Preparing for General Conference

 If you want a great pattern for preparing for LDS General Conference, re-read Mosiah 2. This is the chapter where King Benjamin is about to present his son as the new king and give his last sermon. But the first part of the chapter talks about how the people prepared for his talk. Check out what they did, and notice how it can apply to us as we prepare for conference:

1 And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him, and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.

The first thing they did? Show up! They came! We’ll read later that the words were written down for those who couldn’t hear, but the people didn’t wait for it to come out in the Ensign. They were present. That doesn’t mean you have to be at the conference center, but it will help a lot if you are at your TV or radio at the time it’s taking place.

3 And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses;

Obviously we don’t do animal sacrifices, but do you remember what Jesus said replaced burnt offerings? A broken heart and a contrite spirit. Approach general conference in a spirit of humility, repentance, and sacrifice, and not only will the experience be awesomer, but you’ll change what the Lord asks you during conference to change, and you’ll be what the Lord asks you to be.

4 And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.

Carry a spirit of gratitude. If you’re struggling to feel spiritually motivated, either about the gospel or the things taught in the gospel, take a half hour and go for a walk, or find a quiet place to kneel. Pray to your Father in Heaven and just list off to Him the things you’re grateful for. “I thank thee for…” “I thank thee that…” “I’m so grateful that…”

At first it may feel forced, but keep it up until you are filled with gratitude. You’ll be amazed how powerful gratitude is in increasing spiritual desire. Approach general conference with a spirit of gratitude, and you’ll see a huge difference.

5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.


Involve the family. If possible, watch together, and don’t shoosh people when they interrupt to say something relevant to the talk. They are likening the words to you and your loved ones–that’s what you’re supposed to do. Experiencing conference together builds the family up, and reminds all how much the Savior is a part of your family. And, yes, conference bingo is good, too.

6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;

However you are watching, face the speaker. Face the TV, radio, or computer, where the talk is happening. Not only will it send a message to your own brain that this is important (thus helping you pay attention), but it will help others see how much you want to be involved. They are less likely to ask you to come help them clean up the garage, because they will see that doing so would interrupt. If you’re listening passively to the background radio, your likely to get distracted and/or interrupted.


8 And it came to pass that he began to speak to his people from the tower; and they could not all hear his words because of the greatness of the multitude; therefore he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also receive his words.

Don’t just suck in the words and expect them to stay. Take notes! Bring a notebook, portable device, or computer to write down things that catch your attention. Even more important, write down thoughts that the Spirit gives you while you listen. That is God’s revelation to you personally. You can trust that the guidance will come, but if you have no way to record it when it happens, you’ll forget. Believe me, no matter how powerful the experience, if you don’t record it, you will forget.

If for whatever reason you can’t be present for conference, take advantage of the many means the church has provided to review it. The Internet archives are available immediately, so you don’t have to wait for the Ensign. The video is up within minutes after the session ends. The audio will be available within a day or so, and the text will be up within a week. Don’t miss conference. If you can’t attend, make sure a week doesn’t pass before you’ve watched or read the entire four sessions (or five, if you’re a guy).

Never in the history of the world has there been such remarkable tools for reviewing the words of God. Even after you do watch the whole program, either live or afterward, go back through and read more carefully. The first time through is a marathon. The second time through, go through carefully, deliberately, taking the time necessary to learn all that you can from the talks. If you have a portable device or laptop, download the audio and listen to it often. Read the words, cross-referencing with the given links.

Do these things, and this may be the best conference you’ve ever participated in.

How to Pray Sincerely when You REALLY Don’t Feel Like It

Image by More Good Foundation on flickr

The scriptures talk a lot about keeping prayer sincere – about praying with all your heart, with real intent, and that we should pray fervently every day. We know that an insincere prayer is not as meaningful or as beneficial as the heartfelt, faith-filled prayer.

So what do you do when it’s time for evening prayers, and you’re just not feeling into it. Of course it might help to just start praying, and see if you start feeling better about it, but if you’re like me, sometimes it’s hard to be “fervent” when you’re exhausted or in a bad mood. What do you do then? How can you pray sincerely, or with real intent, if you’re just not feeling it?

Our Heavenly Father is a person. He’s human – albeit a perfect, all-powerful, omniscient human, but he’s a human being. He knows that we will not constantly have a burning desire to be constantly serving and demonstrating love. But He does want us to talk with Him, openly and honestly. Besides, the commandment is not, “Feel really spiritual inside so you can pray with real intent of heart.” The commandment is, “Pray with real intent of heart.”

