Conference Thoughts and Experiences (Day Two)

By | April 6, 2014

I’m attending the Sunday sessions of general conference, on April 6, 2014, and thought I would include in this post ideas and thoughts that stood out to me from the many available.

If you are interested in my thoughts from yesterday’s sessions, you can find them here.

I always enjoy listening to President Uchtdorf; he is a gifted speaker. I appreciated his thoughts on having a spirit of gratitude about us. This was good:

We can choose to be grateful, no matter what. This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.

I was touched by the story told by Sister Stevens about Deric Nance. Her recounting of the story brought to my mind the many times I have had prayers answered in a personal, direct, and (by me) undeniable manner. I know my Father lives and I know He knows me. That is a great comfort in my life.

I ducked out of the last part of the morning session to catch the “mass resignation event” being sponsored by the American Atheists. You can find my write-up of the event here.

As a general observation, the number of Street Preachers is down a bit at this conference. Some of the old die-hards are here (including Lonnie Purciful, Kevin Deegan, and Reuben Israel), but their overall numbers were fewer.

There was one guy who came up with a unique gimmick this year. Yesterday evening and today he was circling Temple Square and periodically blowing on a ram’s horn, or shofar.

An anti-Mormon protester blows on the ram's horn, or shofar, at the southeast corner of Temple Square.

An anti-Mormon protester blows on the ram’s horn, or shofar, at the southeast corner of Temple Square.

Perhaps he envisioned himself as one of the followers of the ancient prophet Joshua who used ram’s horns to help bring down the walls of Jericho. As of this writing, though, the walls around Temple Square are still standing.

At the beginning of the afternoon session of conference I was pleased to hear from President Packer. Many opponents of the Church malign him, but I found powerful his heartfelt recounting of his early doubts and his spiritual epiphany, among humble and uncertain surroundings, that cemented his testimony.

Almost mid-sentence it happened. I could not describe to you what happened if I were determined to do so. It is beyond my power of expression, but it is as clear today as it was that night more than 65 years ago. I knew it to be a very private, very individual manifestation. At last I knew for myself. I knew for a certainty, for it had been given to me. After some time, I crawled from that bunker and walked, or floated, back to my bed. I spent the rest of the night in a feeling of joy and awe.

I found this quote from President Packer to be beautiful in its simplicity:

The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home.

And this statement is a powerful prophetic utterance:

As a servant of the Lord, acting in the office to which I have been ordained, I give to those in such circumstances [unmarried or childless] a promise that there will be nothing essential to your salvation and exaltation that shall not in due time rest upon you. Arms now empty will be filled and hearts now hurting from broken dreams and yearnings will be healed.

Elder Perry’s stories are always interesting to me, like the one about his grandfather telling him about breaking in a team of horses. I found this comment telling and it resonated with me:

So the lesson my grandfather taught me was always to be ready to receive the gentle tug of the Spirit. He taught me that I would alwasys receive such a prompting if I began to veer off course. And I would never be guilty of more serious wrongdoing if I allowed the Spirit to guide my decisions in life.

Elder Perry’s summary of obedience mirrors very well my own feelings on the topic:

Too often we think of obedience as passive and thoughtless; the following of the orders or dictates of a higher authority. Actually, at its best, obedience is an emblem of our faith in the wisdom and power of the highest authority, even God.

When I am obedient the Lord blesses me because I am willing to bend my will, knowingly and after consideration, to His will.

This admonition by Elder Aidukaitis is priceless:

With so much available on the Internet, one must carefully consider where to apply his efforts. Satan can keep us busy, distracted, and infected by sifting through information, much of which can be pure garbage. One should not roam through garbage.