LDS Business College Devotional
Thank you, President Woodhouse, for that nice introduction. You read it just the way I wrote it; it makes me sound better than I am.
I’m so grateful for the privilege to be back, and by the way, I have my pencil out too, in case I say anything worth writing down. I’m right with you. I think that’s a great idea. I believe wholeheartedly that when the Spirit speaks to us, that we show the Lord that we cherish His communication to us by writing it down and then thinking about it, pondering it until it becomes a part of us, until we do something with it.
I am so grateful to be back here on this campus. It’s such a privilege to be with you. There is just such a good spirit here in dedicated places. Our family has been blessed by LDS Business College—not only did I get to spend two of the best years of my career here, but my son graduated from here in 2003 with a degree in IT Network Management and Microsoft certification. Let’s see, is it Brother McReynolds? Is he still around here somewhere? He was the teacher, and a couple of others, but they used to sit in the back of the room and there were three of them that had Apple iBooks or something like that, and Brother McReynolds always referred to them as the “Apple orchard.” And they were back there, just so that you know Brother McReynolds, sending e-mails to each other. And we don’t do that today, but they did it back then.
Anyway, I was counting up the other day the number of dollars that we would have had to spend over the past five years if Zach hadn’t gotten his degree here. Because we’re a technology family—everybody but me is into technology in the family. I’m a little slow coming aboard. But we have about ten computers in our home, and they’re all networked with wireless and routers and firewalls and other things that I have no clue about. And about two or three times a week something happens where we have to call on Zach to come and fix it or give us counsel or teach us how to do something. And we have saved literally tens of thousands of dollars over the past five years with everything that he’s been able to help us with. I know he would have appreciated us giving that money to him, but we always felt that he appreciated the hugs and the kisses and the thank you's more. You probably think so, too, don’t you.
Well, LDS Business College is a dedicated place. You know that, don’t you? I pulled out the prayer that President Hinckley gave a few years ago—in 2006. I read the news reports of the dedication, and I also read his dedicatory prayer. I also know that the teachers and the administrators and the staff here have to be temple worthy, and I also know as a bishop that you as the students have to be recommended by your priesthood leaders.
Now think about what those three things do for the atmosphere here. Isn’t that incredible? You have an opportunity here to do something more than just get a degree or become another professional in the workplace. You can, and you really ought to, develop your discipleship while you are here. The spirit of the Lord dwells here more than in almost every other university. Of the thousands of universities across our land and across the world, there are very few of them that have the atmosphere and the dedication that are here in this wonderful LDS Business College. So you ought to become a scholar of discipleship. Along with gaining knowledge and skills for your career, you can learn how to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. And that’s what I want to talk about today, is becoming and developing your disciple scholarship.
I have interpreted that to mean being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let me begin, however, by telling you the current condition of the world. You probably already know that. It doesn’t take much to read a newspaper or grab an e-mail from some list service, and recognize what’s going on. But my wife and I sat and watched over the past few days as my retirement savings dropped a hundred thousand dollars or more. It’s a little scary when you’re getting close to retirement. But the current economic condition is making us all just a little bit worried, isn’t it?
My wife and I came across a news article that explained why we are where we are economically. And buried in the article, aside from all of the other—the CEOs and what they’ve done and the housing market and everything else—was a little comment about the idea that the reason why we’re where we are economically in the United States is because of greed—and not just the greed of CEOs who earn millions of dollars, but greed amongst ourselves, wanting more than we really can afford. And businesses have made that more possible the past few years, and so now we are where we are. Because you and I are a little bit greedy. Don’t write that down; that’s not a very inspiring thought. But it’s a true fact that those that we live amongst have been a little bit greedy.
Worldly people are motivated by three things: power, money and popularity. And if they’re anxious enough about it, they’ll do everything and anything they can to get those. And really, what most people of the world are after is power. Money and popularity are just means to get to power. The Book of Mormon plays this scene out over and over and over again. If you take time to read Helaman chapter two and some of the other chapters in Ether that explain the secret combinations, you will find that power was their main motivation. They would, in their case, would kill and rob and plunder to get power. And then they would promise others that if they would go and do the killing and robbing and plundering, they would put them in positions of power. Power is one of the main motivators.
Listen to what Joseph Smith said: “Now in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another.” That ought to teach us something about our own human nature; we ought to be careful about that. But then he goes on: “Yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world, there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel.”
What that says to me is we just as well get used to dealing with this kind of atmosphere with people, because apparently it’s going on in the other world as well—what we know as the spirit world. So we ought to learn to overcome that desire to excel ourselves, and then learn how to deal with people who have not yet overcome that, because it’s not something that’s going to leave when we die or go into the spirit world.
This idea, too, of wanting power and wanting wealth can overcome even the most righteous people. Let me show you in the Book of Mormon, in Helaman chapter six, what happens to the Nephites. Now in this time in the history, the Lamanites are considered the wicked people and the Nephites are considered the righteous people. So in Helaman 6:37 it says this: “And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them,”—now this is after they started to be converted, okay? They were considered by the Nephites to be wicked, but they sent prophets and missionaries over to them, and the Lamanites have now become converted. And they are getting rid of the secret combinations and Gadianton robbers. And notice it said that they started to preach among the more wicked part of the Gadianton robbers—“insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.”
Good result. Now listen to what happened to the Nephites in the next verse, verse 38: “And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them.” See, now it’s just the opposite. These people who want power and money and popularity, they won’t start with the most righteous; they know they can’t get them. They’ll start with the least righteous among us, and they’ll convince them to join in their plundering and their spoils, and then they’ll move up the rung to the next righteous and to the next until finally they get to the most righteous. And by that time, the most righteous among us are so weary of trying to do good in a society which is mostly wicked, that even they sometimes can become weak and falter and can give in.
Notice it says, “Beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.” Now that’s a warning for you and I.
We live in a day of great wickedness. Let me just share with you—I have kept track of what the prophets and the apostles have been saying about our day since the turn of the century. Since the year 2001, I have watched what they have been saying. I believe they are giving us a warning. Listen to some of their comments.
This is from Elder Henry B. Eyring, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This was in August of 2001. He said this: “The world in which our students choose spiritual life or death is changing rapidly. When their older brothers and sisters return to visit the same schools and campuses they attended, they find a radically different moral climate. The spiritual strength sufficient for our youth to stand firm just a few years ago will soon not be enough. Many of them are remarkable in their spiritual maturity and in their faith. But even the best of them are sorely tested, and the testing will become more severe.”
Here’s another one from President Hinckley, at that same time, August 2001. He said this: “What a frightening change has occurred in our culture. A great flow of sleaze has gathered and is washing over us. Language is used on our campuses that never crossed our lips back in the days of my youth. Pornography, with all of its titillating and vicious attraction is about us. This is an era of gutter talk, of sloppy dress, of sloppy ways. But now there is a more clever element in the adversary’s efforts,” he continued. “There is a subtle and enticing invitation to leave the good and the beautiful and the holy, and turn in the direction of the evil, the filthy, the sleazy and the addictive ways of the world.”
Here is President Faust in April 2003 general conference: “The worldly influences of evil will likely increase, and more people will become vulnerable to the deceit and enticements of Satan. We will need greater spirituality to perceive all the forms of evil, and greater strength to resist them.”
Ten months later, in February of 2004, President Boyd K. Packer said: “The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better. These are days of great spiritual danger for our youth. I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places. Now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection. At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized; now they are spread across the world. And they are among us, even members of the Church.
“Spiritual diseases,” he continues, “of epidemic proportions sweep over the world. We are not able to curb them.”
Just six months ago, in the general conference, April of 2008, our prophet President Monson said two things about the condition of the world. First, speaking to the priesthood on Saturday night he said this: “We have been placed on earth in troubled times. We live in a complex world with currents of conflict everywhere to be found. Political machinations ruin the stability of nations. Despots grasp for power, and segments of society seem forever downtrodden, deprived of opportunity and left with a feeling of failure. We are surrounded by so much that is designed to divert our attention from those things which are virtuous and good, and to tempt us with that which would cause us to be unworthy.”
And then, the following Sunday morning, he said this: “The world can at times be a frightening place in which to live. The moral fabric of society seems to be unraveling at an alarming speed. None, whether young or old or in between, is exempt from exposure to those things which have the potential to drag us down and destroy us. Our youth, our precious youth in particular, face temptations we can scarcely comprehend. The adversary and his hosts seem to be working non-stop to cause our downfall.”
Well, that’s pretty dour, isn’t it? Except that these come from prophets, seers and revelators. They’re trying to warn us. They’re not trying to get us scared, or to worry about our future; they’re trying to warn us to prepare for the society in which we live now and in which we will live in the future. We really do live in an increasingly wicked world. It can cause us to fear. It can cause us to be pessimistic and to question things that will bring us happiness. For example, perhaps you have seen too many older couples who are divorced, and you question the worth of marrying in the temple. Or maybe you have friends who participate in wicked behavior and don’t seem to be adversely affected by it. This can tempt you to do what they are doing. But there is an answer to all of this. There is a way to keep ourselves filled with hope and with happiness, in spite of the condition of this world. You and I can be spiritually safe even while wickedness swirls all about us. We can live in the world without being of it.
