Tag Archives: Dallin H. Oaks

182nd Annual General Conference – Saturday Morning General Session

Well, here we go…


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir opened the conference by singing High on the Mountain Top

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang Praise the Lord with Heart and Voice

Elder John B Dickson offered the invocation

President Thomas S Monson opened the conference (Note: there were no announcements of anything)

  • We meet to build faith
  • We are here to learn
  • We come together as one
  • Quoted the “Standard of Truth” from Joseph Smith:
    No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.
    History of the Church, 4:540.
  • Quoted 13th article of faith:
    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
  • He thanked the members for faith, devotion, love, service

The choir sang You Can Make the Pathway Bright

President Boyd K Packer (Note: President Packer spoke from his chair. His glasses still have the fancy oxygen tubes)

  • Shared a couple of examples of helping poor children
  • Little children are alive in Christ
  • No pain will last forever
  • Life wasn’t meant to be easy or fair
  • The ultimate end of everything in the Church is to see a family happy at home, sealed by the Priesthood
  • Family time is sacred time

Sister Cheryl A Esplin

  • God knows what our children need to know
  • The best way to teach children is in the moment

Elder Donald L Hallstrom

  • Sometimes we use the words gospel and church interchangeably
  • The gospel is the glorious plan of God
  • It is possible in the Church, and less active in the gospel
  • Activity in the church is highly desirable, however it is insufficient
  • Activity is an outward indication. It is visible.
  • The things of the gospel are less visible, but are of greater spiritual importance
  • We need the gospel and the church
  • 3 ways to have the gospel be more meaningful
    1. deepen our understanding of diety
    2. focus on the ordinances and covenants
    3. unite the gospel with the Church

The choir and congregation sang How Firm a Foundation

Elder Paul E Koelliker

  • He loves the missionaries, both young and senior
  • They are a powerful persevering force for good
  • Missionary work is a template for nourishing people throughout life
  • We have a duty to help others to learn
  • We need to love
  • The family helps us understand that God loves us all equally and fully

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the central message of all the prophets
  • The Savior asks us to make mortal sacrifices
  • There are wonderful examples of people who have given their full time lives fully to serve the Lord, but most of us can’t give all of our time
  • President Hinckley said that the symbols of our faith are the lives of our people
  • Converts to the Church also sacrifice much
  • Families sacrifice much as well
  • Mother bear and raise children. Father’s support the family
  • As you sacrifice for your children, the Lord will bless you
  • Latter-day saints look at their sacrifices as schooling for the eternities

The choir sang Love Is Spoken Here

President Henry B Eyring

  • President Kimball spoke of asking for the mountains of life to come
  • The Lord suffered more than all of us
  • The way to overcome trials is to believe their is balm in Gilead
  • We need an unshakeable foundation
  • The ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into each of our lives.
  • We need to have integrity, but choosing the right consistently
  • Trouble itself can be your way to strengthen and gain unshakeable faith
  • Adversity seems to make clocks slow down

The choir sang Redeemer of Israel

Elder Wilford W Andersen offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

181st Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon General Session

Well, here we go into the last session of conference. It has been good so far. I haven’t started to fall asleep even once 🙂

Between these two sessions on Sunday, we watched several of the Mormon Messages that the Church has put out. I highly recommend The Sting of the Scorpion and Watch Your Step. Both are very powerful!


President Henry B Eyring conducted

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Arise, O God, and Shine

Elder F Michael Watson offered the invocation

The choir sang I Feel My Savior’s Love

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • spoke about his recent trip to Russia
  • temple covenants are sacred and powerful
  • we are children of the covenant
  • He is our God, we are His people

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • What think ye of Christ?
  • When you consider all of the things the Saviour has done for us, don’t you have many reasons to come back to church?

Brother Matthew O Richardson

  • when I left my mission, my mission didn’t leave me
  • we need to be “real” in every area of our life
  • real life requires real learning which requires real teaching

The choir and congregation sang Now Let Us Rejoice

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita

  • spoke about missionary work and the missionaries who serve around the world
  • missionaries are a treasure to this great church

Elder Randall K Bennett

  • he shared a story about how he almost drowned as a child
  • that day he made a poor choice that almost permanently separate him from his family
  • you can’t make eternal decisions without eternal consequences
  • in our choices we make every day, are we choosing eternal life
  • we essentially only have two choices
  • are you choosing to be busy and apathetic that you don’t take time to study the words of Christ?
  • are you choosing to follow the prophets or the world?
  • your eternal destiny will not be an accident. It will be a choice

