“Deep and Lasting Conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” by Quentin L. Cook

General Conference October 2018, Saturday Morning Session – “Deep and Lasting Conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” – Elder Quentin L. Cook, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

2 hour church!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sunday Meeting Schedule

Wow, what a bombshell announcement! I think that was the biggest takeaway we all had from Elder Cook’s talk, wasn’t it? It was for me, anyway. At least until a few days had passed and I had time to really think about the implications of that change!

Over the years, I’ve heard older members of my ward talk about how Primary used to be held midweek. Priesthood and Relief Society meetings were also held on weekdays, I think. I’m too young to remember any of that, though. I don’t remember a time we didn’t have a 3 hour meeting on Sundays so this is all very exciting for me.

In the talk immediately preceding Elder Cook’s, President Nelson reminded us that the primary responsibility for teaching our children the doctrine of the Lord’s gospel rests with us, their parents! The third hour of church didn’t go away, it got moved into our homes!

I really enjoyed reading what Steve Reed had to say about this and I’ve been pondering what he and others have said about this change ever since it was announced. For one thing, I can’t think of another organization that would turn so much responsibility and influence over to the members just like that!

Someone, I can’t recall who and I so wish I could remember so I could link back to it (oh well it’ll come to me and I’ll fix this post later), anyway, they said something about this change further separating the wheat from the tares. I mean, yeah! If you, like me, instantly thought “2 hour church! Woot!” and then began thinking of all the things you could do with an extra hour on Sunday???? Well, I hope that doesn’t mean that I’m one of the tares after all?

In all seriousness, though, instead of an extra hour of “free time,” this schedule change has a purpose.

Home-Centered, Church Supported Gospel Learning

I know some of us, me included, have been wondering if the schedule change to focus on a home-centered program of gospel learning (plus other changes) are preparing the members of the church for a time when church attendance may be limited for some reason. I am very interested to find out.

Elder Cook goes on to say:

World conditions increasingly require deepening individual conversion to and strengthening faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The Lord has prepared us, line upon line, for the perilous times that we now face. In recent years, the Lord has guided us to address related core concerns, including:

  • Honoring the Sabbath day and the sacred ordinance of the sacrament has again been emphasized for the last three years.

  • Under the bishop’s direction, strengthened elders quorums and Relief Societies are focused on the purpose and divinely appointed responsibilities of the Church and helping members make and keep sacred covenants.

  • Ministering in a higher and holier way is being joyfully adopted.

  • Beginning with the end in mind, temple covenants and family history service are becoming a purposeful part of the covenant path.

I made several attempts to paraphrase what he said here, but he said it so well it was easier to just quote the whole passage!

I have a tag in my Gospel Library app called “True Conversion” that includes highlights from this talk by Elder Cook, a portion of the introduction to the 2019 Come Follow Me, verses from the Bible, some Ensign articles, and this verse from the Book of Mormon:

7 And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them– (Helaman 15:7)

It’s that change of heart in the individual that all of this is aiming towards!

In a talk during the April 1973 General Conference David B. Haight said that even some of the “very elect will be… deceived.” He then asked if the “very elect” could include “our sons and daughters”–in 1973, he was speaking to my parents’ generation (not that I was born yet, that came a few years later). He could say the very same thing now and it would be just as timely!

The flow seems to be something like this:

  1. The only way for us to avoid deception by the adversary is by knowing the truth of the gospel.
  2. The truth of the gospel is the responsibility of the parents to teach the children (with support from the Church).
  3. We must know the truth of the gospel for ourselves, too.
  4. But all of this can only be accomplished with the influence of the Holy Ghost.

By bringing more of our gospel and scripture studies home, our homes should start to feel more like a chapel, maybe even a temple, “a place of joy and happiness.”

Extraordinary Blessings

This home-centered program will really give us the opportunity to set our home apart from the world. I know I keep telling my kids that we will increasingly feel (and maybe even look) different from the world and our homes should reflect that, too!

