Monthly Archives: April 2008

The Apostle Song

Someone sent me a link to a YouTube video for something called “The Apostle Song”. It is a little song that helps you remember our current 15 apostles (including the First Presidency). The tune sounds like the theme song from The Beverly Hillbillies (or so my wife says).

Strangely enough, that very day I also received a Google Alert (for Thomas Monson) that had a link to a site where there was a video of a small girl singing the song (it’s quite cute).

Here are the words:

Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet you know
Henry B. Eyring is the next below
Dieter F. Uchtdorf is the third you see
And that makes up the first presidency

Boyd K. Packer taught seminary
L. Tom Perry is 6 foot 3
Russell M. Nelson operated on folds
A Supreme Court justice was Dallin H. Oaks

M. Russell Ballard sold used cars
Joseph B. Wirthlin was a football star
Richard G. Scott is from Idaho
Robert D. Hales plays the piano

Jeffrey R. Holland was a Yale guy
David A. Bednar changed Rick’s to the Y
Quentin L. Cook is from Cache Valley
D. Todd Christofferson’s an attorney

Ward Conference Talk

Yesterday was our ward conference. This is the talk I gave:


As I spoke about in January, one of our main focuses this year is to reach out to our brothers and sisters that we don’t see as often as we’d like. Following the Stake Presidency’s example, we want to help all of our members remember the spiritual experiences they’ve had, and help them build on that. The inspiration for this is in the words of Alma when he asked:

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?[1]

Whether we are the newest convert or the most experienced member, these are good questions to ask of ourselves regularly. It leads to the question of how do we experience that rebirth, receiving Christ’s image, that change of heart? The simplest, most direct answer, is in our service to others. It is a common philosophy in the Christian world that we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. People will use the phrase, “He is my personal Savior.” It is vital to have that level of loyalty and testimony, but how do we demonstrate our commitment? How do we build that relationship with a being that we cannot physically be with? Again, it is through our service to others.

King Benjamin taught this principle beautifully when he said:

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.[2]

President Kimball explained why this sort of service is so essential:

God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other…[3]

Perhaps this principle was taught most clearly by the Savior in one of his parables. He spoke of a King who commends a righteous man for all of the good works that he did for the King:

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.[4]

David O. McKay summarized it when he said:

There is no other way that you can serve Christ. You can kneel down and pray to him, that is good. You can plead with him to give you his guidance through the Holy Spirit—yes, we do that and must do it. We have to do it. But it is these practical, daily visits in life, it is the controlling of our tongue, in not speaking evil of a brother, but speaking well of him, that the Savior marks as true service.[5]

Of course President McKay recognized that we each have needs to be filled. The challenges each generation faces may be a little different, but the essentials remain the same. We have families to care for and bills to be paid; some suffer from ill health. Whatever our circumstances, we must find a way to look beyond our own needs and think of others. Sister Cheryl C. Lant, the Primary General President said it this way:

…there’s so much talk in today’s world about “are my needs being met?” You hear that so much… And I think if we could just get to the point where we are thinking about someone else’s needs, our needs are met.[6]

I’m sure there are many of you who have experienced this. It amazes me how when you serve others, your own problems seem to be less significant. The promise of the Savior rings true when he promised that “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”[7] If you haven’t experienced this miracle, then test it out. As members of the Church, we have committed to “mourn with those that mourn… [and to] comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”[8] This is a large part of our baptismal covenant, and as we take upon us the name of Christ, our actions should lead us to act in Christ’s behalf for the benefit of humankind.

Going back to the question of how we receive Christ’s image in our countenances, it comes as we do what Christ would do. We see Christ’s compassion for us as our prayers are answered through the actions of others. We see His countenance in the good and righteous people around us. As we serve others they will see that in us. There is an old hymn by William Longstaff called Take Time to Be Holy. The lyrics are beautiful, and share a message of following the Lord and finding joy and love as a result. In the second verse are the words:

By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;

Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.[9]

I like the order of that. We first need to look to Christ. He is our example in everything. “There is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.”[10] We need to read His words; pray to the Father through His name; take upon us His name through baptism and as we partake of the Sacrament. As we do those things, we shall become like Him. All that he did was for the benefit of others. He was not concerned about his own health, his own welfare, his own life even. He looked for opportunities to teach and to serve. As we do those things, others will see Him in us.

I suppose we could ask ourselves these questions: Are we lacking Christ’s image in our countenance? Do we notice it ourselves? Do others notice it? Why are people NOT seeing Christ in us? Others will not see Christ in us if we are full of contention, for we know that “the spirit of contention is… of the devil”.[11] Christ is rarely seen in the “wars, and rumours of wars”[12] that we seem to be surrounded by. We don’t see Christ in the violent, immoral, and coarse entertainment that is presented to us in the modern media. Unfortunately, there are countless ways in which we can lose a portion of the Spirit. As I mentioned, contention and dissension can be one of the biggest causes of people losing the Spirit. Whether it is at home, Church, work, school, or anywhere, there is no place for a person with a Christ-centred heart to mock or tear down others. It can tear apart homes and be a divide among friends. If you have been wronged, forgive. If you have done wrong, repent. Do not delay in setting things right with God. Use that precious gift of the atonement of Christ.

Now, I share this message today with full knowledge that I have much work to do myself. I share this as what our ideal should be. I appreciate the support you’ve given me as I’ve tried to serve you. You have accepted me in my imperfection, and helped me to grow. I have been impressed with the faith that the members of the Church have in their leaders. It is wonderful. But we should also have faith in those around us. The man or woman beside you or across the chapel from you may need your help. They may just need you to believe in them and then they will be able to accomplish great things. Do you have a vision of what we can accomplish together? Each of us, individually, has the capacity for greatness, but our ability to bring about change is magnified exponentially when we work together with a common purpose. If we each look to the Savior and follow his example, and then reach out to others, there is no limit to the good that can be done. Our families will be happier. We will have more people attending and participating as active church members. Our missionary work will increase. We can strive to be like the people of Zion, who were “of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness.”[13] I know that we are capable of this, and we must try harder if we are to claim the blessings that our Heavenly Father has in store for us. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] Alma 5:14

[2] Mosiah 2:17

[3] Spencer W. Kimball, “Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, 5

[4] Matthew 25: 37-40

[5] David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1955, pp. 128-130

[6] Cheryl C. Lant, Roundtable Discussion, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity, February 9, 2008

[7] Matthew 10:39

[8] Mosiah 18: 9

[9] Words: William D. Longstaff, circa 1882, Music: “Holiness,” George C. Stebbins, 1890.

[10] 2 Nephi 31: 21

[11] 3 Nephi 11: 29

[12] 1 Nephi 12: 2

[13] Moses 7:18

A Mormon in Space

Times and Seasons has an interesting post about Don Lind, a Mormon astronaut, who went up into space in 1985. The post quotes from a book where Don describes the challenge of kneeling in weightlessness, and also the challenge of getting NASA to allow him to wear his garments. Good stuff!

“Christ welcoming us through the veil of death”

By Common Consent has a neat post about a new cemetery in Austria that will have a section exclusively for Mormons. Apparently there will be a statue in the centre that shows Christ bringing someone through the veil. Although this is obviously temple-related, there doesn’t seem to be anything temple-specific shown on the statue. I think it’s neat. It reminds of some of the pictures I’ve seen of old headstones in cemeteries in Utah where you see a lot of symbolism of the temple (I couldn’t find the pictures when I did a quick search… if you know of any sites that show these, please link to it). These days our headstones are pretty basic (maybe even dull). I wonder why that has changed over the years.

