Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Impressions from April 2016 General Conference: Sunday Afternoon session

Robert D Hales (12)

I appreciated Elder Hales’ reviewing the different roles of the Holy Ghost and how he can help us.  Some of them I can definitely testify to seeing in my life, but others I need to definitely humble myself to receive.  Unless I can do that, I will only enjoy part of the blessings I might otherwise. 

At least three helpful principles and warnings that I also appreciated are the following: 1) The Holy Ghost isn’t given to control us.  2) The adversary tempts us with false ideas that we may confuse with the Holy Ghost, but faithfulness will protect us from being deceived. 3) We are tempted to let our personal desires overcome the Holy Ghost.

He pointed out that the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness, meekness, kindness, love unfeigned.  I suppose this should also help us discern between the Holy Ghost and other spirits that are not of God.  If we feel hostile pride, or impulses to be unkind, or anger or love with any sort of pretense, then we know that’s not of God.  Also, any spirit of coercion is not from God either.

Gerrit W. Gong (70)

Another good talk focusing on remembering Christ.  I liked his six suggestions for how we can do this, including acknowledging his hand in our lives,  and especially what he said about trying to read the Book of Mormon or doing everything as if for the first time.   When the gospel starts to feel same-old-same-old, that’s when we badly need a dose of meekness to see things like they are new.

Patrick Kearon (70)

This was a powerful talk about the need to help refugees.  He echoed the women’s general session of conference in reminding us that our people were refugees a number of times at the beginning of this dispensation.  I also hadn’t put together that the Savior had once been a refugee when his parents fled into Egypt to escape King Herod’s command to kill the children under 2.

I like that he said that being a refugee does not define these people and that many were great contributors before they lost everything and that they can be contributors again with help.
Practical counsel: Pray, check the church’s “I was a stranger” website, offer to mentor, increase awareness of events that caused people to flee, take a stand against intolerance.

Extra note: I know I was touched by Elder Uchtdorf’s emotion when he got up to conduct the rest of the meeting after this talk. I couldn’t’ help but remember his story of having been a refugee himself as a child. I think his tears represent compassion born of having experienced it, and if he were moved that much, think how much more must the Savior be moved by the refugees’ plight and all our other sufferings, having experienced them too.

Dallin H. Oaks (12)

Elder Oaks’ talk was about opposition.  As a writer, I was impressed by the story of all the effort Joseph Smith went to trying to get the Book of Mormon published and all the publishers he went to.    Opposition enables good to be discerned from bad, gives experience, helps us grow, builds endurance. 

When opposition increases, I think his talk helps give us perspective.  But even after we gain perspective, we still have to get back in the fight. The struggle is real! 

Kent F. Richards (70)

This talk about temple work made me realize we need to get to the temple more.  Simple as that.

Paul V. Johnson (70)

About the atonement and resurrection.  I loved that he quoted from Handel’s Messiah (which is quoting scripture) “WE shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed.  The trumpet shall sound and we shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.”  The songs that have those words always make me happy and give me a sense of the triumph and reality of the resurrection.

I remember when I was in first grade and my vision started to get short-sighted. I had to get glasses. That was when I started to anticipate a future resurrection.  Here my six-year-old body was being revealed to be a flawed thing, which was a disappointment.  But suddenly I could hope for a future perfect body.  I found a few more health problems as the years went on, but each time, hope of the resurrection helped me take things in stride.  My weaknesses were the very thing that helped me gain faith.

Jeffery R. Holland (12)

I loved that Elder Holland acknowledged that we have the spiritual high of conference and then on Monday morning real life attacks like a T-Rex.  I sometimes find myself wishing that we could take the sacrament on conference Sunday because I really depend on the renewal I get from it, and it is hard to go two weeks without it.  But it was nice to be shown in the scriptures how this pattern of a great fight of affliction after spiritual highs is seen throughout sacred history.  We’re not the only ones who have experienced it, and if others have dealt with it, then we can too.

Here’s my favorite part from his talk: “The gospel, the church, the conferences are intended to give hope and inspiration.  Satan tries to convince us the ideals are depressing and unrealistic.  He knows HE can’t improve.  Don’t fall for his message.  With Christ and grace, we can improve and we get credit for trying even if we don’t always succeed.”