Deep and Lasting Conversion

The most important goal and ultimate blessing of deep and lasting conversion is worthily receiving the covenants and ordinances of the covenant pathway.

I’ll never forget how happy I felt when I was able to worthily go to the temple to receive my own endowments and then to be sealed to my husband and children. That blessing was a long time coming (don’t forget the years of riotous living that I engaged in!) and maybe some folks thought that day would never come. But it did! But not before I experienced that change of heart and true conversion with the influence of the Holy Ghost.

That’s something I noticed about many of the changes that are happening in the church. Ministering? Requires us to pray about the individuals we’ve been assigned to minister to and follow the promptings we receive from the Holy Ghost. Bringing more gospel/scripture study into our homes? Will invite the Holy Ghost into our homes and hearts as we “enthusiastically embrace the adjustments and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We will become closer to our Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

“Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice” by M. Joseph Brough

I’ve fallen behind schedule in my blog posting, again. I’d intended to write about the talk that was on the schedule for today, “The Role of the Book of Mormon in Conversion,” which I’ve really been looking forward to, but I felt prompted to continue with the talk I was meant to write about last Thursday, “Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice” by M. Joseph Brough. (I’ve added a new menu selection above with an updated blog posting schedule, because I finally figured out how to do something like that!)

General Conference, October 2018 – Saturday Morning Session – “Lift Up Your Head and Rejoice” by M. Joseph Brough, Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency

I don’t want to say more than I should, so I’ll keep this a little vague. After promising an unexpected and what many would consider a prestigious blessing, my patriarchal blessing states that my “wisdom and counsel will be sought by many.” Me? My wisdom? Seriously? What??? How do I even acquire this “wisdom,” anyway?

Well, any wisdom I can lay claim to at this point in my life has been acquired the hard way.

A partial list of hard things I’ve experienced: homelessness, poverty, abuse, sexual assault, single parenthood, bullying, robbery, loneliness, addiction, infidelity (not the man I’m married to now!), betrayal, health problems. Some things were happening at the same time, some happened one after the other, some things happened many times,  some things lasted months or years, and some are on-going today.

And some things continued despite my best efforts to change the situation.

Frequently, our first reaction to hard things is “Why me?” Asking why, however, never takes away the hard thing. The Lord requires that we overcome challenges, and He has indicated “that all these things shall give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good.” (D&C 122:7)

Brother Brough goes on to give two suggestions:

To help us travel and triumph over our hard times with such glimpses of eternity, may I suggest two things. We must face hard things, first, by forgiving others and, second, by giving ourselves to Heavenly Father.

First, forgiveness. Oh boy, this is a tough one. Forgiving can be very hard. The world and the natural woman will tell you all kinds of things to justify not forgiving someone. “They don’t deserve forgiveness!” or “What they did is unforgivable!” (I don’t know, these are the two things that my own natural woman goes back to most frequently, feel free to add your own.)

I’d like to change gears for a moment and tell you about the best day of my life.

It was about 12 years ago, so mid-2006 or so, I was at the grocery store with my husband; I can’t remember if the kids were with us or not. Anyway, I saw a man at the grocery store who had seriously, deeply hurt me many years before. Other times when I had seen him out in public, I was so angry that he was not in prison where he belonged, but instead was free and out interacting with the community like the rest of us. This time was different, though. All I thought to myself was “Oh, there’s [Name].” That was when I realized that, although I can’t pinpoint exactly when, I had forgiven him for what he did to me.

My heart didn’t race, I wasn’t tense and afraid, I didn’t feel anger that he was out in the world, walking freely about. When I recognized him, I just felt… a sense of calm. That feeling was peace!

That day instantly became the best day of my life!

But how did it happen? How did I get to forgiveness when previously I had felt so much anger at someone who did something so unthinkable? Something the world and the natural woman would say is totally, understandably, justifiably unforgivable?

Second, giving ourselves to Heavenly Father. All things can be made right through the Atonement of Christ, even the worst things. When we align our will with that of our Father in Heaven, all things shall be for our good. It takes time, years sometimes–in my case, more than 20 years–for the good to appear, but it will appear!

