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 18: “The Atonement” by President Boyd K. Packer

Already at week 18. Crazy. This week’s talk is President Packer’s powerful testimony from the Saturday a.m. session of conference. “My message is directed to those among us who are suffering, burdened down with guilt and weakness and failure, sorrow, and despair.” The knowledge of Jesus Christ, His plan, and the Atonement can help us cope with the challenges of life and overcome them.

The Atonement by President Boyd K. Packer

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What are some of your thoughts after studying this talk? How has your own testimony of Jesus Christ been a strength to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

(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 15: “Trial of Your Faith” by Elder Neil L. Andersen

This week we will be studying Elder Andersen’s talk from the Saturday afternoon session of conference. I love the talk because I think it sets a clear path of how to navigate questions and doubts with faith and in a way that will bring answers and truth and testimony. My favorite part is when he points out the right sources to turn to when we are looking for answers and clarification.

Trial of Your Faith By Elder Neil L. Andersen

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One of the fastest ways we can come closer to Christ is to repent and regain the Holy Ghost. The Spirit can comfort, quiet fears, answer questions, resolve doubts, and restore confidence.

What stood out to you from this talk? What strategies have been helpful to you when your faith needed bolstering? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

(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 13: “Temple Standard” by Elder Scott D. Whiting, and “Beware Concerning Yourselves” by Elder Anthony D. Perkins

Welcome back to GCBC. I hope your holidays have been full of love and loved ones. This week, we will look at two talks, one from the Saturday p.m. session and one from the priesthood session which I felt was worth looking at … partly because I thought both of these could put our minds on repentance, and ultimately, this desire to change is what drives our New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe they can give you some focus as you consider appropriate changes for good in your own life.

View of window at Orlando LDS Temple

Temple Standard By Elder Scott D. Whiting

Like the contractor, when we become aware of elements in our own lives that are inconsistent with the teachings of the Lord, when our efforts have been less than our very best, we should move quickly to correct anything that is amiss, recognizing that we cannot hide our sins from the Lord. We need to remember that “when we undertake to cover our sins, … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; [and] the Spirit of the Lord is grieved.”

Beware Concerning Yourselves By Elder Anthony D. Perkins

Brethren, Satan seeks “to destroy the souls of men.” If your soul is drifting to the edge of a spiritual cliff, stop now before you fall and steer back on course. If you feel your soul lies wrecked at the bottom of a canyon rather than high on the priesthood path because you neglected “Beware” signs and sinned, I testify that through sincere repentance and the power of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, you can be lifted up and restored to God’s heavenly highway.

What stood out to you from these talks? In what way do they help you set spiritual goals? Please share in the comments below some of your insights.

(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 11: “What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?” by Elder Robert C. Gay

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This week’s talk by Elder Robert C. Gay was from the Saturday p.m. session of conference. He spoke about the value of integrity and not selling ourselves short by being unwilling to let go of sin. Remember the story where he fibbed about his age to save a nickel?

What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?

By Elder Robert C. Gay

 

The Lord loves our righteousness but asks of us continued repentance and submission. . . .

This is the exchange the Savior is asking of us: we are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Father’s reward of eternal life. We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalizations, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts, and doing things our way.

What stood out to you from this talk? What do you think the speaker is asking us to do? Please share in the comments below some of your insights.

(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 7: “Of Regrets and Resolutions” By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone. I know it will be a busy one, but I think this talk might help us keep focused on what matters most.  It’s now week 7 of general conference book club, and we’ll be studying President Uchtdorf’s message– the last talk from the Saturday A.M. session:

Of Regrets and Resolutions

By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

 

President Uchtdorf talked about some of the things that people seem to reflect on the most when they are facing death. He pointed out three major common regrets:

  1. I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love
  2. I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential
  3. I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier

Which one of these stood out to you? Number 3 was a great reminder to me because I tend to get frustrated with my children when days seem full of setbacks and pushback, and I have a hard time letting it go and moving forward with any measure of cheer. This was a good reminder to me to spend more time choosing to be happy even when things, or even whole days, go wrong.

Because we make mistakes, most days will include something we regret doing or saying. Even though it wasn’t a major focus of the talk, I felt the importance of apologizing, repenting, and carrying on with minimal regret so that we’re not stockpiling regrets until the end of life.

What did you like and learn from this talk? Please share in the comments below some of your insights.

(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.)

