Tag Archives: ensign

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Post-conference notes


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

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

As usual, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was spectacular!

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


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

Do you know how to receive revelation? Part 3 (final part)

As mentioned previously, the May topic for Come, Follow Me is on Prophets and Revelation. I spent two weeks discussing the ideas in the “How do I receive personal revelation?” topic.

I thought the talks by Richard G Scott and David A Bednar gave some good information. Here are some quotes:

Richard G. Scott, “How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life,Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 45–47

When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.

There are some practical principles that enhance revelation. First, yielding to emotions such as anger or hurt or defensiveness will drive away the Holy Ghost. Those emotions must be eliminated, or our chance for receiving revelation is slight.

Another principle is to be cautious with humor. Loud, inappropriate laughter will offend the Spirit. A good sense of humor helps revelation; loud laughter does not. A sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life.

Another enemy to revelation comes from exaggeration or loudness in what is stated. Careful, quiet speech will favor the receipt of revelation.

On the other hand, spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices.

It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.

Based on this quote, I tried to emphasize the following:

  • Anger/hurt/defensiveness drive away the Spirit
  • Be cautious with humour. It was interesting that he noted that a good sense of humour (not inappropriate or too loud) helps revelation
  • Do not exaggerate things unnecessarily
  • Get a good amount of sleep and  eat well
  • That last paragraph is simple but powerful… It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit

David A. Bednar, “The Spirit of Revelation,Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 87–90

He starts at the beginning of his talk and talks about light. He talks about how the sun rises and that from moment to moment we can’t tell it is brighter, but as we look back, we can obviously tell it is brighter. He then compares that turning on a light switch in a room when the room gets brighter instantly. Both are very much like revelation. Sometimes we can feel it immediately, and sometimes it slowly grows/builds.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The Holy Ghost is a revelator,” and “no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 132)…

This blessing is not restricted to the presiding authorities of the Church; rather, it belongs to and should be operative in the life of every man, woman, and child who reaches the age of accountability and enters into sacred covenants. Sincere desire and worthiness invite the spirit of revelation into our lives…

I emphasize the phrase “apply unto it” in relation to the spirit of revelation. In the scriptures, the influence of the Holy Ghost frequently is described as “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12; 1 Nephi 17:45; see also 3 Nephi 11:3) and a “voice of perfect mildness” (Helaman 5:30). Because the Spirit whispers to us gently and delicately, it is easy to understand why we should shun inappropriate media, pornography, and harmful, addictive substances and behaviors. These tools of the adversary can impair and eventually destroy our capacity to recognize and respond to the subtle messages from God delivered by the power of His Spirit. Each of us should consider seriously and ponder prayerfully how we can reject the devil’s enticements and righteously “apply unto it,” even the spirit of revelation, in our personal lives and families…

A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing…

The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation…

I have talked with many individuals who question the strength of their personal testimony and underestimate their spiritual capacity because they do not receive frequent, miraculous, or strong impressions…

Another common experience with light helps us learn an additional truth about the “line upon line, precept upon precept” pattern of revelation. Sometimes the sun rises on a morning that is cloudy or foggy. Because of the overcast conditions, perceiving the light is more difficult, and identifying the precise moment when the sun rises over the horizon is not possible. But on such a morning we nonetheless have sufficient light to recognize a new day and to conduct our affairs.

In a similar way, we many times receive revelation without recognizing precisely how or when we are receiving revelation. An important episode from Church history illustrates this principle.

Anyway, that is probably enough. As I said in the beginning, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few weeks. I just wanted to share some of the things I’ve read and thought about and discussed. I am by no means an expert in receiving revelation, but I’m trying and asking and I have faith that the revelation does and will come.

We are obedient… because we can see!

One of the things that critics of the Church often complain about is that we blindly follow our leaders. Iif you’ve ever been to a regular ward or branch, you know that just isn’t true. There are squabbles and disagreements just like any other organization. But when it comes to important things, we rally together and try to be united. As you move further up the hierarchy in the Church, I would say that the average member follows those leaders more. That kind of makes sense. Generally speaking, those who are called to “higher” positions have obviously demonstrated their righteousness and faithfulness to the Church. That helps us to trust them more and have greater faith that they are called of God.

Regardless of how you look at it, following someone you respect and love (whether it be a bishop or the President of the Church), does not make you blind. It shows the love and trust that you have in that person. President Packer said it simply in this way:

Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.

Boyd K Packer, Ensign, May 1983, p66

Parental Hypocrisy

In meetings when I was bishop, and with my wife, I have occasionally made comments about parents doing things that they don’t want their kids to do. I’m obviously not talking about parents driving and not letting their pre-teens drive. That is obviously against the law. I’m talking about parents who may say, look at, or participate in inappropriate things. Because they are “adults”, they say it’s ok, but they don’t want their kids to do it. Perhaps it is certain movies, or certain words they say, or things they see. There are some things that I don’t want my kids to see, not because they are inappropriate, but because they just don’t need to be exposed to certain things at their age. I hope you understand the difference in what I’m talking about. I guess it is kind of the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.

