Fall 2018

Greg Simpson

04 Dec. 2018

11:15 a.m. - Noon

Assembly Hall

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Greg Simpson quotePatricio Borda quote

Transcript

The Wrappings of Christmas

This time of year is rich in symbolism that testifies of the Lord Jesus Christ, and my original submitted message that has been advertised along with what I’m going to be talking about--I called last Monday and asked if I could change it, and so, if you were anticipating one thing, you’ll be getting another. I hope that the Spirit of the Lord will direct me as I do this today. I feel, through going to the temple and fasting and contemplating, and just really thinking about the richness of this season, that you will be able to be uplifted and edified through this.

I’m going to sing a couple of songs first today, and I want you to listen carefully to the words. Some of these songs are just kind of Christmas traditional songs, but the words in there—I wonder if the people who were composing them really thought about what they were writing. So as we go through this, just really pay close attention to the words.

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day,
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy.

While shepherds watched their flock by night

Seated on the ground,

An angel of the Lord came down,

And glory shown around.

Fear not, said he, for mighty dread

Had seized their troubled minds.

Glad Tidings of great joy I bring

To you and all mankind.

 

In Bethlehem of Judah,

The blessed babe was born,

And laid within a manger

Upon this blessed morn.

All glory be to God on high,

And on the earth be peace.

Good will henceforth from heaven to men,

Begin and never cease.

 

Now, those glad tidings are words that are generally specific to this holiday season. What are the glad tidings? Today, I hope to convey to you the image of a Christmas gift, and, where some people kind of get caught up, worried about the commercialism of Christmas, I’m going to use that image—of a Christmas gift—hopefully to teach a gospel principle.

I used to get really excited as a young little boy. My parents were kind of nervous about how excited I was about Christmas. I was snooping around the house during that time and searching out these gifts. There also came a time to wrap those presents, and I would try really hard to wrap it really nice, and my mother would see how I did it and re-do it—as if to convey that the wrapping testified of something more important inside. And so it is that principle—the bows, ribbons, and wrappings of Christmas—that I would like to try to convey to you today.

In Israel, outside of Jerusalem on a hillside, shepherds were tending temple flocks, when an angel of the Lord came down and gave them a sign—as often happens to temple-minded people. The message was, “Ye shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes,” (interesting, wrapped—the gift to all—wrapped), “lying in a manger.”

Now, the Son of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all things that in them are, condescends—comes down—takes upon Him a wrapping of flesh and blood—that blood which would someday atone—as a baby, born lower, descended below all things.

His life to follow would also be wrapped up in doing the will of His Father. As His mother anxiously wondered where He was—in the next scene that we see in the New Testament after His birth and those who came to visit Him—is His departure from a caravan after leaving in a celebration of the Passover, finds His way back to His Father’s house. And He says to His concerned mother, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

His life is wrapped up in ministry, and in miracles, and in teaching. In Mosiah we learn: “For behold, the time cometh and is not far distant, that with power the Lord Omnipotent, who reigneth, who was and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay. And he shall go forth among men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of disease.”

I love that phrase, “All manner of disease.” Whereas these things may look like a physical curing, there is a deeper message. Look inside the gift; He cures all who will have faith on His name. What a gift came to us in swaddling clothes, in a mortal body! And now ministering, as we hear so often taught these days among the children of men, serving and teaching them—teaching them in a way that those that had ears to hear could hear. And those who didn’t would just ask, “Why teach ye in parables?” Because what He was teaching was a gift, a gift of a plan that He would exemplify through His wrapped up service life.

Just last week—my wife Angie is probably next to the Savior in serving people. She doesn’t shut off, especially this time of year. It’s like on hyper drive. Recently, our second son served in [the] South Africa Capetown [Mission]. His native companion was serving in a bishopric in the Congo with a man who just—in like weeks—has moved here from the Congo in Africa, to the Salt Lake City area, wearing only, and owning only, Congo-appropriate clothing. When we saw him, he was in shorts, a T-shirt, and flip-flops.

So my wife talks to him on the phone, because Bucasa, the 2nd counselor to him, who was in the bishopric with him back in Africa just before he moved—Bucasa had told Angie the phone number. So she calls this gentleman, who was serving as the bishop in the Congo and speaks some English, just asks for sizes for him and his wife and children, what they needed. And then, to a ward that had been previously prepared by my wife through my son’s mission president, for those missionaries who weren’t getting any gifts in the South African mission—most of them natives—our ward adopted a bunch of missionaries, and that was still on their mind when Angie gave them a call and said, “Hey, we’ve got a family who has just moved here from the Congo, and they need to be clothed”—one of the teachings that Jesus Christ taught.

So our ward, like a call to arms, starts funneling in clothing, beds—and I just get to be the driver, and the guy who carries the bed up the stairs. We get to their apartment, and it’s cold outside. There they are, dressed in Congo clothing. We’re handing them bags from loving, caring members who they don’t even know and had never seen. We get to be the delivery service.

I remember as a kid wanting to receive gifts, but learning as an adult that it is better to give. We had a chance to do what the Savior taught and to feel the gift in return, as we watched three little girls literally dancing for joy as they received some toys and some gifts and some clothing. They took pictures of their new coats that they were wearing and their boots and gloves. They were out in the new-fallen snow that has just happened this last couple of days.

Instruction from the Savior is a gift—a gift that not only gives to others but blesses us in return. Now I’m going to try to sing another song for you on the piano. It’s the first song on a Christmas—well, really the only Christmas song that I’ve ever written. I wrote it in a very cold place—well, it was in Yosu, South Korea, on my mission. It was around Christmas time and there were holes in our walls in our apartment, and you could see your breath in the apartment. You had to break ice to use the toilet. No hot water. It was cold, and it was snowing in this coastal area, which was kind of unusual. I started to think about what Christmas means. It’s about reunion; it’s about coming home—not just to our family here on earth, but the ultimate coming home. I’m going to head over to the piano—for all you piano players out there, keep in mind I am not a piano player. I’m just a dude who knows a few chords.

Cold December morning, blanket white is falling down,

And the winter winds come blowing in,

It can turn your heart around.

And saddled in the storm there rides

The hope of holidays?

Snowy mountains high, castles in the sky,

Oh, the winter wonder takes your breath away.  (31)

 

There is no sweeter sound,

No words to define

The memories so clear to me

When my heart goes back in time.

And even though it’s freezing,

And my breath is on the air,

The thoughts of home keep rolling on,

And the winter winds they almost take me there.

 

And even though I know how far away I am,

The closer I’ll become

 

No matter where I am,

If I want to be near you

I know that I can

No matter where I go.

I remember your love

When the winter winds take me home.

 

Somewhere, somebody is celebrating all alone.

The candle is burning with hearts still yearning

For something to call home.

And I can’t help but feel the winter wind

Blows in my way,

There’s got to be some room

Here in our hearts

For them to stay.

‘Cause aren’t we all God’s children anyway.

 

And even though I know

How far apart we are, The closer we’ll become.

 

No matter where I am,

If I want to be near you,

I know that I can.

No matter where I go,

I remember your love

When the winter winds take me home.

 

So the idea of going home is really what it’s all about, and really why the Son of God came to earth. His life, though wrapped up in serving others, was also in the unwrapping others, who were bound by sin and death.

In the great object lesson taught to us in John 11, we read: “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound head and foot with grave clothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him and let him go.”

It might be this Christmas when you are unwrapping that you think about being unwrapped, loosed from sin and from death. All that He did was to teach of a greater level, a greater gift.

And although He went around doing good, His life was also going to be wrapped in sorrows, pains, and affliction. In Alma 7:11 we read: “He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind, and this that the word might be fulfilled, which he saith: he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”

His gift is accepted by many, and rejected by so many others. In Isaiah 53, we see: “He is despised and rejected of man, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces from him. He was despised and we esteemed him not.”

Christ then was openly mocked, the gift now wrapped in mocking robes of royalty, crowned with thorns. And they clothed him with purple and plaited a crown of thorns about His head, and began to salute him: “Hail, King of the Jews.” And they smote Him on the head with a reed and spit upon him, bowing their knees and worshipped Him. When they had mocked Him, they took off the purple robe from Him, and put His own clothes on Him and led Him about to be crucified.

After His crucifixion, Nicodemus—a friend to the Savior—as well as Joseph of Arimethea, in whose tomb He would rest, “then took they the body of Jesus, wound it in linen, clothed in spices after the manner of Jews to His burial. His life is bookended in wrappings. In swaddling clothes as an infant, He was brought gold, frankincense and myrhh as a gift, only to teach about the end of His life, where His body would be wrapped again in linen, and where they would anoint Him for burial.

Every time I look at the sacrament table, I think of that gift—that gift that helps me to remember, and how it too is wrapped in covenant white, to reflect all covenants and to remember all covenants made.

How do we access the gift, Jesus Christ Himself? That God so loved us that He would give His Only Begotten Son? When we access a Christmas gift or a Christmas present, it is wrapped in bows and ribbons and wrappings. The wrapping, to me, suggests that the gift is veiled from sight, and that which we must get through to get the ultimate reward. My thinking is maybe Jesus is the very wrapping as well.

The ribbon represents that which binds and seals the gift, and the bow—to me—suggests the very crown of the gift.

Just a few yards away from us is a gift wrapped in granite. The beautiful construction on the outside testifies of a greater beauty that is found within, the gift itself. Temples of worship are beautifully constructed. And our bodies, as temples of our spirits, likewise should be kept beautiful on the outside to reflect all that is pure and beautiful on the inside. And this is made possible only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

The word atonement means “to cover.” And we, by that wrapping or covering, become clean, become pure and worthy, through His atoning blood. Isaiah teaches that “Though your sins may be as scarlet, or crimson, they can be like snow. We can be like snow. Red like crimson, they shall be as wool. And where does wool come from? Lamb, suggesting that though we may have sinned, we through His blood can become like Him, like wool that Isaiah testifies about.

And then we can be covered again—this time, wrapped or clothed in white, bound and sealed by covenants to God with our families, and even crowned, as we become presents to, or presented to, God. So Jesus Christ, the very gift to us, is now helping us to become gifts back to God.

We learn in the book of Revelation, “Him that overcometh, I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment, and unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.”

He suggest to us, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown. Behold, I come quickly. Hold fast to that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

And then this beautiful gift back to God, now in royal form: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne,” the Savior says. “Even as also I overcame, and am sat down with my Father in His throne.”

To me, where I hear echoes of prophets—the prophet Nephi saying, “O, wretched man that I am.” Or another prophet, who wants to be an angel, so he can declare this beautiful message of the ultimate gift, thinking that he sins in this wish, now becomes like the Savior, the Son of God Himself, through covenants.

I sat in the temple the other day thinking about you, looking at what I was wearing, and thought about the gift that God has given us all, to repent and be worthy to be in His house, so we can prepare to receive and be received. What a beautiful thought at Christmas time.

So for all those who ask themselves, “What Child is this?” I testify that He is the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, who is mighty to save. And I have watched Him save people, through keys that I was allowed to hold for a while. What a gift to watch that! That is the message of Christmas. That’s what all the packages, ribbons, and bows mean to me. We need to change. We need to help people, through ministering, and through teaching, and through testifying. Every present this Christmas that my hands may touch, I will think of Him, who is all of that to me.

I believe that every single one of us, as well as every one of God’s creations on this world and worlds without end, will have to ask and find the answer to the question:

What Child is this
Who laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing.
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where temple lambs are feeding?

Good Christians, fear for sinners here,

The silent Word lay pleading.

Nails, spears, shall pierce Him through,

The cross be borne for me, for you.

Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

 

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come Peasant, King to own Him.
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Hail, hail,  for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

The Babe, the Son of God.

 

I leave you my witness that I know He lives, and loves us, and knows us. May we ever be serving Him as we serve all those around us, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


 


Bio

Join us in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square for an hour of enlightenment as Brother Simpson addresses the college.

Greg Simpson is in his 29th year as a seminary and institute teacher.  He currently serves as a seminary teacher at Fremont High in Plain City, Utah and Rocky Mountain Jr. in West Haven, Utah. He served as a missionary in the Korea Pusan Mission.  He served as a bishop. Received a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University and his Master’s in Education from University of Phoenix. He and his wife Angie have 4 children and 3 grandchildren. Greg is an award-winning singer/songwriter and recording artist.  He has produced, movie sound track titles, radio and television commercials, and songs for Especially For Youth. He is a former guitarist for Jewel, Richard Marx, and SheDaisy.

Talk Title: Keeping a Gospel Perspective While Pursuing your Dreams

President Henry B. Eyring

06 Nov. 2018

11:15 a.m. - Noon

Conference Center Little Theater

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President Eyring 2018 Devotional Quote

Transcript

Learning Who You Really Are

That was wonderful, I pause to allow them to have a chance to sit down, so I could look at them and praise what they’ve done. That was wonderful, wonderful beginning.

My dear brothers and sisters, I am honored by the invitation to speak with you today. You are part of a great school, a school honored and respected by the Lord’s living prophets. I have personally heard them praise it as a unique and treasured part of the Church Educational System. As nearly as I can discern, those praises come because of the exceptional nature of the students who choose to study here and the teachers who have been drawn to this place. These qualified teachers understand the true nature and hearts of their students and so encourage them to rise toward their great potential.

My hope is that you students and teachers will receive the help that came to me when I was a struggling student and when I was a new teacher. That help came first when, as an undergraduate, I was not only struggling but also beginning to feel that I was trying to learn something that was completely beyond me. The more I felt overwhelmed, the less I could sustain my efforts to keep trying.

This first happened long ago as I sought to learn physics and mathematics in my college years. I felt overwhelmed. It seemed to me that the other students could work the problems and master the material more quickly than I could. During examinations, I’ve had experiences that I think you’ve had. I would start with the first question. When I couldn’t see how to answer it, I would think, “well, I’ll go on to the next question.” I still remember the feeling of fear, really terror when I got to the last question and realized that I didn’t know how to do and answer any of them.

As time wore on, my discouragement led me to feel that it was useless to study. I began to play a little more basketball or I forgot what I did. I begin to think of quitting, and doing something easier.

It was on a night during that time of discouragement when I received the help that made all the difference for me. I can remember it as if it had just happened. Help came as a voice, an actual voice in my mind. It was not my voice. It was a soft and loving voice—but firm. The words voiced were these: “When you realize who you really are, you will be sorry that you didn’t try harder.”

I didn’t know then all that those words meant. I probably don’t know yet. But I knew then what to do. I went to work. I felt that I must have more ability to learn than I could see in myself. That knowledge kept me hard at work through my college years, in graduate school, and then as a teacher when it seemed still that everyone was smarter than I was, that they could do things I couldn’t do.

I began to try to understand that message of encouragement. By pondering and working during the years that followed, I came to realize who I really was. I was a spirit child of God. I had inherent in me the potential to learn what He knows. Because of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ and my faith in Him, my sins could be washed away—first in the waters of baptism and then through continuing repentance. Thus, I could receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as a companion. And I came to know that by the power of the Holy Ghost, we may know the truth of all things.

Now, I know you’re smiling, you may reasonably ask, “Well, once you knew who you who really were and had the Holy Ghost as your companion, could you solve every physics problem and resolve every mathematical puzzle?”

An the true answer is, “Of course not.” But with the help of the Holy Ghost, I did learn how to learn things that were beyond my natural ability. I can remember in fact, reading in a physics text. I was gonna bring it here today to show you, I was puzzling over a set of equations. By the way, it was in thermodynamics, and it was by Sr. James Jeans, that doesn’t mean anything to you but that little book – I wish I should’ve brought here to show it to you. Because I remember, I read those equations, I could even show you in the book the equations, and they didn’t make any sense to me. But then, a feeling came into my heart. I knew that they were true, with exactly the same feeling that comes to me when I read passages in the Book of Mormon.

That didn’t make all physics clear to me. But it confirmed two things that have forever helped me try harder to learn. First, the Lord knows all truth—in physics and in everything else I needed to learn. Second, if I live worthy of the Holy Ghost, I can learn true things beyond my human ability. That gave me the confidence to keep trying harder even when the learning was difficult.

From my experience, I urge you to look upon your educational struggles as a great blessing. I know school can be a grind. I know it seems difficult. I know you get discouraged at times. I know you wonder why you are attending school at all. But keep on. Keep on hammering away. Keep on learning. You will never regret learning—neither in this life, nor in the world to come. Indeed, you will treasure forever what you learn and what you learn about how to keep on learning.

As children of God, we’ve been given another marvelous promise: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”

That remarkable statement speaks of growth, of development, of the journey that leads toward godhood. It goes hand in hand with wonderful declarations that I will share today. The Lord teaches that we are to continue to grow and never tire in our efforts to learn, that we never give up, that we keep trying harder to learn, and that we follow the divinely given mandate to go on adding to our knowledge.

Here is the encouragement He gave in the early days of the restored Church. He spoke to the students and teachers in what was then called the School of the Prophets:

“And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; …

“Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.”

You may think that such a lofty description of learning doesn’t apply to you today or to the learning you will experience the rest of your life. But it was helpful to me when I was your age. It is helpful to me now. And it will be helpful to me in the years ahead. It applies to any disciple of Jesus Christ who is learning in the Lord’s way. Here is the Lord’s promise and encouragement:

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

“And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. …

“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

“A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.”

So, our challenge yours and mine is to be diligent and obedient so that the Holy Ghost can stay with us and magnify our powers to learn. I would like to suggest four ways in which you might be diligent and obedient and receive the blessing of having the Holy Ghost upon you so that He can tarry with you in your efforts to learn.

First, pray always. You know from your experience that when you become casual in your prayers, you feel less inspiration. When you pray with faith in Jesus Christ, the Spirit comes to you. You have also learned that when you pray less often and with less faith in the Savior, your desire to pray diminishes. So, don’t wait for a desire to pray to come to you. Decide to pray, even when it is hard—especially when it is hard and the windows of heaven seem closed to you. If you keep trying, those windows will open.

“It matters not whether you or I feel like praying,” said President Brigham Young. “When the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do.”

Second, feast on the word of God. President Russell M. Nelson’s challenge to the women of the Church to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year is precious educational advice—for you men too and for me. That book of scripture is filled with testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the reality of His Atonement. Your reading in that book invites the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, to come to you. As you pray, you can invite the Father to send the Holy Ghost to testify again that the book truly is given of God. He always grants that request. And the Spirit will come as your companion. I found that reading in the Book of Mormon was the best part of my preparation for every examination in which I needed power to remember what I had tried hard to learn.

I came to know the truth of the Lord’s promise: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Third, keep the commandments. The sacramental prayer makes clear that obedience to the Lord’s commandments is a requirement to have the inspiration of the Holy Ghost: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

Obedience to God’s commandments invites the influence of the Holy Ghost. Disobedience brings a feeling of darkness and discouragement as a certain result. Missionaries and mission presidents have long known the connection between obedience and the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We read in Preach My Gospel, you remember well: “When we obey God, we follow the influence of the Spirit and choose to conform to His will. Obedience to the commandments brings us peace in this life and eternal life and exaltation in the world to come.” And it surely brings us a heart open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

We further know that “obedience is the first law of heaven.” We are taught that “as you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom.” When we disobey, we weaken our faith, we forget our knowledge, and we cloud our wisdom. Remember the words of Alma to his son Helaman: “O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.” And remember Jacob’s words to the Nephites: “But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”

Fourth, serve others for the Lord. I’ve learned that service brings inspiration. That was the case as I faced my final oral examination for a doctoral degree at Harvard. It was scheduled on a Monday. On Saturday and Sunday before the exam, as a member of the district presidency I ministered to the members of the Church in the little branches of New England. I might’ve spent those days preparing the answers to the questions I knew I would be asked, they had told me what those would be. Those questions seemed as daunting as the physics problems that had nearly overwhelmed me years before. But as I was driving that Sunday along a road near Foxborough, Massachusetts, there came to my mind in absolutely clearly the solution to the main exam question. It was clear and complete.

The exam that Monday was scheduled to last four hours and twenty minutes. For the first two hours, I was to present my analysis of the problem. Then, following a twenty-minute break, I had two hours to present my solution, by the way, I can remember the suit I was wearing that day, what a day that day was!

That Monday morning, I felt perfect peace and calm. I gave my analysis to the problem in less than an hour. The chairman of the committee said he knew that there was supposed to be a break for twenty minutes. “But,” he said with a smile, “we are so interested in your analysis of the problem, we can’t wait to hear your solution.” So there was no break.

Less than an hour later, the chairman of the examining committee announced, without any discussion with the members of the committee, that I had passed the exam. They all stood to shake my hand. While they were thanking me for my performance, I was silently thanking heaven for another verification of the promise of the Lord:

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

Through that happy educational experience, and many others, I have learned that the Holy Ghost is sent to us as we obey God’s laws. With the influence of the Holy Ghost, we can learn things, know things, and do things beyond our personal powers.

So, I give this counsel to you, as I do to myself. Believe that we have a divine mandate to go on learning for as long as we live and then into eternity. Believe that the Father can send us the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of Truth. Be patient and persistent in learning. With the help of the Holy Ghost, and by learning line upon line as we are diligent in our efforts and full of faith in Jesus Christ, we will be able to accomplish much more than we thought possible.

The help we receive will depend upon our motives for learning. If our hearts are set on serving the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and on serving others for Them, the Spirit will be sent as our companion. If our motive to love God and others continues, the Holy Ghost will tarry with us. And the power to learn will persist and, in time, increase.

A young man came to this school many years ago to learn shorthand. He thought that skill would help him in his employment. I have no doubt that the Spirit was sent to assist him. He excelled in that program, as he did in his professional life. The usefulness of shorthand proved less valuable to him than his increased ability to learn new things, including learning new things by the Spirit. The Lord knew his increased power to receive revelation from God would bless people across the earth and into the spirit world. And so it has.

You also will receive help in your learning here at LDS Business College. The Lord knows that in the future, your greater ability to learn to listen to the Spirit and receive inspiration will bless others beyond your imagination. So, gain and grow that ability while you are here. Let that divine process remain part of your ongoing education long after you close the textbook at the end of your last class. I know that can happen for you. If you are to raise a righteous family and protect those you love in the days ahead, it must happen for you. President Nelson has so counseled. He has told us:

“I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth. But I am also not naive about the days ahead. We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.”

He continued:

“Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.”

You may already be blessed with a spouse and children of your own. Creating a place of gospel learning in your home is a sacred trust that can bless generations. You have a wonderful opportunity to grow in your power to be true to that trust while you are in this school. Learn how to replicate for others in your family what you experience here.

You must begin early in the lives of your children to introduce them to great books, noble people, and important ideas. The mother and father who fail to read to and who fail to teach their small children do a disservice to them and a disservice to themselves. It will take time, yes—much of it. It will take diligence and self-discipline. It will take sacrifice. It will take organization. It will take budgeting the minutes and hours of each day. It will require you to think carefully about President Nelson’s suggestion that you motivate your children by setting an example for them.

That example includes avoiding addiction to social media and unworthy entertainment—in all its forms. Instead, lead your family in reading about, thinking about, and embracing, and sharing the great truths. Expose your children to inspiring ideas, to everlasting truth, and to concepts that will build and motivate them for good. As you do these things, you will invite the Holy Ghost to abide in your home and in the lives of your children and their children. They are all beloved spirit children of God. They are your most priceless possessions.

Last month during general conference, many Latter-day Saints welcomed the announcement that the Church will soon implement a two-hour Sunday meeting schedule. Those listening by the Spirit, especially parents, heard in that announcement the Lord’s call to greater responsibility. You remember President Nelson’s promised blessings to those families who embrace the opportunity for increased Sunday stewardship:

“The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated curriculum has the potential to unleash the power of families, as each family follows through conscientiously and carefully to transform their home into a sanctuary of faith. I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.”

Now, I close in the spirit of gratitude. I am grateful for this school, I love the school and its lofty purposes. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father, for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and for the Holy Ghost, whose influence we have felt today. I am grateful for a living prophet, I was with him today, it was an experience I will never forget. I saw in him a living and true prophet of God. I bear solemn witness that Russell M. Nelson is the prophet of God in the world today. I leave you my blessing that you may ever be learning, ever “able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” and ever increase, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, in the power to serve, bless, and lead others. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

1. See Moroni 10:5–7.
2. Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.
3. Doctrine and Covenants 88:118–19, 124.
4. Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19, 22–23.
5. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (1997), 45; emphasis added.
6. John 14:26.
7. Doctrine and Covenants 20:77; emphasis added.
8. “Lesson 4: The Commandments,” Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, rev. ed. (2018), 9. lds.org/manual/missionary.
9. “How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?” Preach My Gospel (2004), 122.
10. Alma 37:35.
11. Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21.
12. Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018, 96.
13. Russell M. Nelson, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Ensign, Nov. 2018, 113.
14. 2 Timothy 3:7.


Bio

President Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency

President Henry B. Eyring was sustained and set apart as second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, January 14, 2018. Prior to this, he served as a counselor to President Thomas S. Monson from 2008 to 2018 and to President Gordon B. Hinckley from 2007 to 2008. He was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 1, 1995. He has served as a General Authority since April 1985.

President Eyring previously served as First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric from April 1985 to September 1992 and as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, from 1992 to 1995. He served as Church Commissioner of Education from September 1980 to April 1985 and also September 1992 to January 2005.

President Eyring was president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, from 1971 to 1977. He was on the faculty at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University from 1962 to 1971.

He holds a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Utah and master of business administration and doctor of business administration degrees from Harvard University.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, on May 31, 1933, he has served the Church as a regional representative, a member of the general Sunday School board, and a bishop.

President Eyring is married to the former Kathleen Johnson, and they are the parents of four sons and two daughters.

5 Keys to Happiness

05 May. 2005

Transcript

5 Keys to Happiness

 
I am delighted to have the opportunity to share this wonderful occasion with you. It is a significant one for you, and it is a meaningful one for me as well. My mother's sister, Ardella taught at this school. My aunt's step sister, Ada also taught here. Ada, you may know, was President Hinckley's mother.
In addition, my personal secretary, Ann Pickrell, graduated from this college. If these wonderful people are representative of those who are graduating today, then the world will be a much better and kinder place as a result.
I have two purposes in speaking with you today: the first is to congratulate you on attaining this milestone in your life. The second is to offer a few words of advice that may be of use as you continue your life journey from here.
Of course, it is easy to congratulate, but something else to give appropriate advice that may be of use to you. Out of the hundred things I could talk with you about, I have decided to narrow my focus to five things. These five keys have been a blessing to me in my life. I believe that if you will apply them, they will be a blessing to you as well.
 
Key number 1: Don't be Afraid.
When I was a young boy I had a dog we called Ruff. He was a free-spirited animal and liked to chase people on motorcycles and bikes that rode past our home. One day, Ruff decided to chase a policeman.
This turned out to be one of the more unfortunate decisions of his life. Ruff started nipping at his heels and the policeman drew his gun and fired. He shot my dog in the foot and poor Ruff came limping home.
After that day, he was never the same. Whenever he heard a loud noise, he would tuck in his tail and run like the wind. He used to come to my father's business and hang out around the store. Sometimes he would bother the customers. Soon, we learned that all we had to do to get old Ruff to leave was to take out a paper sack, blow air into it and then pop it. When Ruff heard that pop, he'd dash away making a beeline for home. I never saw a dog run so fast.
I've noticed something over the years. People can sometimes act like old Ruff. Fear can do that to you. Sometimes, fear makes us run away from things-things like setting and achieving goals, developing relationships that last a lifetime, or becoming the people we know we should become. Sometimes fear can even paralyze us to the point where we don't even try. Fear can be a thick fog that smothers our dreams. It can be a cage that restrains us from reaching our destiny. It can be a weight that restrains our every step.
The difference between human beings and my dog, Ruff, is that you and I have the power of reason. I'm not sure Old Ruff was capable of telling the difference between the sound of a pistol and the sound of a paper bag being popped, but we do. Our Heavenly Father has given us the capacity to think, because we are His children, we each have a spark of divine courage within us. We may not be immune to being afraid, but we do not have to succumb to it.
There are some who give up on the great goals of their lives because of fear. They don't apply for the perfect job, they don't put in the necessary effort to really become successful with their families, Church assignments, or in their work.
Remember, the kind of fear that paralyzes us and keeps us from acting in our best interest is not of our Heavenly Father. Paul taught this when he wrote, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."1 You don't have to allow your fears to hold you back. Your Heavenly Father is with you and will support you.
But, you ask, how do we overcome our fears? One way is through -
 
Key number 2: Have Faith.
During the reign of the Judges, all Israel was afraid. The enemy nations of the Midianties and the Amalekites made their lives a nightmare. Every time the Israelites harvested crops, the Midianites took everything: sheep, oxen, and food. As conditions continued to worsen, the Children of Israel remembered their God and pleaded for deliverance. At long last, the Lord heard their prayers and sent an angel to a man called Gideon.
You remember the story. The angel instructed Gideon to muster an army. Gideon did and 32,0002 men rallied around him. That's not bad, you might think, until you understand that the opposing forces numbered 135,000 men3 -- a four to one margin.
When Gideon went before the Lord to explain this, the Lord told him something remarkable. "The people that are with thee are too many," He said. He told Gideon that if Israel fought and won, they'd simply believe they were mighty warriors. They would not know that it was the Lord who had delivered them. Therefore, the Lord instructed Gideon to do something he didn't expect: "Whosoever is fearful and afraid," He said, "let him return and depart."
When Gideon explained this to his army, 22,000 men went home. That left him with only 10,000. The odds against him now were 13 to 1. But even at that, the Lord told Gideon he still had too many men. The next cut left Gideon with only 300 men.
What were the odds now? For every one of Gideon's men, there were 450 enemy soldiers. How did the story end? That's one of the reasons we have scriptures-so we can read about such things at our leisure. The important thing to know is that, in the end, Gideon's story is one that demonstrates the power of faith. The Apostle Paul taught that, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
With faith, all things are possible. Mountains can be moved, fear overcome, doors opened. With faith, miracles can occur. One way to increase our faith is to spend time communicating with our Heavenly Father. As we reach out to Him in prayer, He will draw near to us. Lift up your hearts in supplication to your Father in Heaven; ask for His guidance and for His assistance. Ask that your faith will increase and your confidence not waver.
But faith alone is not enough, not without-
 
Key number 3: Work.
From the days of Adam and Eve until now, Heavenly Father has commanded that we work. Even so, there are some who go to great lengths to avoid work. In fact, a few work exceptionally hard to get out of it. This is something I have never understood. My father was a hard worker and he taught me to do the same.
I have heard about a professor of psychology from the University of Chicago who spent 25 years studying the answer to one question: "What makes people happy?" He wanted to find out what distinguishes those who live fulfilling and joy-filled lives from those who live lives of quiet desperation. Throughout a quarter of a century, he surveyed artists and cab drivers, physicians and farmers. After 25 years, he published his findings in a book he entitled, "Flow."
What did he find? "The best moments in our lives," he wrote, "usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."
What makes a person happy? One of the key ingredients is the simple thing we call work. Some of the most fulfilling moments of our lives are when we establish worthwhile goals and work to achieve them. I know that some roll their eyes when they hear about goal setting. Perhaps they think it's useless or, worse, depressing. I have found it to be exhilarating.
You don't need an expensive system in order to set goals. My goal setting system costs less than a half a cent every day. Each night, I think about the goals I have set and the things I need to accomplish the next day. And then I write down on a 3 by 5 card the key things I can do the next day that will bring me closer to my goals.
It's surprising how much you can accomplish if you simply set goals, write down the things you must do to get you closer to achieving them, and then work at them a little at a time. If you consistently work towards righteous ends, the Lord will bless you as you work and you will find satisfaction, joy, and a sense of confidence and accomplishment. I have found that many of the best moments of my life have been when I have immersed myself in worthy and worthwhile work.
Yet, although, many understand the importance of work, they still feel unfulfilled because they never understood the importance of:
 
Key number 4: Do What is Right.
It is not enough to do things. We must do the right things-the things our Heavenly Father would want us to do. One way we discover what the right things are is through the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. Some people feel that the commandments of our Heavenly Father are restrictive and hold us back in some way. The truth is, they are a handbook to happiness. Every aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ-the principles, the doctrines, and the commandments-is a part of our Heavenly Father's plan to help us obtain peace and happiness not only in this life but worlds to come.
The ancient Nephite King Benjamin taught that we should, "Consider . . . the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness."
Those who see the Lord's commandments as restrictive or limiting are like travelers who consider maps a nuisance. They cannot understand that the map provides critical direction that could-if only they would follow it-lead them from where they are to where they want to go. Instead, they wander meaninglessly, often ending up lost or without having made much progress at all. And when they do, they typically blame the map instead of themselves, for their predicament.
We obey the commandments not only because we should, but because they are the map that shows us the road we must travel to find happiness and peace in this life and glory throughout the ages to come.
But while doing the right thing is important, there is one more thing we must understand and that is-
 
Key number five: Persevere to the End.
In the parable of the Sower, the Savior spoke of the folly of those who start well and finish poor. In order to reap the great blessings the Lord has in store for us we must persevere.
One of the things I learned playing sports was that no matter how many times you were knocked down, you had to pick yourself up and keep going. Especially when you felt beaten, you kept going. The harder you were hit, the quicker you got up. The more helpless things looked, the harder you worked. You never gave up.
A recent issue of the Ensign Magazine highlighted the life of Emily Anne Jensen who, when she was 16-years old, was in a devastating accident that sent her into a coma and changed her life forever. Before the accident, Emily played sports, danced, and dreamed of becoming a doctor. After she awoke from the coma, it was apparent that her life would be very different from the one she had imagined. Emily had to relearn everything-from sitting up, to eating, to walking. It took 6 months of rehabilitation before she could leave the hospital.
Even though it was difficult, Emily returned back to school. For the first six months, her mother accompanied her to class and helped her with her assignments. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at college. She had a new vision of what she wanted to do-become a recreational therapist and help others who were going through what she had. This process has been a long and grueling one. I suppose it is unimaginable to the rest of us what Emily and her family have had to endure and how they have worked to achieve what they have. Emily's mother said, "I think people who struggle with challenges need to know that the battle goes on every day and must be fought with courage and honor and faith. We need to remind ourselves that God is allowing our faith to grow as we reach and stretch for Him."
That is good counsel, not only for Emily, but for all of us. I have been told that Emily Jensen is among those who will graduate from the LDS Business College today. I congratulate her and her family for this remarkable achievement.
A fundamental quality of heroes is that they persevere to the end. Some of the most memorable characters from literature as well as life have this in common: they never give up. Those who do are often forgotten. But those who fight on, sometimes despite tremendous odds, these we respect, revere and remember.
Now, my friends, I want you to take a moment to celebrate the accomplishment of this day- but don't take too long. For this is not a day of rest and comfort. It is a day for great and mighty deeds. It is a day for noble and visionary thoughts. It is a day for compassion, understanding, and charity.
Today, you launch out into the great unknown of a new life and a new beginning. Like the great explorers of ages past, you travel into unknown waters, pioneers on the grand path of this mortal existence. I extend to you my love and my confidence. I embrace you with all the hopes of my heart. I fervently wish that you may live to see all your righteous desires realized. I feel impressed to leave with you a blessing.
To those who instruct, administer, and support this program, I bless you with increased compassion, love, and joy. I bless you that you will know of the great worth of the work you perform and that you will find joy in your labors.
To the families of those who graduate-to those who have sacrificed, sometimes more than the students themselves-may the Holy Spirit rest upon you and reward you in ways you cannot comprehend for your noble sacrifice.
To those who graduate. I bless you that you will be able to confront your fears and not be limited by them. I bless you with faith, and with the desire to give your best efforts to your Heavenly Father, your families, and your careers. I bless you with the desire to live righteously and follow faithfully the commandments of your Lord. And, finally, I bless you with the mental determination to never give up and always press on.
I bear my witness of the divinity of the Savior, of the mission of The Prophet, Joseph Smith, and the great truths of restored Gospel. In our day, the Lord guides His Church through his prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Of these truths I bear humble witness, in the majestic name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.

© Intellectual Properties Inc.

Bishop Gérald Caussé

25 Sep. 2018

Video

Audio

Quotes

Bishop Causse Devotional Quote

Transcript

“Continual Learning: A Joy and a Duty for Everyone”

My dear brothers and sisters, I feel so privileged to be with you today. I am also grateful for the warm welcome from President and Sister Kusch. They are a wonderful couple, and I know they bless both the LDS Business College as an institution and each one of you individually.

Today I would like to introduce you to a special guest and a dear friend of mine. Nicolas, would you please stand up so that everyone can see you? Nicolas Giusti – just stay here, until I tell you that you can’t – is a pianist and he is a conductor recognized throughout the world. He was born and has lived for the greater part of his life in Pescara, Italy. We share the same passion for music, but he is a musical maestro while I am only a simple amateur. Thank you so much, Nicolas – you may be seated.

I wanted to tell you a little bit more about Nicolas. I met Nicolas at a stake conference in Rome nearly ten years ago. During the Saturday evening session of the Conference, I invited those in the congregation to ask me questions. After several minutes of silence, a very distinguished man sitting with his family on the front row stood up and asked the first question. I can still hear his words, expressed with great enthusiasm and with a huge smile: “My family and I were baptized just a few months ago. Before my baptism, I had a million questions in my mind, but since meeting the missionaries, all of my questions have been answered. I feel completely satisfied, and I no longer have any questions. Is that okay?”

Well I’m not certain I gave the best answer that night. Nicolas’s question concerns all of us, and it has continued to run through my mind for all these years. Today I would like to give him a more complete answer. But before I do so, let me start where Nicolas started. He was a very good man living in Italy, though not a member of our Church, he was pondering important questions in his mind. Such pondering is an essential foundation for learning, regardless of whether or not a person is a Latter-day Saint.

In 2 Nephi chapter 28, the prophet Nephi gave this solemn warning: “Wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!”[i] I am always surprised to observe how many people in our day, even after having been introduced to the gospel, do not find the truth simply because they feel no particular need or desire to learn more about it.

Religious indifference is one of the evils of our day. In ancient times, religion never left people indifferent. In fact, it often stirred up heated debate and even conflict. Just think about the religious zeal that existed at the time of Joseph Smith. Today, opposition is expressed in a much more subtle manner. We are more likely to face indifference and mistrust than open hostility or ideological confrontation.

The reaction many people have to the Book of Mormon is evidence of this attitude. Each time I read or study the wonderful book of Mormon, I marvel. Anyone who seeks truth with real sincerity cannot help but be touched. The historical narratives, the cultural and geographic details, the complex literary style, the depth and the remarkable consistency of the spiritual teachings, and, above all else, the marvelous spirit that touches the heart on every page and in every verse cannot leave the reader indifferent.

But in spite of all of this, people set aside the book—not because they’ve read it or because they didn’t feel anything, but rather because they will not take the time and effort to read it, to study it, or make inquiries to the Lord about it.

In addition to indifference, some people affirm that “no one can really know” what is true. Others deliberately choose not to seek additional knowledge, maintaining they are satisfied with their current beliefs. They take refuge in the comfort of the status quo, saying, “I already have my religion, or I am too old to change.” Additionally, some are afraid to know. They fear that discovering the truth will require them to make disruptive changes in their lives and end their easy-to-accept illusions. For many, it seems easier and more gratifying to believe what the rest of the world believes, or to do what everyone else is doing, than to ask the hard but important questions.

These attitudes remind me of some of the kings in ancient times who put to death the bearers of bad tidings. One day, a legendary king of Lombardy, full of confidence in the strength of his army, sat down to a fine meal while his army engaged in a battle nearby. He commanded one of his servants to climb to the top of a tree to see what was happening and to announce victory as quickly as possible. The king threatened to cut the servant’s head off if he dared to announce that the king’s army was retreating. The servant in the tree quickly observed that the king’s army was, in fact, losing the battle, but he reported back to the king that his soldiers were fighting valiantly. Finally, after all of the king’s battalions had turned to flee, the servant cried out in a loud voice, “Woe unto ye, great nation, for thou hast incurred the wrath of God.” The astonished king replied, “What? Have my soldiers fled from battle?” His servant replied, “’Tis not me, Sire, but thee who hast so said.”[ii]

Like this king, some people may be caught up in their own world view. But not wanting to know the truth does not change the reality of things. The vital need for all individuals to find happiness should inspire them to seek the truth continually.

A second time in 2 Nephi 28, Nephi repeated the warning for our times: “Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!”[iii]

These are very strong words. I believe Nephi was addressing not only those not of our faith, but also us—members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—who have already received so much. So back to my response to the question Nicolas posed at stake conference.

Those of us who are members are greatly blessed. We may feel satisfied in our current level of understanding and gospel knowledge. I can easily relate to this feeling. Discovering the restored gospel and receiving long-awaited answers to life’s questions can produce deep feelings of joy, wonder, and fulness.

The word fulness is a term used in the scriptures to describe the abundance of knowledge that the gospel provides. Our day is often described as the dispensation of the “fulness of times,” because many truths “which never have been revealed . . . but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, [have been and] shall be revealed.”[iv]

The word fulness is also often associated with joy. The expression “a fulness of joy” describes the state of pure and perfect heavenly joy that will be ours on the day of our salvation and resurrection. It also describes the happiness that is felt by all those who have received a firm testimony of the Savior and His marvelous plan of redemption. After teaching His disciples the doctrine of the Kingdom, Jesus said unto them, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”[v] This gospel knowledge is our greatest source of joy, satisfaction, and hope in this life.

But just because we have received the fulness the gospel brings, does it mean that we know everything? No, it does not. Does it mean that an answer has been supplied for all the questions we may have in the future? No, of course not. Are there still questions for which we do not have answers? Yes, absolutely. Likely there are many of them.

The word fulness doesn’t imply that we have received all knowledge. God’s intelligence is so vast and infinite that “it is impossible that man should find out all his ways.”[vi] However, it does mean that we have received everything necessary to accomplish the purpose of our existence, or in other words, to obtain our eternal salvation and exaltation. The Lord has made the following promise: “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you.”[vii]

Nevertheless, just because we have been blessed with that which is essential, it doesn’t mean that all has been revealed and that there are no more truths to be received.

Since 1820, when that important question was asked in a grove of trees by a young farm boy named Joseph Smith, this dispensation of the gospel has been founded on the principle of continuous revelation. This principle applies to the Church as a whole, as well as to each one of us in our individual lives.

Thanks to the Prophet Joseph, we know that the heavens are not sealed. We believe in the principle of a living prophet who receives divine revelation for our times. The fundamental doctrine and principles of the gospel do not change and will not change because they are eternal. Nevertheless, the Lord has given a portion of His knowledge to each dispensation of the gospel based upon its unique challenges and mission. Because our dispensation is the most challenging, and because its purpose is to prepare for the Savior’s Second Coming, more revelation is available in our time than at any other time since the creation of the earth. I hope each of you, like me, feel excited and grateful for the marvelous blessing it is to live in these days.   

I am awed by the resolute, forward-looking spirit of our dear prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. He just celebrated his 94th birthday. Ninety-four years! That is exactly half of the 188 years that have passed since the restoration of Christ’s Church here upon the earth. At his age, President Nelson could be a man turned toward the past. However, he is the one telling us to look forward to the future. On several occasions I have heard him say that the things awaiting the Church in the decades to come are more marvelous and even greater than all that has transpired since the Restoration. With his visionary nature, President Nelson is an example for all of us of confidence and optimism about what lies ahead. He is a marvelous example of one who is dedicated to the pursuit of continual knowledge and revelation.

You who are still young should expect an abundance of prophetic revelation in the years to come. God’s people will need it in order to overcome the trials of these latter days and prepare for the return of the Lord. Revelation should also be a core principle in your personal lives. I encourage you to continually seek to increase your spiritual knowledge and understanding. Do not make the search for gospel truths a simple object of curiosity—it is an extremely important quest.

The glory of God is intelligence. We believe that each of us has the right to receive a significant portion of this intelligence, which includes both sacred and secular knowledge. Education is an important element of our eternal progression. I was recently moved as I read this profound thought from Shakespeare, engraved upon the walls of the Library of Congress in Washington DC, it says: “Knowledge [is] the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”[viii] In other words, as we increase in knowledge, we get closer to our Heavenly Father.  

The Church’s commitment to education, both as a principle and as a practice, is evident in our beliefs, in our teachings, and everyday activities. That is why the Church has invested and will continue to invest a sizable portion of its resources to promoting both the religious and secular education of its members. LDS Business College and other Church institutions of higher education, seminaries and institutes, and other educational programs of the Church are all integral parts of our pursuit of this sacred objective.

I would like to continue reading from the writings of Prophet Nephi, when recorded this magnificent promise from the Lord: “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; . . . for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”[ix]

This scripture reminds me of the inspiring message contained in the parable of the talents. Knowledge isn’t a right, it’s a gift. It is a talent that God gives to us, and like any talent, it needs to be cared for and nurtured in order to grow, flourish, and multiply. If we are negligent in our education, we risk losing that which we have already received, just as the slothful servant lost the talent he buried in the ground.

We, as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, should hunger and thirst every day after spiritual knowledge. The gospel provides a fountain of knowledge that never runs dry. There are always new things to learn and feel, new ideas to explore, new joys to discover each day of our lives. Please do not be content to rely solely on the testimony and knowledge you received at the time of your baptism or your mission—some 5, 10, or 15 years ago. The gospel is like a delicious feast, and we all understand that yesterday’s meal is never sufficient to meet today’s needs. 

Furthermore, please do not hesitate to learn from all spheres of knowledge possible—and not solely about religious or spiritual matters. The Lord gave counsel to the early leaders of the restored Church and He said: “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.”[x] Don’t be afraid of science or literature or other secular subjects. Remember that ultimately, all truths are part of the gospel. That which Latter-day Saints should seek after is light and truth, wherever it may be found.

Develop your knowledge in and understanding of topics and matters about which you are passionate! I have a friend who is passionate about Italian cuisine, this is not Nicolas, this is someone else, but passionate about Italian cuisine. At the age of 60, he plans to enroll in a highly acclaimed culinary institute to become a “gelato maestro.” Why not? Push yourself to the very heights of your desires and abilities.

I invite you to always have several good books on your nightstand or electronic device. First, of course, should be the Book of Mormon and other standard works, but you should also have other books that will inspire, enlighten, and enrich your life.

Today, I would like to leave you with four friendly pieces of advice that I hope will help you at this very important time in your life. First, always remember that the knowledge of gospel truths comes from a spiritual witness and not from the intellect. We may, at times, experience periods of spiritual doubt. However, these doubts are rarely resolved by a search for rational explanations. Although certain scientific or intellectual discoveries may occasionally comfort us and strengthen our testimonies, spiritual knowledge cannot be proven by logic or by tangible means. Use the gift of the Holy Ghost that you have received! Use it without restriction! If you will always cultivate faith and humility and seek the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, new horizons of knowledge will open up before you and your spiritual learning will have no end.

As Paul said to the Corinthians, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. . . . But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”[xi]

Second, your spiritual learning should not be motivated by doubt, but rather by a sense of awe and wonder for the truths of the gospel. We should be like a lover of art who visits a museum and admires the beauty of a magnificent work of art and the talent of the artist—without paying too much attention to the cracks in the canvas or the poor lighting in the museum.

Third, beware of being fascinated by the sensational or of intellectualizing spiritual concepts. The gospel is made of plain and simple truths, which even a child should be able to understand. Rejection of the principle of simplicity and clarity has been the origin of many apostasies. In the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Jacob denounced those who “despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it.”[xii]

Finally, choose your sources of information with great prudence and wisdom. The invasion of technology in our society has impaired spirituality and resulted in a great deal of confusion. With the advent of the Internet, an uninterrupted avalanche of extreme opinions and often insignificant pieces of information has invaded our daily lives. This information overload can often become disconcerting and paralyzing. How can one distinguish between truth and error? How many people are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it”?[xiii]

Recent studies have shown that the younger generations, of which you are a part, depend mainly on social media to form their opinions about current events and societal issues. I encourage you to use only those sources of information that are recognized as reliable and to avoid foraging through those social media sites that offer no guarantees of accuracy and might only serve baser instincts and passions.

Be willing to consider differing, well-considered opinions about the issues of our day. I make a point of availing myself of several reliable local, national, and international news sources that represent a wide variety of thoughtful views. The broad perspective provided by these information sources gives me a good foundation upon which to form my own opinions.

My young friends, in summary I invite you to do the following things:

  1. Read, study, and ponder the scriptures—in particular the Book of Mormon—and the words of the modern-day prophets every day, regardless of your time constraints. This should be a nonnegotiable part of your daily routine.
  2. Always have at home or on your mobile device one or several well-chosen books that you can read.
  3. Base your search for knowledge on recognized and reliable sources of information rather than on the hodgepodge of content often found in social media. Expose yourself to a wide variety of thoughtful, reasoned opinions to provide you with an understanding of different points of view and enable you to make quality decisions for yourself.
  4. And finally, cultivate faith, humility, and simplicity, and seek the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  

I would like to tell Nicolas that the question that he asked me many years ago in Rome was very inspired. In the Doctrine and Covenants, it states, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”[xiv]

I feel great joy in knowing that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even though we have received a fulness of essential gospel, we can still continue to ask questions and learn every day of our lives. Thanks to personal revelation that we can receive, we have access to an ever-increasing flow of spiritual and secular knowledge and understanding. In fact, seeking light and truth should be a necessity and a duty for every one of us. I invite you never to stop quenching your thirst for knowledge at the fountains of truth.

Recently, Nicolas composed several arrangements of hymns for two pianos, and he did me the great honor of inviting me to play with him today. Since we have two Steinway grand pianos in this beautiful Assembly Hall, I would like to conclude my remarks by leaving you my testimony through music. We will play a hymn that perfectly expresses the joy and the happiness I feel to be a member of this Church:

“You can make the pathway bright,

Fill the soul with heaven’s light,

If there’s sunshine in your heart;

Turning darkness into day,

As the shadows fly away,

If there’s sunshine in your heart today.”[xv]

I know that our Savior lives and that He is the source of all truth, light, and peace in our lives. The more we learn of Him and the great truths with which He is willing to bless us, the more we will experience darkness turning to day as the joy of gospel shine fills our souls. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Piano—“You Can Make the Pathway Bright”  

 

[i] 2 Nephi 28:27

[ii] See Paul the Deacon (Paulus Diaconus), History of the Langobards (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1974), 36.

[iii] 2 Nephi 28:29

[iv] Doctrine and Covenants 128:18

[v] John 15:11

[vi] Jacob 4:8

[vii] Doctrine and Covenants 88:64; emphasis added

[viii] William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, act 4, scene 7, line 74

[ix] 2 Nephi 28:30

[x] Doctrine and Covenants 90:15

[xi] 1 Cor 2:10, 14

[xii] Jacob 4:14

[xiii] Doctrine and Covenants 123:12

[xiv] Doctrine and Covenants 42:61

[xv] “You Can Make the Pathway Bright,” Hymns, no. 228


Bio

Bishop Gérald Caussé, of France, was named the presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 9, 2015. He filled the vacancy created by Gary E. Stevenson, who became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 3, 2015. 

Prior to this assignment, Bishop Caussé served as the first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric since March 2012. He previously served as a General Authority Seventy and as a counselor in the Europe Area Presidency. He is the third presiding bishop born outside the United States and the first for whom English is a second language.

Bishop Caussé received a master’s degree in business from ESSEC in 1987. His career has been in the food industry, where he worked with several supermarket chains and food distribution companies. At the time of his call as a General Authority Seventy, he was the general manager of Pomona, a food distribution company in France.

Bishop Caussé has served in numerous Church callings, including elders quorum president, bishop’s counselor, stake president’s counselor, stake president, and Area Seventy.

Gérald Caussé was born in Bordeaux, France, on May 20, 1963. He married Valérie Lucienne Babin in August 1986. They are the parents of five children.

Christmas 2018 Devotional

11 Dec. 2018

11:15 a.m. - Noon

Assembly Hall

Video

Audio

Quotes

Jonathan Browning QuotePresident Kusch quote

Transcript

What Gift Will You Give?

Brother Decker and the choir, that was beautiful, thank you so much. And President and Sister Kusch thank you for this opportunity. Brothers and Sisters, Merry Christmas! It is absolutely wonderful to be with you this morning! I am truly humbled and I am grateful for the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you. Not only I am grateful for that, but I am grateful that my wife, Rachel, is here. Sweetie, I love you, thank you and thank you for being here, she hear from me all the time and she decided to come! And to my students, those of you that are here, you all get A’s, but the final is still due on the last day of the semester, remember that!

Oh my dear friends the Christmas message would not be a Christmas message without first going to the scriptures and reading the words of ancient prophets who prophesied of that first Christmas day! So, can we start by going to the scriptures?

And can start with Isaiah, don’t you love Isaiah? Here it is, you know this, you’ve read these words before:

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah later on wrote: “For unto us a child is born,….and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin prophesied: “The time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent…shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay…he shall suffer temptations, and pain,…and he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mosiah 3:5, 7-8).

Some 83 years before the birth of Christ, Alma prophesied: “For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all—for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people” (Alma 7:7).

Then came that night of nights, when Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem. “And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).

And shepherds were “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). The angel of the Lord appeared to them, proclaiming:

“Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). As you know, the shepherds with haste went into Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and “the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

Later, wise men traveled from the east, and found the “young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11).

Well, “[Jesus] the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit…[and] increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:40, 52).

Perhaps one of my favorite Christmas scriptures is when the babe of Bethlehem is now a man, teaching an inquiring Pharisee named Nicodemus. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (or we can also add receiveth) him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; see also Romans 8:32).

My dear friends, that is Christmas!! Giving and receiving is what Christmas is all about. The Father gave His Son, and the Son, our Savior and our Redeemer, gave His life, the greatest gift of all! May we remember, “what doth it profit a man [or a woman] if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? (D&C 88:33).

May we receive that greatest gift, even our Savior Jesus Christ every day of our lives. Because as you and I receive this gift, there grows within us a great desire to give. Because, as we receive the Savior, we become more like Him. We become more kind, more considerate, loving, forgiving, patient, sensitive, and giving. The Savior taught, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

Seeing that the Father and the Son have given us so much (see Mosiah 2:19-21), perhaps this Christmas season Brothers and Sisters, we can prayerfully ponder the following question and here it is: “What gift can I give Them?”

Almost six years ago, we began a family Christmas tradition. Weeks before Christmas day each person in our family carefully considers what gift they want to give the Savior. On Christmas morning with all the excitement and anticipation and before going to the Christmas tree – that at times it drives our kids crazy, to go and see what “Santa” brought them before exchanging gifts one with another, we gather as a family and we pray. Then each person writes down a “gift” they want to give the Savior at Christmas time and throughout the year (Show papers). My dear friends that has done something for our little family. It’s become a wonderful tradition, one in which that has helped us focus on the true meaning of Christmas and show our gratitude to the Father and the Son by giving them something of ourselves.

Speaking about gratitude, President David O. McKay once taught: “Gratitude is deeper than thanks. Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts” (President David O. McKay, “The Meaning of Thanksgiving,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1964, 914). Let me repeat that last line from President McKay “Gratitude is shown in acts.”

So what gift can we give the Father and the Son? We can show our gratitude through different acts. Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught a powerful lesson that can help us better understand how and what kind of gifts we can give the Father and the Son. Elder Ashton said:

“Undoubtedly our Heavenly Father tires of expressions of love in words only. He has made it clear through his prophets and his word that his ways are ways of commitment, and not conversation.

And listen to this line of Elder Ashton: He prefers performance over lip service” (Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “Love Takes Time,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 108).

Brothers and Sisters, commitment and performance. The Savior taught the principles of commitment and performance to His disciples just days before His death. Listen closely to His words. And as you listen, I think you will hear Him telling you what you and I can give.

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto 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 25:35-40).

Performance, commitment or in the words of King Benjamin: “when [you] are in the service of your fellow beings [you] are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

Brothers and Sisters as we ponder what gift we might give the Father and the Son this Christmas, please listen closely to the following counsel given by President Howard W. Hunter in his last public address to the Church. He delivered this message during the 1994 First Presidency Christmas Devotional:

“We should strive to give as He gave. To give of oneself is a holy gift. We give as a remembrance of all the Savior has given.

“Christmas is a time for giving. Someone once said he couldn’t think of what to give for Christmas….

Then President Hunter gives the following suggestions:

“This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter [or dare we say, send an email or a text]. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again” (President Howard W. Hunter, “The Gifts of Christmas,” First Presidency Christmas Devotional, 4 December 1994, Ensign, Dec. 2002).

My dear friends, what will you get them this Christmas? Remember, when we receive the Father and the Son’s gift, we desire to give, and give more of ourselves. And what greater gift can we give the Father and the Son, then by giving more of ourselves?

I leave my testimony with you that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of the Almighty God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I pray that each of you will have a wonderful and joyous Christmas, wherever you may be. And we may find joy in receiving, and we may find joy in giving. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

The 2018 Christmas devotional will include Christmas music, scriptures and remarks about the miracle of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Music will be provided by The BC Choir and BC Voices.

Jonathan Browning, a LDSBC Institute of Religion instructor, will be our concluding speaker on December 11th. 

December 11, 2018
11:15 a.m. to Noon
Assembly Hall on Temple Square

Jonathan E. Browning was born in San Diego, California and lived in Southern California until the age of 14 when he moved with his family to Bountiful, Utah. Brother Browning attended Viewmont High School where he played on the football team, participated in track and field, and served on the seminary council his senior year.

He served a mission in the Mexico Mazatlán Mission. Following his mission, he attended the University of Utah where he completed a bachelor’s degree and met his wife, Rachel, at the LDS institute. They are the parents of two sons (McKay and Hunter) and one daughter (Sydney). Their oldest son is currently serving in the Spain Barcelona Mission. Brother Browning also holds a master’s degree from Idaho State University.

For the past 20 years, Brother Browning has been a release-time seminary teacher and principal in Southeast Idaho and in the Salt Lake Valley. Before his current assignment at LDSBC, he worked with the Training Division and Curriculum Division of seminaries and institutes. 

Brother Browning has served in numerous Church callings including as Elders Quorum president, bishopric member, Stake Mission president, ward Young Men’s president, temple ordinance worker, and bishop. He is currently serving as the 1st counselor in his stake presidency.

President and Sister Kusch

18 Sep. 2018

Video

Audio

Quotes

President Kusch devotional

 

Sister Kusch devotional

 

Transcript

I Am More Than Just a Name by Sister Alynda Kusch

This is wonderful, it wonderful to be here with you today, I am so grateful to join with you in this really historic building, it is lovely to be with you this morning.

One semester when I was teaching at BYU-Idaho, on the very first day of class there  was a young woman that approach me after the class was over, and she said “I’m not registered for your course but I really want to take it, so would you add me?” So I wrote her name down and as soon as I got back to my office I looked her up and added her to the course.

Oh imagine my surprise when later that afternoon when I got an email from her that said, “who are you and why did you add me to a course that I have no intention of taking?” I was a little confused. But after some investigating, I discovered that in my haste to help the student, I had not noticed that there were 2 students with the same name, so I added the wrong one to the class.

Now, the next semester something very similar happened, but I had learned my lesson, so when the student said, “please Sister Kusch, add me to your course.” When I got back to my office, I looked her up and her name was common enough that there were 5 students at BYU-Idaho with the same name. So I sent her an email and I said, “I need an additional identifier, you gotta tell me your student ID number, or something about you that I can be sure that I did not repeat the same mistake that happened the semester before.

So using the correct name and identifier in this case was essential in being sure that I had added the correct student to the class.

Now I have a friend who works in an elementary school in Idaho, and her name is Mrs. Miller, that is also a very common name. So at the school, she is not the only Mrs. Miller, there are 2 others.

So you can imagine that the secretary cannot simply call over the loud speaker if one of them has a telephone call or is needed in the office. “Would Mrs. Miller please come to the office,” you can see that would be a problem.

So they’re identified by what they do, if one of them has a telephone call or is needed in the office, you would hear the secretary say:

Mrs. Miller, the science teacher

Or, Mrs. Miller, the school nurse

Or in the case of my friend, Mrs. Miller, the guidance counselor would you please come to the office?

So this other description, at least at school, identifies my friend.

On campus we are identified in a lot of different ways; by our names, by our student ID numbers, by our birthdates sometimes, by our nationalities, by our languages, by our majors. And especially in the first weeks of the semester, it’s how we kind of introduce ourselves to each other; tell me your name, where are you from, and what are you studying, because it help us remember who we are.  

Well, I am known by a lot of different identifiers; I am a daughter, I am sister, I am wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a teacher, lots of different identifiers.

So my question to you this morning is this, who are you? What identifies you? Who do you look like? Who do you sound like? How would you be defined and how would you be identified?

So I’ve shared with you my identifiers, but I will tell you that the identification category I supposed, under which I fall that I love the most and I appreciate the most is that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father.

In the last few weeks I have been thinking about 2 questions with regard to that.

The first one is, why would it be important to come to realize and understand, and then remember who we are? Our eternal nature and identity to our Heavenly Father and if that is so important then, how is it that we come to do that?

How can we realize who we are in our Heavenly Father’s eyes and then remember how he feels about us?

So those are the two questions that have been on my mind.

Well, we can turn to the scriptures for the answer to the first question, who are we in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

In the first chapter of Moses, for example, we can read the account of an experience that the prophet had when he saw and spoke to God face to face.

“And God spake unto Moses saying; Behold I am the Lord Almighty…..behold, thou are my son” (verse 3 & 4). And then twice more in the space of the following 3 verses God says to Moses, addresses him this way, “Moses, my son” (verses 6 &7).

It does not surprise me that almost immediately after this experience, however, Satan comes and tries to tempt Moses, to try to get him to forget what Heavenly Father has just said to him. He addresses him as not the son of God, but Satan calls Moses the much lower Moses, son of man, in his effort to have Moses forget what the Lord just taught him.

But Moses not only remembered what the Lord had taught him about his divine nature and identity but he rebuked Satan and said, don’t deceive me because God told me who I am. I am His son, I have a divine nature (verse 16).

Knowing this about ourselves then gives us the strength to overcome Satan, in the same way that Moses did. Satan would like us to believe that we are nothing – and that we are certainly are not worthy of the love that Heavenly Father has for us.

But when I know who I am and I understand my divine nature, then,

  • I can go forward with strength and power to serve others

  • I walk with faith and confidence when things are difficult because I know God loves me

  • I know of my worth as His child

I also know that when life weighs heavy upon me, there are times when it is difficult and disappointing. So I’m here to confess to you this morning that there are times when I forget this, and sometimes I think “Heavenly Father, are you there? Are you aware of me? Do you know me?”

I have learned over the years that there are some things that I can do that help me remember how the Lord feels about me.

So I’m gonna share 4 things with you today that are my keys to remember, that I am a daughter of God, I love him and He loves me and I offer these to you this morning, they may be different for you, but these are the things that helped me in the event that there’s ever been a time that you taught: does Heavenly Father know that I am there? Is he aware of me?

So the first thing that helps me is:

  1. Reading the scriptures, because when I read the scripture, it helps me see how Heavenly Father has blessed His other children and that if He has done that for them, then wouldn’t not make sense that He would do that also for me?

    1. In the 18th section of the Doctrine Covenants I like to read about the value of a soul in His eyes. I read there and remember that He suffered pain and death for me, for my sins, so that I have the opportunity to repent, and change, and be happy and know that He is my loving Father. That to me is everything.

    2. I like to read in 3rd Nephi when the Savior appears to the valiant Nephites that are there waiting for Him at the temple. And at that time he invites them to come forward one by one to see His hands, to feel them and His feet, that they have their own personal testimony of who He is, so that then they can bear record of who He is.

    3. I love to read and remember that when God the Father and his beloved Son, Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the sacred grove, Heavenly Father called Joseph by his name.

    4. And so the scriptures help me if I forget who I am in the Lord’s eyes.

The second thing that is really important for me is:

  1. My Patriarchal blessing, it is a little glimpse of the way Heavenly Father sees me and not only who I am but who I can become. So if you had not received your patriarchal blessing, I’d invite you to do that and then read it often, because for me it is a real help as I read those words, my personal scripture for me that helps me see that I am valued in the eyes of God.

The third thing is:

  1. I love to sing the Sacrament hymns, I like that time on Sunday during Sacrament meeting, when I am singing hymns about the Savior, and as I let those words go through my mind, I think “He did this for me, He did this for me,” and I stand all amazed at the love that He has for me.

And then the fourth thing is:

  1. Prayer, for me it is essential. It is powerful and it is portable. At any time and in any place I can beseech the Lord, “Heavenly Father help me know that you’re there. Help me feel thy love and help me know that I am a beloved daughter of yours.”

    1. So one thing that I’m gonna share with you, that I’ve had learned about prayer is that – the times when I have really poured my heart to the Lord and have needed His help, I’ve never had an angel that has come and sat on my bed, and told me what to do. Very often the answers to prayers I had received had been by way of an earthly being – you. We have the opportunity to bless each other’s lives and to answer prayers. So I would invite you that when you feel prompted by the Holy Ghost to do something for someone, do it, because very often it is an answer to a prayer.

So when I forget my value to the Lord, these are the four things that I do to help me remember.

So, who am I? How am I identified? I am a daughter of God. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a member of His restored Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that is who I am.

So, now I have an invitation for you. If you have wonder about your value to the Lord, then I would ask you, do something about it today.

For a class that I was taking as I was finishing my degree, I received an assignment from the teacher that was kind of an interesting one for me. What she asked us to do, was to contact 5 people that we trusted and then ask them to think about us, to consider who we are and then to send us a list of 10 of our qualities. It was really an interesting and amazing experience for me because the 5 people that I asked, who I trusted, saw me in a way that was different than I saw myself.

So you might try that, choose 5 people that you trust, ask them to think about you and then send you a list of 10 of your qualities, it may help you see how Heavenly Father feel about you.

Another suggestions that I mentioned before is to received and then read your patriarchal blessing because is personal scripture for you, and you can see how Heavenly Father feels about you by reading those words and personal verses of scripture.

And the last thing that occurs me, and I thought: “I think this is a really good idea,” is this time, conference is coming in a couple of weeks. Let’s look at conference in a different way, listen to the talk, listen to the things that are described about all of the things that Heavenly Father offers to us, because He loves us. Let’s look for all the ways and all of the evidences that He loves you.  

I have a friend who grew up in a large family. Every day when she and her siblings left home, as a child, as a teenager and as a young adult, her mother would call her, “Connie, remember who you are.”

Let’s do the same – remembering who we really are, as sons and daughters of God, will help us move through life with faith and confidence and joy. We have a Heavenly Father who knows us, and loves us, and wants to bless us. So let’s remember who we are and allow Him to do so. You are so much more than just a name – may you discover, and feel, and remember who you really are. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

“I’m Trying to be Like Jesus”

President Bruce C. Kusch Devotional Address
 

That was beautiful, thank you very, very much. I think that as we all listened to that hymn, there are many things that we ponder and think about in the life of the Savior, and I’m grateful for that. And I am grateful for the things that Sister Kusch thought us, I’m grateful to be here with her today. She is more amazing than words can describe, and I’m grateful that we have the blessing of sharing this life and eternities together.

You are a beautiful sight, it is wonderful to see all of you here this morning. It’s an exciting time, the beginning of a semester, there’s always something very special about that, and somehow especially the Fall semester. The leaves are starting to change, the temperature soon will cool, and we now know there might even be hope for BYU football! So it’s a great time of the year. For many, this is your first LDS Business College Devotional. For others, you are continuing the holy habit of making Devotional a part of your weekly personal worship. Something powerful happens when a body of saints gather together with a desire to be taught, and to learn, and to be reminded of the important doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I do promise that if you will attend devotional each week, and come prepared with a prayer in your heart, your prayers will be answered, may be not in that very moment but your prayers will be answered, and you will be taught something, and you will be strengthened in ways this semester that you cannot yet imagine.

I am a recreational runner. I ran a little cross country in high school – and hated it, I might add. But about 30 thirty years ago I started running again after succumbing to a significant amount of peer pressure, and I was hooked. I’ve run races in six different states and try to run when I am on business trips. I’ve run in Switzerland, in France, in Japan, in Taiwan, in Guatemala, in Mexico, and even in Cuba, and lived to tell the tell of going for a run in downtown Havana, Cuba.

Mostly, my runs are uneventful. They generally consist of me huffing and puffing my way along a street, path or trail for anywhere between 3 and 10 miles. During the week, I am usually out by 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning, I was out this morning just a little before 5:30 and on Saturdays I sleep in and don’t start a run until about 6:30 – in the morning, now I know for many of you that’s not sleeping in, but for me it is.

Now, it’s not my intent to talk about running today, but to share with you two experiences that I had this summer following my long Saturday morning runs.

I had finished a run and noticed a man and woman on bicycles were resting in the same area where I was stretching and cooling down. We said hello and I went about my stretching while they continued a conversation. After a few minutes they got back on their bikes and headed north on the bike path.

It was then I noticed another man who was loading his bike on a bike rack, on the back of his car. I noticed him, because the couple started berating him. They used foul language, they hurled racial insults at the man, and suggested he had no right to be living in the United States, and that he just go back to wherever he was from. The recipient of this vile display said nothing – and finally the man and the woman continued on.

I was appalled at what I witnessed. I had never in my life seen anything like this. My heart went out to this stranger, who was obviously hurt by this distasteful behavior. I walked over to him and expressed how sorry I was for him that he had been treated in such an ugly way. I learned that his name was Francisco, I learned that he was a chemical engineer. I learned that Mexico was his native country, I learned that he had been a resident of the United States for over 25 years and was a citizen of this country. We visited for a few more minutes, and we said our goodbyes. Francisco was clearly hurt but he also seemed to hold no grudge for what he had experienced. He explained that he had seen this couple on the bike trail and he had stopped to let them pass, and somehow, they’ve taken offense at that. We went our separate ways but I hope his acceptance of the way he was treated was not because he’d been treated like that before by someone who judged this good man in a way to suggest he wasn’t worthy of living in this country and he should just go back to wherever he was from.

Now, a few weeks before this experience, I witnessed something that is almost more tender and more powerful than I can adequately express.

The circumstances were similar to the first experience that I described. Saturday morning, I had just finished a long run, and back at the very same place where I would stretch and cool down.

Initially, I did not fully grasp to what was unfolding before me, but once I did I wanted to capture what I was happening with my cellphone camera, but the scene before my eyes was too sacred to do so, I felt that I was standing in holy ground.

I saw a man sitting in the seat of a 3-wheeled bicycle very low to the ground, one of those that you pedal with your hands. At his side was a very large man – I would guess like the stature of Brother Vaughn, really tall, and REALLY buffed – about the size of an NFL linebacker, if you can imagine someone like that. At first, I thought they were just getting ready to ride together and then I realized that the man sitting on the bike was a quadriplegic. I glanced to my right and I saw his empty wheelchair. I next noticed a minivan with the side door open where the bike and wheelchair had been stored and transported. And then I realized that this very large man was helping his friend get ready to hit this bike path on his bike, probably for the very first time. I saw him make sure that every strap was tight and secure, to make sure that his friend did not tumble off the bike and onto the bike path. I saw him carefully and quietly and ever so gently, describe to him – almost in whispers, what he was doing, step by step. I saw him gently, and lovingly and carefully lather sunscreen on his hands, his arms, and his face, and his legs. I saw him place his friend’s hands on the pedals to instruct him what to do to make sure he could turned those pedals. All of this took about 10 minutes. Through it all, I tried not to stare at them, but I was riveted by what I saw. I took an extra-long time to stretch and to cool down because I wanted to capture in my mind and in my heart every single minute of what was unfolding before my eyes.

I saw this very strong lift the very weak and helpless. I saw assurance given to one that was very unsure. I saw this man do something for his friend, that this friend could not do for himself ever. It was the most Christlike act of service and ministering that I have ever witnessed, and I had never witnessed anything like that, so profound in real time. There were so many lessons, and so many reminders, such admiration for this humble giant. It was as if I was seeing the Savior himself minister to this man. And then the Savior very own words recorded in Matthew 25 echoed in my mind...”inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

The Savior’s strength and grace lift us in our weakness. He assures us with His love given as a gift by the Holy Ghost. His infinite and eternal Atonement makes repentance and resurrection possible; something we could never achieve on our own. We rely wholly and completely on the “merits, mercy and grace of Christ” just as the man on the bicycle was relying on his friend.

Nephi testified that he heard the Savior’s voice, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, who admonished him, “...follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.”

We have all sung the Primary song “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus:”

I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in his ways.

I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.

At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,

But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.

Try to show kindness in all that you do.

Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,

For these are the things Jesus taught.”

I have reflected on these two contrasting experiences time and time again. I don’t know anything about the man and the woman who treated Francisco with such contempt. I likewise know nothing about the two men in the second experience that I related, I have not seen since. But I do know the man in the second experience was following the Savior, doing what He would have done, being kind, gentle and loving, just like Jesus taught.

But more than just following Jesus, both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, give us the charge to be perfect, even as the Father and the Son are perfect.

And, if this last admonition seems a little bit overwhelming, consider what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught in the October 2017 General Conference:

“The scriptures were written to bless and encourage us, and surely they do that. We thank heaven for every chapter and verse we have ever been given. But have you noticed that every now and then a passage will appear that reminds us we are falling a little short? For example, the Sermon on the Mount begins with soothing, gentle beatitudes, but in the verses that follow, we are told—among other things—not only not to kill but also not even to be angry. We are told not only not to commit adultery but also not even to have impure thoughts. To those who ask for it, we are to give our coat and then give our cloak also. We are to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and do good to them who hate us.

If that is your morning scripture study, and after reading just that far you are pretty certain you are not going to get good marks on your gospel report card, then the final commandment in the chain is sure to finish the job: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father … in heaven is perfect.” With that concluding imperative, we want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our head. Such celestial goals seem beyond our reach. Yet surely the Lord would never give us a commandment He knew we could not keep.”

I want to share a principle with you that I would teach our new missionaries on their very first day in the mission. Now, 3 of them are here today, I don’t that they will remember this, and I’m not gonna ask them to raise their hands if they do or they don’t, we’ll talk later. I wish I would’ve been more effective at this, because I found myself regularly repeating this with some missionaries that had difficulty applying the principle.

Every missionary arrives in the mission field wanting and desiring to do more than they are capable of doing. If you are a returned missionary, I want you to think about your very first day in the mission field. There is a very very large gap between what a missionary can do when they arrive – a brand new missionary, compared to a missionary that has even a few more weeks or a few more months of service in the mission field. A new missionary generally is not a very good teacher. And if a new missionary is arriving from the United States and speaking a foreign language, they cannot speak it very well at all. And, even if they think they could, and even if the missionaries that we received thought that they were pretty proficient with the language, they soon found out that Spanish in Mexico didn’t resemble anything like the Spanish they learned in the MTC.

But there were several areas where a brand-new missionary was every bit the equal of the most experienced missionary. They could work hard. They could study diligently. They could pray with their whole heart and soul. They could give their whole soul as an offering to the Savior. They could love the people. They could be obedient, without rebellion. And, they were just as entitled to the companionship of the Holy Ghost as any other missionary who was almost on their way home.

But here is the principle that I tried to teach them: as a new missionary, you must give yourself permission to be new missionary, fully confident that as you work and serve with your whole heart and soul, that capability gap would quickly close, and their desires and their capabilities would soon be a perfect match.

Now, just as it is for a new missionary, there is an enormous gap between being perfect, our desire to be perfect, and the perfection of the Father and the Son. Because this is so, we need to give ourselves permission to be a work in progress. Now, that doesn’t mean that we throw our hands in the air, claim the pursuit of godly perfection is beyond our grasp and impossible task and we give up, nor am I suggesting that just with cheer will and hard work, we will achieve this state of perfection in this life, but I do know that there are things we can and must do to narrow the gap, as we strive to develop Christlike character and attributes during our time here in mortality.

Just last Saturday, speaking to nearly 50,000 people in Safeco Field in Seattle – President Nelson said, “As a Church we need to be doing what the Savior wishes us to do. And as a people we need to be looking and acting like true followers of Jesus Christ.”

Last Wednesday, in a pre-semester meeting with employees, Elder Holland said that one of the most important missions of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve is to “prepare the members of the Church to be recognizable to the Savior.”

Do you see, then brothers and sisters, why it is so very important that we use the proper name of the Church? We are not ‘Mormons,’ we are not members of ‘the LDS Church.’ We are members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each of us should be making a conscious effort to appropriately mention our membership in Christ’s true and living church as often as we can.

Now there is little question that if we were to see the Savior, we would recognize Him immediately. But if a stranger were to meet you, would they recognize you as a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ and a member of His restored Church? Would your speech, your actions, your dress and demeanor identify you as a capable and trusted disciple?

Let me share with you five things that successful missionaries did to narrow the capability gap and let’s see if we can liken these things to ourselves in our daily efforts to try and be a little more like Jesus.

  1. Successful missionaries, first, had knowledge and understanding of their true identity and their purpose as a missionary.
    Do you believe, do you really believe, the words of the Primary hymn that we all know and love? I AM a child of God, and He HAS sent me here. Knowing who we are – our true identity as the spiritual offspring of heavenly parents – is vital. When we know that, and believe that, and remember that every day, it will change our very nature and our desires.

  2. Successful missionaries looked and acted like set apart representatives of the Savior.
    They likened unto themselves the words of the Apostle Paul, when he said, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, (or I became a missionary), I put away childish things” (1Cor 13:11). They knew that their success was linked to the choices that they made, because of that they chose to act, think, and behave like a worthy representatives of Christ.

  3. Successful missionaries served with an eye single to the glory of God.
    They knew that when they did their lives would be filled with light; they saw things more clearly, and they understood things more deeply. The same will be true for us. When we keep our covenants and we stay on the covenant path and becoming more like Jesus becomes our quest, God will endow us with power – even the enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement.

  4. Successful missionaries made every day count. They studied. They prayed. They served. They taught. They testified. They loved. And they worked even when it was really hard. They cherished the blessing of carrying the Savior’s name over and in their heart. And we can make every day count too. We can study. We can pray. We can love. We can serve.

  5. Finally, successful missionaries endured to the end. They worked to the very last minutes of their very last day. Our enduring now, with faith and repentance and patience and humility, will qualify us to stand before the Savior one day and be received into His arms, and hear the words, “well done.”

Now I share these concluding words from Elder Holland:

“Brothers and sisters, every one of us aspires to a more Christlike life than we often succeed in living. If we admit that honestly and are trying to improve, we are not hypocrites; we are human. May we refuse to let our own mortal follies, and the inevitable shortcomings of even the best men and women around us, make us cynical about the truths of the gospel, the truthfulness of the Church, our hope for our future, or the possibility of godliness. If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete—which is the New Testament meaning of perfection” (General Conference address, October 2017).

Brothers and Sisters, as Elder Holland taught us last week: the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of happy endings. We are all on different paths to becoming like the Savior. In our journey along that path we do not judge others if we perceive they are not quite yet where we are; nor do we compare ourselves to our fellow travelers as we stretch our vision to see them in the distance ahead.

I pray that Heaven will bless us all as we strive to be a little more like Jesus every single day. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

President Bruce C. Kusch grew up in Southern California in a part-member family. After graduating from high school, President Kusch enrolled at California State University in Long Beach. He served a mission in the Guatemala-El Salvador Mission.

After completing his mission, while attending university and institute classes, he met Sister Kusch in the institute choir. A little less than a year later, they were married in the Los Angeles California Temple. Then, just four years later, President Kusch was called as bishop of their ward, the same ward he grew up in.

Eventually, they moved to Northern California where President Kusch worked and consulted in the high-tech industry before deciding to move to Rexburg to teach at BYU-Idaho. President and Sister Kusch both taught at BYU-I, and President Kusch also went on to serve for four years in the administration at the school. He also served as a stake president in Rexburg.

In 2012, President Kusch was called to preside over the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission. After their mission, the Kusches returned briefly to BYU-Idaho before President Kusch accepted the position of chief academic officer at LDS Business College in 2016.

In April 2017, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf announced that President Kusch would become the 13th president of LDS Business College.

President and Sister Kusch are the parents of four children and have 17 grandchildren.

Gary Crittenden

09 Oct. 2018


Bio

Since 2017, Gary Crittenden has served as the managing director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary department. He oversees all operational activities of the Church's nearly 70,000 missionaries worldwide.

Before his current role at the Church, Gary was a managing director, chairman and chief executive officer of HGGC, a Palo Alto-based private equity firm. Gary was also the chief financial officer of Citigroup from 2007 to 2009, where he was responsible for the financial management of the firm during the financial crisis. He was also CFO of American Express Company from 2000 to 2007. Before American Express, he was the CFO of Monsanto, Sears Roebuck and Company, Melville Corporation and Filene's Basement. On three separate occasions, the readers of Institutional Investor Magazine named Gary one of the "Best CFOs in America."

He has a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Weber State University has awarded him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his service in business and the community.

Gary and his wife, Cathy, are the parents of three children and 11 grandchildren and reside in Salt Lake City.

Gene Hayes

30 Oct. 2018

11:15 a.m. - Noon

Conference Center Little Theater

Video

Audio

Quotes

Gene Hayes QuoteSavannah Atwood Quote

Transcript

 

Well, that was extremely beautiful, I thank the choir, and also Savannah and Pablo for bringing the spirit to the meeting.  

Buenos días, bom dia, mālō e lelei, magandang umaga, and good morning! That greeting should cover the greater portion of the 56 foreign countries represented at the college, along with everyone else.

It is great to be with you today and to see many familiar faces in the audience. I thank President Kusch, whom I consider a dear friend, for the invitation—it is a pleasure to share with you, your wife Alynda, and other colleagues this morning.

Today I would like to start my remarks by using an example from classic rock, perhaps becoming the first devotional speaker to quote Jimi Hendrix in this venue—I hope the ceiling won’t come down, but at least be grateful I’m not quoting Justin Bieber.

The first verse of the song “Castles Made of Sand,” talks about a love that fades away due to alcohol abuse. The culprit cries on a rhyme: “Oh, girl, you must be mad. What happened to the sweet love you and me had?” then the chorus repines:

“And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.”

The second verse talks about a little brave Indian who plays war games with his Indian friends and dreams of going to war and becoming a fearless warrior Indian Chief; the little boy grew, and on the night prior to his first battle, a surprise attack killed him in his sleep. Then, the chorus, while introducing some usage errors, only changes subtly:

“And so castles made of sand melts [sic] into the sea, eventually.”

There is one more verse, but in the end the answer is always the same…

“And so castles made of sand slips [sic] into the sea, eventually.”

Have you ever built a sand castle on the beach? It is one of the fondest memories I have from my childhood—if you haven’t, I invite you to go to a lake nearby and try it—it is fun! Actually, you might be a bit old for that now, so just wait till you can take your own kids.

What meaning can you infer from the phrase “living in a world made of sand,” which is the title of my talk this morning?

Many times in life we build sand castles—empty and ephemeral things, which are easily destroyed given that they are not erected on a sound foundation. Most things we have in this world are, in a figurative sense, made of sand—or in other words, they are temporary. Therefore, some of these “castles made of sand” could be dreams that we hold dear, but their value may not be lasting or of much worth.

I will share with you a couple of such dreams. The first one is my own, the second one is from a friend.

As a young, poor, international student attending Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho, I was walking down 2nd South in Rexburg, when I came upon a living dream—it was a Fiero, a mid-engine sports car that was built by Pontiac. The Fiero—meaning “proud, fierce, or bold” in Italian—was a sporty two-seater that incorporated several features that were radical for its time (such as, plastic body panels and hidden headlamps, it also had four wheels). As I stood there contemplating this red beauty, I had a moment of sudden insight: the girls will like it!

Then, the thought came that if I had that car, nothing else would matter—not my education, not my health, not my future, not anything else (perhaps not even the girls)! In the eyes of my mind I could see my hair waving in the wind as I drove it down the street in a worry-free world. Never mind that I would have had no money for gas, I was so elated that I would have made the car run on a not-yet-invented combustible—Dreamionic fuel, get it?

Well, I am grateful that I woke up from that dream and never bought a Fiero; and now, many years later, I look back and think the car was not that good-looking; it seems uncomfortable, and it would have broken by now—yes, just like a castle made of sand, its glamour and apparent beauty were only temporary, and, perhaps, deceptive when viewed as a substitute for things of lasting value, such as an education, the gospel, and the formation of an eternal family.

Dear friends, what are the “Fieros” in your life? What are the “sand castles” that could distract you, blind you, or worst yet, enslave you? What are the things that might sidetrack you from the things that truly matter and can bring lasting joy?

One of my favorite passages of scripture, which inspired one of Primary’s favorite songs: The Wise Man and the Foolish Man, is in the 7th chapter of Matthew. I would like to read to you verses 24 through 27:

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these saying of mine, and doeth them not, shall be liknened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”  

So, what does it mean to build upon a rock? How can we become wise men and women? Helaman, teaching his sons Nephi and Lehi exclaimed:

“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

In these, the latter days, how do we avoid the shafts in the whirlwind, the hail, and the mighty storm? The simplest of answers is: follow the prophet.

Just like Helaman, modern prophets encourage us in different ways to build on a sure foundation. In 2012, President Thomas S. Monson stated:

“At the advent of a new year, I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life – a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings.”

Please note that he did not say an abundant life of comfort, conveniences, and material possessions. Nor did he say, an abundant life of long Snapchat streaks, quasi-perfect social media posts, as measured by likes and shares, or how many kills you have on Fortnite. An abundant life can only be obtained by building our foundation upon the rock of our Redeemer, which can only come through, as President Monson taught, a personal, diligent, and significant quest—no one can make that decision for ourselves.

In one of his most powerful talks, President Boyd K. Packer stated that “[t]he gift of the Holy Ghost, if you consent, will guide and protect you and even correct your actions. It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought or a feeling put into your heart.”

What a magnificent promise, the Holy Ghost can be our constant companion and it will guide, protect, and correct us—but only if we let Him! President Packer then reminds us that it is not expected that we go through life without making mistakes, but that we can avoid major mistakes by heeding to the promptings of the Spirit.

But what happens if we have messed up big time already? President Packer addressed that question beautifully when he said: “[s]ome will make critically serious mistakes, transgressing the laws of the gospel. Here it is time to remind you of the Atonement, repentance, and complete forgiveness to the point that you can become pure again. The Lord said, ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.’” Isn’t that a beautiful promise? If we apply the Atonement in our lives and repent, the Lord will remember our sins, including serious mistakes, no more.

I can testify that repentance brings joy. I remember the first time I went to visit with my bishop while I was a student at Ricks College. I was 17 years old, my testimony was developing, but I did not quite understand the power of the Atonement; nonetheless, through the wonderful example of my roommates, including inspired teaching and reassurance, I found the courage to go talk with my bishop about some bad decisions I had made up to that point in my life.

As you now know, I did not have a car, I was dreaming, so I had to walk in the bitter cold to my appointment with the bishop—that simple visit turned out to be one of the happiest days of my life; a day that started me on the right path. A path that has not been mistake-free, but it is straight and narrow, and it is the covenant path that President Nelson urged us to stay on during his first remarks after being set apart as the 17th  President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Nelson, in what appears to me by way of commandment, said: “Now, to each member of the Church I say: Keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere.” Let us all heed the admonition from the prophet; he knows the way!

The second story I would like to share is from my friend Tiago Vidigal, a student who was attending BYU-Idaho while I worked there. Tiago is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, an impressive and vibrant metropolis with more than 20 million people. Unlike my crazy dream about a material possession with limited real worth, Tiago’s dream was one of lasting value. Let me share his story.

As many families throughout the world do, Tiago’s family provided lunch for the missionaries. On a P-day one of the missionaries came to his house wearing a BYU shirt—you know, true blue, big white letters. The missionary told him that BYU was the Lord’s university—and that is where Tiago’s dream started. He said: “I think I want to study there.”

So, after much sacrifice and preparation he was admitted to BYU-Idaho, another of the Lord’s universities within the Church Educational System. This was Tiago’s first time outside of Brazil, and going from a metropolis, as I mentioned previously, to a tiny town in Idaho was quite a shock (as a side note, I like to do my research, Idaho is one of the nine states in the United States that has more cattle than people—the ratio is 1.36. Please note these statistics are not meant as derogatory to my dear Idahoans, nor to the cattle, in any way—they are shared for comparative purposes only).

Tiago had been married for a little less than a year, but his wife was already pregnant as they made their way to Idaho; the pressure for him was becoming too much to take. Among other things, they were dealing with terrible weather, different foods, and a new language and culture—I am certain that many of you can relate; I certainly can!

Of those trying times, Tiago recounts: “I had to find a place to stay, I had to find a job. I felt useless and inadequate. And after a little while, the thought came, and I said to myself: ‘this is not where I should be.’ I felt weak and very scared. The situation was really overwhelming, and I could see myself going back home as a failure.” During that time, Tiago’s life did not feel like it was an abundant life, “filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings,” as President Monson had described.

Elder Steven E. Snow, a General Authority Seventy, described Tiago’s situation almost perfectly when he said: “Too often we are reluctant to enter the next stage, begin the next challenge. Maybe we are too comfortable, fearful, or lacking in faith.”

That is precisely what happened to Tiago and is happening to all of us in one way or another. Accordingly, Elder Snow counsels to “… to keep an eternal perspective. Understand that change and challenges are part of God’s plan. By design this mortal existence is a time of testing or a time ‘to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.’”

President Thomas S. Monson has taught that “faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.”

As Tiago exercised faith, he quickly learned a few key things to help him:

  1. College is not easy, but it is doable and totally worth it

  2. We can do hard things—even those that seem impossible at first

  3. If we have the Lord by our side, and are praying and asking for His help, He will bless us

I can testify that these principles are true, as I have put them to the test in my own life, and I invite you to do likewise—put them to the test! Invest in your future by continuing to pursue your education and be resilient during trying times; nevertheless, remember that no Ph.D., lofty educational credential, or professional achievement can substitute for keeping the commandments and having the Spirit in your life—stay on the Lord’s side and make Him your partner.

Upon graduating from BYU-Idaho, Tiago got a job as a securities analyst with Morgan Stanley, the highly regarded multinational investment bank and financial services company.

I caught up with Tiago a couple weeks back. He is now working with a private equity firm here in SLC and is continuing his education at the University of Utah, pursuing a Master of Science degree in Finance. I asked him for a brief report on how things are going and he was prompt to share the following: “my wife is studying digital marketing at LDSBC – yay, and our two kids are in school; we are all active in the Church, and even though life is throwing some curve balls every now and then, the Lord has been incredibly kind and patient with my family and me.”

It is telling, instructional, and inspiring that Tiago did not mention any “sand castles” or “Fieros” in his life? He did not say: “I got an awesome car, a few stock options, and a big bonus last year; I am planning to buy the new Nintendo Switch, which is really popular, my roommates love it, and a Rolex, because I now collect watches.” He talked about things of great worth and that are long-lasting, such as the gospel, education, and his eternal family.

In talking about the eternal family, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, stated: “When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time.” Friends, the greatest joys (and, if not careful, greatest sorrows) you will experience in this life will come from your family relations; therefore, you must choose wisely, and if you have already chosen, foster your marriage and strengthen your bonds—they are everlasting.

Let me now take you back in time to about 83 B.C., at the time where Alma, the High Priest, is addressing the people of Zarahemla. During his sermon Alma asked over forty reflective questions, out of which I am sharing three:

“And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”

King Benjamin, about 40 years earlier, desiring to know if his people believed the words he spoke unto them, sent an inquiry among them, and this is the answer he received:

“And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or un our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”

The Spirit—not merely an intellectual or social conversion—drives us to be born of God through a mighty change of heart. That change of heart may take us to a point where we “have no more disposition to do evil,” a place where, while imperfect, we want to “do good continually.” And, dear friends, wanting to do good continually brings joy into our lives.

Lehi taught his son Jacob saying: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

Joy, as the purpose of our existence, will not come by merely restraining ourselves from sin (wanting to do it but knowing we should not or cannot—or in other words we want to do bad things but can’t), but rather it comes as the Spirit brings a change in our hearts, shields us from evil, and allows us to see things in their proper perspective, which is, that we are here to be tested and to prepare to go back to our Heavenly home.

Let me share some examples of how life’s circumstances may force us to see things in their proper perspective:

  • My dear sister-in-law, Janice, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 34. Her commitment to the gospel and her family took on a new meaning. In comparison, home remodels, new cars, or exotic trips became empty and unimportant.

  • Bronson Grange, a student at BYU-Idaho, received the awful news that his sister (26 at the time), had been diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer. The certainty of the Atonement gave him and the family strength to know that this life is not the end.

  • A very famous professional soccer player in Ecuador, after all the glory, including European career and massive fortune, is now homeless. Fame, beauty, and financial success are deceiving and, many times, short-lived (the precise definition of the ephemeral).

  • My high school classmate’s two children were kidnapped at gun point while going to school; their chauffer tried to intervene and was killed on the spot. Money, power, and influence – all which he has – could not bring his chauffer back to life, nor spare his children from the awful trauma they were subjected to for several months.

  • My dear friend, Raúl Corzo, grew up in a wealthy family, with political ties, and was subjected to social pressures that would preclude most people from accepting the gospel; nonetheless, he was valiant and was baptized, served a mission, and married an amazing woman for time and all eternity, forming the celestial institution mentioned by Elder Maxwell. He has four amazing children; one is a returned missionary, one is an LDSBC student, sitting right thre and the two youngest will soon follow in their footsteps. The fruits of the gospel are real, and available for all to reap.

  • Finally, the Fiero, nor any other material possession, can bring joy and fulfillment to our lives. Real joy can only come from being true to our covenants, keeping the commandments, and listening to the prophet.

Brothers and sisters, while having no more disposition to do evil, vis-à-vis merely restraining ourselves, is the ideal, we must exercise faith and consistent obedience; and, at times, to the answer of why we do what we do, we, like Adam, should exclaim: “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”

Obedience can prepare us and bless our lives with:

  1. strength of character,

  2. self-discipline,

  3. peace of mind,

  4. protection,

  5. the companionship of the Spirit, and

  6. it can be the catalyst in experiencing a mighty change of heart.

Therefore, keep the commandments and you will gain your reward in this life and in the life to come.

Not unlike some of the critical questions Alma asked the people of the church in Zarahemla, today I too would like to ask a few questions. Please consider what your individual answers might be as I share some of mine:

  1. What has brought joy to your life? For me it has been:

    1. My testimony, which includes serving the Lord with full intent of heart

    2. My beautiful, eternal family

    3. Serving a mission to Bolivia—and, I would add, continuing to share the gospel with many others since that time

    4. My children’s missionary service—I have a son who served in the Missouri St. Louis Mission, and a daughter currently serving in the Washington DC North Mission

    5. True friendships, which I am lucky to count many

  2. What has brought satisfaction to your life? I thought of five specific categories:

    1. Professional accomplishments

    2. Academic successes

    3. Athletic accolades

    4. Reaching worthy goals

    5. Attaining a certain level of financial stability

Please note that neither the cars I have had, even if they are a bit comfortable than the Fiero, nor any other material possession came even close to making the list.

The questions I asked had to do with joy and satisfaction, but there are things which also may bring pleasure and euphoria to our lives—some which are good (e.g., hiking the Grand Canyon, paragliding, bungee jumping, or eating tacos al pastor), and some which are evil and cunningly designed to destroy if abused—i.e., the sacred power of procreation, drugs, and other addictive behaviors—yes, including gaming and social media, if not watched carefully.

The following invitation is one of the best you will hear today, and it comes from President Boyd K. Packer: “If you are slipping into things that you should not slip into or if you are associating with people who are pulling you away in the wrong direction, that is the time to assert your independence, your agency. Listen to the voice of the Spirit, and you will not be led astray.”

How have you felt after a strong spiritual experience? e.g., after attending the Temple, or after your little brother’s baptism, or after a special blessing which healed a loved one, or after baptizing a family on your mission, or after clearing something with the bishop? Such feelings may be described in simple adjectives or phrases, such as:

blissful, joyful, peaceful, “on cloud nine,” full of love, etc. At that stage, if you were an open book, I am confident that we would find no disposition to do evil in your pages—that is what the Spirit can do for us. I commend those for whom—just like for King Benjamin’s people—these feelings have become part of who they are as they faithfully strive to stay on the covenant path.

But why do those feelings often go away within days or even hours for many others? Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin provides a clue by stating that “[s]ome are distracted by the things of the world that block out the influence of the Holy Ghost, preventing them from recognizing spiritual promptings.” Elder Wirthlin then continues by warning that “if we’re not careful, the things of this world can crowd out the things of the Spirit.”

Nevertheless, he promises that if all those who struggle would “open their hearts to the refining influence of [the] unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a glorious new spiritual dimension would come to light…. They could know for themselves things of the Spirit that are choice, precious, and capable of enlarging the soul, expanding the mind, and filling the heart with inexpressible joy.”

Dear friends, it is within our power to qualify ourselves for, and to become entitled to, such inexpressible joy. I have known that truth of myself for over 40 years, you may think, “was he two months?” that was a joke, when I memorized my first scripture in Primary and recited it in front of the congregation. “Yo, el Señor, estoy obligado cuando hacéis lo que os digo; mas cuando no hacéis lo que os digo, ninguna promesa tenéis.” As you might be able to tell, I memorized it in Spanish. In English it reads: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”

With much love, I raise a voice of warning to those who are becoming casual in their commitment to the gospel, including, and perhaps especially, those who have served missions: failure and heartache await unless you continue to seek the Spirit, serve faithfully, and fortify your character. The adversary is working hard, and in many cases, deceiving the elect—you are the elect, you are, as the Apostle Peter’s prophetic statement declaims: “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.”  You are members of the church that bears His name, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord is on your side and He will bless you.

I testify that castles made of sand do fall in the sea, eventually, but if we build our foundation upon the rock of our Redeemer, the storms of life will have no power over us. The Lord loves us, and His arms are open wide. May we have the wisdom and courage to embrace Him, is my prayer. In the Holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

1. http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/The_Jimi_Hendrix_Experience:Castles_Made_Of_Sand

2. Helaman 5:12

3. Thomas S. Monson, “Living the Abundant Life,” January 2012.

4. See Boyd K. Packer, “Counsel to Youth,” October 2011.

5. Ibid.

6. See Russell M. Nelson, “As We Go Forward Together,” April 2018.

7. Idib.

8. See: https://www.lds.org/music/library/childrens-songbook/follow-the-prophet?lang=eng&_r=1

9. http://beef2live.com/story-cattle-inventory-vs-human-population-state-0-114255

10. Tiago Vidigal, personal communication, August 2013.

11. Steven E. Snow, “Get On with Our Lives,” April 2009.

12. Ibid.

13. Thomas S. Monson, “Come unto Him in Prayer and Faith,” March 2009.

14. Tiago Vidigal, personal communication, 16 October 2018.

15. Neal A. Maxwell, “The Women of God,” April 1978.

16. Alma 5:14.

17. Mosiah 5:2.

18. 2 Nephi 2:25.

19. See Moses 5:6.

20. Boyd K. Packer, “Counsel to Youth,” October 2011.

21. Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Unspeakable Gift,” April 2013.

22. Ibid.

23. Doctrine and Covenants 82:10.

24. 1 Peter 2:9.


Bio

Gene Hayes is the international operations director at BYU-Pathway Worldwide and has held this position since August 2010. Before BYU-Pathway, Gene held multiple roles within the education sector, including at Saras Education and the Apollo Education Group. He was directly involved in the first two international acquisitions for Apollo in Chile and Mexico City. Gene started his career with Intel Corporation, where he held several roles of increasing responsibility, including program manager, contract operations manager, and knowledge management architect.

Brother Hayes holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from BYU and a master’s degree in business administration from the Marriott School of Business.

He was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico. He is a competitive squash player, and he loves playing soccer and learning about new cultures. He and his wife, Beverly, are the parents of five children.

James Tidwell

13 Nov. 2018

11:15 a.m. - Noon

Conference Center Little Theater

Video

Audio

Quotes

 

Haide Toledo quoteJames Tidwell quote

Transcript

Getting Engaged

President & Sister Kusch

Thank you very very much, that was beautiful and I am thrilled to be here with you today. I appreciate this opportunity. I’m just thinking as President Kusch announced me and talk about the speaker next week, I bet you last Tuesday when President Eyring was here up on the stand and he announced the next week, – James Tidwell, accountant will be here – that sent a wave of excitement like no one could believe as you were waiting for President Eyring to speak.

I’ve known President Kusch for a long time and I love him, he is a great man, very humble, inspired and talented man. He is your friend, you’re blessed to have him as your president. You do well to carefully observe and follow his example and the example of his wife, Alynda.

My Wife, Anna, and Family

My wife, Tomi – this is not my wife, – is sorry she could not be here today. She is in Kentucky helping to care for three of our grandchildren, while our 42-year-old son rehabilitates from a very serious accident. We are grateful he survived the accident and we marvel at his perfect brightness of hope. I am eternally grateful for my incredible wife and her pure goodness. I’ve been blessed with amazing parents who still live on their own at 93, we have four wonderful children with equally wonderful spouses, we are especially grateful for our 13 grandchildren, and one grandson-in-law who is wonderful.

One of these grandchildren, the talented and beautiful Anna Mortensen, came with me today so I wouldn’t be scared, she lives in Syracuse and turns 16 in a few weeks, she came down to Sandy last Sunday with her family to attend my stake conference. Afterward she told me how great the stake conference was, and she asked me: “grandpa, do you realize how many times speakers pause and say ‘um’ during their talk?” I said “no, do you count them?” she says, “yeah, usually and it’s a lot!” I hesitated and then I asked: “Ana, how many times did I say ‘um’?” She quickly answered “oh grandpa, I don’t count yours.” It’s nice to have a fan club, even of one member.

My wife and I, as president Kusch said, meet at the University of Utah at institute. We were born just four days apart and in those days people stayed at the hospital a lot longer when they had a baby. And we were both in Salt Lake City, we would have been in the newborn nursery together, but our mothers went to different hospitals. So I missed finding her in the nursery, but our paths crossed again 18 years later at an Institute of Religion activity. My advice to you is to get engaged with Institute. You will not only find it engaging, you might find yourself engaged.

What does it mean to be engaged?

The word engaged mean betrothed, pledged, oddly enough involved in conflict or battle, or employed, occupied, or busy (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). All of these definitions imply a high degree of commitment. Being fully engaged in something includes being absorbed and taking initiative.

Why Should We Get Engaged?

All of us need to get engaged especially some of you young men who need a bit more focused direction and female guidance in your lives.

  1. We are commanded to be anxiously engaged in a good cause

God expects us to get engaged. In a well-known and often-quoted scripture the Lord says,

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant …

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (Doctrine & Covenants 58:27-28).

Our Heavenly Father has given us agency to make our own choices. We are free to choose and to act, without being compelled. He expects us to take initiative and do many good things of our own free will. He does not want us to wait around to be told what to do.

  1. God commands us to not be idle

The Lord makes it clear in several sections of the Doctrine & Covenants that we are not to be idle – which is the opposite of being engaged, at least in my mind.

He says:

  • Cease to be idle (D&C 88:124).

  • Thou shalt not be idle (D&C 42:42).

  • I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the… [idlers in Zion] (D&C 68:31).

  • The idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways (D&C 75:29).

This warning against idleness is found in ancient scriptures as well:

  • The Book of Mormon Alma told his son, Shiblon, to “refrain from idleness” (Alma 32:12).

  • And in the Bible, the prophet Ezekiel compared Jerusalem to Sodom, whose iniquities included an “abundance of idleness” (Ezekiel 16:49).

  • And in the parable of the talents the Lord condemned the wicked and slothful servant for being idle and hiding his talent (See Matthew 25:25-26).

The Lord clearly wants us to be busy, to be ‘up and doing’ as my mom likes to say, that’s her favorite phrase, I think, ‘being up and doing.’

  1. Getting engaged in good causes is key to our growth and happiness

Besides being engaged because we are commanded to, we should do so because we need it. Being fully engaged is fulfilling and brings satisfaction to all humankind.

In 1943, a psychologist named Abraham Maslow published a scientific paper called “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Over his lifetime he refined that theory ultimately settling on a hierarchy or pyramid of five levels of human needs.

  • The first level is for basic things, they are physiological---the need for air, food, water, etc.

  • The next level is the need for security and safety,

  • Followed by the need for social belonging.

  • The fourth level, moving up the hierarchy, is the need for self-esteem and respect.

  • Interestingly, the pinnacle of human needs according to Maslow is the need for self-actualization. Maslow described this level as the need for reaching one’s full potential in life. He stated, “What a man can be, he must be.”

And while the specific elements and prioritization of levels of Maslow’s theory are sometimes debated, it has had widespread acceptance. Endowed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should certainly identify with Maslow’s highest order of need, that of striving to reach one’s full potential in life. There is something innate and God-given in virtually all people, that we want to grow, we want to excel, we want to improve, and progress.

If reaching our potential, it is universally a top tier human need, we should all be striving to maximize that growth and progress. Taking initiative and acting rather than always reacting, are important principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We all need to get anxiously engaged in doing the very best things. How much correlation is there between full engagement and high achievement? In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people, Stephen R. Covey states, “The difference between people who exercise initiative and those who don’t is literally the difference between night and day.” He continues, “I’m not talking about a 25 to 50 percent difference in effectiveness; I’m talking about a 5000-plus percent difference…” (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 76).

When we take initiative and fully engage in what we choose to do, it unleashes enormous power to accomplish amazing things. When we truly engage in good causes, we can “bring to pass much righteousness.”

Tendency to sometimes hold back and just “show up”

We sometimes, maybe often avoid getting fully engaged for fear it will consume too much of our discretionary time, becoming too busy could limit our ability to be spontaneous and have fun. We don’t want to be idle, but neither do we want to be so committed. We just “show up” to often and try to not get involved. Some young men approach dating this way.

Ironically, many years ago I gave a devotional talk at BYU-Idaho, on the importance of just “showing up.” I felt at the time that if we would just respond to assignments and requests for help, Heavenly Father would put us to work and provide on-the-job training to help us succeed. It seemed to work for me much of my life. As a young man, I would usually just “show up” for Aaronic Priesthood assignments. I showed up for my mission. Sometimes in school or even at work, I would just show up and made the most of whatever presented itself that day. So what’s wrong with this? For thing is being acted upon, rather than acting.

The world is far more competitive and far more demanding today than it was when I was your age. There are no “show up” missions today. If you aren’t prepared for missionary work from day one, you are a drag on missionary work. There are no “show up” classes at the Business College. Not if you really want to learn and do your part to help others learn. There really are no long-term good “show up” jobs. The market place will eventually merge or eliminate such positions, or downgrade them to a less than an acceptable wage.

There should be no “show up” sacrament meetings. Think about the difference in just showing up on Sunday to take the sacrament, versus truly honoring the Sabbath by reviewing beforehand, our week’s personal performance and sincerely trying to repent of our mistakes before we go to sacrament meeting. If we just show up, how likely will the sacrament deepen our conversion to the Savior and increase our appreciation for His infinite Atonement? If we are not ready and prepare to focus on Jesus Christ during the sacrament, can we really expect to always remember Him, and have his Spirit to be with us? Wouldn’t taking the initiative to prepare, to repent, to reflect on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, increase the effectiveness of this sacred ordinance by 25 or 50 percent, or as Brother Covey indicated, by many times more, perhaps 5000+ percent, than we might otherwise experience by just showing up?

The power of gathering

Several months ago in Priesthood meeting, I observed two elders in their mid-twenties looking at their smartphones the entire time. I could not see what they were looking at, but I could tell it had nothing to do with the gospel discussion that there was going on. They were not engaged in the discussion. They contributed nothing. They gained nothing.

It takes work to effectively engage in meaningful conversations, especially gospel conversations. It takes work to listen to other people’s views and to know when and how to contribute to the dialogue. If we want to progress spiritually, mentally, and socially, we need to gather with others who share our same values and our core beliefs, but don’t necessarily share our same priorities, preferences, insights, or experiences.

When I was your age, there was a very popular novel about the legend of Camelot, called The Once and Future King. In it the wise wizard, Merlyn, teaches a young boy, who would later become King Arthur, to be a great king by turning him into a bird, a goose, a fish, a badger, and even an ant. Merlyn did this so the boy could learn to see the world from different perspectives. It made Arthur empathetic and wise beyond his years.

We all have had quite different experiences in life. We can learn much from one another’s viewpoints and opinions. While we certainly need quiet time alone to study and to ponder, we also need to regularly gather to teach, lift, and inspire one another. It’s a powerful thing to feel the warmth of the Holy Ghost when we are alone studying or praying. But it is equally as powerful and unique to feel the power of the Holy Ghost simultaneously with someone else. This is one reason why missions are so powerful. My mission was filled with almost countless opportunities to learn and teach on moments when I felt the unforgettable burning witness of the Holy Ghost at the same time as my companion and our investigator. This shared experience had a “multiplier effect” which resulted in deeper learning and in deeper conversion. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name,” said the Savior, “there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). This does not happen when two or three are gather together to surf the web or to text.

Identifying a major modern challenge

The experience I described earlier about misusing smartphones in priesthood meeting is unfortunately all too common, especially with the rising generation who have grown up with these tools. Smartphones are absolutely miraculous instruments, but they need to be carefully controlled. Earlier this year, some members in my stake appealed for help to increase the Wi-Fi bandwidth in one of our meetinghouses. The ward clerks reported there wasn’t enough bandwidth to do their records processing and submit their donations reports on Sunday. Some members were frustrated that they could not access digital gospel resources on Sunday. An audit of internet usage in the building revealed the real problem. Nearly half of all internet usage in that building involved online shopping sites. Followed closely by sports-related web sites. I suspect the results of such an audit might not be too different in other meetinghouses.

Today’s great challenge to full engagement

The unwise use of technology today takes a tremendous toll on our ability to engage in the things that matter most. We are continuously interrupted and distracted by emails, text messages, robotic calls, social media postings, etc. Living with today’s technology can be like living with a powerful genie or the Incredible Hulk—they make wonderful servants, but terrible masters. I realize I don’t need to convince anyone here how distracting smartphones can be. We get beeped, vibrated, and sung to all day long---each one is a demand that someone wants our attention, our praise, or our money.

The scriptures call this being acted upon. In 1 Nephi 2:14 it says that “God….created all things,…. both things to act and things to be acted upon.” People were meant to act. Smartphones were meant to be acted upon--- not the other way around. If we are to get engaged, we will need to act, and not be acted upon. We need to become the masters of technology, not the servants.

How can we know what we should anxiously engage in?

I have been talking about something we might do less of, paying endless attention to our smartphones, in order that we might get be engaged in better things. I now want to suggest something specific we can do more of if we want to be engaged in the best causes. We each have different talents and different interests. My best causes are not necessarily yours. With so many choices available today, we will surely burn out if we all try to get involved in the same causes. How can we determine what the Lord would have us engage in?

The Scriptures will tell us what we should do

We all have almost instant access to the Holy Scriptures. When we are baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, we enter the gate to what President Russell M. Nelson frequently calls the Covenant Path. Once we have committed to walk this Covenant Path, we must then press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, doing the same things that got us into the path: (1) acting in faith, (2) repenting when we stumble, (3) renewing baptismal and temple covenants by taking the sacrament, and (4) seeking to continuously have the Holy Ghost to prompt us. If we so live to have the Holy Ghost with us, it will guide us to know what we should do, which good causes we should engage in. If we ask in faith and with real intent, the Holy Ghost will prompt us, often using the very words of Jesus Christ as found in the Holy Scriptures.

The prophet Nephi said, “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).

Adam S. Miller, a respected philosophy professor, issued this challenge in very plain words and picturesque images to help young members of the Savior’s Church to diligently study the scriptures:

“Get close to the scriptures. Do anything you can. God is in there. Moses told his people to put bits of scripture in little boxes and, when praying, to tie one box to their arm and the other to their head. Strap the Bible to your forehead. Wear the Book of Mormon on your sleeve. Sleep with your scriptures under your pillow. Tape [verses] to your bathroom mirror. Underline everything. Pack your margins with notes. Read Paul out loud like poetry…… Squeeze their verses like oranges. Know Isaiah by heart. Love Matthew like a brother. Sing the psalms as your prayers….. Do like the Lord told Ezekiel: “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it. So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (Ezekiel 3:3 NIV). Don’t just read the scriptures. Eat them. Get them not only into your head but down into your gut.”

Brother Miller continues, “The restoration restored scripture... When he appeared in the sacred grove, Jesus quoted scripture. When Moroni appeared in Joseph’s bedroom, he quoted scripture and then sent Joseph to unearth more. Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. And then he retranslated the Bible. And then he revealed the Book of Abraham. Then Joseph went back and started again. He never stopped working on his translation of the Bible” (Adam S. Miller, Letters to a Young Mormon, pp. 25-26).

If we want to discover the specific good causes for us to individually engage in, we will need to be feasting daily on the scriptures so that the Holy Ghost can tell us all things that we should do.

Living Prophets help us to know

If we want to know the importance of overarching good causes that we all need to engage in, living prophets can tell us. We have recently received a deluge of revelatory adjustments to important Church practices and policies. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, recognize that these adjustments are heaven’s priorities, as revealed by prophets, seers, and revelators. The recent adjustments to priesthood quorums and relief society, and home teaching and visiting teaching, gospel curriculum, the Sunday meeting schedule are all part of a carefully integrated design to strengthen our faith in Heavenly Father and His plan and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Atonement.

In his closing talk at the last General Conference, President Nelson made three distinct promises to us if we will engage in the following three things:

  1. President Nelson promised dramatic sustaining changes in our family if we’ll conscientiously and carefully work to transform our home into a sanctuary of faith and a center of gospel learning. Over time our Sabbath days, he promised, will truly be a delight, our families will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of Satan in our time and in our home will decrease.

  2. He asked us to resolve to honor the Lord Jesus Christ every time we refer to the name of His Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He promised that doing so will lead to increased faith and access to greater spiritual power.

  3. President Nelson pleaded with us to take a prayerful look at how we spend our time. He promised that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows we need as we make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples (see November 2018 Ensign, pp. 111-112).

Engaged in the Best of Causes

I have talked this morning about getting anxiously engaged in good causes and doing many things of our own free will, that sounds like ministering to me. I have expressed the need to purposely reduce the distractions that prevent us from getting engaged--- particularly the critical need to monitor and master technology.

I have mentioned the power of regularly gathering with friends and colleagues to lift and reinforce deep learning and to opportunities to jointly feel the influence –the lasting influence of the Holy Ghost.

And I have discussed how we can determine which good causes we should engage in. By living worthily and feasting daily on the words of Christ, I testify the Holy Ghost will guide us to those specific causes, to those people, to those places, to those experiences that our Heavenly Father has prepared for us individually. By carefully studying and heeding the words of our living prophets, we will know the prophetic priorities that we all need to be anxiously engaged in.

The Lord and His leaders have great trust in you. As you progress through life, anxiously engaged in those causes that the Lord will reveal to you, you will bring to pass much righteousness. As you minister to God’s children in a higher and holier way, you will help prepare the world for the glorious return of the Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that we will all get anxiously and fully engaged in this most wonderful of all causes. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 


Bio

James E. Tidwell II works in the Office of the Commissioner of Church Education as the Director of the Global Education Initiative. In this assignment, Brother Tidwell directs a small team of talented educators who are exploring ways to leverage the Church’s educational resources to bless members everywhere the Church is organized. As part of this assignment he has worked with Church leaders and members in Ghana, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa, Mexico, and Guatemala. He loves working with these amazing people and has been deeply inspired by their abiding faith in Jesus Christ.

Prior to his current assignment, Brother Tidwell worked as Director of Finance for the Church Educational System, the Church Budget Office, and the Central America Area. During the 25 years he fulfilled these assignments, Brother Tidwell regularly attended meetings of the Church Board of Education and the Church Budget Committee. Prior to Church employment, he spent eight years working in public accounting for Deloitte.

Brother Tidwell was born in Salt Lake City, but as part of an Air Force family he moved every few years and grew up in many wonderful places, including Germany, France, South Carolina, Alabama, and Utah. He served a Spanish-speaking mission in the Delaware-Maryland Mission. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Utah and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.

Brother Tidwell met his wife, Tomi Lynn Chamberlain, at an Institute of Religion activity during their first few weeks of college. When their family was young, they enjoyed living with their four children in Costa Rica and Guatemala. Today, Brother and Sister Tidwell have 13 grandchildren and reside in Sandy, Utah, where he serves as a stake president.

Julie Merrill

20 Nov. 2018

11:15 a.m. - Noon

Conference Center Little Theater

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Julie Merrill quoteMaggiel Guzman quote

 

Transcript

PEACE IN CHRIST

Thank you, I am grateful to be here today. Starting from the prayer, to the testimony, to that beautiful musical number. The Spirit is so strong, and you, each of you brought that Spirit in here, that just didn’t come from people seating up here, you brought that here and I’m grateful for each of you. I’m grateful for you being here and I pray that the Holy Ghost will guide us. Each of us is trying to have daily peace. I would like to share my perspective of how that comes. I invite the Holy Ghost to be here and to teach us individually of how we can have peace.

My sister, Susan, is third in our family. She has a wonderful husband, Kim, and three dear children. This is a picture, of much younger, of those cute kids. And the title of this picture is “speak no evil, hear no evil, and see no evil.” So she took this picture and let me tell you a little bit about of each of them now. All have been raised the same to love Heavenly Father and the Savior and to serve and love others.

Her oldest son, Spencer, on the left met his wife at BYU. They got married and they have a darling character of a daughter whose name is Emmaline. Which he adores and loves her. He’s now a lawyer in Kentucky.

Becky in the middle is the youngest, she just started school at Utah State University, her home is in Wellsville, – if any of you know Cache valley – it’s 10 miles away but Becca moved from 10 miles over to her home at the Utah State University and is having a great time.

Merrill honestly is a genius. He is the one ‘see no evil.’ He is loving and kind. He stopped going to Church when he was 17, I don’t know exactly why. But when Merrill decided not to attend Church or believe in the gospel, Susan, his mother, became anxious. What was wrong? She had raised all three of her children the same way. Why did Merrill struggle believing? It took her a long time, discussions with family and friends and much prayer and fasting to determine that Heavenly Father was in charge and loved Merrill, too. Her opportunity was to be an example of the believers and love Merrill. And that is when the peace came.

This is Heidi, Heidi was our neighbor across the street, she needed a kidney. She had a genetic disease that she inherited from her father. She has two sons; Parker and Zane; 26 and 24 who also have the disease and a daughter, Abi, 18, who does not.

Heidi had many Priesthood blessings that said she would be healed and was always grateful and peaceful with that promise.

However, as the days and months continued, she got sicker and sicker with different autoimmune diseases, infection. She wondered about those Priesthood blessings. So many friends and family loved, blessed, and watched over her as she went through this process. Heidi was the most unselfish, loving person and was true to the Savior. In the end, she decided she would no longer do dialysis which meant that she would pass away. The acknowledgement of what was the Lord’s will came to her. In the end, she could not talk but she wrote on a slate, “I am not giving up. I am going home.” He gave her peace.

Now this is cute Vivi. Vivi moved from Boston to Provo with her family. She is a vivacious, energetic, creative, 7-year old with so much joy and happiness. She is going to first grade. Both her mother and father have testimonies of the gospel, they pray with their children, and are trying to raise children with love who love and respect Heavenly Father, the Savior and people around them.

The day before school started Vivi was quiet and withdrawn. This was very unusual for her and her parents wondered and asked if she was nervous but she didn’t respond. The next day she got up, dressed and went to school. When she came home, she cried for only 30 minutes.

First, she had lost her school class and had to get help to find it. Second, everyone else knew each other and were friends but she had no friends. Her dad wrote on the family snap chat, “Being the new kid was hard yesterday, but this girl worked through it and is excited to try again. Hopefully tomorrow she can remember someone else’s name besides the class rabbit’s…”

The second day of school was a different story. When she came through the door she was happy and excited. The first thing she wanted to do was call Aunt Jamie. Vivi had found a friend. Her name was Emma. And she went on and on talking about school and Emma and how great it was. She was excited and enthused and ready for life again. She had peace.

Now let’s talk about each of you. Each of you is experiencing many things that could destroy your peace and increase your fear and anxiety; including going to school in a foreign land, needing to work and go to school, wondering when there will be time to get it all done, etc, etc.

Having difficult things in our lives as you know, is part of Heavenly Father’s plan.

But I want you to know that the Lord knows you and all things that you will experience. He knows your situations and needs. He has created a plan for you to have joy and peace in this life and return to live with Him in eternal peace. I hope you feel that in your heart, I hope the Spirit will bear witness to you of that.

As you know, His plan includes coming to earth to receive a physical body and to be tested – Abraham 3:22-25 talks about this plan. Let’s just go over that:

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; (probably each of you)

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

Not only will each of us be tested and tried, but this is a plan to see if you and I will do all things that the Lord asks us to do.

Of course you know, the plan also includes the creation of the world, the fall of man, the ATONEMENT of Jesus Christ (Alma 22:14), and the teachings found in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Alma 12:32-33).

One of the most important parts of the plan is the Atonement of Christ and that He lives today and I testify that He does live. Heavenly Father and the Savior have designed this plan for you. I testify that they know you and they love you. I testify that you are exactly enough for your plan. What is important in this life is that you and I do what the Lord wants us to do and to become like Him as we fulfil our individual plans.

Peace comes as we realize this truth that He knows us and loves us and that we are here to do His work. By you getting an education, you are promoting His work. When you help your fellow students you are doing His work. When you leave your experience here, you will continue to use your skills and talents for him, to do His work.

I love the accounts of the wars throughout the Book of Mormon. I know lots to think of, – what is the section?– I love the word section. In some ways it teaches us of the wars we deal with in our lives. Let me refer the incident in Alma 56-58. In 56, Helaman sends a letter explaining to Moroni how the war is going with the Lamanites. He shares the miracle of leading the 2000 stripling warriors to save the Nephites from destruction. He goes on to explain how he and these 2000 warriors retake the cities of Antiparah and Cumeni without one of the young men dying and how the Lord has delivered them.

The next city the Nephites needed to retake was Manti. It was important because it was on the dividing border between the Nephite and Lamanite territories, a protection and refuge against Lamanite invasion.

However, Helaman was discouraged and frustrated with this daunting challenge. First, because the Lamanites were more numerous, there many more of them than there were of the Nephites. Next, he had fewer men to fight because many of them were maintaining those parts of the land that they had already taken back from the Lamanites. Third, as you remember, the Nephites were not getting reinforcements or provisions. The men were weak and tired, while the Lamanites daily, were receiving other man to help and provisions. How would they overcome these challenges?

So let’s pause, let’s talk about you. Don’t you ever feel like this sometimes? When it seems that everything is against you. When you don’t know what you’re gonna do next. How will I get through this day? How will I get through this week, this month, or this year? Why is everything so hard? Each of us, I don’t care who you are –President or Sister Kusch, everyone on this front–  wages our own daily wars. So, what can we learn from Helaman?

In Alma chapter 58, verse 10, it tells us what Helaman, and his fellow soldier, Gid and Teomner did. They prayed….Not just prayed, but they poured out their souls to God, pleading that He would strengthen and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies and give them strength to retain their cities, their lands and their possessions and the support of their people.”

I love how the Lord responded to that pleading. It says in verse 11, “The Lord, our God did visit us with assurances not maybe, not it might happened, He delivered us with assurances that He would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”

And then in verse 12 after the Lord did that, what does it say? “we did take courage…” we got courage after we plead to the Lord. The courage, peace, faith and hope came from the Lord, and when Helaman received these assurances he moved forward and this is what he did, and I love this part, and we need to remember this: He instructed Gid and Teomner to hide their small forces in the wilderness to the right and left of Helman’s army. When the Lamanite force which had many more soldiers came out to attack, Helaman led a mock retreat towards Zarahemla with the Lamanite army in hot pursuit. So Manti was left undefended and Gid and Teomner retook it easily. As the Lamanites got closer to Zarahemla, all the sudden they got thinking “uh, maybe this is a trap,” so they turned around, camped for the night before they began the journey back to Manti.

While they slept, of course Helaman did not sleep, marched his men back to the city. When the Lamanites arrived, they found the Nephites in control of Manti so fearing for their lives, this huge army, fled into the wilderness – pretty good.  

Where did Helaman’s army get the courage to defeat an army much larger than theirs? The courage was a gift as they pled with the Lord. It came from the assurances or guarantees that the Lord gave to them that He would deliver them. What were those assurances again? Let’s just review it.

  • He did speak peace to their souls

  • He did cause them to hope

  • He did grant unto them great faith

  • He did cause them to hope for their deliverance in Him

Heavenly Father guided them to know what they should do.

Now, the wars we wage today are no different. As we plead with our Heavenly Father, as we know the Savior through the scriptures and trust in Him, obey the commandments and serve others, we (you) can have this peace, faith, hope and courage, I testify to you that this is true. He will bring thoughts to your mind and guide and direct you.

We recently read about the tragic death of Major Brent Taylor, husband, father of seven, mayor of North Ogden. He was fighting a war in Afghanistan to help others have peace. A friend of his wife told me he was a righteous man who pled with the Lord every day. His expectation was to return home to his family. But he was killed in camp by a Taliban insider, and they cheered after his dead.

This friend told me that while Afghanistan, Brother Taylor changed the life of an Afghan leader who after seeing Brother Taylor’s example of love and respect for his wife and children changed his behavior towards his own family. This man wrote to Brother Taylor’s wife and said he has never felt more love and peace since treating his wife and children with respect as demonstrated by Major Taylor.

How will Brother Taylor’s wife find peace when her heart and life are shattered?

She will pray and plead with Heavenly Father. She knows the road ahead for her will be hard. She also knows that eventually, not maybe right now, definitely not now, as she continues to plead, peace, faith and hope will come to her knowing that her husband is delivered through Christ and that she will be with him again.

Let’s go to an article that was in the Ensign April 1978, given by George S. Tate (written), assistant professor of comparative literature at Brigham Young University, and he shared this insightful information about peace.

The Hebrew word for peace, “shalom,” has many meanings. Its primary meaning is completeness, wholeness, or even perfection. In the Old Testament, to have peace meant to keep a formal covenant of peace, a renewed ritually by “peace offerings” with Jehovah, to enter into a friendship with him.”

The Greek word for peace is “eirene” which means unity or harmony. I love these definitions that add to my understanding and feelings of peace.

Paul, the Apostle, understood Christ’s peace. He describes the atonement as the great peace offering: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Romans 5:1). He refers to Christ as the Lord or God of peace.

In Philippians 4:7,9, it says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus….and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Well let’s go to the Savior, what does He say about peace? In John 14:27 as He is leaving his disciples, He says, “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid.” Catch this, the Savior does not merely wish peace, He is the one who gives peace.

He is the Prince of Peace, the deliverer of Peace. There is no peace separate from Him.

George Tate continues, “Freedom from violence (or hardships or difficulties) in this world is not promised. But with Christ’s peace comes the deep, inner assurance that all things, even our greatest sufferings, will be for our good. Just as Jesus hushed the storm with the words “Peace, be still” and brought calm (Mark 4:39) so can he speak peace to (your and my) troubled mind and soothe (your and my) grieving heart.”

“When Jesus visited His disciples after His resurrection, He said, “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

“And when He had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:21-22). Peace and the Holy Ghost go together. As testimony that each of you has as given by the Holy Ghost gives a sense of peace.” The Holy Ghost is the deliverer of His Peace.

I love the words from the song I Know That My Redeemer Lives, and think of this in connection to each you, He lives this to you:

“He lives to grant me rich supply.

He lives to guide me with his eye.

He lives to comfort me when faint.

He lives to hear my souls complaint.

He lives to silence all my fears.

He lives to wipe away my tears.

He lives to calm my troubled heart.

He lives all blessings to impart.”

As Elder Richard G. Scott said,

“To recognize the hand of the Lord in your life and to accept His will without complaint is a beginning. That decision does not immediately eliminate the struggles that will come for your growth. But I witness that it is the best way there is for you to find strength, understanding, (and may I add peace). It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning. It will allow your life to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise you may not know how to go on.”

We all want peace. Where do we get it? From the Prince of Peace. I love this scripture in Isaiah 32:17, “And the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever.”

Let’s choose to be righteous. Let’s choose to have quietness and assurance forever. I testify to you that He does live, He does know you. He has a plan for each of you. Peace comes as we know these truths in our hearts and souls. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

Julie Merrill, International Manager of Human Resources for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Julie Merrill was born in Seattle, Washington and is the oldest of five children born of Reed and Joan Merrill. She served a full-time mission in the England Leeds mission.

Julie received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University and her masters degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Utah. She currently works for the Church as an International Manager working with Human Resource staffs in Africa, Europe, Russia, and Canada.

She is currently serves as the ward Relief Society President.

Julie loves adventures including climbing to the tops of mountains, traveling and having new experiences. She loves family and friends and has a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.