General Conference thoughts: Unwavering Commitment to Jesus Christ

A short demonstration regarding commitment could play out like this. Ask for a volunteer to come and stand in front of the room. When she is standing next to the teacher another student (predetermined before class) could ask her to move. Of course the volunteer will move. Then the teacher could ask her to stand again in her original spot and this time tell her whatever happens please do not move. Another student could ask her to move but this time the volunteer will not budge. What is the difference? Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: Spiritual Capacity

Perhaps, if I was to lead a discussion on this conference talk, I would have two containers at the front of the room. Then I would fill them with water and fill the bigger container about half full and the small container to the brim. “Which one has met its capacity?” Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: The Message, the Meaning, and the Multitude and Come, Follow Me – the Lord’s Counterstrategy and Proactive Plan

Two talks that counsel us to do a little check on our why. Is our focus for any church activity (including studying conference talks) centered on Christ? If not, then there is a way for us to improve our focus. Come, Follow Me is designed to help us build our foundation on Christ and His teachings.

Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: Closing Remarks

This is the wrap up of the conference.  A reminder to study the talks the next six months and let the words serve as a guide.  Of course, in President Nelson’s format, this has also become the ‘new temple’ announcement.  That moment everyone holds their breath to hear a temple in their special corner of the world.  It happened for us Wyomingites in 2011.  Not to be greedy, but it would be nice if it happened again.  I mean, Wyoming is a big state so our Wyoming temple isn’t exactly close to most of the state or easily accessed during winter.  So, if it’s not asking to much, perhaps one a little easier to travel to?

But I digress.

This is the final address of the conference.  For many, this might be the last time they see or hear from the prophet directly for six months.  Although, for this little blog’s reader, it may seem shorter, like, maybe next week? (wink, wink)

It may be a short talk compared to the rest of the conference but listen and feel the warmth and love from a faithful Prophet of God.

Closing Remarks

by President Russell M. Nelson

General Conference thoughts: Build a Fortress of Spirituality and Protection

While touring northern Italy last spring a tour guide pointed out the merlons on a castle.  “The shape,” she explained, “showed the allegiance of the inhabitants.  The common square shape were partial to the Pope.  The M shape were followers of the Emperor.”  At one time then, in theory all one would need to do is to look at the castle and know if the people were friend or foe. Continue reading

General Conference thoughts: The Immediate Goodness of God

Right before I read this talk to prepare for this post I read the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard in the New Testament.  This talk is a great cross reference for this parable.

The two examples Elder McKay shared about the women needing to know the goodness of God in their individual circumstances demonstrates that it does not matter if the laborer joins the work in the first or eleventh hour all receive the same wage.  Blessings are available to each and all that thrust in the sickle.

Of course, reading the examples of the two women in this talk no one will begrudge either one for receiving blessings.  Isn’t it marvelous to think that no matter when we “come to ourselves” the love is waiting for us to accept it?  And that there are no favorites or hierarchy when it comes to the Atonement of Christ.  It is simply waiting for us to utilize it – no matter how late we come?

The Immediate Goodness of God

by Elder Kyle S. McKay

General Conference thoughts: Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing

Here is the perspective of a single sister learning to adapt to the adjusted church schedule.  My study habits at home have not changed.  I have always attempted to study the lessons prior to attending class.  For me not a lot has changed on the home front.

However, on the church front it has become a little more challenging to receive what I need in class.  With the alternate Sunday schedule it is not always easy to get the broader study that comes with discussion.  I have had to develop other ways to get that last piece of the picture to come together.

With fewer opportunities to serve at church I have also had to change my mindset on callings.  This has opened doors for me to spend more of my energy and talents in the community rather than the church.

Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing

by Elder David A. Bednar

General Conference thoughts: Good Shepherd, Lamb of God

Confession, despite living in Wyoming for more than 3/4 of my life, I know very little about sheep.  Even though I encounter a traffic jam every now and then because a flock of sheep block the road way; even though my mom’s cousin owned and operated a ranch and while visiting that ranch when I was eight years old I saw a lamb being born; and even though my town hosts our county fair and 4-H is a big deal in these parts I still have gained very little knowledge about sheep.

So, I decided to look up some facts about sheep to help give me a clearer perspective on this talk.

From onekindplanet.org:

  • Sheep have very good memories. They can remember at least 50 individual sheep and humans for years. They do this by using a similar neural process and part of the brain that humans use to remember.
  • Sheep have been shown to display emotions, some of which can be studied by observing the position of their ears.
  • Contrary to popular belief, sheep are extremely intelligent animals capable of problem solving. They are considered to have a similar IQ level to cattle and are nearly as clever as pigs.
  • Like various other species including humans, sheep make different vocalisations to communicate different emotions. They also display and recognise emotion by facial expressions.
  • Sheep are known to self-medicate when they have some illnesses. They will eat specific plants when ill that can cure them.
  • Sheep are precocial (highly independent from birth) and gregarious (like to be in a group).
  • Female sheep (ewes) are very caring mothers and form deep bonds with their lambs that can recognise them by their call (bleat) when they wander too far away.
  • Wild sheep tend to be larger than domesticated species, the largest (Argali) being 1.2m tall. They also have longer horns which they use to defend themselves from predators.
  • Egyptians believed that sheep were sacred. They even had them mummified when they died, just like humans.
  • The ancient Sumerians (4000 – 2000 BCE), who are thought to have developed the first form of writing (Cuneiform script), immortalised sheep in the form of gods in their religion.The meat of sheep is widely eaten by people across the world. Sheep milk is also drunk and used to make other products such as cheese. Many people who consume animal products would like to choose products from animals kept in higher welfare systems. However welfare labelling on products can be confusing

I threw in a few extra fun facts even though they don’t fit with Elder Gong’s talk.

Isn’t it interesting that sheep can recognize certain humans?  And they aren’t dumb but are actually intelligent animals.  If we are similar to a flock in that we are looking for our Good Shepherd, will we be as smart as the sheep and recognize the Good Shepherd?

In a September 1987 First Presidency message President Ezra Taft Benson wrote:

In Jesus’ time, the Palestinian shepherd knew each of his sheep. The sheep knew his voice and trusted him. They would not follow a stranger. Thus, when called, the sheep would come to him. (See John 10:1–5, 14.)

At night, the shepherds would lead their sheep to a corral or a sheepfold. High walls surrounded the sheepfold, and thorns were placed on top of the walls to prevent wild animals and thieves from climbing over. Sometimes, however, a wild animal driven by hunger would leap over the walls into the midst of the sheep, frightening and threatening them.

Such a situation separated the true shepherd—one who loved his sheep—from the hireling who worked only for pay out of duty. The true shepherd was willing to give his life for the sheep. He would go in among the sheep and fight for their welfare. The hireling, on the other hand, valued his own personal safety above the sheep and would usually flee from the danger.

Jesus used this common illustration of His day to declare that He was the Good Shepherd, the True Shepherd. Because of His love for His brothers and sisters, He would willingly and voluntarily lay down His life for them. (See John 10:11–18.)

Eventually the Good Shepherd did give His life for the sheep—for you and me, for us all.

(“Feed My Sheep”, Ensign September 1987)

Good Shepherd, Lamb of God

by Elder Gerrit W. Gong