General Conference Book Club Week 2: Elder Christofferson

01_06_chrisWelcome back to the General Conference Book Club.   If you’re new to the book club, you can find details by clicking here. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see so many people excited to participate last week.  Your insights were phenomenal.  For those who read and did not comment, we would love to hear from you too.  Your comments can be as simple or as elaborate as you feel compelled to share.  I felt strengthened just knowing that I was part of a “team” of individuals who were sincerely studying and trying to find personal application from the words of the living prophets and apostles.  Loved it.

The comments will remain open on the Week 1 talk by Elder Holland, so if you 1) are just joining us, 2) want to catch up, or 3) haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s insights, feel free to go back there.

So for week 2, we’ll turn our attention to a talk given during the Saturday morning session of General Conference, by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He spoke about the blessings, promises, and protection assured to us through covenant keeping.  It’s a great talk.  I’m excited to study it this week, think about it, tie it into my scripture study, and then hear what you have to say about it.

>>Click here to find the talk entitled “The Power of Covenants” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson<<

His talk addresses covenants ranging from baptism to the temple, and the important role of the Holy Spirit in keeping those covenants.  The video below is a clip from (I believe) the PBS special done about Mormons, and experts both from within and outside of the Mormon faith define covenants and what role they play in temple worship.  I thought I’d throw it in as an additional resource as we study Elder Christofferson’s talk.

A few basic details (where there’s been a little confusion):

1.    Just a reminder that if you would like to get an update when others make comments on this talk/post, you have three choices:  A.) Under the Actions list below, click on “Comments RSS”  to subscribe to comments, or B.) When you leave a comment, before you click the “Submit comment” button, click the little box below it that says “Notify me…”.  If you don’t see either of those options, click on the title of this post; that will put it in a page by itself and you should find everything I referred to toward the bottom of the page.  Or C.) Come back to the post as often as you’d like and just read the latest comments.

2.  Leave your comments about this talk here on this post.

If you are looking at my main blog page where this post is followed by several other posts below it, you simply click the number next to the word “Comments:” directly beneath it,  or if you’re looking at this post in its own page, you can just type in the empty box entitled “Leave a comment.”

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40 thoughts on “General Conference Book Club Week 2: Elder Christofferson

  1. How fortuitous! I have to teach a RS lesson on this on Sunday, so I’ll make sure to, A. put in my own comments once I’ve formulated my lesson, and B. check back frequently to let everyone else help me plan an even better one!

    Sorry I flaked on last weeks . . . I’ll get to it eventually. If you only knew what’s been going on with our business lately . . . ugh. Not fun. And oh so time consuming.

  2. When the final decision to leave my husband was made my visiting teachers were called to help me pack and settle the house that same evening. I was flying out to my parents home the next morning. Connie was 2 and Bina was still nestled inside my belly. My two wonderful friends arrived to find me smiling. After all that had happened and with what was going on that evening I could not help but smile. They were surprised and asked me why and how could I be smiling. They were ready to comfort and console me in my time of need. At that moment I couldn’t explain it. Now I know it’s for very similar reasons to that of Sis. Conde. I am grateful for the organization of this Church through it’s covenants that bring us all together to witness and be faithful, strong, compassionate Christians through the power of an almighty God.

    This talk is great! It’s full of truth and relevant to all of us. I may not always be obedient and I haven’t gone through the temple but every blessing is there as I work and continue in the faith.

  3. Good choice! I listened to this talk but didn’t really LISTEN to it, you know? But in reading it, a few things stuck out to me: 1. I hadn’t ever considered the “power of Godliness” to be the Holy Ghost–it seems like a ‘duh’, but I just hadn’t figured it out, I guess. To me, that puts being worthy of having the spirit with me in a new light. It is the power of God! Hmm. Strange how I didn’t get that before…2. I definitely need an increase of faith at the moment, and I hadn’t considered keeping covenants as a way of doing so. (Gosh, I just sound like my head is full of marshmallow creme, doesn’t it…). I need to go back and mentally reexamine what it was I covenanted to do, and then do it. I so so so need that faith!

    I think I’ll read this again later on this week. I know there’s more there I’m supposed to get from it.

    • Devon, your “lightbulb moment” here is one that I’ve been figuring out more and more myself lately. I have a dear friend struggling with her faith and commitment (and needs of her children), and as I prayed about what to say to her and how to help her, the message that I kept getting was that her covenants will save her and her children, and she needs to cling to those covenants with all her might. Of course, it’s awesome advice to me too. The obedience will shape, build, and finish our faith.

  4. Mmmmm …. marshmallow creme! (See how spiritually minded I can be?)

    I missed this talk as I was at a soccer game. Wow. How timely. After a first reading I thought of three things.

    1) Re the quote from Paul: “Therefore I take pleasure in [my] infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: fir when I am weak, then am I strong.” A few years back I’d just been hit with a very painful nerve condition. I was listening to the general RS broadcast, hoping for some solace. It came in the form of the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” We did not sing the fourth verse, but my eyes were drawn to lyrics there that hit me very powerfully as I considered their meaning. “For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless/And sanctify to thee … thy deepest distress.” Sanctify is a powerful word. It means “to make holy.” The Lord will not only make our trials bearable, he will make them HOLY to us. Our deepest distresses, holy. Certainly this will come in a day when we fully realize the blessed role that our trials have played in preparing us for Eternal Life. I don’t fully comprehend the potential impact, but it gives me hope.

    2) This one is a little tangential, but I remember once being in a “hostile venue” and being entirely dumbfounded. I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t feel confident enough with out specific scripture references. (I can quote scripture readily, but I can never remember where to find it!) And I ended up not defending the Book of Mormon to my neighbor. I felt awful, like I’d failed. But then I had some advice from a dear returned missionary friend. Her take was that I felt so confused because the Spirit didn’t want me to respond. This neighbor wanted to start Bible bashing, and my unwillingness to engage kept an evil Spirit from entering the conversation. I would not have been able to change the mind of that neighbor and her impression of the church would not improve with an argument. My testimony is that the Spirit guides us, even if that guidance is occasionally in the form of silence.

    3) What a great reminder about the importance of our covenants in our faith. I didn’t really think of it that way either, Devon. What a blessing the gospel is. What blessings are the Priesthood and the Temple. We have so much, truly, and it is in keeping those covenants that we will be able to keep the important things in life for ever.

    • Mina, love your story about that hymn and the principle it teaches. Lately I’ve been understanding how much those distresses, big or small, point us to the Savior and give us a taste of what he’s taken upon himself and completely UNDERSTANDS. It really does make the whole experience more holy when you see it in that light.

    • Mina,
      I love what you shared about the hymn. My girls were learning that hymn in Primary and each were assigned a verse to go home and talk to their parents about what it means. One of my girls had that verse, and it really made me think that any trial or infirmity I have, I should count as a blessing, because it gives me more chances to be sanctified. I rarely think of a chronic illness as something that is a blessing, but I have seen the atonement at work in my life many times. It has been a blessing, a way for me to turn to Christ. Like you say, we can’t see the full impact, but the hope is what sustains us.

    • Mina,
      Thanks for number 2! I have always felt inadequate when it comes to explaining the gospel to others, but as you related your story it brought to mind an incident when I was in high school. I went to a Catholic school, so we had religion classes quite often. One particular time the priest was bashing Mormons (not realising he had one in his class). Before I knew it I was speaking up – something I NEVER would have done. To this day I am still unsure of what I said. I guess if Heavenly Father wants me to speak up, he will give me the clarity of mind to say it. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  5. I Love, Love, Love this talk. Steph – when I die. I want you to read this talk at my funeral as the testimony of my life. (if you can manage with all the heartache and pain it will cause you, and all the weeping and wailing you will have to talk over – it is going to be horrible, I will be so missed. ;0))This is it in a nutshell. How i feel about everything. Just put in words that everyone can understand.
    I love my life. I love what I have been through. I love what I have to deal with now. I veiw it as a HUGE blessing. I feel it an honor to have gone through anything that would allow me to be close to the Savior. I am happy and honored to be worthy to go through what I have for the cause of Christ.
    I would do it again, and in a heartbeat and double extreme to have the relationship I have now with the Savior. It s becasue of my covenants and the power that flows from those covenenats.
    It is knowing – as Enos, Enoch and the Brother of Jared that the “Lord CANNOT LIE” that brings the blessings.
    The power from those covenanst is real. I have it. and testify of it.
    oh, and I plan to serve chocolate at my funeral. I want to pass around a plate of kisses. Also, have me holding a bowl of them, and see who dares to reach in a grab one. It will be entertainment for me to sit and watch. I have it all planned. This talk – and chocolate.

