"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; ...And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone..."
Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the northwestern United States are preparing for a regional conference this weekend. Where direction and inspiration pertinent to the details & needs of their lives where they are living, will be received. Simply stated, the regional conference will be an opportunity to be spiritually fed by those in authority to receive revelation on that area's behalf.
Three weeks from now, members & officers of the church from all areas of the world, will gather in Salt Lake City, Utah, to receive counsel and instruction from their church leaders. Other members will gather in their homes & their meeting places for General Conference. The weekend of October 1st-2nd, 2011 (aka the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) will be devoted to learning once more at the feet of those in authority to receive revelation. For this conference, the included feet will be those of the Twelve Apostles, the Prophet and his two counselors --- these honorable men hold the authority & keys by which to receive revelation for the world.
The time which we have prior to each of these conferences is busy, and filled with not only our everyday tasks, but also much preparation. To help us along the way, Heavenly Father has scattered preparatory resources throughout our lives. Such as our own personal scripture study, prayer, church meetings & leaders, Family Home Evenings, and the study of past conference talks.
My friends, we have been given an extra special treat!
One more additional spiritual primer, available now in the form an article from our current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. His words have been published by the Washington Post, in regards to the 10th anniversary of 9/11:
"The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts. It is an episode of anguish that has become a defining moment in the history of the American nation and the world. This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, will pay its own homage to the unforgettable events of September 11, 2001.
There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.
Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.
Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.
But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and the downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.
If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.
The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly “need Him every hour,” not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to Him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed.
It is constancy that God would have from us. Tragedies are not merely opportunities to give Him a fleeting thought, or for momentary insight to His plan for our happiness. Destruction allows us to rebuild our lives in the way He teaches us, and to become something different than we were. We can make Him the center of our thoughts and His Son, Jesus Christ, the pattern for our behavior. We may not only find faith in God in our sorrow. We may also become faithful to Him in times of calm."
So profound. So true.
...For instance, while sitting at a desk in geometry class, it can be easy to become distracted by the whimsical butterfly engaged in an aerial ballet just outside the window. The butterfly is in fact beautiful & good, however it is still a distraction when the student's immediate attention is needed at the front of the room, in the lesson being offered. This is the same when it comes to each one of us in our day-to-day lives.
Heavenly Father has an entire curriculum for us, that he is offering through instructors whom he has hand-chosen. We should be more dedicated to the learning processes at the front of these coming conference "classrooms." The beauty outside our windows will still be there when the class is dismissed. May we be more attentive in our spiritual learning experiences, that the beautiful distractions of this unsettling world would not interfere with our learning the great eternal lessons necessary for our salvation. This is where we can not only find increased strength in our lives but, more importantly, peace in our lives. Thus allowing us to be more faithful to our Heavenly Father (who has ALWAYS been faithful to us) --- in our sorrows, as well as our calm times.
May we be ready to receive profound answers to the questions troubling our hearts, and a steady direction to the path that will lead us back to our Heavenly Father. May we readily accept the blessings He has granted us in our mortal experience, that we can be prepared to weather the refining process necessary to grant us the ability to be in & remain in His presence.
"...Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven."