fbpx

Classic Speeches

A curated selection of beloved, timeless speeches

views Views

God Shall Give unto You Knowledge by His Holy Spirit

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

My beloved brethren and sisters, it’s a pleasure to be with you. I am complimented by your presence this stormy morning. I am grateful for Brother Wheelwright’s prayer. It’s about 2:20 in the morning in Australia where I have just been, and if I fall asleep while I give this talk you will know the reason why, and you may have the same privilege. I know that you have come to hear something that will help you, and to that end I seek the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit. I think I know something of the frustrations of college life. It is a long time since I was there, but I have never forgotten the anxieties of those days. And I think I know something of the frustrations of life in general. I have had my head bumped and my shins barked. On some of these occasions when I have needed a laugh I have turned to a letter which I think is something of a classic, which was first published in the Manchester, England, Guardian and later reprinted in the Deseret News. A hurricane had hit the West Indies, and a bricklayer was sent to repair the damage. He wrote to the home office as follows, and I hope you can get this delightful picture: Respected Sirs: When I got to the building I found that the hurricane had knocked some bricks off the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels full of bricks. When I had fixed the building, there was a lot of bricks left over. I hoisted the barrel back up again and secured the line at the bottom, and then went up and filled the barrel with the extra bricks. Then I went to the bottom and cast off the line. Unfortunately the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was, and before I knew what was happening the barrel started down, jerking me off the ground. I decided to hang on, and halfway up I met the barrel coming down and received a severe blow on the shoulder. I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my finger jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground it bursted its bottom, allowing all the bricks to spill out. I was now heavier than the barrel and so started down again at high speed. Halfway down, I met the barrel coming up and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the bricks, getting several painful cuts from the sharp edges. At this point I must have lost my presence of mind because I let go of the line. The barrel then came down, giving me another heavy blow on the head and putting me in the hospital. I respectfully request sick leave. Life is like that—ups and downs, a bump on the head, and a crack on the shins. It was ever thus. Hamlet went about crying, “To be or not to be,” but that didn’t solve any of his problems. There is something of a tendency among us to think that everything must be lovely and rosy and beautiful without realizing that even adversity has some sweet uses. One of my fav
views Views

“And in Everything Give Thanks”

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

Thank you, President Seamons. Today I hope my message will bring new consideration and meaning to those two important words thank you. Frankly, over the years I have been troubled by the admonition contained in D&C 98:1: “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks” (emphasis added). My inability to give thanks in all things, particularly those events or occasions that have caused disappointment, delay, and misunderstanding, has given me concern. My capacity to express thanks in everything has been quite inadequate. Without “the passing of time factor” I would have failed miserably. Appreciation for all people and events that come into our lives is most important because it is God’s way of helping us to grow. The ultimate maturity is being able to feel and express appreciation promptly, being fully aware of the value and importance, and showing gratitude for it. How does God feel about giving thanks? In the Doctrine and Covenants we read: “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21). Would you like to have God’s wrath raised against you? Would you like to have God angry with you? It can happen, and it will happen if we fail to show gratitude. Why does the lack of appreciation offend God and kindle his wrath? Not because he needs necessarily to see and hear our thanks, but because he knows an absence of appreciation on the part of anyone causes personal stagnation. Our growth and our progress are delayed when we fail to feel and express a sincere thank-you. May we think for a few moments about occasions and situations where we actually say, “Thank thee, God, for the people and events that have come into our lives that have made it possible for us to develop and grow and mature, yes, for all people, for all conditions, and for all circumstances that allow us to give thanks to human beings and situations for what they can do and will mean to us.” How do you measure up in giving thanks in everything? Let me lead your minds into a few areas where hesitation or delay may leave you quiet instead of expressing present-time gratitude. How well do you do in giving thanks for yet unanswered prayers? Are you able to give thanks to God when there is delay or silence in matters that are of great concern to you? We would remind you as you ponder and yearn for quick responses to important needs that sometimes the right answer could be no answer. Are you able to give thanks for dress codes and conduct standards that seem to be restrictive and unnecessary for your personal needs? It takes a certain amount of courage and maturity to thank in your heart and in words those who would teach modesty and good grooming by lofty standards and personal respect. Are yo
views Views

Begin with the End in Mind

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

Our being here reminds us of those days when we were where you are now in your schooling. We had three important goals. One was to get married. Then, once married, our next goal was to get by financially. Then our goal was to get through. We got married when Sister Nelson was an undergraduate student and I was in my second year of medical school. Because I was under legal age, parental consent was required. My father was very amused when I called him away from his work to sign for me so I could get a marriage certificate. With Sister Nelson’s (and parental) help, we were able to make it through medical school after we each received our baccalaureate degree. I then informed her that it was customary to have a year internship. Following that I was determined to specialize, and I let her know that it would require additional training. I’ll confess to a bit of naivete. If we had known that the interval between my getting my doctor’s degree and our finally going into practice would be twelve and a half years with six children added, we might not have been quite as enthusiastic in the beginning. So I pay great tribute to her for her role in our partnership. I owe so much to her. Now I pray for the Spirit of the Lord to direct our discussion tonight. I have entitled my remarks “Begin with the End in Mind.” I suppose some of this comes from my surgical background. An elective incision is never made without planning to close it. The same principle is generally applicable in all fields, however. Track stars don’t begin a race without knowing the location of the finish line. So, in your important race, I would plead for you to begin with the end in mind. To assist you in defining that end, I would ask you this simple question: What would you like said about you at your funeral? Or, if you were to write your own eulogy and you could have only three sentences (no big flowery speeches, please), what would you want to say? If it’s fair for me to ask that of you, it’s fair for you to ask that of me. If I were to write what I hope might be said about me, those three sentences would include: I was able to render service of worth to my fellowmen. I had a fine family. I evidenced unshakable faith in God and lived accordingly. Some of you have already defined your goals. Some have even developed a system of priorities to give order to your interests and responsibilities. I applaud such discipline and think it’s useful, but I believe that this ordering process may often be a little artificial. Rarely do we fragment the life that we live. It is not possible to influence one facet of our life without that affecting other aspects as well. So, in my own experience, I have preferred not to compartmentalize my interests, but to synergize them. Let me explain what I mean. Nephi said, “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profi
views Views

The Power of Deliverance

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I am grateful for the honor and the opportunity to speak with you today. It is an honor because you are precious children of our Heavenly Father. In the life before this one you were His pupils. I am honored by this invitation from the First Presidency to teach. It is an opportunity because you have chosen to listen, among the many things you could be doing, and so you must have at least a hope that I will say something useful to you. I pray that will be true. We are unique. No two of us are in exactly the same circumstances. We have not had identical experiences in the past, nor do we have a single vision of what happiness in the future would be for us. There will be people from every part of the United States and many countries of the world listening. Because of that variety, I have prayed to know what help God wants to offer to us all. An answer finally came. Today I wish to bear witness of God’s power of deliverance. At some point in our lives we will all need that power. Every person living is in the midst of a test. We have been granted by God the precious gift of life in a world created as a proving ground and a preparatory school. The tests we will face, their severity, their timing, and their duration will be unique for each of us. But two things will be the same for all of us. They are part of the design for mortal life. First, the tests at times will stretch us enough for us to feel the need for help beyond our own. And, second, God in His kindness and wisdom has made the power of deliverance available to us. Now you might well ask, “Since Heavenly Father loves us, why does His plan of happiness include trials that could overwhelm us?” It is because His purpose is to offer us eternal life. He wants to give us a happiness that is only possible as we live as families forever in glory with Him. And trials are necessary for us to be shaped and made fit to receive that happiness that comes as we qualify for the greatest of all the gifts of God. Today I will talk about some of the trials we are given and the power of deliverance available to us as we pass through them. There are many different tests, but today I will speak of only three. You may be in one of these tests now. For each, the power of deliverance is available—not to escape the test but to endure it well. First: We can feel overcome with pain and sorrow at the death of a loved one. Second: Each of us will struggle against fierce opposition—some of which comes from dealing with our physical needs and some from enemies. Third: Each of us who live past the age of accountability will feel the need to escape from the effects of sin. Each of these tests can provide the opportunity for us to see that we need the power of God to help us pass them well. Some of you may feel the pressures of those tests now, but all of us will face them. It helps to know that they do not come from random chance or from a cr
views Views

