Tag: General Conference

General Conference Notes — Sunday Sessions

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

Advertisements

TFOT: Gaining A Testimony of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost

Relief Society Teachings For Our Times from April 2008 General Conference

Gaining a Testimony of God the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost.

by Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I am fascinated by history, especially thinking about how naturally we humans draw on our past to make sense of the present. Lately I’ve been following the archeological dig around Stonehenge that is challenging every textbook assumption and in doing so, has reaffirmed my personal testimony about our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ and, somewhat interestingly, our Heavenly Mother as well as the Holy Spirit. Has anyone here been to Stonehenge?

For more than 4,000 years, millions of people like all of us have visited and viewed the monument. For those of you who have never visited, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the US. There is a small visitor’s center, you walk through a tunnel (where the highway is on top of you) and there is a paved, roped-off ‘road’ wide enough for a car to travel in a single file. Immediately visible is Stonehenge because it looks like every one of the textbook images you’ve ever seen. No fences or park wardens like you might find here. Just all these famous oversized rocks scattered about like bowling pins on top of a grassy knoll.

About 10 years ago, a British archaeologist happened to be visiting at the right time of day when a man’s face carved into the side of one of the rocks was clearly revealed to him. Who is it? We will never know. Why had no one ever seen it before – because now that I’m showing it to you, it’s really quite obvious, right?

One fundamental doctrinal difference between Latter Day Saints and other religions is our belief in the Godhead as three distinct entities: God, our Heavenly Father; His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. In building my own personal testimony about the Godhead, I felt a bit like that archaeologist – like it was hiding in plain sight. In many ways it is difficult to describe to others how obvious this is to me, but Elder Hales offers a superb talk in the April 2008 General Conference. He explains a great deal on our view as Latter Day Saints of the Godhead, referencing many New Testament scriptures. Elder Hales talks to us about building a testimony of God, the father and his son Jesus Christ.

He states, “People all over the world, of every creed and persuasion, search and struggle to know:
o Who is God?
o What is His relationship to Jesus Christ?
o And what is our relationship with Them?”

Those are fairly monumental and fundamental questions. We’re going to talk more about them later, but start thinking about it now: Who is God? Anyone?

There is probably no question that is as common to man as that of who God is. Gaining a testimony about anything of a spiritual nature is hard work. You cannot acquire it over a weekend. And contrary to my daughters’ belief, it isn’t found on tv, online or in a video game format. It takes weeks and months of study and prayer. It takes patience and perseverance.

Let me confess something to my sisters – I don’t know if you have an Apostle who speaks to you more than another, but I have to admit that my ‘favorite’ is Elder Ballard. Does anyone else feel that way or is it just me? When you are listening to the talks at the General Conference – are there some that you find yourself more drawn to than others? For me it is always Elder Ballard.

Ok, so in cross-referencing this talk, I picked up on what Elder Ballard said at the October General Conference in 2004:

“…a testimony of the reality of Heavenly father’s love of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and of the effect of His Atonement on every son and daughter of God brings about the desire to repent and live worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

It also brings a confirmation to our soul of the Restoration of the gospel in these latter days Real testimony of these precious truths comes as a witness by the Holy Ghost after sincere and dedicated effort, including teaching in the home, prayer, scripture study, service to others and diligent obedience to Heavenly Father’s commandments. To gain and forever hold on to a testimony of gospel truths is worth whatever price in spiritual preparation we may be required to pay.”

I could spend the balance of my lifetime reading all the material that exists about the nature of God and of Jesus Christ. But I don’t have to. We are blessed to already have an authoritative source in our prophet. There is no confusion in our church. The doctrines, at least the ones I’ve read so far, are clear and consistent.

Elder Hales then talks about God and Jesus being separate distinct beings.

In one of the first Gospel Principles classes I took, the question was asked, “who is responsible for the creation?” and before I could blink, one of the gentlemen responded, “Jesus Christ under the direction of God, the Father.” After more study, I found a gospel classic from the 1909 First Presidency called “The Origin of Man”, which stated the doctrinal position of the Church that has never wavered in the past century which, when you consider what else HAS wavered in this past century, it’s a testimony to the power of the Lord’s church:

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” In these plain and pointed words the inspired author of the book of Genesis made known to the world the truth concerning the origin of the human family.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is “the express image” of His Father’s person (Heb. 1:3). He walked the earth as a human being, as a perfect man, and said, in answer to a question put to Him: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). This alone ought to solve the problem to the satisfaction of every thoughtful, reverent mind. The conclusion is irresistible, that if the Son of God be the express image (that is, likeness) of His Father’s person, then His Father is in the form of a man; for that was the form of the Son of God, not only during His mortal life, but before His mortal birth, and after His Resurrection. It was in this form that the Father and the Son, as two personages, appeared to Joseph Smith, when, as a boy of 14 years, he received his first vision.

