Tag Archives: holy ghost

184th Annual General Conference – Pre-conference notes


Well, here we are again… another General Conference. Once again I am at work for the first session, so I’ll watch it from there. Then I’ll be home for the rest of the sessions. This is the last General Conference before my oldest turns 12. My father and I are going to watch the priesthood session from home again, but in October we’ll go to the Church with my son and then go out with him later.

I’m interested to see what the membership number is. With all these missionaries, have the baptisms gone up? If not, does that mean anything? We are certainly strengthening the missionaries serving, but if we haven’t increased baptisms, does that mean that there is a problem?

A friend of mine has a friend who lives in Utah, who said there will be a big announcement this conference, but we’ll wait and see. The only thing I’ve heard is about the policy regarding getting married and sealed in the temple (we do that here in North America). Apparently there is talk in standardizing on a policy for the world. Again, we’ll wait and see…

I’ve been looking forward to conference more this spring than at other times. I’m looking forward to feeling the Spirit.

Enjoy the conference!

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

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon General Session


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

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

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

President Henry B Eyring conducted

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

Brother David L Beck offered the invocation

The choir sang When He Comes Again

Elder Quentin L Cook

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

Elder Neil L Andersen

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

Brother David M McConkie

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

The choir and congregation sang Called to Serve

Elder Kevin S Hamilton

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

Elder Adrián Ochoa

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

Elder Terence M Vinson

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

Elder Russell M Nelson

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

President Thomas S Monson

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

The choir sang Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide

Elder Claudio Costa offered the benediction

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

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.

Do you know how to receive revelation? Part 2

As I mentioned in the first part, when I was interviewed by Elder Olson and Elder Echo Hawk to be in the Stake Presidency, Elder Olson asked me if I knew how to receive revelation. That, together with the topic for May in the new youth curriculum has given me plenty to think about.

“Do you know how to receive revelation?” is kind of a tricky question. It’s like the question in the temple recommend interview that asks if you are worthy to enter the Lord’s house. If you say yes, you sound boastful. If you say no, then it’s as if something is wrong with you.

I guess the first thing to remember is that what revelation is. To me, revelation occurs any time you feel the Holy Ghost. If someone is bearing their testimony and you feel the Spirit, you have received revelation. The Spirit has let you know that what they are saying is true. This obviously isn’t revelation like Joseph Smith received, but I still consider it revelation.

If we consider revelation to be received anytime we feel the Spirit, then it doesn’t seem so daunting. So let me ask the questions again… “Do you know how to receive revelation?” The answer should be yes. You receive revelation because you keep the commandments. If you aren’t receiving revelation, you probably have some areas that need some work.

I understand that this is a very simplistic way to look at it, but this is the way I was describing it to the Priests that I was teaching the last couple of weeks. At 16, 17 or 18 years old they should be able to receive revelation. Since they are able to receive revelation, they should be receiving it often. If they are not, then they need to figure out what needs to change in their life so they can receive it.

I also want to emphasize how important it is to want revelation. We shouldn’t just wait to see if it comes. We should be seeking it out. I love D&C 42: 61:

If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.

If we ask, we are promised revelation upon revelation. Good stuff!

“_____ is proof that God loves me”

My family has had a water cooler for years. We’ve gotten our water from a variety of places, and are currently getting it from a do-it-yourself brewery in town. I guess in order to make your own beer, you need reverse osmosis water. A 5 gallon jug of water is only $1. Not a bad price!

The other day we noticed a t-shirt hanging on the wall:


Beer is proof that God loves me and wants me to be happy!!

We giggled at it, but it got me thinking. First of all, I know the shirt is supposed to be a joke, but I sure hope that the person who would wear that can feel that God loves them because of other “proof”. That then led me to wonder what “proof” I have that God loves me (kind of like a “count your blessings” thing). The list could go on and on, but here is the best “proof” that I have:

  • My wife’s love
  • My daughter’s laugh
  • My son’s innocence
  • My other son’s goodness
  • The promptings of the Holy Ghost
  • The flowers growing in our garden (I don’t spend a lot of time outside, but I love nature)
  • How I feel when I do what is right
  • The friends I have

As I mentioned, the list could be huge, but those are probably the most important things in my life right now.

