It is that time of year, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convenes their annual general conference in Salt Lake City. As is traditional, in the Bloggernacle, there are open threads on various LDS Blogs. I know of three at the moment. If others arise, I will try and link them as well. Of course, the venerable Times and Seasons has their open thread (in fact T&S has already started commenting before conference begins.) BCC, in its own inimitable, yet humble way has T.O.T.A.L.G.C.T. Not to be outdone, DKL over at Mormon Mentality is also running an open thread.  Another thread is over at Spinozist Mormon.  There should be some great insights on all of these great LDS blogs about the counsel of living Prophets, Seers & Revelators. I urge you all to partake. Over here, I’ll try my hand at taking a few notes as things progress and post them as I can. Hope you all enjoy conference where ever you might be, and what ever you might be doing.

9:00 a.m. Mormon Tabernacle Choir opened singing Glory to God on High. Choir sounds great. Black and Red color scheme. Of course the men in black.😉

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor First Presidency, Conducting

Welcome remarks for first general session. President Hinckley is presiding and in attendance. Incredible flower display behind President Monson.

9:03 a.m. Choir sings Sweet Hour of Prayer. Incredible spirit.

9:07 a.m. Invocation Robert F. Horton of the Seventy

9:09 a.m. President Monson presents the church officers and authorities for sustaining. General Relief Society and Young Women’s counselors released. Julie Beck, President Relief Society with Sylvia Allred as First Counselor and Barbara Thompson Second Counselor; Elaine Dalton First Counselor and Mary Cook Second Counselor in the Young Women’s Presidency.

9:19 a.m. Robert W. Cantwell, Managing Director Church audit department 120 D&C Financial accounting report. First pres. Q 12 Presiding Bishop council overseeing church spending. Auditing Department has been granted access to the all Church books and accounts. The Audit Department is independent of all other church departments. It is comprised of CPA’s and auditors. In all material respects, contributions, spending, all is in accord with approved accounting practices.

9:20 a.m. F. Michael Watson General Church Statistics as of December 31, 2006

Units

Stakes 2745

Missions 344

Districts 630

Wards 27,475

Members 12,868,606

Increase Children of Record 94,006

Converts 272,845

Missionaries 53,164

Two Temples dedicated Sacramento Helsinki

124 Temples in operation

9:23 a.m. Richard G. Scott, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Prayer a source of comfort. A gift of God to every soul. The absolute supreme being encourages us to commune with Him our father. We should pray vocally and in our hearts, public and in private–humble or arrogant, free or slave, learned or ignorant. We should all address God. Prayer can be brief or as long as required. We can speak personally with God, and he will ever answer.

Prayer is most effective when we have proper motives. Just talk to our compassionate and understanding Father. He loves us perfectly and wants to help us. God is near and is listening to us. We need to ask the right questions. Ask for what HE wants, rather than what we want. We should have the strength to fulfill His will. Pray when we have NO desire to pray. We may misbehave which is when we most need to pray. Never feel unworthy to pray.

Overwhelming problems should drive us to pray. Find a secluded place to prayer. Poured his own soul out in prayer involving a personal relationship. Lord how is it done, when the answer and help came. Such is the power of prayer.

Has learned from President Hinckley in listening to his prayers. He prays from his heart, not from prepared manuscript. He combines simple words eloquently. Each prayer tailored to a specific purpose. Are like crafted gems.

When we pray for help God will at times give us promptings. It will require us to think, ponder, and then act. It is a step by step process. Seldom will we receive a complete response at once. It will come in steps until we have the whole answer. It requires us to exercise faith. It will result in significant growth. Seldom will the answer come while on our knees. His pattern will cause us to grow.

Greater our faith stronger our character. We can then exercise greater faith. It is hard when our prayers are not answered the way we want. We want to know why we don’t get the answers we want. We need to ask God in Christ’s name, for that which is expedient for us. What God does for us is for out eternal good.

We need to study it out in our minds. Perhaps there will be an impression by the Holy Ghost.

D&C 9:7-9 quoted, to Oliver Cowdery about studying in out in our minds. You gave no thought save but to ask. The answer will come as a feeling with an accompanying conviction. He will tell us in our mind and our heart. Response to the mind is like dictated words. Response to the heart is more general like a feeling.

