Category Archives: General Religion and Spirituality

183rd Annual General Conference – Priesthood Session

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My father and I went to the Church for about 6:45 pm so we could setup for the traditional sub-sational. We had about 22 people there and had lots of subs, chips, and pop. It was nice.

We watched the broadcast at the church and then my father and I still went out for another snack. We’ve done it for many years, and we want to keep the tradition alive. In another year and a half my oldest son will be able to join us.


President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

A priesthood choir made up of YSA from the Salt Lake City area sang Arise, O God, and Shine

Elder Ronald A Rasband offered the invocation

The choir sang Nearer, My God, to Thee

Elder Robert D Hales (he sounded good, but did not look good)

  • His father taught him about wearing the armor of God
  • If your father wanted to get into trouble, he had to go looking for it; today temptation finds you
  • The Church will remain constants
  • The gap between the world and the Church is getting wide
  • A true friend doesn’t ask us to choose between the gospel and their friendship
  • We are not authorized to negotiate the conditions of God eternal plan
  • Glorify God’s name by standing strong

Elder Tad R Callister

  • The priesthood of the boy is just as powerful as the priesthood of the man when exercised righteously
  • When on missions, people haev strong spiritual growth during those mission years
  • We should exercise these principles to help growth happen earlier
  • Trust our youth
  • Have high expectations of them
  • Provide training
  • Teach the YM how to lead
  • Leaders need to step back

Brother David L Beck

  • What does it mean to minister?
  • We need to help others feel loved
  • There are people around us who need to feel Heavenly Father’s love
  • We are always priesthood men, not just on Sunday’s

The choir and congregation sang Hope of Israel

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

  • We identify ourselves by titles
  • 4 titles that apply to all priesthood holders
    1. Son of Heavenly Father
      • No matter what we do, we are God’s literal spirit children
    2. Disciple of Christ
      • We are all different, but we have our discipleship in common
    3. Healer of Souls
      • We are to practice the Healer’s art
      • We need to build up, repair, uplift
      • We shoudl reach out to those in need
    4. Heirs to all that He has
      • We are joint-heirs with Christ
      • Does it make sense that so many of us spend time on wealth, prestige, or what is cool?
  • Live what you learn

President Henry B Eyring

  • The gospel is to go into all the world
  • Every member is to be a missionary
  • The members need to find people to teach

President Thomas S Monson

  • Missionary work is an identifying feature of the Church
  • Joseph Smith said that the greatest and most important duty is to preach this gospel
    1. Search the scriptures with diligence
    2. Plan your life with purpose
    3. Teach the truth with testimony
    4. Serve the Lord with love

The choir sang Ye Elders of Israel

Brother Larry M Gibson offered the benediction


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

183rd Annual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session

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I got home just as the choir was singing to open this session of conference. It was a hectic day at work, but it’s nice to be home now.


President Henry B Eyring conducted

A choir made up of students from Brigham Young University sang Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Brother Russell T Osguthorpe offered the invocation

The choir sang Did You Think to Pray?

President Dieter F Uchtdorf presented officers for sustaining. There were lots of changes with Area Authorities. The only part that stood out to be with those names was that W T David Murray was released. He was the Area Authority in Southern Ontario. Then our own Stake President (David P Homer) was called to be an Area Authority. We have Stake Conference coming up in a few weeks, so I guess we’re getting a new Stake President!
There was also a new YW Presidency called. Bonnie Lee Green Oscarson, Carol Louise Foley McConkie, and Evelyn Neill Foote Marriott were called

Brother Robert W Cantwell, Managing Director of the Church Audit Report read the audit report for 2012

  • Based upon audits performed, the Church Auditing Department is of the opinion that, in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church have been recorded and administered in accordance with appropriate accounting practices, approved budgets, and Church policies and procedures.

Brother Brook P Hales, Secretary to the First Presidency presented the Statistical Report for 2012

  • 3,005 stakes
  • 347 missions
  • 591 districts
  • 29,014 wards and branches
  • 14,782,473 members
  • 122,273 children of record were baptized
  • 272,330 convert baptisms
  • 58,990 full-time missionaries
  • 22,961 church service missionaries
  • 4 temples dedicated
  • 2 rededicated
  • 140 temples in operation

Elder Richard G Scott

  • The world seems to want us to live a hectic life
  • We need a place of peace, ideally in our own home
  • The Savior is the true source of peace
  • Technology can be a protection if we use it right
  • Having the scriptures in your pocket (on a phone or tablet) won’t protect you, but studying them will
  • A Christ-centerd home will be where covenants are kept and love abounds
  • A good friendship is like asphalt that smooths over the holes and bumps
  • Recognize the good in others

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • He has been reflecting on the doctrine of peace
  • There is a difference between world peace and gospel peace
  • God is not the author of confusion
  • For those who reject God there is no peace
  • The Church is a refuge

The choir and congregation sang Rejoice, The Lord Is King!