    • Okay, Shantel, at first I was little creeped out about the funeral invitation, but when I got to the part about the chocolate, I embraced it. Knowing what I do about you and your testimony, I would have to agree that this talk is right up your alley.

  6. Woah! I just love this book club idea, Stephanie, and I can see from reading previous comments that there are some bloggers I really need to get to know!

    I love this, “We need strong Christians . . . who can defend the truth of Jesus Christ against moral relativism and militant atheism.” Those two things really seem to be taking over the world. I want to be one of those strong Christians defending the truth.

    Also, his use of the term “sacred rituals” is just fascinating to me. Not that I didn’t know that’s what they are, I just don’t think I’ve heard it expressed that way.

    “come what may, we can face life with hope and equanimity, knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God’s promise to us individually, by name.” I just love this. It is SUCH a personal thing, and I sometimes forget that. I also love how he keeps it personal when he closes with a prayer for me (and you). It is perfect.

  7. This talk was amazing. As I read and listened to the talk at the same time my heart was touched with such emotion. I would like to share with you some of the things that touched my heart.

    1. Obedience gives us greater control over our lives, greater capacity to come and go, to work and create. I so know this to be true. 4 years ago, as the youth of our stake were preparing to go to all the “Trek” historical sites in Wyoming I had a burning desire to attend. My husband and I submitted our names to be a Ma and Pa, but were not chosen. The desire did not leave. This desire was so intense, so real that I asked the bishop that if there was anything I could do to help, I would. The Stake called me to be the Ward Trek Specialist. This calling was to help the youth of our ward prepare themselves for this great adventure. Over the course of 9 mnths I prepared myself. I went to every fireside, meeting, and even walked 3-5wk 7-8miles to prepare myself physically (just incase). I was invited to attend only 1 week before. Guess what, through being obedient and preparing myself, along with the youth I was ready to go. I was free to go because he [did] nourish [me], and [did] strengthen [me] because I kept the commandments and was obedient to the counsel.

    2. “All this is not to say that life in the covenant is free of challenge or that the obedient soul should be surprised if disappointments or even disasters interrupt his peace.” “Come what may, we can face life with hope and equanimity, knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God’s promise to us individually, by name, and we know He cannot lie.” These two quotes hit close to home. When I chose to go back to school, I was 36 and a mother of 4 small children. My life was busy, but as luck would have it everything, I mean everything fell into place. I graduated May 2008, with 5 long years I was going to finally be what I had set out to do–become a RN (registered nurse). There was only 1 thing left to do–pass the state boards for my RN license. Well, it has almost been a year since I graduated and 3 attempts later I still do not have the RN behind my name. Sometimes I get real frustrated because I am one that never studied on Sundays, went to church every Sunday and attended the temple regularly. I am not boasting– I felt I did all those things “required” of me. As I am typing this I am realizing that maybe I did them for the wrong reasons. Maybe my heart wasn’t in the right frame of mind, I know I was doing all of that because I knew that I couldn’t ask for help without having done those things, but maybe I needed to do them because I want to. Alot to ponder. Thanks Steph-for picking this talk. Yes, my peace has been interrupted and my goal seems so close but is so far out of reach. My confidence is lacking and yet I know that God does not and can not lie. I know I will pass this exam, but there are lessons to be learned. O, those darn lessons. Why can’t we learn them?

    • You know, Kim, Shantel (who also commented on this post) and I were talking the other day about the women in the Bible who were barren for sooooo long and then finally had these babies who were foreordained to be prophets. [I know this seems weird, but I think this could somehow apply to your nurse thing. Stick with me.] We wondered why that had to happen to those faithful women. And it dawned on us that perhaps there were things that they learned in that long waiting period that actually prepared them to be the best kind of mother they could possibly be (after all, they had the responsibility of raising a prophet), and maybe they learned and decided that they would keep their covenants even when they didn’t see the promised blessings, and they just kept doing it for a long, long time. Something about the process of that long-term, faithful covenant keeping, patiently waiting on the Lord prepared them for amazing things. The Lord will always keep his half of the bargain, but sometimes we have to keep plugging away at our half and WAIT on Him with faith.

