14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 1

In preparation for General Conference, I wanted to do a series about the importance of heeding the words of our living prophet. It has pained me to see a lot of online and media discussion, both among non-members and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where people freely criticize some of the counsel and direction we have been given by our prophets and apostles. Some people claim that the Church is misguided on certain doctrinal principles that have social and political implications. Others suggest that the prophets are slow in bringing about change that they are sure the Church needs to make. I personally reject this kind of speculation. I think Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing, and I believe the prophets are acting and speaking with authority. I am convinced that when I heed their counsel, I am protected from dark forces that seem to be railing with greater and greater intensity. I really believe that there is safety in their counsel, and I really believe that our prophet is a spokesman for the Lord in as much of a sense as Moses, Noah, Isaiah, Joseph Smith, and other great prophets were in their time.

Anyway, in 1980, Ezra Taft Benson, then a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, gave a devotional at BYU called Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.  It’s a great talk; a classic, really, and it has been on my mind quite a bit. I wanted to share these points two or three at a time. I acknowledge that this is hardly cutting-edge blogging, but I don’t care. I know it won’t generate a lot of traffic or comments, but it felt important to me, so here it is.  In President Benson’s own words, starting with fundamental number one:

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First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet—the President—and says: “There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred.”

Then in section 21, verses 4–6, the Lord states:

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to “give heed unto all his words”—as if from the Lord’s “own mouth.”

Second:The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: “You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.”

When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, “Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.” Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,” said he, “when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.” [In Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18–19]

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At the bottom of each of these “Fourteen Fundamentals” posts, I will be sharing some kind of tip, testimony, or idea to get the most out of General Conference.  The first is a link full of invitations that you can share with friends and family, maybe via email or Facebook or your own blog, to invite them to join us in watching what the Lord is saying today through living prophets.  Here’s a quick glance at the video invitation you can share.

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Family Proclamation Prize Winners:

The winner of the Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy is Karen @ Still Crazy After All These Years.

The winner of the $50 gift certificate for a Family Proclamation Photo Book courtesy of VioVio is Carin @ Building Eternity.

The winner of the gift certificate for the Family Proclamation Photo Art by Family Tree and Me is This LDS Military Wife.

Congratulations to all the winners! Please send an e-mail to Montserrat at chocolateonmycranium {at} live {dot} com to claim your prize.

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GCBC Week 1 and contest winners

[image credit: ksl.com]

Wasn’t general conference absolutely wonderful?  So much to love and feel.  The first week of General Conference Book Club is now up and running over at Becca’s blog, My Soul Delighteth (<– Just click right there.).  Don’t be shy.  Head on over and share your favorite conference moments.  I’m headed there next.

Here are the answers and winners of the questions for the general conference guessing game.  Answers are in red, followed by the winner for each question.  If there was more than one winner, then I shuffled them up and picked a winner using random.org.

General Conference Guessing Game

1.  How many new temples do you think will be announced?  None were announced.  😦  The winner with the closest number was Heidi.

2.  What’s your guess for any auxiliaries to be reorganized? (RS, YW, YM, SS, none)  Both RS and presiding bishopric were reorganized.  Oh, how I will miss Sister Beck!  Eight of you guessed right, but the winner was Becky.

3.  Take a guess at one location of a new temple.  Name a state in the US or a country outside of the US.  Again, none, so no winner for this question.

4.  Barring any absence, 11 of the 12 apostles speak in the four Saturday and Sunday sessions. Who’s your guess for the one apostle that only speaks in Priesthood session?  Elder Bednar.  Allyall was the only one who guessed this right.

5.  Who will conduct the first session of conference (Sat. AM)?  President Uchtdorf.  Twelve of you were spot on, and the winner was Mel.

6.  How many members of the church will be announced in the statistical report?  14,441,346 members worldwide.  Becky’s guess came closest.

7.  What color dresses will the women of the Tabernacle Choir wear on Sunday morning?  They wore purple/lavender dresses.  None of us guessed that right, so no winner to that question.

8.  Who will be the first woman to speak in this session of conference?  Sister Cheryl Esplin spoke first.  Shari won this one.

9.  What color tie will President Monson wear on Sunday?  Well, it looked to me like periwinkle :), so I took the three closest answers.  The winner was Lisa.

10.  Make a guess for a congregational hymn that might be sung at any of the four sessions.  There were four congregational hymns:  How Firm a Foundation, Called to Serve, Rejoice the Lord is King, and Hope of Israel.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one got this one right.

Okay, so there ended up being SEVEN question winners.  When they were all entered into a separate drawing, the grand prize winner was:  Mel.  Congratulations!  Send me an email (look up by my profile picture to get the address) and I’ll send you a copy of this great book that includes a couple of my very own essays:

Okay, what are you waiting for?  Head on over to GCBC.  Have a great week, everyone!

GCBC Update

So the countdown is on.  24 hours until General Conference.  So. Excited. (We got tickets to the Saturday AM session, and I can’t wait to take my boys.)

In case you missed it, you still have time to make your guesses for the General Conference guessing game contest.

This Sunday marks the beginning of the SEVENTH round of our semi-annual General Conference Book Club.  It is such a great opportunity to study and review all the talks from our prophets and apostles.  I have been hosting the GCBC here for three years. But because I’m taking a little sabbatical, Becca will be adopting and hosting this next round of GCBC at her blog:  My Soul Delighteth.

She will do a great job with my “baby” and I hope that all of you that have been so faithful in participating will continue to make your contribution there.  I also hope that those of you who keep thinking and trying to participate will take this chance to jump in and be a part of a great discussion and powerful study material.  So starting this Sunday, almost as immediately as conference is over, hop on over to week one of GCBC.  The first week will be a place for you to share your favorite conference moments, thoughts, quotes, topics, talks, etc.: a forum for celebrating what you heard.  Then starting the next Sunday, you’ll go through all the talks one by one.

It’s awesome.  Do it.

And have a FANTASTIC weekend!

General Conference Guessing Game and a few more ideas

I usually do a post-conference trivia contest, but I thought it might be fun to shake things up a little bit and do a pre-conference guessing contest.  This might be fun to duplicate in your own family and play with each other.

For the sake of the blog, go ahead and make your guesses in the comment box below.  Since it’s all random guessing, I don’t think there’s any advantage or disadvantage by seeing each others’ picks.  I will pick the winner for each question (by drawing if there’s a tie), and then those 10 winners will go in a drawing for the “Grand Prize,” which will be a copy of the book I was proud to be a part of:

Tell Me Who I Am: Stories of Faith, Family, and Identity

So here goes:

General Conference Guessing Game

1.  How many new temples do you think will be announced?

2.  What’s your guess for any auxiliaries to be reorganized? (RS, YW, YM, SS, none)

3.  Take a guess at one location of a new temple.  Name a state in the US or a country outside of the US.

4.  Barring any absence, 11 of the 12 apostles speak in the four Saturday and Sunday sessions. Who’s your guess for the one apostle that only speaks in Priesthood session?

5.  Who will conduct the first session of conference (Sat. AM)?

6.  How many members of the church will be announced in the statistical report?

7.  What color dresses will the women of the Tabernacle Choir wear on Sunday morning?

8.  Who will be the first woman to speak in this session of conference?

9.  What color tie will President Monson wear on Sunday?

10.  Make a guess for a congregational hymn that might be sung at any of the four sessions.

I acknowledge that this is just for fun and has no true spiritual benefit other than to maybe make us pay a little more attention while we watch.  All entries recieved by 9:30 a.m. MST on Saturday morning will be in the running for the prize.  🙂

Other ideas:

I’ve shared tons and tons and tons of conference preparation in the past, especially for the kids.  This year, I decided to do a little variation on the tradition “packet” idea.  Sometimes my kids just flip through the packet and pick a few things to do and then don’t seem to pay as much attention to it as I would like.  So I’m trying a new approach, based loosely on this idea I saw on Pinterest:

I printed out a list of the names of the First Presidency and 12 Apostles and then cut them out.  One copy for each child. (You could also use pictures instead of names.)

I skimmed through all the different packet versions I’ve seen over the years (there’s a good collection here) and printed out pages of specific activities I knew would engage my kids based on their interests, reading level, etc.  Then I stapled each apostle’s name to one activity (a crossword puzzle, a cut-and-paste of apostles in the red chairs, a Friend magazine to cut up and make a collage, etc.).  Not all of them are conference related.  There are one or two that are just stickers or stencils and crayons to keep their hands busy.  Some of them are just stapled to a piece of paper that says:  “Get 3 popsicle stick puzzles and play with them” or “Play the Apostles Memory Game

The idea is this: Whenever an apostles or First Presidency member speaks, the child finds the speaker’s name and can do that activity during his talk.  There will still be ongoing bingo and traditional packet items with notetaking, etc. (see below) for them to do during all the other speakers, but it helps them to pace out different activities and change focus often.

