April 2015 Conference: Sunday morning session

Pres. Eyring conducts
Pres. Monson presides

MoTab Choir sings: “He Is Risen.”

Invocation: Sister Linda S. Reeves

Choir: “Consider the Lilies.”

President Monson

Seven years since he was sustained as president of the Church. Dedicates and re-dedicates temples. The building of temples is a clear indication of the growth of the Church. 144 temples, five renovated, 13 under construction. This year re-dedicating two temples, and five new temples.

Three new temples:

Ivory Coast
Bangkok Thailand

Told story of a troubled missionary. Went to the temple, went to the Celestial Room. Another RM approached him, told him about his own mission. Had enthusiasm for his mission. Landon had served in the same mission. The troubled missionary was helped because of prayer and faith.

“In the temple we can find peace.”

He and his wife will be together again.

President Rosemary Wixom, Primary President

Tells story of a young woman who lost her testimony. Felt her dead grandparents’ love for her and concern. Then the woman read a book about Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa asked for help. Got an answer from an archbishop: “pray for light. Guided by faith, my prayer and by reason, you have enough.” If Mother Theresa could live her religion without clarity, she could too. She could take one step, then another and let the truths fill her mind and heart. Her testimony was a pile of ashes, all that remained was Christ. She bought a primary song book, began reading the songs. She prayed for faith. She made the gospel personal. “Is this the right path for me and my family?” What do I want for my children? I want them to have temple marriages. Then she began to come back to the Church.

Believe in God, believe that He is, that he created all things in heaven and earth. She got a call as Primary pianist. Returned to activity.

Jose Teixeira of the Seventy

The more we understand the role of Christ in our lives, the more we will understand our purpose in mortality, which is to have joy.

The joy of living in righteousness can continue despite the tribulations in mortality. These tribulations guide us to a deeper understanding of our purpose. The fulness of joy can only be achieved through Jesus.

As we deepen our understanding of the Savior, we will have a deeper desire to live joyfully, with more enthusiasm for life, even in challenging circumstances.

Picture of woman with a smart phone. She was physically present but not really there. We can transport ourselves to activities that remove us from what is essential. This networked life can give precedence to people we don’t know rather than our own family. On the other hand, the Church has great resources on-line. The choices and priorities we give to our time on line are decisive.

Three simple habits: 1)Visit the Church’s official sites for resources. 2)Subscribe to the Church’s official social networks. 3)Make time to set aside mobile devices.

Life is not confined to a four-inch screen.

Choir and Congregation sing: “I know My Redeemer Lives.”

Gerald Causse, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

So many people lived at the time of the Savior, but so many failed to recognize that the Son of God was among them. We live in an amazing time also. We have so many testimonies today, including our own conversion.

The Book of Mormon describes a period similar to our own. Most were converted, but four years later the people began to forget the signs and wonders. Is the Gospel still wonderful to you? Or have your senses gone into standby mode?

1)Never tire of discovering or rediscovering the truth of the Gospel. Can you remember the first time you read a verse of scripture and felt like the Lord was speaking to you personally?

2)Anchor your faith in the plain and simple truths of the Gospel.

3)Seek and cherish the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When we have the Spirit with us, our spiritual senses are sharpened.

Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy

Savior responding to his critics: go after the lost sheep. Light a candle for the lost piece of silver. Then the parable of the prodigal son. One precious son who is lost.

How should we respond when a family member has lost his way? Prodigal Son: The father gives the inheritance to the son. Then he watches and he waits.

His own sister left the Church. With our sister, our persistent efforts to invite her back only pushed her away. We had to follow the example of the father in the parable of the prodigal son. We had to figuratively let her go. We watched and waited. Never lose hope. Put her name on the prayer roll in the temple. Family reached out in love. Always invited her. Had good home teachers and visiting teachers.

Supportive of his sister. They did not embrace all of her choices, but they embraced her. 2006. Twelve years had passed. Susan helped her niece with prayers. Three more years passed. Six years ago this weekend. He was new GA. Invited his sister to watch Conference. She felt impressed to watch all sessions of Conference. His sister came to herself. She turned and began the walk back home. After 15 years, our sister who was lost had been found. The watch and the wait were over.

She had let go of the iron rod and found herself in a mist of darkness. A miracle has occurred. She has a renewed testimony of the Book of Mormon. She teaches Gospel Doctrine. It feels as if she never left.

When the lost one is a relative, and they have chosen to leave, after all we can do, we love, we watch and wait. All of us are lost and need to be found. We all need the Savior’s love and atonement.

