This is a General Conference Odyssey post.
Week after week, I sit at my computer reading and thinking about these General Conference addresses spoken long ago. I have loved reading through their messages, paying particular attention to the prophet’s words. After forty or so years, it’s easy to see prophecies fulfilled. In fact, that has become a personal joyful journey for me. So far, the prophets have always been right.
But I don’t need that kind of proof to know if what the prophet says is true. Whether it was forty years ago, or today, the spirit bears testimony to me instantly, and I am ready to respond. I feel motivated to implement and apply the principles that will lead toward assured happiness.
This week, we are covering the Welfare session of the April 1977 General Conference, where Sis. Barbara B. Smith said,
“All Church members, from kindergarten to high priests groups and all Relief Society sisters should be so plainly, accurately, and inspirationally taught that they will be motivated to implement applicable welfare principles and procedures in their personal lives and in their family and Church responsibilities.”
Hearing this I, of course, think of this upcoming weekend, where we will hear another set of talks given by our Church leaders. My ear will be tuned into their words; words that will surely motivate me, where I can implement and apply their loving teachings, listen to their warnings, and be strengthened by the spirit that rests upon us all.
As I prepare for this coming conference, it causes me to reflect on our last conference. Have I implemented and applied those teachings? Have I grown, and been changed? Am I in a stronger place? Am I living the gospel better, with a greater understanding of its precepts; diligently and steadily moving toward my Savior?
I’m reading, The Contrite Spirit: How the Temple Helps Us Apply Christ’s Atonement, by Bruce and Marie Hafen. In the very first chapter, they bring up a point that is very disturbing to me.
An article, written by Newsweek magazine in 1980, entitled, “What Mormons Believe,” reported some wild inaccuracies concerning the basic doctrine of the LDS faith. After conducting extensive research on our religion, and questioning random members of the church, the conclusion the author came to was this: “The point is to determine what doctrines of a church are genuinely infused into the lifeblood of its adherents.” When interviewed by this author, apparently members didn’t understand doctrine enough to explain what they/we believe as a church.
Granted, none of us can claim a perfect understanding of all the doctrine of our church. It is a learning process met with much trial and error, faith, and serious study. We are all at different levels, desires, and struggles. However, one thing that we must all agree on, and understand pretty clearly, is that we claim our church was restored from the original church organized by Jesus Christ, Himself; and because of that, we claim a distinct difference from any other church. Our doctrine, as a result, is more pure, more direct, and more complete than any other. Our additional scripture, the Book of Mormon, offers an increased understanding of His great atoning sacrifice.
Every General Conference lately, it seems, has at least one talk on Joseph Smith and the Restoration. If we are still struggling with this doctrine, we need to, once and for all, delve in with faith to truly believe, and claim our full membership.
I have come to learn that I will not be saved just because I happen to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and have been told that it is the only true church on the earth and that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book. I must implement and apply my belief. I must have complete faith in Jesus Christ and His prophets.
When we make this decision–and each of us must come to this decision at some point in time–we will read the scriptures with an eager purpose to learn and to grow. We will eagerly await instruction from our prophets and leaders at General Conference, and even Stake Conference. We will study to actually understand the doctrine we claim to believe. We will become the people God wants us to become. And we will implement and apply Jesus Christ’s teachings into our everyday lives. Our motivation will be out of love for Him, to please Him and to honor and reverence Him.
I hope this next weekend each of us will hear something that will spark a renewed personal testimony in us. That a fire will be lit inspiring us to be motivated to implement and apply the gospel better in our lives. That anyone who knows us, sees us and talks to us will know exactly what we believe and why we believe it.
Waiting anxiously for each rock Marilyn Nielson