Most Viewed Speeches


Stand Forever

As part of an assignment I had as a General Authority a few years ago, I needed to read through a great deal of material antagonistic to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the events of the Restoration. There may not be anything out there of that nature I haven’t read. Since that assignment changed, I have not returned to wallow in that mire again. Reading that material always left me with a feeling of gloom, and one day that sense of darkness inspired me to write a partial response to all such antagonistic claims. I would like to share with you some of the thoughts I recorded that day, and although what I wrote was for my benefit, I hope it will help you as well. I wanted to give a different talk today. I wrote other talks more entertaining, with more stories—more engaging than this one—but each time I wrote a new talk, I was directed back to this one. Will You Stand Forever? The prophet Daniel said that in the last days shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.1 The kingdom of God is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It will “stand for ever.” The question is, Will you and I stand? Will you stand forever, or will you go away? And if you go, where will you go? Deception Is a Sign of Our Time When the Lord described the signs of His coming and the end of the world, when He described our day, He mentioned many things, including wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and many other signs, including this one: For in those days [this day] there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.2 I am not sure of all that is implied by the qualification “if possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” but I think it means, at least, that everyone will be challenged in our day. Paul said, “We see through a glass, darkly.”3 Similarly, one of the most prominent features of the vision of the tree of life is a “great mist of darkness [in which] they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.”4 The Broad Spectrum of Deception There are many who deceive, and the spectrum of deception is broad. At one end we meet those who attack the Restoration, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. Next we see those who believe in the Restoration but claim the Church is deficient and has gone astray. There are others who also claim to believe in the Restorati

Prophetic Invitations and Promised Blessings

My dear brothers and sisters, my wife, Shelley, and I are thrilled to be with you today. We both have very fond memories of being here forty-five years ago. Let me tell you a little bit about the two of us. Neither of us came from fairytale backgrounds or perfect circumstances. My wife grew up in a part-member family. Her nonmember father passed away when she was seventeen, and a beloved older brother passed away a few years later. Fortunately, when Shelley arrived here at BYU, she was ministered to by incredible students and faculty just like you—for which I am eternally grateful. While Shelley was here, I arrived as a young full-time missionary—before the MTC was even built. My parents were already struggling in a marriage that would eventually end in divorce. Soon after arriving here, I became homesick, and I became really discouraged. Then I was Dear Johned by my girlfriend at the time. In spite of all of this, it all worked out really well, because even though neither of us knew it at the time, my future eternal companion and my very best friend was right here waiting for me. We both love being here! Now, you may not come from perfect circumstances either, but I promise that if you will act with faith in your Heavenly Father and His plan—His great plan of happiness—and if you will act with faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and follow God’s prophets, you will be given power to do whatever the Lord needs you to do and to become whatever He needs you to become, in spite of your circumstances. While I am speaking today, the Holy Ghost will also communicate important truths to you and give you guidance that you need in your life. I encourage you to write these things down and then follow the feelings that come to you. Follow the Prophets of God First, I would like to tell you about the angel who consented to be my wife after I had made four marriage proposals. When Shelley was fifteen years old, she had an experience that changed the rest of her life. At a youth conference, she unexpectedly met an apostle. He did not know Shelley or her family, but he invited her to do something really surprising. He asked, “Will you kiss your father on the cheek every night and tell him that you love him for one full year?” Shelley agreed, even though silently she thought, “This is going to be impossible!” The apostle did not know that her father was a wonderful but very, very reserved man. Shelley had never seen her father kiss anyone, including her mother, and she had never heard her father say, “I love you,” to anyone. But, as impossible as it seemed, she decided to do what an apostle had invited her to do. The first few nights as she kissed her father on the cheek and said, “I love you, Dad,” he did not react positively at all. She persisted night after night, but her father would simply sit rigid, like a statue, while she kissed him on the ch

His Grace Is Sufficient

I am grateful to be here with my wife, Debi, and my two youngest children—who are currently attending BYU—and several other family members who have come to be with us. It is an honor to be invited to speak to you today. Several years ago I received an invitation to speak at Women’s Conference. When I told my wife, she asked, “What have they asked you to speak on?” I was so excited that I got my words mixed up and said, “They want me to speak about changing strengths into weaknesses.” She thought for a minute and said, “Well, they’ve got the right man for the job!” She’s correct about that. I could give a whale of a talk on that subject, but I think today I had better go back to the original topic and speak about changing weaknesses into strengths and about how the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient (see Ether 12:27, D&C 17:8, 2 Corinthians 12:9)—sufficient to cover us, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes. Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Cover Us A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?” She said, “I just don’t get grace.” I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?” She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.” She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing. She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?” She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway. Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.” Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?” She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot. I said, “Wrong.” She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have jus

Be 100 Percent Responsible

Brothers and sisters, I am grateful to be with you in this opening session of the 2017 BYU Campus Education Week. This year’s theme comes from Doctrine and Covenants 50:24, with special emphasis on these words: “And he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light.” I am going to take a different approach to this theme than might be expected by exposing and illustrating some very cunning and effective ways that the “wicked one” prevents people from progressing and receiving more light (D&C 93:39). Many gospel principles come in pairs, meaning one is incomplete without the other. I want to refer to three of these doctrinal pairs today:Agency and responsibility Mercy and justice Faith and worksWhen Satan is successful in dividing doctrinal pairs, he begins to wreak havoc upon mankind. It is one of his most cunning strategies to keep people from growing in the light. You already know that faith without works really isn’t faith (see James 2:17). My primary focus will be on the other two doctrinal pairs: first, to illustrate how avoiding responsibility affects agency; and second, how “denying justice,” as it is referred to in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 42:30), affects mercy. The Book of Mormon teaches us that we are agents to “act . . . and not to be acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:26)—or to be “free to act for [our]selves” (2 Nephi 10:23). This freedom of choice was not a gift of partial agency but of complete and total 100 percent agency. It was absolute in the sense that the One Perfect Parent never forces His children. He shows us the way and may even command us, but, “nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee” (Moses 3:17). Assuming responsibility and being accountable for our choices are agency’s complementary principles (see D&C 101:78). Responsibility is to recognize ourselves as being the cause for the effects or results of our choices—good or bad. On the negative side, it is to always own up to the consequences of poor choices. Except for those held innocent, such as little children and the intellectually disabled, gospel doctrine teaches us that each person is responsible for the use of their agency and “will be punished for their own sins” (Articles of Faith 1:2).1 It isn’t just a heavenly principle but a law of nature—we reap what we sow. Logically then, complete and total agency comes with complete and total responsibility: And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it u

“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence”

There is a lesson in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision that virtually everyone in this audience has had occasion to experience, or one day soon will. It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our life. In the marvelous account that we read too seldom, Joseph said he had scarcely begun his prayer when he felt a power of astonishing influence come over him. Thick darkness, as he described it, gathered around him and seemed bent on his utter destruction. But he exerted all his powers to call upon God to deliver him out of the power of this enemy, and as he did so a pillar of light brighter than the noonday sun descended gradually until it rested upon him. At the very moment of the light’s appearance, he found himself delivered from the destructive power that had held him bound. What then followed is the greatest epiphany since the events surrounding the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ in the meridian of time. The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and the dispensation of the fulness of times had begun. (See JS—H 1:15–20.) Most of us do not need any more reminders than we have already had that there is one who personifies “opposition in all things,” that “an angel of God” fell “from heaven” and in so doing became “miserable forever.” What a chilling destiny. Lehi teaches us that because this is Lucifer’s fate, “he sought also the misery of all mankind” (2 Nephi 2:11, 17–18). Surely this must be the original ecclesiastical source for the homely little adage that misery loves company. A morning’s devotional could be devoted to this subject of the adversary’s strong, preliminary, anticipatory opposition to many of the good things that God has in store for us. But today I want to move past that observation to another truth we may not recognize so readily. This is a lesson in the parlance of the athletic contest that reminds us “it isn’t over until it’s over.” It is the reminder that the fight goes on. Unfortunately we must not think that Satan is defeated with that first, strong breakthrough that so dramatically brings the light and moves us forward. To make my point a little more vividly, may I go to another passage of scripture, indeed to another vision. You will recall that the book of Moses begins with him being taken up to “an exceedingly high mountain” where, the scripture says, “

Can You Hear the Music?

My beloved brothers and sisters, my dear friends, Sister Uchtdorf and I are so grateful to be with you today. We bring you the love and greetings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. You young people are the strength and future of the Church of Jesus Christ all around the earth. You are the Latter-day Saints who will be a blessing to the world. We love and admire you! One year ago, almost exactly to the day, Harriet and I spoke to all the young adults of the Church from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City regarding your adventure through mortality. We will never forget that wonderful evening with you, and some of you might even remember our messages.1 Harriet and I are amazed by your goodness, humility, and desire to embrace your membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how you love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s children. We are better people as a result. I hope that you will feel the Holy Spirit ministering, uplifting, and instructing you as we meet together. The Man at the Subway Station On January 12, 2007, a man dressed in jeans and a T-shirt walked into a Washington, DC, subway station, pulled a violin from its case, and began to play.2 He put his soul into the performance, sometimes pounding his bow against the strings, sometimes gently caressing them to bring out soft and sorrowful tones. As he played, more than a thousand commuters passed through the train station on their way to work. They had busy days ahead of them: lists of things to do, worries, and troubles. Their minds were occupied with everyday trivial things—like where and what to eat for lunch, how their favorite sports team was doing, or whether anyone would notice their new glasses. Some, undoubtedly, were wrestling with greater problems: a challenging health diagnosis, relationships that were unraveling, financial loss, or some other pressing anxiety. In short, these people were people like you and me: unwrapping the gift of a new day, even the gift of a brand-new year, but consumed with the trivial and tragic, the petty and profound. Did they notice the musician? Or was the man with the violin merely part of the impressionistic blur that shaded the all-too-familiar backdrop of their daily lives? What these commuters did not know was that this musician was no ordinary violinist, he was playing no ordinary instrument, and he was playing no ordinary music. The man’s name was Joshua Bell—one of the most accomplished musicians in the world. The violin he played was handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari. Joshua Bell had purchased it a few years earlier for an estimated $3.5 million. And the music he played was some of the most challenging and beautiful ever composed. Now, this whole experience in the subway station had been set up by a journalist from the Washington Pos

Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments

This responsibility to speak to you never gets any easier for me. I think it gets more difficult as the years go by. I grow a little older, the world and its litany of problems get a little more complex, and your hopes and dreams become evermore important to me the longer I am at BYU. Indeed, your growth and happiness and development in the life you are now living and in the life you will be living in the days and decades ahead are the central and most compelling motivation in my daily professional life. I care very much about you now and forever. Everything I know to do at BYU is being done with an eye toward who and what you are, and who and what you can become. The future of this world’s history will be quite fully in your hands very soon—at least your portion of it will be—and an education at an institution sponsored and guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the greatest academic advantage I can imagine in preparation for such a serious and significant responsibility. But that future, at least any qualitative aspect of it, must be vigorously fought for. It won’t “just happen” to your advantage. Some­one said once that the future is waiting to be seized, and if we do not grasp it firmly, then other hands, more determined and bloody than our own, will wrench it from us and follow a different course. It is with an eye to that future—your future—and an awareness of this immense sense of responsibility I feel for you, that I approach this annual midyear devotional message. I always need the help and sustaining Spirit of the Lord to succeed at such times, but I especially feel the need for that spiritual help today. Human Intimacy My topic is that of human intimacy, a topic as sacred as any I know and more sacred than anything I have ever addressed from this podium. If I am not careful and you are not supportive, this subject can slide quickly from the sacred into the merely sensational, and I would be devastated if that happened. It would be better not to address the topic at all than to damage it with casualness or carelessness. Indeed, it is against such casualness and carelessness that I wish to speak. So I ask for your faith and your prayers and your respect. You may feel this is a topic you hear addressed too frequently at this time in your life, but given the world in which we live, you may not be hearing it enough. All of the prophets, past and present, have spoken on it, and President Benson himself addressed this very subject in his annual message to this student body last fall. I am thrilled that most of you are doing wonderfully well in the matter of personal purity. There isn’t as worthy and faithful a group of university students anywhere else on the face of the earth. You are an inspiration to me. I acknowledge your devotion to the gospel a

If You Don’t Like It, Change It

When it was announced that I would be speaking at a devotional, a list of some of the upcoming devotional speakers was posted on the BYU website. When my husband saw my name listed ahead of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder Ulisses Soares, he took a screenshot and sent it to me with text that read, “Listed in order of importance?” This gave me a good laugh but also impressed upon my mind what an honor it is to be speaking at this pulpit. Even though I feel inadequate for the task at hand, I pray that what I have prepared may benefit you in some way. As I pondered what to say, I reached out to a friend who told me that I couldn’t really say anything that hasn’t already been said before. All I could do was take you on my journey. So I hope in the process you can learn something from some of the things I have learned in my life. Two Parental Lessons The two most memorable pieces of advice I received as a child came from each of my parents. One day I came home from school in a terrible mood. Something had upset me, so I complained and vented to my mother. Even though this occurred when I was very young, I still remember her wise words: “Carrie, if you don’t like something, then change it.” I was stunned and puzzled. I thought, “Wait! I can do that?” She added to her advice by saying, “If you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” I had no idea what she was talking about. I was confused, and I thought my mother was speaking in tongues. But for some reason the phrase “If you don’t like it, then change it” has always stuck with me. Her lesson is one I want to share with you today. Through your agency and through learning to think and act for yourself, you can create the life that you want. My dad taught me the other most memorable lesson of my youth. This one came when I was struggling to choose which college I wanted to attend and play golf for. I had several offers but didn’t know where to go. Eventually I narrowed my search to three schools. Yet when the time came to sign with a school, I sat at my kitchen table staring at three National Letters of Intent with no idea who to sign with. At the time my dad was a successful golfer on the Senior PGA Tour. But he didn’t try to influence my decision. Instead he allowed me to make my own choice about college. Finally I reached out to my dad and asked him, “Where should I go?” He responded with a question: “Well, what do you want?” I was confused. “What do you mean, what do I want?” He asked another question: “What do you want out of life?” After thinking about it, I told him what I wanted. He replied, “Then choose the school that will give you that.” In order to get what you want in life, you have to first know what you want. It is hard to think and act for yourself when you don’t know what to think and act upon.

“Remember Lot’s Wife”: Faith is For the Future

You all look so good. Sister Holland walked in and said, “I think I’m going to cry.” You have to understand: Give yourselves 20 or 30 years—then you’ll know how we feel coming back here. We love this campus. We’re thrilled to be with you on it, and we love you personally with all our hearts. You have had, will have, and now have better university presidents than I was, but you’ll never have one who loves you and loves this university more than I do. Thank you for serving here, and thank you for being in attendance on a bright, clear, January morning. We are grateful to President and Sister Samuelson for their kindness and their leadership at this university. We actually know something about their jobs and what they entail. You and we are very lucky to have them at the helm of this special school, and we praise them publicly for the time they spend, the success they are having, and the strength that they bring. I loved every word of their counsel to you last week, and I pray that my remarks to you today are consistent with their messages about light, about trust, and about the privilege it is to have the gospel of Jesus Christ enhance our study at BYU. President and Sister Samuelson, we do love you. You have our prayers, our gratitude, and our support. The start of a new year is the traditional time to take stock of our lives and see where we are going, measured against the backdrop of where we have been. I don’t want to talk to you about New Year’s resolutions, because you only made five of them and you have already broken four. (I give that remaining one just another week.) But I do want to talk to you about the past and the future, not so much in terms of New Year’s commitments per se, but more with an eye toward any time of transition and change in your lives—and those moments come virtually every day of our lives. As a scriptural theme for this discussion, I have chosen the second-shortest verse in all of holy scripture. I am told that the shortest verse—a verse that every missionary memorizes and holds ready in case he is called on spontaneously in a zone conference—is John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” Elders, here is a second option, another shortie that will dazzle your mission president in case you are called on two zone conferences in a row. It is Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Hmmm. What did He mean by such an enigmatic little phrase? To find out, I suppose we need to do as He suggested. Let’s recall who Lot’s wife was. The original story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord, having had

“In the Strength of the Lord”

Good morning, brothers and sisters. It is for me a blessing and a remarkable responsibility to stand before you today. I appreciate the invitation from Elder Bateman to speak with you. As I entered the Marriott Center this morning, my mind was flooded with wonderful memories. I have been in this arena many, many times. I was a freshman at BYU in 1970 when the construction work on this building was started. I vividly remember sitting way up there on September 11, 1973, and listening to the teachings and testimony of President Harold B. Lee. I had returned from my mission to southern Germany just three weeks earlier, and the message he presented that day was entitled “Be Loyal to the Royal Within You.” I hope I shall never forget what I felt and heard and learned that day. His teachings have positively influenced me for the last 28 years. I remember sitting right over there in 1973 when President Spencer W. Kimball, as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, delivered a powerful and extremely direct message about the importance of eternal marriage (“Marriage Is Honorable,” 30 September 1973). I also remember how squirmy I and the young woman with whom I attended that fireside were—on our first date. (For those of you who may be wondering, the young woman with whom I attended that fireside then is not Sister Bednar now.) And I remember sitting right over there in 1977 as a married student walking and wrestling with a young son. I sat right up there in 2000 when that same son graduated from BYU with his baccalaureate degree. I recall with great fondness numerous other occasions in this building when I have listened to inspired leaders and learned from great teachers. It frankly never occurred to me that someday I might be invited to stand at this pulpit and speak to a group like you. It is clear to me that I likely will never be asked to do so again. Thus I have been most prayerful and serious about preparing my presentation for today. Assuming that I would never again stand at this pulpit to teach and testify, I have considered what might be the most important message I could share with you. My objective this morning is to describe and discuss both the redeeming and enabling powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And I hope to place particular emphasis upon the enabling power of the Atonement. I yearn and invite and pray for the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be with me and with you as we visit together for these few minutes about this sacred subject. The Journey of Life The framework for my message today is a statement by President David O. McKay. He summarized the overarching purpose of the gospel of the Savior in these terms: “The purpose of the gospel is . . . to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature” (from the film Every Member a Missionary, as acknowledged by Franklin D. Richards, CR, October 1965, 136–

Enter to Learn; Go Forth to Fight!

It is a privilege for me to be here, not just as a General Authority but especially as a former BYU student and as a Cougar fan. When I first stepped onto this campus more than thirty years ago as an English as a second language (ESL) student, I never would have imagined that one day I would be invited to speak at a BYU devotional. I will tell you why I felt that way in a moment, but first, let me tell you about the title of my message: “Enter to Learn; Go Forth to Fight!” It is a slogan that you have heard many times but with a little change at the end. As I was writing down some ideas and thoughts here and there during my preparation for this occasion, I was still looking for a title that could pull all those thoughts together. A few weeks ago, my wife, Mônica, and I were here in Provo to spend time with our daughter Renata and our four grandkids. When we asked them where they wanted to have lunch, to our surprise they picked Wendy’s—right there on the corner across from campus. While we were there, I saw the famous BYU sign across the street: “Enter to Learn; Go Forth to Serve.” I had seen this slogan many times, but at that moment it brought me a prompting. There was the title I was looking for. Using this title I would be able to put all my loose notes and thoughts together and hopefully have them all make sense. But, aware that you probably have heard great messages about this slogan many times, I decided to change the second part a little. Therefore, my version of the slogan and title of my message became “Enter to Learn; Go Forth to Fight!” And you will see why. Enter to Learn So let’s start with “enter to learn.” Now I can go back to my previous comment about being in this meeting as a former BYU student and why I never would expect such a thing as speaking in a devotional to ever happen. As I mentioned before, my first experience at BYU was entering to learn—not to obtain a degree but to learn English. I don’t know if you know that for many international students the English as a second language course is the first step to hopefully being able to apply to a BYU program. When your English still is not good enough to pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), this course is a good option. That was my case. I come from a humble family with little resources to put their children in good schools or to take English courses. Also, during those days missionaries did not have the opportunity to learn English while serving a mission in their own country. There was no such program in our missions in the past. I started my mission as a young missionary knowing zero English. Two years later, my English was still zero. Maybe I knew a few more words, such as Big Mac, French fries, popcorn, and so on. But that was it. Thanks to a great missionary companion, David Boekweg, and his family and a loving mission president, John Hawkins, I had t

Lessons from Liberty Jail

My beloved young friends, it is a thrill for Sister Holland and for me to be with you tonight for this worldwide satellite broadcast. It’s always a thrill to be in the Marriott Center. I wish it were possible for us to be in each of your individual locations, seeing you personally and being able to shake your hands. We haven’t figured out a way to do that yet, but we send our love and greeting to all of you wherever you are in the world. In spite of the vastness of our global audience, we hope all of you are individually able to feel the love we have for you tonight and that each of you can gain something from our message that is applicable in your personal lives. The Prophet in Liberty Jail One of the great blessings of our assignments as General Authorities is the chance to visit members of the Church in various locations around the world and to glean from the history that our members have experienced across the globe. In that spirit I wish to share with you tonight some feelings that came to me during a Church assignment I had last spring when I was assigned to visit the Platte City stake in western Missouri, here in the United States. The Platte City Missouri Stake lies adjacent to the Liberty Missouri Stake, now a very famous location in Church history encompassing several important Church history sites, including the ironically named Liberty Jail. From your study of Church history, you will all know something of the experience the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brethren had while imprisoned in that facility during the winter of 1838–39. This was a terribly difficult time in our history for the Church generally and certainly for the Prophet Joseph himself, who bore the brunt of the persecution in that period. Indeed, I daresay that until his martyrdom five and a half years later, there was no more burdensome time in Joseph’s life than this cruel, illegal, and unjustified incarceration in Liberty Jail. Time does not permit a detailed discussion of the experiences that led up to this moment in Church history, but suffice it to say that problems of various kinds had been building ever since the Prophet Joseph had received a revelation in July of 1831 designating Missouri as the place “consecrated for the gathering of the saints” and the building up of “the city of Zion” (D&C 57:1, 2). By October of 1838, all-out war seemed inevitable between Mormon and non-Mormon forces confronting each other over these issues. After being driven from several of the counties in the western part of that state and under the presumption they had been invited to discuss ways of defusing the volatile situation that had developed, five leaders of the Church, including the Prophet Joseph, marching under a flag of truce, approached the camp of the Missouri militia near the small settlement of Far West, located in Caldwell County. As it turned out, the flag of truce was meaningless, and the Church leaders

How Do I Love Thee?

I am delighted to be with you the day after Valentine’s Day and the day before Sister Holland’s birthday. Guess what is on my mind! Guess what I am going to talk about! Yes, I am going to talk about love, because Shakespeare made me do it. You see, it is the fifteenth of February. If it were the fifteenth of March, it would be the ides of March. And everybody remembers what Brutus did to Julius Caesar on the ides of March—and it befell Mark Antony to get back at Brutus in the great funeral oration, the same Mark Antony who let Cleopatra take him for the proverbial trip up the Nile without a paddle. Never mind that the ides of February were actually the day before yesterday. I am certainly not going to let that stop me from speaking about love and romance and marriage—a topic absolutely foreign to the interests of those on the BYU campus and one scarcely mentioned here this entire month. Indulge me. Pretend you are interested—if only because Sister Holland is my valentine and it is her birthday tomorrow. You know, winning Sister Holland was not an easy thing to do. I worked at it and worked at it and worked at it until I finally had the courage to ask for her hand. In a romantic setting I said as meekly and humbly as I could, “Pat, will you marry me?” To which she said, “Oh, dearest darling, dearest loved one, yes. Yes, yes, yes. When shall we set the date? Oh, we have got to reserve the temple. I know exactly what colors I want for the bridesmaids. Should we have the reception indoors or out? And someone must be at the guest book. And I can just see in my mind the cake that we want. . . .” Then she stopped mid-sentence and said, “Oh, darling. You are so overcome you are speechless. Here I have just gone on and on. Wouldn’t you like to say something on this night of nights?” To which I replied, “I think I have said too much already.” She counters that story by reminding me that when I arrived for our first date, her little brother shouted to her, “Hey, dreamboat, your barnacle is here!” Actually neither of those stories is true, but who knows? Maybe you can use them someday when you have to speak at BYU on love and marriage. Do let me now be serious. What I have learned of romantic love and the beauty of marriage I have learned from Sister Holland. I am honored to be her husband and am happy for you that she is on this campus again this morning, if only for an hour or two. As I once said of her, paraphrasing what Mark Twain’s Adam said of his Eve, “Wherever she was, there was paradise” (see “Adam’s Diary”). I wish to speak to you this morning about Christlike love and what I think it can and should mean in your friendships, in your dating, in serious courtship, and, ultimately, in your marriage. I approach the subject knowing full well that, as a newly engaged young woman said to me just last month, “There is certainly a lot of advice

For Times of Trouble

I would like to be quite personal this morning—personal about you and personal about myself. I have thought about you a great deal over the past few weeks and have prayed to know what might be helpful to you. In doing so I have been drawn back to my own days as a student and some of the challenges I faced then. While such experiences now border on primitive history, fit only for a geology lecture, I’m nevertheless going ahead. I have wondered if some of your experiences and feelings might even now be very much the same. I come this morning knowing the semester is nearly over and that what suggestions I offer were perhaps needed months ago. Furthermore, the year is nearly over and maybe for some an entire college career. But part of what I want to stress is that every day counts—including these remaining few in the semester—and that you have thousands of days thereafter. I will speak of you as you are right now and will hope it matters as much to the graduating senior as to the first-semester freshman. I wish to speak today of a problem that is universal and that can, at any given hour, strike anywhere on campus—faculty, staff, administration, and especially students. I believe it is a form of evil. At least I know it can have damaging effects that block our growth, dampen our spirit, diminish our hope, and leave us vulnerable to other more conspicuous evils. I address it here this morning because I know of nothing Satan uses quite so cunningly or cleverly in his work on a young man or woman in your present circumstances. I speak of doubt—especially self-doubt—of discouragement, and of despair. In doing so I don’t wish to suggest that there aren’t plenty of things in the world to be troubled by. In our lives, individually and collectively, there surely are serious threats to our happiness. I watch an early morning news broadcast while I shave and then read a daily newspaper. That is enough to ruin anyone’s day and by then it’s only 6:30 in the morning. Iran, Afghanistan, inflation, energy, jogging, mass murders, kidnapping, unemployment, floods. With all of this waiting for us we are tempted, as W. C. Fields once said, to “smile first thing in the morning and get it over with.” But my concerns for you today are not the national and international ones. I wish to speak a little more personally of those matters that do not make headlines in the New York Times but that may be important in your personal journal. I’m anxious this morning about your problems with school and love and finances and the future, about your troubles concerning a place in life and the value of your contribution, about your private fears regarding where you are going and whether you think you will ever get there. Against a backdrop of hostages and high prices I wish to speak more personally of you and fortify you, if I am able, against doubt—especially self-doubt—and discouragement and despair. This morning I wa

The Inconvenient Messiah

Henry Adams once said that any succession of American presidents that could start with George Washington and lead to Ulysses S. Grant disproved forever the theory of evolution. I may well be striking it another fatal blow by inserting myself into an otherwise outstanding devotional calendar. But one of the advantages of being president of the university is that when you ask to be the speaker, they have to let you. Let me tell you why I’m intruding. I have been a little frustrated that the only real chance I get to address you is in our opening President’s Assembly the first week of the school year. As you well know, the atmosphere that day is a cross somewhere between Disneyworld and a Jamaican pep rally. I love that first hour with you, but neither the time restraints we face there nor the frame of mind you are in is very conducive to much of a presidential message. So after thinking about it for awhile, Sister Holland and I have determined to continue being chief animal tamers at the fall welcoming assembly and then sometime early in the winter semester—like now—we will have a slightly more serious moment with you about things we feel deeply and hope you will enjoy. So in that spirit I wish to ask Sister Holland to greet you and take a few moments to share her thoughts and testimony with you. Patricia Holland As my husband said, this is a little different setting than the opening assembly. There you are bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to set the world on fire, or at least one of the kitchens in Heritage Halls. Now as I watch you on campus, I think I detect a terminal case of the mid-winter blahs. Your roommate probably has mono, your grades have switched from Fahrenheit to centigrade as they approach absolute zero, your holiday menu consisted of no real date and lots of very real turkey, and you’re broke. Other than that it’s probably been a great winter. I’ve come to you today in kind of a motherly way, if you’ll indulge me, to speak to those of you who feel a little bit disappointed at this point, and thus, a little bit discouraged. May I just share with you a personal disappointment we’ve had in our home recently. A few months ago our daughter, Mary, decided to run for president of her seventh-grade class. She was encouraged by a teacher who felt she could win, and so she began to campaign with lots of enthusiasm and a great deal of confidence. Both her parents and her brothers rallied behind and gave her all the support and help we could. Well, she lost. Now I was told this earlier in the day before Mary got home from school, and you know mothers. I was totally devastated for her, and I just churned with emotions all day and most of the day hoped for something that I could say that might comfort her. When I heard her footsteps at the door, my heart and my feet leaped to the rescue, and all the words of comfort I could think of came tumbling out. And you know, she ju

Walking on the Water

There is a story of a minister showing a painting of Christ to a child. Anxious to reassure him, the minister softly explained, “Of course, it’s not really Jesus. It’s just an artist’s conception of him.” The child looked for a moment and then said, “Well, it sure looks like him to me.” Learning as Remembering We who are no longer children have forgotten some of the glorious things we once knew. According to Jung’s concept of racial memory, when we allow ourselves that fleeting glimpse into our subconscious self, we remember more than we know. Plato talks of all learning as remembering. Madeleine L’Engle has said: “Peter was able to walk on the water until he remembered he didn’t know how” (Walking on Water [New York: Bantam Books 1982], p. 19). Peter’s success hinged on his remembering it was through spiritual laws and not his own that he had power. In the frequently painful path from childhood to godhood, what temptations do we encounter that so divert our direction and cast clouds over our memory? I have often heard, “When I was a child I believed everything was possible. I believed I could grow up to become anything I imagined. But then I grew up! There was anxiety in my home. I had self-defeating experiences in high school. My mission was more difficult than I expected. Now I’m often confused, depressed, and afraid.” Perhaps you’ve heard those kinds of comments yourselves. Not only have we forgotten the glorious things we once knew, but we have also forgotten we were asked to endure some trying things—we who are children of Christ through adoption and the crucifixion. We too are to learn obedience by the things which we suffer. I recently read the experience of a physician of another faith who was discharged from military service. He reported an alarming change in his civilian patients after being away from them for some time. He said: Upon my return from the Army, I noticed a change in my previous patients’ troubles. I found that a high percentage do not need medicine but better [minds]. They are not sick in their bodies so much as they are sick in their [thinking] and emotions. They are all mixed up with fear, . . . inferior feelings, guilt, and resentment. I found that in treating them I needed to be about as much a psychiatrist as [an internist] and then I discovered that not even those therapies helped me fully to do my job. I became aware that in many cases the basic trouble with people was spiritual. [Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1965), p. 148] No one was more aware then this physician that medical science is needful, but as he pointed out, fear controls us when faith is not exercised. Hope Leads to Faith May I share a quote with you from one I admire, who, by exercising hopefulness amidst adversity, deve