I get that some people don’t know which Church is right. There are a lot of competing ideas out there. However, I don’t understand how someone can just not believe. I see God’s hand all around me. As Alma taught Korihor, “all things denote there is a God”!

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 🙂


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

182nd Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon General Session

Well, here we are ready for the last session. In between these Sunday sessions, I lay down with the kids to watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but I fell asleep almost right away. It was a nice nap 🙂

While the countdown was up on the screen for this session of conference, I saw Elder Hales. He stood up when President Monson walked in, and seems to be doing a bit better.

President Henry B Eyring conducted

The choir sang The Day Dawn Is Breaking

Elder Octaviano Tenorio offered the invocation

The choir sang Did You Think to Pray

Elder Robert D Hales

  • the word Christian denotes taking upon us the name of Christ
  • as Christians we have a change to act decisively
  • we are called upon to leave our nets, leave worldly habits and customs
  • to be who Heavenly Father wants us to be, we follow Jesus Christ
  • Consider these Christian attributes
    • Christian love – kind and compassionate to all
    • Christian faith – despite temptations we can be faithful and obedience
    • Christian sacrifice – give of our time and energy
    • Christian caring – continually reach out to rescue, love and nurture
    • Christian service – spend your days serving others
    • Christian patience – we need to wait upon our God
    • Christian peace – be understanding and promote peace
    • Christian forgiveness – bless those that curse us
    • Christian conversion – continue to be converted
    • Christian endurance – continue all of your days
  • we need these characteristics to heed the voice of Christ

Elder Richard G Scott

  • Jesus made salvation available to every repentant soul
  • deceased people can receive all the ordinances of the gospel
  • we need to provide all ordinances for ourselves and our deceased ancestors
  • temple work is two parts – family history research, performing ordinances
  • those who engage in the research and do the ordinances will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessings
  • any work you do in the temple is time well spent

Brother Russell T Osguthorpe

  • there are new resources for the youth classes
  • as teachers, we need to meet the needs of our learners
  • we need to teach His word in His way
  • conversion is knowing, doing and becoming
  • we want every young person to understand
  • we want them to live the gospel every day

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

Elder Marcus B Nash

  • all things are fulfilled by faith
  • faith brings us the power of the Lord
  • told story of Ann Rowley, a member of the Willie Handcart Company
  • unbelief in the Lord will cause us to resist the Spirit of God
  • fear undermines faith in the Savior
  • sin diminished the effect of the Spirit in our lives
  • the future is as bright as your faith

Elder Daniel L Johnson

  • spoke of problems in Mexico where members lost their crops
  • we can prove ourselves not by what we are tested with, but how we handle them
  • affirm our commitment to God and to others

Elder Don R Clarke

  • as a young man, they filled out a card with what they thought about
  • the Sacrament needs to be important to us
  • if we properly prepare for the sacrament we will change our lives
  • we are renewing our baptism covenants
  • memorize the sacramental prayers
  • we can feel forgiven for our sins during Sacrament Meeting
  • we can receive inspiration during Sacrament Meeting
  • partaking of the Sacrament worthily will help us be filled with the Holy Ghost
  • it will always be a great Sacrament Meeting if the sacrament is the centre of our worship

Elder David A Bednar

  • there is a relationship between receiving a testimony of Christ and becoming converted
  • we need to ask, seek and knock
  • we need a permanent change in our very nature
  • conversion requires all of our heart, all of our might, all of our mind and strength
  • conversion is an ongoing process, not a one-time experience
  • strong testimony is the foundation upon which conversion is built

President Thomas S Monson

  • the conference has been wonderful
  • read the talks and ponder them
  • be of good cheer
  • the Lord loves us and is mindful of us

The choir sang God Be with You Till We Meet Again

Elder Larry W Gibbons offered the invocation

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

Sacrament Meeting Talk – Making the right choices at the right moments

I spoke on Sunday for the first time since I was released as bishop. It was a little weird, as I was used to speaking with some authority, and now I’m just another guy. However, when sharing a message about the gospel, I guess you still have the authority of the Holy Ghost.

