It was another wonderful weekend spent enjoying the uplifting words of General Conference. I was able to get Saturday off work, and spent the whole weekend at home with my laptop plugged into our television streaming gc.lds.org with the family. It was nice, a great spirit was felt during the messages and we have a lot to review and study over the next six months. As soon as the texts of the talks become available I plan on reviewing each one and writing a post with my thoughts and reaction and my take-away from it, what I believe needs to happen next as a result of understanding the principles and doctrines taught in the address.
Today, I just wanted to share a few overall thoughts from Conference and discuss a few of the recurring themes I noticed. It always happens that several different speakers will mention the same ideas, often in very different ways, but still as a way of sustaining each other, reaffirming the principles and providing further understanding and insight. As I listen to Conference I try to make note of these major themes and try to find what I believe the Lord is saying to me personally in my life and for my family.
First: There was a lot of talk about the standards of the Church, the standards of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that we need to stand as witnesses and not give in to the changing morals of the world. Elder Perry was very forceful in announcing that the world at large seems to have completely forgotten, or chosen to ignore 6 of the basic 10 commandments. And he’s right (of course), most of the world does recognize the importance of Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, and Honor your parents, but they disregard the rest. It becomes our duty as followers of Christ to not only live the commandments that we know to be true and divinely appointed, but to speak out and encourage our friends and family and neighbors to do so as well.
Going hand in hand with this, there was much talk about obedience and the blessings that come from obedience to the commandments of God. Obedience brings blessings and safety and peace in a troubled world. Obedience brings light in the darkness of a life that is confused and searching for guidance. Obedience is the natural next step after one utters that simple testimony, “Lord, I believe”. Once we believe, we need to act upon that belief. I am reminded again of the phrase I learned in Germany, “Wennse weiß watte wills, musse machen datte hinkomms” — When you know what you want, you need to do (or act) so that you get there. If I believe in Christ and believe in his promises of a celestial kingdom and a place in the mansions of His Father, then I need to do and act and obey so that I can get there.
And again, building directly upon that principle is the truth that was repeated several times that we are literally the children of God, his sons and his daughters. That He loves us and cares for us and wants us to achieve our full potential. Which is why He has given us the instruction and the commandments that He has, to help guide us to become perfect even as He is perfect. It was very interesting that the word literal was used at least twice that I noticed, in connection with being children of God. That is a powerful truth that deserves to be reinforced in each one of us, and gives us the strength and the knowledge to continue faithfully and be obedient.
But, of course perfect obedience is not possible in this life. We will make mistakes, we will falter, we will commit sin and cut ourselves off from the presence of the Lord. But, there is hope, there is good news and glad tidings, there is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that teaches that Christ came into the world to redeem the world. The Lord wants to forgive. Repentance is both possible and necessary. Start where you are and begin today to be obedient and with repentance forgiveness will be granted and the guilt of sin will be washed away and healed, by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And, then, once we believe and understand these principles and truths, it becomes our duty and our responsibility to share this message with the whole world. Missionary work is not work, it is not hard, it is fun and as simple as sharing the basic truths that make you happy with those you come in contact with. Every member a missionary does not mean that every member needs to pin on the nametag and go door-to-door talking to strangers in our search for converts. If we merely open our mouths and our hearts and speak openly and honestly about our love of God and the principles and truths restored to the earth through modern prophets, and then simply invite our friends and family and neighbors to “Come and See”, that is the essence of missionary work. It is not hard, it need not be scary. Perfect love casteth out fear.
And as I expected that there would be, there was a lot of talk about marriage, but not necessarily about gay marriage. They talked about the purpose of marriage and how to strengthen marriage and the family. Going back to the basics, teaching that the family is ordained of God as the basic unit of society. It was reaffirmed that God’s truths do not change in reaction to public opinion, but also that God is love and mercy and friendliness toward our fellow man. Rather than focusing on why it is not God’s will that we allow same-sex marriage, the talks instead focused on the purposes of marriage and how marriages can be strengthened when founded and based upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was a great weekend and I am looking forward to having the texts available to review and read through. Video of the talks are already on the Church’s website, and I took the liberty of watching a few of my favorite talks again today while at work. It helps bring the spirit and keep a positive outlook. I love this Gospel, I love this church. I believe in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe that He has once again called Prophets and Apostles and inspires them to teach the world. And I believe that I can repent and be better than I am as I draw closer to Jesus Christ through study of the scriptures and daily personal prayer and obedience to the commandments of God. It will be a fun six months as we pore over and internalize the messages we have heard this weekend.