Category Archives: General Religion and Spirituality

Making the transition from seminary to institute

One of my responsibilities in our stake is to work with the young single adults, our YSA branch presidency, and the Institute Teacher. One of our biggest challenges is in getting the YSA to attend institute.

When you are a youth in the Church, it is generally expected that you will attend seminary. Not everyone goes, but there is definitely that expectation. If you are from an active family and plan on serving a mission (male or female), you are almost definitely going to attend seminary. However, in our area, Institute is just not a big thing. We want it to be, but when there isn’t that “critical mass” of YSA in one area, there just isn’t that momentum.

Anyway, that is just background as to why I’m sharing this article. The Deseret News recently had a nice article about making the transition from seminary to institute.

As an 18-year-old freshman at Utah State University, Bradon Capener registered for classes at the Logan Institute of Religion for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he admits he didn’t see the value and rarely attended.

It wasn’t until Capener returned from serving a Mormon mission a few years later and “decided to get involved” that he realized what he had been missing.

It’s a good read…

184th Semiannual General Conference – Saturday Morning General Session


The family is gathered together and we are set to get started. Since my oldest is now 12, he is going to watch all of the sessions with us. The younger two will watch half an hour of each session, all of Sunday morning, and then President Monson’s conclusion on Sunday afternoon.

Let’s get going…

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang The Morning Breaks

President Henry B Eyring conducted

The choir sang High on the Mountain Top

Sister Bonnie L Oscarson offered the invocation

President Thomas S Monson

  • 90-year anniversary of radio broadcast
  • 65-year anniversary of tv broadcast
  • 1 new temple dedicated (Florida Fort Lauderdale) by President Uchtdorf
  • 1 temple rededicated (Utah Ogden) by President Monson
  • New Phoenix temple will be dedicated next month
  • In 2015 there will be 5 temples dedicated or rededicated, with more possible depending on how things go
  • When all previously announced are done there will be  170 operating temples
  • No new temples to announce
  • The Church continues to grow
  • Over 88,000 missionaries serving

The choir sang Beautiful Zion, Built Above

President Boyd K Packer (he looked good, but seemed to have a hard time speaking)

  • Told story about giving Oxford a copy of the scriptures, and pointing out the 18 pages about Christ in the Topical Guide
  • Our scriptures are full of references to the Savior
  • The mercy and grace of Chris is available to all
  • No matter how large the Church becomes, the true success of the Gospel will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members

Elder Lynn G Robbins

  • Which way do you face?
  • We should not flip/reverse the first two great commandments
  • We should not try to please others instead of pleasing God
  • If we are facing the wrong way, we can turn around
  • Lowering our standards to meet the world is apostacy

Sister Cheryl A Esplin

  • What do you wish you had known when you were younger?
  • I wish I had understood the significance of the Sacrament
  • Spoke all about the Sacrament

The choir and congregation sang Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah

Elder Chi Hong Wong (spoke in Cantonese)

  • Reach out and rescue
  • He compared the story of the man with palsy being lowered through the roof to our efforts to rescuing
  • There are sometimes obstacles, but we can’t give up
  • With so many missionaries in our units, we need to get them involved
  • Our combined faith can help others

Elder D Todd Christofferson

  • We see God’s love through His commandments
  • The Gospel opens the path to what we may become
  • Christ died not to save indiscriminately, but to offer repentance
  • Freedom comes not from resisting it, but from applying it

The choir sang If I Listen With My Heart

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

  • A century ago, we thought we were alone in the universe, that the Milky Way was the only galaxy
  • With greater light, we have been introduced to glorious vistas we had never before imagined
  • If people haven’t experienced things, received the more complete light of truth, then they don’t believe new truth
  • As humans we believe we are right, even when we are wrong
  • We can know truth for ourselves
  • Read the scriptures, ponder, and be grateful
  • Ask Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ to manifest the truth of the Church unto you
  • Put the Gospel and Church teachings to the test in your life
  • Spiritual truth will fill your heart

The choir sang From All That Dwell below the Skies

The benediction was offered by Bradley D Foster

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

April 2014 General Conference word clouds

A few years ago word clouds, or “wordles” were all the rage. This is a way to show the content of an article. The most commonly used words are bigger, and the least used words are smaller. At a quick glance you can get an idea of the main topic of an article.

On Wednesday LDS Media Talk published a couple of wordles for conference. I encourage you to check it out.

I commented in my summaries that one of my favourite talks was “The Choice Generation” by Brother Randall L Ridd. He spoke about the Internet and the choices that young people have to make. Here is the wordle from his talk:


184th Annual General Conference – Post-conference notes


Well, it’s over. It was quite good. I think my overall favourite session this time was the Priesthood Session. Each session had a talk I enjoyed, but that had more that I enjoyed in just the one session.

