General Conference Book Club Week 3: Elder A. Packer

01_05_packe It’s Week 3– So glad you’re back!  This week, we will study a beautiful and simple talk by Elder Alan F. Packer of the Quorum of the Seventy.  This talk, “Finding Strength in Challenging Times” was part of the Saturday morning conference session; it was actually right before Elder Christofferson’s talk that we just studied in Week 2.  Its basic message is that we are capable of receiving personal revelation and building a faith-filled testimony, both of which will give us the strength we need to face challenges in our lives and in the future.  The talk is rather brief, but I love the clear and powerful truths and promises he expresses.  I’m excited to read your insights and personal experiences with these principles.

>>Click here to read the talk “Finding Strength in Challenging Times!” by Elder Alan F. Packer.<<

As in weeks past, just leave your comments here on this post.  The previous weeks’ posts will remain open indefinitely, so you can always return to catch up or revisit those great talks as well.

If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it. You’re welcome to join us at any point along the way.

In keeping with Elder Packer’s talk, I wanted to share this short video put out by the Church testifying that the gospel IS simple and God teaches us on our level.  Maybe I was particularly moved by it since I’m currently serving as the Primary president, but it’s a beautiful testimony of how personal and uncomplicated the gift of gospel knowledge can be.


20 thoughts on “General Conference Book Club Week 3: Elder A. Packer

  1. I’m excited to read this talk! It was one that I remember thinking that I need to study again.

    Also, thanks for posting that video! That talk was the topic of our sacrament meeting today, so it was wonderful timing.

  2. I read last week’s talk late last night, but got too tired (read: lazy) to type anything up. So I decided to do this week’s early!

    When Christian and I first got engaged, I had a confession to make to him: I didn’t know if I was worthy to go to the temple. When he asked me why, I told him, “Because I don’t know if I have ever felt the Spirit before.” He was probably stifling a laugh inside, but he very seriously said, “I think you have never NOT had the Spirit with you, so you don’t know that you already know it.” We then had a long talk about what the Spirit feels like, and how it is different for everyone. Having an inactive father, and a mother who never talked about spiritual things with me, I really didn’t know anything, besides the fact that my faith was so strong I KNEW the church was true. But once we spoke, I knew that in fact I was worthy to go to the temple, and I had had the Spirit with me all along.

    I loved this talk. It explains how we can feel the Spirit to receive personal revelation. It took me many years to “figure out” how I feel the Spirit myself, and I hope to be able to ingrain it in my children from an early age so they never question themselves like I did. My favorite quote from this talk: “Over time we will receive answers and learn how inspiration comes. This is something each person learns from himself.” I was constantly comparing myself to others who said they felt the Spirit and would wonder, “Why can’t I feel it?” It’s because I didn’t know what I was looking for, but now that I look back, I could feel it. And now I know that I receive personal revelation frequently in my life.

    • Erin,
      This is so true. I had a similar experience when I wondered about my own testimony of the Book of Mormon. I always just knew it was true, but had never had some spiritual “confirmation” (I thought) to claim. When I was challenged by someone, I did specifically pray about the Book of Mormon, and the answer I got (after a lot of silence) was a clear thought reminding me that I had always known and i was as sure of it as I was of my own name. I have not doubted my convictions on that nor on any other principle of my testimony since. I learned how to recognize and accept my own kind of knowing.

  3. “Over time we will receive answers and learn how inspiration comes. This is something each person learns for himself.”

    I love this part of his talk. This has been perhaps the hardest “skill” to learn for me. It has been almost 10 years since my baptism and I am still often trying to figure out inspiration. In the beginning it came so easily and forcefully. The Church is true. I knew with conviction that it was inspriation from the Holy Ghost. As we have changed and grown in the gospel I think the spirit teaches me in more subtle ways. Often times in my non mature moments I wish the inspiration coming was so obvious that I wouldn’t miss it or put it off. I am trying to listen more and follow through more with the inspiration I receive. I am sure as I live and follow through with the things he is prompting me to do, that even more inspiration will come. I love in this talk how he can hear the coaches voice above everyone else. Such a perfect example of how we have to be able to hear the Lord above all the noise of the world.

  4. This talk is a great reminder that not only do we need to cultivate our ability to recognize and follow the inspiration we receive through the Holy Ghost, but as mothers it is SO important that we are teaching our children to do these things. We do live in troubling times, but the Lord has provided a way to navigate even the most raging tempest. Our children need to know that and start learning at a young age how the Spirit feels and speaks to them.

  5. Steph~ Did I tell you how much I love this idea. I am still pondering lasts weeks reply to my comment. Much to take in and absorb–but something that touch me deeply. Thank you, it is something I needed to hear.