      • Thank you Steph and Shantel for these thoughts. These words are just what I needed to hear. As I read your reply, tears flowed down my cheeks. The Spirit has spoke to my heart and I have never thought of my struggles in quiet that way. So thankyou for talking with each other. Having a discussion that helped me to see my true worth and potential as I so struggle with this trial.

        You know every time after taking this blasted test–I have felt at peace. I have had the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and Heavenly Father close. I know they have put their arms around me as the tears have flowed and I am grateful to see my struggles in a different light.

        I want to thank you for starting this book club. I LOVE IT!!!!

    • Shantel,

      I understand what you mean. I am 3 classes away form my Bachelors in HR. If we hadn’t moved twice in the last year I would have graduated last week. But the Lord wanted us in 2 other states and for us to have experiences that have bettered us so putting off my schooling was of no consequence to Him. The new semester is just starting and I was going to take 1 of those 3 classes and finish up next April while taking things slowly. Now the Lord is telling me to finish the genealogy project first during this semester and also spend more time with my 5 kids the summer, 4 of whom get out of school in 4 weeks.

      I have been frustrated and upset. I have cried many a tear and tried with all my might to force things to happen. But I’ve learned when I follow what the Lord reveals, things happen in ways that I could not achieve. My husband has a GREAT job with a GREAT private company, allowing him to stay in town every day verses traveling 1 to 2 weeks per month. We have had great spiritual experiences with ward members we would not have had if we hadn’t moved twice. I know I will finish my degree soon but understand now that I don’t need it yet since I’m not going to work outside the home for more than a year at the earliest with my smallest child still not in school.

      Hang in there — the Lord works in mysterious ways and we need to take a breath, be still and know that He is God. 🙂

  8. Here is the part I really like:
    ……….”It was [the knowledge that their course in life conformed to the will of God] that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take . . . not only the spoiling of their goods, and the wasting of their substance, joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Cor. 5:1.)” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 67)
    They further pointed out that in offering whatever sacrifice God may require of us, we obtain the witness of the Spirit that our course is right and pleasing to God (see Lectures on Faith, 69–71). With that knowledge, our faith becomes unbounded, having the assurance that God will in due time turn every affliction to our gain……….

    It is my testimony and experience that the Lord will tell us what he means by the “sacrifices” he requires of us. Individually. For me – in the begining he asked me to give up things in my life. My career outside the home, and then after that to conform more and more to his teachings. I allways felt this little nudge like “do more.” So I would. Then it emcompassed giving up my control over things, and then my grief over things, and my heartache. I needing to stop feeling sorry and stop whining. I needed to sacrifice my pain. It is not over. I still feel that nudge of “do more”, and sometimes its easy. Sometimes its not, and I dont know how. So the Lord opens the way. It takes time, and patience. But it is so worth it. I dont even have to be perfect at what he has asked me to do, I just need to try and then he immedialty blesses me with the capacity to do it – and gives me more than I imagined.
    Just as Joseph Smith says; The lord WILL tell you what your standing is before him, and what he wants you to do.

  9. Okay, I’m finally throwing my own thoughts into the mix, and I’ve got lots of them. 🙂

    1. I love when he says, “We need strong Christians who can make important things happen by their faith…”. What we do each day as mothers falls into that category. We sometimes think we’re not doing anything that great because it’s not noticeable by others, but it’s REALLY important, and faith and obedience to covenants plays such a role.

    2. A question. In this quote: “In other words, the doctrines and commandments of the gospel constitute the substance of an everlasting covenant between God and man that is newly restored in each dispensation,” what does that last part mean? I’m only aware of one restoration, but maybe I’m missing something.

    3. Loved how he explained that the evidence of believing in Jesus is repentance. It really is that simple.

    4. “We are part of a covenant people, a community of Saints who encourage, sustain, and minister to one another.” That’s exactly what I was trying to say yesterday in my post called “Lovely ladies.” There’s truly a sense of Zion when people strive for obedience, overcome trials and help one another.

    5. I felt like this phrase was an excerpt from my own personal testimony: “[Covenants] produce the faith necessary to persevere and to do all things that are expedient in the Lord. …knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God’s promise to us…” That is absolutely my faith and belief. God has never once witheld his promises from me if I’m really TRYING to do the things I’ve promised Him I would do.