So other than making food and gathering up snacks, I’m ready to roll!  I hope it’s helpful to someone.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Bring on Conference!

General Conference is coming. Are you ready??

We have living prophets and apostles.  LIVING prophets and apostles!  It’s amazing.

I love general conference deep, and I think my children are catching on.  A while back, Natalie asked me if I knew what her favorite holiday was.  I guessed Christmas, and she said. “Nope. General Conference.”  I think she’s given it a little more thought since then and decided it’s actually in second place, but still.  Happy heart pinch moment.

Next round:  Saturday March 31st and Sunday April 1st.  I don’t have anything new and exciting to say about getting ready for general conference because I’m just happy with my same old routines. It’s all become tradition, both physical and spiritual traditions, and I look forward to it like an oasis in a busy world.

So I’ll just remind you to start thinking of questions you have for the Lord about your life, your family, your goals, your needs, your potential… and pray about those questions.  Watch conference with your questions in your hand and a pencil ready to receive revelation.  I promise it works.

Here’s a post with other suggestions to prepare yourself for conference.

And here’s another with suggestions of how to prepare your children.

There are always a plethora of current resources for activities and children’s general conference packets over at Sugardoodle.

I always love to review the last conference before I watch the next one.  It makes it easy to recognize patterns and repetition– both tools that God uses to tell us, “Pay attention to this!”  Here’s the highlight video from October 2011 conference:

See? Doesn’t that just make you excited?

Also, the tradition of General Conference Book Club will continue after this next conference, but there will be a big change.  It will still have all the integrity of studying the conference talks, but there will be a new guest hostess.  I’ll post more about that as we get closer.

Feel free to share any of your own traditions and preparation strategies in the comments below.  Your idea may feel like a perfect fit to someone else’s circumstances.

General Conference Trivia Answers and Winners!

Reminder:  If you haven’t added your voice to General Conference Book Club: Week 1 yet, you still can.  Don’t be shy.  🙂

Well, you people deserve little general conference trophies or something.  Man, you were good listeners!  There were 28 questions.  Everyone who answered at least 27 questions correctly was entered into the prize(s) drawing– also known as Random.org.  (There were 11 people in the high-scoring category!)  Rest assured that I was not a tyrant grader; there was plenty of wiggle room when someone obviously had the right idea about an answer.  All the talks are available online to watch and listen to, so if you have issues with any of my questions and answers, feel free to submit a complaint form through the mail.  (All complaint forms must be accompanied by a handling fee of one bag of peanut butter M&Ms.)  Anyway… the winners!

Congratulations to KIMBERLY T. who won the temple print and SIERRA A. who won the Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD!  Send me an email with your mailing address by Sunday, and your prizes will be in the mail by … well, definitely by the next general conference.  I’ll do my best.  Thanks also to Lesa at Notes About Music who helped me host all this conference craziness and donated the CD for the trivia contest.  (If you don’t remember what these lovely prizes look like, go back here to peek.  I’m feeling a little too lazy to upload photos today. It’s been a busy week on the blog, people.)

Would you like to see the answers now?  Drumroll………..  Ta Dah!

GENERAL CONFERENCE TRIVIA CONTEST

 SPOKEN WORD

When President Monson addressed the congregation for the very first time in this conference, what was the first thing he said?            HELLO!

How many new temples were announced?  And which one does President Monson want to dedicate himself?      5-6: (PROVO TABERNACLE,COLOMBIA, SOUTH AFRICA, CONGO, WYOMING, +PARIS);  STAR VALLEY, WYOMING.

Finish this clever rhyme from President Uctdorf’s talk.  “The Lord doesn’t care if we work in marble halls or      (?)     .      STABLE STALLS

What kind of bird did President Packer refer to when teaching youth to learn from their elders?       CROW

Elder Perry spoke about the Church in the media.  He asked us to share the church and the gospel with the outside world the same way that volunteers do at what kind of event?      TEMPLE OPEN HOUSE

What did Elder Scott give his family as a Christmas gift in 1991?       AUDIO RECORDING OF HIMSELF READING THE BOOK OF MORMON

According to Elder Scott, what endeavor/achievement is “like forging a new friendship”?      MEMORIZING A SCRIPTURE

Elder Bednar suggested that young people are gifted in technology for a purpose.  What does he encourage them to do instead of video games, Facebook and surfing the Internet?            FAMILY HISTORY

Elder Christofferson said that we should smile when we speak about what principle?      REPENTANCE

Which apostle quoted a mommy blogger who said, “Motherhood is not a hobby; it is a calling.”?      ELDER ANDERSEN

 In Sister Thompson’s talk, she told the story of a woman during WWII who was asked how she kept a testimony through all her suffering.  Complete the woman’s response:  “I didn’t keep a testimony, …….”      A TESTIMONY KEPT ME.

