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Remember my "AAAYYY-MEN!" from my post a few weeks ago? Well I had a lot of those "AAAYYY-MEN!" moments the first weekend in April when I had the opportunity to virtually attend the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member. To celebrate the magnificent messages and the great joy they brought to all who were able to attend, the online LDS blogger community has decided to participate in an LDS Writer Blogfest, in which each blogger will write about a specific talk they heard that was meaningful to them (see full link list at the end of this post).
It was difficult for me to choose; there were so many talks that simply had me mesmerized. There were so many things that I needed to hear, that really touched my heart and renewed my motivation to be better.
However, one talk stood out in my mind: Boyd K. Packer's talk entitled, "Guided by the Holy Spirit." This talk was rich with the simple truths of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. He spoke plainly and simply, not only reminding those who are members of this church who we are and what we stand for, but spelling it out for others who may be on the outside of our church peering in, wondering what those crazy Mormons are up to!
While rereading President Packer's (he is the current president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) talk, I went through and took notes on it, creating a basic outline. When I was finished, I decided that his talk reminded me of a train.
President Packer began by speaking of the holy scriptures, and how because of the Book of Mormon, many people call the LDS church the "Mormon church". He gently issued a correction, reminding members that we are not "Mormons", but rather members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the entire point of the name of our church is to profess the name of Jesus Christ, for He is our leader and exemplar. The church is our train, and Jesus Christ is the acting force pulling us along- He is the engine.
The main coupling from the engine to the cars was President Packer's next subject: the priesthood authority of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a new religion- it is the exact same church that was created by Jesus Christ when He was on the earth over 2000 years ago. His authority was passed on to His apostles, among them Peter, James, and John, and those same apostles conferred the priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829. That priesthood has been conferred (through the laying on of hands) to each worthy priesthood holder ever since. My own husband, brother, and father can each trace their "priesthood line" back to Joseph Smith, and thus back to the ancient apostles and Jesus Christ. It is remarkable, and it is real and true. The church could not be run any other way than by the direct authority from Jesus Christ.
Along with this authority came another essential tool for the true church: the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is this gift that has allowed for modern revelation. If God's church is to be on the earth today, it needs to have a way to receive divine revelation from God himself. The Holy Ghost is that conduit through which revelation is received: it is the coupling that holds all the train cars together. It is the only way that an unpaid ministry would be possible- all of our leaders, both international and local, rely on that same power of the Holy Ghost, from the prophet of our church down to the children's Sunday School teacher (that's me!).
President Packer went on to discuss in simple detail the various beliefs that guide a Latter-day Saint's life, each based on principles born of modern revelation through the Holy Ghost. These are the cars on our gospel train:
- Word of Wisdom- This is a health code that dictates that Latter-day Saints abstain from coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol, or any other potentially addictive or harmful substance.
- Law of Chastity- This law dictates that Latter-day Saints abstain from sexual relations before they are married, and that the only sexual relations that are appropriate in the eyes of the Lord are those that are between husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded.
- Repentance- Those who have sinned are granted the gift of repentance, if they choose to accept it, through the supreme sacrifice and Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Mortal Life- The purpose of our mortal life is to be tempted and tested, and thus be made stronger and worthy for eventual exaltation in the kingdom of God.
- Plan of Happiness- Ultimately, our happiness will be complete when we can be with our families in the presence of the Lord. To achieve that end, we must recognize the roles of the husband and wife within the home, their equal partnership and their duty to teach their children and raise them up in righteousness.
- Love and Forgiveness- People will offend us- it's a fact! But if we are to be happy, we must forgive, and "let it go", as President Packer said in his talk. Grudges do not help, they only hurt.
- In the World, Not of It- As Latter-day Saints, we are 14 million strong around the world, but we are still ordinary people. We try to rise above while still lifting up those around us. We are in the world, but we are not of the world. We believe in:
- Cleanliness in appearance, thought, and speech
- Positive & Happy Attitudes
- Mourning With Those Who Mourn
- Comforting Those Who Stand In Need of Comfort
President Packer finished this description of the LDS Church by stating simply,
"If someone is looking for a church that requires very little, this is not the one. It is not easy to be a Latter-day Saint, but in the long run it is the only true course."Yes, as a member of this church I can attest to this statement. As a teenager, I didn't do many of the things that I saw those around me doing. I often faced ridicule. As a mother and homemaker, I struggle on a daily basis to know what the Lord would have me do, and to often sacrifice my own desires so that I can be the person He needs me to be, and to raise His beautiful children. This is not a show-up-on-Sunday kind of church. It is a get-down-and-dirty, all-in kind of church. It's not where I go each week, it's who I am, day in and day out. It is hard, yes, but so, so worth it. And I do not know where I would be without it.
In light of recent events, President Packer's next words really hit me:
"Regardless of opposition or 'wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places,' no power or influence can stop this work. Every one of us can be guided by the spirit of revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost. 'As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.'"
And just in case you were wondering, when he said, "Every one of us"- he means you. This gospel is a great moving train pulled by the infinite power of the Savior, Jesus Christ. It will pull you through any trials you may face, and it will give you refuge from the storms of life.
Here is President Packer's- and my- invitation to you:
"If you are carrying some burden, forget it, let it alone. Do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting, and you will be visited by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and confirmed by the testimony that you did not know existed. You will be watched over and blessed—you and yours. This is an invitation to come unto Him. This church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 'the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth,' by His own declaration—is where we find 'the great plan of happiness.' Of this I bear witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
AAAYYY-MEN!Friends, I bear my testimony to you that the things President Boyd K. Packer has said are true. I know that he is an apostle of the Lord, and that he acts by the authority of Jesus Christ. I know that I am a member of the true church of Jesus Christ, and that His church is run by His priesthood authority and by the direction of the Holy Ghost. I have felt the power of the Holy Ghost in my life and I know that as I live my life in the way that President Packer outlined, I find true joy and happiness. I am grateful for this gospel in my life, and I know that by holding fast to the "train" I can get through any obstacles the world might throw at me. I write these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
To learn more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit www.mormon.org. To read, watch, or listen more fantastic talks from the General Conference of the LDS Church, click here. To read more of what I have written about my own feelings about the church in my life, please feel free to browse through my Spiritual Sundays posts.
And please, please, share any comments you might have! My faith is strengthened by your words, and I would love to read your thoughts on this topic. :-)
Make sure you visit all the other wonderful LDS bloggers for their posts all about General Conference: