Making a Difference in Other’s Lives
I think that I am glad to be here today. Certainly, considering the many distinguished people who have occupied this podium previously, and who will yet address you in the future, I am honored and humbled by your presence today. You are now excused to leave and I will speak to the walls and empty chairs!
I plead with Father in Heaven for something I might share with you to give you pause to ponder.
I would like to spend the next half hour developing thoughts connected to the cultural belief of this institution which centers around Supporting Each Other for students and Champion Every Student for faculty and staff perhaps eventually stretching those connections to include the Atonement of the Savior.
In responding to the question as to the greatest commandment, the Savior established with the second commandment, the duty and obligation of all men to be aware of and involved with other individuals through loving our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t believe He intended us to love at a distance. Of course, we will never encounter or know the names of the vast majority of inhabitants walking the earth, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, we will encounter, if only briefly, over our lifetimes. The call to us is to support, uplift, share burdens, assist, recognize, acknowledge, influence, teach, sustain, etc. Our opportunities come daily. Will we respond? Surely, as the unknown author stated,” A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.”
What is my point? A kind Father in Heaven uses each of us to be an influence on all of the rest of us. All who touch a life in some part, whether mine or someone else, have contributed to that life for good or good.
Let me read some of the words of others on the subject:
Quoting PM Forni, from his book Choosing Civility , “I am convinced that , to a significant extent, life is what our relationships make it….Good relationships make our lives good; bad relationships make our lives bad. We are usually happy or unhappy with others. Although at times we can be happy in spite of others, we are usually happy thanks to them, thanks to the good relationships we have with them. To learn how to be happy, we must learn how to live well with others. “
And again from a different perspective:
Quoting from Henry Van Dyke, “Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe to the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellowmen are just as real as you are; and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life…”
And a third quote, a particular favorite of mine:
Quoting C. S. Lewis: “It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor…It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal….But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit….”
There is much food for thought in those quotes. So, let us be about supporting and making a difference in the lives of others. How do we do it? Are there skills involved? Does it come naturally to us? If not, how can we learn? And how do we know whom to help and support?
Hopefully, most of us here have been born into, and raised by a good family. What a divine plan – the family. It is within the family that intense learning can be accomplished. Parents quickly learn to love someone unconditionally more than themselves. Two year olds learn to share their toys. Siblings learn to share a bedroom. Teenagers learn to share a bathroom. Sisters learn to enjoy their brothers’ ballgames. Brothers learn to enjoy the dance recital. All learn how much it means to have a sibling attend a piano recital, or a school play, or a graduation.
As mentioned, I have four children – one daughter (a rose) amongst three sons (thorns). My daughter learned to dance ballet pretty well over a period of 12 years. My sons used to complain about having to go to her recitals. Now they talk about having their daughters also take ballet. My daughter ended up being a cheerleader at their ballgames. They remain close friends and try to be a part of each others’ lives as often as possible.
Hopefully we have all had some family experience to give us a good foundation. However, all of us can continue to grow our abilities to support by simply following the golden rule – doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
A rather basic and simple approach to supporting others is the giving of praise. The militarily brilliant and much decorated Duke of Wellington was asked late in his years what he would have done differently. He did not say he would have fought the magnificent Battle of Waterloo or any other battle differently. He said quite simply, “I should have given more praise.”
As we practice acting upon the divine urges and inspiration that come to us to support and do good, and they will come, many times daily, our capacity to be an instrument will expand exponentially. All lives together will be blessed. It can come naturally to us, as sons and daughters with divine attributes, if we will keep ourselves aware and involved with others. Captain Eddy Rickenbacker, a World War I ace fighter pilot, and later airline executive said, “There is something more powerful than anybody - -and that is everybody.”
Who do we support? Some groups obviously need our help. Brother Keith Poelman recently received national recognition for his efforts in mentoring over the last 18 months a young man in his early teens whose father is incarcerated. The service has been a blessing to both. The economically and spiritually “poor” are often mentioned in the scriptures, and are somewhat easily identified. However, I submit there are many, many others who are not so easily identified. It takes more than average effort to do as Henry Van Dyke suggested in the previous quote – “to try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy….” I have a friend and college here at the college, a member of the staff and faculty, who has a son that has struggled with addiction, and a spouse who suffers from a chronic debilitating illness. That individual needs our support as much as anyone. However, you probably wouldn’t be able to identify that person by their daily demeanor. You would have to look behind their face to their heart.
In a sentence, every face we meet today may need our support, assistance, and brotherly love.
Let me finish by trying to tie these thoughts to the Atonement.
Perhaps like many of you I have been taught the various facets of the doctrine of the Atonement over many years of Church instruction – that One without blemish, Jesus Christ, volunteered and was chosen to take upon him the sorrows and pains of all earthly inhabitant as payment for individual sin and sickness to satisfy justice. I still can’t comprehend how he did it. It may be a long time yet before I do. They say He did it because He loved you and me. I believe that love can be comprehended by a tender heart as touched by the Holy Ghost, even mine.
I have referred to our hearts. Not to our chest muscle pulsing blood through our veins, but the “heart” often referred to in the scriptures. There are references to “hard hearts,’ proud hearts, one mind and one heart, broken hearts, contrite hearts, tender hearts, pure hearts,etc Additionally, there are various phrases referencing the heart, such as “God can…soften the heart;” “setting the heart upon the things of the world;” “…people have removed their hearts far from Him;” “apply your heart to understanding;” “people of Church should have their hearts knit together in unity;” “blessed is he that believeth without stubbornness of heart;” “have ye experienced a change of heart;” and “sanctification of heart which cometh of yielding one’s heart to God.”
What is this “heart” referred to in the scriptures? To me it is my soul, my conscious being, my lightning rod of love, my garden of testimony wherein the Holy Ghost can plant seeds of eternal principles that grow into feelings of faith that shape my daily actions. It is the tender feelings of my heart, confirmed by the Holy Ghost, which bind me to a desire and faith to keep striving. It is my heart, my lightning rod of love that helps me to understand, comprehend, and feel the love of a Savior.
For me, the Atonement is a doctrine of the Heart. Let me fantasize with you for just a moment. Many of you are familiar with the story of a young man walking along the beach throwing small red crabs back into the surf that had washed up on the sand. He was criticized by a man who thought his efforts were somewhat wasted because of the many thousands of crabs he wouldn’t be able to get to.
Permit me to create another scenario using the principles of that story. Let us imagine the pre-existence and a conversation between the Savior and Lucifer. Lucifer says, “Brother, why would you go through such exquisite pain and suffering for the sins of all mankind when you know there will be numerous hosts of men on earth who will not care, who will not repent or be grateful for your sacrifice, who may not even know who you are?”
I think the Savior might respond as follows: “Lucifer, while it is true that many will not respond to my Sacrifice, I can tell you that Doug Horne will care. Linda Doran will care. Jerry Bryan will care. Cathy Smith will care. Sean Farris will care. Marjean Lake will care. Matt Tittle will care. Sue Hepworth will care. Mike Tracy will care.” I believe the Savior could respond similarly for this entire congregation. I sincerely hope He would be able to say, “And Kitt Finlinson will care.”
If I am to care, I must put the principles of the Atonement to work through my own life. The Atonement came about because One, albeit Supreme, individual did something for other individuals that they couldn’t do for themselves. As one of those blessed recipients, I too must search for opportunities to do something for others that, perhaps even temporarily, they can’t seem to do for themselves. I must lose my life in service for the benefit of others, even if sometimes they don’t seem to care. I must go often to the House of Heavenly Father and His Son, even the temple where their presence can be felt in my heart. I must put my heart into the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Putting one’s heart into the Atonement. Commencement at our school was held this past Thursday. Shortly before commencement day, I asked one of my students if he was going to have family coming to see him graduate. He indicated that his father was near death from cancer, and his mother didn’t dare leave their home in Idaho Falls for fear the father would pass away while she was gone. To my surprise, after the commencement proceedings , Ben introduced me to his mother. A very emotional mother explained to me that her beloved, dying husband had requested that she represent both of them at the graduation, something he could not do himself, and if he were to pass away, he would do so a happy man. He just wanted his son Ben to have family support.
A week or so before commencement, another student wrote me a note at the bottom of his last exam apologizing for his poor performance indicating that he had been having some serious bouts with depression, and that he had planned his suicide for the day of the test. However, one of his friends, undoubtedly through inspiration, discovered his plan, and intervened preventing the tragedy. I tried to find him, but ended up only being able to contact him through email, asking him to come see me and let me help somehow. He responded that his friends had rallied around, contacted his bishop, and he thought he was past the worst part.
May we be able to “look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy” perhaps being able to support and assist in a way that they can’t do for themselves thereby emulating our Savior and His Atonement, is my prayer.
Explorers of Light
It’s an honor to be with you today. As I’ve pondered over the last several weeks about what I would say, I have felt the Spirit enlighten my mind and my testimony has been strengthened.
As a designer I work with color on a psychological level to create the right sense and feeling in a space. Color is very personal to each one of us. Our reaction to color is almost instantaneous and has a profound impact on the choices we make every day. What is your favorite color?
Red = energy, holidays, passion, suffering, too much can raise blood pressure
Pink = soft, happy, sweet, too much can weaken people
Orange = happy, ambition, flamboyant
Yellow = cheerful, optimistic, improves creativity, too much causes babies to cry.
Green = growth, nature, money calming
Blue = calming, loyal, productive, cold
Violet = royalty, sophistication, wisdom, too much seems artificial
Brown = natural, reliable, friendship, too much can bring us down
Why do you like a certain color and what experience led you to like one color over another?
Each color correlates with a feeling or sensory response. Each one of us has a slightly different response to each color, based on our life experience.
Where does color come from?
Our modern understanding of light and color begins with Isaac Newton and a series of experiments he published over 300 years ago. He was the first to understand the rainbow. He refracted white light with a prism, which separated it into its component colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.
This is the visible spectrum of light, which is part of the everyday vocabulary of most people. The seven colors of the rainbow paint our world with beauty. The shades and combinations of the seven basic colors yield thousands of colors to thrill and characterize our world.
Thaya Gilmore, wrote in an1990 Ensign article titled “Painter of Light” the following. “Bill L. Hill is an artist with strong feelings about color and light. He believes that color is a channel through which truth can flow with great efficiency. ‘Color,’ he explains, ‘is one of the most pure channels of communication because it is a direct derivative of light.’ An inspired artist can use color to communicate truths that cannot be communicated by music, writing, or any other art.”
Color is a channel through which truth can flow with great efficiency.
Color can also take on a different look, based on what color surrounds it. All colors have their light/dark quality that depends on what company they are surrounded by.
There are two colors we haven’t defined yet; those colors are very significant to our discussion today, but paramount to our spiritual maturity. These colors are white and black, or light and dark
The Nature of White: We consider white a color. It is the composition of all the colors of light. White light is the medium for sight. Even though it contains seven colors, a beam of light appears white. “White as the driven snow - pure, clean, innocent,” “White knight - someone perceived as being good, noble,” “Life, energy, awakening,” “weddings.”
Light is one of the keys to divine revelation. Where there is light, there is God; but the true interpretation of that light is only possible by means of faith.
In the scriptures, white is often used as a symbol of purity. In nature, things appear white because they reflect all colors; whereas things that appear some other color absorb all colors except the color that they appear. Things that appear green absorb all colors of the spectrum except green, which they reflect. White is also indicative of high energy. Astronomers can estimate the surface temperature of stars based on their color. Red stars are the coolest, blue stars are hotter, white stars are the hottest.
In Matthew 17:1 & 2, we read that Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James, and John on the mount.
1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
And in Genesis 1:1, 3&4 we read:
4 And God saw the light, that it wasgood: and God divided the light from the darkness.
The first thing God created was light. In the next verse, "God saw the light, that it was good." This means that light is divine, something that God did that had intrinsic value. The light also divided the darkness; so here is a contrast between light and darkness. They are distinct, separate, not the same. Light stands out as divine good.
The light was both real and symbolic. The real nature of light has physical properties. The academic discipline of physics has discovered many of the characteristics of that created light. Quantum mechanics even deals with the fundamental components of the particle structure of light energy,; so that this light is perceived as a basic building block of atoms. Light is the basis for all physical creation.
Joseph Smith recounts his experience with light in the Joseph Smith History 1:16 & 17:
17 When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Matthew 5:14 tells us, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
When it comes to bad connotations of white, a process called whitewashing is defined as a way to cover up, conceal, or deceive. Attempts to whitewash the devil's world are called “legalistic”. Our Lord Jesus Christ referred to such people as a whitewashed tomb. We read in Matthew 23:27, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Those who attempt to paint their own world or judge the works of others are engaged in legalism. Webster defines “legalism” as ‘strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law, especially to the letter rather than the spirit’.
From a 1984 Ensign talk, Elder Howard W. Hunter said, “The Pharisees were the largest and most influential of the three sects of Judaism at the time of Christ. The main characteristics of the Pharisees were their legalism and their legalistic inflexibility. They were known for their strict accuracy in the interpretation of the law and their scrupulous adherence to living the law in every detail. This caused them to be known as the strictest of Jewish sects in observing their tradition. They shunned the non-Pharisee as being unclean, thereby keeping themselves separated from those they considered to be the common people.”
By concealing or whitewashing our sins or judging others for not keeping the strictest letter of the law we are guilty of legalism.
The color black, on the other hand, is the absence of all color. Black can make other colors appear brighter. Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, and death. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown, like black holes. It usually has a negative connotation. Unless of course when it comes to clothing; black is visually slimming. Examples: Darkness refers to Satan's realm, and the Nature of Darkness.
Going back to the First Vision, we read the contrast and power between light and darkness. As Joseph Smith wrote in his history in Joseph Smith History 1:15 & 16:
15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.“
Later, during the translation of the Book of Mormon, Joseph had a very weak moment, due to peer pressure, when he gave Martin Harris the manuscript that later ended up in the hands of wicked and conspiring men. In D & C 10: 1 & 2, the Lord spoke to Joseph and said:
1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.
2 And you also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened.
Do we ever have weak moments due to peer pressure? Does it bring darkness to our countenance?
We are born with the light of Christ. Because light and dark are distinctly separated, each time we make a bad choice we replace light with darkness, such as:
Rated R movies
Breaking the Word of Wisdom
Cheating on a test
Lying to a friend
We can replace darkness with light or maintain light in our soul by:
Reading the scriptures
Living the Honor Code
Saying personal prayers
As students, faculty, and staff here at LDS Business College, we are invited to live the Title of Honor – formerly known as the Honor Code—to have the Spirit and light in our lives to create a greater discipleship and more rapid learning. This also allows us to be a light to others.
President J. Larry Richards has said “When we fail to live the Title of Honor, it robs the offender and those around them of the Spirit. You don’t have the right to negatively influence the Spirit of those around you.” (President J. Larry Richards, Creating a Culture of Discipleship, 2009)
President Richards also said, “Adhering to the (Title of Honor) is a physical manifestation of a spiritual commitment.” (President J. Larry Richards, Creating a Culture of Discipleship, 2009)
President Henry B. Eyring said this about the Title of Honor: “That helps explain why a college president could care about such personal things as what students wear and how they and their teachers feel about keeping the commandments of God. To some, those would appear as details having nothing to do with education. But they have everything to do with education. Our vision is that the sacrifice of students and of teachers to learn and to teach is immeasurably more likely to bear fruit if the student and the teacher are bathed in the light of Christ. And that light is either invited or turned away by the lives we lead.” (President Henry B. Eyring, 1992)
Have you experienced being around an individual who emits light, or have you been in the presence of someone who actually takes light away from you? A couple of weeks ago I attended a stake priesthood leadership meeting where the second counselor to the stake president shared that there were several occasions when the president had walked from his office and his countenance was darker, based solely on who he was meeting with.
We either reflect light or we absorb light based on our obedience and choices.
President Eyring has also said, “Live so that light may flow into (your) lives, and with it understanding and power to work, to learn, and to live with deep satisfaction. (Henry B. Eyring 1992,)
The famous hymn , “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” (# 335) was written by Philip Bliss over a century ago. He was inspired by a sermon he heard while living in Chicago. In that sermon, the preacher talked about a ship that was trying to find Cleveland harbor in the midst of a storm at night. The captain could see the lighthouse. As he drew near, he shouted to the lighthouse keeper, "Is this Cleveland?"
The lighthouse keeper shouted back, "Quite true, sir."
The captain asked, "Where are the lower lights?"
The lighthouse keeper said, "They have gone out. Can you make the harbor?"
The captain replied, "We must, or we will perish!" With that he sailed his ship into the harbor, passed the lighthouse, missed the channel, and was dashed against the rocks. It was a terrible tragedy and many people were killed.
The lower lights are the lights away from the lighthouse that illuminate the water line. They're the lights that enable vessels to come into the harbor at night, through a narrow channel of the harbor's mouth.
The Lord will take care of the lighthouse. Let us keep the lower lights burning."
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning
Philip P. Bliss, 1871
Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.
Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.
We are “A Light and a Beacon” to our classmates, roommates, families, and the world. As you leave this room today ask yourself this final question , “Do I shine a light for the world to see?”
Ponder these things and pray about them to know for yourself the importance of having light in your life. As you do so, you will be filled with light and knowledge.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
"My Country ‘Tis of Thee" Homelands and Loyalty
We have just celebrated July 4th, the Birthday of the United States of America. Many here at LDSBC are from countries other than the United States. This song and my message could also for the most part apply to your country. Not only is this message about a land, but it is also about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
1. My country,' tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountainside let freedom ring!
2. My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills, like that above.
3. Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.
4. Our fathers' God, to thee,
Author of liberty, to thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by thy might, great God, our King.
Each of us has a special place in our heart for where we were born and or grew up. We love to go back to our birth Place. Mine is Manti Utah. After I left home I used to love to go back and stay with my parents. I loved to go the mountains that I roamed as a boy. After sister Dyreng and I were married we took our children camping in those mountains. Even after my parents died and all of my family was gone from Manti, I still love to go back there.
We still try and go down every year to the Mormon Miracle Pageant and also my parents are buried there. I believe that everyone here feels the same way about where you were born.
