Good Sunday Morning! For conference watchers, please see the Church’s website here and here for viewing options. For the Bloggernacle watchers, both By Common Consent and Times and Seasons have open threads again for today’s conference sessions. I notice BCC’s thread is entitled TOTAL general conference. I’m not sure whether that means it has fewer calories, or is more healthy or just what. Perhaps Ronan will clarify for us.

Over here, I will live blog as long as my fingers hold out, once conference gets going.

9:00 a.m. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet, Seer, Revelator Conducting (The conference center looks absoltuely packed).

Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings Prelude How Firm a Foundation

9:03 a.m. Choir sings Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire

9:06 a.m. Invocation by Carl B. Pratt First Quorum of the Seventy

9:09 a.m. Choir sings My Heavenly Father Loves Me (I’ve always like the Black and Red contrast when the choir dresses this way).

9:13 a.m. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor First Presidency

Met N. Elden Tanner in 1959 for the first time. Canadian winters are very, very cold. Why do the roads remain intact despite these harsh winters? Elder Tanner responded it’s in the depth of the base of the paving materials. They have to go very deep with the foundation layers. When the foundation is not deep enough the surface can’t withstand the weather.

There is profound truth of this example in our lives. If we don’t have a deep foundation we will have a difficult time withstanding the cold times that will come to us. This earth life is a time of testing. The hard tests can break us, if our faith foundation and testimony of truth are not deeply imbedded in us.

We must all eventually have our own faith, testimony and foundation. We can’t rely on those of others. We may have the sorrow of a wayward child. We may suffer the sorrows of death. Death calls the aged, the middle aged and the youth alike. At times we feel surrounded by the pain of broken hearts. Is there no balm in Gilead? We may feel abandoned, heartbroken and alone.

How can we build a firm foundation, and a strong testimony? Constant steady effort is necessary. When Monday comes we may feel the inspiration of Sunday fade. The world will chip away at our testimonies. We don’t always experience the spiritual all the time

Three guidelines to build a good foundation:

1. Fortify your foundation through prayer–the soul’s sincere desire. Let us really communicate with our Father. Don’t be repetitious. We are all spirit sons and daughters of God. He knows and loves us. He wants what is best for us. Let’s pray with sincerity. Let’s offer thanks, and pray for those things we think we need. Let’s listen for His answers. We will be blessed and will come to know God. Our foundation of faith will be strengthened. If we have been slow to pray always. Now is a good time to begin. Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint on their knees. The family that prays together stays together

2. Study the Scriptures–meditate on them day and night. In 2005 100,000’s of saints accepted President Hinckely’s challenge to re-read the Book of Mormon. Our testimonies were strengthened. We should continue to read and study the scriptures so we understand them and apply them in our lives. He who learns and learns but never knows is like he who plows and plows but never sows. Alma when he met the Sons of Mosiah was overjoyed they were still his brethren in the Lord. They had waxed strong in the truth. They had searched the scriptures diligently. May we do likewise.

3. Involve service in your lives. “It’s the service that counts.” In fact it is service that counts–The Lord’s service. King Benjamin recounted his desire to serve his people. Mosiah 2:16-17. This is the service that counts, the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are others who need your help. There are souls to save.

God gave us memories so that we will have June memories in the December of our lives. God invites us to draw close to Him. As we establish a firm foundation let’s remember his promise. Fear not, for I am with thee. I am thy God and will still give thee aid. May we each qualify for this blessing.

9:30 a.m. L. Tom Perry Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Story of the waitress and truck driver at a truck stop. This truck driver was affected for the good by her efforts. Opportunities are available to us everyday to let others know of Gospel truths that will bless them forever. Many wonder why are we here, where did we come from, and where are we going?

God is the author of the plan of salvation which is designed for our salvation. God is the Father of our Spirits. He loves us. We lived as His children before we were born–but were not like Him because we didn’t have any mortality experience with a physical body. His work and glory is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings.

We accepted this plan and understood it before coming to earth. Lo here and Lo there cries grow louder. There are more avenues now to broadcast confusing messages. Paul predicted there will come a time when we will not endure sound doctrine, but be turned to fables.

We don’t need to be confused because of the gospel truths. We first heard of the plan of salvation in our first estate where we lived as spirit children. We advanced to taking upon ourselves an earthly body. God held a grand council prior to earth life. Man would have an opportunity to have an opportunity to work out salvation. Christ was chosen as a leader of this plan. He acknowledged that God’s will would be done and that all the glory would go to God. When we accepted that decision we earned the right to come to earth to our second estate.