We will be blessed as we obey the commandments and those blessings can help us to overcome our hard things!

And when our burdens seem too heavy to bear, remember that the Lord will strengthen us to carry the load that has been placed upon our shoulders rather than lightening the load itself, which would also make it easier to bear, but that’s not how we build spiritual muscles!

“The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead” by M. Russell Ballard

My social media fast is going well, though I did fall behind in my blog posting schedule and I missed posting my thoughts and comments on the talk by President Dallin H. Oaks “Parents and Children” last Thursday. I’ve rescheduled my post about that talk until February 2019.

I have to fess up though, I almost broke my social media fast today just so I could post this on Facebook: “After steam mopping the kitchen and dining room floors last night, the kids didn’t let the dog out this morning and he peed on the dining room floor. The floor that I just steam mopped!” But I resisted and I’m sharing it here instead!

Fritz at the vet.

The dog in question.

General Conference, October 2018 – Sunday Morning Session – “The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead” by President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

President Joseph F. Smith, who received the vision that known as “the vision of the redemption of the dead,” lost many family members during his lifetime including both of his parents, a brother, two sisters, two wives, and 13 children. Despite years of prayers, answers to his questions regarding the deaths of his family members did not come until many years later, shortly before his own death, actually.

President Ballard spent most of his talk discussing the life and experiences of President Joseph F. Smith and ended his talk by inviting us to thoroughly and thoughtfully read this revelation, found in D&C 138, which I have done. (I have another confession: it has been simply forever since I’ve read the Doctrine and Covenants, so I felt like I was reading D&C 138 for the first time!)

D&C 138: 1-10

This first section of verses in section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants illustrates the importance of pondering the scriptures. I think sometimes, especially when it comes to reading scriptures with my children, I’m so focused on making sure they’re paying attention (i.e. not wrestling on the couch or something) that I’m not paying attention! But it’s only after I’ve read something in the scriptures (and paid attention) and spent some time reflecting on what I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is able to whisper to me.

D&C 138: 11-24

The second section of verses tells of the vision that President Smith had of Jesus Christ ministering to the righteous souls in the spirit world. He did not go to the rebellious and unrighteous souls, though.

D&C 138: 25-37

25 I marveled, for I understood that the Savior spent about three years in his ministry among the Jews and those of the house of Israel, endeavoring to teach them the everlasting gospel and call them unto repentance;

26 And yet, notwithstanding his mighty works, and miracles, and proclamation of the truth, in great power and authority, there were but few who hearkened to his voice, and rejoiced in his presence, and received salvation at his hands.

That has always been the case, hasn’t it? So few hearken to the voice of the Savior in every dispensation.

At this point in D&C 138, President Smith wonders how Christ is able to minister to the “spirits in prison, who were sometime disobedient” (D&C 138:28) in the short time between his death and resurrection but President Smith soon realizes that Christ doesn’t go in person to the unrighteous souls to minister to and teach them, but instructs the faithful, righteous souls to teach the unrighteous, giving them (the righteous) “power and authority” to do so. (D&C 138: 30)

D&C 138: 35-52

In the fourth section of verses, President Smith sees in his vision among the “vast congregation of the righteous” Adam, Eve, and many prophets including Noah and Isaiah.

If this vast congregation of the righteous souls can also be described accurately as the “but few who hearkened to his voice” how vast must be the numbers of the rebellious, unrighteous souls who refuse to hearken to the voice of the Lord? What a sad thought. How heartbreaking it must be for our Father in Heaven to see His children reject their Savior and his teachings.

D&C 138: 53-60

The final section of verses states one of the most important gospel truths and one which is the foundation for the necessity of temple ordinances:

58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,

59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.

“Women and Gospel Learning in the Home” by Henry B. Eyring

General Conference, October 2018 – General Women’s Session – “Women and Gospel Learning in the Home” by President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency

It’s so exciting to see how the various changes and announcements (Family Proclamation, I’m looking at you!) are coming together as we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I wonder if the Israelites were as excited about the Law of Moses.

