Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 180th Semiannual General Conference, as the Saturday afternoon session is about to get started. Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.
Only 8 more hours to go, folks.
That is a BIG family choir! Even I don’t have that many cousins.
Called: Elder Wenceslao H. Svec, 53, of Talca, Chile was sustained as an Area Seventy. He currently serves as a CES Seminaries and Institutes coordinator. He and his wife Alicia are the parents of four children.
Released: (1st Quorum) Spencer Condie, Bruce Hafen, Kenneth Johnson, Glenn Pace, Lance Wickman
2nd Quorum: Spencer Jones, Wolfgang Paul
Area 70s: Fernando Maluenda, Jose Torres
Beautiful Zion, Built Above–we should sing this more often.
Elder Robert D. Hales:
When we disobey, we spiritually paint ourselves into a corner and are captive to our choices. There is always a way out, but it may mean more work.
By our righteous choices, we liberate ourselves and others.
Come out of the corner. Trust that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind–even you, even me–may be saved.
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Freedom and light have never been easy to attain or maintain. Since the war in heaven the forces of evil have used every means possible to destroy agency and extinguish light. The assault on moral principles and religious freedom has never been stronger. As Latter-day Saints we need to do our best to preserve light and protect our families and communities from this assault on morality and religious freedom.
An ever present danger to the family is the onslaught of evil forces that seem to come from every direction. While our primary effort must be to seek light and truth, we would be wise to black out from our homes the lethal bombs that destroy spiritual development and growth. Pornography, in particular, is a weapon of mass moral destruction. Its impact is at the forefront in eroding moral values.
We need to greatly increase religious observances in the home. If we make of our homes holy places, we will be protected…
In addition to protecting our own families, we should be a source of light in protecting our communities.
Our day has been described as “a time of plenty and an age of doubt.” Basic belief in the power and authority of God is not only questioned, but denigrated. How under these circumstances can we promote values in a way that will resonate with the non-believers and the apathetic and help abate the spiraling descent into violence and evil?
My personal experience of living and interacting with people all over the world has caused me to be optimistic. I believe that light and truth will be preserved in our time. In all nations there are large numbers who worship God… As Church leaders we have met with leaders of other faiths and have found that there is a common moral foundation that transcends theological differences and unites us in our aspirations for a better society.
We also find the majority of people are still respectful of basic moral values.
There has always been an ongoing battle between people of faith and those who would purge religions and God from public life. …Still, the majority of people aspire to be good and honorable. The Light of Christ…informs their conscience. …This is why many will accept moral values even when founded on religious convictions which they do not personally support.
In our increasingly unrighteous world it is essential that values based on religious belief be part of the public discourse. Moral positions informed by a religious conscience must be accorded equal access to the public square. Under the constitutions of most countries a religious conscience may not be given preference, but neither should it be disregarded.
Examples of religious beliefs with value in society–honesty & a belief in treating other human beings as children of God
Let me be clear that all voices need to be heard in the public square. Neither religious nor secular voices should be silenced. Furthermore, we should not expect that because some of our views emanate from religious principles, they will automatically be accepted or given preferential status. But it is also clear such views and values are entitled to be reviewed on their merits.
[my emphasis--I really appreciate this nuance in the discussion of religious voices in the public square]
Bishop Richard Edgley
When our sacred doctrine and beliefs are challenged, this is our opportunity to become acquainted wiht God in a most private and intimate manner. This is our opportunity to choose.
Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today’s world, I wish to suggest a single choice–a choice of peace and protection, a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. Be aware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire, or effort. It does not come as the dew falls from heaven. …So I say choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism.
Faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for our own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours.
If confusion and hopelessness weigh on your mind, choose to awake and arouse your faculties.
When logic, reason, or personal intellect come into conflict with sacred teachings and doctrine or conflicting messages assault your beliefs…choose to not cast the seed out of your heart by unbelief.
If your faith is proven and mature, choose to nurture it with great care. As strong as our faith is, with all the mixed messages attacking it, it can also become very fragile.
I have never witnessed the removal of an actual mountain. But, because of faith I have seen a mountain of doubt and despair removed and replaced with hope and optimism. Because of faith, I have personally witnessed a mountain of sin replaced with repentance and forgiveness. And because of faith I have personally witnessed a mountain of pain replaced with peace, hope, and gratitude. Yes, I have seen mountains removed.
Savior, May I Learn to Love Thee [How cool would it be to conduct this giant congregation? Except they don't actually sing. It makes me soooo sad. This is why we should quit saying "rest hymn." If I were in charge, I'd lock the bathrooms during the hymns. That is probably why I'll never be in charge. /disgruntled singer commentary]
Elder Kevin Duncan
Many Church members had faith in Brigham Young’s prophecies, while others remained skeptical and left for what they assumed would be a better life. Yet history has shown that every prophecy Brigham Young declared has come to pass. The valley did blossom and produce. The Saints prospered. The winter of 1848 was a great catalyst for the Lord to teach His people a valuable lesson. They learned–as we all must learn–that the only sure and secure road to protection in this life comes through trusting in and obeying the counsel from the prophets of God.
