Monday, October 31, 2011

GCBC - Elder Alonso

"Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time, Without Delay"
Elder José L. Alonso

I could have guessed that this would be the title of his talk when it was printed, because this phrase was repeated several times, and that's what I remember first about his talk. I get great ideas all of the time, but sometimes that's all they are - just ideas. It's the follow-through that's important, and the sooner the better.

One new concept to me from this talk is that sometimes people don't even realize that they are lost. We need to find them anyway, especially when we know that they are lost. That's a concept that I need to spend more time pondering. How do you identify those that are lost, and how do you help them recognize that?

I also liked his comment that they didn't take the time to have a planning meeting when they realized their little boy was lost. They just started looking for him while praying fervently inside. Plans and organization are important; I find that I'm more effective when I think things through first. However, sometimes we just need to stop planning and go do. Our service doesn't have to be "perfect" to be effective. If our hearts are in the right place, and we're trying to do what the Savior would do, that's what matters most.

In addition, one of the things I've learned about service is that it isn't always convenient, and it's often unpredictable. That's something I struggle with. I'm trying to do better at being less selfish and more willing to serve others. I'm a work in process, and I guess we all are. Elder Alonso's talk was a gentle reminder to me that I need to improve in serving others, and that I need to do so without delay.

P.S. Be sure to check out others' thoughts on this talk here; they're much better than mine!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

GCBC - Elder Clayton

General Conference Book Club
"The Time Shall Come" by L. Whitney Clayton

My first thought as I listened to Elder Clayton's talk was "Hey! I've been to Lima, too!" It was a great experience, but that really has nothing to do with his talk.The only note I took was after he quoted Moroni telling Joseph Smith "God has a work for you to do." God has a work for me to do as well; I just need to figure out what that is and then do it. That's what I've been pondering for the last couple of weeks. Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? What is my mission here on earth? How will I accomplish it? I have a responsibility to find that out, and I have the promise that I can. My patriarchal blessing is a wonderful tool, as are studying the scriptures and strengthening my testimony - topics that were discussed in the two talks before Elder Clayton spoke. Actually, I have a pretty good idea of my personal mission, and I'm grateful my Heavenly Father has confidence in my ability to complete it.

That said, it was great to take the opportunity to read the talk again. My favorite part was this quote:

"This work of the Lord is indeed great and marvelous, but it moves forward essentially unnoticed by many of mankind’s political, cultural, and academic leaders. It progresses one heart and one family at a time, silently and unobtrusively, its sacred message blessing people everywhere."

I also loved the quote from President Hinckley, given in conference eight years ago, and appreciated being able to read the entire thing:

"It was said that at one time the sun never set on the British Empire. That empire has now been diminished. But it is true that the sun never sets on this work of the Lord as it is touching the lives of people across the earth.

"And this is only the beginning. We have scarcely scratched the surface. We are engaged in a work for the souls of men and women everywhere. Our work knows no boundaries. Under the providence of the Lord it will continue. Those nations now closed to us will someday be open. That is my faith. That is my belief. That is my testimony.

"The little stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands is rolling forth to fill the earth (see Dan. 2:31–45; D&C 65:2).

"To the Latter-day Saints everywhere, as we gather in this great conference I say, may God bless you. Keep the faith; be true to your covenants. Walk in the light of the gospel. Build the kingdom of God in the earth.

"The Church is in wonderful condition and can and will improve. It will grow and strengthen.

"We are ordinary people who are engaged in an extraordinary undertaking."

The Church will continue to grow and spread until it covers the whole earth. That's a promise. What am I doing to help that happen? I may be just ordinary, but a prophet of God as told us that's okay. It's a wonderful thing to be part of something so extraordinary as "building the kingdom of God in the earth."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Faith and Personal Character

This morning I came across some notes I took from a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott (link at bottom). I'm glad I wrote them down, because I needed to reminded of these beautiful truths.
  • “Faith is a foundation building block of creation.”
  • Faith can transform our daily activities from drudgery to a “symphony of joy.”
  • “Faith and character are intimately related. Faith in the power of obedience to the commandments of God will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need. Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is intended to be used.”
  • “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become.”
  • “Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the trials and testing of life.”
  • “The bedrock of character is integrity.”
  • Happiness on earth, as well as eternal salvation, comes from making many correct choices. They aren’t difficult to make, and together they forge a character that can resist temptation. This nobility of character gives our lives direction.
  • “Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth.”
  • Serving others helps forge our character. It gives us a greater capacity to recognize the Spirit’s direction.
  • A testimony “is the very essence of character woven from threads born of countless correct decisions.”
  • “A testimony grows from understanding truth distilled from prayer and the pondering of scriptural doctrine. It is nurtured by living those truths with faith anchored in the secure confidence that the promised blessing will be obtained.”
  • “Humility is the precious fertile soil of righteous character.”
  • Cultivate seeds of growth with faith, prune with repentance, fortify with obedience and service and you’ll receive the fruit of spiritual direction.
“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character” by Elder Richard G. Scott (general conference October 2010)

Monday, October 17, 2011

GCBC - Sister Thompson

“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” Julie B. Beck

This statement by Sister Beck, given in the April 2010 general conference, really struck me. It's pretty bold to declare that there is a "single most important skill" to acquire! And yet she's right. For years I've felt very strongly that learning how the Spirit talks to them was one of the most important things I could help my children learn before they left home. It was nice to have the validation from a conference talk that I was on the right track.

Anyway, Sister Thompson talked about this same topic this month in general conference. (You can find the talk here.) The phrase that stood out most to me as she was talking was this one: "Because we have a strong testimony doesn’t mean it will always remain that way. We must nourish and strengthen it in order that it will have sufficient power to sustain us."

That reminded me of a quote from President Harold B. Lee: "The testimony you have today will not be your testimony of tomorrow. Your testimony is either going to grow and grow until it becomes as the brightness of the sun, or it is going to diminish to nothing, depending on what you do about it. The greatest responsibility that a member of Christ’s church has ever had is to become truly converted—and it is just as important to stay converted." (February 1971 New Era - This is an incredible article and I'd encourage you to read the whole thing.) Did you notice that superlative "greatest responsibility" again? We become converted as we learn how to recognize the Spirit.

Once we have felt the Spirit testifying truth to us, we need to work daily to keep our testimonies. And that reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures: Alma 5:26 "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"

Sister Thompson taught the way to keep our testimonies strong every single day: "The way to receive personal revelation is really quite clear. We need to desire to receive revelation, we must not harden our hearts, and then we need to ask in faith, truly believe that we will receive an answer, and then diligently keep the commandments of God."

I'm grateful for my testimony. I'm thankful for the encouragement to do the little things each day to keep it growing.

P.S. Saturday we went to watch the sunrise at the beach. It was a cloudy day, but you could still tell that the sun had actually risen above the horizon. It was reminiscent of Elder Bednar's talk last spring, which Sister Thompson also referenced: "The Spirit of Revelation."

quotes from Harold B. Lee - (He didn't just say it one time!)
"Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it’s as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it every morning of your life. You have to hold on by study, and by faith, and by prayer. If you allow yourself to be angry, if you allow yourself to get into the wrong kind of company, you listen to the wrong kind of stories, you are studying the wrong kind of subjects, you are engaging in sinful practices, there is nothing that will be more deadening as to take away the Spirit of the Lord from you until it will be as though you had walked from a lighted room when you go out of this building, as though you had gone out into a darkness."

"That which you possess today in testimony will not be yours tomorrow unless you do something about it. Your testimony is either going to increase or it is going to diminish, depending on you. Will you remember your responsibility, then? The Lord said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17)."

"No truly converted Latter-day Saint can be immoral. No truly converted Latter-day Saint can be dishonest, nor lie, nor steal. That means that one may have a testimony as of today, but when he stoops to do things that contradict the laws of God, it is because he has lost his testimony and he has to fight to regain it again. Testimony isn’t something that you have today and you keep always. Testimony is either going to grow and grow to the brightness of certainty, or it is going to diminish to nothingness, depending upon what we do about it. I say, the testimony that we recapture day by day is the thing that saves us from the pitfalls of the adversary."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Scripture Mastery Verses

I'm going to post this link, mainly so I can remember where to find it easily! Here are the 100 scripture mastery verses: Scripture Mastery List.

In addition, here's the list for the ones we memorized when I was in seminary: 160 Scripture Mastery Verses. (Note: Actually I was one of those who saved the original list in my "attic crawl space," aka my filing cabinet, but using this link saves me the trouble of typing them all.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GCBC - Elder Scott

General Conference Book Club - Week Two
(You can find Week One here.)
This time around, we're going through the conference talks in order. That means the first one to focus on is Elder Scott's talk on the scriptures. This morning I woke up with the song "Scripture Power" running through my head. I think that about sums up this talk. Reading, studying, pondering, and memorizing scripture gives us the power to avoid temptation. It gives us courage to remember our covenants and keep the commandments. We're even promised that in the scriptures themselves:

"Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—
"And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out" (Helaman 3:29-30).

"Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction" (1 Nephi 15:24).

Whether we read the Bible, Book of Mormon, words of living prophets and apostles, or any other scriptures, we can find those "packets of light" that Elder Scott mentioned. My day isn't complete (and I wouldn't want it to be) without spending time with my friends, the scriptures. I hope yours isn't either.

Here are some more links:

Monday, October 3, 2011

General Conference Review

General Conference Highlights, October 2011

I told myself I needed to write these down before reading anyone else's answers, and I did. However, I have already read Stephanie's post, and we have a lot of the same answers. I guess that just means we're kindred spirits!

1. Who were your three favorite speakers?
It's really hard to narrow it down, but I'd have to say my favorite was Sister Dalton, next was Elder Carl Cook and then Elder Alonso. (My husband and sons all had Elder Holland's talk near the top of their list, so I'm anxious to go listen to that one.)

2. Which talk spoke to you the most?
Elder Ardern's talk on prioritizing time (and making the time to ponder) was a talk I needed to hear.

3. What was your favorite Hymn and why did it move you?
I loved "Consider the Lilies" because it's just a very comforting and peaceful hymn that I don't hear very often. I also loved hearing "Arise, O God, and Shine" and it's enthusiastic message "that all the world [God's] truth may know." Isn't that the purpose of conference?

4. Which speaker was the best dressed? (Come on, we can have a little fun.)
A dark suit, crisp white shirt and nice tie make any man look more and, unfortunately, equally handsome, so I'd have to go with Sister Dalton's beautiful purple suit. (I liked that Sister Thompson chose purple as well; my sister would be so pleased!)

Remember I said I'd count the color of ties in honor of my cousin's Primary? My tally was 9 red ties, 1 red & blue, 8 blue ties, 5 black/gray ties and 2 gold ones.

5. Were there any topics that you felt were repeated often? Any conference “themes”?
Overall, I felt a sense of encouragement, and that we need to use our agency to strengthen our personal relationship with Heavenly Father and do our part to build the Kingdom of God on earth. (That encompasses covenants, temples, missions, gathering, testimony, obedience, following the Holy Ghost's promptings, reading the Book of Mormon, praying, etc. etc.) I also felt that our leaders were really trying to reach the youth and young adults and encourage them to stay faithful.

6. Share a few of your favorite quotes from any of the talks (paraphrasing is fine).
"It's better to look up." (Cook quoting Monson)
"Prayer is the passport to peace." (Cornish quoting Monson)
"Decisions determine destiny." (Bennett)
"God has a work for you to do." (Clayton)
"My testimony kept me." (Thompson)
"Scriptures are our friends. They are packets of light." (Scott)
"Do the right thing at the right time without delay." (Alonso)

7. Name something(s) that made you smile or laugh during conference.
President Monson's "Hello!"
President Eyring remembering what happened to Abinadi.
Elder Nelson reminding us we "get" to participate in the gathering of Israel!

8. Was there any evidence that your children paid attention?
Our kids are old enough that I knew they would all be paying attention; however, Sunday morning when we got out our things to work on family history before conference started, our teenage daughter said, "You can't do that! I'm supposed to!" She definitely heard Elder Bednar's message.

9. What doctrine did you learn as you listened to the choir(s) sing?
My Heavenly Father lives and loves me. Families can be together forever.

10. Did the music enhance your General Conference experience? How?
My testimony is always strengthened by listening to hymns, and that just makes the beautiful music of conference even better. The hymns serve as a reminder to keep my covenants, especially as the melodies and phrases are recalled during the day. "Redeemer of Israel" reminded me of Elder Bednar's "Tender Mercies" talk, and the little things that bring joy to my own life each day. "I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go" reminded me of my teenage sons desires to serve missions. And I really appreciated the phrase "give us strength to do thy will" in the last closing hymn.

11. What are some of your post-conference goals?
Pray daily for strength to do God's will.
Take the time to really ponder as I study the scriptures.
Be a finisher.
Remember to review all of these talks frequently and set more goals!

What would your answers to these questions be? Feel free to write them down, and then link up over at Diapers & Divinity. And don't forget to come participate in the next round of the General Conference Book Club!