For optimal experience please update to your browser's latest version.
Where would you like to subscribe?
Where would you like to subscribe?

Love Changes Everything

Marilyn Bateman reminds us that it isn’t easy to look outside of ourselves with open hearts. But charity, the pure love of Christ, changes us in ways we never thought possible.

Continue Reading

Recent Speeches

0 VIEWS

Waiting upon the Lord: The Antidote to Uncertainty

I am very grateful for the opportunity I have to speak with you today. I would like to begin with a scripture in Ecclesiastes 9:11: The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. [emphasis added] I ponder this scripture each time I have a conversation with someone who didn’t get into the graduate program they applied to, doesn’t know what job to take, came home from their mission early, or has had other unexpected experiences. As I listen to their stories, my mind returns to that scripture and the reality that “time and chance happeneth to [us] all.” Today I would like to explore this scripture with you, but I suggest that another way of talking about time and chance is to use the word uncertainty. Uncertainty as a Core Human Experience Though the sources of your uncertainty will likely differ from mine, I believe this scripture in Ecclesiastes speaks the truth. No one will be immune from uncertainty or from the struggle, questioning, heartache, and pain that may ­accompany it. Uncertainty has many faces. It includes questions, doubts, ambiguity, and the discovery that persons (or things) are not quite what we expected. In essence, uncertainty is a reflection of the gap between our desire for the ideal and our experience of reality. The ideal represents how we think things ought to or should be; reality is how things actually are. Though we live our lives in the real world, our dreams and goals are often reflected in ideals. When we experience “a gap between the ideal and the real,”1 we experience uncertainty. In some of my research I have studied this gap for women transitioning to parenthood. My colleagues and I have focused our attention on what new mothers thought their ideal work situations would be versus what their real work situations were. We defined work situations broadly, including opportunities to stay home, to combine work and family, or to combine school and family. The majority of the mothers in our sample (more than 70 percent) experienced a gap between what they believed to be ideal and what their actual work and family situation was.2 I tell you this to exemplify the claim in Ecclesiastes that “chance happeneth to them all.” Uncertainty Challenges Us My colleagues and I also discovered that the greater the gap, the higher the likelihood that a mother would experience depression. I think this finding reflects something else about uncertainty: gaps between our ideals and our real circumstances challenge us. When reality hits or when things don’t go as planned, we may struggle. About two and a half years ago, after many years of hoping another child would come to our family, my husband and I discovered we were pre
0 VIEWS

Real Causes and Real Effects

I am grateful and humbled to be with you today. As I was preparing for my talk, I was reminded of a story I once heard in a stake conference session a number of years ago. The story begins with a rancher performing chores out on his ranch one morning when he sees a shiny pickup truck drive onto his ranch and park. Out of the truck steps a man in uniform who walks up to the rancher and states, “I’m here to inspect your ranch for any illegally grown drugs.” The rancher responds, “Fine, but do not go in that field over there,” and points to a beautiful field to the east. The officer replies, “Mister, I don’t think you understand me. I am here to inspect your ranch, and I have the authority of the federal government behind me.” Reaching into his pocket he pulls out some form of a badge and proudly displays the badge to the rancher. “See this badge, old man? This badge means I am allowed to go on any land,” he says, pointing all across the farmer’s ranch. “Have I made myself clear?” The rancher apologizes, nods, and goes about his chores. A short while later the old rancher hears someone screaming, looks up, and sees the officer running while being chased by a large bull in the field that the rancher had told the officer not to enter. With every step the officer takes, the bull takes two. With the distance shrinking between the charging bull and the frantic officer, the rancher steps up onto the fence enclosing the field and yells, “Your badge—show him your badge!” On college campuses everywhere, including this one, we do a fair amount of badge showing—and for good reason. Our faculty have gone to top graduate schools and have trained with many of the best scholars, which, among other benefits, has helped prepare them to stand at the front of their classrooms and speak with expertise and authority. Unfortunately I have no badge to pull from my pocket demonstrating my credentials to speak today. I am grateful for the vote of confidence from President Worthen and Vice President Richardson in extending this invitation. I am also grateful to each of you for coming to today’s devotional. It is not lost on me that you have the choice to attend or not. To this end, I hope and pray for the presence of the Spirit and that we may be edified as a result. I am grateful for my wife, Marcie, and for my children, all of whom are here except for our oldest daughter, Sarah, who is serving a mission in South Carolina and happens to return from her mission next week; we are excited at our house. I am grateful for my mother, other family members, and dear friends and colleagues who are here today as well. Rafting Gone Awry I had the good fortune of growing up in the state of Alaska. It was a fantastic place to be raised. As an example of this, each year our Boy Scout troop would plan and carry out amazing high-adventure camps. We would go backpacking,
0 VIEWS

The Rock of Our Redeemer

During our mission in Canada, my wife and I gave a “last instruction” to departing missionaries the day before they went home. Each of these young elders and sisters were heroes to us, and we wanted their transition home to be very, very successful. Our instruction was given with love and good fun. I particularly enjoyed instructing on dating and marriage. One afternoon as I stood at the blackboard during a last instruction, the Spirit pressed Helaman 5:12 deeply into my mind. This scripture came from what could have been the Book of Mormon prophet Helaman’s “last instruction” to his sons prior to their departure for their magnificent mission to the Nephites and the Lamanites. We all quoted the scripture together: And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. What a magnificent verse of scripture. Think of it: Helaman promised us that if we build our foundation upon our Savior, we cannot fall, regardless of what Satan throws at us. What a powerful promise! Our Savior gave the same promise in the Sermon on the Mount: Whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken . . . unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock— And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.1 I bet a lot of you Primary graduates are thinking of a song. Would you sing it with me—just the first two verses, with hand motions? The wise man built his house upon the rock, The wise man built his house upon the rock, The wise man built his house upon the rock, And the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down, and the floods came up, The rains came down, and the floods came up, The rains came down, and the floods came up, And the house on the rock stood still.2 Thank you! Doesn’t this simple song teach a powerful lesson? Luke put it slightly differently: Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them . . . . . . is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.3 When a person comes to Heavenly Father and
32 VIEWS

On Failing and Finishing

Play Through Your Mistakes Music has always been a very important part of my life. Nearly every major memory of my childhood involves music of some kind: singing with my family on road trips to pass the time; learning barbershop music with my mom and sisters; listening to the Tijuana Brass band on the record player while decorating our Christmas tree; singing my father’s favorite song, “Love at Home” (see Hymns, 2002, no. 294), for family home evening; and admiring my mother as she played the organ in our sacrament meeting every week—something she still does at the young age of eighty. Given that music played such a prominent role in my youth, it will not surprise you to know that I took piano lessons for ten years, from the age of eight to seventeen. My first piano teacher—we will call her Mrs. Smith—was very strict and had high expectations for mastery. During my lesson she would often follow the music with a pencil as I played. Sometimes, after I hit a sour note or used the wrong fingering, Mrs. Smith would flick my fingers with that pencil. She intended to help me recognize the mistake so that I could correct it. Unfortunately, after several experiences with the dreaded pencil, I learned that the least painful way to handle my musical mistakes was to remove my hands from the keys as quickly as possible. This habit of abruptly stopping after a mistake was also unintentionally reinforced when I would practice at home. Our piano was positioned on a wall that was opposite our kitchen; in fact, it was back-to-back with our stove. I would often practice while my mother was making dinner on the other side of the wall. When I would make a mistake, she would make a staccato “ah” sound. Startled, my hands would fly from the keys. I know this was not the intended outcome because I heard her do the same thing when she made her own mistakes at the organ or piano. She still does this today, but only in practice. When she is at the organ or piano for performance, there are few errors, but when they occur, they are hardly noticeable. She can play right on through a mistake like nothing happened. I, on the other hand, cannot. Most of my piano recitals with Mrs. Smith took place in the chapel of my home ward building. These were reverent occasions—no clapping after the end of each performance, just polite smiles from the audience as we each took our turn at the grand piano. We were not allowed to use our music, so for me, the walk up those three velvety red steps to the piano felt like walking into a battle unarmed. I was terrified that I would make a mistake, take my hands from the keys, and be unable to find the right placement again. This terror of performing would follow me into adulthood. When I was still in the early years of my public accounting career and had two small children at home, I was called as the Relief Society pianist. The first week was a disaster. I lur
26 VIEWS

A Banquet of Consequences: The Cumulative Result of All Choices

One of the most cunning aspects of the adversary’s efforts to thwart our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness is his deceitful teaching that there is no evil influence or devil1 and his attempt to redefine evil as good and good as evil, darkness as light and light as darkness, and bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter!2 This is sometimes called a paradigm shift—or “when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way,”3 thus portraying things to be exactly the opposite of what they really are. In his classic novel The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis wrote from a senior devil’s point of view. Lewis inverted traditional values using irony and satire to make evil appear good and good appear evil.4 In this vein I had a provocative meeting with an internationally recognized advertising expert a few months ago. He is an unusually gifted and creative thinker. We were discussing the influence of evil and the consequences of bad choices. He envisioned an interesting hypothetical account of the adversary (Lucifer) meeting with an advertising agency. The adversary described his dilemma: He and his followers had rebelled and rejected the Father’s plan and had come to understand they could not prevail against God. Lucifer understood that while the Father’s plan was about joy and happiness, his own plan was resulting in grief and misery. The problem, Lucifer explained to the ad executive, was how to attract followers. After contemplating this problem, it was determined that Lucifer’s only hope of success was to achieve a paradigm shift or values inversion—in other words, to characterize the Father’s plan as resulting in grief and misery and Lucifer’s plan as resulting in joy and happiness. While this contemplated meeting with an advertising agency is hypothetical, it serves a useful purpose. The truth is, not only do the enemies of Father’s plan attempt to undermine the doctrine and principles of the plan, but they also attempt to mischaracterize the blessings that flow from the plan. Their basic effort is to make that which is good, righteous, and joyful seem utterly miserable. I will discuss some of the adversary’s efforts to mischaracterize and undermine the blessings of living according to the Father’s plan. Word of Wisdom My first example is the Word of Wisdom. I fully recognize that you magnificent students understand the importance of the Word of Wisdom and have agreed, on your honor, to live by it. However, over the course of a lifetime I have seen many of my friends’ lives blighted and sometimes destroyed by alcohol. An alcohol culture isn’t just about Church doctrine; it is about the health and happiness of everyone. You can be an important voice in educating society about the consequences of this issue. In the Father’s plan, the Word of Wisdom—secti
30 VIEWS

The Power of Your Words

I would like to explain the sequence of how I was first contacted to speak at this devotional. It was on a Monday that I got a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. It had been a hectic day, and I didn’t read the text fully. Thinking it was a request to speak at an upcoming Church assignment, I texted back politely asking who the text was from. Matthew O. Richardson, BYU advancement vice president, responded that it was he who had sent the text asking me to speak at a BYU devotional. The first thought that popped into my mind was, “Are you crazy? Do you not realize that I can barely speak the English language, let alone speak in front of so many people?” My wife, who was with me at the time, responded without hesitation, “That is desperation, not inspiration!” I texted President Richardson back with, “I think you have the wrong Craig Manning.” He then replied, “Oops, sorry, I do have the wrong person!” But he then clarified that he did have the right person. As intimidating as it is to speak in front of you, the experience of preparing for this devotional has been great. I have found that every time I have put on the radio, in every activity I have participated in, and with every thought I have had, I have double-checked myself to make sure I was in alignment with the Holy Ghost so as to have the Spirit with me. I do pray that the Spirit will be with me today as I deliver my thoughts. I would like to talk to you today about a couple of life-changing lessons the Lord has taught me. I was born and raised in Canberra, Australia. My mother was, and still is, a Catholic, and my father was a member of the Church of England before he passed away from cancer twenty years ago. We attended church on Sundays, and I attended Sunday School, completing my first Holy Communion. As I got older, I started playing rugby. Games were on Sundays, and it wasn’t long before we stopped attending church. I remember coming home from a rugby game one Sunday when my mother said to me, “You are really good at sports, so you won’t be very good at school.” This statement confused me. Although I didn’t have the maturity and clarity of thought at the time to articulate my emotions, I can look back now and see why this statement bothered me. Was there some phenomenon that controlled my destiny? I couldn’t help being good at sports; it just seemed to happen. Every time I participated in an athletic contest, I was reminded that I was a good athlete. So did that mean I had no chance of ever being a good student, and did I have any say in any of this? I don’t share this story to accuse my mother of bad parenting but rather to illustrate what can happen when we don’t understand the Lord’s plan or, more important, when we don’t learn to live and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ. I spent my teenage years focusing the majority of my attention on sports, par
2 VIEWS

The Doctrine of Christ: Our Daily Walk

Brothers and sisters, it is difficult to express what a surreal experience it is for me to stand at this pulpit and speak at a BYU devotional. For many years I have been somewhat of a BYU devotional junkie. When I was a student here, I discovered that you could purchase cassette tapes of selected devotional talks, and I bought several. I remember well Stephen R. Covey’s talk “An Educated Conscience.”1 Listening to Truman G. Madsen’s talk “House of Glory” was perhaps the best temple preparation I received.2 Nowadays I have the BYU Speeches podcast and listen regularly. In all my years of listening to these devotionals, it never occurred to me that I would be speaking in one. Since receiving this assignment a few months ago, I have pondered and prayed earnestly to know what the Lord would have me share. As I pondered, I was reminded of these words from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Strength comes . . . from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most. Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian ­discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace.3 We live in days in which the mists of darkness are “exceedingly great.”4 Satan is “the father of lies,”5 and his lies “blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men.”6 One of Satan’s subtle but more pervasive strategies is to distract us from the things that matter most with a never-ending array of mind-numbing trivialities. With President Uchtdorf’s counsel burning in my heart, I will focus today “on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ”—“the sublime . . . path of Christian discipleship.” My great desire is for each of us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”7 My message is centered in that quest and how we can be more diligent, joyful, and successful in that journey. As you begin a new year and a new semester, I hope that some of what I say will help you focus your goals on “the divine things that matter most.” I invite you to pay close attention to what the Holy Ghost whispers to your heart during our time together. More important than the words I speak, I pray that your hearts and minds will be open to receive light and truth from the Holy Ghost. The light and truth that the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel has brought about can push away all darkness from our minds and lives. We need to remember that the Lord has also described our day as “noon-day.”8 Our Identity A foundational truth we need
1 VIEWS

The Pursuit of All Truth

Each year Oxford Dictionaries selects a word of the year—“a word, or expression, that . . . is judged to reflect the . . . mood . . . of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.” Past selections include unfriend in 2009 and selfie in 2013. In 2015 the word of the year was not a word but a pictograph: the “face with tears of joy” emoji.1 Recently, Oxford Dictionaries announced that the word of the year for 2016 is post-truth, a word they define as “an adjective . . . denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”2 Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, explained the selection: “Fuelled by the rise of social media as a news source and a growing distrust of facts offered up by the establishment, post-truth as a concept has been finding its linguistic footing for some time. . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if post-truth becomes one of the defining words of our time.”3 Reflecting this view, several commentators have recently asserted that we live in a post-truth world, or a world in which truth “has become unimportant or irrelevant.”4 It is hard to know with certainty whether truth is really less important than it has been in the past. But it is clear that because we live in a digital age, in which there is so much information and there are so many different contending views of what is accurate, some people find that new information confounds and confuses rather than clarifies and enlightens. Modernizing the plight of the thirsty Ancient Mariner, who proclaimed, “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink,”5 many today lament, “Data, data, everywhere, and not a thought to think.”6 Living in a post-truth world in which there is more information available than there is time to process it presents particular challenges. Many do not know how to determine the accuracy or the truthfulness of new information. Some deal with the matter by looking for reinforcement of their own preexisting, and sometimes ill-informed, notions, limiting their pursuit of truth to only those sources that support their views. Stuck in an echo chamber of their own making, they stunt their ability to learn truth by sealing themselves off from any meaningful dialogue with any who may have different viewpoints. A manifestation of this is the increasing polarization in American politics.7 Others go to the opposite extreme, finding any piece of information that disrupts their prior views as sufficient reason to throw aside, without further inquiry, truths that have provided sure guidance to them and others in the past. These individuals, to use the words of the apostle Paul, are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of do
1 VIEWS

A Safe Place

When we moved to Provo thirty years ago, I was in my twenties. Our oldest son was two, and our youngest son was just a few weeks old. I had been a member of the Church for less than ten years. Shortly after arriving in Provo, I met Bertha. Bertha was in her sixties. I knew a little bit about Bertha. I knew she lived in our stake. I knew she was respected by those who knew her. I also knew that she was a leader and a woman of service. People sought her advice. I remember attending a stake Relief Society function at which Bertha was one of the women on a panel that was answering questions and giving advice to those in attendance on a variety of topics. I noticed that Bertha was being asked for a lot of advice about raising children. I soon discovered why. She was the mother of thirteen children. I appreciated her responses to the questions. She seemed to have all the wisdom and experience that I lacked. Another thing I knew about Bertha was that she seemed to like walking. Sometimes I would see her walking in the neighborhood. One morning while I was walking with my friend, she asked me if it would be okay if Bertha joined us occasionally on our walks. I told her that was fine. But privately, the thought of walking with Bertha intimidated me somewhat, mainly because I held her in such high esteem. A few days later my friend invited Bertha to walk with us. Before Bertha met us for our walk that morning, my friend told me a couple of things about Bertha that she thought would be helpful to me. She told me that Bertha sometimes had a little difficulty hearing and that her shins sometimes bothered her—especially when walking uphill. I thought these things were good to know. Our walking route that day began in the Tree Streets south of the Provo Temple. We headed toward the temple, which is a steady uphill walk. I don’t remember much of our conversation that day. I remember only the question I asked Bertha once we reached the top of the road by the temple and began our steady descent toward home. Remembering that Bertha’s shins sometimes bothered her, I asked, “Bertha, how are your shins?” There was a bit of an awkward pause, and then, with much earnestness, Bertha replied, “I’m working on them, and hopefully they are improving every day.” I responded, “Oh, that’s good. Thankfully it’s all downhill from here.” I was feeling pretty magnanimous about my expressed concern for Bertha. For a couple of minutes we walked along in a somewhat awkward silence. Then my friend suddenly got a relieved look on her face and, turning to me, exclaimed, “You said shins, didn’t you?” My first thought was, “Yes, of course I said shins.” Then it occurred to me that they had both thought I had asked Bertha how her sins were doing! I was mortified! There I was, this inexperienced young mother, asking Bertha, this accomplished and
0 VIEWS

Lessons from Joseph Smith

Brothers and sisters, it is a surreal experience to be standing here talking to you today. Forty-eight years ago I first set foot on this campus as a seventeen-year-old freshman. I remember attending BYU devotionals in the Smith Fieldhouse (because there was no Marriott Center yet), listening to speakers just like you are doing. Things have changed a lot since then. The female students were not allowed to wear pants on campus—yes, we were cold all winter long. We whitewashed the Y on the mountain every year with a very long bucket brigade, and the Y was lit with real fire. David O. McKay was the prophet, Lyndon B. Johnson was the president of the United States, and I had lost a good friend in the war in Vietnam. The good news is that I did graduate from BYU. The bad news is that it took me forty-one years to do it. I was very elated at the event, but I do not recommend that educational strategy! I can assure you that there is nothing in my life that could possibly have given me the notion that someday I would be standing at a podium in the Marriott Center delivering a devotional address. Just as with so many events that have taken place in my life during the past three and a half years, I truly relate to Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley, who often said that she was “wondering how a nice girl like me got into a mess like this.”1 Maybe there are some lessons to be learned from this. Lessons from the Life of Joseph Smith The month of December is the birth month of the Prophet Joseph Smith. With that as inspiration, I would like to talk about three principles inspired by events from the early life of Joseph Smith that might be of value in your current situations and lives. Lesson 1: You Have an Important Mission to Fulfill President Gordon B. Hinckley once quoted Reverend Edward T. Sullivan, who said: When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born.2 After a long period of apostasy and spiritual darkness, the time had come to fulfill the promises of the Lord that the Church of Jesus Christ would be restored to the earth with all of the keys and authority found in the original Church in Christ’s day. How would the Lord accomplish this great task? A baby was born. On December 23, 1805, a poor farmer’s wife by the name of Lucy Mack Smith gave birth to a baby boy who was named after his father, Joseph Smith. He was their fourth child—he had two older brothers and an older sister.3 Who could have guessed that this little obscure baby boy born in a small rented log house in the woods of Vermont to a family of very meager means would one da
1 VIEWS

Listen, Lift, Rescue

You might recall in the beloved Dr. Seuss children’s book Horton Hears a Who! how Horton, who was an elephant, had a chance encounter with a speck of dust, from whence a voice, barely audible, called out for help. Horton recognized that the voice was coming from the speck of dust and proceeded to do all he could to protect and defend this colony of Whos, who were “too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes.” Horton perceived that someone was in distress and realized that he could help. Instead of discounting his newly discovered friends, and amidst scoffs and scorn from others, he did all he could to give aid. He had a clear understanding of his ability to rescue and protect the Who colony. Through his actions he demonstrated his ability to give aid, share his light, and serve. As Horton exclaimed, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Being Grateful Having just celebrated Thanksgiving this past week, and as we transition from November into the month of December and celebrate the birth of our beloved Savior, it seems particularly natural that gratitude has taken center stage in our minds and in our hearts—as it should. No matter how humble and meager our circumstances, we each have so much to be grateful for. President Thomas S. Monson said of gratitude: To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven. [“The Divine Gift of Gratitude,” Ensign, November 2010] He also said: We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. [“Divine Gift”] Gratitude is an expression of our faith. Negativity most certainly breeds despair, depression, lack of enthusiasm, and critical analysis of that which is most likely not our right to criticize or judge. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, in a devotional address on gratitude given at BYU, said: Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make ­others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable. . . . Gratitude is a commandment of the Father. [“Live in Thanksgiving Daily,” BYU devotional address, 31 October 2000] Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 reads, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” While it may be more challenging to feel grateful when we are in the throes of trials and disappointments, those are the very times when we need to stop, take a look around, and count and list our blessings one by one. It has not been surprising to me throughout my life how much I truly take for granted
See More