Elder J Devn Cornish (President Eyring had a hard time pronouncing his name)

  • in His mercy, the God of heaven hears our prayers
  • Why would God concern himself with small things?
  • He loves us so much, what is important to us becomes important to him
  • it is contrary to the economy of heaven for God to do something for us we can do for ourselves
  • do not forget to ask the Lord to protect you and be with you
  • when we think we are too sinful to pray, that is like someone saying they are too sick to go to the doctor

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • something stirs within us when tragedy strikes innocent people.
  • why are righteous people not immune
  • we can exercise our faith
    1. God loves and understands us perfectly
    2. The atonement compensates
    3. The plan of salvation provides for eternal life
  • Cool story of missionaries cancelling trip on Titanic
  • have  a spirit of gratitude in our hearts
  • we prosper when we have the spirit in our lives
  • some challenges give us experience and purify us and prepare us to meet God
  • God has enough lifeboats for everyone

President Thomas S Monson

  • expressed gratitude and appreciation for a variety of things
  • Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face

The choir sang Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part

Elder Gregory A Schwitzer offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

181st Annual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session

During the time between the two sessions, my family went for a walk in the ravine behind our house. Spring is slowly making its appearance 🙂  I also cleaned up (showered and shaved). Lastly, I watched the April 2011 edition of the World Report. I love getting some of that “behind-the-scenes” information that show report shares.

Now we’re all gathered together again in the living room ready for the second session.


President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted.

A combined choir from BYU-Idaho sang How Firm a Foundation

Elder Kevin W Pearson offered the invocation

Sustainings presented by President Dieter F Uchtdorf

  • During the sustainings of the apostles, Elder Robert D Hales had a huge knee brace on. He also had small clear tubes on his lap. They looked like they were oxygen tubes. Did anyone see him with them on, or were they for something else?
  • A bunch of  Area Seventies were released and sustained
  • (at one point during the sustainings, the Internet feed paused and my 3-year-old daughter said it was scratched)
  • There were a total of 10 new General Authorities sustained
  • There were no changes to any of the auxiliary presidencies

Robert W Cantwell Managing Directory of the Church Auditing presented the Church Auditing Department Report

  • Council of the Disposition of the Tithes consists of the First Presidency, Quorum of 12, Presiding Bishopric
  • Things are being administer

Brook P Hales, Secretary to the First Presidency presented the Statistical Report of the Church for the year 2010

The choir sang How Great the Wisdom and the Love

President Boyd K Packer (he was sitting down)

  • 400 years since the publishing of the bible
  • We should use the full name of the Church whenever possible
  • Ordinances are done through the authority of Jesus Christ
  • We have the same organization as Jesus Christ had
  • If someone is looking for a church that requires very little, this is not the one
  • Regardless of what happens in the world, no power can stop this work
  • Do a lot of forgiving, and a little repenting, and you will be blessed

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • thank you for your uplifting service
  • our faith now becomes part of our posterity’s faith later
  • the forces of evil will ever be in opposition to the forces of good
  • to prepare to meet God, one keeps all of God’s commandments
  • when we are faithful, He and His angels will bear us up
  • God will hear your sincere prayers

The choir and congregation sang Press Forward, Saints

Elder Richard J Maynes

  • the principle of eternal families is an essential element in God’s plan
  • the family is ordained of God
  • establish celestial traditions
  • kids don’t remember the FHE topic, but they remember having FHE
  • kids don’t remember what was read in the scriptures that morning, but they remember that they read them
  • Shared a poem by C C Miller

Elder Cecil O Samuelson Jr

  • he has worked with the young people in the Church for many years
  • who is entitled to have a testimony? anyone who is willing to pay the price
  • everyone has worth because we are all children of God

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • what do we really desire?
  • desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, choices determine our actions
  • desire, labour, and faith brought Enos the blessings he wanted
  • told story of Aron Ralson, the guy who cut off his own arm to save his life
  • we need to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other things that prevent our eternal progress
  • the desire to receive and keep a marriage for eternity should be paramount (priority efforts)
  • we cannot follow the politically correct but eternally false concept that we don’t need to be married and have children

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • told a nice story about a person who wanted gold; he was looking for nuggets, and missing the flecks of gold that would fill his pouch
  • by small and simple things are great things come to pass
  • we should keep our lives simple
  • charity begins at home
  • practice the golden rule
  • we need to serve
  • the most important attribute that we should seek to possess is charity, the pure love of Christ

The choir sang Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise

Elder ??? offered the benediction (President Uchtdorf didn’t announce who it was going to be)


Read the recaps and other notes from the 181st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

180th Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Morning General Session

I went to Church a little early today. I had to do an interview before the main broadcast. I went with my sons who sat and watched the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast while I was in the interview. By the time I was done my wife was there with my daughter, and we all got to sit together (one of those few times in the year).


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Truth Eternal

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth

Elder Gerald Caussé offered the invocation

President Henry B Eyring

  • the Lord grants unto all nations to teach His words
  • trust comes from knowing God
  • be still and know that I am God
  • he has revealed himself that we may trust him
  • Latter-day Saints can be a light to the people

The choir sang Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd

President Boyd K Packer

  • the Family Proclamation is 15 years old
  • it is revelation and members would do well to follow it
  • the devil can deceive or fool, but can’t force us to do anything
  • the dreadful sin of pornography is like a plague
  • the effects can be spiritually fatal
  • the priesthood has authority to stamp out evil influences
  • don’t look back, ahead of you is peace and happiness

Elder Jay E Jensen

  • the gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest gifts
  • quote from President Gordon B Hinckley‘s 4 cornerstones
    • First Vision
    • Restoration of Priesthood
    • Testimony of Jesus Christ
    • Book of Mormon

Sister Mary N Cook

  • we must be examples of the believers
  • be an example in faith
  • strengthen your own faith
  • we need to show youth how to strengthen their own faith
  • be an example in purity
  • For the Strength of Youth is a beautiful tool

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • we have 2 lines of communication with God, personal and priesthood
  • the personal channel is based on worthiness
  • priesthood line is usually for governing the kingdom
  • people should get their own communication in the personal line, not the priesthood line
  • the two lines are connected
  • you cannot have communication in the personal line if you are disobedient to the priesthood line
  • some members fail to understand the importance of the priesthood line
  • the voice of the Lord’s servants is the voice of the Lord
  • the priesthood line doesn’t mean we do not need the personal line

The choir sang Love One Another

President Thomas S Monson

  • do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive?
  • we need to focus on what we have instead of what we lack
  • while there are many things wrong in the world, there are many things which are good and right
  • not showing gratitude is like wrapping a present and not giving it

The choir sang Now Let Us Rejoice

Elder Carlos A Godoy offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 180th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

180th Annual General Conference – Priesthood Session

Before the Priesthood Session, the Young Men and their fathers met at the Church for our semi-annual “sub-sational” dinner. We had cold/deli meat and/or meatball subs along with pop and chips. As always, we had a great time.

We had a little less than 50 people attend the session.

Also, as is a tradition in my family, afterward my Dad took me out for some more treats. We tried to go to Swiss Chalet but they were closed. We headed to Dairy Queen, but of course they were closed too. We ended up just going to 7-11 and getting Slurpees.


President Henry B Eyring conducted

A Priesthood choir from Brigham Young University sang God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son

The invocation was offered by Elder Keith K Hilbig. It was kind of weird as at the end of his prayer, it didn’t sound like he said Amen.

The choir sang Choose the Right

Elder Dallin H Oaks
(Note: I missed the first half of the talk as there was a problem I had to tend to)

  • Spoke about priesthood blessings, such as administering to the sick
  • We are all affected by increases and decreases in sensitivity to the Spirit
  • If faith is sufficient, then the words of the blessings don’t necessarily dictate the outcome
  • Faith and healing power of priesthood can’t trump the Lord’s will

Elder Ronald A Rasband

  • Missionary service
  • Be worth to serve a mission
  • Told a great story explaining how the apostles choose where missionaries serve
  • The call comes from the Lord

Brother David L Beck

  • The Aaronic Priesthood is a sacred gift
  • The new Duty to God books will be available in June
  • “Behold thou art my son and I have a great work for you to do”

The choir and congregation sang Glory to God on High

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

  • Patience is not passive resignation
  • Patience means active waiting and enduring
  • Impatience is a symptom of selfishness
  • As the Lord is patient with us, let us be patient with those we serve
  • Give me patience to wait until I can comprehend it for myself

President Henry B Eyring

  • Diligence in the Lord’s service
  • A calling may end, but priesthood service never ends
  • Let every man learn his duty… in all diligence
  • Ponder deeply and diligently the scriptures
  • Persist in prayer

President Thomas S Monson

  • He commented that this was one of the finest General Priesthood Meetings he’s ever attended
  • “Come all ye sons of God who have received the priesthood”
  • He reminded us of many of the standards
  • Honesty is the best policy
  • Avoid pornography at all costs

The choir sang The Iron Rod

The benediction was offered by Michael J Teh

Read the recaps and other notes from the 180th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

179th Semiannual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon Session

179th_semiannual_general_conference

I’m at home now. I can’t say enough about how great the Move Networks player is. I watched it through my laptop on my 26″ HD TV, and it was perfect. Very impressive. The only thing is that the stream seems to be a few minutes behind the live broadcast (even when you are showing it “live”).

