The Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s General Conference is about to get underway.  I very much enjoyed this morning’s historic Solemn Assembly session.   The Spirit was strong, the talks timely.   For bloggernacle open threads on this afternoon’s conference check out Times and Seasons, By Common Consent, Mormon Mentality,

1:00 p.m. Choir Combined from Brigham Young University

President Dieter Uchtdorf1:01 p.m. Conducting President Deiter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor First Presidency

1:02 p.m. Choir The Morning Breaks

1:06 p.m. Invocation: Gary J. Coleman Quorum of the Seventy

1:10 p.m. Choir Lean On My Ample Arm

1:13 p.m. Robert W.  Cantwell Church Auditing D&C 120 FP Q 12 Presiding Bishopric, council approving Church expenditures.  Church auditing department has access to all Church financial records, and is independent of all other Church departments.  Conclusion, Church assets recorded and administered pursuant to appropriate accounting methods and Church guidelines.

1:15 p.m. F. Michael Watson, First Presidency Secretary The 2007 Statistical Report for the  Church

Units

Stakes 2790

Missions 348

Dist 618

Wards 27,827

Members 13,193,999

Children record 93,698

Converts 279,218

Missionaries 52,686  (Thank you Jose for your help!)

Temples 124

Compared to the 2006 Statistics

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

Elder Dallin H. Oaks1:17 p.m. Elder Dallin H. Oaks Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Testimony is conviction or conversion that certain facts are true, and we know them to be true, i.e., Godhead, Atonement, reality of the Resurrection.  Testimony is not a sermon, travel log, or family appreciation log.

What do we mean we know the Gospel is true?  Contrast that with we know it is cold outside, or I know I love my spouse.    Temperature is based and proved on scientific proof.  But scientific methods will not yield spiritual knowledge and truths.  Flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but Heavenly Father.

The natural man cannot know spiritual truth, because it is only spiritually discerned.  We will receive knowledge by God telling us in our mind and heart through the Holy Ghost.  Each of us can know the Truth of God’s plan ourselves.  We will know it only through God and through the witness of the Holy Ghost.

We can be just as sure of this knowledge, i.e., spiritual knowledge as can the scientist through the scientific method.  Joseph said he had seen a vision, he knew he had, and he could not or dare not deny his vision.

What about our testimony?  How does one gain a testimony?

1.  Really desire to know.

2.  Spiritual knowledge, we must ask God in sincere prayer.

Testimony is not passive knowledge.  We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing them.  Perhaps it is better to  bear testimony in order to gain one, than it is to just pray about one.  We must partake of the Sacrament each week to keep that Spirit that testifies of Christ and is the font of our testimony.

D&C 46 describes different spiritual gifts.  To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know Christ is the Son of God.  To others it is given to believe on their words.  Those who have the gift to know are obligated to bear their testimony so others may also benefit.

Our children should hear us bear our testimony frequently.  We live in a time when our beliefs are misrepresented by others.  We have a duty to speak out and to clarify our doctrine and what we believe.  WE are the ones who should state our belief, not others.    But, we should speak in mildness and meekness.  Speak the Truth in love.

Obedience and knowledge are related.  Those who have a testimony and act on it are at times accused of blind obedience.  When it comes to learning and knowing the Gospel, we each have a direct relationship with God and Christ through the Holy Ghost.  This is what our critics fail to understand.  We can be united in following our leaders yet independent in knowing for ourselves.

1.  Channel through our leaders.  Results in obedience.

2.  Channel through our own personal testimony, and our relationship to God.  Results in knowledge

Are mutually reinforcing.  Our obedience is not blind when we act upon knowlege.  This is true is scientific or spiritual knowledge.

We must avoid arrogance and pride.

I know we have a Heavenly Father whose plan brings us to earth.  I know we have a Savior Jesus Christ, whose Atonement gives us Eternal Life.  The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith to restore the gospel  I know Thomas S. Monson holds the keys today and is a modern Prophet.

Elder Robert D. Hales1:33 p.m. Elder Robert D. Hales Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Appreciated the Solemn Assembly.  Our raising of the hand was not a vote, but a covenant to sustain and uphold the Lord’s commandments and His prophet.  Knows of a surety God and Christ, live and are distinct separate immortal beings.  The Holy Ghost has testified of these things and that they are true.

Began his testimony in his youth, beginning with the 13 articles of faith.

