we had the time, I would have divided the class into thirds, selected a spokesperson for each group and handed them a quote and question for them to discuss and present back to the Relief Society):

1. However, it is my judgment that there are many members of this Church who have been baptized for the remission of their sins, who have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost, who have never received that gift, that is, the manifestations of it. Why? Because they have never put themselves in order to receive these manifestations. They have never humbled themselves. They have never taken the steps that would prepare them for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Therefore they go through life without that knowledge, and they have not the understanding. Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, October 1958, p.21 – p.22

Question: “How do we draw a balance between spiritual self-reliance and relying on the Spirit?”

2. D&C Section 84: 45-46 says: For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spir, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.

Questions: What the difference is between being “guided by the Holy Ghost” (for those who have been told to “receive the Holy Ghost” by the laying on of hands) and being “guided by the Light of Christ”?

How can one discern whether an answer has come through the Light of Christ or the Holy Ghost?  What difference does it make?

3. “I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear. ” D&C 38:30

Questions: What does it mean to be self-reliant in spiritual things?

Why is it important to be spiritually self-reliant?

**********

I bear my testimony that our a Father in Heaven very much wants to help us endure to the end through this mortal trial. He gave us His only Begotten Son and through Him, the Atonement. All He asks is for us to humble ourselves, ask for help and follow the guidance of the Spirit – be faithful to the truth He shows us! The Plan of Salvation He has given us through the Prophet Joseph Smith helps us navigate the temporal reality but it also builds our soul for eternity. I pray that I never lose my sense of awe over the workings of My Heavenly Father in my life with my family on both sides of the veil and in the world at large.

I know this Church is true and it is divinely led by great men like our current Prophet Thomas S Monson and his Counselors as well as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who teach us doctrinal truths for the modern world. I’m grateful for this inspiring talk Elder Richard Scott delivered at the October, 2009 Semi-Annual General Conference and leave this lesson with you in the glorious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


My notes (in between tweets) from the 179th Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Sunday Morning Session

President Thomas S Monson conducted the Sunday morning session. Here are the key points made by each speaker (with direct quotes noted as such):

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang “I Need Thee Every Hour”

Invocation

MoTab sang “Beautiful Zion, Built Above”

President Henry B. Eyring, 1st Counselor of the First Presidency:

  • Do not give up trying to be better.
  • The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we CAN and we must expect to become better as long as we live.
  • We believe that through living the Gospel, we can become perfected like the Savior (although not in this life).
  • Primary song “I’m trying to be like Jesus”
  • The greatest joys and sorrows come in the family
  • Pray for the love that let’s you see the good in your companion
  • Persist in love.
  • Family is the testing ground for learning Love
  • Love is putting others above ourselves. Sorrow comes primarily from selfishness, which is the absence of love.
  • A man and a woman are to make sacred covenants that they will put the welfare and happiness of the other at the center of their lives.
  • Children are to be born into a family where parents hold the needs of the children equal to their own in importance.
  • Children learn to love parents and each other.
  • Choices to qualify that there will be no empty chairs in our families in the world to come
    • Pray for the love that allows you to see the good in your companion.
    • Council to the parents of a wandering child. The savior is the perfect example of persisting in love. Story of Jesus re-inviting the Nephites to come to him. Story of the Prodigal Son gives us hope.  Elder Orson F. Whitney, General Conference in 1929:“Though some of the sheep may wonder, the eye of the Shepard is upon them and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of divine providence reach out after them and drawing them back to the fold…Pray for your careless and disobedient children, hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on ’till you see the salvation of God. You can pray for your children. Love them. Reach out to them with confidence that Jesus reaches for them with you. When you keep trying, you are doing what Jesus does.”
    • The only commandment with a promise… Honor thy Father and Mother.
  • “Try to show kindness in all that you do. Be gentle and loving in deed and thought.”

Elder L Tom Perry

  • The pioneers left us a great heritage: learn from the past to help us manage the future
  • Reference to the Pagent of Manti. Pres Kimball promised a temple on the hill in Manti.
  • The older temples are built with sacrifice.
  • Use the lessons from the past to help meet the challenge.
  • Being baptized means you must teach others
  • The missionaries MUST teach investigators about the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Bishop H David Burton

  • Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly, then shall thy confidence wax strong in the Lord
  • Virtue traits form the foundation of a Christ-like life
  • “Ity” virtues (charity, chastity, morality, etc)
  • We need not be part of the virtue malaise
  • Teaching virtuous traits begins in the home with parents who care and set the example. A good parent example encourages emulation. A poor example give license to disregard and even expand. An hypocritical example destroys credibility.
  • Integrity is more important than revenge

The congregation sang “How Firm a Foundation”

Sister Ann M Dibb

  • Focused on the importance of safety. The iron rod brings us safety
  • Workers two weeks away from completing a yearlong task of painting a bridge when a scaffolding collapsed.
  • Held on for hours. Thought of their family.
  • They chose not to use the safety equipment. If they had, tragedy could have been averted.
  • The rod of iron is our safety equipment.
  • Invited to reread Lehi’s vision of the iron rod.
  • “Get a Grip” on the iron rod. “Repent, hold on and don’t let go.”
  • If we find ourselves on ‘strange roads’, it is always possible for us to find our way back.
  • Daughter of President Monson — I’m probably the only Mormon in the world who didn’t know that. <Thank you Twitter>