Begin with the End in Mind

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

Some Things We Have Learned—Together

Jeff: Each time we have given an address to this student body, we have started off with a moment or two together, usually including a couple of jokes about my father-in-law. Then we have each presented individual messages. Today we are going to do something a little different—we are both going to stay up here because our message today is a shared one. What you see is what you get—the two of us—“The Pat and Jeff Show.” Indeed, we have tentatively entitled our remarks “Some Things We Have Learned—Together” and we hope both the audience and the television camera can handle two of us at once. Pat: We are going to talk about some of the “before” and “after” of marriage—our marriage. But this will be slightly different from what might seem a traditional BYU sermonette on the subject. For one thing, this year we reach a milestone in our lives—we will have lived as long married to each other, twenty-two years, as we did before marriage. Surely that ought to justify some sort of sage advice from us. Jeff: Yes, I was told on that fateful day in 1963 that with marriage I had come to the end of my troubles. I just didn’t realize which end they were speaking of. Pat: The last thing we want to do is sound self-righteous, so our first assurance is that our marriage is not perfect, and we have the scar tissue to prove it. To quote my father, the rocks in Jeff’s head have not yet filled the holes in mine. Jeff: So forgive us for using the only marriage we know, imperfect as it is, but for some time now we have wanted to reflect back on the half of our lives spent together since we were students at BYU and to see what, if anything, it might mean to you as you look ahead twenty-two years from now. Pat: Before you get up and leave, let me again reassure you that this isn’t going to be the usual BYU talk on matrimony, important as that is. For one thing, we are going to try to apply these little lessons we have learned to all of you—single or married. For another thing, we fear that too many of you, especially the women in our student body, are too anxious about the subject already. So please don’t be anxious. Jeff: On the other hand, I know a few men around here who ought to be a little more anxious than they are. Pat: Well, you’re the president. Do something about it! Jeff: Brethren, get anxious. Or, to be slightly more scriptural, get “anxiously engaged.” Pat: For all of the rest of you out there, women and men, we really believe romance and marriage, if they are going to come, will come a lot more naturally if you worry about them a lot less. By the same token we also know that is easy to say and hard to do. It’s hard because so much of our young life in the Church is measured on a precise time sequence. We are baptized at eight. At twelve the youn

But for a Small Moment

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

“Come unto Me”

I am honored and privileged to be invited to address you tonight. I am very conscious that your speaker last month was President Gordon B. Hinckley. I am not sure how any of us are supposed to follow him and his marvelous prophetic messages, but if you will promise not to hiss, boo, stalk out, or otherwise show your displeasure, I will do my best. I do ask for your faith and prayers tonight, that the Spirit of the Lord will be unrestrained and with us in great abundance. Our instruction and edification, as the scripture says, is to come “from above.” I pray for and await that heavenly guidance even as you do. May I say how pleased Sister Holland and I are with the concept of a Churchwide fireside that reaches out to all of the college-age and young-adult audience of the Church, not only in the U.S. and Canada but almost literally around the world. Right after our marriage it was our career decision and good fortune to sign on with the Church Educational System and—one way or another—spend the next 24 years of our lives with you. We were still doing that in 1989 when I was called to full-time service as a General Authority. This is my first opportunity since that call to speak in this setting to a CES audience we have known so well and have loved for so long. I am particularly grateful for this beautiful choral rendition provided by the institute choir from Snow College. That beautiful number, one of my very favorite pieces of devotional music, provides not only the Spirit but also the text for my brief message to you tonight. The source for this wonderful selection is the eleventh chapter of Matthew, verses 28–30. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. That is my basic message to each of you tonight, wherever you live, whatever your joys or sorrows, however young or old you may be, at whatever point you may find yourself in this mortal journey of ours. Some of you know what you want to be and where you want to go with your lives, and some of you don’t. Some of you seem to have so many blessings and so many wonderful choices ahead of you. Others of you feel, for a time and for whatever reason, less fortunate and with fewer attractive paths lying immediately ahead. But whoever you are and wherever you find yourself as you seek your way in life, I offer you tonight “the way . . . and the life” (John 14:6). Wherever else you think you may be going, I ask you to “come unto him” as the imperative first step in getting there, in finding your individual happiness and strength and success. When Andrew and Philip first heard Christ speak, they were so moved, so spellbound that they followed him as he left the crowd. Sensing that he was being pursued, Christ tu

Knowing Who You Are

It is wonderful to be here with you today, to know that you have arrived safely from your travels, and to see in you the bright hope of anticipation that accompanies a new year and a new semester. We Have a Divine Nature Let me begin with a story that may sound all too familiar to some of you. The airport had been packed for hours. The usually crowded holiday travel conditions were exacerbated by weather-related delays and cancellations at other airports. Hundreds of frustrated travelers were scrambling from one gate to another as they sought alternate ways to reach their destinations. At one gate, the line to talk to the agent stretched for more than fifty yards. One of the passengers in the line was a well-dressed and obviously impatient man. As he glanced at his watch with ever-increasing frequency and tapped his foot at an ever-increasing rate, it was obvious to all around him that he was not a person who was accustomed to waiting. Finally the man could stand it no longer. He bolted from his place in line and stomped up to the gate. Pounding his hand on the desk, he bellowed, “Do you know who I am?” An awkward silence instantly gripped the area. The agent at the desk calmly picked up her telephone and, in a steady voice, said, “We may need a little additional help at Gate 19. There is a man down here who doesn’t know who he is.” My question to you today is, Do you know who you are? This question may be more complicated than it at first appears. If someone were to ask you right now who you are, some of you might answer by identifying yourself as a BYU student—a worthwhile identity. Others might be more specific and identify themselves by their major or their year in school. Some would answer based on their home or place of origin. Those of you from Texas know what I mean. Some might identify themselves by an extracurricular activity in which they engage, a sport they play, or a talent they possess. Some might choose to identify themselves by their church calling, by an office they hold, or by their relationships with others, such as wife, husband, father, or mother. Each of these answers would be truthful in the sense that they accurately describe a portion of who you are. And to some extent they may be the most appropriate response because of the context in which the question is asked. Our response to the question Who are you? will likely vary from time to time and place to place. And sometimes those answers, in the abstract, will contradict one another. Thus, knowing who we really are can get a bit complicated. But what if you had to fully identify yourself in a single sentence? Could you in one sentence describe yourself in a way that would be accurate in whatever circumstance or whatever stage of life you might find yourself? It wouldn’t be that you are a freshman, for that will change. Or that you are a BYU student, for that will also change—

“Avoid It”

Introduction—It Is Easier to Avoid Temptation Than It Is to Resist Temptation The focus of my message today is based on a proverb from Solomon, who was given a gift from God of “exceeding” wisdom, “and his fame was in all nations round about. . . . And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon.”1 Even 3,000 years later, when we read Solomon’s proverbs we often nod in agreement with his profound wisdom because life has also taught us the same lesson—often through a trying or difficult experience. If life hasn’t yet taught you the wisdom of the proverb I am about to share, it would be my prayer that by the end of my remarks it will have enlightened your understanding and touched your hearts sufficiently to motivate you to make some helpful and wise changes in your life. Here is the proverb: “Enter not into the path of the wicked. . . . Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” 2The wisdom of Solomon in this passage is to be discovered in the word avoid. Solomon had discovered, as all wise people do, one of life’s most helpful guiding principles: It is easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist temptation. Chocolate Chip Cookies To illustrate the wisdom of this principle, let’s suppose my great temptation in life is chocolate chip cookies and I’m trying to conquer the temptation. It is easier for me not to have the cookies in the house than it is to walk through the front door and smell two dozen of them fresh out of the oven—warm, moist, and smelling good. At that moment I am no longer simply fighting temptation; I am also fighting chemistry. The aroma triggers the pleasure center of my brain. My mouth begins to water in preparation for the cookies. With each tempting breath my resistance grows weaker as my craving grows stronger and my appetite begins to overpower my reason and resolve. My other self—the one that is carnal3—argues in favor of the cookies: “You know, dieting doesn’t have to mean deprivation. It’s your overall effort that counts, and one cookie certainly isn’t going to blow your diet.” With my pleasure center activated, I don’t need much convincing, and I yield to the cookie’s enticing aroma. How easy is it to stop when that first cookie only intensified your appetite rather than satisfied it? That same voice says, “Well, you’ve blown it now! You may as well enjoy yourself and recommit to your diet tomorrow.” So after I’ve eaten about six cookies, maybe with a glass of milk, I begin to feel remorseful about breaking my resolution and diet. Hormones, Intimacy, and Families I hope you will understand the metaphor as I now apply it to a far stronger desire. The Lord has blessed each of us with powerful hormones that also link to the brain’s pleasure center. It is a very desirable attr

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

It is good to be here with you this morning, my dear young friends. I ask that the Lord will help me to say something that will help you. Recently I spent the better part of a week in Washington, D.C., living in a hotel room. Each morning I watched the early news on television and then read the morning paper while eating breakfast. President Ford had just granted a pardon to his predecessor. The amount of venom that spewed from the mouths and pens of the commentators was unbelievable. They were aflame with indignation. In all that week of morning watching and reading I never heard nor read among the commentators and editorialists a single paragraph of positive thought. The speakers were brilliant. They were men of incisive language, scintillating in expression. The columnists were masters of the written word. With studied art they poured out the sour vinegar of invective and anger, judging as if all wisdom belonged to them. At the conclusion of that week, I too made a negative observation. Said I, “Surely this is the age and place of the gifted pickle sucker.” The tragedy is that this spirit is epidemic. Criticism, fault-finding, evil speaking—these are of the spirit of the day. They are in our national life. To hear tell these days, there is nowhere a man of integrity among those holding political office. In many instances this spirit has become the very atmosphere of university campuses. The snide remark, the sarcastic gibe, the cutting down of associates—these, too often, are of the essence of our conversation. In our homes wives weep and children finally give up under the barrage of criticism leveled by husbands and fathers. Criticism is the forerunner of divorce, the cultivator of rebellion, sometimes a catalyst that leads to failure. Even in the Church it sows the seed of inactivity and finally apostasy. I come this morning with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that we “accentuate the positive.” I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out by others and change his course. I am not suggesting that our conversation be all honey and blossoms. Clever expression that is sincere and honest is a skill to be sought and cultivated. What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land and times in which we live, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a boy our father often said to us: Cynics do not contribute. Skeptics do not create.


Thank you very much, Bob. I appreciate this great privilege each time that it is mine, my brothers and sisters. I am grateful to the choral group today for that last number, the lyrics of which I hope will linger with you somewhat, because I will turn to them as I close my speech. I have chosen to speak today about a very pedestrian principle: patience, I hope that I do not empty the Marriott Center by that selection. Perhaps the topic was selfishly selected because of my clear and continuing need to develop further this very important attribute. But my interest in patience is not solely personal; for the necessity of having this intriguing attribute is cited several times in the scriptures, including once by King Benjamin who, when clustering the attributes of sainthood, named patience as a charter member of that cluster (Mosiah 3:19; see also Alma 7:23). Patience is not indifference. Actually, it means caring very much but being willing, nevertheless, to submit to the Lord and to what the scriptures call the “process of time.” Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. Either way we are questioning the reality of God‘s omniscience as if, as some seem to believe, God were on some sort of postdoctoral fellowship and were not quite in charge of everything. Saint Teresa of Avila said that unless we come to know the reality of God, including his omniscience, our mortal existence “will be no more than a night in a second-class hotel” (quoted by Malcolm Muggeridge in “The Great Liberal Death Wish,” Imprimis [Hillsdale College, Michigan], May 1979.) Our second estate can be a first-class experience only if you and I develop a patient faith in God and in his unfolding purposes. We read in Mosiah about how the Lord simultaneously tries the patience of His people even as He tries their faith (Mosiah 23:21). One is not only to endure, but to endure well and gracefully those things which the Lord “seeth fit to inflict upon [us]” (Mosiah 3:19), just as did a group of ancient American saints who were bearing unusual burdens but who submitted “cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15). Paul, speaking to the Hebrews, brings us up short by writing that, even after faithful disciples had “done the will of God,” they “[had] need of patience” (

“Look unto Him in Every Thought”

It is such a remarkable privilege to be here with you today. The years I spent on this campus afforded me a delightful assortment of memories, but never in a thousand years would I have imagined that I would be standing here addressing you today, my dear brothers and sisters. I honor and thank my Heavenly Father for this opportunity. I had the sweetest and most distinct impression last week that my great-great-great-grandfather and my great-great-great-grandmother had something to do with my speaking here today. His name is Brigham Young, and his first wife’s name is Miriam Works Young. It is good to have support from both sides of the veil. Being a student at Brigham Young University was a life-changing experience for me. Coming from a small town in Oregon, I felt the world open up to me right here in Provo, Utah. The Spirit was alive in every classroom, in each activity, and in the incredible roommates, friends, and teachers I loved and learned from. It has been priceless over the years to watch our children have their own life-changing experiences at this wonderful university. A couple of weeks ago, I asked Gigi, our three-year-old granddaughter, “Will you go to college?” She said yes. I asked if she would go to BYU. She again said yes. Then she turned to her daddy and asked, “Daddy, will you come with me?” One of the sweet highlights of my BYU experience was meeting my precious husband, Rob. Little did we know during our growing up years that we lived just a little over an hour from each other. But we have all heard of BYU’s reputation for bringing people together, and that reputation became our reality. Rob was called as my family home evening “father,” and the ward rules prevented us from dating that year. But as soon as he was released, we made up for lost time. We just celebrated our forty-fourth anniversary. This dear man has put toothpaste on my toothbrush nearly every night of those forty-four years. I know he has been tempted a time or two to surprise me by putting something other than toothpaste on my brush, but he never has. Although life is not over yet, is it? Growing Our Spiritual Muscles My dear brothers and sisters, I welcome you to Campus Education Week! Oh, how wonderful it is to learn! We have gathered here to be taught, inspired, and challenged. I pray that the Holy Ghost will be with each of us as we learn, apply, and change. Dear friends, I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is our Heavenly Father’s practical guide for happy living. President Brigham Young explained the practicality of the gospel in these words: The principles of eternity and eternal exaltation are of no use to us, unless they are brought down to our capacities so that we practice them in our lives.1 The Lord likewise told us, “I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for yo

“Always Remember Him”

Good morning, dear students, faculty, and staff. What a privilege it is for my wife, Rosana, and me to be with you today. We are thrilled for this opportunity. Thank you for taking the time to be with us today. What a wonderful sight we have from this pulpit. You all look wonderful. Your faith and love for the Lord are very evident. I know how busy you are, and I know you could be doing something else at this hour. I compliment you for choosing to be here with us. I bring love and greetings to all of you from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They think and pray for you more than you can imagine. I hope you will feel how much we and the Savior love you through my message today. A Special Generation As I was preparing for this devotional, it came to my mind how special and blessed you are—all of you. You came to earth during a very significant time in world history. You have been preserved to be born at this time when we are preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. President Russell M. Nelson, and his wife, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, recently addressed the youth of the Church, and they referred to them as a special generation, and surely that applies to you young adults as well. Listen to what President Nelson said: Our Heavenly Father has reserved many of His most noble spirits—perhaps, I might say, His finest team—for this final phase. Those noble spirits—those finest players, those heroes—are you! . . . . . . You are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world.1 And Sister Nelson said: There has never been a time like this in the history of this world. Never!2 Truly there has never been a time like this in the history of this world! We are living in a time of significant technological, medical, and scientific advancement. Information is available to everyone. Not long ago, when I was your age, we didn’t have any of these powerful tools you have available in your hands that allowed us to communicate and obtain information so quickly. This is a great time to be alive. However, we are living in challenging times that have been prophesied for centuries by prophets and apostles, both ancient and modern. Throughout history they have expressed their concerns about the last days. We have seen steadily declining moral values that have dramatically changed the world through the years. Modern communication has drawn people into the world and its values, and secularism has changed the way people see God’s hand in their lives. As a result, we witness an increasing number of people who are confused about their identity as children of our Heavenly Father. They also have become confused about what really matters in life, and many who were once strong in faith have de

Hard Sayings and Safe Spaces: Making Room for Struggle as Well as Faith

Jesus ended His pivotal and heavily symbolic discourse on the Bread of Life by declaring: Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. . . .  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. [John 6:53, 56] The crowds who had followed Jesus since His miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and the Jewish religious authorities who opposed Him were not the only ones who failed to understand His meaning. Even many of His own disciples exclaimed: This is an hard saying; who can hear it? . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. [John 6:60, 66] Somewhat plaintively, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67). In response, Peter asked: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. [John 6:68–69]1 The expression a “hard saying” has become a trope for any doctrine or practice that is difficult to understand, accept, or follow.2 Over the past few years, when I have asked my students what are hard sayings for them, although they have mentioned faith issues and apparent historical problems, they have increasingly spoken about life’s challenges—challenges that seem to call into question God’s love for them or struggles that they often feel they must endure alone, without the love and understanding of their fellow Saints. Such hard sayings include gender disparities, sexual and other identities, and racial and ethnic discrimination. In addition, they include a challenge that is common to almost all of us—the pain of loss and disappointment, whether that comes from the death of a loved one; poor physical, mental, or emotional health; or lost dreams. These are challenges that do not go away easily. Rather, often they are struggles that we must deal with throughout our lives. While ideally we would all, with Peter, simply respond with seemingly immediate faith, the reality is as Moroni taught: “[We] receive no witness until after the trial of [our] faith” (Ether 12:6). Just as Jacob wrestled with an angel till dawn (see Genesis 32:24–29) and Enos wrestled all night before the Lord (see Enos 1:2–6), for many of us the trial of our faith often includes long—sometimes lifelong—struggles. I submit that these struggles are necessary to our progression, but they are not struggles that we should ever face alone. While it is true that Jesus Christ and His Atonement provide us strength, healing, and salvation, in this life He often succors and blesses us through others. Employing the image of the Church as “the body of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 12:27, Quaker missionary Sarah Elizabeth Rownt

“In Him All Things Hold Together”

I wish to talk about your unfinished journey. It is the journey of journeys and will be described quite differently this Easter night. It is an arduous journey. The trek awaits—whether one is rich or poor, short or tall, thin or fat, black or white or brown, old or young, shy or bold, married or single, a prodigal or an ever faithful. Compared to this journey, all other treks are but a brief walk in a mortal park or are merely time on a telestial treadmill. Becoming Men and Women of Christ Your journey is embodied in an invitation from the resurrected Lord, who himself inquired, “What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be?” Then he directed, “Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27; emphasis added). Making this journey qualifies us eventually as the men and women of Christ. Confirming this developmental goal, the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses” (Teachings, p. 216). Peter, likewise, spoke of the manner of persons we ought to be in all godliness (see 2 Peter 3:11). The scriptures provide the road map for this journey because it is the word of God that will lead the men and women of Christ in a straight and narrow course and land their immortal souls at the right hand of God (see Helaman 3:29–30). Jesus, our guide and model, had a perfect guide and model himself: Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. [John 5:19] Just what Jesus saw “the Father do,” including premortally, we do not know, but Jesus was the perfect pupil and he had a Perfect Teacher! Each of us is at a particular point in the journey, having “come thus far.” However, if we are deflected from this journey, we will, instead, become estranged from Christ: For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? [Mosiah 5:13] If we are not serving Jesus, and if he is not in our thoughts and hearts, then the things of the world will draw us instead to them! Moreover, the things of the world need not be sinister in order to be diverting and consuming. For the serious disciple, the cardinal attributes exemplified by Jesus are not optional. These developmental milestones take the form of traits, traits that mark the trail to be traveled. After all, should not Latter-day Saints have a special interest in what is required to become a Saint, virtue by virtue and quality by quality? Hear the words of King Benjamin: And becometh a saint . . . submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict

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