I liked watching all of the various leaders sit down before the session started. There is a lot of smiles, a lot of hand-shaking, and a lot of talking. I know people who are so uptight about reverence, and that when you walk into the chapel it should be silent. I know the Conference Center isn’t a chapel, but for the purposes of General Conference, it is, and it is great to see people being so friendly with each other. It’s also nice to see everyone (including the leaders) stand as the First Presidency walks in. I also liked seeing President Eyring whisk something off of President Monson’s shoulder. Maybe something from lunch? 🙂

President Henry B Eyring conducted the session.

The choir sang “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise”.

Elder Carlos H Amados offered the invocation.

The choir sang “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free”

President Eyring conducted the business. Several members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy were released, but no one was called to replace them.

Elder Dallin H Oaks ** might use as a 4th Sunday lesson **

  • God’s love and God’s commandments
  • The love of God does not supersede his commandments.
  • His commandments do not diminish the love of God
  • Every parent knows you can love a child and be angry and disappointed
  • The love of God is so universal, even those who are rebellious benefit
  • Where do parents draw the line with children that are not following the commandments. Don’t go to extremes (shunning the person, or totally ignoring the disobedience)
  • Real love does not support self-destructive behaviour

Elder Robert D Hales ** might use as a 4th Sunday lesson **

  • We live in a time where secularism is deepening
  • We declare We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost
  • Why is belief in God so important?
  • Without God, life would end at the grave, and life would have no purpose
  • Cultivate a diligent desire to know God lives

Elder Jorge F Zeballos

  • From a purely human point of view at first, the commandment to be perfect seems to be an impossible task
  • The command to become perfect encourages us to achieve the best of ourselves
  • God will not require more than the best we can give
  • Let us with enthusiasm do all that is within our reach
  • It is possible to achieve the impossible. We can receive eternal life. We can be happy now

President Eyring forgot 3 other names that are being released from the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy

The choir sang “Come, Ye Children of the Lord”

Elder Tad R Callister ** might use as a 4th Sunday lesson **

  • Joseph was the Lord’s anointed
  • He learned 4 fundamental truths
    1. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are two separate, distinct beings
    2. The Father and Son have glorified bodies of flesh and bones
    3. God still speaks to man today; the heavens are not closed
      Does God love us as much today as before?
      Does God have the same power today as then?
      Do we need him as much today as then?
    4. The full and complete Church of Jesus Christ was not on the earth
  • Hard to believe Joseph Smith saw angels? Were there not angels before? Mary, Joseph, Peter, James, John, Cornelius, Paul, Stephen all saw angels
  • There will always be an intellectual crisis, but there will always be faith that can strengthen us
  • Attempts to intellectualise salvation will never find the answers they seek. At some point, one must trust in God.

Elder Kent R Watson

  • Temperance
  • Exercise self-control
  • Peace of mind and security and happiness do not come from buying things we can’t afford
  • Security from our families comes from learning self-control
  • Peace of mind comes from faith in Jesus Christ
  • Happiness comes from being diligent in keeping covenants

Elder Neil L Andersen ** might use as a 4th Sunday lesson **

  • I have felt His love in sacred and unforgettable ways
  • Spiritual arms of mercy, safety, love
  • We rejoice in repenting and the joy of forgiveness
  • There is no sin that cannot be forgiven (other then turning away)
  • “Will ye not now return unto me… that I may heal you?”
  • Repentance is more of a journey than an event
  • “You can’t feel what I have felt” – I don’t fully understand, but there is One who does. He does. He has felt your pain. He has said “I have engraven thee upon the palms of my hands”
  • I promise you, relief will come
  • Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance

President Boyd K Packer (spoke from a chair)

  • We must use our agency wisely
  • Pure intelligence can be spoken into the mind
  • The Spirit can protect you
  • The Gift of the Holy Ghost operates with men, women and children
  • Keep your mind clean and free from the clutter of the world
  • No matter who you are and what you may have done, you can always pray
  • Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind, in your heart. Pray on your knees. Prayer is your personal key to heaven and the lock is on your side of the veil.
  • He has learned to conclude all prayers with “Thy will be done”

