As an addict involved in the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, I had to dig deep to find and embrace my inner Mormon. What follows is my journal from this point forward.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Summary of Sunday Morning Session of General Conference, Oct. 2011

Elder Henry B. Eyring
Elder Eyring's talk came from Mosiah 3:18. Expounding on the Scripture, Elder Eyring looked at three key elements of the baptismal covenant as found in the Scripture. He talked about being charitable, being a witness, and enduring in obedience.

Elder Eyring taught us that being charitable will become a part of our nature as we pursue it and rely on the Savior. Regarding being a witness, Elder Eyring told a story about speaking at a university where he was explicitly told that he could not be a witness of Jesus Christ there as is his calling. He struggled with how to deal with the situation and became inspired by Book of Mormon prophets who also had to testify of the Savior in the midst of opposition.

He found inspiration in being directed to research the university's history and realized similarities in charitable service between it and the LDS Church. He used this as a starting point and spoke about how this service is Christlike service. The experience was deeply emotional for him as he figured out how to deal with this difficult challenge.

He spoke of enduring and recounted stories of people whose lives were devoted to service of the Lord. He quoted Mosiah 2 and showed how King Benjamin in spite of his weakness and age endured to serve the Lord to the end.

Elder Robert D. Hales
Elder Hales spoke about the suffering the Savior endured during the atonement and how he willingly allow himself to undergo the pain. He stressed that he allowed himself to be alone and to wait upon his Heavenly Father.

He addressed the question of why some suffer great trials even while striving to do God's will. He referenced Joseph Smith and the early pioneers as examples. He made it clear that the purpose of our life is to grow developed and to strengthen. To do this, he said, that we too must learn to wait upon the Lord.

He acknowledged that there are times when we wonder why we are going to things such as a death of a companion, financial turmoil, or a wayward child. But in these circumstances he stressed the importance of waiting upon the Lord.

He explained that waiting upon the Lord means that we must have trusted the Lord, that we must have hope, that we must plant the seed of faith and press forward in faith. We must learn to rely on the merits of Jesus Christ and be steadfast and movable in keeping his commandments. He also explained that many times in prayer he did not receive answers because he was not ready for them. And that when they did come it was a little here and a little there.

He concluded by saying that we are not alone. That unlike the Savior, whose disciples could not stay awake for even an hour while he suffered in Gethsemane, that the Savior who watches over us does not slumber and that we can always call on him. He concluded with Isaiah 40:7.

Personal note: Given Elder Hale's recent struggles, I found his testimony particularly moving. He clearly spoke as someone who has had to wait on the Lord.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom
Elder Hallstrom spoke and bore testimony about the Book of Mormon. He told the story of his great grandfather who upon reading the preface to the Book of Mormon said that it must either come from God or from the devil and he was going to find out which. His great grandfather later concluded that it could not have come from the devil therefore it must be from God. He stated that this is the nature and the genius of the Book of Mormon; that there is no middle ground where it is concerned.

He spoke of the Book of Mormon being a fulfillment of prophecy that out of the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established. He used an analogy of a single point with infinite lines intersecting it as a demonstration of how the Bible with its many interpretations create so many different churches. He then use the Book of Mormon as a second point and showed how now only one line could intersect both. And the us with the Book of Mormon the interpretation of Scripture is clear and Pacific to one direction.

He went on to show how the Book of Mormon clarify misinterpretations in the Bible regarding the necessity of baptism, the mode of baptism, the need for continuing revelation, and the doctrine of the Atonement.

Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women's President
Sister Dalton, suprisingly, directed her words not towards the young women, but towards fathers and future fathers and spoke about what fathers can do to raise their daughters in righteousness.

She specified three things that can be done. First, a father must love the daughter's mother. Second, a father must be virtuous. Third, a father must bear testimony.

She expounded on each one of these, spending most of her time on the need for a father to love the mother. She stressed that if he loves and respects his spouse that his daughter will see this and know what is to be expected of her spouse and will ask for nothing less. She pleaded that fathers love the mothers so much that the marriage becomes celestial.

She talked about virtue being something that a father must teach and must live. Then he must be a defender virtue in word and deed. That if she knows that he is devoted to virtue that she will have the strength to maintain the standards on her own.

She encouraged fathers to teach their children the importance of education, modesty, values and obedience. She even stated that fathers must set curfews for their daughters, and if they do not come home on time that they should go out and get them so that the daughter will know how important virtue is.

She spoke of the importance fathers of bearing testimony to their daughters. She referenced Alma 19:16, which is the story of Abish. Abish was the daughter of a converted Lamanite who believed on her father's testimony. Her belief in his testimony was instrumental in bringing many Lamanites to Christ, and ultimately this resulted in the Stripling Warriors.

She stressed the importance of fathers in the lives of their daughters and that we could not accept world's view of a father's role being irrelevant. She stressed that fathers should be loyal to the royal within them.

Personal note: Many of the things spoken by Sister Dalton have been stated in priesthood meeting for young men repeatedly. However, hearing a sister speak to the fathers, I couldn't help but feel a special spirit and importance in this message. It is unusual for the Young Women's President to speak specifically to men, but I found the talk the most impactful of the session.

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Elder Ballard spoke of the name of Christ and its importance. He addressed the name of the church and the importance of understanding the full name of the church as being The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He distinguished this from the term Mormons and stated that while it's okay for members to be called Mormons, that we should not use the term to refer to the church. At the very least, he said we should tell people we belong to the Church of Jesus Christ.

He told about how when people asked if he was a member of the Mormon church, how he explained he belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and further explanations about what that means. He said this often created additional questions and teaching opportunities.

He said it was clear that far too many people did not understand that the name Mormon referred to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints and out our efforts in clarifying this would be very helpful. He told us that there is only one church on the earth that by divine command bears the name of the Lord. Since Lord commanded the church to have this name we should identify it by this name.

President Thomas S. Monson
Pres. Monson address the change in morality that is throughout the world. He, with much humor, addressed the views of the world has taken regarding morality. Saying things like the overriding command of the world seems to be "thou shalt not be found out." He spoke about a writer who stated that we spend moral capital with the same abandoned as you spend our physical capital.

He then stated that in spite of this decaying morality, that we as Latter-Day Saints, should not despair. He said we have the gospel of Jesus Christ, we know what it teaches and we know that we can live our standards. He said that morality is not passé. He declared that the laws of God do not change, that they are commandments and not suggestions. He quoted the 10 Commandments and said that if we listen we can hear the echo of God's voice speaking to us as he spoke them. He said our code of conduct is definitive and non-negotiable.

He declared strongly that God is the same yesterday today and forever. And gave us comfort that in a world where everything seems to be changing that we can rely on the constancy of God's commandments and this can anchor us in an ever-changing world. He explained how these teachings can be rejected because the natural man received is not the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). However it is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to our standards.

He explained that to be in the world but not of the world, it is necessary that we communicate with our heavenly father through prayer. He stressed the importance of praying every day. He told a personal story about losing five dollars as a child and the prayer he gave for its return and the answer he received. He then said to the day does not go by that he does not pray and that we need to do the same.

A collection of tweets related to these talks can be found here.

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