Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guided by the Holy Spirit

(find the talk here)

Wow. If you want to know what it means to be “Mormon” or a Latter-day Saint, just read President Boyd K. Packer’s talk. I mean, I think that he basically laid it all out, right there.

And if you couldn’t tell that William Tyndale was a really important guy, just check out how many Conference talks have mentioned him. It makes me want to read a lot more about him.

President Packer has a knack for speaking bluntly. Remember his October 2010 General Conference talk? He had all these people up in arms, they (over 100,000 of them) petitioned him (a prophet of God) to retract his words. It was the most incredible (incredibly disturbing) thing I have seen in a while. I felt as if Christ was going to come in that instant. Even members of the Church were wishing he hadn’t said what he had said. That was hard for me to take.

I, personally, love listening to President Packer speak.  He makes me squirm. And when a prophet makes me squirm it means I have some changing to do, and that means I have an opportunity for growth. While I don’t exactly go around looking for people to tell me how wrong I am, and while I usually get grouchy and self-defensive if anyone ever criticizes me, in the end I usually end up looking back on the situation and realizing that I actually did need to change, and the change made me such a better person. I just have a lot of pride, that’s all.

I know that the name of the Church was revealed by the Savior himself, but I had forgotten that when the Lord asked the Nephites what they wanted Him to give them, they asked for a name for the Church. Interesting, because I can think of a million things that I would ask the Savior for and none of them are the name of anything. Those Saints knew about the principle of unity and I think they were concerned that they didn’t have a name to unify them. Can you imagine if we all called the Church by a different name? I think that having a unified name, and that name being Christ’s name, unifies the Church and gives us great power. “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.” (here)

“The world will refer to us as they will, but in our speech, always remember that we belong to the Church of Jesus Christ.” When I think about what Church I belong to, sure I think of the name of the Church – but the thing that I think about the most is that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. This is His Church, no matter what the rest of the world says, and no matter how the rest of the world refers to us. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. (the “Latter-day Saint” part just means that we are in the Latter-days, instead of anciently with Christ).

What makes our Church unique? Well, lots of things (including not drinking coffee) – but the thing that really sets us apart is the priesthood (the authority to act in God’s name) and the gift of the Holy Ghost which is only available through priesthood ordinances. “This authority and the attendant gift of the Holy Ghost, which is conferred upon all members of the Church after baptism, set us apart from other churches.”

The gift of the Holy Ghost (and the priesthood) are really what give us all the things that President Packer talked about.

“The work in the Church today is performed by ordinary men and women called and sustained to preside, to teach, and to administer. It is by the power of revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost that those called are guided to know the Lord’s will. Others may not accept such things as prophecy, revelation, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, but if they are to understand us at all, they must understand that we accept those things.”

“The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith a code of health, the Word of Wisdom,long before the dangers were known to the world. All are taught to avoid tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco, and of course varieties of drugs and addictive substances, which are ever present before our young people.”

“In another revelation, the Lord’s standard of morality commands that the sacred powers to beget life be protected and employed only between man and woman, husband and wife.”

All of these revelations President Packer spoke of come through the power of the priesthood and the Holy Ghost. After spending some time talking about the effects of having the Holy Ghost that make our Church somewhat unique, he said, “A Latter-day Saint is quite an ordinary individual…We are taught to be in the world but not of the world. Therefore, we live ordinary lives in ordinary families mixed in with the general population.” So we have unique principles in our Church, but we are “quite …  ordinary individual[s]” – living ordinary lives with ordinary families. This is actually quite true. Other than those significant principles of the gospel and gifts of the Spirit, we aren’t really extraordinary.

I feel extraordinary sometimes, especially when I feel the Holy Ghost or witness the hand of the Lord in my life and the lives of others around me. But when you look at my life compared to another person, we do just about the same things – get an education, work, have kids, raise families, go camping, etc.

I am so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My membership in Christ’s kingdom is by far the most precious thing to me. I hope that I can remember all the things President Packer reminded us about, and taught the world about. I want to live the gospel more fully.

What did you get out of President Packer’s talk? Do you feel unique? Or ordinary?

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