Sunday, March 20, 2016

#LDSConf - Why You Should Watch: Part 2

About a year ago, I wrote about why General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is such a critical time of year.  I'm doing it again.  There are so many in the world today who let anger, hate, fear, immorality and more dictate their habits and beliefs.  Selfishness and spinelessness are like a cancer infecting the minds of too many, inside and outside of the Lord's church.  I am victim to some of this as well sometimes, but that's why I'm writing this for my sake to.  I need reminders as well.

General Conference is the perfect time for everyone - and I mean every single person on earth with internet connection or access to an LDS chapel - to listen to counsel straight from God through His prophets.  Remember what the Lord said, "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same [emphasis added]."  We are incredibly blessed to have this twice a year and it's a perfect time to have the Savior speak to and, if we let him, change our hearts, minds, beliefs and habits to align more with His so that we can be happier and have peace, no matter what else is going on around us.

But that's the key right there.  If we are not consistently making every effort to completely align ourselves and our lives with Him, our difficulties and heartache will only get worse instead of being healed by Him.  As President Eyring said (when he was Elder Eyring): "As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough.  Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground... You can set your expectations for yourself a little higher and then a little higher, with confidence that a loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son will send you the Holy Ghost and lift you higher and higher, toward Them."

Prophets give us counsel during General Conference that we cannot afford to miss.

I know a large number of people, including and in some cases especially Latter-day Saints, will say to themselves, "Oh I can just watch it later online" or "I'll read it when it comes out in the Ensign so I can mark it up."  People who entertain this are feeding a harmful attitude.  Of all weekends of the year where our church attendance and attention to God's prophets should be multiplied many times over, it should be Conference weekend!  Honestly, it's very little Heavenly Father asks of us in the first place to dedicate 3 hours a week to manditory meeting attendance.  Seriously!  That's not even 2% of our week!  So why should it be such a big deal to give not even 3/10ths of a percent of a year to listening to loving counsel from our Savior and our Father in Heaven that, without question, will make our lives better if we listen.  The Holy Ghost can speak to us more answers, give greater means to accomplish what appears impossible and we can have more divine joy in our lives when we take it all in audibly AND visually.

(For any interested, 3 hours / (24 hrs * 7 days a week) is 1.7% and 
20 hrs (8 hrs + Priesthood or Women's session) / 24 hrs * 365 days is 0.228%)

Don't get me wrong.  The Ensign is just as valuable as watching Conference live, but that does not mean it's more valuable.  Please don't just read it.  Watch it.  Watch it live.  And then, yes, read it, no - reading is shallow - prayerfully study it afterwards.  My parents taught me something about Conference and even just Sabbath Day observance in general that has helped to change the way I view Conference today.  Each time Conference came twice a year, we were all required to dress up in our Sunday best, even though we weren't going to the actual church building, sit around the TV as a family, tune in to BYUTV and sit as we would in church, quietly, reverently, with bathroom and drink breaks, if needed, only during the songs.  I will forever be grateful for this example and their persistence with that.  It has helped me to find better answers to prayers, more peace and healing in the Atonement of Christ and greater in faith in God's prophets and their loving pleas to mankind to show unyielding, uncompromising commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you do this already, more people need to be like you during Conference.  If you don't, I'm not here to criticize you or give any kind of message that that somehow means you are less committed to the Lord because of it, but I can tell you that you are missing out on innumerable blessings from God in your life by not watching.  I understand some people have jobs and responsibilities that are totally and completely unavoidable.  Some are kept from watching Conference because their individual circumstances are such that family responsibilities require them to be engaged in other things.  But - and I can't remember or find the source of this - I think it was in a recent General Conference where one of the twelve (I think?) said something like "It's okay to 'pull your ox out of the mire' on the Sabbath except if you spent all Saturday pushing it in!"

Please don't use excuses like "but we've been planning on this sports game all season" or "this is a family outing we've had in the works for a long time" or "I was too afraid to ask my boss for time off."  Missing out on a game, losing it, or even disappointing others on the team is a far better option than disappointing the Lord, family outings could have been planned so that they don't interfere with that weekend, and even as much as religious liberty in America is being attacked left, right and center, it still exists and no employer has the right to deny you that weekend off for jobs that don't involve emergency response to anything.  But heck, even then, you can listen to it on the radio if you are a firefighter or a policeman should you get a few minutes to tune in.

I know I may seem overbearing to some with my approach to this subject, but one of the deepest desires of my heart echoes what Ammon said: " Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

I want so badly for you to have more of the amazing experiences of Conferences like I have had.  I want you to be so happy that you couldn't possibly be sad, angry, scared or annoyed - at least for some length of time.  That's what General Conference can do for you if you take it seriously enough.

Do you have questions about the church?  Are you struggling to keep your faith strong?  Having trouble overcoming addiction?  Is your marriage in trouble?  Has a loved one or a close friend passed away?  Does mental/emotional illness make life incredibly difficult for you?  Do you need help inviting that friend to learn about the gospel?  Are you struggling financially or fearful about the future?  Has a family member gone down a destructive path in their life?  I've been in all of those situations and I can tell you from first hand experience that you will find guidance that is essential, relieving, comforting and/or healing for your problem if you seek for the Spirit and put all your effort into being receptive to the answers you need.

Do you think you have all the answers?  Does General Conference seem like the 'same old same old' to you?  Do you no longer have interest in the church or even just in watching that weekend?  General Conference is still for you and I give my personal guarantee you will still find something that you would never have dreamed you needed to hear if you watch with an open heart.

So on April 2nd and 3rd this year put on your best dress or your slacks, white shirt and tie, go to church or your TV or computer if you can stream it live in your home, get out some paper and a pen/pencil, turn off your cell phone, close all the other tabs in your browser and "feast upon the words of Christ."

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