Monthly Archives: October 2013

No more asking for referrals at Church historical sites?

In the summer I wrote about our trip to Palmyra. You can read about it in the following posts:

If you’ve been to a Church historical site, you are aware that after sharing the message with you, the missionaries usually hand out a card of some kind and ask you to consider friends that you feel inspired to have the missionaries visit.

On Friday and Saturday we went back to Palmyra (the tours are usually much better when it is “off-season”) and had some great visits. I’ll write about those separately and post some pictures. The point I wanted to share was about the referrals…

On Friday at the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center, the senior missionary told us that rather than ask for referrals, they were asking for our own email address. He said he would send us some links to some sites that explain a bit of the history of the area. The next morning the email came in with the links he had mentioned. He suggested that we could invite someone over for a family home evening to learn more about the sites.

Then on Saturday at the Peter Whitmer Farm, the sister missionary there started to mention the same thing. Her little spiel about it actually used the word “creepy”, as in “it was kind of creepy to have a stranger call them up” and ask them if they wanted to learn more about a place they had never visited. We let her know that we were happy to give her an email address, but that we had already given it to the other missionary. She said that if we had already done that, then that was fine.

I don’t know if this is now the norm, but it was kind of nice. I appreciated the suggested links, and we didn’t feel the pressure that often accompanied one of those referral cards.

Why Don’t Mormons Recite the Lord’s Prayer?

This isn’t something I’ve spent much time thinking about, but Religion News Service has an interesting posting about why Mormons don’t use the Lord’s Prayer.

I remember reciting the Lord’s Prayer in elementary school (before it was decided that you couldn’t do that anymore). As a young kid, I didn’t think at all about what the words meant. I rarely come across the Lord’s prayer now as an adult. Since I’ve been a Mormon my entire life, I don’t really see how reciting it is helpful to people. The comparison is made to some of our ordinances having set wording, but the difference is just that… that it is an ordinance prayer, not just a “regular” prayer.

To me it is just like a lot of things with religion. If you feel the Spirit and feel closer to God, then go for it. If it doesn’t help you, then try something else.

Kirby: Scrutiny of LDS Church history serves up surprises

Robert Kirby is a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribute. I don’t really know anything about him other than the fact that his columns seem to be commentaries with a bit of humour. One of his recent ones is about some of the “surprises” you find when studying Church history. I love reading the stories… warts and all. It never bothers me. I find it interesting, and if anything, it strengthens my testimony to know that these leaders were just men. They were trying to do what the Lord wanted them to do, but were influenced by family, friends, society, and more, and therefore sometimes made mistakes.

Anyway, Mr. Kirby has the following gem in that recent commentary:

Making a church is like making a hamburger. It’s all so yummy when presented in a bun on a plate — and something altogether different when you consider the back story involves bashing one of God’s simplest creatures in the head with a hammer.

Love it! It isn’t the most beautiful comparison, but is seems quite fitting. I love a good hamburger. I understand that in order to get that meat to my plate, sometimes things aren’t pretty, but the end result is tasty. I guess in a way the Church is kind of like that. Through the growing pains, and assimilation into the surrounding culture, things haven’t always been pretty, but the Church provides me with the bread of life, and the end result is good.

(I realize that this is a simplistic analogy. The things that have happened in Church history are much more complex. I’m just commenting that it is an interesting comparison, and one that I’ve never thought of before)

True Shepherds – President Monson speaks about Home Teaching

I was surprised to hear President Monson speak about home teaching at the Priesthood session of General Conference. It isn’t that I think that home teaching isn’t important, it’s that I don’t remember the last time a President of the Church has addressed the topic directly. It has been mentioned in passing, or spoken about by others, but this was different.

You can go and read/watch the talk yourself, but I did want to highlight some quotes:

  • …as the priesthood of God we have a shepherding responsibility.
  • The home teaching program is a response to modern revelation commissioning those ordained to the priesthood “to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, … and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties, … to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking.”
  • To assist in our efforts, I share this wise counsel which surely applies to home teachers. It comes from Abraham Lincoln, who said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”
  • Home teaching answers many prayers and permits us to see the transformations which can take place in people’s lives.