Even in nature we see this process as animals return to where they were born. Salmon spawning, geese migrating, sea turtles, penguins, whales and seals among others possess a strong attraction to their birthplace.
In Scripture we find the same phenomenon. In Omni 1: 27-30 we read:
27 And now I would speak somewhat concerning a certain anumber who went up into the wilderness to breturn to the cland of Nephi; for there was a large number who were desirous to possess the land of their inheritance.
28 Wherefore, they went up into the wilderness. And their leader being a strong and mighty man, and a stiff-necked man, wherefore he caused a contention among them; and they were aall slain, save fifty, in the wilderness, and they returned again to the land of Zarahemla.
29 And it came to pass that they also took others to a considerable number, and took their journey again into the wilderness.
30 And I, Amaleki, had a brother, who also went with them; and I have not since known concerning them. And I am about to lie down in my grave; and athese plates are full. And I make an end of my speaking.
We find another account of the same event in Mosiah 9:3-6
3 And yet, I being aover-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our bjourney into the wilderness to go up to the land; but we were smitten with famine and sore afflictions; for we were slow to remember the Lord our God.
4 Nevertheless, after many days’ wandering in the wilderness we pitched our tents in the place where our brethren were slain, which was near to the land of our fathers.
5 And it came to pass that I went again with four of my men into the city, in unto the king, that I might know of the disposition of the king, and that I might know if I might go in with my people and possess the land in peace.
6 And I went in unto the king, and he covenanted with me that I might possess the aland of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom.
I would expect that every man and woman would be loyal to his/her native land, the land in which he was born, the land in which he lives, works, and rears his family. Article of Faith 12 says: ……….There is also a stanza by Sir Walter Scott in “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”
“Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
My wife Betty and I had been on a very difficult mission in a foreign land and about two month before we were to come home we were traveling from a meeting. When we got to the airport for our return back to our assignment we saw a plane with the United States of America on the side. I cannot describe the feelings that welled up in our hearts with that sight.
What I am saying is that we all have innately in us a love of the land in which we were born. Today we are talking about the United States and its Birthday and Destiny, as well as the destiny of North and South America.
Now, this land of America or the Americas has a scriptural destiny. Many of the following ideas are taken from a talk given by President N. Eldon Tanner a counselor in the First Presidency and found in the Ensign magazine in May of 1976.
The discovery of America and, I may add, the timing of the discovery was not an accident. The event had been foreordained in the councils of heaven. The prophets of old knew of it. When Jacob blessed Joseph he said “ Genesis 49: 22 aJoseph is a fruitful bbough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose cbranches drun over the wall:
23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from athence is the bshepherd, the cstone of Israel:)
25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the aAlmighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the bwomb:
26 The ablessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the butmost bound of the everlasting chills: they shall be on the head of dJoseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
Moses too made promises to the tribe of Joseph, whose land, America, was to be precious for the things of heaven and of earth and who would “push the people together to the ends of the earth.” Deut. 33: 13 ¶ And of aJoseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his bland, for the cprecious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,
14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,
15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting ahills,
16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the abush: let the bblessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
17 His aglory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of bunicorns: with them he shall cpush the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of dEphraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
The Book of Mormon tells of the Jaredites being commanded to leave the old world and come to a Land of “Promise.” Ether 2: 7 And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the aland of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had bpreserved for a righteous people.
8 And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should aserve him, the true and only God, or they should be bswept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be aswept off when the fulness of his bwrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are cripened in iniquity.
10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be aswept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the bfulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are cswept off.
11 And this cometh unto you, O ye aGentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the bwrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be afree from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but bserve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, a prophet by the name of Lehi, who had been crying repentance to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, was commanded by the Lord to depart with his family into the wilderness. Because of the things which he had testified concerning the wickedness of the people and the pending destruction of Jerusalem, he was mocked and scorned, and the people sought to take his life. In obedience to the Lord’s instructions, he departed with his family and others, taking with him nothing save it were “his family, and provisions, and tents and departed into the wilderness.” After a period of time he also was commanded to build a ship and sail for the “Promised Land.” 1 Nephi 17:
8 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt aconstruct a ship, after the bmanner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. 1Nephi 18: 23 And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days *we did arrive at the apromised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.
The Lord is always in charge and He uses who He will to bring about His purposes. While in the wilderness Nephi, the son of Lehi was permitted to see in vision the things that would transpire concerning the destiny of America-The Promised Land. He said, 1Nephi 13:
12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and awrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
14 And it came to pass that I beheld many amultitudes of the Gentiles upon the bland of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were cscattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and aobtain the bland for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and cbeautiful, like unto my people before they were dslain.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was awith them.
