Monday, April 2, 2012

My Conference Highlights [Part One] - True Conversion and Spiritual Experiences

     Okay. Long time no see, right? I haven't blogged in a week. That may be the longest gap as of yet. (Not counting when my computer was broken last December. I've created a mental block of those weeks. That was a very dark time, yes. Haha...)

     Anyways. Conference. I hope that you watched with attentiveness. If you took notes, double points for you.

"Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." [D&C 1:38]

     When you listen to the Prophet or apostles speak, you are hearing God's will. I think most of us would say that when God reveals things to us, we want to hear it. Why then, do people not make it a priority to watch General Conference? There is always something shared that can speak to you. 

     If you missed any of the sessions, you can watch them here. Text for the talks will be available Thursday. Sometimes it is easier just to read them. 

     So for the next couple of posts, I would like to go over a few of my favorite talks. (I'm not actually sure how many "parts" this little series will have. Who knows, this may be the only one, but I'm sorta thinking 2-3...)

     One talk that I loved was in the Saturday Morning Session... "The Gospel and the Church" - by Donald L. Hallstrom.

(Hopefully you've already heard this talk, but if you haven't, or if you need some refreshing, here's the talk for your convenience. I'm surprised that all of the talks have already been uploaded to youtube. Sweet.)

Here are some of my favorite quotes from this talk:

     "Sometimes we use the terms 'Gospel' and 'Church' interchangeably, but they are not the same. They are, however, exquisitely interconnected, and we need both."

     "Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church, and less active in the Gospel."

     "How much faith do we really have? How repentant are we? How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?"

     "We need the Gospel and the Church."

     "We often wonder: 'How can someone be fully active in the Church as a youth, and then not be when they're older? How can an adult, who has regularly attended and served, stop coming? How can a person who is disappointed by a leader or another member allow that to end their church participation?' Perhaps the reason is they were not sufficiently converted to the Gospel, the things of eternity."

     "The Lord wants the members of His Church to be fully converted to His Gospel. This is the only sure way to have spiritual safety now and happiness forever."

     If you never heard the talk, do you get the basic message? True conversion. 

     Hopefully you understand the concept of true conversion, because it is different than just being a member of the Church.

     There are some members of the Church who have been members their entire life, but do not follow the commandments. There are other members who are converts, and maybe have had the Gospel a shorter time, but they are more faithful and valiant. There are some people who have had the gospel their entire life, and it is their highest priority.

What is the difference between these different types of people? They've all been exposed to the same teachings.

     The difference is that some are not truly converted.

     Say you were born into the Church and were baptized when you were eight. You have grown up in the Church your whole life. There comes a time, however, when you must become truly converted. That is when you fully believe in the Gospel and its teachings, and you understand that nothing should be more important in your life.
     True conversion requires a change of heart.


     How can we get this change of heart? Well, "ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." [Ether 12:6].

     Keep the commandments. Pray often. Go to church. Read your scriptures often. Try really hard to have a spiritual balance in your life. When you are to this point, pray for a witness. Pray for a special experience. Pray that the Holy Ghost will tell you that what you are doing is right. 

     You will receive a witness. 

     Now is when another talk comes in... "To Hold Sacred" - by Paul B. Pieper (Sunday afternoon).
     (It's a long quote, but really good.)

"At times we may feel vulnerable and in need of greater spiritual assurances. The Lord told Oliver Cowdrey, 'If you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have, than from God?' The Lord reminded Oliver - and us - to rely on sacred personal witnesses already received when our faith is challenged. Like Moses, Alma, and Joseph before, these divine encounters serve as spiritual anchors to keep us safe and on course in times of trial." 
- Paul B. Pieper

     Times of doubt will still come for most of us... but when that happens, never forget those witnesses you received. Never forget the times when the Holy Spirit enveloped you. Write those experiences down!
     For me, I always think of a night at EFY when I felt the Spirit so strong that it was almost tangible. It was such a happy feeling, and I knew that the Gospel should always be the most important thing in my life. I always want that feeling within reach. 
     If I ever have times when I have doubts - times when Satan is working on me - I just remember experiences like that. I remember what I felt then, and how it was undeniable. It washes all doubts away. 

     I think that is what Elder Pieper is trying to say... never forget those special experiences, because in times of trial, it's important to have those witnesses to look back on. 

(To read all of Elder Pieper's talk, click here.)

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