Going-to-the-Son: Why General Conference is needed now more than ever

The Prince of Wales Hotel, photo courtesy of Waterton.ca

I was raised on the windswept prairies of Alberta; a place where the blue sky and golden wheat fields touch the Rocky Mountains and continue on through jaw-dropping scenery. My home province is the gateway to both the extraordinary Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park—an area of the world that has been aptly named “God’s Country”. As one writer observed:

Tumbling mountains stretch toward the sky, then slope gracefully toward the earth and toward sparkling lakes and streams at their bases. The ruby reds, sapphire blues, golds and emeralds of wildflowers are so vibrant and piercing that the sprawling valleys may at first appear dotted with jewels.

As wildfires ravaged our beautiful national parks this summer, my thoughts turned daily to the fires near the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It’s one of the main attractions: a spectacular 52-mile road which begins at the bottom of lush valleys and winds its way up steep cliffs to the Logan Pass, crossing the Continental Divide and continuing onto the wildflower-dotted mountaintops. The steep and narrow road climbs gradually, with stop-offs along the way to soak up the gorgeous scenery. Here, visitors are constantly rewarded with world-renowned scenery until they finally reach the top and see Heaven’s Peak rising above the St. Mary Valley. Continue reading

A Light in the Darkness

Add to Faith, Virtue, Walter Rane

The symbol of  light is a common theme throughout the cultures of the world. Light represents hope, home, intelligence, knowledge, warmth, family and peace. Judeo-Christian teachings further explain that light symbolizes the Savior of the World. While many religions use candles to teach this symbolism, the candle lighting on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is perhaps, the most meaningful to women and family.

“The job of lighting the candles is given to the woman of the home because it is the woman who most influences the spirituality there. By encouraging the study of Torah (the law of God), the meticulous performance of mitzvot, and through her nurturing presence, a woman can transform her home into a place of holiness, peace, and tranquility. It is thus fitting that she be the one to bring the extra measure of light and holiness with the Shabbat candles.”

The attached article explains this eternal role of women, “As women, Daughters of Zion, we are bearers of light. We have more influence than we realize. As we keep the light in our hearts burning, we can, and do, shape and mold the world with our lights.”

Continue Reading about this inspiring symbolism here:

A Light In the Darkness

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Responding To Revelation

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

 

President Spencer W. Kimball gave the closing address of the April 1977 General Conference speaking on revelation. He said,

 

“How this confused world of today needs revelation from God.”

 

Now, more than ever before, we need to listen to the voice of God that warns us, shapes us, and gathers us. Satan is doing his very best to destroy us and make us miserable like unto himself. So, it behooves us to respond well to our chosen god. My choice in responding to revelation: Obedience with pure, grateful love.

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LDS Church Files Brief in Support of Colorado Baker in Supreme Court Case

Image result for jack phillips masterpiece cakeshopEarlier this year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placed its name on amicus friend-of-the court brief in a large transgender case, citing The Family: A Proclamation to the World as a core doctrinal statement, as well as noting the unchangeable and eternal gender of men and women. Now, this week the Church joined with other religious organizations, 86 senators and representatives, legal groups and creative professionals to show support for the Colorado baker who, due to religious convictions, chose not use his professional skills to support a same-sex wedding. This case arose when Masterpiece Cakeshops’ owner, Jack Phillips, was sued after respectfully declining to decorate a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex ceremony for two men.

In a news release, ADF Legal stated that:

The Colorado Supreme Court declined to take the case after the state’s Court of Appeals affirmed a Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision from May 2014. That decision ordered Phillips and his employees to design custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages if the shop designs wedding cakes for opposite-sex marriages. It also required Phillips to re-educate his staff, most of whom are his family members—essentially telling them that he was wrong to operate his business according to his faith. He must also report to the government for two years, describing all cakes that he declines to create and the reasons why. As a result of the ruling, Phillips has lost an estimated 40 percent of his business. (Link)

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My Heart Sings With Joy in the Healing of My Brokenness

 

This is a General Conference Odyssey post:

I’m curious if next year’s lesson schedule for Priesthood/Relief Society will include any General Conference address, or just the most recent. May I take a moment here to say what a blessing it is for me to go back and read some of these beautifully inspired talks that contain so much of the spirit, that I am instantly filled. If you, or anyone you know, needs to recharge or gain an attitude adjustment, simply go back and read some of the great conference talks that have been given to us. Personally, my heart sings with joy in the healing of my brokenness.

 

For this session of General Conference (April 1977, Sunday Morning), Boyd K. Packer gave one of the more well-known talks ever given, entitled, “The Mediator.” There was a video made of this talk, which is still worth viewing. But for my purposes, I just want to bear my own testimony.

 

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Signs of the Times?

A full solar eclipse, massive wildfires in the West and Pacific Northwest, growing threats over North Korea, Hurricane Harvey, the largest solar flares in 12 years, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katia, a “strongest in a century” 8.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico, 260 cluster earthquakes in Idaho, the genocide and crisis in Burma, rapid moral decline, religious freedom under strenuous attack, mobs of extreme groups marching in the streets, apostasy within our membership, false teachers and false teachings. The list goes on and on. Many of these signs and wonders have been happening all within a matter of days and weeks, while others have been on the steady incline and are nearing the tipping point.

We may rightly wonder if the God of Heaven and Earth is speaking to us through “the testimony of earthquakes … and the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds” (D&C 88).

