Tag Archives: sacrament

186th Annual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session

186th_annual_general_conference_header

I thought I would nap between sessions, but I ended up watching the season finale of Star Wars Rebels with my kids. It was pretty awesome!

The first session today was pretty good. This afternoon I guess we’ll get the sustainings and statistics, which are always interesting.

We’ve had great weather this winter and spring, yet today it is snowing now as I sit here. We shouldn’t be having snow at this time of year!


President Henry B Eyring conducted

A choir comprised of students from BYU Idaho sang Sing Praise to Him

Elder Hugo E Martinez offered the invocation

President Dieter F Uchtdorf presented the general authorities and general officers of the Church for a sustaining vote.

Kevin R Jergensen read the audit report. All is ok.

Brook P Hales, the secretary to the First Presidency, read the statistical report for 2015

  • 3,174 stakes
  • 418 missions
  • 558 districts
  • 30.016 wards and branches
  • 15,634,199 total members
  • 114,550 children of record were baptized
  • 257,402 convert baptisms
  • 74,079 full-time missionaries
  • 31,779 church service missionaries
  • 5 temples dedicated in 2015
  • 2 temples rededicated in 2015
  • 149 in operation as of the end of the year

The choir sang Israel, Israel, God Is Calling

Elder Ronald A Rasband

  • sustaining is a privilege
  • as we follow our leaders we follow the Lord
  • (my daughter spilled her smoothie, so we mised much of this talk)

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • children are entitled to be born to mothers and fathers
  • we need to remember that not everyone comes from a picture perfect family
  • knowing someone’s name can make a difference
  • the greatest influence on our youth can be other righteous youth
  • we need to reach out to the youth who seem alone or outside the fence

The choir and congregation sang Now Let Us Rejoice

Elder Mervyn B Arnold

  • the Savior understood the need to rescue Heavenly Father’s children
  • his mother was a good example of reaching out
  • we must be organized, but we not must delay going to the rescue
  • sometimes many weeks pass talking about people who have needs, meanwhile our lost brothers and sisters are needing help

Elder Jairo Mazzagardi

  • he attended the Sao Paolo temple open house and afterwards received a clear answer that the church was true
  • keep searching for your testimony
  • if you lack wisdom, ask of God

Elder David A Bednar

  • quoted from King Benjamin
  •  we will always rejoice and always retain a remission of our sins
  • holy ordinances are essential to the gospel plan
  • the sacrament is critical to help us feel the power of godliness
  • the blessings of retaining a remission of our sins help us understand that baptism is a point of departure. It is not a destination we should yearn to visit over and over again.
  • The Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Sacrament are elements in an additive plan of redemptive progress

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • he feels strongly about the importance of councils
  • family councils have always been needed
  • 4 types of family councils
    • general family council (everyone)
    • executive family council (mother and family)
    • limited family council (parents and one child)
    • one-on-one family council (one parent, one child)
  • it used to be that shutting the doors and locking the gates kept you safe. Today it is much harder with the ways that bad influences can enter our home

The choir sang I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Brother Tad R Callister offered the benediction


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

Youth Chosen Topic – Participation in Church

A while back I posted some notes from a discussion we had with the youth about the Word of Wisdom. We had asked them what topics they wanted to discuss, and along with Word of Wisdom, they had general questions about why they need to sing, go to seminary, etc. We combined all of those things into a topic about participation. We were going to be addressing this topic at some point, but weren’t sure when. Since I am no longer the YM President, I won’t have an opportunity to discuss this with the youth, but I figured I’d still share my notes. Remember, these are just notes. I’m sure I wasn’t going to share everything, and I would have allowed the youth to direct the discussion in a certain way if it was going well.

From the youth topic survey, people wanted to discuss:

  • skipping classes
  • getting up for seminary
  • singing in Church
    • See D&C 25:12 – the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me
      For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.
    • See Mark 14:26 – Jesus and his disciples sang
      And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
  • false ideology
    • people focus too much on one thing but not another
  • what if you don’t know the church is true
    • not exactly participation, but we figured that we could cover this as part of this topic since participation is a result of and leads to stronger testimonies

What is the purpose of the Church?

  • Mosiah 18: 8-9
    And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
    Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
  • Mosiah 18: 19-21
    And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.
    Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
    And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
  • 4 Nephi 1: 12
    And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.
  • Moroni 6: 5-6
    And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
    And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
  • D&C 20: 75
    It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus
  • D&C 43: 8
    And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.

3 main purposes of coming to Church

  1. Partake of the Sacrament
  2. Learn the Gospel
  3. Help others

Parking of the Sacrament

  • The bread and water help us to remember Jesus
  • We take upon ourselves His name
  • It helps us to remember Him
  • We commit to follow Him
  • Sacrament prayers are located in D&C 20: 77, 79
    O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
    O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

Learn the Gospel

  • Listen to talks
  • Prepare for lessons
  • Be open to the Spirit
  • Don’t disrupt others
  • Even principles we’ve heard before can be interesting if we have the right attitude
  • Classes are as good as you make them
  • We should be edified together
    • See D&C 50: 17-25
      Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
      And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
      And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
      If it be some other way it is not of God.
      Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
      Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
      And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
      That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
      And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;

Help Others

  • Hymn 270 – I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
    • Perhaps there are things we need to do and say that will help others
  • What we say/do, how we act, and our body language has a profound impact on others

A report on the boundary changes

As I mentioned last week, there was a special meeting planned for this past Sunday where 4 wards would learn about some boundary changes. Our Stake President had decided that since we had General Conference and Stake Conference in the month, he wanted the Sacrament administered to (or is it for?) the members. We had 19 YM (Priests, Teachers and Deacons and a couple of adults) help do this. They passed the Sacrament to close to 400 people. It worked out well and a lot of people were appreciative that they had that opportunity.

Before getting to the changes, let me share one other thing with you… My father emailed a childhood friend who now lives in Utah (he has for decades). My dad said that they were making some changes, and this friend emailed back to say that in the last 10 years he’s been in 10 different stakes even though he hasn’t moved, and that he is now back in the original ward/stake that he was in before all of this started. The bottom line is this was a big deal for many members around here as it is the first time changes have been made in 20 years, but in some parts of the world this happens almost regularly.

So, the meeting ran like a regular sacrament meeting. The boundary changes were taken care of during the business portion near the beginning of the meeting. A counselor in the Stake Presidency announced the boundaries and then the members of the newly realigned ward were asked to sustain the changes. Opportunity was given to oppose, but no one did.

The changes were less drastic than I thought they might be. Our ward only lost a few members and didn’t gain any from any other wards. We’ll miss the members we lost greatly, but they will be well cared for in the new ward.

There were then a couple of youth speakers and all of the Bishops also had a chance to share their testimony. The Stake President was then the concluding speaker. The whole meeting lasted about  1 1/2 hours.

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:

“The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life”

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes. We sometimes can get into a debate about the “spirit” of the law and the “letter” of the law. Which is better? Which is right? Which do we follow?

Apparently this was written to one of Joseph F Smith’s sons who was on a mission. He had asked his dad about whether to anoint with oil with the right hand.

The question you ask about anointing seems very simple to me. I think it is the general practice to pour the oil with the right hand. I suppose because most people are right-handed. But there is no law or rule against anointing . . . with the left. We shake with the right hand. In the endowments the signs and tokens are made and given with the right hand. When we lay but one hand on the sick it should be the right. We take the Sacrament with the right hand. The practice makes the rule. But always remember that it is not the rule, or practice, which gives life or force, but the true spirit. There is no good in splitting hairs nor in tickey-technical rules. “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”

Scott Kenney, ed., From Prophet to Son: Advice of Joseph F. Smith to His Missionary Sons, p. 93.
Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:103.

The practice makes the rule, but the rule doesn’t give force. Only truth or the Spirit gives force. I guess according to President Smith, the debate is over… the Spirit wins!

Sacrament Hymn 169 – As Now We Take the Sacrament

I’ve commented before how I love music. I like most of the hymns that we sing in the Church, but there are definitely some that I like more than others. My favourite Sacrament hymn is #169. “As Now We Take the Sacrament” has beautiful music and words to match:

With devotion

1. As now we take the sacrament,
Our thoughts are turned to thee,
Thou Son of God, who lived for us,
Then died on Calvary.
We contemplate thy lasting grace,
Thy boundless charity;
To us the gift of life was giv’n
For all eternity.

2. As now our minds review the past,
We know we must repent;
The way to thee is righteousness—
The way thy life was spent.
Forgiveness is a gift from thee
We seek with pure intent.
With hands now pledged to do thy work,
We take the sacrament.

3. As now we praise thy name with song,
The blessings of this day
Will linger in our thankful hearts,
And silently we pray
For courage to accept thy will,
To listen and obey.
We love thee, Lord; our hearts are full.
We’ll walk thy chosen way.

Text: Lee Tom Perry, b. 1951. © 1985 IRI

Music: Daniel Lyman Carter, b. 1955. © 1985 IRI

Doctrine and Covenants 138:1–4

Doctrine and Covenants 59:8–12

“169: As Now We Take the Sacrament,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no. 169

Here are a few of the things that touch me:

  • “We contemplate they lasting grace, Thy boundless charity” – So true!
  • “With hands now pledged to do thy work, We take the sacrament.” – What good does it do us if we take upon us the name of Christ, but don’t take any action? We need to commit to do the Lord’s work
  • “The blessings of this day Will linger in our thankful hearts” – I love Church. The meetings aren’t always the best. I don’t always go with a great attitude. But each and every week I leave Church a better person. I feel closer to God, and I’m thankful for the ward family that I have.
  • “…we pray For courage to accept thy will, To listen and obey.” – Most of us have a desire to do what’s right, but we fall short. We should, indeed, pray for courage.

Our Easter Sacrament Meeting

Here is the program that we used for our Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. Afterward, I’ve made a few notes:


Program Title: I Believe In Christ

Musical Number: Ward Choir—I Know That my Redeemer Lives

Reader#1:

Judith Robinson Walton, “The Mother,” Ensign, Dec. 1982, 49
She went unnoticed.
Amid the angry mob she was
But another witness.
Yet those who knew
Beheld a softly anguished face,
Whose sorrow raged, but silently.
A knowledge that this must be
For a time had steadied her.
And so she watched,
As, taunted, bound, and lifted high,
He stood his pain, and hers, and theirs.
She watched
The thing she could not bear to see.
For a moment
She remembered a time before;
Then, too, He was
About his Father’s business.
Yet, that time,
The parting short and painless.
This …
In new and sudden grief
She bowed her head.
Above the rabid cries of men
Her silent prayer, a plea.
Must this suffering be?
Might not a mother’s hands
Some comfort give?
The son looked down
And kindly drew her eyes to his.
She saw her answer there.
She could not ease these final steps,
And, at length, withdrew her gaze.
Her son, His Son: His will be done.
She turned and walked with John.

Read to add testimony

Congregational Hymn: 191 Behold the Great Redeemer Die

Reader#2

John 20:1-3, 9-17
1 THE afirst day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet bdark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the cstone taken away from the dsepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other adisciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the bLord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must arise again from the bdead.
10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
11 ¶ But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two aangels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and asaw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, aMaster.
17 Jesus saith unto her, aTouch me not; for I am not yet bascended to my cFather: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my dFather, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Read to add testimony of the resurrection

Musical Number: Look on Him and Live

Reader #3:

In April 6, 1985, 13 days before his death, Bruce R McConkie, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ delivered a stirring testimony. I will be reading part of his address.
We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive, the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible to suffer, except it be unto death. We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.
As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies- this suffering beyond compare- continued for some three or four hours… he was led away with a rope around his neck, as a common criminal, to be judged… they took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. He was accused, cursed, and smitten. Their foul saliva ran down his face as vicious blows further weakened his pain-engulfed body. With reeds of wrath they rained blows upon his back. Blood ran down his face as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow…But above it all he was scourged, scourged with forty stripes save one, scourged with a multithonged whip into whose leather strands sharp bones and cutting metals were woven. Many died from scourging alone, but he rose from the sufferings of the scourge that he might die an ignominious death upon the cruel cross of Calvary. Then he carried his own cross until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all.
Finally, on a hill called Calvary…the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross. With great mallets they drove spikes of iron through his feet and hands and wrists. Truly he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Then the cross was raised that all might see and gape and curse and deride. This they did, with evil venom, for three hours from 9 A.M. to noon.
The heavens grew black. Darkness covered the land for the space of three hours, as it did among the Nephites. There was a mighty storm, as though the very God of Nature was in agony. And truly he was, for while hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon to 3 P.M., all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred. And finally, when the atoning agonies had taken their toll- when the victory had been won, when the Son of God had fulfilled the will of his Father in all things- then he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and he voluntarily gave up the Ghost