Anyway, this past Sunday the concluding speaker was speaking about the role of parents (tied into Mother’s Day) and he shared a quote from President Faust. I called what I described above as “parental hypocrisy”:

When parents try to teach their children to avoid danger, it is no answer for parents to say to their children, “We are experienced and wise in the ways of the world, and we can get closer to the edge of the cliff than you.” Parental hypocrisy can make children cynical and unbelieving of what they are taught in the home. For instance, when parents attend movies they forbid their children to see, parental credibility is diminished. If children are expected to be honest, parents must be honest. If children are expected to be virtuous, parents must be virtuous. If you expect your children to be honorable, you must be honorable.

James E. Faust, “The Greatest Challenge in the World—Good Parenting,” Ensign, Nov 1990, 32

As is often the case, someone else comes up with a better way to explain the way that I feel. We really do need to practice what we preach. Our kids know when we are genuinely concerned about their exposure to something, and when we are just making excuses. If we want our children to trust us and our decisions, we need to be honorable in all things. It isn’t always easy, but it will make a different in the long run.

Why do we need prophets?

Portrait of the Prophets (Temple Prophets) by D O Christensen

That was the title of the first article in the March 2012 Ensign. The first article is the one we are to use when home teaching. I reviewed the article before going out a couple of weeks ago, and it definitely got me thinking. I understand the theory of why we need prophets… they are God’s representatives on the Earth… it is the way God communicates with His people, etc. However as I thought about how prophets affected me on a daily basis, I thought of them more as inspirational speakers. I thought to myself that my life is generally in line with the teachings of the Church. I read and pray and the Holy Ghost guides me. So why do we need prophets? Is it just for the “big” revelations?

As we discussed this topic while home teaching, one of the people we visit said she sees one of the most important reasons is so that there is a consistent message to the world declaring what the standards of God are. I thought this was a good point. But in my mind I wondered if prophets had a greater role for non-believers than for me, since I know what the standards are.

Let me interrupt here and say that I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t know the role and importance of prophets. I do. But it was an interesting question for me to think about. Before thinking about this question, I don’t know if I would have been able to explain clearly why they are important to me.

We visited three people that one night, and I had the question in my mind for 4 days and then General Conference came along. There was nothing new taught at General Conference, but I felt the Spirit consistently throughout every session. It was perhaps the most inspiring conference for me. It became very clear to me that our prophets, seers, and revelators are NOT just inspirational speakers. They are not a version of Tony Robbins or Jim Fannin. They are speaking for God. They are the watchmen on the towers. They speak of love, kindness and compassion. The talk of Christ and preach of Christ. They do inspire people, but it is not just a feel-good seminary. Our spiritual intelligence increases as we are enlightened by the Spirit.

Why do we need prophets? We need prophets so that we will always have an authorized representative from God who warn the people of the consequences of not following His commandments. We need prophets to help us have hope in the atonement of Jesus Christ. We need prophets so that all of the keys of the priesthood, with the associated ordinances, can be on the Earth. We need prophets so there are always those on the Earth who will speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. We do indeed need prophets. We thank thee, O God, for a prophet!

Diversity, tolerance, and choice

I attended our Stake General Priesthood Meeting on Sunday Night. There were several speakers, with the Stake President being the concluding speaker. He spoke about a number of topics, and at one point he talked about how some of the school districts in the area will be modifying their curriculum to teach more about same-gender marriages. He was very careful in saying that we don’t persecute people, but that we also need to stand up for what is right. He shared a quote from a General Conference talk that Boyd K. Packer gave a few years ago. I like it.

…words can be used as weapons against you. If they throw the word diversity at you, grab hold of it and say, “I am already diverse, and I intend to stay diverse.” If the word is tolerance, grab that one, too, saying, “I expect you to be tolerant of my lifestyle—obedience, integrity, abstinence, repentance.” If the word is choice, tell them you choose good, old-fashioned morality. You choose to be a worthy husband or wife, a worthy parent.

The whole Church may stand alone in defense of these standards. But we are not the first. Moroni, the last of his people, said: “I even remain alone. … I fulfil the commandment of my father.” Do not be afraid.

Boyd K. Packer, “‘The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected’,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 24

Church magazine web sites (sub-domains, actually)

Although the Church does have a variety of separate domain names, but it seems like it tries to keep everything on the main LDS.org domain. Many of the separate domains redirect to a section of the LDS.org domain. The same is true for most of the sub-domains. For example, I recently found out that each of the three main magazines have their own sub-domain that redirects to the appropriate section of the LDS.org domain.

I’ve updated the Official web sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page with these sub-domains.