    The thoughts that stuck out to me as I read and listened to this talk for the 3 time was at the part when Elder Packer is talking about those who feel they need to have extrodinary experiences before they gain a testimony. But this is the part that I found pertained to me “If we have unrealistic expectations of how, when, or where answers come, we risk missing the answers which come as quiet, reassuring feelings and thoughts that most often come after our prayers, while we are doing something else. These answers can be equally convincing and powerful.” I loved this because I often find myself missing the boat, especially when I have something important on my mind. I keep looking and looking for the answer hoping that something will just jump out like one of those amazing aha moments or when I ask for a blessing the Lord will just blurt out the answer. You know those type of moments I am talking about–right? I have had many experiences where I pray and pray and am so focused on the question that forget to listen. I love the football analogy and have thought to myself, “how can I recognize the still small voice admist all the noise?” I do know the answer to my own question, it is just making sure I am intune enough to listen.

  6. I just love this book club.

    This talk is really a reflection, I feel, of my life at the moment. I have struggled with an anxiety disorder most of my life, and it is really really difficult for me to differentiate between the spirit and my own anxieties–I confuse the still small voice with the nagging of my disorder. Anyway, lately, I have started to feel those little “pure intelligences” that Joseph Smith talked about, and I have had several instances lately where when I acted on them, I was grateful I had–it was clearly the spirit. I hope I can keep doing so. It seems strange that a 30-year old returned missionary should be struggling with discerning the spirit, but I am glad I am finally getting it right!

  7. My favorite part of the whole talk was the content of that quote by Joseph Smith. That is exactly how I have been growing into my own understanding of how the Spirit talks to me. I have thoughts, IDEAS, and when I act on them, I can immediately see that those thoughts were not an accident; they were purposeful and necessary– they were the Holy Ghost.

    For example, a certain person will keep popping into my mind. It happens a few times and I realize it’s a repeat, so I start to notice it more. And I start to think about that person. As they are on my mind, I get “ideas” about maybe calling them, or dropping by their work, etc., so I do it. And it only takes a few minutes into the conversation to learn that they had a need, and God wanted me to be there for them. The more it happens, and the more I act, the more frequent and powerful the experiences become. It has been a steep learning curve for me, but I’ve started to get to the point where I hope that God can trust me now. If He gives me an idea, I will try to act on it. I’ve learned He doesn’t expect much more than a simple willingness to act– He takes care of the details and I’m just the “tool”. (Okay, maybe instrument would be a better word. Did I just call myself a tool?)

    I used to feel spiritually retarded when I would hear other people bear testimony of powerful spiritual experiences and glorious answers to prayer. I can think of TWO times in my life where I received an answer to prayer during the process of prayer. Now, I have learned that God simply talks to me differently than he talks to other people. That’s because I am NOT other people. I’m me; He knows me; We’re figuring each other out. But I know he talks to me, and I’m slowly learning how to hear. (Side note: scripture and gospel study is my hearing aid. I get a lot more promptings when those are part of my routine.)

  8. Here were the things that struck me, from this talk…

    “We must know—and know that we know. We must stand spiritually and temporally independent of all worldly creatures.”
    I was in Orlando this past Sunday and we visited a ward there. (I love how, no matter where you go, our church is the same.) A sister gave a wonderful talk on Spiritual Self Reliance, and she made a point that goes along with this that really struck me. She asked, if we were on an island all by ourselves for a year, would we have enough spiritual reserves to get us through, or do we depend too much on outside sources to keep our testimonies going? Do we rely on the programs, without realizing that our spiritual “year supply” is dangerously low? When I read this part of the talk, I was reminded of that, and how much I need to work on it.

    “Elder Oaks said, “Testimony is to know and to feel, conversion is to do and to become.”
    *Ah-Ha! Moment* Testimony is to know and feel… conversion is to DO and BECOME. So I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but I don’t read it every day like I should. I am, somehow, lacking in my conversion. This was a big “Wow” for me.

    “Rise up, O men [and I add women] of God!
    Have done with lesser things.
    Give heart and soul and mind and strength
    To serve the King of Kings.”
    HAVE DONE WITH LESSER THINGS. Oh my, how I needed that. I spent some serious time on my vacation asking myself why I waste so much time and energy on unimportant things. Surfing the internet, being a big one that I’m guilty of. Even though I’m not doing anything BAD, I am certainly not pulling myself upward. What I haven’t figured out, yet, is how exactly to extract myself from these lesser things, or how to have the willpower to really stick with the more important things.

    Sigh. Time to go read Elder Oaks “Good, Better, Best” talk again….

    • Becca, I’m so glad you mentioned all the things you did because they were the SAME things that stood out to me, but I felt like I’d already blabbed on too long in my own comment. We’re kindred spirits, I tell you. That “have done with lesser things” jumped out at me too, especially when I realized it was an imperative (command, grammatically speaking).

  9. Julie,
    I understand what you mean. I joined the Church about 8 years ago and it the beginning everything was so powerful and obvious. I think because Heavenly Father knew that was what I needed at the time. Now, however, I’m having to relearn how the Spirit talks to me.
    “We need to be acquainted with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and we need to practice and apply gospel teachings until they become natural and automatic. These promptings become the foundation of our testimonies. Then our testimonies will keep us happy and safe in troubled times.” This was one of my favorite quotes, because it tells us exactly what we need to do to remain happy and safe in the times we are facing.