Elder Whitney L. Clayton was able to go into the presidential palace that he had once taught in front of on his mission.  In what country?      PERU

Elder Ian Ardern gave a great talk about managing our time.  Finish this wise piece of counsel:  “Let us be as quick to kneel as we are to _______.”      TEXT

Elder Carl B. Cook found himself riding in an elevator with President Monson when he was feeling very discouraged.  What was the prophet’s advice?  IT’S BETTER TO LOOK UP.

What did President Monson lose as a child that helped him gain his testimony of prayer?      $5 BILL

What are the three points that President Eyring reminded us are part of our baptism covenant?      1. BE CHARITABLE   2. BE A WITNESS  3. ENDURE TO THE END

According to Elder Ballard, what 9 words explain exactly who we are and what we believe? THE CHURCH  OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

According to Elder Tad Callister, why are there so many Christian churches?  THEY INTERPRET THE BIBLE DIFFERENTLY

On Sunday morning, we were taught about fatherhood in one of the best talks on the matter I’ve ever heard.  Who was the speaker?      SISTER DALTON

Elder Russell M. Nelson said that the greatest compliment that can be given in this life is to be known as a    (what?)   ?      COVENANT KEEPER

 Brother Richardson told a story about mountain hiking with his children.  What did he do when they wanted to know how much further they had to go?      THEY TURNED AROUND AND LOOKED HOW FAR THEY CAME

  What happened to Elder Randall K. Bennet when he ignored a warning sign?      HE ALMOST DROWNED

When Elder Cornish wanted to eat a piece of chicken, how was his prayer answered?      HE FOUND A QUARTER ON THE GROUND

 MUSIC

Where was the children’s choir from?      PleasantView and North Ogden, Utah

What primary song did the Tabernacle choir sing during the Saturday morning session?      I am a child of God

During the Saturday morning session we were asked to sing the congregational song with full hearts. What was the name of the hymn? Redeemer of Israel

The women in the tabernacle choir wore two dresses during conference.  What colors were they?      BLUE AND PINK

What Hymn did Sister Dalton refer to in her talk?            RISE UP, O MEN OF GOD

Thanks for participating.  It was fun!

In case you missed it, the general conference photo contest winners are up now, too.  Go here to vote for your favorite.

General Conference Photo Contest– Vote for Your Favorite

One of the (many, many) cool things about General Conference is how it gathers a family all together for something that really matters.  And any kind of successful family gathering requires one really important ingredient– an intentional mother.

I love these photos because they witness that there are mothers who have prepared the way for their children to hear and experience the word of God from living prophets.  And they’ve done it in way that build lasting memories.  This is the kind of influence that Sister Julie Beck is always talking about:  mothers who know, lionesses at the gate, disciples of watchcare and ministering– it’s all there in the small efforts we make to bring our families to Christ.

So, the contest.  Here are the Honorable Mentions.  Thank you so much to everyone who sent me photos.  I loved looking at all of them. Click on any of the photos to see them larger.

Carrie.  Watching from his tent with a Lego temple.

Amy. Reaching for treats when they hear the keywords.

Cheryl.  All prepared and ready to roll.

Crystal M.  Basking in the words of the prophet.

Brooke.  Her children painted on canvas during one session.  So cool.

Kimberly.  Baby loves the prophet.

The FINALISTS.

Please vote for your favorite.  You’re welcome to write in another if your favorites were different from mine.  The winner will receive Hilary Weeks’ book, Believe in What You’re Doing.

Lara.  Concentrating on the task at hand.  A beautiful image.

Diane. Sustaining the Lord’s Annointed.  Over donuts.  I love it.Amanda. A session-long’s effort to create a prophetic masterpiece.  Isn’t that a great First Presidency?Vote here:

Poll will close at midnight on Friday night.  The winner will be featured on Sunday’s GCBC post.  🙂