The choir sang “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”

The benediction was offered by Robert S Wood (who was released today)

Read the recaps and other notes from the 179th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

A recent Sacrament Meeting Talk – Conversion and The Ship of Theseus

One of the things that does separate us from other Church’s is the fact that we don’t have the same person giving a sermon each week. Most members are usually given an opportunity to speak in Sacrament Meeting. As bishop, I usually speak 4-6 times a year. A few of those are “big” talks. These are usually at Ward Conference, January (giving kind of a “State of the Ward” address), and September (an anniversary of my call). The rest of smaller ones at Easter, Christmas, or another holiday.

Well, I’ve just passed 5 years as bishop, so it was about that time to give another talk. This is basically what I shared:


Have you ever heard of Theseus[1]? In Greek legends, he was a founder of Athens. His name comes from the Greek word for “institution”. He brought the people together and settled them. Theseus was very brave, and conquered many beasts and foes. At one point, he slayed a Minotaur on the island of Crete. After arriving safely back in Athens, his ship became a kind of monument. It was left at the harbour to be used during a festival. You can imagine that over time, various parts of the ship needed replacing. The shape and form of the ship didn’t change, but the individual parts did. This gave rise to the “Ship of Theseus Paradox”. The Greek historian Plutarch recorded it this way:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.[2]

In other words, is an object that has had its individual parts replaced, but maintained its original form, still the same object? Philosophers through history and different cultures have used this and similar questions to talk about identity. I like this particular story as it parallels nicely with the way we discuss our conversion to the gospel. As we learn and grow in the gospel, as we overcome our weaknesses and bad habits, as we replace the bad, rotten boards of our ship, we do change. There are those who would say that by giving up certain things (gambling, swearing, Word of Wisdom vices), we are different; definitely not the same. There are those who say that as we replace our rotten boards, we are just fixing up what is there to begin with. Our condition is just returning to that which God wants us to have. Regardless of how you look at it, this process can be quite painful. We recently took apart an old dog kennel in our bag yard. There was a small fenced in area that had a doghouse sitting on a wooden platform. Some of the platform wood was so rotten that you almost fell through as you walked on them. Some of the wood was rotten from end to end and right through the wood. It was easy to lift off the base. Some of the wood was rotten on one end, but still relatively solid on the other end. Obviously the rotten wood was easy to pry up or break off, but the solid wood required more effort. In some cases, when the solid wood was nailed into a solid base with a 6 inch nail, it required a lot of effort.

Again, you can see the similarity here with our own conversion. Some of our bad habits are easy to get rid of, but some of them seem to have taken root and just won’t come out. I’d like to take some time to talk about a few of the things that can damage our boards. These may not all apply to you. Our age, our time in the Church, and just our general life experience will dictate which boards are most damaged. Regardless of what needs fixing up, it is imperative that we do it now, and don’t delay. If we do this, our ship will continue to sail. If we don’t do this in time, we may not complete our journey, and may even sink.

Obedience. Sometimes we hear that word and we think we’re going to hear someone try to guilt us into following our leaders. That is not what obedience is about. If you are obeying a commandment or principle because you have to, you probably aren’t being obedient. Disobedience is what causes the decay in many of our boards. Obedience is about using our will and freely choosing to follow God’s will. Many people come up with many excuses as to why their way is better than God’s way. On the way home from the temple on Thursday night we were talking about the students coming back to university, and some of the activities they have during their first week. I commented on how there are those who claim that following the commandments causes them to lose their freedom. In particular, we were talking about how some students leave home for school and then with their new-found freedom drink to excess. The consequences of their so-called freedom could be not remembering what happened that night, charges for something that they did that they might not even remember doing, physical pain, or in extreme circumstances, even death. Obviously real freedom comes from following the commandments. Our Heavenly Father loves us. He has given us commandments, that when followed will bring us peace. Contrast the student I just mentioned with another student. This other student chooses to abstain from alcohol. There are no hangovers, no drinking and driving, no worries about what was done or said to whom. That’s freedom!