If you can’t pray with all your heart because your heart doesn’t feel like praying, tell your Heavenly Father something like, “Father, I know I need to pray with all of my heart, and I know I need greater motivation than I do so I can do what’s required of me, but I’m not feeling it right now. Please bless me with that motivation. Please bless me with righteous desires. I don’t feel it, Father, please, help me to feel gratitude, love, and whatever feelings are necessary for my prayers to be truly sincere. Help me know what I need to do to have the motivation and love to fulfill my assignments in a way that is beyond just going through the motions. And if not, please bless me with the character to do what I’m supposed to anyway.”

The Soul’s Captain

Everyone’s heard William Henley’s Epic poem, Invictus, which goes:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

But have you ever heard Orson F. Whitney’s response to it? Love it, love it, LOVE IT!

Art thou in truth? Then what of Him?
Who bought thee with His blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood,
Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but Him could bear–
That God who died that man might live
And endless glory share.
Of what avail thy vaunted strength
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
That thou mayest see aright.
Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree,
Thou, captain of thy soul! Forsooth,
Who gave that place to thee?
Free will is thine- free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.
Bend to the dust that “head unbowed,”
Small part of life’s great whole,
And see in Him and Him alone,
The captain of thy soul.

Orson, you rock.

Whatsoever you shall ask the Father… it shall be granted you

There are few messages repeated as frequently in the scriptures as this; ask and ye shall receive. But have you ever noticed how often this similar message is written in the scriptures – “Whatsoever you shall ask the Father… it shall be granted you”?

It’s in there a TON. So how exactly does it work? Do we just ask? You might say, “What’s the catch?”

Well, there’s no catch. The scriptures make that clear. But there are conditions, or qualifiers that must be in place for the promise to be fulfilled. What are those qualifiers?

A few years ago I compiled a list of all the scriptures I could find that carried this message, with all the qualifying statements. In other words, if the verse said, “whatsoever ye ask in faith, ye shall receive,” then I would write down, “in faith,” and count how many other scriptures listed faith as a qualifier for the promise.

In the end, I came up with a list of all the qualifiers I could find, and this was the result:

They are listed in order of their frequency.

7 Times (meaning there are 7 different scripture verses that list this as a qualifier)

Ask in the name of Christ

Believing that ye shall receive

6 Times

In faith

3 Times

Doubting nothing

2 Times

If thou wilt turn unto me

Which is right

Hearken unto my voice

Believe

Repent of all thy transgressions

Be baptized

Ask not amiss

Ask according to the will of God

Ask in the Spirit

1 Time

Believe in Christ

Which is good

Being united in prayer according to my command

If ye are purified and cleansed from all sin

In prayer

Know good and evil

Not harden your hearts

With diligence in keeping my commandments

It shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you

Be thou humble

Now I can’t say that the importance of each qualifier is based on how many times it’s written in the scriptures. I don’t know if that’s the case or not. But the things that are repeated over and over in scripture aught to get our attention. Things like believing that He really will answer, asking in the name of Jesus Christ (we sometimes underestimate the power in that), and asking in real faith. Sometimes it’s that last one that throws people, so they think they don’t qualify for the promise. But remember faith is strengthened as it is exercised in righteousness.


The Lord is my Shepherd

The Lord Is My Shepherd

Let me know if you guys want this made into sheet music.

Art by Maria Spencer.

Christmas CD: Anthem of Hope

Anthem of Hope SAMPLE

I DID IT!!! I finished the whole CD in one month. In fact, I think I have more music than I can fit on one CD, so maybe I’ll have some bonus tracks for MP3 CD downloaders or something. I don’t know. Anyway. Here’s a sample of one of the original ones I did for the Christmas CD.

I’ll write a more detailed meaning behind the music deal, but basically it’s about the hope that was renewed with Jesus’s birth.

Again, it’s just a sample, but I hope you like it!

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement (MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement
(MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement (MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Profile of a Prophet

play-button3

Wow, cool!  The talk Profile of a Prophet by Hugh B. Brown is available online.  Here’s a link to listen to the MP3.  I love this talk.
Joseph Smith really is a prophet of God.  I know it to be true.  I just wish I could articulate that knowledge as well as Hugh B. Brown does!

Here’s a link to the text, if you prefer to read it: Profile of a Profile, by Hugh B. Brown