It seemed to go well, and I had some positive feedback.

Below you will find the text of my talk. A couple of notes:

  • I generally kept to my prepared remarks, but did go off the cuff in a couple of spots. That is not reflected below
  • You will certainly get a sense for what my message was, but of course you miss out on the emphasis that was put on certain words and phrases.
  • I didn’t have enough time to read the words to Improve the Shining moments at the end
  • My endnotes are probably not proper, but since I’m not being marked, they are good enough 🙂

Let me start with a story I heard recently…In 1914, a boy named Jerry (Siegel) was born in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. In the same year, a boy named Joe (Shuster) was born in Toronto, before moving to Jerry’s neighbourhood when he was around 10 years old. Jerry was always a small boy, and he was often teased. Sometimes, this wasn’t his fault. At one point in the first grade, he asked for a hall pass from his teacher so he could go to the bathroom. The teacher wouldn’t let him, and he had an embarrassing accident. There were other humiliating experiences during his school years. Since he spent a lot of time alone, he started to write stories about a bad man trying to control the world. He called him The Super-Man.

Jerry was the youngest of 6 kids and his dad ran a used clothing store in the city.

“One day three guys came into that store. They tried on a suit and walked out without paying for it. As his dad, Michael, tried to stop them, he had a heart attack and Jerry’s dad dropped dead. He didn’t even make it to the hospital. Suddenly this little boy’s hero and mentor, his dad, was gone. This sort of gave him clarity. The character that had a hyphen and was a bad guy, suddenly dropped the hyphen and dropped the bad guy routine and in the first drawing that we have of that initial rendition of Superman as hero [that Jerry had asked Joe to draw], we have a Superman who is coming in trying to save a guy who looks suspiciously like Jerry’s dad who was being attacked by robbers. This hero of Jerry’s did what Jerry couldn’t do; he saved his dad.”[1]

What a horrible thing to happen to anyone. What I find interesting about the story is the way that Jerry Siegel reacted. He’d had a difficult childhood, and his original stories were about a man trying to control the world (apparently it was a bald man with telepathic powers). It was something that I’m sure was on his mind as he was being bullied. When he faced this traumatic event in his family, there are those who would have thought he was justified if his character had gone darker and violent. But at that moment in time, Jerry went the other way. His character became a hero. Instead of being a bad guy, The Super-Man became Superman, a hero for all, someone who could protect people who had been bullied like him, as opposed to someone who contributed to it. The rest is history. The first comic with Superman appeared in 1938, and for the last 74 years there have been countless people who have been entertained and inspired by the adventures of Superman.

I want to talk about moments these sorts of moments, where we need to decide which path we take. What are we doing to make sure that when we have those moments, we are making the right decisions? Are there moments in our lives which, if we had made a different decision, would have made a drastic difference? I’m sure that there are. Families that have fallen apart because of infidelity certainly could be on a different track if it weren’t for specific moments. People who lose their jobs because of dishonesty or other such things definitely would have a different path if it weren’t for the wrong decisions they made at that moment.

I think for most of us, when we do make wrong decisions, we don’t feel the impact to such a degree. It reminds me of the talk that President Uchtdorf gave a few years ago. He told a story about a plane that had left New Zealand for a sight-seeing trip to Antarctica. The flight coordinates were off by just 2 degrees. Over the course of the trip, this led them to be 45 km off course. The plane tragically crashed into the side of a volcano. President Uchtdorf said:

It was a terrible tragedy brought on by a minor error—a matter of only a few degrees.

Through years of serving the Lord and in countless interviews, I have learned that the difference between happiness and misery in individuals, in marriages, and families often comes down to an error of only a few degrees.[2]

President Uchtdorf went on to explain how, like a pilot, we need to make regular course corrections so we can get back on track.

Small errors and minor drifts away from the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring sorrowful consequences into our lives. It is therefore of critical importance that we become self-disciplined enough to make early and decisive corrections to get back on the right track and not wait or hope that errors will somehow correct themselves.

The longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become, and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course—even to the point where a disaster might be looming.