If the answer is not right we will have a stupor of thought, an unsettling and uncomfortable feeling. Did I not speak peace to your mind?” Peace is most often the type of answer we might receive.

Misunderstandings about prayer. We don’t always know when a response might come. Three possible responses to prayers:

1. Feel peace comfort and assurance

2. Sense unsettled feeling or stupor of thought

3. Feel no response. What do we do then? Give thanks and more prayer.

At some point one of two things will happen:

1. Stupor of thought will come

2. Peace or burning of bosom

Gratitude is an important aspect of prayer.

9:38 a.m. Choir Put your Shoulder to the Wheel

9:41 a.m. Elder Monson introduces following speakers

9:42 a.m. Jay. E Jenson Quorum of the Seventy.

Some of the greatest sermons are sung through hymns. Grew up in Mapleton, UT. Went to the “old white church.” Some of the strongest feelings of conversion in his life come from singing Church hymns. They play a central role in revelation. They invite the spirit of the Lord quicker than anything we can do. We get nearer to God through singing and anything else we do, J. Ruben Clark, Jr.

Let us sing the hymns of the Church. Let us listen to the prelude music, be more reverent as we leave listening to the postlude music as well.

Elder John B. Dickson Quorum of the Seventy

Addresses youth of the Church. You are bright and will take our place as leaders in the community and Church. Holy Ghost will help you choose between right and wrong. Review the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. Live by the pattern in its pages. You will be happy with the consequences.

Commit now where ever you are in life. If you have made mistakes, you can repent and renew your life. Give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. We should be careful about everything we do. Take care in the music we listen to, the media we watch. Commit now to pay tithing, keep word of wisdom. We will learn from these commitments. Tithing helps us to be less selfish, and become more like our God. Be like Nephi to go and do.

Regardless of what others do, decide now to use pure language, to be honorable. Make these commitments now in the quiet of your room and on your knees. We should be humble and God will lead us and answer our prayers.

Commit to be modest in dress and to act appropriately while dating. Some will not understand our commitments, but will respect them. Commit to sexual purity, Sabbath observance, partaking of sacrament worthily.

As we commit to do God’s will he will help and strengthen us. God loves all of you. He sent Christ to help you and all of us. We can succeed as we commit of follow Christ.

9:58 a.m. Choir We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet

Elder Jeffery Holland Quorum of the Twelve 10:01 a.m.

Prophet Joseph deepened our understanding of faith. God said let there be light, and there was light. Elijah commanded and the heavens were stayed. Faith works by words.

Like all gifts, words are sacred. They must be spoken with care and restraining of the spirit. If caution is needed, let us be careful how we speak to each other (bloggernalce are we listening?) The tongue can break bones. Epistle of James. If any many offend not in word, then the same is a perfect man, and able to tame the whole body. Horses can be turned and ships as well. The tongue is also a little member. But, how great a forest a little fire can burn. The tongue is set on fire of hell. The tongue can no man tame. An unruly evil full of poison.

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. Of course tongues not always full of poison. But we need to be careful of what and how we speak. The same tongue that confesses Christ, also can destroy the spirit. These things ought not so to be. Is this something we could all work on a little? Could we all be a little more perfect in this area?

Husbands you have a great gift, your wife. Remember the kind things you have said while courting. Think of prior blessings and your potential as Gods and Goddesses. Then reflect on other moments of cold caustic words. That which cometh out of the mouth defileth a man. Though you would never think to strike your wife, you might hurt her with your tongue.

All forms of abuse are condemned by the Church, physical, emotional, sexual. Brethren these things ought not to be. Verbal abuse knows no gender. Sisters should also beware of the unbridled tongue. A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger. Sisters, no place in your magnificent spirits for catty remarks or backbiting or acerbic remarks.

We must be careful in speaking to a child as well. How we say things shapes our children’s views of themselves. Be constructive in our comments to children always. Don’t tell them they are fat, dumb, lazy or homely. They will remember and struggle to forget and forgive. Don’t compare your children with each other. Praise our children for what they are. Escape our culture’s obsession for competing and comparing.

Negative speaking flows from negative thinking. Let us be of good cheer. Speak hopefully and encouragingly. Life has its problems; but let’s remember no misfortune is so bad that whining about it will make it worse. Ephesians 4:29-32 quoted. Let us forgive one another as God and Christ has forgiven us.