17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
This refers to Columbus, the Pilgrims, and the Revolutionary war. We know that it was not by accident that Columbus discovered America. Columbus himself, in a letter to the Spanish hierarchy, wrote, “Our Lord unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my enterprise called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed. But who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me?” (Quoted in Mark E. Petersen, The Great Prologue, Deseret Book Co. 1975 p. 26)
During the voyage, after weeks of sailing with no sign of land, mutiny raised its ugly head. Finally, Columbus promised the captains of the Pinta and the Nina, both of whom wanted to turn back, that if no land was sighted in forty-eight hours, they would turn back. Then he went to his cabin and, in his words, “prayed mightily to the Lord.” On October 12, the very next day they sighted land.
Nephi saw in vision also the coming of the Pilgrims, who came to escape religious persecution. He foresaw the coming to America of peoples from many nations, their wars and contentions. As Nephi Said, they did humble themselves before the Lord and “the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. 1 Nephi 13: 18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together aagainst them to battle.
19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were adelivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.
We now pay tribute to those great men who accepted and met the challenge to establish a constitution for the government of this new land, “THIS LAND OF PROMISE.” That this too was divinely inspired is attested by the word of the Lord when he said D&C101:
77 According to the laws and aconstitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the brights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral aagency which I have given unto him, that every man may be baccountable for his own sins in the day of cjudgment.
79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in abondage one to another.
80 And for this purpose have I established the aConstitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the bshedding of blood.
No constitution on earth has endured longer than this one. We seek, and usually find, the answers to today’s questions in this document of yesterday. It was and is a miracle. Both Washington and Madison referred to it as such. It is an inspired document written under the guidance of the Lord. James Madison, commonly called the father of the Constitution, recognized this inspiration and gave credit to “the guardianship and guidance of the Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising republic.” (Peterson, Prologue P.95)
One must also not the place of many who gave their lives in the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, Wycliffe, Huss, Sweendley and others. These events could not have taken place had not Gutenberg invented movable type and the printing press. He printed the Gutenberg bible which made it possible for the common man to read the scriptures. They now could plainly see that what was being taught by the religion of the day was in error.
It is interesting that so soon after the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War that the first vision happened. The sequence of these events, their fulfillment of Prophesy, and the subsequent restoration of the Gospel are not by accident.
It is an amazing things that began to happen in the world now that the light of Christ was again on the earth. When Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden, he walked.
When Joseph went to the sacred grove and the hill Cumorah he walked. Almost immediately the advances in science were astounding.
Steam Engines, internal combustion engines, flight, jet planes, space flight, satellites, communication and the internet.
With all of these advancements, there is one purpose. That is so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can go to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
So today as we honor and celebrate the Birthday of the United States of America, let us REMEMBER that God’s hand was in it for a wise purpose. May we know that God is in charge and may we do our part to serve the God of this land who is Jesus Christ is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Preparation: A Learning Model Discovery
Speaking to the sisters of the Church, President Monson, quoted a line from “Fiddler on the Roof” when Tevye cautioned his daughters, “Remember, in Anatevka … everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”
President Monson said (speaking to all of us), “You know who you are and what God expects you to become.”
He continues, “We do live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. Statistics reveal that at some time, for a variety of reasons, you may find yourself in the role of financial provider. I urge you to pursue your education and learn marketable skills so that, should such a situation arise, you are prepared to provide.”
The LDS Business College Learning Model is built around principles taught by the master teacher himself, Jesus Christ. This model is based on the scripture found in Doctrine & Covenants 109:7 –
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith.
As you embrace and apply the learning model, your education will be valuable to you regardless of your major or what your future brings.
As you will notice, the base of the Learning Model is Preparation.
You have prepared yourself to be worthy to attend LDS Business College (that is truly an ongoing process). Many of you have faced or may still be facing great challenges in your lives—challenges that are unique to you.
Being worthy to be here doesn’t mean that you are perfect, but it does mean that you are striving. Striving to live with honor and with integrity so that the Lord can rely on you to “do what you said you would” and to start the process of becoming who the Lord wants you to become.
In Mathew 25, the parable of the Ten Virgins the Lord speaks of five wise and five foolish. As we all know, in that parable the Lord is speaking to all of us—young and old, rich and poor, male and female.
President Spencer W. Kimball shared the following insights about that parable:
“I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ and not the rank and file of the world . . . they were knowing people who were foolishly unprepared for the vital happenings that were to affect their eternal lives.
“Rushing for their lamps to light their way through the blackness, half of them found them empty (without oil). They had cheated themselves.
