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Matthew O. Richardson|Oct. 25, 2016 Over the past several decades my wife, Lisa, faithfully stood at our door to send our children off as they left our home for school. Without exception, she would call to them—usually in her pajamas—and say, “Stand up straight, smile, and remember who you are! You’re a Richardson, a child of God!” Without taking a breath, she would then say our family motto: “Reverence. Respect. Responsibility. Resourcefulness.” And then, with the excitement of a cheerleader, she would roll her arms and say the final word: “Reeesolve.” Oh, but wait, she wasn’t quite finished. She would cap it all off with an enthusiastic “Be a light!” After our children heard this charge nearly every day of their young lives, is it any wonder that this ritual has been forever engrained in their memories—and in the memories of their friends and quite possibly of our neighbors? With this image fresh in your mind, I would like to focus on the first part of my wife’s simple but profound instruction: “Stand up straight, smile, and remember who you are.” BYU has impacted my ability to stand up straight, has influenced why I smile, and has greatly molded who I am today. I have been privileged to be part of this university as a student, a professor, and now an administrator for more than three decades. I know what you are thinking, and yes, three decades is a very long time—and yes, I am old. After all these years you would think that I would know my way around campus, which I do; understand more about honor and integrity from the Honor Code, which I do; know all of “The Cougar Fight Song,” which I do; and know and enjoy BYU’s history and culture, which I do. Yet there are certain things about BYU that I earnestly hope I will never forget. President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “It is our privilege to store our memories with good and great thoughts and bring them out on the stage of our minds at will.”1 Sadly, remembering even the good and great thoughts can be difficult. I am confident that you, of all people, understand this well. After all, you have been taking quizzes and midterms lately and probably know that sick feeling in which your head is like a balloon with a small hole and all your preparation at the library is leaking out at an alarming rate as you make your way to the Testing Center. Oh sure, you try and pump your head up again by quickly reading through the stack of note cards as you walk, but you know deep down that all the good stuff is leaking out just as fast as you are putting it in. There is great power in knowledge, but it seems that there is even greater power in remembering. President Spencer W. Kimball once asked, “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is?” He then answered, “It could be remember.”2 With everything you have tucked away, there are some thin
Jay E. Jensen|Jan. 8, 2012 Sister Jensen and I are pleased to be with you. I sincerely thank the choir for not only how they sang, but also for what they sang. Hymns do invite the Spirit of the Lord. They create a feeling of reverence and teach us the doctrines of the kingdom. This is a very humbling assignment, and I have prayed, and continue to pray, for the Holy Ghost to be our true teacher. My message is titled “The Unspeakable Gift of the Holy Ghost,” a phrase from the Doctrine and Covenants: “God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now” (D&C 121:26). You may recognize a few thoughts from a general conference talk I gave in October 2010. With the time given me for this message today, I will expand them further. The Importance of the Holy Ghost The importance of the Holy Ghost and that He is an unspeakable gift may be emphasized with two illustrations, each a message in its own right. The first illustration is from the Book of Mormon and the second from an event in Church history. When Jesus Christ visited the people in the Book of Mormon, He taught them, blessed their children, instituted the sacrament, and then departed. The people returned to their homes and labored through the night to gather others to be at the place where He said He would appear to them the next day. Because of the large numbers, the twelve disciples separated the people into twelve groups to teach them what the Savior had taught them the previous day, and then they prayed. Of all the things for which they could pray, “they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them” (3 Nephi 19:9), giving an emphasis to the Holy Ghost and His importance that is unique in all scripture. Following their prayer and in answer to their pleadings, Nephi baptized the disciples, after which “the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (3 Nephi 19:13). They received the convincing witness or testimony of Him. The Savior then appeared to them: And it came to pass that Jesus . . . went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said: Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen. . . . Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words. [3 Nephi 19:19–21] I know of no scriptural passage that better expresses how important our Savior feels the Holy Ghost is. The second illustration comes from the teachings of President Brigham Young. The Saints were in Winter Quarters and preparing for the migration to the West in the spring. Joseph Smith had been dead for over two and one half years. President Young had a vision, a dream, in which he visited
