General Conference Themes and Words of Encouragement
The October General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was rich with encouraging words and doctrine for its members in the midst of confusing and troubling times. Dieter F Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged, that if Christ were with us now, He would tell us, “You can do this!” Here are a few of the themes that materialized amongst the many messages shared.
Jeffrey R Holland stated that there is a cost to discipleship in his talk titled "Lifted up on the Cross." Being a disciple means following the example of Christ, and just as Christ bore upon Him the sins of the world, carrying His cross up the hill, so must we bear our own cross as we choose to follow Him and shed the burdens of the world.
Christ makes it possible, President Nelson taught, and because Christ has overcome the world, so can we also overcome the world. This encouraging message was received well by those in attendance as well as on social media. One Twitter user replied to President Nelson saying, “Yes! Thank you so much for this message and all the empowering messages through conference.”
D. Todd Christofferson spoke of a Notre Dame study, referenced in the Deseret News, in an article from Rod Dreher - author of “Live Not by Lies.” This study found that many people saw society as a group of “autonomous individuals,” seeking their own, independent ends. The individual may decide what is good for them, what is comfortable. Christofferson stated that it is “countercultural today to sacrifice for any kind of cause.” He added that “by contrast, our pioneer forebears derived a deep sense of belonging, unity, and hope in Christ by the sacrifices they made to serve missions, build temples, abandon comfortable homes under duress and begin again, and in a multitude of other ways consecrate themselves and their means to the cause of Zion.” The pioneers, as many other members of the Church do today, lived this way with respect to their covenants.
Michelle D. Craig stated that her experience in life has been that God is more concerned with her personal growth as a disciple of Christ than in comfort. In summary, she said she witnesses “that Jesus Christ loves us and can give us eyes to see—even when it’s hard, even when we’re tired, even when we’re lonely, and even when the outcomes are not as we hoped.”
We make covenants with God in the temples, bind ourselves to Him, and receive personal revelation for our lives. President Nelson has been repeatedly urging us to spend more time in the temple.
In this conference, President Nelson announced plans to build 18 new temples. The church has currently 173 dedicated temples, with 53 under construction, and 74 announced. 300 total.
It is clear that President Nelson desires every member of the church to have convenient access to a temple. In his closing remarks on Sunday, he stated, “may you focus on the temple in ways you never have before.”
This conference was full of the doctrine that God speaks to us, personally, and we can indeed have a personal relationship with Him. Both Neil A. Anderson and J. Anette Dennis reminded us that “We love Him, because He first loved us.”
We receive personal revelation as we pray to God, telling Him of our struggles and joys, and plead for His help. He speaks to us through the Holy Ghost, which is the Comforter. We read His words in the Book of Mormon and other scripture.
Dale G Renlund also warned us that seeking for personal revelation on a doctrine that is already clear and revealed by God opens the door for confusion in our lives. We should trust in what has already been revealed.
Racism, Violence, and Abuse
It was made clear by President Nelson and others in conference that there is no place in God’s kingdom for abuse toward offspring or spouse, whether verbal or physical. Those individuals will stand judged of their misconduct before God. This may be in response to a AP article that had circulated online. This prompted a response from the Church which said the AP aricle "has significant flaws in its facts and timeline, which lead to erroneous conclusions" and is then backed up by a detailed timeline of events.
D. Todd Christofferson stated that racial and other prejudice also has no place in the Church. This is a world-wide church and God loves all, and accepts all. We must learn to see all around us as children of God and worthy of love. All of us should be able to say “I belong in His church and kingdom.”
Church’s Humanitarian Efforts
Dallin H Oaks spoke of the Church’s humanitarian efforts just last year alone, which approached almost 1 billion dollars in aid in many countries across the world. The church works with many other organizations including the Red Cross, as it seeks to follow the Lord’s admonition to care for the poor and downtrodden in Spirit.
The main takeaways from this conference focussed around making the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more centered on a personal relaitonship with Christ. Being more personal in our discipleship, covenants, and having personal virtue with our fellow man.
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