    6. More about trying… He quotes the scripture from D&C 97:8-9, which reinforced to me that those “who are WILLING to observe their covenants… are accepted of me.” God knows we are not perfect; that’s why he gave us a Savior, but he simply wants us to be covenant-minded– to think about our covenants often and use them to guide our decisions and perspective. Then just like he pointed out a few paragraphs later, the Holy Ghost helps us to learn as we go along. Being covenant-minded helps us see experiences in the light of God’s plan and our role in it, and the Holy Ghost can really enlighten our understanding of the details of our lives.

    7. If you didn’t read the Notes that he added at the end of his talk, you have to go back and read them. They are awesome. I especially loved #2– totally resonated with me.

    Great, great talk. Now I’m going to scroll up and read all the other comments. I’m sure I’ll have more to say.

    • I think I can answer your question.
      He is talking about the new and everlasting covenant or the sealing power. This was given to Adam at Adam – on -diomin (spelled horribly) it was given to Noah and to Enoch (that is what saved the city of Enoch). It was given to Moses. Then the Savior gave it to his Apostles. President Benson in his talk “what your children shoud know about the Temple” talks about how throughout the dispensations – the Savior has given this power to certain individuals. Prophets mostly. Today it is avaialable to everyone throught the Temple covenants. That is what is so miraculous about Temples and being born in this dispensation. Never at anytime in the history of the world has this power that Elder Christofferson talks about been so readily availble. This power was only available to prophets and apostles, until today – through the Prophet Joseph Smiotha nd the resoration of the Gospel – you can just walk down to the temple – (or Drive) and get this power. It is an amazing blessing. Our religion focuses and it about the Temple. This is why. The the Lord took the Gospel from the Jews – what he took was thier Temple. Then everything feel apart after that. Their daily lives fell away from the Lord with the loss of the temple covennats and power. It is amazing to think about – being born in this dispensation, when we can have the power of God. That has never happened before, and with Temples being built everywhere – it is mamzing to see the miracles that will roll forth. Exciting time to be alive!

      • Also, Each dispensation had its own apososity (I need serious spelling lessons today) and restoration.
        Each Prophet of each dispensation lead that resoration.
        That probally answered your question better. and shorter.

  10. This was a great talk, yet I had some difficulty reading it with a clear head. Too much bouncing around in my head but some of it was the Spirit telling me different things I need to do AS I was reading the talk.

    I was struck by #2 in the notes — that as we become dedicated to one commandment, we’ll seek more commandments. Wow, I have a lot to do right now and my first thoughts when I saw this was, “please don’t add anything else to my list right now.” Shame on me. I should welcome more commandments as most commandments are simple and do not take a lot of my time. You just do them. I love the phrase “The Gospel life is the good life.” Yes, yes it is.

    The other thing I loved in this talk was his listing of the Gifts of the Spirit. I read through those and said “yep” to all of them until he got to charity. I never thought of charity as a Gift of the Spirit. What an awesome revelation! Charity is the pure love of Christ so it makes sense.

  11. Studying this talk this week has mostly made me feel very grateful for covenants and the blessings and faith I receive from them. I love where he says that we have blessings promised by God for our obedience. He says, “Those blessings provide the resources we need to act rather than simply be acted upon as we go through life.” And then he talks of Paul who “understood that one who has entered into a covenant with God is both given faith to face trials and gains even greater faith through those trials.”

    I like that we have been given faith to face the things we need to face, but are accountable to act rather than be acted upon when we face hard times. We are accountable, but he blesses us with more faith. I loved this line, too, “In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact.” I have sometimes caught myself feeling that because I have a trial I’m facing, it somehow excuses me from that exact obedience that I know is the right way. When I believe that, I am simply allowing myself to be acted upon, instead of acting how I have covenanted to act. Really, we have those trials and chances to grow, because if we turn to Christ and the atonement, obey when it’s hard, and hold on to hope, rather than despair, we have an increase of faith and are blessed immeasurably.

    Aren’t we lucky? (I should probably say, Aren’t we blessed?)

  12. Okay, so I have finally made my way over to add my thoughts to the mix.

    First, I just wanted to share how I am studying these talks just in case anyone else wants to try it. So I just copy and paste the talk into Word and then I use the highlighter (different colors for different things) to emphasize the things that stick out to me. Along with that I use the comment feature that is found under the insert tab. It allows you to highlight a particular phrase or word and then connects the thing that you highlighted to a comment box on the side of the page. I love this because now I will forever have my thoughts and highlighted portions saved on my computer. Yea!!!

    Now for my real thoughts:

    1: Well, the talk all around was great but what it really got me thinking was, “Do I even KNOW all of the covenants that I have made?” From the time we are baptized to the time we enter the temple we make quite a few and I questioned if I truly was trying to meet each one because I wasn’t sure if I could even tell you what each and every covenant was . So I set out to make a list of all of the covenants that I have made. There are a lot. (The list I found was in the Institue Manual for Eternal Marriage you can find what I read here: http://www.ldsces.org/Institute%20Manuals.asp, then clicking on the Eternal Marriage Manual, and lastly clicking on Covenants and Ordinances.) I would also be happy to send the document I created if anyone is interested.

    While searching I found this quote by Elder Ballard:

    “A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort”
    (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 15; or Ensign, May 1987, 14).

    So I realized that I need to work on this. I need to make an effort to have a “periodic review of the covenants [I] have made”. Great counsel.

    2. So for my second thought, Stephanie really reminded me of the my liking of this quote. I recently wrote a post on my blog that followed this quote quite well. She reminded me of this and I went back and saw that the quote was highlighted in many colors. Funny how that works. But the quote is from the notes of the talk and a portion of it says:

    “Some see only sacrifice and limitations in obedience to the commandments of the new and everlasting covenant, but those who live the experience—who give themselves freely and unreservedly to the covenant life—find greater liberty and fulfillment. When we truly understand, we seek more commandments, not fewer.”

    I love that. If you’d like to read my thoughts on this you can read my post at this link:
    http://becominglds.blogspot.com/2009/04/too-good.html
    I talk a lot about seeking more commandments by creating personal commandments.

    Thanks for putting this together Stephanie. It helps to have the push of a whole group of great women.

  13. Can I just say Amen! This is soo great. There are so many thoughts that come when reading these truly inspired talks. To have them commented on and put into words when one can’t form a coherent sentence, when just filled with the spirit is wonderful. Thanks again for putting this together and to all who have said everything just so perfect.

  14. I’m working on my lesson right now, and I am especially grateful to Becoming LDS for her great references to the Institute manual. I was thinking of doing a chart just like the one that was — surprise — already done elsewhere!

    So, I’ve got to get some sleep now, but I will . . . outline my whole lesson here tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts. Maybe next month, I’ll try to give you a heads up about the talk assigned for my week and we can all plan my lesson together again!

  15. I am going to write my own thoughts before I read anyone else’s so forgive me if I repeat stuff that has already been said.

    I have just recently been struggling with church. Not in the gospel sense of church, but actually physically going. I wasn’t feeling spiritually nourished after each Sunday, I felt like I had wrestled the entire primary each Sunday and each Sacrament meeting annoyed me because of the noise and lack of preparation the speakers seemed to have.

    Last Sunday I was to give a talk so I pleaded with Heavenly Father the previous week that he would guide me and help me teach my class with the Holy Spirit so that I wouldn’t got into my talk feeling exhausted and annoyed. As a result of the constant request for the Holy Spirit (God’s Power) I came away from church feeling renewed and invigorated instead of the usual train wreck feeling.

    Today (Sunday) I had a similar experience. I once again made it a strong and direct request for Heavenly Father to bless me with the Holy Spirit as I taught and listened. During sacrament meeting I realised that it’s not usually our situation that Heavenly Father changes, but our attitude that is completely flipped around.

    I finally understood how the early saints could have endured such persecution. I know my enduring ten spirited 4 year olds is nowhere near being what others have endured, but I understand now that Heavenly Father has strengthened me just that little bit more because I gave up my stubbornness and relied on his help.

    Through other experiences I know that the only reason I have been blessed with the Holy Spirit’s companionship is because I have kept the commandments. It was so nice to read Elder Christofferson’s talk and have so many of those principles clarified.

    • Hel, I think that’s an awesome experience you had about flipping the switch on your church experience. Maybe someone from my Stake can help me clarify this, but at our recent Stake Conference broadcast, one of the speakers talked about going to church with an expectation to DO and GIVE and not just to receive, and how that completely altered the experience for them. Anyway, great thoughts. Thanks.