James P. Porter|Mar. 22, 2011 I am grateful and humbled by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak to you today. I still remember with fondness the day in 1971 when my friend and I loaded up his Volkswagen Bug and left Concord, California, for Provo, Utah, to begin our studies at Brigham Young University. Ever since we came around the Point of the Mountain and first saw the large block Y on the mountainside, I have had an abiding love of BYU. Brigham Young University is such a unique institution. I have a research lab in the Widtsoe Building and occasionally need to check on experiments over the weekend. One Sunday I brought my young son, Caleb, with me. We ended up parking pretty far away, because so many students were parked on campus for their Sunday meetings. I explained to Caleb that, on Sunday, many of the rooms on campus are used for church. This little seven-year-old boy made the following astute observation: “So, BYU is a school, it’s where you work, and it’s a church.” Yes, BYU is all of those things. I pray that the Spirit of the Holy Ghost will be with me and with you during our time together. I want to talk about receiving and recognizing the Holy Ghost. I will draw on my background in endocrinology to provide analogies that illustrate many of the points I want to make. If you suffer from “biology anxiety,” let me assure you that I will make the analogies as simple as possible so as not to create undue stress. I also want to start with the disclaimer that when it comes to receiving and recognizing the Spirit, I still have many things to learn myself. Endocrinology is the study of hormones. Hormones are chemical mediators that are delivered to the blood by endocrine glands. These hormones are then carried by the blood to distant cells, where they exert their effects. For example, growth hormone is secreted into the blood by the pituitary gland, a tiny gland at the base of your brain, and travels to distant sites, where it helps bring about growth during our developing years. Even though blood flows to virtually every cell in the body, not every cell is able to respond to a particular hormone. Only cells that have a receptor specific for the hormone will respond. A receptor is a protein on the surface of the cell that can bind to the hormone much like a key fits into a lock. Once the hormone binds to the receptor, a cascade of events is activated that leads to the hormone action in the target cell. However, even though the blood may be filled with a certain hormone, many cells will be unaffected by that hormone because they do not have the right receptor. The hormone passes right by these cells without exerting any effect. In a like manner, do the promptings of the Holy Ghost ever pass us by without being received? Following baptism we were confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were given the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Melchizedek Priesthood holder who pronounced our confirmation used the
Michael A. Jensen|May 5, 2009 Brothers and sisters, despite my anxiety over the assignment I have been asked to fill today, I am truly pleased to be with you. I am grateful for the support I have received from colleagues and friends. I express particular gratitude to my sweet wife, Angela, who supports me today and always. You have heard that I am an electrical engineer, and this leads me to a confession: I am a classic science geek. Shocking, I know. I am fascinated by the workings of our world, and I love to learn and to teach about them. I am guilty of soliciting opportunities to give science demonstrations to kids, even ones as young as four years old. After all, you can never start geek training too early. One scientific discovery that has always fascinated me is the laser, which was first demonstrated in the early 1960s. To illustrate what makes this light source so interesting, let me make a quick comparison between light generated in a fluorescent bulb and light generated in a laser. In a fluorescent bulb, the gas molecules in the bulb are energized into an excited state by an electric current, and then they spontaneously and randomly release light as they transition to their original energy state. The resulting light moves in different directions and, in fact, will be different colors, which is why most fluorescent light is white. In the case of the laser, the excited molecules release their light energy in response to other light energy hitting the molecule. Amazingly, under this circumstance the released light is identical to the incident light in direction, color, and other characteristics, and as a result the light is particularly intense. As an analogy, consider how people engaged in a tug-of-war can be most effective when they all pull at precisely the same time. The laser light source is powerful despite the fact that it does not consume a lot of electrical power. This scientific phenomenon reminds me of the account in the Book of Mormon of the Nephites gathering together immediately before the appearance of the resurrected Savior. We read: And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, . . . yea, it did pierce them to the very soul. [3 Nephi 11:3] To me this voice is a lot like a laser: not loud but powerful and pointed. Of course this was the voice of the Father introducing the Savior to the Nephites, but it seems that the voice of the Holy Ghost could be described in a similar way. This scriptural story also tells us that the Nephites heard the voice twice without understanding it. The third time, they understood it only because they “did open their ears to hear it” (3 Nephi 11:5). I
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