October 2014 Conference Talks

I realized that I never went back through my favorite conference talks to summarize the points I wanted to remember and hang on to. I’ll add to their summaries over time, but here are links to each:





President Eyring:

And we will need not just one revelation in a time of stress, but we need a constantly renewed stream. We need not just one flash of light and comfort, but we need the continuing blessing of communication with God.

The very existence of the Church stems from a young boy knowing that was true. Young Joseph Smith knew that he could not of himself know which church to join. So he asked of God, as the book of James told him he could. God the Father and His Beloved Son appeared in a grove of trees. They answered the question that was beyond Joseph’s power to resolve.

Not only was he then called of God to establish the true Church of Jesus Christ, but with it was restored the power to invoke the Holy Ghost so that revelation from God could be continuous.

From your experience in your own families, you also know why Lehi was “exceedingly glad.” His joy came from knowing that Nephi had received confirming revelation.

I don’t know what she was asking for in prayer as she waited for me those nights. I suppose it would have been in part for my safety. But I am sure that she prayed as a patriarch does before he gives a blessing. He prays that his words will come to the recipient as the words of God, not his. My mother’s prayers for that blessing were answered on my head.

I have seen that same miracle of continuing revelation in stake presidents and bishops in the Church. And, as is true in the revelation to family leaders, the value of the revelation depends on those who are being led receiving confirming revelation.

That personal revelation of acceptance, for which we all long, does not come easily, nor does it come simply for the asking. The Lord gave this standard for the capacity to receive such witnesses from God. It is a guide for anyone seeking personal revelation, as we all must.

“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.”4

From that I draw counsel for us all. Don’t take lightly the feeling you get of love for the prophet of God. Wherever I go in the Church, whoever the prophet is at the time, members will ask, “When you get back to Church headquarters, will you please tell the prophet how much we love him?”

That is far more than hero worship or the feelings we sometimes have of admiring heroic figures. It is a gift from God. With it you will receive more easily the gift of confirming revelation when he speaks in his office as the Lord’s prophet. The love you feel is the love the Lord has for whoever is His spokesman.

As well as I could with my small grasp of her language, I told her that God had revealed things to her beyond all earthly education….

Elder Cook:

I believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between “good, better, best” provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities. Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness. We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God. We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer is that as a body of priesthood holders, we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms. We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Nelson:

The calling of 15 men to the holy apostleship provides great protection for us as members of the Church. Why? Because decisions of these leaders must be unanimous. Can you imagine how the Spirit needs to move upon 15 men to bring about unanimity? These 15 men have varied educational and professional backgrounds, with differing opinions about many things. Trust me! These 15 men—prophets, seers, and revelators—know what the will of the Lord is when unanimity is reached!

Elder Ballard: (His comments were good too, but mostly I was intrigued that Brigham Young used this “old ship Zion” image that I had never heard about before:)

President Brigham Young commonly employed “the Old Ship Zion” as a metaphor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He said on one occasion: “We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard. ‘I am not going to stay here,’ says one; ‘I don’t believe this is the “Ship Zion.”’ ‘But we are in the midst of the ocean.’ ‘I don’t care, I am not going to stay here.’ Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the ‘Old Ship Zion,’ let us stay in it.”

On another occasion, President Young said that he also worried about people losing their way when they were being blessed—when life was good: “It is in calm weather, when the old ship of Zion is sailing with a gentle breeze, [and] when all is quiet on deck, that some of the brethren want to go out in the whaling boats to have … a swim, and some get drowned, others drifted away, and others again get back to the ship. Let us stick to the old ship and she will carry us [safely] into the harbor; you need not be concerned.”

And finally, President Young reminded the Saints: “We are on the old ship Zion. … [God] is at the helm and will stay there. … All is right, sing Hallelujah, for the Lord is here. He dictates, guides and directs. If the people will have implicit confidence in their God, never forsake their covenants nor their God, He will guide us right.”

Elder Scott:

The second tool is to study the word of God in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them. Make them an integral part of everyday life. If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.

Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!

