Tag Archives: general conference

Four Steps to Overcoming the World

Part of living in the last days is that evil and wickedness are abundant, cunning, and overwhelming. We must choose righteousness over wickedness; but many find themselves in the middle because they haven’t chosen yet, they are confused, or they have been tricked into thinking that the middle is righteousness. When we choose righteousness we are taking our first steps to overcoming the wickedness that surrounds us, in other words we are overcoming the world.

 

In the John 16:33 Christ said:

 

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

 

What does Christ mean when he said that he had overcome the world? Christ’s entire mission was to overcome the world – the natural man, temptations, sin, etc. – so that we could have the possibility of returning to our Heavenly Father. Jesus was baptised, so we must as well. Jesus introduced the sacrament, and so we partake weekly. Jesus performed the Atonement, so that we may be forgiven of our sins when we repent. Jesus was resurrected three days after his death, and so we will be able to be resurrected as well. Jesus overcame the world, and so we must, in our own way as well:

 

“For verily I say unto you, I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.” (D&C 64:2)

 

Jesus Christ overcame the world, but he was perfect. How are we, fallible natural men and women supposed to overcome the world? In the April 2017 general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen taught us four ways to do so.

 

  1. Love for the Savior

 

In 1 John 4:16-19 we read:

 

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

 

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

 

We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:16-19)

 

Jesus loves us, and as we learn about and feel that love, we grow to love him. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” When we love Jesus, we will have the courage to follow Him, and make righteous decisions, even when the world is taunting and screaming at us to do the opposite. Elder Andersen said that this love is not a one event thing, but a lifelong process. It starts with learning how to pray, singing songs about Jesus, hearing and reading the stories about Jesus, developing a relationship with Him, and putting all that we have learned to action.

 

  1. Accountability to God

 

Elder Andersen described the difference between those who do not want to be accountable to God, and those who know that we are:

 

“Those overcoming the world know that they will be accountable to their Heavenly Father. Sincerely changing and repenting of sins is no longer restraining but liberating, as ‘sins [of] scarlet…[become] white as snow.’

 

Those of the world have difficulty with accountability to God – like a child who parties in his parents’ home while they are out of town, enjoying the ruckus, refusing to think about the consequences when the parents return 24 hours later.”

 

When I was younger, I attended an activity wearing an inappropriate outfit, my mom found out and disciplined me the next day. In frustration I said, “Why can’t you just let me do what I want, and God can punish me later?!” Her response still touches my heart, “Because I am your mother, and God entrusted me to teach you what is right and to lead you back to Him.” The natural man argues that earthly consequences shouldn’t exist, that they infringe on our agency; but our accountability to God must begin here on earth. We cannot wait until later.

 

How do we show accountability to God here on earth?

  • Keeping the commandments
  • Keeping our baptismal and temple covenants
  • Staying faithful to our eternal companions
  • Taking the sacrament each week.
  • Repenting of our sins

 

The list goes on…

 

  1. Unselfishness

 

In chapter 23 of the book of Matthew Jesus describes the Pharisees as being worldly. He explains that their motivation for their works is to be seen and praised by others. Jesus says that this is not the way to live and in verses 10 and 11 says:

 

“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

 

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:10-11)

 

We are to serve others, not expect others to serve us. We are to serve others for love of them and Christ, not for the praise of the world. Elder Andersen gave some examples of selflessness that we should all embody:

 

“The happiness of our spouse is more important than our own pleasure. Helping our children to love God and keep His commandments is a primary priority. We willingly share our material blessings through tithing, fast offerings, and giving to those in need.”

 

  1. Safety in the Prophets

 

In choosing to follow the Savior, we will be ridiculed by the world, we will be hated by the world, and we will be ignored. But if we focus on our connection with God, and following the guidance from His chosen prophets, we will find safety in this world. The teachings of our prophets – both ancient and modern – are inspired by God, and are literally a road map back to our Heavenly Father. Of course there is safety and blessings in following their counsel! When I follow the teachings of the prophets, I feel the Holy Ghost tell me that I made the right choice. He will do the same for you.

 

So what does overcoming the world accomplish? According to Elder Andersen, “greater peace in this life and a greater assurance of your eternal destiny.” What a blessing to have greater peace in this life! The scriptures expand on what that eternal destiny is. When we overcome the world we will be clothed in white in the eternities, our names will remain in the book of life, and Jesus will acknowledge us before our Father. (Revelation 3:5) When we overcome the world we will have a part in the first resurrection. (D&C 76:64) When we overcome the world we will gain eternal life. (Revelation 2) When we overcome the world we will live with God. (Revelation 3:12)

 

Trying to overcome the world may seem daunting at first, but I testify that if we follow the advice that Elder Andersen has given us, we will succeed. When we love Jesus Christ, accept our accountability to God, become selfless, and look to our prophets, we will have the strength and ability to overcome the world.

