Sunday, March 02, 2014

Conference talks and cleaning

I love to listen to Conference talks from our biannual LDS General Conference.

During Conference we get to hear from Apostles and the Prophet of the Lord. I love listening to the talks while I am eating my breakfast and while I am cleaning. Those are usually the times I have mostly to myself and I can actually listen and ponder on the words that are being said. In the last few weeks I was able to listen to the conference talks from the past 2 years and then I decided to go back to April 1991 Conference. There was no particular reason behind this decision except for the fact that I wanted to hear something that I knew I had not heard before.

I want to share with you two of my favorite talks from this conference.

The first one is "Reverence Invites Revelation" by Boyd K. Packer
You can watch it here
A testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a witness that the Book of Mormon is true, comes in a delicate, refined spiritual communication. It is described in the scriptures as light (D&C 88:11, 67), as burning in the bosom. It is best described as a feeling. (1 Ne. 17:45.)
Ordinarily a testimony comes when we seek for it with a sincere heart and real intent. (Moro. 10:4.) “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” (D&C 42:61.)
No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22James 4:31 Jn. 3:221 Ne. 15:11Enos 1:15Mosiah 4:21D&C 4:7; and Moses 6:52 are examples.) While we may invite this communication, it can never be forced! If we try to force it, we may be deceived.
Enos, who was “struggling in the spirit,” said, “Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.” (Enos 1:10; italics added.) While this spiritual communication comes into the mind, it comes more as a feeling, an impression, than simply as a thought. Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process.
The witness is not communicated through the intellect alone, however bright the intellect may be.
“The natural man,” Paul told us, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:13–14.)
Recently the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles issued a statement alerting members of the Church to the dangers of participating in circles which concentrate on doctrine and ordinances and measure them by the intellect alone.
If doctrines and behavior are measured by the intellect alone, the essential spiritual ingredient is missing, and we will be misled.
Personal testimony is confirmed to us initially and is reaffirmed and enlarged thereafter through a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit.
A testimony is profoundly personal, and occurs in response to very private prayers and pleadings. Nevertheless, the Lord has told us, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20; see also D&C 6:32.)
There is safety in learning doctrine in gatherings which are sponsored by proper authority. Some members, even some who have made covenants in the temple, are associating with groups of one kind or another which have an element of secrecy about them and which pretend to have some higher source of inspiration concerning the fulfillment of prophecies than do ward or stake leaders or the General Authorities of the Church. Know this: There are counterfeit revelations which, we are warned, “if possible … shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.” (JS—M 1:22.)
The Lord commanded: “Assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves. … Continue in prayer and fasting. … Teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. … And my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand.” (D&C 88:74–80.)
When we meet to learn the doctrines of the gospel, it should be in a spirit of reverence. It is about reverence and how it relates to revelation that I wish to speak.
Inspiration comes more easily in peaceful settings. Such words as quiet, still, peaceable, Comforter abound in the scriptures: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10; italics added.) And the promise, “You shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom.” (D&C 36:2; italics added.)
Elijah felt a great wind, an earthquake, a fire. The Lord was not in any of them; then came “a still small voice.” (1 Kgs. 19:12.)
Helaman said of that voice of revelation, “It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.” (Hel. 5:30.)
It was Nephi who reminded his brothers that an angel “hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feelhis words.” (1 Ne. 17:45; italics added.)
For the past several years we have watched patterns of reverence and irreverence in the Church. While many are to be highly commended, we are drifting. We have reason to be deeply concerned.
The world grows increasingly noisy. Clothing and grooming and conduct are looser and sloppier and more disheveled. Raucous music, with obscene lyrics blasted through amplifiers while lights flash psychedelic colors, characterizes the drug culture. Variations of these things are gaining wide acceptance and influence over our youth.
Doctors even say that our physical sense of hearing can be permanently damaged by all of this noise.
This trend to more noise, more excitement, more contention, less restraint, less dignity, less formality is not coincidental nor innocent nor harmless.