Hearing this talk made me think back on a talk that Ezra Taft Benson gave in 1983. He spoke about home teaching, but rather than “preaching”, he asked a bunch of questions. I’m not sure exactly how many questions were asked, but there were 46 question marks in the published talk.

I find it a challenge to go home teaching, but I still make an effort and am able to visit most of my assigned families each month (at least the ones that let me in). Every time I leave a home, I feel like I’ve been doing a sacred work. The circumstances of life then creep up on me again the following month, and it is a struggle to go out again, but I remember the feelings and out I go. It’s worth it for sure.

Elizabeth Smart is my hero

I hope that didn’t sound sarcastic, because I mean it. Let me explain why…

When the 14-year-old Mormon Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped in 2002, it got a fair amount of attention in my part of the world. I live in Canada near Buffalo, and so a lot of our radio and TV stations come from “over the river”. The Canadian media also reported on things a fair bit.

I only had 1 child at the time (a baby) and I could only imagine what her parents must have been going through. When she was found, it seemed like a miracle.

I wondered how “messed up” this young woman would be. She had to try to get back to a normal life after almost daily rapes. Her life was threatened and she was forcibly removed from her home. Could she grow up and be “normal”?

I have no idea how difficult it was, but it was great to hear that she was going on a mission (to France). Then later came word that she was getting married (I think in the Hawaii Temple).

Now she has written a book, and apparently she tells it all. I read somewhere that she figured there would be no point in writing a book if she only shared half the story.

So after all of that, I thought, “Good for her! What a nice person.” Then earlier this week she was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. That is when she truly became my hero. She was so calm; so well-spoken; a person who didn’t seem to be full of hate or bitterness; a person who cherished her family; a person who knows that God loves her. She showed her faith, and represented her family and the Church well.

People like Elizabeth are heroes. Movie stars, athletes and pop stars generally aren’t. I’ve been lucky enough in my life to know a couple of people who have overcome huge challenges and I marvel at how they managed. Faith played a large part. The support of loved ones (family, friends, and community) helped.

If these people can survive what they have gone through, and even flourish afterwards, then it inspires me to keep slogging through my difficulties.

Thank you Elizabeth and others for being such an example to us all.

George Albert Smith suffered from depression

Once again referring to Elder Holland’s talk from the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference, he mentioned that George Albert Smith suffered from depression. I’m fairly well versed in Church history, but didn’t realize how sever it was until I followed some links online. Apparently while an apostle he had a 3-year battle that at times saw him rarely leave his bed. He seemed to hit rock bottom, and then he started to get a bit better, and ultimately became President of the Church.

Jana Reiss at Religion News Service has a great summary of his struggles, as well as a link to a Journal of Mormon History article that has more details.

Mormon Message about Stephanie Nielson

During the Saturday afternoon General Conference session, Elder Holland spoke about depression, and shared a touching story about a woman who had been in a plane accident. I’ve never heard this story before, but the Church has had a Mormon Message up for 3 years with the story of Stephanie Nielson. Rather than give you the details here, just go and watch the video.

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Post-conference notes

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Well, another 6 months, another conference, another 10 hours (11 if you count The World Report). I think my favourite session was Saturday morning. President Uchtdorf’s talk inviting people to return was excellent. I personally know some people who that applies to. I hope that some how they get the message.

I followed the #ldsconf hastag on Twitter, and found that it added a lot to my viewing. If I missed something, almost certainly someone tweeted it.

As usual, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was spectacular!

I definitely felt the Spirit through many of the messages. I look forward to reading the messages again in the Ensign, and using various passages as I visit the wards in my stake.


 

Read the recaps and other notes from the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon General Session

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After the last session, we watched some YouTube videos about Stephanie Nielson. What a story… what an example of perseverance!

Afterwards my kids played the game of Life and I had a bit of a nap.

