25 October 2022

We Are Not Alone

This post is part of the General Conference OdysseyThis week covers the General Relief Society session of the October 1998 conference.

Sheri L. Dew is not talking about aliens visiting us. Rather she is referring to the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Ghost.

It is vital that we, the sisters of Relief Society, learn to hear the voice of the Lord. Yet I worry that too often we fail to seek the guidance of the Spirit. Perhaps we don't know how and haven't made it a priority to learn. Or we're so aware of our personal failings that we don't feel worthy, don't really believe the Lord will talk to us, and therefore don't seek revelation. Or we've allowed the distractions and pace or our lives to crowd out the Spirit. What a tragedy! For the Holy Ghost blesses us with optimism and wisdom at times of challenge that we simply cannot muster on our own. No wonder the adversary's favorite tactics among righteous LDS women is busyness--getting us so preoccupied with the flurry of daily life that we fail to immerse ourselves in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sisters, we can't afford not to seek the things of the Spirit! There is too much at stake. Too many people are depending on us as mothers, as sisters, leaders and friends. A woman led by the Lord knows where to turn for answers and for peace. She can make difficult decisions and face problems with confidence because she take her counsel from the Spirit, and from her leaders who are also guided by the Spirit.
I need to work on this and felt called to repentance when I listened to this talk. Sister Dew has always been a favorite of mine!

18 October 2022

Personal Purity


This post is part of the General Conference OdysseyThis week covers the Sunday afternoon session of the October 1998 conference.

"As modern winds of immorality swirl luridly around them, I am concerned for any of our youth or young adults who may be confused about principles of personal purity, about obligations of total chastity before marriage and complete fidelity after it."

So begins Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's power sermon on personal purity, which is a much needed refresher course for today. Too many people don't understand the plan and purpose of life on earth. Too many are under the false impression that we evolved from some primeval pond scum and can do whatever we want with our bodies. Many people are more concerned about conserving the earth, plants and animals than about taking precious care of their physical and spiritual selves. Most don't even know that we have spiritual bodies housed in our physical ones. 

During my youth and young adult years I certainly struggled with morality. Not because I didn't know any better, but because I hadn't been taught how to control the powerful emotions I felt and thought I was somehow different than the rest of the girls. No one told me I would have sexual urges; we were just told to resist the advances of young men. 

Elder Holland quotes Will and Ariel Durant, "A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; [but] if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he . . . understand[s] that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group."

Long after I was married I learned and began to understand that the way we use our God given powers of procreation will determine if we will have that power and gift in the eternities. Once during a temple session I had a brief glimpse of eternity and eternal increase. It was a moment of great joy, which filled me with determination to be found worthy of that gift so I could feel that joy forever. 

I'm so grateful for another gospel gift, that of repentance and forgiveness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Holland ends his talk with this testimony, "I bear witness of the great plan of life, of the powers of godliness, of mercy and forgiveness and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ--all of which have profound meaning in matters of moral cleanliness. I testify that we are to glorify God in our body and in our Spirit."

04 October 2022

Like a Dry Sponge

This post is part of the General Conference OdysseyThis week covers the Sunday morning session of the October 1998 conference.

This weekend's General Conference was a magnificent fountain of living water. I felt like a dry sponge soaking up all the goodness: music, prayers, and talks. It was a much needed refueling in my life. We live in a time of great drought and famine, not of earthly water and food, but of living water and the bread of life. The eternal truths spoken of in conference can be feasted upon again and again. Which is one of the reasons I'm enjoying participating in the General Conference Odyssey.

Topics in this session from 1998 included tithing, hope, temples, testimony, righteousness, and a Q&A format from President Hinckley. Choosing a favorite talk is like trying to choose a favorite child. They are all great.

The talk on tithing resonated with me as we personally face challenging circumstances of a slightly reduced income and greatly increasing prices due to governmental inflation. It's good to be reminded of the financial commandments and attendant blessings to bolster our faith.

President James E. Faust talked about his father paying tithing in kind with the best of the hay and said, "The legacy of faith he passed on to his posterity was far greater than money, because he established in the minds of his children and grandchildren that above all he loved the Lord and His holy work over other earthly things." 

He told of being a young bishop and having President Henry D. Moyle, of the First Presidency, in his ward come in for tithing settlement declaring, "Bishop, this is a full tithe, and a little bit more, because that's the way we have been blessed." I can add my testimony to that. It's better to round up and give a little more, than to try and be precise with odd numbers. You can't ever out give the Lord.

I've always believed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to all of societies ills. Especially regarding poverty. I've never known or heard of any full-tithe payer being homeless, or starving, or even hopeless. President Faust quoted President Hinckley from when he spoke to saints in the Philippines, "if members, even living in poverty and misery . . . will accept the gospel and live it, pay their tithes and offerings, even though those be meager, they will have rice in their bowls and clothing on their backs and shelter over their heads. I do not see any other solution." President Faust continued, "Indeed, I believe it is possible to break out of poverty by having faith to give back to the Lord part of what little we have."

I have seen the blessings of tithing in my life. The windows of heaven have truly opened, not always in a direct monetary way, but in countless ways that add up to living prosperously. Blessings of health when there isn't medical insurance; vehicles and appliances lasting until there is money to replace them. Getting great gas milage when serving in callings that require a great deal of travel. (Here in the Midwest where branch boundaries are huge.) Finding items on sale right when they are most needed. Receiving "hand-me-downs" of all kinds of the very things we needed. Having food stretch, almost to the point of "fishes and loaves". All these constitute blessings I associate with paying a full and honest tithing.

President Faust used a favorite Joseph Smith quote, "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation." When I hear leaders say, "Oh we can't ask the members to do that," I wonder why not? Aren't we supposed to sacrifice? And those of us who have been endowed in the temple have covenanted to consecrate our all to the building up of the kingdom. President Faust said, "Our donations are made holy by our faith." Much like the widows mite. "To be faithful members of this Church requires sacrifice and consecration."

He finished by talking about all of the sacrifices we must make to obtain the blessings. "Receiving the blessings requires the payment of tithes and offerings. Ours is not a Sunday-only religion. It demands exemplary conduct and effort every day of the week. It involves accepting calls and serving with fidelity in those callings. It means strength of character, integrity, and honesty to the Lord and our fellowmen. It means that our homes need to be places of sanctuary and love. It means a relentless battle against the bombardment of worldly evils. It means, at times, being unpopular and politically incorrect." How timely is that! 

The promise for obedience is that "Those who keep their covenants and pay their tithes and offerings will have some extra defense against these virulent modern-day forms of evil."