  16. Thanks Stephanie for helping me to better focus my scripture/gospel study.
    I too wondered about the “newly restored in each dispensation” quote. Thanks Shantel, for your insights. I also found this in the Bible dictionary that I really liked. “…the gospel is revealed anew, so that people of that dispensation do not have to depend basically on past dispensations for knowledge of the plan of salvation.”

    Becoming LDS–I too thought about what covenants I had made. I like Elder Ballard’s idea of the periodic review. Thanks for the link to the chart.

    I get really overwhelmed when I think about covenants and how all-encompassing they are. Although I can understand intellectually how obeying commandments and keeping covenants actually frees us, I freak out over how much there is to do. (That’s pretty common in my life.) I decided to apply something I’ve been doing in the rest of my life to my covenant keeping: mini-goals. Actually micro-mini goals. On my fridge is a list of about 12 things that HAVE TO happen every day. I consider it a good day if I get 4 of those done. By setting the bar low, I’m not so overwhelmed and I get more done that if I try to do all 12. Yesterday I hit 8 and felt great about it.

    So I chose three things this week from my baptisimal covenants to think about more and try to do more. Am I doing everything I have covenanted to do? No, but I’m doing more than I was yesterday and I’m headed the right direction. As these 3 things get easier, I can add others. “Line upon line.”

  17. My overall impression is that our covenants are our anchor to God. I actually pictured myself as a ship being tossed about by life–sins, mistakes, others’ sins and mistakes, toxic popular culture, expectations, anxieties, “moral relativism and militant atheism,” etc. Then there is a rope called covenants that tethers us to God and His Spirit. I also feel like I’ve been in a “going through the motions” rut for way too long. I’d like to get back to really LIVING the gospel. I think our covenants are the way we put our faith into action. And I need to get moving!

  18. For me, this talk was a lot about preparation, progression, and perspective. The first thing I thought of (because I substitute taught in Primary last week and the subject of the lesson was covenants) was the very basic way we teach our little ones about covenants. When you use that broad definition — a two way promise between God and man, with the terms set by God — the scriptures are full of examples of covenants, although they are not “official” covenants because they are not associated with particular ordinances. In fact, each and every commandment we are given, is given with a promise of a particular blessing if that commandment is kept. I thought of these as our “preparatory” covenants — because in keeping them, we become prepared for the covenants accompanied by ordinances, which require a greater level of commitment from us.

    And then, each ordinance we participate in is preparatory for the next one — baptism prepares us to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which prepares us (if applicable) to receive the Priesthood (or support it), which prepares us for the temple endowment, which prepares us for the sealing ordinance. And as we are prepared for each of these ordinances and their associated covenants, our level of commitment to live the requirements is deepened. I love the Joseph Smith quote in the footnote that goes along with this — “As God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all His creatures, He never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of His law and ordinances” (History of the Church, 5:135).

    The plan is perfect — and if we follow it, we cannot help but progress, as Elder Christofferson said, up the rungs of the ladder.

    I had never really made the connection before about exercising your faith as a means of increasing it. Now that I type it, I can’t figure out how I missed it. It’s a little bit like love — every time you pour out your spirit in love to someone else, your capacity to love is increased.

    I began also to think about how I can find strength through godliness. I thought about traits that our Father has, and how I can strive for those, and how keeping my covenants can help me to achieve this. The biggest thing He has that I always lack is perspective. I long for the ability to see the beginning from the end, to see things as they truly are instead of how they just seem to be from my stifled, limited, earthly view. I sometimes feel like I am looking at the world through the reflection of a carnival mirror — things that seem huge are really unimportant; things that I should focus on are sometimes out of my view. But I can call upon the power of godliness to help me through the tough times — through the power of the Holy Ghost, I can gain a glimpse of divine perspective to help me see clearly how I need to be, and how magnificent are the spirits of my children.

    On a recent episode of Oprah, she featured a pair of 14-year-old children who were convinced they were ready to have sex. The boy talked it over with his mother. She told him she thought he shouldn’t do it. And then she went out and bought him a box of condoms and left them in his room without another word said about it. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. I have realized that without a religious focus, without a God-inspired moral center, there is virtually no compelling reason for the rest of the God-bereft society we live in to keep any kind of commandments at all — especially the ones that seem to only have individual consequences, like premarital sex, or tithing, or keeping the Sabbath day holy. That mother, I think, could think of no good unworldly reason to keep her son from engaging in a sexual relationship prematurely.