I wasn’t active when the Family Proclamation was announced in the General Relief Society Meeting of the October 1995 General Conference but I remember hearing about the Proclamation or reading it or something and just thinking to myself “Well, duh. We know all that stuff already. How strange that they [the First Presidency] would go to the trouble of writing it all down.” I couldn’t have imagined back then how important the proclamation would later turn out to be! We’re still referring to it and relying on it today!

President Eyring quoted “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” a few times in his talk.

Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

President Eyring says “…[t]his has been the Lord’s way since families were created in this world.”

We don’t know why exactly the Lord has chosen the nurturing of children to be primarily the responsibility of mothers, but we do know that He has done so. And, as President Eyring notes, with the greater emphasis on gospel instruction in the home and within the family, we must grow our power to nurture others through prayer and serious study of the scriptures.

The Prophet’s invitation is very timely, indeed!

President Nelson Invitation Oct 2018

If you haven’t yet started your 10-day social media fast, may I invite you to join me in mine?*

My 10-day social media fast will begin tomorrow November 13, 2018 and end Friday, November 23, 2018, the day after Thanksgiving.


*I will continue posting to this blog during the 10 days, but I’ll just schedule my posts in advance and I’ll just have to wait to read any comments until after my social media fast.

“Shepherding Souls” by Gary E. Stevenson

General Conference , October 2018 – Sunday Afternoon Session – “Shepherding Souls” by Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

When I first began returning to activity in the gospel after a lengthy period of “riotous living,” I was invited to dinner at the home of a nice family from church that I’d known for many years and who had always been kind to me–I went to dinner and had a lovely time! And I was encouraged to attend church again the following week!

What happened the following Sunday, and most Sundays after that, was not the welcoming embrace of a loving ward family. The ward members essentially ignored me and my husband. We were never again invited to a family’s home for a meal, our visiting and home teachers didn’t visit us, no one talked with us in between sacrament meeting and classes, no one sat by us in the chapel or in Sunday school.

It didn’t take long for us to quit attending church regularly; in fact, our church attendance became so infrequent that every time we wanted to go to church, we first had to buy new church clothes for our kids (especially shoes!) because they had outgrown their old church clothes since the last time we went to church!

We eventually moved into a welcoming ward which lovingly embraced our whole family and we’ve made some good spiritual progress since then.

Elder Stevenson quoted President Henry B. Eyring who said that ministering is more than “just being nice,” which is true, but I want to emphasize that “just being nice” is also very important! I know I can’t blame my inactivity on anyone but myself, but it sure is easier to go to church every Sunday knowing that my fellow congregants will be nice to me! Being nice is the first step.

We understand that a true shepherd loves his sheep, knows each one by name, and “has a personal interest in them.” (Gary E. Stevenson, General Conference, October 2018)

Salvation happens one soul at a time so it makes perfect sense that ministering involves having a personal interest in those we minister to.


In his talk, Elder Stevenson shares an experience of a rancher friend of his. The rancher has a variety of people and animals to assist in caring for the sheep–experienced and inexperienced ranch hands, young and old horses, and young and old sheepdogs.

In the same way that my friend tended his sheep with the assistance of young and old ranch hands, horses, and sheepdogs, the Lord also requires assistance in the challenging labor of caring for the sheep in His flock. (Gary E. Stevenson, General Conference, October 2018)

A couple of things really struck me about this particular talk.

First was how the people, horses, and dogs worked together to care for the sheep while at the same time they learned from each other how to care for the sheep.

Second was the differences between people, horses, and dogs were not a barrier into providing good care for the sheep. In fact, the differences increased the quality of care provided to the sheep–a person or a horse cannot fulfill the function of a well-trained sheepdog, for example. All were necessary to properly care for the sheep!

  • The rancher and ranch hands were in charge, much like God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
  • The horses supported the ranch hands like ministering angels support the Godhead.
  • The sheepdogs supported the ranch hands by guiding and guarding the sheep like our Church leadership guides members of the Church.