It is clear that engaging in addictive behaviour will eventually cause us to lose our freedom. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, and pornography can all bring us down. It is no surprise that our prophets and apostles have warned us about these things. The other day I read a headline from The Church News that said “If it’s on the Prophet’s mind, it matters[3].” My first thought was that seemed a bit strong. Can’t the prophet just talk and it’s just him taking? As I thought about it more, I came to agree with it. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet, seer and revelator, and is the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys[4]. As I say to the youth in our interviews, President Monson is “the Man”! Of course what is on his mind, or what he speaks to us about, matters. Whether by President Monson, President Hinckley, or prophets before them, among other things, we have been encouraged to serve others, warned of the distraction of the Internet, reminded to not let opportunities pass us by, told in no uncertain terms that a member of the Church must not be racist, and warned about the evil, addictive problem of pornography. Are these things important? Absolutely! We need to be obedient to the words of the prophets. Our obedience shouldn’t be a result of pressure. We shouldn’t blindly follow. We are obedient because we love the Lord, we have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel, and we have faith that obedience will bring the promised blessings. Remember these two verses from the Doctrine and Covenants:

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.[5]

I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.[6]

The Lord speaks through his servants, and when we follow, we are blessed. On the other hand, when we do not follow, we have no promise.

I testify that obedience does bring blessings. As we turn away from our bad habits, and align ourselves more with the Lord, His servants and His church, we are able to replace those bad boards with stronger ones.

Another cause of decay in our boards is judgment. Matthew quotes the Saviour in saying “Judge not, that ye be not judged.[7]” Joseph Smith revealed that it should really be “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged.[8]” It seems clear to me what the spirit of this counsel is. Don’t judge something or someone unnecessarily, especially without knowing all of the details. However, we rarely do know all the details, so to me, we still have to be careful with how we judge. Unfortunately, there are those who think since they do or think something, everyone should. Life just isn’t like that. Often, judgment is defined as looking down on someone. That is the problem. Jesus Christ, our perfect example, didn’t just look down on us and comment there was no way we could make it back. He literally came down[9]. He condescended and came to our rescue. He taught, He healed, and He lifted. Always remember that. Our righteous judgment should lead us to better things and to bring us closer together, not to divide us.

Another part of judgment that can cause decay in our boards is how we choose to spend our time. Elder Oaks said it well when he said this:

Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, “I just didn’t spend enough time with my job.”

In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best. A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. “The thing I liked best this summer,” the boy replied, “was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked.” Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent.

The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.

Family experts have warned against what they call “the overscheduling of children.” In the last generation children are far busier and families spend far less time together. Among many measures of this disturbing trend are the reports that structured sports time has doubled, but children’s free time has declined by 12 hours per week, and unstructured outdoor activities have fallen by 50 percent.

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.” Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs. There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: What your children really want for dinner is you.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”[10]

That is a long quote, but I couldn’t think of a better way to say it, and couldn’t decide what to leave out. Do the things that matter most with your children. Do the things that will strengthen them and keep the family together. Sports are great, but they shouldn’t take the children away from Church activities. I plead with you to choose activities that will keep your children close to the Church. This is where there is peace and safety. Along with the teachings in the home, this is where they learn standards and values. They will associate with other kids their age who have the same values. They will bear testimony to one another. They will feel the Spirit together, and they will look after one another. Returning to the Ship of Theseus analogy, there are many things we can do which might make the outside of the ship look nice. A coat of paint, a sealant, or other such things can cover up a lot. But if the wood is rotting, it will continue to rot. Don’t just choose things that seem to make your kids happy for the time being. Choose things that will bring lasting value to them and your family.

The final cause of decay I’d like to speak about today is a lack of love. Of course, love underlies all that we do. But I’d like to speak specifically about how we do things. There was a time before we moved to St Catharines where I was the YM President and Lisa was the YW President. We were young, only a few years older than some of the Priests and Laurels, and had no children of our own, so it was quite convenient for us to serve together. Unfortunately, it was not a positive experience for either of us. The group of youth that we had was much different than what we have here. They certainly weren’t bad kids, but there were some strong personalities and attitudes to work with, and many of the families seemed to just be happy that their kids went to Church. There didn’t seem to be other expectations, or at least this is how I felt at the time. We tried to teach them things, but I was sure they weren’t listening. It was terribly frustrating, and was actually kind of a relief to move, as that got us released from our callings. Many times I’ve looked back on that calling and wondered what went wrong. It seems clear to me now that what was wrong was me. They way I was looking at them was wrong. I came to learn that love actually comes in two parts. You do things with love, and you do things because of love. They might be similar, but they are not the same. Let me explain…

