Tonight before our Saturday evening session of stake conference, we joined RuthAnn and Gustavo, and Wanda and Dave for dinner at Z-Tejas, even though I had just gone there on Tuesday for my birthday with Adele. Conference was really good and I took a lot of notes so I can try to refer back to it in the future, since I can scarcely remember what the talks were about a week later, without writing it down.
To those who missed it, I jotted down a few, quick notes from President Stewart Dickson's talk. He really is a superb speaker, and seems like a General Authority. I wish I could just play his message back from a recorder, but here's a fraction of it.
He went on a mission to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana mission, back in 1979. The Church's first filmstrip, "Man's Search for Happiness," was a tool they relied on in their work. Its outdated message (made in the 1960's) was still true, and they'd inform their audiences whom they'd be showing it to, reminding them that even though the clothing and hairstyles were out of style, its message was still pertinent. The questions that people face today and then are these:
- Where did we come from?
- Why are we here?
- Where are we going?
Our spirits can be compared to a three-act play. Take a good look in the mirror. He quoted Socrates, "Know thyself." (His talk was about patriarchal blessings, and if you're not sure what that is, let me explain. A patriarchal blessing is a unique and special prayer, or a blessing that is given one time in one's life, usually as a teen, that is a road map of your future, if you are true and faithful. It provides insight and guidance, peace and comfort, and other helpful information that you can use as a tool throughout your life. I got mine when I was 20 years old by Patriarch Gerald Lindsey and have the original copy in an envelope in my filing cabinet. I refer to it often. The pages of it are worn and tattered. I cry every time I read it. It's very special to me, and unique to me. It's like a special message just for me from our Father in Heaven. I love it.) Back to President Dickson's talk.....Our patriarchal blessings give us a hope in who we are. He referred to the two patriarchs in our stake, Patriarch Dwayne Wright, who gives patriarchal blessings to the general public in our stake, and Patriarch Townsend, who gives Spanish patriachal blessings to those in our stake and in surrounding stakes. A patriarch must live a life of balance and moderation. Heavenly Father desires each of us to know who we are. Our patriarchal blessing need not be lengthy or elaborate. Don't compare ours to others' blessings. It's distinctive and unique, just as we are. Not all things promised in our blessings will take place in this life. Cautioned members of the Church: beware of an aspiring spirit. Certain aspects of our blessings may be unclear. In 1921, President Hinckley's father had arranged for their patriarch to come to their home to give blessings to members of their family, just before his 11th birthday. He'd never met the patriarch prior to then. Our blessings contain inspired declarations of truth. The patriarch gave him the blessing and said he'll raise his voice in testimony of truth to the nations of the earth. After his mission to the British Isles, Gordon B. Hinckley stopped in France, Germany, Washington, D.C., and New York, and thought that he had fulfilled this aspect of his blessing, raising his voice to the nations. (We of course now know that our prophet's voice of truth has been heard in most countries throughout the world today.)
President Dickson encouraged us to do the following things:
1. Study your patriarchal blessing in a quiet, clean place.
2. Seek to understand the blessings and look for phrases like, "I bless you...." View it from an eternal perspective. "When all that is promised, the Saints will be given..."
3. Be not deceived. Meaning of certain things applies to you. Don't make a ?-thorn into a bouquet of roses. Meanings change in different times of our life.
4. More beyond the knowing. We're subject to be acted upon. Don't fail to hearken to the Spirit.
In a significantly more eloquent delivery than my quick notes, President Dickson promised members of the stake that as we carefully study our patriarchal blessings, we'll discover whom the Lord would want us to become.