Questions and Answers

01 Apr. 2015

Transcript

Questions and Answers

What a beautiful way to begin this meeting, with that wonderful testimony by Arzoo and this beautiful song, “Abide with Me.” Thank you, President Richards, for this opportunity to be here with you. Arzoo you and I have something in common. You said when you first received this request, your first inclination was to turn it down. Well, I can’t say that that was my first inclination, but I understand the feeling. The feeling of responsibility, the opportunity to stand before such a wonderful group of brothers and sisters—and I truly look at you as brothers and sisters. Thank you. Thank you for coming. Thank you for braving the snow.

You’ve left me with a little bit of a dilemma. President Richards asked you for questions; I didn’t expect 15 pages of questions—380 or so, to be approximate. That leaves me about 5 seconds a question, brothers and sisters.

The first question was, “Can we have the rest of the afternoon off to go skiing?” That was my question.

I have taken your questions seriously. I had actually prepared remarks that I would like to share with you; then I received your questions, and I honestly spent hours going through your questions, thinking about them, pondering over them, praying about them. And if it’s all right with you, I’m going to focus on your questions, not all 380, but what I have tried to do is to look for themes within the questions and take some of the sample questions and try to share with you my perspective on some of those issues. Is that all right with you? Is that okay?

What you think about, what you feel, is important to me, brothers and sisters. Maybe just a brief word of introduction. I first came to Utah—and you’ll understand my earlier comment—to ski. That’s how I joined the Church. I ended up in Provo. I attended BYU—I went to night classes there so I could ski during the day. It wasn’t a bad life. And then it got better because I was introduced to the missionaries—the stake missionaries at the time, which we don’t have anymore. And brothers and sisters, I gained a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and my life has never been the same since that time. It has never been the same. And I’m sure that yours has not either.

It doesn’t mean that it’s always an easy path, an easy road to follow, does it? But I want to testify to you it is the only road, brothers and sisters, that will bring lasting peace and happiness.

Now, one of the first questions I’d like to talk to you about is, someone asked, “How do I reach my full potential?” What a great question. How do I reach my full potential? Well, let’s talk for just a minute.

What does that mean, to reach your full potential? What is your full potential? What aspect of life are you thinking of? For me, before I joined the Church, my full potential was simply to ski all over the world. That’s all that I wanted to do. And then I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I realized my potential was something a little bit different.

Now, I’m going to give you quite a number of scriptures, and I’ll ask you just to jot these down and study them and read about them a little bit later on. Matthew 5:48—many of you are familiar with that scripture, where we are commanded to be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. So, is that a measure of our potential, to become perfect?

But then again in Doctrine and Covenants 50:40–42, Heavenly Father understands and the Lord teaches us, but we are little children. We cannot bear all things now, but we have to grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth.

So where do we fall, brothers and sisters, in that context? What does it mean to achieve one’s full potential? Well, for me, brothers and sisters, it’s pretty simple. The Savior taught in the New Testament that unless we become like little children, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God (see Matthew 18:3). And so for me, a measure of full potential—and I’m sure this is not the answer that you were looking for, but it is the answer that I have found has brought me the most peace and happiness in this life—is to strive to learn what it means to become humble, like a little child, to understand my place in this life, to recognize (as King Benjamin said) that I am even less than the dust of the earth, but that I have the potential to become like my Heavenly Father (see Mosiah 2:25). And that if I will achieve that humility, if I will let my heart be soft and open, then He will take me by the hand, and lead me back to Him (see D&C  112:10; “Be Thou Humble,” Hymns, no. 130). And that is my desire in this life, brothers and sisters. That is the desire that I have for my children and my grandchildren, for my wife and myself—to be worthy to have Heavenly Father’s spirit to be with me. Because I know that through Him, I can truly achieve my full potential.

Now of course, along that path, we have the opportunity to have careers and to work and to do all these other kinds of things. Does Heavenly Father care what career we pick? That’s an important question to consider. Maybe in some cases, He does. Maybe we’ll revisit that in just a minute.

A second category—many of you asked questions in the category of, “How do I balance such a crazy schedule that I have?” Here are a couple of questions: “I work 40–55 hours a week, attend school full time, and I have a wife that I’m completely devoted to. How do I live a consecrated life when I feel in my schedule there is no wiggle room?” And then a second question: “How can I, as a woman of the Church, not be discouraged in obtaining a higher education when the Church teaches us that we belong at home once children are in the picture?” “I want to further my education. I also have the dreams of becoming a mother. How can I, as a daughter of God, find a balance without giving up either dream? Can’t I do both?” And then of course we have the situation where there are so many single parents in the Church as well. How do they find that balance?

Well, there are a couple of scriptures in seeking that balance that I wanted to share with you, brothers and sisters, that have been meaningful to me. One is in section 10, verses 3 and 4 in the Doctrine and Covenants. As we strive for that balance, when it seems like I can’t squeeze anything else into a day, the Savior teaches us to not run faster than we have strength, to understand that we have a choice.

You know, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of students, not too dissimilar to this group. A young man came up to me afterwards and said, “I don’t know how to do it all.”

I said, “Well, tell me more about your life.”

He said, “I’ve been married ten years, and I have eight children.”

Well, I wouldn’t know how to do it all either. But we do have choices, brothers and sisters, and that is so important. Sometimes we think that we don’t have a choice of how we spend our time. And the question becomes, how do I prioritize my time? How do I prioritize my time based on the things that are most important? This scripture teaches us that we’re not to run faster than we have strength. I want to testify to you that there have been times in my life where I have felt completely overwhelmed. And then it’s at those times I have to ask myself the question, “Where do I turn? Where do I turn when I don’t know what else to do?” And we have a choice about where we turn, and we’ll talk about those choices just a little bit later.

But think about 2 Nephi 2:16—that we are agents unto ourselves, and we get to make these choices. We get to make these decisions. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” To every thing there is a season. To this young woman who wants to do it all, is there anything wrong with not being able to do it all? I would say no. There is nothing wrong with that. The question becomes, what is the right season to do those things in?

Now, I happen to be married to a wonderful person who had also wrestled through that question—graduated in modern dance and had a desire to go on and pursue a dance career, but also at the same time wanted to be a wife and mother. Honey, maybe you could just take a minute and share your perspective on how you sorted this really important question out?

Sister Kacher:Well, I first have to take a minute and tell you how wonderful it is to sit here with you and look out into your faces. This is just a wonderful gathering! I feel like you are this wonderful family that—it just feels really good to be here. Thank you so much for letting us share this time with you.

So back to the question: I can only speak to my own experience, and the learning that I have come upon is that life is really long. It goes fast, but it’s actually long. And I’ve discovered that when it comes right down to it, there really is time to fit it all in.

I’ve been grateful that I have been able to stay home with our children, and at the same time, I was aching to be out in the dance world. I learned that if I could keep myself current—you know, as far as continuing to educate myself in my field as I was staying home with my children—that then the time came that my children were a little bit older, and then I was able to have the career that I had always literally dreamed of. And I’ve been grateful for that. I feel like Heavenly Father has really blessed me as I have tried to do what He would want me to do, that He has really blessed me with my dreams and desires of my goals and career.

Elder Kacher:One of the blessings that came to Sister Kacher is, as we moved to Midway in 2005 after our children were a little bit older, on the way out, BYU called her up and said, “One of our dance faculty is not able to return. Will you come and teach for us?” And I think that was just a direct answer to a person who tried to do things in the right priority. And she was truly blessed for that. It is not easy, brothers and sisters, finding that balance.

“How do I make important decisions?” That was another category. “I’m having a hard time figuring out what career to choose that will align with the will of the Father and with my natural strengths and abilities.” “If I have two good options, how should I know which one is the best?”

Brothers and sisters, these are four questions that I have found to be very helpful in the decision-making process. And I want to just let you know, based on my experience, when I would think through these things—for example, should I study this field? Should I take this job? Should I go in this direction?—that if you will put these things in their proper priority, their proper perspective, that Heavenly Father will guide you.

First, if I make this choice, will it strengthen or weaken my relationship with Heavenly Father?Nothing is more important, brothers and sisters, than to maintain that relationship.

Second, if I make this decision, will it strengthen or weaken my relationship with my family—either the family that I have now, or the family I hope to have in the future?Nothing is more important than our eternal relationships.

Third, will it strengthen or weaken my ability to serve in the kingdom of God?I want to serve, brothers and sisters, and I know you do as well.

And finally, will it help or hurt my ability to provide for my family?Notice I put that number four. Heavenly Father will bless us as we keep the commandments and we keep our priorities straight. We’ll have a sense of peace, and things will be okay.

Let me share with you a kind of personal experience when I got these things a little bit out of whack at one time in my life. I had worked for Honeywell for a number of years. I had the desire to start my own consulting business. Shortly after I started that business, a friend of mine, a member of the Church, came to me and asked if would I like to be part of this manufacturing company. Well, I thought I could do that part-time while I started my consulting practice. And then he came to me and said, “Would you like to invest in my company and be a part owner?”

And here’s where I got things twisted around a little bit, brothers and sisters. All of a sudden, I saw a great opportunity for me to become wealthy quickly, and so I wrote him a check from my life savings. Two weeks later, he came to me and said, “Sorry, I’m out of money. I’m filing for bankruptcy, and all of your money is gone.” Well, I learned an important lesson, brothers and sisters, about the importance of priorities and keeping things in the right perspective.

After that, I had another critical decision to make. You see, this man, this friend of mine, was a member of the Church—a less active member of the Church. And I had to choose, what would my feelings be towards him? I was grateful, brothers and sisters, that I took responsibility for my own mistake and that I didn’t take it out on him because a few months after that, I became his bishop. And how different it would have been had I harbored hard feelings towards him? And I wondered, even, if Heavenly Father had given me that experience in order to prepare.

Another category had to do with keeping the missionary spirit after a mission. Let’s just talk about this one for a moment. “During my mission, I learned to be an effective and powerful servant of God and others. I don’t feel that I measure up to who I once was. How can I measure up and still reach others in a meaningful way?”

What a key question, brothers and sisters. How do I keep that missionary spirit? Well, there’s a mindset that I’d like to dispel. Our mission doesn’t end; our mission is a preparation for the rest of our life. When you think of an effective missionary, what does a missionary do? Well, they look for ways to share the gospel. They fellowship friends and neighbors. They reach out to the less active. What does that sound like, brothers and sisters? That sounds to me like a good member of the Church. And so, too often, we think of our mission as ending when it’s just a training ground for the rest of our life.

The first thing I’d like to suggest is that you think about how you maintain that spirit—to change that mindset, to recognize that you have the power to change that mindset and to look for things that you did all through your mission and to continue to do those things.

A couple of examples: I was a home teacher to a part-member family back in Belgium. I thought, how can I bless this family’s life? I’d been a good home teacher, but the father wasn’t a member of the Church. And I had the impression that I should share with him the gospel. Well, that wasn’t my job. I was no longer a missionary. That was the missionaries’ job, wasn’t it, brothers and sisters? Well, I felt differently.

I went to him, and I said, “Ken, can I share with you the gospel?”

He looked at me and he said, “No, thank you.” Well, that felt familiar. Rejection.

Well, my obligation was over, wasn’t it, brothers and sisters? I had tried. I didn’t have to do anything more. But then I recognized, no, it wasn’t over. I had left out a key partner in the process. I followed an impression, but I tried to do it on my own. So I turned to God, and I asked Him to bless me that I might have that faith to call down the powers of heaven to bless the lives of the McCormick family.

I went there one more time, brothers and sisters. This time I followed the promptings of the Spirit, just like a missionary, as a home teacher or visiting teacher or anybody else. And his life was changed, and his heart was changed, and Ken was baptized a week later, after nineteen years of marriage.

And what was the difference? It was recognizing that I was still a missionary. But I wasn’t a missionary; I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I had that same authority and opportunity to call down the powers of God, and you do too, brothers and sisters. You have that same authority. You do, too. You have that capability. That is still inside of you, and it needs to be for the rest of your life.

Well, think about that, if you would please, brothers and sisters.

Many of you asked the question, “How do I help members of my family who are not active in the Church?” “How do I reach out to them without offending them?” “I’m away from my family. How can I still influence my younger siblings with the knowledge I received on my mission?” “How do you help a wayward family member without offending them?”

Well, it’s the same principle, brothers and sisters. It’s the same principle. There are no mysteries in this work. This is God’s work, and how do we see ourselves, brothers and sisters? How do we see ourselves? What do we do? Where is God’s power? Do I have access to that power to bless my family’s life?

Well, I am the only member of the Church in my family. Forty-plus years later I am still the only member. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to finally convince my mother to listen to the sister missionaries. She’s 91 years old. They went over there, and I called her afterwards and said, “What did you think?”

She said, “I did all the talking. I don’t want them to come back.”

Well, how do you think I felt, brothers and sisters?

I was on my way to a stake conference when the phone rang. It was my mother. And I thought, “Oh, I don’t want to listen to a negative story from her before I go into stake conference.” That just goes to show you how strong my faith is sometimes, brothers and sisters. But I listened to the message.

Here is the message: “Don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on me.”

So, I have a question for you today, brothers and sisters. Does anyone here have someone in your family, immediate or extended family, who is less active or not a member? If you do, will you please stand up, just quickly? [Audience members stand up.]Well, look around, brothers and sisters. You see, we are all in this together. This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is—just as you and I are hoping that someone will touch the heart of one of our family members, someone is hoping that you or I will touch their family member. Thank you. Please sit down.

So, my testimony to you, as we go forth in faith: God knows all things. He knows all things, and He arranges people to meet certain people at different places. Natalie is a special friend of ours from Amman, Jordan, when we lived over there. I remember listening to Natalie’s uncle’s testimony. Natalie’s father is the branch president in Amman, Jordan. Her uncle was not a member of the Church until two people went over there. He still didn’t listen. And then they knelt down, and they had a prayer with Imad Aldier. By the end of their prayer, Imad was converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he was baptized, and now serves faithfully in the Amman Jordan Branch.

What was the difference? There were family members praying for Imad. But it was not two family members who reached out to Imad, it was two other Church leaders. And so, as we wonder how we reach out to our family members, brothers and sisters, I testify to you that God will provide a way and will bless you for your faithful service.

Now, we only have 379 more questions to go. We’re going to have to do this ten questions a second for the rest of the time.

There are a couple of questions that I’d like to address with you. “I would like to know how I could be a constant companion of the Spirit. Basically, I want to know how I can exemplify the true love that Christ has shown to all of us. How can I find the difference between following what I want and following the Spirit?”

Well, brothers and sisters, this is a key question for each one of us. I’d like to share something with you. I’ve got another slide here in just a minute, but let me introduce it by simply saying we have a choice which way we will turn in good times and in times of adversity. It is our choice. The Lord blessed us with agency. It’s a wonderful gift. It differentiates us from the other third of the hosts of heaven, who wanted to take that agency away. And agency is so important, but along with that agency there is accountability. And we get to choose.

In good times or challenging times, do I—and this is a test for you, brothers and sisters—do I turn away from God and think He isn’t really there? Do I think God may be there, but I’m not worthy? Do I think I can do this on my own, that I don’t need God?

Or do I turn toward God and seek for His Spirit to guide me and to help me? Or do I place my life in His hands and seek to align my will with His?

Brothers and sisters, how we respond to these questions will determine our level of spirituality, because God is there. And I testify to you that He is there.

Do I become me-centered and focus inward and downward? Or do I become Christ-centered and turn outward and upward? The answer to that question, brothers and sisters, will determine your level of spirituality. The answer to that question enables us and allows us to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives—just as Alma the Younger taught his son about the personal conversion that he went through and all the pain he suffered because of the sins he had committed. And then he remembered the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and what He had done for us. And as Alma pondered and thought and prayed upon that principle, that thought, something wonderful happened. Light came into his heart, into his mind, and he was changed forever.

So it is with us, brothers and sisters. In this sometimes confusing world, it is not so confusing. We make it confusing. We listen to voices that don’t come from God, and we become confused by those voices. But if we will turn outward and upward, if we will place our lives, literally, in the arms of Christ and become Christ-centered in all that we do, if we seek to know and understand His will, Heavenly Father will bless us and we will feel His redeeming love, and we will feel that connection with the powers of heaven. And we won’t feel alone.

Now I’m running out of time, but there is one last question that I’d like to talk to you about. And it’s an important question. It’s relevant for each one of you in today’s times, and it has been relevant in every day, every era of the gospel on the earth. Here is the question: “Many of my once devoted, faithful friends have left the Church and are now actively involved in programs to bring the Church down. Where do you think they went wrong? Any suggestions on what I should be doing to avoid a similar downfall?”

Well, brothers and sisters, the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 1:22 says that in the last days, even the very elect will be deceived (see JST, Matthew 1:22). Let me tell you briefly the story of a man in the Middle East. I won’t tell you his name or his country because the outcome is not a happy one. This man they called “the Joseph Smith of his country.” He sought for the truth, and he found the truth based on a vision that he had. He had a dream, and in his dream he saw a chapel.

He traveled to London one day. He had the opportunity to go to the visitors’ center, and in the back of the visitors’ center was the chapel, and it was the same chapel in his dream. Based on that, brothers and sisters, he knew he had found the truth.

He went to the Church, he was taught by the missionaries. He was baptized, and he went back to his country, and he helped re-establish the Church in his country. He was an instrument in the hands of the Lord to help his family join the Church and others to join the Church. He was a light in a very dark place. And then something happened. He became confused. He forgot where his source of strength had come from. He forgot all the blessings that he had received. And he began to receive, as he lost the Spirit, other impressions and visions.

And this is an important lesson for us, brothers and sisters. Even the very elect can be deceived, and he was, I am convinced, of the elect. Well, he began to receive revelations that he no longer needed to keep the commandments of God, to live the law of chastity or follow the Word of Wisdom. The adversary imitated the impressions that he had received from God previously, and because the Spirit was no longer with him, he found himself outside the Church, still proclaiming the Church was true but that he was above the law.

Nobody is above the law, brothers and sisters. Nobody is. And so just a warning to us all, that in this day and age we will hear people say, “Well, that’s not true. What about this contradiction, and what about this, and what about that?” Step back, brothers and sisters. Don’t listen to false voices. Think about what has brought you the most happiness and the most peace. It’s not those voices. And they don’t come from God. And it doesn’t change the truth.

My wife and I had the opportunity to swim in the Indian Ocean one time. We got caught in a little riptide, got pulled out to sea, and thought we were going to die. But God blessed us and saved us, and we made our way back. And on the way back, as I walked back to shore, I had the impression that my example was important because my wife had followed my example. And because of that, she had almost lost her life. And I realized that the decisions I make in this life, I don’t make just for myself, but I make for many people around me.

Brothers and sisters, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is a war on the earth between good and evil. It is true. And you are soldiers in that war. You are children of God. You are powerful individuals, and Heavenly Father loves you so much. Jesus Christ has died that you might live again with Him. I pray, brothers and sisters, that we won’t forget these wonderful blessings that we’ve received, that we’ll put into proper perspective the challenges that we have in this life. Remember Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail when he cried to the Lord and asked, why are all these things happening? And the Savior said, “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:8).

He will be there, brothers and sisters. I pray that we will turn outward and upward, that we’ll place our lives in the arms of Him who died for us and will carry us back to our Heavenly Father. You are wonderful. You are great, great individuals, and the world has great need of you wherever you live, here or there or wherever it is. I challenge you and invite you to be instruments in the hands of God, to bring the light that’s inside of you to all those around you. You will be that mighty instrument in the hands of God to bless so many lives. Don’t let little things get you down, brothers and sisters. Don’t let the complexity of life confuse you. Turn to God. If you make good choices and good decisions based on the priorities that are most important, you will bless many lives and you and your posterity will be led back to our Heavenly Father. And I leave my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

Let me introduce to you Elder Larry S. Kacher. Elder Kacher was sustained a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church on April 5, 2014. At the time of his call to be a General Authority, he had been serving as an Area Seventy and as a member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy in the Middle East /North Africa Area.

Elder Kacher received his bachelor of science degree in psychology from Brigham Young University in 1976, and two years later he received a master’s degree in organizational behavior, also from Brigham Young University. In 1978, he began his career with Honeywell Corporation, and later became their European director of human resources and development, based in Brussels, Belgium. During the majority of his career, Elder Kacher consulted with large international companies in the areas of strategy, organizational design, and leadership development.

Prior to his call to the Seventy, he was working for and consulting to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, based in the United Arab Emirates. Elder Kacher has had numerous Church callings, including as a full-time missionary to French Polynesia, elders quorum president, branch president in Belgium, a high councilor, bishop, president of the Geneva Switzerland Mission, and Area Seventy.

Elder Kacher was born in Minnesota, and he married Pauline Miller in 1976. They are the parents of six children. They reside in Midway, Utah. We are grateful that Elder Kacher is here today. He asks for a unique request from us. He asks to have questions posed to him by students to help him understand you better. That should give you an insight to his interest and his love for you as students.


Divine Blessings

01 Apr. 2015

Transcript

Divine Blessings

How inspiring and beautiful was that musical number? What a great testament to the power of beautiful music. I’ve taken the words from a hymn that inspires me to guide me in my remarks to you today, and the words—actually there are two sets of words to this hymn, sung to the same melody. Hymn tunes are given names, too, that you would never know—you would recognize the melody, but you would never know that its name was “Hyfrydol.” It’s a Welsh tune, and I think that must be a Welsh word.  And we sing the great sacrament hymn by Mabel Jones Gabbott, “In Humility, Our Savior” (Hymns, no.172), to this tune. And then the Christian world at large sings, and so does the Tabernacle Choir, another set of wonderful words from 1747 to this tune by the great hymn writer Charles Wesley , and it’s titled, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.” And I want to use the words of this hymn by these two great poets to guide our thoughts today.

In humility, our Savior,

Grant thy Spirit here, we pray,

As we bless the bread and water

In thy name this holy day.

      (“In Humility, Our Savior,” Hymns, no. 172)

 

Fix in us thy humble dwelling;

All thy faithful mercies crown!

. . . Visit us with thy salvation;

Enter every trembling heart.

            (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 384)

 

We’ve already had much focus this morning on the Savior and upon the Atonement, and the importance of that in our life. What a blessing we have every Sunday, don’t we, to renew our covenants with the Savior and to remember the great atoning sacrifice and blessing that He is in our life. And that helps us to have His Spirit be with us. That’s one of the promises, isn’t it? That if we partake of the sacrament worthily, that we’ll always have His Spirit to be with us. (See D&C 20:75, 79.)

You know, also, this line “enter every trembling heart”—I had a trembling heart when I was called as a Tabernacle organist. That was a few years ago; it was in 1982. I was teaching organ lessons in the organ loft at St. Mark’s Cathedral, the oldest non-Mormon church in continuous use in this state, which is over on 1st South at 231 East—a little building over there. If you haven’t ever stepped in it and you get a chance, do so. It has four very beautiful Tiffany windows, and it has a beautiful organ in the back, although that’s a recent instrument. It also had a very beautiful organ when I was organist there, and I supported my growing family largely off of teaching private organ and piano lessons.

Anyway, it was one morning when I was teaching an organ lesson in that loft, Robert Cundick, who was the senior Tabernacle organist at the time, climbed up the loft and appeared and asked if I could come with him for a minute. So I excused myself from the student, we walked outside onto the sidewalk, and he said, “We’ve received permission to appoint another Tabernacle organist, and we’d like to have you. How do you feel about that?”

When I picked myself up off the pavement, why, I told him that yes, I’d be willing. I can assure you it was with a trembling heart and a prayer, and the Lord has not let me down since that time. And you know, every broadcast it is with humility that we approach our preparation, with a prayer in our heart.

Every time we play the broadcast,  Music and the Spoken Word, the world’s longest continuous broadcast—you’ve been there, all of you perhaps, for at least one of those on Sunday mornings at 9:30 over in the Tabernacle. Right at 9:15—you can come earlier, if you want to witness the preparation. But I and my colleagues never fail to have an earnest prayer in our heart. We try to do our best to prepare for these broadcasts for the music that we have to play, whether it’s just with the choir or whether it’s with the choir and orchestra, or whether it’s alone, as we usually have an organ solo. If we broadcast, we play the “organ pad” as it’s come to be called—the little organ bridge that we often play. Usually it leads from the number that is right before the Spoken Word, into the Spoken Word. We never know exactly how many seconds that is supposed to be, until we get right onto it. The closest clue is at the “fax run” as we call it, when the broadcast is run through a dry run, so to speak, every Sunday morning, usually from about 8:30 to 9:00. And we find out exactly how long the broadcast is going to take, give or take several seconds, and how long that organ pad is supposed to be. It’s been estimated before. Sometimes it’s nothing, but usually it’s from 15 seconds to a minute and 15 seconds—and it has to be improvised of course. We adjust the length to the time. But we never know until, really, until the broadcast itself. We have a little stopwatch on the organ console that will say how many seconds behind or ahead of the projected time the broadcast is. And if we’re behind we cut that organ pad several seconds shorter than we had expected, or if it says that we’re ahead, then we may extend it somewhat.

One thing I’ve found is that if we do our part, the Lord does indeed make up the difference. And I testify to you that you can count on this in your lives.

Let me not forget, O Savior,

Thou didst bleed and die for me

When thy heart was stilled and broken

On the cross at Calvary.

      (“In Humility, Our Savior”)

 

Come, Almighty to deliver,

Let us all thy life receive.

      (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)

 

We earnestly trust in our Father in Heaven. We can cast our burdens upon Him, can’t we, and He promises that He will make our burdens light. He will deliver us. When I think of delivery, and the Lord delivering, it comes to mind an example of when our son John was born. Now, my wife Diane had had five pregnancies before that, and the fifth pregnancy was twins, and they had to be delivered C-section. And we wanted to have more children, and she wanted to have regular deliveries, and so our next child, a son, which was her sixth pregnancy, was born naturally. All went well.

 

Then John was our seventh, so this was her seventh pregnancy, and she had been in labor for some time. And finally they decided that they couldn’t let this labor go on any longer. Of course, they were especially hesitant to have too long of protracted labor because she was a previous C-section. And so finally, they decided it was going to be a C-section, and they gave her a shot of Demerol, I think it was, to lead to her being put out for the C-section. And she and I—I knew how badly she wanted to not have a C-section and have to recover after that, and so I remember retiring to a little restroom that was there in the hospital room that Diane was in. And on my hands and knees pleading with Heavenly Father to deliver, literally, deliver her and somehow deliver our young one so she wouldn’t have to have this C-section, even though they determined it was going to happen and they were getting her ready for it.

 

Well, as it turns out, at that point, when they came back in to check her, she was bearing down and in the last stages of delivery. So they quickly got the doctor, wheeled her into the delivery room, and after pushing and working like I’ve never seen before, why, we had delivered our broad-shouldered son John, even though she had been drugged up in preparation for a C-section. So I attribute that directly—I know it was a miracle of the Lord and answering our earnest prayers, as He will every time.

 

He’ll answer your prayers, whatever they may be. I know most of you, many of you are returned missionaries, and so you are looking for your eternal companion, no doubt. I remember when I was looking for mine—it was a few years ago—but I was a freshman at BYU and I had decided to—I remember praying to the Lord and saying, “Well, Heavenly Father, I will trust you to show me when the time is right who my eternal companion is to be, and to be at peace until then.” This was very important to me. Well, He kept causing me to run into this young lady who, actually clear back in the tenth grade we had shared a German class together at West High School, just up the street from your school.

 

I didn’t date then, but when for 11th and 12th grade I went to a different school. We moved away, and I went to Morgan High School. As a senior at Morgan High, we came one  Saturday down to the Capitol Theater, which was still a movie theater in those days. And they had a showing of the movie of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. And I guess there were senior English classes from around the state attending that, and who should I run into in the lobby of Capitol Theater but this attractive young lady. She was there with her sister. I stopped and we chatted for a while, and I went back in and sat down and watched the movie and thought to myself, “Gosh, it would be nice to date her. I wish I had the gumption.” I was a scaredy and was not very forward.

 

Well, then, forward through then to BYU. In the middle of my freshman year, I went with a friend over Christmas holiday to Temple Square. And in those years, they used to have an annual production of “Amal and the Night Visitors,” the musical opera, in the Tabernacle, and we (a friend and I with his family) came to see that. And at the conclusion we went to the North Visitors’ Center, and I was standing in the lobby there, and here was this young lady standing again. And we visited, talked, and I thought, “Oh, I’m going to do something about it this time. So when I went home I happened to have a little West High directory, and I found it and opened it up and matched pictures and found out her phone number and address and her name—Diane Francom. So in those days, you know, we didn’t carry cell phones around and it was a long-distance call from Morgan to Salt Lake City. So New Years’ Day, when we came down to Salt Lake for a New Year’s dinner at my aunt’s, I decided I would give her a call. And so I did, and we talked on the phone for two or three hours. And I knew that something had happened and I had found a soul mate. And then I guess you could say, as they say, the rest is history.

 

Fill our hearts with sweet forgiving;

Teach us tolerance and love.

Let our prayers find access to thee

In thy holy courts above.

      (“In Humility, Our Savior”)

 

Jesus thou art all compassion,

Pure, unbounded love thou art.

      (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)

 

When I think of compassion and love for fellow men, I am reminded of another day a few days after Bob Cundick appeared in the organ loft to make that announcement. He appeared there again, and he said, “Clay,” he says, “finish this lesson. I’ve called your wife and told her to have your suit ready. I’ll run up and grab your suit”—we just lived up on the Avenues—“and you change into your suit. You have an interview with President Hinckley in half an hour.” He was a counselor in the First Presidency then, as he was for many years, and a long-time advisor of the Tabernacle Choir.

 

So I finished the lesson. Bob brought my suit. I quickly changed into it. I didn’t go to work in a suit back in those days. I got in the car and whizzed over, and miraculously there was a parking spot in front of the Administration Building. On the way over, Bob—I didn’t call him Bob then; it was Brother Cundick. But I came to call him Bob in the years that we were colleagues together that followed. But at any rate, he said, “I have one word of advice.” He said, “When President Hinckley speaks to you, look him straight in the eyes to give him your answers.”

 

So I did. And one of the things he said to me was, “You know Bishop Charles (Otis Charles, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah).” He said, “He’s a friend of mine. If we hire you as a Tabernacle organist, what are they going to do for an organist over at St. Marks?”

 

I thought how telling and impressive that was, that he would be concerned about them and thinking about them.

 

Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heaven, to earth come down.

. . . Suddenly return and never,

Nevermore thy temples leave.

      (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)

 

Aren’t we blessed to have temples? That’s where you will be united with your eternal companion, and the greatest blessings in life will come through him or her. It was the temple that sustained us following the death of our four and a half month old twin, Merrilee. We attended the temple weekly, and what a blessing and what a strength that was. You have the temple right here in . . . your school, essentially is in the shadow of the temple, isn’t it? I hope that you attend regularly.

 

Thee we would be always blessing,

Serve thee as thy hosts above,

Pray and praise thee without ceasing,

Glory in thy perfect love.

      (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)

 

The heavenly hosts serve our Heavenly Father, don’t they? And they pray and they praise Him, and music is one of these ways that they praise Him. You know, we sometimes have been quite certain that heavenly hosts have joined the Tabernacle Choir as we are singing. One example that I can think of was not when they were performing, but when we were singing in the Kirtland Temple. It was during the choir tour of the summer of 1992, and we had stopped for several hours at the Kirtland Temple. We had a meeting at the Kirtland Temple in the assembly room. It was full of the choir and our entourage, and there were a couple of LDS speakers and a speaker from the RLDS Church. Then we sang “The Spirit of God” (Hymns, no.2), which, you may know, was written for and first sung at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. I was sitting next to my sweetheart, Diane, and she was sitting next the wife of the conductor—Jerold Ottley’s famous and wonderful soprano soloist wife, JoAnn Ottley. And as we progressed in that song, you know, the Spirit was so strong that their voices broke and we couldn’t sing.

 

We looked over and tears were streaming down everybody’s faces. And the sound was glorious, and we thought, well, who is singing? Because we are so emotionally overcome that most of us cannot sing. And we are certain that we were joined by the heavenly hosts on that occasion.

 

Finish, then, thy new creation;

Pure and spotless let us be.

Let us see thy great salvation

Perfectly restored in thee.

      (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)

 

We have this great restored gospel, don’t we, that is such a blessing to us. And we know that it has to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people before the end (see Revelation 14:6; 2 Nephi 26:13; Mosiah 3:13, 20; D&C 88:103; 112:1) and it’s been entrusted to you mostly—the burden and the opportunity of that carrying of the gospel—mostly to you, the younger generation, hasn’t it? Many of you have returned from your missions—I understand something like 80% of the brethren—and have had that marvelous experience. And what a miraculous thing. You know, could any other church call 19-, 20-, 21-year-olds out to carry the gospel and be the vanguard and have success? No, I don’t think so. I know they couldn’t; they wouldn’t think of doing such an insane thing. But because of the Spirit of the Lord and His blessing and the dedication of you wonderful rising generation, why, the gospel goes forth in all its majesty and power.

 

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place.

      (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)

 

Music brings the tones of heaven to earth, I think, quicker than most anything. I believe that the harmonies of music mirror the harmony and the unity that is in heaven, and I think it is justly called “the divine art.” We heard an example of that unity in that wonderful solo today. So when we are tempted, we are instructed—rightly so—to sing a favorite hymn and the Spirit will come back to us (see “Hum Your Favorite Hymn,” Children’s Songbook, 152).

 

Then, when we have proven worthy

Of thy sacrifice divine,

Lord, let us regain thy presence;

Let thy glory round us shine.

      (“In Humility, Our Savior”)

 

Till we cast our crowns before thee,

Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

      (“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”)

 

That word crowns reminds me of Proverbs 17:6, where it says “Children’s children are the crown of old men.” Now, I don’t like to think of myself as an old man; I got started having children pretty early. But those children’s children—the grandchildren—boy, I feel like they are the crown on my head, and I know that they and their posterity will be also in the worlds to come. We know that if we are faithful, we will literally be crowned, as it says in the 75th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, “with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life” (verse 5). Everything our Father has, He will give to us (see D&C 84:38).

 

How blessed we are! How blessed you are to be at this wonderful school—the crème de la crème, I would say, of the Church. Where else can you go and have this spiritual environment and have so much personal attention, you know, in a small, intimate environment, if you will. I first came to love LDS Business College over 25 years ago when our oldest son attended college for a year before his mission. I called him last night to tell him I was speaking here and just ask—I wanted to know if my recollection was correct and it was a marvelous experience. I said, “Did you enjoy yourself there?”

 

“Oh, yes,” he said. “I loved that experience.” So I know that you are blessed and that you appreciate this great blessing you have.

 

Well, finally, I want to end by playing an organ setting of this great hymn that I have recited to you in the course of this sermon. In humility and love divine, and in music, I’ve tried to express the words of these two great hymns.

 

I bear my testimony to you that I know that these things are true, and I pray the Lord’s choicest blessings to be with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

Let me introduce to you Brother Christiansen. He was appointed the Temple Square organist in 1982. He previously served as the organist and chorus master at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, and for five years the organist for the Congregation Kol Ami.  He shares responsibility for the console of the 11,623 pipes that are in the Tabernacle pipe organ, as well as the monumental organ in the Conference Center. He performs daily organ recitals, and he is organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word.

Dr. Christiansen’s solo performances have taken him across the United States, Canada, and England. He has performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Europe and Israel, and he has been a featured artist for a variety of musical and organ groups. Dr. Christiansen completed a doctorate in composition and holds a master of music degree from the University of Utah and a bachelor of music from Brigham Young University. He has also studied with the former Tabernacle organist Alexander Schreiner.

Among Dr. Christiansen’s other works are a solo organ CD album and numerous solo performances with other performance groups. His organ and vocal compositions are published by numerous entities and are recognized worldwide. Dr. Christiansen and his wife, Diane, are the parents of 13 children and have 53 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.  Brothers and sisters, it is a special treat for us to listen to a man and his spirit and his talent today.


One Degree Changes

19 May. 2015

Transcript

One Degree Changes

Thank you for that beautiful number and for the blessing of bringing the Spirit into this meeting. I’m so grateful to be here today, to be honored to speak with you. What a privilege it is that you have to attend this great institution. I attended a two-year junior college in my academic career and did not have the opportunity to attend an LDS institution at that time. I think it’s such a privilege to have this blessing. I feel like I am among friends as I participate here.

In fact, that’s what the Church does for everyone, I think, everywhere. I recall being on a business trip one time in Denmark. We were in Copenhagen and had just finished meeting with a management team, and my partner and I decided that we would just head off for the airport as quickly as we could. We got to the airport and found out that our flight had been delayed. It was canceled. We thought, “Well, we don’t have arrangements; we don’t have a place to stay. What are we going to do?” So we hopped in a taxi and found out they only spoke Danish, which we did not, and tried to figure out how to communicate we needed to go to a hotel. Finally, we figured that out, and they took us to a hotel. It wasn’t an American brand hotel, so it was a Danish hotel. We walked inside and walked up to the counter and had the same problem. We stood in front of this young lady and tried to explain that we needed a room that night. She said she spoke no English—she said, “No English”—and we just had no way to communicate.

Finally, we started using sign language. We did the, you know, “we need a place to stay or a place to sleep,” and we were getting nowhere. We looked down at one point in the conversation, and as we looked down, we saw a ring on her finger and on the ring were the initials “CTR.” We both looked at each other and said, “No way.” We immediately looked at her and said, “Choose the right,” in unison. She looked up, she smiled, and she said in English, “Choose the right.” It was fantastic. We had wonderful rooms that night. We learned that membership has its privileges. We were so blessed.

I’ve also found that wherever we go, we know that our Heavenly Father loves us, and we can trust Him and we can call upon Him, anytime, anywhere, in any place and at any time we need Him. I had one such occasion. I was a returned missionary, home from my mission for a short period of time. I had attended a junior college, as I mentioned, down in California and was trying to decide what I would do next. I had applied to BYU—that was back in the days when they would let anyone in—and had gotten accepted, but I hadn’t decided to go. I sat down with my bishop, and he said, “Well, Roger, you really need to go do this. This is the right step for you.”

I prayed about it and felt that it was the right step as well, but it was a week before school started. So I said, “Bishop, I have no friends, no place to stay. School starts in a week. What am I going to do?”

He said, “Well, figure it out.” So I knelt down and offered a prayer to my Heavenly Father and explained to Him what I was doing, why I was doing it, and the help I needed. And I loaded up my car, and it was an old Opal. It had plastic in the windows. The windows had broken, and I couldn’t afford to replace them. My rearview mirror was held up with a gum wrapper inside the car. So I put what little things I had inside the car, and I took the drive from Southern California to Provo, Utah. It was about a 14-hour drive for me.

 

I remember pulling up in Provo, driving down Center Street where it meets 900 East, and thinking to myself about 7:00 p.m. that night, “Okay, so now what? I’m here, but I have no place to stay. I don’t have any friends to call upon. What am I going to do?”

I reached an intersection and I saw this little apartment complex. It’s still there. It’s called Fairmount Square. And something said, “Go give it a try.” So I turned my little Opal into the Fairmount Square parking lot, and pulled in, and walked up to and knocked on the door of the manager’s apartment. She opened the door, and I remember her talking to me, and she said, “What can I help you with?”

I said, “I’m here to go to school, and I need a place to stay.”

She just looked at me and said, “Well, you’re a real planner, aren’t you? It starts in a week.”

I thought, “Well, this isn’t going well.”

She said, “I have one bed left in the apartment complex. Just one. If you go down and you meet the roommates and you’re agreeable, then you can have it.”

So she shut her door, and I walked down the hallway to try to find this apartment, with a little bit of fear and trepidation about my roommates—what they could be like and if they would want me to stay with them. I went up, and I knocked on the door.

When the door opened, brothers and sisters, on the other side of the door were three of my former missionary friends that served in my district from the Georgia Atlanta Mission when I served as a missionary. They looked at me and just started laughing. I do that to people—they see me and just start laughing. I’m not sure why.

And they said, “What are you doing here?”

And I said, “Well, I’m here to go to school, and I need a place to stay.”

Elder Duffman spoke up, and he said, “Well, come on in.”

Did you follow that story? I mean, did you follow it all the way? Did you follow it all the way from Southern California, 14 hours to Provo, Utah, to the one door where the Lord had prepared a place? We can trust Him. We can count on Him.

There is a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants 84:80: “And any man [or woman] that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom”—under a condition—“and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed”—unfortunately—“and they shall not go hungry, neither athirst.”

That’s a promise. The Savior keeps His promises, and I found that to be true in more than one way. My wife and I were finishing our missionary service, as President Richards mentioned, in the Washington Kennewick Mission. We were so excited when we got our mission call. I don’t know if you know how it works when you are called to be a mission president. They call and ask you to serve, and then it’s several months before you actually learn where your assignment is. So you’re like every other missionary in the world, waiting for that letter to show up in the mail.

So after about five months, we got our packet, and we opened up our letter, and we read it to our family: “You are hereby called to serve, to preside in the Washington Kennewick Mission.” And the first thing I thought was, “I love forests. This is going to be great!” I told that to a friend of mine who is from the area, and he just started laughing again. I said, “Why are you laughing?” He said, “There aren’t any trees in the Washington Kennewick Mission.” And it is a desert. But it was a wonderful place, and we had a marvelous experience serving the Lord in that capacity.

But something happened. Two months before I was to come home, we found out of a sudden that I was diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma cancer. That means it had spread throughout my entire body. I had a tumor the size of a mini football in my abdomen and wasn’t aware of this. I felt like I was in great shape. I was running 110 miles an hour and was hit with that sudden surprise. Quite a surprise.

But remember the scripture. You won’t be darkened, and the Lord will help you. And so we went through treatment, and the treatment was effective, along with prayer and priesthood blessings. But the treatment was so demonstrable in terms of its impact on me that you couldn’t recognize who I was.  I started chemotherapy as well as steroid treatment. Now, I did receive a literal recognition of that scripture that a hair of your head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed (see D&C 84:80). All my friends noticed. And it became quite obvious what was happening.

I had a missionary reunion shortly after we began, and none of my missionaries recognized me when they came to the front door. It was really quite a remarkable time. Well, I took selfies before selfies were popular. As I went through the process, the Lord continued to bless me and to help me and to heal me. I’m so grateful for that blessing of help and healing.

As a consequence of the steroid treatment, I underwent ten rounds of surgeries and had both shoulders and both hips replaced. Do you remember the scripture? It says, “Neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a hair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst” (D&C 84:80).

Through all of that I had a choice, and the choice was to be healthy or sick. I was presented with this interesting dilemma. If I allowed myself to present myself as ill, then people treated me as though I were ill, and I was taken off the bench and out of the game. But if I approached it as through I were healthy and made that decision, then I was totally in the game and working. So I made a choice. My choice was to be well.

Now, you can’t will yourself that way, but you can certainly have the attitude of wanting it to work. What I had to give up was all the sympathy that came with being ill, all the statements that people would make like, “Oh, I’m sorry that is happening to you,” and “Boy, you should get a pass because of what you’re going through.” Rather than that, I made the choice to be well. I worked—I missed very little work for the period of time. I was so blessed because of that experience and opportunity to be able to have the attitude of being well.

Brothers and sisters, we can make plans, and we should. Have you heard the statement, “Plan your work, and work your plan, then watch your plan work”? I like to say, “Plan your work, then work your plan, then watch the Lord work His plan for you.” Things will happen that are unexpected. We can even do things that cause us to get off the plan that our Heavenly Father has.

In general conference, President Uchtdorf shared the story of a passenger jet— as you know, he likes telling airline stories. He told the story of a passenger jet that was flying from New Zealand to Antarctica. It was a sightseeing trip. It had 257 passengers on board. Something happened and someone changed the flight plan by simply two degrees. And because of those two degrees, the flight was 28 miles off course and crashed, killing all those on board.

President Uchtdorf goes on to teach, “Small errors and minor drifts away from the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring sorrowful consequences into our lives. It is therefore of critical importance that we become self-disciplined enough to make early and decisive corrections to get back on the right track and not wait or hope that errors will somehow correct themselves” (“A Matter of a Few Degrees,” Apr. 2008 General Conference).

Sister Connors reminded me of a story that Elder Hamilton of the Seventy shared in general conference. He said he knew the very hour his family became inactive in the Church. He said that his father was 13 years old at the time; he said his father can recall this. In those days we attended church in the morning for Sunday School and sacrament meeting was in the evening or the afternoon. So “on a beautiful spring day, after returning home from Sunday . . . services, his mother turned to his father and asked simply, ‘Well, dear, do you think we should go to sacrament meeting this afternoon, or should we take the family for a ride in the country?’” (“Continually Holding Fast,” Oct. 2013 General Conference).

They opted for a ride in the country, and they never came back. And generations were affected by that simple decision, that simple two-degree shift in direction.

In both cases they were minor adjustments, minor changes. My belief is that one-degree changes can have a positive impact on our lives. A simple, small change maintained over time can result in a large, positive transformational impact on whatever we are trying to do.

For example, lately I have been thinking about my reading and wanted to increase and improve my ability to read books. In my business, it’s a good thing to be up on things. Things have been busy, hard to do. So I made the decision, a one-degree change, to read 15 minutes a day, consistently, day after day, over time. What that has allowed me to do is read 22 books in the last 12 months. It has entirely changed my ability to consume the material I need to consume in the business I am in.

My wife and I made the decision many years ago to walk thirty minutes every day. We’ve kept to that pretty strictly and enjoy that time together. Not only has it had a transformational impact on my health, as you can well see, but also had a transformational impact on our relationship as husband and wife. It’s a great time for us to be together. We don’t really call it a walk; we call it a talk because it’s our opportunity to be together and speak to one another.

A more significant decision, a one-degree decision I made in my life was to get in that car, that Opal, and load up my things, and drive up to school and finish my education. Transformational. As I look at all of the things I have done in my life, there are a few decisions I have made that have been truly transformational. One of those has been my education and what I have decided to do. One-degree changes--- that’s what we’re talking about.

Here’s the question I would ask you: what one-degree change could do right now that would have a positive impact, a transformational impact, on your life? What one thing? Just one. Don’t overcomplicate it with a long list. Don’t try to articulate all the transformational things you want to have happen in your life. What’s that one shift, that one-degree shift, that if you did consistently over time would impact you in a significant way?

Here are some thoughts about what it could be:

·         To complete your degree by a certain date.

·         To be totally committed and accountable to follow through.

·         To date only those who have the same standards as you.

·         To attend the full three-hour block of Church meetings on Sunday.

·         To fast a full 24 hours every fast Sunday.

·         To endure to the end.

One-degree shifts can have transformational impact as in no other way. But there are two keys to this. The first is to pick the right one-degree change. What is it that I or you or we could do that would result in the transformational impact we are looking for in our lives—things we want to accomplish, goals we want to obtain, objectives we want to achieve? What are those? What are the course corrections that would lead to blessings in our life that can be obtained in no other way?

I’d like to help you understand a little bit about that and what you can do because one of the things you are working against is this notion of belief bias. That’s what I call it. It’s called conformation bias in behavioral science. It’s our propensity to prove that our view of the world is correct and to kind of shut out other inputs. So let’s go on—let’s give this a try. I’m going to ask you to participate with me for just a minute. I’m going to show you a slide, and on the slide is a collage. It’s a collage of pictures. I’m going to give you approximately four seconds, and in those four seconds, I want you to identify as many different objects as you can. Don’t tell anyone else; just note it to yourself. You can write down a little note, or just mentally note it. But identify as many objects as you possibly can in four seconds. Everyone ready? Okay, here we go.

[Slides are displayed.]

Okay, so we’ll try to do this in an organized way. What did you see? How many of you saw the pizza? [Audience members raise their hands.] How many of you didn’t see the pizza? How many of you are ready for a pizza? [Audience members raise their hands.] Okay, just checking. The Olympic symbol. How many of you saw the Olympic symbol? [Audience members raise their hands.] Okay, maybe a third. How many didn’t see the Olympic symbol? [Audience members raise their hands.] Most of the room. A panda bear. How many saw the panda bear? [Audience members raise their hands.] How many didn’t see the panda bear? [Audience members raise their hands.] Okay, most saw the panda bear. How about over here? What did you see? [An audience member responds.] A watch? How many saw the watch? [Audience members raise their hands.] How many didn’t see the watch? [Audience members raise their hands.] About half and half. How about the blue elephant? How many saw the blue elephant? [Audience members raise their hands.] Yeah, there’s no blue elephant; that was just a test to see if you were cheating.

Let me show it to you one more time. That’s the picture. So why is it? What’s going on here? Why do some of us see some things and others of us see something different? You could say it’s where you’re sitting in the room, but you’re all sitting in about the same place. The slide’s up high enough, except for those in the very front—you might not see the whole thing. But what is that? It’s called selective perception. You are attuned to recognize certain things you are familiar with.

It’s how advertising works, right? The whole idea of advertising is that you can be predisposed to recognize a brand or a logo or a product when you walk into a grocery store and see them on the shelves. If you see it enough, you will recognize it. We see what we look for. Did you hear that? We see what we look for. That is good and bad.

I remember one time I was sitting with a friend, and his young teenage daughter walked in. She started talking about this band—now, you’re going to know who this band is; at the time I didn’t. The band was named Weezer. Do you know Weezer? Well, at the time I had never heard of Weezer. I had in my mind a bunch of old people sitting around trying to sing. She walked in and started talking about Weezer, and I left their house with that on my mind. I got in my car, and as I was driving down the road, I looked at the bumper of a car in front of me and saw a bumper sticker. And on the bumper sticker, guess what it said? It said “Weezer.” I walked into a store, and on the window of the store there was a poster, and it was advertising a Weezer song. I turned on the radio, and through a sequence of songs, I heard Weezer as a band being announced. And finally, I walked into my daughter’s room and asked what she was doing. She said, “I’m listening to music.” I said, “What are you listening to?” Guess what she said? “Weezer.”

So what happened? What happened? Did it all of a sudden start occurring, or had it always been occurring and I just couldn’t see it? Selective perception works against us when we are trying to identify the one-degree change. It’s hard for us to see what we need, but if we can turn to people we trust and ask for their input, we can get amazing insight that allows us to see the whole picture and not just that which we know.

Also, and perhaps more importantly, when we fast and pray, the Holy Spirit will reveal all things to our minds and hearts. He testifies of truth. And if there were a truth we want to understand, it would be that one thing we could do that would allow us to make the slightest shift that, if over time followed consistently, would be a transformational change leading to the blessings that we are looking for.

So, number one: identify and pick the right one-degree change.

Number two: hold yourself accountable to follow through and do it. The best way to do that is to tell someone what you are doing. Declare it. Find someone you trust who you can report to proactively. You can go to them and say, “Here’s what I’m doing. Here is the progress I am making.” When you declare yourself, you close all the back doors and you give yourself the opportunity to take accountability to accomplish something important.

I think both of these—choosing the right one-degree change and holding yourself accountable—are keys. Remember, the gates of history swing on small hinges. There aren’t great things that have to be done in order to accomplish great things. Often, it’s the small and simple things.

Mark Twain—I love some of his quotes, and this is one I particularly like—he said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Then he explained: “The secret to getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming task into small, manageable tasks, starting at the first one.”

I believe that our efforts to go before the Lord and ask for His help and then establish a direction will bring upon us the divine blessings of personal power—the power of faith, the power of righteousness that allows us to accomplish the things we’re doing. And then watch for the divine hand of the Lord to help you do it.

I’ve got to tell you this quick story. This is a friend of mine, Monte Deere. He was our bishop in Alpine, and he was called to be a mission president in Spain (that’s where he’s serving today). He had the most interesting experience. In Spain, in the ward he was living in, was a woman from Iran. She only spoke Farsi—she didn’t speak Spanish; she didn’t speak English, just Farsi. President Deere had no one in the mission who could teach her. He’d been praying and thinking about what he could do to solve this problem and give her what she needed, but he was coming up short.

A missionary who served in his mission was corresponding with President Deere via email.  He needed some advice so President Deere offered to talk with this missionary over the phone. He said, “Send me your phone number, and I’ll give you a call.” So the missionary did that.

Well, President Deere, being true to his word, picked up the phone and gave him a call. When the phone rang, he was shocked to find a woman answering the phone. He didn’t know what had happened. He said, “Hi, my name is President Deere. I’m in the Spain Malaga Mission, and I’m looking for Elder so-and-so.”

She said, “Well, President, you have the wrong number, but you caught the sister missionaries here in San Diego.”

He said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” They chatted for a while and thought it was just the most amazing coincidence.

He was about to hang up the phone when the sister missionary said this: “President, can my companion ask you a question?”

He said sure, so her companion got on the line. She said, “President Deere, I’m on a special mission here in Southern California. I teach people in Farsi. You wouldn’t happen to have anyone in your mission that needs to be taught in Farsi, would you?”

President Deere was shocked. He said, “What do you mean? How do you do that?”

She said, “We do it over Facebook. We have a conversation in Farsi, and we teach.”

He said, “Well, I have exactly who you need to talk to.” They got together and a few weeks later, this woman was baptized.

My belief about these stories is that Heavenly Father will bless your efforts as you commit yourself to a course and direction. Remember the brother of Jared? Remember the problem he had? How are we going to light the barges? How will we do that? The Lord didn’t tell him what to do; the brother of Jared had to go and figure it out for himself. He said, “Well, I’m going to get these sixteen stones, and I’m going to present them to the Lord, and I’m going to ask Him to make them translucent so they will light the barges.” Who would have thought? But the brother of Jared approached the Lord, and he said, “I believe you can do all things—all things that are asked. Here are these sixteen stones. If you will just touch them with your finger, they will be translucent and they will light the barges” (see Ether 3:4, 6). The Lord did as the brother of Jared asked, and He touched each stone and lighted the way. And the brother of Jared had so much faith that he then saw the Lord Himself. (See Ether 2–3.)

I believe our faith will make a difference as we identify these things we need to change and do for transformational impact.

One last quick story. I’ve just got to share this with you. My family is the most important thing to me, besides my faith. But everything matters when it comes to my family. I try diligently to be a good father and a good husband. It’s my most important goal outside of being a faithful disciple of Christ. Well, my son, during a period of time in our lives as he was growing up—my youngest son was in school, in elementary school, and things weren’t going well. He was doing fine with his grades, but he had no friends. Every time he came home, he would talk about how the bullies and others were making fun of him and how it was harmful and hurtful to him. We could see it was just devastating for this son.

We were fasting and praying and looking for ways to solve the problem. We didn’t know what to do. Then one day, my wife—Sister Connors—came to me, and said, “We should go to school. We can go with him at lunch and see what’s happening.” So I changed my appointments, made different plans, and I showed up at the school for lunch. My son was shocked. He couldn’t believe I was standing there.

He said, “Dad, what’s wrong?”

I said, “Nothing’s wrong. I just came to have lunch with you.”

And then he got this big smile on his face, and he said, “Great!” So we stood in line with our little trays, and we got our little hot dogs and little carrots. And we sat down together in the group, and we ate our lunch. And as we were eating lunch, I noticed out of the corner of my eye what looked like the biggest kid in the schoolyard walk up and sit down at the table. I could see my son immediately tense up, and I realized at that moment that this was the school bully. So we began talking, and the bully asked, “So, what are you doing?” and “Why are you here?” I was just talking pleasantly with him, and as we visited for a minute, I noticed he had nothing to eat. So I said, “Would you like to share my lunch?” And he said sure, so I gave him a little carrot and a little hot dog, and we each had our lunch.

We raised our hands when we were done, and they came over to look at our table—you know how this goes in elementary school—and they dismissed us once we cleaned it up. I was ready to say goodbye to Seth and leave but he said, “Well, Dad, you can’t go. We’re not done.”

I said, “What do you mean, we’re not done?”

He said, “Now we go play soccer.”

I said, “Great! Well, have a good time.”

He said, “No, Dad. You’ve got to come with us.”

I said, “Well, Seth, I played baseball when I was a little kid. I didn’t play soccer.”

He said, “You’ve got to come.”

So I walked down with him to the soccer field, fourth graders against the fifth graders. They gave me my little jersey to wear—it was kind of up around my neck—and we had our numbers, and we walked on the field. Then the smartest kid in the class stood up, and I said, “What do you want me to do?” And what he said next is how you know he was the smartest kid in the class—He shouted out: “Just stand in front of the goal with your arms like this [Gestures to indicate how].” And that’s what I did. And the goal was about the size of this right here [gestures to indicate size], and my job the whole game was to stand there like that.

So I’m standing there trying not to let everyone down, and the bully comes up to me and starts talking a little bit more. We’re chatting, and we’re beginning to make a little bit of a friendship, beginning to know what this is all about. As we’re talking, we hear this shouting coming from the far end of the field. “Kick the ball! Kick the ball!” I looked up, and I realized they were shouting at me. The ball was coming down the middle of the field to me. I played baseball; I didn’t play soccer. But I knew what I needed to do. So I said, “Heavenly Father, if there was ever a time, it’s right now.” I pulled my leg back, and I let her rip.

Brothers and sisters, that ball went a perfect trajectory from my net into the net on the other side of the field. You could see the angels flying away after it all happened. My son was amazed. His eyes were this big. My eyes were this big And then someone shouted out, “Whose dad is that?” And it was the school bully who walked up, and he said, “Well, that’s Seth’s dad.”

We walked off the field victorious, one to nothing. The fourth graders finally won a game, and my son Seth stood on one side of the doorway and I stood on the other side of the doorway, and every member of the class that walked through gave us high fives as they walked into class. And then my son turned to me, he looked at me, and he said, “Dad, thank you for coming.”

As I walked off the campus that day, I received a revelation. I’ll never forget it. The Lord said, “If you will take care of mine, I will take care of yours.” It’s always been true. It’s always been true. Put the kingdom of God first, and His righteousness, and all of these things—all of these things—will be added unto you (see Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31). I testify that He lives, that He loves us, that He’ll help us, that we can achieve transformational, amazing things in our lives with simple changes that impact us forever. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

Let me introduce to you Brother Connors. He is the CEO and co-founder of Partners and Leadership, which is an international management, consulting, and training company. He has co-authored four New York Times bestseller books on the subject of workplace accountability and culture change. He serves as a personal leadership coach for Fortune 500 CEOs and executives, and his business clients include all thirteen of the most admired pharmaceutical companies in the world, and almost half of those companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and nearly half of the Fortune 50 largest companies in the US. He holds an MBA with distinction from the Marriott School of Management at BYU, and a bachelor of science from the School of Accountancy at BYU. Roger has conducted workshops and consulting engagements throughout the world. He is highly respected as a facilitator of senior executive groups and management teams.

Let me tell you about the books he has authored that have been on the bestseller list. The first book was entitled The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability, ranked year after year as one of the top five bestselling books in leadership and performance. He also co-authored The New York Times bestseller The Wisdom of Oz: Using Personal Accountability to Succeed in Everything You Do.

Brother Connors has served as a stake president and a mission president in the Washington Kennewick Mission. I learned that that’s the only place in Washington where there is a desert, and he presided over that. He and his wife, Gwen, were expecting to see trees; they had dust storms instead. He has also been a branch president at the MTC. He and his wife, Gwen, are the parents of five children and two grandchildren, and they live in Alpine, Utah.

The College, brothers and sisters, has been a wonderful beneficiary of his organization. We have used it here, and I have used much of his material in many Church settings. You will be blessed today for what you hear and what you feel. After sitting next to him, I would also say that when he decides to retire, he should try out for the Tabernacle Choir. He has a wonderful singing voice.


End of Semester Devotional

09 Jun. 2015

Transcript

End of Semester Devotional

Janaye Steadman :

Okay. Be careful about the desires of your heart. Last week, I sat right down here with my friends, and I listened to Marisol’s beautiful testimony, and I thought to myself, “I’m graduating in two weeks, and I’ve never had the opportunity to speak in devotional. And two days later the school called me, and here I am. So the Lord is very aware of every desire of your heart. Be careful of what they are because He just might arrange them.

I absolutely love the Business College. I believe that this is one of the best places on earth. And one of the reasons I love it so much is because of the unique invitations that have been extended to us and the unique experiences we can have here. My first semester, I remember the focus was more on this being a temple of learning, and this semester we were invited to “Receive the Gift.”

When this theme was first announced at new student orientation, I wanted to partake and participate in it, but I wasn’t exactly sure how. Luckily, they put ideas of how to participate in this challenge were put BrainHoney because I know otherwise I probably would have forgotten about it. When I saw that, I was curious and looked through some of the articles. The one that I came across that meant a lot to me was by Elder Bednar. And it’s called “In the Strength of the Lord.” He says,

Brothers and sisters, the gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good. And the Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad and to do and become good. There is help from the Savior for the entire journey of life—from bad to good to better and to change our very nature (BYU Devotional Address, Oct. 23, 2001).

He was talking about the enabling power of the Atonement, and it opened my mind in incredible ways because this is something that, I guess, I hadn’t ever really known about before. And I’m a little bit ashamed that before reading this talk, I didn’t know how I could apply the Atonement more in my life because I was pretty happy and content. But after reading this talk, I realized that I could tap into the enabling power of the Atonement.

I want to share just one experience with you. Towards the beginning of the semester, I was already feeling stressed out because I was coming to school full-time, I had just started a new job, and I had just gotten a new calling. Thing after thing was piling on, and I was feeling stressed and I was feeling overwhelmed. And just as I was feeling the most overwhelmed I possibly could, I got a phone call asking me to add one more semester-long commitment to my life. And I didn’t . . . For some crazy reason, I enthusiastically said, “Yes! I’ll help!” And after I hung up from that phone call and I was in my car driving to Institute from work, I prayed to Heavenly Father. And I said, “Heavenly Father, I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I’m completely overwhelmed already, and I just added one more thing, but I know that I needed to.”

So I left it in His hands. I said, “Heavenly Father, I need your help.” And it wasn’t anything bad that was being added; they’re all good things that I wanted to participate in. But instantly to my mind came the scripture: In the strength of the Lord “I can do all things” (Alma 26:12) —not some things, not most things, but all things. And that was what I needed. I realized that with the help of Heavenly Father, I could achieve all the good that I wanted to. I could do everything. I couldn’t do it by myself, but I could do it with Him.

That’s the enabling power of the Atonement. He suffered not only for us when we slip and when we fall and when we make mistakes and need to repent, but He also is there for us in our times of happiness and success, and when we need help to measure up. I promise you that as we enter the last week of the semester—it gets so crazy, and finals are hard—but if you will tap into the enabling power of the Atonement, I promise you He will help you. He will help you measure up because He is there for us. I have felt it in my life this semester, and I am so grateful that I will get to learn more about that and continue to use it throughout my life. And I leave this with you humbly, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Carlos Arredondo:

I just want to start by thanking Adrian Juchau and President Richards and everyone who is involved in putting together the devotionals of this semester and especially for their efforts to focus on the Atonement. I want to say to you all, thank you. You have blessed my life.

I have prepared something for you, but I am really nervous, and I think I might forget what I have prepared. So I am just going to keep it simple and really talk to you from my heart. I am sure that we all have seen the Easter video the Church made. I like how at the very end, the screen goes black and two words appear, and it is “Find Him” (see “Because He Lives,” https://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/collection/easter-videos/because-he-lives).

There’s a scripture in John 17:3. It says this: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” I think there is a very huge difference between finding Him and knowing Him, or Them. We can find Him in the scriptures; we can find Him here during these devotionals. We found Them in general conference this past weekend. There is only one way that we can get to know Them, and it is by applying those principles that we learn by finding Them in our lives, especially the Atonement.

I once asked myself if I called my Heavenly Father “Father” because that is the title He has or because He really is my Father, and if I call Jesus Christ my “Savior” because that is just the title He has or because He really is my Savior.

I know Them because I have a personal relationship with Them, and like I said, this can only become true in our lives if we apply the Atonement in our lives.

In my life, because of my decisions, I have gone astray a little bit. And when I have done so, I have knelt down and prayed to God and asked Him to please help me because I have realized that I am not strong enough to go back to Him on my own. And when I have done so, I have felt God’s and Jesus’ love for me, unconditionally. Because even when I have done wrong, They have never stopped loving me.

One of my favorite scriptures is found in Alma 7:12. The part I like the most says this: “That his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know . . . how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” And this shows me that He chose to suffer all the things He went through just so He could know how to help me personally. And I know this is true. And I know this Church is true. Because He lives, I can live too. And I just want to share these things with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Liesl Roberts

Thank you so much, choir, for that beautiful number. Nothing invites the Spirit faster than music. I love music.

Have you ever noticed the painting of the Savior knocking at the door? There is something missing—a very subtle but key feature: the doorknob. We receive the gift of the Atonement by opening the door of our hearts to the Savior. I have received the gift this past semester by accepting the commitment to study and apply the Atonement daily. I believe the focus this semester on the Atonement was just right for me. I have witnessed an abundance of blessings flow into my life as a result of making the Atonement the center of my life. It is a quest of mine to come a little closer to understanding the Atonement each day. I am extremely humbled by this opportunity to share my insights about the Atonement with all of you this morning. It is my prayer that the Spirit will teach us personally how to receive the precious gift of the Atonement.

Oh! There is nothing more joyful than overcoming through the power of Christ! The word atonement really means “at-one-ment.” It literally brings us “at one” with God. Jesus Christ made it possible for all of us to be at one with God through overcoming physical and spiritual death.

The Bible Dictionary states that “the Atonement is conditional, however, so far as each person’s individual sins are concerned, and touches every one to the degree that he has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and obeys the gospel” (Bible Dictionary, “Atonement”). Wow. To the degree we have faith in Christ, His Atonement will touch us.

The following quote by Linda K. Burton, the Relief Society general president, deepened my understanding of the Atonement significantly.

Three principles of the Atonement . . . will increase our faith in Jesus Christ: . . .

Principle 1: “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” . . .

Principle 2: There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ. . . .

Principle 3: The Atonement is the greatest evidence we have of the Father’s love for His children (“Is Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ Written in our Hearts?” Oct. 2012 General Conference).

An inspired Institute teacher here on campus once said that the Atonement is infinite and intimate (see Merrill J. Bateman, “The Power to Heal from Within,” Apr. 1995 General Conference). This great vicarious gift is such a vital part of our lives, yet sometimes it seems so vast and incomprehensible that it is difficult to grasp. In the attempt to bring it a little closer to home, this past weekend I invited students, family members, and friends to finish the following sentence: The Atonement feels like . . .

I invite all of you to finish this sentence as well. Here are a few examples of what students have shared with me:

·         The Atonement feels like an unlimited source of strength and support that is given to me based on my searching for it.

·         The Atonement is like light penetrating into my heart, illuminating every fiber of my body.

·         The Atonement heals without a scar.

·         The Atonement is like the rising sun. It is reliable, dispels darkness, and affects everyone.

·         The Atonement allows me to be my best self because Christ sees our potential that we sometimes can’t see with human eyes.

·         The Atonement feels like coming home after a really hard day and someone you love is there with open arms.

My mom said, “It truly takes knowing the Savior to appreciate what He did for us. I am grateful that I was raised with the love of the Savior and the scriptures so that I could appreciate the Atonement.”

Personally, the Atonement is like being set free, though often I feel bound like Nephi. When I am bound, I know the Lord is the only one who can deliver me. I start to pray like Nephi, “Give me the strength that I may burst these bands” (1 Nephi 7:17). When I see myself as an agent to act, instead of a victim of my circumstances, that is when the Atonement enables me (see David A. Bednar, “Ask in Faith,” Apr. 2008 General Conference).

More evidence that the Atonement is working in our lives is evident on campus: Mary Crosby’s shining countenance, Holden’s honest heart, Lydia’s perseverance, David’s charity, Boston’s purity, and Lewis’s happiness. I wish I had all day to identify each of your spiritual gifts, because I notice them. Heavenly Father has given them to you, and they are making a difference.

In closing, I want to commit each of you to receive the gift of the Atonement through applying four simple daily habits: R-E-S-T. As students, we need rest, but in this case it’s an acronym. I chose this acronym, REST, because it is essentially what the Atonement provides—rest to our souls.

R:Record tender mercies or evidences of the Atonement in your journal daily. The more you recognize the Atonement, the more you will feel it working in your life.

E:Experience a mighty change of heart daily. How is this accomplished? Read your scriptures until you feel the healing, enabling, and cleansing power of the Atonement.

S:Study how the prophets in the Book of Mormon prayed for divine help or strength. I’ll give you a hint: they first acknowledged their relationship to God. Second, they prayed with the understanding that they are agents to act for themselves (see David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning by Faith,” Liahona and Ensign, Sept. 2007). And third, they humbly plead with the Lord to turn their feeble, yet acceptable efforts into something miraculous. Pray like Alma among the Zoramites that your afflictions may be “swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (Alma 31:38).

Brothers and sisters, this past semester I’ve done as Alma did, and, using the exact wording of the prophet Alma, my afflictions truly have been “swallowed up in the joy of Christ.” I testify that this works. No matter what your life circumstances may be, you can feel the joy and peace that comes from living the gospel. After all, Joseph Smith declared that if we are faithful, all of our losses will be made up (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 296).

T: Take counsel. This habit is inspired by the scripture, “Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand” (Jacob 4:10). Humble yourselves and seek counsel from the Lord and His chosen servants, from your parents and from teachers. The Lord is the potter; we are the clay (see Heber C. Kimball, “The Potter and the Clay,” Ensign, Jan. 2011). Let us be moldable for the Lord.

We are all in constant need of guidance and direction. If we close the door to the counsel of those around us, we are limiting ourselves. There are people who have walked around the block a few more times than we have, and we need to trust that they know what they are doing.

And I just wanted to bear my testimony of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that He loves me with an infinite love, and I know that He loves all of you. I know that this gospel is real, and that it’s worth it. And I know that we can all return and live with our Heavenly Father again someday if we keep His commandments.

I love this school so much, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to attend here. And I say this is the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Adrian Juchau:

Thank you students, and thank you choir, for your messages and for the spirit that you brought.

We received instruction that the microphone is supposed to be pointing at our Adam’s apple, and I don’t know if you saw, but I was trying to find my Adam’s apple, and I couldn’t find it. I don’t know if it’s either that I swallowed it back in my throat because I’m so nervous, or maybe my wife is really right—maybe I haven’t hit puberty yet. I don’t know. But if you can’t hear me, just somehow let me know and we’ll go from there.

This has been a fun week. The faculty has been doing mock interview week, and it’s been a joy for me to be able to sit with some of you one-on-one in a room down the hall. If I had the wish of my heart, I would spend all day long meeting with you one-on-one and getting to know you better and to feel of your spirits. And tragically, mock interviewing is not meeting with you one-on-one. But alas, I am but a man and do sin in my wish, and I should be content with that which the Lord has allotted to me (see Alma 29:3). But if I could, I would like to try to take a moment to speak to you one-on-one in an intimate setting now because I have been asked to speak to you a little bit about the Atonement, and I know of no other way to speak about such an intimate subject than in an intimate setting. I know of no more important subject and perhaps no more inadequate person to try to address it. I pray that you will join my prayers that Heaven will be able to teach you something.

After my remarks, I think we’ll be able to hear from our president for a few moments. He’d like to share a thought with you.

I think I will be like Carlos and try to just share a few of the thoughts of my heart. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Atonement, and I’m not exactly sure what Heaven would have me share with you. There is too much to share. But here are two thoughts that have been on my mind and in my heart that perhaps might be beneficial to you.

For the word atonement in the Hebrew Old Testament, there’s a word kaphar, to cover. The Atonement is to cover. That’s an interesting concept, and I would invite you to think about “to cover,” for example, modesty and garments and all sorts of things. But I want you to know that I am learning that there is nothing—nothing—in your life that the Atonement can’t cover. If you are sick in your body or sick in your mind, if you have a heart that’s hurting, if you want your relationship strengthened, if you want to do better at school, if you want to be made clean, if you made a mistake—the list goes on. There is nothing that the Atonement does not cover. How then can you and I better access the Atonement in our own lives? It’s simply to get ourselves covered by all things Jesus, by all things Heaven, by all things Spirit.

You and I believe in a baptism of immersion, not of dippings or of sprinklings. You want the Atonement to work more in your life? Then pour your heart out in prayer (see Psalms 62:8, Alma 34:17-27); don’t just say them to check off the box at the end of the day. “Feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3, emphasis added); don’t just nibble to get your five minutes in. Don’t just sit through Church; don’t just sit through devotional; don’t just sit through the temple. Do everything you can to get those experiences through you. The more you cover yourself in Christ and bathe yourself in His Spirit, the more fully the Atonement will work in your life. It’s that simple. All we need to do is ask, to turn to Him, to bathe ourselves, to cover ourselves.

I would invite you to think of something in your life today that you would like healed or mended or fixed or cleaned or strengthened. Maybe it’s that you ought to do better at school or do better at work, or maybe it’s that you want to be a better friend or a better family member or you want to be a better person. The Atonement covers those things. Think of just one thing that you’d like the Atonement to cover and then quickly ask yourself and ask your Father in Heaven how you can get the Atonement to work more fully in your life, and watch the blessings come.

I said that the Atonement is an intimate subject. I think I’d like to share with you a few stanzas from a poem that is personal to me and that makes me think of the Atonement. Perhaps something in this poem would be helpful to you. If nothing else, perhaps it will help you feel something of the Savior’s love for you.

This little poem is a poignant portrayal of a man who, like Nephi, recognizes his imperfections and weakness and how much he needs the Lord (see 2 Nephi 4). He, like many of us from time to time, wonders if heaven is really there, and he then comes to realize that of course He is always there and it is us that need to turn to Him, and he recognizes the great blessings that come from doing so. Watch the progression in these stanzas as they go from “O Lord” to “Dear Lord” to “My Lord.”

O what a wretched man I am!

Have mercy upon me, Lord.

I will strive to do all I can

To put off my own natural man.

Unworthy though I yet may be,

My soul shall be redeemed by Thee.

Lord, please forgive me.

 

What a wretched man I am!

Have mercy upon me, Lord.

When wilt thou come to me again?

I need Thee. Be near me, Lord.

Now, in my hour of dark despair,

I’ll cast upon Thee every care.

I long to feel Thy warm embrace,

And once again behold Thy face.

Canst thou still hear me?

When wilt Thou come to me again?

Be near me. I need thee, Dear Lord.

 

Now I’ve returned to Thee at last

What comfort, sweet comfort and rest.

Now Thou wilt wipe away my tears,

Restore my soul, cast out my fears.

I’ll dwell with Thee in heaven’s courts above,

Encircled in Thine arms of love.

Great peace and joy are mine,

Now I am home.

I’ll live with Thee eternally.

I love Thee, I thank Thee,

My Lord.

 

This Easter season, may we remember that He is not only the Savior of the world, He is our Savior. Make Him your Savior. He is my Savior. Not only is He the light and life of the world, but at the same time, He gives me light in my darkness. He gives me life when I need it most. I love Him and I thank Him for the life that He has led, for His teachings, for His sacrifice. All that is good about me and in my life is because of Him. All that is less than desirable about me and my life can be made better through Him. He is the Savior. We cannot save ourselves; our teachers can’t save us; our parents can’t save us; our friends can’t save us. Video games certainly can’t save us. He is my Savior. He lives. He loves us. May we come unto Him and more fully enjoy the blessings of His Atonement, that we can receive that most precious gift, that that gift that He gave is not given in vain. This is my humble and fervent prayer for each of us that I offer in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior, amen.

 

President Richards:

Brothers and sisters, thank you for coming today. I have been taught much. Jenae has helped me understand a little bit more about the enabling power of the Atonement. Carlos has sparked my interest in the difference between finding and knowing the Savior. And Liesl—I will never use the word rest again without thinking of the acronym. Thank you very much. And Adrian is . . . Adrian has a heart that helps us understand things in deeper ways than we ever could. I know for myself, like Adrian, I have many things I hope the Atonement will cover.

Let me just leave you with a thought about the Savior’s life and its application through the power of the Atonement for you. It’s something I found—I’m going to read it a little bit so that I get it right for you. But I invite you to consider this: if the Savior caused the blind to see, He can cure spiritual blindness and open our eyes to the possibilities and the opportunities that are before us, and what we need to do to be more serviceable to Him. If He caused the deaf to hear, then He can help us tune our ears to His beckoning, which will help us as we seek to help others. If He caused the dead to rise, He can certainly heal our wounds. If He caused the dead to rise, then He can bury our transgressions and acts of rebellion deep in the earth, as He did for those in the Book of Mormon. If He caused the lame to walk, then certainly He can strengthen our wobbly steps as we journey down the straight and narrow path, holding on fast to the iron rod. If He cast out devils, He can give each of us at least a new heart. If He healed the sick, He can comfort us in our discomfort, in our discouragement, and in our pain. And if He resisted the full force of Satan’s distractions, then He can help us and strengthen our focus when we are tempted and discouraged or feel inadequate about the work that is before us.

If He can look into the vast eternity and see the end from the beginning, He can help each one of us gain a fresh view of ourselves, God, and the world around us. And He who experienced the ultimate betrayal in this life by one close to Him, and the betrayal of one who was called the “son of the morning” (2 Nephi 24:12) in the premortal life, then surely He can help when those close to us seem to have wronged or mistreated us.

And finally, if He suffered to the point where drops of blood came from his pores, then we should find great comfort in this reassuring counsel from Elder Bednar:

There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us do that which we could never do relying upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Apr. 2014 General Conference).

Brothers and sisters, may the Lord bless you as we finish this semester; may He magnify your capabilities; may He magnify your spirit—all of which is done through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Trusting Jesus

01 Jul. 2015

Transcript

Trusting Jesus

 

Good afternoon brothers and sisters. I am grateful to be here and for the opportunity to share a few lessons that I have learned over the years.

 

Lesson number one. Avoid extreme or bulky hairstyles. They will save you a lot of embarrassment in the future.

You'll notice that President didn't say that my LIFELONG goal was to get married before I lost my hair. As you can see here, I wasn't worried about hair. You can also see that I wasn't worried about style.

My remaining lessons will fall under one of the following categories: career, academic, financial, and personal. You may recognize them if you have taken STEP before.

Career

Lesson 1: Heeding the Lord When it Doesn't Make Sense.

Here's a little background. I graduated in 2008 during the nationwide hiring freeze. Three years later I was still applying for jobs across the country. At this point in my job hunt, I was sitting outside the military processing station with my recruiter, ready to swear in--meaning that I passed all of the tests and physicals and had a job lined up. All of a sudden, I received an overwhelming feeling that I shouldn't join.

Great. How do you tell, not one, not two, but multiple commanders, large in stature (like myself) who don't look like they have any feelings, that all of a sudden YOU had a feeling that you shouldn't join the military? Those next few hours were rough.

Fast forward one year. I was applying for a job here at the LDS Business College. FINALLY, after four years of job hunting I was one of the top two candidates; on the verge of getting a career. And guess what the Lord told me? "Withdraw your application." I am so grateful that my wife supported me in that decision because the next few days were heart wrenching for me.

These are only two of many similar examples. What has given me comfort is Mathew Holland's story about wrong roads and revelation.

Matthew, Elder Holland's son, shared a story when they traveled through back roads to see the Grand Canyon. On their way home they came to a fork in the road. They both received revelation to take the road on the left, which was a dead end. After some time, Matthew finally asked his dad, "Why did we both feel like Heavenly Father told us to go down the road to the left when it was the wrong road?”

Elder Holland then said, "Because we were prompted to take the road to the left, we quickly discovered which one was the right one. When we turned around and got on the right road, I was able to travel along its many unfamiliar twists and turnoffs perfectly confident I was headed in the right direction.

“If we had started on the right road, we might have driven for 30 minutes or so, become uneasy with the unfamiliar surroundings, and been tempted to turn back. If we had done that, we would have discovered the dead-end so late that it would have been too dark to find our way back in totally unfamiliar territory.”

Lesson 2: Choose Your Own Adventure

President Hunter said, "A man’s work should do more than provide adequate income; it should provide him with a sense of self-worth and be a pleasure--something he looks forward to each day."

I have always been fascinated by that quote and set my sights on finding that DREAM job. The problem was, it was nowhere to be found.

Before I came here, I worked at UPS. The first two years were tolerable, but the following year was miserable. I had my bachelor's degree, a great internship at the Church Office Building, and was ready to move on. I tried to quit. I even gave my two-week notice, but the Lord told me no and offered me a supervisor position while I waited. It didn't help; in fact it made it worse--extra hours and additional stress at a place I didn't want to be.

Then one day, I decided to be grateful--well, I'm pretty sure the Lord helped me to decide. But every night before I left work, while I sat in my car, I thanked my Heavenly Father for the resume building experience, for the health insurance, for the income. I thanked Him that my car worked (it had 300,000 miles on it). And I thanked Him for anything else I could think of.

That changed me. I began to see opportunity. I began to volunteer for special projects. I began to craft my own experience. I began to choose my own adventure.

I eventually worked my way into safety and compliance where I spent the remaining four years. And I looked forward to it every day. So take accountability for your own experience and create the career you want for yourself.

Academic

Lesson 3: Choosing a Major

How do you choose a major? I would like to propose a simple slogan--just decide! Do your research, then decide. This can work in so many other areas in your life as well. What should you be when you grow up? Just decide. Should you serve a mission or not? Just decide.

Elder Hales said, "Pursue your goals with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. You are doomed to failure if you pursue them in a vacillating manner.

"So often we are tentative and don’t move forward with conviction. We feel our way along, as if we were afraid in the dark. It is so much better to turn on the light of faith and move ahead with energy and commitment.

"If our course is wrong, we will quickly recognize it and make the necessary adjustments. But if we pursue a course tentatively and indecisively, it is difficult to know whether it is right or wrong in time to correct it."

So what does that mean? Make a decision, move ahead with energy and commitment, and trust that the Lord will guide you.

Financial

Lesson 4: Pay a Generous Tithe and Offering

Paying a generous tithe and offering will open to you the windows of heaven. I have two invitations for you. One, pay a generous tithe and offering. Two, look for the subtle blessings you have and are receiving.

Elder Bednar said, "A subtle but significant blessing we receive is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (see Luke 12:15).

He continues, "We may need and pray for help to find suitable employment. Eyes and ears of faith (see Ether 12:19) are needed, however, to recognize the spiritual gift of enhanced discernment that can empower us to identify job opportunities that many other people might overlook—or the blessing of greater personal determination to search harder and longer for a position than other people may be able or willing to do. We might want and expect a job offer, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to act and change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else.

He continues, "We may appropriately desire and work to receive a pay raise in our employment to better provide the necessities of life. Eyes and ears of faith are required, however, to notice in us an increased spiritual and temporal capacity (see Luke 2:52) to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired. We might want and expect a larger paycheck, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else."

My family and I echo the blessings we have received from paying a generous tithe and offering.

Personal

Lesson 5: Ask the Right Questions

When I was ready to ask my wife to marry me, knowing that my hair wasn't going to last much longer, I spent many stressful hours praying and pondering to know if she was the right person. I never did receive an answer...until I asked the right question. The right question for me wasn't, "Is she THE ONE?" It was, "Can I raise a righteous family with her?"

Your question might be different, but the principle is asking the right questions, which has application in other areas as well. For example, perhaps the question is not, "Is this the right career?" Or "What career should I choose?" But "Will this career help me support my family?" Or "Will this career introduce me to people and experiences that will prepare me to be an instrument in God's hands?"

Conclusion

The last lesson is the thread that weaves all of these experiences together--TRUST IN THE LORD.

I would like to leave you with a tool today. A memorized scripture. Proverbs chapter three verse five. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Please, take a brief moment to memorize this verse.

Brothers and Sisters, work hard, make decisions, and then trust the Lord. Trust in His timing. Trust in His blessings. Trust that your life is carefully watched over. Trust that your trials shall be for a moment and shall be for your good. And trust in His love.

As you do, you will find life in greater abundance.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Introduction: Craig Nelson

Michael Davison is the director of academic and institutional assessment here on campus, and Joshua Burt is the director of learning enhancement programs here on our campus.

Let me introduce Brother Davison and Brother Burt to you. Brother Davison has been at the College just slightly less than a year, after earning his master’s degree from Western Illinois University, and we’re glad to have him here. Michael keeps us on task, and we’re grateful for his presence. We’re grateful that he could be here with his wife. They have two sons.

We’re also grateful for Joshua. Joshua has worked at the College for a little less than two years. He has had a great impact. His goal in life was to get married before he lost his hair, and he said he was successful in that endeavor. His wife Andrea is here. They have two boys and a girl. And Andrea and family are right there. Would you stand up, Andrea and kids, so we can see you.


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