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This past week my awesome cousin was working on a Sunday School lesson about the Word of Wisdom. She put together a brief, informal survey just to get some input. I shared it on my Facebook page and she got plenty of data to look at – almost 1,000 responses.  I will attach the results after the post.

I saw some interesting things in the survey. Things that validated how awesome the saints are, and some things that caused me some concerns. I was surprised at how something like the Word of Wisdom can generate such strongly held, diverse opinions and even stir up contention. As I read the comments I asked myself a question, “Are we making this harder than it has to be?” My goal with this post is to merely point out some issues and ideas to help make our understanding of this commandment a little less complicated.

The Three Premises

Before we jump into the Word of Wisdom, here are three concepts that are essential to having a correct understanding of the Word of Wisdom, AND the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we do not accept these three things, none of it will ever make sense, and we will never reach a point of simplicity.

  1. God speaks to us through His prophets.
  2. Living prophets supercede dead prophets.
  3. The words of living prophets (modern scripture) supersede ancient scripture (the Standard Works)  Here are citations for all three: (D&C 1:38. D&C 21:5. D&C 68:3-4D&C 112:20D&C 124:45–46)

If those three concepts rub you the wrong way, then you won’t much like what I have to say from here on out. To keep it simple, I will refer to these three things as “The Premises” for the rest of the post.

Now, an analogy: Let’s say you use some specific software for your computer – like Photoshop. The first version I ever used was 1.0, way back in 1990. Since then, there have been something like 25 upgrades to the program. Here is the question: If I need help with Photoshop v. cc 2017 1.1, do I dig out my old 1.0 manual to figure out my problem, or do I look online for the newest instructions?

A bit of a no brainer.  Yet, I read responses from people saying things like, “In Section 89 it says…” or “I answered the survey questions based on what is written in Section 89.”

Why would you base knowledge of the Word of Wisdom on the first version that was given 184 years ago, when there have been so many upgrades since then?

To explore that idea, let’s look at some concepts that came to light from obvious misunderstandings that were brought up in the survey.

1. The Word of Wisdom IS a Commandment.

If you do not believe in The Premises, then you might find yourself bringing up D&C 89:2, where the Lord introduced the Word of Wisdom by saying, “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom…” This scripture does a great job in arguing that the Word of Wisdom is NOT a commandment, merely wise counsel – which is exactly right – IF you lived in 1833. But that was version 1.0.

Today’s upgraded version is different, and in force, if you have a testimony of The Premises.

“In 1851, President Brigham Young proposed to the general conference of the Church that all Saints formally covenant to keep the Word of Wisdom. This proposal was unanimously upheld by the membership of the Church. Since that day, the revelation has been a binding commandment on all Church members.” (Ezra Taft Benson, 1983)

Basically, the “non-binding” version only lasted about 18 years before the upgrade to commandment status. It has been taught as a commandment ever since. In 1921, President Heber J. Grant added adherence to the Word of Wisdom to the requirement to enter the temple. (link)

2. “Hot Drinks” Means Tea and Coffee. Period.

If you read D&C 89:9, you will see, “And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.” What does that mean? Is hot chocolate a “hot drink?” Is iced Coffee okay? What about iced tea? Green tea? The original version opens up a lot of questions.

Apparently those questions about hot drinks popped up immediately after the revelation was announced. Both Joseph and Hyrum Smith both taught that “hot drinks” meant tea and coffee. (link) The Prophet Joseph said:

“I understand that some of the people are excusing themselves in using tea and coffee, because the Lord only said ‘hot drinks’ in the revelation of the Word of Wisdom. … Tea and coffee are what the Lord meant when He said ‘hot drinks.’”

So that version was very short-lived. Ever since then, “hot drinks” has been defined as tea and coffee. Of course in our society, there are all sorts of new ways to consume those two things. Iced coffee, iced tea, frappuccinos, etc. Coffee is coffee is coffee.

Tea has even more new ways to be consumed. Hot, cold, green, white, black, oolong, etc. However, anyone who spends more that 30 seconds researching will quickly find that black, green and white teas all come from the exact same plant. The only difference is the way that it is processed. Tea is tea is tea. If you read the label on the can, bottle or box, and one of the ingredients is “tea.” then it contains “tea.” Simple enough?  Color is irrelevant. Green teas should keep us out of the tempe just like coffee or alcohol.

But what about herbal teas? If it says things like mint, chamomile, peppermint etc., but does NOT list an ingredient that says “tea.” then it is not “tea.”

3. Stay Away From Strong Drinks, Hot Drinks and Tobacco – and Drugs.

I don’t know what illicit drugs existed back in the 1800’s, but I am pretty sure we have them beat. Pot, heroin, cocaine, meth and other illegal drugs are joined by a host of prescription drugs in a scourge on our society.

While these things are not listed in Section 89, they have been added by the Lord’s servants. President Hinkley is awesome:

“Some have even used as an alibi the fact that drugs are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. What a miserable excuse. There is likewise no mention of the hazards of diving into an empty swimming pool or of jumping from an overpass onto the freeway.” (link)

Over my lifetime, drugs have always been considered part of the Word of Wisdom. I don’t know when that began, but I’m sure it came about as a result of The Premises mentioned earlier.

These are just three examples of how using the original text of the Word of Wisdom will leave us lacking. It has evolved since then, as society has devolved. If we don’t embrace The Premises, then we can busy ourselves making our own wine, etc. and rehashing the same Word of Wisdom arguments forever.  Moving on…

Here are a few of MY observations regarding the Word of Wisdom to chew on. Get it?

1) Not All Aspects of the Word of Wisdom Carry Equal Weight…Right Now

Once I got criticized by a reader for not emphasizing 89:11, which reads, “Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.”

Her problem with me? I was not teaching that we should only eat fruit in the corresponding season. For example, eat tomatoes only in the summer. To me, this was bizarro logic, because following it to an extreme would make it so you could never eat a salad in Utah in January. Right?

I did spend some time searching our modern scriptures (General Conference talks) to see if any of the brethren had addressed this thing, and I had just missed it. I searched, and couldn’t find one reference from the brethren that suggested that we limit our intake of herbs and fruit to certain seasons.

My conclusion: There are other, more important things that the Lord wants His representatives to be teaching us than seasonal fruit issues. That is part of The Premises. (Perhaps it doesn’t even apply now that we have freight and refrigeration capabilities that weren’t even dreamed of in 1833.)

President Harold B. Lee once taught that what we hear in General Conference is more than just a series of random lessons”

“If you want to know what the Lord would have the Saints know and to have his guidance and direction for the next six months, get a copy of the proceedings of this conference, and you will have the latest word of the Lord as far as the Saints are concerned.” (link)

Apparently eating a BLT in February in Idaho is not one of those things.

Another thing that does not seem to be a top issue with the Lord and the brethren is the eating of meat. If you search the General Conference talks for the past forever, there are exactly two instances where a prophet speaks about this issue. One is from President Ezra Taft Benson, where he mentions it briefly, and opens the context to indiscriminate killing. “In this revelation the Lord counsels us to use meat sparingly. I have often felt that the Lord is further counseling us in this revelation against indiscriminately killing animals, for He has said elsewhere in scripture, “Wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” (link)

The other citation I could find was Elder Boyd K. Packer, but he was using the concept as an example of people becoming fanatics:

“Avoid being extreme or fanatical or becoming a faddist. For example, the Word of Wisdom counsels us to eat meat sparingly. Lest someone become extreme, we are told in another revelation that “whoso forbiddeth to eat meat is not ordained of God.” (D&C 49:18).(link)

As far as I could tell, none of the brethren have ever even used the words “vegan” or “vegetarianism” in a General Conference talk. (Other than one side reference to Ghandi.) Apparently, and much to my delight, the consumption of meat is not very high on the Lord’s list of concerns He has for His children. I guess there are bigger fish to fry.  Yum.

Of course this could all change in a heartbeat. Maybe next October we will all be challenged to go vegan, or ‘eat more chikin,’ or stop buying grapes in December. It is always possible… but for now, I am going to focus on the things the Lord is focusing on.

2) Our Personal Beliefs Do Not Change the Word of Wisdom

Whenever there is a discussion that involves the Word of Wisdom, someone invariably brings up something that is NOT part of the Word of Wisdom by saying that it “should be,” or that it is implied. Oops.

Yes, we eat too much sugar. Yes, caffeine is the devil. Yes, the saints eat too much ice cream. Yes, being overweight is probably more dangerous than tea, etc.

All of those things may be absolutely true, yet none of them are a part of the Word of Wisdom. I find it remarkable how often people want to insert their own personal beliefs into the commandment, and expect others to live by it. I have even seen people take the Word of Wisdom, add a dash of the popular modern philosophies of health and science, and then start hawking books and cookbooks with the actual name “Word of Wisdom” in the title. (Funny, I don’t remember any of the brethren endorsing a Word of Wisdom diet.)

Exactly.

God’s servants speak for God. And one of the things God rarely does is explain his reasoning. Don;t get hung up on that.

3) The “Don’ts” Get More Attention Than the “Dos”

Earlier, I gave two example of directives from the Word of Wisdom that the Lord has not had His servants push. In contrast, search for the word “addiction” in the General Conference talks.  Page after page of talks about addictions come up. Alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, pornography and even prescription drugs are spoken of over and over again.

One of the key concerns is how addiction affects agency. President Nelson taught, “We are free to take drugs or not. But once we choose to use a habit-forming drug, we are bound to the consequences of that choice. Addiction surrenders later freedom to choose. Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will!” (link)

The Lord and his servants are incredibly concerned about addiction. This happens at all levels of the Church. The substances that are most commonly talked about in worthiness interviews are drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Participation in these addictive substances is a deal-breaker when trying to be baptized or to enter a temple.

On the other hand, not eating enough whole grains has never once come up in a worthiness interview that I am aware of.

So yes, the “Don’ts” get more attention than the “Dos,” possibly because the “Don’ts” pose a greater danger to our spiritual growth and progression.

The observance of the “Don’ts” is also easy to quantify: “Do you smoke – yes or no?” Yet the “Dos” offer a never-ending opportunity for improvement. I can always eat healthier, plan and shop for food more carefully, add more fruits and vegetables to my diet, etc.

4) There IS Flexibilty in SOME of the Word of Wisdom.

Do you have celiac disease? I cannot believe for a minute that Heavenly Father would expect you to consider wheat as your mainstay just because He said it in Section 89.

Many people who suffer from cancer or other debilitating conditions find relief through medical marijuana. Just last year the Church released a statement that read, “While we are not in a position to evaluate specific medical claims, the Church understands that there are some individuals who may benefit from the medical use of compounds found in marijuana.” (link)

In both these instances, the remedy flies in direct conflict with the teachings of the Word of Wisdom, and I’m sure there are countless more. Personally, I believe God is merciful, and it is not for me to judge. There are circumstances where exceptions are granted – but exceptions are just that – exceptions, and shouldn’t be used to minimize the importance of the norm. Self-decided exceptions can get into fuzzy areas quickly,. For example: A young man can take Ritalin for his ADHD and it is a medical treatment, but if his brother steals a pill and takes it for fun, it is a sin.

Personally, if I ever felt I needed an exception to this, or any other commandment, I would consult with the Judge in Israel who has stewardship over me. That’s right: My Bishop. I would not take a decision like that lightly.

My Conclusion

I did not intend for this to be this long, so I will summarize it briefly:

• The Lord has graciously given us the Word of Wisdom to help protect us and bless us physically, mentally and spiritually. I know this is true. I also know that I have much room for improvement.

• The Word of Wisdom is ever-evolving because the world we live in is ever-changing. If we don’t acknowledge these changes, our beliefs become outdated.

• If I am hung up on a part of the Word of Wisdom (or the entire Gospel) that the Lord and His servants don’t seem too concerned about, I should probably reevaluate my focus.

• If I find myself criticizing the Lord or His servants, and suggesting the I know what should and shouldn’t be in the Word of Wisdom, I ought to take a deep breath and re-think what I am doing.

• If you do not have a testimony of The Premises that I outlined earlier, please get one. That way, when the inevitable changes come, you will be able to adapt to them and count them as blessings. It will also prevent you from wrestling with, or sharing out-dated doctrine.

• The blessings that come from living the Word of Wisdom are real, and worth it.

I wrote two previous posts about the Word of Wisdom back in 2012 that you might find applicable:

WoW: What Was He Thinking?

WoW” Tying Up Lose Ends.”

And here is a pdf of the survey that spawned all of this…

(Yes, some of the questions cannon be answered, some of them are confusing, etc. This was originally meant for a few people for a Sunday School class. but we kind of exploded that!

A VERY unofficial poll – Google Forms

 

11

Look at me balloon

It was hypnotic. The colorful mylar balloon hung suspended in the air without moving, until a sudden unseen air current swept it higher. It gently descended again, slowly meandering as if controlled by some remote pilot. I could not tear my eyes away.

Neither could the other 700 men watching the Priesthood session of General Conference at the Stake Center last Saturday evening. (It was even more distracting than the absence of lyrics for the rest hymn.)

I figure the balloon lost its string and escaped from a party or wedding celebration earlier in the week, and found its way to the ceiling of the chapel. The buoyancy had diminished to that perfect equilibrium where the ballon hung suspended in the air. It never got close enough to the screen or projector to interfere with the broadcast, but it sure did its best to interfere with our focus.

I had been able to ignore it for most of the meeting, as I busily scribbled my notes, but when the concluding speaker, President Henry B. Eyring, began to speak, I finally relented. As the balloon methodically danced in the air above the congregation, I began to “zone out.” I confess that I stopped paying attention to his talk as I stared at the unwanted guest.

As if scripted by some unseen force, the shiny balloon eventually began its final descent during the closing hymn. It dropped lower and lower until a young hero jumped up and grabbed it. Hundreds of men broke into spontaneous applause and cheers. (Really!) Everyone then quieted down for the closing prayer, and the session was over.

Seriously now, this is more than just a cute little story. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I had the opportunity to watch and listen to a PROPHET OF GOD, and instead, I was watching a silly mylar BALLOON. I’ve thought about that balloon a lot since Conference ended and realized that it was highly symbolic of what I’ll refer to as “Conference Distractions.”

There are two types of Conference Distractions: The first are those things that keep us from fully feasting at the Conference table as it is happening. Some of us push our chairs away from the table by necessity, others by choice. It isn’t hard to determine how we responded to these distractions.

The second type are the distraction that race in to fill our hearts and minds after the final “amen” is spoken. I did my very best to enjoy the feast last weekend, but these distractions are already rising up and fighting for my attention..

For example:

In his limited physical strength, President Monson implored us to do something very specific: “My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day.” (link)

Oops. I did pretty well until Saturday, when I was distracted by a snooze button and an early meeting.

President Nelson had a simple request: “I urge you to study “The Living Christ.” (link)

A few hours later, Elder Ballard gave a second witness to this direction when he said, “Place a copy where you can see it, and take time to review each of the statements found in this inspired testimony of Christ by His special witnesses who signed it.” (link)

Yeah, about that… I promise I thought about it a couple of times during this week, but it didn’t happen. It would have made for a nice FHE, in retrospect. We probably could have made time during the week to work on this, but, you know, things get busy…

Now these are merely two small, quantifiable examples of specific counsel we received last week, and there is always this week to get started. But from a larger perspective, this Conference was packed with tremendous counsel regarding how we can gain greater faith, become more Christ-like, draw on the powers of heaven, receive guidance from the Holy Ghost – along with so much more. It was full of prophetic warnings and teaching on how to become better versions of ourselves.

We leave Conference determined and focused, but how long is it before some shiny object wanders into our field of view and begins demanding our attention? Do those things cause us to “zone out” and forget to listen to what we had been taught?

“Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one. “ (Alma 46:8)

As we fight the semi-annual battle against “Post-Conference Let Down,” let’s remember to keep our eye on what we were taught, and try not to revert back to that earlier, pre-Conference version of ourselves. It is about moving forward with faith and determination, not ebbing away.

“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.” (D&C 88:67)

Let’s ignore the distractions, no matter how fascinating, and keep our eyes on that prize.

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Bonus: Great talk by Elder Marlin K. Jensen, “An Eye Single to the Glory of God.”

7

Conf April Sun PM

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.

…staggers back into the family room, plops down on the couch with a can of Diet Dr. Pepper.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson started by talking about Ezekiel, watchmen and dying.

“Prophets warn us to turn away from sin and choose liberty and eternal life through the great Mediator.”

Uh-Oh. He just morphed into it being our responsibility to warn our neighbor.

“Warning may take the form of reproof…but it is always from a position of love… To warn is to care. This is to be done with mildness, meekness and gentleness.”

“Sometimes those who raise a warning voice are dismissed as judgmental.”

“Paradoxically, however, those who claim truth is relative and moral standards are a matter of personal preference are often the same ones who most harshly criticize people that don’t accept the current norm of ‘correct thinking.’”

“The SHAME CULTURE.” Man, is that good. Here is a link to the David Brooks article quoted about “The Shame Culture.”

“How much better it is to know the truth than to be ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.’”

Here is a link to the Deseret News article about marriage he cited.

“Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or to fear—fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering.”

This idea of “Guilt Culture” vs. “Shame Culture” is really quite brilliant and so right for our times.

 

Elder Joaquin Costa. (Spoke at a recent youth/parent devotional here in Gilbert. He is great.)

“Once you meet the missionaries, please take them seriously; they are giving up important years of their lives just for you.”

To those just learning about the Church: “If you are feeling confused by something you don’t understand don’t worry I was clueless, too”

“If you are confused, don’t worry; remember the feelings you have experienced, they come from God.”

I love his technique of saying, “I will explain this in one sentence.”

Alma 42:29 “…I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.”

Shout out to “My Elder Cutler,” made me teary. How cool to know you helped in the conversion of a G.A.

“If you pay the price of revelation, humble yourself, pray, and repent, the heavens will open.”

 

• MMM Critique: If I were a young, Latino man, Elder Costa’s invitations would be almost irresistible to me. His spirit, joy and enthusiasm are contagious. What a happy soul.

 

Elder S. Mark Palmer has a sweet New Zealand accent.

While listening to the Bible, he found these six words, “”Then Jesus beholding him, loved him.” (Only found in Mark. (10:21) (From the story of the rich young man.)

“The question no longer was “How does a frustrated mission president get a struggling missionary to behave better?” but “How can I be filled with Christ Like love so that I can allow them to feel the love of Christ?”’

Offered four things that happen when we look at others with the Savior’s love: (Very incomplete notes.)

1) When filled with love we won’t be afraid to speak with boldness. (Second witness)

2) Hearts will not change where love is not present. Our homes should always be safe havens for our children—not hostile environments.

3) Love should never be withdrawn.

Offered the possibility that the rich young man eventually came back. Hooray! (link)

4) Four: repeat steps one through three.

 

Elder Gary E. Stephenson asked the question: “How does the Holy Ghost help you?”

Especially relevant to kids about to be, or recently have been baptized. Converts, too.

Told a story from his childhood about hiking with his dad. Here’s a link to the story included in a bio written by Elder Robert D. Hales.

Spent time highlighting basic truths about the Holy Ghost.

Told the tragic story of a young man who lost his wife in a car accident. Here is a link to the news about the car crash.

Spoke of several ways the Holy Ghost can help us:

  • “The Holy Ghost will help you by comforting you.”
  • “As you heed promptings from the Holy Ghost, … you may be removed, without ever knowing, from spiritual and temporal danger.”
  • “The Holy Ghost will help you by testifying of the Father and the Son and of all truth.”
  • “The Holy Ghost testifies and bears witness of the truth of all things.”

 

• Multiple witnesses about the importance of having the Holy Ghost very involved in our lives, and the worthiness required.

 

Elder C. Scott Grow: Knowing your identity as a child of God, and understanding your purpose.

John 3:16 quoted yet again.

He spoke about Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s talk. “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane.”(Which I remember! Read it.)

Back to the basics again: Individual and family prayer and scripture study.

“When you pray with faith, you will feel God’s love, as His spirit speaks to your soul.”

“Scripture study becomes the channel for the Spirit to give each of us a customized tutorial.”

“You and I do the will of the Father, by honoring our covenants, keeping the commandments, and serving God.”

“Knowing God is the quest of a lifetime.”

…Singing, “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play…”

 

 

Elder Benjamin de Hoyos bears a sweet testimony of modern prophets and makes the case for letting folks speak in their native tongue at the same time.

We don’t have to imagine hearing the Savior’s voice: “It has become constant for us to hear the voice of the Lord because when we hear the voice of the servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38)

And as a second witness to Elder Clayton: “We should not be surprised by what may seem like ‘small things’ because of their simple and repetitive nature.”

…Singing, “Line upon line, precept on precept, that is how He lifts us…” Ooops, soory. Back to the talk.

“As we keep the Sabbath day holy and partake of the sacrament, we are not only cleansed, but out light also grows brighter.” Last Conference almost every talk spoke to the importance of the Sacrament. This might be the first reference this time.

“As we all teach and learn in His way and become more like Him, our light shines brighter and cannot be hid.”

Your light will shine brighter when you keep Sabbath day holy, take sacrament and find family names to the temple.

“Learning to teach as the Savior taught is another way we can rise and shine…The goal of every gospel teacher is to teach the pure doctrine of the gospel by the Spirit.” (Wish that I had his faith!)

 

• Many references to the Holy Ghost and “light” this Conference.

• Suddenly missing my missionary in Mexico so much right now that I teared up. I hope he is sharing in this with us.

 

Elder Quentin L. Cook to finish it off.

“If there is one preeminent objective of General Conference, it is to build faith in our Heavenly father and Jesus Christ.”

“Personal foundations, are usually built slowly. One challenge, one success at a time.”

…Oh-no…Line upon line is bubbling up again…

Talked about the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hour rule. Gotta put in the time to reach a level of mastery in anything. (From a book called “Outliers.” Interesting book.)

“Just as repetition and consistent effort are required to gain physical or mental capacity, the same is true in spiritual matters.”

Foundation of testimony: Is Christ my Savior? Is the Book of Mormon true? Was Joseph Smith a prophet?

Immediate second witness: “I believe weekly participation in sacred sacrament meetings has spiritual implications we do not fully understand.”

Floated the idea that the seer stones were essentially “training wheels” for the prophet Joseph to translate. Very interesting.

Talked about the financial disasters in early Church history, specifically my ancestor Parley P. Pratt, and his flirtation with opposing the prophet Joseph. Thankfully it was a short flirtation.

“Conversion to the gospel does not mean all our problems will be solved… Adversity should not be viewed as either disfavor from the Lord or a withdrawal of His blessings.”

 

  • And the choir nails it by closing with “How Firma Foundation,” immediately after Elder Cook talked about our foundations.
  • In a surprising twist, the emphasis of Conference was studying the scriptures, praying, being worthy to have the Holy Ghost. Didn’t see that coming!
  • An awesome Conference. I feel blessed to live in a time and place where we can have God’s servants teach, inspire, motivate, counsel and love us.

I feel blessed.

I also feel tired.

Please join me on Facebook for Sunday Night Check-in and you can tell us your #1 thing from today.

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13

Conf April Priesthood

Note:  These are the 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.

• I was sitting in the dark, equipped with only the most primitive devices to record my conference thoughts: A pen and notebook. I did my best, most of the time.

 

We started out being blessed by some brief remarks from our dear prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. He spoke slowly, carefully. I was surprised to see that they added subtitles to his comments, as if they were concerned if he would be able to speak clearly enough. I closed my eyes for a bit and understood him perfectly.

He spoke about eh importance too three virtues: Kindness, charity and love. He spent some time in D&C 121 talking about how if we exercise those traits, we can better call down the powers of heaven for ourselves and others.

It was sweet, and short.

 

Elder David A. Bednar then took to the stand to teach a curious subject. He lighted the difference between being called to serve vs. being assigned a field of labor. Using D&C 80:1-3 as his backing, he explained that when missionaries are serving, they are serving – regardless of where they are assigned.

Why was this important? Because he has encountered many missionaries and returned missionaries who struggle with the fact that they were unable to serve in the area where they were called – rather assigned – and they often wonder why. (Visa issues, wars, health, etc.)

He explained that when a missionary is re-assigned for whatever reason, the assignment still comes through from the Lord through an apostle, just like the original call. I’m sure there are many who needed to hear this.

He said that “noting affirms the reality of continuing revelation” as much as the process of assigning missionaries.

He then continued by talking about the importance of focusing equally on preparation for Priesthood, Temple and Mission. We too often focus on mission, when learning and gaining strength from the priesthood and temple could make for a better missionary. (Sorry, lots of paraphrasing going on here.)

Huge focus on staying worth for all three areas.

 

Presiding Bishop Gerald Causee spoke about priesthood training. He spoke of his lifetime of learning in the priesthood and made two interesting points:

-The role of the Aaronic Priesthood is to prepare the way for the Melchizedek Priesthood’s role.

-The MP should turn to our AP brothers and invite them to participate with us.

Great quote: “Two often we try to entertain our young men and relegate them to the spectator role.”  Can I get a big AMEN?

 

• Odd that we sang all four verses of the rest hymn, but they didn’t show the words on the screen. My youngest was lost after were one.

 

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was the story man tonight. He told a great story about not being invited to the Madrid, Spain Temple Open House, even though he was the European Area President at the time. He talked about how he dealt with it.

The second story was along the same lines, but I won’t retell it, other than to say he missed a perfect opportunity to level the place with a “Doody Duty” joke, but he showed great restraint.

The point of the stories? “You can’t get honor in the Kingdom of Heaven by campaigning for it.”

“God’s greatest reward goes to those who serve without expectation of reward.”

“When we inhale the praise of others, that will be our compensation.”

 

• I’ve noticed that there have been a lot of references to the Pauline Epistles today.

 

President Henry B. Eyring concluded as a second witness about Priesthood service. He started by telling us that he desired to reassure and invigorate us in our Priesthood service.

“If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, take that as a good sign.” (Further proof that men and women are different. I don’t recall that message in Women’s Conference.)

The main focus was to remind us to include Christ in our service. He told several stories from his life about how inspiration guided his service.

Three points:

  • “God will notice and support even the youngest Deacon.”
  • “The Lord’s work is not just to solve problems, but to build people. Sometimes the most effective system is not the Lord’s system.” (That is good stuff right there.)
  • “Walking with the Savior in the Priesthood will change how you look at people.”

The Savior was able to see Peter “The Rock” within Peter the impulsive fisherman.

“Develop the ability to help people see themselves the way the Savior sees them.”

 

• I will admit that I missed some parts of President Eyring’s talk because of a remarkable distraction – maybe I’ll tell the story next Sunday.

• Great Session. 90 minutes and out.

• Have a good sleep! It is all true! Every bit of it!

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9

Conf April Sat PM

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.

Hang on. (Wipes BBQ sauce off face) Okay, ready.

  • The awesome pastel colors of the choir make me think of the paint sample board at Home Depot.
  • I guess rudely shouting “No” somehow means more than just raising the right hand. Following simple instruction is not some people’s forte. (Perhaps it was just a bad taste April Fools joke.)
  • Happy to raise my hand for new folks that I have never heard of. #faith Women’s Auxiliaries sure seem to like playing musical chairs.
  • I wonder what will happen to the lengthy sustaining process when the Church is 10x larger.
  • 15,882,417 – closing in on 16.

 

Elder Robert D. Hales: “Genuine discipleship is a state of being…woven into the fiber of their beings.” (He could have sat down after that and given us years of pondering.)

“Selective obedience.” I love it when that phrase is used.

“We embody Christ not only in what we say or do, but in who we are.”

….yeah, I’ find myself typing every single line. This one is going to take some studying.

 

Elder Jeffry R. Holland took one line of the hymn There is Sunshine in My Soul. “Jesus, listening can hear the songs you cannot sing.”

Somedays are difficult. (Not Sundays, SOMEdays.)

What do we do in such times? “Embrace Paul’s counsel and “hope for that which we see not, and with patience wait for it.”

(2 talks in a row mentioning patience.)

“It is by divine design that all the voices in God’s choir are not the same.” (He mentioned Sopranos, bases, altos – My tenor son said, What? No tenors?)

“DIVERSITY IS NOT CACOPHONY and choirs do require discipline.”

“Economic deprivation is a curse.” (MMM opinion: I don’t think anyone argues with this – the problem is how many want to solve the problems in ways other than ways the Lord has endorsed.)

“Guns and slurs and vitriol are not the way to deal with human conflict.” “The more excellent way will always be the gospel of Jesus Christ “ (Basically, the gospel is the answer to the problems.)

Extending love to those who struggle with emotional or mental issues has become a hallmark of Elder Holland’s talks.

“Stay permanently and faithfully in the choir… so that we can sing the song of redeeming love.”

Come as you are…but don’t plan to stay as you are. God plans to make you more than you thought you could be.” That is huge. The Church is for all of us, but we should all be working to change ourselves.

Phew! That talk was brilliant – and exhausting.

 

• I was weak and checked Twitter during the song, only to find out how quickly people are weaponizing Elder Holland’s brilliant talk to justify their political views and condemn others. You would think I’d learn.

 

Elder Gary Sabin: a.k.a. “The Man Who Gets to Follow Elder Holland.”

(Note: I used to have a GPS voice that would yell at me in a ‘Mr. T’ voice and say, “Turn around fool!”)

“The Lord requires a heart and a willing mind, the whole heart.”

“When we are lukewarm or only partially committed, we lose out on some of heaven’s choicest blessings.”

Very profound: “When we are complacent in our covenants, we are complicit in the consequences.”

“There is a lot of vain jangling in the world today.” (Can’t wait to read the next paragraph again.)

Let me rephrase: Elder Gary Sabin: a.k.a. “The Man Who Followed Elder Holland With a Tremendous Talk.)

 

• Weird to think that there are people who actually had their testimonies strengthened because Elder Sabin made a Star Wars reference.

 

Elder Valeri V. Cordon made the connection to preserving the language of his fathers to preserving the language of the gospel.

How to preserve gospel language:

1) “Be more diligent and concerned at home.”

“It is not enough to merely speak the language in the home; if parents desire to preserve the language it must be taught.”

He made a nice pitch for family scripture study. Huzzah!

2) Strong modeling in the home – bring the language alive for the children.

“It is not enough just to talk to our children about the importance of temple marriage, fasting, & keeping the Sabbath day holy.”

3) Traditions: “We must avoid any tradition that will prevent us from keeping the Sabbath holy or having daily scripture study and prayer at home.”

“No achievement in this life, important as it may be, will be relevant if we lose the language of the gospel in our homes.”

 

• Nice to hear BYU finally mentioned in a real Conference.

 

Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke about overcoming the world.

“Is it possible to overcome the world and receive these blessings? Yes, it is.”

“Overcoming the world is not one defining moment in a lifetime, but a lifetime of moments that define an eternity.”

“Overcoming the world is not a global invasion, but a private, personal battle, requiring hand-to-hand combat with our own internal foes.” (Great imagery)

(I am using the pause button too much – we are falling way behind.)

Two talks in a row about keeping the Sabbath day holy. Seems to be a trend of 2nd witnesses this Conference.

“Happiness of a spouse is more important than our own pleasure.”

Uh-oh. Elder Andersen is talking about Social Media…I guess it’s time to pack in the blog:

“A disciple of Christ is not alarmed if her post about Christ does not receive 1,000 likes.” I totally agree, and I am so glad he was referring to women.

A very nice tribute to Elder Bruce Porter.

 

• Seriously a GREAT session. Seems that Saturday P.M. consistently rocks.

 

Elder M. Russell Ballard: Those who accomplish the most in this world are those with a vision for their lives.”

“A goal is a destination or an end, while a plan is the route by which you get there.”

(A lot of this sounds vaguely like the chapter in Preach My Gospel on goal setting.)

“Our greatest and most overriding goals should fit into our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

“The simpler and more straightforward a goal is, the more power it will have.” Reduce a goal to a single image or just a few words. (Memes? Emojis?)

His choice: Return and Receive.

Have regular PPI’s with yourself. “Who knows you better than you know yourself?” (Question: Do I have to get dressed up?)

Quotes Alma 5:14, “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”

Assignment: “Over the coming weeks, take time to review your life goals and your plans and make sure they align with our Heavenly Father’s plans.”

Make adjustments as needed.

Elder Ballard is the second apostle (witness) to encourage us to study “The Living Christ.”

I also might want to take a harder look at recognizing Palm Sunday.

“Let us remember Him and renew our lifelong commitment to keep His commandments.”

—-

• A Child’s Prayer – a beautiful way to wrap up a perfect session. Seriously – I went back through my notes and every.single.talk. was powerful.

• Have a great afternoon. Priesthood session notes will be later tonight after we tackle some Mexican Food.

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