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • Technology allows us to communicate rapidly.
  • Even more amazing than modern technology is our opportunity to access information directly from heaven. Without: hardware, software or monthly service fees.
  • It’s one of the most marvelous gifts the Lord has offered to His children.  To access information from Heaven you need:
  1. Firm faith and deep desire.
  2. Sincere heart and real intent having faith in Jesus Christ. Real intent means that one really intends to follow divine direction given.
  3. Study the matter diligently. Study it out in your mind. The ask God if it is right. If it is right, he will cause a burning in your bosom, therefore you shall FEEL that it is right.
  4. Know and obey the teachings of the Lord.
  • Personal revelation can be honed
  • Paul wrote: “The natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him, neither can they know them because they are spiritually discerned.”
  • Gift of Discernment is a Spiritual is a supernal gift: it allows members of the Church to see things not visible and to feel things not tangible. Bishops are entitled to this gift to seek out the poor and care for the needy.  Sisters may view trends in the world, members can discern between schemes that are flashy and fleeting – and those refinements which are uplifting and enduring.
  • To receive revaluation unique to our needs and responsibilities:
    • Develop faith, hope, charity and love with an eye single to the glory of god. then with your firm faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility and diligence you may ask and you will receive, knock and it will be upon unto you.
    • Revelation from God is always compatible with His eternal law.
    • Revelation may be incremental:“I will give unto the children of men, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom, for unto him who receiveth, I will give more.”
  • Patience, perseverance are part of our eternal progression

MoTab sang “Love is Spoken Here”

President Thomas S Monson, Prophet, Seer & Revelator

  • Spoke about service — story of Father who asked “What did you do for someone today?” at the dinner table each night.
  • “Often we live side by side, but do not communicate heart to heart.”
  • King Benjamen “When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God.”
  • Savior taught us “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it. But whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
  • He is telling us that unless we lose ourselves for service to others, there’s little purpose to our own lives.
  • At Baptism – covenanted to bear one another’s burden that they may be light.
  • Warm Fuzzies Idea! Embodied by soft little things in a jar!
  • Notes from children who helped others:
    • My grandpa had a stroke and i held his hand”
    • “My sister and I served my family by organizing and cleaning the toy closet. It took us a few hours and we had fun. The best part was that we surprised my mom and made her happy because she didn’t ask us to do it!”
    • “There was a family in my ward that did not have a lot of money. They have 3 little girls and mom and dad had to go somewhere, so I offered to watch the three girls. The dad was just about to hand me a 5 dollar bill. I said “I can’t take it”. My service was that I watched the girls for free.”
    • Mongolia – “Brought water from a well so his mother would not have to do so”
    • “My dad has gone for army training for a few weeks. My special job is to give my mom hugs and kisses”
    • “I picked strawberries for my great grandma. I felt good inside.”
    • “I played with a lonely kid.”
    • “I went to a ladies house and asked her questions. And sang her a song. It felt good to visit her. She was happy because she never gets visitors.”
  • Members responded to his request to serve others as a gift for his birthday last year

MoTab sang “Have I Done Any Good?”

The benediction was offered by Enrique R Falabella

Sunday Afternoon Session

President Dieter F Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted.

MoTab sang “In Hymns of Praise”

Invocation

MoTab sang “O, Divine Redeemer”

Elder Jeffrey R Holland

  • Even those in the covenant could be deceived by the enemy of truth
  • The rod marks the way of that redeeming trail
  • “As one of a thousands elements of my testimony…”
  • In Joseph’s and Hyrum’s last hours, they marked a scripture in the Book of Mormon as their testimony
  • “I lie not!”
  • Shared his testimony by oath and his office of the Book of Mormon.  Direct Testimony and Quote:

“One cannot come into full faith in this latter day work and thereby find the fullness measure of peace of comfort of these are times until he or she embraces the divinity of the book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a here before unknown text, teaming with literary and symbolic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages somehow. Especially, without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and their profound spiritual impact, that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers…if that’s the case, then such persons, elect or otherwise have been deceived. And if they leave this church, they must do so by crawling over or under or around the book of Mormon to make their exit. In that sense, the book is what Christ himself was said to be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offensive, a barrier in a path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates…”

  • These are the words of Christ and they teach all men to do good
  • God always provides safety for the soul

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • We live in times where people feel they are not accountable to God. Need stewardship and accountability.
  • Rationalization will be seen in their true light.
  • We do welfare work because we are doing what we believe God wants us to do
  • We try to do what is right because we love and want to please our Father in Heaven, not because someone is forcing us to obey
  • Repentance means the Lord will forgive and FORGET your sins.
  • Stewardship:
    • Our Family/Children:
      • Remember that having religious observance at home is as important as providing food, clothing and shelter.
      • Children are accountable for using their time/talents well.
      • Family Proclamation: “Individuals who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand responsible before God.”
    • Caring for the poor and those in need
  • It is our responsibility to teach the Savior’s standard of morality
  • See that all these things are done in wisdom and order
  • In all of our stewardship efforts we follow Jesus Christ
  • Review our stewardship roles and know we are accountable to God

Elder Brent H. Nielson

  • Challenge: go ye into all the earth and teach all nations
  • Lengthen our stride and widen our vision
  • Every young man should serve an honorable full-time mission. The rising generation is the fulfillment of prophesy of the Gospel blanketing the earth.
  • Scripture Quote Matthew 28:18-20 – Teach all nations
  • Jacob – Olive Tree Story, working in the vineyard.
  • The Savior said to Peter and Andrew: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”
  • Who are the laborers? They are prophets and apostles, stake presidents, bishops, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters
  • The new generation should do their part and teach all nations.
  • We have just begun to scratch the surface. The need has never been greater, the field has never been whiter

