Drawing Closer to God and Eliminating our Sense of Spiritual Entitlement #ldsconf

This conference has been an absolute delight. So many sermons have stood out to me with clarity and power. One of my absolute favorites was delivered by Elder Dale G. Renlund at the conclusion of the Saturday Morning Session.

There are three themes from Elder Renlund’s talk that stood out to me and that I want to write about briefly. First, the relationship between distance and spiritual entitlement. Second, how our desire to sin is reduced as we draw closer to the Savior. And third, the role that sacred ordinances play in the process of drawing closer to God.

Distance and Entitlement

Elder Renlund spoke about the relationship between our distance from our father in heaven and our sense of spiritual entitlement. He noted, that the more distant we are from our Father in Heaven, the more likely we are to voice grievances and to see unfairness in our circumstances in life. At first glance, this seems wholly contradictory. Surely, those who are closer to God would be those who feel entitled to blessings for their obedience.

But when we consider examples in the scriptures and in our own lives, Elder Renlund’s teaching ring’s true. He used the story of Nephi and Laman and Lemuel, but we can find many other instances in the scriptures where those who were unfaithful also felt particularly entitled to blessing and protection from Heavenly Father. For instance, the people in the days of Isaiah and Lehi felt that because they were “chosen” they were entitled to God’s protection. They felt this was the case irrespective of their spiritual standing or willingness to live righteously. Christ also strongly condemned those hypocritical Pharisees who made long prayers as a sign of righteousness, but devoured the widows mite and were distant from God. In our day, Joseph Smith was warned of those in the world who “draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

In contrast, there are many examples of the righteous bearing indignity with long-suffering. From Job to Joseph Smith, the scriptures are replete with such exemplars who understood and did not murmur. And of course, we can consider as Elder Renlund did, the matchless example of the Savior who suffered without cause and yet bore his suffering for our sake. Self-righteousness and entitlement truly are inversely correlated with our relationship to God.

Our Desire to Sin 

Just as entitlement and Self-righteousness dissipate as we draw closer to God, so too does our desire and disposition to Sin. When we are distant from God, we are likely to expect him to excuse us in our sins. For after all, we think we deserve mercy and grace. And we see our selves as righteous and deserving of salvation.  But as we realize the price that our redeemer paid to redeem us of our sins, we cease to think of grace as cheap or cost free. We realize that when we sin, we add to the burden borne by the Savior in Gethsemane. We realize also that we are hopelessly in need of redeeming grace. Without God’s mercy, we are truly reprobate and the worst of sinners. This recognition pushes us to repentance and true change. We no longer take for granted the many drops of blood which were shed for us.

The Role of Ordinances

Elder Renlund spoke of ordinances, particularly the sacrament, as the vehicles by which we can draw closer to the savior and gain a greater appreciation for his redemptive sacrifice.

I loved his example of the sacrament being administered personally for a woman who the deacons had accidentally forgotten. One of the most tender experiences on my mission came as we would weekly go to the home of an elderly sister in her 90’s and administer the sacrament to her. She was one of the most humble and faithful individuals I have ever met. And each week, she would radiate such joy and gratitude as we brought her the emblems of the Lord’s supper. From her, I learned so much about the sacred importance of the sacrament. Each week, that ordinance is an opportunity to remember our savior and to improve ourselves through his grace and through the power of the Holy Ghost.

The other ordinances of the Gospel are likewise essential. I have especially felt the healing and sanctifying power of the holy temple. Every time I go to the temple, I feel my nature incrementally improved and feel myself drawing nearer to God. I am grateful for the ability to go frequently to the temple and to again and again participate in those sacred ordinances. And I am grateful to weekly partake of the sacrament and reflect on the atonement of the savior. These ordinances point me to Christ and draw me closer to God.

Cross-posted on Symphonyofdsisent

General Conference: Sunday morning session

Pres. Eyring conducts.
Pres. Monson presides.

Choir sings: “The Morning Breaks.”

Invocation: Anthony D. Perkins of the Seventy

Choir sings: “I Will Follow God’s Plan.”

President Monson.

Four new temples: Quito, Ecuador; Harare, Zimbabwe; Belem, Brazil; Lima, Peru.

Now 150 temples.

Choices we make determine our destiny. Alice in Wonderland. She comes to two paths. She is confronted by the cat. Which path? That depends where you want to go. Unlike Alice, we know where we want to go, and it does matter. May we choose to build up great faith, defense against the designs of the adversary.

Sometimes we still make foolish choices. Repentance allows us to return to the path. Make the right choice.

Choir sings: “Sunshine in Your Heart.”

