Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#LDSConf Highlights October 2014: Women Session

LINDA K. BURTON - "Prepared in a Manner That Never Had Been Known"
Relief Society General President

As we consider the principle of being prepared, imagine with me the following scene. You are sitting in the celestial room of the temple and notice a number of brides and grooms being reverently ushered in and out as they wait to be married for time and all eternity. A bride enters the celestial room, hand in hand with her sweetheart. She is wearing a simple but beautiful temple dress and a calm, peaceful, warm smile on her face. She is well groomed but not distracting. She takes her seat, glances about, and then is suddenly overcome with emotion. It seems that her tears come because of the awe and reverence she has for both the place she is in and the sacred ordinance awaiting her and the love of her life. Her demeanor seems to say, “How grateful I am to be in the Lord’s house today, ready to begin an eternal journey with a beloved eternal companion.” She seems prepared for much more than just an event.

Our cute teenage granddaughter recently left a note for me on my pillow that in part said: “One thing that strikes me as I enter the temple is the peaceful, loving spirit that dwells there. … People can go to the temple to receive inspiration.”1 She is right. We can receive inspiration and revelation in the temple—and also power to cope with the adversities of life. What she is learning about the temple as she consistently participates in taking her own family names to do temple baptisms and confirmations will prepare her to receive additional temple ordinances, covenants, and blessings, both for herself and those on the other side of the veil.

Elder Russell M. Nelson taught, “As temples are prepared for the people, the people need to prepare themselves for the temple.”...

I never seem to tire of the beautiful parable the Savior told of the five wise and five foolish virgins. Though this parable refers to being prepared for the Second Coming of our Savior, we could also liken it to being prepared for temple blessings, which can be like a spiritual feast for those who are well prepared....

I don’t think there is anyone, especially among those with tender hearts, who doesn’t feel sad for the foolish young women. And some of us just want to say to the others, “Can’t you just share so everyone can be happy?” But think about it. This is a story the Savior told, and He is the one who calls five of them “wise” and five of them “foolish.”

As we consider this parable as a pattern for temple preparation, consider the words of a latter-day prophet who taught that “the oil of spiritual preparedness cannot be shared.”6 President Spencer W. Kimball helped clarify why the five “wise” young women could not share the oil in their lamps with those who were “foolish” when he said: “Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures—each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions … —these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps.”...

In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord “that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, … that they may grow up in thee, and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, … and be prepared to obtain every needful thing.”

It is my prayer that for us, going to the temple will be much more than a onetime event. May we prepare to worthily receive saving ordinances drop by drop and keep the associated covenants wholeheartedly. As we do so, I know we will qualify to receive the promised blessings of a fulness of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Lord in our homes and individual lives.

JEAN A. STEVENS - "Covenant Daughters of God"
First Counselor, Primary General Presidency

Dear sisters, I greet you with so much love. Right now, wherever you are in the world, I hope you feel the Lord’s love for you personally and the Spirit witnessing to your heart the message just sung by this beautiful choir. I add my voice of testimony to theirs: I know that my Redeemer lives and that He loves each one of us.

Tonight we gather as covenant daughters of God. Our ages, circumstances, and personalities cannot separate us, because above all we are His. We have made a covenant to remember His Son always....

Covenants with God help us to know who we really are. They connect us to Him in a personal way through which we come to feel our value in His sight and our place in His kingdom. In a way we can’t fully comprehend, we are known and loved individually by Him. Think of it—each of us holds such a place in His heart. His desire is that we will choose the path that will bring us home to Him.

As essential and significant as the covenant of baptism is, it is only the beginning—the gate that puts us on the path to eternal life. Ahead on our journey are temple covenants to be made and priesthood ordinances to receive. As Elder David A. Bednar reminds us, “As we stand in the waters of baptism, we look to the temple.”

It is not only in making covenants but also in faithfully keeping these covenants that we are prepared to receive eternal life. That is our hope, our goal, and our joy....

If we are to receive all the blessings God so generously offers, our earthly path must lead to the temple. Temples are an expression of God’s love. He invites us all to come, learn of Him, feel His love, and receive the priesthood ordinances necessary for eternal life with Him. Each covenant is made one by one. Every mighty change of heart matters to the Lord. And yours will make all the difference to you. For as we go to His holy house, we can be “armed with [His] power, … [His] name … upon [us], … [His] glory … round about [us], and [His] angels have charge over [us].

NEILL F. MARRIOTT - "Sharing Your Light"
Second Counselor, Young Women General Presidency

Tonight I would like to consider two important responsibilities we carry: first, consistently adding gospel light and truth to our lives, and second, sharing that light and truth with others.

