2018 Commencement

18 Apr. 2018

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LDS Church News - April 14, 2018

Transcripts

How I Prepare for My Future

Elder Dale G. Renlund

What a great day! Congratulations to all who have been awarded diplomas or certificates, and thank you to all who have helped: parents, siblings, faculty, staff, and friends. You should all feel terrific about what you have done and what you have accomplished. There are so many of us who feel very, very proud of you.

Now is a natural time to think about your future: Where will I go and what will I do? What will happen in my life? When will it happen? I'm going to answer that: I don't know. Life is a great adventure. But there is something I do know, and it is what this wonderful choir sang about. Not only do we turn to the Savior for peace, and not only is He the only source that never ceases to make us whole, it is to Jesus Christ that we look for guidance, comfort, and direction.

The Savior's Model

The Savior's instructions to His disciples about preparing for the future are also a model for you and for me. Recall with me the time when Jesus taught His disciples about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and His Second Coming.

And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be [which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple,] and what shall be the sign of thy coming? (Matthew 24:3).

He told them they would not know and they could not know. This is just the same as for you and for me. We cannot know our futures. But the Savior then answered the question that they could have asked and maybe should have asked: How do we prepare for the Second Coming?

Today is a perfect day to ask, How do I prepare for my future, not knowing what my future holds? Gaining an education, skill, or trade is a wonderful way to prepare for your future, yet the Savior's answer to this question is even more important:

It is to be loyal to Jesus Christ. It is to not be deceived, not take offense, and not be stirred up to anger against that which is good.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come and shall deceive many.

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

And many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many. 

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not (Matthew 24:45, 10 11, 23). 

Brothers and sisters, you know the truth. The Holy Ghost, which Elder Clark spoke about, has witnessed of the truth to you. When others come professing to know the truth and try to deceive you, believe it not. When others cause offense, don't take offense. Be loyal to Jesus Christ; be a true disciple. Reject false prophets and their teachings.

The second thing is what Elder Clark spoke about. It is: be receptive to the Holy Ghost.

In answering His disciple's question, Jesus Christ in Matthew 25 gave three parables. The first of these begins this way: And then, at that day, before the Son of man comes, the kingdom of heaven [shall] be likened unto and then come these three parables (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 25:1 footnote a).

You are very familiar with the first one. It is the parable of the ten virgins (see Matthew 25:1-13). These ten virgins were watching for the bridegroom. When he came, five had no oil in their lamps. They went out to buy, and then it was too late. The five who had oil in their lamps were described as wise. They were able to go with the bridegroom.

The Lord has told us in modern revelation the interpretation of this parable. He said:

For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day (Doctrine and Covenants 45:57).

How does this help you prepare for whatever happens in your future? The answer is to live so the Holy Ghost is your constant companion. This is how you prepare for the Bridegroom and for what life brings, come what may.

President Russell M. Nelson at April general conference said:

Through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, the Lord will assist us in all our righteous pursuits. We can pray and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own. I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation.

Our prophet is saying the status quo is not good enough. Our skill in receiving revelation is insufficient. We need to do better, and he taught us how we should. He said:

Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.

Worthiness, obedience, sincere inquiry, scripture study (like a hungry person coming to a feast), and participating in the redemption of dead these things open the conduit.

President Russell M. Nelson also promised:

As you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord's timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek (Russell M. Nelson, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives Ensign or Liahona, May 2018).

The conduit remains open with ongoing obedience, expressions of gratitude to God, and patience with the Lord and His timetable.

The combination that opens heaven and that leads to the companionship of the Holy Ghost often doesn't happen overnight. This oil must be consistently sought, drop by drop, day by day, and cannot be borrowed. You cannot borrow a worthy person's temple recommend and think that that confers worthiness on you or grants you the skill to hear whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

Nothing prepares you more for your unknown future than having the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

The third thing I would mention is to magnify your God-given talents.

The Lord has given you talents and spiritual gifts, and you are to build on them. In the next parable in Matthew 25 the parable of the talents the kingdom of heaven was as a man traveling to a far country (see Matthew 25:14-30). He delivered his goods to his servants. To one he gave five talents, to another he gave two talents, and to one he gave one talent, according to their differing abilities.

Then he took his journey. Both the five- and the two-talent servants traded what they had been given and doubled their talents. But the one-talent servant dug in the earth, and hid his Lords money (Matthew 25:18). After a long time, the man comes back. He is equally pleased with the five- and two-talent servants, but he is unhappy with the one-talent servant.

The message is that as you prepare for your unknown future, it does not matter how many or what talents you have; what matters is that you magnify them. If the one-talent servant had magnified his talent, the lord would have been pleased with him, just as he was pleased with the two- and the five-talent servants. The one-talent servant would have been told well done, and he, too, would have been welcomed into the man's rest.

In the 1700s in what is now Turkey, there was a man named Zusya. He is referred to as Zusya of Anipol. He was a Hasidic Jew and had become a great teacher and he had amassed many, many disciples. As he grew to an extremely old age, he started to worry about his death. His disciples came to him and said, Master, you have lived an exemplary life. Surely God will reward you. Why do you tremble?

He answered, When I stand before God, should He say to me, Why weren't you another Moses?  I will answer, You did not give me the greatness of soul. If He asks, Why were you not another King Solomon? I will answer, You did not give me the wisdom. But if He asks, Zusya, why were you not Zusya? Why were you not the person I gave you the ability to be? that is why I tremble (see Harold S. Kushner, Overcoming Lifes Disappointments: Learning from Moses How to Cope with Frustration (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), 26.

We all need to magnify the talents we have been given and be the person the Lord has given us the gifts to be by magnifying our gifts.

The fourth, using your talents, you serve and bless God's children.

In the parable of the sheep and goats, God segregated His children based on whether they had given meat when He was an hungered, given drink when He was thirsty, taken Him in when He was a stranger, clothed Him when He was naked, visited Him when He was sick, and come to Him when He was in prison (see Matthew 25:31-46). Both those on the right (the sheep in the metaphor) and those on the left (the goats in the metaphor) asked:

Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink [or didn't]?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee [or not]?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee [or not]? (Matthew 25:37-39).

And the king says to them:

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40; see also verse 45).

The king will say to those on His right, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. And to those on His left He will say, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:34, 41).

Service to God's children brings blessings to you as well to His children. Our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, asked us at general conference to implement a newer, holier approach to caring and ministering for others (Russell M. Nelson, Ministering Ensign or Liahona, May 2018). This is what this last parable of the Savior is directing us to do.

I would like to illustrate with a poem I heard over and over and over in my childhood. My father was born in northern Finland. He loved Finnish literature. Finnish literature, to me, never seemed to have a happy ending. It was along the lines, You fight against impossible odds, and then you die. My dad would read us four children these sad stories from Finnish literature, and he would conclude, and we'd look at each other and say, What was that? It was like reading the book of Job without a happy ending.

He read this poem about a poor farmer named Paavo who lived with his wife and ten children in Saarijärvi, the lake region of central Finland. Several years in a row, some combination of a runoff from a spring snowmelt, summer hailstorms, or an early autumn frost killed most of his crop. Each time the meager harvest came in, his wife said, Paavo, Paavo, you unfortunate old man, God has forsaken us. Paavo, in turn, said, Woman, mix bark with the rye flour to make the bread so we and our children won't go hungry. And I will work harder to drain the marshy fields. God is testing us, but He will provide.

Every time the crop was destroyed, Paavo directed his wife to double the amount of bark she mixed with the bread to ward off starvation. Poor Paavo worked even harder. He dug ditches to drain the marsh, to decrease its susceptibility to the spring snowmelt and exposure of an early autumn frost.

Finally, Paavo harvested a rich crop. Overjoyed, his wife said, Paavo, Paavo, these are happy times! It is time to throw away the bark and bake bread made only with the rye. But Paavo took his wife in hand and said, Woman, mix half the bread with bark, for our neighbor's fields have frosted over.

That is typically Finnish, and left unstated is what Paavo would do that he and his family would share with the neighbor. In this case, service to another human being would save them both.

Paavo somehow knew that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17). 

First, be loyal to Jesus Christ and what you know to be true. Don't be deceived, don't take offense, and don't get stirred up to anger against that which is goo

Second, be receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Do what is necessary to have Him as your constant companion.

Third, magnify your God-given talents. It does not matter how many or what talents God has given you; magnify them.

Fourth, using your talents, serve and bless God's children.

As you do so, you will be prepared for whatever you face in this life. You will be prepared to meet God, having accomplished your mission in mortality.

I know that these things are true. I certainly pray that God will bless and watch over and protect you, that you will be guided as you go through your life, that you will receive blessings in great abundance, that you will be able to be ready in life for whatever comes.

I invoke a blessing on you that you will be blessed, protected, and helped in every righteous endeavor, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Learning from the Holy Ghost

Elder Kim B. Clark

 

I am grateful to be with you on this very happy day. This is a day to celebrate what you have done and to look forward to the next wonderful and important stage of your lives. 

There is ahead of you an eternal family, opportunities for work, additional education, and service in the Church and in your communities. The years ahead will be a time of learning that will lead to righteous growth and change.

In fact, this is precisely Heavenly Father's plan. You and I are here to become more knowledgeable, more understanding, more capable, more skillful and more useful. Our Father in Heaven wants us to learn to act with greater power, wisdom, kindness, and love in serving Him and our brothers and sisters. 

I know that learning is not easy. Life in mortality and the natural man and woman in all of us makes it hard to keep learning. It is hard to stay open to new ideas and new ways of working. Sometimes the Lord's plan for stretching us and challenging us is hard. It can be hard to stay ready to repent and grow and change in righteous ways according to the Father's plan. In the face of these difficulties, it is not surprising that we sometimes think, There's no way I can do this.

But there is a way. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life.  He is the way! And He has given us the perfect teacher, guide, and companion to help us. Through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ, we have been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Listen to these examples of the gifts and blessings that come through the ministry of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost: 

guides us into all truth. 

teach[es] [us] all things

show's us] all things what [we] should do. 

strengthens us with divine power.

gives [us][gifts of] wisdom knowledge faith discernment

sanctifies [us] 

[so that we are] spiritually born of God, with a mighty change in [our] heart[s]

My dear brothers and sisters, these blessings mean that the Holy Ghost will help us learn, grow and change throughout our lives. 

With all the energy of my soul, I invite you to rise up to these great privileges the Lord Jesus Christ makes available to you. Here are four things you can do that will help you keep the commandments of the Lord and bring the Spirit into your lives. 

1. Seek to learn with and through the Holy Ghost.

Whether you are in formal schooling, at home in your family, at work, in Church, serving in the temple, or out in your communities, the Lord will open up opportunities for you to learn deeply through your own study and by the teaching of the Holy Ghost. 

2. Pray about your experiences and what you are trying to learn. 

Thank your Heavenly Father for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Ask your Father in Heaven to bless you with His Spirit and teach you what He wants you to know. Ask Him to help you become more capable of effective, righteous action. And seek His help to become what He wants you to become. 

3. Act on the impressions you receive. 

If you pray with real intent, the Holy Ghost will prompt you with insights, and with assignments from the Lord. When you act on them, the Holy Ghost will bless you with spiritual gifts and will magnify your capacity. 

4. Write those experiences down!

Record what you receive at the Lord's hand, and what you learn through the power of the Holy Ghost. Review what you write and rejoice with gratitude for the blessing of the Holy Ghost in your life. 

As you do these things over and over again, the spirit of revelation will grow in you and the Holy Ghost will become your companion and your true teacher. There will grow up in your heart and your mind a great spirit of learning. Your desire to learn deeply, to grow and to change will increase. Through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ you will rise up and claim the great blessings your Heavenly Father has prepared for you. I know that is true, of my own experience, and by the witness and power of the Holy Ghost. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

A Season to Remember and Decide

President Bruce C. Kusch

 

As I begin my remarks this morning, I would like to share some details about these graduates. Today we will award 405 two-year degrees and 72 certificates to 335 graduates. 187 graduates are women and 148 are men. 202, or 60 percent, have served full-time missions. 61 of our graduates are married. 

212 of the graduates are from the United States. 123 graduates are from 35 different countries and represent 37 percent of students graduating today. That we have so many students from around the world is one of the things I love most about the College; we truly are a global community of saints, learning from and lifting one another. 

Now graduates, if you are the first person in your family to be receiving a diploma today, would you please stand? That's a wonderful accomplishment, thank you.

I hope each of you graduating today may feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement. You have worked hard to reach this point in your education. I invite the audience to give all of our graduates a sincere and heartfelt round of applause. 

Now, would all the graduates please stand? Would the faculty and staff of the College please stand? 

Graduates, these brothers and sisters love you and have given of themselves to serve you in remarkable ways. Would you please now give them a round of applause to express your gratitude for all they have done to bless your lives?

Faculty and staff, may please be seated.

Parents, and family members would you please stand? Parents that are here today with your graduates, graduates please stand back up if you would, as those of you graduating today look around this historic Tabernacle, and hopefully find your family and friends, I hope you can feel the depth of the joy and love they are feeling today as they celebrate with you. I think it would be appropriate for the graduates to express their love and gratitude for their families with a round of applause. 

Thank you. You may be seated.

My dear young friends, as you conclude this season of learning and study at LDS Business College, we send you forth with our prayer and desire that you will forever be capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ. Go forward with optimism and faith and trust and confidence in the Lord. And as you do so, there are two words I hope you will carry with you in your hearts and minds, no matter where in the world the Lord may lead you. These two words are: remember and decide.

Please remember the unique blessing and privilege it has been to study and learn at one of the Savior's institutions of higher education, and remember that the consecrated tithes of members of the Church from all over the world have made this possible. Many of you have received scholarships and sponsorships while here, made possible because generous donors have desired to make an additional contribution to your education. Remember them and show your gratitude through your righteous efforts to bless others in similar ways when the day comes that you may have the means to do so. 

Remember and follow the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson who has exhorted us to stay on the covenant path. Honoring the covenants you have made and will yet make, will help you put on the whole armor of God, and should be the focus of your lives every single day. You will no doubt one day ask, “With all the demands on me, how do I keep my life in balance? I would offer this as a measure: if ever the day comes that something in your life becomes more important to you than keeping your covenants, your life will be out of balance, calling for immediate corrective action. Remember also the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland who said,...the power of your covenants is greater than the power of temptation (Ensign, August 2010). 

Remember that the worth of your soul is great in the sight of God; that you are His beloved son or daughter, with eternal, divine potential, and with a future that is as bright as your faith.

A fundamental blessing and characteristic of our eternal existence is the gift of moral agency: our freedom to choose and act for ourselves as agents (see 2 Nephi 2:16). You and I are faced with decisions every day. Gratefully, scriptures inspired counsel, and most importantly the gift of the Holy Ghost all help us make wise, correct decisions. Some decisions you will make will be quite easy; others may be more difficult and challenging. At times you might want to sit down and just have a good cry. When you find yourself in that situation, consider these words from C.S. Lewis who said: Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you will still have to decide what to do (Silver Chair). Another person once said It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values area (Roy Disney).

So, my dear friends, I invite you to decide that you will forever anchor your lives and your values on the teachings of living prophets and the doctrines of the Church, which are the Savior's teachings and the Savior's doctrines. Study them. Live them. Believe them and apply them. Never, ever forsake them. As you do this, I testify that your lives will be filled with light; the Holy Ghost will be your guide and companion, and the decisions you make will be those that will lead you to happiness in this life, and the life to come.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.