Here are my notes for the Sunday afternoon General Conference session:
Presiding: Thomas S Monson
Conducting: Henry B Eyring
Music by Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Hymn: Praise the Lord with Heart and Voice
Invocation: Elder Bjorg Klaymangott (sp)
Hymn: God is a God of Love
Elder D. Todd Christofferson:
For many, religious practice is personal. But for those who are centered in Christ, we ponder why Jesus uses the LDS Church to move forth his gospel. Since Adam the work has moved forward in a family based priesthood order. In Moses’ time, a more formal structure with priests, judges and teachers. Christ organized it in his day for multiple nations and peoples, based on apostles and prophets, “Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.” After the apostasy, the gospel was restored thru Joseph Smith with the ancient goals: bring people to Christ.
The restored Church brings salvation even to the dead. How does the Church accomplish His purposes? We move from grace to grace until we obtain all He wants to give us. It requires faith, repentance, baptism, HG, and enduring. To do this, God establishes a community of saints to sustain one another. He gave apostles, prophets, etc, until we all come unto the unity of Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith.
The ancient church met often to fast, pray and hear the word of the Lord. Today we also teach and edify one another. We strive to help one another come to know the Son of God. We learn divine doctrine and its application in day to day life. We often try and test on another with our idiosyncrasies, or as Pres Packer would put it, our idiot-syncracies.
We need callings and to serve. One man observed that his father “did not understand why some would go to church instead of going skiing. I like going to church and am excited about the joy of living the gospel.”
One of the great blessings is to be reproved for sin and error. Without this, we might lack the courage to change and follow the Master. Repentance is personal, but fellowship is in the Church.
- we do not strive for conversion to the Church, but to Christ, with the church being the vehicle.
- Remember that in the beginning, church was the family. Today the church and family support each other. One does not supplant the other. Both are needed
- Church is used for needful things that individuals and families we cannot manage: such as poverty and caring for the poor and needy. Through RS and PH quorums, they have the ability to help many people in many places. Without the church there would not be the missionary work we have today.
- Church is needed for ordinances for exaltation. Without it, man can have mortality, but not exaltation.
- Church is the kingdom of God on the earth. It has keys that preserve the purity of the doctrine and integrity of the ordinances. The Lord can reveal His truths through prophets, who safeguard those truths.
Daniel prophesied that the kingdom would grow like a stone cut out of a mountain, rolling forth without hands to fill the earth. Its destiny is to establish Zion, prior to Christ’s return.
The kingdom of God must go forth, so that the kingdom of Heaven may come.
Elder Devin G. Durrant (Sunday School presidency):
Two invitations to us that work over time.
- Save money each week. Help others to also save money. Imagine the benefit of saving money over 6 months, a year, 10 years.
- Ponderize over a verse of scripture each week. Ponderize is 80 percent pondering and 20 percent memorize. Imagine doing this for 6 months, a year, 10 years or more. Ponderizing takes you to a deeper level, like going from snorkeling to scuba diving. After time, it gets easier, especially for memorizing.
Nephi was a ponderizer, saying scripture was great for the benefit of him and his children. Ponderized Alma 5:16 – after a week I thought about my works being beneficial. I pictured the Lord inspiring and encouraging me. I realized we live in a time of ever growing evil. We must fight back.
Christ invited us to ponder his teachings. Ponderizing is like using a time released vitamin to our spiritual diet. Do not be deterred, even if it is hard. Put the verse on your phone, on the fridge, in your car. Then share your thoughts every day with your family. My daughter and friends use texting and social media to share their favorite scriptures and thoughts.
Various notes from people who are now ponderizing are told. Love of scriptures increases. It is like taking some delicious food and chewing it very very slowly, to enjoy it. Will you ponderize a verse each week for a year?
Imagine the change in you and your family if you write a new scripture on your heart every week for a month, a year, or more.
