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Today was the first day of General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e. Mormons). For those not familiar with it, I’ll briefly describe it in my own words.
Based on a revelation given to Joseph Smith, found in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 20, verses 61-62, the church is to come together for inspiration and conducting business, which includes sustaining the elders of the church. The revelation suggests every 3 months, but we come together every 6 months now.
During the conference, all of the highest leaders of the Mormon church speak including all of the 12 apostles, the First Presidency, Many women leaders, and also members of the Quorum of the Seventy.
Each of the people who speaks spends time praying and preparing for what the general membership of the church needs to hear along with people not of the Mormon faith who may be listening in. It is interesting to learn from the perspectives of the leaders at the highest level, who dedicate everything to traveling around the world to help humanity.
Today one of the members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Robert D Hales, encouraged all of us to reflect and re-read or listen to what was said during this weekends’ Conference. He said that we would receive personal revelation from the Lord in doing so.
As he spoke, I reflected on an experience I had just a few months ago.
In last Aprils’ General Conference, one of the members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Richard G Scott, spoke about the power of reading scriptures as a family. We had tried numerous times over the years to have family scripture study. Over the course of just a couple of days we would get out of the habit and back into our normal schedule. We would then completely forget about it until the next General Conference, when someone would say something about scripture study as a family again and the cycle would continue.
As I read Elder Scott’s talk, this time was different. When I re-read his talk a couple of months after he gave the talk, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. Things jumped off the page at me and I received a simple, but inspired idea to help my family. A simple, but very profound idea came clearly into my mind. I knew it was from the Lord because of how clearly and powerfully it entered into my mind. It was simply this: put a copy of the scriptures out on the kitchen table as a reminder to read. After saying a blessing on the food, read a few verses out of the scriptures and have a small discussion with the kids.
We started doing it and the results have been great! It’s been about 4 months now and we are to the point that if we don’t read scriptures, our 4 year old daughter will remind us to. It has become a habit and part of our routine.
I’m very grateful that God speaks to us individually and through His servants. It has blessed the lives of my family.
I encourage everyone to listen to General Conference tomorrow and then spend time in the ensuing months to re-read or listen to the messages. I’m confident you will receive personal revelation.
Keeping with the tradition started last year, here is a list of the April 2013 LDS general conference “best quotes” (according to me) for you to vote on. Feel free to add any other quotes or thoughts you had about conference this year as well.
Also, just for fun, I included another poll with the top 5 quotes selected by readers of the blog from all of last year for you to vote on.
As a follow up to the article I wrote on preparing for receiving revelation during General Conference, I thought it would be great to hear stories from peoples’ experience with the spiritual guidance they received during General Conference. I understand that some promptings are too personal to share, but I”ll highlight some of the guidance and insights I received without getting too personal. Feel free to share your experiences as well.
Uniting of our Family
Prior to General Conference, my wife and I had a special Family Home Evening (Family Night), teaching our young 3 year old daughter about General Conference, apostles, prophets, etc. The Church has a great website with games and activities to teach kids to prepare for Conference. We chose to make a set of paper rings that we made into a chain, which she tore off each day that had activities such as coloring a picture of Jesus, reading a story of Thomas S Monson, scripture activities, etc. This helped her (and us) get our minds focused on Conference throughout the week.
Next, during General Conference, my wife found a great activity where she arranged 5-6 bowls with goodies in them such as pretzels, M&Ms, carrot sticks, etc. On each bowl she taped a picture of something that would likely be discussed in Conference such as a picture of Jesus, scriptures, families, etc. Our little girl then sat and listened for the speaker to say “Jesus” or “family”, etc. and when the speaker said that, she could take a treat and eat it. The funny thing was that the carrot bowl was “Jesus” so at one point our girl had 7 half eaten carrot sticks and she said: “Mommy, my tummy hurts from eating so many carrots!”
Pretty soon, she decided to start sharing carrots with me. The good thing for me was that she started sharing everything with me so I got quite a few M&Ms too.
It was fun to be with our little family (our 1 year old boy was a bit young for the activities so he slept during conference) and see our daughter learning from the men and women who had prepared messages for us. Although I didn’t have any bid spiritual manifestation, I did see how we came closer as a family and united in the gospel, which is awesome!
Last April, I noticed that many speakers come up with awesome quotes. This Conference was no exception. I’ve written about all the quotes and also have a poll for people to vote on their favorite quote. Feel free to stop by and vote.
So far, the one that is winning is by David Bednar during the last session of conference:
Knowing the gospel is true is a testimony. Staying true to the gospel is conversion
Going into conference, I was somewhat unsettled. I had a lot of stress going on as far as business situations are concerned. I was praying for guidance on certain issues.
As I watched conference and listened actively, I gradually started feeling less anxious and more peaceful. I didn’t realize that I was calming down until after conference was finished. I noticed I hadn’t thought about the issues all day and when they came to mind, I felt everything would be fine, as it usually is when we re-focus our vision on God rather than the things of the world.
