“Taking Upon Ourselves the Name of Jesus Christ” by Robert C. Gay

General Conference, October 2018 – Sunday Afternoon Session – “Taking Upon Ourselves the Name of Jesus Christ” by Elder Robert C. Gay, Of the Presidency of the Seventy

In his talk, Elder Gay shared three ways we can take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ as He would have us do–“by seeing as He sees, by serving as He served, and by trusting that His grace is sufficient.”

Seeing as He sees. Oh Brothers and Sisters, how guilty I am of seeing others not as the Lord sees, of “judging and condemning the other without mercy.” I recall one Sunday years ago when a dear sister in my ward mentioned that she sometimes breaks the Word of Wisdom in a specific way. I am ashamed to admit that I thought to myself “Oh no! How embarrassing! If I [did that] I certainly wouldn’t admit it out loud at Church!” I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was another layer to my reaction–I’m sure you can see where this is going; that other layer was a mental pat on the back to myself for being “better” than this dear sister because I don’t [do that]. Ugh, that’s not “seeing as He sees” at all!

In his talk, Elder Gay asks “Can you imagine the Lord letting you and your burdens go unnoticed by Him?” I would like to turn this question around and ask myself, can I imagine the Lord letting this dear sister and her burdens go unnoticed by Him? NO! She is a child of God with divine potential! The Lord has a marvelous work and a plan for her! This sister is dear to the Lord and “His love [for her] is unfathomable!” How lacking in mercy of me to think otherwise, even for a moment.

Serving as He served. Elder Gay quotes the Savior from the Sermon on the Mount

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? (Matthew 5:46)

Years ago I had a difficult boss. Outwardly we had much in common and we seemed like two people who should have gotten along well, but we didn’t. I felt so left out at work seeing my boss have positive work relationships with my colleagues but knowing that any politeness between us covered up the real truth: animosity on both sides.

I reminded myself that my boss was a beloved child of God. I prayed for my boss. I learned about struggles my boss was having outside of work and prayed for my boss with more specific details. I never learned the outcome of the trials and struggles my boss was having, but over time, my heart was softened and I was able to continue coming to work every day without feeling animosity.

I believe that serving as the Lord served benefits both parties, not only the person receiving the service, but the person who has the opportunity to serve another child of God, as well.

Trusting that His grace is sufficient. Elder Gay begins the final section of his talk by quoting the Savior when He said

11 But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. (3 Nephi 27:11)

For a time, I lived a very worldly life and I had the type of “fun” as the world understands it. The feeling of “fun” very quickly revealed itself to be void of any real, lasting happiness. The “fun” was momentary, temporal pleasure and nothing more. It wasn’t until I turned away from worldly living and turned back to my Savior, Jesus Christ, that my life began to have happiness that was lasting and real and that didn’t carry with it burdens of guilt or shame.

Elder Gay finishes his talk with these words

In any of life’s travels, why would you ever turn away from the only Savior who has all power to heal and deliver you? Whatever the price you must pay to trust Him is worth it. My brothers and sisters, let us choose to increase our faith in Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

General Conference reading schedule

A few years ago (2014?), I found a beautiful printable reading schedule on Pinterest for General Conference talks. The talks were grouped together by topic and I found it very useful for my studies between sessions of General Conference! Unfortunately, I can’t find it now and I haven’t been able to find anything like it for more recent General Conferences, so I made my own–it’s not very pretty (i.e. “Pinterest-worthy”), but here it is, anyway. If you’d like a PDF of this chart, let me know and I’ll send it to you, this is just a screenshot because I genuinely have no idea how interested anyone will be in this project.

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My plan is to post my comments and thoughts on each talk, which are roughly paired together by topic, scheduled in no particular order (except for the last one), on Mondays and Thursdays each week. I’d love for you to join me whenever you can!

There are 34 talks, including “Opening Remarks” and “The Sustaining of Church Officers,” so this will take 17 weeks, assuming I don’t fall behind. For the remaining six weeks between the October 2018 and April 2019 General Conferences, I’ll just have to think of things to write about before we get there! Honestly though, I probably will fall a little behind and I can use those weeks as catch-up.

“The Sustaining of Church Officers” by Henry B. Eyring

General Conference, October 2018 – Saturday Morning Session – “The Sustaining of Church Officers” by President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Like the opening remarks, there is more to ponder about the sustaining of Church officers than might be readily apparent. In the Saturday afternoon session of the October 2018 General Conference, we had the opportunity to sustain our General Authorities, Area Seventies, and the General Auxiliary Presidencies who have been called by the Lord to serve in their various capacities.

In the April 1996 General Conference, Thomas S. Monson said:

Remember that this work is not yours and mine alone. It is the Lord’s work, and when we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Remember that whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.

As far as I know–and please correct me if I am wrong so I can correct this blog post–the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church wherein the general membership is afforded the opportunity to publicly sustain our leadership like this. It’s important, I think, that we each individually have the opportunity sustain our leaders. I think it makes us more likely to accept invitations and instructions from leaders whom we sustain.

I hope they can feel my love and support when I sustain them at each General Conference!

“Opening Remarks” by Russell M. Nelson

General Conference, October 2018 – Saturday Morning Session – “Opening Remarks” by President Russell M. Nelson

There is a lot more to learn and ponder from President Russell M. Nelson’s opening remarks than one might assume from the simple title of “Opening Remarks.”

Of the objective of the Church, President Nelson said “[It] is to assist all members to increase their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His Atonement, to assist them in making and keeping their covenants with God, and to strengthen and seal their families.”

Faith in Christ. Faith is the first of the “first principles and ordinances of the gospel” listed in Article of Faith #4. Faith is the foundation of our testimonies and is the first step on the path to exaltation. Without faith, there would be no desire to repent (the 2nd principle), no desire to be baptized (the 3rd principle), and no gift of the Holy Ghost (the 4th principle). Faith is essential for our salvation!

Make and keep sacred covenants. The first covenant we make is baptism, which is followed by other sacred covenants, including sealing, that we make in the temple. Making and keeping sacred covenants can bring us many blessings!

Strengthen and seal families. A few weeks ago during our family scripture study, we read the following scripture in the book of Alma:

8 Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land. (Alma 48:8)

After we finished reading scriptures that evening, I said “We don’t need to safeguard our homes and communities against armies of Lamanites. So what do we need to protect ourselves from?” And we spent a few minutes “likening the scriptures to ourselves” by identifying unwholesome influences (media, music, etc.) that can drive away the Sprint and which we need to protect ourselves from.

 

Helaman 4:13, my favorite scripture

My favorite scripture is Helaman 4:13. Kind of an obscure and offbeat verse to have as my favorite, isn’t it? In my ward, probably yours, too, Helaman 5:12 is much more common as a favorite scripture!

13 And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands. (Helaman 4:13)

The first time I really read this verse (way back in the 1990’s when I was in seminary), this verse literally made me laugh out loud – I don’t know why, but something about the way this scripture is worded just struck me as really funny. The Nephites boasted in their own strength, were subsequently left in their own strength, so of course they did not prosper!

Helaman 4:13 is one of those hidden gems that speaks a very important gospel truth: our own strength, however great it might appear to be, is not enough. Relying on our own strength will get us nowhere at best, or at worst we will be “afflicted and smitten,” like the Nephites.

To really prosper, we must rely on the Lord “For [his] yoke is easy, and [his] burden is light (Matthew 11:30).”