Nephi called us to follow Christ with full purpose of heart. Then we can speak with a tongue of angels. Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, the words of Christ. Christ is full of grace, truth, and compassion.

In our eternal quest to be like Christ, let’s try to be perfect by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels. Words should be filled with faith, hope, and charity, so desperately needed in today’s world. Hearts can be healed and lives elevated in this way. Confidence can prevail. Please know that God loves us as does Christ. When they speak to us, it will not be in the wind, earth quake and fire, but in the still, small, voice with the tongue of angels. Unto the least of these we say it unto God.

10:18 a.m. Elder David A. Bedenar Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Always looked forward to canning season; but not working in the hot kitchen. Recalls fondly home canned foods, cherries, and the like. Simple and ordinary experiences provide our most important learning experiences.

Cumber to pickle transformation can teach us a great deal. There are three specific steps.

1. Preparing and cleaning. Would spend hours preparing and cleaning cucumbers. Mother had high standards of cleanness

2. Immersing and saturating in salt brine. Mother has special recipe. Must be completely be immersed, steady and complete.

3. Sealing of cured pickles in sterilized container.

If properly followed can be enjoyed for a long period of time. This process takes a long time and cannot be shortcut.

The Atonement changes and transforms us as people. Mosiah 27:25-26. We must become new creatures. We must deny ourselves all ungodliness. We must experience a might change in our hearts. This is a mighty, not minor rebirth or change. A fundamental change in what we do and in what we are is required. A fundamental change in our very nature. We must choose to be changed and be spiritually reborn.

Like the cumber we must be cleansed and prepared. Moses 6:57. God has a high level of cleanliness. Proper preparing and cleaning require to be born again.

We must be born again and absorbed by Gospel of Christ. We must honor our covenants, and pray to the Father will all our hearth. Mosiah 5:7. Because of our covenants will be called Children of Christ.

Romans 6:4 We will walk in a newness of life after walking out of the waters of baptism. We must be totally immersed. Partial participation in the Church is not enough. Fidelity to covenants are required.

Omni 1:26. Partake of Christ’s Salvation, and the power of His redemption. Total immersion and saturation in Christ’s Gospel are essential.

Packaging in sealed and sterilized containers required for us as for the cucumbers.

Helaman 3:35

Sealing used as explained in D&C 76:50-53. Sealing can be forfeited by unrighteous living. May the parable of the pickle help us reevaluate our lives. We must repent and be born again. Let us be transformed as we come unto Christ. He can clean us from sin and purify and seal us by the spirit of promise.

10:34 a.m. Choir sings Search Father and Pray

10:37 a.m. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor First Presidency

Looking through photo albums brought many cherished memories of birthdays, reunions and the like. Death is a part of this mortal existence. Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:

Life moves on. If a man die, shall he live again? The skeptic challenges God’s word.

It is she and yet it is not she, upon looking on the dead body. Death is only like going into another room. We will find those we lost by going into that room. We seek a point of reference, an unimpeachable source. Stephen saw Christ standing on the right hand of God. Paul declared Christ died for our sins, that he rose on the third day.

This same testimony was also spoken by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. That He lives. This is the knowledge that sustains. This is what carries us through our grief.

Death is our universal heritage. All must pass its portals. Death visits us all. It is appointed unto man to die. But for Christ this would be our eternal lot. Christ lived a Perfect life. Yet, he was tried as a criminal in a mockery of a trial. He was ridiculed and then nailed to a cross. He was ridiculed even while on the cross. Christ asked that they be forgiven. Then, Christ gave up his spirit willingly.

Christ then rose from the dead. Next week the Christian world celebrates the phrase” He is not here; but, is Risen.” The Empt tomb answered Job’s question. Indeed, man shall live again. Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Christ is th living witness of the Resurrection. As a special witness Pres. Monson testifies of Christ’s Divinity and his mission of mediator. Because Christ died, all shall live again. Oh how sweet the joy this sentence gives, I know that my Redeemer lives.

10:54 a.m. Choir Come thou font of every blessing (I love this hymn. It is one of the most moving that the Choir sings–streams of mercy, indeed. Here’s my heart, take and seal it.)

1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer; here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

10: 58 a.m. Benediction Elder Paul 70