Monday, November 5, 2012

General Conference Notes: October 2012 Part #3

So here is the last post about my General Conference notes. I LOVED these last two talks! Hopefully this isn't too long. I copied quite a bit from both talks because they were just so good I couldn't leave it out! I didn't have too much to say because I couldn't say it any better than both of the Elders.

Sunday Afternoon - Elder Don R. Clarke "Blessings of the Sacrament"

Elder Clarke told a story where each Sunday he filled out a card during the sacrament. He was to write what he thought about during the sacrament. I have been more aware of what I think about during the sacrament since this talk. Christ should be the first thing on our lists. I have to say I do a pretty good job at remembering our Savior and what he did for us.  

The sacrament is my FAVORITE part of the week. I love the spirit that can be felt while taking the sacrament. I have noticed that everyone has their own way of showing reverence and respect during the sacrament. Personally I say a prayer, nothing big, just a short prayer of gratitude. Afterwards, I read from the hymn book. I have seen others read from their scriptures or simply ponder. I enjoy reading from the hymnal and singing the songs in my head. It may seem silly but it keeps my mind from wondering.

If we properly prepare for the sacrament, we can transform our lives. I would like to suggest five principles that can bless our lives as we partake of the sacrament worthily.

I. Have a Feeling of Gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ

The first principle is to have a feeling of gratitude to Heavenly Father during the sacrament for the Atonement of His Son. The following story is told about passing the sacrament:

“The sacrament never really meant much to me until the Sunday I was ordained a deacon. That afternoon I passed the sacrament for the first time. Prior to the meeting, one of the deacons warned me, ‘Look out for Brother Schmidt. You may have to wake him up!’ Finally the time came for me to participate in the passing of the sacrament. I handled the first six rows quite well. Children and adults partook of the bread with no noticeable thought or problem. Then I got to row seven, the row where Brother Schmidt always sat. But I was surprised. Instead of being asleep he was wide awake. Unlike many of the others I had served, he took the bread with what seemed to be great thought and reverence. A few minutes later I found myself again approaching row seven with the water. This time my friend was right. Brother Schmidt sat with his head bowed and his big German eyes shut. He was evidently sound asleep. What could I do or say?

 I decided finally to gently nudge his shoulder in hopes of waking him. As I reached to do so, his head slowly lifted. There were tears streaming down his cheeks and as I looked into his eyes I saw love and joy. He quietly reached up and took the water. Even though I was only twelve then, I can still remember vividly the feeling I had as I watched this rugged old man partake of the sacrament. I knew without a doubt that he was feeling something about the sacrament that I had never felt. I determined then that I wanted to feel those same feelings.”

Brother Schmidt had communicated with heaven, and heaven had communicated with him. 

We should all be as in tune with the spirit as Brother Schmidt. I’m not saying that we should cry during the sacrament every week, but we should focus on what is really important during the sacrament.

II. Remember That We Are Renewing Baptismal Covenants

The second principle is to remember that we are renewing our baptismal covenants as we partake of the sacrament. The sacramental prayers are a reminder of these covenants. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew our commitment to live up to these covenants. I believe it would be appropriate to memorize the sacramental prayers in our minds and in our hearts. This will help us focus on renewing our baptismal covenants. Whether we were 8 or 80 years old when we were baptized, I hope we will never forget that day and the covenants we made.

III. During the Sacrament We Can Feel Forgiven of Our Sins

Thirdly, during the sacrament we can feel forgiven of our sins. If we have spent time before sacrament meeting repenting of our sins, we can leave sacrament meeting feeling clean and pure. President Boyd K. Packer said: “The sacrament renews the process of forgiveness. Every Sunday when the sacrament is served, that is a ceremony to renew the process of forgiveness. … Every Sunday you cleanse yourself so that, in due time, when you die your spirit will be clean.”

IV. We Can Receive Inspiration for Solutions to Our Problems

The fourth principle is that we can receive inspiration for solutions to our problems during sacrament meeting. There are three important ways to prepare to benefit from a meeting. We should come with our problems, humble as children ready to learn, and with the desire to help God’s children. As we humbly come to sacrament meeting, we can be blessed to feel impressions for solutions to our daily problems. We must come prepared, be willing to listen, and not be distracted. In the scriptures we read, “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.10 We can know what we should do to solve our problems. This is great advice! We should go to sacrament meeting prepared and willing to listen.