Elder Holland

Two brothers, Jimmy and John. Scale a wall without ropes. Could not get over the ledge, could not retreat from it. They were stranded. One boosted the other to safety. But one was left down the cliff. Muscles failing. He wanted to jump to the top. Said a prayer. Then he jumped. He was above the ledge, but his hands slipped. Only sand, nothing to hold onto. Fingers began to recede. Life was over. Like a lightening strike, two hands shot out. His brother had not gone looking for a branch. He had never moved an inch. He had waited, knowing I would try to make that jump. He grabbed me, held me. Refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved his life.

Easter Sunday. This is the most sacred day of the year for remembrance of brotherly hands and determined arms that reached into the abyss of death to save us from our fallings and our failings.

The Atonement. Adam and Eve.

Is our only purpose of life an empty existential exercise to leap and then fall forever? The answer is an unequivocal no. All things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things.

Jesus was and is the Savior of the world. First Easter sequence constitutes the most majestic manifestation of pure love every to be demonstrated in this world.

He carried out the Atonement so he could, like lightning in a storm, grasp us and life us to eternal life.

He still extends unending grace to us.

Choir sings: “Jesus Has Risen.”

President Uchtdorf

Easter: the destiny of all of God’s children changed. The Savior burst the chains of sin and death and set us free. Death has no sting. The grave has no victory. Satan has no lasting power.

Summary from the Church News:

On Easter Sunday we celebrate the most long-awaited and glorious event in the history of the world. It is the day that changed everything,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency in his Sunday morning conference address.

“On that blessed day, the Savior of mankind, who had taken upon Himself the chains of sin and death that held us captive, burst those chains and set us free.”

Christ’s exalted and precious gift of grace unlocks the gates of heaven—even as it opens the windows of heaven, taught President Uchtdorf.

“Even if we were to serve God with our whole souls, it is not enough; for we would still be ‘unprofitable servants,’ ” he said. “We cannot earn our way into heaven; the demands of justice stand as a barrier, which we are powerless to overcome on our own. But all is not lost. The grace of God is our great and everlasting hope.

“Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the plan of mercy appeases the demands of justice, ‘and [brings] about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.’ Our sins, though they be as scarlet, can become white as snow. Because our beloved Savior ‘gave himself a ransom for all,’ an entrance into His everlasting kingdom is provided unto us. The gate is unlocked!”

But God’s grace, he added, does not merely restore one to a state of innocence. The Father’s aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him.

“It leads to heights we can scarcely comprehend. It leads to exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father, where we, surrounded by our loved ones, receive ‘of his fulness, and of his glory.’ All things are ours, and we are Christ’s. Indeed, all that the Father hath shall be given unto us.”

Another element of God’s grace is the opening of the windows of heaven, through which God pours out blessings of power and great strength.

“Though we all have weaknesses, we can overcome them,” President Uchtdorf said. “Indeed it is by the grace of God that, if we humble ourselves and have faith, weak things can become strong.

“Throughout our lives, God’s grace bestows temporal blessings and spiritual gifts that magnify our abilities and enrich our lives. His grace refines us. His grace helps us become our best selves.”

President Uchtdorf warned against growing “confident and comfortable” in one’s own good deeds.

“Are we perhaps a little impatient with those who are not living up to our standards? Are we on autopilot, going through the motions, attending our meetings, yawning through gospel doctrine class, and checking our cell phones during sacrament service?”

Instead, he said, all must understand their indebtedness to Heavenly Father and plead “with all our souls” for the grace of God.

“When we kneel to pray, is it to replay the greatest hits of our own righteousness, or is it to confess our faults, plead for God’s mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing plan of redemption?

“Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God. Thinking that we can trade our good works for salvation is like buying a plane ticket and then supposing we own the airline. Or thinking that after paying rent for our home, we now hold title to the entire planet earth.”

If grace is a gift of God, he asked, then why is obedience to His commandments so important?

“We obey the commandments of God out of love for Him,” he said. “Trying to understand God’s gifts of grace with all our heart and mind gives us all the more reasons to love and obey our Heavenly Father with meekness and gratitude. As we walk the path of discipleship it refines us, it improves us, it helps us to become more like Him, and it leads us back to His presence.”

President Uchtdorf declared that living the gospel faithfully is not a burden—it is joyful preparation to inherit the “grand glory of the eternities.”

“Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father.”

God’s grace is available to all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite, he concluded. Christ has cleared the way for His followers to ascend to heights incomprehensible to mortal minds.

“I pray that we will see with new eyes and a new heart the eternal significance of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. I pray that we will show our love for God and our gratitude for the gift of God’s infinite grace, by keeping His commandments and joyfully ‘walk[ing] in [a] newness of life.’”

Choir: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

12 thoughts on “April 2015 Conference: Sunday morning session

  1. We really appreciated this session of Conference.

    When President Uchtdorf talked about Paul’s response of “Heaven forbid!” to the idea of sinning after receiving God’s grace, I wondered where in the Pauline epistles that would be (I have read them…), my husband said “Romans. Again and again and again.”

  2. The King James translation has it as the even more blunt “God forbid.”

  3. I paraphrased: I’m sure President Uchtdorf quoted the KJV properly… 🙂

    At dinner discussing President Uchtdorf’s talk, my husband mentioned some disappointment that President Uchtdorf hit the traditional protestant view of grace so hard, without speaking of the reason for our obedience (from our free will, and because everyone (like Paul) indicates it’s silly to love God and not obey. But for me, knowing the cultural silliness President Uchtdorf was combatting, I felt that he hit just the right note.

  4. Cultural silliness? More like strawmen if you ask me. I don’t think there are any Mormons who think if they pay their rent they’re entitled to the earth, or if they keep the commandments they can be resurrected or exalted without Christ.

    The mercy, love, and condescension of God make it all possible.

    That said, I thought it was a great sermon, and I didn’t view it at all as combating any cultural silliness, but rather he was teaching about grace by illustrating a logical extreme we all disagree with — a pretty common rhetorical device.

  5. I liked that he clarified that Grace does not only kick in after all we can do as the scripture seems to imply but is there from the beginning even before we begin to bring forth the friut of claiming the gift.

  6. DQ, I would disagree with your statement. I believe there are lots of people who believe that when they pay rent they are entitled to the whole world. Its just so subtle that its easy to miss. It happens slowly and over time. For example, I had a friend who wore very short shorts (like mid-thigh) in the summers. I knew that she was an endowed member as I had attended the temple with her. I asked her one day how she was able to wear the shorts she did with her garments. She stated that she rolled them up. I said that I thought we were not supposed to do that. She said that she felt like God wouldn’t want her to be hot, so she felt like it was ok. I was surprised by that. Justify this, justify something else next. Its a slippery slope and I have personally seen people justify themselves right out of the church. Often they believe that they are entitled to do whatever it is they want to do, regardless of the commandments of God, especially if its something to do with their own comfort.

    AND I see it in other churches too who have an eye single to the principle of grace vs loving God and obeying Him.

  7. One of the best talks of the whole conference was the talk from Sister Wixom, Sunday morning. We ought to follow the example of the lady in the story. Question everything. Search, seek. I would hope that we all might have the support she had. Understanding. Non judgment. Support. Willing to accept whatever offering she was willing to give.

    Her testimony was burned down. In the ashes Jesus was left. He is at the center of my testimony. The lady built her testimony on him. Primary songs do have such simple and powerful ideas. I love them and cherish them. She then built upon that with searching the new testament. She was then drawn to the Book of Mormon. There is no more powerful testimony of Jesus in the Book of Mormon.

    The testimony of the lady grew bit by bit. She focused on what she knew. I imagine she plowed deep the soil of her soul. She prepared her own heart so that the seeds of the word of God would have room to root deeply in her soil. She nurtured and tended and watched carefully for signs that the seeds growing were good. She experienced the fruit after persistent and tender care.

  8. By cultural silliness, I was reflecting on the recent post here talking about grace and how unusual it is for Mormons to embrace grace.

    I like President Uchtdorf’s comments on grace in combination with Elder Wilford Anderson’s comments about hearing the music versus merely learning the dance steps. The two talks together nicely articulate why those of us who have felt the spirit (and continue to feel the spirit) do obey and rejoice in obeying. It is not because we feel we can purchase salvation by our works, but because the spirit moves us to obey because we trust God and love Him.

  9. Jennvan,
    It sounds like your friend was more on the grace extreme than works? “Surely God wouldn’t want me to burn in hell because I was hot, his grace will save me from having to comply exactly to some standard”

    Note, that sentence is filled with all kinds of strawmen…

    Anyway, I still don’t think any Mormon would think they get to heaven by keeping the commandments alone, without the need for Christ.

    We’ve all seen and said things that probably erred too far on one side or the other of the grace/works issue but that’s because it’s easy to take any statement that’s not packed with endless qualifications about grace/works to extreme and demonstrate it to be incorrect in some circumstance.

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