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Weatherford T. Clayton|Mar. 14, 2017 During our mission in Canada, my wife and I gave a “last instruction” to departing missionaries the day before they went home. Each of these young elders and sisters were heroes to us, and we wanted their transition home to be very, very successful. Our instruction was given with love and good fun. I particularly enjoyed instructing on dating and marriage. One afternoon as I stood at the blackboard during a last instruction, the Spirit pressed Helaman 5:12 deeply into my mind. This scripture came from what could have been the Book of Mormon prophet Helaman’s “last instruction” to his sons prior to their departure for their magnificent mission to the Nephites and the Lamanites. We all quoted the scripture together: And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. What a magnificent verse of scripture. Think of it: Helaman promised us that if we build our foundation upon our Savior, we cannot fall, regardless of what Satan throws at us. What a powerful promise! Our Savior gave the same promise in the Sermon on the Mount: Whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken . . . unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock— And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.1 I bet a lot of you Primary graduates are thinking of a song. Would you sing it with me—just the first two verses, with hand motions? The wise man built his house upon the rock, The wise man built his house upon the rock, The wise man built his house upon the rock, And the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down, and the floods came up, The rains came down, and the floods came up, The rains came down, and the floods came up, And the house on the rock stood still.2 Thank you! Doesn’t this simple song teach a powerful lesson? Luke put it slightly differently: Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them . . . . . . is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.3 When a person comes to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and he
Douglas D. Holmes|Jan. 17, 2017 Brothers and sisters, it is difficult to express what a surreal experience it is for me to stand at this pulpit and speak at a BYU devotional. For many years I have been somewhat of a BYU devotional junkie. When I was a student here, I discovered that you could purchase cassette tapes of selected devotional talks, and I bought several. I remember well Stephen R. Covey’s talk “An Educated Conscience.”1 Listening to Truman G. Madsen’s talk “House of Glory” was perhaps the best temple preparation I received.2 Nowadays I have the BYU Speeches podcast and listen regularly. In all my years of listening to these devotionals, it never occurred to me that I would be speaking in one. Since receiving this assignment a few months ago, I have pondered and prayed earnestly to know what the Lord would have me share. As I pondered, I was reminded of these words from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Strength comes . . . from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most. Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace.3 We live in days in which the mists of darkness are “exceedingly great.”4 Satan is “the father of lies,”5 and his lies “blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men.”6 One of Satan’s subtle but more pervasive strategies is to distract us from the things that matter most with a never-ending array of mind-numbing trivialities. With President Uchtdorf’s counsel burning in my heart, I will focus today “on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ”—“the sublime . . . path of Christian discipleship.” My great desire is for each of us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”7 My message is centered in that quest and how we can be more diligent, joyful, and successful in that journey. As you begin a new year and a new semester, I hope that some of what I say will help you focus your goals on “the divine things that matter most.” I invite you to pay close attention to what the Holy Ghost whispers to your heart during our time together. More important than the words I speak, I pray that your hearts and minds will be open to receive light and truth from the Holy Ghost. The light and truth that the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel has brought about can push away all darkness from our minds and lives. We need to remember that the Lord has also described our day as “noon-day.”8 Our Identity A foundational truth we need
James C. Brau|Mar. 1, 2011 Thank you, President Samuelson. Good morning, brothers and sisters. It is a wonderful delight to be here with you. In fact, on the way over we saw a bunch of tents and students camped out at the ticket center. One of my colleagues, Craig Merrill, said, “Wow, Jimmy, how’s it feel to have all those students camped out to see the devotional?” I said, “Craig, they’re here to see a Jimmer, but not this Jimmer.” Seriously, I am deeply humbled to have been asked to address the BYU community today as the devotional speaker. Since being asked, I have prayed each day that the Lord would inspire me to give a talk that would be spiritually uplifting for those who listen. I pray I do not fail in this regard. I was asked to give this address on Tuesday, January 4. You may ask, “How does Brother Brau remember the exact date he was called by Vice President Worthen to give a talk?” If you look on the screen at this headline banner of the Wall Street Journal, you will see that it reads, “The New Science of Conquering Fear.” The paper is dated January 4, and it happened to be the first thing I saw after accepting the offer to give the devotional. Who says Heavenly Father doesn’t have a sense of humor? One of the most powerful and favorite quotes of the BYU community was given to President Karl G. Maeser by President Brigham Young in the early days of Brigham Young Academy. You have heard it often from this pulpit. Here it is again: “I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God” (in Reinhard Maeser, Karl G. Maeser: A Biography [Provo: Brigham Young University, 1928], 79). It is this charge that separates BYU from other excellent universities. For example, if your desire is to obtain an undergraduate degree in finance, you could attend the university an hour north of here and learn all about discounted cash flows, capital budgeting, and optimal capital structures. In fact, the finance that you learned there would be very similar to the finance you would learn from my department here at BYU. However, we seek to explicitly teach with the Spirit here, which sets us apart. This idea was reinforced to me in a recent seminar by Professor Dennis Wright, one of the deans of religious education and a good friend of mine, when he taught that “spiritual development at BYU is not a by-product, but it is a central focus.” Think about that. Spiritual development here at BYU is not a by-product. Recognizing that you, as students, have come to BYU for more than academic rigor, I have made it a point to share a spiritual thought in each section I teach every day I am in the classroom. It is my meager effort to attempt to teach not even finance without the Spirit of God. I strategically wait for the two- or three-minute spiritual thought to coincide with what I estimate to be the maximum doze-off time of the class. You know this
Steven L. Taylor|June 22, 2010 In 1969 I had the privilege of living in the enchanting city of Cuzco, Peru. Each day as my missionary companion and I walked along the stone streets of Cuzco, I never ceased to marvel. Much of the city is literally built on ancient Inca ruins. The workmanship of the carved stones, all fit together without mortar, is exquisite. The strength of such walls made from precisely cut stones, many with interior interlocking arms (somewhat like giant ancient Legos), is incredible. It is ironic that we call them “ruins” because, even though they were constructed many centuries ago, most of them remain perfectly intact today. Peru is a land of many earthquakes. We are familiar with the terrible destruction of the 2007 quake there. Tens of thousands were left homeless as buildings in a large region collapsed from the powerful tremors. Many are still trying to rebuild their homes and their lives. Through the centuries such disasters have occurred repeatedly in Peru. While more recently built construction crumbles, the Inca-built structures remain. Somehow these ancient stones, fit together perfectly, withstand whatever natural disasters occur. They remain a firm foundation. You are familiar with Christ’s teaching: Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock— And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. [3 Nephi 14:24–25; see also Matthew 7:24–25] Isfahan, Iran In 1976 my wife, Diane, and I, along with our two small children, traveled to Iran, where I had a contract through an American company to teach English to Iranian air force pilots. These pilots were in flight school being taught in English by American instructors to fly modern military aircraft. American-Iranian relations were very different then than they are today. While in Iran we lived in Isfahan, an ancient city with beautiful mosques, bridges, fountains, and parks. We witnessed some of the amazing workmanship from the glory days of ancient Persia. These centuries-old treasures were obviously built on solid foundations. During our stay in Isfahan we rented a house in a new, rapidly spreading area on the outskirts of the city called “the flats.” Many of the houses there were being built quickly for rental to foreigners, particularly Americans, who were coming in large numbers to work on various projects going on in Iran at the time. The house we rented was brand new. It lacked some of the comforts and conveniences we were used to, but it had other luxuries that were new to us, such as beautiful chandeliers and marble floors. One day while we were out walking in our neighborhood, we observed preparations being made to build a new house—workers were clearing the ground, moving rocks and piles of dirt. A day or two lat
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