Tag Archives: prophets

We Thank Thee, O God, For Good Teachers

General Conference Odyssey post for Oct. 1976, Sunday afternoon.

 

This session of conference has more than one talk on the role of teachers. We thank thee, O God, for good teachers who are willing to teach the true gospel of Jesus Christ by what they say, what they do, and what they themselves believe.

 

Elder Featherstone mentioned a talk given by Spencer W. Kimball, back in 1966. It was entitled “What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren.” (CES Addresses to Religious Educators, July 11, 1966.) It is not available online.

 

In fact, I figured BYU must have it, so I journeyed innocently down to the library not realizing the many hurdles I would have to experience just to get what turned out to be a mere glimpse of the talk.

 

Going down there on a Saturday is not the best of ideas because there is no librarian available. The talk was in Special Collections and I needed a librarian’s signature to allow me to make a copy of the talk. Of course, by the time I got down there, it was ten minutes to 6:00 pm, which left me 10 minutes to glance at their copy. I quickly jotted down some notes. There was certainly no time to ponder and soak in his message.

 

There were other hurdles that seemed quite unnecessary. I had a passing thought that somehow Satan was barring my way. It was exasperating and frustrating and a complete waste of time and effort. Almost.

 

I persevered because I was determined to share the truth our prophet prophesied of so long ago. It made me wonder what other golden nugget speeches have been given by our leaders that are now buried and forgotten in some library.

 

Much of what I read in Pres. Kimball’s talk is not knew. We are well aware of our responsibilities to teach our children truth. Yet, it’s his eloquence and style of saying important things in a special way that comes across as strong, fearless, faithful and ever loving.

 

He mentioned preparing our missionaries well. In fact, he said if missionaries are well prepared for their missions–with strong testimonies of the gospel–any marriage problems they later encounter will “largely be solved.” That is an idea worth pondering more deeply.

 

He also said, “Teach them all the graces which will take them to Godhood.” Our world will snuff any advances toward Godhood in a heartbeat, yet this sentence urges me forward, changing my attitude enough to keep teaching.

 

Another quote I captured: “We may be bucking a strong tide, but we must teach our children that sin is sin.” This is the so-called dilemma of our day, but shouldn’t be.

Something happened this week that has made me very thoughtful on this topic of teaching. My mother has almost religiously read Time magazine week after week, year after year. For the past year or so, while settling into a care facility, she hasn’t kept up with her reading, so just the other day she showed me an issue where the cover story was about gender. The article explains how boys want to be girls and girls want to be boys. She was appalled and said I have to go home and teach my grandchildren, warning them of this danger. She thought this was a new thing we were dealing with.

 

It made me realize that in the space of 1-2 years our world has quickly kowtowed to this “new” phenomenon and acceptance. We, who understand God’s plan must fear Him more than the mockers, and teach our children that the traditional family unit is eternal in nature.

And this is the essence of what Pres. Kimball was talking about, as well as many of the speakers of this particular session. Absolute truth must speak louder than acceptance of sin.

 

Going back to Pres. Kimball’s talk, he spent some time with Paul’s words, in Ephesians. It may be worth your while to read Chapter 6 if you haven’t recently.

 

Many artists have depicted Lehi’s dream. Who knew that those walking toward The Tree were actually dressed in full armour, grasping the iron rod with both hands while walking against a hurricane blast of wind, uphill?

 

It is a good teacher who inspires our youth to put on each vital part of that armor. It is a teacher who ignites our testimonies. It is a teacher who induces us to begin–and continue–that arduous climb to The Tree.

 

Elder Featherstone quotes from Pres. Kimball’s talk with these words filled with this prophet’s special combination of love and warning:

 

“What do I wish you to teach my grandchildren and all others? Above all, I hope you will teach them faith in the living God and in his Only Begotten Son–not a superficial, intellectual kind of acceptance, but a deep spiritual inner feeling of dependence and closeness; … I hope that you will teach righteousness, pure and undefiled. I hope that if any of God’s children are out in spiritual darkness, you will come to them with a lamp and light their way; if they are out in the cold of spiritual bleakness with its frigidity penetrating their bones, you will come to them holding their hands a little way, you will walk miles and miles with them lifting them, strengthening them, encouraging them and inspiring them.”

 

While this world preaches loudly about love and tolerance, these are only half of the equation. Obedience and perseverance are the other half. A teacher teaches the law and lovingly encourages all to obey the law.

 

We thank Thee, O God, for a prophet who sees beyond this world. We thank Thee, O God, for wise parents and teachers who teach truth and testify with love. We thank Thee, O God, for Thy Son, who waits patiently, yet anxiously, for our arrival into eternal life.

 

Additional posts:

To be home again  Marilyn Nielson

Latter-Day Saints Pay Attention to General Conference Warnings

This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday morning session of October 1976 conference.

 

I debated whether to put a colon after Latter-day Saints, or not. I opted for no colon.