More on church research

One of the most read posts so far was on the Church Information Division. Well, the church does more research other than the phone calls I described. They also do basic surveys, just like ones you might see from major companies (about product satisfaction). No, you probably won’t be asked to fill out a survey about how satisfied you are with how your tithing money is spent, but there are survey’s being done about a variety of topics. I recently received an email about “Improving Family History Consultant E-mail Messages” (the link takes you to the survey). The survey is just a single page with a question about how much the emails help you, what content you would like in the emails, and a comments field. In this case, the survey is run by Inquisite Inc.

In the past, I’ve also done a survey (by following a link at another site) about handheld content (files for your PDA).

If you ever get an email like this, I’d suggest that you complete the survey. Who knows how much they listen, but it is a chance to make your voice heard on these sorts of simple topics.

178th Annual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon Session

Well, General Conference is now over. Just like yesterday, we went to the chapel for the earlier session, and then watched the later session at home. Overall, I quite enjoyed the talks this year. Sometimes there will be a talk or two that I just can’t follow, or more like my heart just isn’t into it. This year, although there were some talks that I didn’t find too interesting, I stayed focus and enjoyed almost all of them.

  • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland ** may use this as a lesson **
    • God continues to speak his word
    • the verse in Revelations means that Revelations is not to be added to
    • continuing revelation does not discredit current revelation
  • Elder David A. Bednar ** may use this as a lesson **
    • ask in faith
    • faith is a principle of action
    • simply saying “They will be done” is not enough”
  • Elder W. Craig Zwick
    • are we lowering our standards to fit in?
  • Elder Robert R. Steuer
    • discovering spiritual light is awe inspiring
    • learn true doctrine
    • gain pure testimony
    • live courageously
  • Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander ** may use this as a lesson **
    • beware of crowds
    • the crowd came to see the Lord, she came to be healed
    • pass safely through the crowds
  • Elder Lance B. Wickman
    • need to see today with the promise of tomorrow
    • need to repent today
  • Elder Craig C. Christensen
    • purpose of the Book of Mormon
  • Elder M. Russell Ballard ** will encourage RS to use this as a lesson **
    • no role in life more essential than motherhood
    • what can you do as a young mother to enjoy mother hood?
    • don’t over-schedule yourselves or your children
    • pray, study, teach the gospel
    • what can I do as a husband?
    • what can children to to help their mother?
    • what can the church do?
  • President Thomas S. Monson
    • spoke of his wife being in a coma for 27 days
    • treat your wife with dignity and respect
    • honour your husband
    • show love to your children
    • “pray for me”

Read the recaps from the other sessions of General Conference:

178th Annual General Conference – Sunday Morning Session

I guess we could watch General Conference from home, but we’re so used to going to Church on Sunday morning, we still went to the chapel this morning to watch the Sunday morning session. There were a lot of others who had the same feeling, as the turnout was quite good.

  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf ** may use this as a lesson **
    • stand in the office in which you are appointed
    • strengthen the feeble knees
    • faith of our fathers
    • multiplicity of life experiences
    • our “fathers” are not just our immediate family, but also the prophets and our Saviour
  • Elder D. Todd Christofferson
    • he committed himself to God and Jesus Christ, and loyalty to the First Presidency and brethren of the Quorum of the Twelve
    • we all need to be born again
  • Elder Sheldon F. Child
    • tithing, the best investment you will ever make
    • when we pay a tithe, the Lord’s blessings are sure
    • shared a great President Grant quote that I’ll want to read again when the talks are published
  • Sister Susan W. Tanner ** may use this as a lesson **
    • remember our delights in the face of adversity
    • miracles do come, but sometimes not until the end
    • love and delight in the things that are right
  • President Boyd K. Packer
    • the calling of an apostle
    • sealing keys
    • overview of purpose of the apostles
  • President Thomas S. Monson
    • everyone can feel the Lord’s inspiration
    • God directs His prophets
    • come back and feast at the table of the Lord
    • show kindness and respect to all people
    • pledge his life in serving Him

Read the recaps from the other sessions of General Conference:

Mormons affirm new church leader

From MSNBC:

Faithful Mormons stood by the thousands with upraised hands Saturday, officially installing the newly appointed head of their first new leader in 13 years.

