Winter 2015

We Can Return to Our Heavenly Father

28 Jan. 2015

Transcript

We Can Return to Our Heavenly Father

      I love that President Richards just counseled us to thank Heavenly Father for being patient with us right before he introduced me. I can assure you, I have thanked Him many times for his patience with me. And I am grateful for the opportunity to be here with you today. I wanted to start off, actually, by reading to you a quote by Elder Marvin J. Ashton. He says, “Why does the lack of appreciation offend God and kindle His wrath? Not because he needs to see and hear our thanks, but because he knows an absence of appreciation on the part of anyone causes personal stagnation. Our growth and our progress are delayed when we fail to feel and express a sincere thank-you” (“And in Everything Give Thanks,” speech given at Brigham Young University, September 1, 1991). I was very grateful for that counsel.

      I have many heroines that I have known throughout my life, especially in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible. But I have a particular heroine that I’d like to speak about today. Her name was Corrie ten Boom. She, in my mind, is a wonderful example of what a good, single, faithful Christian woman can do and what an effect she can have on the world. So, move over, Wonder Woman, you don’t hold a candle. This woman is a great example in my life.

      For those of you who don’t know Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy or her family, Corrie ten Boom authored the book The Hiding Place, which was one of my favorite books that I’ve read. It helped me to solidify my own personal testimony and my ability to extend gratitude to my Heavenly Father, even in the worst of circumstances. Her and her family had a home in, I believe that it was the Netherlands, where they secured a hiding place for many Jews who were running from the effects of the Holocaust. And for a couple of years, they successfully protected many Jews. They were finallyfound out by the authorities and were taken into prison. Sister ten Boom found herself in a prison camp with her sister. They had a Bible they were able to sneak past the guards and keep with them throughout their time in the prison camps. Many of those that were in the prison camps with them were not Christians, but Corrie and Betsy, her sister, were able to share with them their testimonies and their love for God and of Jesus Christ through the Bible.

      At one point, Corrie and Betsy found themselves in a situation in their barracks. Their unit in the prison camp, where the circumstances were the most gruesome, was infested with fleas, which caused a lot of great sickness and illness to those that were in their unit. But every night, Corrie and her sister would sit down and study the Bible, and gradually a large group of other Jews and prisoners in the concentration camp gathered to listen to their message, and to share in the gospel with them. They became a really strong unit because of that. One night, Betsy, after reciting a verse in the Bible (I won’t tell you what it is, read the book!) shared with Corrie their need to express gratitude to their God for what He had done for them, and placed them in the circumstances that they were in. Corrie had a hard time with that. But she finally agreed, and said, yes, it would do something for us to express gratitude to our God for this situation because we are able to bless others’ lives at a time when it is so needed for them.

      In her prayer, Betsy prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for the fleas. And Corrie said in her book The Hiding Place, “I was sure that in this instance, Betsy was wrong. How could we possibly be so grateful for such a creature?” How could they be grateful for such a creature that had caused so much miserable circumstances for them? Later on in the book, they learned that the reason they were able to study the gospel so faithfully without being disturbed by the authorities was because the authorities were too afraid to come into their unit because it was so flea-infested. It was the very fleas that enabled them to study the gospel and teach others what they knew of their testimony. That was a wonderful example to me, and I really appreciated their willingness to be grateful in their humble circumstances, for the opportunity to testify and to share their story with others, whose spiritual lives may have been saved before their fatal death in those prison camps.

      It reminded me of a talk that President Uchtdorf gave just last April. Many of you will recognize it. He talks about being grateful in our circumstances, and not just for our circumstances. Being grateful for the good things is easy, but are we grateful for the difficult things that prevail in our lives? He says

“We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.

      “This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.

      “When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.

      “We sometimes think that being grateful is something we do after our problems are solved. But how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?

      “Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith, we look beyond our present-day challenges.

      “This is not gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind” (“Grateful in Any Circumstances,” Apr. 2014 General Conference).

      My first invitation to you today is that you might be able to find a difficult circumstance that you are currently facing in your life, and then pray to our Heavenly Father to know what you might learn from that experience, and express gratitude to Him for the opportunity. And then, do something about what you’ve learned.

      Another form of gratitude that I thought of as I was preparing this talk came in light of this season, in especially a holiday, which shall remain nameless since we are still celebrating Thanksgiving . . . But there is a holiday coming up where excessive amounts of gift-giving and receiving are shared by many family members, loved ones, neighbors, and coworkers. And as we prepare for that holiday, I would like you to consider, when you find a gift that is perfect for someone, think of how you feel when you prepare that gift for them. And think of the anticipation you feel upon their reaction to that gift. How do you want them to receive it? How do you want them to use it?

      I know that oftentimes when we received gifts as children, my mom made sure that we wore them and used them so that those who gave them to us understood our gratitude for what we had been given. Many students that I have the privilege of working with here at the College have asked from time to time, “How do I respond when someone gives me such a gracious compliment?” And this is something I really struggle with, but I’ll tell you the secret to responding to gracious compliments. We express our sincerely genuine gratitude to them so that we build them and leave them in a better place. That is the best way to receive a compliment: by building the person who gave it to you. “Thank you, so much. I should have known that such words of comfort would come from you today.” What a great way to return that favor to them.

      And the same is with gift giving. How do we show our appreciation when we receive gifts? I know that oftentimes when people give me compliments, the response is, “Ughhh. Thanks; whatever.” Or, “What in the world am I going to do with this?” Or, “Wow, this is far too generous.” Do you think it feels good for the person who is giving that gift when we respond that way? It is so important for us to show our gratitude.

      And with that, I thought of another gift that we’ve been given, and that is the gift that our Savior has given to us. When we experience trials and tribulations in our life, we stand on holy ground because we stand where the Savior has stood, and He bore our pain. We can take part in the Atonement that He so graciously suffered and gave to us because He loved us. I echo Elder Holland’s sentiment when he says how honored and privileged it is to bear with Him His burden, let alone that He bore with us ours. We get to take part in a small, small, tiny part of what He suffered in Gethsemane. It is a gift, and in this season of giving, what are we doing to show our gratitude to Him, with how we use His gift? (“Come Unto Me,” Speech at BYU on March 2, 1997.)

      That is my second invitation to you: What are you doing currently in your life to express gratitude to Him for His gift? How are you showing Him that you are making the best use of it?

      It is my humble prayer and my testimony to you that as we seek to express gratitude to our Heavenly Father, and especially to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for the gift that He has given us, for the opportunity that we have to come down to this earth and to prove to Him and to ourselves that we can return to Him and that we are made of good quality stuff, and to prove to Him that we will make good on the promises that we made and the gifts that have been given to us. And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Doug Meredith

      Well, it’s good to be here. I know all of you want to shout “Hallelujah” because tomorrow you won’t be here. So, I know you’re excited. And Thursday, eat yourself to oblivion. Is that okay? You can do that.

      The spirit of gratitude: what I want you to do is take your little black book, if you would, and I want you to write down three things that you are really grateful for right now. Just quickly write down three things you are really grateful for. And I don’t have a lot of time, so I’m going to give you just a few moments to do that. As soon as you’re done with that, I want you to turn to somebody next to you and share one of those things with them. Turn to the person next to you, introduce yourself, and share the thing you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful for that.

      Okay, did everybody get a chance? The reason I did that is because there’s a famous scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants in section 59 verse 21 that tells us that we’re to confess God in all things. And when we express gratitude out loud to other people, I believe that that’s one way that we can show our Heavenly Father that we’re grateful for the things that He has blessed us with. This is a great time of year when you can take time to think about your relationship with our Heavenly Father and with His son Jesus Christ, and what you’re doing in your life to show gratitude for the blessings that you have.

      You need to be grateful for who you are. One of the exciting things about being a member of the Church is that you should know that you are a special person. I checked on the Internet in the last couple of days: there are roughly 7 billion people in the world; the Church website says there are about 15 million members of the Church. So you make up less than 1% of the world’s population. You ought to be grateful that you have the blessing of having the gospel in your life. It’s interesting, as you look at the world and how big of a place it is, we’re kind of like the salt that makes things taste better (see Matthew 5:13). In the scriptures, we’re likened to the leaven that can raise everything up, if we want (see Matthew 13:33). And the Savior told us to be a light (see Matthew 5:14). Those are some great blessings that we can have in our life if we want to. One thing for sure is you want to be grateful for your life. It’s important that you recognize how important you are.

      So what I want you to do is to write down one thing that makes you cool. Write that down in your little book. Write one good thing about yourself—write it down right now. Just write it down. What’s cool about you? What makes you cool? Now, once you’ve written that down, I want you to turn to a different person and tell them what makes you cool, and then they can tell you. Okay? So do that real quick—tell somebody what makes you cool. Don’t be afraid. Go ahead. Tell somebody what makes you cool.

      Okay. Hopefully you got to tell why you’re cool. Now, sometimes we forget that we’re cool because we’re so worried about being humble, which is great. Obviously, that’s super important. But we have to also recognize that the Lord has blessed us with some talents, and then when you become a member of the Church and you get the Holy Ghost—in Doctrine and Covenants section 46 the Lord gives some special gifts of the Spirit that we can receive if we want to. If we live our life according to the commandments, we can receive some very special gifts. And most of you, if you’re members and you’ve received a patriarchal blessing—if you don’t know what makes you cool, you should go there and read that, and have a little faith in yourself, and be grateful that you’re here and that you’re a cool person. You can effect a lot of good by being the person that the Lord wants you to be.

      I’m going to ask President Richards to stand up a minute, if he would. He’s a cool guy, by the way. You should know that. Now, President Richards seriously is a great guy, and I’m going to ask him, do you love the students here? Is that okay to ask you that? Well, repentance is easier than permission, so . . .

      President Richards: “I will get even….    They have no idea the depth of my love for people who I barely know. It’s a gift of the Spirit, and I love them deeply because I know how my Father in Heaven loves them, and therefore, I love them.”

      Brother Doug Meredith: Thank you. And yes, you may sit down.

      Okay now, Brother Burkhart hasn’t been here very long, but I’m going to ask him to stand up; I’m going to pick on him. I’ve got to be careful. And it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. So, now, you haven’t been here very long. You’re from the great state of Texas. Do you love the students here? The people here—how do you feel about them?

      Brother Burkhart: “Almost exactly the way President Richards described. Maybe some of you have felt this before, but there is something that happens to your heart that can only come from heaven. It is like a gift of the Spirit, perhaps it’s even a way to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ to our lives, when you come to love people that you don’t know. When I walk through the halls and go up the stairs and see you, you’ll notice that I smile. And it’s because my heart really literally does fill with love for you.”

      Brother Doug Meredith: Thank you. Now, if I asked all the other people who worked at the College to come up, they would probably say similar things. And so, just to give you an idea, I have a little over 200 students, and I love those students. I love them as people. And I don’t say that very often to people. I don’t walk up to people on the street and say, “Hey, dude, I love you.” That’s just not comfortable. But I love my students. And if you can get a little feeling of what was just said, if you want to multiply that by a million times, that’s how the Savior feels about you. There is very famous scripture, right? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16), right? That’s how much Heavenly Father loves you.

      Now, I teach the preparation for marriage course, so obviously I’m going to talk about marriage for a second, right? If you’re not married, repent and get married. Sorry, but I’m going to show you this picture. Does that touch your heart? That’s me when I had hair. One thing about the Resurrection that’s going to be great is that I will get hair back. And I won’t have to wear contacts anymore. The reason I show that picture is not to show you how great I am; that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to show you that the love you experience as a single person with your family will become multiplied when you get married. You can experience great things as a single person. And again, I’m teaching a principle, and I know there’s exceptions where people don’t get married and stuff like that. But the principle of the gospel is that you get married. And it’s not because it’s just the cool thing to do. It’s the right thing to do, and your love and your service and your gratitude for other people is amplified in marriage. When you get married, it should be the greatest day of your life.

      And then, as you go through the cycle of life (see “The Circle of Life,” The Lion King, Walt Disney, 1994)—I’ll throw a little “Lion King” in there—you get a bunch of people around you called kids. They are very exciting. I love my children a lot, most of the time. No, I do love my children. The reason I show you that picture is this idea of gratitude and love for other people expands as you have a family. And then you start to experience a little bit of what the Savior talks about when He says that He loves us because then you start seeing the importance of family and children and posterity. And then, if you come to institute, we talk about the Abrahamic promise, and we talk about priesthood and posterity, and the promised land, and stuff like that. And you think, well, what does that mean? When you start having a family, all of those blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob start to really take meaning in your life. And then the Lord says in section 68, you better teach your children the gospel, or you’re going to pay a price for that if you don’t do that (see D&C 68:25).

      That’s why your parents want you to be active in the Church—because of all the blessings that come from this idea of being an eternal family. I’ll show you this picture:

 

 These are my grandchildren. I have one grandson that passed away at six years old, and that was horrible in our family. It was not a good experience, but because of the gospel covenant, it was something that we can live with because someday we’ll see him again. What a great promise Heavenly Father gives to us because of His Son. It’s really cool to have grandchildren because when the day’s done, you can say, “Go home.” You know? It’s time to go home. But then you can go visit them, and they’re not coloring on your walls like your kids did, and then you have to repaint the wall five times. But when you have grandchildren, then you really start to see the blessings, and you have gratitude in your heart for the Savior because the plan starts to make sense to you.

      Right now, if you’re single at LDSBC, you’re just on the edge of greatness. And your little kingdom will grow and grow and grow. And sometimes we don’t have the vision. And so when old people like me come around, and we show you pictures of our grandkids, it’s to give you an idea of the power of the Savior’s love and of the plan for each one of you. That you are cool people, and that everybody on the earth can be a cool person. You see, that’s what’s so awesome about the gospel. And then last, but not least, is a very famous picture of the Savior.He makes it all possible because of His price that He paid. And so, this year, at Thanksgiving, I hope you go home and tell your mom and dad, “You know, mom and dad, you’re cool people, but I’m a cool person too.” Because you are. And listen to what the Savior said in D&C 29:1: “Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I Am, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins.” What a powerful message from one tiny little verse. And then He says this: 2 Nephi 26: 24, “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world. . . . ” And I would put your name in there: He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of Brother Meredith. Put your name in there. “ . . . even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw”—you— “all men unto him. Wherefore he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.”
      And so, as I close, I testify that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, that He is our elder brother, that He loves us. I testify that He wants every one of us to come back. I testify that His plan is set up so that every person, whatever the circumstance they’re in, wherever they’re at on the earth, they can come back to Him. It may be in the spirit world; it may be here. But there is a way for everybody to come back. I testify that He is the way, the truth and the light, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

       Let me introduce to you both of our speakers. As you might guess, today our theme is on gratitude. Let me share with you something I heard from one of the senior Brethren over the weekend about gratitude. Here’s one for you that I bet you’ve never thought about. He said during this Thanksgiving season, you ought to thank the Lord for His patience with you. That’s a good one; I commend that one to you. Thank the Lord for His patience with you as you try to become what He has commissioned you to become.

      Let me tell you about Sister Brinkerhoff. She joined the College as an employee in the fall of 2011. She works as a Student Development Advisor for the College, and focuses on first-year students as well as those students who may be struggling academically, personally, or otherwise. After graduating from Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah, she attended Weber State. There, she had an interesting experience: she failed college algebra four times in a row. Believing that she was not meant for education, she dropped out of college and focused on her full-time employment. Holly worked in retail management, she became an office manager, and she became the executive assistant for the Vice President of Sales for SystemEd, a subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions. Later, she worked as an Operations Processor in Educational Investments for Morgan Stanley, a securities firm, before she decided to return to college to complete her degree. So at the same time she enrolled in LDS Business College in the summer of 2008, Holly was able to secure a job working with curriculum development for a local tech school, where she came to understand and have a unique perspective on learning and education. She graduated with her associates degree from LDS Business College and has continued her education.

      As a student at the College, Holly discovered her two greatest passions thus far in her life: one is the study of marriage and family, and the other is the process of learning. She attributes much of that discovery experience to her mentors, her friends, and her colleagues at the College. She continues to have a great interest to study religion, and effective teaching and learning methods, in order to help students the best way she can. Holly is a bright light on the ninth floor of LDS Business College.

      Let me also introduce to you our final speaker, Brother Doug Meredith. Brother Doug was born and reared in Salt Lake City, Utah. He attended BYU and the University of Utah. Brother Meredith has taught seminary and institute for the last 29 years. He came to the College in 2009. His Church service includes a full-time mission to the California Oakland Mission. He’s been a bishop and a high councilman. He was recently released from the inner-city mission with his wife. Brother Meredith and his wife, Shauna, have been married for 36 years. They have four children, nine grandchildren. He says that his love in life consists of watching his grandkids, going to the gym, and most of all participating in and watching all kinds of sports. I’ve come to love this good man. His wife has been very important in the Richards family household. I am much in debt to Doug and Shauna Meredith.

      We’re pleased to have both our speakers.


Church Membership is a Gift

02 Feb. 2015

Transcript

Church Membership is a Gift

      Thank you, choir. I think that it’s early enough in the Christmas season that to hear those beautiful Christmas carols just fill us with the Spirit. It’s wonderful to be at a time of year where we hear Christmas carols even over the radio. We hear songs about Christ and songs about the Atonement, even over the airways. And it’s beautiful to hear you sing those for us. Tianna, thank you for your thoughts today. I hope that we’ll all remember to appreciate the gifts that we’ve been given. Thank you for sharing that testimony with us.

      It’s nice to be here with you. I see Randy Beckham, my good friend, and old friend from high school. And he’s working with recruitment here at LDSBC, and I just love the work he’s doing. I love the wonderful contribution that this school is making in your lives and that you are making in the community—not only the community of Salt Lake, but also in the community of the Church. Thank you for your sacrifices and for the good that you’re doing. I appreciate your attendance today.

      We sang “Noche de luz, Noche de Paz”: Night of light, night of peace. It’s not a direct translation, but it adds beautiful meaning to what the song is about. In fact, if somebody who’s working the computers is still there, maybe you could throw that last verse that we sang up. Is that possible, to pull that up again? Because I wanted to point out a few things. This verse of that song is actually a prayer that we’re singing to Christ. You know, people say, “Why do we pray to Heavenly Father?” Well, we pray to Heavenly Father and not Jesus because that is the way that Jesus taught us. He taught us to pray to the Father in His name, and so we do that in obedience to Him. But it’s not inappropriate to sing prayers to Christ, and our hymnbook is full of prayers to Christ. And this is a prayer to Christ. “Silent Night” (Hymns, no. 85)  says, “Silent night! Holy night! Son of God.” We’re addressing Him. “Love’s pure light.” I always thought that meant Jesus loves light. But it’s not. It’s “love’s” with an apostrophe. Jesus is “love’s”—He belongs to love. “Love’s pure light Radiant beams from thy . . .,” we’re addressing him, “ . . . thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace.” Truly a gift that we receive, not that we earn. A gift that we receive; an unearned gift that we can be grateful for.

      Brothers, sisters, I’m so grateful that Jesus is the Lord. That’s not a term that we are familiar with in American English as much as those who speak British English. See, for us, we don’t really know exactly what “lord” means until you think of the term “landlord.” And when you hear that term, you realize we’re talking about one who owns and one who is in charge, or one who cares for. So when we say Jesus is the Lord, then He is one who owns us. He cares for us. We do not belong to ourselves. We belong to Him. He is the Lord at His birth, and the Lord forever.

      I am so grateful for that beautiful prayer that we sing to Jesus and for the grace that He has given us. Not just the grace that ensures that we will be able to live after we die, as beautiful as that is. Not just the grace that assures that we can be forgiven for sins, as wonderful as that is. And not just the grace that allows for comfort and consolation during trials and hardships, as great as that is. But the grace, that through all of that, allows us to be changed; allows us to be transformed; allows us to make what is bad about us good, to make what is good about us better, and to truly see our natures change so that like Christ—who has that light radiating from Him—we also can see that light radiating in our own lives. As you go through the Christmas season, I hope that you’ll think about the light of Jesus Christ, His grace, this beautiful unearned gift.

      Well, Christmas is a fun time in our house because I was born on Christmas. I was born on December 25th, so my mom was always afraid that I’d grow up warped because I had a Christmas birthday. She’d heard all these stories about how children feel neglected, so she wanted to make sure that I wasn’t neglected. So in our house there were two Christmas trees, one for Jesus and one for Brad. Whenever somebody said, “Merry Christmas,” they had to follow it with a “Happy Birthday.” So, in our house, my brothers would sing “Happy birthday to Jesus and to Brad” so that way I wasn’t left out. My brothers had to actually buy me a gift for the Christmas tree and a gift for the birthday tree. And that way my birthday wouldn’t be forgotten. Well, it worked great until my older brother bought me a pair of mittens. And he put one under the Christmas tree and one under the birthday tree, and I’ve been warped ever since. My cousin gave me a Christmas card one year that said, “Being born on Christmas is quite unique because you never knew who brought you, the stork or Santa Claus.” So, I’ve been figuring that out for many years now. But it’s wonderful to share a birthday celebration with the Lord, and it makes for a fun time in our house, where we still put up a Christmas tree and a birthday tree every year. It’s tradition.

      It’s wonderful to be able to contemplate the gifts that we’re given at Christmas time and also the gifts that we receive for being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This morning, I would like to talk a little bit about what we get for being Mormons..

      One time two missionaries came to me. They had met a lady who they wanted to talk to about the Church but found out that this lady had already been a member. She’d been a member for many years; she’d just been inactive for many years. So as they invited her to come back to Church, with her she brought her son, who was about 14 or 15. This boy had never been to Church and he loved it. He loved going to seminary; he loved the youth programs; he loved reading the Book of Mormon. . . . He just loved jumping into the Church.

