This post is a collection of impressions and insights I've gained from the April 2016 General Conference.

President Monson - Choices

  • Remember to make the harder right choice, not necessarily the easier wrong. Choosing the right isn't always the easy decision.
  • Build strong faith to help us through the choices of life. How can I continue to develop stronger faith? Studying the scriptures, keeping my covenants, and striving to be faithful in all things the Lord has asked me to do.

President Eyring - When Two or Three Are Gathered In My Name

  • General Conference is a good opportunity for us to draw nearer unto the Lord and feel the same love and wonderful Spirit we felt when we were baptized. We should approach general conference with preparation and with faith. We should pray for the speakers and those that will address us.
  • The degree to which we feel close to the Lord or feel the influence of the Spirit in our lives depends on us. Like in the parable of the sower, our hearts are the ground where the seed (the word of the Lord) lands. It's up to our hearts how the word can grow in our hearts.
  • Pray humbly. Not proudly. Pray with full purpose of heart. To me that means you commit to doing what you pray about in all sincerity.

Mary Durham - A Child's Guiding Gift

  • Teach children to recognize the Holy Spirit. Teach them that the Gift of the Holy Ghost is precious. We should strive to live worth of having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion.

Donald Halstrom - I Am A Child of God

  • Having a knowledge that we are truly children of God "is among the most extraordinary knowledge we can obtain. A correct understanding of our heavenly heritage is essential to exaltation."
  • Do I really know that I am a child of God? I think so. How does this knowledge affect the way I live? It helps me set my goals and priorities, and I realize that God intends for me to grow up to be like Him.
  • Remember to identify ourselves first and foremost as a Child of God.
  • I like this part of his talk:
    "When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are—that we are children of a loving God? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance?"

Elder Gary Stevenson - Priesthood Keys

  • "Priesthood keys control the exercise of priesthood authority. Ordinances that create a record in the Church require keys and cannot be done without authorization. "
  • I can "find the keys" by sharing the gospel, serving in the temple, and going forward with faith.

Elder Duncan - Healing Ointment of Forgiveness

  • Story of the sliver in the finger that came out with ointment.
  • We live in a world where we are often victims of the weaknesses, sins, and mistakes of others. This requires us to forgive.
  • An unforgiving heart harbors needless pain. Forgiveness is the way to heal from this pain.
  • The atonement of Christ isn't just for redeeming us from our sins, but also to give us strength to forgive, when it's hard. Forgiveness is the whole reason for why Jesus came to earth to perform his mission.
  • We are commanded to forgive others. God is just and all injustices will be made up for in the end (see DC 82:23).
  • Forgiveness isn't the same thing as condoning other people's behavior. It also doesn't mean we allow others to mistreat us because of their sins, struggles, and weaknesses.
  • We should pray to see others the way God sees others. Remember there are Sauls that can turn into Pauls.

Steven E Snow - Be Thou Humble

  • Teach children to be humble:

    As we raise our own children, we need to help them remain humble as they mature into adulthood. We do not do this by breaking their spirit through unkindness or by being too harsh in our discipline. While nurturing their self-confidence and self-esteem, we need to teach them the qualities of selflessness, kindness, obedience, lack of pride, civility, and unpretentiousness. We need them to learn to take joy in the successes of siblings and friends. President Howard W. Hunter taught that "our genuine concern should be for the success of others." If not, our children can become obsessed with self-promotion and outdoing others, jealousy, and resentment for the triumphs of peers. I’m grateful for a mother who, when seeing I was becoming too full of myself as a boy, would say, "Son, a little bit of humility right now would go a long way."

  • When we are humble, living the gospel becomes a high priority

  • Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church, said: “How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one’s self? By real, constant, worshipful, grateful prayer.”

Elder Renlund - That I Might Draw All Men Unto Me

  • As we draw closer to God, we recognize that we feel less entitled to blessings but see the Lord's tender mercies and grace in our lives.
  • Laman and Lemuel "felt that life was unfair and that they were entitled to God’s grace. In contrast, because he had drawn close to God, Nephi must have recognized that life would be the most unfair for Jesus Christ. Though absolutely innocent, the Savior would suffer the most."
  • I don't want to grieve the Lord with my sins any more. He didn't need to suffer, he was innocent. He did it to take upon my sins and my pains willingly to save me.
  • Story of lady who missed sacrament so had it later, and had the realization that the Lord did this just for her.
  • Story of the disciples on the road to Emaus:
    The sacrament truly helps us know our Savior. It also reminds us of His innocent suffering. If life were truly fair, you and I would never be resurrected; you and I would never be able to stand clean before God. In this respect, I am grateful that life is not fair.

Elder Rasband - Standing With The Leaders Of The Church

  • We sustain church leaders. We put our trust in them as they have been called of God to lead and guide. This is part of the order of heaven.
  • Press forward means to press forward. It takes effort.

Elder Neal A Anderson - Whoso Receiveth Them Receiveth Me

  • It's amazing to be sealed to a wonderful woman for time and all eternity. As husband and wife, bringing children into the world is part of God's plan. We need to make sure we're doing our best to provide for their physical and spiritual well being. I think of Jonathan, and how I could probably nurture that relationship a little better. Same with Cambree.
  • Speaking of his experience in Congo inviting children to join the conference, I like what he said: "I was deeply moved by this experience and saw it as symbolic of our need to reach out to the youth who feel alone, left behind, or outside the fence. Let us think about them, welcome them, embrace them, and do everything we can to strengthen their love for the Savior. Jesus said, 'Whoso shall receive one such … child in my name receiveth me.'"

Elder Mervyn Arnold - To The Rescue: We Can Do It

  • Don't Delay
  • Never Give Up
  • Great blessings can come to those that rescue. I enjoyed an update on the story of the young man that was rescued by a leader who followed him into the ocean with his suit on.
  • Rescue is for all ages and all people.

Elder Mazzagardi - The Sacred Place of the Restoration

  • For years, Elder Mazzagardi wondered why the restoration was in upstate New York, not any other place. He diligently saught answers to his questions. He tells a story about a visit to the Peter Whitmer farm where a man explained that crowds of people were in Palmyra to build the canal, and that the Lord had prepared the Smith family to move there. The restoration needed to happen there because that's where the golden plates were buried in the Hill Cumorah.

Elder Bednar - Always Retain A Remission Of Sins

  • The Holy Ghost has many roles. He is a member of the Godhead. He comforts, reveals, teaches, and cleanses and sanctifies. Like fire cleans, the Holy Ghost can burn the dross and evil out of human souls.
  • Ordinances are necessary to being born again and have sins remitted.
    Ordinances received and honored with integrity are essential to obtaining the power of godliness and all of the blessings made available through the Savior's Atonement.
  • The principle of repentance and the ordinances of baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands are inseparably connected.
  • Taking the sacrament alone doesn't remit sins. It's the conscientious preparation that goes into partaking of the sacrament and recommitting ourselves with a broken heart and contrite spirit that allows us to always retain a remission of our sins. This is because we can have the Spirit with us always. "And by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can always retain a remission of our sins. "
  • "Baptism is a point of departure in our mortal spiritual journey, not a destination we should yearn to revisit over and over again."

Elder Ballard - Family Councils

  • We should be holding family councils often. We can council as an entire family, as husband and wife, as parents with one child, or as a parent one-on-one with a child.
  • The Lord can bless families that council together.

President Nelson - The Price of Priesthood Power

  • Story of the father and son that repented and made it possible for family to be sealed. The daughters of the father died of heart disease that Pres Nelson tried to correct as a young surgeon but couldn't. The father and son are heroes because they were willing to forgive and change habits so that the atonement of Jesus Christ could heal them and sanctify them.
  • To "bear the priesthood" means to support the weight that comes with it, including the covenants and obligations connected to priesthood service. The priesthood is the same power used to create the earth and exalt us.

    President George Albert Smith taught that "we are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation; but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter."

  • Priesthood power comes at a price. Sin can cut off the power of the priesthood.

  • We need to learn to pray with all of our hearts and ask to be taught how to have greater priesthood power in order to have priesthood power. "If we will humbly present ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to teach us, He will show us how to increase our access to His power."
  • Remember President Monson's example of serving others always.

Bro Owen - The Best Leaders Are The Best Followers

  • Story of hunting with this father, following his horse in the darkness gave him reassurance.
  • Charity is a gift "which the father bestows up all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ."