Overall, here are the talks I particularly enjoyed:

  • Jeffrey R Holland from Saturday Morning General Session
  • Russell M Nelson from Saturday Afternoon General Session
  • Dallin H Oaks from Priesthood Session
  • Randall L Ridd from Priesthood Session (probably my favourite talk of the whole conference)
  • Dieter F Uchtdorf from Priesthood Session
  • Henry B Eyring from Priesthood Session
  • Dieter F Uchtdorf from Sunday Morning General Session
  • Thomas S Monson from Sunday Morning General Session

I hope that all who participated in the conference will ponder the feelings they’ve had, and go forth and be better Church members, friends, and family members.

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

184th Annual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon General Session


I can’t believe that conference is almost over. We’re just about to start the last session. In between these two Sunday sessions we watched Angels in the Outfield. It probably isn’t the typical movie that we would watch on a Sunday, but my wife and I both have fond memories of it from when we were dating, and hey, it has an “angel” in it, so it can’t be that bad. All of my kids said it was awesome 🙂

As the session is about to start, I see that President Packer is there for the first time. I presume we will hear him speak. We also need to \hear from Elder Christofferson and Elder Perry.

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Sweet Is the Work

The invocation was offered by Bishop Dean M Davies

The choir sang I Stand All Amazed

President Boyd K Packer **NOTE: President Packer had a very hard time speaking. A couple of times he paused and seemed to be trying to keep in a cough (or maybe something worse)

  • God lives
  • He knows the Holy Ghost is real
  • Arms empty will be filled and hearts now hurting will be healed

Elder William R Walker

  • Do you know your Church history, how your family came into the Church?
  • The two-pound note has “Standing on the shoulders of giants” on it
  • Do not forget the experiences you have

Elder L Tom Perry

  • Shared a story of how he used to speak with his grandfather after taking care of the lawns
  • He compared the way horses are trained to the way we learn obedience
  • We need to have absolute faith in the driver of the team, Jesus Christ
  • Obedience is not just passive
  • Obedience is an emblem of our faith

The choir and congregation sang Hark, All Ye Nations!

Elder Lawrence E Corbridge

  • Recounted the First Vision
  • Opposition, criticism & antagonism are companions to the truth

Elder Michael John U Teh

  • Spoke about the Philippines Typhoon
  • The material we work to acquire can quickly not matter
  • Do not spend money for that which is of no worth, no your labor for that which cannot satisfy – 2 Ne. 9:51
  • Lay up treasures in heaven

Elder Marcos A Aidukaitis

  • We can find truth in a world of garbage
  • We invite all to study the works and fruits of this Church
  • We can all receive revelation if we ask in faith

Elder D Todd Christofferson

  • Recounted the resurrection of Jesus
  • The Savior makes all things right
  • He restores life
  • He will come again and reign personally on the earth
  • In due course, all will know, indeed every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ

President Thomas S Monson

  • May we resolve to do better
  • May we be kind and loving who do not share our beliefs
  • May we ever follow His example
  • May heaven’s blessing be with each of us

The choir sang Come, Let Us Anew

The benediction was offered by Elder Benjamín De Hoyos

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

184th Annual General Conference – Sunday Morning General Session


I think that conference Sunday are my two favourite Sundays in the year. I haven’t lived in an area where I go to Church in the afternoon, so for us to have the morning available is a real treat. We got up this morning, had toaster waffles, watched The Pirate Fairy (the latest Tinkerbell movie… it was excellent!) and then went for a walk. We’re all getting settled now to watch the session.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Come, We That Love the Lord

President Henry B Eyring conducted

The choir sang On This Day of Joy and Gladness

The invocation was offered by Elder L Whitney Clayton

The choir sang Let Us All Press On

President Dieter F Uchtdorf  ** one of my favourites

  • We all will at some point feel alone and adrift. No one is immune
  • There is something that will take away the bitterness… gratitude
  • We need to lift the goblet of gratitude and drink of the peace that comes
  • Most scriptural references do not refer to gratitude FOR things, but an overall attitude of gratitude
  • We can choose to be grateful not matter what
  • Be grateful IN our circumstances
  • There are no endings, only everlasting beginnings

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • Told of how he met and courted his wife and how that taught him to follow-up
  • He is following up on a couple of his past talks
  • We need to call the Church by its proper name
  • We can all be more consistently involved in missionary work
  • Invite someone once a quarter to be taught by the full time missionaries
  • Everyone should have a copy of and study from Preach My Gospel

Sister Jean A Stevens

  • We are not alone
  • We receive promptings to help other people
  • Our prayers are answered in the way that will help us the most

The choir and congregation sang Teach Me to Walk in the Light

Bishop Gary E Stevenson

  • Told the story of Noelle Pikus Pace
  • She had urgency and knew the 4 minutes of her runs would affect her life. Every second counted.
  • In our lives, certain things are essential, checkpoints that help us along the way
  • Self discipline is needed
  • Mentioned a couple of other LDS olympians

Elder David A Bednar

  • Told a story about his friend wanting a truck, and getting stuck when in snow
  • The heavy load helped him get traction
  • Each of us carry a load. Is it producing the spiritual traction that will allow us to press forward?
  • It is a mistake to think that happiness is the absence of a load

The choir sang A Child’s Prayer ** Awesome! The best song so far in the conference.

President Thomas S Monson ** one of my favourites

  • We cannot love God if we do not love our fellowman (and vice versa)
  • Christ’s life was a legacy of love
  • The opportunities to show our love come unexpectedly
  • Love should be the very heart of family life
  • President Hinckley asked, “Why is the ones we love the most become the targets of our harsh words?”
  • Forgiveness should go hand in hand with love
  • Blame keeps woulds open; forgiveness heals

The choir sang Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah

The benediction was offered by Sister Neill F Marriott

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

184th Annual General Conference – Priesthood Session


I’m sitting in our den with my father getting ready to watch the conference. We’ve got pizza, wings, chips, and pitas ready to go. I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to type with chicken wing sauce all over my fingers! 🙂

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

A Priesthood choir made up of students from Brigham Young University – Idaho sang Saints, Behold How Great Jehovah

The invocation was offered by LeGrand R Curtis Jr

The choir sang Secret Prayer (it was super long!!)

Elder Dallin H Oaks ** one of my favourites

  • There is no step up or step down in the Church. Just forward and back
  • Priesthood power is for all
  • Priesthood keys direct the work
  • Priesthood ordinances and authority pertain to all
  • Keys direct, control and govern the use of the priesthood on the earth
  • Note: He gave a very good description of the differences between power and keys and how it affects men and women
  • Forget about your rights and focus on your responsibilities!

Elder Donald L Hallstrom

  • Who we are is not who we may become
  • His atonement gives everyone of us a chance to change
  • We need to see our potential
  • How can we become what the Lord wants us to become?
    1. We need to be priesthood men
    2. We need to serve
    3. We need to be worthy

Brother Randall L Ridd ** one of my favourites

  • More choice means more opportunity, which means more choices for good, but also for evil
  • We need to discern between the mind-boggling choices available
  • Spoke a lot about the choice on the Internet. Think about where each click where lead you
  • Will technology empower you or enslave you
  • 4 principles to educate your desire and guide your use of technology
    1. Knowing who you are makes decisions easier
    2. Plug into the source of power
    3. Owning a smart phone does not make you smart, but using it wisely can
    4. The Lord provides technology to accomplish His purposes

The choir and congregation sang Rejoice, the Lord is King!

President Dieter F Uchtdorf ** one of my favourites

  • Talked about Rip Van Winkle
  • Don’t sleep through the restoration
  • Things that will stop us from building God’s kingdom
    1. Selfishness – those who are selfish seek their own pleasure above anything else. What is in it for me?
    2. Addiction – they often begin subtly. Thin threads that weave themselves into thick bonds of habits. Negative habits become consuming addictions
    3. Competing priorities – some of us are so busy that we feel pulled a dozen different ways

President Henry B Eyring ** one of my favourites

  • We all have heroes, especially when we are young
  • When we choose heroes, we begin to copy what we admire most about them
  • His father only took him to a MLB game once, but he was taken to Church each week
  • Each of us are models, whether we want to be or not
  • You can be great, average, or bad. It might not matter to you, but it does to the Lord
  • Pray, serve, and be honest

President Thomas S Monson

  • We live in a world where moral values have been tossed aside and sin is on display
  • Decisions are constantly before us which can affect our destiny
  • We need courage, to say no when we should and to say yes when it is appropriate, and the courage to do the right thing because it is right
  • If you ever find yourself where you shouldn’t ought to be, get out!
  • Are you the same person wherever you are?

The choir sang Abide with Me!

The benediction was offered by Brother Russell T Osguthorpe

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

184th Annual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session


So, I’m at home now with my family. The kids went out to the backyard to shot a few baskets (I think it’s too cold for basketball, but I’m glad they got some fresh air) in between sessions.

I’m interested to see/hear the statistical report this afternoon

President Henry B Eyring conduct

A combined choir from the Orem Utah Institute sang Glory to God on High

The invocation was offered by Elder Ian S Ardern

The choir sang I Lived in Heaven

President Dieter F Ucthdorf did the sustainings

  • Tad R Callister was released as a general authority and from the Presidency of the Seventy, and then was called to be the General Sunday School President
  • Lynn G Robbins was called to the Presidency of the Seventy
  • Our former stake president who became an Area Seventy last year is moving out of the area. He wasn’t released, so I guess he’ll be an area authority where he is moving to. I didn’t recognize any of the new names sustained, so I guess I don’t know (of) the Area Seventy who will replace him

Kevin R Jergensen, Managing Director, Church Auditing Department Annual Report

  • Every has been record/administrated according to policies/procedures

Brook P Hales, Secretary to the First Presidency, shared the statistical report for the year 2013.