The congregation sang “Hope of Israel”

Elder Dale G Renlund

  • Heart transplant analogy, body will naturally reject the new heart unless medication is taken daily and heart health is monitored.
  • Patients become casual with medicine and monitoring, sometimes even stopping the medication (even tho’ they know the consequence).
  • If you have experienced the change of heart…can you feel so now?
  • Are you humble? Free of pride and envy/ Kind to your fellow man?
  • Pray and read scriptures every day keep your changed heart.  Do not be casual about those small actions.
  • Partake of the Sacrament each week and have the Holy Ghost as your constant companion.
  • In homes, talk of, rejoice in and preach of Christ.
  • If you feel good, all is NOT well
  • The ultimate operation is a spiritual change of heart
  • Our transgressions lead to our hearts that are hardened and diseased
  • Do not become casual with prayer and scripture study
  • Do not compromise our covenants or commitments

Elder Michael T Ringwood

  • What causes mighty change?
  • Easiness and willingness to believe in God comes from the softness of heart that is: sensitive to the Holy Ghost, can love, will make and keep sacred covenants, feel the power of the atonement of Christ.
  • The daily living of the gospel brings about a soft heart that brings a willingness to believe.
  • We need to allow the words to sink deep into our hearts. Periods with a soft heart: marriage, birth a child, intense service from a calling or mission, in our youth with leaders and bishop, trials, growth from learning for the first time of the Gospel.
  • At some times, it is easier to believe the word of God
  • The teachings of this conference, if followed, will lead to an easiness in believing the good word of God
  • Obedience will bring soft hearts, scripture study and prayer will bring soft hearts.

Elder Joseph W Sitati

  • The Church is a Global faith (there are now more LDS than Jewish people. Also, there are more LDS outside the US than within it).
  • History of the Priesthood Keys from Adam to today.

Elder D Todd Christoffersen

  • We need moral discipline
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ provides moral certainty
  • Moral Agency, the right to make choices and account for those choices.
  • WW II – James E. Faust was in enlisted in the US Army.
    • Asked the question “In times of war, should not the morale code be relaxed? Does not the stress of battle justify men in doing things they would not do while at home under normal situations?”
    • Answered “I do not believe there is a double standard of morality.”
  • Discipline’s root word is Disciple.
  • The lack of internal control in people, breeds external controls by governments. The more of God’s laws we obey, the fewer laws we need on earth.
  • Morale Discipline is learned at home. Teach your children while you have them and convert them while they are with you.
  • Discipline needs to be founded on faith in Heavenly Father and the son and what we can achieve with atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • God is our Father, his son Jesus is our redeemer. Their law is immutable, truth everlasting and love is infinite.

President Thomas S Monson

  • Study the addresses in the Ensign
  • Parable: a couple fighting and their child who got hurt as a direct result. Message: Anger doesn’t solve anything and it destroys everything.
  • Anger is Satans tool.
  • Story about two brothers who shared a 1 room cabin in New York. They got into a fight and drew a line down the center of the room. They did not speak or cross the line for 62 years. This story was told at a funeral.
  • Reads “School Thy Feelings Poem”
  • “I invoke the blessings of heaven upon each of you”
  • Leave this conference a better person

MoTab sang “Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing”

The benediction was offered by W Douglas Shumway


My notes (in between tweets) from the 179th Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Saturday Morning Session

President Henry B. Eyring conducted the Saturday morning session, with President Thomas S. Monson providing general commentary followed by talks from Elder Scott, Sister Matsumori, Elder Clayton, Brother Osguthorpe, Elder Bednar, and President Uchtdorf.  Here are the key points made by each speaker (with direct quotes noted as such):

President Thomas S. Monson:

  • 83% of members live within 200 miles of a temple
  • There are 130 operating temples
  • 16 have been announced or are under construction
  • 5 new temples announced

    • Brigham City, Utah
    • Concepción, Chile
    • Fortaleza, Brazil
    • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
    • Sapporo, Japan

Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang “Choose the Right”

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Twelve:

  • Inspiration to know what to do | being guided by the spirit
  • Power, to be able to do it
  • Sometimes truth is revealed when you are not actively seeking it
  • Pornography is one of the most damning influences on earth, and is overpoweringly addictive
  • Commit to overcome it now
  • If you pray with all your heart, you can learn to be consistent with the guidance of the Holy Spirit
  • Parable: a humble priesthood leader in Mexico teaching a lesson inspired Elder Scott, while a well-educated Sunday School teacher in the States, using obscure examples, did not edify or inspire because it came from a desire to impress (pride).

Sister Vicki F. Matsumori, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency:

  • Being touched by the Spirit is like being wrapped in a blanket.
  • Help others understand
  • The Spirit will not dwell in unholy temples
  • We should find ways to feel the Spirit every day and weekly at Church
  • “Be still and know that I am God”

Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy:

  • Generally burdens come from 3 sources
    1. Natural product of the conditions of the world
    2. Imposed on us by the misconduct of others
    3. Imposed on us by our own mistakes and shortcomings
  • Burdens provide opportunities to practice virtues — blessings in disguise
  • “People struggle everyday under burdens that tax their souls.”

The choir sang “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet”

Russell T. Osguthorpe, General President of the Sunday School:

  • “We are all teaching future leaders of the Church.”
  • A good teacher can help save lives
  • Teaching involves sharing the key doctrine, an invitation to action, and then the promised blessings
  • “Learning and teaching are not optional activities in the Kingdom of God.”
  • Teachers can inspire their students to change, to do better, to set sights higher

Elder David A. Bednar of the Twelve:

  • “More diligent and concerned at home”
  • Express love and show it. When was the last time you told your spouse, your child, your parents you love them?
  • Testimonies that express love might be appropriate, but the public statement shouldn’t be the only time they hear it
  • Feeling the constancy of love is a rich blessing
  • Bear testimony and live it. When was the last time you bore your testimony to your spouse, your children, or your parents
  • We need to bear it, we need to mean it, and most importantly, we need to live it
  • Be consistent. Results don’t come each time
  • The consistency of our intent and work is the great lesson
  • A single paint brush stroke is not critical, but all of the strokes together create a beautiful painting

The choir sang “My Heavenly Father Loves Me”

The choir sang “Oh, May My Soul Commune with Thee”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, on showing love as a disciple of Christ and the unconditional love of God for us:

  • Of all the things we are known for, are there things we should seek to be known for?
  • How do we become true disciples of Jesus Christ? Love God. If ye love me, keep my commandments.  Love should be the center of our life in:
    1. family
    2. callings
    3. livelihood
  • “Love should be our walk and our talk.”
  • Keep trying. Try to believe, learn of God, study the scriptures, follow the prophets, listen to the Father, do the things He asks of us
    • How can we hear the Father’s voice?
    • Why is love the great commandment?

The choir sang “Come, Come, Ye Saints”

Saturday Afternoon Session

President Eyring conducted the Saturday afternoon session, featuring talks by Elder Oaks, Elder Hales, Elder Zeballos, Elder Callister, Elder Watson, Elder Anderson, and President Packer. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; phrases without quotes are my summary of the remarks given.

The choir sang “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise”.

The choir sang “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Twelve, on God’s love and law:

  • God’s love and God’s commandments
  • The love of God does not supersede his commandments.  His commandments do not diminish the love of God
  • Despite mortal confusion over the relationship between love and law, love does not supercede or render inapplicable law or God’s commandments. Mercy cannot rob justice.
  • Counsels a balanced response — every parent knows you can love a child and be angry and disappointed
  • The love of God is so universal, even those who are rebellious benefit
  • Where do parents draw the line with children that are not following the commandments? Don’t go to extremes.
  • Real love does not support self-destructive behavior

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Twelve, against secularism and atheism:

  • We live in a time where secularism is deepening.  “Atheism … is spreading across the world.”
  • We declare We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost
  • Why is belief in God so important?“Without God, … our mortal experiences would have no purpose.”
  • Cultivate a diligent desire to know God lives. He does.

Elder Jorge F. Zeballos of the Seventy, on the Atonement:

  • The command to become perfect may seem impossible, but it encourages us to achieve the best of ourselves
  • “God will not require more than the best that we can give.”
  • Let us with enthusiasm do all that is within our reach
  • It is possible to achieve the impossible. We can receive eternal life. We can be happy now.

The choir sang “Come, Ye Children of the Lord”

Elder Tad R. Callister of the Seventy, on the Restoration:

  • Joseph was the Lord’s anointed servant. He restored knowledge of four fundamental truths not recognized by contemporary Christianity:
    1. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are two separate, distinct beings
    2. The Father and Son have glorified bodies of flesh and bones
    3. God still speaks to man today; the heavens are not closed
      Does God love us as much today as before?
      Does God have the same power today as then?
      Do we need him as much today as then?
    4. The full and complete Church of Jesus Christ was not on the earth
  • Were there not angels before? Mary, Joseph, Peter, James, John, Cornelius, Paul, Stephen all saw angels
  • Some people get sidetracked and lose their faith over minor issues: “There will always be some intellectual crisis looming on the horizon.” At some point, one must trust in God.

Elder Kent D. Watson of the Seventy, on temperance:

  • Temperance = avoiding anger and pride.
  • Peace of mind and security and happiness does not come from buying things we can’t afford. It comes through self-control and faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Happiness comes from being diligent in keeping covenants
  • Like tempered glass or tempered steel, a tempered soul is one that has gained increased spiritual strength.

Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Twelve, on repentance:

  • Testifies of the Savior’s overpowering love for a repentant soul.  Spiritual arms of mercy, safety, love
  • We rejoice in repenting and the joy of forgiveness
  • Apart from the rare unforgiveable sin against the Holy Ghost, “there is no sin that cannot be forgiven.
  • “Will ye not now return unto me… that I may heal you?”
  • Repentance is more of a journey than an event
  • “You can’t feel what I have felt”  One who does understand. He does. He has felt your pain.
  • I promise you, relief will come
  • Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance

President Boyd K. Packer of the Twelve, on hearing the guidance of the Spirit:

  • “We are given our agency; we must use it wisely.”
  • We must use our agency wisely
  • Pure intelligence can be spoken into the mind  — the Spirit can protect you
  • Keep your mind clean and free from the clutter of the world
  • “One of the adversary’s sharpest tools is convincing us that we are no longer worthy to pray.” No matter who you are and what you may have done, you can always pray
  • Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind, in your heart. Pray on your knees.
  • Prayer is your personal key to heaven and the lock is on your side of the veil.
  • “Thy will be done”

The choir sang “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”.


Based on a talk given by President Thomas S Monson at the April, 2009 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Opening Hymn: Come, Come Ye Saints

 

 During his talk, President Monson focused on the blessings that come from membership in the Church.  President Monson taught powerfully from the examples shown by Church members throughout history who endured incredible hardships with faith. These are “the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer as they have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives,” he said. “This attitude is what will pull us through whatever comes our way.” 

Three Examples 

President Monson uses a trio of stories to illustrate how it is possible to Be ofGood  Cheer, even during the worst trials imaginable.

His first story is from his personal ancestors migration from Sweden to Zion, enduring the hardship of 8 weeks on a boat. The journey claims the life of a child who, according to custom, must be bound and buried at sea. Witnessing the death of your young child, then burial at sea and then somehow finding joy again? 

The second story President Monson shared was about a faith-filled man who overcame physical adversity through spiritual faith. 

And the third — Elder Benson’s moving story about the German latter-day saint woman who lost absolutely everything and found her Savior.  Through her harrowing ordeal, President Monson impressed upon us all how it is possible to be of good cheer even in the harshest of times. 

This woman — a German mother and Latter-day Saint — lived in East Prussia at the start of World War II. Her husband was killed during the war.  She and her four children, the oldest was 7, found themselves living in territory now occupied by others and she, along with all other Germans, was ordered to leave.

Having no form of transportation, she began a 1000-mile journey on foot. 

Let’s put that into a little perspective. That’s like any one of us traveling from Michigan to Dallas, Texas with 4 small children. She was permitted to take only a small hand-pulled cart – the size of a Red-flyer wagon — and whatever would fit into it.  They had no money, so they were forced to gather food from the fields as they traveled. 

 Winter came and they had only rags wrapped around their feet, because the shoes had fallen apart. The young mother carried her baby as the 7-year old pulled the cart. They avoided troops and other refugees who might prove dangerous. 

And then, after weeks of exposure to the cold with only rags to cover them and a scant amount of food to eat, her children began to die. She buried the three oldest children, 

one by one, 

digging their graves with a teaspoon 

because it was all she had with which to dig. 

Imagine digging an entire grave for your child in the frozen ground with only a teaspoon, a grieving mind and a broken heart …

As she approached the end of her 1000 mile journey, her last  surviving child, 

the baby, 

Quietly died in her arms.

 But she had no spoon left. Kneeling on the frozen ground, covered with ice and snow, she dug the last grave with her fingers over the course of several heart-breaking hours. 

At that moment, she felt she had lost everything:  her husband, each of their four children, their home and even her country.  With no one left to live for, she contemplated suicide, when the Holy Ghost prompted her to pray.  She tried to ignore it, but finally obeyed. 

This was her prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I do not know how I can go on. I have nothing left-except my faith in Thee. 

I feel, Father, amidst the desolation of my soul, an overwhelming gratitude for the atoning sacrifice of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. I cannot express adequately my love for Him. I know that because He suffered and died, I shall live again with my family; that because He broke the chains of death, I shall see my children again and will have the joy of raising them. 

Though I do not at this moment wish to live, I will do so, that we may be reunited as a family and return-together-to Thee. 

As she prayed, she was reminded that no matter how painful this life on earth could be, there was a great promise for her if she held on and kept up her spirits – to ‘be of Good Cheer’

She knew that she had a loving Father in Heaven and that Jesus Christ died for her – for each of us- so we could live again. And she knew through her beliefs as a Latter-day  Saint, that families can be together forever. 

God is our Father — he loves us too much to take our families from us if we love them enough to do what it takes to keep them forever. 

It was her knowledge of these things and absolute faith in God and the Plan of Salvation that gave her the courage to get back on her feet and finish her journey through life. 

President Monson said, “When she finally reached her destination of Karlsruhe, Germany, she was emaciated….her face was a purple-gray, her eyes red and swollen, her joints protruding. She was literally in the advanced stages of starvation.”

In a Church meeting shortly thereafter, she bore a glorious testimony, stating that of all the ailing people in her saddened land, she was one of the happiest because she knew that God lived, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He died and was resurrected so that we might live again

She testified that if she continued faithful and true to the end, she would be reunited with those she had lost and would be saved in the celestial kingdom of God.”

 
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Imagine that through your worst mortal trial; you can be the happiest person on earth! 

Because of the knowledge of a living God and the atonement of Christ – Be of good cheer!

There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us! 

 Question: How might we have joy in our lives, despite all that we might face?

None of us makes it through this life without problems and challenges—and sometimes tragedies and misfortunes. After all, in large part we are here to learn and grow from such events in our lives. We know that there are times when we will suffer, when we will grieve, and when we will be saddened. 

However, we are told, ‘Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.’ 

How might we have joy in our lives, despite all that we may face? 

Again from the scriptures: ‘Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.’ ” 

 We are taught as Latter-Day Saints that the gospel is not a gospel of fear. The scriptures are filled with admonitions to be cheerful and not afraid. 

This can prove challenging when it seems the world is falling apart and the media is determined to keep you in a state of fear to sell newspapers or increase ratings. If I may make one side comment here about the choices we make: I’ve chosen to not have cable tv in my new home. All that my children see is what I’ve set up for them on the computer that is hooked up to the tv sets. They can watch the inspirational messages on Scripture Scouts Radio or the Mormon Channel on YouTube as well as wholesome movies on Netflix. All of these I choose for them. Since taking media out of our home, I have personally felt less stressed and worried about what’s happening ‘out there’.  It helps and it works.

 If we do all we can do to prepare for hard times, we can also choose to trust God, or choose what the adversary would like: for us to be afraid. You can’t always control what happens, but you can choose your attitude.

