Thursday, April 7, 2016

#LDSConf April 2016: Saturday Morning Session

==First Presidency==
(1)  1963-(DOM)-Thomas S. Monson - 8/21/1927 - 88 - USA-UT
(7)  1995-(GBH)-Henry B. Eyring - 5/31/1933 - 82 - USA-NJ
(8)  2004-(GBH)-Dieter F. Uchtdorf - 11/6/1940 - 75 - Czech (German)

==Quorum of Twelve Apostles==
(2)  1984-(SWK)-Russell M. Nelson - 9/9/1924 - 91 - USA-UT
(3)  1984-(SWK)-Dallin H. Oaks - 8/12/1932 - 83 - USA-UT
(4)  1985-(SWK)-M. Russell Ballard - 10/8/1928 - 87 - USA-UT
(5)  1994-(ETB)-Robert D. Hales - 8/24/1932 - 83 - USA-NY
(6)  1994-(HWH)-Jeffrey R. Holland - 12/3/1940 - 75 - USA-UT
(9)  2004-(GBH)-David A. Bednar - 6/15/1952 - 63 - USA-CA

(10) 2007-(GBH)-Quentin L. Cook - 9/8/1940 - 75 - USA-UT
(11) 2008-(TSM)-D. Todd Christofferson - 1/24/1945 - 71 - USA-UT
(12) 2009-(TSM)-Neil L. Andersen - 8/9/1951 - 64 - USA-UT
(13) 2015-(TSM)-Ronald A. Rasband -- 2/6/1951 - 65 - USA-UT
(14) 2015-(TSM)-Gary E. Stevenson - 8/5/1955 - 60 - USA-UT
(15) 2015-(TSM)-Dale G. Renlund - 11/1/1952 - 63 - USA-UT

HENRY B. EYRING - "Where Two or Three Are Gathered"

Gathered in this meeting, which stretches across the world, are millions of disciples of Jesus Christ who are under covenant to always remember Him and serve Him. By the miracle of modern technology, the separation of time and of vast distances vanishes. We meet as if we are all together in one great hall.

But even more important than our gathering together is in whose name we do so. The Lord promised that even with the great number of His disciples on the earth today, He would be close to each of us. He said to His little band of disciples in 1829, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, … where two or three are gathered together in my name, … behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you” (D&C 6:32).

Now numbering more than one or two, a multitude of His disciples are gathered in this conference, and as promised, the Lord is in our midst. Because He is a resurrected and glorified being, He is not physically everyplace where Saints gather. But, by the power of the Spirit, we can feel that He is here with us today.

Where and when we feel the closeness of the Savior depend on each of us. He gave this instruction:

“And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near—

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (D&C 88:62–63).

MARY R. DURHAM - "A Child's Guiding Gift"
2nd Counselor, General Primary Presidency (released)

At age eight, children can experience baptism. They learn about and make a covenant with God. Those they love surround them as they are immersed and come out of the font with a feeling of great joy. Then they receive the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a gift that may guide them constantly as they live for that blessing.

Elder David A. Bednar said: “The simplicity of [confirmation] may cause us to overlook its significance. These four words—‘Receive the Holy Ghost’—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon.”

Children have a natural desire to do good and to be good. We can feel their innocence, their purity. They also have a great sensitivity to the still, small voice.

DONALD L. HALLSTROM - "I Am a Child of God"
of the Presidency of the Seventy

Our most fundamental doctrine includes the knowledge that we are children of a living God. That is why one of His most sacred names is Father—Heavenly Father... This doctrine is so basic, so oft stated, and so instinctively simple that it can seem to be ordinary, when in reality it is among the most extraordinary knowledge we can obtain. A correct understanding of our heavenly heritage is essential to exaltation. It is foundational to comprehending the glorious plan of salvation and to nurturing faith in the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus the Christ, and in His merciful Atonement. Further, it provides continual motivation for us to make and keep our indispensable eternal covenants...

Here on earth, we identify ourselves in many different ways, including our place of birth, our nationality, and our language. Some even identify themselves by their occupation or their hobby. These earthly identities are not wrong unless they supersede or interfere with our eternal identity—that of being a son or a daughter of God...

When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are—that we are children of a loving God? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance?

GARY E. STEVENSON - "Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?"

I marvel at Heavenly Father’s love for His children. I stand in wonder at the heavenly visitation and the grand visions of eternity God bestowed upon Joseph Smith. And in particular, my heart is filled with overwhelming gratitude for the restoration of priesthood authority and priesthood keys. Without this restoration, we would be locked out from the vehicle necessary to transport us on our journey home to loving heavenly parents. The performance of every ordinance of salvation comprising our covenant pathway back to the presence of our Father in Heaven requires appropriate governance through priesthood keys...

First, an understanding of these terms may be helpful. The priesthood, or priesthood authority, has been defined as “the power and authority of God” and “the consummate power on this earth.” Priesthood keys are defined for our understanding as well: “Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth.” Priesthood keys control the exercise of priesthood authority. Ordinances that create a record in the Church require keys and cannot be done without authorization. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that “ultimately, all keys of the priesthood are held by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose priesthood it is. He is the one who determines what keys are delegated to mortals and how those keys will be used"...

I testify that priesthood authority and priesthood keys start the engine, open the gates of heaven, facilitate heavenly power, and pave the covenant pathway back to our loving Heavenly Father.

I pray that you, the rising generation of young men and young women, will “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ,” that you may understand that it is your sacred privilege to act under the direction of those who hold the priesthood keys that will unlock blessings, gifts, and powers of heaven for you.

KEVIN R. DUNCAN - "The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness"
of the Seventy

All that is of God encompasses love, light, and truth. Yet as human beings we live in a fallen world, sometimes full of darkness and confusion. It comes as no surprise that mistakes will be made, injustices will occur, and sins will be committed. As a result, there is not a soul alive who will not, at one time or another, be the victim to someone else’s careless actions, hurtful conduct, or even sinful behavior. That is one thing we all have in common.

Gratefully, God, in His love and mercy for His children, has prepared a way to help us navigate these sometimes turbulent experiences of life. He has provided an escape for all who fall victim to the misdeeds of others. He has taught us that we can forgive! Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, resentment, or even revenge. We can forgive, and we can be free!...

Christ Himself, when He was unjustly accused, then savagely assaulted, beaten, and left suffering upon the cross, in that very moment said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

In our shortsightedness, we may sometimes find it easy to develop resentments toward others who do not act or think the way we do. We may form intolerant attitudes based on such things as rooting for opposing sports teams, holding different political views, or having different religious beliefs...

Just as we are all victims to the misdeeds of others at one time or another, we are also sometimes the offender. We all fall short and have need of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We must remember that forgiveness of our own sins and offenses is conditioned upon our forgiving others. The Savior said:

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).

STEVEN E. SNOW - "Be Thou Humble"
of the Seventy

One song that was new to the 1985 hymnal is “Be Thou Humble.” This tranquil hymn was written by Grietje Terburg Rowley, who passed away last year. She joined the Church in 1950 in Hawaii, where she was teaching school. Sister Rowley served on the General Music Committee and helped to adapt the hymns into multiple languages. She based her text for “Be Thou Humble” on two verses of scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 112:10 and Ether 12:27. The verse in Ether reads: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; … for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

Like all of the Church’s hymns, “Be Thou Humble” teaches pure and simple truths. It teaches us that if we humble ourselves, our prayers are answered; we enjoy peace of mind; we serve more effectively in our callings; and, if we continue to be faithful, we will ultimately return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

The Savior taught His followers that they must humble themselves as a little child in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. As we raise our own children, we need to help them remain humble as they mature into adulthood. We do not do this by breaking their spirit through unkindness or by being too harsh in our discipline. While nurturing their self-confidence and self-esteem, we need to teach them the qualities of selflessness, kindness, obedience, lack of pride, civility, and unpretentiousness. We need them to learn to take joy in the successes of siblings and friends. President Howard W. Hunter taught that “our genuine concern should be for the success of others.” If not, our children can become obsessed with self-promotion and outdoing others, jealousy, and resentment for the triumphs of peers. I’m grateful for a mother who, when seeing I was becoming too full of myself as a boy, would say, “Son, a little bit of humility right now would go a long way.”

But humility is not something reserved to be taught only to children. We must all strive to become more humble. Humility is essential to gain the blessings of the gospel. Humility enables us to have broken hearts when we sin or make mistakes and makes it possible for us to repent. Humility enables us to be better parents, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends.

DALE G. RENLUND - “That I Might Draw All Men unto Me

My dear brothers and sisters, while living in Africa, I sought advice from Elder Wilford W. Andersen of the Seventy about helping Saints who live in poverty. Among the remarkable insights he shared with me was this: “The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.”

This principle underlies the Church’s welfare system. When members are not able to meet their own needs, they turn first to their families. Thereafter, if necessary, they can also turn to their local Church leaders for assistance with their temporal needs. Family members and local Church leaders are closest to those in need, frequently have faced similar circumstances, and understand best how to help. Because of their proximity to the givers, recipients who receive help according to this pattern are grateful and less likely to feel entitled.

The concept—“the greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement”—also has profound spiritual applications. Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are the ultimate Givers. The more we distance ourselves from Them, the more entitled we feel. We begin to think that we deserve grace and are owed blessings. We are more prone to look around, identify inequities, and feel aggrieved—even offended—by the unfairness we perceive. While the unfairness can range from trivial to gut-wrenching, when we are distant from God, even small inequities loom large. We feel that God has an obligation to fix things—and fix them right now!...

The closer we are to Jesus Christ in the thoughts and intents of our hearts, the more we appreciate His innocent suffering, the more grateful we are for grace and forgiveness, and the more we want to repent and become like Him. Our absolute distance from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is important, but the direction we are heading is even more crucial. God is more pleased with repentant sinners who are trying to draw closer to Him than with self-righteous, faultfinding individuals who, like the Pharisees and scribes of old, do not realize how badly they need to repent.

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