The answer lies, I believe, in developing our discipleship of Jesus Christ—in becoming His disciples and building our foundation on His life. We have prophets, seers and revelators, brothers and sisters. I hope we appreciate what that means. Let me just read to you one verse of scripture that has always stuck with me, since the day I found it many, many years ago. It’s in Mosiah 8:17. While speaking of a seer, which is who we have—President Monson and the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are all prophets, seers, and revelators—this is what verse 17 says: “But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.”
Now think about that last statement. That’s what impressed me most, many years ago—the idea that there’s no other way, there are certain pieces of knowledge that we can’t get any other way than through a prophet, seer and revelator. No amount of the scientific method, no amount of reasoning, no amount of experimentation and surveys or observations—no other way can certain kinds of information come except through these prophets, seers, and revelators.
I tell you, it’s something that I learned here at LDS Business College while I was teaching Institute. I found that if I was well-enough acquainted with the talks by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve from the last general conference, that when students came in to me to ask a question or to seek counsel on some personal manner, inevitably I would find a talk by one of the Brethren who answered that question or had some counsel to give them about the particular issue they were dealing with. It happened over and over and over again. It was miraculous. I got to the point where I started saying, “It’s almost as though someone is telling them what is happening in the future. And they’re telling us even before it happens.” And then every six months we get an update on what’s going to happen in the next six months—what questions young people are going to be asking, and what issues they are going to be dealing with.
I have a strong testimony that these fifteen Brethren listen carefully to the Lord. They are inspired, and they give us counsel that we need to have. And so, one point of discipleship is to follow the living prophets. And we now live in a time when we need them more than ever before.
Another thing about being a disciple of Jesus Christ is simply to get to know Him. You and I have got to come to understand His life and His way of behaving with people so well that we really want to become like Him—not just have an understanding up here, but have a testimony and a feeling that what He says and what He does is what we want to follow. It’s got to come.
Now, we’re not the only ones to live in serious dark times. Back again in Helaman, there were plenty of problems that these people had, and let me just share with you one point at which they finally discovered they had to lean on the Lord, okay? Helaman 4:20 says: “And it came to pass, because of the greatness of the number of the Lamanites”—now, if you think about the Lamanites at this time in the history of the Book of Mormon as wickedness, so the greatness of the wickedness was so great—“that the Nephites were in great fear, lest they should be overpowered.” See, does that sound like our day, according to the Brethren, that sometimes we feel that it’s just overpowering? We grow a little bit weary, maybe, of wanting to stand up strong and carry on, because there’s so much to deal with out there. But this is what was happening to them.
It says, “They began to remember the prophecies of Alma, and also the words of Mosiah; and they saw that they had been a stiffnecked people.” (verse 21) So even, some of the righteous had started to realize, “We blew it. We’ve got to get back to our spiritual moorings, to where we should be.
Finally it says, verse 24: “And they saw that they had become weak, like unto their brethren, the Lamanites, and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples—
“Therefore the Lord did cease to preserve them by his miraculous and matchless power, for they had fallen into a state of unbelief and awful wickedness.” Now just think about that. If you ever get to a point in your life where you’re feeling like the Lord is not with you, He’s not preserving you, you’re not prospering, you’re not doing well, then take stock in yourself. This about what it is that you’re doing that may be separating you a little bit from the Lord and from His Spirit, and change that in your life so that you can get back in good with Him—so that you can draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. I know He’ll do that. Sometimes we get so busy in this world that we forget to take time to sit back, make a self-evaluation, ponder a little bit and change our lives. It’s called repentance, and it doesn’t have to happen in major sins only. It can happen when we find out that we’re not feeling as blessed as we ought to be.
But then they finally say this: “They saw that the Lamanites were exceedingly more numerous than they, and except they should cleave unto the Lord their God they must unavoidably perish.” (verse 25) A great, great discovery.
And then finally, Nephi and Lehi decide at this time to forget their civil responsibilities, turn those over to somebody else, and go out and preach. And the main point of their message is in verse 12 of chapter 5, which reads thus: Now, they’re remembering what their father told them, okay? And this is the message: “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.”
Now that’s where we ought to be. To me, that is the single most important answer to overcoming the wickedness in this world—to build a foundation on Jesus Christ. Now, if we don’t do that—and you ought to start right now. Don’t wait until you’re older, or you get a job, or you get married. Start now to become a disciple, to learn about Him. There’s going to be too many of us when He comes again that will not recognize Him. That happened when He came the first time, and it’s going to happen again. And you and I don’t want to be amongst that group of people. When He comes, we want to know Him. Even before He gets here, we ought to know Him.
Listen to what Joseph Smith and Brigham Young said about when the time comes that He will come again to this earth. Joseph Smith said this: “There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in diverse places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds. Then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet or a star, etc.”