That man was made in the image of Christ is positively stated in the book of Moses: “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so. …

“And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them” (Moses 2:26–27).


Elder Hales quotes the 1st Article of Faith. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” This is important. It’s the first order of business in his talk. God, the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate, distinct entities.

He talks about Joseph Smith finding out through personal experience the nature of God the Father and Jesus Christ by seeing them. Joseph’s experience guided Elder Hales through his boyhood. Joseph sought to know from the scriptures, God’s will.

Elder Hales shares specific scripture references supporting that they are two beings. He talks about Jesus being the literal Son of God: God’s introduction of His Son at baptism, Mount of Transfiguration, Christ’s appearance to the Nephites and also to Joseph Smith were the same. “This is my Beloved Son, Hear Him.”  We are commanded to listen.

The truth about our Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost and my personal relationship to each is something I am just now beginning to appreciate. Prayer is migrating from something I did when all other options had failed me to an essential part of my daily life.

I have read and pondered these words: “I know with surety that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. The Atonement is real. God the Father and Jesus Christ are distinct, separate, immortal beings. They know us as individuals, and They hear and answer our sincere prayers.” I had never before thought of my prayers being heard by THEM. Generally I thought of just of HE.

Elder Hales reminds us that Jesus is the only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our mediator with the Father. We open our prayers to our Eternal Heavenly Father and we close every prayer in Jesus Christ’s name. Have you ever thought about that? Why do you think we pray to Heavenly Father and close each prayer in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ? (Pause – Discuss)

What really does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus Christ? Who is this ‘Jesus’? The Bible Dictionary offers this enlightenment: “We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ–when his words abide in us.” Elder Hales clarifies: Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our Mediator with the Father. He is the Savior who laid down His life for us and pleads our cause with the Father. Therefore, we pray to Heavenly Father in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son, is not the same being as His Father, but He is like His Father. He too is a glorified being of power and authority.

As I shared earlier, He participated with His Father in the Creation of the World and was responsible under the direction of his Father, to create all things on the face of the earth.

Jesus Christ is not the same being as His Father, but is like him in purpose. The oneness is oneness of purpose and love for His children. In the Garden, Christ made it clear that he was not performing His own work but that of the Father. Christ was not talking to himself while praying in the garden, but was calling upon his Father for strength. On the Cross, He cried, “Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit.”

Elder Hayes shares moving verses from the great Intercessory Prayer found in the Book of John in the New Testament. Listen to His words as He reports the obedient completion of His earthly mission to His Father in Heaven:

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. . . .

“For I have given unto them [the disciples] the words which thou gavest me . . . , and they have believed that thou didst send me. . . .

“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. . . .

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”

Through the course of the Savior’s ministry, the disciples did indeed become one but not in their physical bodies. They became one in unity of purpose and love. This is the oneness of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, spoken of in the scriptures. They too are distinct beings, but They are united in purpose, in Their love for us, and in the work They are doing on our behalf.

The Savior also prayed:

“O Father, glorify thou me . . . with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. . . .

“ . . . That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

“ . . . For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

Oh, how Jesus wanted us to know the Father as He did. He prayed:

“O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these [the disciples] have known that thou hast sent me.

“And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

But what of our testimony? Testimony is a gift from God. We are encouraged to share it but not force it upon someone else because a personal testimony is granted by the Holy Ghost. It can aid others in gaining knowledge for themselves…”

If you are a mother blessed with children, think about how you can teach and encourage them to learn the gospel on their own. Bonds of friendship can be cultivated as you help friends or spouses or others who are just beginning to question the gospel or growing their own faith. Every time we state our testimony of Christ, we strengthen it. Every time we humbly state our beliefs, our convictions grow.

