Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 180th Semiannual General Conference. We appreciate your willingness to reject your neighbors’ brunchly advances this Sabbath day in favor of staring at a computer screen. 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.
(On site today are Kristine Haglund, M Miles, and the Crawdaddy himself, John C.)
Woot! Choir avoids the “slumber snot” trap in the Mendelssohn!
The First Presidency just entered. It is so quiet!
Are the sparkly doodads on the choir dresses distracting on TV?
“Truth Eternal” Hymn #4 (I think) if you’re following along at home. Wilberg will be conducting all of the hymns this morning, and all of the arrangements are his. There will be some Ryan Murphy goodness this afternoon :)
Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth–269 ? (I don’t have a hymnbook, so somebody correct me.) Whenever the cameras pan over the tenors towards the middle of the choir, my Uncle Clark is on screen. Hi, Clark!!
“We ache for [Peter] and see our own need for greater trust in God as we hear the account.
We can take courage from the fact that Peter came to trust the Lord enough to stay faithful in His service all the way to his martyrdom.”
That trust comes from knowing God. More than any other people on earth, we have through the glorious events of the restoration of the gospel, felt the peace that the Lord offered His people with the words: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Elder Eyring is a really good storyteller. I don’t know why I haven’t thought of him that way before, but he’s really good at the telling detail, the just-obvious-enough moral.
“You show your trust in Him when you listen with the intent to learn, to repent, and then to go and do whatever He asks. If you trust God enough to listen for His message in every sermon, song, and prayer in this conference, you will find it. And if you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you.”
New arrangement (unpublished) by Wilberg–this is a cheesy hymn, but it’s the very first one I remember singing as a little girl, so I kind of love it. Don’t tell, or my music snob credential will be pulled.
Elder Packer at the stand.
Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family” A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It qualifies according to scriptural definition as a revelation, a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and follow.
[This is John C. reporting at present]
Agency is more powerful than the adversary.
There is something very liberating when an individual determines of his own free will to be obedient to our Father and our God and expresses that willingness to Him in prayer.
When the revelation speaks in such blunt terms as “thou shalt not,” we’d better pay attention.
Elder Packer: “[Satan] is impotent”
Pornography will, always will repel the Spirit of Christ and will interrupt the communications between our Heavenly Father and His children and disrupt the tender relationship between husband and wife.
The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography–and it is a plague–if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to cast out evil influences.
Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember He is our Father.
You may laugh at this story, but if we are not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?
To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day.
Regardless of the opposition, we are determined to stay on course.
If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties needs perish.
For those who truly desire it, there is a way back. Repentance is like unto a detergent. Even ground in stains of sin will come out.
Priesthood holders carry with them the antidote to remove the terrible images of pornography and to wash away guilt. The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of habits, even to unchain from addiction, however tight its grip. It can heal over the scars of past mistakes.
Sometimes, even after confession and paying penalties, the most difficult part of repentance is to forgive one’s self.
The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to have a man and his wife and their children happy at home.
Elder Jay E. Jensen
As a young elder…in the mission field…, I had a stunning awakening; I did not have a testimony of my own…of the Father and the Son.
I went on my mission living on the borrowed light of my wonderful parents.
Never doubting their words I had not thought about seeking my own spiritual witness.
“Heavenly Father, are you there? I must know for myself!”
Later that night, I came to know for myself for the first time in my life that God and Jesus are real.
I knew…by the “unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost” and the spirit of revelation.
I witnessed Alma’s counsel to “awake and arouse [my] faculties to conduct an experiment upon [His] words.
These words or seeds have grown into trees, indeed giant trees of testimony.
The process continues with more experiments upon the word resulting in…a veritable forest based on revelation.
When the Savior visited the Americas…the Savior taught them…the importance of the Holy Ghost.
President Woodruff: [The Holy Ghost] is not restricted to men, nor to apostles or prophets
President Woodruff: [The Holy Ghost] belongs to every faithful man and woman, and to every child who is old enough to receive the gospel
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead…He has several important roles.
[The Holy Ghost’s roles include] to teach and testify of the Father and the Son; to reveal the truth; and to lead to good
President Monson exemplifies this important role of being led to do good.
Sometimes there is no one like President Monson, no home teacher, no caring sister available to minister in time of need
In those situations, I have come to find solace and direction from the Comforter, another role of the Holy Ghost
Regarding a dying grandchild whom Elder and Sister Jensen could not be with: We could only pray, and we did so fervently!
When the grandchild died: We stood in the hallway of a meetinghouse and hugged and comforted each other.
The Holy Ghost has revealed to me [the Book of Mormon’s] truth and divinity
President Gordon B. Hinckley called the Book of Mormon one of the four essential cornerstones of the Church.
The other cornerstones are Joseph Smith’s First Vision, the restoration of the priesthood, and our testimony of Jesus Christ.
It is significant that [both the First Vision and the Book of Mormon begin] in a family setting.
Events in the lives of Lehi and Joseph Smith parallel each other.
[The Book of Mormon] is saturated with the Spirit of the Lord.
