This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday morning session of October 1976 conference.
Our family looks forward to General Conference twice a year. When the kids were small we played Bingo, prepared and delivered reports on General Authorities, and ate special meals that were reserved for General Conference weekend only.
With small children, it was hard to hear all of conference, but we made a point of reading them in the Ensign the following month. As the kids grew older, the following Monday we would talk about what was said and let our children lead the discussions (they were short).
Conference was exciting because we were going to hear from our favorite speakers. Everyone, including the very littlest, was taught to recognize the prophet. As the years go by, discussions focus more and more on what the prophet is telling us, because we know that what he says must be taken seriously. Not that his words have changed, but our hearts have.
As we all know, we have fifteen prophets. The senior member is our president and leader, and the one we revere as THE prophet, but his counselors and the twelve apostles speak with equal authority and our ears must be open to all they say.
Did our prophets know what we would face 40, 100, 170 years down the road? Yes, I believe they saw as Seers. And tried to warn us. But our listening skills have needed improvement.
Today, we understand that one of Satan’s greatest targets is getting us to break the law of chastity. He’s tried everything and succeeded in many different ways. I have read so many talks (so far while doing this General Conference Odyssey) warning us about morality. They knew! What we were in for! In the future of today!
President N. Eldon Tanner talked about the purpose of conference: that it is to give warning to the Saints. We all understand that committed Latter-day Saints pay attention to General Conference warnings.
I read a funny little post earlier this week that kind of made me laugh at its painful irony. It can be read here. The same idea was spoken forty-one years ago by our then prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, as quoted by Pres. Tanner.
“That the Church’s stand on morality may be understood, we declare firmly and unalterably it is not an outworn garment, faded, old-fashioned, and threadbare. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and his covenants and doctrines are unchanging: Old values are upheld by the Church, not because they are old, but rather because through the ages they have proved right.”
Some people actually think the church will change their stance on LGBT rights. They don’t understand that the central doctrine of our church is birthing the children of God and teaching them eternal, unchanging principles of the gospel. It isn’t for God to conform, it is for us to give up our will to His perfect way.
As Latter-day Saints, we can listen to conference and follow through with these four guidelines Pres. Tanner quoted from a talk Thomas S. Monson had given before: Listen, Learn, Labor, and Love. The future prophet, Thomas S. Monson said,
“Soon this historic series of conference sessions will come to a close. The throngs will leave, the lights will dim, the strains from the organ will fade and disappear; but you and I, we will never again be the same. We have heard a prophet’s voice, even that of President Spencer W. Kimball. We have worshipped together in love. We have felt our Heavenly Father’s divine approval. Hopefully, each has decided: I will listen; I will learn; I will labor; I will love. To assist us in our determined course the ever-present help of the Lord is assured.”
Then, Pres. Tanner mentioned a talk Boyd K. Packer gave. The original talk isn’t found online, unfortunately. Elder Packer recalled the story of the Teton Dam (near Rexburg, Idaho) and its subsequent destruction. Where over 5000 lives were affected and could have been killed, instead, they had listened to the warnings given, helped their neighbors, and escaped with their lives. The meaning of his words was not lost. “There are chapter after chapter of miracles. The whole episode stands as a mighty miracle. And the whole disaster looms itself as a warning.”
Pres. Tanner’s conclusion is a warning to us:
“And so, my brothers and sisters and friends, the main purpose of … general conferences, the main purpose of this conference, is to sound the voice of warning. You who hear and are warned must warn your neighbors. If we fail to heed the warnings given, or fail to warn our neighbors, we all may be lost.”
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me the tone has changed in our General Conferences. Our leaders are speaking with more directness. We are seeing more tears over their concern for us. Their pleadings are no longer suggestions. Possibly, the clock now reads 11:59 and the hour is but a moment away for us to greet our Savior.
Will we be God’s miracles, having listened and acted upon all the General Conference warnings, and be left standing on that great day?