When I say that things need to be done with love, I am referring to our outward expressions. This is probably fairly easy for most people. As you speak to people, you are polite. You try to teach people in a way that they will listen. I had a missionary companion who was very good at this. He asked all the right questions (according to the missionary guide, anyway), and tried to commit investigators to certain things at certain times. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem sincere. He seemed almost phony. He was doing things because a book told him what he was supposed to do. In a way, that’s what I was doing with the youth. I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do. I love the Lord, and I love the Church, and I sustain my leaders, therefore I loved the youth. The same goes for my missionary companion. He loved the Lord and his mission, therefore he loved the investigators. Well, love just doesn’t happen. Just because you are trying to do what’s right, doesn’t mean that love is present. In hindsight, the love was only on the surface. I wasn’t really doing things because of the love in my heart. That is where we find true charity. When we are serving in our callings, we shouldn’t just serve in a loving way. Showing a smile and doing what we are supposed to do probably isn’t enough. We really need to have love for others. That is when others feel it. Have you ever been with someone who just radiates love? It’s not just in what they say or how they look; you can really feel that is who they are. I look back with regret on that calling. Thankfully, we didn’t do any damage. In the end, most of the YM went on missions, and there have been temple marriages. I am, however, very grateful for the lesson I learned. This is by means to say that I am a wonderful example of love. I still have much work to do. We’ve all heard the words of Paul in his letter to the believers in Corinth, but it is worth repeating:

though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.[11]

These are only a few of the things that can damage our ship. Just as a ship can have hundreds, or thousands of pieces, we too have many things that can distract us from our purpose and lead us off God’s path. We need to be diligent in caring for these things. Through regular inspection, we can find the defects and replace broken pieces. In the end, I do think we are the same, but new. We are born again as true believers. We are finally becoming the people that God wants us to be. We can be clean and pure and worthy to return to live with Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom.

Once we are on this path, and are safely following it, there is still lots of work to do. You see, it’s not just our own ship that needs work. Everyone around us has the same sorts of problems. As we are busy replacing boards of our own, we have to remember that others are in need as well. The Saviour said to Peter:

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.[12]

There are those around us who do not have the strength to pull out that stubborn board on their own. When we see them struggling, we need to be there to help. Just as Paul said that feeding the poor without charity is worthless, so it is with us. If we are so busy fixing our own ships that those around us are sinking, it profiteth us nothing. This is why we have wards and stakes in the Church. This sense of community is very important. We are all brothers and sisters, and can’t do this alone.

I testify that as we become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and truly live his teachings, we will become new people. Paul said that old things are passed away and all things are become new[13]. As we walk in this newness of life[14], only then are we able to return to live with Heavenly Father. I know this to be true, and testify of it in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] The main information on Theseus and the Ship of Theseus Paradox was from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theseus – Retrieved 20090912.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus – Retrieved 20090912.
Other helpful information was found on
http://www.productiveflourishing.com/the-ship-of-theseus-and-personal-identity/ – Retrieved 20090912.
http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/theseus.html – Retrieved 20090912.

[2] Plutarch. “Theseus”. The Internet Classics Archive. http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/theseus.html – Retrieved 20090912.

[3] http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/57803/If-Its-On-the-Prophets-Mind-It-Matters.html – Retrieved 20090912

[4] From a current question in the temple recommend interview (as of September 2009)

[5] D&C 1: 38

[6] D&C 82: 10

[7] Matthew 7: 1-2

[8] JST Matthew 7: 1-2

[9] Abraham 3: 24

[10] Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 104-8

[11] 1 Corinthians 13: 2-8, 13

[12] Luke 22: 32

[13] 2 Corinthians 5: 17

[14] Romans 6:4

179th Annual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon Session

179th_annual_general_conference

Well, conference is over now for another 6 months. As is usually the case, there were some excellent talks. I definitely have a lot to think about.

President Henry B. Eyring conducted

Elder Dallin H. Oaks ** might use this as a 4th Sunday lesson **

  • unselfish service
  • lose yourself in the service of the Lord
  • we serve in our families
  • no one can duplicate the records/efforts of this church
  • we don not serve God well if we fear men more than God
  • we cannot do as others do
  • great quote from C.S. Lewis about man wanting to be God
  • entitlement is generally selfish
  • we are promised eternal life for our service

Elder David A. Bednar ** might use this as a 4th Sunday lesson **

  • serving in the temple can expand our vision
  • everything points to temple covenants
  • the garner is the temple
  • this is a great day of temple building
  • temple ordinances provide protective power

Elder Gary E. Stevenson

  • you are never lost when you can see the temple
  • all are encouraged to go to the temple even if you can’t go inside
  • the most holy place on earth

