Prayer, Joy & Happiness

Recently I have felt that it is important for me to work on offering more heartfelt and sincere prayers, and to focus more on the joy and happiness that I have now and ahead of me. Here are a few quotes from the past general conference that I found to be meaningful. Hearing and reading these words and the rest of these (and other) talks from the recent LDS general conference was an answer to my prayers. I offer my testimony that these are men and women who have been called by the Lord to serve, teach and share these inspired messages. I share my own personal witness that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, a man who has dedicated his life to serving, encouraging, and loving others and teaching people to follow Christ.

“As you pray to Heavenly Father in faith, “he will console you in your afflictions, … [and ye may] feast upon his love.” President Henry B. Eyring shared that his father’s prayers during a losing battle with cancer taught him the deeply personal relationship between God and His children:

“When the pain became intense, we found him in the morning on his knees by the bed. He had been too weak to get back into bed. He told us he had been praying to ask his Heavenly Father why he had to suffer so much when he had always tried to be good. He said a kindly answer came: ‘God needs brave sons.’

“And so he soldiered on to the end, trusting that God loved him, listened to him, and would lift him up. He was blessed to have known early and to never forget that a loving God is as close as a prayer.”

– Carol F. McConkie (and quoting Pres. Eyring)

“Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives. As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!

And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.

If we focus on the joy that will come to us, or to those we love, what can we endure that presently seems overwhelming, painful, scary, unfair, or simply impossible?”

– President Nelson

“Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His atoning sacrifice, all would be lost. It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we obtain true, eternal happiness.

We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us. He does nothing save it be for our benefit. He has told us, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”1

From the depths of my soul and in all humility, I testify of the great gift which is our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness both here and in the world to come.”

– President Monson

Quotes from April 2014 General Conference

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A few of my favorite quotes from the recent general conference:

“In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return. You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead.

–Elder Andersen, Spiritual Whirlwinds

“Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be.”

–President Uchtdorf, Grateful in Any Circumstances

“…there has been a long history of rejection and a painfully high price paid by prophets and apostles, missionaries and members …In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship). …Friends, especially my young friends, take heart. Pure Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.”

–Elder Holland, The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship

“Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering.”

–President Packer, The Witness

“We live in a world where moral values have, in great measure, been tossed aside, where sin is flagrantly on display …decisions are constantly before us which can determine our destiny… We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us—all of us—have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval.”

–President Monson, Be Strong and of a Good Courage

I add my testimony that I know these men are are living prophets of God, called of him to declare his words.

Quotes, Thoughts From General Conference, Oct 2013

I remember while growing up my parents would often have conference playing on the radio on conference Saturday but I wasn’t usually very excited about it. My thought was basically, church/conference on Saturday? Who would do that? But my tastes and understanding have improved as I’ve gotten older.

I watched all 5 sessions of general conference this weekend and found them all to have valuable messages I needed to hear. However it was the Sunday morning session that I found to be the most powerful. I was eagerly watching, listening for quotes that would help me– the Lord gave me something more meaningful and more lasting through the Holy Ghost that I won’t forget. As I listened to the prophet speak Sunday morning I felt an overwhelming impression from the Holy Ghost that President Monson was indeed called of God to be a prophet, and that he was prepared and lived a life consistently in line with God’s commandments, that he is guided and directed today by God through revelation to lead the Lord’s church and that he is leading us by example. No force on Earth and no power of darkness can take that knowledge from me. The Holy Ghost has borne witness to me of this and left no doubt. I already knew it but the Lord deepened my testimony. What a great blessing!

Some favorite quotes:

“Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity.”
–President Monson

“…your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.”
–President Monson

“It is only with the companionship of the Holy Ghost that we can hope to be equally yoked in a marriage, free from discord…the miracle of becoming one requires the help of heaven and it takes time.
–President Eyring

Pres. Eyring explained how he has prayed for some members of his family that angels would attend them during difficult times in their relationships. This point of needing angels and the Holy Ghost to help overcome relationship struggles is one that was very timely for me. I really like how he went on to emphasize the reality of angels watching over us:

…There is not one of us, but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that he has not been cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that he has not desired to save, and that he has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that he has not given his angels charge concerning us. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God and that he has actually given his angels, invisible beings of power and might, charge concerning us and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”
–President Eyring quoting Pres. Canon

I don’t know a lot about Elder Vinson but I loved his talk from Sunday afternoon. I also felt bad for him having to deal with the fly buzzing around him as he spoke, how frustrating is that? But he handled it with dignity. I’m not sure but they may have edited that out in the recorded version of the video. This is the quote from him:

“[Speaking of the story of the brother of Jared] …the Lord not only left temporarily unsolved the challenge of how to provide light, but he then made it clear that he the lord would allow the buffetings and trials that necessitated its solving. He it would be, that would send forth the winds, the rains and the floods. Why would he do that? And why does he warn any of us to remove ourselves from the source of danger, when he could simply stop the danger from happening? …Rather than solve the problem himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon him in solving our problems, and trust him. Then we can feel his love more constantly, more powerfully more clearly, and more personally. We become united with him, and we can become like him.”
–Elder Terence M. Vinson

Elder Holland is full of surprises. I certainly didn’t expect this talk from him, but I was pleasantly surprised that he would address such a difficult subject, depression, in a conference talk. To know he’s dealt with depression makes it seem more ok to have experienced it, and makes him that much more of hero to me for who he has become.

“Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”
–Elder Holland

“Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead”
–Elder Holland

More good quotes:

“The scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection. They contain the doctrine and laws and ordinances that will bring each child of God to a testimony of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.”
–President Packer

“The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel.
…peace can be settled in the heart of each who turns to the scriptures and unlocks the promises of protection and redemption that are taught therein. ”
–President Packer

“It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed. We can become virtuous and pure. However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit.

Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence. We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements.

…The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy …repentance is not punishment. It is a hope-filled path to a brighter future.”
–Elder Scott

“There is no greater joy in life than being anxiously engaged in the service of the Lord.”
–Elder Ballard

“In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected.

…“The only safety we have as members of this church is to … give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your [personal] views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’.
–Elder Hales (second paragraph quoting Pres. Harold B. Lee)

Checkout out the archive page on LDS.org to watch or listen to the other talks given during the conference:
October 2013 LDS General Conference Archive

Reasons general conference weekend is awesome

So yes I’m copying this idea from another blog post, actually several other blog posts. I don’t mind though because I have some of my own reasons, or at least my own perspective on why LDS general conference is awesome. Here’s a few reasons, in no particular order:

1. Quotes. I need more power quotes that I can glance at daily to feel more inspired and motivated. I’ve mentioned this before, on my desk I have a stack of 3×5 cards, each card contains a quote that is meaningful to me. I flip through them often. Reading these regularly helps keep me grounded and helps bring the Spirit into my life more. The quotes are often played back in my mind when I need them. The talks given by the speakers in conference never fail to produce several powerful quotes that I will treasure for months and years to come. After all, we get to sit and listen to prophets of God give us inspired counsel and direction. Of course there will be something in there, many things in there that I need to hear personally. And there always is. Can’t wait!

2. The Priesthood Session. Ok so for the first time it will be streamed live and we don’t have to go to a chapel to watch the satellite broadcast of this session. That’s cool, but I’ve always liked getting together with my Dad and my brother to watch that session. There’s a feeling of unity that comes to us when we go together. It’s a family tradition, just like it is for my sister and Mom to get together to watch the Relief Society session. I also love the feeling of standing and singing with the congregation at the broadcast. I will miss that. But I can’t wait to see in what ways we’re rebuked and nurtured by the speakers.

Come listen to living prophets

3. Another Elder Holland talk to memorize. I’ve been trying to memorize, word for word, a few of Elder Holland’s talks. Even though I probably only have about 50% of each of those talks committed to memory they continue to inspire me. Plus to be fair, some of them are over 20 minutes long. Who speaks with more candor, more boldness, and more power than Elder Holland?

4. No church meetings. I know other people have given this same point for liking conference. I love church, I need church every week, I look forward to taking the sacrament at church. But not having extra morning meetings, not having to work on preparing a lesson or work on coordinating other church things is nice, at least every 6 months or so. Any more than that and I would miss it.

All sessions of Lds conference are streamed live on Oct 5th and 6th this year, 2013. Don’t sleep in too late tomorrow because the first session starts at 10:00 AM MDT.

10 great LDS talks

There’s certain talks from leaders of the LDS church that have influenced me in pretty significant ways. Some of these talks I listen to a lot, others just have messages that made a lasting impression and have stuck with me. Here’s 10 that have had a big influence on me, in no specific order.

  1. Mission of the Book of Mormon Elder Jefferey R. Holland, 2000
    This talked has helped put into context for me the important role of the Book of Mormon while I was a missionary. I listened to it over and over. Elder Holland’s excitement and level of spirituality is inspiring. You have to hear it, I can’t host the audio here but if you’re interested and you can’t find it online, ask me and I’ll email it to you.
  2. Elijah’s Mission Truman G. Madsen, 1977
    Amazing insights about Elijah’s mission of turning our hearts to family/ancestors– not only being grateful for the good we either inherit or learn from family but also being willing to forgive them for the challenges we inherit because of them, and how doing that can bless our family lines in both directions.
  3. See Others As They May Become President Thomas S. Monson, Oct. 2012
    I love Pres. Monson’s words about how people can change and his own experiences that he shares about how he has seen people change miraculously through the power of Christ.
  4. Forgiveness President Gorden B. Hinckley, Oct. 2005
    This talk is one of my favorites from Pres. Hinckley while he was the president of the church. It was given during his later years when it was evident that his time with us was limited so I think his insights were even more valued and had special meaning. It includes a great quote that “forgiveness may be the greatest virtue on earth”. His insights, along with the examples he gives makes this probably best sermon I can remember hearing on forgiveness.
  5. Born of God President Ezra Taft Benson, 1985
    A few words from this talk stuck with me when I heard them as a missionary, about how Christ approaches problem-solving in an entirely different way than the world approaches it. Pres. Benson, says:“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
  6. The First Great Commandment Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Oct. 2012
    I can’t even begin to fully describe all the reasons why I like this one, Elder Holland just gets better and better. The image he paints of the remaining apostles going back to their lives as fisherman after the Savior’s crucifixion and then the the Lord visiting them and calling them back to the ministry. There’s so much symbolism in the scriptures he’s referencing but also the way Elder Holland expounds on the scripture is very inspired and powerful.
  7. Prayer Elder Henry B. Eyring, Oct. 2001
    Elder, (now President) Eyring is one of my favorite speakers because of he is at the same time very bold and tender-hearted. He reminds us here to be diligent and sincere in our prayers even after the requested blessing comes. I like also that he quotes the scripture in Helaman 12:1-3.
  8. It’s True, Isn’t It? Elder Gorden B. Hinckley, 1971
    President Hinckley was always so mild-mannered and wise, he also had a good sense of humor. I often looked forward to hearing him speak. I like this particular talk because of the experience he shares of the person he met who had to make the difficult choice of giving up everything in his life to join the church.
  9. The Challenge to Become Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Oct. 2000
    Elder Oak’s provides a great insight into the Savior’s words to Peter, “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”. I had missed this scripture before hearing this talk back in the day, could an Apostle of Christ not be fully converted to Christ? What does that mean for the rest of us. It’s not just about belief or knowledge, it’s about what we do with what we know.
  10. Standing Together for the Cause of Christ Elder Jefferey R. Holland, 2012
    Elder’s Holland speaking to a group of national Christian leaders, delving into such tender topics as cultivating unity among various Christian faiths in spite of differing theologies, and the need to work together to strengthen communities by building upon common ground.“Surely there is a way for people of goodwill who love God and have taken upon themselves the name of Christ to stand together for the cause of Christ and against the forces of sin. In this we have every right to be bold and believing, for “if God be for us, who can be against us?”.

Quotes from April 2013 LDS General Conference

Conference this weekend was so good, here’s just a few of the quotes that were meaningful to me. I like the first two quotes because of the insight they provide into the nature of God and our purpose on Earth.

“A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God …Obedience is a hallmark of prophets. It has provided strength and knowledge to them throughout the ages. It is essential for us to realize that we as well are entitled to this source of strength and knowledge. It is readily available to each of us today as we obey God’s commandments …Obedience is the great test of this life”

Pres. Monson, Sunday Morning Session, 4.07.2013

When considering Christianity, if our actions, thoughts, beliefs in this life didn’t matter or had no eternal consequence, what would be the point of all the commandments God has given us in the scriptures and through prophets? There are commandments and heavenly laws because obedience does matter, we learn the truths of life by following God’s direction. But there’s more we have to understand, God is not some distant, uncaring being looking down on us with a furrowed brow, he is a loving parent who is there for us and who wants to help us every step of the way. Pres. Utchdorf compared us to a child learning to walk who inevitably stumbles during the learning process.

“I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so he could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring, and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward him. Even when we stumble, he urges us not to be discouraged, never to give up or flee our allotted field of service, but to take courage, find our faith and keep trying.”

Pres. Utchdorf, Priesthood Session, 4.06.2013

That quote not only reminded me of God’s love, it also helped me feel it. Although we’re required to follow God’s commandments, he knows we’re imperfect and will make mistakes. So he provided a Savior and he provided repentance so that we can change, become better people and put mistakes behind us.

Another quote comes from my all-time favorite speaker, Elder Holland, his words have inspired me to make an adjustment to the way I approach my prayers. Regarding the story in Mark 9 he gave insight about the father who sought healing from Jesus for his son:

“..when facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation, ‘Lord I believe’. I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man. In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited …hold fast to what you already know, and stand strong until additional knowledge comes …The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue. It is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have, and the truth you already know …when problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your unbelief. That’s like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear. I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have …you have more faith than you think you do …belief [is] always the first step toward conviction.”

Elder Holland, Sunday Afternoon Session, 4.07.2013

Courage & Testimony

President Monson speaks with such a kind spirit, confidence and optimism that I think it’s nearly impossible to dislike him. Everything he says is full of inspiration and encouragement. More than that, I know that he is a prophet of God, that has been called to preside over the Lord’s church today and to be a witness of Christ. I’m inspired by his words from a recent general conference address:

“Courage is the word we need to hear and hold near our hearts—courage to turn our backs on temptation, courage to lift up our voices in testimony to all whom we meet, remembering that everyone must have an opportunity to hear the message. It is not an easy thing for most to do this. But we can come to believe in the words of Paul to Timothy:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”

…I pray that we will have the courage to extend the hand of fellowship, the tenacity to try, and try, and try again, and the humility needed to seek guidance from our Father as we fulfill our mandate to share the gospel. The responsibility is on us…”

(See Others As They May Become, Oct 2012 General Conference)

Watch LDS General Conference Live Online Oct. 6th and 7th

The General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is being held today and tomorrow, there is live streaming video of the sessions available online. You can watch it here:

Watch LDS General Conference live online

Leaders of our church, our beloved prophet President Thomas S. Monson, the Twelve Apostles, and other men and women who lead the church will speak about matters of faith, about the Savior Jesus Christ, about the restored church of Jesus Christ, and about how to find strength in God in spite of issues facing us in the world today.

Sessions
Oct 6th, Saturday
10am-12pm MDT
2pm-4pm MDT

Oct 7th, Sunday
10am-12pm MDT
2pm-4pm MDT

I encourage everyone to check it out and find out more about our church and I promise you will feel the Spirit of the Lord if you seek to do so, and that you will be uplifted. I have been inspired and uplifted this morning while watching the first session.

If aren’t able to watch it live, it is recorded and can be viewed online here:

Watch video of past session of LDS General Conference