      Well, it wasn’t long before he wanted to be baptized. The mom thought it was a great idea, but the dad said, “No way.” He said, “If my wife wants to be a member of that crazy North American church, then that’s her deal. But I don’t want my son involved.”

      The missionaries came to me and said, “Please President, could you talk to this father and convince him that it would be okay for his son to join the Church?” I said, “Look, I’ll do what I can.” So they set up a meeting.

      I shook his hand, and the first words out of his mouth: “So what does my kid get for being a Mormon?”

      I said, “Salvation.”

      He said, “Don’t talk to me about salvation. Any church can promise salvation. Any church can promise mansions in heaven and streets paved with gold. Nobody knows who can deliver and who can’t deliver. So don’t talk to me about salvation. Talk to me about right here and now. What does my kid get for being a Mormon?”

      I said, “Look, the blessings of being a member of the Church are spiritual. But,” I said, “I know where you’re coming from. So let’s just tuck those aside, and let’s talk about what Elder Ballard has called the fruits of being a member of the Church—the temporal blessings of being a Church member.”

      What do you get for being Mormon? Well, you get a longer life. I don’t know if you knew it or not, but you will live longer than people who are not LDS. It has been shown in research study after research study. Most people conclude about 10–11 years longer. If you don’t believe me, think about our prophet: eighty-seven and going strong. Then think about Elder Packer: he’s 90. Think about Elder Perry: he’s 92. Think about Elder Nelson: he’s 90. Good grief, Elder Oaks is in his early 80s, and he seems like a teenager. Yeah, we live longer than others. Why? Who knows? Maybe it’s because we have a health code. Maybe it’s because we try to keep a positive attitude. Maybe it’s just because we’re too busy to die. “I can’t die today; I’ve got three more meetings to go to.” I mean, it’s true. Most people retire in the Church, and they get busier. We’ve got couples who are retired who are waking up at 4 in the morning to go serve in the temple. They didn’t even do that when they were working. I mean, consider: for whatever reason, we live longer. And if you don’t believe me, you just think of Michael Jackson. He’s dead. Donny Osmond—he’s dancing with the stars. Yeah, we live longer.

      But along with a longer life, we also have a better quality of life. And that quality of life comes through education. Mormons are better educated than non-Mormons. It’s true in the United States, it’s true in Asia, it’s true in Europe, it’s true in Canada, and it’s true in Mexico. Members of the Church are 30% more likely to have an education than someone who is not a member of the Church. What do you get for being a Mormon? School, school, and more school. Now, you may not feel like it’s a blessing as you trudge back after Thanksgiving, cursing that you still have two more weeks before you can finally get out. I know—it was hard for all of us. But actually, school is a blessing. It’s kind of like mom’s socks, you know? It’s a blessing. And it’s something that’s very unique to us in our LDS culture. Most people look at getting an education as something that they have to do to earn a better living. Not Mormons. We see it as a way to make a better life. And that’s why we pursue education at all ages, in all stages.

      These are actual facts that I’m giving you from research studies. Mormons have more books in their homes than non-Mormons. How many know what I’m talking about? Mormons free-read and buy more books for enjoyment than non-Mormons. How many know what I’m talking about? Mormons have more musical instruments than non-Mormons. How many know what I’m talking about? Mormons take more music lessons than non-Mormons. How many know what I’m talking about? You guys, it’s part of our culture. It’s part of who we are. Even families who are scraping by, living from month to month, find enough money to pay for piano lessons. They’ll do it because it’s part of who we are. We seek education to enrich our lives at any stage, at any age, and it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing that we have.

      You know, you recognize Joseph Smith is a prophet, but there are those that don’t recognize him as a prophet. But they do know that he is something. What? The founder of adult education in America. Joseph Smith. The same person we revere as a prophet; the same person we read horrible things about on the Internet. The same person. The founder of adult education in our country. Why? Because they cannot document a school earlier than the School of the Prophets. That was for adults. It wasn’t for kids; it wasn’t for teenagers—it was for grown-ups. And they didn’t just study religion; they studied culture and languages and history and philosophy. Men and women attended. Joseph Smith is listed in educational textbooks as the founder of adult education programs. Any of you who are non-traditional students, coming back to pursue an education at a little older age? Well, hats off to Joseph Smith. He’s the one who started all that. And Brigham Young picked up where he left off. Brigham Young said, “All right, we’re moving west. Bring seeds, bring tools, anything that can be used for survival.” And you’d think school could wait. I mean, good grief, you’d think we could wait for a little while. We had to build homes, we had to gather food, we had to protect ourselves, and you’d think it could wait. No, the Saints arrived the 24th of July in 1847, end of August to end of September, and Mormons were in school. Two months after the first company arrived, and Mormons were in school. And we’ve been in school ever since.

      What do you get for being a Mormon? You get a better education. And what that brings with it, for us, is quite unique. Stan Albrecht, who was once the Vice President of BYU, conducted a study in which he looked at all the major world religions. And he found that as people gained more degrees Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate degrees—they became less religious. And he measured that by public religiosity (going to church) and private religiosity (saying prayers). More education meant less religion and less faith. The only church where that was different was us. This is the only church in which as people gained more education, they became more faithful. We were the only one. Why?

      Well, because our doctrine includes all truth. What do you believe? All truth. That’s a huge Article of Faith. I mean, you know, Article 14. We believe in all truth. So what are you going to be able to learn in depth that’s going to pull you from a testimony of the gospel? Oh, sure, your friend might send you some email that says, “Joseph Smith married a 14-year-old girl,” who he married for eternity and not for time, verifying that he probably never had relations with her. But your friend sends you that, and half of your friends go inactive in the Church all the young adults’ testimonies all over the Church were shaken. . . .Come on—learn in-depth. Read the essays the Church itself has published on these topics. And when you learn something in-depth, there’s nothing that you learn that pulls you from the gospel. Rather, it strengthens your testimony. There’s nothing you could learn inside the Church, or outside the Church, that doesn’t ultimately point you toward God and toward the wonder of His eternal plan. We get educated, and we become more faithful. Who struggles in the Church? Those who are illiterate, those who can’t read, or those who won’t read. They’re the ones who struggle with their faith because they refuse to nurture or they’re incapable of nurturing their testimonies through study. But the rest of us get stronger and stronger as we learn more and more.

      When I served my first mission in Chile I met a lady called Anna Delgado. She had 13 siblings, and her whole family was illiterate. The way they got by was all the kids would work cleaning homes or cooking food. She didn’t read and didn’t see any reason to read. How does reading help you clean a toilet? Why do you need that? When she met the Mormon missionaries things changed. She wanted to learn to read. She wanted to read the Book of Mormon. She wanted to read the Bible. Missionaries helped her, members helped her. She learned to read and when she joined the Church, she vowed that her own children would not just learn to read, but they would graduate from college. Now, in your world, that’s a very realistic goal. But in her world at that time, not a realistic goal.

      Not many people get to go back to the same country on a mission, but I had that opportunity. And we looked up Anna Delgado. She’s a grandmother now. But she still has her little reading glasses. She’s got a stack of books by her bed. She’s reading up a storm. Her husband’s still never has joined the Church, but Anna’s still going strong. And I asked her, “How’d you do on your goal?” She said, “All my children have graduated from college.” And her first granddaughter was going to be graduating the following summer as a medical doctor.

      Now, if you want to take all spirituality out of it, you want to take all testimony out of it, that’s the Mormon Church, right there. From illiterate grandmother to college graduate child to a medical doctor granddaughter. That’s the Mormon Church. And you are living that story. Some of you have heard that story lived as you look at your ancestors. Some of you are in the middle of living that story right now. How many are among the first in your own families to be pursuing a higher education degree? [Audience members raise their hands.] Okay, now look at that. Keep those hands up, look around. Anna’s story is not just something that’s happening in Chile. It’s something that’s happening right here. God bless LDS Business College, and God bless you for living that LDS story, for making that possible. What do you get for being a Mormon? You get a better education. And that education leads to an improved quality of life. I’ve seen it all across the world, and I see it right here.

      What else do you get for being a Mormon? Well, you get an international network of friends. It’s amazing—anywhere you go, you have instant friends. Even other religious people don’t get this benefit. See, they move, and they’ve got to start finding their spiritual home. They have to start going from church to church, and minister to minister, and pastor to pastor, and congregation to congregation, and denomination to denomination, as they try to find where they fit. Mormons don’t do that. When you move, all you have to do is look up on the Internet, find out where the nearest chapel is, find out when the block starts, and you show up. Five minutes later, you’re just been sucked into the circle. Five minutes, and they’re telling you who your doctor should be, who your dentist should be, which teachers to avoid at the high school. And this sense of community is instant, in a world that’s losing a sense of community; in a world where people are writing books like Bowling Alone (Robert D. Putnam, 2001), talking about how Americans are no longer getting involved with Lions Club, or Boy Scouts of America, or PTAs. No, Americans are living a solitary life where they don’t want to interact with neighbors. And while we’re losing this sense of community in the world, in the Church we have it. We have not lost this sense of community. We still have it. And anywhere you go, you’ve got instant friends.

      I took my kids down to California to go to Magic Mountain so they could ride the roller coasters. We’re walking up to the gate, and there’s some girls out there doing surveys. “How did you know about the park?” “Is this your first visit?” Blah, blah, blah. I’m walking up, and I have three letters on my shirt: EFY. Three letters on my shirt, and all of a sudden this girl starts screaming, “NO WAY!!! EFY!!!” And she comes up, and we’re hugging each other. And I’ve never seen her before in my life, but we’re hugging each other and I’m asking her which session she went to and who her session director was, and we’re just going on and on about who her counselor was, and . . . three letters. Did anybody greet the Baptist kid? “NO WAY!! You’re BAPTIST!!” No. It was the Mormons. And there we were: instant friends.

      Sometimes we’re the ones who make the casseroles to welcome the new members; sometimes we’re the ones who get the casseroles that have been made by others. But we’re all part of a community, and it’s a very real force in our lives. When we moved to Wyoming when I was getting my Doctorate, we moved into a house, and about a half hour later (we’ve got the U-Haul out front), some brethren from the ward come over and start helping us unload.

      And a little while later, the new neighbor came over. And he said, “Have you lived here before?”

      I said, “No.”

      He said, “Who are all these people?”

      I said, “I don’t know. But they’re from my church.”

      He said, “Oh. Well, I just came over to tell you that some lady drove off with your children.”

      I said, “I know.”

      He said, “Do you know her name?”

      I said, “No. But she’s in the Primary presidency, so if I don’t get them tonight, I’ll just pick them up on Sunday.”

      He’s like, “Somebody just brought you food.”

      “I know.”

      “Are you going to eat it?”

      “Of course we’re going to eat it.”

      “You don’t even know what’s in it.”

      I said, “Oh, all those casseroles are the same.”

      See, he couldn’t understand how we could be there for 45 minutes and have more friends than he had. Now, what did I do over the next few months? Yes, I wanted to share the gospel with him. Yes, I wanted him to know about the blessings of the gospel. But I also wanted him to know how good it felt to just have a community, to have a whole group of people that can be instant friends. And that group, that community, extends internationally.

      When we were in Chile a young man joined the Church. He was about 23 or 24. About a month after his baptism, he got a visa to go to New Zealand to study English—a great opportunity for this kid. I pulled him aside after a meeting, and I said, “Who’s picking you up at the airport?”

      He said, “Nobody.”

      I said, “Well then, where are you going to stay?”
      He said, “I don’t know.”

      I said, “Do you have any money?”

      He said, “No.”

      I said, “Do you speak one word of English?”

      He said, “No.”

      One phone call from Santiago, Chile, of all places, to Auckland, New Zealand, of all places, to a bishop Anthony Wilson. “Bishop Wilson, there’s a young man here who joined the Church about three weeks ago. He needs somebody to pick him up at the airport.”

      “No worries,” he says.

      I said, “Bishop, he doesn’t have a place to stay.”

      “No worries.”

      I said, “Bishop, he doesn’t have any money. He doesn’t speak any English.”

      “No worries.”

      Can you really point me in any direction where that happens? Where it happens with the consistency that it happens inside the Church? Can you really point me anywhere where that is a common occurrence?

      I spoke to a group of young single adults in Salt Lake, and I said, “How many of you have jobs that you got through some Church connection?” And I thought maybe half the hands would go up. No—almost every hand. Everybody had a job because somebody’s brother, sister, former mission companion, bishop, home teacher, needed somebody. And if you think about it in your own life, you’ll realize that those Church connections have worked for you, and they will continue to work for you. The network you’re building right now, here at LDSBC, is a network that will bless your life forever.

      Well, what else do you get for being a Mormon? You get a stronger marriage; you get a stronger family. And I know you don’t believe me because you’re thinking about your own family, and you just spent Thanksgiving with them, and you’re like, “They’re the weirdest people on the planet.” I know. You just came away thinking that every family must be as screwed up as yours. But you know what? As a whole, Mormon families are doing better than many. They say in the United States that the divorce rate is about one in two: 50%. When two people are members of the same faith, even if they’re not practicing (two Baptists, two Jehovah’s Witnesses), if they share the same faith, the rate jumps to about one in four.  When two Mormons get married, it goes to about one in six. When two Mormons get married in the temple, it goes to about one in twenty. Now, one in twenty isn’t anything to brag about. But it’s sure a lot better than one in two.

      So yeah, we may have our struggles and we may have our problems. But you also have a hope, when other young people your age have given up completely. Everybody out there is busy trying to redefine marriage at best, and completely eliminate marriage at worst. They see absolutely no place or purpose for it anymore in our modern world. And yet you keep inside of you a hope that one day you can have a happy marriage and a happy family. Where do you get that hope? Well, maybe it comes from our doctrine, our spiritual perspective. But we’re not talking about spiritual things today. We’re talking about temporal blessings. So where does that come from?

      Maybe if your own parents haven’t been able to get two and two to add up to four, you’ve got other role models that you know very well who have. You can look around you, and you can say, “Gosh, I know a bishop who loves his wife. I know a Young Women president who loves her husband. I know a mission president who’s crazy about his wife. I know a prophet who loved his wife dearly.” Do you remember what President Monson’s first words were to us when he spoke to us for the very first general conference after President Hinckley died? When I tell you, you’ll probably remember this. He scared the translators to death, blew them out of the water, because he totally left the script. There he is in conference, and he leaves the script. He walks away from the teleprompter. All of the translators are in the back going, “Ahhhhh!” And what were his first words to us? “I love my wife. She’s a good Swedish girl. I joined the Navy because she thought I’d look good in a uniform.” What? Yeah, you’ve got prophets who love their wives, and you’ve got women leaders who love their husbands. And somehow those role models work for you, even if immediate role models have let you down. Shame on my generation. Shame on us. No wonder you’re all terrified of marriage. No wonder you’re all scared. No wonder you  look at marriage as some kind of burden or obligation. Why? Because my generation has failed you miserably. There are so many who have shown you nothing but bad examples. But look beyond those bad examples, and you will find a few role models who can kindle in you that hope that other young people just don’t have—that yes, marriage can be a joyous thing, and yes, marriage can be a happy thing, and yes, marriage can have a wonderful benefit in your life. Look to those role models.

      My wife and I live in Provo. We have a wonderful little retirement community in our ward. And this community has the cutest couples in the world. They’ve moved there from all over the Church. They have white hair, they work at the temple, they’ve been on 90 missions, and they come to Church walking, holding hands, dragging oxygen behind them. And they’re so cute. My wife and I look at them, and we say, “That’s what we want to be when we grow up.” Now, if we’re looking at them as role models, you can also find role models that can bless your life.

      Well, what do you get for being a Mormon? A longer life, a better quality of life through education, an international network of friends, and the hope of a stronger family, a stronger marriage.

      And, after telling this to that father, whatever I had said, the guy must have liked it because he let his kid join the Church, let his kid get baptized. And not only that, but he went to the baptism. I got there, and there was the mom, there was the kid getting baptized, there was the missionary doing the baptism, and there was the dad. And as he watched that little boy make covenants with God, he wasn’t thinking, “Now my son’s going to live longer. Now my son’s going to have an international network of friends and a better education. Now my son’s going to have hope for a better marriage and a better . . . ” No, he wasn’t thinking that. He was feeling. And suddenly the Spirit touched his spirit, and it touched him so deeply that the next time the missionaries came over, he didn’t run away. He didn’t hide in the back room and pretend like he wasn’t home. He didn’t take off. He listened to them. And the next time, they challenged him to read the Book of Mormon, and he didn’t make a joke out of it, he didn’t blow it off, he didn’t just laugh it off. He did it. And it wasn’t more than a couple of months later that I was back in the same chapel for another baptism, and it was his—the dad’s. And I walked right up to that man, and I said, “What do you get for being a Mormon?” And he looked at me, and he says, “Salvation.” We got right back to where we started.

      As you ponder the wonderful gifts that you’ve received, will you please remember that your membership in the Church is a gift, that you get blessings—temporal blessings, spiritual blessings—and that you get so much for the choices you are making to stay strong when so many around you are slipping and falling. Will you please remember so that you get something out of this? Have a wonderful Christmas season, a season full of light, full of grace. “Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light” (Hymns, no. 204). The pure light of love—the love that is manifest in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, for which He was born and for which we will forever be grateful. And I bear testimony of that reality in the name of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Introduction: Chief Information Officer, Mark Aughenbaugh

       Let me tell you a little bit about Brother Wilcox. Brad Wilcox is an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Brigham Young University, where he also enjoys working with such programs as Especially for Youth, Women’s Conference, and Campus Education week. He is the author of the book The Continuous Atonement, among other books, and the BYU Devotional “His Grace is Sufficient.” Brad grew up in Provo, Utah, except for childhood years spent in Ethiopia, Africa. He served a mission for the Church in Chile and later returned to that country to preside over the Chile Santiago East Mission from 2003–2006. He and his family have also lived for a time in New Zealand, where he directed the study abroad program for Brigham Young University. Brad has served as a member of the Sunday School General Board. He and his wife, Debbie, have four children and three grandchildren. Reading, writing, teaching and travelling are some of his favorite things. He loves peanut M&M’s (so do I) and pepperoni pizza (so do I), but he realizes that doesn’t sound too healthy, and so he’s really trying very hard to learn to love salads. I am not.


"Share the Gift" Devotional

04 Feb. 2015

Transcript

Share the Gift

Welcome, friends, to our annual Christmas devotional. By my count, this is our eighth annual Christmas devotional. We’re just delighted that you would join us. We’re grateful to be able to celebrate this season together in this way. As we come to a close of not only another devotional series, but of another year, we’d like to extend our gratitude to all those who have made devotionals possible, including our speakers and our student speakers, student leadership, musical numbers—Brother Allen, we really appreciate you and your choir and the things that you do to contribute to the spirit of these meetings. We’re grateful to our service missionaries for hosting us. We’re grateful to the good people who work for the Church who help put on this production. We’re grateful to the First Presidency for inviting us to Temple Square to have devotionals here and for making this devotional series possible. We’re grateful to you—we’re grateful for your spirits and your goodness, for coming and for sharing of your hearts. And most of all, we’re grateful to Him, He who is our Savior, the reason for this season.

And we’re very grateful for Cathy Smith! I just want you to know that we’re grateful for you. She is the woman that hides behind there and you never see her, but without her, all would be lost.

Let’s get in the spirit of the devotional by getting your phones ready. We’re going to use the hash tag #ShareTheGift today. If you’d like to share any thoughts or impressions that you have about the devotional or about the Savior, we’d invite you to share in what ways He is a gift to you or how you may try to give back to Him this Christmas season. In fact, every one of you that knows how to share with your phones—I am not one of them—but every one of you that knows how to do that, the invitation is that you will do it at least once during the devotional today. We’re going to do a lot of singing today, but as you sing, pay attention to the messages that are shared today—most especially, pay attention to the Spirit and its quiet whisperings in your mind and heart. I testify that if you listen carefully, thoughts and ideas will come to your mind, feelings of gratitude, feelings of love, promptings to act. And if you’ll make note of those, Heaven will bless you and Heaven will help you become a blessing to others.

 

[Musical numbers]

 

That was great. Thank you very much, choir. I’ve been asked to share a few remarks with you. Following my remarks we’ll begin our program proper. We’ll begin with a special musical number that’s been a little bit of a tradition since I have been here at the College. For the last eight years, the people that I work with have offered a small little Christmas present to you: “Away in a Manger.” We are not the College’s regular choir. We don’t sound that way, but we’ll be singing from our hearts and sharing a message from our hearts. We invite you to listen to the sweet message of that song. Then, some of our students will be narrating the Christmas story.

“He is the Gift” is the theme for today. This is a season of gift giving, but I’ll tell you something that has been on my mind. It goes something like this: the gifts that are most worth giving are not actual gifts at all. The gifts most worth giving are gifts of living, or ways of living. So I’m going to share with you a story here in just a moment, and as I do, I’m going to ask you to listen to the Spirit and to think about some of the questions in your mind, which might go something like this: what am I supposed to learn from this story for me and for Christmas? I’m going to suggest to you that the best gift we can give to Him who has given us all things has something to do with how you live, has something to do with our hearts, and sharing our hearts and giving from our hearts. So make note of some impressions or some insights that you have, and you’ll have the opportunity to share some of those afterward. So it’s not as important what I say as much as it is what you hear. Okay, here’s my story:

Ten years ago this Christmas Eve was a most wonderful event in my life. December 23rd is Joseph Smith’s birthday, and on that day also began my proposal to my, now, wife. It was a 30-hour long proposal. I will not tell you the whole story because we don’t have time, but it really did last 30 hours. Let me fast-forward now to December 24th, where over in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building we spent the evening together I will tell you this one fun little part. As we’re getting ready to leave—all the lights now were turned off on Temple Square, everyone has left; we’re getting ready to go down. She has no idea what’s coming—I had worked so hard to help her not know what was about to happen. I was so good.

Right before we go down—there are windows kind of like the windows in this building, only a little wider and a little deeper, and we’re standing by the window looking at the temple. It was the only thing that was lit.

And one of the themes this day is a theme espoused by the song, “In the Bleak Midwinter.” I think you’ve been given part of the third verse. True? [Receives and answer.] False. You’re going to get it afterward. So you can keep these words; you don’t have to write them down. Let’s see if I can remember them. Ten years ago is a long time. It goes something like this:

 

What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb;

If I were a wise man

I would do my part.

Yet what I can, I give Him—

Give my heart.

 

And this of course, is a song about the Savior, but I was prepping my wife, you see. My mother-in-law told me, “So this is a surprise, right?” So we hadn’t done ring shopping. And my mother-in-law said, “Don’t go buy a ring. You really want her there for that.” But I had to have something for the proposal, right? So I bought a necklace. In fact, I bought a heart-shaped necklace. Do you like that? “What I can, I give you; I give you my heart.” This is good. I thought this was really good.

So we leave the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and she goes to the restroom. I am super nervous. I get the necklace all ready in position, in my hand in my glove. And she comes, and she has no idea that in our hands that we’re holding together, because we both have gloves on, is this heart necklace that I’m about to give her. And we come down to that little granite pedestal that—you know that, over there—and again, the temple is lit up. And I got down on my little knee feeling quite inadequate and said, “Gold and silver have I none, but such as I have, give I unto thee. Lisa Michelle Funk, wilt thou marry me?”

Immediately, she said, “Are you sure?” I want you to know that’s the same thing that Danzel Nelson told Elder Nelson when he proposed to her; it made me feel so much better when I found that out. Are you sure? Yes, I’m sure.

I want you to know that that question has reverberated through my mind and heart for the past ten years, and I want you to know that I am sure. I am sure. That’s my story. But it has something to do with you and Christmas. So I want you to take a moment now, and you can do one of two things. You can either make a note in your journal an insight you gained or what does this mean for you, or turn to your neighbor and share. You have thirty seconds. Ready, go.

Anyone had a great insight from the story or something you feel compelled to do as you listen to the Spirit, that you want to share with us? Shall I get your juices flowing? I’ll get your juices flowing. Here’s one: Christ is the bridegroom. The notion of being yoked to Christ is marriage imagery. My question to you is, are you sure? And it’s one thing for you to answer yes now; it’s another thing to show that you are sure in the ensuing months and years ahead. There’s one.

One other that’s pretty obvious is this idea of I can give my heart.  There is another one. This is terribly personal. He’s talking about ways we worship, right? Like through kneeling. Do you know that after my wife said yes, I kissed her for the very first time? She was the first woman, other than my mother and my grandma, that I kissed because these lips and what comes out of these lips, or what happens with these lips, is very important to me. And that was an important sign from me to my wife. And the same to my Savior—how I use these lips matters. Right? Well, there are lots that we could think of. Here’s just a few little thoughts for you as I wrap up.

I felt quite inadequate. Do you ever feel inadequate when you try to give to the Savior and try to give to those that you love? You may not be able to give something, but you will be able to give of your heart. You may not have gold; you may not have silver. But such as you have, you can give. Even on days when they are the very darkest of days, and you feel like you have nothing left to give, I have found that I can give something from my heart. It is my testimony that if we are in the service of our fellowmen, we are only in the service of our God (see Mosiah 2:17). If, inasmuch as we do these things to the least of our brethren—inasmuch as you and I give of our hearts to others—we are more fully giving of our hearts to God. It is likewise my testimony that the two great commandments are more than just commandments. They delineate God’s greatest gifts to us—God’s love for us and the ability for us to learn to love our brothers and sisters as He loves. And not only are those two great commandments also His greatest gifts, they are the greatest gifts that we can give to Him. When we show Him love and strive to love one another as He loves, those are likewise the greatest gifts that we can ever give to another. We grow in our love for God, and we strive to show that love to one another.

May God bless you and I in our efforts this Christmas season and always—because Christmas is more than a season. It’s not just about giving a gift; it’s about ways of living. Every day—today and tomorrow and this week and this month and this year—let you and I find ways to share of our hearts and share His love more freely with one another, and watch the blessings that will flow into your life and the lives of others. Will you take that challenge? Will you make note of someone that comes to your mind, that you can go share love with, His love with, today? And will you try that again tomorrow? I testify of God’s love for each of us and do so humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Narrator:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. . . .

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

      And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (See Luke 2:1, 3–7.)

 

[“Away in a Manger”]

 

Narrator:

President Monson has said, “In these busy days there are many who have time for golf, time for shopping, time for work, time for play—but no time for Christ.” We have time for activities that are part of our daily lives, but do we have time for Christ? “Lovely homes dot the land and provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms, but no rooms for Christ. . . . No room, no room. Ever has it been” (“The Search for Jesus,” Ensign, Dec. 1990).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that “each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus” (“Settle This in Your Hearts,” Oct. 1992 General Conference) This Christmas and always, let us consider how we can make more room for the Savior in our lives. The more we invite Him to our hearts and homes, we will live as He would have us live. We will become more like Him, and we will feel Him near.

 

Narrator:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid (Luke 2:8–9)

 

[“The First Noel”]

 

Narrator:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

            For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

            And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

            And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

            Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2:10‑14)

 

[“Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful”]

 

Narrator:

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

      And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

      And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

      And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

      But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

      And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them (Luke 2:15‑20).

 

[“Glory to God on High”]

 

President J. Lawrence Richards: Brothers and sisters, we’ve spent a good time together. I love to hear you sing. You ought to be part of the larger choir. I suspect there was a day when you were part of a larger choir, and I suspect that was on the night of the Savior’s birth. I just bet a good portion of us were with the shepherds in the field when the veil between earth and heaven was broken and the angels burst forth singing. And the scriptures said what they sang (see Luke 2:13‑14). We just may have been there.

The question is, why were we there, and what were we so doggone happy about? Yes, it was the birth of the Savior, but I believe it was more than just His birth. The Atonement of Jesus Christ was now on its way. And that which you and two-thirds of our brothers and sisters in heaven voted and fought for with our testimony—so says the book of Revelation. There are days when I am not sure I made the right vote. There are days when compelled obedience for me would have been a really good thing. I don’t know about you.

We had two brothers in our pre-mortal life, and one Brother said, “Will you take a chance on me? I will go down, Father. Here am I, send me. I will be perfect. I will not sin. I will pay the price for all these brothers and sisters who stand behind me, that they may make it back. And with the stripes that will be put upon me, they will be healed—they—my brothers and sisters.” (See Abraham 3:27.)

And then we had another brother, very intelligent, a son of the morning—not too bright, but very intelligent. And he simply looked at us and said, “You’re willing to make this bet? That he will do this and be perfect?”

And you and I said, “Yes.” And so the veil from earth was broken, and you and I were probably part of that heavenly chorus, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace” and the translation is to men of good will (Luke 2:14). Because the Atonement was on its way.

And so, here we are, making choices. Now, I get to work with some wonderful people. Brother Juchau is one of them. When you go to work, you will be smart if you get people much wiser and much more spiritual than you to work with you. They will buoy you up and make you look a lot better. Adrian is like that for me. Adrian told you how he proposed to his wife. How touching. How spiritual. My wife won her diamond ring in a game with my family—and it was the prize in the Cracker Jack box.

And so in this life, for the most part we can choose the people who will surround us.  We are wise if we choose those who will lift us up and challenge us to be better. And they will invite us to ponder the same question the Savior asked a group of Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” And you know what the Pharisees had to say? He is “the Son of David” (Matthew 22:42). That’s all they got.

On another occasion, on the shore of Caesarea at Philippi, the Savior asked the very same question of His disciples: “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” (Matthew 16:13) And they replied to Him, “Well some say that you’re the Baptist, and some say that you’re Elias, some say that you’re Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (See Matthew 16:14).

It’s a wonderful teaching moment when the Savior asked a question in abstract: “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?” And they gave the textbook answer. And then as the perfect teacher, He asked the better question, the application question. And He said to them, “But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

And then stands Peter, in the lengthening shadow of his discipleship, and declares, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Brothers and sisters, whom say ye that Christ is, the Son of man? You said it once before, in heaven, and declared your testimony. And now you’re here on the earth, with a chance every day to answer the question with your choices: Whom say ye that I am? May we be like Peter: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Now let me tie a couple of little things together about this idea of Him being the gift. Have you ever thought about the difference between getting a gift and receiving a gift? I’m going to call on Brother Keith behind me to come up and give us his thought about the difference between getting a gift and receiving a gift. Brother Keith, please share your thoughts. ?

 

Brother Keith Burkhart: I’m not sure if this is what you want, President, but receiving a gift, to me, is something that with all that I am, with all of my heart, with all that I feel and think, it’s mine. I own it. It becomes a part of me. Getting a gift is, perhaps, something that’s outside of me, that I hold outside and maybe appreciate for a period of time but not, in the true, real sense, within me.

 

President Richards:Thank you. Jesus is the gift. John 3:16—He is the gift. Now, brothers and sisters, you can “get” the  gift of the Savior. Or as Brother Keith Burkhart says, you can “receive” the  gift of the Savior with all your heart and pull it inside.

The Savior Himself said, “What doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33)

Brothers and sisters, He is the gift. Will you this holiday season receive Him? And when you do, you will feel the power of the gift of the Atonement —which you fought for valiantly, for which you sang “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of goodwill” (see Luke 2:14)

Now I’m going to ask Craig Nelson to come all the way down. He’s a brand-new grandpa, as of yesterday. Do you know what a Primary chapel clap is? Let’s give him a chapel clap.

Craig is a stake president. He has had bestowed upon him special gifts, and he has received those gifts by the way he lives and the way he tries to live. So Brother Nelson, what is the difference in believing in Christ and believing Christ? Give that one a whirl.

 

Brother Craig Nelson: Believing in Christ has to do with my faith and my attitude. And believing Christ has to do with my actions and my compelling forward movement.

 President Richards:  Thank you very much. Let’s add to that. I believe every one of you in this room believes in Christ. The invitation I have for you today is that you more fully receive Him and believe Him. Believe Him when He says, “Come unto me, all ye that . . . are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). I invite you to believe Him.

“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Brothers and sisters, I invite you to believe Him.

Come, my brethren, “every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1) Brothers and sisters, I invite you to believe Christ.

And finally, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door,”—see, the behavior: open the door—“I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Brothers and sisters, may you, this holiday season, receive Him who is the gift, and believe Christ and what He has promised you.

My final invitation to you is this: We’re going to sing “Silent Night.” It’s a great song, first composed in Germany for a guitar. And we’re going to sing it a capella. Here’s my invitation to you: Will you take time in this busy holiday season to create for yourself just one silent night? And make it a holy night. Believe Him in that night. Receive Him in that night, and feel with greater confidence and love that which you felt with Him as you stood in the councils with the Father and listened to your Elder Brother say, “Here am I, send me. I will go and do what the Father has asked me to do, for you” (see Abraham 3:27).

I invite you to have that blessing of a silent night and of a holy night. What we have talked about today and what we have sung about is true. I bear testimony of it. It is true. I know it in my heart. And as weak as I am, I know that He is there. I know that I can go to Him heavy laden; I know that I can come to Him and drink of the waters freely because He is my Elder Brother and yours. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

[“Silent Night”]


The Fire in the Bookstore…and What Came of It

04 Feb. 2015

Transcript

The Fire in the Bookstore…and What Came of It

      While they’re getting seated, I just want to thank the choir. I always count it a blessing when I see them forming up there. I think this is going to be a particularly special day because, Brother Allen and the choir, your influence is always felt here. And I’m grateful, especially today, for it. And I’m grateful for the chance to speak with you for a few minutes today.

      I wonder if you happen to know the significant, quiet milestone that occurred in the College’s history last Saturday. If you’re a faculty member, I’m going to ignore you Students, do you know? Last Saturday . . . Well, let me give you a hint. Last Saturday was the College’s birthday; November 15th is this College’s birthday. And I wonder if any of you know how old the College is. Yes? [Student gives answer, inaudible] That’s right; this College is 128 years old, as of last Saturday. And let me put that into a little bit of perspective for you. When Utah became a state in 1896, LDS Business College was already ten years old. That’s significant. And I want you to remember that because by then, obviously the College had some graduates, and I want you to be remembering that fact.

      And now I’m going to ask the staff and faculty to be patient for a little while, because they’ve heard this story before; it’s called “The Fire in the Bookstore . . . and What Came of It.” And some of them have already heard it, but I think it’s worth hearing again. So in 1886, this man named William B. Dougall believed that the youth of Salt Lake City ought to have their own school, or an academy as it was called back then. And so he contacted several citizens of the day, and they made a plan to meet the following day in the bookstore  owned by James Dwyer. And I think it’s appropriate that they chose a bookstore to hold that meeting in—it wasn’t the blacksmith shop, it wasn’t the mercantile—but they chose a place like a bookstore to discuss the construction of a college.

      But the interesting part is that the night before the meeting, a fire sprang up in that bookstore, and by morning, the water that was used to put the fire out was still dripping down through the destroyed roof. Now, that might have been a good reason for them to call the meeting off, but these were tough people and they had great determination. So they just got some crates and barrels and sat down in that store, with the water still dripping on their necks, and talked about creating this College.

      I’ve always thought it rather symbolic that they sat there with the ashes of books, which are the basic tools of learning, at their feet while they laid plans for the place of learning. And the phoenix that rose from those ashes is LDS Business College.

      So the plan was pretty basic. Think about how you would start a college, right? They needed someone, a talented educator, to develop a college. And that man was Dr. Karl G. Maeser, who’d already developed other academies and happened to be helping to start one down in Provo just then, which became BYU. So he agreed to come to Salt Lake City and help establish this College. He brought with him the pick of the faculty: a fellow named Willard Done, and he served alongside of him and trained him how to become the president of the College from 1886–1888.

      Now, the next fellow, Dr. James E. Talmage—any of you ever heard of him? I don’t know if you knew that he was the president of the College from 1888–1892, but he was. His contribution—and I pull this information out of the yearbooks and the histories of the College—his contribution to the College, as quoted in one of his books, was giving “its students a sense for scholarship that finds its roots in religion,” which is another way of saying that they were “learning even by study and also by faith” (D&C 109:7) even back in 1888. And of course, we know Dr. Talmage well.

      Well, eventually Dr. Talmage was called away to start another Church academy, but then officials from the University of Utah asked Church leaders if he could help establish that school instead, so he became the president of the U of U, and Willard Done came back to be the president of the College for 7 more years, from 1892 to 1899. And then, Dr. Joshua H. Paul served as president from 1899 to 1905, and he inherited a tough situation. The College was in financial trouble, and a lot of the faculty had left by then. And it looked for a while like the College would be doomed, but there were good citizens who still believed in the College, along with Church president Lorenzo Snow. So they vowed to put the money together, and they saved the College.

      A lot of changes happened during President Paul’s six years: the College’s name was changed again, (I’ll explain that a little later), the College moved again (I’ll also explain that a little later), and the College became famous for many reasons, including public speaking, dramatics, and athletics—especially basketball (I’ll also explain that a little later).

      Colonel Willard Young—a son of Brigham Young—served as president from 1905 to 1916. He was a military fellow and brought a great deal of discipline and order to the College, as well as “exact scholarship.” In other words, he was tough. The yearbook says, “Under his administration, athletics became subordinate to studies, rules were rigidly enforced, and students learned to ‘toe the mark’ outside the institution as well as within.” They and the College thrived.

      From 1916 to 1926, Guy C. Wilson served as president. During his ten years, he focused on teaching self-government to the students. Students made the laws, enforced the laws, and judged the law breakers (with faculty keeping an eye on the process).  The school also changed. The four-year high school course was reduced to two years, and a two-year college course was added. A business college also began to grow around this time. The College was finally a college.

      Feramorz Young Fox became the College’s seventh president in 1926, and he stayed for 22 years, until 1948. This means he carried the College through the Depression and through World War II. “Carried” is a good descriptive word. Those were difficult years of little money and great need, but his strong faith in the College and its purpose in the Lord’s kingdom helped him sustain it.

      Those lean years meant students couldn’t afford an education and enrollments dropped. In 1931, the high school and junior college programs were closed, and the business college alone remained. Along with his administrative duties at the College, President Fox and his son sold apples and potatoes to keep their family farm from foreclosure. Those were tough times. Due to his determination, the College eventually recovered, enrollments started climbing again, and by the time President Fox’s years of service completed, the College was in great condition, with high enrollments. And I must tell you that as I studied the history of these good men who served as presidents during hard times, President Fox rises as my favorite because he carried the College through such a difficult time.

      From 1948 to 1961, Kenneth S. Bennion served as the College’s 8th president. He was a former student—and later a teacher for 20 years. His strong connection to the business community kept the College connected too. He had very high standards for the College and its students. And although he kept a strict business attitude, he was well known for helping discouraged students stay in school.

      R. Ferris Kirkham served the longest term as president—25 years from 1961 to 1986. He was a CPA and a businessman, and his years as president were marked by progress; he basically took the College from the typewriter age to the computer age. He developed new programs, expanded the campus, added student dorms and a library, increased enrollments, and made the College self-supporting.

      The 10th president, Kenneth H. Beesley, served from 1986 to 1991. His appointment coincided with the College’s 100-year anniversary, and the College had parties that year. During his time here curriculum was revised, the student-to-computer ratio was improved, and the campus was renovated and restored. A few employees here at the College can still remember President Beesley.

      Many more also remember the next president, Stephen K. Woodhouse, who served from 1992 until 2008. President Woodhouse was a businessman who advanced the College’s technology. He had a College history published, introduced service learning into the curriculum, and was in charge of the College’s move from the mansion campus to our present campus in 2006. As you can imagine, that was not an easy task.

      So now we have our 12th president, J. Lawrence—Larry—Richards. Most of you know him; some of you probably know him really well. He started here as a faculty member (after growing tired of being the president of a lot of banks), and after a while, he became the assistant to the president. Then, on January 1, 2009, he became the College’s 12th president.

      In the last five years, President Richards has placed emphasis on a number of developments: a new learning model, a vision statement; strategic initiatives, preservation of the College’s spiritual roots, and a reaffirmation of the College’s mission to provide a skills-based education that leads to employment, to name a few. He’s also placed emphasis on knowing you.

      Now, here’s an interesting historical fact: remember Dr. Karl G. Maeser, the man who established this College? The man who baptized him was Franklin D. Richards, President Richard’s great-great-grandfather. So President Richards’ great-great grandfather taught and baptized the man who established the college where President Richards now serves as the president.

      Here’s another interesting historical connection: at the turn of the century, in the early 1900s, the president of the business college part of the whole college was Bryant S. Hinckley. Brother Hinckley had moved here from back East where he’d resided with his family. Not too long after moving here, his wife became ill and died, leaving him with four small children. Meanwhile, a young woman named Ada Bitner was a faculty member at the College. She was an unusual female for the time. She’d gone back East to study shorthand, and then returned here to teach it. The two of them—Bryant S. Hinckley and Ada Bitner—eventually fell in love and were married. The first child of this new union was Gordon Bitner Hinckley. So President Hinckley’s parents met at LDS Business College. See? It works. Which is why, when it was time to dedicate the new campus, President Hinckley said he’d like to do that himself, because of his fondness for the College.

      I’m just giving you lots of information. The College’s name has changed a few times throughout its 128 years. It started out as the Salt Lake Academy, then became LDS College, then LDS University, then back to LDS College, and since 1931 has been known as LDS Business College.

The College’s campus has also changed—eight times. We’re in our 8th home, if you can imagine. Here’s the list of the College’s different campuses:

 

1.         Started in Social Hall on 39 South State                                  1886

               It’s an interesting fact that all of these sites that the College has been at have never been more than just a block or two from Temple Square. I think that’s significant. So in 1886 it started out here in Social Hall.

(Outgrew Social Hall quickly, so some students met in Brigham Young Schoolhouse)

 

2.         Ellerbeck Building on 200 West 200 South                 1891
 

3.         The 17th Ward Chapel on 150 West 200 North          1895

 

4.         Templeton Building on South Temple and Main         1897

 

5.         Lion House on 63 East South Temple                          1900

(Every few years the College moved. Leaders finally decided a campus was needed where the College could stay and grow, so then they built . . . )

 

6.         A growing campus of large buildings constructed at

70 North Main.                                                                    1902

(This campus remained for the longest span: 60 years. But eventually, the Church needed this site for construction of the Church Office Building.)
 

7.         Wall Mansion on 400 East South Temple                                1962

(The College was there for 44 years. And then in 2006, we 

hugged that campus good-bye and moved to . . . )

 

8.         The Triad Campus, at 300 West North Temple                        2006

 

      In a way, our sitting here in this Assembly Hall means that we’ve gone full circle because for at least 100 years, the College held its commencement exercises in this very building. Only four years ago did we grow large enough to start holding commencement in the Tabernacle.

      The College also used other buildings at different times for different programs. At one time, it used a large mansion on the hill for its music program, the old tithing barn for a biology lab, and the Deseret Gym in downtown for gym classes. Speaking of gym classes, the College also had a school fight song, called “The Gold and Blue,” written in 1901 by a student, James W. Welch. The song was the kind that students could sing during sports games.

      You probably didn’t know that the College has, at different times in its past, had some pretty amazing (and successful) sports teams. I’m going to tell you about them a little bit. The men’s teams included football, basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, golf, and track. They had a letter “S” on the front of their jerseys? Anyone want to guess what that stood for? The College’s teams were called the “Saints.” (You have to wonder what the mascot was.) I’m sure it would have been hard to lead a cheer saying, “Go Saints! Crush them!” But I’m sure that’s exactly what they did. Over the years, the Saints crushed their opponents as they won an impressive collection of state and even national titles and awards.

      Meanwhile, the women, not to be outdone, also had their own teams, among them tennis, hockey, baseball, and a Glee Club Basketball Team—I don’t even know what that is. But they won a trophy, so they must have been good, right?

      College life also evolved throughout the years. The College sponsored many kinds of clubs, some of them rather interesting, such as the Seagull Club, dedicated to doing good deeds; the Block “S” Club, which promoted “good morals, clean living, sportsmanship, good fellowship, and high scholarship”; and the Art Club, created to “develop aesthetic interest.” The College also had bands and orchestras, choruses, theatrical productions, and many dances.

      Of course, the College also taught classes. That’s what colleges do. For instance, what started out as bookkeeping courses in the 1880s are today’s accounting courses. At one time, stenography or shorthand was taught. And so were classes in what was called office training, which evolved into business administrative support. And typing classes—this College has taught typing since typewriters were invented.  In fact, during wartime in the 1940s, LDS Business College even taught typing to soldier clerks.

      Students have also learned English since the College began, and at times throughout the College’s history, other languages taught here included Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, German, and French. Of course, all kinds of math classes have always been taught here. The fact is, the College continues to develop courses as the employment market and students’ needs change.

      There. I’ve condensed LDS Business College’s history into about 20 minutes. If you’ve written any of this down, you’ll remember that the College is 128 years old, has had 12 presidents, 5 name changes, 8 addresses, some interesting sports teams, clubs, and a wide variety of classes. Hopefully you also noticed the Lord’s hand has guided this College all along.

      But there’s more to the story. Because now it’s time to talk about the “why” of this College:

·         Why was it founded in the first place?

·         Why has it been preserved for 128 years? 

·         Why is it here today?

·         And most importantly . . . why are you here today?

      Here are some ideas on that from people you’ll recognize and respect. See if you can figure out a common idea or two in what they’ve said about this College:

      Remember Dr. Karl G. Maeser? He said, “Here, at the headquarters of the Church [he meant Salt Lake City when he said that], Israel will naturally look for an institution, patronized by multitudes of students, conducted by faithful teachers, supported by the liberality of the people, approved in its labors by the authorities and above all, sustained by the blessings of Almighty God” (The Deseret News, Feb. 2, 1887).

      Dr. James E. Talmage said, and this is a deep thought, “Theological teaching and religious training are essential to a well-balanced curriculum. For this symmetrical development of body, mind, and spirit—I commend our Latter-day Saint schools.”

      Bishop Keith B. McMullin:  “The curriculum of the LDS Business College has not focused on training and ‘book learning’ alone. From the beginning, the aim has been to school the entire person, the spirit as well as the mind” (“Judge Righteously,” LDS Business College devotional, Sep. 15, 2009).

      Elder Robert F. Orton: “I’m mindful that the purpose of LDS Business College is to teach business skills in a spiritual setting. Thus, it seeks to provide opportunity for balance in one’s life” (“Living a Balanced Life Brings Happiness,” LDS Business College devotional, Mar. 1, 2006).

      President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Nothing could be better than what we have here. . . . Enjoy it, be grateful for the opportunity you have of attending school here. Pray to the Lord for His blessings and guidance as you pursue your academic course” (Dedication of Triad Campus, Sep. 2006).

      President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:  “You, my dear friends . . . of this wonderful LDS Business College, are privileged to study and learn in an environment where your testimony of Jesus Christ is growing as part of your educational process” (Commencement 2004).

      President Henry B. Eyring:“The Lord talks about putting a light on a hill. . . . He will make you a light, a beacon, and the world will then have the value of knowing what education can be like when it is done the Lord’s way” (Commencement 1996).

      President Thomas S. Monson:  “This institution is one of the few bastions where truth can be taught, aided by testimony” (Inauguration of President Woodhouse, Nov. 14, 1992)

      Evidently, our leaders know why this College is here. And they know why you are here. But do you know why you are here?

      Ask yourselves this: we have this College here, dedicated by a Prophet of God, staffed by faculty and staff and administrators who are all temple worthy. And through the doors come worthy students who’ve pledged to live in a way that will preserve this environment. All of us have come here—maybe been brought here—for what? You probably think you chose to come here to learn a skill and get on with your life. You did. You will need your skills and your careers to help you raise your families and be a significant contributor in the Church and in your communities.

      But that’s only part of it. And President Richards in his remarks about me today said that I speak a lot about the spiritual side of it, and I’m telling you about it now. The spiritual side of you, the disciple part of you, is also being taught and cultivated here so that when you move on, you move on as a complete person, ready to help build the kingdom of our Heavenly Father on this earth in these latter days. And these latter days are a challenging time.

      Amos 8:11–13 describes these latter days:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

      And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to see the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

      In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

Remember, “faint for thirst of knowledge.” But that’s the point.

      You young women and young men will not be among those fainting for thirst of the word of the Lord. Here at this College you are learning by study and by faith how to lead and serve others, prepare for temple blessings, and gain wisdom and knowledge that will enable you to teach and lift others.

      The point is that you will be able to influence the world with what you learn—and become—here. You will be able to take your spark into a dark world and lighten it with love, subdue it with service, and improve it with knowledge, knowing that as long as one light exists, the dark can never be absolute.

      I want you to think about this: remember when I told you that LDS Business College was already ten years old when Utah became a state? Well, think about those young people who had graduated from the College in those ten years.

·         What kind of influence do you think they had on that brand new state in 1886?

·         What kind of contributions do you think they made with the knowledge and spiritual strength they developed during their years at the College?

·         What kind of service did they know how to render?

·         Most importantly, what kind of leaders do you think they became?

We can actually pick out some of the faces that are in that group, and it’s amazing. There are a number of amazing leaders in that small group right there that went on to help build the Church, and the state. Those LDS Business College graduates made the same kind of contributions 128 years ago that you will make during your lifetime in this world today.

My young friends, none of this has happened by chance—I don’t believe a single one of you here today is in this College by chance. I believe that it’s part of a grand design.  You are here to gain an education in so much more than just a career. You are here to gain the word of the Lord, to become a beacon of light and a disciple of Christ.

More than one kind of fire was lit in that bookstore so many years ago. Kindled that day was a flame that has glowed continually and never been extinguished. For 128 years, LDS Business College has been preparing—for you. I hope that as you go away today that you will think on that, and that you will recognize the grand heritage that you have, and that you will build on it.

I want to bear you my testimony that I know our Father in Heaven loves you. The fact that you are here tells me that. You are in an incredible place. I know that it is not easy. I know that because it is not easy, we grow through the challenges that are in our lives. But I know that here, in this College, are the answers to your problems. There are things to learn and people to know, and I know that your testimony can be strengthened here. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us. I know that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and I know that the Church has been restored on this earth today. And I’ll leave this with you in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, amen.

Introduction: President Lawrence Richards

       Sister Louise Brown has worked at the College for fourteen years, first as a media writer, and currently as the Director of Public Affairs. That means she is responsible for the College’s communication efforts. She enjoyed a successful career as a journalist. She has written for a number of Utah newspapers for more than 30 years, and this is the 31st year of publishing a bi-monthly column that appears in the Ogden’s Standard-Examiner, which is the newspaper in the northern part of the state. She has been a book editor, a proofreader, and an editor in the Church’s curriculum department. She has used her talents to help author the College’s Anthem and many College publications, including the BC Magazine that we have. She has published articles in LDS Living, the New Era, the Ensign, Latter-day Woman, and Desert Saints. She has been recognized for her writing by the Utah League of Writers and the Utah Press Association.

      She and her husband, John, who’s come in late and is sitting in the back—I said, “Why isn’t John sitting on the stand?” And Louise said, “Because I want to look at him while I talk.” They’ve been married for 39 years. They’re the parents of four children. They have eight grandchildren. In the 14 years that Louise has been at the College, she has played a major role in moving this institution forward. She is seen on campus among her peers as a skilled writer and editor, and a consummate professional. She also has great compassion for people. Those that she has figuratively taken under her wing find her to be a great advocate.

      Now, let me add to you two little things that aren’t written here: number one is there is something to be said for quiet competency. You, in your careers, will find people who are very verbose about how good they are. They will tell you how good they are. They will want to be the center of the stage. Then there will be others like Sister Brown who have quiet competency. They don’t need to speak in loud voices, and they don’t need to show off their wares or their talents. They just are very effective at what they do. Point number two: Sister Louise Brown anchors me. Here’s what I mean by that: As we now take the advice of the Brethren that we received on May 14th to focus on skills-based education, it would be easy for us to lose focus on our first mission, which is to provide opportunities for you to strengthen your testimony and to deepen your conversion. Sister Brown keeps me anchored on that first mission. Why does she do that? She does it because she knows that what is most important to you is what happens in your life here, even more than the skills that you develop. I am personally grateful for her counsel and for her anchoring.

 


Opening Devotional Part 1 (Understand and Apply the Atonement)

18 Feb. 2015

Transcript

Understand and Apply the Atonement

Welcome, brothers and sisters. It’s good to see your happy, smiling faces. I have been asked to share with you some remarks, and following my remarks we will see a video entitled that I believe is called, “Why.” Here’s your invitation for during that video:  watch and try to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “Why am I here? Why does heaven have me at this school at this time?” It has very little to do with what it costs or because you couldn’t get somewhere else or because your parents told you you had to come here, I promise. Those just may be ancillary reasons that got you here.

Why are you here? What would heaven have you get out of this experience? I believe that impressions will come to your mind. Following that video, we’ll be pleased to hear from our president, President Richards.

Okay, I have a story, and then I’ll give you my talk. Here’s my story: I’m on my mission, and Elder Robert K. Dellenbach comes to the mission. We’re finishing the mission tour and we’re at the very end of the very last session of the mission tour. My mission president leans over to me, and he says, “Elder Juchau, Elder Dellenbach wants you to play a medley of the hymns of the Restoration. These are the five that he wants. Go to it.”

I said, “President, when? We’re done. When am I supposed to do that?”

He said, “Right now.”

In a similar manner, President Richards, right before the opening prayer, said, “Adrian, I want you to use the fourth verse for your talk.” Here it is:

As children of Zion,

Good tidings for us.

The tokens already appear.

Fear not, and be just,

For the kingdom is ours.

The hour of redemption is near (Hymns, no. 7).

 

As I read these words and the words of the whole hymn, here are some thoughts that come to my mind. We’re in August 2008, and Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy was recently assigned as the commissioner of the Church Educational System. One of his very first assignments was to come to LDS Business College and to speak to faculty and staff. And he said, “You guys, one of the things you need to think about is, how do you help people whose desires have not yet caught up to their potential?” This question has sunk deeply into my heart.

 

Two months later, I received part of the answer to that question, and part of the answer I find here in this song. President Eyring came to the school that October, and he said there were two major things that he wanted us to teach you. One of those things was teach them that through the Atonement of Christ, their desires might be changed, their hearts might be changed, their lives might be changed.

Through the Redeemer of Israel, you and I can have our desires changed. Our lives can be better and improved. So a year later after that, I’m teaching a class. I often would turn the time over to the students and ask them, “Is there anything else you want to learn or talk about?” This time, a student raises his band, and the student said, “We’d really like a lesson about the infinite nature of the Atonement.”

I’m confident that I looked at him like a deer in the headlights. I couldn’t do it. That was a daunting task. But he was a new student that semester, and I studied and I studied. And a year and a half later it was his last semester, and he was in another class that I was teaching. I knew that the hour of redemption wasn’t near. The hour of reconciliation . . . I don’t know.

I feel to share some things with you today about the Atonement. After that year and a half of study, I realized how little I knew and how much you and I need to know about the Atonement. So if you’d take your paper out, my lips have nothing to share with you of great import, but I am optimistic that as you connect yourself with heaven today, heaven will teach you something that will be beneficial to you that has something to do with the words of this hymn and something to do with the Atonement.

I’ve got to tell you, when I was studying the Atonement, I learned something I never thought I would learn. I had this impression come to my mind: the Atonement is the great surfactant. Do you know what a surfactant is? Because I sure didn’t. That was one of those great moments of heaven teaching me, for sure. So I looked up surfactants and learned about surfactants. Do any of you know what the most common surfactant is? [Audience response] A natural surfactant is in the lungs, good. And I heard down here, dish soap. The Atonement is the great surfactant, and soap is a surfactant.

There actually are lots and lots of different things that you and I use every day that are surfactants. Here are just a few: she’s exactly right—in our lungs there is a surfactant that allows us to breathe easier. Soap is a surfactant. Glue contains a surfactant. Fabric softener contains a surfactant. How do you call—Neosporin? The ointment, when you have a wound? That contains surfactants. There are more. Fire extinguishers have surfactants in them.

The Atonement is the great surfactant. May I suggest to you that the Atonement is infinite, not just because it’s for all people and not just because there is no sin too deep or too wide that cannot be covered by the Atonement. The Atonement is infinite because it covers everything. Watch this—not only does soap cleanse you, which we know that the Atonement does. This application is what we typically think of when we think of the Atonement, but I want you to think of these other applications of the Atonement.

If I’ve got water and I’ve got oil, and I put them together in a glass, what happens? I hear whisperings. They separate. They don’t mix. Oil and water don’t mix. Do you ever feel that way? Me and math, we just don’t mix. Me and that roommate, we don’t mix. You take some surfactant, and you put it in your solution, and you give it a good shake—and what happens? Surfactant changes the structure, and they’re able to mix. They’re able to become more at one.

William Tyndale, who played an instrumental role in translating the Bible into English, invented this word “At-one-ment,” or at one with, because he couldn’t find another word that well described the purpose of this Atonement. But surfactants are also able to do make at one with. Soap is able to do that.

You want to be able to become more at one with someone—your eternal companion or your friends? The Atonement is the glue that can seal you together. You have something in your life that is broken or in need of repair? The Atonement is the glue that you can use to glue things back together. You want the things that you are trying to learn at LDS Business College to be stickier? The Atonement provides the glue to help with that stickiness. You are having a hard time in life, and you want things to be a little softer? The Atonement has a softening influence. You want to breathe a little easier in a tough time? The Atonement is the surfactant that allows you to breathe easier. WD-40—do you know what this is? It’s a lubricant. WD-40 is another surfactant. You want things to go smoother in your life? The Atonement will help things go smoother.

Brothers and sisters, the Atonement is not something just for your neighbor. It’s not something that works for everybody else. The Atonement is for you, and the Atonement is for me. And if any of those things that I just mentioned quickly don’t describe you today, I assure you they will begin to describe you come midterms, and for sure by finals. And if you want to get through those experiences a little better, you want the Atonement.

How, then, do we access the power of the Atonement more in our lives? You already know the answer, but let me help you. Let’s pretend that this book is a bar of soap for a second. How does that bar of soap work? Does it work by looking at it? Does it work by talking about soap? Does it work by learning more about soap? It’s helpful to learn about it, I suppose.

By the way, do you and I even know how soap works? Do we even know how WD-40 works? No, it doesn’t matter. We just know that it works, and we know how to use it to make it work. I have no idea how the Atonement works. I have no idea, but I testify to you that it works, and I know something of how to make it work. If I want that soap to work for me, I don’t just ask the soap to work for me. I take that soap, and I cover myself with it. I cover myself with it. The word atonement , which in Hebrew is catar, is translated to mean  “to cover”. The Atonement covers us all. The Atonement covers all things. And if you want the Atonement to work, you’d better get covered by it.

Brothers and sisters, we do not believe in a gospel of spring cleaning—we believe in a gospel of immersion. And if you want that Atonement to work with you, then you get yourself immersed in it. Get yourself immersed in all things that bring the Spirit, and stay as far away from everything that’s going to interfere with that Spirit. If you make a mistake, the Atonement is available. You’d better access that Atonement. Even families can access the Atonement. Cover yourself in that Atonement.

Here’s an invitation that we’d like to share with you today. I don’t know if we’ve ever done something like this—for sure we haven’t in the 7 ½ years I’ve been at the College. Are you ready for the invitation? You’ve already had some invitations. I haven’t been clear about them, and I hope you’ve heard some and I hope you’ve written some down. But here’s one that you’re going to hear from me now. We’d like to invite you to participate in a campus-wide experience with the Atonement this semester. Here are a couple of data points for you to consider:

We just had Christmas. The Church just had a campaign, “He is the Gift,” right? What if, for this semester, we took a season and we called it, “Receive the Gift”? What if Christmas isn’t the end of a new year, but the beginning of a new way of living? You see, Christmas is only Christmas because of Easter, which is still to come. And this year, Easter happens to fall on conference weekend. I want you to know that we’re working on getting a special devotional speaker that you aren’t going to want to miss. If we’re able to get him this semester, he’ll talk about the Atonement with our campus community. We’re going to be planning some other activities around the theme of the Atonement this semester.

We invite you to consider how you personally can come to better understand and apply the Atonement in your life each day. We’ll give you examples; we’ll give you reminders as time goes on. Here are just a few: perhaps as we are studying the New Testament as a Church this year, you might want to read along in the New Testament. Perhaps you want to read the four Gospels before Easter and reflect on the life of the Savior and what that means for you. We’ll provide some study questions to help you along the way. Perhaps you want to read any of the great books or articles on the Atonement that are out there. The Church has just released a new book that has a daily thought on the Atonement: I’ve been reading it, and it’s a great little primer.

Anyway, this is our invitation: to better understand and apply the Atonement in your life each day. Each day. This soap thing—you and I don’t just take a bath when we fall in mud piles. I hope that you and I take a bath every day. You and I need that Atonement in our lives every day.

Now why are we doing something like this? Why would we invite our campus community to have this kind of experience? Why at LDS Business College will we talk about the Atonement? It’s true that you can come here and get some skills, and you should. But it’s also true that if you come here and you don’t have a deeper understanding and haven’t fully applied the atoning blood of the Savior in your life, that you and I have missed something terribly, terribly important.

As you and I apply that Atonement more fully in our lives every day, you and I will become more at one with each other and with God. The spirit of Zion will permeate our midst in ways that perhaps heretofore it has not. Through the spirit of the Atonement, that at-one-ment, we will become more at one in mind, and at one in heart, and dwell in greater righteousness with each other and with God. And I don’t know about you, but I long for the spirit of Zion in my life.

Even more than that, as important as deepening our discipleship is, and building community in our midst and Zion in our midst is, may I suggest is this thought from President Eyring, November 1992 He talked about this idea—if you want to learn to learn the Lord’s way, and if you want to more fully realize your divine nature and destiny, then you and I must live so that the Atonement can work in our lives. That’s the invitation—live so the Atonement can work in our lives. It’s good to talk about it; it’s good to read about it. But you and I have got to apply it—cover ourselves in it, immerse ourselves in the Spirit and all things Jesus Christ, every day.

He is the Gift. Let us this semester more fully receive that gift in our lives. I testify to you of the great blessings that will come to you personally as you strive to better understand and apply the Atonement in your life. You’ll see those blessings in school, with your roommates, with your learning, with your teachers—those blessings will extend far beyond. I testify to you that He lives, and that He loves you, and that His atoning blood is for you and for me, each and every day. That you may come to know that more fully for yourselves I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer of Israel, amen.

Video:

President J. Lawrence Richards: The mission of the College is very clear. It is to teach in a distinctive way, rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost has the power to take the learning from the mind and put it in the heart. And that’s where learning really takes place. So when students learn that way, we are creating a generation of young adults who know how to teach and know how to learn in the Lord’s way.

The influence of the College is being felt across the world. We have students from sixty foreign countries. What happens when students come here, or when we export our training—with that goes the Spirit. No matter where they are, they learn the Lord’s way. They learn by study, and they learn by faith.

 

Students come here because they are looking for an educational experience that is deeply rooted in the gospel. Faculty members will come and teach here because they want to teach in an environment where they can teach with the Spirit. When you combine those two together, we can take Elder Eyring at his words when he said that if we as faculty and staff will work our hearts out, and if our students will do just the same, that they will learn at rates that will just amaze the world. We have seen that happen. I know that that happens. It’s why we exist.


Opening Devotional Part 2 (How to Do Devotional)

18 Feb. 2015

Transcript

How to Do Devotional

 Let’s get some house lights up a little bit because I can’t see you and I want to see you. You look good. You made a good decision to be here. By March it won’t be cold, I promise, and Tuesdays will be a nice pleasant walk. Now, you’ll get spoiled a little bit because you attend class in a building where you don’t even have to go outside to get from the parking lot to the campus, and you never even have to leave the building. You just go up and down ten floors, and in about three weeks you’ll think that going two floors up is a trek. And so you’ll worry about whether you can really make it two blocks up the street for Devotionals But you can and if you will, you’ll be blessed for it.

Now, Brother Juchau gave you an invitation to study the Atonement that we may become more at one with each other and with the Savior—I want to make it clear that that extends beyond the students. It’s an invitation for all in the LDS Business College community. That’s faculty, and staff, and student employees and everybody else. If we do this with one heart, exploring a greater understanding and application of the Atonement, things will happen this semester for all of us that will be a blessing.  I believe, brothers and sisters, Father in Heaven is willing to grant to us blessings upon our asking for them. But as the Bible Dictionary tells us about prayer, the blessings are contingent upon 1) work, and 2) aligning our work and our wills with heaven. 

Now, I think we’re probably on pretty safe ground to assume Father in Heaven is willing to grant to us a blessing of a greater understanding and application of the Atonement in our life if we ask with real intent. How many are returned missionaries? [Audience members raise their hands.]  You know from your work with investigators what asking with real intent means. It is the intention to take action upon that which you pray for. And so we prepare ourselves by learning more about the Atonement and its application in our own lives, and then we ask with real intent for that blessing. I think that’s how it works. That is the invitation.

So let me share an idea or two about how to use the devotionals as part of your personal process and progress towards learning more about the Atonement. So this is “How to Do Devotional” to gain a deeper understanding of the Atonement and receive the blessings Father in Heaven is prepared to give you if you will but ask with real intent to take action

Number one: you come to devotional. You’ll be tempted not to because you will have a test to study for. I will make you a promise: if you come to devotional and do the rest of what I’m going to share, your effectiveness to study for a test will not be diminished as long as you have not crammed for it. Cramming is how many grapes you can fit in your mouth, or how much ice cream will fit on a cone. Cramming is not consistent with learning in the Lord’s way.

So number one, you come.

Number two: you come prepared. How do you come prepared to a devotional? I’ll give you an idea or two. You come with a prayerful heart. You come ready with something to write upon—and we’ll talk about that in a moment. You come with an attitude of “What does Father in Heaven want me to get out of this meeting today, that I may better understand the Atonement and apply it more fully?”

So you come. You come prepared. Now number three: You come with ears to hear—spiritual ears. I guarantee the greatest things you will learn from devotionals this semester may have nothing to do with what is said by the speaker, if you have spiritual ears, because the Holy Ghost will teach you and show you what to do.

Now, let’s open up the scriptures to 2 Nephi 32:3, 5. It says that angels speak the words of Christ, and therefore, feast upon them, and that the words of Christ will tell you what to do. That’s verse 3. Verse 5 says the Holy Ghost will show you what to do. So we call upon speakers for devotional who will teach you out of the scriptures and out of the words of the Brethren, and therefore you may be assured they are the words of Christ. They will tell you what to do. The Holy Ghost will show you what to do with the words of Christ that are spoken.

Elder Scott said this: When we write down the impressions of the Spirit, we show the Holy Ghost we can be trusted with spiritual things. So, devotional speakers will do their best to speak the words of Christ—the principles, the doctrine. When you come prepared with listening ears, the Spirit will show you how to apply the words of Christ.

Here is number four: you are invited to take action. You come, you come prepared to write, you come prepared with listening ears to hear, and you come with real intent to act. Now I want to take this idea of the intent to act to make the fourth point.  Leaving devotional can be like leaving Sacrament Meeting.  Sometimes we leave on Sunday and say, “Well, that was nice. Now I’m going home to sit in the basement and play games.”  We have to apply what we hear and feel by doing something today.

So let’s tie this to the idea of receiving. Adrian Juchau talked about receiving—remember the theme at Christmas, “He is the Gift?” Adrian has invited us, as a whole campus community, to receive the Gift. Have you ever pondered that concept of receiving in the scriptures? I point you to Doctrine and Covenants 88:32. Section 88 is the great section in the Doctrine and Covenants on teaching and learning, and in the verses that just precede verse 32 the Savior is speaking about those who will inherit different kingdoms, and who will come forth in the morning of the first Resurrection and the timing that follows. And then in verse 32 He says something interesting.

Listen to this: “And they who remain” after different periods of resurrection “shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.”

The scriptures say, what good is it for someone to give a gift, if it is not received? (See D&C 88:33.)  Can you get a gift from someone else? Yes. Can the Spirit help you understand the difference between getting a gift from someone else and receiving a gift?

Now I turn your attention to Moroni 10:3–5. You know that scripture. In fact, I need a missionary who knows it really well to just stand up. Has somebody got it? Come say it, and we’re going to stop him along the way. Listen to the concept of receiving.

Introduce yourself, by the way.

Anderson: I’m Anderson. I work on the ninth floor. I take care of devotionals and also work with accounting, with Adrian.

President Richards: Where are you from?

Anderson: Brazil.  Porto Allegre.

President Richards:I have a member in my ward who is from Brazil.  He is a counselor in the Bishopric. And he speaks with a pronounced accent. He often asks us to forgive him when he’s doing announcements because he may structure the sentence a little bit differently. He teases those who speak Spanish in our ward. How many people here, natively or from your mission, speak Spanish? Raise your hand. [Audience members raise their hands.] He said, “When you pray, you may speak in Spanish. But the Lord will answer you in Portuguese.”

Now listen carefully. Start with verse 3 and read it slowly.

Anderson: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, . . . ”

President Richards: Real intent to do something about what you have read, but the invitation was to receive it and then ask with real intent to take action.

Anderson: “ . . . having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

President Richards: Wonderful. Thank you. Do you get it? You can read it, but that’s different from receiving it and pondering it in your heart.  When you follow this pattern, the Holy Ghost will testify to you. Brothers and sisters, that’s the way to do a devotional. That is the way to receive the gift of the Atonement and to receive the Savior.

When I was in Primary, just after they invented the wheel, there was this wonderful picture of the Savior approaching a closed the door. Remember the door? There was something unique about the door. How many of you remember that picture. What is unique about the door? There is no handle on the outside. Why? What did they teach us in Primary? You have to open it from the inside. You have to receive the Savior and invite Him in. And when you do, He says, “I will sup with you” (see Revelation 3:20).

Now, let me talk about supping with the Savior for a minute. One of the things I worry about is that when you’re home from your mission and you’re away from school, you’ll have a great Saturday night doing righteous things, but stay up too late, and you won’t go to church. And you say, “For one week, it won’t hurt me.” And it won’t. And then the next weekend comes, and then you feel like you don’t really know anybody in the Relief Society or the Elder’s Quorum, and so you don’t come. Let me talk about supping with the Lord, and His sacrament.

The problem you and I have with the sacrament is we do it every week, and so it becomes a routine to us. And yet, there is no sacred ordinance outside the temple more important in our lives than the sacrament. Now what’s the promise of the sacrament? Third Nephi, chapters18 through 20 are the chapters where the Savior is here upon the American continent, this hemisphere somewhere. He is administering the sacrament. And three different times as Mormon is abridging, he says they took the sacrament, and they were filled. They were filled. That’s what it says in chapter 18 (see verse 5). And then in chapter 19, it says what they are filled with. They are filled with the Holy Ghost (see verse 13). And chapter 20 then says they are filled with the Spirit (see verse 9).

Brothers and sisters, when you go to sacrament meeting, and you sup upon the emblems of the Sacrament, are you filled? If you’re not, get some soap and repent. Because you are entitled to be filled, to be nourished, to be washed clean. Why? That you may be prepared for the mission that God has now commissioned you to do.

Okay. Have we accomplished anything? That’s not the talk I was going to give you, but I think it was the talk you needed to hear—with one more little idea. When I was growing up—there are some of us in here that grew up together--there was a rock and roll group called The Byrds.

In my early teenage years, I was not a good reader, so reading the Old Testament was not on the to-do list. I skipped the Isaiah chapters in 2nd Nephi the Book of Mormon until I was in the mission field because there was no chance for me. There was no way.

So I loved this song by The Byrds called, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Do you remember it? It starts out with this phrase: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” It was wonderful. I was in a rock and roll band in high school. I played the keyboard. Back then in rock and roll, there were just three chords. Everything could be done with three chords—a chord for C, a chord for F, and a chord for G. I can’t read music. But you could play any rock and roll number of the ‘60s with those three chords. In the mission field, I read the book of Ecclesiastes, that begins with “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) My first thought was, “How did The Byrds’ lyrics get into the Old Testament by the time I got to the mission field?”

I had a very wise senior companion who explained it to me. Brothers and sisters, there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven in your life.  One of the keys to successful living is to act in ways appropriate for the season that you are in. Life is wonderful when we are obedient to the principles of successful living associated with the season we are in. So we don’t let ten-year-olds drive cars because it’s not their season. We don’t let fifteen-year-olds go on missions because it’s not their season. There are other things they should be doing. We don’t let unmarried people do things that they can do when they are married because they are not in that season.

Now you are in a season—a very specific one. The more consistent you are doing those things consistent with this season of your life, the happier you will be. I promise you that. You will be magnified. Joseph Smith said he did some things that he wasn’t so happy about. Right? And then he acted in his season.

The Apostle Paul said, “I was a child,” and then at some point he put away “childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). It was little Tommy Monson who crawled under the benches in church, and set fire to a field playing with matches. He’s now in a different season.

You’re not in high school—it’s not that season. The majority of you are not married, so don’t act like it. You’ve been given a Word of Wisdom; live it—including the counsel about when you go to bed. I teach every winter semester, and every winter semester I get emails from students, or assignments turned in, at 2 o’clock in the morning.  The Holy Ghost goes to bed. In the mission field, when did the Holy Ghost go to bed? 10:30. Do you think he stays up for you now? No. He’s not going to do that, so don’t ask or expect him to.

Now let me end with this. What have we done? How to do the Atonement, how to do devotional and apply the Atonement. How to receive the Gift. How to act in the season you are in. Let me leave you with one statement in closing from President Monson. I love this one. He says, “You have a heritage; honor it. You will meet temptation; withstand it. You know the truth; live it. You possess a testimony; share it.” (“Be Thou an Example,” Apr. 2005 General Conference).

Brothers and sisters, my testimony I share with you is you have been blessed to be here. Father in Heaven has great things in store for you. He is willing to grant you blessings if you will but ask with real intent to do your part to receive that blessing. Jesus is the Christ. He lives. There was a cross. There was a Garden of Gethsemane. There was an empty tomb. There was an Atonement, which started the day He was born and ended when He was resurrected. His entire life was the Atonement, and He did it for you personally. I invite you to believe it, to receive that gift, to lay hold upon it and let it bless your life more fully. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Be All In

24 Mar. 2015

Transcript

Be All In

Brothers and sisters, I brought Sister Richards to the podium with me. Do you know what a helpmeet is? I’ve got one. I married one. I don’t know why I have her standing here; I pray the Spirit will tell me why she’s standing here. I think it may go something like this: There are, in our lives, opportunities to associate with people who know how to lift us, who know how to strengthen us. And when you find those people in your life, I suggest you hold onto them and if they’re the right person, make them your eternal companion. Earlier, our student speaker talked about turkeys flying. If there is any wind beneath my wings so I can fly, it’s because I have an eternal companion with whom I have made sacred covenants in the temple. As we sang in the fourth verse of our College anthem, when the Savior comes, we may be pure as He is pure, and see Him face to face. My only chance of being pure is living up to the covenants I have made with this good woman in the temple of the Almighty. I want you to know that I love her, and I commend you brethren go find one like this one. You will be blessed. I’m not going to let her have the podium or the microphone now because she’ll get even. And we’re not here for that. But I just wanted you to know about my feelings regarding Sister Richards.

Well, brothers and sisters, it’s a joy to be here with you today. That’s an obligatory statement that needs to be said by every speaker, right? You’ve heard that. It’s a mental pause while the speaker tries to figure out how to start what they want to say. But I really mean it. I really mean it. And I mean it so much that I want to invite you today to try an experiment for one day, and then I invite you to repeat it for 98 more days. And then we’ll be at the end of the semester. So here’s the experiment: for one day in your life, I invite you to surrender to all things that are of the Spirit, with a promise that if you do so and repeat it, you will be able to stand by and watch the hand of the Lord bless your life this semester more than He is doing now.

 So what am I asking you to do? For one day, will you be all in? Just be all in.

Now you’ll need some strength to do that. Such strength, brothers and sisters, will come by your study and the application of the Atonement this semester. Next week, we will present  a devotional where members of the Institute faculty speak to us about the application of the Atonement in our daily lives. My invitation to you today is to prepare for this semester by surrendering for one day to all things spiritual.

How many of you in this room today are returned missionaries? Raise your hand. See, you know about invitations; you know about challenges. You know about living worthy of the covenants that you have made. So there it is: I invite you to surrender.

Now why this experience? Why this invitation? Quite simply, brothers and sisters, I have a firm testimony that we have unclaimed blessings Heavenly Father is willing to grant to us. He really is willing, but the blessings are conditional upon two things: number one, we need to ask for them. And number two, we need to live for those blessings. So the connection: if you surrender to all things spiritual for one day—one day where you are really all in (then you repeat it the next day and the next day)—and then you ask for the blessings you need, Father in Heaven will give them to you, in His time and in His way. So there is the opportunity.

I will also say the reason I am giving this invitation is  it is truly the only path to safety as we go through our mortal existence.

So let me give you some encouragement about how to do it. Number one is you need to be committed. Our student speaker told you a story about turkeys. I want to tell you a story about pigs and chickens. A pig and a chicken were very good friends. They lived in about the same area on the farm. Outside the farm was a highway, and a brand new billboard went up along the highway, just on the other side of the fence. The billboard was done by the dairy association, and it featured a large glass of milk. But to empower the milk on the billboard, they showed a plate with two fried eggs on it and three strips of bacon. See, you who are laughing know where this is going, don’t you? How many have heard this? Well, okay.

So the chicken says to his friend, the pig, “Don’t we look marvelous up there on that plate together?” And the pig is conspicuously silent; he does not answer. So the chicken does it again just to get a response. He says, “Don’t we look terrific? I wonder how many people in the world wake up to us every morning and start their day with us. We energize them, and get them ready for the wonderful things that get accomplished in the world. You and I, we do it.”

Again, the pig is conspicuously silent. And finally his friend the chicken says to him, “What’s wrong?”

And the pig says, “Well, for you it’s only a contribution. For me, it’s total commitment.”

Now, brothers and sisters, I’m asking you to be a pig and be all in. How many of you remember the movie Star Wars and Yoda? Do you remember Yoda’s famous statement when Luke Skywalker’s spaceship is in the swamp, and Luke has moved rocks but he can’t get the spaceship out of the swamp? Do you remember what Yoda says to him? He says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” My invitation to you about being all in and surrendering to things of the Spirit, for one day is there is only do or do not; there is no try. Don’t try it.

Trying, brothers and sisters, is very difficult. The first time we took our little daughter to the beach—she was covered up because she’s got red hair and fair skin—she tried to wade in. There’s only one way to get in the ocean, and it’s not wading in slowly. She took a few little steps. It was cold! She put her hand in to test the temperature. It was cold!  It took her nearly all afternoon to get in and enjoy the swim. There’s only one way to try this experiment, brothers and sisters. Just do it. Just jump in. Walk out the door today and say for the rest of this day, “I will surrender to all things of the Spirit, and I will be all in.”

Now, there is this concept of herds. Do you know why herds stay in herds and crowd themselves together? Because there is great protection in the herd. Those that are on the outside of the herd are at risk. This is closely associated with the principle of being all in and jumping into the water and not wading. Just get it over with! Get in! Brothers and sisters, those that graze at the edge of the herd are in danger of being picked off by the enemy to the herd. Do you understand me? Don’t graze at the edge of the herd.

A good friend told me a story one day in Sunday School. He said, “My little boy came in our bedroom in the middle of the night, and he was crying.”

My friend said, “Joey, what’s wrong?”

Joey said, “I fell out of bed.”

His dad said, “Well, how did you do that?”

Joey said, “Well, I must not have been in far enough.”

Brothers and sisters, be in far enough that you do not fall out.

I had another good friend. I’ll call him Bob. A good man, has a great family. He tried something once. It was not good for him. It was not good for his family.  And my friend, who happens to be an avid basketball fan, said, “You never want to go one-on-one with Satan. Don’t play a game one-on-one with Satan because he will win. And he will win because he’s been playing the game far longer than you have, and he knows how to play it. He knows how to exploit your weaknesses.”

That’s one of my first ideas here—that you must be committed in order to make this invitation, this experiment, work. Now, do you know what might be the most dangerous word in the English language? The word almost. Let me tell you what Elder Faust had to say about almost:

 There are those who are bystanders. They come to a certain persuasion in their hearts and in their minds, but for social, family, economic, or political and fears [they] cannot hold to the ring of truth. Festus accused Paul of having so much learning that “much learning doth make thee mad.” (Acts 26:24.)  Paul’s response was [this, for the king, Agrippa, in front of whom Paul was testifying]:

“For the king [Agrippa] knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner [speaking of Christ].

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

“Then Agrippa said unto Paul” some of the saddest words in all recorded . . . history. “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:26–28.) (James E. Faust, “Stand Up and Be Counted,” Ensign, Feb. 1982.)

“Almost,” Elder Faust said. “What a heartbreaking sound is the word “almost”! Almost some of our good members keep the Word of Wisdom, or just about go to priesthood meeting and sacrament meeting, or almost hold family home evening. Some of us almost but not quite—pay our tithing” (“Stand Up and Be Counted”).

Brothers and sisters, it was King Noah in the Book of Mormon who almost let Abinadi go (see Mosiah 17:11–12). But because of the pressure of those who surrounded King Noah, he gave in to their pressure and made a serious mistake that affected the rest of his life.  Number one—you’ve got to be committed.

Here’s the second one: Draw strength from the covenants, not your culture Let me repeat it: Draw strength from your covenants, not your culture. As we diligently focus on the real purpose of what we do in the Church, and not the practice of doing it, we will live for our covenants and not for our traditions or cultures. Here in the center stake of Zion, we sometimes have cultures that cause us to do things that those of you who are from outside the state will come here and say, “Really? Do members of the Church here really do that?”

Now, brothers and sisters, that applies to what you wear. Brethren that includes what you “wear” on your face. I’m asking you to live the covenant you have made to a priesthood authority to live the Honor Code, including the dress and grooming standard. It was a covenant. And the Lord does not take kindly to those who take His covenants lightly. So again, draw strength from your covenants, not from the culture you happen to live in.

Well, you’re going to need some encouragement from the Brethren. Listen to President Eyring: “Duties are sometimes  . . . difficult because their purpose is to move us along the path to live forever with Heavenly Father” (Henry B. Eyring, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope,” Ensign, May 2014).

Now listen to Nephi in 2 Nephi 31:20. “Wherefore, . . . press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end,”—I’m not asking you to endure to the end; just one day and repeat it for 98. If you do it, the rest of those days of your life will take care of themselves—“and endure to the end, . . . thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

Now, Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Do you know what a hovel is? It’s not much of a home, but a home nonetheless. “This surrender”—the surrender that I’ve talked about today—“this surrender is giving up our hovel, which we have cobbled together in the earthly slums, in exchange for a celestial mansion on the hill” ( A Wonderful Flood of Light, Deseret Book Company:1990,  p. 96).

Now, C.S. Lewis. I believe he knows our doctrine but he just didn’t get the saving ordinances while alive.   Listen to C.S. Lewis’ echo to Elder Maxwell’s statement:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. [And] at first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. [Oh,] He’s getting the drains right and [he’s] stopping the drains in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about [and he does it] in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one that you thought of—[He’s] throwing out a new wing here, [and] putting on an extra floor there, [and] running up towers, [and He’s] making courtyards. [And] you thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself (Mere Christianity, Macmillan Pub: 1960, p.174).

So have you got it? You have the invitation. You’ve have two keys for living the invitation: one, be committed, and two, make your covenants stronger than your culture.

All right, so here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to bring up the house lights, and we’ve got some microphones. I’m going to ask you to think for a moment of how being all in—surrendering for one day—would affect the following (and you can choose one of these). How would it affect the following, what you do or how you do it?

·         The way you partake of the sacrament?

·         How you read the scriptures?

·         How you pray?

·         How you attend church meetings?

Now, let the Spirit talk to you for a minute, so we’re going to be quiet, and you write something. And then we’re going to ask some of you to share, so that we may all be edified by all (see D&C 88:122). Okay? It will be a long one minute, but it will be one minute.

Now who wants to be brave and stand up, and tell us something you either wrote down for yourself, or what you think might be an application of the principle of being all in? There you go, give the microphone to Stella. Thank you, Stella, for starting this.

Stella: Well, I think that if I put everything into it, sometimes when I pray at night I wait until it’s time to go to bed, and I’m really tired. So I think that by putting all in that I might pray a little earlier before I’m so tired. And I think when I take the sacrament that I might think more of Jesus’ sacrifice. Sometimes, during the sacrament, my mind kind of wanders. So I think that if I put all in, I might think more about what He did for us.

President J. Lawrence Richards: Wonderful. Let’s take that one. Do we love each other? If so, let’s be honest. How many of you have ever fallen asleep saying a prayer at night? [Audience members raise their hands.] How many of you have been in the middle of a prayer late at night and your mind wandered onto something totally different? [Audience members raise their hands.] Thank you very much for your honesty. So Stella has taught us an important point. Where in the Doctrine and Covenants does it say that you are supposed to pray right before you go to bed? Where is that written? It could be in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, but I don’t think it is.

Brothers and sisters, pray when you’re not tired. I have a prayer stool in my house. I can’t pray at my bed because my bed’s too high and my forehead hits the side of the bed. So in our dressing room, there’s a little stool that is also my prayer stool. I know that if I lean and put my elbows flat on that prayer stool while I’m kneeling, I’m a goner. So I have to straighten my back, and it helps me stay focused. And it helps me, too, if I whisper my prayer out loud. I whisper because I tell Heavenly Father how great Sister Richards is, but I don’t want her to hear that every night or she may think she’s saddled up to a very inferior product. Wonderful. Stella, thank you.

Who else? Somebody else.

Response (male):  I prayed about what you said, President Richards, and Heavenly Father reminded me of being in the celestial room, and three things came to mind: clarity of thought, purpose, and direction—and applying those to our walk and our observance of covenants. It makes all the difference, those three things.

President J. Lawrence Richards: Wonderful. Say them again—what are they? Clarity of thought, purpose, direction. Question, brothers and sisters—do you have to go to the temple to get that? No. Here’s a great substitute if you can’t go to the temple at 5 o’clock in the morning every day—get up and read the scriptures. Will the scriptures give you clarity of thought? Yes. Will the scriptures enhance your ability to study secular things? All who in this room have experienced that, will you manifest by the uplifted hand? [Audience members raise their hands.] Thank you very much.  It’s a true principle. If you study the scriptures before you study temporal things, your study of temporal things will be enhanced. I invite you to be “all in” in the study of the scriptures and put the Lord to the test.

Now in 2 Nephi 32:3, we learn angels speak the words of Christ, and that the words of Christ will tell you what to do. Angels speak the words of Christ, and the words of Christ tell you what to do. Hugh Nibley said you don’t need an angel to come and visit you, so don’t pray for one. Because if he comes, he’s only going to quote you scripture, and the Lord’s already given it to you (Approaching Zion, 87).

Now if you go to that same chapter in the 5th verse, it says the Holy Ghost will show you what to do. So the scriptures speak the words of Christ and give us—what are the three?—clarity, purpose, and direction. The Holy Ghost will apply it. If you are all in, it will happen with a greater degree of effectiveness. Somebody else please

Response (male):  I think that going all in will help me in partaking of the sacrament to, and throughout the rest of the week, to remember the Savior Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and to develop a personal relationship with Him and with Heavenly Father, and I think that also doing that, that every day I will be able to have at least one spiritual experience and be able to feel of the love of Jesus Christ in my life.

President J. Lawrence Richards: Thank you. Brothers and sisters, the most sacred covenant we make outside the temple—you make every week. It is the sacrament. And sometimes the challenge with taking the sacrament is that we do it every week, If we are not careful, it become routine, and we forget its deep, sacred, and personal meaning.. But the promise of taking the sacrament, as I told all those at new student orientation last week, is clear. In 3 Nephi chapters 18, 19, and 20, the Lord gives the sacrament twice. And when they took it the first time,  they were filled (see 3 Nephi 18:4). In chapter 19, it says they were filled with what? The Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 19:13). In chapter 20, when they did it again, it says they were filled with the Spirit (see 3 Nephi 20:9). When was the last time you walked out of sacrament meeting filled? Filled with everlasting life and the water thereof?

I invite you to go home today and read in John chapter 4 about the woman at the well, and about living water, and about sacrament as a source of living water. Brothers and sisters, the invitation today for you is simply to draw closer to your Father in Heaven by being all in. He wants you to be . . . He yearns for you to be. Jesus stands at the door waiting for you to open it. He lives. He is our elder Brother. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. He and His Father have your best interest in life. The road—the strait and narrow path—has enough challenges and enough vicissitudes. You do not need to take a detour off of it. You will have enough challenges and to spare. Why? Because those experiences in our life that challenge us, that knock us about, that force us to step up, that make us stretch, all have the same impact as they did on the Prophet Joseph, when he talked about the vicissitudes of life that he came in contact with. He said he was like this huge rock rolling down the mountain, and every time he bumped up against religious persecution or other challenges in his life, other setbacks, it chipped off the rough edges until, as he said, “I [became] a smooth . . . shaft in the quiver of the Almighty” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 304).

My prayer for you, brothers and sisters, this semester is to be all in. Certainly you will have challenges and tough times, but those times are part of the process of becoming a smooth shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, so that you, as is said in D&C 88:80, will go forth again to accomplish the mission that the Lord has sent you here on earth to do. We at the College are here to help you do that. We pray for you. We love you.

I pray the Lord’s choicest blessings to be upon what you are ready and willing to receive from Him, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


A-T-O-N-E-M-E-N-T

24 Mar. 2015

Transcript

A-T-O- N-E-M-E-N-T

Brothers and sisters, my letter is “A” to represent the word all, as in all of mankind, who is the recipient of the blessings of the Atonement. So in my few minutes I have three points. The first point is that we know beyond any doubt, on scriptural authority, that people in the Book of Mormon, like Enos, were forgiven of their sins. Enos with the phrase, “Wherefore, my guilt was swept away.”(Enos 1:6)  Benjamin’s subjects in Mosiah 4 asked to “apply the atoning blood of Christ” (Mosiah 4:2), and they received a remission of their sins, and they experienced peace of conscience (see Mosiah 4:3).

Those are spectacular examples of the power of the Atonement, but if you look at the date on the bottom of your page, it’s more spectacular when you realize that Enos was a half a millennia before Christ, and Benjamin’s subjects were about 90 years before Jesus was even born. So insight number one: the effects of the Atonement were efficacious before He even came to earth. Perhaps a great insight in how we can define the Atonement as infinite.

The second insight comes in what’s now Alma 39–42, Alma talking to his son Corianton. In the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, this is a single chapter. And if you read it as a single block of text, it’s a little more easy to decipher this evolving relationship between father and son, prophet and sinner, as the dynamic begins to morph and evolve, where all of a sudden you see at least three times words like, “Son, I perceive that thy mind is worried” (see Alma 40:1; 41:1, 42:1) And as that happened, the third time Alma says, “I perceive that thy mind is worried, and that you think it’s an injustice for God to punish the sinner” (see Alma 42:1).  It’s like Corianton is saying, “Dad, my buddies aren’t that bad, and God is going to banish them to eternal torment for just being boys?” It’s something that’s really bothering him.

So this perspicacious father/prophet starts to lay out the plan of salvation and teaches so clearly about the Fall and how difficult it is to appease the demands of justice. God Himself, were He to appease the demands of justice in an inappropriate way, would cease to be God, says the textSo having laid that out, Alma then says this: “Son, therefore, God himself will come down and atone for the sins of the world” (see Alma 42:15). Do you see what he is saying? “Son, the only person who shouldn’t suffer, this perfect, sinless individual, is the one who will suffer—for you and for me. And you’re saying He’s not fair? Son, you need to rethink this really quickly.” And so he lays that out. So there’s some remarkable irony with Corianton, with his father Alma. A few chapters later there is a really heart-fulfilling phrase where it says Corianton, along with several others, were labeled as men of God.  So apparently, his father’s efforts paid off.

Finally, there is a psalm from which I’m going to apply a verse to the Savior as I conclude. The reason I do this is because the chapter heading says it is a messianic psalm—in other words, a psalm about the Messiah, Jesus. And two different verses, phrases right out of the New Testament, were quoted in the New Testament, so I know that they applied to the Savior Jesus. And so the psalmist says things like this, if you look at the Atonement. He says:

“They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head” (Psalm 69:4). And boy, if anyone was ever hated without a cause, it would have been Jesus. And so, brothers and sisters, as we look at one sad comment, from our perspective at least: this one perfect, sinless person, the one person who shouldn’t suffer, is the one who did suffer. It says, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none” (Psalm 69:20).

Jesus has trodden the wine press alone. It had to be. And I know that’s true. I know the truths that I’ve reviewed very quickly are true because they come from the scriptures. And I testify that they are true in the sacred name of God’s Holy Child, Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Doug Meredith:

I have the letter “T,” and I have two words. The first one that I would like to talk about for a few minutes is the word time. I think that the Savior is a great example of someone taking time to care for those who are less fortunate, who are in great need. I’m grateful that the Savior took the time to volunteer to come and to accomplish the great Atonement. I’m grateful that the Savior took the time, as shown in the New Testament, when He blessed the lives of thousands of people by healing them, both spiritually and physically. I’m grateful that the Savior takes the time to know each of us, that each one of us is important in the Lord’s plan, that we have a mission to fulfill, and that He is there to help us. I’m grateful that He offered each of us the time, as stated in the Book of Mormon, that we have time to repent: “Now is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (see Alma 34:32). And because of the Savior’s great sacrifice, we now have a time where we can change our lives and become better people, that we can improve each day and that we can overcome our personal weaknesses.

The other word that I’d like to talk about for just a second is the word treasure. In the New Testament, the Lord says that where your treasure is, is where your heart is (see Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34).  I hope that each one of us has the treasure of the Atonement in our heart, that each one of us might take the time to repent and improve, and make that sacred treasure effective in our life every day. I testify of the Savior’s reality, that He is our Elder Brother, that He lives. And I am so grateful for Him and His time, and I hope that each one of us will make Him our treasure. And I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

David Brown:

My letter is “O”, so the word I would like to introduce is no. I’m dyslexic. The other word I would like to introduce is also know. This may be a good Tweet. I’ll quote it at the beginning; I will end with it. “No Christ, no joy. Know Christ, know joy.” Elder Richard G. Scott once made this comment: “Now, the most important principle I can share [with you is this]: Anchor your life in Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. . . . [Make this] the most important priority in your life—more important than life itself, more important than a beloved companion or children or anyone on earth” (“The Power of Correct Principles,” Apr. 1993 General Conference). That’s pretty powerful.

President Howard W. Hunter said it this way: “Please remember this one thing. If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel”—his atoning sacrifice—”nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can be permanently right” (“Fear Not, Little Flock,” BYU Devotional, March 14, 1989).

President Hunter also said this, and then I will close the same way I began: “We must know Christ better than we know him; we must remember him more often than we remember Him” (“What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?” Apr. 1994 General Conference). That’s Howard W. Hunter. And then, our introduction: “No Christ, no joy. Know Christ, know joy.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Jeff Rowland:

Good morning, brothers and sisters. It’s a privilege for me to be here. I’m the newest member of the faculty—this is my third semester at LDS Business College, and I absolutely love it. I love these dear brothers and sisters that I get an opportunity to rub shoulders with, and work with, and learn from. If you can’t tell, I’m the youngest on the faculty. Despite Brother Meredith’s birthday, he’s still got me by a few years. It’s such a privilege to work with them, and I love them.  And I want you to know that I love you. Before I even get to my letter, I just want to share that. And I want to bear witness that the reason I can love them and love you is because of the Atonement. Because as I invite Jesus into my heart, love is an automatic by-product that just naturally comes out as we associate with others, even if we come to know their faults and weaknesses. And I would submit to you that that’s one of the great blessings of the Atonement—that we can love others deeper because we know their faults and weaknesses.

My letter is “N”, and as I’ve thought about this, there are lots of routes that one could go, but two students in particular have jumped to my mind that have reminded me of what “N” could mean with regard to the Atonement. I’m not sure if they are here. Is Lexie Walker here? Does anybody see her? Is Sophia here? Okay, I’m going to share about these two students.

First of all, Lexie said this: “I absolutely love the Book of Mormon. It has changed my life drastically. I have not missed a day of reading since I was in ninth grade, and I firmly believe it was a huge part of my high school experience. There can be a lot of trouble that happens in high school, and I know that from reading every day, it helped me stay closer to my Heavenly Father and make righteous choices that have made my life happy. I’m not a scholar in the Book of Mormon, but I always realize the spirit that it makes me feel, and I’m so grateful for it in the latter days.”

I asked Lexie how old she is now, and she’s twenty, so for about six straight years she’s never missed a day of scripture study. That’s remarkable to me. She even admitted in class that she reads it even on days that she’s sick, and perhaps that’s a great reminder that those are the days, perhaps, when we need to read the most, to draw comfort and peace from.  Thank you, Lexie, for your example to each of us to not forget, to never—there’s my letter—to never miss a day of scripture study. Why? Because the scriptures bear witness of Christ and His Atonement.

Jesus is mentioned on average every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon. As we daily sup from the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, we come closer to our Heavenly Father and His beloved Son, and we access the Atonement and the power of the Atonement in our lives.

Just briefly, also, I share this from Sophia—and I’m not sure that I’m pronouncing her last name correctly—it’s Irmalinco. Sophia is in one of my classes. Sophia joined the Church nine months ago. She is from St. Petersburg, Russia, and she has a light about her, as all of you do, because she loves the gospel of Jesus Christ. She said this:

“I found out about the Book of Mormon one year ago. My family doesn’t belong to any religion, so it was hard for me at the beginning to understand what it was about since I’d never read anything like it. To be honest with you, I didn’t want to read because I wasn’t sure if I even believed in God.

“I remember the day when elders came to my house. They wanted to meet with my roommate, but she wasn’t home. I felt really bad that they came all that way to our house just for nothing.” Many of you wish you had Sophias to answer the door in your mission experience. “So I agreed to listen to what they were going to teach. At the end of the lesson, we decided to read a chapter from the Book of Mormon. I would be lying if I said that I felt the Spirit right away. I just started reading it as a regular book. However, after reading it a little each day, I noticed that I felt good. Even if nothing special happened during the day, I still felt peace. Right now, the Book of Mormon has a huge impact on my life. I know for sure that when I feel really bad or something bothers me, I can always open the book, pray, and feel better.

“When I read, I have a better understanding of my purpose here on earth. I feel like it brings me closer to God. This book answered many of my questions—things I needed to change about me, how to deal with certain situations in my life, how to become a better person, and many others. Every page of the Book of Mormon is a testimony of Jesus Christ. It shows me God’s love for all of us. Every single item I read, I learn something new—for example, how to trust the Lord, and how to live in harmony with myself and others. I’m happy, and I know that the Savior is there and He loves me.”

I’m reminded of this reference from the book of 2 Nephi chapter 4 that I’ll close with: “And upon these”—Nephi speaking—“I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and profit of my children” (verse 15). And for all of us, brothers and sisters.

I simply leave you with this question: do you delight in the scriptures? If so, I submit that we can access the Atonement more as we never miss our scripture study, and we will partake of the feeling and the power that comes as we daily sup from its pages, particularly that of the Book of Mormon. I add my witness to those that have been shared already. Jesus is the Christ. He is the Son of the Living God, and this is His Church. He performed an amazing, incredible, unexplainable Atonement for you and me, and we are partakers of it. Might each of us share that message with the world, is my hope and prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Lisa Smith:

I have the letter “E”. I want to talk about being encircled with the love of the Savior. If you will note, love also has an “E” at the end. I want to talk about the love of Jesus Christ.

The gospel is a gospel of inclusion, not exclusion. When the Savior was on earth, He spent His time teaching the people, and He specifically spent time with people who were the outcasts of society or who didn’t feel like they belonged in the Jewish society.

There are people in this room that don’t feel like Jesus Christ loves them, but I want to testify that the Savior knows the intimate details of your life, and that He cares. And you can tap into that through the Atonement, through prayer—by praying to Heavenly Father and asking to feel the love of Jesus Christ. He knows what is going on with us. He knows what our struggles are. He knows what our strengths are. He knows who our friends are. He knows the tiny little things that we have to do every day, and He cares. And He will bless you. I testify that He will bless you in specific ways that only you know, that He knows.

We’re working towards this tree of life, and the fruit on the tree represents the love of God and the love of God is Jesus Christ (see “Lesson 3: The Vision of the Tree of Life,” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 11–15). The Savior has sacrificed for us, and He loves us. He knows us in a way, in a deeper way, that only Heavenly Father knows. I want you to understand that the Savior knows and understands the intimate details of your life, and I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

David Meidell:

Letter M. I could start by asking who of us is perfect, who has never sinned, who has no need of the Atonement, but the Apostle Paul has already given us the answer to that question: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans, 3:23). So we have all sinned, and we are faced with choices. We ask ourselves, what do I do now? I’m a sinner.

As I pondered that question, I tried to look at it from God’s perspective. We all have sinned and so God is faced with choices, and He asks the question, “What do I do now?”

What choices does the Lord have when we sin? What will He do next? One of God’s choices is found in D&C 1:3: “The rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.” I don’t think any of us want our iniquities and secret acts posted on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, never to be deleted.

The Lord’s second choice when we sin is found in Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 or Isaiah 43:25 or Jeremiah 31:34 or Ezekiel 18:21–22 or Hebrews 8:12 or Hebrews 10:16–17, all of which teach this principle: “I will put my law into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16–17).

As we embrace the Savior’s atoning offer, we also influence the memory of a loving Heavenly Father, and we determine which of those choices He will make—our sins shouted from the housetops, or remembered no more.

President Kimball shared an experience that went something like this:

I had just finished performing the holy ordinances in the temple wherein a delightful young couple had been sealed for eternity. The large group of relatives and close friends were congratulating the bride and groom. Having other pressing appointments, I slipped out of the room and started down the hall, and I was startled when someone grasped my left arm. As I turned about, I saw a woman of about 45, who had a pleading look in her eyes. She asked rather abruptly, “Do you remember me?” She was intently looking to see if I would recognize her.

Numerous times this question has been asked me, and though I try to remember those whom I have met, sometimes I fail. Though there was the feeling that I had seen her before, I had to admit with some embarrassment, “I am sorry.”

To my surprise, she whispered with deep feeling, “I am glad you do not remember me. If you can forget me and my transgressions, I have the hope that my Father in Heaven may forget, as he said, ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more’ Thank you, thank you. I’ve hoped and yearned and prayed for the assurance that the Lord had totally forgiven me and forgotten my transgressions, and now that you remember neither me nor my sins, my hope has soared” (see “Do You Remember Me?” Liahona,Jun. 1978).

 

I testify that when I repent, when I commit, when I covenant, the Lord’s memory of my sins fades away, and He truly and completely will remember my sins no more, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Susan Bothwell:

Unlike the rest of my staff, I am not an instructor. I am a support specialist. But it’s a privilege for me to be here, and I want you to know that I not only support them in what they need to do, but my door is always open. You can always come by my office, which is right as you come in the door, and see me and get a smile or a hug or a question answered or a direction. Because I love you. I love seeing your smiles at school; I love seeing you in the hallways. And I want to know how many of you want to live with your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in your families, in the eternities. How many of you want to do that? Me too. My letter is “E” for eternity.

Now, I look forward to seeing my mom and dad again, who I haven’t seen for a very long time. I want to meet my Grandpa Cram, who I have never seen on this earth; and I would like to meet my aunt, who I am named after and who I don’t know; and I want to meet many of my other ancestors who I’ve done temple work for through my family history research. How excited that makes me feel to know that I will be with my family again someday. What a glorious reunion that will be. As I have done many things with my family and many research projects, I have grown to love them even though I have not met many of them.

Now, what is it that is going to get you and me to the celestial kingdom from here? D&C 14:7 tells us, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” So we need to always live the commandments, follow Jesus Christ’s example, keep our covenants, listen to and follow our modern day prophets, and endure to the end. And then, and only then, can we enter into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom. Whew. That’s a long list—a lot of things to do.

Now, do you make mistakes? I know I do. Do you get lazy sometimes and say, “Oh, I just don’t want to do my visiting teaching or my home teaching,” or “I think I’m going to sluff today.” We all make mistakes, and we all need to repent. So how are we going to get back home? And the answer is, through Jesus Christ’s Atonement. Without the Atonement, there would be no eternity for any of us. We can and we will make it back to our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and our families through the blessings of the Atonement. The Atonement provides the way for us to be forgiven of our sins and live forever with God.

I asked one of the students what he thought when he heard the two words atonement and eternity. He had a beautiful answer. Caden thinks of his eternal destiny in a celestial family and how that blessing is only possible because of the Atonement. How thankful I am for the sacrament we are able to partake of each week, to repent and to renew our baptismal covenants with Jesus Christ. This is a huge blessing in our lives—yours and mine. I testify to you that I know that through the Atonement, I can live again with my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, my family, and my friends in the eternities. I look forward to being with you. You are my friends. I love you, and I’m excited that I will be able to see you again in the eternities.

The Atonement that Jesus Christ gave us is the most important gift of all. I know without a doubt. I want you to know that I love my Heavenly Father, and I know He lives, and I want to live with Him someday. But I also know He wants me to be there too. I say these things in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Craig Allen:

I not only have “N”, but I’ve got the second “N” in the word Atonement. And I’ve got nothing. And brothers and sisters, without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that’s what we would have, and that’s what we would have through the eternities. After all we could do, we would still be nothing, forever. And that’s not the situation because we do have the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 15: “If Christ be not risen”—he’s saying if He is not, if He did not go through the atoning sacrifice and die and raise from the dead—“then is our preaching vain” (verse 14). He goes on: “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (verses 17–19).

But then he goes on to bear his testimony and witness that Jesus Christ did atone for us, and that He lives. And because of that, God has promised us all things. There are scriptures that tell us that God is willing to give us all. It’s because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Elder Maxwell, when quoting such a verse, said there is no more. God is willing to give us all (see “Free to Choose,” BYU Devotional, Mar. 16, 2004). We will receive all things from God. We will become like Him because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Keith Burkhart:

My friends, I have the letter “T,” And I will talk a little bit about testimony. I will ask a series of questions, and I hope these questions will help you measure the depth of your embrace of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the depth of immersion within your own lives. You won’t likely be able to grasp all of these questions; find the ones that the Holy Ghost pulls toward you. I’ll pause after each question to allow you to think for just a minute and perhaps write down a word of inspiration or invitation.

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, trials and tribulations can squeeze the artificiality out of you, leaving the essence of what you really are and clarifying what you really yearn for?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you will find that it is better to trust and sometimes be disappointed than to be forever mistrusting and be right occasionally?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you have realized that unproductive worry tends to expand to fill the time available?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, just as no temptations will come to you from which you cannot escape or which you cannot bear, you will not be given more trials than you can sustain?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, the only way that the strait and narrow path can be followed is on your knees?

·         Can you testify that when your mind and heart truly catch hold of the significance of the Atonement, the world’s hold on you loosens?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you have tired of putting people down and have replaced it with the invigorating feeling of lifting people up?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, your little pebble of seemingly poor performance can help to start or to sustain an avalanche of goodness?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you have found that patience helps you view the imperfections in yourself and others more compassionately?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you have come to realize that in mortal tests and trials there are no exemptions, only variations?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you know that Heavenly Father does not indulge you, but He is incredibly merciful towards your weaknesses as He strives to teach you how to become like Him?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you have realized that God’s anger is kindled not because you have hurt Him when you sin, but because you have hurt yourself?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you are coming to understand that the harrowing of the soul is like the harrowing of the soil—in order to increase the yield, things have to be turned upside down?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you now know that if it’s fair, it isn’t a trial?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, all crosses are easier to carry when you keep moving forward, onward, and upward?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you now see that except you become as a little child, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you are content with what the Lord has allotted you?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, you know that the Lord chastens those whom He loves; therefore you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He indeed loves you?

·         Can you testify that through the Atonement, total surrender to Christ must be done on His terms, not yours, and that there is no negotiating?

·         Can you testify that it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that you will be able to say, under any and every condition you experience in mortality, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”? (See Luke 22.42.)

 

Brothers and sisters, I testify that because Heavenly Father loves us, He has provided us a Savior, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). And everything that He does and teaches, everything that He inspires His living prophets, and seers, and revelators to do, is to bring you and I at one with Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Introduction:  Keith Burkhart

Brothers and sisters, as the choir begins their descent back into their seats, I want to introduce what we’re going to do today. A number of years ago when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve began some discussion about the developing what became the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” I think it was Elder Scott who said that President Hinckley had asked the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to develop something on one page that pretty much was a proclamation to the world on families. And there was a lot of discussion about that, and most of the Brethren said something like, “How could you possibly put it on one page?” And President Hinckley retorted, “How did the Lord do it in Moses 1:39 in one sentence?” So as the Brethren began to look through a different lens, they were able to develop what we know today as the “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

Additionally, a number of years ago, as President Boyd K. Packer began visiting priesthood leaders around the world, asked on occasion for them to write what the Atonement meant to them on a page. Many of them found that assignment challenging because the Atonement is such a vast, deep, and rich doctrine; to put it on a page means you have to concentrate that doctrine in every way.  This assignment for these Institute personnel here on the stage, to actually talk about the Atonement in four minutes might be the hardest thing they’ve ever done in their career. Institute people don’t even get warmed up until about 20 minutes in, and then they’re about ready to get going. So you may see some nervousness in them because they’re a little out of their comfort zone. Let me assure you, however, of two things: Number one, you will see their individual personalities come out. We’re all different, and have unique personalities and teaching styles. But what we are all united and unified in is we have a powerful testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Each of these individuals has taken one letter of the word atonement and will teach and testify accordingly. So we’ll start with Brother Kenny Mays.


Christ Leads this Church

24 Mar. 2015

Transcript

Christ Leads this Church

I don’t believe there’s a day that goes by on Temple Square that the sisters don’t move me to tears in one way or another. It is a choice experience to serve on Temple Square. It is a holy place.

I’m humbled at the opportunity to come and speak to you today. It’s true that I’ve known President Richards for quite a few years now. I hold him in very high regard. I don’t think he has ever heard me speak before, so he’s taking a bit of a chance. I hope that what I say will bring value up to the standard of the great chain of speakers who have come to these devotionals. But if not, I’d like you to remember the story of a young Quaker brother who was called upon to come and speak to his congregation. He did so timidly, and he did so poorly. He grated; his voice was bad. He just did a terrible job. When he slinked back to his seat, another Quaker brother leaned up behind him and whispered in his ear, “Dear brother, thou shouldn’t feel so badly that thou spoke so poorly, that thou grated on our ears and made us all embarrassed. ‘Twas not thy fault; ‘tis he who asked thee should be shot.”

So it is great to be with you today. I know some of you students. Just before the meeting, Elder Brown came up and said hello to me. He served with us in South Africa, an honorable and wonderful mission. He came home and served his country in the United States Marine Corps honorably and well. Now he is on LDS Business College campus improving his lot in life, studying and improving himself.

Being here on this campus says something about you students that impresses me. You are taking charge of your lives. You are doing those things that will build a good future for yourselves.

There was a playwright—his name was Samuel Beckett. He was an Irishman. He wrote a play back in the 1950s which was voted the most significant English-language play of the century. The playwright was Samuel Beckett; the play was Waiting for Godot. The play opens on a scene with two hapless vagabonds, people whose lot in life is not very good. It is Vladimir and Estragon, and they’re in the rain and the cold. They have insufficient clothing, their shoes don’t fit, and they have no gloves. They’re hungry, and it’s just a terrible circumstance. The whole play is a masterpiece in that nothing happens. And for these two men, in unfortunate circumstances as they are, nothing changes in their lives.  They are waiting for Godot. They think a Mr. Godot is going to come along, and when he does, all things will be made well. But throughout the play nothing changes because they simply spend their time waiting for Godot, who in fact doesn’t exist—it’s just something in their minds that is going to come and make them better.

You, as students here pursuing these wonderful degrees and certifications available through this school, are not “waiting for Godot.” You are taking the bull by the horns and stepping forward and improving your lot. You’re improving your skills and your knowledge, your employability, and I suspect some of you are working on your marriageability as well. What a great place to do it.

You are also distinctive among the world’s youth because of the Honor Code that you have chosen, have volunteered to agree to. You must know that only a small percentage of youth in the world your age would even contemplate signing their name, agreeing to keep the honor code that you have signed. It’s really rather remarkable. It has to do with you continuing to be active in your church, maintaining academic honesty, a dress standard that is wholesome and moral, and obeying and keeping the Word of Wisdom. In so doing, I hope that your life doesn’t become terribly austere, as maybe defined in a short poem I’d like to read you. A young man says:

My parents taught me not to smoke; I don’t.

Or listen to a naughty joke; I don’t.

They make it plain I mustn’t wink; I don’t.

Or even think about intoxicating drink; I don’t.

To chase the women, wine, and song; I don’t.

To dance and flirt is very wrong; I don’t.

I kiss no girls, not even one.

Some folks think I have no fun.

I don’t.

Well, I hope that your life in this great Church school is actually full of fun and that you find great enjoyment.

 

You also have, supporting you a man who has vouched for you, who has signed his name in the form of an ecclesiastical endorsement, someone who believes in you—a bishop, stake president, or mission president, who steps forward and says, “I believe that this person is worthy to attend this school, and I believe he or she will adhere to this great Honor Code.” It’s nice to have someone in your life who believes in you that much. That should give you something to strive and live for.

As I think about this school, I am also so impressed—so impressed—with the faculty and the administration. I have never seen a school anywhere where the leadership demonstrates so much love and concern for the whole you—your spiritual well-being, your intellectual well-being, your emotional well-being, your temporal well-being—as this group of administration and faculty does. If you haven’t made friends with them personally, you are missing out. They are a remarkable group, and it just—once again, it fosters in me a love for the school and a complete love for you students who are here, doing what you are doing.

I think on the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount. I can imagine Him speaking to you when He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). You’ve all had recipes, or have you ever experimented by leaving out that pinch of salt? You know what a great difference it is in the outcome. You are the salt of the earth, and He admonishes you to never lose your savor.

He goes on to say that you are also the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). He says your light should be put on a candlestick (see Matthew 5:15), and “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). I find it interesting that He doesn’t say, “Let the world see your great works.” He said let the world “see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Every day you go about doing good things—picking up a book that someone has dropped, doing your home teaching or visiting teaching, visiting a friend, cheering someone who is sad. Your works do not need to be great in order to be good and bring glory to our Heavenly Father.

Well, as President Richards mentioned, I am a mission president now two times over—presently serving on Temple Square. And what an honor that is! I could tell you just a little bit about this mission. By the way, at Temple Square you are always welcome, and I hope when you come on Temple Square, you feel a spirit. What President Richards described, I feel it every day when I walk on those grounds, where every prophet and apostle since Brigham Young has walked. Think of the amount of revelation and inspiration for the Lord’s chosen people that have come to this area. What a remarkable place to be, just to come and meditate, to bring a friend, or to come and talk with the sister missionaries. It’s a choice experience, a great place.

So what about this mission? There are—as you might have guessed, Temple Square is kind of the Church’s window to the world. People come from all walks of life, as many countries as you can imagine, and they get a glimpse of this very unique Church. It’s the most international mission in the world. We have sisters who come, now, from 50 countries. And they’re teaching the gospel around the world in 50 different languages. There are 220 of sister missionaries on Temple Square. You might say to yourself, “Well, when I go on Temple Square, I don’t see 220 sisters.” And no you don’t. At any one time, somewhere between 30 and 60 of them are serving what we call “outbound.” They go to another mission somewhere in the United States where they have some further training and experience dealing with wards and stakes and experience working with local missionaries. And when they come back on Temple Square, they are even more effective than before.

It’s a high baptizing mission as well. They participate in so many baptisms, along with the local missionaries they work with, around the world. One young man here came up this morning—Brother Devorjak, who brought a recent convert or an investigator to Temple Square. The sisters participated in teaching, and that person is doing well in the gospel today.

Well, so where are the rest of these sisters? President Richards mentioned our teaching center. You will see many companionships on Temple Square greeting everyone, lifting their spirits, cheering their souls, sharing with them basic beliefs of the gospel. But on any one day we have 70 teaching stations in our call center. When you have friends in Peru or India or Brazil or the Czech Republic, and they go on mormon.org and they have a question about our Church, there’s a little button they can press, and that rings at our call center here on Temple Square. So at one of those 70 teaching stations, any time of the day, you can walk in and see the scene that President Richards saw, feet sticking out from the side of a cubicle—sisters praying with their investigator. Walk down a few more cubicles and you’ll hear a beautiful hymn being sung with their investigator somewhere far away. Or they teach via chat, via email, over the telephone, and occasionally even in sign language on Skype. So they’re very busy following Christ’s injunction to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). And this is a mission whose geography covers the globe, and they truly do teach all nations.

I want you to know that I love missionaries. I have brought my assistants—and I could bring any number, any companionship, and I would be so proud to have them bear a short testimony to you. I would like, just now, to invite Sister Brock from Salem, Oregon, to come and bear a short testimony, and then her companion, Sister Jihn, from Beijing, China, to do the same. Would you come and do that?

Sister Brock:Good morning.  I wanted to start off by sharing an experience I had on Temple Square. Earlier in my mission, I was with one of my companions from Honduras, and we were hustling around trying to hand out tickets to a Spanish concert that was going on at Temple Square. We found this family that we really wanted to give these tickets to, but one of the children stepped forward and immediately grabbed my hand and said, “I want to show you something.”

So he brought me up to the statue of Christ that we have in one of the visitors’ centers, and he said, “It’s not about the concert; it’s about Jesus Christ.” And that moment changed my . . . changed my life. So often we get caught up in things that are not important, but as we take that pause and remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, that’s when we remember what is most important. And that, for me, is what my mission has done for me. It has allowed me to take that pause from the rest of the things in the world and to take this time to focus on what’s the most important—my Savior, Jesus Christ.

And through my mission, I’ve been able to gain such a strong testimony of the power of the Atonement and be able to see it work in countless lives—be able to see people change and their hearts soften. And I have such a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that my Savior lives and that He truly loves each and every one of us. And as we take that time to pause and remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, it will bring us so much joy and happiness and peace in our lives. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Sister Jihn:I am very humbled in being able to share with so many of you. I was looking at you, and I just feel so much love toward each one of you. And I don’t feel that I am looking at you as students of a business school. I went to a business school for four years, and it was very stressful. You have a lot to worry about. And each one of you stands before me as a temple of God, and you are bought with a great price of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And that shows me how much our Heavenly Father loves you. And I just want to tell you that I love you, all of you, even though I don’t know you yet.

Nine years ago, I did not know God. I’m from China, and there is no freedom of religion. I came here as an exchange student, and a loving LDS family took me and taught me, and I was able to know God. And I testify to you that my mission has taught me that the most important piece of knowledge that I want is to know my Heavenly Father. I testify to you that He is a God of love and infinite power. And He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal you, can clean you, and can enable you to do all things, if you rely on Him.

And I testify to you that the Holy Ghost is something that we must spend every day to be worthy of. When I was very stressed as a business student, I know that when I started to forget about my worries and fears and started to do missionary work and help missionaries teach lessons, that’s when I was renewed. And I encourage you to study the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and to preach faith and repentance unto yourselves and unto others. I know that for all the challenges that you have, there are only two constant solutions—they are faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. There are no other solutions that will always work.

And I want you to know that your Heavenly Father loves you, and I would encourage you to spend your life focusing on your eternal purpose, which is written in Doctrine and Covenants 132:24: “This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.”

My invitation for you is to ponder your eternal purpose and ally everything that you do in LDS Business College and beyond with that eternal purpose—to know God. And I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

President Poulsen:How do we get missionaries from China? We have a number of them serving on Temple Square. How the Lord finds them and how they find the gospel in that difficult country is a miracle. It’s wonderful.

So I not only love missionaries, but I also love young people who are considering serving a mission or who are preparing to serve a mission. I wonder if there is anyone here today in that category. Anyone thinking about it? [Audience members raise their hands.] I see a number of hands. I certainly encourage you to seek your Heavenly Father’s will and know that that’s what He would love to have you do.

I also love returned missionaries, and I know that there are a lot of returned missionaries. If you are a returned missionary, would you mind standing where you are? [Audience members stand.] Isn’t that great. I want to give you an opportunity right now, those of you who proselyted during the era of Preach My Gospel. I’d like you to recite with me, in a voice loud enough that I can hear you, our purpose as missionaries. Do you remember? Okay, are we ready?

[Our purpose] is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, [2004]).

Thank you. I’m impressed. I don’t know how often you get to say that. As you know, that is an encapsulation of what is known as the doctrine of Christ, found or expounded upon in 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11, where it talks about the importance of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement. When we have that faith, then we’re inclined to repent of our sins. When we repent of our sins, we qualify to be baptized. We earn the right to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and to happily endure to the very end.

Well, I’d like to share with you a couple of thoughts about why we do this missionary work. Some churches don’t. Some religions don’t proselyte. Why do we?

There are two foundational pillars, I think. The first really sets forth God’s purpose. You can recite with me also Moses 1:39. Would you please, with me? “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Thank you. His great two-fold mission—to bring to pass immortality and his victory over physical death. He suffered on the cross, became the first fruits of them that slept, and was resurrected. And this resurrection is a free gift to all mankind, that they need not languish without their bodies, that they will live again, never to fear, never again to worry about the prospect of death. What a marvelous gift.

And the other part is to bring to pass eternal life. This however, becomes a conditional gift, as you know. If people do not come unto Christ, give up their sinful ways, stop doing what they are doing wrong, start doing right things, receive the appropriate ordinances—if they don’t do that, they won’t be able to avail themselves of this great gift, the conditional gift of eternal life.

So this is where we come in. The second pillar is we are commanded to take this message and this gospel to all the world. So as we teach people, we invite them to come to Christ so that He may work His miracle in their life, in both senses—both the immortality as well as eternal life. So you think about it: if they are not brought to Christ, how can He work His miracle, this gift of eternal life?  He can’t. At least, that’s the way it is designed.

So that’s why we go into all the world, to invite people to come to Him, that His mission might be fulfilled. It’s built on a foundation of love for each of us. He wants us to all have those two great gifts. Well, that’s our role, to bring people to Christ, and it’s a great role, a great work, to be involved in.

When was the last time you invited someone? When was the last time you helped them receive the restored gospel? I think that purpose speaks to the intent of all of our hearts. We’d all like to. We’d all like to do it more often than we do. I have a guilt complex about one of my former bosses—a brilliant man, and an avowed atheist. We had hours of conversation about the Church, about God. But you know, as I think back on those, I don’t recall a time when I testified. I don’t recall a time when I invited him to pray or to read the Book of Mormon. And I stand guilty before you in that regard. It’s something I hope to remedy, because that’s what we do—we invite; we testify.

I will share with you six points of doctrine that we’ve come to understand about missionary work and that would have helped me back in those days. The first is, you will never meet anyone in this world who doesn’t already know the gospel is true, who doesn’t already have an understanding of the fulness of the gospel. They knew it before they were born. They were taught it by God. They knew the true nature of God. They knew the true nature of their relationship with us. Brothers and sisters, we lived together. They knew it.

As evidence of that, I had many experiences when I was serving in Africa to meet with wards and stakes. Before conferences, we would invite the recent converts to come in, and we would have a meeting with them. I would always ask them this question: “How did it feel when you first went to Church and felt the Spirit?”

Do you know the most common response is a four-letter word? Maybe some of you can relate to it, if you are a recent convert. “It felt like I was home.  It felt like I belonged.” It’s because there was a little bit of an awakening.

The second point that I would mention has to do with memory. Now, you students, you know how important your memory is. You sit in tests and examinations. Have you ever forgotten anything? I see a few heads nodding yes. As you get to be my age, the forgetful nature happens a little more often. My favorite story about memory has to do with two senior couples who were having a pleasant social evening in one of their homes.

The wives are out in the kitchen chatting away. The men are in the living room having a great conversation. One says to the other, “You know, my wife and I went to the greatest restaurant the other night. The food and service were out of this world!”

The other one says, “Oh, what’s the name of that restaurant?”

“Oh, the name, the name. Wait, what’s the name of that flower, you know the red one that you give someone when you love them?”

“You mean ‘rose’?”

He said, “Rose, that’s it.” He leaned his head back and yelled into the kitchen to his wife, “Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to the other night?”

When we were born into this world, we had a veil of forgetfulness that was drawn across all of that spiritual knowledge that we had. Spiritual amnesia set upon us, and we have forgotten all that we knew.

The first point, we knew; second point, we forgot. The third point is that the day will come when we know again, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ (see Mosiah 27:31, Philippians 2:10–11). So everyone is somewhere on this continuum, from having forgotten everything to full knowledge once again. So in this life that you and I are living, we are all somewhere on that continuum. And so it is also with every person you encounter on the street, somewhere on that continuum.

The fourth point is that every person who walks this planet has been blessed with the Light of Christ. In the Doctrine and Covenants, it tells us, “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God the Father” (D&C 84:46–47). So that light of Christ is our moral compass, which points us to our polar star, the Savior.

The fifth point is we can’t tell by looking at someone whether they are ready to receive the gospel or not. A quick story, written to me by one of our African missionaries about a convert:

“President, as you know, we live in a rather dangerous part of Johannesburg. Every day when we walk out of our apartment, there is sitting near the alley, the dark alley, a rather menacing-looking individual. We’ve always studiously avoided him, avoided eye contact, because he always looks scary and menacing.

“One morning as I walked out, your words that we should speak to everyone came thundering into my mind. My heart began beating fast. I nudged my companion, and I turned and started walking towards that man. My companion grabbed me by the shirt and said, ‘Elder, where are you going? What are you doing?’

“President, I’ll never be able to explain the joy I felt when I saw that man climbing out of the baptismal font. We can never tell by looking at someone whether they are ready to receive the gospel or not.”

The sixth point, which naturally follows, is that we should speak to everyone, that no teaching encounter is wasted. There was a survey of recent converts that indicated most people, on average, require six or seven positive encounters with the Church before they are ready to receive the gospel. So we are all at different points on this path.

So, young people, as you think about your own missionary efforts and labors, let us not be found waiting for the perfect time to bring up the gospel to one of our friends or one of our acquaintances. Let us not be found “waiting for Godot.” There may not be a perfect situation arranged for us. Let us boldly move forward, share our faith joyously and happily with those whom we love and those whom we would love to see benefit from the gospel.

I testify this is the gospel of Jesus Christ and that He is the head of this Church today. We have marvelous tools, marvelous evidences to bear witness of this, and I share these thoughts with you today in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

I had the privilege of watching the sisters on Temple Square in action in the call center, and President Poulsen was kind enough to give us a tour. I don’t know if you know that in the bottom of the South Visitors’ Center and in the back of the North Visitors’ Center, a sizable call center is there. The sister missionaries are on the phone—they are teaching; they are prospecting and teaching on those phones. The day we went thereto the South Visitors’ Center, President Poulsen opened up the door. As we walked in, brothers and sisters, there was a spirit in that room that was palpable. To my astonishment, I saw three sets of sisters with their headsets on and a computer in front of them, and they were turned around kneeling against their chairs, praying with investigators on the phone. You just can’t imagine what that looked like and felt like.

Now, one very quick story that I’m familiar with: A good sister missionary prospected a fellow—I guess he had left a referral card at some point—and arranged through the local missionaries to get him a Book of Mormon. He lived back East. Then she lost contact with him and didn’t do any follow-up. And this good person, who happened to be a member of another faith, ended up reading the Book of Mormon, and he knew he needed to come to Utah to join the Church.

So he sells everything he has, and he gets on a bus, and he comes to Salt Lake. He has a cell phone, and he immediately goes to Temple Square. And as he is on Temple Square, he gets a phone call. Who do you think is calling him? This sister missionary on Temple Square, who months before had arranged for him to get a Book of Mormon. And she says, “I’m just following up. How are you?”

He says, “Well, I’m fine.

And she says, “Where are you?”

He says, “I’m on Temple Square.”

And she says, “So am I.” And how many weeks later did we baptize him? I think it was three weeks later. Three weeks later he joined the Church. Brothers and sisters, miracles happen on Temple Square, and these good sisters and President Poulsen are nodding their heads.

Let me quickly tell you about President Poulsen. He was born and raised in Springville, Utah. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language. He went on to get an MBA, and he began his career in international banking with an organization known today as Citi Group. He worked for 18 years for Citi Group in New York, the Philippine islands, Thailand, Hong Kong, Boston, and then back in Salt Lake City. He later joined American Express in Salt Lake, and he spent 18 years at American Express as well, where he led the company’s nationwide banking activities. And that’s where I first got to know this good man. He retired from American Express in 2008.

In the Church, he has served in many capacities, including as a young missionary in what is now Taiwan. He’s been a seminary and gospel doctrine teacher, high priest’s group leader, bishop, high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency, a stake patriarch, a regional representative of the Church, a mission president in South Africa Johannesburg Mission, and he presently serves as president of the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission.

He met his eternal sweetheart on the tennis courts at BYU and was fortunate to take her to the Salt Lake Temple to be sealed for time and eternity. She would be here today, but she’s suffering from the flu and is waiting for the birth of their 23rd grandchild. We’re so grateful to have President Poulsen here with us, and his missionaries.


Receive the Gift

24 Mar. 2015

Transcript

Receive the Gift

I’d like to thank the choir. I was a student here some years ago, and it’s incredible what Brother Allen has done with the choir.

In our new student orientation devotional, new students were invited to study and apply the Atonement in their daily lives. In the first devotional of the semester, the entire campus community was invited to study and apply the Atonement in their daily lives. We had our Institute faculty, every one of them, give a four-minute captioned address focused on the Atonement because we want to study and apply the Atonement in our lives.

Last week, about 40 students were asked the question, “How many of you know that the campus community has invited you to study and apply the Atonement in your lives?” There was some quiet, and then, very slowly, about six of them raised their hands. The purpose of today’s devotional is to make the announcement officially, to please join us in studying and applying the Atonement in our lives every day. That is our focus for the Winter 2015 semester.

Our running theme over the next few months is “Receive the Gift.” Many of you remember that during the Christmas season, the Church had a theme of “He is the Gift.” The purpose at this time is to “Receive the Gift.” You will see this statement all over campus during the upcoming months—“Receive the Gift.”

My primary responsibility at the College is to deepen discipleship. I have been asked to share a few insights today, and in conjunction with the devotional committee, to share a few thoughts. And then afterward, there are three students we have asked to prepare some insights to share with you. Each of these students have personal experiences and a testimony that, I believe, you will get far more in your notebooks than what is said, if you are interested. And the order in which we will hear from them is, first, Sister Boston Welch, then Mauricio Callama, and Emily Vogle.

While fasting and praying over this for the last week, I have asked our Heavenly Father that you would feel the Spirit today and walk away with at least one way that you can apply the Atonement. And so my invitation is this: before we are done today, please write down one thing you can do today to apply the Atonement in your life. I am certain that the answer to that will come, not in the wind, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire, but by the still, small voice.

A promise President George Q. Cannon gave years and years ago—he was speaking of going to a priesthood meeting in the same way that you and I have come to this meeting. He had said:

I should enter that assembly with my mind entirely free from all influence that would prevent the operation of the Spirit of God upon me. I should go in a prayerful spirit, asking God to write upon my heart His will; not with my own will already prepared, and determined to carry out my will . . . , regardless of everyone else’s views. If I were to go, and all the rest were to go, with this spirit, then the Spirit of God would be felt in our midst, and that which we would decide upon would be the mind and will of God, because God would reveal it to us. We would see light in the direction where we should go, and we would behold darkness in the direction we should not go (Deseret Semi-Weekly News,30 Sept. 1890, 2; quoted in Henry B. Eyring, “Write Upon My Heart,” Oct. 2000 General Conference).

So my goal for you today is that as you leave, you will have the desire for God to write upon your hearts His will and be determined then to go and do whatever He asks, which may be something hard. Please be courageous enough to do that.

Why are we doing this? President Uchtdorf has said that the what is informative, and the why is transformative (see “They Why of Priesthood Service,” Apr. 2012 General Conference). Bruce C. Hafen has said that “the Atonement is not just for sinners.” He said as we talk more of Christ, the gospel’s doctrinal fullness will come out of obscurity. He said that as we draw close to God He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser and stronger. For many of you, if you are seeing your weaknesses in your life, it just might mean you are moving nearer to God, not further away. (See “Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Liahona, Apr. 1997.)

Paul said, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) Nearly every prophet in the Book of Mormon has asked us to come unto Christ (see 2 Nephi 26:33; Omni 1:26; Moroni 10:30). In my last study of the Book of Mormon, reading from cover to cover, I noticed some interesting things, particularly during the Savior’s ministry among the Nephites. Fourteen times, from 3 Nephi 11 to 29, He asks us to come unto Him. Eighteen times He asks us to repent. Twenty-two times He asks us to believe. Fifty-one times He asks us to pray. One hundred seventy-three times He provides little reminders that God is our Father, specifically in chapter 14, referring to Him as “your Father” (verse 11).

I think sometimes a mistake that we might make is to think of God more like an umpire, like “three strikes, you’re out,” when in reality He is more like a coach, a perfect coach trying to motivate, inspire, and help us become better.

Elder James E. Faust said, “I wonder how many drops of blood were shed for me” (“Opening the Windows of Heaven,” Oct. 1998 General Conference). Merrill J. Bateman taught that instead of some large mass of sin, the Atonement was something very, very individual, where Jesus came to know every single one of us, all of our heartaches and all of our joys (see “A Pattern for All,” Oct. 2005 General Conference).

Henry B. Eyring has said that when we pray, “we do not close in the name of a stranger” (“Write upon My Heart,” Oct. 2000 General Conference). I personally believe that at one time, you and I all thought of Him as our very, very best friend.

There are a lot of whys, but the last reason why we are doing this that I would like to identify is because we can use greater obedience on our campus, especially in the little things that are as easy as looking up to the serpent being raised and living (see Numbers 21; Helaman 8:14–15). The promises you have made to live honorably in all things and in all places, as Elder Maxwell said, bring a high yield with a low investment (“The Holy Ghost: Glorifying Christ,” Ensign, Jul. 2002).

President Benson said, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power” (quoted in Donald L. Staheli, “Obedience—Life’s Great Challenge,” Apr. 1998 General Conference). So how do we do this? This may be subjective for every single one of you. Elder Bednar talks about that there are doctrines, principles, and applications. If we focus on the doctrine of the Atonement, principles of the Atonement could be things like faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, forgiveness, a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Applications of those principles could be things like praying and asking the Lord to forgive you, forgiving somebody else, going to your bishop’s office—when Adam and Eve, as soon as they partook of the forbidden fruit, immediately Satan tells them to run and hide. Don’t run and hide if there is something in your life that needs correcting. The power of the Atonement is ever present in a bishop’s office.

So there are several reasons why we are discussing this and how we can apply this. First, Elder Tad R. Callister will be our devotional speaker on March 24th. He is known for writing The Infinite Atonement; he is our general Sunday School president. He was in the Presidency of the Seventy, and was a mission president in Canada. He has given us the following invitation—I encourage you to write this down: “I would suggest the students read King Benjamin’s discourse and outline the key points he was trying to make. This exercise alone will give great insight into the Atonement.”

To repeat, he says, “I would suggest the students read King Benjamin’s discourse”—this is Mosiah 2–5—“and outline the key points he was trying to make. This exercise alone will give great insight into the Atonement.”

Second, all of you will be given access to study material in BrainHoney today to deepen your understanding of the Atonement and how it applies in your life. This will consist of videos, talks, books, and quotes. This will be available to all students as soon as this devotional is over, and we will be making it available to all faculty and staff.

Third, you can share what you feel and what you know about the Savior with someone else every day. And this does not have to be anything big.

Fourth, I think Elder Hartman Rector, Jr. captured this best when he said that perhaps when this topic is considered, the best way that it boils down to is three things. This is in a talk that he gave called “Endure to the End in Charity” (Oct. 1994 General Conference). It was back in 1994, and was his last address before he was released as a Seventy. He said these three things are repent, forgive, and be nice.

Finally, we are surrounded by reminders to use the Atonement every day and every week. All of you have at least one reminder, but I’d like to focus on one for now, and then a second. The first is the sacrament. We partake of the bread of life and living water (see Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:6—15; 6:33–58; 7:37; Alma 5:34; 3 Nephi 18:5–7; D&C 10:66; 20:40, 77), just as the Savior partook of a bitter cup (see Alma 3 Nephi 11:11; D&C 19:18) two thousand years ago so that we might live. You and I partake of a cup of water poured especially for us individually, and it is offered to us, whether we partake of it or not, when it is passed to the four corners of the chapel, just as the Atonement was passed to the four corners of the earth.

The second reminder is the temple garment. Some have said that the garment is a way of taking the temple home with you. After Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit and discovered their nakedness, Jehovah was commanded to “make coats of skins” (Genesis 3:21; Moses 4:27). Where did these coats of skins come from? There must have been an animal willing to lay down its life and be an offering so that they could be covered.

In Hebrew, atonement means kafar, which means to cover. It is pronounced kafar, which sounds like to cover. Those of you who have been endowed, as you place your garment on you to cover you, it is probably perhaps the most profound reminder of the loving kindness and infinite Atonement for you individually. Perhaps another little thing to take note of as you leave the Assembly Hall today, there are specific symbols in the Salt Lake Temple. There is a circle and a square—how is a perfect circle made? What tool makes a perfect circle? What tool makes a perfect square? Some things to think of.

In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, we invite you to join with us in studying and applying the Atonement this semester. When the centurion cast a spear into the Savior’s side, out came blood and water (see John 19:34). The heart is surrounded by a wall filled with a watery serum. And the fact that blood and water came out, Elder Talmage suggests that there was a breakage in that wall, meaning that the physical cause of death of our Savior was a broken heart (see Jesus the Christ, chapter 35: “Death and Burial,” note 8, “The Physical Cause of Christ’s Death,” 668–9).

That is all that He asks of you, all that He asks of me. If you are not experiencing the gifts of the Spirit in your life, then you are not receiving the marginal benefit of what the Atonement really has to offer. The Atonement is not just for sinners and is available not only at the end of our lives, but every day of it, as Elder Hafen says (see “Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Liahona, Apr. 1997.). As Moroni said, “I would commend you to seek this Jesus” (Ether 12:41).

May we love Him more and love Him better, for He loved us first and loves us most. May we always have His Spirit to be with us as we study and apply the Atonement every day, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Boston Welch:

“Tell me”

Excerpt from a song written by Kenneth Cope, (kennethcope.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/TellMe.pdf).

 

Tell me, tell of a God that won’t slow down

That will not rest till I am found

Tell of His heart that won’t let go

His arms that long to hold me.

 

Recently, I have been struggling to make the choice of which socks to wear. I’ll explain. This morning, I had this thought while I was looking for a pair of socks that would go with my shoes—we have the choice every morning to choose a fresh pair of socks or a pair of socks from the laundry pile that are dirty, yesterday’s socks that you’ve worn before. Well, the obvious choice is, every day we put on a fresh pair of socks. We just do that. Sometimes we choose to put on ones that we’ve worn before, and we know that they’re dirty. Sometimes we do choose to put on the dirty pair of socks, but throughout the day there is somebody who is willing to wash them for us.

One of my friends sent me a text this morning, and it was just what I needed to help me make the choice to figuratively and spiritually have a fresh pair of socks. This quote is by Elder Eyring: “The Lord taught us that when we are truly converted to His gospel, our hearts will be turned from selfish concerns and turned toward service to lift others as they move upward to eternal life. To obtain that conversion, we can pray and work in faith to become the new creature made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” (First Presidency Message, “Testimony and Conversion,” Ensign, Feb. 2015)

I served a mission in South Dakota Rapid City Mission. I got to serve in Fargo, North Dakota, and we taught a lot of Liberian refugees. And they are very, very humble people. Sometimes they struggle to be consistent, and that’s stereotypical, but this one man that we met—his name was Fey—was very consistent from the first time that we taught him. One thing that really struck me was something that he said about the way he chose to overcome temptation every day. He put one of the many copies of the Book of Mormon that he had in his house—thanks to us—in his car, and when he got tempted, he would pull over to the side of the road and open the Book of Mormon and read some scriptures until he felt safe enough to move on. This was a huge example to me to take the time to stop and connect with Heavenly Father, to become more like Him.

I want to testify about God’s love and the love that He shows each and every one of us. As we learn how to wear a fresh pair of socks every day, we can share that learning with other people, just as my friend did this morning in helping me make my choice. And just as my friend Fey, who got baptized last month, did as he shares with his family and his country. He is excited to teach them that there is a law that a prophet gave to us. He wants to teach his whole country. So I just want you to know that that is true, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Mauricio Callama: Hello everyone. Well, I need to tell you something. My family is absolutely crazy. But I love it, and I think that most of it is my mom’s fault. She is this little, short woman, four foot eleven, but she is powerful—trust me. She’s a very charismatic person. She loves to talk to people, to serve them, and she is just so amazing. A lot of people say also that she is very gorgeous, but we still haven’t figured out what went wrong with me. I love her so much. She is amazing to me. But if there was just one idea, thought, or principle that could exemplify her, I guess you could say that she is unstoppable. If she wants something and she believes it is the will of the Lord, there is nothing that can stop her from getting it. Anything that she wants, she fights for it. And it was so great for me to see that in her.

My mom, she had a childhood dream. Something that she always wanted to do was to play piano. She would just tell me how much she wanted that, how she would just wish she had the money or the means to be able to have classes. She would just dream of the day she could just sit at the piano and play some songs or play the hymns for church. But then over time she grew older, she had children, she married my dad—no, she married my dad, and then she had children. And then maybe would come the opportunity where she could pay for some classes. She could get a keyboard or something. But she decided to invest in me instead. I was the firstborn son. So she decided, as you know of her already, she would put every effort into me learning piano. She made sure I had the best teachers, the best education. I had the instrument, the means to play. She did everything she could to have her dream fulfilled in me.

It was such a sacrifice because I remember every Friday I had to wake up at four, and we would jumpstart our car, go to the terminal, get a bus, drive an hour and a half to go to the school so we could practice piano for a couple of hours and then come back. And then take care of the children. She really, really put effort into this sacrifice.

In my mission, there was a very special guest that came to talk to us. And I had the opportunity to play for him in the conference. And without even knowing, he told me something that really opened my eyes. He said that he was very thankful for the music and for the sacrifice of others that were put into that performance.

It opened my eyes to know that all that my Mama ever dreamed, her wish as a child, all that she always wanted, was right here in my hands. Her dream was right here. And I love her so much for that. And in a similar way, each one of us has been given a talent and a gift in our hands. As we accepted the covenant of baptism; we received the full access of the Atonement. Each of us has that gift already, but now the question and the application is how we receive the gift—how we use that powerful tool that we have in our lives.

As our school is now focusing on the Atonement, in a very personal way I invite you to consider, to think, to ponder, how can you receive the gift? How can you apply what the Atonement has been already paid off? How can you use that gift?

I testify to you that I know the Atonement is infinite. It was the infinite sacrifice of the Father giving His Son to us. And because of that sacrifice, we have this infinite power of healing, of enabling—a power that will give us hope, will show us love. I know that the Atonement is real, and I so love this gospel. I love Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us. And I so love Heavenly Father and His unique way that He shows me every day how much He loves me. And I know He loves each of us, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Emily Vogle: Brothers and sisters, it is good to stand before you today, in some part because I am not so afraid, which is kind of a big deal for me. When I first came to the LDS Business College, I was too shy to ride the elevators. And my classes were on the sixth and seventh floor. I was also too shy to take Trax or to talk to anyone I knew about getting a ride, and so in my first semester I lost fifteen pounds. If you are looking for a way to live a fit and trim lifestyle, then crippling anxiety is one way to go—but it is not the one I would recommend because this anxiety also kept me from devotionals. The thought of entering a room with so many people was terrifying.

It took about a month and a half and every ounce of strength I had to walk through those doors for the first time, but eventually I did it. In the Old Testament, we read of a Levite child who was sentenced to death by his birth. Helpless, he was hidden in the mud and the tar and the bulrushes, and you might not think, looking at this child, that he would be raised to lead nations—first of Egyptians, then of Israelites—that he would reason with God face to face—but he was. It happened. (See Exodus 1–3)

We read of another child whose strength was heralded by angels. He was set apart before his birth. He could kill lions bare-handed. He could call upon the strength of God in his youth. And you might not think, looking at this Nazarite child, that he would fall to be shaven by harlots, to eat honey from corpses, and to die mutilated and enslaved, but he did. It happened. (See Judges 13–16.)

Moses and Sampson, respectively, are examples of the weak being made strong through obedience, the strong being made weak through broken covenants. When God sent His perfect child to the earth, covenants were set forth that we all might be made strong. This child was set apart before His birth. He was heralded by angels. He was hidden in Egypt when He was sentenced to death. He was raised to lead nations, and when He died, mutilated, in His weakness He saved us all.

I worried about standing before you today, because this assignment came to me in a time of particular spiritual weakness. I worried that I wouldn’t have the capacity to share anything meaningful with you. But if, in my weakness, I can stand before a room of people that I previously could not have entered with all my strength, it would be foolish of me not to take the chance to thank my Father in Heaven, to acknowledge the Atonement in my life.

Brothers and sisters, it is good. It is strong. It is real. I invite you to seek for the courage, the comfort, the strength—no matter how weak or how strong you may feel, because we all need Him. I would like to offer that invitation to you, and to thank you for being a room of people that welcomed me, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Keith Burkhart: Good afternoon, brothers and sisters. I wasn’t on the program, but I’m here to bear testimony of a few things to you. I’m a convert to the Church, and as a convert to the Church, I had a couple of experiences that, for me, set the stage for my ability to understand and apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life better.

The first one was surprising. Probably about three months before the first time I ever walked into a Mormon chapel—I believe I was seventeen years old—my girlfriend at the time (who happened to become my wife) encouraged me strongly to come to Church. And so I figured I could spend at least 45 minutes there and go through a sacrament meeting and leave. But about three months prior to that, I had gone to a funeral of someone that was a pretty good friend of mine, and that was the first funeral I’d ever been to in my entire life. I’d never really seen a dead person before; I’d never gone to a place before where a body was in front of a room and people walked by. It was unusual for me, and it struck me in a way I wasn’t quite sure about.

So a couple of months after that, I walked into an LDS chapel. And as I looked forward to the side of the stand, I saw a white sheet covering a small area, and as I looked at that, I saw a body. And that body was Jesus Christ. And I was very surprised at how I felt. In fact, I wondered why everyone in the chapel was talking and laughing and socializing because when I had come before for the funeral, people were reverent and focused and contemplative. So there was this slight dichotomy and conflict in my mind. As I watched young men pull that sheet away, I saw bread that came to me. I was afraid to partake of it because I understood that it represented the body of Jesus Christ, and I felt unworthy to partake of such a thing. But as I looked at this twelve-year-old boy who handed me the body of Christ, I saw Christ in him and was stunned.

A few minutes later, the water came to me in a small cup which, for me, obviously was a representation of the Savior’s blood. And that, too, stunned me.

Later—a couple of years later—I was baptized into the Church, and that same sacrament meeting regularly bothered me. It didn’t bother me anymore because I couldn’t partake, because I had been baptized and had my sins washed away and felt much more comfortable being able to partake of the sacrament. But what bothered me deeply was the wording of the prayer, and a specific phrase that said that I would remember Him always. I was almost afraid to say amen to that, every time that phrase was spoken, because I wasn’t sure if I could do such a thing. And so I began to ask my priesthood leaders, “Does it really mean always?”

I had friends, and many would kind of blow me off and say, “Well, it doesn’t really mean always, it’s just as much as you can. Just do the best you can. Don’t worry about it.”

And I would ask, “Well, why does it have to be said word perfect then? And why didn’t the Savior say as best as I could or as often as I could? Why did He say always and I covenant to do so?”

Most people told me to stop asking questions like that as a new convert and just move on and focus on faith, repentance, and baptism. But I couldn’t. So years later, I thought of a wonderful way to always remember that worked for me, and it was my way of applying the Atonement.

I had a fancy watch at the time—it was a little calculator watch that was pretty high tech back then. Now it’s probably in a museum somewhere. But I realized I could set this watch to beep every hour, and so I decided that, regardless of where I was and what I was doing, when my watch beeped, I would remember Jesus Christ. And I wasn’t quite sure what I would remember or think about, but over time, it became a very powerful, private, personal experience—a way to apply the Atonement.

And over a period of months, as that beep would go off, again, regardless of what I was doing, I would remember Him. And after a while, I found myself waiting for the beeps or wishing the beep would go off now so I could think of Christ. And then I thought, “Well, duh. Why don’t you just do it now?”

Brothers and sisters, that transformed me. I testify to you that you can apply the Atonement in personal and private ways so that you can remember Him always. I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, it really means always. For me, it has become something that encompasses all that I am. I can’t look out into your faces and not think of the Savior’s Atonement. I can’t sit at a light and wait for the light to change and see the red, and not think of the blood of Jesus Christ. I can’t think of forgiveness and weakness and dependence and mercy, when I hear myself say or do things that I know drive the Spirit away, or when others challenge my beliefs, or when unreciprocated love is not given. The list is endless.

One Sunday in our ward, I felt inspired to stand and bear witness to our ward, as the bishop, that there were many people in that room that needed to speak to the bishop and experience the Atonement. I was a little uncomfortable saying that, but I said it because that’s what the Holy Ghost asked me to say. And I want you to know that after the meeting, I was sitting there talking to my counselors, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw four people standing, kind of loitering by the stand—two teenagers and two adults. And for the next three hours, we experienced the Atonement together in my office. Sins were confessed that should have been confessed a long time ago, and there was a spirit of love and acceptance, no shame.

The adversary wants you to keep your weaknesses and sins in the dark, and he will do everything in his power to assure that you will lie to keep those hidden. Applying the Atonement means to bring those sins to the light so they can be removed and cleansed and purified. Being at one with Christ is pure joy. I testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.