Elder Jose A. Teixeira

  • bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man
  • we are not left alone
  • use the spiritual gifts you’ve been given
  • don’t lose the “signal” from the divine

Elder F. Michael Watson

  • we can’t always find the way before us
  • we have guides if we let them “have the reins”
  • highlighted some teachings of the last 7 prophets who he worked closely with
  • the Lord reveals to his prophets

Elder L. Tom Perry

  • where is the shepherd?
  • there is no substitute for a member-oriented proselyting program
  • the missionaries are spending too much time finding
  • we should be warning our neighbours ourselves
  • “open your mouths”
  • declare our belief in Jesus Christ
  • tell in our own words the story of the First Vision
  • testify of the Book of Mormon

President Thomas S. Monson

  • we’ve been richly blessed
  • appreciates all those who participated
  • love and appreciate his counselors and the apostles
  • cautioned that the adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us
  • the Internet can be used for good and evil
  • we are a blessed people

Read the recaps from the other sessions of General Conference:

178th Semiannual General Conference – Saturday Morning Session

My postings from the April General Conference sessions brought a lot of visitors (although no comments), so I figured I’d do the same this time. I already take notes anyway and include them in my journal, so this is just an extension of that.

  • When I first got to the church, there was only 1 person sitting in the chapel. Within a few minutes, there were about 55 people there (not a bad turnout)
  • President Monson conducted. He had a typical dark conservative suit on. This might not be note-worthy, but given that he wore a very light coloured suit at the RS broadcast (that was the first thing my wife told me when she got home that night), I wondered what he would wear.
  • President Thomas S. Monson
    • during the last 6 months they have dedicated 3 more temples
    • he recounted the cultural celebrations
    • 5 new temples announced to be built in the greater Kansas City area; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Calgary Alberta, Canada; Córdoba, Argentina; and Rome, Italy
    • he asked us to pray for areas of the world to be opened
  • Elder L. Tom Perry * might be used as a 4th Sunday lesson *
    • endure
    • be positive and optimistic
    • “the best is yet to be”
    • he shared the story of Henry David Thoreau and his life on Walden Pond
    • Thoreau said that we only needed 4 things: food, clothing, shelter, fuel
    • we need a simplified lifestyle
    • Food – read from the Word of Wisdom
    • Clothing – simple & modes; dress and grooming sends message to others; casual dress brings casual manners
    • Shelter – live within our needs; stay out of debt; save for a rainy day
    • Fuel – spiritual fuel
  • Sister Silvia H. Allred
    • the Lord’s church has responsibility to preach the gospel
    • she was taught when she was 14
    • missionary work is in the life blood of the church
    • how can I assist or participate?
      1)have a clear understanding that God loves all his children
      2) our message is the most important gift that we have to give
    • every member can help
    • be a good neighbour
    • be specific in your efforts
  • Elder Neil L. Anderson
    • “you don’t know everything, but you know enough”
    • we have moments of spiritual power, as we do, we have personal storage that we can go to in moments of doubt
    • faith is not just a feeling, it is a choice/decision (my favourite line of the session)
    • questions and doubts are normal
    • “be not afraid, only believe”
  • Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis
    • 2-Jun-1940 was an important day in his family. It is the day his father was baptized
    • reading the Book of Mormon brings great promises
    • NOTE: There was a brief power outage near the beginning of the talk, so I’m not sure what the exact topic of the talk was
  • Elder Dallin H. Oaks * might be used as a 4th Sunday lesson *
    • we live in perilous times spoken of by the apostle Paul
    • D&C 59:9-10
    • sacrament meeting is the only Sunday the whole family attends
    • importance of individual reverence
    • prepare for ordination of the sacrament
    • he read from Elder Nelson’s training from WWLT broadcast in 2003
      bring broken heart and contrite spirit
      be seated early
      have quiet time before sacrament meeting; prelude music should be subdued
    • appropriate dress (like going to the temple)
    • concentrate on worship
    • music is for worship, not for performance
  • President Dieter F. Uchtdorf * might be used as a 4th Sunday lesson *
    • shared a bit of the story of his family leaving Germany
    • his mother had faith and hope which led to action
    • he spoke of the infinite power of hope
    • hope is 1 leg of a 3-legged stool (faith and charity being the other 2)
    • if we have hope, why despair?
    • there must be opposition in all things
    • faith/doubt, hope/despair, charity/failure to act
    • the hope of Israel, Jesus Christ
    • hope is trust and confidence

Read the recaps from the other sessions of General Conference: