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M. Russell Ballard|Nov. 14, 2017 I am now in my ninetieth year and have been happily married to my dear wife, Barbara, for sixty-six years. We have been blessed with seven children, forty-three grandchildren, and eighty-six great-grandchildren—with more on the way! I want to include you in our family today. I would like you to picture me as your grandfather who believes in you and who is cheering for you. I love you and constantly pray for you. A year ago I spoke to our full-time religious educators and explained that we need to listen more and do our best to respond to sincere questions.1 An adapted version of that talk appeared in the Ensign magazine last December with the hope that all parents, Church leaders, and teachers would do their best to listen and to respond to the questions from those they love.2 Recently I learned about a time when Joseph Smith answered twenty questions he had received. The questions, along with his responses, were published in the Church’s newspaper, the Elders’ Journal, in July 1838. We do not have time to explore those twenty questions, but I did pick two of them. The first is an excellent question: “What are the fundamental principles of your religion?” The Prophet responded: The fundamental principles of our religion [are] the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven”; and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.3 Joseph’s answer reminds us what is most important and essential: the core gospel message of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I smiled at Joseph’s response to another question in the series: “Did not Jo Smith steal his wife?” The Prophet’s tongue-in-cheek answer reveals his witty personality: “Ask her; she was of age, she can answer for herself.”4 Since then, Church leaders have taken many opportunities to respond to questions in various settings. Unfortunately, passing around a portable microphone in the Marriott Center is virtually impossible today, so I invited two local young single adult stake presidents and several BYU professors to solicit questions in advance for my consideration in preparing my talk for you. In the end, I was surprised how many questions you have. I received 767 of them! They covered a variety of topics, including life at BYU, dating, doctrine, marriage, revelation, seeking perfection, and showing love to others. I wish I could respond to every question. However, reviewing the questions has been a blessing to me because it gave me another window through which to consider the issues and challenges you face.
Gordon B. Hinckley|Sep. 18, 2007 My dear brothers and sisters, you have done it again. This is the 10th year that you have done so, and I congratulate you most warmly. I speak of the Princeton Review rankings, where you have come in first out of 366 colleges. You are the most “stone-cold sober” student body in America. How proud you ought to feel about this designation—no smoking, no drinking, no drugs. You are living up to the Honor Code of this institution. You will be blessed for doing so. Why would anyone on this campus, where education is heavily subsidized by the Church, have any desire to do anything less? It is a remarkable thing that on any given Sunday this magnificent physical plant becomes a vast Church campus. Thousands of young people, scriptures in hand, are to be seen hurrying to classrooms and lecture halls that become places of religious instruction. I do not know where else in all this world there is a similar thing of such magnitude. Now, yesterday’s Wall Street Journal published the rankings of university business schools, and BYU came in number one in the regional rankings among all the business schools of America (see “Recruiters’ Top Schools,” Journal Report on Business Schools: The Recruiters’ Picks [special section], Wall Street Journal, 17 September 2007, R5). What a unique institution this is. Coupled with its associates in Hawaii and Idaho, it is a leader both academically and spiritually. How fortunate you are in the opportunity to attend here. Many others wish to come here but are unable to do so. The magnificent physical plant, together with a great faculty, makes it an academic jewel. But the end product of all of this, of course, is you—you thousands of aspiring young scholars. I agree that it is a grinding experience to earn a degree here. But the result is something of which you can be extremely proud. The by-product of your academic achievement will be a bundle of ethical, moral, and spiritual values. These are summarized in our thirteenth article of faith: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men” (Articles of Faith 1:13). This is a short and simple statement, but its implications are enormous. We believe in being honest. We cannot cheat. We cannot do anything of a dishonest nature. We make a pledge with ourselves to be scrupulously honest in all that we do. This is not always easy. In matters of honesty, there are no shortcuts—no little white lies or big black lies. There is only the simple, honest truth spoken in total candor. And I think there is nothing more honest than good, hard work. I recently read a book titled No Shortcuts to the Top. It is the story of Ed Viesturs. Ed has climbed Mount Everest six times and has reached the summits of the world’s highest mountains without the use of supplemental oxygen. When asked how he did it, h
Merrill J. and Marilyn S. Bateman|Sep. 18, 2001 Elder Bateman: We welcome you to the first, official devotional of the 2001–2002 school year. We welcome a television audience that stretches across the United States and around the earth via satellite. One week ago Sister Bateman and I were prepared to address this same forum when tragedy struck New York City and the Pentagon. The events of that day have had an impact not only on the United States but on the entire world. Most governments now realize that no one is safe if terrorists are allowed free rein to develop secret networks and plan strikes against innocent people. It reminds one of the Gadianton robbers, who lived in a day long ago. The Book of Mormon indicates that they were experts in wickedness, lived in the wilderness, operated through secret combinations in the settled parts of the land, and were difficult to find and destroy (see Helaman 2:4, 11; 3:23). Could there be a more apt description of the enemy we are now facing? The past week has sobered everyone and caused us to reflect on the sanctity of life. The tragedy has made clear that, for many, the most important aspect of life is found in family relationships. In the midst of the rubble, rescuers have uncovered the dead clutching family photos. One man who escaped from the crashing towers indicated how grateful he was that he could hug his children one more time. The last words heard from a husband to his wife were “I love you!” And then there are men and women, young and old, waiting near the crash sites displaying pictures of their loved ones and hoping for a miracle. Someone has said that God will turn the evil into good. If the citizens of this and other nations recognize their frailties and turn to God for help, good will be the outcome. However, experience indicates that transformations are seldom permanent unless one is deeply touched by the Holy Spirit. I repeat my statement from last week: “You young people hold the power of peace for the world in your hands. The world depends on you.” Christ depends on you. The message of the Master must be written in your hearts so that you may extend it to others. Christ’s healing power is more than physical. He has the power to make a person whole, to heal the soul as well as the body. The magnificent painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch of Christ Healing the Sick at the Pool of Bethesda portrays Christ both as a healer and a comforter. The original painting, a wonderful gift, has just arrived on campus and will be the signature piece for the Museum of Art. We hope it will be a constant reminder of our heritage and our mission. Sister Bateman and I approach this occasion with concern, knowing and feeling the responsibility that is ours to teach and uplift. The theme we have chosen is taken from the seventh chapter of Moroni, wherein Mormon explains that “the Spirit of Christ is given to every [person], that [they] may know good from evil” (Moroni 7:16). Mormon then counsels the N
James E. Faust|Nov. 1, 1998 My dear young friends, I speak to you as one who stands on the edge of eternity. From that perspective, I see you as the choicest spirits ever placed on the earth. The promises in your generation’s patriarchal blessings, if you are faithful, seem to exceed the promises in Sister Faust’s blessing and in mine. You know better than I the challenges of living in the world today. The “Teenagers’ Bill of Rights” declares: “Please support us by believing in us rather than fearing for us” (Lia Gay, Jamie Yellin, and others, in Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: 101 Stories of Life, Love and Learning [Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications, 1997], p. 307). I want you to know that I believe in you. I believe you can be in the world but not of the world. The Devil’s Throat In the world there are many things of value to discover and much more to live for and hope for; however, as you move forward, you should be careful not to get too close to the Devil’s Throat. As a young man I served a mission to Brazil. It was a marvelous experience. I have returned many times since then in my Church assignments. One of the wonders of the world in that great country is Iguaçu Falls. In the flood season, the volume of water spilling over the brink is the largest in the world. Every few minutes, millions of gallons of water cascade into the chasm below. One part of the falls, where the deluge is the heaviest, is called the Devil’s Throat. Large rocks are situated just before the water rushes down into the Devil’s Throat. Some of the braver Brazilians used to take passengers in canoes to stand on those rocks and look down into the Devil’s Throat. The water above the falls is usually calm and slow-moving and the atmosphere tranquil. Except for the roar of the water below, there was no way to anticipate the danger that lay just a few feet beyond. A sudden, unexpected current could have taken the canoe into the rushing waters, over the cliff, and down into the Devil’s Throat. While standing on a rock, a loss of footing or vertigo would have the same effect. Spiritually, a Devil’s Throat is concealed beneath the deceptively calm tranquility of our lives and the world in which we live. Each of you has to have the strength and integrity not to get too close to the Devil’s Throat. Bravado in the face of certain death, physical or spiritual, is foolhardy. At this time in your lives you sometimes challenge things, such as parents’ authority, society, values, religion. When I was a lawyer I had a client who was a very successful contractor. But he challenged things. For instance, he argued that the earth is flat. I really think he knew it is round, but he would challenge it. By that time in my life I had traveled around the world. In World War II, I was assigned over a period of time to go west from San Francisco to Cairo and West Africa, and later to Brazil, and then home. But I knew th
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