Pres Uchtdorf - In Praise of Those Who Save

  • Some things are disposable or replaceable with an upgrade, such as phones, computers, cars, but not eternal relationships. It's dangerous to think these can be replaced when it's no longer convenient or the shiny new thing.
  • Strong marriage and family relationships just "don't happen", even in the church. They require constant, intentional work. We must dedicate our best efforts to saving and enriching our marriages and families. Seek the happiness of our spouse and children.
  • Saving marriage means we don't focus on the faults of our spouse. We need to envy not, be not easily provoked, -- we need charity, the pure love of Christ. You won't find a perfect person. Great marriages are built brick by brick, day by day over a lifetime. So "be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great marriage. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
  • Replace pride with love. Save our families.

Pres Eyring - Eternal Families

  • The work of any priesthood holder is to create eternal families.
  • As priesthood holders, we should put our own families and the families of others at the center of our concern.
  • All priesthood offices, from deacons to high priests can help others make eternal families.

Pres Monson - A Sacred Trust

  • "This precious gift of priesthood power brings with it not only solemn responsibilities but also special blessings for ourselves and for others."
  • Story of man in WWII needing rescuing. Felt prompted by the spirit to exercise priesthood to command rescue boat to turn around and pick him up.

Pres Monson - Choices (again)

  • The decisions we make matter. Decisions centered on Christ will lead us to our goal of eternal life.
  • Need to develop deep and strong faith to be an effective defense against the adversary. A real faith that will bolster us and give us a desire to choose the right.
  • Need courage to defy the consensus. Need to choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong.

Bonnie Oscarson - Do I Believe?

  • We're taught the gospel our whole lives. Do we believe it? Do we strive to become converted by what we know to be true?
  • This part of her talk stood out to me:

We all need to seek to have our hearts and very natures changed so that we no longer have a desire to follow the ways of the world but to please God. True conversion is a process that takes place over a period of time and involves a willingness to exercise faith. It comes when we search the scriptures instead of the Internet. It comes when we are obedient to the commandments of God. Conversion comes when we serve those around us. It comes from earnest prayer, regular temple attendance, and faithful fulfillment of our God-given responsibilities. It takes consistency and daily effort.

I am often asked, “What is the greatest challenge our youth face today?” I answer that I believe it is the ever-present influence of the “great and spacious building” in their lives.4 If the Book of Mormon was written specifically for our day, then surely we cannot miss the relevance for all of us of the messages in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life and the effect of those pointing their fingers and taunting from the great and spacious building.

Bishop Waddell - A Pattern for Peace

  • True peace comes from the Savior. Jesus said, "Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit and you shall have peace in me. I am Jesus Christ." D&C 19:23-24
  • One of the differences of those that ate the fruit and left the tree of life vs those that stayed amid the mocking from the Large & Spacious Building were those that "tasted" vs "partook". Following Jesus means feasting on his words continually.

Elder Christofferson - Fathers

  • Discipline in the Lord's way - follow the Spirit, show increase of love afterwards. Discipline not to punish but to guide.
  • Work is right, but avoid extremes.
  • Need to teach children, both formally and informally. Listening, playing, etc. are also times for teaching.
  • A good example goes a long way.
  • Treating his wife right and showing love to her is super important -- the best thing a father can do for his children. This reaffirms and strengthens the foundation of their family life and security.
  • "Let us lay aside the exaggerated notions of individualism and autonomy in today's culture and think first of the happiness and well-being of others."
  • We all wish we were better fathers. But keep pressing on, do your best.

Elder Cook - See Yourself In The Temple

  • Be worthy of a temple recommend and go to the temple often. It's in the temple where we receive the highest blessings.
  • In a relatively short time any member of the church can fully repent and prepare to enter the temple. This also means being willing to forgive ourselves and not focus on our imperfections.
  • "The Savior's Atonement was accomplished for all of God's children. His redeeming sacrifice satisfies the demands of justice for all those who truly repent."
  • Story of a family that was sealed in the temple. When they looked in the mirrors, they noticed another person. When asked, they had a family member that had already passed on. That family member was sealed to their family also.

