Sunday, November 1, 2009

What Did We Learn From Conference??

Flora Harrington, a dear friend of mine (and of Seth's) sent me this email. I felt that she has put it so explicitly that I have asked and received her permission to post her comments on this blog. Over the past several months I have worried and wondered about the future for Dad and myself, but even more so for each of your families. And I have been comforted and reassured that "if we will turn our ourselves and our families to the Lord,if we will continue to do all that we know to be right and if we will trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not unto our own understanding, the day will come when He will guide us to Holy places where we will be engaged in the preparation for the His return. I have no greater joy than to know that my children know how to listen to and follow the promptings of the Spirit!! I have learned much from each of you and I appreciate you and admire you because of it. We have each been blessed with great families to learn from and associate with. And the Lord expects the best from us.

At the bottom of Flora's remarks you'll find a video that Janet Gilliand sent to me. It is wonderful!!

Latter-day Preparations: What We Learned at Conference-
Remember past General Conferences when we were told to grow gardens, put in a supply of food, prepare 72-hour kits, get out of debt, and put our houses in order by preparing every needful thing?
The Church's instructions on provident living still stand, of course, and there are wonderful resources available to help us. But when was the last time such counsel received significant attention in General Conference?
As best I can recall, there was a turning point when President Hinckley, after an extensive sermon in a priesthood session on financial preparations, said, "Now that's all I'm going to say about that." It may have been the last time he mentioned physical preparations in a General Conference address.
During the five sessions of conference just completed, I attempted to write down every admonition, instruction, exhortation, suggestion or recommendation given by the speakers. I collected 430 items of counsel in all, but,

No one talked about food storage.
No one advised putting together emergency kits.
No one exhorted us to get out of debt.
No one said to grow a garden.

There were only three references to financial matters (Elder Watson, Bishop Burton and Elder Christofferson) and all of them were warnings against excesses and greed, not about preparations.
Many sense that things could soon break loose - that it wouldn't take much to put many prophesied events about the last days into motion. At this time of turmoil throughout the world, a roller coaster economy, crime, thugocracies, natural disasters, looming inflation and even nuclear threats, it would seem a natural time for our leaders to talk about nuts-and-bolts preparation - to tell us what we should do next.
Well, they did. But not in a direction some may have expected. (And the rumor du jour, that the call-out of Israel to flee to its tents was imminent, failed again - surprise, surprise.)
We've been hearing about food storage and other preparations since 1936. The way I see the talks this conference, those days are over. Members who haven't prepared physically are not very likely to start now simply because two or three more General Authorities plead with them.
This is not to suggest we'll never hear counsel about physical preparations again in General Conference, but rather it appears the emphasis is shifting from physical preparation to spiritual preparation - to build strength of heart, mind and spirit for whatever is coming, and especially to become more proficient at receiving personal revelation.
Those who watched conference hoping for a fish found that they instead were instructed how to fish. Of the 29 individuals who addressed us, 16 of them spoke about the Holy Ghost - how we can cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost, how to improve our sensitivity to promptings, how to purify our lives so we can hear gentle spiritual communications, and related counsel - in other words, how we can gain personal instruction to guide us through coming events from the Source that knows everything. In speaking order:

Elder Scott: Consistently strive to recognize and follow the feelings prompted by the Spirit. Sister Matsumori: Help others become more familiar with promptings of the Spirit.
Elder Clayton: Be humble so you can hear the word of the Lord.
President Uchtdorf: Listen for the Father's voice for it leads to the ministration of the
Holy Spirit.
Elder Oaks: Listen and feel of God's love.
Elder Hales: Yield to the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Elder Watson: Be temperate in all things as guided by the Holy Ghost.
Elder Anderson: Turn away from pride, anger and impure thoughts.
President Packer: The Holy Ghost communicates to our spirit with promptings and impressions. President Eyring: Learn to follow inspiration.
President Monson: Refrain from anger so you will have the Spirit with you.
Elder Perry: Listen to the Spirit for guidance.
Bishop Burton: Let virtue garnish your thoughts.
Sister Dibb: Use the safety equipment of scriptures, prophets, and the Holy Ghost.
Elder Nelson: Cultivate spiritual discernment.
Elder Ringwood: Be sensitive to the Holy Ghost.
The emphasis on these basic principles suggests that we haven't been following them as we should. Which brings to mind the well-known story of Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers. Every season, even after the Packers had won two Super Bowls, Lombardi would address his players and start with the basics: "Gentlemen, this is a football." (And Max McGee, the team's star receiver who scored the first touchdown in Super Bowl history, would say, "Not so fast, coach, not so fast.")
There wasn't a player who didn't already know what Lombardi would say - blocking, tackling, mental alertness. But he said it over and over because they fell short on execution. Our leaders are obviously telling us it's time to execute the basics better and bulk up our spiritual preparations to match whatever we've prepared for our physical survival.
Having a house full of wheat, beans and rice will be insufficient if we are not strong in spirit and mind as we face prophesied events.