God created Adam and Eve. They had a choice to remain in the garden or partake of the fruit and endure mortality. They chose mortality, and experienced its difficulties.

1. We gain experiences not gained in any other way.

2. We gained a physical body to do this.

The commandments are the principle and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each principle and ordinance has a bearing on our testing. Bruce McConkie quoted. We need to determine where we stand in mortal endeavors. Then we need to determine how we will proceed and which choices we will make.

Christ came as our Savior and Redeemer. He gave His own life for us. His spirit separated from His body. On the third day they were reunited again. We will all be resurrected regardless if we accomplished good or evil in this life. Death is a portal to a new and more glorious life. We will have a new perfect body not subject to pain or death.

The next life’s glory will depend on what we do in this life. Only through the Atonement can we return to live with God again.

There was an apostasy, a reformation, and eventually restoration of all dispensations in our time. After the First Vision, the Book of Mormon record was delivered to the Prophet Joseph. God’s love has no bounds. All have the same possibility to fulfill their eternal destiny. Christ’s words will bring our salvation.

This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. We declare to the world the Heavens are opened. God’s eternal truths are again available to mankind. We have the scriptures which witness God’s plan. The evidence is well documented. We are not left alone to wander through mortality. God has covenanted with us to give us the blessings of heaven as we obey His laws.

9:45 a.m. Richard C. Edgley, First Counselor Presiding Bishopbric

Jackson Lake Lodge Story. He took three lodge towels with him after he left. His father was disappointed. He then returned by driving back to the lodge to return the towels. Honesty and integrity are missing in today’s world. News accounts are plentiful of today’s businesses leaders who forsook honesty, which impacted millions. We hear of students who cheat. The elderly are victims of scam artists. Greed, arrogance and disrespect are the basis of this dishonesty. Proverbs 12:22

Thirty years ago he was in the corporate world. One of his associates sold his company for millions of dollars. He bought a paper with a quarter then began dispensing unpaid for papers. He remembered the three towels and his father. The lesson of three towels and a .25 newspaper is worth remembering. Until there is honesty in the heart, there will never be honesty in corporate America or the world.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto to others as you would have them do unto to you. These should be taught in the home. Honesty is the basis of a true Christian life. Honesty is imbedded in the covenants we make in the Temple. Partaking of the sacrament we renew our covenants including being honest.

Honesty should be fundamental in guiding our every day living. As Latter-day saints, let’s be known as the most honest of people.

9:54 a.m. Margarent S. Lifferth 1st Counselor Primary Presidency
To enter the Kingdom of God we must be like a Child–humble, patient and full of love. Nothing can replace a righteous family in the life of a child. We need to protect, teach and love children.

Protect–loving environment for children. Avoid extremes for children–too high or low expectations

Teach–the Scriptures and prophets are clear on what to teach our children. We teach and preach of Christ. This is what we should teach our children. Teach them about Christ. Make time for family prayer, and scripture study. We can’t teach principles we don’t know and don’t live.

Love–Your love can help a child come to Christ’s love. Who are the children in our ward. Are there some who need us and our love?

Christ’s visit to the Americas is instructive. Prior to His coming here there were great disasters. When he came, he commanded that the Children be brought to him. He blessed them and called down Angels to minister to them. In today’s world we are commanded to bring our children to the Savior.

Working with children is not easy. It can be demanding, discouraging, and exhausting. The fruits of the efforts are long delayed. As we seek Christ and His spirit we will see miracles. Our own hearts will change and we will become like little children and will reflect the light of Christ’s countenance in our lives. He who receives children will receive Christ.

10:03 a.m. Choir and Congregation sing Now Let us Rejoice

10:05 a.m. Anthony D. Perkins First Quorum of the Seventy

Satan is an enemy to all righteousness. He plants doubts about the Godhead and our relationship.

1. False inadequacy. One feels their own inadequacy. Popular culture tells her she is not pretty enough or good enough.

2. Exaggerated imperfection. The missionary who feels imperfect.

3. Needless guilt: The sister who can’t forgive herself.

We need childlike faith in God and Christ. This will divide asunder these three snares.

Five Changes for us to make

1. See ourselves and a precious child of God. he has sent me here. We are beloved sons and daughters of God. Christ gave His life for us. Only Satan makes us feel we have no value. The worth of souls is great in God’s sight. Humility v humiliation–there is a great difference

2. Place our burdens on Jesus Christ. Drop to your knees in prayer. Doubt and fear not. I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me. Come unto Me said Christ.