Elder Vaughn G Keetch (70):
I was on the beach in Australia at a bay, where there were big waves crashing. A group of American surfers were upset. I asked what was wrong, and they told me to look out past the bay to a barrier where the waves were breaking. The barrier made it impossible to surf the big waves, spoiling their trip. Another surfer nearby, a local, was impatient with the Americans. He finally arose and pulled out binoculars to a surfer to look at the barrier. When they looked, they could see dorsal fins. Large sharks feeding on the other side of the barrier. As the old surfer walked away, he said, “don’t be too critical of the barrier. It is the only thing keeping you from being devoured.”
The anger of ruined excitement of big waves was changed, as they now saw the barrier as protecting them. God’s laws are the same way. As with Paul, we see through a glass, darkly. But God knows where the dangers are, and gives us divine direction, so we may avoid the dangers.
We show faith in God by following His course and keeping commandments. We do not always understand the path He tells us to take. It requires faith to keep our course within the barrier, when all we can see are tantalizing waves on the other side. We grow and gain the most when we trust God.
Ananias followed God’s command to heal Saul, even though he had tormented the saints. Yet that obedience led to Saul becoming the great missionary Paul.
Elder Oaks noted that we cannot just go through the motions. The commandments are not a list of deposits placed in a heavenly bank account. We must become. We must learn to follow Christ, understanding he can make more of us than we can by ourselves.
God wants us to have joy and peace. He wants us to succeed, to be safe from the world. They make a safe harbor for us, and make us who we should become. Christ showed the greatest act of obedience when he submitted himself to the Father, asking the cup may be removed, but “not my will, but thine be done.” He endured agony and suffering at Gethsemane and Golgotha, but ended in an empty tomb on the third day. There was great joy and hope, because Christ followed the Father.
We must follow God’s course. We will find true happiness and peace. We will become what he wants us to become.
Sister Carole M. Stephens (1st C Relief Society presidency):
My granddaughter was buckled in her seat, when my g-daughter began getting out of her seat and standing behind me repeatedly. I had a power struggle with my 3 year old, and she was winning. I tried an “if, then” approach. I told her that if she stayed buckled, I offered her several good options when we got at Grandma’s house. No response. She was determined not to remain fastened in her seat. I prayed, and the Spirit told me to teach her. I pulled my seat belt from my body and told her it protects me. I told her it would be sad if she got hurt. She realized that I wanted her to do it, because I love her. She stayed in her seat all the way to the market for a treat, and to my house for Playdoh and bread.
We have rules to protect children. Until Chloe understand that it was because of my love for her, she felt the seatbelt limited her freedom. We often feel God’s laws do the same thing. As we seek greater understanding, we begin to see that his laws are an expression of His love for us. Our obedience is an expression of our love for Him.
First, trust God and his eternal plan for you. Heavenly parents love us and give us commandments that give us important experience. In premortal existence, we learned to obey. There are laws upon which all blessings are predicated. We obey and receive the blessing. We can trust God, because he wants us back, through Christ’s atonement.
Second, trust Jesus and the atonement. He submitted himself to the Father’s will for us. Love the Lord thy God – the first and great commandment, and the second: love they neighbor as thyself.
During the Sacrament to renew our covenants and remember what Christ did. He promises that we may always have His Spirit with us.
Third, trust the Spirit. Jesus told us, “if ye love me, keep my commandments” and then spoke of the Spirit of truth. Every worthy member has the right to the companionship of the Spirit. When doubting and confused, the Father will send the Spirit to guide you.
Fourth, trust the counsel of living prophets. The Lord declares all his words will be fulfilled, whether by his own voice or his servants. There is safety in following God’s word through his prophets. God has called Pres Monson, his counselors and the Twelve as prophets, seers and revelators. They testify of Christ.
Trust God and Christ, trust the Spirit and the loving prophets, we will find our way off the edge of the road and find joy in our journey home.
Choir and Congregation: Rejoice the Lord is King
Elder Allen D. Haynie (70)
With my brothers and friends, we dug a big hole. We added water to fill it up as a swimming pool. Being the youngest, I jumped in first. I was really dirty. When it got cold, I went across the street to grandmother’s house. She refused to let me in dirty. I was wet, muddy and cold, and thought I would die in my own backyard. She finally hosed me off, and I was clean enough to go in the house.
Jesus said that no unclean thing can enter into God’s kingdom, without cleaning their garments in His blood.
