G. Scott Spendlove

12 Jun. 2018

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Diana Zuniga quoteSister Spendlove quoteScott Spendlove quote

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Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

by President G. Scott Spendlove

It is remarkable to have the privilege and opportunity to stand at this pulpit on Temple Square in this beautiful historic building and spend some time together. I feel very privilege and blessed for that opportunity. We have loved serving here. We’ve had amazing and remarkable experiences. It is an understatement to say that we are going to miss it. We love our missionaries. We love the work they do. We love you. We’re grateful to associate with so many amazing people. I’m just really glad to be with you today.

I pray, brothers and sisters, that what I say may have some impact on you, and that it will bless and inspire you as you seek to better yourselves, so you can better the world.

I’m a big fan of LDS Business College. Like LDS Business College’s students, our missionaries come from all over the world and the United States. Here they serve as full-time missionaries and gain experiences seeing how the Church functions in the heart of the Church. They then return home and are a huge blessing to their communities and countries. 

You, too, come from all over the world and the United States to gain education and training that you will take back with you to build and bless your communities and countries. In fact, many of our former missionaries come back to Salt Lake City to study at LDS Business College and I love it! There are a few of them here today.

Notice that I have not mentioned coming to LDSBC to build a career, earn a living or to become successful, rich or famous. Most of you will work hard and use your education from LDS Business College to provide a comfortable living for you and your family. Some of you may go on to become rich and successful as measured by the world. And, who knows, maybe one or two of you might even go on to become famous! Please avoid infamy—it’s still fame, but it’s the wrong kind.

But worldly success, riches and fame should not be your motivation for gaining an education. Those things are really very hard to define and can be quite fleeting. Rather, you should gain your education to serve others and to better the world. In the process of serving others and bettering the world, you will find that you will be blessed with secure employment and financial compensation sufficient for your needs and, perhaps, even beyond your needs to be able to help others with their wants and needs. That’s when you’ll find true joy, peace and happiness—when what you do for a living blesses the lives of others. It truly is better to give than to receive.

It’s important to remember that you were put on this earth at this time “to be an influence for good in helping to build the kingdom of God and prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Savior” (For the Strength of Youth, iii).

Those are the words of the First Presidency in the introductory message to the youth of the Church as found in For the Strength of Youth. It was written to you, to your generation. It comes from our Father in Heaven to you through His prophets, seers and revelators. This latest edition of For the Strength of Youth was first published in 2001, not long after most of you were born. So even though you are no longer considered “Youth” in the broad sense we use in the Church, this charge—this core purpose for your life—is still yours. 

Listen to it again. You are “to be an influence for good in helping to build the kingdom of God and prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Savior.”

What does that mean? How will you do that? How does that fit into your dreams, your plans, your desires? Can you really do both—can you have a rewarding, fulfilling career and realize your dreams while still building the kingdom of God and preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior?

You absolutely can and that’s what I want to talk about today.

I greatly appreciate the stated mission of LDS Business College. It was on the screen when you came in: “To develop capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ.” In that is everything I want to share with you today. 

A disciple of Jesus Christ is a student of Christ; a believer in Christ; a follower of Christ and a laborer with Christ. A disciple of Jesus Christ is “an influence for good in helping to build the kingdom of God and prepar[ing] the world for the Second Coming of the Savior.” Capable, trusted, faithful disciples of Jesus Christ live the gospel each day in order to help others become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ (see Handbook 2: Administering the Church, chapter 3, 3.1, “The Savior’s Way of Leading”).

Following His example, disciples of Jesus Christ are full of love and compassion for others. Disciples of Jesus Christ seek and obey the Father’s will in all things. Disciples of Jesus Christ are completely committed to His sacred mission – to bring God’s children back to Him. Disciples of Jesus Christ love the scriptures and use them to teach and testify of His mission and build and strengthen themselves and others. And disciples of Jesus Christ live what He taught – to pray to the Father; to love and serve others and to live His gospel by the way He lived (“Introduction: Teaching in the Savior’s Way,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way (2015). That’s why He invites, “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).  

As you gain your education and prepare to go out into the world, remember that your greatest ambition and dream should be discipleship.

I am so grateful for the Savior’s teachings in Matthew chapters 24 and 25 in the New Testament because they speak to us about discipleship in our day. 

In Matthew 24, the Savior is asked the question, “Tell us…, what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). 

Jesus then describes the day in which we now find ourselves. He warns at least four times against deception, cautioning that it’s possible that even the very elect will be deceived. He speaks of wars and rumors of wars, famines and pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places. He warns of hate and envy and strife. He speaks of the love of many waxing cold and of other calamities and wickedness that will attend our day. He also promises that the Gospel will be on the earth and preached to those who will listen. Powerfully, He teaches that, if we will treasure up His words, we will not be deceived (Joseph Smith–Matthew 1:37).

Then, as recorded in Matthew 25, the Savior gives three parables meant to teach us what we should be found doing as we build the kingdom of God in these last days and prepare the world for His Second Coming. I call these the Parables of Intentional Discipleship—of being purposed-filled and purpose-driven disciples of Jesus Christ.

The first parable is the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). In this parable, we learn that we should be expecting the return of the Savior and that we should each be prepared for the time of His coming by having our own lamps trimmed and full of oil, because we cannot in that day (which is this day) borrow the light of another. The drops of oil that fill our lamps and give us our own light to walk by as disciples of Jesus Christ come through our daily living of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Living the Gospel begins with faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement and repenting daily to constantly align our will with God’s. We make and keep sacred covenants. We do what it takes to be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, and we endure to the end – growing through trials and challenges and calling upon the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ to help us climb the mountains in our life that otherwise won’t move.

Filling our lamps with oil also includes the small and simple things like personal, daily prayer; daily feasting on the words of Christ through scripture study and application – especially from the Book of Mormon; simple obedience; worthily partaking of the sacrament each week; worshiping in the temple; honoring the priesthood; giving heed to living prophets, seers and revelators; humbly listening and responding to the promptings of the Holy Ghost; and placing the wisdom of Heavenly Father above our own (see For the Strength of Youth, 42-43). 

The second parable of intentional discipleship is the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In this parable we learn that we are each given a certain number of talents “to every man according to his several ability” (Matthew 25:15). The Lord then expects us to take those talents we’ve been given and put them to work to build the kingdom of God and return to Him more than He gave us to begin with. We are to work with our talents and increase them. We are to seek “earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given” (D&C 46:8). Those who bury their talents are counted as “wicked and slothful servants,” (Matthew 25:26) while those who increase in their talents and return even more to the Lord are blessed. “Well done, good and faithful servant,” He will say in that day. “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).

The final parable of intentional discipleship is the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). This is my favorite of the three parables of intentional discipleship because it so plainly and clearly lays out what we should, when the Savior comes again, be found doing to inherit the Kingdom of God. As disciples of Jesus Christ and builders of His kingdom, preparing the world for His Second Coming, we are to give meat to the hungry and drink to the thirsty; take in strangers; clothe the naked; visit the sick and go into the prisoners (Matthew 25:35-36).

While there is certainly ample opportunity for us to care for the poor and the needy and the sick and the afflicted in their temporal afflictions, I particularly love to consider these things in spiritual terms and recognize that the Savior has provided the remedy for each of these spiritual maladies:

Who do you know who is spiritually hungry? He is the Bread of Life! (John 6:35).

Who do you know who is spiritually thirsty? He is the Living Water! (see John 4).

Who do you know who is spiritually a stranger? He calls the faithful His friends (D&C 84:63; see also John 15:13-15).

Who do you know who is spiritually naked? “Consider the lilies of the field...” (3 Nephi 13:28).

Who do you know who is spiritually sick? He is the Master Healer (see “Jesus Christ – the Master Healer”, Russell M. Nelson, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference, October 2005).

Who do you know who is spiritually in prison? He has burst open the prison doors! (see 2 Nephi 9:10-12).

I invite you—in all your learning and seeking—to remember these things. Make them a priority. Put them first in your life. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (3 Nephi 13:33). Build your life in such a way that you can, as a trusted and capable disciple of Jesus Christ, be an influence for good in the world, build the kingdom of God and prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Savior. 

The greatest and most important work you will ever do in building the kingdom of God and preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior will be in your own home as you and your husband or wife raise your family in love and righteousness. Husbands and wives becoming faithful disciples of Jesus Christ in order to help their children become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ is a solemn responsibility and a sacred duty (See “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

I invite you, right now, to envision your family—your husband or wife and your children—and promise yourself that you will never make a choice or a decision that would hurt them. Live for them now. Love them now. Make choices today that will bless them tomorrow. Lay down your life for them. It’s the greatest love you can have for them (see John 15:13).

Then, beyond the walls of your own home, lose yourself every day in the service of others. Make your studies part of serving others. Gain an education and invest in yourself but not just for yourself. From my alma mater, “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” 

Live a life of service as the Savior did. Live a life of discipleship. Give meat and drink to the spiritually hungry and thirsty. Take in spiritual strangers. Clothe the spiritually naked. Visit the spiritually sick. Go into the spiritually imprisoned (see Matthew 25:35-36). 