Pres. Uchtdorf - He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home

  • Story of the church in Dresden (Frauenkirche) that was destroyed in the war, but was rebuilt. Just as men can rebuild a church, the Lord can rebuild men and women.
  • Obedience is the path we take to be rescued. Obedience isn't a popular word, but it is an essential part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel."
  • Obedience is sometimes liked unto beating metal into shape. But perhaps a better way of thinking about it is that obedience is the process by which we discover what we truly are made of.
  • Faith does us no good unless it changes us.
  • We lose the desire to sin and walk in darkness once we feel the love of God in our hearts and the light of truth fills our minds.
  • We are fundamentally made of divine materials. We are made to become like Heavenly Father. We see obedience not as a punishment but as a liberating path to our divine destiny. "Eventually the priceless, eternal spirit of the heavenly being within us is revealed, and a radiance of goodness becomes our nature." God sees us as we truly are.

Elder Hales - The Holy Ghost

  • One of the roles of the Holy Ghost is a revelator. But that's not His only role. He is also a teacher, a mentor, cleanses our spirits from sin when we repent, and in summary a guide.
  • When we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism, it's like having a member of the Godhead with us always.
  • We receive inspiration for ourselves, not for others (unless we have jurisdiction over them).
  • Don't be tempted to have your personal desires overcome the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Remember Joseph Smith and the lost 116 pages of manuscript for example.

Elder Gerrit Gong - Always Remember Him

  • Remembering (and forgetting) are part of our eternal journey.
  • The Lord remembers his promises. Examples include gathering scattered Israel, Moroni's promise in the Book of Mormon.
  • We can remember Him by gratefully acknowledging His hand throughout our lives. Many blessings come through others, so remembering them is also good.
  • We can remember Him by trusting when the Lord assures us, "He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more."

    "To be worthy does not mean to be perfect. Heavenly Father's plan of happiness invites us to be humbly at peace on our life's journey to someday become perfected in Christ, not constantly worried, frustrated, or unhappy in our imperfections today. Remember, He knows all the things we don't want anyone else to know about us--and he loves us still.

  • Remember that the Lord is always welcoming us home. Don't let the imperfections of others and ourselves get in the way of eternal truths.

  • We can remember Him on the Sabbath and with the Sacrament.
  • Our Savior invites us to remember Him as he always remembers us. We are engraven upon the palms of his hands.

Elder Patrick Kearon - Refuge From The Storm

  • This talk inspired me to care for refugees. I am not aware of any refugees in my area, but I'm inspired to help neighbors as needed. It's part of the gospel to care for the poor and the needy.

Elder Oaks - Opposition In All Things

  • We progress by making choices. We show that we will keep God's commandments. In order to be tested, we need to choose between alternatives, hence the need for opposition.
  • DC 29:39 - "It must needs be that the devil should temp the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves."
  • Satan's plan would not provide growth, because there would be no choice.
  • Satan's rebellion, who sought to destroy the agency of man,actually facilitated it. It's opposition that enables choice and it is the opportunity of making the right choices that leads to the growth that is the purpose of the Father's plan.
  • EB Grandin to print the Book of Mormon was Joseph Smith's fifth attempt. It wasn't easy. Sounds like a Nephi: Get The Brass Plates story
  • Nephi's teaching on three ways Satan opposes us:
    • Rage against that which is good
    • Lull us away in carnal security
    • Lead us to believe there is no devil or hell (no consequence for bad decisions)
  • God rarely prevents or stops trials from coming, but he does strengthen us to bear them or blunt the effects.

Elder Richards - The Power Of Godliness

  • It's in the temple where we can feel of God's power. We can feel the blessings of the temple in our lives.

Elder Johnson - And There Shall Be No More Death

  • Story of his daughter that passed away a year ago from cancer, that had hope in the resurrection. Through the Savior we can know that we will all be healed of our physical infirmities.

Elder Holland - Tomorrow The Lord Will Do Wonders Among You

  • To sum up the point of the talk: "Realizing that we all have to come down from the peak experiences to deal with the regular vicissitudes of life, may I offer this encouragement as general conference concludes.
  • God loves us and is cheering us on. Don't give up but hold on. Satan would have us give up and stop growing, and will lie to us saying we can't make it. Remember he says that because he can't grow and progress.
  • Desiring to do our best and seeking to do what's right is what we should have. This is what God wants from us.
  • "Hast thou not known? has thou not heard? [God] giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. ... They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.... For the Lord God will hold their right hand, saying unto them, Fear not; I will help thee."
  • Trust the Lord and his care and love for us.