5 Highlights for “Accessing God’s Power through Covenants” by Elder Renlund

by | Apr 12, 2023

Painting of ocean, sun and moon.

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

Here is Elder Renlund’s delightful talk by popular vote. This is an excellent chance to discuss how we stay strong and vibrant amidst a falling world and increasing challenges.

You can find his full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by Elder Dale G. Renlund (unless otherwise noted).


Lesson Prep

  • Less is more. There is more material here than you can use. Please be choosy.
  • The goal is to get your group to talk and discuss with each other. Discussion deepens gospel concepts better than any other teaching method, presentation, or learning tool. It’s far better to deeply understand one golden new thing than to march through 10 “important” concepts that are forgotten by the time they get to their car in the parking lot.
  • Think about how the Holy Spirit works…one new impression and thought at a time. If your group spends the entire 50 minutes on one quote and the discussion is hearty, interactive, and spiritual – you scored a huge victory and blessed our Kingdom. (See 9 Tips for More Participation)

Quote #1 (the Amazon)

The Amazon River is the most powerful river in the world. This story creates a perfect visual introduction to your lesson.

Despite the river’s strength, twice a year something seemingly unnatural happens. When the sun, moon, and earth are aligned just so, a powerful tidal wave flows up the river, against the natural flow of the water. Waves up to 6 meters high traveling as far as 50 kilometers upstream have been documented. This phenomenon, known generally as a tidal bore, is referred to locally as pororoca, or “great roar,” because of the loud noise it makes. We can correctly conclude that even the mighty Amazon must yield to heavenly powers.

Like the Amazon, we have a natural flow to our lives; we tend to do what comes naturally. Like the Amazon, with heavenly help we can do seemingly unnatural things. After all, it is not natural for us to be humble, meek, or willing to submit our wills to God. Yet only by doing so can we be transformed, return to live in the presence of God, and achieve our eternal destiny.

Optional: Use Elder Renlund’s story as an intro and move on to the next quote and skip the following discussion or questions. Go with what feels best to you!

Possible discussion questions: How do you feel about the word “humble”? Is it a positive word for you or a negative one? Why? The Savior, who is powerful and effective – is also meek. How is our definition of “meek” different from the general world? We may be clever, successful, or creative – but all of those are talents gifted to us to enjoy. The faculties and opportunities to learn and develop skills and talents are also given to us.

Optional – Deepen the Understanding

Possible activity: Ask your group to define these three words/phrases. Have them read the quotes below for the ones you feel they need more help with. You can say something like:

  • “Elder Renlund mentions several important words and phrases in this quote; let’s look at a couple of them.”
  • (Optional – write them on the board or use word strips. humble, meek, willing to submit our wills to God.”)
  • “How would you explain the word humble to someone who is not a Latter-day Saint”?
  • Repeat this with the other two.

Some helpful quotes to use if you feel they need more context and understanding on any of the words. Have them ready to hand out at the last minute and ask someone to read them.

Humble

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

Meek

Elder Soares gives one of the best definitions of meekness I have found to date!

“Mormon taught that a man “cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.” He added that without such attributes, “faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart.”

“Meekness is vital for us to become more Christlike. Without it we won’t be able to develop other important virtues. Being meek does not mean weakness but behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control.

“Meekness was one of the most abundant attributes in the Savior’s life. He Himself taught His disciples, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” (Be Meek and Lowly of Heart – Oct 2013)

(Elder Soares also noted only the meek get answers to their prayers.)

Willing to Submit Our Wills to God

“…the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give”! (Neal A. Maxwell – October 1995)

Possible discussion question: How would you summarize Elder Maxwell’s point about our wills and talents/abilities? (Note: it is by our will we choose to use our skills and talents to help build up the Kingdom of God.)

Quote #2 (pledge)

Possible engagement tool: Share the definition of the word “feeble.”

feeble: faint-hearted, weak, subdued, fragile, muted, powerless, thin, spineless

Invite your group to listen for how the word “feeble” is used in this quote and then what Elder Renlund teaches is the opposite (“commit ourselves quite exceptionally to fulfilling it.”)

A covenant is a pledge that we should prepare for, clearly understand, and absolutely honor. Making a covenant with God is different than casually making a promise. First, priesthood authority is required. Second, a feeble promise does not have the connecting strength to lift us above the pull of the natural flow. We make a covenant only when we intend to commit ourselves quite exceptionally to fulfilling it. We become covenant children of God and inheritors of His kingdom, especially when we identify ourselves completely with the covenant.

The term covenant path refers to a series of covenants whereby we come to Christ and connect to Him. Through this covenant bond, we have access to His eternal power.

pledge: word of honor, guarantee, undertaking, oath, vow

exceptionally: in a way that is much greater than usual, especially in skill, intelligence, quality, etc.

Possible discussion questions: What does feeble mean to you, and what is the opposite of feeble? (validate all reasonable answers – I would say “with great intention and strength” is the opposite of feeble.) How weighty and far-reaching is a pledge? Does the Lord pledge anything to us in return? What does the phrase “commit ourselves quite exceptionally to fulfilling it” mean to you regarding covenants? What are the different covenant-making events along the covenant path? (Baptism, sacrament, and temple ordinances, including the endowment.) How is the Sacrament an opportunity to bond and connect ourselves with Jesus Christ? (accept and validate all reasonable answers – the Sacrament is Christ’s Atonement put into action on our behalf.)

Quote #3 (the five covenants)

We become His disciples and represent Him well when we intentionally and incrementally take on ourselves the name of Jesus Christ through covenants. Our covenants give us power to stay on the covenant path because our relationship with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father is changed. We are connected to Them by a covenantal bond.

The covenant path leads to the ordinances of the temple, such as the temple endowment. The endowment is God’s gift of sacred covenants that connect us more fully to Him. In the endowment, we covenant, first, to strive to keep the commandments of God; second, to repent with a broken heart and contrite spirit; third, to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do this by exercising faith in Him, making covenants with God as we receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation, keeping those covenants throughout our lives, and striving to live the two great commandments to love God and neighbor. We covenant, fourth, to keep the law of chastity and, fifth, to dedicate ourselves and everything the Lord blesses us with to build up His Church.

Necessary clarification: Please notice that the word “consecrate” does not mean to physically turn over your resources and give them to the Church as some critics like to claim. To consecrate your time and talents means to assign them a personal sacred purpose. It means that you realize your resources and blessings are sacred, and in your heart, you intend to use them for the good of God’s Kingdom.

consecrate: to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of Deity

Possible discussion activity: Pull out the five covenants made in the temple and let people discuss them. I included a handout from the General Handbook that describes the endowment and lists the covenants if it fits your lesson plan. It’s attached at the end of this article. You can also use this as a take-home handout at the end of the lesson.

Possible discussion question: In your own words, describe one of the five main covenants we make in the temple that Elder Renlund highlights and what it means to you.

In regards to talking about the temple covenants outside of the temple – please see Thoughts on Church Culture at the end of this post.

This is a beautiful 2-minute Church video – I would not show it in class. You don’t have time, and videos typically reduce discussion and interaction. But if you need to refer someone to it…here it is.

Quick example of what can be publicly discussed about the temple.

Quote #4 (foundation)

Possible engagement tool: Invite your group to listen for the blessings of keeping temple covenants and notice which one stands out for them today.

By making and keeping temple covenants, we learn more about the Lord’s purposes and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost. We receive direction for our lives. We mature in our discipleship so that we do not remain perpetual, unknowing children. Rather, we live with an eternal perspective and are more motivated to serve God and others. We receive increased capacity to fulfill our purposes in mortality. We are protected from evil, and we gain greater power to resist temptation and to repent when we stumble. When we falter, the memory of our covenants with God helps us return to the path. By connecting to God’s power, we become our own pororoca, able to go against the flow of the world, throughout our lives and into the eternities. Ultimately, our destinies are changed because the covenant path leads to exaltation and eternal life.

Wow, that is a power-packed, condensed list of temple blessings. See which ones especially speak to your heart today.

Temple Blessings

  • Understand the Savior more
  • Fulness of Holy Ghost
  • Direction for our lives
  • Maturity in discipleship
  • Eternal perspective
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased capacities
  • Protection from evil
  • Great power to resist temptation
  • Better, fuller, faster repentance
  • Connection to God’s power
  • More majestic destiny

Possible discussion questions: Which blessings from Elder Renlund’s list stood out today? Why is that blessing meaningful to you? How do you feel after visiting the temple? Have you ever felt or experienced any of these blessings? Who feels comfortable sharing how the temple has blessed their life recently?

Note: Should you get one of those self-righteous…”well, all of them” responses, smile, nod, and then ask, “Let’s talk about those blessings. Who would like to pick one so we can discuss it?”

Bonus Teacher Tip: Sometimes, we get people who are antagonistic or want to discredit or debate with you as a teacher or somehow show you up. Don’t pick it up. Sidestep it. Float above it. Diffuse it. Simply say something like: “Interesting question (or thought), who has a response for that (or does anyone have thoughts on that?) That way, you diffuse the attention off of you, and you permit other people to respond. It returns the balance to the room. I used that in reverse, where the teacher was zoning in on me, and I replied, “I don’t have an answer to that at the moment, but I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts.”

Quote #5 (transformation)

This is Elder Renlund’s final thought, and it makes a great closing thought if you have time.

As you walk the covenant path, from baptism to the temple and throughout life, I promise you power to go against the natural worldly flow—power to learn, power to repent and be sanctified, and power to find hope, comfort, and even joy as you face life’s challenges. I promise you and your family protection against the influence of the adversary, especially when you make the temple a major focus in your life.

As you come to Christ and are connected to Him and our Heavenly Father by covenant, something seemingly unnatural happens. You are transformed and become perfected in Jesus Christ. You become a covenant child of God and an inheritor in His kingdom.

Summary

Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Renlund’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

What a lovely conference talk about empowerment in today’s world. As the chaos and confusion increase – our need for God increases. Bless you, for sharing this message with others! Thank you so much for preparing yourself. Your extra efforts create goodness for your ward or branch. Teach with confidence, and if you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.

Additional Notes

Thoughts on Church Culture

Love you, teachers! Let’s talk about church culture a bit. I know some of you will push up against some established cultural beliefs when you have a discussion about covenants made in the temple. Kindly explain that while we do not discuss ceremonies, tokens, or signs – we are free to discuss and review the five main covenants made in the temple. They are published in the Church news, posted on the Church website, spelled out in the General Handbook, discussed on Church Youtube videos, and spoken of at Worldwide General Conference.

If someone tries to impose a moratorium or claim you are in violation, please refer them to the 2-minute video in quote #3, the Handbook, section 27.2 – or Elder Renlund’s conference talk.

It’s unfortunate, but a fair number of people like to impose their own church policies, partly-true or untrue doctrines, and rules because “they heard so and so say it” at some point in their lifetime. Or they grew up with it. Those are not good standards by which to administer reproof on anyone.

Years ago, someone dramatically shushed me because I said I liked the new temple movies better than the old ones. (She was a lovely lady normally.) She said that we shouldn’t even mention there are movies we watch. That’s ridiculous. Ironically, the Church had publicly announced the new films in a public news release. When I showed it to her, she responded that someone at the temple told her that and, therefore, I shouldn’t say anything. This was quite a while ago, and I didn’t have a great response then. Now I do…”show me an official source that says that.”

People do not have permission to reinforce their interpretations of anything on anyone else. We have just one doctrinal source: the Standard Works, the Proclamations, and Joseph Smith. Our one policy source is the General Handbook.

I want to apologize to you and anyone else who has ever been subjected to cultural teachings, personal policies, and half-true doctrines. With millions of members; mistaken teachings are floating around. When in doubt, take a little time to check official resources or ask to see the official source. When you find the correct answer, be kind about sharing it!


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