Christ lives as the only begotten of the Father. He will return to reign on this very earth. He has taken away the sins of the world for those who believe steadfast on His name. He brings the reality of the Resurrection. And as an Apostle, Elder Hales shares his testimony:
I testify that our Savior lives. He is the Only Begotten of the Father, and He will come again on this earth to reign. He is Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel, “full of grace, and mercy, and truth. . . . It is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name.” He is the literal Son of God, who rose from the dead on the third day, bringing the reality of resurrection to all who will come to earth. I also testify that God our Eternal Father lives and loves each of us, for we are His children. So great is His love that He sent His Only Begotten Son into the world “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I testify of the truth of what is in the scriptures and what has been told to me and can be told to you by the Holy Spirit. It will be revealed according to your obedience and desires. The Savior taught us during His mortal ministry this great truth that applies to all of us: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”

BREAK INTO 4 GROUPS FOR STRUCTURED CLASS DISCUSSION

Conclusion

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 help me and wants to do so. I feel his encouragement and love through the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been bestowed upon me. I received it by the laying on of hands from those who are authorized to administer that ordinance.

There is no confusion in my mind as to who Jesus Christ is. He is God’s only Begotten Son in the flesh, meaning that he is Divine. His Father was God and his mother was Mary. He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my Lord, My God and my King. I love Him. I worship Him. I serve him and I obey him. He is my friend. He suffered for me in the Garden of Gethsemane so I can repent.

The gospel is not complicated. We do not need to get hung up on intellectual pursuits that lead us nowhere. To me, the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ are a clear as the face carved into the hardest known stone on Earth more than 4 millennia ago – the gospel has always been there. Only now is it clear to me what it all means as I continue to build my personal testimony. How grateful I am to a loving Heavenly Father who sent his Son to redeem the world. It is a miracle. All I know is that when I repent and strive to be obedient that I am happy.

I leave this lesson with you to feast upon for the next month and say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

TFOT: Concern for the One by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

2008 Teachings For Our Times: “Concern for the One” by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Click here to download the powerpoint presentation of this lesson from slideshare.net.

Elder Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us that we must always remember the One. He introduces the talk by reminding us who President Monson is and why he was sustained as our prophet.

As a might man of Israel, President Monson comes from a strong family line. He was foreordained to preside over this Church. We have loved his stories that he’s shared in General Conference. One of his hallmarks as an orator is using stories to illustrate or underscore the doctrine. He has lived his life as an exemplary Saint and Prophet Monson is a simple man who is known by everyone from the lowly to the great and powerful leaders of the world.

Whilst Elder Wirthlin is alluding specifically to President Monson with this statement, who else could it apply to?

Jesus Christ is our greatest example. True disciples of Jesus Christ have always been concerned for the one. Jesus Christ is our greatest example. He, like President Monson, was surrounded by multitudes and spoke to thousands, yet He always had concern for the one.

It is not enough to read scripture and pray often. It is in the application of the words we read…the demonstration of the practice that the Lord wants us to embrace.

For me, this is an ongoing lesson. I was born with an exceptional IQ. I am not saying this in a boastful way — far from it actually. Rather, it is a fact — demonstrated repeatedly throughout my life whenever I have had to take an IQ test, I score within the top 2%. As many of you already know, I am a very cerebral person. I read large volumes of material very, very quickly.

When I was challenged by the first two Missionaries who visited my family, to read the Book of Mormon and pray — I read the entire Book in a week. It is a fascinating story, largely historical and spiritual in nature. I was embarrassed to admit I was already finished with the Book of Mormon when the Missionaries returned a fortnight later, so I indicated I was reading it at a much slower pace. Or so I thought. One of the Elders couldn’t believe it when I said I was already through Mosiah as he was just finishing Alma (and he’d been at it for a year, not a couple of weeks). I asked why it took so long and he said that it is one thing to read and another to study and read prayerfully.

Hmmm, ok, I thought. I’ll read it again. Slower. More prayerfully. This time it took a month. And then I kept reading and studying with Doctrine & Covenants. One of the sisters gave me some books that her family no longer needed. One was a seminary guide to the Book of Mormon. I read the guide and cross-referenced with D&C. I shared my learnings and journey with my family, sometimes weekly, and in more than a few instances, daily. Through the guide, I began to realize it isn’t just about reading the doctrine and understanding it so I could teach it but rather I needed to make that scary, awkward leap out of my head and into my actions. I needed to not just talk the doctrinal talk, but I also needed to walk the walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Since having that realization right around the time of my baptism, I’ve tried to live the gospel. It’s HARD! I have such admiration for you ladies who do live it, model it and teach it not just to your families but share those teachings with your sisters. I am humbled in your presence and eager to feast upon your wisdom.

I give you this background to also help contextualize Elder Wirthlin’s major theme: Some members are lost and it is up to each one of us to bring them back into the fold.

Jesus Christ said, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness , and go after that which is lost, until he finds it?”

We are commanded to seek out those who are lost. We are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper. We must be concerned for the ONE. Imagine if each of these paperdoll cutouts was a real child. Say 100 beautiful children. Now one is gone. What is your instinctive reaction? What if it was your child?

Now those children have grown up. Same exercise. Imagine these dolls are now adults. Do you have a different instinctive reaction? Why? Does God view us differently? Or are we always His children?

Who do you know who is lost? Are there members of your own family who have fallen away? What if you inserted their picture as the one who is lost.

Ask yourself: what does concern for the one mean to you? Does it mean your teenage son or his friend? Does it mean your elderly neighbor? Is that who Christ would minister first?

Would it include the old woman at the thrift store you briefly pass as you are donating leftovers from your garage sale and she is looking for clothing that is not soiled? Would it be the difficult boy in your daughter’s primary class who says rude things and bullies her every week? Would it be the divorced mother that you visit teach who moans and complains about how unfair life is but never does anything to help herself?

Those who are lost typically find themselves in 3 categories.

And here is where it gets really interesting. I realized Heavenly Father is asking each of us through his Apostle to think about how our attitudes and beliefs can shape our responses to our lost brethren. I don’t mean just in the let’s go on a door-knocking campaign but…what if one of us were to connect with a lost member of the Church and through Heavenly Father’s blessing and guidance was able to bring them back into the warm embrace of the church. Would each of us share the same warm thoughts, regardless what the reason was as to why they became lost on their path?

Elder Wirthlin tells us that there is an erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk and be alike. Think about if you had to eat the same meal breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Or wear the same clothing. Even in business — companies who repeatedly do the same thing end up going out of business. Businesses who continually reinvent themselves succeed. Change is necessary for survival.

Don’t be afraid to open your mind to someone’s different way of thinking and doing things. I know I’m different than most women. My natural confidence and enthusiasm often masks my feelings of inadequacy, even with this calling. But, as the talk states: “put your shoulder to the wheel and push”. Instead of dwelling on my insecurities in teaching, I’ve moved towards my strengths. I love fusing words and images, so you all get these lovely powerpoint presentations.

You have all commented to me how much you love them, which prompts me to do them even more. I love to blog and share messages using social media, so I have a blog specifically for my calling where I share these lessons, not just with our Ward family, but with anyone who is interested. You have responded with the loveliest comments and emails, which affirms my decision to create the blog in the first place. And I upload the presentations onto another site where they have been viewed more than 150 times. I would guess that not all of those are just from our Ward, but people, perhaps lost members, who are interested in our Church.

Now, if I had been the ‘same’ — I’d probably be sitting in primary or in the nursery right now playing with my little treasure. Would I be stretched? No. Would I be helping to share the Word? Probably not. Would it be deadly boring? Absolutely. Would my daughter stop crying, even if I was there the whole time? Probably not.

Is my calling here in Relief Society also opening a space for someone to have a calling in the nursery to be stretched in the same way that I am growing through my calling? Most definitely. This calling has impressed upon me the absolute belief I have that Heavenly Father guides every calling on this Earth.

Elder Wirthlin shares a story about when he was a schoolboy and there was an older boy who was physically and mentally disabled. He had a speech impediment. It was hard for him to walk. The boys used to make fun of him. They teased and taunted him until sometimes he would cry. He would say, “You’re not kind to me”. And still, they would ridicule him. Push him. Make jokes about him.

One day, Brother Wirthlin couldn’t bear it any longer. At age 7, the Lord gave him the courage to stand up to these boys. “Don’t touch him. Stop teasing him. Be kind. He is a child of God.” And they stopped. It was a turning point in his relationship with the boys, who in turn, showed increased compassion for the boy and became better human beings.

Simple compassion. But what if you were the mother of the boy who was being teased every day? I know I would pray that a child like Elder Wirthlin befriended him, protected him, cared about him and showed Christ-like love for him.

Elder Wirthlin points out people often become lost because they are weary. He speaks about how many people are overwhelmed with life’s challenges or become discouraged because of the difficulties that they are facing. Many feel that they do not have the strength to continue to come to church. And he reminds us that everyone, including Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ all had burdens to bear.

He points out that we can receive additional strength to meet our challenges by coming to Christ. He encourages us to reach out and show concern for those who find it difficult to go on.

Prayer rejuvenates the spirit and lifts exhaustion from our shoulders.