Elder Stanley G Ellis

  • We are not spiritual orphans
  • With parents we do not need to be confused
  • One of the problems today is that every man walks in his own way
  • How we raise our children is more important than where we raise our children

Elder John B Dickson

  • Spoke quite a bit about the Church in Africa

Elder David A Bednar

  • Why is the law of chastity so important?
  • Every impulse of the natural man can be overcome through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases in unrighteous indulgence
  • Let virtue garnish they thoughts unceasingly

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • There is great enthusiasm for sharing the gospel
  • The youth need to share it with their friends
  • Apply to the school of your choice before you serve a mission
  • We all need to “catch the wave”
  • Our Living God is a Loving God

The choir sang More Holiness Give Me

Elder J Devn Cornish offered the benediction


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

183rd Annual General Conference – Saturday Morning General Session

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As mentioned in my Pre-conference notes, I had to watch this session at work. I got called out of my office at about 11:45, and didn’t get back to my desk until almost 12:30. I was surprised to note how anxious I was to get to my computer and watch conference. I felt like I was missing something. Then throughout the session, I kept getting calls. Usually I can just sit there and watch, but not today. There must have been something that the Adversary didn’t want me to hear!

I thought it was interesting that the Church is promoting the #ldsconf hashtag


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Redeemer of Israel

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang In Hymns of Praise

Elder Randall K Bennett offered the invocation

President Thomas S Monson

  • Traveled to Germany, Alberta, Idaho in the last 6 months (the last two to dedicate temples)
  • Didn’t attend cultural celebration in Calgary as it was Sister Monson’s birthday
  • President Uchtdorf dedicated to Honduras to dedicated a temple
  • Announced new temples in Cedar City Utah and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • In October changes to missionary age announced
  • As of April 4, 65634 full-time missionaries
  • More than 20,000 more have received their call
  • 6,000 are in process
  • 58 new missions
  • We were invited to donate to the general missionary fund of the church

The choir sang Hark, All Ye Nations!

President Boyd K Packer (he looked good, but spoke from his chair and had oxygen tubes in his nose)

  • In 1992 he turned 68
  • He shared a short poem he wrote at that time (he updated it at 78 and again at 88)
  • He is getting older. Although he loses physical ability, there are “great spiritual gains” that come with age
  • We need to protect our homes
  • The priesthood has been given to protect the home
  • There are few things more powerful than the prayers of a righteous mother

Bishop Dean M Davies

  • Talked about earthquakes in California
  • We must build on sure foundations in order to be safe
  • Just as buildings use the right material, we need to be built properly spiritually
  • We wouldn’t knowingly build our homes on sand

Sister Elaine S Dalton

  • spoke about the first line in the YW theme… we are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love him
  • we need to understand who we are and whose we are
  • we must never lose sight of the strength of the women
  • we need virtue to be a vital value in society

The choir and congregation sang Let Us All Press On

Elder Craig A Cardon

  • The Savior forgives sin on earth, not just in the eternities
  • In this forgiveness the enabling power of the Atonement helps us
  • False faith does not justify sin
  • “I will be merciful unto your weakness”
  • He knows our weakness
  • “Notwithstanding your sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you”
  • The Savior wants to forgive

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • “And worlds without number have I created”
  • The Milky Way is just one of 200+ billion galaxies
  • It is impossible to fathom
  • The power by which these were created is the priesthood
  • The source of this power is God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ
  • Men administer the priesthood but they are NOT the priesthood
  • Just as a woman cannot have a child without a man, a man can’t properly use his priesthood without a woman
  • Shared an analogy of growing a tomato plant, it’s potential, and what happens when it is neglected
  • Those who hold the priesthood but don’t honour it will wilt spiritually
  • Spoke of the recent Worldwide Leadership Training videos about the role of priesthood and strengthening the family

The choir sang Faith

President Henry B Eyring

  • This is His church and we take His name upon us as we enter the Church
  • “I will encircle thee in the arms of my love”
  • Recounted much of the life of Christ
  • Great blessings come from faithful service
  • Christ has shown us how to hear our Heavenly Father
  • He bore powerful witness that he knows Christ lives as surely as if he were there

The choir sang My Redeemer Lives

Sister Jean A Stevens offered the benediction


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

183rd Annual General Conference – Pre-conference notes

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Here we are at another April, and General Conference is here. I’m not sure how this happened again, but I’m working today, so I’ll have to watch the first session while at work. I think I’ve worked 5 out of the last 6 conferences (or something like that). Otherwise, the plan is the same as last time. We’ll watch the other general sessions at home, and I’ll go with my father to the Priesthood session broadcast at Church. Since I’m now the YM President, I’m also in charge of our “sub-sational” that we have beforehand. Even though we are eating, I’m sure my father and I will find some excuse to still go out together afterward.