I’m sure you have some great stories to share as well. If you are comfortable, feel free to share any guidance you received during last week’s General Conference.
The article I wrote last after last April’s General Conference was fun, so I thought I would continue the tradition. This time, I’ll include the best quotes from all sessions of conference, including Priesthood session. As with last conference’s article, I will include a poll for you to vote on your favorite quote. Just so you know, the quote that had the most votes by far last conference (49%) was the one by Dieter Uchtdorf, which is:
“Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you do!”
Below are my favorite quotes from General Conference this time.
Best Quotes from October 2012 General Conference
- Quentin Cook, a Mormon apostle, gave a talk addressing the challenges of unrighteousness in the world and the apathy followers of Christ have sometimes. As part of this, he discussed how some husbands mistreat their wives and the quote I liked was: God will hold men responsible for every tear they make their wives shed.
- Ann Dibb, the second counselor in the General Young Women’s presidency shared an experience of meeting a young girl who wore a t-shirt that stated I’m a Mormon…are you? She went on to state that if she were to make a t-shirt, she would have it read: I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it. She then went on to describe what knowing, living, and loving the gospel means.
- Dieter Uchtdorf, Mormon apostle and counselor in the First Presidency, hit another home run. I had 5 quotes from his talk and had to narrow it down to just three. He discussed living our lives without any regrets and giving our best self each day. The two quotes I chose are: When it comes to living the gospel, we shouldn’t be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and claimed he went swimming; Sometimes in life we get so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey (this one is actually one that Thomas Monson said a few years back, so I should probably give him the credit for it.); and The deepest regrets of tomorrow can be avoided by following the Savior today.
- Gary Stevenson, the new presiding Bishop for the LDS Church, gave a great talk in Priesthood session (the session for just men) about making right choices in life. He said What you do, where you go and what you see will shape who you become.
- Henry B Eyring, an apostle and counselor in the First Presidency, gave a very excellent talk about giving our will over to God. Two quotes I liked were: Our own desires, rather than “Thy will be done” create a pavilion between us and God . He also said We can’t insist on our time table when the Lord has His own time table.
- Boyd K Packer is the acting President of the Quorum of the 12 apostles for the LDS Church. He shared a very thrilling story of when he was traveling years ago on church assignment in one of the Pacific Islands. They were traveling by boat and the waves and darkness hindered them from their destination. One of the lights on the shore was out as well, so they couldn’t make it safely to the harbor. They had to go around to another harbor. Relating this story to our spiritual lives, he said As we put our focus on the light of Jesus’ teachings, we’ll be guided to the harbor of spiritual safety.
- Linda Burton, the Relief Society President for the Church had a great quote in relation to the service we render to others. She said First observe, then serve.
- Jeffrey Holland gave a great talk on Jesus’ 12 apostles building the church after He had died. The quote in this talk that stood out to me was The crowning characteristic of love is loyalty.
- Daniel Johnson, of the Quorum of the Seventy said Our discipleship will be determined not by the trials we’re faced with, but how well we endure them.
- David Bednar, one of the apostles, shared an excellent talk on becoming fully converted to the gospel. He emphasized that having a testimony, or witness, of the gospel isn’t enough. We need to be fully converted to the Lord. He said: Knowing the gospel is true is a testimony. Staying true to the gospel is conversion.
Now it’s your turn! Select the quote you like the best in the poll below. If you don’t see a quote you liked or want to share a comment related to something you heard in October 2012 General Conference, please share.
I graduated from BYU in the spring of 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree and registered for a Masters degree program that offered evening classes that fall. At the time, I was working part time as a business development consultant for a large company in Provo, Utah. I had student loans and planned on getting a full-time job by the fall so I could pay for my Master’s degree.
I had never had a problem getting a job, but that summer every job I applied for (including within the company I worked for) didn’t pan out. I interviewed at least 20 times for various jobs throughout the summer and got close to getting a few of them, but for some reason it just didn’t pan out.
With each job that I was turned down from, I continued to pray and try and stay optimistic. I was certain that I would recieve a job and had all the faith that the Good Lord would provide by giving me a full time job so I could move forward with my education.
A few weeks before classes started my faith was shattered when I received a bill from the University stating that I owed full tuition for the upcoming quarter. I looked at my bank account and although I had been trying to be frugal and save as much as possible, I still didn’t have enough to cover the costs.
Crushed, I dropped to my knees in my room and offered a prayer. I explained to God (as if He didn’t know already!) how hard I had been looking and working towards preparing for the future. I talked with Him about being confused as to why things weren’t working out. I shared my frustration and my fears about the future with Him.
After getting everything out, I sat and waited. I didn’t know what I was waiting for, but just followed what I felt I should be doing. I’m being a bit facicous, but I thought God would open the heavens and show me where the pot of gold would be so I could waltz on into school and drop my full tuition down and life would go on just as I had planned it. I would point to the heavens and thank God and then move on with my life.
What God had in mind was a much different (and better) plan. After a few seconds, I felt an impression come over me that my Grandmother needed help. That came as a surprise to me. I had been praying for something altogether different. I tried to re-focus on getting an answer about school, but my mind kept coming back to my Grandmother. As I thought about her, I received another impression that was frightening to me. It was that I needed to drop out of school and move in with her. That impression floored me. I was an independant 26 year old man (and single). How was that going to prepare me for securing a good career and possibly a wife and family? Furthermore, I had been estranged from my mother and grandmother after I had decided to join the Mormon Church and hadn’t really communicated with them for 15 years.
Although I had clearly received revelation, I wanted to not believe it was true. I got up and walked out of my room.
I tried to put the feelings and thoughts out of my mind about quitting school and moving in with my grandmother aside, but I couldn’t do it. Finally, I decided that I would fast and pray for revelation to know what I should do. That weekend was LDS General Conference (For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mormon General Conference, I’ve written about it here and here) and so I thought that it would be a good opportunity to see if God really wanted me to move up to live with my grandmother.
As I listened to Conference nothing in particular stood out to me. All of the talks during the Saturday session were good, but nothing earth shattering.
Things changed during the Sunday session though. Thomas Monson got up to share his talk entitled “Models to Follow“. While he spoke, another impression came over my heart and my mind that I needed to move in with my grandmother and drop out of school. This time, as the Holy Spirit washed over me, all doubts and fears were removed and I knew what I needed to do.
Three weeks later, I was living with my Grandmother. One week after that, I got my first job that launched my career (and paid for my Masters Degree a year later). Two weeks after that, I met a beautiful young lady who is now my wife. We have two beautiful young children.
God hears our prayers. He knows what is best for us. Many times we get in the way by trying to force things to happen, but if we let go, He will lead us to where we need to be. God answers prayers in a variety of ways. If we prepare our hearts and clear our minds, God will speak to us through prophets and directly to us as well.
I encourage you to watch this video in preparation for conference. Maybe God has something in store for you that He wants to share through his prophets.
Unfortunately I missed part of this weekend’s LDS General Conference, which is held semi-annually. I did listen to all of Sunday’s talks though. One thing I noticed is that there were some very good quotes, which I will highlight.
Best Quotes from April 2012 LDS General Conference
- President Deiter Uchtdorf gave a talk on not judging other people. The quote I liked was off a bumper sticker he had read which reads “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you!”
- Russel Nelson, an apostle, discussed in part the absurdity of the Big Bang Theory and made a great comparison. He said “Could an explosion in a book factory create a dictionary?”
- Elder Rasband of the Seventy talked about how God’s works are often made manifest through other people. He discussed how we sometimes need to jump in and help others rather than sitting back and merely asking “can I help?” The quote I liked in his comparison was “would you ask someone who was drowning ‘let me know how I can help you’ or would you jump in and save them?”
- Todd Christofferson, and apostle said something that I’ve said a few times on this site that we’ve had discussions on regarding when a prophet is speaking as a prophet vs. as a man. He discussed an example of how Brigham Young one morning said a lot of opinionated things to a group of LDS Saints and later in a church meeting he got up and said “this morning you heard what Brigham Young had to say…now you will hear what the Lord has to say”. The quote I liked from Christofferson was “Not necessarily every statement by a prophet is revelation.”
- President Thomas Monson discussed how most of the things we worry about in life are of little importance compared to the big questions we ask during trials in our lives. He also discussed making the most of our lives and not aimlessly going through life. The quote I like from him was something to this effect: “we enter mortality not to drift through the waters of life. We have the power to reason, think and achieve…”
- L Tom Perry gave a talk on the Book of Mormon. The quote I thought was great was this “Are you a Mormon? If not, you should be!”
- M Russell Ballard gave a very excellent talk on using the scriptures to havigate through life and also had some very good statistics on how people who live the gospel principles tend to (statistically) have more education and prosperity than those who don’t live the gospel. The quote I liked from him was “when I first saw a GPS I felt like Lehi looking at the Liahona for the first time…it was a ball of curious workmanship!”
- Larry Wilson talked about not using force as parents or teachers to our children and spouses. Rather, teaching principles without controlling agency. The quote I liked was this: “wise parents raise their children to get along without them…ultimately children need to depend upon the Lord, not their parents.”
- Neil Anderson, an apostle, shared a very moving story about a father whose 3 small children had been buried in their home during the earthquakes in Haiti a couple years back. The father prayed to God that at least one of his kids would be saved. They searched and searched and after hours of looking, they heard something (and this is the quote I like) “a midst the rubble of the earthquake Ganchi (the man’s 5 year old son) was heard singing his favorite song ‘I am a Child of God”
I realize there was a lot said and a good portion of conference I missed. Feel free to vote on the quotes I shared below and if you have a quote you liked better from conference, select “other” and then share the quote in the comment section.