 

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?

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.

 

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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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

Does Your Sherem Shake You?

Sherem 4 Sherem. Though it’s an uncommon name, we all know at least one, and probably several. We might work with a Sherem or two; maybe there are team moms or room mothers with a Sherem, and maybe some of you have a few living on your street. There are Sherems in your yoga class, your biology class, and in every social class. The television, movies, and social media are populated by Sherems. Your ward has got a few and when multiplied by the number of units in your stake, well the number of Sherems in those boundaries would surprise you. But most disheartening to realize is that we have Sherems, though called by other names, perched in the branches of our own family trees.

Meet Sherem

Not long ago my husband and I were reading in the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. Here the prophet Jacob, Nephi’s brother, records an experience he had with a Sherem in his life–literally.  He wrote…. Continue reading

I Will Always Follow the Prophet

follow the prophetI’ve been thinking about the phrase I’ve been hearing a lot lately, about how children shouldn’t be “punished” for the sins or actions of their parents.  Let me clarify, as one who should know.  Children are not punished for the actions of their parents, but sometimes they do suffer for them.

Some children suffer a lot more than others, but whenever parents make choices that negatively affect their children, believe me, the children suffer.  I attended World Congress of Families IX two weeks ago.  It was a productive and enriching experience.  I learned and re-learned things and made new friends.  I came home feeling excited about what I might be able to do to curb the tide that threatens traditional marriage and family values.  Let me share with you my personal story of how I know that even though children might suffer for their parents’ choices, but are never punished for them. Continue reading

Murmuring With Those That Murmur

LDS Church Handbook ISocial Media is being inundated with some  members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) declaring their objection to the recent policy updates in the Church. Some have even gone as far as saying that they intend to walk away from their faith. This makes me wonder if they realize that these policy updates have come directly from The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These prophets, seers and revelators are doing exactly what they have been commissioned by the Savior to do: prophesy, see and reveal. Theirs is a unique calling; they are Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by Him. When something this collective is done on such serious issues, don’t believe for one second that they acted rashly, are misguided or decided this without careful consideration, prayer and fasting. Yet without much pause, some are already announcing their intentions to walk away from their faith, their beliefs, and their covenants — and with very public criticism of the Church via social media.  In a twist, members are being asked to “mourn with those that mourn”, with perhaps the expectation or inference that we will also “murmur with those who murmur.”

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Grey Hair and ‘She Bears’

The summer before my Freshman year of High School, my family moved from Utah to Idaho. Imagine how thrilled I was to find that in Idaho, fourteen is the age a driver license can be issued. I took drivers training as a class that fall in school, passed the written and driving tests, and received my license. I will never forget an interchange between my mother and I one afternoon shortly thereafter. She needed something from the store for dinner, so I volunteered to take the car (my father’s Cadillac) to the store for her. She said she wasn’t comfortable with me taking that car out on my own just yet. In response, I said, “I passed the written and driving tests. The State of Idaho says that I’m just as good a driver as you are.” She then explained to me that just because I was “book smart” and had a bit of time behind the wheel, those things did not equal her many years of actual driving experience. All those years of driving developed her skills and enabled her to become a driver with the ability to make good decisions—sometimes quickly and under pressure. She had driven in many different weather and road conditions and had developed a sixth sense about unseen dangers ahead. She assured me that these would all come to me in time also, but for now my father’s car was off limits to me. My hands never did grip the steering wheel of that big Caddy. Continue reading

Strength in Understanding the Signs of the Times

scripture-study-258662-wallpaperIn the Book of Revelation, chapter 13, there is much to learn and ponder. The chapter begins by talking about a beast that rises out of the sea. This beast has seven heads and ten horns. The dragon, who is Satan, then gives power unto the beast. Interestingly enough, one of the heads of the beast has a wound that has been healed. All the world wonders at the beast and worships Satan and the Beast. In verses six and seven, still speaking about the beast with the wounded head, it says:

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Another beast then comes that has great power. In verse 14, it says of the second beast,

14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

The beast with the wounded head is able to get the whole world to worship him. The end of the chapter describes what happens once the world worships the beast:

16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

In short, unless the people of the world receive a mark in their hands or foreheads, they may not buy or sell. The mark in their hands or foreheads can be interpreted as people’s thoughts and deeds. Knowing that we are in the last days, how then does this relate to us?

file4601279829740Today, the United States of America and much of the whole world seems to be at a tipping point that relates very well to these scriptures. There’s a powerful political lobby that has infiltrated every part of our society and spread quickly across the world. It began on the coasts, in Manhattan, N.Y., in an incidence known as Stonewall and has spread its influence throughout the world. Today, if a person or business is not willing to go along with the demands of a powerfully orchestrated group, they may be refused employment, fired, sued, and stripped of their livelihood.  As time goes on, it has become pretty clear that this will get much worse. Continue reading