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Kim B. Clark|Sep. 29, 2009 I am grateful to be with you today. I pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us and that you and I might be taught and edified by the Spirit. One summer many, many years ago, my mother decided it would be a great project for her children to refinish the dining room chairs. The chairs were painted a dark cherry color, and my mother had discovered that underneath that paint was good, hard maple wood. I will never forget that experience. We began by applying a nasty solvent called toluene to all the painted surfaces, and then we scraped the paint off. Once the paint was removed, we had to sand the wood with several grades of sandpaper in order to remove the very last bits of paint and to prepare the wood for a new finish. When the sanding was finally done, we applied a finish to highlight the grain and enhance the wood’s natural color. In the final step we sealed the new hardwood finish with two coats of varnish. Those chairs were transformed! I think about that experience every time I read Alma’s penetrating question to the members of the Church in Zarahemla: Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life.1 The words “are ye stripped of pride?” evoke in me images and smells from that summer. I think of toluene and scraping and stripping and sanding to get down to bare wood. When I think of the finishing process with a vibrant color and the protecting sealing varnish, I think of the description of the Savior as “the author and finisher of our faith”2 and the words of King Benjamin to his people: Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his.3 My message today is about being stripped of pride. I want to talk with you about overcoming pride and becoming humble followers of Christ. Pride—The Universal Sin, the Great Vice Twenty years ago President Ezra Taft Benson delivered a powerful sermon on pride. It is a talk all of us should read carefully and often. Speaking in general conference, President Benson said: The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. . . . Pride affects all of us at various times and in various degrees. . . . Pride is the universal sin, the great vice.4 Pride in all of its manifestations has played a central role in the struggle between good and evil, a struggle going back to the War
David Day|June 9, 2009 I am both grateful and humbled to be with you today. It is often the case in Church assignments that the one who is called to serve is not the most qualified; rather, those with a need for growth or insight are given the task. I have been greatly blessed by my preparations—blessed in more ways than I could begin to share in the time allotted. I pray that through the influence of the Holy Ghost you may benefit from what I have learned and that we may all be edified together this morning. In my preparations I have felt guided to focus my comments on the theme “Lessons of Pride and Glory from the Doctrine and Covenants.” I should clarify at first that this is not intended to be a pep talk about worldly notions of fame and glory or honor and glory. Pride is a sin—the universal sin, as described by President Ezra Taft Benson in his seminal conference address of April 1989 (see “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989, 4–7). I have personally come to believe that pride is Satan’s great counterfeit for glory. As with so many other principles and potential heavenly rewards, Lucifer seeks to deceive us by offering a lesser compromise that may for a moment bring gratification but ultimately leads to remorse and sorrow. And as for defining glory, we may ask ourselves: What is glory? What is the eternal nature of glory? Why is it mentioned so frequently in the scriptures? Why is it correct and even essential that we aspire to glory, while the very notion of righteous pride is a grievous sin? What are the potential dangers of confusing the two? Within the Church we refer often to the concept of glory. We speak of the three degrees of glory as described in section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In President Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the spirit world, he noted among those assembled to greet the resurrected Lord the presence of “our glorious Mother Eve” (D&C 138:3839). Many of the hymns that Christians sing invoke glory to God, suggesting a form of praise. In many scriptural passages we are admonished to live with an eye single to the glory of God. Earlier versions of the BYU logo even prominently displayed the scriptural phrase “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36), as if to imply a mantra for our pursuit of truth at the university. I recall from when I was a teenager and young adult that President Spencer W. Kimball often began his remarks in Church meetings by stating what a glorious occasion it was to be gathered together. I confess that as a teenager I failed to grasp what was so glorious about all those Church meetings, but President Kimball’s enthusiasm and insistence that the occasions were glorious always left an impression in my mind. My point is that we tend to think of glory only in abstract terms without giving careful thought to its full significance. In my personal study of the Doctrine and Covenants, the principles and narratives associated with glory have a
Marvin J. Ashton|May 3, 1987 Why don’t you have crosses on your buildings of worship? Why aren’t your chapels built in the shape of a cross? Why don’t you encourage your people to wear and display crosses? What is the Church’s policy toward crosses? From Matthew 16:24–25: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. We in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in response to these questions, try to teach our people to carry their crosses rather than display or wear them. Over the centuries the cross has been recognized as a symbol of Christianity in the minds of millions. The Savior himself has given us the bread and water as emblems of his sacrifice and death. My message to you this day is take up your cross. Take yourself the way you are and lift yourself in the direction of the better. Regardless of where you have been, what you have done, or what you haven’t done, trust God, believe on him, relate to him, worship him as you carry your cross with dignity and determination. We save our lives by losing them for his sake. As you find yourself, you will find God. This is true. I declare that to you. It is his promise. Take up the real cross of Jesus Christ. What kind of cross do you bear? What is its shape, weight, size, or dimension? We all have them. Some are very visible, while others are not always evident. Sometimes the heaviest personal cross could be to carry no cross at all. Some crosses we bear are these (maybe you will relate to one or more): the cross of loneliness; the cross of physical limitations—the loss of a leg, an arm, hearing, seeing, mobility—obvious crosses (we see people with these crosses and admire their strength in carrying them with dignity); the cross of poor health; the cross of transgression; the cross of success; the cross of temptation; the cross of beauty, fame, or wealth; the cross of financial burdens; the cross of criticism; the cross of peer rejection. What if we are challenged with more than one cross? A beautiful young lady once said to me, “Elder Ashton, it just isn’t time for me to have another cross. I’m not quite used to the one I’m carrying now. How can I handle both?” Truly, suffering is part of our mortal existence, and suffering is not all bad. Hidden Crosses Today I’d like to talk in more detail about certain crosses in life that are real, but that are not always recognized or visible. Number one is the cross of the violated trust—on the part of a parent, a family member, a teacher, a bishop, a stake presidency member, a boyfriend, a classmate, a returned missionary, a girlfriend, and so on. Some of us let an act of mistrust on the part of someone close to us shatter our todays and tomorrows. A friend of mine
Jeffrey R. Holland|Feb. 20, 1979 Thank you, President Oaks, and all of you. My thanks to Dean Clark for that beautiful prayer; I pray that it will be efficacious in my behalf. According to Brother Robert Webb and a recently published Richter scale of Provo popularity, my talks on this campus rate somewhere just between the Haun’s Mill massacre and a terminal case of acne. My goal this morning is to keep trying—keep moving forward, perhaps to take my rightful place with the rich flora and fauna of colorful Ethiopia. May I say, at the outset, that much of my message is intended to be seen against the backdrop of President’s Day, February’s reprieve of the winter doldrums and the annual commemoration of the births of, among others—including my wife—the two greatest presidents this republic has ever known. I am asking this morning that we look at your college decade (the seventies) and mine (the sixties) in the reflected light of a Washington and a Lincoln. As I speak, consider, if you will, their times and their trials and their gifts to us, and it will put your own world into clearer perspective. Everyone I know is mad at the 1970s. One commentator recently said if he had the chance he would promptly bid goodbye to the seventies—“a year too early,” he thought, “but not a moment too soon.” I presume that, with one year remaining in this decade’s contract, 1979 would be traded to the 1980s for a fixed sum plus six months of another year to be named in a later round of the draft. Of course, culture and history do not actually happen in decades; but we find it convenient to talk about them that way. Your parents like to speak of the twenties—you know, the Charleston—and some of you like to talk of the fifties—you know, the Fonz. And thus the seventies; full, some say, of forgettable faces, books no one could read, movies no one wanted to sit through. It has been suggested that the nicest thing which might be said of these last ten years is that they were sort of “factory seconds—the temporal equivalent of the Edsel.” A country that once thought it could rule the world now despairs of governing New York City. Has there indeed been some “souring of the national soul”? Professor Kenneth Kolson laments—and I quote— In this decade an epidemic of cynicism [has] spread through the country, . . . contaminating [our national institutions] and the reservoir of good will . . . built up among Americans over the centuries; [now] Main Street [U.S.A. has been rendered] the moral equivalent of Pompeii. Americans no longer revere the presidency; they believe that every interest is represented in Congress but the public interest; they even have little faith in the Justices of the Supreme Court. In 1964, 78% of a national sample . . . said that the government in Washington can be trusted to do what is right ‘always’ or ‘most of the time.’ By 1974 [the year of Watergate] this figure had shrive
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