 

jesus_second_coming

No matter what disappointments, frustrations, or even tragedies we face during our mortal probation, because of Christ’s Atonement, we know that if we continue to have faith in Him, and do our best to live righteously, we can eventually join Him, and our Heavenly Parents, in realms of glory. 

“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17). 

 Everyone is going to have difficult experiences throughout their lives, but for me, it’s about prayer several times a day, every day, scripture study, journaling, and listening to General Conference talks as well as other uplifting media has strengthened me and brought me closer to the Lord. It has also helped me to see which things are the most important in my life. 

 The final story shared by President Monson will haunt me forever with its corresponding message: the blessing that Christ has given me through the Atonement. The deep understanding of the atonement and of my purpose here on earth have truly blessed my life. I can’t imagine living my life any other way.  

How has being a member of the church blessed your life? 

 President Monson ended his talk with this admonition: “From the holy scriptures we read, “Behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in [Him], they who have endured the crosses of the world, . . . they shall inherit the kingdom of God, . . . and their joy shall be full forever. ”I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. 

Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us. 

My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”

Discussion 

Divide the class into four groups, with a leader for each group, and give each group a hymnbook. 

Assign each group one of the verses of the hymn “Count Your Blessings” or “Come, Come Ye Saints”.  

Have each group find the message of their verse (or verses). 

Encourage them to think of examples from scripture stories, Church history, or personal experiences that teach the same message. 

After each group has had time to think of ideas, have the leader read the verse to the class and then share the ideas the group discussed. 

                                                   ************

I bear my testimony that this is the Lord’s Church. Only a loving Father would want His children ‘to be of good cheer’ and then offer His own son to restorfamilies will be reunited forever.

One of the greatest blessings in my life through membership in the church is the sense of purpose and peace that it has brought into my life. The focus on the family and helping each other has been a real blessing. 

I am grateful that these things have been a part of my life. Preparing this lesson taught me, probably most of all, to be of good cheer.  No matter what the adversary tries or the mortal struggles of health issues, long-term unemployment, loss of a beloved family member….

That’s why I am so grateful for a living Prophet, Thomas S Monson, to guide us, teach us and receive modern revelation for the entire Church. This exceptional talk strengthens my testimony that this is the true church and I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father as well as my sisters here in this room for the kindness and support you’ve shared with me.

I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God that was translated by the courageous Prophet, Joseph Smith. I believe it is the greatest book ever published alongside the Bible.

 Be of good cheer today and forever, my sisters. Find joy in your everyday journey. I say these things in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Eyring_mediumBased on an LDS General Conference talk given by President Henry B Eyring in April, 2009 

Download the Teaching for our Times lesson on slideshare.net.

Click on Mormonmom to see other TFOT lessons.

President Eyring spoke about the role of adversity in our lives. He taught very clearly that the purpose of mortality was to prepare us for eternal life–not mere immortality, but the kind of life that God has, along with the power to have offspring forever. Part of that preparation involves us becoming the kind of people who can be trusted with that kind of power. The only way to do that is to expose us to adversity, hard challenges, the kinds of tests that shake one to one’s foundations.

In these latter-days of government bailouts, plummeting home values, increasingly double-digit unemployment, terrorism and persecution around the world, there is plenty of adversity to go around, plenty of storms. It was very helpful to have Pres. Eyring remind me – because I’m sorry but this talk was just for me. Just kidding. I actually live tweeted that comment at the time, generating waves of “Me Too” from Mormons all over the world. It was helpful to have him remind us of of the useful perspective that the Gospel supplies regarding our troubles, and how to transcend them. Note that I did not say ‘avoid’ them, or even resolve’ them. Not every challenge yields a direct solution. Note: Not every question can be answered by Google.

Some things are, and will continue to be, outside of my, or your, control. As many of you know, over the past year my family has been facing a long, deep trial that quite frankly would have broken apart many families, especially those who do not have the benefit of the gospel in their lives. We are so blessed to have opened our door, our hearts and our minds to the missionaries on that warm Autumn afternoon.


Even if I cannot control what happens outside my control, I can control my response. This was perhaps the biggest lesson I have personally learned. Choosing the Gospel and the teachings of Christ are getting me through this time of adversity.


“We cannot control the wind, but we can adjust the sails”sailboat

As President Eyring teaches, the Lord uses adversity to bring about His purposes and to help us learn valuable lessons. As we examine the scriptures and the history of the Church, we can see how the Lord uses adversity to bring about His purposes and to help us learn valuable lessons.

What is the place for adversity in our lives? As we examine the history of the Church and accounts from the scriptures, we can see how the Lord uses adversity to bring about His purposes and to help us learn valuable lessons.

Through adversity or, as President Eyring puts it: “education” we experience, “misery and happiness, sickness and health, the sadness from sin and the joy of forgiveness. That forgiveness can come only through the infinite Atonement of the Savior, which He worked out through pain we could not bear and which we can only faintly comprehend.

It will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior’s promised relief that He knows, from experience, how to heal and help us. The Book of Mormon gives us the certain assurance of His power to comfort. And faith in that power will give us patience as we pray and work and wait for help. He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation…”

President Eyring reminds us about the poor in Alma 34.

Once they had repented and were converted, they were still poor. But He sent them to do for others what they might reasonably have thought was beyond them and which they still needed. They were to give others what they would have hoped He would give them. Through His servant, the Lord gave these poor converts this hard task:

“After ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.