Make these things your vision and your greatest ambition. Let them motivate and drive you. Become intentional disciples of Jesus Christ—men and women built for others (from Marx, Jeffrey. Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood. Simon & Schuster, 2004). Be a light unto the world!  Use your talents in ways that bless and build others including your own families.  And seek to minister to and bless others in all you do by helping others come unto Christ.  Then, how great shall be your joy with them in the Kingdom of God (D&C 18:10-16).

“OK, President Spendlove… I hear you.  Really? You’re telling me to put these things first? I’m barely scraping by right now as it is! I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with my life. I’ve got a lot to figure out. I don’t even know how I’m going to pay rent this month. And Mom and Dad are really pressuring me to get married but I can barely find time to even date! Besides, I’m a returned missionary and I’ve already put God first for all that time. I need a break! Put the kingdom of God first? Really?” 

Yes. Really. Listen to these words of the Savior found in 3 Nephi 13:

“Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

“Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;

“And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.

“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field…, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (3 Nephi 13:25-31, emphasis added). [Or what shall I study or who shall I date or where shall I work or what shall I do with my life?]

Then the Savior speaks some of the most tender words in all of scripture:

“For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (3 Nephi 13:32).

And then this great promise:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (3 Nephi 13:33).

My dear young brothers and sisters, I testify to you—from my own and often-repeated experiences—that this is true! If you will put the kingdom of God first in your life, your Heavenly Father will bless you with all that you truly need and with what He knows will be best for you. You must seek and accept His will in your life in all things.

Make the solemn responsibility and sacred duty of raising your family in righteousness your first priority—your first motive for all you undertake to do with your life. Then, beyond your own family, live a life of discipleship and service as men and women built for others.

Get your education; seek for meaningful employment; be the best you can be in all you undertake or accept to do. But always have your eye single to the glory of God (D&C 4:5). Then watch what He does with your life.

I walked away from my position as the chief financial officer at a large oil refining and marketing company four years ago while serving as a stake president because the Lord made it clear to me that He wanted me to. It wasn’t easy to unexpectedly leave behind something I loved and had built over nearly three decades. But I clearly heard the voice of the Lord and chose to put Him first. Six months to the day after I retired, I was set apart by President Russell M. Nelson as President of the Utah Salt Lake City Mission – a calling we had accepted with just three weeks’ notice. As a couple and a family, all our wants and needs have been met as we’ve served the Lord in this capacity and we couldn’t be more blessed. But, in this service, we have also seen our wants and needs refined to what the Lord wants for us and sees we need.

We put the Lord first and He has blessed us in ways we never would have imagined. I promise you that He will do the same for you as you put Him and His kingdom first in your life. 

Ultimately, putting Him and His kingdom first comes down to your vision and your purpose in life. What are you doing and why are you doing it? If what you do and why you do it is grounded in discipleship and being an influence for good in building the kingdom of God and preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior, then you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the other things pertaining to your life will be given to you as Heavenly Father sees fit. That’s the Savior’s promise in 3 Nephi 13.  

I conclude with this powerful promise, found at the end of For the Strength of Youth, given especially to you and your generation from prophets, seers and revelators. Here is what is says:

“As you do these things [seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and do the small and simple things He invites you to do], the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you. He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and challenges. You will gain a stronger testimony and find true joy as you come to know your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and feel Their love for you” (For the Strength of Youth, 43, emphasis added).

That is one of the most powerful promises ever given to this generation. I testify to you that it is true. If you will do the things He asks you to do, He will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself. He will increase your opportunities, expand your vision, and strengthen you, and He will give you the help you need to meet your trials and your challenges. I’ve seen this in my life; in the lives of my wife and my children and in the lives of our missionaries.

You can choose God and His “unlimited wisdom and omnipotence” over your “own limited knowledge and power” (L. Tom Perry, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference, April 2014, “Obedience through Our Faithfulness”). Then the Lord will make much more out of your life than you can by yourself as you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, truly love Him, and intentionally serve Him as capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

In the Strength of the Lord, I Can Do All Things

by Sister Kariane Spendlove

Good morning. This is a sweet opportunity, to be able to bear testimony here in this beautiful, beautiful, historic Assembly Hall, and to think of all the testimonies which have been given and all the strength that we have from our pioneer forebears. I’m grateful for the strength that I feel by having my family here, our current missionaries, former missionaries, and all of you who have come to learn by the Spirit, because the Spirit is here. I feel it a great privilege to be able to testify of our Savior Jesus Christ and of His work and our Father’s work, to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39) of all of Heavenly Father’s children.

Our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has told us that all of God’s children are wanted home. He says that the fondest hope of our Father is that all of His children return home to Him (see “Begin Missionary Work with the End in Mind, Says Elder Nelson,” 24 June 2014, Church News). And we know that that is made possible in and through our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the Way. His way is always the best, and He will lead us and guide us back to our Father in Heaven, if we will walk as His disciples daily, putting our hand in His, trusting Him to help us, to forgive us, to strengthen us to make this journey.

I have been richly blessed to be able to be a full-time missionary this past three years in the great Utah Salt Lake City Mission. It is a lifelong dream and desire of my heart, and I’m so grateful that I had this opportunity. I have learned many, many things, but one thing I know is that “I can do all things through Christ [who] strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

I’d just like to finish my testimony with the beautiful last verse of the opening hymn that we sang:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose [this is the Savior speaking]

I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake! (“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, No. 85).

And I say this in his sacred name, Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

G. Scott Spendlove is currently serving as president of the Utah Salt Lake City Mission. Before his call as mission president, he was serving as stake president of the San Antonio Texas North Stake.

He retired as the chief financial officer for Tesoro Corporation, a Fortune 100 oil refining and marketing company, just six months before his call to serve as mission president. His retirement was unexpected but clearly directed by the Lord and preparatory to his call as mission president.

President Spendlove has an undergraduate degree in accounting from BYU and an MBA from California State University, Fresno. His career included roles in corporate planning, investor relations, finance, treasury, the controller’s office and in risk management. He was asked to lead several projects including leading the effort to secure sites and plan and construct Tesoro’s corporate headquarters and corporate aircraft facilities in San Antonio, Texas.

President Spendlove is a former stake president, stake presidency counselor, bishop, stake Young Men president, ward Young Men president and missionary in the Italy Catania Mission. An Eagle Scout, he has served as council commissioner and on the board of directors for the Alamo Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and is the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. He also serves on the BYU School of Management’s National Advisory Council.

President Spendlove was born in Salt Lake City to George Paul Spendlove and Louise Prestwich Spendlove but raised in southern California. He and Sister Spendlove have five children and four grandchildren.

Jonathan Johnson

15 May. 2018

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 Ruby Berntsen quoteJonathan Johnson quote

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Using a New-Net to Become Fishers of Men

Thank you, wonderful choir, for that tremendous music. I had come and realized in my travel downtown this morning that I had forgotten my handkerchief, and I really regretted that, in the opening song. I love being here. I love and appreciate the invitation that’s been extended, from President Kusch, from the administration and faculty here at LDS Business College. I’ve had a wonderful and warm association and feel a kinship here. But I knew, as soon as “Hope of Israel” was played, that I would have a hard time maintaining my emotion, especially as I—excuse me, brothers and sisters—had the association or the opportunity to associate with a few of you, prior to this devotional beginning.

I find my fuel as I speak comes from my association with you and the energy that you possess, and I feel it now. I so appreciate, as I look out over you, the goodness you possess. I’m grateful for the message of that wonderful song that was sung, and the simple declaration that I know He lives, and that I know He loves me. What tremendous messages are contained in those two most important thoughts. Thank you.

Ruby, where are you? Ruby, thank you. That was just incredible. I appreciated Ruby’s message as well. I think sometimes, if we feel we have made mistakes, or if we have fallen or failed in some way, we are branded, we are labeled, we are broken. And I think sometimes we forget that the only way we grow physiologically is through opposition and through resistance—and at a molecular level, often through tearing is how our muscles rebuild and find the greatest strength. I appreciate Ruby, very much, your inspired words, as a prelude to the thoughts that I wish to share with you.

Every time that I have an opportunity to speak, it’s a little awkward for me, because they insist on reading a bio. I don’t know if you know what it feels like, but it feels like you are attending your own funeral and someone is reading your eulogy. I wonder if it feels that awkward beyond the veil. But I was grateful that this was more of an abbreviated bio. I don’t consider myself, brothers and sisters, anyone of significant consequence any more than I consider you of significant consequence in the Lord’s work. But I do not feel that I am special or unique, except that I have the chance to be with you, and I take seriously the responsibility that is mine today and the obligation that I have. You could be anywhere today, but you are here. I don’t know why you are here, but I am grateful that you are here. I have felt the responsibility of preparing what it is that I might share with you.

I had the opportunity as a missionary in eastern North Carolina to hear from President and Sister Hinckley, when they entered the East Carolina Campus Events Center, where we were eagerly awaiting to hear the prophet and hear from Sister Hinckley. As they walked in, we experienced what you have experienced if you have ever been in the Conference Center before a general conference session or a general priesthood session or women’s conference session—the hush that comes over the crowd, the testimony that a prophet of God has just entered the room. And I looked to my left, and the missionaries were strategically positioned, just right of the stage. I happened to be on the front row as they walked past, and President Hinckley—some of you will remember—carried a cane, and he used that cane as an extension of his hand, and he would wave it like this. He would wave this cane, and as he walked past the missionaries apologetically with his cane, he said, “I’m sorry. I wish I could shake all your hands, but I can’t.” And that was okay with us, because just simply, as my eyes met his, I knew that this was a prophet of God, and I felt as if he had put his arms around me and extended the loving arms of the Savior.

As he took his place on the rostrum, we were eager for the meeting to begin. At the very beginning of his comments, he looked out at the audience and he talked about what an awe-inspiring scene it was for him to see all of these Saints who had come from Virginia and eastern Carolina, who had sacrificed so much for the gospel over such a period of time. Then he turned to the missionaries, and he said, “Look at these missionaries.” And then he singled us, as elders, out and he said, “Elders, you’re not much to look at, but you’re all the Lord has.” That wasn’t what I was expecting, in this build-up to this great event.

You look so beautiful, you young men and young women who are here today. But I want to remind you that you are all the Lord has. As I grew up, I heard what you heard—you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. You have been saved for this day, young sisters and young men. Sometimes, I think that I felt—if I’m honest—that that was overplayed or overstated. And yet, I think it’s never more fitting than it is in this audience this day, that 1) you are all the Lord has, and 2) you are a chosen generation, for this specific time.

As I researched some of the statistics of your recent commencement, I saw what I had forgotten. The last time I had an opportunity of speaking here, I observed the same—the richness of the countries who temporarily call LDS Business College home, the uniqueness of this combined culture that comes together. Right now, there are 36 countries, as I understand it, that are represented at LDS Business College. That is quite remarkable. The only other place where I have had the opportunity of associating with the students where I think there was a similar density of cultural representation was at BYU—Hawaii.

What an opportunity, brothers and sisters! You are here for opportunities, to learn, to grow, to become, to share, and to go out in the world as covenant makers and covenant keepers, to continue to build and defend the kingdom of God throughout the earth. What fodder we have in this room, to extend the hands of the Savior. I wish today to share maybe some unique ways that some of you may have considered as to the how that can be accomplished, and [for] some of you, this may be new.

Behind me is an image, and you may think, “Why two burley men leaning over a boat with a net? Why that, as your backdrop for today’s presentation?” What is happening here, my good sisters and brethren? Let me give you the background. This is representative of the obedience of casting the net to the other side of the ship. What happened before this is the Savior approached his disciples on the shore of Galilee after a night of futile fishing. This was early in the morning. He boarded their boat. He said, “Push off. Cast off into the deep.” That struck me, when I was reading from Luke, chapter 5. “Cast off into the deep.”

Why? Well, in part, where I had heard that before, it was always used with foreboding—foreboding in that Jonah was “cast into the deep” (see Jonah 2:3). It had a negative connotation. But the Savior asked them, He who knew where the fish were, He who could clearly have commanded the fish to come onto or near the shoal, yet told them to cast off into the deep. Obediently, they did. But, if we read into the scriptures as they are recorded, Peter reminds the Savior that they had been drafting, he said, all night long (see Luke 5:5). In other words, they had been fishing throughout the night and had come up empty.

Brothers and sisters, we might just take that superficially and accept that that was all that was intended int hat scripture. But I would submit to you that there is far more, as we examine this scripture, that could be applied to us. Yes, they had been out, futilely fishing all night. But as we see, even after the Master’s passing, there was still a degree of naiveté that existed, or maybe just simple ignorance that this was, in fact, the Son of God, not the son of Joseph the carpenter.

Brothers and sisters, I am in a suit six days out of seven. I get Saturdays off. My brother doesn’t own [a suit]. He is a fisherman. He has made his livelihood through fishing, and he has done well at that. Now I want to paint you a picture. Imagine I boarded my brother’s boat after he had been fishing and had a less than desirable fishing excursion. And I stepped aboard, dressed as I am dressed, and I simply said, “You are doing it all wrong. Just simply do it this way.” Who would he cast off the other side of his boat? He would grab me by my suit and throw me off. “Who are you to tell me how to fish?”

Well, I sense a degree of the humanity of Peter when he says, “Master, this is our work. Sayest thou unto me, Cast the night to the other side?” But then something that I think is quite miraculous occurs. He says, “Not in my name, but in thy name.” Meaning, “I’m not sure I have the faith to trust in the arm of the flesh.” Good for you. But in the name of Christ, he obediently followed the counsel of the Messiah, and what happened to the net? It was overwhelmed, such that it broke the nets. We’re going to explore this a little further.

Shortly after telling them to cast into the deep, the Savior would follow up with the counsel, “Fear not” (Luke 5:10). Wow. We talked about, already, the association of the deep and the fears that may come or have been associated with that. But he then says, “Fear not.” Why? What had they to fear?

Well, he wasn’t through. His next statement to them was, “From henceforth, thou shalt catch men” (Luke 5:10). Or in another of the gospels, he said, “Leave thy nets, and I will make you fishers of men” (see Matthew 4:18-20).

I’m not yet through with expanding this metaphor. The net is a tool of the gathering. Chapter nine in Preach My Gospel is the “finding” chapter that many of you—returned missionaries, I saw, those in your commencement, I believe 222 were returned missionaries—so many of you have spent a lot of time in Chapter Nine, in the finding section (see “How Do I Find People to Teach?”). But I wish today for you to pay attention to the difference and the nuance between finding and gathering, as the House of Israel is gathered, not found. You might say, “Well, Brother Johnson, aren’t they the same?”

They are not. The net gathers. The net doesn’t hook. It doesn’t snag. Now, what is the new net that I would like to refer to today, and how does that apply to you? Well, I believe that this ancient metaphor has a significant application in how the House of Israel will be gathered, and how the gospel will be taken to the four corners of the earth.

Yesterday’s net, and its function—the Savior did not just simply provide fish for them to overwhelm them by His power and majesty. He provided fish for them because these were family men. He provided sustenance for them, such that they could consume, eat, or sell. And it would facilitate their next follow-up or subsequent call to go and feed His sheep and gather them.

Today, to pull a name out of the air, brothers and sisters, what is the equivalent of social media? It’s called social what? Network. Isn’t that convenient for today’s discussion? Social network. Why? Why is it called social network? Because it is a gathering place—a place, believe it or not, brothers and sisters—where your non-member friends like you even though you are a Mormon. Isn’t that amazing? Meaning we have gathered together people where you have broken down barriers that have stood in the way of your finding them in a conventional way, as you looked behind trees and under rocks.

In my mission, our policy, in part, was to speak to everyone we met. I loved that. You can tell how shy I am. I wasn’t afraid of talking to people, until there was a four-lane highway that separated me from the person I needed to talk to. So what was I left to do? Well, I had to set my trajectory; I had to come out with this mathematic formula as to how I was going to accelerate my gait on an angle like this with hers, walking this direction. But then what happened? She turned her head to see me coming, and then her gait accelerated, right? To outpace me in hopes that the fact that I was walking on an angle across the street didn’t mean that I was coming to speak to her.

Brothers and sisters, what a remarkable opportunity you have, because you have gathered in your social networks, or through the internet, people who are seeking the word of the Lord and simply “know not where to find it” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12).

When preparing to speak here at LDS Business College the last time I had an opportunity, I stumbled onto a talk that was given by President [Spencer W.] Kimball in 1974. Only some of your faculty may remember this, I suspect. In 1974, President Kimball said this. The title of his remarks is “When the World Will Be Converted.” Brothers and sisters, that got my attention! I want to know, when will the world be converted? He said: “I believe the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we, as laymen, have hardly had a glimpse” (Ensign, October 1974).

He continues: “When we have used the satellite and related discoveries”—and I would submit to you, sisters and brethren, he’s referring to technology— “to their greatest potential”—he did not suggest, brothers and sisters, that we are going to dabble in this, that we ought to try it out, or let’s scratch the surface. No. He said, “to its greatest potential…then, and not until then, shall we approach the insistence of our Lord and Master to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, October 1974).

Consider, brothers and sisters, in your missions—locked apartments and gated communities, political walls or partitions, or attitudes that stood in the way of your finding those. The truth is, I did as a missionary what Bob Ross did for me as a young art student. He painted happy trees and happy streams. Surely the gospel is about happiness and joy; I had no problem feeling that I was speaking with integrity, when I painted this nice picture as to why their trajectory should shift to mine, and why they should alter their course. But sadly, when the spark plug was removed, they were content, brothers and sisters, on their previous trajectory, when life got in the way.

Yet people are seeking the word of the Lord, and “know not where to find it.” Now, I’ve chosen that image—as I have traveled around the world, I have documented satellite receivers everywhere I go. You think, why? Isn’t that odd? Aren’t there better things you could be taking pictures of? Surely there are, but my mind, when I first stumbled onto this talk, took me to a place where, as a missionary, I thought, “What did Nephi mean? What did Isaiah reference? What was meant that, in the latter days, the sin of man would be revealed from the housetop or the rooftop? Or conversely, that the “book which was sealed,” speaking of the Book of Mormon, would be revealed from the same location? Was I to stand atop my roof with a copy of the Book of Mormon, and a convenient bullhorn, and proclaim the gospel from my rooftop? Is that what was intended?

Well, brothers and sisters, what I found quite remarkable is that, in the prophetic statement of President Kimball, in how the gospel will be taken to the four corners of the earth, he references satellite receivers—which, in 1974, were not on rooftops. Ten years later, they would fill up half of stake center parking lots and say “Scientific Atlanta” on them. And then, fast forward another ten to fifteen, and they are on every rooftop and housetop throughout the world—everywhere, every apartment, every commercial building.

Well, what is this? This is ancient prophetic commentary revealed.  “The day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the housetops, and they shall be read by the power of Christ, and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men, which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be, even unto the end of the earth.”

In fulfillment of prophecy, both ancient and modern, there is this connective point, which is atop a roof. Cellphone, relay towers, or transponders, or emitters like this, satellite receivers, now adorn all of these facilities. Historically—and we won’t take the time to go through all of these statements—but behind me are statements from people who have had a significant impact on society, on the development of technology. And yet, these are gross misstatements from them: Socrates saying that “the written word would lead ultimately to a decline in society, that it would melt the brain. We have Charlie Chaplin that said people would never come to the cinema; it would never happen. We have Tom Watson, who spoke of computers and said there would never be a need for more than five. Misstatements that have missed the mark.

I wish to contrast that, sisters and brethren, by comments of prophets and apostles, both ancient and modern, who have spoken to the role—the significant role—that technology will play, and is playing, in both bringing the gospel out of obscurity and out of darkness, in assisting apostles and prophets in carrying out their apostolic responsibility to the world. And you can see some of those.

Now our dear prophet, President [Russell M.] Nelson, said, in 2008, “Our responsibility as apostles is to teach of Jesus Christ to all the world. When the Lord called his twelve apostles, he called them to send them throughout the world, and to preach of him. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. In those days they could talk to a few people here and there. In our time, we… have the internet. And the internet is a very excellent way of promoting the word of God. We have confidence in this medium” (see “Elder Russell M. Nelson Says Use Internet to Promote the Word of God,” LDS Mormon Apps.com).

Brothers and sisters, like you, I recognize that the internet and social media is not just used for good purposes, and that’s why I’m here to speak to you about this today. There is an opportunity for us to realize that you are a chosen generation, that you have, in your hands, devices that you are indigenous to. You have been born into this world—you are not adopted, like I am. I know your behavior goes something like this: before you fall asleep—in other words, before your body finally gives out and you are going to give up the ghost, there is like this, and you are hanging on for dear life, and it falls on your chest. And the first thing in the morning, you are rummaging through your blankets to find your phone, worried about what you missed in the three hours you actually had sleep during the night. Right? We just can’t bear the thought of missing something on Instagram story or a newsfeed or Snapchat, or what did I miss?

I realize that this technology that you have in your hands, you are using in some astonishing ways. But we have an opportunity of using it better.

I want you to think for a moment with me that there are attitudes that exist in our world. It is part of your being indigenous to this world. You don’t even realize, because it’s part of, engrained, in you, the behaviors that you exemplify in your daily activities. How many of you signed up for, or looked at “Rate My Professors” prior to signing up for your course schedule? Most of you did. I find that astonishing because, what you have done, in effect, is you’ve suggested that what is most important to you in your educational path is, is my professor easy, and are they attractive? And I wonder for the future of our world. This is your educational experience, is who is the easiest one and who is the most attractive. And what you’ve done, without even realizing it, is you’ve dismissed the fact that general authorities will interview the faculty who are teaching you, ahead of extending them a job opportunity. There has been a host of due diligence that has gone to qualify the faculty here at LDS Business College, but you don’t care. You’d rather hear from someone who is like you, who could be a terrible student, and discount the rest.

How many of you have purchased something on Amazon, without reading reviews? Very few of us, unless we are already comfortable with the product that we are interested in. We are looking for—the positive review? Or are we looking for the negative review? More often than not, we are more interested in the negative review than the positive review. Something has already taken us to the product, and brothers and sisters, what has happened in our world today is the authoritative messages of yesterday—i.e. the government, higher education, the media, and religion—are what today? Laughable. They are laughable in your eyes. Those sources of trusted messaging and media from just fifteen or twenty years ago, now you don’t trust at all. You discount them. And those who are yesterday’s non-authority, which is all of you in this room, are today’s what? Yin has split to Yang. You are today’s authority, and that is kind of scary. Right?

You, right here, brothers and sisters, are the authority on every topic, including the one that is most near and dear to our hearts—at least, that we profess is. And yet, how many of you are active participants in the discussion? How many of you are actively participating in sharing your beliefs? In paving our way? Or are you rather just simply playing catch-up? See, the problem is, we go out as missionaries, and it’s a wonderful thing, and we quote 2 Corinthians 13:1, that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses”—what? “Every word [shall] be established.” As if that only works for us.

And yet, I found myself, and I would submit, errantly—I’m a bit lazy with respect to trying to go to a dictionary to try to spell a word. Am I going to really go to a dictionary if I don’t know how to spell a word? What am I going to do? I’m going to just key it in to the Google search bar, the word I’m not sure how to spell, and then, what am I looking for? I’m looking for the usage of that word below. And if I find consensus, what? I accept it. That must be how it’s spelled. If I find two or three people saying, “this is how it’s spelled” and I see that, that must be how it is spelled. And brothers and sisters, I’ve realized I’m foolhardy to a degree, because with respect to our faith, there are many who are finding consensus online who are identifying your beliefs—errantly, but can we fault those who are seeking with accepting this must be what you believe?

Brothers and sisters, we have a covenant responsibility. Many of you have served missions. We have this affectionate little group that we identify and often sing “The Armies of Helaman,” have some association with these stripling sons. It’s great! It’s wonderful! However, I want to, for a moment, share with you the consequential nature, or lack thereof, of our total missionary force in the world.

How many missionaries do we have in the world, do you know? There are currently 63,000 missionaries who are serving. The world is 197 million square miles. There are 7.5 billion people. We have 63,000 missionaries and 16 million members, of which a fraction are active. So that you can understand, because I like to deal in reality, the consequential nature of our missionaries, I wanted to import our missionaries into a software tool that would give me a pie chart that would reflect our total missionary populace in the world. It is the one that’s on the right. You cannot see a visual rendering—it’s impossible for this tool to give a visual rendering of the total consequential nature of our missionaries throughout the world. I don’t mean to downplay. I love the fact that we have 63,000 missionaries. I wish every young person would serve a mission. However, you could drop all 63,000 missionaries in Mumbai or Taipei or Tokyo or a host—Beijing—of other global cities, and they would effectively evaporate.

My point is, brothers and sisters, while we have this wonderful army, the army needs an air force. They need someone to assist them—someone who is engaged in the same message that they are engaged in, but on the airwaves. Someone who can protect them from the onslaught that they receive in the finding pattern that they are deploying, only to find that, once they introduce the gospel to them, almost every time the social pattern of our day is, when we are introduced to anything new, including religion, we go to the internet. We go to others. We look for reviews.

Brothers and sisters, even with all 16 million, we are only the left image. It barely gives a visual rendering, as if it’s a monofilament fishing line. Yet, these technologies, as has been stated by prophets both old and new, have reminded us that this is the way we can reach the world—but only with your help.

Now, I want you for a second, with me—at the height, we had nearly 90,000 missionaries. When I did this originally, there were 74,000 missionaries, which was a nice round fraction. The last thing that I wish to leave with you is that our total missionary population, when we had 74,500, was one one-thousandth of one percent of the global populace. A thousandth of one percent. We need you. You have been prepared. You hold in your hands inventions of which we, as laymen, have hardly had a glimpse. Now, the responsibility—if you are not already—is to begin to deploy them, for the purposes that you have come to this campus.

As I have traveled, I mentioned, I like to take pictures of these things. That one is in Korea. I had a chance to go there, and my son was with me as we traveled, and we spent three weeks in the north Asia area, and our host took us to this UNESCO World Heritage site. My son spied the satellite receiver before I did. This was a place where they were supposed to live like they had lived for thousands of years, except satellite receivers, I suppose. And we found one even there. Church steeples with cellphone transmitters—this one is in Mumbai, India. Even at yurts in Mongolia. There is no place that we can not reach, and no place that we cannot be found. Yet, as I shared before, in Amos 8:12, it says, “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.”

Brothers and sisters, if we look at this as the net that it is, are we missing, are our sinews missing from this net, leaving gaping holes or other messages to gather those who are seeking to be found? We touched on these. What an opportunity we have to discover, grow, and become. That is straight from your mission statement. This is precisely what people are trying to do online. They are trying to discover, they are seeking to grow and become. It fits so well. And they desire to be trusted disciples of Jesus Christ.

Here are a few statements of people who have come to our various channels. Organizationally, we assist the Church in their reputation management and in digital strategy and media, and then we use our organization in collaborative ways. This is from one of our channels, from unique people who are seeking, who found something that encouraged them to go on. The one that’s on the right mentioned that he desired to go to church. He had been investigating the Church and found our free Mormons channel on YouTube, and then binge-watched. And that’s a common theme. We hear stories every single day of people who are studying the gospel on YouTube, and it causes me to shudder. And yet, what an opportunity. They find this content, find it engaging, find it entertaining, they watch all 120 episodes that we have created over the last year and a half, and they’re pursuing their investigation into the Church.

But he said, “I needed confidence to go to the church for the first time.” Brothers and sisters, if we remove ourselves from that which is familiar to us and imagine it being foreign, you have an opportunity to help people. There are people who are watching you every single day in your social media. There are some who, if you are attentive, when you have shared gospel messaging, have even liked, commented, shared, or left you a question, effectively opening their mouth. You were opening yours, and never considered it. As a result, you may be talking past one another. Brothers and sisters, what an opportunity to talk with one another, a pre-qualified audience of people who have come together.

He mentioned that that which he had learned in this environment prepared him—not just for his missionary discussions which he would pursue—but he said it also prepared him to share the gospel with his friends. You have this opportunity with you daily.

I’d like to share this video from Elder David A. Bednar. David A. Bednar gave this at BYU Education Week, and it’s entitled “Sweep the Earth as If with a Flood.”

I love that, and I love Elder Bednar and am grateful for his apostolic witness in this regard. This gathering place—brothers and sisters, I grew up in a church where, in fact, my third great-grandfather enjoyed companionship and missionary work with Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor in England. He was from England and Scotland, and you have heard the stories that I have heard of the Church of the Brethren, and this large group who had been prepared to join the Church through their ministries. I felt to investigate, as marvelous and miraculous as this was. I grew up hearing how these people had been prepared, and while they—I believe—had been prepared, brothers and sisters, I wondered. Was there something they did that we could learn from?

Upon investigation, to discover that, in fact, there most certainly was. Wilford Woodruff, when he had met with the Benbows, he started in places where people were gathered together. And John Taylor, the same. They went home—not home to England—they went home home, where extended family existed, who saw the blessings of the gospel in their lives, where trust was established. They went to their social network, and that group was connected to other groups who had been gathered, just like the Church of the Brethren. And this group, which was a primitive Methodist background, were seeking for more. But because they were gathered together, wonderful things occurred.

When President [Gordon B.] Hinckley went to Hyde Park in London, he went there because people had gathered themselves together.  There is a gathering that’s occurring. We are seeing it in your behavior. We are seeing it even with family history, DNA, and other things. This gathering place is here, here, and there. Here, within your social platforms, as we talked about. Facebook—1.4 billion daily are on Facebook. Instagram—nearly 60% of your age group is on Instagram. Eighty percent live outside the United States. Yes, and it fits so well with this audience. What an opportunity for you to share the gospel in meaningful ways.

One person who has an average of two social platforms—and we’ll just, for the sake of discussion today, use Facebook and Instagram—who has an average of 500 friends, now has the compounding effect. You’re familiar with the compounding rate of interest, if you’ve studied finance. This has a remarkable ability to build. It parlays upon itself, and parlays upon itself. But if you share something that is then shared again, it shares again and again and again. You can suddenly reach a world of 7.5 billion people. And it lives into perpetuity.

This is a picture of my family. I wish my life was here. We were both dealing with a sick daughter last night, and she is home taking care of her. But she did wish to express her adoration for you, and admiration for you. I wish she were here. You can see how much cuter she is than I am. I love and am proud of my family, but the reason I am using this slide is that we can do simple things. This does not need to be more complex than it has to be. I’m not suggesting to you, brothers and sisters, that you become a Bible-thumping social zealot; rather, that you be authentic, as Elder Bednar counseled, by simply including your faith, not omitting your faith. So here, I have included in the “About Me” section that I am a member of the Mormon church, with a link to a Mormon.org profile.

I’ve included here. This gathering, as I talked about, is occurring also through DNA—wonderful opportunities for us to come together, to feel a kinship with one another.

In closing, brothers and sisters, the purpose that you have come here is—there are a variety of reasons that have brought you to LDS Business College, but there are also some similarities, and I think they are summed up in your mission statement. You have come here to discover—to discover what? Whatever is required for you to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Grow how? However the Lord would see fit. The beauty is the Lord sees us beyond our ability to see ourselves. And you’re doing that and experiencing that, but don’t limit your experience just to the Wasatch Front, to the shadows of the everlasting hills. You are here so the gospel can go back out to the four corners of the earth. And then Become disciples of Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, I am grateful to live in this day, to watch you as a chosen generation who have been saved or reserved for this day, assist in the hastening of His work, assist in the gathering of Israel, reach, for the first time, the four corners of the earth. It is wonderful to be an observer and a participant in these latter days, to be led by a prophet, to be a part of the living Church. Marvelous things!

I know that God lives. I know that Jesus lives, and I know that they love me, and I know that they love you. I’m grateful to have spent this time with you, and I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

Jonathan Johnson is the father of four beautiful children, Brigham, Chanel, Max and Holland, and is married to the wonderful Heather Armstrong. Jonathan served a full-time mission in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission.

Jonathan is the president of the More Good Foundation, an organization that supports The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in digital messaging and reputation management. He is also involved in corporate consulting. Jonathan has been highlighted as one of 50 fabulous people in Utah Valley and as one of 40 entrepreneurs to watch under 40 years old.

Jonathan has spoken at devotionals and forums and has guest lectured at BYU, LDS Business College, BYU-Hawaii, BYU-Idaho, various Institutes of Religion, and has spoken in firesides, youth conferences and secular conferences in more than 10 countries. In June of 2017, Brother Johnson was invited to present the keynote address at the National Congress of Journalism in The Dominican Republic.

Jonathan’s LDS Church service includes being a primary teacher, young men’s president, gospel doctrine instructor, early morning seminary teacher, counselor in bishoprics, high councilor, second counselor in a stake presidency, and he currently serves as a bishop.

Kimberly Garner

22 May. 2018

Video

Audio

Quotes

 Kimberly Garner quoteNick Henry Quote

Transcript

Meaningful Prayer

My husband told me I was not allowed to cry but he will sorely disappointed.

Good afternoon, I feel very nervous but very unequal to this task, I’m very humbled at the prospect of standing here at this particular pulpit where I know so many wonderful church leaders have stood. But I’m grateful for the opportunity to share some of the things that have been on my mind recently and that are very dear to my heart.

Today is a special day for me. It is my wedding anniversary. I’m very blessed to be married to this man sitting up here with me for 8 years today. And since I’ve been asked to share a piece of this special day with you, I thought I would start out by telling you a little bit about him, and about how we met cause the story behind our meeting is what’s going to lead me to the topic I’ve chosen to share today.

We met in October 2009. I’ve just finished law school a couple years before this and has come back to Salt Lake and was working as an associate attorney downtown. I was having a very difficult time meeting nice young men to date. I was working as a personal injury attorney and criminal defense attorney at the time. And as you can imagine that’s not really very conducive to meeting nice young men to date. So because I had just turned 31, I thought that my chances are getting smaller and smaller by the minute.

You guys don’t know how lucky you are to be here at LDS Business College, where you are surrounded by people that have the same standards as you. It’s a wonderful thing.

Out of desperation at that time, I turned to some online dating sites…LDS sites mind you. But, just because they were LDS dating sites didn’t necessarily mean that everyone who had a profile was living the right lifestyle. I met some very interesting people, some very decent people, some who I still consider to be good friends. And I met some very “indecent” people. Since I don’t want to say anything negative things, we’ll just leave it there.

On a Saturday morning during this particular difficult period of my life, I was running errands and ended up in what I thought was a minor car accident. It turns out that the damage to the cars was minor, but the damage to my spine was not. Now, sadly the accident was my own fault, so there wasn’t anyone I could sue to make me feel better, at least financially, it was my own fault. But I ended up with a herniated disc in my neck. This disc had slipped out of place and was pinching my spinal cord and causing a lot of numbness and pain in the left side of my body. I ended up in the ER a few days later getting an MRI and some pain relief.

I was in a lot of pain at the time and my family can tell you how awful it was. During the MRI I had about 30 minutes to do nothing but stay still and breathe, that’s all I was allow to do during that time. And if any of you have been in extremely amount of pain you know how hard is to hold still, so it was very difficult in that machine. So I decided to take call on my Heavenly Father for some help. We often call on our Father in Heaven when we are experiencing pain or need a little extra boost, so I figure this was as good a time as any to pray.

I closed my eyes and uttered one of the shortest, but most heart-felt prayers in my entire life. I asked to strength to get through the procedure, and then I asked if He could, to give me something to help me feel happy again. Just one little thing to help me smile. And that was it, that was all I asked for. I waited out the rest of the procedure, got some medication, a lot of very heavy medication, and went home.

The next day, I had a wonderful aunt who lived up the street from me call to check on me. And during the conversation she asked if I wanted to go out with someone that she knew…he was the son of her mother’s hairdresser, now I’ll give you just a minute to figure that out in your mind. My first reaction was “NO!” My dating history at that point has not been the greatest and the last thing I wanted it was to go out in another date especially in my condition at that point. By the end of our conversation, I felt prompted to change my mind. And so I agreed to go out with him and only with the condition that he’d wait until I was feeling better cause at this point I knew that surgery was probably in the horizon to fix my spine, and I wasn’t feeling up to start anything before then.

Unfortunately, well fortunately Brian did not agree to those terms. He called me the very next morning and asked for a time that we could work out to meet. I figured oh well, I’ll go ahead and meet him and then I can focus on healing and move on from there. So we agreed to meet a few days after that. Unfortunately the day that we were supposed to meet and go out, it was not a good day for me. I was so sick from all the medications and the pain I was in, that I had to call him and asked him to postpone. He was very kind, and very patient and agreed to wait a few more days before we could meet, so I figured we would meet the next day.