At midnight! Precisely at the darkest hour, when least expected, the bridegroom came. . . But when the cry sounds, there is no time for preparation.
The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . .
This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. How can one share obedience? How can one share the accumulation of knowledge? How can one share faith or testimony? How can one share attitude? . . .
Each must obtain that kind of oil for himself.
In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop”
I believe that each of the ten virgins was a good person. They simply procrastinated.
Long before the moment of decision, five of the virgins behaved carelessly, thinking they had plenty of time to prepare.
On the other hand, five of the virgins were prepared.
I recently watched a movie called “Forever Strong.” For those of you who have not seen it, it is a movie about the Highland Rugby team coached by Larry Gelwix.
I was deeply struck by the major focus on preparation throughout this movie (which is inspired by Coach Gelwix and his team’s story).
I was moved that so many young men have been willing to give their all to play rugby for Coach Gelwix, even though it required demanding and difficult preparation.
I would like to make some comparisons between the Highland Rugby Team – and the LDS Business College Team.
First, the Highland rugby team, in Coach Gelwix’s words, “has a very strict code of conduct . . . and we enforce our rules. Players are expected to refrain from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, rowdy behavior, and any unseemly conduct. In fact, our broad team rule is that team members do not do anything that would embarrass them, their family, the team, or their faith.” He says that they talk at length about honor and integrity and that his players would never do anything to dishonor the team.
I believe that honor and integrity are a vital part of an LDSBC education. We have the opportunity to develop both secular and spiritual knowledge. Think how great it will be as each of us is committed to live our honor code with exactness and determine never to let down our classmates, our teachers, or the Lord. If you didn’t realize it yet, LDS Business College is a team sport.
Second, the rugby program “values the one.” The team is open to all. Coach Gelwix says he does not “cut” any players. Every player who is willing to work hard and do what is asked of him stays on the team.
Coach Gelwix values each player on his team. He tells them, “Don’t waste a lot of time comparing yourself to someone else. You will always find someone who is bigger, faster, stronger, or smarter than you. Focus on “you”—where you are and where you want to be tomorrow.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said that those who reach out to lift and serve others will “come to know a happiness … never known before. … Heaven knows there are so very, very, very many people . . . who need help. Oh, so very . . . many. Let’s get the cankering, selfish attitude out of our lives, my brothers and sisters, and stand a little taller and reach a little higher in the service of others.”
At LDS Business College, we value each individual who wishes to learn and be part of the LDSBC family. Any student who is willing to put forth their best effort will find that teachers, classmates, and especially the Lord are there to “make up the difference” and to help them begin to see their potential.
Our students come from many areas of the world with different cultural and educational backgrounds. If you look you can always find those who are more prepared, smarter, quicker to learn, and more spiritual than you. However, you are NOT alone. Despite your differences, each of you is a child of God. Just focus on “you”—where you are and where you want to be tomorrow—next month—next year—in eternity.
No matter where you start out, we believe the as we use the learning model, “ . . he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are aedified and brejoice together” (D&C 50:22). Also in D&C 84: 106, 110: “And if any man among you be astrong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is bweak, that he may be cedified in all dmeekness, that he may become strong also. . . . Also the body hath need of every amember, that all may be bedified together . . .”
Third, being on the rugby team requires diligence and just plain hard work—but it is teamwork. Each team member works with other team members to lift each other up, but also to challenge each team member to work hard and increase their individual strength and talent in order to reach their potential.
Getting an education at LDSBC is hard work, but by “seek(ing) diligently and [then by] teaching one another . . . [then we can together]. . seek learning . . . by study and also by faith.” Each of us has the opportunity to prepare individually, but also to help and encourage others to prepare themselves to improve their individual abilities.
When Brother Gelwix’s son was in the 9th grade he told him that he didn’t care what kind of grades he got. His son got a big smile on his face and was probably thinking: “hey this is going to be a piece of cake—no worries.”
But then brother Gelwix went on to tell him that what he did expect was much more difficult than that. He said, “What I care about is you attitude and your effort. You see, son, attitude and effort are much more important than natural talent or natural intelligence. You will succeed more on attitude and effort than you will on natural talent or smarts.”
He continued: “Let’s say you come home with D a in a class and you look me in the eye and say ‘I did the very best I could. I did all of my homework, I never missed a class, I went to the teacher or a tutor for help. I did everything I possibly could and that is the best I can do in this subject.’ I would be ok with that. I’m simply asking you to do your personal best.”
“On the other hand,” he said, “if you come home with an “A” and you didn’t earn it—you just slid by. You and I have a serious problem. I don’t care about the grade, I care about the attitude and the effort. I care about the work ethic—that you do everything you can.”