He also reminds members of the Church who hold back because of feelings of inadequacy. He reminds us, “to step forward, put your shoulder to the wheel, and push. Even when you feel that your strength can add little, the Church needs you. The Lord needs you. Remember that the Lord often chooses “the weak things of the world” to accomplish His purposes”.

When we show concern for those who are weary, we lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. Remember, he says, sometimes those who start out the slowest end up going the farthest.

Think about the biggest mistake you have made so far this year. You don’t have to share it, just think about it for a minute. What were other mistakes you’ve made since January? It could have been as simple as the time you mixed up salt and sugar in a brownie recipe or sent your child to school without a lunch or money to buy one. Or forgot to put oil in your car until your engine seized up. Not that these happened to me 🙂

We are all imperfect. Only the Lord is perfect. We will make mistakes. Some are petty, others can change the course of humanity. We meet each week to become better people, to learn of the Spirit and lend encouragement and support to others.

Elder Wirthlin says that the third group are those lost because they have strayed from gospel teaching. They may have made a mistake and no longer feel worthy to attend church. It is important to realize that church is a place to find forgiveness and repent. You do not have to be living perfectly to attend church. It is important to take advantage of the Atonement and return to the fold.

The great Apostle Paul said that sometimes spiritual things can appear as foolishness to men. Nevertheless, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men”.

Elder Wirthlin specifically addresses the reasons why some members may have strayed and reminds everyone that there is a place for them in the Church. By returning to the flock, repentance offers the opportunity to consecrate one’s abilities, talents, and skills. He claims and we all know that you will be better for it, and others will be blessed by your example.

To those who have strayed because of doctrinal concerns, Elder Wirthlin states: we cannot apologize for the truth. We cannot deny doctrine given to us by the Lord Himself. On this principle we cannot compromise.

In his closing remarks, Elder Wirthlin states that he knows each of us bears a concern for a loved one. Give encouragement, service, and support to them. Love them. Be kind to them. In some cases, they will return. In others, they will not.

We take responsibility for trying to make a difference. In doing so, we are worthy of the name we take upon ourselves, even that of Jesus Christ.

Concern for the one is a remarkably inspirational talk. I will close with this poem, written by a Saint, Kelly Miller, who was inspired by Elder Wirthlin’s talk enough to write this beautiful, inspirational summary also called, Concern for the One. It is a nice summary of the talk and of my lesson today.

How oft did He find time for solitude?
When the needs of the lost were not done.
While surrounded by the multitudes
He always had concern for the one
We’ve been commissioned to do likewise.
May we see others through Christ-like eyes.

Today some are weary and have strayed
When we’ve ninety-nine who should we seek?
One who may be different? Or heavy lade?
Of the way they look, act, think and speak
Do they think that they’re not befitting?
And from the flock find themselves slipping?

But, the Lord who has peopled the earth
Placed us as a vibrant orchestra
Each of us as fine instruments of worth
That adds to complex beauty and spectra.
In every single personality
Lies a depth rich with ability

The miscellanea of creation
Is a testament of self-esteem
We are like God in variation
Black and white, male and female, bond and free
One flesh is not above another
For, in fact, spiritually we are brothers

Whenever a Saint trips, slips or falls
Who is the best to help one back up ?
He’s the Master, and for each He calls
He who submitted and bore the cup.
Let’s lend encouragement and support
For we are all imperfect and fall short.

It’s at the Lord’s Church we find doctrine
That’s redemptive- full of charity
Where we can lose ourselves and begin
To give service with variety
For this we’ll consecrate talents and skills
According to as the Father wills

Thank you for listening to my lesson for our times today. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

TFOT: A President for Our Times

My 4th Sunday Teachings for our Times lesson this month was to summarize the talks presented at the 2008 General Conference by our newly sustained Prophet, President Thomas S Monson. I found all of the talks at this year’s conference to be uplifting, enriching, energizing and definitely though-provoking. President Monson’s main talk, “Looking Back, Moving Forward” provided an eloquent structure to remind the brethren what a remarkable, service-driven life he has lived while looking ahead to (potentially) some themes that may become hallmarks of his Presidency: faith and family.

Click on the link to view or download the powerpoint file with the lesson (on the notes pages):

General Conference Talks by President Thomas Monson

Homework this month: Find a talk from the Conference that motivates you and email a link to a less active or lapsed member or friend not of our faith (the Conference talks are on LDS.org as well as youtube). Add 5-10 lines of your personal testimony with the link explaining why you think they might find it interesting to watch. Let them know it won’t take more than 10 minutes of their time. When you’ve done the homework, add a note to the comments and let us know how it went.