Saturday, April 01, 2006

176th Annual LDS General Conference Saturday Afternoon

1:00 p.m. Conference begins. There are always beautiful shots of the flowers outside on Temple Square and the conference center. Combined choir from BYU will provide this sessions' musical numbers.

Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency will conduct, at President Hinckley's request.

1:02 p.m. The choir sings I Saw A Mighty Angel Fly

1:06 p.m. Cecil O. Samuelson gave the invocation. The limitless magnificence of the Atonement. I liked this phrase in the prayer.

1:08 p.m. Choir Sings Have I Done Any Good? I like lots of music in the conference sessions. I especially like it when I know the music. So far I've recognized most all of the numbers. Of course I suspect it would not hurt to broaden my horizons and musical knowledge. Wake up and do something more than dream of your mansions above! Words to live by (or would that be sleep by?)

1:13 p.m. President Hinckley requests presentation of the General Authorities of the Church. President Monson presents all General and Area Authorities, with the following sustaining votes. There was a day when during this portion of the conference that protesters would interrupt and voice opposition. This was back in th 70's when the Equal Rights Amendment was a hot topic. The "Brethren" are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. This must be almost an awful responsibility for these men.

Several of the Seventy were release and new Seventies called to the Quorum as well. There are several non-American foreign brethern sustained. This is a great sign of the world wide Church. I am pleased to see this type of diversity. The sustaining was unanimous. The new authorities came to take their place on the stand. There are quite a few! They'll have to build a bigger stand if they keep calling them like this.

1:19 p.m. Robert W. Cantwell Managing Director Church Audit Department. This is independent of all other Church departments. It consists of CPA;s D & C 120 accounting. Contributions, expenditures, and assets are recorded and administered consistent with accounting principles.

1:21 p.m. Report on 2005 Church Statistics (Thanks Justin B for helping out on the stats--I got behind)

2,701 Stakes

643 Districts

27087 wards

12,560,869 members

93,150 children of record baptized

243,108 converts baptized

52,060 full time missionaries serving

3 New Temples Dedicated

1 Temple rededicated

122 Total Temples in operation

1:23 p.m. Boyd K. Packer, Acting President Quorum of the Twelve. Story of Alma and Corianton his son. See Alma Chapter 39 Alma was very disappointed. Corianton forsook his ministry and affiliated with a harlot. Ye cannot hide your crimes from God. These actions hurt the Church. When they saw your conduct they would not believe my words.

Alma then taught his son, because the preaching of the Word had greater impact on the minds of man than anything, even the sword. Alma started teaching Corianton of Christ, and His coming. He teaches his classic on the life after death. See Alma Chapter 40 in the Book of Mormon. The same spirit that inhabits the body in life, is the same spirit that leaves it upon death--no miraculous changes will take place.

Alma taught about justice and mercy. The Atonement was critical and required. So God Himself provided such an Atonement for all his children. Repentance not possible without punishment. Alma knew from personal experience the pain of punishment and the power of repentance. He too was a rebellious youth, disappointing his own father. An angel was sent to him as a result of the prayers of a loving family and father.

Don't excuse yourself because of your sins. After sufficient repentance, Corianton was able to return to the mission field and resumed God's work. Twenty years later he continued laboring in the Gospel. Gender confusion, pornography, and like lifestyles lead to addicting lifestyles. Some claim they are compelled to live in sin. This denies the Atonement of Christ. It denies Christ's power and Atonement. It is a lie, propounded by Satan. I the Lord will remember their sins no more.

1:39 p.m. David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Tweleve Apostles. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins is the introductory ordinance of the Church. It is preceded by faith in Christ. Except a man be born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. His message will focus on the baptism of the Spirit.

A covenant is contract between us and God. God decides the elements, terms and conditions of the covenant--not man. At baptism we take upon ourselves Christ's name, remember him always, and in return we will have His Spirit to be with us always.

After baptism we each were confirmed members of the Church. Receive the Holy Ghost is the injunction that completes the second part of the baptism ordinance. We are baptized by immersion in water. We then need to be immersed in the Spirit for the true remission of our sins. Strong dramatic spiritual manifestations are not the norm. The Spirit communicates through the "still small voice." It will usually be subtle, not dramatic.

We need to recognize and respond to promptings as they come to us. When we withdraw from the Spirt it cannot guide us. We need to recognize when that happens. The standard is clear. If something we see, hear, do, think distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop whatever it is. The spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest. We should shun those activities, thoughts, or anything else than distances us from the Spirit.

The Spirit can be with us more than it is not with us. It is up to us. Having the Spirit as our Guide is essential for our spiritual growth in this world. The promise to have His Spirit with us is available to every member of the Church.

Liahona symbolic of how to use the Holy Ghost in our lives today. The same principles that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi, will allow the Holy Ghost to work in our lives today. As we study the Liahona principles we can and will be blessed with the Holy Ghost's direction. It pointed the way Lehi and his family should go toward the promised land. It worked when the family was righteous and kept the commandments. It ceased when they were contentions. It provided direction in their lives. Faith and diligence were required for its proper function, as they are required today in our lives for the Holy Ghost to properly function.

The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide. We invite the Holy Ghost through meaningful family prayer, virtue, humility. We should avoid that which is crude and vulgar. Partaking of the Sacrament will also help the Holy Ghost guide us in our lives. We are reminded weekly that we can ALWAYS have his spirit to be with us by partaking of the sacrament.

Prophet Joseph appeared to Brigham Young in a dream, and told him to tell the Saints to keep the Spirit of the Lord close. He emphasized the importance of obtaining and keeping the Spirit of the Lord.

Very powerful talk on the Holy Ghost from this new apostle. Very well, done. The spirit was strong throuhout that talk.

1:56 p.m. The Choir Sings Come Ye Children of the Lord

1:59 p.m. David F. Evans Quorum of the Seventy. He has been a Seventy for a year. He testifies of the reality of prophets and apostles today. Missionary story about arriving for mission interviews during a snow storm. They were happy and cheerful regardless of the weather. By serving the Lord in his cause they felt a love hard to describe.

That night missionaries went out preaching the Gospel despite difficult circumstances. They were happy doing that which they had been called to do. This is the greatest generation of missionaries the world has known. This results from "raising the bar" and shows why it needed to be raised.

President Hinckely's mission story recounted. He recommitted after receiving a letter from his father, encouraging him to lose himself in the Work. He began to see the beauty of the land and the people. If you want to be happy, then forget yourself and help other people. Come and join as a missionary for the Lord. Commit two years of your life to God, and you will love those whom you serve. It will be difficult work, but with satisfaction as well.

Not only young elders are entitled to missionary blessings. Older couples and sisters also are able to serve.

(This is a great talk for the youth of our ward, and I'm sure others as well. What can we do as youth leaders to help these young men and women see the importance of missionary work? It can and will be the most important formative years in their life.)

The fog can and will lift if you serve the Lord diligently on a mission. Come and join with us. Come and be clean and be happy. Be part of the greatest generation of missionaries the world has ever known.

2:06 p.m. Wolfgang H. Paul, Quorum of the Seventy. He saw a bumper sticker "I do want I want." This is supposed true freedom, total freedom. Today's media and popular culture teach that if you do what you want you have real freedom. Satisfying our desires is that is important.

But, it is God's plan that provides true freedom and happiness. Because of the redemption we are free forever. (otherwise we would be subject to death). We can choose life. Satan wants man to be miserable like unto himself.

Free agency allows us to make decision. Agency is an eternal law. A law that has always existed from all eternity, to all eternity (paraphrasing Brigham Young).

God taught Abraham about the eternal nature of spirits. He taught about the importance of mortal life, and our test period to exercise that agency. We will create a world to prove them herewith. Knowledge of Good and Evil important. Choices critical, as are the consequences.

Christ set a perfect example of how to use agency. In pre-mortal life he said Father Thy Will be done and the glory Thine forever. It is this attitude with which we should approach life--do what the Father wants--not what we want. By submitting to the Father's will only will we find true freedom. Great testimony. It's good to see these non-American brethern fill the ranks of General Authorities.

2:15 p.m. Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve. Recites story of a loving wife, and the oblivious husband too busy with his "game boy" (how often do we go through life like that?) He knows that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The Family is the central unit of eternity. Satan's attack on family and marriage seeks to undermine both.

Couples at times let their romance become rusty. (we can all do better here--I know I can.) In due time, all blessings will be available, even if not now married.

1. Couples need to comprehend doctrinal foundation of a marriage. One man and one woman. D &C 49:15-16. Worldly trends to define marriage differently will destroy marriage. Marriage is an eternal and everlasting covenant. It embraces husband, wife, and God. Marriage is but the beginning bud of family life. Families can be eternal as God Himself. (interesting the reference to one man and one woman. I think this is in response to all the Big Love hoopla). True happiness depends upon purity within the relationship. Avoid crudeness and pornography. Be clean in marriage.

Priesthood meant to exalt families. Men need to nurture their marriage.

2. Actions to strengthen a marriage. Appreciate, communicate, contemplate.

Appreciate. Say I love you and Thank You. This is not difficult. This is a sign of sweet civility. Look for the good in your partner.

Communicate. Good communication requires planning together. Observe, talk, and listen to each other. Make mutual goals. Use prayer and remember your spouse.

Contemplate. This is a deep word. If couples contemplate in the temple covenants will better be kept. Temple attendance will strengthen each other. This will nurture marriage and God's Kingdom as well.

Each partner should consider these suggestions. Begin with a desire to bless your unity and purpose. Do not be selfish. Be generous. Celebrate and commemorate each day together as a treasured gift from heaven.

No other success can compensate for failure in the home (David O' McKay--haven’t heard that in some time.) Great counsel for better marriages. We can all do better I'm certain in our marriages.