3. Forgive ourselves of sins and imperfections. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect in this life. God so loved the world He provided a Savior. We must forgive all men, starting with ourselves. Avoid reliving the past. Trust Christ’s Atonement.

4. Sustain hope of Eternal Life. Alma the Elder’s experience is instructive. He was one of King Noah’s phoney priests. Yet his repentance so complete and Christ’s Atonement so infinite he became a prophet.

5. Find joy each day. One joy is service. The more involved we are the less time we will have to worry about other things. Eradicate adult pessimism and embrace childlike optimism

Christ will save us from our imperfections and sins. The Holy Ghost will accompany us as we repent.

10:14 a.m. Russell M. Nelson Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
We share a responsibility to be who the Lord wants us to be. We are part of great movement of gathering of scattered Israel.

God blessed Abraham that his children would be a promised people. Christ would come though his lineage. Some aspects of covenant have been fulfilled. But the last fulfillment is in the latter days. We are part of the covenant people of God.

Ancient Israel went astray. Ten tribes were lost. Two were taken captive into Babylon. Israel was scattered. Isaiah foresaw Israel’s gathering. The scriptures speak about the gathering–woven in their fabric.

The great apostasy came after Christ and His Church. There were similar ones in other dispensations. All dispensations limited in time and in location. A complete restoration was required. This dispensation of the fullness of time is not limited in time or location. It will not end in apostasy. Therefore there must come the long awaited gathering of Israel. This is an important teaching of our Church today.

The Book of Mormon is a sign of God gathering of Israel. We participate in this doctrine as we gather Israel on both sides of the veil. Without the Book of Mormon there would not be a gathering of Israel. Abraham is linked to all LDS members.

In 1830 Joseph Smith learned of Elias. Kirtland Temple was dedicated six years later. Moses appeared D&C 110:11-12. These appearance deal directly with the gathering of Israel. D&C 110:14-15. Sacred keys were restored in these appearances.

We help with the gathering through temple work as well. Missionary work is also crucial to the gathering of Israel. Coming to Christ is not a matter of location; but, rather it is one of commitment. Now the gathering takes place in each nation. Zion is decreed. 2 Nephi 9:2, people gathered to their lands of inheritance. Every nation is a gathering place for its own people.

Zion is the pure in heart. Zion is where ever righteous saints are. Modern technology allows all saints access to doctrine. Saints in each land have equal claim on the Lord’s blessings. Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church restored to claim its Divine destiny.

10:28 a.m. Choir sings How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place

10:33 a.m. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator
The prophet belongs to the Church. His life is not his own. He is now 96. There is considerable speculation about his health, and he wants to set the record straight. He had major cancer surgery last January. It was a miserable experience. He undertook further treatment. His doctors call his outcome a miracle. He is grateful for our prayers. He will continue to serve for whatever time he has left.

It is not easy to preside of the entire Church. The responsibility and stress is great. Nothing escapes the First Presidency. He feels well doing well. But, when it is time, the transition to a new prophet will be smooth.

Faith

This Church has gone forward on faith. Faith motivated Joseph Smith. He brought forth the Book of Mormon and the establishment of the Church.

Faith moving power behind Brigham Young as well. He brought a large number of people to the Salt Lake Valley. He knew almost nothing of this valley. Yet when we saw it in person he knew it was the right place. All Presidents of the Church have moved forward with faith, despite heavy opposition.

Welfare shelves have been emptied and cash dispensed to those in need despite need. All this has been done in Faith.

150th anniversary of Wille handcart companies. They began this travel in faith. They had little or no knowledge of what they were getting into. They ran into very harsh obstacles and death. Scores died and were buried in the frozen ground. When Brigham Young received their distress note in conference he took immediate action and instructed the saints to go and rescue their brethren out on the plains with food and supplies. This took place immediately. While some 200 died, 1000’s were saved. Pres. Hinckley’s wife’s great grandmother was one of those.

Faith is in vain without the performance of temporal duties. Their faith is our inheritance. Their faith paid for the comforts we enjoy.

Faith also demonstrated in small but significant events. All of us need faith–increased faith. May God bless us with faith. It can be a candle to guide us in the night.

10:51 a.m. Choir sings Come Ye Thankful People Come

10:56 a.m. Benediction by W. Douglas Shumay Second Quorum of the Seventy