Members of the Church were taught lessons on how small, repentant changes can lead to joy, comfort and triumphs during the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference.
President Russell M. Nelson announced 13 new temples, alongside his message reminding members to make worshiping the Lord a priority. He cautioned those listening to make daily prayer and gospel study a priority or possibly become vulnerable to the adversary’s temptations and philosophies.
“My brothers and sisters, I plead with you to make time for the Lord! Make your own spiritual foundation firm and able to stand the test of time by doing those things that allow the Holy Ghost to be with you always,” President Nelson said.
Elder Michael A. Dunn of the Quorum of the Seventy introduced the concept of “marginal gains,” originally taught by the British national cycling team coach, Sir Dave Brailsford.
“This entailed implementing small improvements in everything. That meant constantly measuring key statistics and training targeting specific weaknesses,” Elder Dunn said. He reminded members they will not likely be perfect in their efforts, but they must be determined and persistent in becoming better versions of themselves. Joy and peace will follow.
One small, persistent effort Church members have engaged in is calling the Church by its correct name. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles focused his remarks on the continuing need to do this. He gave many examples of members defending the correct name of the Church through consistent efforts.
“Let us go forward in faith, remembering we are restoring the name of Jesus Christ. Let us be determined with ourselves and patient with others. I promise you that as you share the revealed name of the Church, you will feel the Lord’s love and approval,” he said.
Charity efforts are another area members of the Church have made efforts in. Bishop L. Todd Budge of the Presiding Bishopric gave thanks to generous members who have contributed to Church humanitarian funds, services and projects.
Bishop Budge said sacrifices can be given from the perspective of “giving to” the Lord; joy will come from those sacrifices becoming pure and deep expressions of love for the Savior and others.
Another way to find joy is through repentance.
Elder Carlos G. Revillo Jr. of the Seventy recounted how he once worked in a soap factory as a young chemical engineer. He explained how repentance is a lot like soap.
“Like soap, repentance is a cleaning agent. It allows us the opportunity to get rid of our impurities and our old debris, so we are worthy to be with God, as no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God,” Elder Revillo said.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how a person’s agency and freedom are reminders of their individual accountability before God. Thankfully, he said, members of the Church can trust Heavenly Father to be a perfect judge because of His perfect justice and mercy.
“By divine love and divine law, we are responsible for our choices and their consequences,” he said.
Elder Sean Douglas of the Seventy encouraged Church members to be faithful, not doubtful in the Lord’s timing. He shared analogies of “spiritual hurricanes” bringing stress and struggle throughout people’s lives. However, “we face our spiritual hurricanes best by believing in Christ and keeping His commandments,” Elder Douglas said.
Faith was the focus of General Authority Seventy Elder Anthony D. Perkins’ talk. He discussed the many ways people filled with faith can find greater peace and comfort during their hardest afflictions. Many members of the Church have shared their stories of personal trials with him and he said understands the miracle it is to feel God’s love during struggle.
Elder Perkins recalled his own experience dealing with cancer and related an experience he had when doctors had not yet diagnosed what the pain he felt was from. “I sat with my wife, intending to offer a routine blessing on our lunch. Instead, all I could do was simply weep, ‘Heavenly Father, please help me. I am so sick,’” he said.
Elder Perkins said he immediately felt surrounded by God’s love and that love was enough to carry him through his diagnosis.
Conferencegoers were also taught to focus on what’s most important in life — the eternal things. Elder Alvin F. Meredith III of the Seventy mentioned his first driving lesson with his father. After only looking at the road directly in front of the hood of the car, Elder Meredith’s father instructed him to focus on what was “down the road.”
“Focusing on the things that are most important — especially those things ‘down the road,’ those eternal things — is a key to maneuvering through this life,” Elder Meredith said.