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Jeffery N. Bunker|Apr. 5, 2016 Good morning, brothers and sisters. Thank you for participating in the devotional today. I know it is a busy time of year, with papers, projects, and finals pending. I promise to do my best to reward your time investment with something helpful to you now and throughout your life. According to a very fun website1 that I found, it was thirty-six years, one month, and ten days ago that, as a freshman student at BYU, I sat where you are sitting today. I listened carefully as President Ezra Taft Benson, then president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a talk titled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.”2 He shared how we could more faithfully follow the living prophets and better keep the commandments of God. The Spirit was strong that day, and I was motivated by President Benson’s remarks. I thought to myself, “I am going to follow his counsel to be a better follower of the prophets and to be more faithful in keeping the commandments of God. But I can do better than that. From this point on, I’m not even going to make any mistakes!” Now, I know all of you are a lot smarter than I was as a freshman. You can see the impossibility, and perhaps the silliness, of my well-intentioned commitment. As I was exiting the devotional, I paused to use the restroom. I was concentrating so intently on my new commitment—to not make any mistakes—that I didn’t notice the cute little stick figure wearing a triangular dress on the restroom door. It wasn’t until I had turned the corner that I realized where I was. There, standing in front of a large mirror, was a young woman brushing her long, black hair. I hadn’t even made it out of this very building before I had failed at my new commitment! Now, as an aside, I am still grateful to this day to that young woman for not calling for security. Can you imagine the look on the security officers’ faces as I tried to explain that I was concentrating so hard on never making another mistake that had I made a mistake? In my mind’s eye I can see and hear the security officers as they would have looked at each other and said, “Yeah, right! Book ’em, Danno!” Today I come to you hopefully a little wiser to share some counsel on something I have worked on ever since that day. The Starfish Story and Our Thoughts We are told in Proverbs 23:7 that “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Related to that is this old saying: Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.3 As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our destiny is to live eternally with our Savior in the presence of our Heavenly
James R. Rasband|Oct. 23, 2012 Good morning. I must say I never imagined myself at this podium. But I have imagined myself on this playing floor—and imagined is the right word. I’ve wondered what it would have been like to be Danny Ainge, who, during my freshman year at BYU, went coast-to-coast in the closing seconds of a Sweet Sixteen game against Notre Dame and scored over Orlando Woolridge. I’ve dreamed what it would be like to drain a three from just inside half-court, like Jimmer Fredette did against Utah. Unfortunately, my actual skill set wasn’t a match for such imagined heroics. I’m quite sure it’s not a match for this podium either. Still, I consider it a great honor to have this opportunity to speak to you this morning. I love this university. I love the cool, crisp air of a late fall football game and the soft, golden light that falls on Y Mountain and Rock Canyon just before sunset. I even love wandering the stacks in the Harold B. Lee Library. BYU has had a great impact on my life. My first experiences at BYU were in the late 1960s. Each summer my mother, my brother, and I came to BYU from our home in Pebble Beach, California, for spring or summer term so that my mom could work on completing her degree. We lived in Heritage Halls, or, to be more precise, we lived in what is now called “Classic Heritage” when it was almost new Heritage. My mother ended up completing her English degree, and our home was forever enriched by what she learned at BYU. I mention my mom’s education at BYU partly because important parts of my thinking on today’s topic are derived from her thinking and writing on this topic.1 The Doctrine of Forgiveness The title of my remarks is “Faith to Forgive Grievous Harms: Accepting the Atonement as Restitution.” Now, to some, any talk from a lawyer that focuses on forgiveness may seem odd. Don’t lawyers depend upon a lack of forgiveness to function? In lawyerspeak, is a talk on the necessity of forgiveness an admission against interest? I am convinced that practicing law with civility and integrity is a noble endeavor and fully compatible with a forgiving heart, and I’ll have a bit more to say about this later. Indeed, before you become too critical of lawyers, listen to the words of my good friend Jim Gordon: “It is true that some lawyers are dishonest, arrogant, greedy, venal, amoral, ruthless buckets of toxic slime. On the other hand, it is unfair to judge the entire profession by a few hundred thousand bad apples.”2 Such quips can be a bit tough for those of us who are attorneys, but how much worse can it get, given the number of us whose parents, when we decided to go to law school, made sure to scrape off their car the “Ask me about my children” bumper sticker?3 Turning to the concept of forgiveness, let me start with a familiar scripture. Matthew 18:21–22 reads: Then came Pe
Michael L. Dunn|Jan. 31, 2012 The New Testament writer Luke described1 a fascinating scene from the Savior’s life in which Jesus, sitting at meat in the house of Simon the Pharisee, was approached by a woman who was widely known to have been a sinner. Her behavior, as she approached the Savior, revealed that she must have had some previous interaction with Him of a very personal and life-changing nature, for she tearfully knelt and kissed his feet, literally bathing his feet with her humble tears before wiping them dry with her tresses and applying precious ointment “as a [servant] might do to his master.”2 Simon, aware of the woman’s past indiscretions, inwardly reproved Jesus for allowing a sinner to approach Him in such a manner. Discerning this unrighteous judgment on the part of Simon, Christ artfully rebuked him, and then, speaking to the woman, He said something truly wondrous: “Thy sins are forgiven.” Indeed, a miracle had occurred! A miracle more powerful and momentous than the changing of water into wine or the healing of a leper—a miracle tantamount to the raising of one from the grave, for verily a precious daughter of our Heavenly Father had, in very fact, been born again and saved from spiritual death. On hearing this account, one cannot help but ask, as did the Book of Mormon writer Enos when he heard a similar declaration of forgiveness following a long and tearful night of anguished soul-searching and prayerful pleading: “How is it done?”3 Today I would like to speak to you of what Spencer W. Kimball called “the miracle of forgiveness.”4 Two weeks ago I was released as bishop after six years of service, having also served as bishop previously in another ward and as a student branch president prior to that. One of the most marvelous things about serving as a bishop or branch president is sitting in private council with individual members of your congregation and discussing their concerns relating to their personal worthiness and their standing before God; for it is during these sacred times that a bishop receives a large measure of the inspiration and understanding that will come to him by virtue of his calling as a judge in Israel. And I can attest that at such times I have been given to understand more fully the role of the Savior and His Atonement in our Heavenly Father’s plan and the truly miraculous nature of forgiveness. To fully understand this miracle, we must contemplate the grand and glorious plan of salvation authored by our Father in Heaven. Before we came to this earth we lived as spirits5 with our heavenly parents and siblings, including our Elder Brother Jesus Christ. In that premortal realm a grand council6 was called, and we were presented with our Heavenly Father’s plan, which allowed our further progression. We do not know all the details of that council, but from the scriptures and the writings of latter-day prophets
Brad Wilcox|July 12, 2011 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
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