Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Stake Conference at the Conference Center
In our church, every 6 months we have a general conference which is when we(anyone in the world) get to hear the prophet and apostles speak to us about Christ. Also every 6 months we have something called Stake Conference which is a lot more localized. People in our church will gather together in their local church buildings with all who meet at that building and we hear from our local leaders. I hope this makes sense. Anyway, this past weekend we had stake conference but we were lucky enough to have been invited(along with 20 others) to attend conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City where they broadcast general conference and we were able to hear from some of the general presidencies and from the apostle Elder David A. Bednar. The kids had been inside the conference center once before on a tour, but this was their first time sitting in the seats and listening to talks while in there. And I am pleased to report that they did great. All of them. Well, except Jane occasionally wanted to climb up all the stairs in the aisle that were right next to us so I had to keep her distracted. But she wasn't too bad. And we didn't have to roam the halls even once during those 2 hours.
The general young men president talked about how we(specifically the youth but can apply to all) cannot be casual about our standards and commitments to the gospel. He told a story of some boys who were riding a bus and one boy was holding an ipod and turned to the other and wanted to show him something pornographic. The other boy refused to look and said plainly, "I'm Mormon. I won't watch that stuff." The kid with the ipod smiled and said something like, "oh, so and so is Mormon too and he won't watch it either."
Elder Bednar, an apostle spoke about conversion and testimony and Christ. It was an amazing talk. He said, "conversion is consistently being true to what we know." He told a couple of stories about keeping the sabbath day holy. Both stories were about his family. His son was playing soccer on a team that was really good. They had a championship game that would be held on a Sunday. Elder Bednar asked his son, who it seemed to me was older than 8, what he was going to do. Elder Bednar was surprised when his son said matter-of-factly, 'I'm not playing." Then he asked him how he wanted to tell the coach and his son said, "Let's go pay him a visit." When they pulled up to his house Elder Bednar asked, "do you want me to come with you?" "No. I'll do it." and he jumped out, knocked on the door and when the coach answered said, "Coach, I won't play in the game on Sunday. See ya!" and he ran back to the car. Elder Bednar said he was a little surprised but pleased at his sons response; he thought, he shouldn't be surprised cause this is what they've always taught them, but he just was unsure how his son would make his own decision. The second story took place when Elder Bednar was President at a university in Arkansas and they had seasons tickets for two, to the basketball games. The parents laid all the tickets out in order of game dates before the season started, and allowed the kids to do a lottery and pick which game they would attend with one of the parents. Arkansas was particularly good that year and ranked number two, and it just so happened that UNLV ranked number one and would be playing Arkansas at Arkansas on a Sunday. One of the sons noticed this on the ticket and said, "Dad, this one's on Sunday. You better get rid of it or sell it or something. But do it fast before I change my mind." :)
Elder Bednar talked about how we need to put off the natural man and work on things, repent and improve ourselves becoming more christ-like. He mentioned that one time while he was president at Ricks college in Idaho(and not an apostle), Elder Maxwell(an apostle who has passed away some years ago) spoke to the students and staff. After his talk, Elder Maxwell took Elder Bednar aside and apologized for his talk; he said he just didn't 'get off the launch pad' or something like that. Elder Bednar was completely surprised at his comment because he thought the talk was amazing. Then Elder Bednar commented, 'Elder Maxwell's bad, to everyone else around is still really, really good. But to him, it wasn't his best so he felt he needed to repent.' He's a good example. I always tell my kids not to compare themselves with everyone else and not to judge because most families don't live the way we do; but we follow the prophet. For instance, my kids all have to dress modestly. I don't allow them to watch or play much with media. We talk nicely about everyone and don't say mean words or things that are hurtful. My family doesn't drink caffeine. Violence is not okay. We do chores and we don't play until we get them done. Things like that, and if someone else is doing these things, that doesn't make it right for us to do them...they need to be their best based off of what they've learned, have been taught and know, and not based on what their friend, neighbor, etc does.
After these stories Elder Bednar shared some stories of Christ. He said Elder Maxwell talked about the character of Christ and said something like, only Christ, only His character could have performed the atoning sacrifice. Then Elder Bednar challenged the audience to go to the scriptures when we got home and look for descriptions of his character, especially by reading accounts in the New Testament when he's on the earth and also in 3 Nephi when he visits the America's. He shared a couple examples.
1. In Matthew 4 - He's been fasting for 40 days, he's probably very tired and weak and the adversary comes to tempt him. If you look in the footnotes under JST(joseph smith translation) about when the angels come to minister, it actually clarifies that Christ sends the angels to minister to John the Baptist who He has heard is in prison. Instead of turning inward(self absorption/pity) during his pain and suffering, he turns outward and administers to others in the midst of his own suffering.
2. In the upper room He administers the sacrament, prays for others, the night before his own suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.
3. When he prays in the garden, he asks his apostles to stay awake several times, which they don't. Then he's betrayed by another one of his apostles. He sweats drops of blood and suffers a great deal and yet when the guards come to take him away at the hands of Judas, his apostle who has betrayed him, Peter cuts off the guards ear, and Jesus immediately heals him. He is always concerned about someone else.
4. When He's on the cross, dying, nails in his hands and his feet, He prays to the father and asks Him to forgive them(the soldiers) and when the thieves who are strung up next to him talk with him, he comforts them. He also looks to his mother and asks John to take care of her.
After Elder Bednar told of these experiences he reminds us that some things can only be learned while we bear a burden. I was so grateful I was able to attend conference with my family and listen to the stories and hear the words of an apostle and the leaders in the church. I came away feeling uplifted, edified and like I could do so much more and be so much better. In fact, Scott and I felt the same way and when we got home and discussed the talks further, we set new goals with our scripture study(increasing the length of time we study each day) and I'm happy to report that we've both been following it and I think we have a new habit established. It's amazing to me what that little extra time spent in the scriptures does for me and my family. I love our Savior and I love this gospel. It is why we are who we are. Christ and His plan is everything. Without Him, we would be nothing. But He came. He lived. He's perfect. He died for us and took on our sins so that if we follow Him, we can one day return to Him and be with our families and Him forever.