 

Fun Family Road Trip or Self-Induced Torture?

“Stop talking! Just be quiet for a minute!” I yelled from the front seat of the car. “The next one to talk gets to walk the rest of the way.” This empty threat came from pure desperation. I just couldn’t handle another moment of bickering, whining and fault-finding from my children. Our family trip was suppose to bring us together, not tear us apart. Yet there we were, living in our own version of self-induced torture because my children couldn’t stop arguing!

Weeks before, as our family prepared for our trip, my husband and I painted our children a picture of all the wonderful things they would see, learn and experience. We took special care to pack treats, games, books and movies to keep them entertained and peaceful while traveling. We wanted them to have a unique experience that bonded our family and created treasured memories for the years ahead. But in spite of the many plans and preparations, we found ourselves battling over issues such as… “Her knees keep touching mine!” “She won’t stop humming.” And… my favorite… “I can’t stand listening to her breathe.” They had obviously forgotten the bigger picture.

Why do my kids do this? Why are they so quick to find fault with each other at one moment and then be best friends at another? Why can’t they perceive the bigger picture that I can see? Why is it so hard to use their family journey to strengthen and serve each other?

Will they ever grow out of it?

The answer is, yes! They will grow out of it as they mature enough to put those little things like knees touching, humming and breathing in perspective.

Perspective. Isn’t that what love and understanding are all about? When we see our world as our Savior sees it, we can take hold of a deeper truth that allows us to better assess, or judge what we are experiencing in ourselves and others. The old idiom, “the devil is in the details” is quite true. When we focus on the small details instead of perceiving the big picture, we become like siblings on a road trip… finding faults and taking offense… just for the fun of it.

How do we learn to perceive the Savior’s perspective in order to judge ourselves and others in a righteous manner? Elder Ronald A. Rasband taught:

Remember the Lord’s promise: “I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.” I love that assurance. Joy that fills our souls brings with it an eternal perspective in contrast to day-to-day living. That joy comes as peace amidst hardship or heartache. It provides comfort and courage, unfolds the truths of the gospel, and expands our love for the Lord and all God’s children. Although the need for such blessings is so great, in many ways the world has forgotten and forsaken them.

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Sustaining prophets and apostles publicly and privately (and why both matter)

Image result for sustaining lds.orgAs we head into General Conference weekend, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will publicly sustain prophets and apostles. We’ll hear the names of each member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve apostles read. We’ll then have the sacred opportunity to both publicly raise our hand to show a sign of support and privately sustain them in our hearts. It’s one of my favorite moments of General Conference.

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Not Sure if You Need to Repent? Ask These Four Questions…

Having grown up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have believed in agency my whole life. While our Heavenly Father has given us commandments to follow, He has also given us the ability to choose to follow those commandments or not. For some reason, it never occurred to me that choosing to repent has always been a part of our agency. In the October 2016 General Conference, Elder Dale G. Renlund said, “The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us.” He then shared some verses from the Book of Mormon that explain how we have the ability to choose repentance.

“And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.”

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ( 2 Nephi 2:5-6, 27)

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Increasing the Power of Personal Prayer

Several years ago during a visiting teaching appointment, my companion said something that really changed how I pray. She said (paraphrasing),  “I was taught that when we pray, we don’t have to fill the entire prayer up with talking. We should pause in between phrases so that we can feel the Holy Ghost and be guided on what to say next. We get more out of prayer, and we truly say what we need to say.”

I felt strongly impressed to follow that advice. As I started to pray that way, I noticed my attitude about prayer changed, my relationship with Heavenly Father strengthened, and my ability to receive personal revelation increased.

I’ve always known that prayer is important, and I believe in the power of prayer, but I really struggled to make my prayers personal. Once during a youth activity, we learned different examples of people in the scriptures praying all day to Heavenly Father (see Luke 6:12, Enos 1:4, Mosiah 21:14).  I remember our leader telling us that we should be able to pray like that some day. She said that our relationship with Heavenly Father and our ability to pray should get to that point. I remember thinking, “I’ll never be able to pray like that. I’m a failure at prayer.” For most of my life, I generally prayed using memorized and repeated phrases. I believed in prayer, I knew it was important, but I didn’t feel that I was “good” at praying.  Continue reading

Visiting Teachers: Representatives of the Lord

women-gather-661366-galleryA couple of years ago, the priesthood session of LDS general conference started being broadcast on BYUtv.  Now, during each priesthood session I turn on the TV so my husband can watch it, and I get to listen as well. In order for my husband to fully pay attention, I tend to our home and kids by myself. (He hasn’t asked me to do this, I choose to because I want him to enjoy the session the way I enjoy the women’s session.) During the most recent Priesthood Session, Elder Jeffrey R Holland gave his talk, “Emissaries to the Church”. As he began talking, I immediately felt a strong impression to really listen and pay attention. Elder Holland spoke about home teaching, and much of what he said can be applied to visiting teaching as well.

Visiting teaching is a topic near and dear to my heart because I love it! I truly do. I love visiting with my sisters, I love my companion, and I love being visited by my visiting teachers. I wasn’t always that way, though. When I first turned 18, I rarely went and my companion always set up the appointments and gave the message.  When I moved into a single’s ward, I never went visiting teaching. I always felt a little guilty because my home teachers came monthly without fail. When I got married and returned to a family ward setting, I tried to do better. My success, however, depended on my companions and their investment into visiting teaching. Continue reading

How Do I “Just Have Faith?”

self reflectionHave you ever had a really important question, or struggled with some piece of information? You are having a hard time finding an answer or coming to terms with that information, and the person(s) you reach out to say something to the effect of “Just have faith?” You know that’s the right answer, and of course you want to have faith; you want that desperately! But the answers to your questions or the need to receive clarity are so important that you struggle, and having faith – as important as it is – seems so far away and so difficult. I have felt those feelings before. If you haven’t had such an experience, let me create a scenario that will hopefully help you understand.

We’ll use a universal question: Is there life after death? As Latter-day Saints we know the answer is, yes. We have mountains of evidence to that yes: the accounts in the Bible and Book of Mormon from those whom Christ visited after He was resurrected, the visions of the Spirit World and the three kingdoms that many prophets have had, and the dreams that thousands of individuals have had of their loved ones and ancestors visiting them are a few examples. But what if there appeared to be zero evidence that life after death existed? What if the only answer to that question was, “Just have faith?” Wouldn’t that be so hard to hear? That is an extremely important question. Our entire earthly lives and the decisions we make are based on the answer to that question. That’s what it feels like with other important questions when the only answer is “Just have faith.” Continue reading

Filling Our Hearts and Minds With Their Words

general-conference-april-2011-826795-mobileWe are all anxiously awaiting what the Brethren will tell us this weekend, but I have the great fortune of filling my heart and mind already with their words. We should always be most concerned with the latest messages our leaders give us, but we cannot forget the great messages we have heard over the years. They are still of great value and most definitely filled with the spirit of edification, warning, and love. I have taken on the challenge to read and write about General Conferences of the past. As a writer for the General Conference Odyssey, I am overwhelmed with what the Brethren have been telling us–for years.

 

The General Conference Odyssey is a group of writers who write, each week, on a past session of conference, starting with April 1971. At this point, we have reached the Friday morning session of April 1974. And I repeat, I am overwhelmed with the doctrine, advice, warnings, love, and spirit of those early talks. Continue reading

What is Your Defining Moment?

bonnie-oscarson-1190455-galleryIn the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference (April 2016), Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson shared the story of a young mother who, while her son was being sent via Life Flight to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, she could see the Draper, Jordan River, Oquirrh Mountain, and Salt Lake City Temples all at once. As she was looking at those four Houses of the Lord the thought came to her, “Do you believe it or not?” This woman thought about all she had learned about temples, and knew that yes, she did believe it. At the end of the story, Sister Oscarson said, “This defining moment for Michele confirmed to her that what she had been taught all of her life was more than just words; it is true.”

That sentence caused me to ask myself, “What is your defining moment?” I immediately thought of a youth conference I attended when I was 16 years old. I got sick during the conference and missed almost an entire day of activities. We were camping, and the only access to medical help was a simple first-aid trailer. After taking care of everything physically, I was offered a priesthood blessing, which I accepted. That blessing went beyond a healing blessing and I heard some very special things. Continue reading

Light and Dark; Don’t Flip the Switch!

light-in-the-darkI love light. But let’s talk about darkness. I don’t ever remember being afraid of the dark as a child. I mean, no more than usual. Were you? Admittedly, it’s uncomfortable to be in the dark. Even in our own homes, a familiar place. When it’s dark, we feel uneasy. We bump into objects that we know are there but we now can’t see. They become obstacles to us.  We have a difficult time recognizing our surroundings and we wonder if there are things hiding there that might GET US!

In the dark our imaginations shift into high gear. Reality becomes distorted to us, and we can begin to see in our minds things that aren’t really there. We can be easily fooled in the dark. We might be presented one thing but told it is something entirely different. Who can forget sticking a hand into that bowl of peeled grapes and being told they were eyeballs, or the wet pasta that was brains at the elementary school spook alley as a child? That about scarred me for life! Continue reading