We are constantly making decisions. The freedom to choose is a vital part of our mortal existence. We make decisions about how we treat someone, what activity we’re going to participate in, and what we will say. When we find that it wasn’t the right decision or there was a better decision that could have been made, we’ll have another moment to choose. We can continue on the path we were on, or we can make the necessary correction and start down the right path.

I guess the question for me is how many of those moments are we going to have? How many chances are we going to have to make the right decisions? How many times can we repent and correct our course?

The scriptures teach us clearly that if we repent, we will be forgiven. In the book of Mosiah, the Lord makes this promise to Alma:

Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.[3]

This scripture is pretty clear. If we sin, and repent, we’ll be forgiven. If we sin ten times and repent, we’ll be forgiven. I guess this goes even to the extent that if we sin a hundred times or a thousand times and repent a hundred times or a thousand times, we’ll be forgiven. But we know that at some point we have to stop. The decisions that we make at those moments need to get us back on the right path so that we aren’t committing those same sins again. The gift of repentance and forgiveness gives us all hope for a better world[4].

However, there are other scriptures that help us understand the time constraints that we have.  Alma taught the following to Zeezrom:

And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.[5]

Amulek also warned later about delaying our repentance.

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.[6]

Now is the time to prepare to meet God. We are not to procrastinate. Now is the time. It isn’t tomorrow; it wasn’t yesterday; it is now!

One last scripture… This makes me think of what Samuel the Lamanite said to the wicked Nephites. The people had focused on their possessions and their riches for far too long. They were not remembering God and how he had blessed them and their fathers. He warned the people about waiting until the “days of their poverty” before calling on God. In fact, it was already too late.

But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.[7]

The people had been sinning for so long, that their time left was too short for them to repent in this life. So, how is it possible that one scripture says that if we repent we’ll be forgiven, and another scripture says that these people couldn’t repent and be forgiven? Well, it isn’t that God wouldn’t forgive them. With the decisions that they made, those were the consequences. They didn’t leave themselves enough time to have meaningful repentance. As Samule said, “it is everlastingly too late.” They didn’t have enough time to make restitution and to allow their hearts to change fully. These people had the records of the prophets from the beginning. They had been warned by the prophets in their midst that they need to change their ways. But in those moments, they made the wrong decisions.

Every day, we are in a similar situation. We are faced with living in this fallen world and fitting in, but thankfully we hear the voices of parents, leaders, and prophets warning us. There is a moment where you are standing with someone at work, and they say something unflattering about someone else. Perhaps you are standing in the hallway at school and someone comes along and invites you to go someplace you probably shouldn’t go. You spend time at home, but you are spending too much time on the computer or on your phone and the kids want to go do something. In any of these situations, what do you do?

A while ago Elder Bednar spoke to the YSA about seeing things as they really are[8]. He said that the one of the main roles of the Holy Ghost is to help us see truth. The Church put together a beautiful Mormon Message based on this thought[9]. The video shows a man in front of a computer screen, the lights are dim and the glow of the screen is lighting up his face. There are 2 different parts of the video. One shows where in that moment that he is called upon to be with his family, he is kind of hiding in a room and his reaction implies that he made the decision to indulge his physical appetites. The other example shows him closing his screen and returning to be with his family.

The other day I was speaking to someone about this topic. I shared that I had wondered if there were definitive moments in our lives that make us who we are. This person said that they definitely believed that and went on to share their experience. With permission, let me share just a bit. This person was married but the spouse had gotten into drugs. One day the spouse was snorting cocaine and had left some on the coffee table. The spouse handed the other spouse a rolled up bill and said, “Here, I have something for you.” The implication was that she could have the drugs. She indicated she was going to throw it out, and he asked why. She said that since it was given to her, it was hers, and she didn’t want it, so she was going to throw it out. Ultimately he used it, and she didn’t. This person I was speaking to still had troubles and challenges throughout her life, but she looks at that moment as a defining one. She feels that if she had tried it just once, she’d have been caught, and might very well have ended up on the street. As it was, eventually decisions were made that led her to St Catharines where she joined the Church.  In sharing this story with me, the person said that it was good to talk about these things, so we can remember those moments. Hopefully our remembering will shape the decisions we make in the future moments.

