Tag Archives: joseph smith

186th Semiannual General Conference – Saturday Morning General Session

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I wish I was at home watching this, but I’m working today, so I’m watching this during my lunch break (and then some). I’ll be able to get home before the next session, and then my sons and I will go out with my father and my brother-in-law for tonight’s session. We’ll watch both sessions at home tomorrow.

It is a brisk Fall day today, so it’s kind of nice to be inside. I’m looking forward to the warmth of the Spirit as we hear from the various leaders.


It looks like the First Presidency has changed the side they are sitting on. They used to sit on the left of the pulpit (when watching from the congregation). They are now on the right side. I wonder if that is so President Monson doesn’t have so far to walk.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Sweet Is the Work

President Henry B Eyring conducted

The choir sang With Songs of Praise

The invocation was offered by Sister Joy D Jones

President Dieter F Ucthdorf

  • computer analogy
  • see, that’s how you do it
  • 22 years later, he is comfortable with it
  • The more adept I get, the more I take it for granted
  • We can take the gospel for granted
  • We have been given by so much
  • we get distracted
  • we tread a path covered with diamonds, but we can’t tell the
  • ifference between them and pebbles
  • what shall we give for the flood of light and truth we have received
  • live by the truth we have received

The choir sang We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet (it sounded wonderful!)

Elder Robert D Hales

  • Elie Wiesel‘s grandson asked him, “If I loved you more, would I hurt less?”
  • If we loved the Savior more, would we suffer less
  • We may not be able to eliminate our physical suffering, but we can suffer less spiritually
  • Teach your family. Don’t let the time slip by
  • We cannot pray away another’s agency

Sister Carol F McConkie

  • We can commune with God personally
  • Prayer is a gift from god
  • We are never alone
  • Every moment of prayer can be holy time

The choir and congregation sang Redeemer of Israel

Elder Craig C Christensen

  • We don’t need to be timid about Joseph Smith’s mission
  • If any of us lack wisdom, we can ask too
  • We have prophets to this day
  • The priesthood authority of God is on the earth

Elder Juan A Uceda

  • Told a story about how he almost fell off a cliff when he was a missionary
  • Always pray with a sincere heart
  • Let us pray as Jesus taught us to pray

Elder J Devn Cornish

  • Others believe in us when we sometimes don’t believe in ourselves
  • We must stop comparing ourselves to others
  • Yes, you are good enough and yes, you will make it
  • God is not a heartless referee looking to toss us out of the game
  • The atonement is both for sinners and saints
  • This doesn’t mean sin is ok. It always has consequences
  • True repentence is not easy
  • Do not rationalize rather than repenting

The choir sang Take Time to Be Holy

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • Shared story of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream
  • This church is the stone cut of out of the mountain
  • We have a great missionary responsibility
  • The gospel must go to everyone

The choir sang If the Way Be Full of Trial

The benediction was offered by Elder Marcus B Nash




Read the recaps and other notes from the 186th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

When is a prophet a prophet?

Often critics of the Church will bring up something that a prophet or apostle has done that was wrong (in their opinion) and ask how a man of God could do something like that. Defenders of the Church often then reply with this quote from Joseph Smith:

“a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such”

History of the Church 5:265

I definitely understand the concept, but I have to admit that seems kind of like a cop-out. It kind of gives the impression that a prophet can be a prophet, and then decide to be mean, and just say that he wasn’t being a prophet while he was being mean.

I heard a quote mentioned on a recent FairMormon podcast that I think gives more clarity on this topic. The quote was, “when God makes the prophet, he does not unmake the man.”

The full quote is from David O McKay, and is as follows:

Someone has said that when God makes the prophet, he does not unmake the man. I believe that, though being “born anew,” and being entitled to new life, new vigor, new blessings, yet the old weaknesses may still remain. The adversary stands by, ever eager and ready to attack and strike us at our weakest point.

David O. McKay, “The Divine Church“, Conference Report, April 1962, pp. 5-9

For additional thoughts on this, check out this By Common Consent post from a couple of years ago

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session

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Wow! Wasn’t President Uchtdorf‘s talk this morning awesome?! Hopefully there is another awesome one this session.

As I make my notes, I’m also following the #ldsconf tag on Twitter. As was expected, the hashtag was trending after the first session.

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In between sessions I watched The World Report, and then played some Mario Kart Wii with my son. Fun stuff!