The Seven Deadly Heresies

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I have sought and do now seek that guidance and enlightenment which comes from the Holy Spirit of God. I desire to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost so that my words will be true and wise and proper. When any of us speak by the power of the Spirit, we say what the Lord wants said, or, better, what he would say if he were here in person. I shall depart from my normal and usual pattern and read portions of my presentation because I want to state temperately and accurately the doctrinal principles involved and to say them in a way that will not leave room for doubt or question. I shall speak on some matters that some may consider to be controversial, though they ought not to be. They are things on which we ought to be united, and to the extent we are all guided and enlightened from on high we will be. If we are so united—and there will be no disagreement among those who believe and understand the revealed word—we will progress and advance and grow in the things of the Spirit; we will prepare ourselves for a life of peace and happiness and joy here and now, and for an eventual eternal reward in the kingdom of our Father. There is a song or a saying or a proverb or a legend or a tradition or something that speaks of seven deadly sins. I know nothing whatever about these and hope you do not. My subject is one about which some few of you, unfortunately, do know a little. It is “The Seven Deadly Heresies” —not the great heresies of a lost and fallen Christendom, but some that have crept in among us. Now I take a text. These words were written by Paul to certain ancient Saints. In principle they apply to us: I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. [1 Corinthians 11:18–19] Now let me list some axioms (I guess in academic circles we call these caveats): —There is no salvation in believing a false doctrine. —Truth, diamond truth, truth unmixed with error, truth alone leads to salvation. —What we believe determines what we do. —No man can be saved in ignorance of God and his laws. —Man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge of Jesus Christ and the saving truths of his everlasting gospel. —Gospel doctrines belong to the Lord, not to men. They are his. He ordained them, he reveals them, and he expects us to believe them. —The doctrines of salvation are not discovered in a laboratory or on a geological field trip or by accompanying Darwin around the world. They come by revelation and in no other way. —Our sole concern in seeking truth should be to learn and believe what the Lord knows and believes. Providentially he has set forth some of his views in the holy scriptures. —O
views Views

Personal Revelation

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I feel very humble being in your presence this morning. I’m deeply grateful for our association with Elder and Sister Bateman and for the wonderful leadership they are providing for this great institution. I would like to speak a few minutes this morning reviewing some of the sacred principles that apply to receiving personal revelations. I will rely very heavily on the scriptures and the words of the prophets, seers, and revelators. After we experienced our spiritual birth, Heavenly Father counseled and corrected us, and we were instructed, enlightened, and edified in his holy presence. Now that we have experienced our physical birth in mortality, he desires to continue to communicate with us and to give us counsel and direction. He does this through prayer and personal revelation. This is one of the greatest gifts and blessings that we have received. When we speak to Heavenly Father, we do so by means of prayer. When he speaks to us, he does so by means of personal revelation. This two-way divine communication is critically important to our success, to our sense of well-being, to our feelings of security, and to our spiritual salvation. It is imperative that we understand the process of receiving personal revelation. We always pray to our Father in Heaven, and to him alone. Our prayers are rendered in the name of the Son and communicated by the power of the Holy Ghost. We do not pray to the Savior or to anyone else. To do so would be disrespectful of Heavenly Father and an indication that we do not properly understand the relationship of the members of the Godhead. The Savior and the Holy Ghost have important roles to play in the process of personal revelation. Role of the Savior We pray in the name and by the authority of the Savior. Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave instruction about the role of the Savior in personal revelation: “We pray to the Father, not the Son; but according to the laws of intercession, advocacy, and mediation, our answers come from the Son” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978], p. 335). It is the Savior who pleads our cause with the Father. It is he who intercedes and is our advocate with the Father (see D&C 29:5 and D&C 45:3). Role of the Holy Ghost The Holy Ghost is involved not only in the process of petitioning Heavenly Father through prayer but also in the process of receiving answers from God by means of personal revelation. Prayer. The Holy Ghost will prompt us to pray. Nephi counseled, “For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray” (2 Nephi 32:8). Heavenly Father knows the things we need even before we ask him (see 3 Nephi 13:8). If we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we will then know what to ask for. The Savior promised, “He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of
views Views

Joseph Smith and the Problem of Evil

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

Nothing challenges the rationality of our belief in God or tests our trust in Him more severely than human suffering and wickedness. Both are pervasive in our common experience. If this is not immediately evident, a glance at the morning paper or the evening news will make it so. On the larger scale and at the moment, names like Oklahoma City, Columbine, Kosovo, and Turkey evoke image upon image of unspeakable human cruelty or grief. But Auschwitz and Belsen still haunt our memories. Closer to home, who can fathom the anguish of family members in West Valley when they discovered their precious little girls suffocated together in the trunk of an automobile, the tragic outcome of an innocent game of hide-and-seek. Or the trauma of a dear friend of mine and his five young children who day by day for several months watched their lovely wife and mother wither down to an emaciated skeleton of 85 pounds as she endured a slow and painful death from inoperable cancer of the throat. Scenes like these are repeated daily a thousand and a thousand times. But we need not speak only of the sufferings of others. Few of us here will escape deep anguish, for it is apparently no respecter of persons and comes in many guises, arising out of our experiences of incurable or debilitating diseases, mental illness, broken homes, child and spouse abuse, rape, wayward loved ones, tragic accidents, untimely death—the list goes on and on. No doubt many of us have already cried out, “Why God? Why?” And many of us, often on behalf of a loved one, have already pleaded, “Please, God, please help,” and then wondered as, seemingly, the only response we’ve heard has been a deafening silence. All of us have struggled, or likely will struggle, in a very personal way with the problem of evil.1 I say the problem of evil, but actually there are many. Today I want to consider with you just three, which I will call (1) the logical problem of evil; (2) the soteriological problem of evil; and (3) the practical problem of evil. The logical problem is the apparent contradiction between the world’s evils and an all-loving, all-powerful Creator. The soteriological problem is the apparent contradiction between certain Christian concepts of salvation and an all-loving Heavenly Father. The practical problem is the challenge of living trustingly and faithfully in the face of what personally seems to be overwhelming evil. I. The Logical Problem of Evil Soaked as it is with human suffering and moral evil, how is it possible that our world is the work of an almighty, perfectly loving Creator? So stated, the logical problem of evil poses a puzzle of deep complexity. But the conundrum evoked by our reflection on this question appears to be more than just a paradox: we seem to stare contradiction right in the face. The ancient philosopher Epicurus framed the contradiction in the form of a logical dilemma: Either God is unw
views Views

The Comprehending Soul: Open Minds and Hearts

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

King Benjamin begins his powerful speech to his people with these words: I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view. [Mosiah 2:9] I quote that scripture not to set up the expectation that my address today will begin to compare to his, nor to caution you against trifling with my words, but to ask you to consider Benjamin’s entreaty for his people to listen not only with ears but also with hearts and minds. You know that it is not just King Benjamin who uses these words. Many other prophets throughout scripture make frequent reference to, and coupling of, heart and mind. Often, especially in the Book of Mormon, the reference is a caution against hard hearts and blinded minds, but there are other references, some of which I will quote later, that encourage open minds and soft hearts as we strive to live the gospel. The need for coupling minds that think, reason, and evaluate with hearts that perceive, feel, and experience has been on my mind a great deal, especially these last months. In fact, when I was asked to give this devotional address, the issue I wanted to consider was immediately clear to me. One month from now the forty members of this past year’s edition of Brigham Young University Singers will reunite here for a week of intense rehearsals before departing for Australia, where we will be the United States’ representative to the Fourth International Choral Symposium. We will sing three concerts at the symposium, the first of which is to take place in the Sydney Opera House. You can imagine how a sense of intimidation has tried to overwhelm us in this opportunity to bring the name of Brigham Young University to this astute international gathering. But we have countered such misgivings with a commitment to prepare ourselves for performances that are full of heart and mind, performances that will not only have the capacity to be aesthetically challenging and satisfying but also to bring the Spirit into the willing hearts and minds of those who listen. I am gratified when issues of professional growth relate to an increase in knowledge of—and ability to live—the principles of the gospel. Music and gospel living are both very important to me. And as I speak, in this university community setting, from my expertise in music, I hope you will consider the parallels I attempt to establish between good music-making and gospel living—and then draw your own personal conclusions that will help you integrate, organize, and perhaps even simplify the important facets of your lives. Just a moment ago you heard Veronica and Kaarin sing a beautiful American hymn that became much more meaningful to me as I learned its history. In 18
views Views

You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

My dear brothers and sisters, I pray that the Spirit will speak to each of you who is ready to hear what the Lord wishes you to hear. For I am not the teacher—He is. Two Christmases ago I went out to my car one evening to find the passenger window smashed and my briefcase stolen with everything in it—money, credit cards, all of my ID (including the passport that had taken me to 50 countries), and irreplaceable documents. I was beside myself. Hoping the thieves had stolen the money and discarded everything else, a friend and I spent all night prowling through area dumpsters, hoping to find something. But we found nothing. The next day I began the tedious process of replacing the contents. Suffice it to say, the whole process was a pain. Then, unexpectedly, two mornings later, my phone rang at 3:00 a.m. It was a Church operator. “Sister Dew, did you lose a briefcase?” “Yes,” I answered. “I have a man on the line who says he found it in a dumpster behind a bar. Been to any bars lately, Sister Dew?” Laughing at her own joke, she connected me with this man whose pickup, as it turned out, had been robbed that night and who had been going through dumpsters. In one he had found a briefcase. My briefcase. When I asked how he had tracked me down, he replied, “When I looked inside the briefcase and saw that Mormon recommendation, I knew this must be important.” He was referring, of course, to my temple recommend. He had then called the Church number, where the operator on duty knew how to reach me. The phrase Mormon recommendation instantly reminded me of Mormon’s tender words to his son Moroni: “I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved” (Moroni 9:22). I have often pondered what it would mean to be recommended to God. In essence, every time we qualify for a temple recommend, our priesthood leaders are doing just that. But on this subject of recommendation there is another dimension to consider. For God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ, with Their perfect foreknowledge, already recommended every one of you to fill your mortal probation during the most decisive period in the history of the world. You are here now because you were elected to be here now (see 1 Peter 1:2). This is not new news. You have been told countless times that you are a chosen generation reserved for the latter part of the latter days. Just two months ago, in general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley said once again: “You are the best generation we have ever had” (“An Ensign to the Nations, a Li
views Views

Flaxen Threads

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I thank President Condie for that generous introduction. It was so flattering that it reminds me of an experience I had recently with President Marion G. Romney. I walked into the Church Office Building, stepped on the elevator, and he was there. He looked a little bit weary, so I thought I would cheer him up. I asked him how he was. He said, “Oh, about average.” I said, “Well, President, average for you is superior for most of us.” He smiled, looked at me, and said, “Boy, you are very kind, but you are not the least bit honest.” President Condie mentioned that I am somewhat at ease on a basketball court, or at least I used to be. When I left the University of Utah years ago, I tried very hard to stay in shape. I continued to play basketball in an effort to retain my skills. But I sustained an injury and was forced to undergo a back operation. The operation was torture, and the long period of convalescence much the same. Finally, when the doctor was ready to give me release, I asked him if I could play basketball again. He looked at me, smiled a little bit, and said, “Carlos, you go home, and you read 1 Corinthians 13:11.” I returned home, opened my Bible, and read: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. That was enough to retire me. It is a pleasure and a distinct honor, my brothers and sisters, to be in your presence this evening; and I hope and pray that the Spirit of the Lord will help me deliver the message I have in mind. Bound with Flaxen Thread I have invited two young men, Elder Brockman and Elder Robey, to help me introduce my subject. Will you two please step forward. You will note that both have their wrists bound together. Though you may not be able to see the material that I have used in binding my friends, it is the same for each—flaxen thread. Elder Robey’s wrists are tied with only one strand of the flaxen material. I will now invite him to muster all his strength and courage and break free. (Pause) Did you notice how easy and effortless that was? Elder Brockman’s wrists are tied with twenty strands of the flaxen thread. I now ask him to do what Elder Robey did. (Pause) If you were close to the pulpit, you would see that my captive is really trying to break his cords. You would also observe that, as he strains to break the thread, it is beginning to make indentations in his wrists, and, if he were to continue much further, I think it would cut and draw blood. Thank you very much. Bound by Habits I have engaged you in this simple demonstration to make a point. Suppose each strand of thread used in binding these young men represented one bad habit. From the demonstration, we might conclude that a single bad habit has limited restricting power. A number of bad habits, however, has great p
views Views