The first order issued by a commander mounting a military invasion is the jamming of the channels of communication of those he intends to conquer.
Irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary by obstructing the delicate channels of revelation in both mind and spirit.
Our sacrament and other meetings need renewed attention to assure that they are truly worship services in which members may be spiritually nourished and have their testimonies replenished and in which investigators may feel the inspiration essential to spiritual conversion.
Our meetinghouses are designed so that we may enjoy socials, dancing, drama, even sports. All of these are important. But these auxiliary activities should be subdued when compared with what the world is doing. Music, dress, and conduct associated with them are quite different from what is appropriate in the chapel or classroom on the Sabbath day.
When we return for Sunday meetings, the music, dress, and conduct should be appropriate for worship. Foyers are built into our chapels to allow for the greeting and chatter that are typical of people who love one another. However, when we step into the chapel, we must!—each of usmust—watch ourselves lest we be guilty of intruding when someone is struggling to feel delicate spiritual communications.
Leaders sometimes wonder why so many active members get themselves into such predicaments in life. Could it be that they do not feel what they need to feel because our meetings are less than they might be spiritually?
Irreverent conduct in our chapels is worthy of a reminder, if not reproof. Leaders should teach that reverence invites revelation.
The reverence we speak of does not equate with absolute silence. We must be tolerant of little babies, even an occasional outburst from a toddler being ushered out to keep him from disturbing the peace. Unless the father is on the stand, he should do the ushering.
Music is of enormous importance in our worship services. I believe that those who choose, conduct, present, and accompany the music may influence the spirit of reverence in our meetings more than a speaker does. God bless them.
Music can set an atmosphere of worship which invites that spirit of revelation, of testimony. We are told in the handbook that “music and musical texts are to be sacred, dignified, and otherwise suitable for a Latter-day Saint meeting” (General Handbook of Instructions, 1989, pp. 2–5) and that “organs and pianos are the standard instruments used in sacrament meetings. Other instruments, such as orchestral strings, may be used when appropriate, but the music must be in keeping with the reverence and spirituality of the meeting. Brass and percussion instruments generally are not appropriate.” (Handbook for Church Music,1975, p. 17.)
An organist who has the sensitivity to quietly play prelude music from the hymnbook tempers our feelings and causes us to go over in our minds the lyrics which teach the peaceable things of the kingdom. If we will listen, they are teaching the gospel, for the hymns of the Restoration are, in fact, a course in doctrine!
I have noticed that an increasing number of our leaders and members do not sing the congregational songs. Perhaps they do not know them or there are not enough hymnbooks. We should sing the songs of Zion—they are an essential part of our worship. We must not neglect the hymns nor the exalted anthems of the Restoration. Read the First Presidency’s introduction in the hymnbook. The Lord said, “My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” (D&C 25:12.) Do not let our sacred music slip away from us, nor allow secular music to replace it.
When music is presented which, however appropriate for other occasions, does not fit the Sabbath, much is lost. From the Bulletin: “Some religiously oriented music in a popular style can be uplifting and motivating for some of our members but may lack the dignity and propriety suitable for a worship service. Also, music which might be suitable in a concert setting may not be appropriate for a worship service.” (Bulletin, no. 31:Sept. 1986, p. 1.)
A choir which favors secular music above sacred music on the Sabbath becomes a chorus. In that respect, they teach the ways of men and, in doing so, miss the opportunity to inspire, and deny the power that they might otherwise have. The Spirit does not ratify speech nor confirm music which lacks spiritual substance.
Now, someone will surely write to remind me that I have not been trained as a musician and will tell me of the stimulation that comes to them from listening to the great music of the world. I understand that. But not all great music nor all popular religious music meets the special criteria of the sacred music of worship, of the Sabbath, of revelation.
There is something else: We are drifting from the use of reverential words in our prayers. Familiar terms such as you and yours are replacing theeand thine in prayer. Teach the children and gently inform new members that we use reverential terms when addressing our Heavenly Father in prayer.
No one of us can survive in the world of today, much less in what it soon will become, without personal inspiration. The spirit of reverence can and should be evident in every organization in the Church and in the lives of every member.
Parents, stake presidencies, bishoprics, auxiliary leaders, teachers: maintain a spirit of reverence in meetings, encourage participation in congregational singing and the use of reverential terms in prayers.
While we may not see an immediate, miraculous transformation, as surely as the Lord lives, a quiet one will take place. The spiritual power in the lives of each member and in the Church will increase. The Lord will pour out his Spirit upon us more abundantly. We will be less troubled, less confused. We will find revealed answers to personal and family problems without all the counseling which we seem now to need.
It was Nephi who taught: “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
“Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
“For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2 Ne. 32:3–5.)
And in the spirit of reverence, I bear testimony that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that the Holy Ghost—our comforter, our teacher—will come to us if we will maintain a spirit of reverence, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I found this quote that I love that goes along perfectly with the above talk.
Marjorie Pay Hinckley "True spirituality makes you loving and grateful, and forgiving, and patient, and gentle, and long-suffering. True spirituality breathes reverence into every act and deed."

The second one is "Light" by Ted E. Brewerton
You can watch it here
My brethren and sisters, on this bright and beautiful day, I should like to address the subject of light. The dictionary defines light as something that makes vision possible or something that enlightens or informs.
Two types of light are physical light and spiritual light.
Physical light, especially natural light, affects the moods of people. When summer’s light begins to fade, days grow shorter, and the winter season looms darkly ahead, natural light becomes a more precious commodity, especially to people who live in extreme northern climates. There, where darkness reigns for up to three months a year and then summer blooms into three months of constant daylight, moods swing with the seasons.
Light does have a profound effect on human mood and behavior. Mounting evidence indicates that people who are feeling a little down and need a lift can get it by going outside in daylight. Walking in the light is a natural mood booster. Many who simply walk for half an hour or more during the daylight hours receive a distinct benefit. (See The Walking Magazine, Jan./Feb. 1989, pp. 28–30.)
Scientists are not entirely certain which wavelengths cause light’s mood-boosting effects. Researchers believe that these effects are traceable to light taken in through the eyes and not through the skin.
A second medical use of light is light therapy for treating some cancers. Certain chemicals combined with light can destroy cancer cells. Research is under way to identify the best source of light and to determine how to direct it to body areas. (See Time, Canadian ed., Nov. 1989.)
Shifting from these brief remarks about physical light, I should like to consider a kind of light that has infinitely greater power and effect. I speak of spiritual light. It comes from God and his gospel. In the scriptures, we find reference to a relationship between the physical light of the sun and spiritual light. We read in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, of “the light of truth;
“Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. …
“And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
“Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
“The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed.” (D&C 88:6–7, 11–13.)
This earth will be a celestial sphere, like a sea of glass and fire. The prophet Brigham Young said: “It will not then be an opaque body as it now is, but it will be like the stars of the firmament, full of light and glory: it will be a body of light. John compared it, in its celestialized state, to a sea of glass.” (Journal of Discourses, 7:163; italics added.)
In section 88 we read:
“And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—
“Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.” (D&C 88:25–26.)
In section 84:
“For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
“And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” (D&C 84:45–46.)
This word light appears 535 times in the scriptures.
Light has a relationship to the Son of God: “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.)
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. Moroni said: “And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is thelight of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.” (Moro. 7:18; italics added.)
John said: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12; italics added.)
Our Lord is the Light of the world in at least three ways. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:
“1. Through the Light of Christ he governs and controls the universe and gives life to all that therein is.
“2. By this same immensity-filling light—and to certain faithful ones, by the power of the Holy Ghost!—he enlightens the mind and quickens the understanding.
“3. By his own upright, sinless, and perfect course, in [premortal life], in mortality, and in resurrected glory, he sets a perfect example and is able to say to all men: ‘Follow thou me.’” (2 Ne. 31:10.) (The Promised Messiah,Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978, p. 208.)
In the First Vision, light released the boy Joseph from oppressive darkness.
How does light enter into us? How do we receive it? “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:23.)
Commenting on this passage, Elder Bruce R. McConkie states: “Christ is the light; the gospel is the light; the plan of salvation is the light; ‘that which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.’ As the light of the sun enters the body through our natural eyes, so the light of heaven—the light of the Spirit which illuminates our souls—enters through our spiritual eyes.” (The Mortal Messiah, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980, 2:153; italics added.)
President Joseph F. Smith said:
“One fault to be avoided by the Saints, young and old, is the tendency to live on borrowed light, with their own hidden under a bushel; to permit the savor of their salt of knowledge to be lost; and the light within them to be reflected, rather than original. …
“Men and women should become settled in the truth, and founded in the knowledge of the gospel, depending upon no person for borrowed or reflected light, but trusting only upon the Holy Spirit, who is ever the same, shining forever and testifying to the individual and the priesthood, who live in harmony with the laws of the gospel, of the glory and the will of the Father. They will then have light everlasting which cannot be obscured. By its shining in their lives, they shall cause others to glorify God; and by their well-doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, pp. 87–88; italics added.)
Light persuades us to do good; it leads us to Christ. It led my family as it has led yours, and it can and will lead all to him.
Archibald Stewart and his wife, Esther Lyle, are my great-great-grandparents. The Stewart family had learned to face persecution and hardship. Their ancestors had been forced to flee from Scotland to Northern Ireland, where they had been promised protection. But instead of finding peace, they again became victims of persecution at the hands of the Irish Greens. Independence and strong conviction were part of their heritage.
The Stewart family characteristics of love and devotion and a deep religious faith made them receptive to the gospel. When the Mormon missionaries came to the Stewart house, Elizabeth, the third child, immediately felt the truthfulness of their message. She began to study and search for more assurance of the things she felt within. Her feelings and study stirred an immediate response in her old granny, who was the matriarch of the Stewart household. Elizabeth spent many hours telling her granny about the new prophet of God, Joseph Smith, who had brought back to earth the simple, direct message that Christ was alive and had appeared to man. Elizabeth felt a testimony burning within and asked permission to be baptized. Because of the unpopularity of the Mormons, her parents objected. Elizabeth’s granny came to her rescue. “Let the child alone,” she said. “I have read all her books, and I do believe the child is right.”
As Elizabeth left her home to go to her baptism, her granny was at her side. The two walked to the river, where the elders had broken a hole in the ice that wintry March day. When the elders came toward Elizabeth to baptize her, her granny stepped up and said, “Watch your manners, child; never step in front of your elders.”
The elders baptized Granny in her street clothes; she even had on her little white cap. She had brought no extra clothes, so she walked home in her wet, frozen clothes. She did not take cold even though she did not change her clothes until the other family members had gone to bed. She said nothing about her baptism to the family but went about her usual tasks as if nothing had happened. After the others had gone to bed, she hung her clothing around the fireplace. In the morning when Archibald got up, he saw the clothes drying. He began to joke with the others about Granny having been dipped in the river along with Elizabeth. Granny listened to their fun and then said: “Archibald, if you don’t want people to hear, stop shouting so loudly. You can’t talk about Granny now, for she can hear better than any of you.”
Granny had been virtually deaf for twenty years, but a miracle had restored her hearing at the time she was baptized. From that day until her death, she could hear distinctly. Archibald said laughingly that she heard too much.
Most of the family members soon were baptized, in 1841.
The light of the gospel illuminates the path of life to eternity that otherwise would be dark and nondirecting.
We can be like a mirror and direct light even into dark places. We are not the sources of light; nevertheless, through us light can be reflected to others.
I must return and report my stewardship and my words in the heavens when I leave this mortal life. Therefore, I testify with no hesitancy that God lives. Jesus is his holy son, the one through whom we gain salvation. This is his Church and kingdom, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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