We settle down to watch this next session…


President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

A family choir made of members from the Roy, Kanesville, Hooper and West Haven, Utah stakes sang On This Day of Joy and Gladness

Elder Paul B Pieper offered the invocation

Persident Henry B Eyring read the sustaining of Church officers

  • A few members of the 1st quorum of seventy were released
  • A few Area Seventy were released and a few sustained
  • There is a new 2nd Counselor in the General YM Presidency

The choir sang I Know That My Savior Loves Me

President Boyd K Packer

  • A gospel-centred home is a safe place
  • “In the last days perilous times shall come”
  • Perilous times are present
  • The cure for most mistakes can be found in forgiveness through personal prayer

Elder D Todd Chistofferson

  • Society has relied on the moral force of women
  • A woman’s noble influence is felt at home
  • There is no better setting to raise the rising generation
  • Your moral authority is vital, and we may be taking you for granted

Elder S Gifford Neilsen

  •  What would you do if the prophet called you?
  • They do call us. Are we listening?
  • We have been called to do more missionary work
  • We need to serve with enthusiasm next to the full-time missionaries

The choir and congregation sang Press Forward, Saints

Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela

  • By small and simple things are great things brought to pass
  • We need to teach in simple ways
  • The small and simple means often bring greater results

Elder Timothy J Dyches

  • Recounted several bible stories of Christ’s compassion and miracles
  • There is opposition, and this helps us see Christ’s healing power

Elder Jeffrey R Holland

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel” – Joseph Smith
  • It is impossible for us to fail if we do our best
  • Pray
  • If we all reach out to just one between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and what a wonderful gift to the Saviour
  • You will have many opportunities

The choir sang Love at Home

Sister Carol F McConkie 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:

Pamphlets and leaflets from around Palmyra

Note: This should be my last Palmyra relate post for a while.

As mentioned before, my family went to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York back in the middle of July. I have previously posted about the protestors as well as some pictures of the sites we visited. I’ve also scanned five of the pamphlets we picked up at the various sites, and I’ve posted them below.

Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site Grandin Building

Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site Grandin Building

The Sacred Grove and Joseph Smith Sr Family Historic Farm


The Sacred Grove and Joseph Smith Sr Family Historic Farm

Hill Cumorah Pageant


Hill Cumorah Pageant

The Hill Cumorah Historic Sites


The Hill Cumorah Historic Sites

The Museums of Historic Palmyra


The Museums of Historic Palmyra

Peter Whitmer Home and Visitors Center


Peter Whitmer Home and Visitors Center

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!

Youth Chosen Topic – Word of Wisdom

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

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

Here are my notes for the intro:

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

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

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

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

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

Among the 200 most influential people in the world

On Saturday as we were out running some errands we stopped at a few garage sales. As is often the case, several of the garage sales had boxes of books. One place had an old book (30-50 years old?) that was about the 100 most influential people in the history of the world (I can’t remember the exact title). There was a page or two about each person along with a photo or artwork.

I flipped to the back and found Joseph Smith in the index. I flipped to the page, but it was actually a list of the 2nd group of 100 influential people. It was strictly a list, so there was no information about him. But I still found it interesting that out of all of the people who have ever lived, at one point he was found to be among the top 200 most influential people of all time.

Scriptures that make you think of mothers

I’ve mentioned before that I am a Stake Institute Teacher right now. I went to an in-service meeting last Thursday, and the area Seminaries & Institutes guy asked us (there were only 4 of us) each to share our favourite scripture that makes us think about mothers. Here is what was shared:

  • Jeremiah 18 – the potter made something that wasn’t good, and tried again. We are like this in the Lord’s hands. We are also like this in our mother’s hands. They build us and shape us and help us become who we are
  • No particular verse was given, but one person talked about the women in Christ’s life
  • 1 Nephi 1: 1 – hopefully we can all say we were born of goodly parents
  • Joseph Smith – History 1: 20 – after having the First Vision, Joseph Smith went home. As Elder Bednar said, Joseph’s mother was in the right place at the right time asking the right questions

I thought it was interesting that no one mentioned the strippling warriors and how their mothers had taught them.

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:

Philadelphia’s Mormon Temple: An Affront to Modernism

The Philadelphia Weekly Press has a mostly positive article about the new temple being built there. It’s worth a read:

When it comes to church or temple architecture, Mormons have it all over Catholics and mega-church Protestants, whose modern churches frequently overemphasize cold, hard lines and sterility.

The proposed Mormon temple at 18th and Vine Streets near the Philadelphia Parkway won’t be a utilitarian warehouse. The design is one of many temple designs currently in use throughout the Mormon world. Currently there are 133 Mormon Temples in operation. When the Philadelphia Temple is completed, that number will rank in the high 130s. The Temple will have two spires, one hosting an image of the Angel Moroni, the angel whom, according to Mormon belief, appeared to Mormon founder Joseph Smith in Palmyra, New York, sometime after Smith asked God which church he should join.