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Sterling C. Hilton|Oct. 15, 2015 Good morning. I am humbled to stand where prophets, apostles, General Authorities, university presidents, important scholars, and world leaders have stood. As a student at BYU thirty years ago, I attended the devotionals and forums quite faithfully. I loved taking a break once a week to listen to remarkable individuals share their insights on a myriad of topics. I enjoyed listening and learning without any worry that I might be tested on what I was hearing. It was education at its best. I am what I used to refer to as the dark horse in the devotional lineup. A dark horse is a completely unknown quantity with no name recognition whatsoever. You are probably like one of my students who looked at the list of speakers for the semester and asked, “Why are you on the list?” My response to her was, “I don’t know! I’ve been asking myself the same question!” But whatever the reason, I am here, and I hope that something I share this morning will move you to open your hearts to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost and that you will be encouraged in your efforts to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Invitation One of my favorite scriptures is found in Matthew 11. It is Christ’s universal invitation that speaks to each of us personally: 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. [Matthew 11:28–30] I love this passage because in a few short verses Christ lays before us the path to eternal life. The overtones and undertones of these verses resonate with truth. First, the very fact that this is an invitation to “come,” to “take,” and to “learn” indicates an acknowledgment of and a respect for our agency. This respect for agency causes me to think of our premortal life, when we fought in our Father’s army to preserve and maintain the condition of agency in this life. It seems right that Christ, who is the linchpin in our Father’s plan of happiness, would acknowledge that it is our choice to come unto Him or not. I also appreciate the simple promise of rest that is given. Having labored under sin and its heavy weight of guilt and separation from God, I am grateful for the rest and reconciliation Christ promises to those who come unto Him. I find great meaning in the word yoke. It evokes so many important things about Christ’s path. A yoke is a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals are joined at the neck for the purpose of working together to pull a heavy load. A yoke is also a frame fitted to a person’s shoulders to carry a load in two equal portions. Whether we envision a double or a single yoke, the Savior is part of this image. We are either teamed with Him, side by side, or we are carrying His yoke. Yokes
Peggy S. Worthen|Sep. 8, 2015 Welcome to fall semester. We hope you have all been able to settle into your new schedules. Fall semester can be a time of fresh starts. It can be a time of great expectations. It can also be a time when things are practically perfect. For example, it is probably safe to say that right now most of you have perfect grades in all of your classes! It can be a time when hopes run high and your roommate situation is quite fabulous. It is a time when all of our athletic teams are on course for tremendous seasons—yes, even perhaps national championships! And it is a time when you are able to meet new people, even perhaps that special someone. The beginning of fall semester can indeed be an exciting time. You are most likely focused on a course of study and ready for what this new semester has to offer. We are excited for you! We hope that all of your expectations are met and that your experience here is a wonderfully memorable one. We also hope that as you are here at Brigham Young University and after you leave to pursue your own course in life, you will always take great care to do those things that will keep you out of harm’s way, both temporally and spiritually; that you will have proper focus and perspective; and that you will heed the counsel of Nephi’s brother Jacob, who said to his family, “O be wise; what can I say more?” (Jacob 6:12). Sometimes as we embark and proceed on a new journey we find that our expectations are not met. What we had anticipated and hoped for in the beginning of our journey has not come to pass. Our ideals are not our realities. Maybe we are not getting the grades we had hoped for or we haven’t met that special someone. Perhaps we didn’t get the job we thought we deserved. We may find that things are just not working out as we had planned. The question then becomes, What will be our reaction to our unanticipated situation? What will we do? This is where I believe Jacob’s counsel to “be wise” deserves serious attention. At times, in these situations, the easiest thing to do is to place the responsibility for our situation on something or someone else. This is a dangerous course to take. It is harmful. It is extremely unwise. We see this in the Book of Mormon when people blamed their behavior on the traditions of their fathers. Not accepting responsibility for the direction of our own lives can distort our perceptions and can cause us to lose focus of the things that are important. It can cause us to become disoriented and can keep us from progressing. It is a waste of valuable time in these days of our earthly probation. Another easy but unwise thing we might do during unforeseen situations is obsess about things we can’t control. Recently I read about “a thrill-seeking photographer” who was described as a person who “often diced with death in the water.”1 He would repeatedly put himself into very dangerous situations in order to capture footage of
Casey C. Peterson|May 5, 2015 I am humbled and thankful to be among so many friends today and to see so many of my current and former students. Thank you for this opportunity, President Worthen. I grew up on a large cattle ranch, first near Eureka, Nevada, and later in Kanosh, Utah. I would start the days very early by catching and saddling my horse in the moonlit and frosty morning hours. As the first rays of sunshine would start coming over the mountains, the cowboys I was working with would scatter out and begin looking for cows and calves from among sagebrush flats and juniper-covered hillsides. The sight was surreal as I would watch hundreds of cows and calves being herded toward a corral to be branded and vaccinated. As a young boy I aspired to be able to rope the calves as my part of the branding. Alternative responsibilities entailed wrestling the calves to the ground, oftentimes resulting in me getting kicked or run over. At about the age of seven, after repeated failures in tackling the calves, I was finally allowed to try my hand at roping. I remember proudly getting my lasso rope ready and searching out the smallest and slowest-looking calf in the herd. I carefully planned my throw, and I felt the thrill of accomplishment when the loop settled over the calf successfully. Though the calf was seemingly small and slow, I felt its tremendous force start to jerk me off my horse. Despite trying my best to hold onto the calf, I found that my strength was no match for him. Just as I was being violently jerked out of my saddle, I heard a wise cowboy yell across to me: “Dally up!” To dally means to take the rope and making two or three quick wraps around the saddle horn. The saddle becomes an anchor point, which connects to the greater strength of a steady and powerful horse. The dally transformed my situation of having inadequate personal strength to being able to access a greater power that anchored the turbulent polar forces acting upon me. This simple act allowed me to draw strength from something far greater than myself. Instead of being violently yanked from my saddle, I found the relative ease of letting my horse do the pulling while I had the much more simple and manageable task of holding the dally tight and maintaining the connection to the anchoring force. Many times in my life since then I have felt the strength of greater powers than I have been prepared to withstand. These have seemed to yank me from a place of security and comfort. Each time, I have reflected upon opportunities to dally up to a power greater than my own that can serve as an anchor of strength. I would like to share some of the points of my learning about how to dally up in our inevitable circumstances and the need to find our anchor during turbulent times in our lives: 1. Strength in service 2. Strength in involvement 3. Strength in commitments Strength in Service When I was four my father was killed in a farming
Dan Clark|Sep. 30, 2014 As an adjunct professor who has taught at BYU for several years, I am in awe of this amazing institution that attracts the finest, most extraordinary faculty and students on the planet. I honor you and believe that King Benjamin could have easily been describing you when he said: And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual. [Mosiah 2:41] Yes, you are awesome, and this could be the most important assignment I have ever had as a professional speaker. Consequently, I wanted to be at my best. However, as I was getting ready this morning, I noticed that I was losing hair on my head and growing it in my nose and ears and on my back—in places I don’t even need it. That is not a fair trade-off. My only hope this morning was that the hair in my right ear would grow long enough so that I could comb it up over the top of my head and fake all of you out! It didn’t happen. When President Worthen asked me to speak to you today, two life-altering experiences surfaced in my mind, helping me focus my remarks. First, I recently returned from an eighteen-day military tribute tour with my invited guests American Idol finalist/Sony recording artist David Archuleta; world-class musician, vocal coach, and musical director Dean Kaelin; and celebrity impressionist Jason Hewlett. We performed our Evening of Music, Comedy, and Motivational Theater to fourteen amazing audiences; held six firesides for the U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Bahrain, and Kuwait along the Iraqi border; and concluded the tour with a special visit to the missionaries, members, and investigators in Ethiopia. We were touched by the dedication of Church members and the fearless commitment to service before self of our brave men and women in uniform. And when we got shot at and returned machine gun fire during one of our flights in a Chinook helicopter to a remote forward operating base, I realized that we should never take our freedom for granted and was reminded of the sense of urgency with which we all should live our lives. The second life-altering experience happened on October 23, 2010, when I had the rare opportunity to soar to the edge of space in a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. Because it was a classified mission, I can only tell you that at 70,000 feet you can see two-thirds of the state of California. At 80,000 feet you can see some distinctly mapped outlines of America. And at 90,000 feet you tear up and feel like you can reach out and touch the face of God! It was a spiritual experience I wish each of you could have. For four hours I sat in the sounds of silence, looking at the breathtaking curvature of the earth, gazing into the endless blackness of space, pondering eternity, and reflecting on President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s reminder that we are more t
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