Here’s Brigham Young. Speaking of Jesus Christ, he says, “When he again visits this earth, He will come to thoroughly purge His kingdom from wickedness. And the Gentiles,”—I know we think we’re not Gentiles, but in this case we’re Gentiles, by nationality. I know you’re of the House of Israel, and you’re blessed because of it, but you’re also a Gentile—“the Gentiles will be as much mistaken in regard to his second Advent as the Jews were in relation to the first.”
There will be people living on this earth who, when He comes, will not recognize Him. I know it’s hard to fathom that when we’ll have all of these signs and wonders. But it’s true. It will happen. And you and I do not want to be one of those who is among those people.
Brothers and sisters, if you want to lead a happy life and a content[ed] life, seek to know the Lord. If you want to have a hope while you live in an increasingly pessimistic society, then learn about the Redeemer of the world, and follow Him. If you want to be settled in a very unsettled and unsettling world, follow the example of Jesus Christ.
It’s not that hard, really. I think there’s just a matter of a few things you and I need to do. Number one, we ought to accept His invitation to learn of Him. In Matthew 11:29, He says “learn of me,” come unto me, “for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (see also verses 28 and 30)
If we are living the Church life, and it’s burdensome, it’s not easy, something is wrong. Something is out of place. We sing that song, “Sweet is the Work.” That’s what it should be. It’s not “Drudgery is the Work.” Sweet is the work. And if it’s not to us, then something is out of order.
Next, learn His doctrines. Listen to this great scripture. I love this one, in 1 Nephi 15:14. It says this, at the very end of the verse, speaking of in the last days, Nephi says, “Wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.” Learning the doctrines of the gospel teach[es] us how to come unto the Lord and be saved through Him.
I would suggest also that you and I think about the Savior more often, and that we talk about Him as much as is appropriate. Spend more time doing that. Listen to what President Howard W. Hunter said: “We must know Christ better than we know Him. We must remember Him more often than we remember Him. We must serve Him more valiantly than we serve Him. Then we will drink waters springing up unto eternal life, and will eat the bread of life.”
We’ve got to be more than just members of this Church, brothers and sisters. We’ve got to be disciples of Jesus Christ who are converted to Him and who think about Him and talk about Him. You’ve got to decide, as you’re here at school, if you’ll be a scholar or a disciple of Jesus Christ possessing scholarship in your field of study. Will you be a disciple of business administration, or will you be a disciple of Christ who is a scholar of business administration? Can you see the difference? Will you be a professional disciple of interior design, or a disciple of Jesus Christ with top-notch scholarship in interior design? Will you be known in this world as a skilled medical assistant, or as a disciple of Christ who is expert in medical coding or transcription? Will your family and friends see you as an accountant, or will they see you as a disciple of Christ possessing proficient accounting skills.
Included in the very first hymnal that Emma Smith put together, and we still have it in our hymns today, is the song, “Now Let Us Rejoice.” I believe it’s the third verse of that hymn that reads this way:
“In faith we’ll rely on the arm of Jehovah
To guide through these last days of trouble and gloom,
And after the scourges and harvest are over,
We’ll rise with the just when the Savior doth come.”
(Hymns, no. 3)
I leave you with my testimony that in my life, trying to learn as much as I possibly can about Jesus Christ and then following Him has been the single most important thing I’ve done to help me to behave properly, to be a better husband and a better father, to be a better teacher and a better employee, to be a better person. And I’m certainly not someone to be held up as an example. But I know the effect that learning about Jesus Christ has had in my life, and I wish for it and hope for it and pray for it for you in your life.
I testify that He lives, that He is the Savior, that He is the Word of God. In other words, He is the one that God sent as His expression. We use words to express ourselves, and Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ as His expression of a true and faithful child of God—how one would behave and think and desire and be. And I testify of that, and again, thank you so much for the privilege to be here, and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Introduction: President Woodhouse
It is such a great pleasure to have Brother Marsh with us today. Brother Marsh was an institute teacher at our Institute for a few years when we were up on Fourth East, and we’ve missed him. We’ve missed him a lot. And now to have him back is just a great privilege. He is married to Deborah Pierce. They are the parents of five children—three boys and identical twin girls. He earned a bachelor’s degree from BYU in developmental psychology, a master of education from the College of Idaho, and a PhD in family studies from BYU.
He is employed with the Church Education System for 22 years, serving as a seminary and institute teacher, a principal, a teacher support consultant, a writer, a CES coordinator—I think he had all the jobs along the line. But now he is responsible for the development of the curriculum for the Church. Now that’s a big job. I asked him if he was busy and he said, “Well, we’re working on about 20 major projects, and then there’s a few minor ones after that.” So we’re grateful to have him with us today. It’s a great pleasure to hear from David B. Marsh, the manager of curriculum development for the Church.