As always, General Conference this year, in April, was excellent. Of course, some talks and teachings stood out to me. This post shares some of those. Included are feelings and thoughts I had about what was said, as well as direct quotes (indented) and paraphrasings.
The standout talk for me was Elder Bednar‘s. I could just reproduce the whole thing here, it was so good. But I won’t – better to read over the real thing/listen again. Other complete-talk favourites were from Elder Uchtdorf and Elder Renlund, as usual, Elder Holland and Elder Clayton. I was also helped by hearing that of Elder James Rasband, of the Seventy.
We are to seek, in every way we can, to Hear Him – Jesus Christ, who speaks to us through the power and ministering of the Holy Spirit.
Grace and Healing
The Saviour has power to mend what we cannot fix.
To Enos, God said: ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole’. Thy faith, which has drawn down the power of Christ to heal you. Which has led you to seek Him out, and invite his grace to work in you; led you to repent, and be open and humble and willing to follow Him.
Elder Renlund and Elder Bednar spoke about new hearts. I had been feeling dismayed and a little hopeless about my weakest tendencies; the things in my nature that just seem to stick there, even though I know they need changing, and despite my efforts to do that. I recognise something in myself like this and feel like maybe I’ll never improve in it. Given my record, maybe I’m just always going to be like that, and it will stop me from being that person of goodness and light that I want to be. So hearing their talks was excellent, because I realised/remembered that, yes, I am constrained by the ‘natural’ woman in me. But it’s not a lost cause! This is the very work of mortal life – to a accept a heart made new through the grace of Christ. Yes, I’m all these things I don’t want to be, and keep being. All my weaknesses are overcomable! All of them, including the deepest and most pervasive – those that are a part of my character or personality. Ingrained things that rear their ugly heads all the time. Christ’s grace is powerful enough to change, or heal, all of this – made purposeful and perfect in its healing of my soul.
The heart, as used in the scriptures, is the inner feelings; the sum total of our desires, affections, intentions, motives, and attitudes. It defines who we are and determines what we will become. And the essence of the Lord’s work is changing, turning, and purifying hearts through Gospel covenants and priesthood ordinances.
Knowing that the Gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the Gospel is the essence of conversion. (Elder Bednar)
Christ invites us all to come and know for ourselves, personally and individually, that He is the Christ, our Saviour. As He invited His apostles and other disciples in Israel and the people in America, to come and see and touch His wounds, ‘one by one’. So that they would know for sure – not only see from afar, but know definitely, each one. (From thoughts by Presiding Bishop Caussé)
The Word of God is spiritual power. It is truth and light.
The Lord’s invitation to let our light so shine is not just about randomly waving a beam of light and making the world generally brighter. It is about focusing our light so others may see the way to Christ. It is gathering Israel on this side of the veil—helping others see the next step forward in making and keeping sacred covenants with God.2
~ Bonnie Cordon
We need to share not just general goodness, but specific goodness.
You and I have enough light to share right now. We can light the next step to help someone draw nearer to Jesus Christ, and then the next step, and the next.
Ask yourself, “Who needs the light you have to find the path they need but cannot see?”
Faith and Hope
Maintain hope! It is most needed when our backs are to the wall. (Elder Holland)
[F]aith is what gets me through these dark times. Having faith doesn’t mean nothing bad is going to happen. Having faith allows me to believe that there will be light again. And that light will be even brighter because I have walked through the dark. As much darkness as I have witnessed over the years, I have witnessed far more light. I have seen miracles. I have felt angels. I have known that my Heavenly Father was carrying me. None of that would have been experienced if life was easy. The future of this life may be unknown, but my faith is not. If I choose to not have faith then I choose to only walk in darkness. Because without faith, darkness is all that is left.
~ Kim White, friend of the Rasbands, who died recently after having cancer for several years
In addition to having these global desires, many in this audience today have deeply personal hopes: hope for a marriage to improve, or sometimes just hope for a marriage; hope for an addiction to be conquered; hope for a wayward child to come back; hope for physical and emotional pain of a hundred kinds to cease. Because the Restoration reaffirmed the foundational truth that God does work in this world, we can hope, we should hope, even when facing the most insurmountable odds. That is what the scripture meant when Abraham was able to hope against hope13—that is, he was able to believe in spite of every reason not to believe—that he and Sarah could conceive a child when that seemed utterly impossible.
So, I ask, “If so many of our 1820 hopes could begin to be fulfilled with a flash of divine light to a mere boy kneeling in a patch of trees in upstate New York, why should we not hope that righteous desires and Christlike yearnings can still be marvelously, miraculously answered by the God of all hope?” We all need to believe that what we desire in righteousness can someday, someway, somehow yet be ours.
Press forward in the steadfastness of Christ. With perfect hope, and love of God and all men. Press forward, with love in our hearts. There is more to do. There will be just as many miracles to come – in our future – as there were in the past. ‘I testify that the future is going to be as miracle-filled and bountifully blessed as the past has been. We have every reason to hope for blessings even greater than those we have already received because this is the work of Almighty God, this is the Church of continuing revelation, this is the gospel of Christ’s unlimited grace and benevolence.’ (All Elder Holland)