The Real Christmas

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

The time is drawing near when books will be closed and hearts and thoughts turned toward home. Like the shepherds of old who journeyed to the manger marked by the star, many of you will travel to a place where a special star hangs over your home—a holy place, a place where love and confidence increase with the years. Christmas is a busy season. Streets and stores are filled with people making last-minute preparations. Travelers on the highways increase, airports are crowded—all Christianity seems to come to life with music, lights, and festive decorations. A writer has said: Of all the holidays there is none that enters so fully into the human heart, and stirs so many of the higher sentiments. The thoughts, memories, hopes, and customs linked with it are bound by antiquity and nationality collectively; and by childhood and old age individually. They embrace the religious, social, and patriotic sides of our nature. The holly and mistletoe entwined among the evergreens, the habit of giving gifts to those we love, the presence of the Christmas tree, the superstition of Santa Claus, all combining to make Christmas the most longed-for, the most universal, and from every standpoint, the most important holiday known to man. [Clarence Baird, “The Spirit of Christmas,” Improvement Era, 23:154 (December 1919)] The Origin of Christmas The season is steeped in tradition and its roots stem back in history. The commencement of the holiday lies in pagan worship long before the introduction of Christianity. The god Mithra was worshiped by the ancient Aryans, and this worship gradually spread to India and Persia. Mithra at first was the god of the heavenly light of the bright skies and later in the Roman period was worshiped as the deity of the sun, or the sun-god—Sol Invictus Mithra. In the first century after Christ, Pompey carried on conquests along the southern coast of Cilicia, in Asia Minor, and many of the prisoners taken in those military actions were brought captive to Rome. This introduced the pagan worship of Mithra to Rome, for these prisoners spread the religion among the Roman soldiers. The worship became popular, particularly in the ranks of the Roman armies. We find today, in the ruins of the cities of the far-flung Roman Empire, the shrines of Mithra. Mithraism flourished in the Roman world and became the chief competitor of Christianity in the religious beliefs of the people. A festive season for the worshipers of the sun-god took place immediately after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year—the time when the sun stands still after its annual dip into the Southern Hemisphere. The commencement of its climb from this low point was regarded as the rebirth of Mithra, and the Romans celebrated his birthday on the twenty-fifth of December each year. There was great merriment on this holiday—festivals and feastings, gifts given to friends, and
views Views

Our Relationship with the Lord

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I shall speak of our relationship with the Lord and of the true fellowship all Saints should have with the Father. I shall set forth what we must believe relative to the Father and the Son in order to gain eternal life. I shall expound the doctrine of the Church relative to what our relationship should be to all members of the Godhead and do so in plainness and simplicity so that none need misunderstand or be led astray by other voices. I shall express the view of the Brethren, of the prophets and apostles of old, and of all those who understand the scriptures and are in tune with the Holy Spirit. These matters lie at the very foundation of revealed religion. In presenting them I am on my own ground and am at home with my subject. I shall not stoop to petty wranglings about semantics but shall stay with matters of substance. I shall simply go back to basics and set forth fundamental doctrines of the kingdom, knowing that everyone who is sound spiritually and who has the guidance of the Holy Spirit will believe my words and follow my counsel. Please do not put too much stock in some of the current views and vagaries that are afloat, but rather, turn to the revealed word, get a sound understanding of the doctrines, and keep yourselves in the mainstream of the Church. Now, it is no secret that many false and vain and foolish things are being taught in the sectarian world and even among us about our need to gain a special relationship with the Lord Jesus. I shall summarize the true doctrine in this field and invite erring teachers and beguiled students to repent and believe the accepted gospel verities as I shall set them forth. There is no salvation in believing any false doctrine, particularly a false or unwise view about the Godhead or any of its members. Eternal life is reserved for those who know God and the One whom he sent to work out the infinite and eternal atonement. True and saving worship is found only among those who know the truth about God and the Godhead and who understand the true relationship men should have with each member of that Eternal Presidency. It follows that the devil would rather spread false doctrine about God and the Godhead, and induce false feelings with reference to any one of them, than almost any other thing he could do. The creeds of Christendom illustrate perfectly what Lucifer wants so-called Christian people to believe about Deity in order to be damned. These creeds codify what Jeremiah calls the lies about God (see Jeremiah 16:19; 23: 14–32). They say he is unknown, uncreated, and incomprehensible. They say he is a spirit, without body, parts, or passions. They say he is everywhere and nowhere in particular present, that he fills the immensity of space and yet dwells in the hearts of men, and that he is an immaterial, incorporeal nothingness. They say he is one-god-in-three, and three-gods-in-one who neither hears, nor sees, nor speaks. Some e
views Views

Learning the Healer’s Art

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

This year the Brigham Young University College of Nursing celebrates its 50th anniversary. It all began in 1952. That year David O. McKay was our prophet, Dwight D. Eisenhower was our president, and Dick Clark began American Bandstand. The BYU College of Nursing held a fashion design contest for the nursing uniform. Students wore this winning entry. Thank goodness for men now being in the profession or we might still be wearing that little blue dress to school every day. A lot has changed in 50 years! Though the College of Nursing began at BYU in 1952, Church leaders, through the Relief Society, had always supported nursing education. Belle Spafford was then general president of the Relief Society (and she served on the panel of judges for that winning nurses uniform contest) (see Maurine M. Harris, comp., History of the Brigham Young University College of Nursing, Volume 1 [Provo: Brigham Young University, 1974], 9; also see private scrapbook collection, Brigham Young University College of Nursing). Sister Spafford received an honorary degree at BYU commencement the same year the Nightingale Pledge was taken by the first BYU nursing graduates. Today is her birthday. Born 107 years ago on October 8, Sister Spafford was general president of the Relief Society for nearly 30 years, from 1945 to 1974. Those were my growing-up years. Through my mother and grandmother, who spoke her name in reverence, Sister Spafford was my first exposure to the work of the Relief Society. Over the last decade the College of Nursing has adopted a theme I would like to explore. The phrase is “I would learn the healer’s art,” a line from the third verse of the hymn written by Susan Evans McCloud and K. Newell Dayley (“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, 1985, no. 220). Our heritage of learning the healer’s art began at the very dawn of the restored Church. Soon after the Relief Society was organized in 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith set apart “noble and lofty women . . . to go about among the sick and minister to their wants” (in “Nursing in the Relief Society,” Relief Society Magazine 2, no. 7 [July 1915]: 316–17). When the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young established a Council of Health. Women went east to medical school. In 1873 (the year Linda Richards graduated in New England as the first professional nurse in the United States) President Young called for three women from each ward in the Church to study nursing. Eliza R. Snow personally traveled the valley recruiting nursing students “for Zion’s sake” (in “An Address by Miss Eliza R. Snow,” Woman’s Exponent 2, no. 8 [15 September 1873]: 63). The first classes were taught by
views Views

Be Loyal to the Royal Within You

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

My beloved brothers and sisters, I am overwhelmed at this magnificent audience of over 23,000, according to President Oaks’s estimate. The background screen has been raised so that those sitting behind the screen could have a place in sight of all of us. Thank you, you wonderful brothers and sisters—my friends, in the same sense that the Master called his disciples friends; not servants, but friends. I am delighted to be with you. While my schedule does not permit me to have this wonderful experience very often, I said to the brethren, “I think it has been so long since I was here last that you probably have recovered from my last visit.” I would like you to know, however, that my thoughts have often been with you, when I have not been on the campus. You have never been absent from my mind, as one of the greatest student bodies of the world, and, I think, with no exception. I am more grateful than I have words to express for this award that I have received. No one who seeks to serve our exemplary Master, as I desire to do, can take lightly the honor that you have accorded me, for I realize that He alone is the perfect model. The Master said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Some people scoff at that, saying, “How can we be made perfect, even as He is perfect?” But the Prophet-Leader of this Church declared “that it is like a ladder in this Church: you climb step by step, until you arrive at the top. But it will be a long while after we go through the veil until we have reached the fullness of the glories of the Celestial Kingdom.” In a revelation, the Lord has declared that those who live the laws of the celestial kingdom here, when they pass through the veil and are resurrected, will be quickened by a portion of celestial glory and then will continue onward until they receive the perfectness (D&C 88:28–29). Only then can I be satisfied that I could be the model, when I shall have arrived at that place where the Lord wants us all to arrive. Nevertheless, I want to express appreciation to those who have made this presentation to me and for this opportunity to speak to so many of you in this special setting—so many of you that I am overwhelmed, that I confess that I am very nervous as I stand before you, wondering if I have enough of what it takes to address such an audience. Humility When I was a stake president, I called to serve as the junior member of the high council a man who had at one time been in the stake presidency. I asked him if he had any diffidence in accepting this junior position, and he replied, “The only honor there is in any position in this church is the honor that we, ourselves, bring to it. It doesn’t make any difference where I serve, or when.” I echo that same sentiment here today. The only honor there is in any position, in that one sense, means that no matter where we are or w
views Views

A Testimony of Christ

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I have come this morning to speak to you of holy things and of sacred happenings. Perhaps it may not be given to us to fully understand these occurrences, except through the intelligence of the Holy Spirit. I pray for that special spirit both for you and for myself, so that we may come to a perfect understanding concerning these sacred matters. I pray that we may worship together in spirit and truth. I will speak to you today concerning a testimony of Christ. I can speak to you with some insight and feeling on this subject for two reasons. Firstly, I am the most newly called of the special witnesses. No one else in the world has more recently experienced the sacred happenings of coming to this sacred calling than I. Secondly, Sister Faust and I have recently walked in some of the pathways of the Savior. What I have to say to you, however, is more than feelings, but is rather fact and knowledge to me, the truth of which may be known to you by sacred whisperings. The things of the spirit are most to be treasured because from these spiritual reassurances come the sacred inner peace and strength, as was the testimony of John the Baptist: “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27). Each has to receive his own witness concerning Jesus as the Christ. I wish this morning to set my seal upon this knowledge. Let me begin with Peter. No one was in a better position to know than was Peter. Peter’s story is credible—he was there. Said Peter, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Anyone who claims discipleship cannot help but have a special appreciation for the calling of the first apostles and for their authority. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee with their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. [Matthew 4:18–22] These came early to a testimony of his divinity. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! . . .
views Views

“Live in Thanksgiving Daily”

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I love to be among the youth of the Church. I love your energy, your optimism, your faith. I have heard others say they always feel younger when they spend time with young people. This has always been my experience. It is good to be here today. I felt a certain thrill as I watched you enter this great Marriott Center. I noticed the beautiful smiling faces, the well-kept hair, the appropriate dress. I thank you for being here today. Think for a moment, if you will, of someone you know who is truly happy. We’ve all met those who seem to radiate happiness. They seem to smile more than others, they laugh more than others—just being around them makes us happier as well. Now think of someone you know who isn’t happy at all. Perhaps they seem 10 years older than they are, drained of energy—perhaps they are angry or bitter or depressed. What is the difference between them? What are the characteristics that differentiate the happy from the miserable? Is there something that unhappy people can do to be happier? I believe there is. Let me tell you a story to illustrate this observation. A long time ago in a faraway village lived a man who everyone did their very best to avoid. He was the type of person who believed that there was only one competent person in the world, and that one person was himself. Consequently he was never satisfied with anything. His shoes never fit right. His shirt never felt comfortable. When his food wasn’t too cold, it was too salty, and when it wasn’t too hot, it was too bland. If a field wasn’t sowed by himself, it was not sowed well. If he didn’t close the door, the door was not closed properly. In short, he made a career of frowning, lecturing, criticizing, and mumbling about the incompetencies of every other person in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the man was married, which made matters all the worse. No matter what his wife did, in his eyes it was wrong. No matter what the unfortunate woman cooked, sewed, or cleaned, or even when she milked the cow, it was never satisfactory, and he let her know it. She tried very hard to be a good wife, but it seemed the harder she tried the less she pleased him. Finally, one evening she could take no more. “I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” she told him. “Tomorrow I will do your chores and you will do mine.” “But you can’t do my chores,” the man replied. “You don’t know the first thing about sowing, hoeing, and irrigating.” But the woman was adamant. And on top of that, she was filled with a righteous anger that frankly astonished and frightened the man to the point where he didn’t dare disagree. So the next morning the wife went off to the fields and the man began the domestic chores. After thinking about it, he had actually convinced himself he was looking forward to it. Once and for all, he would demonstrate to his wife how things should be do
views Views

Honest, Simple, Solid, True

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I stuttered most of the way through school so badly I could scarcely talk. When I dared, I tried to answer the teacher’s questions, but seldom successfully. You have seen the grimace a stutterer makes and the flickering eyelids. I remember the strained expressions on people’s faces. As children often do, I compensated. I became brash, loud, boastful, and competitive—to win the respect I didn’t think people would give me otherwise. This put people off, a response that only made me try harder to win their acceptance. I made pretty good progress in overcoming my stuttering during my school years. Increasingly, people treated me as if I were a mature person. Yet my feelings still troubled me—often I felt pitted against others, driven to get my fair share, distrustful, and sometimes even scornful of certain people. I caught myself trying to arrange myself in the minds of others, playing a role, posturing. Every year I spoke more smoothly, but I couldn’t close the gap between the fabricated image I presented publicly and whoever I really was. This caused me a heartache greater than my stuttering did. Perhaps at one time or another you, too, have thought of your life as something of a fabrication. Possibly you also have felt alone, even when you were with others, because of the facade you were hiding behind. This happened to me when I lived in Manhattan at about your age—in my twentieth year. In a solitude that’s possible only in a very large city, my false front became starkly unconvincing to me. I was studying acting with Stella Adler at her studio on Central Park West. One warm evening as we were out walking, a classmate for whom I had great respect confronted me with a terrifying question. “Do you love yourself in the theater,” she asked, “or the theater in yourself?” In other words, was I in it for me or because I simply loved it? The question convicted me—the theater makes a tempting platform for posturing. I recall wishing that all my pretensions would collapse completely and leave standing only what was really me. It did not matter any longer whether I would impress anyone or not—if only I could be . . . honest, simple, solid, true. I began a personal quest in that direction, but whatever changes took place in me then were insufficient and impermanent. The same challenge kept coming back in new forms. I recall, a couple of years later—after my mission, after experiences that seemed to strip some of the veneer away—sitting in a BYU classroom where the teacher was speaking of Joseph Smith. I remember agonizing over a question to which I absolutely did not have the answer: “Can I become like that man?” I asked myself, “Can the being I am be transformed to that extent? Can I ever become so honest, simple, solid, and true as he?” It troubled me that the question kept returning. I have come to believe this happened because, like a lot of other people of my generation
views Views

Agency or Inspiration—Which?

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I’ve been many places with my wife when, as we have met members of the Church, stake presidencies, high councils, and the like, they’ve said to me: “We’re surely glad to meet you, Brother McConkie, and we’re most pleased to have Sister Smith with us.” I’ve assured her that that was all right with me, as long as they didn’t call me Brother Smith. And now that’s happened.* I’ve sought the Lord diligently, as is my custom, to be guided and directed this morning in what ought to be said—sought him both for myself and for you, so that I might speak and you might hear by the power of the Holy Spirit. Two subjects have occurred to me. I thought that on the one hand I might talk about “Agency or Inspiration—Which?” Or, on the other hand, I might talk about how to choose a wife. It occurred to me I might consult the student body, but then I said to myself, “No, it doesn’t make a particle of difference which subject it is; I’m going to say exactly the same things anyway.” My wife and I were having a serious discussion recently, in which we were counting our many blessings. We named a host of things that have come to us, because of the Church, because of our family, because of the glorious restoration of eternal truth that has taken place in this day; and then she climaxed the discussion by asking this question: “What’s the greatest blessing that has ever come into your life?” Without a moment’s hesitation I said, “The greatest blessing that has ever come to me was on the thirteenth day of October in 1937, at 11:20 a.m., when I was privileged to kneel in the Salt Lake Temple at the Lord’s altar and receive you as an eternal companion.” She said, “Well, you passed that test.” I believe that the most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority; and that then—when they have been so sealed by the power and authority which Elijah the prophet restored—the most important remaining thing that any Latter-day Saint can ever do is so to live that the terms and conditions of the covenant thus made will be binding and efficacious now and forever. And so I’d like, if properly guided, to make some suggestions that apply in all fields of choice—in all fields, at least all major fields, of activity—but which apply particularly to the matter of eternal marriage, singling that out as the one thing paramount above all other. When we dwelt in the presence of God our Heavenly Father, we were endowed with agency. This gave us the opportunity, the privilege, to choose what we would do—to make a free, untrammeled choice. When Father Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden, he was given this same power, and we now possess it. We’re expected to use the gifts and talents and abilities, the sense and judgment and agency with which we are endowed. But on the other hand,
views Views

However Long and Hard the Road

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

Patricia T. Holland Just before commencement exercises last spring, my husband received a letter from a student which read something like this: Dear President Holland: I am completing my undergraduate experience at BYU this month and will be graduating in our upcoming commencement service. My parents are relieved, my professors are surprised, and I am holding my breath. Things could go wrong, you know, even at this late date. And that brings my one grievance with you. It is this late date business. My dates have been so late that most of them never showed up. I thought it was an assumed part of the BYU contract that I would be married before graduation. Well, you’ve got just under three weeks to come up with somebody or I want my tuition back. Urgently yours, Obviously this letter was written in fun, but I do worry that some of you—especially the women on campus—are struggling with your social life more than you would like. I expect there are many who would like to be dating and who would like to have a guaranteed offer of marriage before graduation. As the chill of winter sets in, you may be feeling about as special as frozen custard. If you are disappointed in the romance—or lack of it—in your life, I ask you to do exactly what this student did—keep a sense of humor, retain your marriage goal for the important commandment it is, and put your energies into becoming! Don’t spend your time walking on your lower lip about what is not. That just stretches the heck out of your lower jaw. Be excited about your chance to grow and develop and become. You have so much personal potential, and this is the greatest place in the entire world to develop it. This is the time and this is the place! It’s interesting to me that the rest of the world does eventually discover what was given long ago in the scriptures. I recently read this: “Only a small portion of what we are [is developed] and there is enormous potential in the human being” (Leo Buscaglia, Love [New York: Fawcett, 1982], p. 19). In his book, The Politics of Experience, R. D. Laing said, “What we think is less than what we know: What we know is less than what we love: What we love is so much less than what there is, and to this . . . extent, we are much less than what we are” (R.D. Laing in Love, p. 19). Without being smug, we’ve known that since the dawn of the Restoration. Surely that ought to be our own exciting challenge toward becoming—of growing, seeing, feeling, touching, smelling, hearing, believing. No time for a Harlequin Romance or a long lower lip with that kind of view. Marilyn Funt, who wrote the book Are You Anybody? did so in response to people’s asking in the Hollywood swirl if she “was anybody.” In answer she said: I used to think being somebody meant public rec
views Views

Change: It’s Always a Possibility!

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

During the Saturday afternoon general conference session, I was moved as I watched President Hinckley during one of the congregational hymns. He turned right around and looked at our BYU combined choir—for the longest time. It was not just a brief glance. He stood there gazing. It seemed that he was surveying and studying each student. President Hinckley is the prophet of the Lord. He knows who you as BYU students are. He knows your goodness. He knows your greatness. It struck me that the Lord’s prophet is counting on you. Teaching is a privilege anywhere, but to teach at BYU with you as students who are filled with light and the love of learning and of your fellowmen—well, it just doesn’t get much better than that for me as a professor. So even though I want to offer you some ideas about change today, there are many things I hope you will never change. Let me tell you a few: • Please don’t change your goodness—your deep core goodness. • Please don’t change being a cut above any other student body in the land. I believe it. It’s true. You are amazing—not perfect, but amazing. • Please don’t change that light in your eyes. • Please don’t change how much you want to help each other. Even when I hear distress stories about roommates and family members, the distress flows from wanting to have connections with each other that just aren’t happening. • Please don’t change your love of the Lord. • Please don’t change your courage to do so many seemingly impossible things. • Please don’t change your desire to keep improving. • Please don’t change your desire for change. So, let’s talk about change. I love change! I love it. I’ll admit it. I’m passionate about it. Actually, I’m just plain wild about change! I’m professionally committed to it—and personally enamored by it. Professionally I try to facilitate it and study it, and I love to participate in it. Personally, I advocate it, seek after it, and, basically, am in awe of it. Personally and professionally I am a detective of change. I want to discover change when everyone else says there is none present nor possible. I guess that’s as close as I come to my Sherlock Holmes name of “Dr. Watson.” For 25 years I have had the privilege of working with other seekers of change—they go by the title of “clients”: individuals, couples, and families who want change. They want something to be different in their lives. I’m not sure when my love of change commenced, but I still remember the thrill that accompanied one of the first big changes in my life: the change of advancing from riding a tricycle to riding a bicycle. The brief sinking feeling that accompanied my awareness that my Dad had let go of the back of my bike and was no longer running alongside and holding me up was quickly replaced by exhilaration. I was riding a two-wheeler—all by mysel
views Views

Believing Christ: A Practical Approach to the Atonement

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

The greatest dichotomy, the greatest problem in the entire universe, consists of two facts. The first we can read in Doctrine and Covenants 1:31: “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” That means he can’t stand it, he can’t tolerate it, he can’t blink, or look the other way, or sweep it under the rug. He can’t tolerate sin in the least degree. The other side of the dichotomy is very simply put: I sin, and so do you. If that were all there were to the equation, the conclusion would be inescapable that we, as sinful beings, cannot be tolerated in the presence of God. But that is not all there is to the equation. This morning I would like to talk to you about the Atonement of Christ, that glorious plan by which this dichotomy can be resolved. I would like to share with you incidents from my own life that illustrate how the Atonement works in a practical, everyday setting. Believing Christ First is a story about my son, Michael, who did something wrong when he was six or seven years old. He’s my only son, and I’m hard on him. I want him to be better than his dad was, even as a boy, and so I lean on him and expect a great deal. Well, he had done something I thought was incredibly vile, and I let him know how terrible it was. I sent him to his room with the instructions, “Don’t you dare come out until I come and get you.” And then I forgot. It was some hours later, as I was watching television, that I heard his door open and heard the tentative footsteps coming down the hall. I said, “Oh, my gosh,” and ran to my end of the hall to see him standing with swollen eyes and tears on his cheeks at the other end. He looked up at me—he wasn’t quite sure he should have come out—and said, “Dad, can’t we ever be friends again?” Well, I melted, ran to him, and hugged him. He’s my boy, and I love him. Like Michael, we all do things that disappoint our Father, that separate us from his presence and spirit. There are times when we get sent to our rooms spiritually. There are sins that maim; there are sins that wound our spirits. Some of you know what it is like to do something that makes you feel as if you just drank raw sewage. You can wash, but you can never get clean. When that happens, sometimes we ask the Lord as we lift up our eyes, “O Father, can’t we ever be friends again?” The answer that can be found in all the scriptures is a resounding “Yes, through the Atonement of Christ.” I particularly like the way it is put in Isaiah 1:18. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. I like to paraphrase that for my students. What the Lord is saying is “I don’t care what you did. It doesn’t matter what you did. I can erase it. I can make you pure and worthy and innocent and cel
views Views

“But We Heeded Them Not”

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

Thank you, President Lee. I am a friend of BYU. I love BYU. Sister Porter and I were here more years ago than I would like to say, other than to tell you that we have grandchildren who are now seeking to enter BYU, so that will give you some impression of how much time has passed. Our love for this institution has never wavered. One reason for that came to mind as I sat here watching you arrive today. There is a goodness about you that can be felt as one sits here and looks into your faces and listens to the marvelous music we’ve just heard. I like to return to this campus. You can tell a great deal about a community, a nation, or a civilization by noting on whom they shower fame, wealth, and influence. Have you ever thought about that? In a letter to John Adams on October 28, 1813, Thomas Jefferson said: There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents. . . . There is also an artificial aristocracy, founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents. [Adrienne Koch and William Peden, eds., The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Random House, 1993), p. 579] President David O. McKay, speaking in the October general conference of 1949, said there would come a time “when nobility of character [would] be recognized as being greater than intellect” (“The Sunday School Looks Forward,” Improvement Era, December 1949, p. 863). My hope is that even sooner, nobility of character will be recognized as being greater than outstanding athletic or musical or acting ability. Please do not misunderstand. It is to be devoutly wished that you leave here highly skilled in music, business, science, drama, the law, athletics, history, or in whatever your chosen field may be. But, I ask you, what of virtue? I use that term this morning in its broadest meaning, “a moral excellence in all aspects of one’s life.” Consider for a moment: Who is it in your heart of hearts that you honor? Who is permitted a place in that sacred sanctuary that is your personal hall of fame? For many years I have engaged in a series of educational experiments. I have asked friends and associates, even casual seat partners on airplanes, “Who is the greatest person you have ever met?” Some have answered quickly, and others have pondered for a considerable time. When they have named someone, I have always followed with another question. “What is there about this person that has caused you to feel this way?” As they begin to describe attributes, I have been able to learn much that is important about the person speaking. It has helped me to understand what characteristics the speaker feels deeply about. And, as you can appreciate, these conversations have often led to discussions about the Lord’s plan of happiness. It is my suggestion that you try it on yourself some Sunday afternoon when you have uninterrupted time to th
views Views

Missionary Experiences

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I’m very happy to greet all of you wonderful students here this morning and your leaders, and I understand that you have a group of missionaries here, as you did a year ago when I spoke at a devotional; so being a missionary, I decided, when I was trying to decide what to speak about this morning, to tell you some of my mission experiences. I think that you’ll get more out of that than if I tried to discuss any particular subject or principle of the gospel. If you don’t think I could, read the books I’ve written, and you’ll know that I could. First, I started way back in 1905 when I went on my first mission to Holland. My cousin and I rode together until we reached Liverpool, then he was sent up into Norway, the Land of the Midnight Sun, and I was sent into Holland. After we had been in the mission field a few months, I received a letter from him calling me by name, and he said, “I met a man the other day who knows more about religion than I’ve ever dreamed of knowing, and I told him if he had something better than I had, I’d join his church.” So I wrote him back and called him by name, and I said, “If he has something better than you have, you ought to join his church, but does he have something better than a personal visitation to this earth after centuries of darkness by God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of times and to reveal the real personalities of God and his Son Jesus Christ? Does he have something better than the coming of Moroni with the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, which gives us the history of God’s dealings with his prophets in this land of America over a period of a thousand years? Does he have something better than the coming back to this earth of John the Baptist, who was beheaded for his testimony of Jesus, to restore the Aaronic Priesthood, the power to baptize by immersion for the remission of sins? Does he have something better than the coming of Peter, James, and John, who were upon the Mount of Transfiguration with the Savior and returned to this earth to restore the holy priesthood, the power of the apostleship, the power to organize the church and kingdom of God upon the earth? Does he have something better than the coming of Moses with the keys of the gathering of latter-day Israel? Does he have something better than the coming of Elijah the prophet, of whose coming Malachi testified that before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, the Lord would send Elijah the prophet to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest he come and smite the whole earth with a curse? Now that’s an important mission.” I said, “If he has something better than that, you ought to join his church.” I tell the missionaries that, if you learn how to tell our story, you never
views Views

Prayer: Try Again

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I am glad to be here this evening. We have had four of our five daughters attend BYU. With the first two daughters, I was led to believe that the BYU was a two-year school because they got married after their sophomore year and didn’t come back. Our third daughter did finish here. I remember her graduation. She had married before she finished, and at her graduation we weren’t sure which would come first, the baby or the diploma. But the diploma beat the baby by a few weeks. I feel an anxiousness about my subject tonight because I know, as the scriptures have stated, that we are in the wind-down period of time that precedes the second coming of the Savior. The preparation is being hastened as never before. The signs of this hastening are all about us. The coming months and years will bring some important events in fulfillment of ancient and latter-day prophecies attesting to the times in which we now live. Each of you will have an opportunity to be part of these great experiences. Now it’s true that not all will be prophets, apostles, bishops, or presidents, but the particular assignment is unimportant in the overall perspective of what is happening and what will happen. All of us are Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters, and regardless of our ecclesiastical assignment, the eternal rewards to the faithful are the same. There is no one here tonight—and I hope you will all listen to this—there is no one here tonight whose experience in life cannot be exciting, satisfying, happy, and profitable. None of us here came into mortality to fail or to be mediocre in the things that matter most. I firmly believe in this truth. And lest we forget, there are no greater blessings than those that can come to a successful husband and wife. I don’t know when I have prayed more fervently or worried more continually about being able to communicate with any group than I have in speaking with you this evening. I feel none of us will ever be exalted except as we increase our understanding of and our dedication and commitment to the subject matter of this fireside. I have chosen to speak about prayer. Because of my desire to teach you this evening, I will share with you some experiences that are considered special and sacred by me and my family. I hope you will please forgive me for this. (Some of my family members have suggested that there are better things to talk about than one’s self and loved ones.) The greatest purpose and challenge in life is to learn to know and to live like the Savior. We learn to know Him as we live like Him—as we keep his commandments. Knowing Him is increased as we testify of Him. In this mortal experience, there are many Christlike things we can do, but unless we keep His commandments and testify of Him, we will not achieve our full purpose in life. The world has many good people who do many wonderful things but who cannot testify of the Savior and His mission. Now there are several im
views Views

Miracles

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

Good morning, my brothers and sisters of the BYU. I’m sure that you’re going to have a let down from the inspiration we have had and the beautiful singing. But I hope that I may be in tune with the heavenly powers, that I may say something to you that will be worthwhile. I do feel very humble this morning, and sometimes when I’m introduced I get the idea that ­others might feel that I’m untouchable, but I want you to know that I’m neither untouchable nor unteachable. And since I’ve been in this position in the Church, I have learned some very fine things from some of the members of the Church, generally in anonymous letters. I don’t know why they don’t sign those letters, because almost invariably what they say is true, especially when I look it up in the books. When I was invited to come here, President Wilkinson suggested that I talk a little bit about miracles. Well, it will be a miracle if I do. I had a particular instruction from President George Albert Smith when I was called to this position. He called me into his office one day and took hold of my hand, and while he was holding my hand and looking at me, he said, “I want to say something to you, Brother Cowley.” I said, “Well, I’m willing to listen.” “This is just a particular suggestion to you—not to all the Brethren, but to you.” He said, “Never write a sermon. Never write down what you are going to say.” I said, “What on earth will I do?” He said, “You tell the people what the Lord wants you to tell them while you are standing on your feet.” I said, “That certainly is putting some responsibility on the Lord.” But I’ve tried to live up to that instruction, and I’ve had some great experiences. There have been times when the Lord has forsaken me, but when He hasn’t, I’ve had some miraculous experiences. Well, I shouldn’t say miraculous; it is the normal experience of the priesthood to have the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I can bear witness to you, my fellow students here this morning, that God can work through His priesthood and that He does work through it. I know that without any question of doubt. I’ve had too many experiences. I’m an expert witness about these things. The Faith of a Child A few weeks ago I was called to the County Hospital in Salt Lake City by a mother. I didn’t know her. She said her boy was dying from polio, and she asked if I would come down and give that boy a blessing. I picked up a young bishop whom I generally take with me, for I think his faith is greater than mine and I always like having him along. We went down there and found this young lad in an iron lung, unconscious, his face rather a blackish color, with a tube in his throat, and they said he had another tube lower down in his abdomen. He had been flown in from an outlying community. The mother said to me, “This is an unusual boy, no
views Views

In His Steps

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

My beloved associates—members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Sister Benson and I are honored to be in your midst tonight. I pray that the spirit of the Lord will be with us and that I might be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to bless and edify you. For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not. True, there will be some individuals who will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head—even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God. All through the ages the prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been as well organized. Now is the great day of the devil’s power, with the greatest mass murderers of all time living among us. But now is also the great day of the Lord’s power, with the greatest number ever of priesthood holders on the earth. And the showdown is fast approaching. Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good pick up new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions that show where our support will go. The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight—and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last-days, foreordained mission? Great battles can make great heroes, but heroes will make great battle. You will never have a better opportunity to be a greater hero in a more crucial battle than in the battle you will face today and in the immediate future. Be warned that some of the greatest battles you will face will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul. David’s battles in the field against the foe were not as critical as David’s battles in the palace against a lustful eye. We will each find our own battlefield. The tactics that the enemy will use against us will vary from time to time; he will feel after our weak spots. We must be alert to the devil’s devious designs, to the subtle sins and clever compromises as well as the obvious offenses. Fortunately for us, we have the privilege of fi
views Views

But for a Small Moment

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

I am delighted to be with you tonight, my brothers and sisters, to partake of the spirit that is here and of that marvelous music. I wish you knew how much as a generation you inspire those of us who have the privilege of working with you. I want you to know that I regard you highly—collectively and all here whom I know individually–and have great expectations for you. The highest compliment I can pay to you is that God has placed you here and now at this time to serve in his kingdom; so much is about to happen in which you will be involved and concerning which you will have some great influence. It is because you will face some remarkable challenges in your time; it is because the Church has ceased to be in the eyes of men a mere cultural oddity in the Mountain West and is now, therefore, a global church—a light which can no longer be hid; it is because you have a rendezvous with destiny that will involve some soul stretching and some pain that I have chosen to speak to you tonight about the implications of two things we accept sometimes quite casually. These realities are that God loves us and, loving us, has placed us here to cope with challenges which he will place before us. I’m not sure we can always understand the implications of his love, because his love will call us at times to do things we may wonder about, and we may be confronted with circumstances we would rather not face. I believe with all my heart that because God loves us there are some particularized challenges that he will deliver to each of us. He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like. And this will require us to accept with all our hearts—particularly your generation—the truth that there is divine design in each of our lives and that you have rendezvous to keep, individually and collectively. God knows even now what the future holds for each of us. In one of his revelations these startling words appear, as with so many revelations that are too big, I suppose, for us to manage fully: “In the presence of God, . . . all things . . . are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord” (D&C 130:7). The future “you” is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and in mine that he wishes to achieve. Now, this will require us to believe in that divine design and at times to accept the truth which came to Joseph Smith wherein he was reminded that his suffering would be “but a small moment” (D&C 121:7). I’d like to talk to you about some of those small moments that w
views Views

A Robe, a Ring, and a Fatted Calf

DOWNLOAD AUDIO

Recently I was invited by President Bishop of the Missionary Training Center to address the nearly two thousand missionaries in residence there. I accepted because I always assume it is impossible to give a poor talk at the MTC. They will take notes and make scriptural cross-references if you read them the telephone directory. Plus I love to hear them sing. So I went. The Missionary Following prayers, hymns, announcements and introductions, I gave them a rousing forty-minute reading of the telephone directory, proving that indeed one can give a poor talk to these missionaries. But, generous Christians that they are, several came up following my remarks to visit briefly and discuss my message. (Actually most of them either wanted tickets to a basketball game or to complain about the parking ticket “hold” that Financial Services had put on their temple recommends.) I visited with many of them and the minutes stretched into many minutes and then finally into nearly an hour. During that time I noticed one young elder hanging around the outer rim of the circle as all the other missionaries came and went. Finally the traffic thinned out, and he stepped forward. “Do you remember me?” he asked. “No,” I said, “I’m sorry I don’t. Tell me your name.” He replied, “My name is Elder ___________.” His eyes searched mine for recognition, but I just didn’t know who this young man was. Summoning his courage for the ultimate revelation he said, “Hinckley Hall—A Faithful Friend Is a Strong Defense.” Then I knew who he was. That little coded phrase may not ring any bells for you, but it meant something to him and he knew it meant something to me. On September 7, 1982, I stood in this exact spot and gave the only angry public spanking I have ever given a group of BYU students. The title of my remarks for that back-to-school message was “A Faithful Friend Is a Strong Defense.” I spoke of an offense, a felony—falsifying government documents—which had been committed in Hinckley Hall the April before and which had been widely covered by the press. Five months had passed but I was still hurting. Time had not soothed me. I spoke of that incident publicly—without mentioning the names of the participants—because I care about matters of morality and honor and personal virtue at BYU. I wanted it clear then (and now, if anyone is still wondering) that the behavior of every student at Brigham Young University matters very much to me and to what this school stands for. So I said my piece and, for all intents and purposes, forgot about it. But, as you might guess, it was not easy for the students involved. Not only were there the burdens of university and Church actions, but the civil laws made an indelible stroke across the record of some of these young lives. There were tears and courts and sentences and probations. Legally it had been about as much of a

BYU Speeches Podcasts