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Classic Speeches

A curated selection of beloved, timeless speeches

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Truth and Liberty

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A Memorable Event At two o’clock this afternoon, throughout all of the United States, bells of all shapes, sizes, and sounds will ring. Two hundred years ago today, at approximately two o’clock our time, delegates to the Grand Convention in Philadelphia started queuing up to sign their proposed constitution of the United States. It would still require nine months before it could really be called a constitution. This happened on 21 June 1788, when New Hampshire, the ninth state, ratified it. During that hot and humid summer of 1787, the delegates labored nearly four months in a stuffy building with windows closed most of the time to prevent their words from being heard by the outside world during their deliberations. You from the East Coast know what it is like even with air-conditioning. I can’t imagine what it would be like with windows closed in a small, stuffy room. Tempers would flare, some delegates would go home early—compromise and crisis would take place. Yet on 17 September 1787 they signed the document that is now the oldest written constitution of its kind in the world. It has served nearly 457 million Americans to date—247 million of whom are alive today. How was it possible that these delegates, living in an eighteenth-century rural society, could write a constitution that would effectively serve 247 million people living in the twentieth-century space age? What did they know that writers of hundreds of other constitutions since have not known? Was there something unique about its creation or the men who wrote it? Many of the delegates realized the importance of what they were doing. Benjamin Franklin had said that if the convention failed, “mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest” (Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia [Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1966], p. 126). Possibly this is the reason, in spite of ill health and personal suffering, that he attended the convention. Another delegate, Rufus King, said that his fears were more agitated for his country than he could express, that he conceived this to be the last opportunity of providing for liberty and happiness for the people. Madison had also said at the beginning of the convention that the delegates “were now digesting a plan which in its operation would decide forever the fate of Republican Government” (26 June 1787,Records of the Federal Convention, vol. 1 [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911], 423). Hamilton had written in the Federalist Papers: It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to
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Personal Revelation

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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
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Filling the Measure of Your Creation

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When my daughter, Mary, was just a small child, she was asked to perform for a PTA talent contest. This is her experience exactly as she wrote it in her seven-year-old script. “What Can I Be?” “I was practicing the piano one day, and it made me cry because it was so bad. Then I decided to practice ballet, and it made me cry more; it was bad, too. So then I decided to draw a picture because I knew I could do that good, but it was horrid. Of course it made me cry. “Then my little three-year-old brother came up, and I said, ‘Duffy, what can I be? What can I be? I can’t be a piano player or an artist or a ballet girl. What can I be?’ He came up to me and whispered, ‘You can be my sister.’” In an important moment, those five simple words changed the perspective and comforted the heart of a very anxious child. Life became better right on the spot, and as always, tomorrow was a brighter day. All of us face those questions about our role, our purpose, our course in life—and we face them long after we are children. I visit with enough of you (and I remember our own university years well enough) to know that many of you, perhaps most of you, have occasions when you feel off-balance or defeated—at least temporarily. And we ask, ‘What will I be, when will I graduate, whom will I marry, what is my future, how will I make a living, can I make a contribution?”—in short, “What can I be?” Take heart if you are still asking yourselves such questions, because we all do. I do. We should concern ourselves with our fundamental purposes in life. Surely every philosopher past and present agrees that, important as they are, food and shelter are not enough. We want to know what’s next. Where is the meaning? What is my purpose? When asking these questions, I have found it extremely reassuring to remember that one of the most important and fundamental truths taught in the scriptures and in the temple is that “Every living thing shall fill the measure of its creation.” I must admit that when I first heard this directive, I thought it meant only procreation, having issue, bearing offspring. And I’m sure that is probably the most important part of its meaning, but much of the temple ceremony is symbolic, so surely there can be multiple meanings in this statement as well. Part of the additional meaning I now see in this commandment is that every element of creation has its own purpose and performance. Every one of us has been designed with a divine role and mission in mind. I believe that if our desires and works are directed toward what our heavenly parents have intended us to be, we will come to feel our part in their plan. We will recognize the “full measure of our creation,” and nothing will give us more holy peace. Each of Us Playing Our Part I once read a wonderful analogy of the l
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Flaxen Threads

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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
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The Great Prologue

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It surely is inspirational to see this building so completely filled with you wonderful young people. I am humbled in your presence. I am humbled every time I come to this great University. I love it wholeheartedly. I love and respect most highly the great men who operate this school, and I would like to say in the presence of President Oaks how much we love and admire him. I want you to know that we at the Church offices fully and completely sustain him. We hope that you will do likewise. Tonight I would like to talk with you about the restoration of the gospel. That is why we are here, because there has been a restoration of the gospel. I would like to talk with you from the standpoint of seeing the Restoration in the true perspective that we Latter-day Saints should understand—a perspective of some two thousand years. You remember that the Lord Jesus Christ established the truth when he was on the earth. We Latter-day Saints believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, as the Son of God, and as the Creator of all things. We are committed to the doctrine of a special creation, and we believe that Jesus, under the direction of his Father, was the Creator. As John said, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Christ came to the earth and gave to us his gospel. Apostasy During the Savior’s Day But it seems that always with the Christians there has been a spirit of dissension and division. Apostasy started even in the Savior’s own day. You remember that as early as the events that are recorded in the sixth chapter of John apostasy was evident. The people of his day professed to believe in the law of Moses, but as the Savior himself said, none of them lived it. When Christ began to preach his true and pure doctrines to the people of that day, in contrast to the false teachings of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the other -enes that were there, the people got angry with him. Do you remember that some of them sought to take his life? Do you remember too that many who had been following him fell away from him? As the scripture says: From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou are that Christ, the Son of the living God. [John 6:66–69] Jesus continued in his work. He fed the four thousand. He fed the five thousand. But you remember that, when the time came for the first meeting on the day of Pentecost following the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, only 120 people came. That is all. The only ones who had the courage and the faith to come to the meeting were 120 people. But then the missionary work got underway, and in one
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Borne upon Eagles’ Wings

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While looking into your faces for the last twenty minutes or so, I have seen a lot of male-female combinations, which for some peculiar reason have brought to my mind the only story I know of a college freshman (who may have been registering at this University for all I know). He faced on that day the myriad of questionnaires and information items that freshmen get when they register, and somehow during the day he got one which said, among other things, “Do you believe in college marriages?” He thought about it a minute, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Well, I guess—if the colleges really love each other.” I don’t know about love from college to college, but let me say something about the new dean at the University: I am madly in love with you and with the possibilities of coming to be with you. It seems to me that the engagement has been too extended already, so I’m looking forward to the ceremony about the first of July, when I will officially become dean of Religious Instruction. Since it is June, we could talk about marriage. But instead let me talk about the only other thing that I can think of that’s appropriate in June—and that’s not cutoff Levi’s or hay fever. It is something about the commencement circuit that I’ve been on. I’ve been with big people and little people and young people and not-so-young people, hearing across the length of the land that commencements are “not really the end but the beginning” and things like that. I’ve been so struck and virtually preoccupied with one recent experience that I’m going to ask your indulgence in letting me share it with you tonight. An Unusual Commencement It was unlike any other commencement or baccalaureate exercise I had ever attended or participated in myself. It was held one week ago, last Thursday, on the twenty-third of May. There were forty-four graduates, all male. They did not have traditional academic robes or caps or gowns. Their attire, to a man, was light blue denim shirts and dark blue denim trousers. The ceremony was not held in a fieldhouse or a stadium or even a lovely auditorium. The exercise was held in a modest interdenominational chapel at the Utah state prison. The graduating class consisted of forty-four men who had successfully completed a year’s course of Bible study sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but open to all who cared to come and participate. These forty-four represented more than a dozen different religions, and, of course, many of them had no formal religious affiliation at all. At this very moment a lot of images and impressions are coming back to my mind, and I hope I can catch them long enough to share some of them with you. One is of the delightful, tall, cordial, and warm inmate who conducted the exercises. He immediately warmed the group to the evening. About half were pleasantly and appropriately called “outsiders.” He said he wa
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Learning the Healer’s Art

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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
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Meekly Drenched in Destiny

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I welcome you to a Christian campus where discipleship and scholarship are uniquely blended. I salute your ecclesiastical and academic leaders, so many of whom are with us tonight. They will serve you exceedingly well. My brothers and sisters, as on another occasion at this pulpit, I will speak out of my own strugglings about another unglamorous but very crucial gospel objective. Then, the subject was patience, a virtue which is regarded by some as quite pedestrian but which is essential to our development and happiness. A Companion Virtue to Patience Our focus tonight will be on meekness, a companion virtue to patience. Meekness, too, is one of the attributes of Deity. Instructively, Jesus, our Lord and Exemplar, called attention to Himself as being “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Paul extolled the “meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:1). The Greek rendition of the word meek in the New Testament, by the way, is gentle and humble. Actually, meekness is not only an attribute essential for itself; Moroni declared that it is also vital because one simply cannot develop those other crucial virtues—faith, hope, and charity—without meekness. In the ecology of the eternal attributes these cardinal characteristics are inextricably bound up together. Among them, meekness is often the initiator, the facilitator, and the consolidator. Moreover, if one needs any further persuasion as to how vital this virtue is, Moroni warned, “none is acceptable before God save the meek and the lowly in heart” (Moroni 7:44). If we could but believe, really believe, in the reality of that bold but accurate declaration, you and I would then find ourselves focusing on the crucial rather than the marginal tasks in life! We would then cease pursuing life-styles which, inevitably and irrevocably, are going out of style! There would be little reason for speaking to you of meekness if you were not serious candidates for the celestial kingdom. You live in coarsening times, times in which meekness is misunderstood and even despised. Yet meekness has been, is, and will remain a non-negotiable dimension of true discipleship. Its development is a remarkable achievement in any age, but especially in this age. Furthermore, whether you realize it or not, you are a generation drenched in destiny. If you are faithful, you will prove to be a part of the winding-up scenes for this world, and as participants, not merely as spectators, though on later occasions you might understandably prefer to be the latter. Why So Important? Even so, why the stress on meekness? Merely because it is nice to be nice? The reasons are far more deeply imbedded in the “plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8) than that! God, who has seen billions of spirits pass through His plan of salvation, has told us to be meek in order to enhance our enjoymen
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Our Spiritual Eyeglasses: What You See Is What You Get

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I am so happy to be able to share some ideas with you today that I know have been directed by Heavenly Father. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will help me communicate the thoughts I have received, according to the desire of the Lord. What a blessing this assignment has been to me. I want to borrow a term I first heard at a workshop conducted by the Franklin Institute, now Franklin Covey. They introduced me to the concept of the belief window, which I have identified with ever since. I can still visualize a clear window suspended in front of the eyes of a cartoon face, illustrating the idea that we see the world through our belief window. The beliefs that we have are the lenses of reality for each of us. I would like to expand upon this idea and talk about your spiritual eyeglasses and leave you with the notion that what you see is what you get or what you see is what you are, as far as eternity is concerned. It is very important that gospel truths make up our belief window so that we can see the celestial kingdom clearly. Let me illustrate. The world looks very different for me depending upon the lenses, or glasses, through which I look. For instance, this first pair of glasses I am putting on has very thick lenses, and they distort my view to the point that, if I wear them very long, I am frustrated and not able to clearly see the path before me. In fact, they give me a headache. This next pair of glasses, with the eyeballs on springs, changes my view with each movement of the springs. Once again the path before me is distorted and even comical. With this pair of sunglasses I am having a hard time seeing anything at all in this room. They shut out the light. This next pair of glasses doesn’t aid my vision at all, but they glow in the dark and draw attention to me and my eyes in a dark room. I have used them for effect several times when I wanted to solicit a reaction from people. They are a fun icebreaker, but that’s all. They don’t aid my vision. This final pair of glasses totally changes others’ perceptions of me. With these lenses I can create a fictitious image of who I am. I have created a distorted picture of myself and what my belief window contains. Thank goodness for my own prescription lenses. Now I can see you as well as the printed words before me and, I hope, the path to the celestial kingdom. It really is very important that we wear the proper pair of glasses—or, in other words, that our belief window is correct. The message that I am bringing today is that your beliefs are the lenses through which you see the world. What you believe determines your focus and in turn your actions. You are seeing things as you believe they are—not so much as things really are, but rather as you are. Our challenge is to “finally see as God sees,” as Ann Madsen prompts us (BYU Women’s Conference, May 1998). If
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“But We Heeded Them Not”

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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
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Our Relationship with the Lord

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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
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Lessons from the Potter and the Clay

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Let me tell you about some people I know. One is a woman who served a full-time mission when it was not fashionable to be a sister missionary. She received no financial support nor spiritual encouragement from her family. Upon returning, she worked her way through college and graduate school, marrying when most considered her rather old. After her children were born, her husband lost his job; he has yet to find permanent employment. However, by taking temporary jobs here and there, including those the family could do together, this woman and her husband have survived financially for several years. The couple serves faithfully in Church callings, finding numerous opportunities to encourage and assist those who are in need. Whenever I visit their relatively small and humble home, I am struck by their simultaneous expressions of gratitude, peace, and joy and their enthusiastic pursuit of knowledge. I know another woman who was widowed at age twenty-four, after only three years of marriage. She worked hard to support her young family and eventually became a very successful businesswoman. At the height of her career, as a result of a client’s dishonest dealings, she lost her business and any capital to begin again. Today she struggles financially and is learning to live a much simpler lifestyle. However, she considers herself wealthy because she has grandchildren and opportunities to expand her understanding and appreciation of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. What do these two friends of mine have in common? Life has rarely, if ever, been easy for them. It has not been at all what they had expected, nor does it appear that it will become easier in the future. Yet they continue to trust in the Lord. Many of you may be feeling great concern as you look to the future. You are often reminded that the most critical decisions in life are made during these, your college years. You hear frantic reports of a diminishing job market, a shrinking marriage market, and expanding competition to get what little there is of each. Fears of losing a scholarship, running out of tuition money, never having a date, and lacking the intellect to complete graduation requirements can keep you perpetually burdened with doubt and worry. When the Savior proclaims, “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you” (D&C 68:6), we sometimes conclude he couldn’t possibly be talking to students. We think that not until after we graduate, marry, and settle into a career can we experience a life that is rejoicing, relaxing, and reassuring. That is, until you talk to those who have graduated, married, and are settled in a career and find that many of them worry, too. My remarks today are an attempt to dispel some of our worries and concerns. When the Lord invites us to “cast [our] burden” upon him (Psalms 55:22), I believe he is talking to us now, regardless of our current lot in life. When
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Forget Yourself

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Good evening, brothers and sisters. You’re really quite a picture as I see you here—tremendous, a very remarkable group. I suppose that most of you have been fasting today. I would suppose that on this campus at least 20,000 people have been fasting and that you have accompanied your fasting with earnest prayer. I think that’s a most remarkable phenomenon. Most of you, I assume, have fasted and prayed with a purpose—that you might find answers to perplexing personal problems or the needs of others, or that moisture might fall upon these arid western lands. I hope you haven’t prayed for snow with the hope that you could go skiing on Sunday. I believe that the Lord will hear our earnest supplications, if we will back up our fasting and prayers with goodness in our lives. To ancient Israel he made a remarkable promise in these words: If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. . . . For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. . . . And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. [Leviticus 26:3–5, 9, 12] That to me is a marvelous promise, and I believe the Lord will fulfill his word in this day, as he promised to do anciently, if we will live as we ought to live. Last Sunday morning I was in the home of a stake president in a small Idaho town. Before the morning prayer, the family read together a few verses of scripture. Among these were some of the words of Jesus as recorded in John 12:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” No doubt he was referring to his own forthcoming death, declaring that except he die his mission in life would be largely in vain. But I see in this a further meaning. It seems to me that he is saying to each of us that unless we lose ourselves in the service of others our lives are largely lived to no real purpose, for he went on to say, “He that loveth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Or, as recorded in Luke, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33). In other words, he who lives only unto himself withers and dies, while he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity. That morning in stake conference the president with whom I had stayed was released after thirteen years of faithful service. There was a great outp
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Agency or Inspiration—Which?

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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,
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Revelation

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I am going to speak this morning about revelation. Revelation is communication from God to man. It can occur in many different ways. Some prophets, like Moses and Joseph Smith, have talked with God face to face. Some persons have had personal communication with angels. Other revelations have come, as Elder James E. Talmage described it, “through the dreams of sleep or in the waking visions of the mind” (Articles of Faith, p. 229). In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind (D&C 8:2–3; Enos 1:10), by sudden enlightenment (D&C 6:14–15), by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action, or even by inspiring performances, as in the performing arts, the beautiful music we heard at the beginning of this devotional assembly being a notable example. As Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated, “Inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound” (“Prayers and Answers,” Ensign, November 1979, p. 19). Assuming you are familiar with these different forms of revelation or inspiration, I have chosen to discuss this subject in terms of a different classification—the purpose of the communication. I can identify eight different purposes served by communication from God: (1) to testify; (2) to prophesy; (3) to comfort; (4) to uplift; (5) to inform; (6) to restrain; (7) to confirm; and (8) to impel. I will describe each of these in that order, giving examples. My purpose in suggesting this classification and in giving these examples is to persuade each of you to search your own experience and to conclude that you have already received revelations and that you can receive more revelations because communication from God to men and women is a reality. President Lorenzo Snow declared that it is “the grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint . . . to have the manifestations of the spirit every day of our lives” (CR, April 1899, p. 52). President Harold B. Lee taught: Every man has the privilege to exercise these gifts and these privileges in the conduct of his own affairs; in bringing up his children in the way they should go; in the management of his business, or whatever he does. It is his right to enjoy the
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The Comprehending Soul: Open Minds and Hearts

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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
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Be Loyal to the Royal Within You

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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
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Honest, Simple, Solid, True

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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
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A Robe, a Ring, and a Fatted Calf

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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
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The Real Christmas

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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
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“Live in Thanksgiving Daily”

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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
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However Long and Hard the Road

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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
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Missionary Experiences

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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
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“And in Everything Give Thanks”

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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
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What We Believe

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I am honored to be asked to speak at the devotional assembly this morning. Because the weekly devotionals at Brigham Young University have been such a significant part of my life, I have taken this invitation very seriously. My topic is “What We Believe.” Sooner or later you and I will be approached by men and women not of our faith—persons either sincerely interested in what we believe or else opposed to much of what we stand for. This is particularly true as the Church grows and as our influence spreads throughout the world. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for us to entertain a few questions about what we believe, questions frequently asked of the Latter-day Saints concerning scripture, God, Christ, and salvation. For example: 1. How can the Latter-day Saints justify having additional books of scripture and adding to the Christian canon? I remember very well sitting in a seminar on biblical studies at an eastern university many years ago. One of the things that stands out in my mind is our discussion of the canon of scripture. For at least two hours the instructor had emphasized that the word canon—referring, of course, to the biblical books that are generally included in the Judeo-Christian collection—was the “rule of faith,” the standard against which we measure what is acceptable in belief and practice. He also stated that the canon, if the word meant anything at all, was closed, fixed, set, and established. He must have stressed those words at least 10 times as he wrote them on the blackboard over and over. I noticed in the second session on this topic that the instructor seemed a bit uneasy. I remember thinking that something must be wrong. Without warning, he stopped what he was doing, banged his fist on the table, turned to me, and said: “Mr. Millet, will you please explain to this group the Latter-day Saint concept of canon, given your people’s acceptance of the Book of Mormon and other books of scripture beyond the Bible?” I was startled. Stunned. Certainly surprised. I paused for several seconds, looked up at the blackboard, saw the now very familiar words under the word canon,and said, somewhat shyly, “Well, I suppose you could say that the Latter-day Saints believe the canon of scripture is open, flexible, and expanding.” We then had a really fascinating discussion! Joseph Smith loved the Bible. It was through pondering upon certain verses in the Epistle of James that he felt directed to call upon God in prayer. Most of his sermons, writings, and letters are laced with quotations or paraphrased summaries of biblical passages and precepts from both the Old and New Testaments. The Prophet once remarked that one can “see God’s own handwriting in the sacred volume: and he who reads it oftenest will like it best” (Teachings, p. 56). From his earliest days, however, he did not believe the B

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