    So what is our compelling reason? Covenants. Covenants are our compelling reason for keeping the commandments. We keep the commandments because we love our Savior, and we express gratitude for His redeeming sacrifice. We keep the commandments because we want to be with out families for eternity. We keep the commandments because we are people of our word, and we have covenanted with God to do so.

    So. That’s my piece.

    • These are great insights. I especially love the part about the carnival mirror– how true is that?! And how our covenants should compel us. If anyone gets the BYU alumni magazine, there is a great article I read in there last night about keeping commitments. I read the whole thing with the mind frame of this talk we’re studying, and it was really cool. Maybe I’ll try to find a link and post about it later this week.

  19. My favorite part is how our faith gets stronger when we keep our covenants. I think that our ability to withstand temptation is directly proportional to our obedience and faith. If we are lazy and not strictly obeying the spirit of the law, beyond the letter of the law (our covenants) then our susceptibility to temptation increases. When we are in a period of obedience and good works, we are much less bothered by the temptations that are around us.

  20. I never did come back to post my thoughts on last week’s talk, but I did read it, and I think this is a wonderful thing you have going here, Steph. Thanks!

    This was a great talk and I highlighted so many things I don’t even know where to start, but here’s a few things that stood out:

    –The source of moral and spiritual power is God, and we gain access through our covenants. I like how he states that so clearly.

    –“It is done individually, by name.” This helps me remember that God knows me by name, and cares about me individually. Also it helps me remember that when we do vicarious ordinance work, we are doing it for a specific person. Later on he states, “Come what may, we can face life with hope and equanimity, knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God’s promise to us individually, by name, and we know He cannot lie.” I think there’s comfort there to know that He has covenanted with each of us individually, even though we all make the same covenants with the same words, it’s not something generic.

    –By our participation in ordinances, we are exercising our agency and choosing to have the power of godliness poured into our lives. And it also shows that we are prepared for the added responsibility that comes with more light and spiritual power. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about being able to choose to have the power of godliness poured out upon me, but I like it! As I watched my oldest be baptized last Dec., I really could see him making it a CHOICE, he wanted it and he wanted to accept more responsibility along with that. I don’t remember feeling that way when I was 8. I think I just got baptized because that’s what you did!

    –I love the “have a chat with Job” bit. I look at my parents as the ultimate examples of dealing with challenges and never losing faith. They raised (and subsequently buried) four children with multiple handicaps and my mother was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and I’ve seen how because of obedience to covenants, as Paul had, they have been given both the faith to face trials and have gained even greater faith through those trials. I’ve been going through a tremendous trial of my own recently and having their example of faithful obedience has really strengthened me as I wait for those moments when “In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand” to me. I’m not patient, and I think maybe that is one of the things I need to learn from all of this. God will not let us down if we do our part.

  21. It took me all week, but I’m finally here to say that I read it! 🙂

    The story at the beginning is what really touched me. Sister Conde had just her family and her knowledge that they could be together forever, and that was enough. It really makes me think about my priorities. Would I be okay if all my belongings were destroyed? (Even my computer??) Hmm…

  22. One thing that really struck me was Paul embracing his infirmities because it gave God a chance to show His strength. Whenever I read about Christ turning our weaknesses into strengths I always thought that if I ever struggled with something that someday I wouldn’t ever struggle with it again and I’d be particularly strong in that area (because it would be turned from a weakness to a strength). But reading this made me realize that it’s not like the weakness will be taken away or replaced with our own strength, it will be made better through CHRIST’s strength. It would give us an opportunity to see Christ’s strength in our life because we know that it’s something that we struggle with. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I felt like I had a better understanding and I was less frustrated about certain weaknesses still being there.

    I also like that the covenants are personal and that they are done by our name. I have recently been struggling with getting some medication adjusted and it’s been REALLY HARD to not feel normal. My husband gave me a blessing and in it he told me that the Lord would relieve my burdens and take them on. I have read that and heard that a bunch, but to have it said to you personally makes it hit with that much more force. It is so incredible to have such a personal gospel.

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