Many choose to dwell outside Father’s house, because we refuse to get clean from our filth.
God gave us a plan that provided for our agency. He knew we would sin, and provided a solution. We would need to be cleaner than a house cleaned by my grandmother. We knew that only Christ could be our savior. It had to be Him. Christ sought to have the cup removed from Him, but still went through with it. He wanted to keep His covenant, so we could return home. He only asks we confess our sins and repent – to become clean so we no longer have to wait outside Father’s house.
What matters is that Christ suffered pains and afflictions of every kind, so he could know how to succor his people. What matters is he came to earth to save us. What matters is he is pleading our case with the Father. This should give us hope to keep trying. He will never forsake us, never reject us. He understands what we go through, including the pain of sin. Repentance is real and works. It is not a fiction. It removes burdens and gives hope. It helps us to desire to do good continually.
As Pres Packer said, the Savior’s atonement leaves no tracks nor traces. What he fixes, is fixed. What he heals, stays healed.
Everything depended on Christ, and he paid for it all, including those painful sins some of us choose to suffer for on our own. God seeks to share all that he hath with us, which is an earth shattering promise. All must be judged according to the judgment of God. We cannot hide. However, Christ is our advocate with the Father, who loves us, will be our judge.
If you are discouraged or wonder if you can ever get out of the spiritual hole you have dug and fallen into, remember that Christ can save you. Trust in Christ, repent, and then experience a perfect brightness of hope.
Elder Kim B. Clark (70)
When Christ taught, some followed him for a time, but then left. Many were blind and turned away. They did not receive him. Still, there were many who centered their lives on Christ. Though they feared the world, they loved and followed Him.
Before Calvary and Gethsemane, he said that those who believe in Him would do greater works than he had done. Through faith in Christ, repentance and obedience, great joy and blessings came to the disciples. They received spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear. The Holy Ghost enlightened their understanding. They became steadfast, teaching the gospel with power.
We have much in common with those disciples. We need the Savior’s blessings to heal the sick and bless all. We live in a dangerous time of confusion and commotion. In these perilous times, Pres Monson has called for us to rescue the wounded and establish the kingdom of God. Our faith may not be great enough to move forth the work in the future. We need to truly see Christ, his doctrine and church to come into our lives. We need to strive to live the truths of the gospel, repent of our sins, obey, and remember Him, we shall receive the Holy Ghost.
At homes, we pray, study scriptures and attend Church. In temples, we serve our deceased loved ones. In communities, we invite others to come to Christ. As we do these things, the Holy Ghost will come and be our companion. If we look to Christ, the HG will bless us to see Christ’s work in our lives. We will learn to see all as God’s children with love and compassion. We will see the power of God resting upon his prophet and other leaders, and know this is God’s holy work. We will come to have the “might of Christ”.
Life may get hard, confusing and discouraging. Through the HG, the light of Christ’s gospel will cut through the pain and confusion. That power will infuse healing love to the repentant, wounded soul. It will fill us with hope in Christ. Our burdens will be swallowed up in the joy of our Redeemer.
In 1982, my parents were called to serve a mission in the Phillipines. My mother first said, they couldn’t go, because her husband has asthma. A few days later, she woke her husband saying she heard a voice several times saying “I know he as asthma. I will take care of him and you. Get ready and go to serve.” They went and had a wonderful time, and much success.
A major earthquake struck in Japan, where I live. All of Tokyo was in a panic, but my family and I were safe. On television was terrifying footage about the tsunami. I wept for the tragedy.
Later, we found out all the members and missionaries were safe. However, many homes and communities were destroyed. Others were forced to leave their homes.
Many disasters happen throughout the world. We read in scripture that many disasters will occur. Why do bad things happen?
I understand in the plan of salvation that we would be tested. But I did not have a good enough answer on why bad things happen. When I was 30, I was given a ride to the airport by missionaries. We were hit by another car. We all survived, but I began suffering from pain in my neck and head. I had much physical and mental pain. I prayed for healing, but it lingered for 10 years. I wondered why I had to suffer so much pain. The pain I sought was not granted, but I continued following the Lord. I did not know how to cope with these and other problems. One leader told me that this life is to experience trials, etc. This problem will be resolved in the resurrection. I felt the Spirit, and my eyes of understanding were opened. I was now able to clearly understand God’s plan of salvation.
In Abraham 3, the Lord said we would be proved to see if we would be obedient in all things. God provides us with many experiences and trials on earth. In D&C 120, the Lord told Joseph that his experiences were but for a moment. We need to accept our trials with faith.
Our purpose in life is not just to endure trials. Christ was sent, so we can learn to overcome our trials. Weak things are made strong. We can obtain immortality and eternal life. The test that a loving God has given us is not to see if we can endure things, but whether we can endure them well.
I could have died in the accident, but with God’s grace, I survived. The suffering is for my learning and growth. I know to comfort and help others in pain. If we repent, God’s grace is sufficient for us.
Choir:Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel
Elder David A Bednar (Twelve):
Pres Hinckley was interviewed by Mike Wallace who asked him about the Church being run by old men. Pres Hinckley said, “Isn’t it wonderful?” that they have older men of great judgment to lead the Church.
We need to hearken to these chosen men, whom the Lord has chosen to witness of his name in all nations.
I speak as the youngest of the 12 for the last 11 years. The average age is 77 years of age. I have been blessed by their experience. My work with Elder Hales had me with him in his home on a Sunday while he was recovering. I asked him, you have been a successful father, pilot, apostle, etc., What brought your success in later years. He said when you cannot do what you once could do, you do what you can to get done what must be done.
The very factors that limit some of these aged servants can become their strengths. Limit stamina clarifies priorities. Councils limit the impact of the frailties of these men. Truly these men are called of God, by prophecy.
These men have had a sustained season of tutoring by the Lord. They have learned how to listen to the Spirit. They have sharpened vision. They have seen people everywhere in their personal circumstances. I’ve seen many serve diligently, while struggling with disabilities and afflictions.
Serving with them, I’ve come to know they seek first the will of the Lord and His Son. Our collective understanding of issues has been enlarged by the Holy Ghost. Some find their problems and imperfections as troubling. I find them faith promoting. I’ve seen several of my Brethren get a relase through death.
These valued Brethren gave their whole souls to testify of Christ in the world. They shared their experiences from decades of consecrated works.
Nephi concluded his record, “for thus the Lord has commanded me, and I must obey.” Jacob wrote, “Oh, be wise. What can I say more?” Moroni looked forward to the resurrection in front of the “pleasing bar of Jehovah”.
We have been blessed by the modern prophets and apostles. Pres Faust, Hincley, Elders Wirthlin, Packer, Perry and Scott gave these leaders the ability to share testimonies with great penetrating power. Pres Faust declared, “the Savior has offered to all of us a precious part of his atonement… But we must forgive to be forgiven.” He was one of the most forgiving men I’ve ever known.
Pres Hinckley shared his testimony of Joseph Smith. “We can accept the stark truth of the First Vision. If it is the truth, and I testify that it is, then we are engaged in the most important work on earth.”
Elder Wirthlin: remembered mother’s advice, when his team lost the championship. We can endure hardship and trial and like my mother, say “come what may, and love it.”
Elder Perry stood at this pulpit just 6 months ago. Can you hear his voice? “Let me end by bearing my witness in 9 decades of life on earth. Family is the center of life and happiness.” Elder Perry’s message on family is a powerful message from a man I love.
Pres Packer emphasized the atonement. Testified of Jesus as the Christ. Families can be eternal. Grateful for atonement, which can wash away every stain. Pres Packer’s final mesage is a message of a lifetime, from a man I love.
Elder Scott proclaimed in his last talk, “we came to mortal life, to endure challenges. I testify that as we come unto Him, we can overcome every challenge and heartache we face.” Elder Scott’s message is a message of a lifetime, from a man I love.
May we hear and heed these eternal truths given by His servants. Then our faith will be fortified by the Lord. With all the energy of my soul, I testify of the living Christ, of his servants, who have been called to bear his name.
Choir: Love One Another
Benediction: Elder Scott D Whiting