Sister Mary Cook
[btw, it’s Kristine again]
Grandchild Ruby recently born
“Oh, we have to teach Ruby to be a virtuous woman, pure and priceless as her name implies”
Her mother replied, “I am starting today”
How can we…start and keep our children on the path to eternal life?
Brigham Young: We should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see children do.
Today I would like to invite you to “be…an example of the believers…in faith [and] purity”
[Joseph Smith] watched and learned about faith in God from his mother, Lucy Mack Smith”
Lucy solved family problems by privately seeking the Lord’s help through prayer.
[Yay for an example of a faithful woman portrayed as a leader in her family!]
Lucy prayed in faith for guidance, and Joseph too retired to a grove of trees where he prayed in faith.
If we have one hand on the rod and one hand in the world, we put our children and youth in danger of losing their way.
You are raising tomorrow’s leaders and your actions are tangibly linked to their faith.
[I am a very bad person, but I can’t help thinking that using a newborn baby as an example of purity, if purity is largely about modesty, is not quite apt–after all babies are born NAKED! ;) ]
To the youth of the Church: Thank you for your righteous examples to your friends, teachers, leaders, and families. …I commend you for your commitment and righteous example. Young men and young women, you can start today by being an example of the believers in faith and purity. …You might be the example my little Ruby will need someday.
The Lord has given His children two lines of communication with Him—what we may call the personal
line and the priesthood line. All should understand and be guided by both of these essential lines of
This personal line of communication through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of
our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father.
On this personal line of communication with the Lord our belief and practice is similar to that of those
Christians who insist that human mediators between God and man are unnecessary because all have
direct access to God under the principle Martin Luther referred to as “the priesthood of all believers.”
Unfortunately, some members of our Church underestimate the need for this direct, personal line.
Responding to the undoubted importance of prophetic leadership—the priesthood line which operates
principally to govern heavenly communications on Church matters—some seek to have their priesthood
leaders make personal decisions for them, decisions they should make for themselves by inspiration
through their personal line.
…in its fullness the personal line does not function independent of the priesthood line. The Gift of the
Holy Ghost—the means of communication from God to man—is conferred by priesthood authority…It
does not come merely by desire or belief.
Similarly, we cannot communicate reliably through the direct personal line if we are disobedient to or
out of harmony with the priesthood line.
Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe
the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His atonement. That is why we have
commandments and ordinances. That is why we make covenants. That is how we qualify for the
promised blessings. They all come through the mercy and grace of the Holy One of Israel, “after all we
It is [the priesthood line] through which He currently speaks through the teachings and counsel of living
prophets and apostles and other inspired leaders.
In respect to this priesthood line, our belief and practice is similar to the insistence of some Christians
that the authoritative ordinances (sacraments) are essential and must be performed by one authorized
and empowered by Jesus Christ. We believe the same, but of course differ with other Christians on how
we trace that authority.
Those who reject the need for organized religion reject the work of the Master, who established His
Church and its officers in the meridian of time and who re-established them in modern times.
Two cautions: first, the priesthood line does not supersede the need for the personal line. …As faith
develops, we necessarily rely on the words and faith of others, like our parents, teachers, or priesthood
leaders. But If we are solely dependent on one particular priesthood leader or teacher for our testimony
of the truth, instead of getting that testimony through the personal line, we will be forever vulnerable to
disillusionment by the action of that person. When it comes to a mature knowledge or testimony of the
truth, we should not be dependent on a mortal mediator between us and our Heavenly Father.
[This is my favorite Elder Oaks talk in a long time. I really like the straightforward comparison and also the reference to other religions’ concepts of authority.]
[Lots of heads in the Conference Center move a little bit whenever somebody says the words “I will conclude…”]
…like the personal line, the priesthood line cannot function fully and properly in our behalf unless
we are worthy and obedient.
…the authority that presides in the family–whether father or single-parent mother–functions in family matters without the need to get authorization from anyone holding priesthood keys.
[Hooray!!! Finally something to quote when people try to tell me that I should have my 13-year-old preside in my home!]
We must use both the personal line and the priesthood line, in proper balance, to achieve the growth
that is the purpose of mortal life. If personal religious practice relies entirely on the personal line,
individualism erases the importance of divine authority. If personal religious practice relies too much
on the priesthood line, individual growth suffers. The children of God need both lines to achieve their
Another new Wilberg arrangement–“Love One Another” He can do piano too!!
[He doesn’t usually struggle for composure like this–it’s very sweet. I think I’m falling in love a little. I’ve never connected with President Monson the way I did with President Kimball, or President Hinckley–but I just got it. Probably helps that he’s talking about music :) ]
My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive?
[When we read this story once in FHE, and tried to get the kids involved in the story by asking “What do you think Jesus said to the one who thanked him?” Sam, who was maybe 4, said “You’re welcome”]
Sincerely giving thanks…unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.
President Hinckley: When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and concern and egotism.
Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings. This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.
A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for his blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort–at least until we have truly learned and cultivated an attitude of gratitude. Often we feel grateful, and intend to express our thanks but forget to do so or just don’t get around to it. Someone has said that feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable; to enact gratitude is generous and noble; but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.
Another new Wilberg arrangement, just in case the 27 key changes in the introduction didn’t identify the composer :)