2:30 p.m. President Monson reminds everyone of General Priesthood tonight. Also he reminds us to set clocks forward tonight.

2:31 p.m. Elder L. Tom Perry Quorum of the Twelve. Visited the Logan institute of religion. In renovating the building they found an old sacrament tray, with actual glass sacrament cups. (Even I don't remember these--always paper or plastic in my life time). The workers presented this glass cup to Elder Perry.

He related how on his 12th birthday, on a Sunday. He had an interview and read D&C 13 about John the Baptists conferring the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph and Oliver. His father the Bishop conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on him, and was sustained in his Deacon's Quorum. An evening sacrament meeting (those I do remember) was the first time he exercised his priesthood authority. He noticed how different people approached taking the sacrament differently. Some were just routine, others approached it as a very sacred ordinance.

Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the night before His Ultimate Sacrifice. Matthew 26 sets for Christ's passing of the First Sacrament. Take eat this is My Body. Take drink, for this is My Blood. 3 Nephi 20 also has an account of Christ's administering the Sacrament, this time to the Nephites in America. If you do always remember Me you shall have My Spirit to be with you. (this is a recurring and important theme in this conference, and one which I have pondered over the last several months--direct revelation and direction to an all to often unwise, and unworthy servant.)

The purpose of taking the sacrament is to renew our covenants with Christ. We renew all covenants (not just baptism i.e., temple covenants) when we partake of the sacrament. It is one of the most sacred ordinances of the Church. Casual taking of the sacrament, results in lack of spiritual growth.

Parents have responsibility to teach importance of attending Sacrament meeting weekly. May we have an increased reverence for the Sabbath. May we always remember Him, keep His Commandments, and we will have His Spirit to be with us.

Great discussion on an important ordinance (one of the most sacred) in the Church. Very spiritual delivery--well done. President Hinckely has yet to speak. I think his absence from the pulpit is deliberate, and not a good sign--in terms of his physical longevity in mortality. Yet, he will have another important mission to follow.

2:48 p.m. Choir Closes Come Follow Me--a very powerful rendition. All of their hymns have had just a bit different arrangements than that in the regular hymn book. The music at these sessions are as important as are the talks. The Spirit speaks as much through this music as it does when prophets, seers, and revelators instruct the body of the Saints.

2:54 p.m. Elder Glen L. Pace Quorum of the Seventy offers the Benediction.


Blogger Justin B. said...

My numbers are slightly different:

2701 stakes (I think you added a zero)

643 districts

Whatever the numbers, I am enjoying reading your real-time reporting.

Saturday, April 01, 2006 1:47:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Thanks Justin . . . I adjusted mine. As I said . . . I got behind, and appreciate you updating the stats.

Saturday, April 01, 2006 3:07:00 PM  
Blogger Justin B. said...

No problem. I also thought that Elder Nelson may have been referring to the Jeppson case (gay marriage) when he spoke of the definition of marriage.

Saturday, April 01, 2006 3:23:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Justin: Yes, I agree with you. I think he was addressing gay marriage (specifically Jeppson) as well as the polygamy issues that have been so much discussed, written about, and bantered in the media. His talk covered covered pretty much all the current popular marriage concepts. It will be interesting to see if there is any media follow up on these issues in the coming days.

Saturday, April 01, 2006 3:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

I'm always getting a new insight when I listen to conference talks. One that struck me today was in Elder Bednar's talk. He spoke of the Holy Ghost, as your summary indicates, but he said something (also in your notes) that really meant a lot to me. That was when he talked about how we need to learn what we do when we withdraw from the Spirit and then stop doing that thing. How often do we concentrate on whether the Spirit is with us or not, but never stop to think about us withdrawing from the Spirit and what might be causing that? It's the other side of the coin and I hadn't thought of it that way before. I found that very insightful and it makes me aware of just how much we have to learn spiritually.

Saturday, April 01, 2006 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Hi Mary, I agree we have so much to learn spiritually. Just when we think we have a pretty good handle on spiritual matters . . .comes along General Conference and we can see just how much we don't know, or haven't thought about, or haven't experienced. This conference has been a virtual feast. I have awaited this conference like no other in recent past. I have not been disappointed. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Saturday, April 01, 2006 9:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are several non-American foreign brethern sustained. This is a great sign of the world wide Church. I am pleased to see this type of diversity."

With respect to the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy, out of the ten, it looks like one is from England and one might be from the Mormon colonies in Mexico.

It seems like, over the last decade or so, the First and Second Quorums have become less diverse in terms of ethnicity and nationality, rather than more so. I haven't done a scientific study on the subject though, so I may be wrong (would not be the first time).


Sunday, April 02, 2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

DavidH--I think you are correct out of the ones sustained just this conference--may not be that many non American brethren; however, I was actually thinking overall (though inartfully expressed) in the ranks of the general authorities there are more non American brethren serving, I think, than at anytime previous . . .but I too could be wrong--I have't actually sat down and done the research.

Monday, April 03, 2006 6:06:00 AM  

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