Read to add testimony of Atonement

Congregational Hymn: 136 I Believe in Christ

Bishop:

Elder McConkie continues:
After some thirty-eight or forty hours- three days as the Jews measured time- our Blessed Lord came to the Arimathaean’s tomb, where his partially embalmed body had been placed by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. Then, in a way incomprehensible to us, he took up that body which had not yet seen corruption and arose in that glorious immortality which made him like his resurrected Father. He appeared unto Mary Magdalene and many others, and ascended into heaven, there to sit down on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and to reign forever in eternal glory. His rising from death on the third day crowned the Atonement. Again, in some way incomprehensible to us, the effects of his resurrection pass upon all men so that all shall rise from the grave.
As Adam brought death, so Christ brought life; as Adam is the father of mortality, so Christ is the father of immortality. And without both, mortality and immortality, man cannot work out his salvation and ascend to those heights beyond the skies where gods and angels dwell in eternal glory.
The Atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood off all our revealed truths.
I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement… We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord
Bruce R McConkie went on to say : And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God- I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way. God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin.

Bishop will close with own comments)

Closing Hymn: 200 Christ the Lord is Risen Today


  • The meeting turned out excellent. The three readers/speakers before me bore wonderful testimony of the Savior, his mission, life, and atonement. It was very touching
  • The song Look on Him and Live is gorgeous! 4 woman sang it, and I really wanted to applaud when they were done. Bravo!
  • I only had a couple of minutes when I was done, and shared a thought based on the Primary Songbook song This Is My Beloved Son. I just wanted to emphasize that even though we have those who have seen Jesus, and we have the testimonies of our prophets and apostles, we, too, can have a witness.

Overall, it was a very good day!

2009 Ward Conference

This past Sunday was our annual Ward Conference. The stake presidency had decided that the theme of the conferences this year would be from Mosiah 18:21. I think the day went very well. The Primary children sang a couple of songs as prelude music, and did a great job. For the meeting, I was the first speaker, the counselor in the stake presidency over our ward was the second speaker, and the stake president was the concluding speaker. We had 173 people attend, including several non-members, and one couple that hadn’t been to church in years. This is 25-30 more than our average, so we were quite pleased. The combined MP/RS meeting was about bringing the Church out of obscurity. I spoke about missionary work, the stake RS president spoke about services, and the stake Public Affairs person spoke about being involved in the community, and the stake president summarized everything. After Church, we went and visited (prearranged) some members. I havne’t received all reports back yet, but they went also went well. It was a long day, but a good one!

In case you are interested, here is my 10-minute talk from sacrament meeting about contention…


Good morning Brothers and Sisters. It is great to see so many of you out this morning for our ward conference. I, like all of you, look forward to the messages that will be shared with us today.

I thank the Primary for their beautiful singing this morning. My kids love the song Holding hands Around the World. The words of the chorus are:

We are children holding hands around the world,
Like an army with the gospel flag unfurled.
We are led by His light,
And we love truth and right.
We are building the kingdom of God.[1]

What a beautiful message. You can imagine the strength these children will have if they keep that inspiration with them as they grow?!

When I last spoke, I mentioned that the theme of the ward conferences and of the stake this year was taken from Mosiah 18: 21.

And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.[2]

My remarks this morning will focus on the first part of that verse: contention. To contend is to argue or compete over a point; to fight about something. In boxing, the person ranked just below the champion is called the #1 contender. In sports, being in contention is a good thing. It means you are trying your best and you are close to the top. Fans in those cities where teams are in contention are excited and look forward to going to the games. Fans in those cities where teams are not in contention often can’t be bothered to even go to the games. Unfortunately, in most other parts of life, the results of contention are quite the opposite. Christ plainly taught us that:

…he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.[3]

With that as a definition, it seems impossible to come up with a situation where contention would be a good thing. Contention is associated with pride. We contend with people because we are certain we are right and they are wrong. It is also associated with selfishness. We may know we are wrong, but don’t want others to be right. Sometimes we develop a sense of entitlement. Perhaps we have done something for others and feel that they now owe us, and we treat them poorly because of it. This lack of humility can damage our homes, our places of employment, and the Church. The fruits of contention are anger, hatred, yelling, and even violence. Of course, on the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit are

…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…[4]

When I was a missionary in Taiwan, we’d often hear about a Confucius saying. It was kind of a long thought, but basically it said that if we wanted to improve the country, we have to improve our states (or provinces). If we want to improve our states (or provinces), we have to improve our cities. If we want to improve our cities, we have to improve our families. And if we want to improve our families, we have to improve ourselves.