What great counsel that is for all of us. Do everything you can—give it your very best. Try hard, have a good attitude, be diligent, and have faith that things will work out.
If you do those things, I have confidence that the Lord will be by your side and help you succeed.
As we make our very best effort, it is important to remember the scripture in Mosiah 4:27:
“And see that all these things are done in wisdom and aorder; for it is not requisite that a man should run bfaster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”
The key word there is “diligence.” That word, by definition, means “quietly and steadily persevering” or “constant and persistent effort to accomplish something”
Preparation starts with a willingness to try something new, or take the first step. It’s important that we realize that half the work to getting a job done is just getting started.
D&C 130: 20-21 reads – Whatever principle of aintelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the bresurrection.
And if a person gains more aknowledge and intelligence in this life through his bdiligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the cadvantage in the world to come.
What a blessing it is to be here at LDS Business College where we can study and learn by combining secular knowledge with the truths of the Gospel – a magical combination that when studied and pondered truly help us “learn wisdom.”
Attitude is such an important part of preparation.
Elder Hugh B. Brown said, “We come to school to learn, not to be taught. All learning is done as we desire it.”
Elder Holland shared the following thought:
“What do you do when you come to a class . . . and somebody says by their body language, ‘I defy you to teach me. I am going to slump in this chair, and I am going to sit with my head down, and I’m going to look at my shoes. And when I look at you, I’m going to scowl.’ ”
We’ve probably all seen situations like this in a classroom—we may even have been the face behind the scowl. Each of us needs an attitude adjustment once in a while.
President Monson counseled, “Adequate preparation enhances the ability to think and to decide. We find many people who are willing to alibi or who make excuse for a failure.”
He continues, “I plead with you to choose the hard way and tax your talents. Our Heavenly Father will make you equal to your tasks. If one should stumble, if one should take a course and get less than the “A” grade desired, I hope such a one will not let it become a discouraging thing to him. I hope that he will rise and try again.”
We must each take responsibility for our own learning. As much as your instructors would love to open up your brain and pour knowledge into it—it just doesn’t work that way. That is not the Lord’s plan. It is only when we combine humility, attitude, and sincere effort we are truly teachable:
Part of Alma 7: 23 reads, “And now I would that ye should be ahumble, and be bsubmissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; . . .asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.”
A poem by Edgar A. Guest reads:
You are the person who has to decide.
Whether you'll do it or toss it aside;
You are the person who makes up your mind.
Whether you'll lead or will linger behind.
Whether you'll try for the goal that's afar.
Or just be contented to stay where you are.
The Lord needs a strong people; therefore, he wants us to learning how to be diligent and to do our best and then rely on Him. Because he loves us, he refines us and he wants us to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Even with our best preparation, life will not always be smooth.
In 1998, Elder Robert D. Hales read the following letter written by a young woman named Elizabeth Merkley. She writes about the lessons she has learned in her struggle to recover from an automobile accident in which she received severe head injuries:
“I didn’t know how strong I was until the spring of 1996. The incidents of one afternoon completely changed my expectations of how my education would proceed.
One minute I was on a path to my future, much like every other high school student. The next minute life was no longer ordinary for me. I was on my way to strengthening myself in ways I would never have guessed. … I was on a road to relearning instead of learning. . .
I relearned how to eat; swallowing . . . food . . . was a hard task that I had to relearn. I went from the bed to a wheelchair to standing and walking in over a five-month period.
I have learned many great truths from my diverse trials this past year. Prayers are really answered. Fasting is a power in my family. Love has kept me alive …
I have learned what I can tolerate. … Throughout all of this I have learned that I am a lot stronger than I thought.
I have learned that if you need help, it is OK to ask for it; we all have our limits, strengths, and weaknesses. … All knowledge … is ‘spendable currency’ for me. Like a baby bird broken from its shell, I am learning to fly again.”
Most of us will not have to work as hard as Elizabeth as we prepare for our future; however, as you prepare with diligence, humility, a positive attitude, and faith, you will see miracles happen in your life.
You will accomplish things you never dreamed you could.
You will learn how to discern truth from error.
You will learn to love your fellow man.
You will truly learn wisdom and will gain confidence in yourself and in your heavenly father.
Hopefully you will better recognize the Lord’s hand in your life and what he has helped you accomplish. As Ammon told his brothers in Alma, Chapter 26: 11-12:
I do not aboast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my bjoy is full, yea, my heart is brim with cjoy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in his dstrength I can do all ethings;
I pray that as you become better acquainted with the learning model and apply it by being humble, honorable, unified, and diligent. I pray that you will “seek learning by study and also by faith.” When you do that, you will truly be on the path to becoming all that the Lord wants you to become.