Bonnie L. Oscarson, YW General President
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General Conference: Priesthood session

186th Annual General Conference:

Choir: Logan Utah Institute choir

President Uchtdorf conducts
Pres. Monson presides

Hymn: “In Hymns of Praise.”

Choir: “I stand All Amazed.”

Elder Nelson

Divine role as men of God. Talks about a family with three children with congenital heart disease. One son died. He also tried to save the other two, who were sisters. (Elder Nelson was a heart surgeon). Both girls died following operations. The parents were spiritually shattered. They had lingering resentment toward Elder Nelson and the Church. Has been haunted by the situation for almost six decades. He tried to contact them, no success. Last May he was awakened by the two little girls. Felt their presence. Their message was brief and clear: “Brother Nelson, we are not sealed to anyone, can you help us?” Their mother had passed away, father and a younger brother still alive.

Tried to contact the father, living with the son Shawn. Willing to meet. In June, I knelt in front of Jimmy, now 88 years old. I spoke of his daughters’ pleadings, and would help with the sealings. The father and son were not endowed, each accepted the offer to become ready to go to the temple. Elder Nelson was overjoyed. The Spirit of the Lord was palpable throughout that meeting. They worked diligently with local leaders. In Payson, Utah temple, had the profound privilege to seal the husband and wife and four children. Many hearts were healed that day. Father and son had become heroes to him. They had courage, strength and humility, let go of old hurts and habits, willing to submit to guidance from priesthood leaders.

Bear the priesthood. Very same power and authority through which God created the heavens and the Earth.

Some people have the priesthood but not the priesthood power. Need to access the powers of heaven. Sin and misdeeds can decrease the power of the priesthood. Too many have surrendered their agency to the adversary. Some people wanted power over others, power at work, rather than the power of God.

Why settle for Esau’s pottage when can have all of the blessings of Abraham? Live up to privileges as bearers of the priesthood. Only those who stake the priesthood seriously will be able to bring miracles to those he loves, and keep his marriage and family safe.

Qualities we should seek: faith, etc. Don’t forget humility. How would our family members, co-workers say you and I are doing in developing our gifts of the priesthood?

We need to pray for priesthood power. We need to commune with God. Pray to know how to get more priesthood power. If you want to see your wife’s heart melt, let her find you studying the doctrine of Christ. Are you willing to go to the temple regularly? Ask Him to teach you about priesthood keys and authority and power.

Pres. Monson has used the priesthood power to help others. If you truly want priesthood power, you will cherish your wife, embracing both her and her counsel.

Please consider how different our relationships would be if we had priesthood power top of mind. Lord will show us how to increase access to His power. Priesthood power can heal the fractures in the hearts of those we love. Are we willing to study and pray so we can have that priesthood power.

Think of the father and brother who were willing to get ready to go to the temple to be sealed to their family.

Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President

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General Conference: Saturday Afternoon Session

General Conference: Saturday Afternoon Session

Presiding: Pres Monson
Conducting: Pres Eyring
Choir: BYU-Idaho

Hymn: Sing Praise to Him

Pres Uchtdorf presents leaders for sustaining vote. Many Area 70s released and sustained.
Primary presidency released. Sustained as new Primary presidency: Pres Joy D Jones, 1C Jean Beham, 2C Cordon.
Annual reports for finances and statistics. Continue reading

General Conference: Saturday Morning Session

General Conference: Saturday morning session

Presiding: Pres Monson
Conducting: Pres Uchtdorf

Hymn: Come Ye Children of the Lord
Prayer: Sister Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President
Hymn: I Feel My Savior’s Love

Pres Eyring
We are under covenant to remember and serve Christ. We gather together in His name. Even with millions of disciples, he is close to each of us and in our midst, by the power of His Spirit. Call upon Christ while he is near. Seek him diligently and you will find him.

Received 2 letters from converts, who had a strong testimony. However, both were now struggling to feel God’s love. Parable of the Sower, many grow, but then wither. All of us have much in common with those who wrote, that we all have seeds to nurture. All have had faith tested, by attacks from those wishing to destroy our faith, delayed answers/blessings, sorrow, etc. Some do not see the withering of their faith. Satan is clever, and attempts to have us believe our testimonies were just delusion.

The talks and hymns of this Conference will hopefully bless us with a more fertile ground, where the word of God can grow and be fruitful. As we join in prayer, we can grow closer to Him. D&C 50 preach and receive by the Spirit of God, any other way is not of God.

Pray while listening to hymns and speakers, and the Spirit can lift our hearts and strengthen us. Listen carefully to the testimonies given in this Conference, as they convey the Spirit of the Lord. “I leave my sure witness” that God loves everyone, Jesus is the Son of God. “The prophets and apostles you will hear in the Conference speak for the Lord.” Continue reading