Along with the moments that we have in life where we are consciously making decisions, I think there are also moments that God lets us experience. These could be for our benefit or for the benefit of others. I have wondered about moments that affect a member’s activity. Was there a moment that would have kept someone active in the Church? Perhaps more importantly, was there a moment that depended on someone else that would have kept them in the Church, but that person wasn’t there for them? I can picture a person struggling silently. They are waiting, hoping for someone to come and talk with them. Sure, it’d be great if they could reach out and find someone to talk to themselves, but in their state of mind, they just can’t do it. Unfortunately the visiting teachers and home teachers don’t visit. Perhaps the person came to Church and no one said hi to them. We’ve lost them. Always remember, that when we make decisions, they don’t just affect us, but everyone around us. I remember for a period of time I would pray that despite my failings, my family wouldn’t suffer because of them. This made sense to me. I was being unselfish, and praying for them. Then one day it hit me hard. How can I pray that my failings won’t affect them, when obviously my failings affect me? If I want my family to be happy, and loving, then I need to be happy and loving. I need to make the right decisions myself and then create an environment where my family can learn to make the right decisions.

Another aspect of these moments that God lets us experience is that you have to be involved. I’m sure you’ve been to meetings or conferences, maybe even gone home and visiting teaching, where you felt clearly, “I’m glad I was here”. Well, you were there. What would you have missed out on if you hadn’t been there? I think so much of the gospel is like this. You’ve probably heard me say before that I know we can’t do everything, but we have to do something. Is every RS activity exciting? Is every Mutual activity fun? Is the food at every ward picnic or Christmas dinner awesome? Is every talent show showcasing world-class talent? Of course not, but that’s all part of being in this Church community. We are brothers and sisters. We are a community of latter-day saints, and we need to be there for one another.

So we need to be involved, and at the same time we also need to be alert. We need to be conscious of the opportunities for good that are around us. We need to see God’s hand in all that is around us. It is far too easy for us to just float along. If that happens, we risk missing some of the moments that God wants us to experience. I think that Terryl Givens, a professor of literature and religion at Richmond University in Virginia said it best this way:

For me, a paradigm that I keep going back to is Isaiah chapter 9. Here’s Isaiah who [has] one of the most boring [sections]. [What] you have to wade through to get past the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon! Here’s Isaiah and he’s talking about “the Midianites” this and “in Egypt” this, and “grinding the faces”. Then suddenly if you’re not paying attention, you miss it. We get this anthem to the Christ. The Wonderful Counselor. The Prince of Peace. If you blinked, you missed it. That’s how the gospel works. We’re mired in banality and there are these eruptions of the divine into our lives that occur from moment to moment.[10]

What a great analogy. Sometimes we do go through the motions, and we might ignore what is going on around us because it always seems the same. But those moments are there for us to feel the spirit if we are paying attention. I think those “eruptions of the divine” can happen frequently if we are looking for them. These are not earth-shattering events, but they reveal the tender mercies of the Lord.

Elder Neal A Maxwell once said “Moments are the molecules that make up eternity!” He then went on to share something that President Hinckley had said decades earlier

President Hinckley counseled: “It is not so much the major events as the small day-to-day decisions that map the course of our living. … Our lives are, in reality, the sum total of our seemingly unimportant decisions and of our capacity to live by those decisions” (Caesar, Circus, or Christ? Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [26 Oct. 1965], 3).[11]

Brothers and Sisters, we are here for a reason. We are to have joy. We need to make the right decisions at the right moments to bring to pass that joy. Sometimes the tough decisions are the right decisions. They are very hard to make. But if that is what is needed to get us back on track, that is what we need to do.

In conclusion, I want to read to you the words to Hymn 226 Improve the Shining Moments[12]. It is a hymn full of optimism and guidance for how to be happy.

1. Improve the shining moments;
Don’t let them pass you by.
Work while the sun is radiant;
Work, for the night draws nigh.
We cannot bid the sunbeams
To lengthen out their stay,
Nor can we ask the shadow
To ever stay away.