So, how do we improve ourselves, so that there is less contention in and around us? I like how it is explained in Helaman. Nephi and Lehi were teaching the people of Zarahemla. They had been cast into prison and protected in a variety of ways. The people saw the hand of God, and eventually the people responded. It says that 300 souls were influenced that day. As Nephi and Lehi continued to preach to them, it says of the people of Zarahemla, that:

… as many as were convinced did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred and the tradition of their fathers.[5]

Reading it just a little differently, it says we need to lay down our weapons, lay down our hatred, and lay down the traditions of our fathers (obviously the unrighteous ones). I think it is pretty easy to visualize someone physically taking their weapons and laying them on the ground. You can imagine the hesitation… that weapon might have saved their life or the lives of their loved ones. It protected them in one way or another, but with courage and faith they put their weapons down. However, as that verse says, we also need to lay down our hatred. Imagine that the hatred and anger you have in you is something that you could actually touch or grasp. Perhaps it has become part of you, and it may hurt physically and emotionally to tear it out. It may be more difficult to rid yourself of this, than of your physical weapons. Just as with physical weapons, our anger and bitterness may have been used as a weapon, as well. We may have used it to cover our weaknesses. It doesn’t really matter how the anger and contention started, we have to take whatever steps necessary to end it. Only then can we truly come unto Christ and partake of his goodness.[6] This may take time, but you will be successful.

One thing that may help is to replace the contention with positive things. Just as “no unclean thing can dwell with God”[7], I’d say that no clean thing can dwell with Satan. Look for the good in others. The other day I heard a report on the radio about a couple of college students who go to a street corner near their school every Wednesday for a couple of hours and give compliments. “Nice shoes. You’ve got great curly hair. I like your sweatpants. I like your smile.” One of the students said,

Days when it’s raining, and days when it’s absolutely frigid out, and people are like, man, thank you for coming out here. We’re not necessarily enjoying our time in the cold, we’re enjoying the responses we get and the interaction we receive with people.[8]

For whatever reason, these young men are trying to bring brighten the day for others. There are those that are still rude to them, but they keep doing it. Remember, just as dealing with someone who is in a bad mood can push us to be in a bad mood, dealing with someone with a bright and optimistic outlet can push us to be the same. It’s contagious!

Once we have taken these steps to improve ourselves, the next step is to improve our families. On our way to the temple on Thursday, Caroline, Marilyn, Lisa and I briefly discussed how it seems to be easier to be nice to strangers and friends than it is to our own families. The amount of time we spend together can be such a blessing, but we also see so many weaknesses and differences. The natural man let’s those differences eat away at us. Don’t let that happen.

Let me share with you one thing that we have done in our family recently. A little more than a month ago we returned from a family vacation in Florida. It was the first time that we had gone away as a family for an extended period of time. It was awesome. Our Family Home Evening lesson on the Monday following our return was about the importance of family and spending time together. We talked about the cost of the trip, and so we made a Family Fun Jar. On pay day and allowance day, we all have a chance to put some money in the jar for our next family vacation. We also discussed the type of relationship we need to have in order to have fun. Our family already had some standard rules about not hitting and listening to others, but we added a rule about not yelling. This rule even applied to Mommy and Daddy. We rarely yelled in true anger, but it definitely would get the kids attention and they would then listen. Of course, when the adults yell, the children yell as well, and we didn’t want. To encourage us to follow this new rule, we decided that our Family Fun Jar would also be a Yelling Jar. Some people have a swearing jar, and whenever they swear, they have to put money in the jar. We don’t swear, but we all would occasionally yell. At first Andrew said he was going to yell so that we could go on vacation again, but when he actually had to put money in the jar as a consequence, he quickly understood that was not what he wanted to do. I’m happy to report that in the 5 weeks we’ve been back, it is working well. We’ve all had to put in a few dollars, but overall, the contention in our home has reduced considerably. We are indeed being blessed.

If yelling isn’t a problem in your home, then you don’t have to do this. Identify where you and your family have issues, and come up with a plan to change.

It is apparent from the scriptures that there are many attributes that we should be striving to develop, but we cannot forget our responsibility to rid our lives of undesirable attributes. It is no coincidence that after Christ visited the Nephites, one of their defining characteristics was that they did not have any contention. 4 Nephi has many references to this:

…there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another

…And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land;

…And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

…And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.[9]

I do not claim to be an expert in living in peace and harmony with everyone, but I’m trying. I know although it may be hard, treating everyone with love and respect is the only way to live. As the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, we need:

…supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks… that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.[10]

This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

——
[1] Copyright © 2001 by Janice Kapp Perry. All rights reserved.
[2] Mosiah 18: 21
[3] 3 Nephi 11:29
[4] Galatians 5: 22
[5] Helaman 5:51
[6] 2 Nephi 26:32-33
[7] 1 Nephi 10: 21
[8] “At Purdue, Compliments Are Complimentary” from All Things Considered, March 20, 2009, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102128212 accessed 20090321
[9] 4 Nephi 1: 2, 13, 15, 18
[10] 1 Timothy 2: 1-2

Put faces to the numbers

I may have mentioned before that I go for a long walk each day during my lunch hour. I have a few podcasts I listen to during the week as I walk (Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, Prime Time Sports, 60 Minutes, and occasionally some others). A couple of weeks ago there was a segment on 60 Minutes about Flight 1549, Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III, and his crew. It was quite a moving piece, but one part of it particularly stuck out. When talking about how everyone survived, Captain Sullenberger said this:

You know, 155 is a number, but when you can put faces to it and not just 155 faces but the other faces, the wives, the daughters, the sons, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, it gets to be a pretty big number pretty quickly.
60 Minutes podcast. Flight 1549: An Emotional Reunion [online]. [Accessed 20 February 2009]. 2009. Available from World Wide Web: [Podcast]

In the Church, as in essentially all other organizations, the only way to measure progress is with numbers. Sometimes we focus on this number, or that number, but it still comes down to a number. What was our sacrament meeting attendance? How many baptisms have we had this year? What was our home teaching percentage? We need to often remind ourselves that those numbers do, indeed, represent people. Captain Sully and his crew expertly maneuvered the plane and got the passengers out, and 155 people were saved. But the impact of what they did is far greater than that. It has affected hundreds of people directly, and probably thousands, maybe even millions of people, more. The same goes for our service in the Church. Whether in a calling, or as a home and visiting teacher, we may be only working with a certain person, or a small group of people, but the effects of our work can affect dozens more and can last for generations. It is a humbling, but inspiring thought!

Attending Church away from “home”

I haven’t posted for a week and a half. My family went on a vacation down to Orlando. My in-laws rented a house there for a month, and we visited for 8 days. It was great. The weather was gorgeous (blue sky and 27°C/80°F every day).

We were there for one Sunday, and went to Sacrament Meeting at the Kissimmee Ward. The first thing that caught our attention was that it was our building. By that, I mean that the building was obviously built around the same time in the 50s and is the same basic building plan. I’m sure back when it was built the meetinghouse was in the middle of nowhere. Now it sits in the middle of a plaza parking lot along a major roadway.

It happened to be their ward conference that week. There were loads of people there and 8 YM (we only use 5 in our ward) passed the sacrament (I don’t know if this is normal, or if they had more because of ward conference). There were 2 speakers; a counselor in the stake presidency and the stake president. The counselor spoke about the importance of families. The stake president spoke about Proposition 8 (briefly), families, and then concluded his talk with a side note about how if you have a temple recommend and you don’t pay your tithing, you won’t have a temple recommend any more (perhaps there is a problem in Kissimmee, I don’t know).

On the one hand, attending Church in a different ward, was almost like attending Church back home (especially when the building looked the same). The hymns are the same, the way the prayers are offered are the same, etc. On the other hand, it still didn’t feel like home. The members were welcoming, but I missed my friends, associates, and others I serve with back in my home ward. There’s no place like home!