I add my voice with this promise: as you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life. That peace won’t come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart. It will be a gift of the Spirit. It will radiate out from you to influence others in the world around you. You will be doing something very significant to add to the cumulative peace in the world.

Just thinking about introducing the Book of Mormon

I really like this introduction, already printed in the Book of the Mormon. I am considering giving a friend a copy, and I wanted to see how it was worded and if I though it would work well for her. I am copying and pasting here the first half of the introduction. I think I would print up this part and add a letter to go with it:

The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.

 The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C.and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

 The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.

 After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the Hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.

 In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel may be saved.

Quick thoughts on D&C 84:19-24

19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

Why “therefore”? I think it’s saying that the Melchizedek Priesthood has the keys of the mysteries and of the knowledge of God, therefore, when you receive an ordinance of the gospel through the Melchizedek priesthood, that ordinance contains something of those mysteries and knowledge? Or, they have the key that open those doors, and they way they help others through those doors are by the ordinances?

21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

I was trying to figure out how the word “godliness” was being used here, and I finally thought to do a search. I found this scripture in 2 Timothy and I’m almost positive D&C 84 is referring to it: “2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”) I think that’s got to be the reference! I’m excited to keep thinking that through.

22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

Search for “godliness” and “power” had just a few references: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/search?lang=eng&query=godliness+power&x=0&y=0

How would you introduce the Book of Mormon?

I have been thinking a lot about how the Book of Mormon introduces itself here and there in the record itself; also about how I would present an introduction to the book. What a hard job that would be! So many different potential audiences! I thought, though, that trying to prepare one such introduction would be a good challenge for me. I say “one such” because it would be impossible to do a perfect one. Each write-up would focus on different things that would also be a good introduction to the book. And each write- up would tailor it to a different audience, focusing on those details that would connect with those people.

So without time to write it up fully this morning (and knowing me, I’ll get on to some other question and never finish!), here is a list of some of the things I might include:

  • A comparison or summary of the Old and New Testaments, explaining that the Old Testament is a record of a people with a covenant, but who misunderstood Christ when he came; the New Testament is a record of many individuals who believed in and worshiped Jesus Christ as their Savior, but who misunderstood the place of the Abrahamic Covenant in the future Church. The Book of Mormon is a record of a people who both worship Christ himself and hold tight to the Abrahamic Covenant.
  • They are a branch of the family of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob who broke off from the rest about 600BC in part because the rest of the family rejected the coming of a Messiah who would overcome the sins of all the world, and not just deliver the covenant people from physical oppression (see the summary of Lehi’s preaching in chapter 1 of 1st Nephi).
  • This branch of the family keeps written records from the moment they brake off from the rest of Israel, through hundreds of years in a new home, until finally in about 400AD they have also rejected both Christ and God’s covenants and destroy each other in a civil war. Mormon is a man who lived at the end of this war. He was the inheritor of the large collection of records which described their wars and prophets and how their faithfulness or unfaithfulness had affected the prosperity of the people. Mormon was afraid that the people would not keep their records now that they had rejected Christ and God’s covenants. So he made an abridgement of these records, a much smaller version that he could carry around while the civil war raged on and on (see Mormon, chapter 6). The large collection of records he buried up in a hill to keep them safe. He continued to add his own record of the war on his smaller version. When he died, his son Moroni inherited the smaller record and continued to add to it. He was the last person to write on that record, and he buried it in the ground. It was this smaller record that Joseph Smith found and translated.


  • Maybe a chart or another way to show how certain parts are abridged and certain parts aren’t?\
  • An explanation of the idea of “plain and precious” and “covenants” being taken (see 2 Nephi) and perhaps also pointing to the preface to section 76.

Well Micah is laying on my lap kicking my arms and laughing, so I think it’s time to go and get him breakfast!

This same spirit

I learned a lot this weekend about how the Spirit works, or at least how I should watch for the Spirit talking to me. It came through a conversation, a decision, and a blessing, but it also came from D&C 8:2-3:

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

What makes us know that some idea is from God, or is pleasing to God, is when it feels right in both our minds and in our hearts. That is the great test. I had never, ever seen it so clearly as I did this weekend.