    • Stakes 3,050 (In 2012 it was 3,005)
    • Missions 405 (In 2012 it was 347)
    • Districts 571 (In 2012 it was 591)
    • Wards and branches 29,253 (In 2012 it was 29,014)
    • Total membership 15.082,028 (In 2012 it was 14,782,473)
    • New children of record 115,486 (In 2012 it was 122,273)
    • Converts baptized 282,945 (In 2012 it was 272,330)
    • Full-time missionaries 83,035 (In 2012 it was 58,990)
    • Church-service missionaries 24032 (In 2012 it was 22,961)
    • Temples dedicated 1 (In 2012 it was 4)
    • Temples rededicated 0 (In 2012 it was 2)
    • Temples in operation 141 (In 2012 it was 140)

Elder Russell M Nelson ** one of my favourites

  • Our faith will be tested and challenged
  • Celebrity can fade
  • Let your faith show
  • Truth is truth; it is not divisible
  • Even if everyone is doing it, wrong is never right
  • Let your faith show

Elder Richard G Scott

  • We can help others in righteousness
  • Our influence can help bring to pass God’s purposes
  • Sometimes our mundane responsibilities consume us, and we miss the God’s greater purpose

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

Elder Robert D Hales – NOTE: Elder Hales is very thin, but ultimately seems to have much more strength in his voice than the last couple of years

  • No lesson is as clear from the Savior as is obedience
  • Be careful who you follow
  • The natural man only wants their own “wisdom”

Elder Claudio D Zivik

  • It would be great to keep the commandments without having to be asked to
  • We need to follow the right path

Elder W Craig Zwick ** one of my favourites

  • Told a story about his wife jumping out of a moving truck out of fear that the engine was on fire
  • They gave each other the silent treatment, and then talked
  • It could have been a disaster for their marriage
  • Destructive words can take a situation of dangerous to fatal
  • A soft answer is a reasoned response
  • Words can be firm in information but soft in spirit
  • We need to cultivate respect

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • When we die, we will live again
  • The doctrine of uniting families came forth line upon line
  • Baptism for your dead (D&C 127:5); our responsibility is to our own family
  • The Family History Centre is in your home
  • The youth are being called upon to help with this work

The choir sang High on the Mountain Top

The benediction was offered by Sister Linda K Burton

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

184th Annual General Conference – Saturday Morning General Session


It’s a cold, rainy day where I live, so it’s a great day to be inside. Here we go… the first session out of five (six if you could the women’s meeting last weekend). I’m sitting at work with two laptops in front of me. One is the full-screen video of the session, and the other is where I’m typing this. I’ll probably also follow some of the #ldsconf hashtag on Twitter.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang How Firm a Foundation

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang Press Forward, Saints

The invocation was offered by Elder Carl B Cook

The choir sang Lead, Kindly Light

President Thomas S Monson

  • We’re united as a big family
  • The work of the Church moves forward unhindered
  • He recently dedicated the Gilbert AZ temple, the 142nd temple
  • There are no new temple announcements, but when all of the previously announced temples are completed, there will be 170 in operation

Elder Jeffrey R Holland ** one of my favourites

  • Someday you will be called on to defend your faith
  • There is a long history of rejection
  • You may ask if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand… Yes it is!
  • The bumper sticker “What would Jesus do?” will not always bring a popular response
  • Defend your belief with courtesy and compassion

Elder Ronald A Rasband

  • Currently 317 Seventies
  • Lots of us are also helping in this work
  • Take up the joyful burden of discipleship
  • Spoke of a tornado in Oklahoma, and how our worldly treasures can be taken in an instant

Elder Carlos H Amado

  • Christ was born in unusual circumstances
  • Elder Amado went on to describe various events in Christ’s life

The choir and congregation sang Choose the Right

Sister Linda S Reeves

  • Has 13 grandchildren in the congregation
  • We are concerned about pornography
  • Satan is attaching with unprecedented fury
  • We are here to manage the passions of the human body
  • Pornography overtakes lives, damages relationships, and consumes time, thought, and energy

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • Told a story about the power of a tornado, and compared it to the power of sin
  • Challenges will come, but as you trust in God, it will strengthen your faith
  • Our foundation must be on the Savior

The choir sang A New Commandment I Give Unto You

President Henry B Eyring

  • When you choose to keep a covenant you choose to leave an inheritance of hope
  • We have a universal inheritance because of Jesus Christ and His atonement
  • There is a heritage of hope left for those who come after us

The choir sang Come, O Thou King of Kings

The benediction was offered by Elder W Christopher Waddell

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

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.