Thursday

“Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time”

Elder Quentin L. Cook
October 2008 General Conference

What it’s about:
Elder Cook spoke about trials, how they are ever-present in our lives, and how they become contributors to our growth.  He discussed forgiveness and gratitude, especially being grateful for the atonement of Christ.

Quotes:
“One of the essential doctrines illuminated by the Restoration is that there must be opposition in all things for righteousness to be brought to pass. This life is not always easy, nor was it meant to be; it is a time of testing and proving.”

“Whatever the source of the trials, they cause significant pain and suffering for individuals and those who love them. We know from the scriptures that some trials are for our good and are suited for our own personal development. We also know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  It is also true that every cloud we see doesn’t result in rain.”

“Regardless of our trials, with the abundance we have today, we would be ungrateful if we did not appreciate our blessings. […]Our foremost gratitude should be for the Savior and His Atonement. […]I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of the trials and hardships that any of us will encounter in this life. At times when we may feel to say, ‘Hope you know, I had a hard time,’ we can be assured that He is there and we are safe in His loving arms.”
  
What it means to me:
Quotes #1 & 2: I found that these statements are very inspirational and clear reminders of what our trials are all about; their purpose and the reality that sometimes things just happen because they happen (good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people).  I appreciate it when messages from the brethren are simple and applicable, as this was. 


Quote #3: He shared a story of two women in the church brought together by a tragic automobile accident that left them both longing for loved ones lost.  I learned from this story that where forgiveness is found, there is love… with love, there is healing… and with healing, one is better able to find things to be grateful for amongst even the most challenging trials.  The woman who lost her husband in the accident that was caused by the other woman’s son, had an amazingly loving and forgiving heart.   She said, “Through this trial, I have felt the love of my Father in Heaven and my Savior in greater abundance than I had ever felt before.”  Just as was counseled by Elder Cook, this woman found blessings through all of her pain and grief.  I have a thought… Christ understands all our pain and sorrows because he has experienced them firsthand, and is there with us ready to help carry our burdens if we will let Him in.  If we follow Elder Cook’s further counsel to remember to be grateful for the atonement, which allows Christ to share in our burdens, then we are inviting Him to walk beside us often.  Someone once said, “familiarity breeds love”… so in enduring the frequent trials that come with this mortal experience, ensuring that we have Christ by our side helping us carry them, we will come to know Him better because we are in His presence more.  Feels kinda good. 

“In Tune with the Music of Faith”

Elder Quentin L. Cook
April 2012 General Conference

What it’s about:
Elder Cook spoke about how we can move faithfully in a forward direction, doing what we need be doing in order to keep our lives in line with God’s will.  He even took this beyond an individual need to “be in tune” with God’s will, and counseled us regarding what we can do to help our families to grow strong and full of faith. 

Quotes:
“Finally, there are those who are in tune with the music of faith. You know who you are. You love the Lord and His gospel and continuously try to live and share His message, especially with your families. You are in harmony with the promptings of the Spirit, have awakened to the power of God’s word, have religious observance in your homes, and diligently try to live Christlike lives as His disciples.”

“Our great desire is to raise our children in truth and righteousness. One principle that will help us accomplish this is to avoid being overly judgmental about conduct that is foolish or unwise but not sinful. […]it [is] important to distinguish between youthful mistakes which should be corrected and sins that require chastening and repentance. Where there is lack of wisdom, our children need instruction. Where there is sin, repentance is essential.”

“Religious observance in the home blesses our families. Example is particularly important. What we are speaks so loudly that our children may not hear what we say. […]Mothers and fathers praying with children may be more important than any other example.”

“The essential doctrine of agency requires that a testimony of the restored gospel be based on faith rather than just external or scientific proof. Obsessive focus on things not yet fully revealed, such as how the virgin birth or the Resurrection of the Savior could have occurred or exactly how Joseph Smith translated our scriptures, will not be efficacious or yield spiritual progress. These are matters of faith. Ultimately, Moroni’s counsel to read and ponder and then ask God in all sincerity of heart, with real intent, to confirm scriptural truths by the witness of the Spirit is the answer. In addition, when we inculcate into our lives scriptural imperatives and live the gospel, we are blessed with the Spirit and taste of His goodness with feelings of joy, happiness, and especially peace.”

What it means to me:
I was drawn in by how Elder cook delivered a simple message that addressed everyone’s circumstances and where they are in their journey down, around, away from, or returning to the narrow path of righteousness.  The quotes above were all just really good and contained clear council that I felt was good to note.  Though nothing really reached out and shook my soul about this talk, it did testify  to me that Heavenly Father has not made things terribly complicated in regards to what we need to do to return to Him and live with our families for eternity.  

“The Tender Mercies of the Lord”

Elder David A. Bednar
April 2005 General Conference

What it’s about:
Elder Bednar spoke all about tender mercies, “the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Quotes:
“Let me suggest that one of the ways whereby the Savior comes to each of us is through His abundant and tender mercies. For instance, as you and I face challenges and tests in our lives, the gift of faith and an appropriate sense of personal confidence that reaches beyond our own capacity are two examples of the tender mercies of the Lord. Repentance and forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience are examples of the tender mercies of the Lord. And the persistence and the fortitude that enable us to press forward with cheerfulness through physical limitations and spiritual difficulties are examples of the tender mercies of the Lord.”

“[…]the Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.”

“We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

“Some individuals who hear or read this message erroneously may discount or dismiss in their personal lives the availability of the tender mercies of the Lord, believing that “I certainly am not one who has been or ever will be chosen.” We may falsely think that such blessings and gifts are reserved for other people who appear to be more righteous or who serve in visible Church callings. I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us. To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen. […]God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen. […]we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God.”

What it means to me:

OK… so I really just wanted to put the WHOLE TALK in here.  I remember when Elder Bednar delivered this talk originally in April General Conference 2005.  My thoughts then were, “Oh nice. That felt good; he’s a great speaker.”  During September of 2005, just a few months later, a drunk driver nearly took me off the face of this earth.  It was a life-changing event for me, and the outpouring of tender mercies delivered that night made this talk come alive in my recollection during the following weeks.  As the years pass, I am reminded that tender mercies from Heavenly Father are very abundant in my life, sometimes even when I really don’t feel deserving of them.  This testifies to me that my all-knowing and all-loving Heavenly Father truly does know my heart and the intentions of it far better than I ever will.  I love how tender mercies from Heavenly Father are incredibly individualized, and always exactly what we need, whether we recognize it immediately or not.  

“The Powers of Heaven”

Elder David A. Bednar
April 2012 General Conference

What it’s about:
Elder Bednar spoke about the priesthood.  He gave a basic description of priesthood, the qualifications for priesthood ordination, how it is received, qualities of priesthood (selfless, active), and requirements needed to exercise the power of the priesthood. 

Quotes:
“A priesthood holder is expected to exercise this sacred authority in accordance with God’s holy mind, will, and purposes. Nothing about the priesthood is self-centered. The priesthood always is used to serve, to bless, and to strengthen other people. […]Receiving the authority of the priesthood by the laying on of hands is an important beginning, but it is not enough. Ordination confers authority, but righteousness is required to act with power as we strive to lift souls, to teach and testify, to bless and counsel, and to advance the work of salvation.”

“[…]men who bear God’s holy priesthood should be different from other men. Men who hold the priesthood are not inherently better than other men, but they should act differently. Men who hold the priesthood should not only receive priesthood authority but also become worthy and faithful conduits of God’s power.”

What it means to me:
Quote #1: When I read this, my mind immediately turned to women who suffer abuse at the hand of a priesthood-holding husband.  Many women faithfully endure various types of abuse for years with the oh-so-faulty mindset that they are obligated to the demands of their priesthood-holding husband and his head-of-household status.  Many of us don’t understand how anyone could possibly justify enduring ill treatment from another, but it happens more and more often as our world becomes more corrupt.  Spousal abuse often begins with small things, progressing over time, and is mistakenly set aside as circumstantial.  A friend of mine with 7 children had been abused for many years by her husband. Nobody knew about it.  I was with her mother and the children one evening so she could attend the temple with her husband, and out of nowhere my friend burst through the door in tears saying, “I left him!.”  She had no other way to get away from the abuse and manipulation of her husband safely then to go to the temple with him, step out of the session to use the restroom, and run away. At this point my friend’s husband had started abusing the children too, and it was the waking realization that her children were in grave danger that got her to do something about it all.  My heart aches with the memory of this experience; I spent many weeks supporting them in hiding and relocation efforts until the proper legal protections were in place… and have never been so fearful of a man in my life.  Oh, if only my friend had understood that her husband’s authority to lead and guide the family went out the window when he started using his priesthood selfishly and not in accordance with God’s “holy mind, will, and purposes.”


Quote #2:  Elder Bednar’s story about his father really touched me.  This quote is the great lesson he learned from his father, long before he even joined the church, about how priesthood holders should be conducting themselves.  I found this remarkable, and have similarly found that most of my friends and co-workers who aren’t LDS have higher expectations of members of the LDS faith than many actual members do of themselves and each other.  Because of this phenomenon, when I need opinions regarding, for example, the upstanding nature of a recently released movie… I turn to my non-member friends for opinions of whether or not it is, as they have termed it, “Joanna-friendly.”  As a whole, I think we should all definitely put a little more effort into paying better attention to how we conduct ourselves.

Friday

"Our Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other and to esteem and treat their children as an heritage from the Lord. In such a family we study the scriptures and pray together. And we fix our focus on the temple. There we receive the highest blessings that God has in store for His faithful children."

Russell M. Nelson, "Salvation and Exaltation", April 2008 General Conference

READ the full talk HERE
WATCH the full talk HERE

"While salvation is an individual matter, exaltation is a family matter. Only those who are married in the temple and whose marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise will continue as spouses after death and receive the highest degree of celestial glory, or exaltation. A temple marriage is also called a celestial marriage. Within the celestial glory are three levels. To obtain the highest, a husband and wife must be sealed for time and all eternity and keep their covenants made in a holy temple."

Russell M. Nelson, "Celestial Marriage", October 2008 General Conference

READ the full talk HERE
WATCH the full talk HERE

"Relationships can be strengthened through the veil with people we know and love. That is done by our determined effort to continually do what is right. We can strengthen our relationship with the departed individual we love by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that covenants made in the temple are eternal. When consistently obeyed, such covenants assure the eternal realization of the promises inherent in them."

Richard G. Scott, "How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life", General Conference April 2012

READ the full talk HERE
WATCH the full talk HERE