1.  We believe in God the Father and in his Son, and in the Holy Ghost.

Joseph had personal knowledge of the Godhead through his vision.  Jospeh’s experience has guided him through his boyhood.  Joseph sought to know from the scriptures, God’s will.  When Christ was only 12 His earthly parents found him teaching in the Temple.  He stated He needed to be about His Father’s business.

God’s introduction of His Son at baptism, Mount of Transfiguration,  Christ’s appearance to the Nephites, and also to Joseph Smith were the same.  This is my Beloved Son, Hear Him.  Whenever God introduces Christ He commands us to listen to Him.

Christ helped in the creation, worlds without number.  Jesus is the only Begotten of the Father in the flesh.  He is our mediator with the Father.  We pray in Christ’s name.

Christ is not the same being as His Father, but is like him in purpose.  Christ acknowledges, when speaking to His Father, that He Christ is the Son.  See prayer in Gospel of John.   The oneness is oneness of purpose and love for us His children.

In the Garden Christ made clear he was not performing His own work but that of the Father.  Christ was not talking to himself while praying in the garden, but was calling upon His Father for strength.   On the Cross, He cried, Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit.

Christ lives and is the only begotten of the Father.  He will return to reign on this very earth.  He has taken away the sins of the world for those who believe steadfast on His name.  He brings the reality of the Resurrection.

As an Apostle he testifies of the truthfulness of the scriptures.

1:48 p.m. Gerald N. Lund Quorum of the Seventy

Opening our hearts to spirit.  If we receive the Holy Ghost it will show unto us all things we are to do.  The Holy Ghost is a Spirit personage.  His voice is still and small, and is likened to a whisper.  It speaks to our minds and hearts, not our ears.  We feel his voice, more than we hear it.

Personal revelation is closely linked to the heart.  He who hardens his heart will receive the lesser portion of the word.   The heart is a tender place, and can be hurt by others.  It can be soften by love, and deadened by sin.

Some heats have a gateway with a welcome sign.  Others have the gate padlocked with a large barbed wire fence around it.  The Spirit carries a message unto the heart, but not into the heart.  We must allow the message to enter our heart by our own actions.  God will never force the heart.  God allows us to be the gatekeepers of our own hearts.  We must of our own free will open our hearts.  God will not force his plan upon us.

Prophet Joseph taught, Many are called but few are chosen.  Because they aspire to the honors of men.  Mormon warned that when we prosper temporally, we harden our hearts and forget God.

When we harden our hearts:

1.  We seek to hide our sins rather than repent.

2.  We gratify our pride

3.  We exercise unrighteous dominion

If we are humble God will lead us by the hand and answer our prayers.   Let us open our hearts to the Spirit.  We choose what we let in, or what we leave out.

1:57 p.m. Choir and congregation Redeemer of Israel

2:00 p.m. Carlos H. Amado Quorum of the Seventy

Three major purposes of Christ living among men in mortality.

1.  Atonement for all humanity

Christ inherited His Divine nature from the Father.  He inherited his mortal nature from His mother.  No other has lived who could have done this and fulfilled this mission.

2.  Teach His Father’s Doctrine

It is a Gospel and doctrine of Love.  It is the way to return to God

3.  Build the Kingdom by serving others.

Service is a divine quality.   We accept the responsibility to teach His doctrine and to serve others when we are baptized.   With fast offerings we alleviate the immediate needs of fellow brothers and sisters.

We have moral agency, even when we misuse it.  God will not force us to do what is right.  But, he will show is the way when we serve.  We must experience a change of attitude.   We will come to know the Lord through service to others.  It will give us purpose and bring us closer to God.  It teaches us to love our fellow men.  It eliminates selfishness.  Those who serve seek to please God and live in harmony.  They will have a spirit of kindness.  They find the good in others, and will not become offended.  They do not expect recognition or reward.  They will always share what they have.

King Benjamin:  When we are in the service of our fellow man, we are only in the service of our God.

2:10 p.m. William R. Walker Quorum of the Seventy

Learned importance of First Presidency as a boy.  Visited grandparents’ home and was greeted by a First Presidency photograph.  Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.  All who entered this home knew they served the Lord.

Didn’t know as a boy the significance of the number three in the First Presidency.   Learned that men must be called of God as a youth in the Articles of Faith.

There are presidencies in the various priesthood quorums.  The world is not organized like this.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, or our ways His ways.