I have no predictions about anything. The stats will be interesting. This is the first General Conference since the big “Mormon Moment” (Mitt Romney’s bid for the White House, the Book of Mormon musical, etc). That moment seems to be passing, so it will be interesting to see if it led to increased baptisms. It will also be interesting to hear how many missionaries are currently serving.

Enjoy the conference!


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

Youth Chosen Topic – Word of Wisdom

Yesterday was a 5th Sunday. In most wards this means that all of the MP/RS are together. Lately our youth have been included, not because the topics are particularly relevant, but just because. This is my first 5th Sunday since becoming the YM President, so my wife (she’s the YW President) and I decided to have the youth together on their own. Our presidencies had surveyed the youth over the previous few weeks about challenges that youth face. The overwhelming choice was Word of Wisdom, so we decided to spend our time discussing that. It was a tough choice to go with since it was Easter Sunday, but since they chose it, we went with it.

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One of our YW conducted, a YM played the piano, and we sang Called To Serve. I then did a bit of an intro and another leader then led a discussion about how the Word of Wisdom affects them and coming up with strategies to help them.

Here are my notes for the intro:

  • The Word of Wisdom was NOT given by way of commandment
  • It is a principle with a promise
  • Similar to Prohibition in the 1920’s, there was a temperence movement in the US around Joseph Smith’s time and it is likely that some early church members (or at least their families) were participants
  • There is also a suggestion that Emma Smith didn’t think that the men who attended the School of the Prophets should be chewing tobacco
  • Possibly affected by these circumstances, Joseph Smith prayed about this and received a revelation
  • It was affirmed by many leaders over the years, but wasn’t really a commandment
  • After arriving in the Salt Lake valley, the members committed to live it, but still didn’t follow through
  • During the following years they were persecuted because of polygamy, and had other focuses
  • In the 1890s apparently James E Talmage (the author of Jesus the Christ) had some sort of anxiety (“nerves”) problem and his doctor suggested he smoke to calm his nerves. The First Presidency said he could.
  • By around the turn of the century as polygamy was less of an issue the Word of Wisdom became more prominent, particularly during Joseph F Smith‘s time as President of the Church
  • In 1906 the church officially started using water instead of wine in the Sacrament
  • In 1915 church leaders were instructed not to ordain men to the priesthood or give temple recommends to people who didn’t follow the Word of Wisdom
  • In 1933 the Church Handbook of Instructions listed it as a requirement

I then spoke for just a few more minutes about some a few reasons why we follow the Word of Wisdom. I generally tried to “defend” against some of the arguments that might be out there against the Word of Wisdom.

  • Some people might say that they used to drink in the bible.
    There are all sorts of things that were done before that we don’t do now
  • Some people might say that having to follow the Word of Wisdom takes away their freedom
    I believe it gives us freedom. We are free from addiction, guilt and the consequences that come from not following this principle. My wife shared a story about a friend of hers who as a teenager got drunk at a party and ended up having a baby. The girl gave the baby up for adoption and stayed active in the church. In the later years she wanted to serve a mission but couldn’t. She had no idea. There are obviously more details of this story, but the point was that there are consequences to our actions and we don’t always know what those consequences are or how they will manifest themselves
  • It wasn’t given as a commandment
    This may be true, but it has essentially become a commandment. Many of our modern-day prophets have told us to follow it. We need to be faithful and try following it so we can realize the promises

The last point I tried to make was about how it gives us an identity. God’s covenant people have always had certain characteristics or observances that identified them as such. What did circumcision have to do with whether or not the people of Israel followed the Lord? Not much (that I can think of), but that gave them an identity and set them apart from others. The same could be said about certain clothing, Sabbath Day observance, and so on. Polygamy used to be our identity, and as it wound down, observance of the Word of Wisdom geared up. Now we are known around the world for it.

I took about 10 minutes and then the other leader took about 20 minutes to discuss other Word of Wisdom related things with them. The meeting definitely could have been better (it’s hard getting teenagers to be engaged and contribute), but overall it wasn’t bad. Some good points were made, and you could tell that some of them were definitely listening.