Surely, one of the crowning blessings of membership in this Church is the blessing of being led by living prophets of God.
With frozen feet and a barren wasteland, it surely took faith for those early Saints to trust their prophet. Their very survival and lives were at stake. Yet the Lord rewarded their obedience and blessed and prospered those who followed His mouthpiece. And the Lord does the same today for you and me. [With so much information available] it is easy to get caught in the trap of looking to the “arm of flesh” for advice on everything from how to raise children to how to find happiness. While some information has merit, as members of the Church, we have access to the source of pure truth, even God HImself.
What the prophets teach may, to some, seem outdated, unpopular, or even impossible. But God is a God of order and has established a system whereby we may know His will.
[Fourteen Fundamentals again.]
Brothers and sisters, like the Saints of 1848, we can choose to follow the prophet, or we can look to the arm of flesh. May we have the wisdom to trust in and follow the counsel of the living prophets and apostles.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong
Temple mirrors of eternity remind us each human being has divine nature and destiny; sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for family to be united eternally; and, growing together in love and faithfulness, we can give children roots and wings.
In temple mirrors of eternity, I reflected on First Dragon Gong, born 837 A.D. (late Tang dynasty) and the succeeding Gong family generations to my father, our family’s 32nd recorded generation. My brother, sister and I are in our family’s 33rd generation; my sons and their cousins, the 34th generation; our grandson, the 35th recorded Gong family generation. In temple mirrors of eternity, I could not see a beginning or end of generations.
[I LOVE this! So nice to be reminded that 5 or 6 generations of Mormon roots are not so very impressive!]
Mortality’s great lessons distill upon our souls as we learn and teach in eternal roles including child and parent, parent and child.
The world pursues enlightened self-interest. Yet the power is not in us to save ourselves. But it is in Him. Infinite and eternal, only our Savior’s Atonement transcends time and space to swallow up death anger, bitterness, unfairness, loneliness, and heartbreak. …A Lamb innocent and pure, our Savior weeps with and for us. His faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
A miracle of the images we discern in temple mirrors of eternity is that they–we–can change. As we reach out to each sister or brother, we bless generations.
I humbly witness: God lives. He shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, except the tears of joy when we see through temple mirrors of eternity and find ourselves home, pure and clean, our family generations sealed by priesthood authority in love, to shout hosanna, hosanna, hosanna.
[Wow. Just wow.]
Elder Neil Andersen
The question “Will ye also go away?” makes us think about our own vulnerability.
As we follow the Savior, without question there will be challenges that confront us. Approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Savior’s reality. Approached in a world way, these same experiences cloud our view and weaken our resolve.
We need the believing heart of a child.
In our weakened moments, the adversary seeks to steal our spiritual promises. If we are not watchful, our injured, childlike spirit will retreat back into the cold, dark crust of our former ego, leaving behind the warm, healing light of the Savior.
Offended has a corrosive companion called ashamed. …As disciples of Christ, we stand apart from the world. There may be times we feel uncomfortable as the fingers of scorn mock and dismiss what is sacred to us. Paul admonished…”Be not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.” We never leave him.
I promise you, as you choose not to be offended or ashamed, you will feel His love and approval. You will know that you are becoming more like Him.
Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time.
Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix, and forgive others when it hurts.
Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely.
Will be astonished at times to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s Church, and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak? Yes. But this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Perfection does not come in this life, but we exercise faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and keep our covenants. …We push our spiritual roots deep, feasting daily on the words of Christ in the scriptures. We trust in the words of living prophets, placed before us to show us the way. We pray and pray, and listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost that leads us along and speaks peace to our soul. Whatever challenges arise, we never, never leave Him.
True confession time: Elder Scott’s voice makes me very, very, very sleepy…………………….
Elder Richard G. Scott
“A testimony is not emotion. It is the very essence of character woven from threads born of countless correct decisions”
1. God uses your faith to mold your character
2. Character is the manifestation of what you are becoming.
3. Strong character results from consistent correct choices.
4. The bedrock of character is integrity.
5. The more your character is fortified, the more enabled you are to exercise the power of faith.
Four principles which have brought the deepest feelings of peace:
1. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His program to acquire the power to achieve.
2. Repentance to rectify the consequences of mistakes of omission or commission.
3. Obedience to the commandments of the Lord to provide strength and direction in our lives.
4. Selfless service to enrich the lives of others.