Also learned as a boy the significance of succession in the First Presidency.  Was called at 13 as a deacon’s quorum presidency.  He learned the pattern of presidency and of counselors.  This form of leadership is the pattern throughout the Church.  There is a president and two counselors.  This is true Church wide at all levels of leadership.  We have sustained that pattern of leadership today in the new First Presidency.
This is Christ’s work and are led by His prophets and apostles.

Elder Richard G. Scott2:19 p.m. Elder Richard G. Scott Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Deeply loves our new Prophet Thomas S. Monson and is willing to do whatever he wants him to do.  Some matters are so delicate they are seldom discovered.  Mental, verbal, physical and sexual abuse is his subject, but primarily sexual abuse.

Greater understanding and sensitivity may help us all avoid future victims.  It is pervasive in the world and may have touched someone we love.  Healing can be obtained from these wounds.

Moral agency is an important element in God’s plan.  Some violate sacred trust such as that of a Father.  some violate their agency that is God given.

The Atonement affords the perpetrator the opportunity to avoid natural consequences of their actions, provided they truly and sincerely repent.  As we study the Atonement and exericse our faith we can receive relief from any abuse.

Satan is the author of all forms of abuse.  His strategy is to separate the victim from the Atonement.  Satan will teach there is no solution, but there is through the Atonement.  The power of healing is inherent in Christ’s Atonement.   Satan uses abuse to generate fear and despair.

Kneel when it is difficult to pray and ask for guidance and healing through the Atonement.  God does not prohibit the misuse of agency; however, natural punishments must follow unless there is true repentance.

The cure requires complete Faith in Christ.   Healing may begin with a Bishop or Stake President.  Professional help may also be required.  Have faith the infinite Atonement can heal us from the consequences of abuse.

If you are currently being abused, find the courage to seek help.  Act now, seeking the support of one you can trust, such as a bishop or stake president.  Identify those who have abused you, and ask for protection.  Get help now and do not fear.  Fear is Satan’s tool to keep you suffering.

Recognize you need help with your addiction if you are an abuser.  You may have deceived yourself if you think you have hidden yourself from Church and other authorities.   Christ will always know the extent of your sin.   Talk to your bishop and stake president.

Parents teach your children of abuse and how to avoid it.  Very unlikely a perpetrator will confess his actions.  If you have been abused or are an abuser act now to take advantage of the Atonement.

2:36 p.m. Elder L. Tom Perry Quorum of the Twelve

Apostle Paul boldly declared I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.  It is a five ingredient receipe for eternal life.  What do we know about eternal life?  it is God’s work and glory.  Immortality and Eternal Life are separate.  Eternal Life is greater than just immortality.  Immortatlity is to live forever as a Resurrected being.  All will gain this type of life.  Only those who obey the gospel law will inhereit actual Eternal Life, the kind of life God Himself enjoys.

Cook books have pictures of the great dishes you can make.  They help you envision the outcome.  The perfect dish and motivate to try again and again.  When we think of Eternal Life, what picture comes to our mind?

Do we home teach, attend church, attend temple, read scriptures?

We must first embrace Christ, his Gospel.  If we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His teachings.   The world teaches us that seeing is believing.  But our faith must come first before we see.  We need to begin to exercise our faith unto repentance.

All those who humble themselves before God and witness before the Church they have repented shall be received in baptism.  Repentance involves humility.  Persons must witness before Christ.  Repentance preceeds baptism which is a cleansing ordinance.

Baptism is two fold.  It cleanses and illuminates the soul.  The soul cleansed of sin may abide the influence of the Holy Ghost.  Baptism is a gate.  It is a way to enter the straight path to Eternal life.  It symbolizes Christ’s death and Ressurection.  It is the first saving ordinance.

Enduring to the end requires faith.  This is not an easy task.  It is intended to be difficult and also refining to prepare us to receive Eternal blessings.  It is not a do it yourself project.  It requires Christ’s Atonement.   We each have a role to play.  Each of us is important.

We must share the Gospel with others.  The blessings are profound and eternal.  We must always mainatin faith and hope in Christ to endure to the end.  We pray, fast, and read the scriptures to help us endure to the end.

The Gospel defines the way we can experience the joys of Eternal life.  The Gospel teaches us all we need to know to return to live with God and Christ.   May we all maintain the vision of eternal life.    May we endure to the end.

2:50 p.m. Choir Jesus Savior Pilot Me

2:54 p.m. Benediction Stanely G. Ellis Quorum of the Seventy