General Conference: Sunday Morning

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Well, hello dollies!

Sunday morning, I planned to meet Maren’s family and the Elders at the church to watch the morning session. I spent the entire two hours snuggling with Maren’s little one, Laney and felt so at peace with where I was and who I was with. The Elders scored big too, because the H family brought extra conference notebook/coloring books and Matt was way into sharing his crayons with them.

So, on to conference!

Elder Henry B. Eyring

Every member of the Church has the same sacred charge. We accepted it and promised to rise to it as we were baptized. We learn from the words of Alma, the great Book of Mormon prophet, what we promised God that we would become: “Willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.”

That is a lofty charge and a glorious promise from God. My message today is of encouragement. Just as the Book of Mormon makes the charge plain to us, it also directs us upward on the path to eternal life.

First, we promised to become charitable. Second, we promised to become witnesses of God. And third, we promised to endure. The Book of Mormon is the best guide to learn how well we are doing and how to do better.

It was this scripture that converted me. This very passage is the reason I decided to be baptized. It is in this passage that I find my testimony of the church, of Jesus Christ, of God’s love. I admit, when I first read this verse in Mosiah, I was pissed. I thought, “Seriously? I have to be baptized. Great.” Now, almost a year after my baptism, these words bring me such comfort. I loved Eyring’s message of encouragement. He showed us, promise by promise, how to practice living this covenant. He challenged us to determine how well we are doing, and then to move forward by doing better. He also made a crack about Abinadi, who some of you may know, is a LadyMo favorite. (I’ll tell you that story now: one time with the Sister missionaries, they asked me if I had read about Abinadi (pronounced correctly). I said, “No, not yet, but tell me about this Ah-bih-NAH-dee guy?” Basically, I read his name like he was some Sicilian mobster. Now, any mention of Abinadi, and my friends around me giggle.) Listening to his words, I felt the “why” behind his testimony of the Book of Mormon, as opposed to just learning that he has one.

Elder Robert D. Hales

What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end.

To wait upon the Lord means planting the seed of faith and nourishing it “with great diligence, and … patience.”

It means praying as the Savior did—to God, our Heavenly Father—saying: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” It is a prayer we offer with our whole souls in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

While this is the first time I’m reading this exact sentence in any of the talks (faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end), I remember hearing it over and over and over again during conference. Someone trying to tell me something? If anything for LadyMo to work on, this list is pretty comprehensive. His talk also reminded me of this sermon I heard at the UCC in Lawrence. I learn from Elder Hales talk and from Josh Longbottom’s sermon that “Thy kingdom come,” also means here. I can’t forget that His kingdom can be built up here and now. This might be an obvious doctrinal fact for most of my readers, but I’m still learning.

In my life I have learned that sometimes I do not receive an answer to a prayer because the Lord knows I am not ready. When He does answer, it is often “here a little and there a little” because that is all that I can bear or all I am willing to do.

This really made me think: because that’s is all I can bear or all I am willing to do. I am learning to trust that our Heavenly Father actually does know better than me. This, I assure you, is hard.

Elder Tad L. Callister

That is the genius of the Book of Mormon—there is no middle ground. It is either the word of God as professed, or it is a total fraud. This book does not merely claim to be a moral treatise or theological commentary or collection of insightful writings. It claims to be the word of God—every sentence, every verse, every page. Joseph Smith declared that an angel of God directed him to gold plates, which contained the writings of prophets in ancient America, and that he translated those plates by divine powers. If that story is true, then the Book of Mormon is holy scripture, just as it professes to be; if not, it is a sophisticated but, nonetheless, diabolical hoax.

C. S. Lewis spoke of a similar dilemma faced by someone who must choose whether to accept or reject the Savior’s divinity—where there is likewise no middle ground: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. … You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. … But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

I admit, I struggled a little bit listening to his talk. The part I chose to excerpt was powerful and meaningful for me. It was a bold answer to the wishy washy questions I was navigating last year: you either believe it or you don’t, but you get to and have to make that decision for yourself. When he started using PowerPoints and circles and lines to make a point about its truthfulness, I started to fade out. It also reminded me of this StillSpeaking Devotional I received a few months ago. That being said, I came to my own conclusion that I cannot find answers in empirical evidence or using logical testing – or crafty PowerPoints with dots and lines. I understand what he was trying to say, but it just didn’t work for me.

This talk reminded me of a conversation I had with MoBoy one time while volunteering. At the time, I was reading from a different Bible and asked him to explain why there were so many different versions and why he wouldn’t just read mine (it was so much easier to understand!) I asked him why, if the Bible was the word of God, did we need “another testament of Jesus Christ.” I know, I was so original. MoBoy looked around the room for anything with which to make his point. He took my cell phone and put his finger on one corner. He explained that the Bible is like that point: it locks the cell phone in place on the desk, but it still can be swiveled around that point. The Book of Mormon, he explained, is like putting another finger on another corner of the phone. The phone becomes immovable and not subject to various translations. I know he was appealing to my logic, but it still frustrated me.

This talk was a simple, but firm, statement. “LadyMo, you either believe it or you don’t.” On one hand, he’s forcing my hand. On the other hand, I know that a testimony is built line upon line, precept upon precept. I hope that I will remember his talk when I am confronted with a new test of my faith. Or maybe even at the next Fast and Testimony meeting.

Okay, I’m done rambling, moving on.

Sister Elaine S. Dalton 

You are your daughter’s guardian in more than the legal sense. Be present in your daughter’s life. Let her know your standards, your expectations, your hopes and dreams for her success and happiness. Interview her, get to know her friends and, when the time comes, her boyfriends. Help her understand the importance of education. Help her understand that the principle of modesty is a protection. Help her choose music and media that invite the Spirit and are consistent with her divine identity. Be an active part of her life. And if in her teenage years she should not come home from a date on time, go get her. She will resist and tell you that you have ruined her social life, but she will inwardly know that you love her and that you care enough to be her guardian.

Dad, thank you.

Elder M. Russell Ballard

We are asked to stand as a witness of Him “at all times and in all things, and in all places.” This means that we must be willing to let others know whom we follow and to whose Church we belong: the Church of Jesus Christ. We certainly want to do this in the spirit of love and testimony. We want to follow the Savior by simply and clearly, yet humbly, declaring that we are members of His Church. We follow Him by being Latter-day Saints—latter-day disciples.

People and organizations are often given nicknames by others. A nickname may be a shortened form of a name, or it may be derived from an event or some physical or other characteristic. While nicknames do not have the same status or significance as actual names, they can be properly used.

The Lord’s Church in both ancient and modern times has had nicknames. The Saints in New Testament times were called Christians because they professed a belief in Jesus Christ. That name, first used derogatorily by their detractors, is now a name of distinction; and we are honored to be called a Christian church.

I was curious if he was speaking to the church or to Robert Jeffress? Times and Seasons wrote an interesting response to this talk, so go check them out. I’m okay with Mormon. He’s asking me to identify as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I did make a promise to commit to the words of our leaders, and my only objection is really out of being stubborn. So, it is resolved. Hello, I’m LadyMo and I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (And I’m a Mormon.)

President Thomas S. Monson

Rabbi Sacks goes on to lament:

“We have been spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital. …

“There are large parts of [the world] where religion is a thing of the past and there is no counter-voice to the culture of buy it, spend it, wear it, flaunt it, because you’re worth it. The message is that morality is passé, conscience is for wimps, and the single overriding command is ‘Thou shalt not be found out.’”1

My brothers and sisters, this—unfortunately—describes much of the world around us. Do we wring our hands in despair and wonder how we’ll ever survive in such a world? No. Indeed, we have in our lives the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we know that morality is not passé, that our conscience is there to guide us, and that we are responsible for our actions.

I loved his talk for a number of reasons, but for now, I will only discuss two of them. First, I love love love that his talk was ecumenical-ish. While ecumenism is defined by the cooperation of Christian churches, I appreciate that he is drawing on the insights of other religious leaders. For me, that speaks louder than the words themselves. And the words were great, too! For a minute, I felt like I was listening to a Jean Kilbourne lecture. For me, this is the “why” behind Ballard’s “what.” Why should we be identifying as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (I think I might go back to “Mormon” before this post is over…)? It’s because “we have in our lives the gospel of Jesus Christ… and we are responsible for our actions.” His talk also reminded me of a very sweet and simple fact: he spoke about losing $5 in his pants pockets, praying about it, and then recovering it in the wash a few days later. I was reminded that even though others have it way freaking worse than I do and even though most of the time my trials are silly, God is still aware of me. That, I believe, is cool.

So eloquently noted, eh?

And thus concludes Sunday Morning.

So much love,

The LadyMo

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4 responses »

  1. LadyMo, you have officially inspired me and chastised me simultaneously. Why don’t I take the time to study the words of our living apostles and Prophet the way that you do? Is watching America’s Next Top Model really that pressing? Lesson learned from your post tonight: less mindless, more substance. Love you!

  2. To answer your question: Yes. It IS that pressing! So is Pretty Little Liars.

    Also, I wouldn’t be able to study these words without the faith and companionship of the mentors of my faith. You. I need you! I can do this because of you!

    Girlfran, you’re my inspiration! How great to belong to a church in which we inspire each other to be better.

    Love you!

  3. As you know life has presented many opportunities, challenges, and many, many blessing to me. Two of these blessing are you and your sister. One of the responsibilities of being a parent is to nurture his children and allow them to grow and be able to make sound decisions for themselves. You both were blessed by choosing two strong and solid people to be your parents. We each have our strengths and we each have our weaknesses (hopefully they were a good balance for you). We can only hope that we have shown you how to use your strengths and your weaknesses to your advantage and to rely on your decision making to get you through the challenges and opportunities that life will present to you. One lesson that I have been trying to teach you since you were a small child is, that there is no room for hate in your life. There is only room for forgiveness and through that forgiveness you will find that inner peace that we all strive to find. I have said this to you several times and you will hear it again and again… I am very proud of you (and your sister) – you both have turned out to be the independent, comforting, supportive, strong women that I’d always hoped you’d be.

    With much love and admiration,
    PaDukes

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