Note: These are the instant, mildly-filtered things that ran through my brain and heart as I watched this session of General Conference. If you are looking for deep, spiritual analysis, this is not the place. Drive on. Please check back later for that, after I have had some time to process.
• Good morning! I stand all amazed at how quickly the past six months rolled by. It seems like just a few weeks ago we gathered together by ourselves to watch April conference. I’m ready to roll – cinnamon that is – and then I’ll take a crack at sharing some highlights and comments from this session. Thanks for joining me!
• Surprised to see that they are actually holding it in the Conference center. There is hope for normalcy.
• All the leaders in attendance seem to be wearing masks. Only half the choir is there to give them an extra couple feet between each other – they aren’t wearing masks.
• Oh, and Go Cougars!
President Nelson starts us off thanking us for following counsel regarding COVID.
“There has never been a time in the history of the world when knowledge of our Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul.”
Asked us to listen to 3 things this conference: Pure Truth, Pure Doctrine of Christ, Pure revelation. There IS absolute truth.
“Contrary to the doubts of some, there really is such a thing as right and wrong. There really is absolute truth—eternal truth.” (What? It isn’t up for personal opinion??? There’s no such thing as ‘MY’ truth.”)
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Spoke about unity and the importance of being “All in.” Related the story of the “Rich young ruler.” “With or without riches, each of us is to come to Christ with the same uncompromised commitment to His gospel that was expected of this young man.”
We are to declare ourselves “ALL IN.”
“When difficult things are asked of us, even things contrary to the longings of our heart, remember that the loyalty we pledge to the cause of Christ is to be the supreme devotion of our lives.”
God is our Father and is exceptionally good at forgiving and forgetting sins we have forsaken, perhaps because we give Him so much practice in doing so.”
“Clearly the possibility of change and living at a more elevated level has always been one of the gifts of God to those who seek it.”
Talked about contention and division, calling them “”Digital tribes of political identities.” (Nice phrasing)
Full quote: “Friends, in our present moment we find all manner of divisions and subdivisions, sets and subsets, digital tribes and political identities, with more than enough hostility to go around. Might we ask ourselves if a “higher and holier” life, to use President Nelson’s phrase, is something we could seek?”
Explained the 1st commandment to love God, THEN the 2nd to love our neighbor. (We shouldn’t invert that order.)
“If we love God enough to try to be fully faithful to Him, He will give us the ability, the capacity, the will, and the way to love our neighbor and ourselves.”
(I think this was an appropriate and lovely response to the scorching he took from so many the past few weeks.)
Sister Bonne H. Cordon speaking to the youth, and the rest of us: “The Lord has a plan for you. He has prepared you for this day, right now, to be a strength and force for good in His mighty work.”
Two simple truths from President Nelson: The youth (and all of us) need to know WHO they are and WHAT their purpose is.
Dust off the patriarchal blessing.
Told a great story about her son getting tangled ups in a soccer net – we occasionally get distracted and forget why we are here.
“One of Satan’s most powerful weapons is to distract us with good and better causes which, in times of need, may blind and bind us away from the best cause, the very work that called us into this world.”
“Remember, the best way for you to improve the world is to prepare the world for Christ by inviting all to follow him.”
We need to invite people to Christ.
• Two talks in a row that imply that we should be more worried about loving God and furthering His work, rather than focusing on other causes.
Elder Ulisses Soares spoke – and today is his birthday.
Talked about Christ’s compassion, and how it is an essential trait for our sanctification. “Compassion for others is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“We all can be instruments in the Lord’s hands and act compassionately toward those in need, just as Jesus did.”
“My dear friends, as we intentionally strive to incorporate a compassionate attitude into our way of life, as exemplified by the Savior, we will become more sensitive to people’s needs.”
“We should never make harsh and cruel judgments of our neighbor.”
“The Savior always looks on the heart not the appearance.”
“In order to qualify ourselves to make righteous judgments we must strive to become like the Savior.”
“Following Christ’s example increases a person’s ability to see the virtues in others, decreases judgment, makes life sweeter, more tender and happier: “We will be known as peacemakers, whose words are as gentle as the dew of a spring morning.'”
Very cool promise: ““I testify that as we strive to incorporate the Savior’s compassionate example into our lives, our capacity to compliment the virtues of our neighbors will increase and our natural instinct to judge their imperfections will decrease.”
• Congregation and choir singing together. I wonder how it sounds in that giant room with fewer voices.
• Checked out Twitter for about one minute and was amused by how stupid some people are – which means I need to re-watch Elder Soares’ talk.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson: STELLAR talk – I need to watch it again. “Our Heavenly Father loves us profoundly and perfectly … His is a father’s pure love—universal to all, yet personal to each.”
“We need not hesitate to call upon God, even when we feel unworthy. We can rely on the mercy and merits of Jesus Christ to be heard.”
Ah! Taking on the false concept of “unconditional love.” “God’s love is unconditional but his blessings and salvation are not.” Christ will never condone sin, but he will forgive it.
“The Lord loves us unconditionally, it’s true. But He can’t take us into His kingdom “as we are.” No unclean thing can be in the presence of God.”
“The commandments of God are strict because His kingdom and its citizens can stand only if they consistently reject evil and choose good, without exception.”
“The way of the world, as you know, is anti-Christ, or anything but Christ.’” Bold, accurate statement.
“Many persuasive people today seek unrighteous dominion over others, justify sin and promote the seeking of riches but cannot offer redemption from sin.”
“Ours is not a religion of rationalization nor a religion of perfectionism, but a religion of redemption —redemption through Jesus Christ.”
“Because [our Hevenly Father and Jesus Christ] love you, they cannot leave you exactly as you are.”
“In acknowledging that God loves us perfectly, we might each ask, ‘How well do I love God? Can He rely on my love as I rely on His?’” (Which leads to how we show our love of God: Keep the commandments.)
“Here is the solution for our incessantly quarrelsome times. Love of God”.
Elder Clark G. Gilbert. Math???
“Jesus Christ sees our divine potential no matter where we start.” “Christ considers what we do with what we are given.” (Not even going to attempt to explain the math analogy.)
“Focus on where you are headed, not where you began.” “In the Lord’s timing, it is not where we start, but where wet re headed that matters most.” “Some begin with difficult starting points. Over focusing on a difficult starting point can define you. Don’t let your beginning constrain your choices.”
“The most powerful way to show my love was never to lower my expectations.” (I have heard this expressed before as the “Soft bigotry of low expectations.” (George W. Bush))
“One of the miracles of this, the Lord’s Church, is that each of us can become something more in Christ.”
“Regardless of whether we start in abundant or difficult circumstances, realizing our ultimate potential will only happen when we make God our partner.”
Elder Patricio M. Giuffra is from Valparaiso, Chile. (He was baptized four years before. I served in that city. I wonder if I met him.)
Told his lovely conversion story as a young man who lost his father. His four takeaways:
- God listens to all his children’s sincere prayers, and heaven is open to all — not just a few.
- God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are thre separate beings, united in their purpose to ‘bring to to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
- We are made in the image of God. Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bones like us, but they are glorified and perfected, and the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.
- Through Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ restored the gospel and true Church to the earth.
• Choir sang ‘I will follow God’s Plan’, and the organists did very cool stuff that seemed almost like orchestration. Really nice.
President Dallin H. Oaks wraps things up with a humdinger: Can you be ‘good enough’ without going to church?
Good and religious-minded people who have stopped attending and participating in their churches – not just LDS churches, but all churches, because attendance is down nation-wide.
“If we cease valuing our churches, for any reason, we threaten our personal spiritual life and significant numbers separating themselves from God reduces His blessings to our nations.”
“Attendance in a church helps us become better people and better influencers in the lives of others.”
“Personal disappointments should never keep us from the doctrine of Christ, who taught us to serve, not to be served.”
“If the service has failed for you, you have failed.”
“Church service helps us rise above the individualism of our age.”
That was all general – now specific for LDS members:
“Members who forgo church attendance and rely only on individual separate themselves from these gospel essentials: power and blessings of the priesthood, the fullness of the restored doctrine and opportunities to apply that doctrine, and forfeit the opportunity to perpetuate their family for eternity.”
“Individual spirituality can seldom provide the motivation and structure for unselfish service provided by the Restored Church.”
“Our worship and application of eternal principles draw us closer to God and magnify our capacity to love.”
“We cannot wish our way into the presence of God. We are to obey the laws upon which that blessing is predicated. One of those laws is the Sabbath.”
Lots of good things can happen outside of the church, but saving ordinances can only happen in the church. “”The fulness of doctrine and its saving and exaltation ordinances are available only in the Restored Church.”
• President Oaks’ talk was kind of like dad walking in to a teenager’s room on a Sunday morning, sitting on the bed, and explaining why he needs to get up and go to church.
• Several mentions of what we need to do to increase our capacity of love.
• This was a very heavyweight session: Holland, Christofferson, Soares and Oaks all in the first two hours.
Allrightythen. Off to a great start. Enjoy the break, and I’ll we will do it again in a couple hours.