  10. I also have been wondering…if it could be that there was such a void in my life before I became a member of the church, that the spirit was so apparent to me at first. I had never before experienced the spirit, only occasionally in my life. I certainly didn’t recognize it as such. Is it possible that now as members of the church, and receiving the gift of the holy ghost, that the spirit is always with us…and it has just become part of our lives? We are searching for something that is always there. It isn’t as intense because we have grown accustomed to its presence. We still need to recognize and listen. I do know that our home is like no other place (to us) and that I feel the spirit of the Lord here. I know my children have been to other peoples homes and said it felt different there. They couldn’t put their finger on it, what was different. I think the Lord blesses us with more that we realize. I wonder if this is part of the peace of the gospel?

    • I think you’re right, about us being so accustomed to the Spirit that sometimes we may forget what He sounds like… Hopefully as we take those steps to become closer to Christ, the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives will become stronger and stronger!

  11. My favorite quote from this talk was, “When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on all. Those who have built their foundations on bedrock rather than sand survive the storms.”

    I know this talk wasn’t about comparing ourselves to others, but that first part really made me think of that. How often do we say, “Oh, they are SO put together!” or “I wish I had kids that behaved that well!”

    When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on ALL. I need to be more aware of the needs of those around me!

    Along with this same quote is making sure my foundation is always made out of bedrock! I think this has a lot to do with priorities. Am I doing things that bring me closer to Christ? That make me/my testimony stronger? Or are my priorities messed up? Hopefully, I’m on the right track with my priorities, but it gives me a lot to think about…

    • Laurie, I agree. It makes me think of the scripture in Samuel about how “Man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart” (paraphrased). He sees the good that is there and looks past the “rough exterior” so to speak, but he also sees the pain behind the put-together exterior. The hymn “Lord I would follow thee” says “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.” In our quest for discipleship, we need to look for others’ hidden sorrows and offer love and service.

  12. I really appreciate that Elder Packer notes a few different ways that inspiration can come. Everyone is different; we all learn differently, we all grow at different rates, we all have different challenges and strengths. Is it so surprising, then, that not everyone feels the Spirit in the same way? If the Lord knows and loves us individually, doesn’t He know the best way to reach us? It took me a long time to “learn how answers come by inspiration.” I found that taking time for meditation, to really stop and consider my growth and reflect on my thoughts and feelings as answers have come, helped me learn to recognize how the Spirit speaks to me. Once I came to recognize the voice, I found how often it was speaking! The Lord promises us, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). In times when “the winds blow and the rains pour,” I know finding and hearkening to the voice of the Spirit inside each of us will bring enormous strength and peace.

  13. I have to admit that when I read the title of this talk, I didn’t remember exactly what it was about, but thought from the title that it would be a perfect thing for me at this time in my life. Then, when I printed it and started reading, my first thought was, “What? It’s about testimonies and feeling the Spirit?! Where’s the stuff to help me through hard times?” So, it only took me a couple of times reading it through (yes, I can be slow sometimes) to make me realize that the best thing I have when I face those times when “the wind blows and the rains pour” is my testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ. That’s what carries me through. Learning to feel and recognize the Spirit can help that voice stand out in those windy times. And, sometimes the voice I need to hear the Spirit over the most is my own doubt and discouragement nagging.

    On another note, I have noticed that sometimes I notice how much the Spirit is working in my life when I don’t follow through on a prompting. For instance, I keep thinking of someone I visit teach. I don’t call her because I talked to her yesterday, and then a few days later, when I finally talk to her, she tells me her Dad was put in the hospital the day I kept thinking of her. I know I should have called, and I know it was the “quiet, reassuring feelings and thoughts” from God that were prompting me, and not my own thoughts and ideas. Duh. It always makes me realize that often the Holy ghost is guiding me daily, and I am not acknowledging this and thanking Him for guidance nearly as much as I should.

  14. I love when he quoted Elder Oaks: “Testimony is to know and to feel, conversion is to do and to become.” He talked about planting the seed, and working on the seed becoming a tree. President Uchtdorf also spoke of Alma 32, so I’ve reread that several times since conference. It’s so much more than knowing that a principle of the gospel is good–it’s always working on it! Thanks for doing this!

  15. I think this talk puts very plainly and simply, the process of receiving revelation. From the beginnings of learning what the Spirit feels like to having daily and hourly communications with the Spirit, the requirements of personal worthiness are the same. My six-year old son, when faced with difficulty, will often drop out into a quiet place and offer a pleading prayer for help. It strengthens me to see that our Father in Heaven, in them midst of His vast creations, will notice and respond to my son’s lost hat, missing baseball glove or a dead fish.
    This talk reminds me of the importance of continued personal worthiness in order to maintain the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. As of late, the Spirit has particularly given me flashes of ideas and inspiration regarding my employment (the intricacies and details of my job).

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