It is surreal to know we are truly in the last days. In Nephite times preceding the coming of the Savior, 3 Nephi says that “the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet” while others had “great doubtings and disputations” “notwithstanding so many signs had been given.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we would do well to look earnestly for the signs of His coming as prophesied—both the “great and terrible.”

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Power Beyond This World

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

 

We live in a world where money and power are flaunted around to accomplish instant glory, selfish works, and worldly praise. President Kimball spoke of “Our Great Potential,” which shows us how minuscule man’s idea of power really is. It was a beautiful exercise for me to contemplate the powers of a God.

 

President Kimball explains that the following “ordinances and administrations that must be administered beyond this world” will be given to us when we become gods. 

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Why the Godhead Matters to Us

Having grown up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the basic truths of the Godhead have been common knowledge to me. The Godhead consists of three personages: Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They are three separate beings. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have a body, the Holy Ghost is a spirit. I have always accepted those truths without question, and because of that I have never personally dived deeper into understanding the role that the Godhead has in Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation. Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ April 2017 conference address “The Godhead and the Plan of Salvation” taught me how important a deeper understanding of the Godhead is for our mortal journey and our eternal salvation.

Elder Oaks’ talk was a deep doctrine talk for me. He taught a lot of things that I did not know, or hadn’t really thought about. It wasn’t like, “How could I have never been taught this before?” It was very spiritual and powerful, and one of my favorite talks from that conference.

In introducing the Godhead, Elder Oaks quoted Joseph Smith:

“Any person that had seen the heavens opened knows that there are three personages in the heavens who hold the keys of power, and one presides over all …

…These personages … are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator.

[It is] the province of the Father to preside as the Chief or President, Jesus as the Mediator, and the Holy Ghost as the Testator or Witness.”

In this teaching by Joseph Smith, I really like that the labels or positions for the individual members of the Godhead are action nouns. God created us, he is the Creator. Jesus’ mission was to redeem mankind, so he is the Redeemer. Jesus Christ’s suffering, Atonement, and resurrection makes him a mediator between us and God. The Holy Ghost witnesses to us the reality of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of His gospel, he testifies of the truth of all things, so he is the Witness or Testator. Continue reading

Q&A with Young Mormon Mother Evacuated During Hurricane Harvey

Beth Green, a young mother from Spring, Texas, recently shared her story of evacuating during Hurricane Harvey with her husband and young children in tow. Here, she shares her faith, struggles and uncertainty in a very candid manner–all via text with Deseret News reporter Tad Walch.

The neighborly kindness shown to her family was reminiscent of a talk by President Henry B. Eyring titled “Opportunities to do Good“. He taught:

Because the Lord hears their cries and feels your deep compassion for them, He has from the beginning of time provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with Him in serving others. … Wherever you live, you have seen that miracle of sympathy turned to unselfish action. … We feel compassion, and we know how to act in the Lord’s way to help.

Beth likewise described how entire neighborhoods come together to help in times of disaster and flooding:

Image result for flood houstonEveryone in the neighborhood comes together to help. Sheridan says the only times you meet your neighbors are Halloween and natural disasters. We don’t know most of the people on our street except our uphill neighbors, who are amazing. But everyone came down the street to check on us and tell us we could come to their house if the water got deep.

Our downhill neighbor showed up on our porch yesterday afternoon with her cats when her house started to get water in. When we moved up to the uphill neighbors’, she came with us. The uphill neighbors fed us dinner and gave us beds. I couldn’t sleep because of the storm and my baby and neither could the downhill neighbor who had just lost her house. She took the baby from me and rocked him from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. so I could sleep a little.

I’ve only had like maybe three brief conversations with this woman before in my life.

With thoughts of the flood in Biblical times and the sign that God gave to His people on her mind, this mother shared her experience of evacuating on the Sabbath:

It suddenly occurred to me it was the Sabbath. No church and it hadn’t been a day of peace and rest but rather work and stress. But we had been checked on and helped by family and friends near and far and total strangers. It felt like a holy day. I got behind my TV cabinet to unplug all the cords and found a picture my daughter had drawn that must have fallen back their months ago. It was a rainbow. I don’t know what the next week or months hold for our little family, but I feel like that rainbow was telling me we are going to get through this. We are feeling lots of love right now and still hope.

Continue reading Beth’s story here:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865687765/A-young-Mormon-moms-Harvey-evacuation-story-of-fear-sadness-and-neighborly-love.html

 

Catch the Vision in the Eye of the Storm

I’m sure most of you have read about the new Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum for this coming year. I have heard many questions and worries from friends. They wonder what it will look like and how it can work in their wards. It is always difficult to try something new. Especially when it is so different from what we are accustomed to. But, as I have helplessly watched our brothers and sisters in Texas struggle to overcome Hurricane Harvey, I believe that the timing of the announcement of the new curriculum couldn’t be more perfect to help us catch the vision.

For those of you who haven’t read the announcement, the “Teachings of the Presidents” will be replaced with the “Come, Follow Me-For Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Meetings” curriculum. We will be studying General Conference talks and articles. It’s the lesson plan for the first Sunday of each month that has me thinking about the catastrophe in Texas.

According to the announcement, the first Sunday of each month will be set aside as a time to counsel together about local needs. This council will be led by the presidency or group leadership. Imagine how important it is to practice this kind of organization. The skills we will acquire, as we learn to counsel and serve together, will help us more perfectly respond to events such as this flood in Texas.

Now, Catch the Vision With Me …

What if all the world was covered in the stakes of Zion?

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