Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Conference First Impressions

I'd love to be able to go to a "General Conference Roundup" website where each talk was listed and discussed. If such a site exists, please let me know. In the meantime, here are some impressions I had of three talks from conference.

We caught two sessions of General Conference while at Dan and Julee's for the weekend. Now I'm downloading the rest and listening to them on the metro, and I'll add to this post as more impressions come. I'm interested to hear what talks impressed everyone else.

1. Elder Dieter F. Uchdorf: The Love of God
I love this quote from Elder Uchdor's talk about what I call "commandment creep":

"'If ye love me, keep my commandments.'

"This is the essence of what it means to be a true disciple: those who receive Christ Jesus walk with Him.

"But this may present a problem for some because there are so many 'shoulds' and 'should nots' that merely keeping track of them can be a challenge. Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of "good ideas."

This commandment creep effect stems from how we teach. For example, if I'm teaching a lesson on keeping the Sabbath Holy, I may then say, "What things can you do to keep the Sabbath holy?" "Don't watch TV," "don't do homework," "visit family," etc. etc. These may be great ideas, and they may help some people to keep the Sabbath day holy. But the problem arises when a person who feels they should not do homework on Sunday projects that requirement on everyone else. The commandment is to keep the day holy. The application is left to each of us, with prophetic counsel to guide us.

Other commandment creeps include drinking caffeinated drinks, attending Sunday School, and the entire unwritten order of things. Good things? Sure. But they are specific applications of gospel principles, and God leaves to each of us to determine how we decide to live the principles, within certain clear boundaries.

2. Elder Richard G. Scott: Acquiring Spiritual Guidance
I loved how Elder Scott described his process of receiving revelation.
a. receive prompting
b. write it down
c. compare the writing to the prompting to make sure the writing accurately reflects the prompting
d. ponder the prompting
e. ask, "Is there more, Lord?"
f. if so, repeat the process
Money quote: "The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeƱo pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit."

3. Elder Holland's talk was a powerful testimony of the divine nature of the Book of Mormon, and it strengthened my own belief that the Book of Mormon was received from God through Joseph Smith.