We Are the Architects of Our Own Happiness – Bishop Gérald Caussé

I’m months behind in posting this…

Bishop Gérald Caussé, 1st Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric spoke at a CES Devotional back in November. He spoke well (his accent is awesome) about happiness.

Here are my notes:

  • Told story of how he visited Salt Lake City as a young man
  • Life holds lots of surprises
  • Youth is the perfect time to make personal plans
  • Have dreams for the future
  • Life is full of uncertainty; surprises will pop up in your path
  • Uncertainty can led to fear
  • There is a different path than fear and self-indulgence
  • Things good and challenging will happen to you
  • You have control of your own happiness
  •  Principles of Happiness
    1. Recognize your personal worth
      • Each of us has unique worth
      • We are nothing, but we are important to God
      • We are not forgotten
    2. Become who you are
      • If you were to receive a letter form yourself in the past, what would it say?
      • Are we becoming who we wanted to become
      • Brigham Young said the greatest lesson we can learn is to know ourselves
      • We have to know ourselves in order to know god
    3. Trust in God’s promises
      • President Monson has said that the future is as bright as your faith
      • Re-read your patriarchal blessing
      • Reflect on the personal promises in it to you
      • After you have done all in your power, if you don’t get the results you expected, accept God’s will
      • All things are for our good
      • The promises of the Lord help us to get to our final destination
  • If you live in harmony with His gospel, your future will be bright
  • Have goals and work hard at them, and then let Him lead you
  • Trust yourself

Stay on the Lord’s side of the fence

Stay This Side of the Fence closeup

Every summer my family goes up to a small cottage in a place called Buckhorn. It isn’t fancy, but it’s nice to get away. Buckhorn is about half an hour north of Peterborough, and Peterborough has a nice little zoo with a small train that takes you around the property.

It’s funny where we get our inspiration from, but every time I think of Peterborough I think of that train and a small sign on one of the fences.

“Stay this side of the fence”

I think of this often because of the simplicity of it, but how important it really is.

The train moves very slowly, so it seems unlikely that you wouldn’t be able to get out of the way in time. However the train is very heavy, and if you do get stuck, you could be in big trouble. This is kind of like life. If we face temptation, it isn’t because it comes charging at us unexpectedly. We know that it is coming. We can feel or hear the signs. But we probably think we have enough time to get out of the way. We can watch inappropriate movies and feel we’d turn them off if they get really bad. We justify language in music because it has a good beat. We view inappropriate things online because it is “funny”. However, too many people don’t get out of the way in time.

The George Albert Smith manual that we used last year had a good quote about this sort of thing:

“When I have been tempted sometimes to do a certain thing, I have asked myself, ‘Which side of the line am I on?’ If I determined to be on the safe side, the Lord’s side, I would do the right thing every time. So when temptation comes think prayerfully about your problem and the influence of the Lord will aid you to decide wisely. There is safety for us only on the Lord’s side of the line.”

That simple sign can truly save lives!

Stay This Side of the Fence

Who ya gonna call? (Holy) Ghostbusters!

Here’s another funny one…

I can’t remember where I got this from (otherwise I’d link to the original), but here is a cartoon I’ve had saved for a while. My wife and I love the two Ghostbusters movies. No matter how hard they try, I don’t think Egon, Ray and Peter would be able to catch the Holy Ghost 🙂

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UPDATE: In the comments Braden linked to the original. Apparently it is an xkcd cartoon

Parents losing race to monitor kids’ social media activity: report

I am the parent of 3 kids. The oldest is 10 years old, so we’re just on the verge of starting the teenage years. However, my wife and I both serve with the youth in our ward, and we are well-aware of the dangers online.

Yesterday there was an Associated Press article on the Globe and Mail web site that talked about how hard it is for parents to keep up with all of the various social media sites that their kids can access. One parent said that it used to be that you had the “sex ed” talk with your kids. Now you have to have the “online ed” talk.

I’m still struck by how poor the decision making is sometimes. It’s not like this is new technology. We’ve had several years now of stories of people who have posted, tweeted, or sent information online and it ends up haunting a person. People are fired from jobs, kids are suspended from school, politicians resign in disgrace. How many more examples do we need before people in general, and youth specifically, wise up and start being responsible online?

23 Miraculous Pop Culture Last Suppers

The other day I came across a site that has renderings of “The Last Supper”, but instead of Christ and the Apostles, there are The Simpsons, Star Wars, etc. I know that some people might think this sort of thing is disrespectful, but I think it is all in good fun. I’m impressed with some of the creativity 🙂

Check it out at http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/23-miraculous-pop-culture-last-suppers