V. Partaking of the Sacrament Worthily Will Help Us Be Filled with the Holy Ghost
The fifth principle, partaking of the sacrament worthily, will help us be filled with the Holy Ghost. Upon instituting the sacrament during His visit to the Nephites, Jesus stated, “He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.” They had been promised that if they hungered and thirsted after righteousness, they would be filled with the Holy Ghost. The sacramental prayer also promises that if we live up to our covenants, we will always have His Spirit to be with us.

We will be blessed as we feel gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, renew our baptismal covenants, feel forgiveness, and receive inspiration from the Holy Ghost as we partake of the sacrament each week. It will always be a great sacrament meeting if the sacrament is the center of our worship.


Sunday Afternoon - Elder David A. Bednar "Converted Unto The Lord"

Typically, we treat the topics of testimony and conversion separately and independently. However, we gain precious perspective and greater spiritual conviction as we consider these two important subjects together.

A testimony is personal knowledge of spiritual truth obtained by revelation. A testimony is a gift from God and is available to ALL of His children. Any honest seeker of truth can obtain a testimony by exercising the necessary “particle of faith” in Jesus Christ to “experiment upon” (Alma 32:27) and “try the virtue of the word” (Alma 31:5), to yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” (Mosiah 3:19), and to awaken unto God. I love the phrase, “any honest seeker of truth”. What a great way to describe it! Elder Bednar also mentions that a “particle of faith” is NECESSARY in gaining a testimony.

Seeking for and obtaining a testimony of spiritual truth requires asking, seeking, and knocking (see Matthew 7:7; 3 Nephi 14:7) with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in the Savior (see Moroni 10:4). Fundamental components of a testimony are knowing that Heavenly Father lives and loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that the fullness of the gospel has been restored to the earth in these latter days.

Interestingly, this mighty Apostle (Peter) had talked and walked with the Master, had witnessed many miracles, and had a strong testimony of the Savior’s divinity. Yet even Peter needed additional instruction from Jesus about the converting and sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost and his obligation to serve faithfully.

The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement. True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ. Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence. Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony. I LOVE the way Elder Bednar describes what conversion means.

For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience. This quote is so true! We are converted to the gospel of Christ time and time again.

Samuel the Lamanite identified five basic elements in becoming converted unto the Lord:

 (1) believing in the teachings and prophecies of the holy prophets as they are recorded in the scriptures
(2) exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
(3) repenting
(4) experiencing a mighty change of heart
(5) becoming “firm and steadfast in the faith” (see Helaman 15:7–8).

This is the pattern that leads to conversion. This is a great way to explain conversion unto the Lord. I love making lists so this list helped me better understand the steps of conversion.

Testimony is the beginning of and a prerequisite to continuing conversion. Testimony is a point of departure; it is not an ultimate destination. Strong testimony is the foundation upon which conversion is established.

Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need. Some members of the Church with testimonies have wavered and fallen away. Their spiritual knowledge and commitment did not measure up to the challenges they faced. The powerful combination of both testimony and conversion unto the Lord produced firmness and steadfastness and provided spiritual protection.

 I love how the last sentence tells us we can have spiritual protection if we first have “the powerful combination of both testimony and conversion.

This story is a great way to look at testimony and conversion. I would have never thought of this and thought it was so good so I copied the whole story.

Testimony, Conversion, and the Parable of the Ten Virgins

I now want to use one of many possible interpretations of the parable of the ten virgins to highlight the relationship between testimony and conversion. Ten virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish, took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Please think of the lamps used by the virgins as the lamps of testimony. The foolish virgins took their lamps of testimony but took no oil with them. Consider the oil to be the oil of conversion.

“But the wise took oil [of conversion] in their vessels with their lamps [of testimony].

“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

“Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps [of testimony].

“And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil [even the oil of conversion]; for our lamps [of testimony are weak and] are gone out.

“But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves” (Matthew 25:4–9).

Were the five wise virgins selfish and unwilling to share, or were they indicating correctly that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed? Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person? Can the knowledge obtained through diligent study and pondering of the scriptures be conveyed to one who is in need? Can the peace the gospel brings to a faithful Latter-day Saint be transferred to an individual experiencing adversity or great challenge? The clear answer to each of these questions is no.

As the wise virgins emphasized properly, each of us must “buy for ourselves.” These inspired women were not describing a business transaction; rather, they were emphasizing our individual responsibility to keep our lamp of testimony burning and to obtain an ample supply of the oil of conversion. This precious oil is acquired one drop at a time—“line upon line [and] precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30), patiently and persistently. No shortcut is available; no last-minute flurry of preparation is possible.

“Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom”

I hope everyone enjoyed General Conference as much as I did! For those of you who didn't get a chance to watch it or aren't members and would like to know more about it you can find all of the, audio, and print here