GCBC Week 24: “Blessings of the Sacrament” by Elder Don R. Clarke

It’s the next-to-last week of GCBC, and then we get to hear another round of general conference (yay!).  Here is a video you can use to invite friends, family, strangers, and foes (no, really) to join us in hearing a living prophet and apostles speak. It is one of the coolest things on God’s green earth.

I believe that this will be my last round of GCBC. I have done it for every general conference since 2009, and I’m feeling like it’s time to “retire,” but I’ll do a post-conference post about how to start up or do-it-yourself host a similar club because I still love the concept and hope to keep up with the reading schedule on my own.

Okay, this week’s talk was one I really liked, and you can find it here:

Blessings of the Sacrament by Elder Don R. Clarke

This quote in particular was my favorite:

don-clarke

I’ve thought about that concept a lot, and even thought about it today while I took the sacrament. (And also this talk by Elder Perry.) I thought how every week I should walk away from sacrament meeting a better person than I have been before. My life should be in closer harmony with the gospel. My offering should be my heart and my will and all my sins as a sacrifice before God, with the desire to cling to my covenants and lay claim on their promises through my obedience. That’s pretty powerful stuff to happen in a 10-15 minute period of time, but isn’t it merciful of God to make that possible? And every week?

What stood out to you as you studied this talk? How can you make the sacrament more meaningful and transformative?

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

GCBC Week 20: “Covenants” by Elder Russell M. Nelson

I’ve been thinking a lot about covenants lately, and how they are like buoys in a storm.  Only by clinging to them can we be safe.  When the waters get rough and we get scared or tired or lazy, we may be tempted to just let go, but it will only be at our peril.  When we loose the covenant, we lose the blessings.  Covenants are the surest way to keep our families safe and bind our children to us throughout eternity.  I love Elder Nelson’s thoughts about the power of our covenants.

 

Covenants by Elder Russell M. Nelson

” Children of the covenant have the right to receive His doctrine and to know the plan of salvation. They claim it by making covenants of sacred significance. …

When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity.”

What are some of your thoughts and testimony after reading this talk?  Share your thoughts or insights in the comments below.

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.” If you want to learn more, go here, and join the discussion here each week.

Marriage and the Atonement

If you are a perfect spouse, and if you have a perfect spouse, feel free to disregard this post.

Marriage seems to be the best opportunity we have to practice forgiveness and repentance.  It’s like a crash course in why we need the Savior.  Is anyone else as surprised as I am how easy it is to hurt or be hurt by the person you love the most?  Sometimes our list of demands is great, and we pay more attention to it than we do our list of goals and self-improvement or our list of blessings.

I have a husband who is very patient with my frequent bouts of grievances.  He rarely returns the “favor.”  He far surpasses me in patience and long-suffering.

I’ve seen a lot of marital discord among family, friends and neighbors.  Every time it pops up, I feel so sad and I realize that none of us is immune to Satan’s attacks on marriage and family.  I hold on to my own marriage a little tighter and open my eyes a little wider.

And, surprise, surprise, I start studying what the prophets and apostles have said because I’m a firm believer that whatever seems to be plaguing society at the time has probably been addressed very carefully recently by living prophets.  So far, that’s always been true for me; I find answers for whatever is heavy on my heart and mind.  Anyway, here are few great talks and thoughts I came across after I did a search for “marriage and the atonement” . . . .

From Celestial Marriage by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Meanwhile, mortal misunderstandings can make mischief in a marriage. In fact, each marriage starts with two built-in handicaps. It involves two imperfect people. Happiness can come to them only through their earnest effort. Just as harmony comes from an orchestra only when its members make a concerted effort, so harmony in marriage also requires a concerted effort. That effort will succeed if each partner will minimize personal demands and maximize actions of loving selflessness.

President Thomas S. Monson has said: “To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty—the fulfillment of which brings true joy.” 34

Harmony in marriage comes only when one esteems the welfare of his or her spouse among the highest of priorities. When that really happens, a celestial marriage becomes a reality, bringing great joy in this life and in the life to come.

From Divorce by Elder Dallin H. Oaks Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

I strongly urge you and those who advise you to face up to the reality that for most marriage problems, the remedy is not divorce but repentance. Often the cause is not incompatibility but selfishness. The first step is not separation but reformation. Divorce is not an all-purpose solution, and it often creates long-term heartache. A broad-based international study of the levels of happiness before and after “major life events” found that, on average, persons are far more successful in recovering their level of happiness after the death of a spouse than after a divorce. 3 Spouses who hope that divorce will resolve conflicts often find that it aggravates them, since the complexities that follow divorce—especially where there are children—generate new conflicts. . . .

Of course, there can be times when one spouse falls short and the other is wounded and feels pain. When that happens, the one who is wronged should balance current disappointments against the good of the past and the brighter prospects of the future.

Don’t treasure up past wrongs, reprocessing them again and again. In a marriage relationship, festering is destructive; forgiving is divine (see D&C 64:9–10). Plead for the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord to forgive wrongs (as President Faust has just taught us so beautifully –see that talk here), to overcome faults, and to strengthen relationships.

If you are already descending into the low state of marriage-in-name-only, please join hands, kneel together, and prayerfully plead for help and the healing power of the Atonement. Your humble and united pleadings will bring you closer to the Lord and to each other and will help you in the hard climb back to marital harmony.

From Covenant Marriage by Elder Bruce C. Hafen Of the First Quorum of the Seventy:

Our deepest God-given instinct is to run to the arms of those who need us and sustain us. But [Satan] drives us away from each other today with wedges of distrust and suspicion. He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone. Some people believe him—and then they wonder why they feel left alone. . . . .

May we restore the concept of marriage as a covenant, even the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. 14 And when the wolf comes, may we be as shepherds, not hirelings, willing to lay down our lives, a day at a time, for the sheep of our covenant. Then, like Adam and Eve, we will have joy.

I need to do a better job of expressing appreciation and love.

What do you do to protect yourself against the “wolves” that attack marriage?  How do your covenants bless your marriage?

GCBC Week 19: “Hope” by Elder Steven E. Snow

Welcome back to another week of General Conference Book Club.  Our comments were a little sparse last week, so I’d love to have more of you tune in on this talk and share some of your favorite parts or best insights.

“Hope”
by Elder Steven E. Snow
of the Presidency of the Seventy

This was my favorite quote from the talk because I thought it was a great reminder about acting on our hope and desires:

As parents, we find our fondest hopes center around our children. We hope they will grow up to lead responsible and righteous lives. Such hopes can be easily dashed if we do not act as good examples. Hope alone does not mean our children will grow in righteousness. We must spend time with them in family home evening and worthwhile family activities. We must teach them to pray. We must read with them in the scriptures and teach them important gospel principles. Only then is it possible our fondest hopes will be realized.

What stood out for you?  What does the talk make you want to do or change?  Please share your ideas in the comments below.

If you’re new to GCBC, go here to learn more about it, then join us!

GCBC Week 18: “Followers of Christ” and “The Essence of Discipleship”

I’m back, so we might even have actual links this week.  :)  I picked two talks this time because they seemed a good fit to study together.

“Followers of Christ”
by Elder Walter F. González
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

and

“The Essence of Discipleship”
by Sister Silvia H. Allred
First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

I thought it was really interesting to read each talk’s emphasis on different characteristics of discipleship.  The two things that stood out to me (and were consistent in both talks) were covenant keeping and charitable kindness.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as you study these talks.  What were the highlights for you?  What are some practical ways you feel like you can apply these principles in your life?  Please share your ideas in the comments below.

If you’re new to GCBC, go here to learn more about it, then join us!