Do you know how important you are? Every one of you—right now—is valuable and essential in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. We have a work to do. We know the truth of the restored gospel. Are we ready to defend that truth? We need to live it; we need to share it. We must stand firm in our faith and lift our voices to proclaim true doctrine.

In the September 2014 Ensign... Elder M. Russell Ballard writes: “We need more of the distinctive, influential voices and faith of women. We need them to learn the doctrine and to understand what we believe so that they can bear their testimonies about the truth of all things.”

Sisters, you strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ. I have watched your examples, heard your testimonies, and felt of your faith from Brazil to Botswana! You carry a circle of influence with you wherever you go. It is felt by the people around you—from your family to the contacts in your cell phone and from your friends on social media to those seated next to you tonight. I agree with Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, who wrote, “You … are vibrant and enthusiastic beacons in an ever-darkening world as you show, through the way you live your lives, that the gospel is a joyful message.”...

Can you find yourself in the following words of this document, “The Living Christ”? “He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead.”

We, sisters of the Church, do not walk the roads of Palestine healing the sick, but we can pray for and apply the healing love of the Atonement to a sickened, strained relationship.

Though we will not cause the blind to see in the manner of the Savior, we can testify of the plan of salvation to the spiritually blind. We can open the eyes of their understanding to the necessity of priesthood power in eternal covenants.

We will not be raising the dead as did the Savior, but we can bless the dead by finding their names for temple work. Then we will indeed raise them from their spirit prison and offer them the path of eternal life.

DIETER F. UCHTDORF - "Living the Gospel Joyful"

As I contemplated what I might say, my thoughts went back to the women who have shaped my life and helped me through the challenges of mortality. I am grateful for my grandmother who decades ago decided to take her family to a Mormon sacrament meeting. I am grateful for Sister Ewig, an elderly single German lady, whose name translates into English as “Sister Eternal.” She was the one who extended this courageous and wonderful invitation to my grandmother. I am so very grateful for my mother, who led four children through the turmoil of World War II. I think also of my daughter, granddaughters, and future generations of faithful women who will one day follow.

And, of course, I am eternally grateful to my wife, Harriet, who enchanted me as a teen, bore the heaviest burdens of our young family as a mother, stands with me as a wife, and loves and cherishes our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She has been the strength in our home during both good times and bad. She brings sunshine into the lives of all who know her.

Finally, I am very grateful to all of you, the millions of faithful sisters worldwide of any age who do so much to build the kingdom of God. I am grateful to you for the countless ways you inspire, nurture, and bless those around you...

I am pleased to be among so many daughters of God. When we sing the song “I Am a Child of God,” the lyrics penetrate our hearts. Pondering this truth—that we are children of heavenly parents1—fills us with a sense of origin, purpose, and destiny.

It is good to remember that you are always a child of God. This knowledge will carry you through the most difficult times in your life and will inspire you to accomplish remarkable things. However, it is also important to remember that being a daughter of eternal parents is not a distinction you earned or you will ever lose. You will always and forever remain a daughter of God. Your Heavenly Father has high aspirations for you, but your divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance. God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine...

For some of us, obedience to God’s commandments doesn’t always feel very joyful. Let’s face it: there may be some that seem harder or less appealing—commandments that we approach with the enthusiasm of a child sitting before a plate of healthy but hated vegetables. We grit our teeth and force ourselves to comply so that we can move on to more desirable activities.

Perhaps during times such as these, we might find ourselves asking, “Do we really need to obey all of God’s commandments?”

My response to this question is simple:

I think God knows something we don’t—things that are beyond our capacity to comprehend! Our Father in Heaven is an eternal being whose experience, wisdom, and intelligence are infinitely greater than ours.4 Not only that, but He is also eternally loving, compassionate, and focused on one blessed goal: to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.

In other words, He not only knows what is best for you; He also anxiously wants you to choose what is best for you...

Part of our challenge is, I think, that we imagine that God has all of His blessings locked in a huge cloud up in heaven, refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict, paternalistic requirements He has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality, Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.

His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella so we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings.

We need to accept that the commandments of God aren’t just a long list of good ideas. They aren’t “life hacks” from an Internet blog or motivational quotes from a Pinterest board. They are divine counsel, based on eternal truths, given to bring “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”...

Walking in the path of discipleship does not need to be a bitter experience. It “is sweet above all that is sweet.” It is not a burden that weighs us down. Discipleship lifts our spirits and lightens our hearts. It inspires us with faith, hope, and charity. It fills our spirits with light in times of darkness, and serenity during times of sorrow.

It gives us divine power and lasting joy.

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