Thomas S. Monson took over The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February after the death of Gordon B. Hinckley, but the faith traditionally calls for a sustaining vote by members in a ceremony known as the solemn assembly.

Each church organization took its turn — from its top leaders down to youth groups — standing when called to cast votes in the packed conference center, which holds 21,000 people. The ceremony has been practiced since 1880, when John Taylor was named president of the church.

D. Todd Christofferson press conference

Official portrait of D. Todd Christofferson

As seems to be the tradition, there was a press conference held between sessions of conference yesterday where Elder Christofferson and his wife spoke. Sister Christofferson didn’t have much to say other than that she fully supported her husband. Elder Christofferson didn’t have any opening remarks and immediately took questions. He was asked questions about how he was called, his family history, his legal background, and more. He spoke well and seemed comfortable. I don’t remember anything of him from previous talks he has given, so I didn’t have any previous opinion of him. I’m sure we’ll hear him today, but based on the press conference alone, I’m sure he will be a very effective teacher and inspire many members.

To watch the press conference, go to BYU.tv, pull up yesterday’s date, and click on the LDS World Report at 12:00pm. At about the 35 minute mark, the press conference starts. You can also read about the press conference on the Salt Lake Tribune web site.

178th Annual General Conference – Priesthood Session

Whenever my father and I live in the same city, we have a tradition of going to the priesthood session of General Conference together. Afterwards we always go out for a snack of some kind. We’ve lived in the same city for the last 8 years or so, and we’ve attended almost every one together. Also for the last several years we’ve had a “sub-sational” for the YM where the YM and their fathers come to the Church and hour early and we have subs together. Since I’ve been the bishop I’ve brought my father. However this time he was in North Carolina for the baptism of one of his grand daughters, so I went alone to the “sub-sational” and the broadcast. Then afterwards, I stopped at McDonald’s on the way home for my snack.

The session was good. You could tell everyone was anxious to hear President Monson’s first address in conference as President of the church. He didn’t address any particular issues. It was more a “rally the troops” sort of talk, but it was still quite good.

  • Elder Quentin L. Cook ** may use this as a lesson **
    • periods of crisis and danger
    • heed the words of the prophet
    • prophetic priorities
    • preventative inoculation
  • Bishop H. David Burton
    • highlighted humanitarian efforts
    • The Church responded to 175 natural disaster events in 52 countries
    • The Church’s efforts with wheelchairs, vision, training, etc helped 3.9 million people in 85 countries
  • Brother Dean R. Burgess
    • “Do you know who you are?”
    • honour your family
    • makes you strong, confident, have courage
    • Do you know that you are a son of God?
    • Do you know who you are in God’s plan?
    • Do you know who you are as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
  • Elder John M. Madsen
    • Deacons bench
    • need to see the divine potential in the YM
  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf ** may use this as a lesson **
    • the difference between happiness and misery comes down to an error of only a few degrees
    • become self-disciplined enough to make corrections
    • don’t wait for the errors to correct themselves
    • through repentance and the atonement we can be forgiven
  • President Henry B. Eyring
    • priesthood holders need to have confidence and rise to the blessings of the Oath and Covenant
    • God know your power and capacity
    • have confidence in your service
    • God wants you to succeed
    • President Bush called President Hinckley as he was flying over Utah in Air Force One to say thank you for our people helping after a hurricane
  • President Thomas S. Monson
    • we live in dangerous times
    • if we are on the Lord’s errand we are entitled to the Lord’s help
    • the face of sin wears the mask of tolerance
    • no disguise can change the truth
    • stand for right even if you stand alone
    • no YM in the Church should be without the influence of good men in their lives
    • honour the priesthood we bear through the service we render

Read the recaps from the other sessions of General Conference: