Sunday, October 12, 2008

October 2008 General Conference

Twice a year our Church has a conference for the entire church called General Conference. In this conference we are addressed by people that we sustain as General Authorities - our Church's leadership - including our Prophet and the Apostles of the Church. In this conference, you can really feel that all are men and women of God. They tell inspiring stories and share the messages our Father in Heaven would have us hear right now. Truly it is a blessing to know the Lord's will right now, and to have a Prophet with the same power, authority, and message that Moses, Isaiah, and all prophets before them had. I feel comforted to know that God leads this Church through a prophet, and that by following His prophet I can come closer to Him.

One of my favorite talks in General Conference was by Elder Quentin L. Cook, a man we sustain as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He shared the following story:

Last winter my daughter had a white-knuckle experience driving in a severe snowstorm. She reminded me of a similar situation I had with my two sons many years ago. My youngest son, Joe, was three years old, and my son Larry was six. We were traveling by car from San Francisco to Utah in June. The weather had been very good.

As we started our ascent to the Donner Pass summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, suddenly and without warning an enormous snowstorm hit us. None of the drivers was prepared. A semitruck in front of us had jackknifed and was spread across two lanes. Other trucks and cars had slid off the freeway. One lane was open, and many vehicles, including ours, were desperately trying to gain traction to avoid the other vehicles. All traffic then came to a halt.

We were not prepared for this blizzard in June. We had no warm clothing, and our fuel was relatively low. I huddled with the two boys in an effort to keep us warm. After many hours, safety vehicles, snowplows, and tow trucks began to clear up the massive logjam of vehicles.

Eventually, a tow truck hauled us to a service station on the other side of the pass. I called my wife, knowing she would be worried because she had expected a call the prior evening. She asked if she could speak to the two boys. When it was the three-year-old’s turn, with a quivering voice, he said, “Hope ya know, we had a hard time!”

Elder Cook then talked about a few specific people (some of whom were historic) and described some of the things they went through. I won't include all of his examples, but he talked of how they trusted God and how they felt His awareness of their difficulties. He then closed with this thought:

Think of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane during the Atonement process, suffering agony so great that He bled from every pore. His cry to His Father included the word Abba. This might be interpreted as the cry of a son who is in distress to his father: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of the trials and hardships that any of us will encounter in this life. At times when we may feel to say, “Hope you know, I had a hard time,” we can be assured that He is there and we are safe in His loving arms.

I also know that Jesus Christ watches over us. He knows us. I have felt His love for me personally, and I know that He loves and wants to save all of mankind, but He also loves and wants to save you. If you reach out to Him, you will feel Him reaching for you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Moroni's promise

At the end of the Book of Mormon there is a promise recorded about the book. The essential parts of the promise are that if you read, think about what you read, and then pray to God to know if what you read is true, He will speak to you through the Holy Ghost and manifest the truth of it unto you. Here is the text of the promise:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

This is such a simple, elegant truth. God is your Father and will speak to you. To me, this promise is a defining part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: each person should go to the Lord themselves and discover the truth for themselves, so everyone can know for themselves the truth. I know that God loves each of us; we are all His children and He will send the Holy Ghost to teach any of His children that is willing to follow His words. I have prayed and know for myself that the Book of Mormon is true. I wouldn't want anyone to believe just because I said so, but I hope that everyone will go to the Lord and ask, and have the courage to live the answer that they receive.