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

Spirit of Revelation

This video (and the whole “Patterns of Light” series) is so good, I don’t remember the Spirit of Revelation being explained more clearly, simply and beautifully than how Elder David A. Bednar explains it here.

I was a student for a year when Elder Bednar presided over BYU-Idaho, before he became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He would regularly meet with students for question/answer sessions where they could randomly ask anything they wanted to ask, whether it was a question about spiritual things or anything else. I was able to go to one of those question/answer meetings and it was enlightening. He always had a very meaningful response to all the questions that were asked.

I think it would take a great deal of confidence to do those kind of forums, confidence both in himself and in God, that he would be led by the Spirit to provide good answers. After all it is a church school and the questions asked were at times pretty blunt and sometimes quite deep, or at the very least were being asked by students who were needing a good answer to both help their faith and help them with whatever was on their mind at the time. There was usually 50-60 students in these forums. This video series shows his depth of understanding of the Holy Spirit and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Elder Bednar was called by God to be an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” (D&C 8:2-3)

“…Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“…But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation…” (Alma 17:3)

The Higher Law

I really like this quote from C.S Lewis:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

This is so true, I remember as a missionary my friend and I would visit an elderly woman every week or so to help her with things, sometimes mowing her lawn or doing other things in her yard, sometimes just talking with her. At first I wasn’t sure if she liked me very much and if I was helping her personally by being there, and this made it harder for me to want to be there. But we kept visiting her and she would often feed us lunch during those visits. As I got to know her I learned she had been a chef when she was younger and that it meant a lot to her to have the opportunity to cook for people, that made those lunches with her more meaningful. I believe she had been divorced years earlier so essentially she was by herself a lot and I don’t know how frequently her children visited her. It became easier to want to be there and help her with things as I got to know her more, also with that came a more genuine concern that she was ok and that she received the help that she needed with things.

Later I was transferred to another city and lost contact with her, but the missionary that I knew from her area called me one day and told me she had passed away. It made me sad but also grateful I had spent the time with her that I had. I realized even more that I did care for her greatly and hoped that her last days had been happy days, and that her family had been nearby her during that time.

My mission president was a great man, I can remember him telling us this quote several times: “serve someone until you love them, then you will love to serve them.”

I know this is a true principle, that was certainly my experience. Sometimes its hard to serve or try to love someone, for whatever reason, but it is a commandment that we “love one another” as the Savior loves us. God has promised to bless us when we keep His commandments. He always keeps His promises. Here’s a quote from the former prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Gordon B. Hinckley, which I believe applies to anyone seeking to follow Christ and do His will:

“The Church may call upon you to make sacrifice. It may call upon you to give of the very best that you have to offer. There will be no cost in this, because you will discover that it will become an investment that will pay you dividends for as long as you live.”

Even though this experience I had was several years ago I can still look back on it and feel God’s love, and feel an increased love for other people. The memory of experiences like this help sustain me during difficult times.

When we seek to love other people we’re blessed in many ways because God is loving and generous. Specifically I believe were blessed with an increased ability to give and receive love. The woman I had helped certainly wasn’t someone I would have considered my “enemy” at any point, but at first it was a challenge for me to genuinely care for her. As part of living the higher law that Christ instituted, he taught us to love others even when it isn’t easy to love them:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? (Matthew 5:43-47)

A True Spirit of Freedom

I stand with the great Thomas Jefferson who said, “I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind”. Yet there are a few documented moments in history where a common voice of reason, a voice of truth and soberness has awakened in the hearts of men and women the true causes for which any necessary, just war in heaven or in Earth should be fought. This voice with it’s common sound, though not commonly found in the world, is a voice that cuts through darkness and despair even amidst the most daunting opposition to shine a ray of hope. This voice of heavenly reason, with it’s call to duty and honor inspires the defense of families, homes, and nations. It inspires no wars of conquest or subjugation and has no tyrants as it’s bearer. It always leads to a greater and more lasting peace. This pure voice for true liberty has the same source, “the Spirit of God, which is also the spirit of freedom which is in them” (Alma 61:15).

George Washington Persuades Colonists to Continue Fighting

During the American Revolutionary War, General George Washington seemed to draw upon the power of heaven and the depth of love that he possessed to persuade his worn out, tattered, yet much needed volunteer army of colonists to continue fighting during a turning point in the war for independence.

…While we were at Trenton, on the last of December, 1776, the time for which I and most of my regiment had enlisted expired. At this trying time General Washington, having now but a little handful of men and many of them new recruits in which he could place but little confidence, ordered our regiment to be paraded, and personally addressed us, urging that we should stay a month longer. He alluded to our recent victory at Trenton; told us that our services were greatly needed, and that we could now do more for our country than we ever could at any future period; and in the most affectionate manner entreated us to stay. The drums beat for volunteers, but not a man turned out. The soldiers, worn down with fatigue and privations, had their hearts fixed on home and the comforts of the domestic circle, and it was hard to forego the anticipated pleasures of the society of our dearest friends.

The General wheeled his horse about, rode in front of the regiment and addressing us again said, “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected; but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay only one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty and to your country which you probably never can do under any other circumstances.”

A few stepped forth, and their example was immediately followed by nearly all who were fit for duty in the regiment…” (from General R )

Winston Churchill Rallies His Country During WWII

In 1940, when England was being “blitz’d” 9 times a day with bombings and Germany seemed to be close to consuming all of Europe with their military might and tyranny, then Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied his nation. Who would doubt that it was the Spirit of freedom that was within him that inspired his words of firm resolve and determination in his speech to country entitled, “We shall Fight Them on the Beaches”:

Standing on the shoulders of these giants of men may we adopt as our own, the following words that Churchill left with his country– may we make the present day “our finest hour”, one of noble victory for the ages to remember, with all of our present battles, be they physical or spiritual; may we call upon and receive strength from heaven such as would enable us to arise with faith that has not been known among men and women for a long time, in overcoming evil and tyranny in all it’s forms.

Jesus Declares He is the Messiah Prophesied by Isaiah

In Luke 4, verses 15-30 there is this account of the Savior teaching in the synagogue, he quotes from the prophet Isaiah the prophecy of the Messiah, saying, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

I find this video to be one of the most powerful and well-made of the recent LDS “Bible Videos” series. Of course it is powerful because of the content, and the important truth of it. To consider that the Lord here is beginning His ministry, and right away the people reject Him and try to kill Him.

Did Christ know they would reject Him as he made this declaration? I have no doubt that He did. However it was not His time to be taken yet and as it says, “He passed through the midst of them”.

Can anyone translate the words of the first man who teaches in the synagogue?

15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19 aTo preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, bdo also here in thy country.

24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;

26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way.

Cry Unto the Lord

There’s a large number of scriptures related to prayer that use the word “cry” in place of “pray”. The use of this word is interesting given the varied yet similar meanings of it. It suggests that these are the kind of prayers that might involve speaking out loud, that they might contain a degree of desperation and that they are probably full of tears. Possibly above all else, they are heartfelt and sincere prayers. This provides some insight into the level of these prophets’ reliance on the Lord. Here’s some examples:

King David, though he had fallen in sin, his heart was broken and he cried unto the Lord for mercy, “Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.” (Psalm 86:3)

“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (Psalms 30:2)

“O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.” (Psalms 30:2)

The prophet Jonah, “…I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” (Jonah 2:2)

The words of Alma regarding his people, “…they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.” (Mosiah 21:14)

The Apostle Paul writes that Melchezidek “…offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;” (Hebrews 5:7)

As Nephi concludes his writings he speaks of his prayers for his people, “…For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.” (2 Nephi 33:3)

Job, renowned for the magnitude of his patience and suffering, simply states “…he heareth the cry of the afflicted.” (Job 34:28)

Amulek recounts the words of Old Testament-era prophet Zenos, “Do ye remember to have read what Zenos, the prophet of old, has said concerning prayer or worship?

For he said: Thou art merciful, O God, for thou hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness; yea, thou wast merciful when I prayed concerning those who were mine enemies, and thou didst turn them to me.

Yea, O God, and thou wast merciful unto me when I did cry unto thee in my field; when I did cry unto thee in my prayer, and thou didst hear me.”

“…And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son.” (Alma 33:4-5, 11)

I’m certainly not a prophet, just an average guy trying to navigate a life that is sometimes amazing and great, sometimes very difficult and painful. But I have seen the Lord respond to my cries, and He’s done so in ways that leave me in awe of His mercy and miraculous power. He has strengthened me when I’ve been sick, shown me the way when I’ve been lost and lifted me up when I’ve been down. He has filled me His with love, comfort, confidence, compassion, and his voice has been like a verse from the hymn, How Firm a Foundation:

Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

I know that the Lord hears and answers all of our prayers, and I believe He sends an extra portion of help and comfort to us when we literally cry unto Him in our struggles, our disappointments and our mistakes, as well as when we cry unto Him for a needed blessing or healing.

Doubt not, fear not

There’s been a lot on my mind lately. It seems like as soon as I get one aspect of my life figured out something else pops up right away that needs to be worked on, fixed, improved, etc. It’s hard sometimes not to let certain things become points of worry. I read recently that the subconscious mind makes up about 90% of our brains and that it will tend to control our thought patterns using learned habits of thinking, unless we use the conscious mind (the other 10%) to direct it otherwise. I prefer not to allow any negative, learned habits of thought to control me. It seems healthy to turn off the brain autopilot (the subconscious mind) and reprogram ourselves to envision a happy present/future as often as possible.

Peace of mind, in large part, is a matter of proactively focusing one’s thoughts on good things, which in turn creates a state of mind where faith and a hopeful outlook is possible. Today, I was reminded of the need to keep the right focus as I began to think with worry about some thing that is unimportant in the larger scheme of things. I have a stack of index cards on my desk with favorite scriptures on them that I flip through occasionally, this one happened to be on the top of the stack:

“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 6:36)

As soon as I read this I had a strong thought/impression come to me as a firm reminder that the Lord doesn’t give us fear, it doesn’t come from Him. He told us not to be fearful in any way, period. How many times in the scriptures are we told not to fear and not to doubt? We’re taught to simply be believing, exercise faith, follow His commandments, trust Him and things will eventually work out, if not right away. There are no scriptures that say first you’re supposed to sit around and worry about things, after you’ve nagged yourself and dreaded the possible negative outcomes long enough, then you’ll be blessed with good things and with happiness. It doesn’t work that way. Push all doubts and worries out of your mind and continually focus on the good you have and will soon have in your life. We’re not supposed to go it alone either, God is there to help us every step of the way.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Obtaining the Lord’s Rest

We live in an unrelenting, fast-paced world that can be exhausting in many ways. It’s just a reality of modern life, there’s often so much expected of us either by ourselves or by other people, but there’s only so many hours in the day and we have a limited amount of energy. Life itself can be overwhelming at times, dealing with personal problems or issues related to other people can add to the weight we feel. Since we’re only human and live in an imperfect world, it’s essential that we take time out to rest and find balance in our lives.

Days off of work, relaxing vacations, and a good night’s sleep can go a long way in resting our bodies, but we are spiritual beings. One can’t live life depriving themselves of spiritual rest and expect to ever be completely renewed and at peace. The spiritual rest we should be looking for is the rest that the Savior Jesus Christ can provide.

Faith In Christ & Good Works Brings Spiritual Rest

The prophet Mormon taught the people of his time that those who are the “peaceable followers of Christ” through their faith in Christ and good works may “…[obtain] a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.” (Moroni 7:3)

Mormon is explaining that it is possible to enter into the ‘rest of the Lord’ in this life! That is amazing and exciting to me. Previous to finding this scripture, I certainly did not fully grasp the idea of the Savior’s rest. There are more clues in the scriptures about what the Lord’s rest is and how we can obtain it.

Repentance Brings Spiritual Peace

The prophet Alma several times made mention of “the rest of the Lord”. Alma was someone who had experienced the deep, bitter pains of sin and records that he turned to the Lord, “repenting nigh unto death.” Alma explained that while he was in the depths of his spiritual pain remembering his sins, he remembered the prophesying of his father about the Savior who would “atone for the sins of the world.” Upon remembering this he called upon the Lord for mercy and tells how he “could remember his sins no more”, and that his “soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was his pain.” Alma proclaimed that he was “redeemed of the Lord.” It’s recorded that Alma then traveled through the land “zealously striving to repair all the injuries which [he] had done, confessing all [his] sins… and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them. (Mosiah 27, Alma 36)

Alma’s transition from the most bitter spiritual pain to immense spiritual joy was clearly a transition from a state of spiritual unrest to a restful state. This is probably one of the more extreme scriptural accounts of someone receiving rest in their souls, but it should give hope to anyone suffering from sin. Alma later taught about those who are called to hold the Priesthood of God— his words could apply to anyone who fully repents and is cleansed through the atonement of Jesus Christ:

“…Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God. And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.” (Alma 13:12-13)

As noted above, having no desire for sin, even finding it abhorrent, is an additional gift/blessing that comes from being sanctified by the Holy Ghost as a result of repentance. I can’t think of a more peaceful, restful state to be in than being pure in mind and soul, knowing you are spotless before God and only desiring to do good. These blessings are all facet’s of the Lord’s rest. Alma explains further:

“Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.” (Alma 12:34-35)

Burdens Lightened Through Patience & Mighty Prayer

There are other facets of the Lord’s rest that can be obtained in this life. Alma’s father, also named Alma, led a group of Christians who became enslaved by tyrants who wanted to exploit them for power and gain. For Alma’s people, spiritual rest ultimately came in the form of deliverance from the physical bondage they were under. Also, because of their patience, their trust in God, and their prayers, Alma’s people were not left without comfort while they were in the middle of the worst their trials. They prayed with all their hearts to God for help and He heard them:

“And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.” (Mosiah 24:13-16)

The blessing Alma’s people received went beyond a mere change of mental focus, beyond an increased exertion of willpower. They first received divine strength to be able to bear their burdens and to do so cheerfully and patiently. The burdens and afflictions were still there, they were just lightened and made easy to deal with through the miraculous power of God. Even when suffering something as extreme as the bondage and slavery that Alma and his people suffered under, physical and spiritual rest can be found in the Lord. For them this rest was not just a nice thought or idea, it was actual physical and spiritual relief. Finally, and in the Lord’s timeframe, they were delivered completely from bondage.

For the spiritually troubled, those with heavy physical or emotional burdens or those who simply feel weary with life, there may not be a sweeter promise found in all of scripture than that given by Christ:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mathew 11:28-30)

Jesus teaches a Samaritan woman

I love this video. If there’s any question in the minds of Christians about whether God cares or is concerned about us individually, this carefully framed encounter between the Savior and a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, recorded in the New Testament, provides a great deal of comfort.

Samaritan’s were not well liked by the Jews who viewed them as practicing a corrupt form of Judaism. In fact as is pointed out in this story, the Jews pretty much avoided them altogether. Yet here Christ takes time out of his divine mission to talk personally, face-to-face with a Samaritan woman of faith about the “living water” He has to offer everyone, of course referring to eternal life.

This concern for the individual reminds me of hearing about Pres. Monson, who is no doubt an extremely busy person as the president of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, yet he still maintains a “personal ministry”, often taking time to visit people he knows are in need in the hospital or elsewhere as he feels prompted to do so.