2. Time flies on wings of lightning;
We cannot call it back.
It comes, then passes forward
Along its onward track.
And if we are not mindful,
The chance will fade away,
For life is quick in passing.
’Tis as a single day.

3. As wintertime doth follow
The pleasant summer days,
So may our joys all vanish
And pass far from our gaze.
Then should we not endeavor
Each day some point to gain,
That we may here be useful
And ev’ry wrong disdain?

4. Improve each shining moment.
In this you are secure,
For promptness bringeth safety
And blessings rich and pure.
Let prudence guide your actions;
Be honest in your heart;
And God will love and bless you
And help to you impart.

I’m grateful for the moments that God has given me. I’m grateful that He has let me experience the sorrows and the joys of life. I’m grateful that He trusts me enough to let me make my own decisions.

I pray that we will all have the strength to make the right decisions at the right moments. I know that as we do so, that we will be on the right course, and we will have the capacity to help others stay on the right course.

I know that as we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will see the truth before us and we will be able to experience the “eruptions of the divine” in our lives.

I testify of this, in the name of Jesus Christ…

[1] Tye, Larry. Gross, Terry. “It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A New Superman Bio!” 18 June 2012. Fresh Air. 25 August 2012


[2] Uchtdorf, Dieter F. “A Matter of a Few Degrees.” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. <https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/a-matter-of-a-few-degrees>.

[3] Mosiah 26: 30

[4] Ether 12:4

[5] Alma 12: 24

[6] Alma 34: 33

[7] Helaman 13: 38

[8] Bednar, David A. “Things as They Really Are.” N.p., n.d. Web. 26-Aug 2012.


[9] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CstRqAlAZf0

[10] Givens, Terryl. Dehlin, John. “289-293: Terryl Givens — An Approach to Thoughtful, Honest and Faithful Mormonism.” 28 Sep 2011 Mormon Stories. 25 August 2012


[11] Maxwell, Neal A. “The Tugs and Pulls of the World .” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2012. <https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/the-tugs-and-pulls-of-the-world>.

[12] “226: Improve the Shining Moments,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no. 226

Canada-wide Stake Conference

I was going through some drafts that I had, and this one stuck out. Apparently 2 years ago we had a Canada-wide Stake Conference that was broadcast from Salt Lake City. Well, here we are 2 years later, and we have one this coming Sunday. I figured that I might as well post the notes that I typed up (but never posted) from the conference from 2 years ago, and then I’ll post the current notes next week. Obviously I paid a lot more attention to the Saturday broadcast than the Sunday one. I was still the bishop of the ward at that time, and the Saturday session essentially took the place of the local Priesthood Leadership session.


Elder Pace

  • We can’t receive too much counsel
  • Melchizedek Priesthood quorums are lacking because they are failing to tap into the power of the quorum
  • our leaders try to prime the pump of revelation, but we need to receive the revelation from deity

Elder Ballard

  • Q) how we do combat pornography
  • A) we draw a line in our minds over which we will never step
  • stop, repent, quit, draw the line
  • make a resolve and commitment with the Lord that you will not step over into the devil’s playground
  • pornography will destroy your spirituality
  • if this is an issue, stop it today
  • be careful on other sites as well (like Facebook)
  • stay on the Lord’s side
  • Matthew 25 – do not be a goat

President Uchtdorf

  • he has lived more of his life in districts than in stakes
  • don’t wait to make an impact in the lives of our children
  • in today’s world, don’t trust the compass the world is offering
  • trust the Holy Ghost
  • spoke of compass ambiguity as he traveled in northern Canada (has been to Frobisher Lake and Goose Lake)
  • use the time you have in your calling
  • don’t dare say “if only I was the…”
  • 1 Samuel 10 – the Lord will turn us into another man
  • there is no small calling in the Church


  • 111 downlink sites
  • 10 + languages
  • my son asked if there was another episode
  • Elder Pace on both days called Elder Ballard by the name Russell M Ballard
  • President Uchtdorf was very fidgety
  • Truly a united nation of the Church
  • 800+ missionaries
  • President Uchtdorf said that sometimes we have to look for something different to see the true identity. Bald Eagle, golf balls