Faith, Prayer, Repentance, Forgiveness: The Power of Apology

There’s that one song on the radio that says over and over, “It’s too late to apologize, it’s too late.” That song bugs me, because if you’re still alive, it’s not too late. I mean (Pretend I’m talking out loud to my radio in the car. It’s been known to happen.), you might be too proud to apologize, or too scared to apologize, or it might seem too hard to apologize, but I guess that doesn’t make for good lyrics. Too late? Lame excuse.

The Family Proclamation lists the ingredients of successful marriages and families. If I were to rewrite one sentence from the Proclamation in the form of a recipe, I think it would look something like this:


It seems simple enough, but it is hard work (which, coincidentally, happens to be one of the ingredients). And since it is challenging, we mess up. Often. That’s why I think that the two ingredients that will have to be added over and over to the recipe are repentance and forgiveness. Consider the following words of wisdom:

“To be guileless is to have a childlike innocence, to be slow to take offense and quick to forgive. These qualities are first learned in the home and family and can be practiced in all our relationships. To be guileless is to look for our own fault first. When accused, we should ask as the Savior’s Apostles did, “Lord, is it I?”. If we listen to the answer given by the Spirit, we can, if needed, make corrections, apologize, seek forgiveness, and do better.” –Elder Robert D. Hales

“To any[one] within the sound of my voice who has trouble controlling his tongue, may I suggest that you plead with the Lord for the strength to overcome your weakness, that you apologize to those you have offended, and that you marshal within yourselves the power to discipline your tongue.” –President Gordon B. Hinckley

“The sweet peace the gospel brings never comes at all when we justify our misconduct or blame others for our unhappiness. But there is a way out. … Face up, quit, get out, confess, apologize, admit the harm we have done…” –Elder F. Burton Howard

“On a visit to see my Uncle Ray last year, … Hanging on the kitchen wall was a framed expression which my aunt had embroidered. It carried a world of practical application: ‘Choose your love; love your choice.’ Very often this will take compromise, forgiveness, perhaps apology. We must ever be committed to the success of our marriage.” –President Thomas S. Monson

“Every marriage is subject to occasional stormy weather. But with patience, mutual respect, and a spirit of forbearance, we can weather these storms. Where mistakes have been made, there can be apology, repentance, and forgiveness. But there must be willingness to do so on the part of both parties.” –President Gordon B. Hinckley

“You have felt [your Heavenly Father's approval] in your family when you asked the pardon of your spouse or forgave a child for some mistake or disobedience. These moments will come more often as you try to do the things you know Jesus would do. Because of His Atonement for you, your childlike obedience will bring a feeling of love of the Savior for you and your love for Him.” –President Henry B. Eyring

There’s a reason I chose to write about the importance of repentance and forgiveness in family relationships. The reason is me. I make mistakes all the time. Just yesterday, I lost my patience with both of my sons for performing below their potential at school. What I considered tough love was probably, in part, actually a little unkind. This morning, I lost my temper when my daughter refused to eat breakfast and responded to me with defiance. Here’s the thing: I am the parent, but I am still the learner, too. So when the Spirit pricks at my heart and says, “You could have handled that better,” then I need to swallow my pride and apologize. When I dropped off Natalie at school today, before I let her hop out of the van, I pulled her up onto my lap, looked into her pretty blue eyes, and said, “Does Mommy need to apologize?” She nodded her head. I told her I was sorry and that I had acted wrongly. I asked her forgiveness. I gave her a hug. And as I drove away, I promised Heavenly Father that I would try (again and again) to do better.

One of my favorite things about my husband is that he usually says sorry first–even when the fault is as much or more mine than his. It is an immediate diffuser of coldness and distance. When someone sincerely says “I’m sorry,” we can breathe easier as we work through our disagreements. And because we hope our Heavenly Father will forgive us all the way when we make dumb mistakes, we need to be willing to offer that same kind of forgiveness to others, especially those with whom we have covenant relationships.  I’ve always loved this powerful analogy by Elder Holland:

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, ‘Hey! Do you remember this?’ Splat!

Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, ‘Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?’ Splat.

And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what God, our Father in Heaven, pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing. Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So when you find that your relationship with your spouse or your child is strained (as it will often be), put down your shovel and pail, put down your pride, and say “I am sorry.” When spoken with a humble heart, and then followed by an “increase of love” or any of the other ingredients, your marriage and family recipe is one step closer to successful. The song got it wrong: It’s never too late to apologize.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue through Sept. 30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.