That may seem much to ask of people in such great need themselves.Even when you feel the truth of that capacity and kindness of the Lord to deliver you in your trials, it may still test your courage and strength to endure.

olsen-liberty-jail_MDThe Prophet Joseph Smith faced adversity. Clearly. When he was held in the Libery jail in 1839, D&C 121: 1-2 states that he cried out: “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?


“How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?

Discussion

• What kinds of adversity can we choose to avoid? List responses in a column on the chalkboard.

e.g. poor health or addiction because of breaking the Word of Wisdom, family quarrels because of selfishness and greed, guilt or punishment because of breaking the law of the land, or any other adversity brought on by our own poor choices. If we are facing adversity that comes from sin, work toward repenting of that sin. Repenting of the sin will help remove or reduce the adversity.

Sometimes, we face adversity brought on by other people.

• What kinds of adversity might come to us regardless of our own choices? List responses in a second column on the chalkboard.

e.g. illness or disability, injuries or financial losses; accidents; unemployment; lapsed family members, etc.

We cannot choose to avoid these kinds of trials but we can determine how we will react to them and what we learn from how we respond. If we regard our trials as opportunities to learn and grow, they can become blessings for us.

President Eyring reassures us: “ I have seen faith and courage come from a testimony that it is true that we are being prepared for eternal life. The Lord will rescue His faithful disciples. And the disciple who accepts a trial as an invitation to grow and therefore qualify for eternal life can find peace in the midst of the struggle.”


He compares the story of a young man he had recently met who had prepared for challenging times with that of the prophet Alma. The young man, had prepared more than food storage and financial savings; he had begun to prepare his heart to be worthy of the Lord’s help which he knew he would in the near future need. Perhaps most telling is the young man’s wife. Her response, upon learning her husband had lost his job, was with cheerfulness in her voice. Cheerfulness! Why? She was filled with faith that the Lord had given them a trial. They had visited with their bishop. They were full-tithe payers. And the sense of peace the Lord promised would be with them during this trial. Think of the last trial you were faced with and your response – was it cheerful?

Alma teaches: “Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty.”

adversity1Through adversity or, as President Eyring puts it: “education” we experience, “misery and happiness, sickness and health, the sadness from sin and the joy of forgiveness. That forgiveness can come only through the infinite Atonement of the Savior, which He worked out through pain we could not bear and which we can only faintly comprehend.

It will comfort us when we must wait in distress for the Savior’s promised relief that He knows, from experience, how to heal and help us. The Book of Mormon gives us the certain assurance of His power to comfort. And faith in that power will give us patience as we pray and work and wait for help. He could have known how to succor us simply by revelation.”


President Eyring shares a story about a friend of his who served as a Bishop when his daughters were still at home:

His health began a slow decline. I can’t remember all the ailments he suffered. He needed surgery. He was in constant pain. Yet every time I visited him to give him comfort, he turned the tables; I always was the one comforted. His back and legs forced him to use a cane to walk. Yet there he was in church, always sitting near the door, where he could greet those arriving early, with a smile.


I will never forget the feeling of wonder and admiration which came over me when I opened the back door at home and saw him coming up our driveway. It was the day we put out our garbage cans to be picked up by city workers. I had put the can out in the morning. But there he was dragging my garbage can up the hill with one hand while he balanced himself with a cane in his other hand. He was giving me the help he thought I needed when he needed it far more than I did. And he was helping with a smile and without being asked.

Discussion

Discuss some trials people at their (your) stage of life might endure. Less about age, more about, for example, being a mom or a student or taking care of a parent. You could be a student at 20 and face the trial of a poor semester at school or at 40 returning to school. Or a mom faced with a child’s newly diagnosed illness. It could be breaking an arm or moving house. Or caregiving for a parent or family member that may be different for someone who never had children. Or if it is too personal, ask to share the experience of a friend or family member.


Discuss the lessons that were learned through each trial. For example, The death of a loved one may increase our testimony of the plan of salvation. List these lessons on the chalkboard under the second heading, and discuss how each lesson can help us become more like our Father in Heaven and our Savior. Draw the point out about the lessons learned as blessings as compared with the trial that was endured.

For everyday questions and times of adversity, there is The Ultimate Answer: God the Father lives. He set a course for each of us that can polish and perfect us to be with Him.


Don’t let adversity define your life – see it as the gift that it is from the Lord to help teach us become more like Him.

He promises us the absolute power to overcome all things.

I bear my testimony that the Savior lives. His Atonement makes everything possible.

silver-liningDuring some of my personal darkest moments over the last year, all I had to do was think about the betrayal of our Savior by those closest to him and how endured the outcome of that betrayal. He lived a life of perfection. He suffered and endured until the end. He can and will give us strength to rise through every trial. President Monson is the Lord’s prophet. As President Eyring testified, President Monson holds all the keys of the priesthood. This is the Lord’s true Church restored on this earth by the Lord’s prophet Joseph Smith. Through this church and the scriptures, we are being blessed to help others He places in our path. I leave this lesson with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.




momhearthandsRelief Society Special Teaching for our Times
Mother’s Day Sunday: A Mother Heart based on an April, 2004 General Conference talk by Sister Julie B. Beck
May 10, 2009
The slides and notes from my lesson can be found on slideshare.net under the user name: Mormonmom

Sister Beck teaches us that one of our goals as women, not necessarily mothers, is to nurture and and feed children spiritually. To have a ”mother heart”, Sister Beck instructs us that it is more about keeping our covenants — that the role of motherhood is divine. Let me start with a disclaimer – I am not qualified as many of you wonderful mothers to teach about A Mother Heart. I *only* have 10 years experience as a mother. I *only* have 3 children. And I *only* have girls. So, using scriptures as my guide, just as Sister she offers us important principles that we can each apply to our lives as faithful women.

whatisbwShe opens with the words: “I have often heard my father describe my mother as a woman with a “mother heart,” and that is true. Her mothering influence has been felt by many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, and she has refined the role of nurturer to an art form. Her testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and strong sense of identity and purpose have guided her life.”

Read Proverbs 31: 10-27.

So what is a mother heart? Is it just the bearing and/or rearing of children? Or does it go beyond that?

It’s about nurturing, leading, teaching, and loving.
Covenant-keeping, serving, and opening our hearts.
It’s about trusting in God and His individual plan for each of us.
Being trustworthy in caring for His children.
Helping Him do His work in whatever capacity may be ours.

Sister Beck says every girl and woman who makes and keeps sacred covenants can have a mother heart.

birdsmomdadPresident David O. McKay said, Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. Consider the angelic Lamanite mothers and their incredible faith. Their sons believed in the faith of their mothers. Two thousand stripling warriors, with no battle experience, but also with no fear of death, fought one of the most incredible battle victories in recorded history. Much of that good influence comes from simple words and acts that may at the time seem small or even mundane. And yet out of small things proceedeth that which is great. (D&C 64:33)

Do you think there is an equivalent ‘father heart”? Why or why not?

Does the priesthood instill a ‘father heart’? It could be said that a woman’s job is to nurture the children, the man’s job is to hold the priesthood and provide for the family. That’s what the proclamation says. But what about the relationship men have to their children? Is it the same relationship to kids like “mother heart” represents for women?

Do you have to be a mother to have a Mother Heart? Of course not. Women who are not mothers also show qualities of spirituality, love, and faithfulness.

Mary (of Mary and Martha fame) left the chores of the moment to listen to her Savior. With precious ointment, she knelt and washed Jesus’ feet. Both Mary and her sister Martha believed in Jesus before He raised Lazarus from the dead, stating, Yea, Lord I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.? (John 11:27). They represent the Mother Heart.

I thought this was an interesting perspective from a post on an archived forum: “I see the vantage point of encouraging mothers to excel, and as soon as I heard the talk I felt she was referring to the spiritual nurturing that moms do…yesterday for 6 hours, I helped other people’s kids to have fun at a community event. At that event, I was the first responder to help a mom locate her missing child. I helped clean up garbage so other people could go have fun with their families. This week I’ll prepare for activity days to do my part to help other people’s kids…A long time ago, I spent Christmas eve sitting with a young girl in the hospital- her own family wasn’t able to be there at that specific time.

Sister Beck’s counsel: “Female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here. A woman who treasures motherhood on earth will treasure motherhood in the world to come, and “where [her] treasure is, there will [her] heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). By developing a mother heart, each girl and woman prepares for her divine, eternal mission of motherhood. “Whatever principle of intelligence [she] attain[s] unto in this life, it will rise with [her] in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through [her] diligence and obedience than another, [she] will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18–19).”

Sister Beck shares a wonderful story where she met a group of young, covenant-keeping women with mother hearts They were teaching two-year-olds to be kind to one another. They were soothing babies, kissing bruised knees, and wiping tears.

“I asked one of those mothers how it came about that she could transfer her talents so cheerfully into the role of motherhood. She replied, “I know who I am, and I know what I am supposed to do. The rest just follows.” That young mother will build faith and character in the next generation one family prayer at a time, one scripture study session, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal after another. She is involved in a great work. She knows that “children are an heritage of the Lord” and “happy is the [woman] that hath [a] quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:3, 5). She knows that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily mothering is far more lasting, far more powerful, far more influential than any earthly position or institution invented by man. She has the vision that, if worthy, she has the potential to be blessed as Rebekah of old to be “the mother of thousands of millions” (Genesis 24:60).”

Sister Beck tells us, “In my experience I have seen that some of the truest mother hearts beat in the breasts of women who will not rear their own children in this life, but they know that “all things must come to pass in their time” and that they “are laying the foundation of a great work” (D&C 64:32–33). As they keep their covenants, they are investing in a grand, prestigious future because they know that “they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever” (Abraham 3:26).

As someone who has struggled with infertility, Mother’s Day may be incredibly difficult. Women who are unable to have children and single women can energize their mother heart by working with children or giving of themselves in some way. Women who do such work can find joy in it and bring happiness and wholesome influence into the lives of children, especially those who have been denied a mother’s love.

By developing a mother heart, each girl and woman prepares for her divine, eternal mission of motherhood.

Why did the Lord give us families? My mother heart extends to teenagers, even though my eldest is not yet there. I think about our most recent nanny, who at the tender age of 19 helped my family truly learn the meaning of mother heart. Young men – teenagers – on their missions. Even Joseph Smith at the tender age of 14, seeing the First Vision. Lucy Mack Smith absolutely had a mother heart.


If Mother’s Day is not special for you because you don’t yet have kids or you can’t or your kids have all gone off the deep end or your own mother was crazy—or if your children and/or husband just don’t get that you should be cherished and celebrated just one Sunday a year—then change your focus.

Be happy for those who do have the blessings of children. Feel blessed for the great kids of our ward you come in contact with and with whom you influence in your callings or your work. Remember that you have a Mother in Heaven who loves you. Look around the room. Find someone worth celebrating and send your mother heart her way.

Enjoy Mother’s Day. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.