We’re settled in now to watch the last session…


President Henry B Eyring conducted

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang They, the Builders of the Nation

Brother David L Beck offered the invocation

The choir sang When He Comes Again

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • Spoke about bondage in scriptures
  • Bondage in our time include addictions, using our time ineffectively, ideology that is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Chris, and forces that violate strongly held religious views

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • We can live every hour blessed by the help of priesthood power
  • A man may open the curtains, but doesn’t own the light and warmth
  • Why is the priesthood only administered by men? We do not know all things

Brother David M McConkie

  • God speaks
  • Live so we can have the Holy Ghost as our guide and companion
  • We must become men and women of sound understanding by studying the scriptures
  • Learn to listen
  • Stand as an independent witness of what you teach, not just an echo of what is in the manual

The choir and congregation sang Called to Serve

Elder Kevin S Hamilton

  • The Sacrament helps us to pledge to follow Christ
  • Sacrament Meeting helps us renew our covenants
  • Sunday School allows us to teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom
  • Priesthood meeting helps men and boys learn their duties
  • RS/YW help women and girls learn their responsibilities
  • In all of these meetings, we learn, serve and feel the Spirit
  • We should strive to attend all of our Sunday meetings

Elder Adrián Ochoa

  • We need to be spiritually prepared
  • We need to be aware of the signs of the times
  • Be careful with what you see and do online
  • There is safety in a strong testimony

Elder Terence M Vinson

  • God should be the centre of our universe
  • How do our behaviour and actions show the integrity of our intent?
  • Rather than solves problems Himself, God wants us to work to solve the problems and rely on him
  • Come and see!
  • It is personal, inviting, and embracing

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • You are never to young to learn and never to old to change
  • The physical body can break and heal, but some physical conditions require special care
  • We may need special care for spiritual problems as well
  • True change can only come through the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • Sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin to God

President Thomas S Monson

  • May heaven’s blessing be with you
  • May your homes be filled with love and courtesy
  • May the Spirit we felt here be and abide with us as we go about our things that occupy us each day
  • May we show increased kindness to one another

The choir sang Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide

Elder Claudio Costa offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Morning General Session

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I think that General Conference Sunday is one of the my favourite Sundays of the year. I love sleeping in a bit, having a relaxing breakfast, and then going for a walk with the family. The whole morning is just so peaceful!

Yesterday was a good day. President Uchtdorf gave two great talks, Elder Holland gave a great talk, and President Monson gave a talk on Home Teaching last night that I’m sure will be quoted for years.

We’re watching Music and the Spoken Word right now, and the Sunday Morning General Session is almost ready to begin.


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir started the session by singing Sweet Is the Work

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang Rejoice, the Lord Is King!

Sister Cheryl A Esplin offered the invocation

The choir sang Master, the Tempest Is Raging ** Fantastic! **

President Henry B Eyring

  • The first of his grandchildren will be getting married
  • There is one overarching commandment that will lead to the heart of a happy family life… love the Lord
  • Service in the Church brings the Spirit
  • Pray each morning for the Spirit
  • Heavenly Father has perfect foresight
  • There is joy gauranteed to the faithful

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • Reviewed some of the 10 commandments
  • Birth rates are low around the world
  • This threatens the future of cultures and nations
  • Marriage rates are dropping
  • The median age for marriage is 26 for women and almost 29 for men
  • The eternal standard is that sexual relations occur only between a man and a woman who are married

Sister Bonnie L Oscarson

  • You need to have a firm foundation
  • Now is the time to gain the conviction that the Church is true
  • True conversion is more than a knowledge of principles
  • Being truly converted means acting on what we believe
  • Conversion comes as we live pure and virtuous lives

The choir and congregation sang Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

Elder Richard J Maynes

  • The challenges we face if successfully endured will be for our good
  • Our ability to endure is in proportion to our testimony
  • We need to work on our spiritual stamina every day

Elder Richard G Scott

  • We receive personal strength from the atonement
  • Spoke about the people of Ammon who wanted to break their covenants in order to defend the people. Helaman wouldn’t let them. One of the reasons was that the people had previously experienced the problems with war, and they needed to stay away so they weren’t tempted again
  • We need to build fortifications around the weak places
  • Satan will try to use memories of past sin to get us to sin again

The choir sang O Divine Redeemer ** love this! **

President Thomas S Monson

  • Spoke of his wife and how much he misses her
  • No one has ever lived free from sorrow
  • When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, we are tempted to say “why me?”
  • We need to persevere and endure

The choir sang We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

Elder Francisco J Viñas offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: