Thousands converged on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City filling the 21,000 seat Conference Center, as well as overflow into the historic Tabernacle, and many chose to listen seated outside enjoying the warm spring sunshine.
Here are a few personally meaningful excerpts of today’s talks from my note taking. When I listen to Conference I always try to watch for repeated themes and/or scriptures because that is a good sign that God really wants us to remember that point!
President Thomas S. Monson
– our beloved prophet, gave the opening address. He spoke about the purpose of why we meet each 6 months: to be strengthened, encouraged, comforted, and to build our faith.
“We are here to learn”
“May we continue to oppose evil wherever it may be.”
“No cause, no force in the entire world can stop the work of God.”
He reminded us of the prophesy of the prophet Joseph Smith;
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
He also emphasized our 13th Article of Faith; (my personal favorite)
“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
President Boyd K. Packer
The senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on the theme of Family.
“Little children are our hope”
“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3)
“Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling — from which they will never be released — is to one another and then to their children…the family is the basic organization in time and all eternity.””
“Family Time is sacred time and should be respected and protected”
Sister Cheryl A. Esplin
The second counselor in the Primary general presidency (the children’s organization of the LDS church) focused on how to teach our children about spiritual things.
“Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3 **repeated scripture alert!**)
“Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It’s helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts”
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom
A Member of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Hallstrom spoke about the separate but interconnected terms of “the gospel” and “the church”.
The Gospel = God’s Plan. Our earthly experience and test of faith combined with the coming of Jesus The Christ who provided the great Atonement for our sins and eternal salvation.
The Church = Originally established by Jesus Christ when he was on earth with prophets and apostles and priesthood authority. Restored to the earth in 1830 with prophets and apostles and priesthood authority.
“It is possible to be active in the church and less-active in the gospel.”
“..we need the gospel and the Church. In fact, the purpose of the Church is to help us live the gospel.”
Elder Paul E. Koelliker
Elder Koelliker of the Seventy addressed the question: “How do we help someone “want to know more about their Heavenly Father?”
“Finding a way to awaken and nurture that desire is the quest and responsibility of each of us — missionary, parent, teacher, leader and member”
Elder Koelliker taught that the answer is by “establishing righteous patterns“, such as humble prayer, yielding to God’s will, and showing love to one another.
“I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations” – D&C 52:14
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the important gospel principle of sacrifice.
“Just as the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is at the center of the plan of salvation, we followers of Christ must make our own sacrifices to prepare for the destiny that plan provides for us”
“Perhaps the most familiar and most important examples of unselfish service and sacrifice are performed in our families”
President Henry B. Eyring
The First Counselor in the First Presidency, Pres. Eyring spoke about enduring trials. We each have “mountains to climb”. Our trials can help us to be “polished a little more.”
“Fear not what man can do for God will be with you forever and ever”
“If the foundation of faith is not strong, it will crumble and fall.”
“It is never too late to build the foundation of faith.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve opened the afternoon session with the parable of the Laborers In The Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15).
A householder that employs workers throughout the day. At the end of the day, each worker whether those who began working in the morning, or those who came only in “the eleventh hour” were all paid the same wages. The moral? God rewards each of us individually and mercifully, and it is never “to late” for any of us.
“Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt — and certainly not to feel envious — when good fortune comes to another.
We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed.
“The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.”
Elder Robert D. Hales
Elder Hales (Quorum of the Twelve) spoke about becoming spiritually self-reliant. In the parable of the prodigal son, he returned home becuase “He came to himself“. Each of us can also come to our senses spiritually.
“Throughout our lives, whether in times of darkness, challenge, sorrow, or sin we may feel the Holy Ghost reminding us that we are truly sons and daughters of a caring Heavenly Father Who loves us and hunger for the sacred blessings that only He can provide,”
Elder David S. Baxter
Speaking to all of the single parents, Elder Baxter of the Seventy offered a special balm to many hearts today.
[Note: Our family also thinks he has a very cute Scottish accent!]
“Please never feel that you are in some kind of second-tier, sub-category of Church membership, somehow less entitled to the Lord’s blessings than others. In the kingdom of God there are no second-class citizens.”
When things get hard, God says, ‘No, little one, you cannot come to me, but I can come to you.’
Elder Soares of the Seventy quoted President Monson by reiterating this simple truth
‘You can’t be right by doing wrong; you can’t be wrong by doing right,’
We always need to ask ourselves:
“Do my actions place me in the Lord’s or in the enemy’s territory?”
“There is a line of demarcation…stay on the Lord’s side!”
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke about “staying in tune to the music of faith” (**Love that!**)
“Our great desire is to raise our children in truth and righteousness.”
While Lehi’s vision includes all people, the culminating doctrinal concept is the eternal significance of the family.
“Praying with our children may be more important than any other activity.”
Elder Richard G. Scott
Elder Scott (Quorum of the Twelve) spoke about living so that we can always have the Holy Ghost as our guide.
“Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege,”
“Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail, but to succeed gloriously”
Other things of note: Elder Scott mentioned how the Holy Spirit can speak to us in many ways, including in dreams. We should diligently keep a record our spiritual impressions and our spiritual records should be “carefully protected by loss or intrusion by others” .
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