But that is exactly how it feels when we make a big family decision. We talk and talk and talk until one pathway seems to make the most sense. Then we talk about its weakness. Once we’ve decided it makes the most sense to both of us, and also that it feels fine (we have no lingering warning feelings), we pray about it together. During that prayer, the Spirit speaks peace to us and our hearts are united since we both felt the same Spirit.

The process of a group decision is being willing to talk and pray and talk and talk until minds and hearts are united. That makes so much sense!

Ah, a good study

This morning the kids slept in and I got to study scripture for a lot longer than I have in weeks. I told Joe, “I got to study this morning! I feel like a human being again!” :) I did feel much happier this morning.

I laughed at myself though, since I usually say “I feel like a human being again!” after a much-needed shower or a much-needed good night’s sleep. So, maybe scripture study is a shower for my brain? :) Or rest?

It’s always was nice when I make myself use my mind for something independent of kid-life and so rewarding. I put off those things (like reading books!) or think “I can’t! I don’t have time!” but when I do it, I realize it’s definitely something I ought to do much more often!

New BYU religion and Institute classes

Whenever there is a change there is potential for good and bad. I’m always a bit more optimistic about changes some are, but then again sometimes others have a broader view than I do. So I suppose I see just as much potential for individual growth from a teacher who’s thoughtful and has the Spirit in these classes as in any other class. So that makes me optimistic. Others see the collection of teachers and their tendencies, have sat in on classes, have talked with students, and have a general sense of the direction this will take the average class over the next 10 years. And that’s not something I can have a sense for at all! :)
Some are concerned that this will lead to less knowledge about the scriptures themselves, because the scriptures will be used in a hit-and-miss way, finding scriptures that explain or support the topic but not working through the scriptures and letting those guide what is learned. Rather than reading the scriptures to find out what they are teaching, classes like these start out with a doctrine and then find where in scripture that is talked about. But the side-effect is that students feel like they don’t need to figure out what the scriptures are teaching them, we already know that! We started out with that information before we opened the scriptures!
So it has longer-term effects on the relationship with the scriptures, which leads to less incentive to have personal scripture study, and other things. So on the one hand, I could be worried about the long-term effects, whereas I tend at first to look at something and say, “Well, I don’t see any roadblocks to an uplifting class that could be taught by the Spirit. Sounds good to me!” :)
But, I do admit that Joe and I are already noticing negative consequences as he teaches seminary. The new youth Sunday School classes don’t go through the scriptures sequentially anymore because their lessons are on topics now. And Seminary has changed. There is a list of principles (9, I think) that are given to them at the beginning of the year. So they are told, from day 1, what the scriptures are going to teach them. Then their job throughout the year is to notice scriptures each day that sound like they are talking about those principles. But they aren’t getting context, working through the section or chapter to see the message that prophet is trying to get across, or seeing how something is developed (I always find it helpful to see how a prophet explains something like faith so I can explain it to others).
I guess it’s hard for me to see this change in Seminary because the very reason I homeschool is teach my kids that they don’t have to be told in advance what they are supposed to learn from something. We help them develop a good reading comprehension level, and then we help them see that they can learn and learn and learn forever. And I see the new seminary style doing the opposite of that.
They even have a test on those 9 principles so now there is a “teach to the test” problem going on in Seminary too, though the test is so simple it really shouldn’t have to affect classes at all.
So the new classes at BYU don’t sound like the necessarily have this same problem as seminary. And since it’s something new, my first reaction is to watch for any roadblocks to the Spirit and if there are none, not worry yet. But, the same people who developed the new seminary style and test requirement are the same people who developed the changes at BYU and Institutes, so I can see the concern that the same problems we’re noticing in Seminary will be repeated at the college level.
I think it’s unfortunate that we are so worried that kids won’t learn the right things that we are developing courses that will make sure that they at least learn 9 principles. But it just feels like the problems with “common core” in public education. It’s good that those in charge of CES (who are trained in education) are willing to look at new ways to educate based on current trends. I like that they are open to change. I just don’t think that the current trends in education are the right ones to apply in a gospel setting.


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