So the next day, he’s not a patient man if you can tell, I had mustered up the strength to take shower and planning on lying down for a nap when there was a knock at my door. Now I figured it was my aunt that lived down the street coming to check on me, so I didn’t worry about the fact that I had wet hair, no make-up on, and was dressed in my sweatpants. When I opened the door, this incredibly man was standing there with a bouquet of balloons, a get-well card, a bag of chocolate, and a box of Tylenol. It still overwhelms me.

We hadn’t even met, and already he was treating me better than any other person I had gone out. He brought these things by to let me know that he was thinking about me and hoped that I would feel better soon so that we could meet properly and get to know each another. It was definitely something that made me feel happy and made me smile.

I immediately knew that there was something to this person, and I couldn’t wait to get to know him better. Then I looked down at myself and realized what I looked like, and I thought oh no! He is not coming back. But he did come back and we had our first date a couple days after that and had our second date planned within the first 10 minutes of our first date. And the rest is in the books.

We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and dating, and got married in May 22, 2010. And now we have a very rambunctious 6 year-old boy named Tyler and I am very blessed to get to be the step-mom to his 13-year-old son, Nate, who is a wonderful young man. I’m very grateful for my family.

Now, I shared the story of how Brian and I met with you to demonstrate the incredible power of prayer. That simple and humble prayer that I said in the MRI machine brought about the most incredible and miraculous blessings for me. That small prayer changed my life. Within one week of that prayer, I met the love of my life and eternal companion, and from there I was able to start my family. I am so grateful.

In the October 2016 General Conference, Sister Carol McConkie said, “Prayer is essential to developing faith. We are children of a loving Heavenly Father, and we have the opportunity to enjoy personal communion with Him when we pray ‘with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ’” (“The Soul’s Sincere Desire,” General Conference, October 2010).

Further, we must then act in accordance with the answers we receive by the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Sister McConkie went on to describe that prayer involves all three members of the Godhead, something that I haven’t really thought about before I heard that talk. But we pray TO our Heavenly Father, IN the name of Jesus Christ, and receive answers to those prayers THROUGH the Holy Ghost.

We pray TO our Heavenly Father because HE is the one who has the power and ability to grant us our most sincere desires. On the topic of prayer, the Bible Dictionary states that “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, that He is our Father, and we are His children), prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings” (Bible dictionary, “prayer”).

Building a relationship with our Heavenly Father begins with prayer and, like any meaningful relationship, requires sincere effort. Whether our prayers are said out loud or conveyed silently through the mind and heart, they present opportunities for us to communicate directly with our divine Creator. He hears and answers our prayers, sometimes in very obvious ways and sometimes through impressions, promptings, and feelings of peace. And sometimes he delivers nice-looking young men to your porch bearing gifts. Our prayers become much more meaningful when our relationship with our Father in Heaven develops.

I am very grateful that my  parents are here today and my in-laws. I am lucky that we are able to live close to them and that we have a strong relationships with one another. I talk to one or both of my parents every single day. I don’t think a day that goes by that I don’t speak to at least one of them. Now that I am a mother, I understand what it means to want to communicate with your child as often as possible. I understand what it means to love your child and want to know that they are ok.

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can imagine. He is our Father, He created us individually in his image. And He allowed us to come to earth, to gain a body and experience so that we can become part of his eternal plan of salvation and continue his work here on earth. I believe he aches as a parent would ache when there’s no communication. The effort of communicating with Him must be on our part and it is absolutely necessary for us. He has proclaimed that he will always be near and will answer our prayers, we simply have to pray.

We pray IN the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our advocate. He will be the one to stand by us, to defend us when necessary, and to plead our cause when it is our turn to stand before our Father in Heaven.

Over the years I’ve drafted a lot of legal documents both as a paralegal and as a practicing attorney. The first part of every legal document introduces the party who is filing the document, followed by the fact that he is doing it “by and through” his representative or his attorney of record.

Attorneys communicate with the courts and represent their clients’ interests and desires to the court in the host of the court will side with their client. Our Savior acts very much in the same way. We seek answers and things from our Heavenly Father, and we do so through our representative in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sister McConkie said, quote, “This representative suffered, bled, and died to glorify His Father, and His merciful petition on our behalf opens the way for each of us to obtain peace in this life and everlasting life in the world to come. He does not want us to suffer longer or endure more trials than needed. He does want us to turn to Him and allow Him to ease our burdens, to heal our hearts, and to cleanse our souls through His purifying power.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find an incredible comfort in knowing that my sins have already been atoned for, they’ve already been washed away, I simply have to repent but I will have that advocate to argue on my behalf when it’s time to face my Heavenly Father. I am grateful for being able to pray in his sacred name and to use him as my advocate when the time comes to pray.

Finally, Sister McConkie said that we pray and receive answers through the power of the Holy Ghost. When we pray with faith, the Holy Ghost can guide our thoughts so that our words harmonize with the will of God.

She said, “It is not only important that we shall know how to pray, but it is equally important that we shall know how to receive the answer to our prayer, to be discerning, to be alert, to be able to see with clear vision and understand with clear intention God’s will and purpose concerning us.”

And then in Doctrine and Covenants Section 9, verses 8-9 the Lord is speaking to Oliver Cowdery and said “But behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.”

We must be prepared to receive answers to our prayers through the still small voice of the Holy Ghost and to be in tune with the Holy Ghost enough to recognize which answers we are receiving. Sometimes we do not get the answers we want to our heartful prayers. Sometimes we have to wait a very long time to receive the blessings we’ve been seeking. But we have to be prepared to submit ourselves to the will of our Father in Heaven when we seek these answers to our prayers.

Jesus Christ was the perfect example of this when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was in agony, sweating as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground. He prayed saying, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). He was truly willing to accept our Heavenly Father’s answer to his prayer, no matter the outcome was.

The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant us but are made conditional on our asking for them. This can be the most difficult part of praying. Do we really pray for His will to be done? Are we really willing to graciously accept answers when they are not what we want?

I once received an answer to a prayer that I didn’t want. After I had received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah, I was working as a paralegal, and I loved my job. I didn’t have any debt from school, I thought my schooling was finished, I had my degree and I was working a great job and I was happy. You guys will get there, I promise. I just wanted to continue.

My boss at the time encouraged me to prepare for the LSAT and start looking into law school applications. I told him he was crazy. It was not something I was going to do. But he continued to bug me about it for quite a while. So after a couple of years of fighting with him, we had good relationship so we could fight about a lot of things.

I decided to go ahead and take the LSAT, I figured I wouldn’t get a good enough score to move forward and the whole conversation with  just end there. So I took it and I got my score back and thought, “oh no.” It was a good enough score to get in at least few schools, so then I though “oh boy.” So then it was time to look into the application process. And I thought, “oh well I’ll fill these out but no school is going to take me, I’m not smart enough or capable enough to handle law school,” and the conversation would end there. Well I got into a few schools and really thought, “oh no! Now I have to make a decision.”

Keep in mind, this was not something I wanted. It was never a desire of mine to go to law school, to practice law, I loved being a paralegal, it was such a great job. So I didn’t want to attend law school, I didn’t wanna practice law, I didn’t wanna spend three years – another three years – in school, in a very hard school. I didn’t want to borrow money to pay for these three additional years. I didn’t want to move away. I just wanted to continue in life the way I was. But I knew I needed to be prayerful when I made the decision.

My patriarchal blessing reminds me that when making big decisions in life to seek the guidance of the spirit as well as my parents. So I went to my parents, and I asked my dad for a priesthood blessing, still hoping the answer would be of course, that I didn’t have to go. Before the blessing I prayed for the ability to understand what that answer would be, to recognize the answer, and I knew that whatever answer I got, I made the promise that whatever answer was, I would do it.

As soon as my dad put his hands on my head, I received an impression, it was that fast. I won’t go into the details of that impression for the sake of time, but there was no doubt in my mind that I had received an answer to my prayer. I had to go to law school. So when my dad finished his blessing, I looked up at my mom with tear-filled eyes (much like they are now) and I said, “I guess I’m going.” And then she looked back at me and I think that she might have been more devastated than I was, that I had to go to law school.

Looking back I think it’s funny that the answer I DIDN’T want came very quickly when the answer to a prayer that I had been praying for, for a very long time took well over a decade to get. I do know that our Heavenly Father has a sense of humor.

Receiving an answer to a prayer that I didn’t want was very hard. I prayed for a long time to understand the reason why that was His answer. I never asked Heavenly Father to change his mind or to change his answer….but I did pray to know why. And eventually that answer came as well.

Now I know why I had to do it, but at the time I didn’t. I went completely on faith knowing that it was what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I asked for an answer to a prayer and I got it. From there it was my responsibility to accept that answer that I was given and abide by it.

It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, it was the hardest three years of my life but it was also the best three years of my life at that point. I’m grateful for that experience looking back. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows me better than I know myself. One who knows my potential better than I do, and that knows what is best for me. I’m grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and for the ability to receive answers to prayers through the Holy Ghost. I almost didn’t meet Brian. He was a direct answer to a prayer, and I’m grateful for the prompting of the Holy Ghost for me to change my mind, because my aunt was perfectly ready to line me up with someone else if I said not. But I’m grateful that I changed my mind, that I was prompted to change my mind. and agree to go out with him. I know I wouldn’t have done that on my own.

I’m grateful for the promptings of the Holy Ghost when I was trying to decide my future with respect of schooling. I know that the Spirit knew I would need a very clear and direct answer in order to accept it.

Prayer is such an incredible tool. Without it there is no way to communicate with our Father in Heaven directly. I know he hears every single prayer that is uttered. I don’t know how, but He does. He’s answered every single one of my prayers when I needed an answer, sometimes it took longer than others but He’s answered every single prayer. He’s blessed me in ways I still can’t believe.

I encourage you all to fill your days with prayer. Don’t just pray morning and night, or when it’s time to have a meal, be in communication with our Heavenly Father constantly. Fill your thoughts with prayer. When you’re walking to devotional, have a prayer in your heart that you will feel the spirit, that you will learn something about yourself. When you are heading to class in the ever so crowded elevators, that we all love, say a silent prayer in your heart that the things that you studied and prepared for class will be brought to mind, and you’ll be to understand and apply the things that you’ve learned.

When your instructors ask for volunteers to pray in the classroom, take advantage and take the opportunity to communicate with your Heavenly Father because is a privilege to do so. Make a conscious effort to take an extra few minutes each morning to thank Heavenly Father for that new day, for the opportunities that lie ahead. I know how busy mornings can be, especially when you have more than just yourself to get out the door. But it’s so important that we take a few minutes to begin our day by communicating with our Father in Heaven.

He loves us, He loves you, please remember how much He loves you, He wants to hear from you. I know he loves me. And I know He answers my prayers. I testify that my life would be so very different if I didn’t pray.

I am grateful to work in a place where we begin classes and meetings with prayer, that we are able to invite the Spirit into everything that we do, and ask him to guide everything that we do. I’m grateful to be a teacher, I’m grateful that not only I’m allowed to but I’m encouraged to discuss Gospel principles in the classroom.

I’m grateful for my family. I don’t think anyone can doubt that I love my family. I’ very blessed, I can talk about them for days but don’t worry, I won’t. Just know how much I love and admire them. My parents, my in-laws, my siblings and their spouses, my wonderful husband and my sons. My heart is very full, and my testimony of this Gospel is so strong. I want you all to know that I have a testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ, I’m grateful for him, for his atoning sacrifice, for his teachings and for his example. I’m grateful that I get to use his name when I pray. And I’m grateful for my testimony of prayer, it is something very dear to me. And I’m grateful that I could share that testimony with you today, and I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Bio

Kimberly Garner is the LDS Business College Professional Services Department Chair and program chair for the Paralegal Studies Program. She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah in 2001 and received her J.D. from the University of Idaho College of Law in 2007. Kimberly is an active member of the Utah State Bar.

Kimberly began working as a legal secretary in 1996 at the law firm of Rasmussen & Miner. After just a few short months, she was promoted to a paralegal and office manager position. Eventually, she was single-handedly managing the caseloads for five attorneys in her office. After law school, Kimberly returned to the same firm to practice law until she joined the College full-time in 2011. Her areas of specialty are civil litigation, criminal law and procedure, and torts. Kimberly has also taught at Stevens Henager and Weber State University.

In addition to her legal experience, Kimberly has also worked as a caterer and a wedding planner. She most loves spending time with her husband Brian, her son Tyler, and her step-son Nate.

Kory Katseanes

03 Apr. 2018

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Prospering in the Land — the Lord’s Plan for Abundance

Good morning brothers and sisters, it’s absolutely delightful to be here today. I just really feel touched already by those who might met, including my roommate for over 40 years ago, this was at the time that I was dating and met my wife. He came today, he’s been the managing director for temple for a long time now, just came over to support me, Tom thank you. I think about you every day, because I still have the little violin nail clippers that you gave me 40 years ago and they still work, so every day I look at those I see the little violin and I think about Tom Cover. And my bishop Blackwelder is here, who many of you know for his work here at the College.

We were here early enough that I could hear your choir rehearse which is a great relaxing feeling to me because these are my people, musicians, you know I just love them. And I met Tanner, I appreciate his music today, and I know your choir sang in conference last weekend – isn’t that right? – they were fantastic! This past of that choir which I think they did so well. I just feel surrounded by people today.

I’m grateful for being here today. And I’ve been in this hall many times as well, but with my orchestras performing on the stage not just to be speaking here, so this is a little bit new, however, I do feel a little bit sorry for you, the last time you heard people speaking from the podium was Sunday in Conference, this is what comes next after that, I’m just feeling a lot of pressure about that and feeling a little bit sorry for you, in retrospect about that and I appreciate all those that came here today, and I know this is the last one, last lap around the field. Yesterday, as I was with my students rehearsing, I looked up their faces and I thought, you know “you guys are cooked, you are done, you still moving but you’re kind of dead men walking, at this point and I understand how that feels and how it looks like.

In my work as a professor, I am engaged, even preoccupied, with decisions of what matters most to my students. I’m an orchestra conductor, and though you might think that job mainly lies in waving my arms around while musicians play, the truth really is that my job is mostly deciding every day, as we are rehearsing, what to fix, what to work on, what to stop for, in other words, what needs fixing the most at any one moment. Your days are probably much like mine, you are deciding at every given instant what is the most needful thing to do. Certainly also in our personal lives it behooves us to from time to time to take an inward look and make some assessments. Are we getting closer to our goals, do we still have the same goals, or the right goals, and judging from what we’ve been learning, knowing what we now know — are there things we should be adding to our studies, knowledge we should be seeking to either reach our goals or adapt to a new goal?

In light of these preliminary thoughts, I want to examine a topic which has given me much pause over the last few months — the topic of prosperity. What exactly is prosperity? How is it manifest in our lives? Who among us is prospering? How should we pursue it? Or should we? I would venture to say, each of you are clearly in the business of pursuing prosperity, being as you are, students or teachers in a business school. It’s pretty hard to avoid the topic when one reads the Book of Mormon. The cycle of rising and declining civilization is among the most frequently addressed issues found in this amazing book, and it starts early. Shortly after arriving in the promised land, father Lehi promised his posterity that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandment ye shall prosper in the land (2 Nephi 1:20).

Later on in the Book of Mormon, as Alma is preaching to the city of Ammonihah, he recounts this promise and reminds the people of the second half of the promise (Alma 9:13). We always remember the first part, but little notice is given to the second half of Lehi’s promise: but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.

I find this quite remarkable. Alma – reminds the people that the Lord promised prosperity to those who were faithful, but to those who were not the Lord would cut them off from His presence. This is a very interesting definition of prosperity. On the one hand, we think we get it when we prosper in the land. But, by Lehi’s definition, the opposite of prosperity, or the absence of prosperity is to be cut off from the Lord. Not the lack wealth.

Alma’s companion at the time, Amulek, continues this dialogue and describes his own early family history, which was rich in spiritual experiences, particularly with one of his forbearers. He told a story which was never told in other parts of the Book of Mormon, that he was a descendant of the man who interpreted the writing on the wall of the temple, which had been written by the finger of God. And apparently, everyone knew the story, but it hadn’t ever been mentioned before, or again, for that matter, in the Book of Mormon. He goes on to describe his life “And behold, I am a man of no small reputation among all those who know me; yeah, and behold, I have many kindred and friends, and I have also acquired much riches by the hand of my industry.  He continues, I have seen much of his (the Lord’s) mysteries and his marvelous power, yea even in the preservation of the lives of this people. Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know” (Alma 10:4-6). In other words he was describing the realization of the second part of Lehi’s promise... He had lots of material things, and yet was in the process of being cut off from the Lord. His life was full of abundance and simultaneous declining prosperity.

This is the very subject of a recent New York Times best seller, by anthropologist James Suzman. Affluence without Abundance is the story of the Kalahari bushman tribes in Africa and the cultural shifts that growing western economic practices have played out on these indigenous tribes.

It is entirely possible, by Amulek’s description, and Alma’s, and James Suzman’s, to build a life of increasing abundance and decreasing prosperity. When Lehi promised his children that they would prosper in the land, he knew that there was more to prosperity than abundance of material possessions.

And there is another danger involved here as well. Perhaps unwittingly, we are sometimes tempted to equate material increase with spiritual increase. Let’s be careful not to assume that if hoped for financial prosperity is not yet achieved we are unworthy, or sinful. Worst of all, is the wrong assumption that our material success is deserved based on our higher spirituality. You can see that connecting the dots between spiritual increase and material increase is a fraught with complications.

So how is Lehi’s promise of prosperity to be understood? The answer lies in the definition of prosperity. The prosperity rubric must be measured first and foremost by prosperity in spiritual matters. One of the greatest lessons in defining and measuring prosperity, as an example of the relativity of prosperity, was given by the Savior himself in Mark (Mark 12:41-44):

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

This is a powerful definition of true abundance and prosperity.

One thing I know for sure is that my definition of prosperity has changed over the course of my life. When I was your age I pretty much thought of it in one way. Now, with many more experiences, in our family, in a career, and with a fair amount of my life now in the rearview mirror, I look at it much differently.

One interesting phenomena is that the older one gets, the fewer things matter. Albert Einstein is reputed to have written this phrase on his chalkboard at Princeton:

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Whether this was by him, or George Pickering or Bruce Cameron, the concept behind this is the most relevant thought when determining what father Lehi meant when he promised his children prosperity.

One of the most influential members of our Utah society, Gail Miller, just published a book about her life, and explained this same balance this way:

The success and the money and the worldly things that we have are not where I count my wealth. My wealth is counted in relationships, being able to provide jobs for people where they can support their family and live good lives.

In the April 2013 General Conference, Elder John Dickson related his assignment in Africa with these memorable insights:

The gospel in Africa is going to a happy people, very unencumbered by the trappings that affect the lives of many in the West. They are not concerned about having endless material possessions. It has been said of Africans that they have very little of that which matters least and a great deal of that which matters most. They have little interest in enormous homes and the finest cars but great interest in knowing their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and in having eternal families.

Is this, then, perhaps the best definition of prospering—acquiring more of what matters most, and perhaps at the same time, caring less about what matters least? Taken in that light, much of what we do takes on a different hue.

And here’s where the rubber might hit the road for some of you. In the working world, it’s not uncommon to confront a workplace where 60, 70 or even 80 hours a week of work is expected by employers. In some environments, this is even a badge of honor, and some professions are undoubtedly more susceptible to this than others, but if you take a step back and look at the personal cost this takes, one must ask themselves what they are giving up to meet these demands. If you are single, are you giving up the chance to meet someone? If you’re married, are you giving up meaningful time with your spouse? If you have children, are they giving up their parent? The toll on families under these conditions is enormous. What about time to serve in the Church? At a certain point, we start bending the definition of prosperity.

In the Bushman cultures of Africa, for thousands of years, there was such skill at hunting and gathering, that their workweek required only around 15 hours a week to maintain their lifestyle. You can say, well yes but they had very little, but the truth is that they wanted nothing more than what they had. They preferred to spend their time with their families, and in leisure, so they found a balance of work that allowed them the maximum amount of personal time and the minimum amount work time. It’s not a primitive concept, it’s positively Utopian. Many are seeking that same balance around the world. Here in the US we’re not doing so well at this balance. In a recent study, the US came in 30th out of 38 countries in measuring work-life balance. According to the research, 11% of us worked more than 50 hours a week, and 33% worked on weekends and holidays, are any of these sounding familiar? Some other surprising statistics of this imbalance are that in addition to the hours working each day, U.S. workers average an extra 3 ½ hours in work related activities per day, while averaging only about 1 hour a day eating, 30 minutes caring for household family members, 13 minutes caring for non-household people, 25 minutes in education, and around 18 minutes in civic/religious activities. It’s hard to argue that this is the profile of prosperity. Finding and creating a balance of work and more meaningful activities, is one of the primary challenges we face in crafting meaningful prosperity.

How do we proceed then, all the while being engulfed, as you are, at this stage of life, with the pursuit of knowledge, skills, and in anticipation of prosperity? Here are five suggestions I have for measuring and achieving prosperity in the Lord’s way. These are adapted to all people, and achievable in all places under every conceivable economic condition. And they are simple to grasp and to implement.

1. The Lord’s plan for prospering — Pay your tithing

It’s super simple, it’s super effective. It operates in the background of our lives — like your heart that keeps beating whether you give it any thought at all. Tithing will open the door to true prosperity, which is the Lord’s guidance in our lives.

Elder Sheldon Child shared this story in the April 2008 General Conference.

A mother (in West Africa) shared her testimony about tithing. She was a trader in a marketplace. Every day she would come home, count out her tithing, and put it in a special place. Then on Sunday she would faithfully take it to her bishop. She shared with us how her business had grown and how her family had been blessed with health and strength and enough food to eat. Then with tears in her eyes she said, “But the greatest blessings of all are that my children love the Lord and we are a forever family. This humble mother understood that one of the great blessings of being a full-tithe payer is the privilege of entering the house of the Lord and participating in the sacred ordinances that enable families to be together forever.”

Prosperity the one we are thinking about may well start with the temple.

Elder John A. Widtsoe clarified the true prosperity that paying tithing provides. He said:

“Obedience to the law of tithing … brings a deep, inward joy … that can be won in no other way. … The principles of truth become clearer. … Prayer becomes easier… The spiritual sense is sharpened [and] … man becomes more like his Father in Heaven.”    

2. The Word of Wisdom – adapted to the weakest of the saints, like tithing

Simple rules, incredible results. You want to talk about return on investment? Which you sometimes do – I bet – in some of your classes. There never were two greater principles of prosperity with small investments that reaped fantastic return than tithing and the word of wisdom.

3. Read the Book of Mormon

Super easy. Super powerful. Another silent, quiet superpower in our lives. What is your superpower? Do you have 2, 3, 5, or 10 minutes a day to become a superhero? The words of our present day prophets-the General Authorities, have been greatly focused in recent years on reading the Book of Mormon. This is very important. The lessons of the Book of Mormon include accounts of the cycles of prosperity and the true definition of prosperity that inform us today. Without doubt, they are as accurate and relevant today as in any previous time or civilization.

4. Be Grateful  

Being grateful for what we already have is in many ways analogous to being an optimist. Some are naturally given to this, but I believe that no truly prosperous person, in any sense of the word, is a pessimist. As Pres. Monson so memorably phrased it, cultivate and attitude of gratitude. And it is something that you can cultivate. It’s not that hard. Simply start each day with a prayer, and in the second step, where you offer thanks, be sure to thank the Lord for what you have, and try to enumerate the things for which you are grateful. This can be addictive. One recognized blessing often leads to recognizing another that’s similar or connected. For example, it’s easy to be grateful for your parents, and this is an amazing abundance in and of itself, but then doesn’t it come quite natural to recognize how grateful you also are for your siblings, and then how about those grandparents, and then other relatives in your family, and then the blessings of family history research and resources, and then by natural extension, the temple, and being sealed to them all, and by extension, the priesthood, which makes it possible, and by extension Joseph Smith, and the restoration, and then the succession of prophets, and then President Nelson, … and on and on. It’s not that hard to count our blessings, naming them one by one, to see what the Lord has done for us— and by doing so recognize the amazing prosperity already in our lives. Practice seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. Pretty soon, we’ll see our glass full to overflowing.

5. I’m going to add one more which is dear to my heart, and which has grown in its influence in my life, the longer I have lived. It’s the principle last outlined in the 13th article of Faith.

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Life advice for daily behavior. Unlike tithing, this principle operates on the desktop, not in the background. It’s like the car we drive to work. Or maybe like the socks you put on in the morning, or shoes you’re wearing. The relevant word for us is “to seek.” Seeking implies so many powerful attributes. Seeking beauty and wisdom is powerful because it turns us outward, and helps us appreciate others, and the world around us. It takes us away from only knowing what we already know.

Another context of seeking was described by Moroni:

And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own… (see Moroni 7:45).

This is a description of charity, but it’s also a clarification of seeking, the kind of seeking admonished in the 13th Article of Faith. Someone who “Seeketh not her own” is someone who is charitable. It might be easier to think of this of what the opposite also might be. Have you ever met someone who is only interested in themselves, you know, “enough about me, let’s talk about you. How do you feel about me?” You know that one? Someone who already has all the friends they need, knows all they need to know. If we stop seeking, the trajectory of our lives flattens out. Our prosperity becomes blocked. We have become the third example in the parable of the talents — those who take what they have been given and bury it. Seeking implies growing the gifts we’ve been given, and is a powerful way to increase our prosperity. That is to say, added closeness to the Lord, added peace and happiness in this life, and marvelous promises for the life to come. After all, isn’t the quality of life in the next life our number one priority.

My brothers and sisters, we’re all seeking prosperity in some way or another, and we know the Lord is anxious to bless us to find it. But he will bless us to prosper in His way. “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” I can promise you that if you use these five steps —pay your tithing, keep the Word of Wisdom, read the Book of Mormon, be grateful, and seek every virtuous, and lovely thing — your life will be rich and abundant. You will become more and more affluent in all the things that matter most, and you will prosper in the land. I pray we may all do so, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

Kory Katseanes is the director of orchestras at the Brigham Young University School of Music. He oversees the Y's orchestral program that accommodates nearly 400 students enrolled in five orchestras. He directs the graduate orchestral conducting program and conducts the BYU Philharmonic and the BYU Chamber Orchestra in their campus concerts, throughout Utah, and on regular tours throughout the world. From 2009-2015 he also served as director of the BYU School of Music.

Katseanes is a native of Blackfoot, Idaho. He moved to Salt Lake City in 1974 to continue his education. He joined the Utah Symphony in 1975 as a violinist and served as assistant conductor from 1987 to 2002. He appeared regularly on the Entertainment, Youth, and Family Series, and played a significant role in the education programs of the Utah Symphony during that time.

He's a frequent guest conductor for professional, university and high school all-state orchestras, and often adjudicates orchestra festivals. He is the current president of the College Orchestra Directors Association.

Kyle R. Martin

08 May. 2018

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Anchors of Hope

It’s a little overwhelming to be here with you today in this historic setting. As I was listening to the music, I had memories flood back to me of sitting in this hall with my mother, listening to prophets speak and teach. I never thought, ever, that I would be standing at this pulpit to share a message. I feel the responsibility of that today, although I would invite you to adjust your expectations accordingly, if you wouldn’t mind. I’m grateful to be here with you and with President and Sister Kusch, my dear friends. You are led by a man of God who dedicates his life to doing what his Heavenly Father wants him to do.

I am here to tell you that I’m not much of a sailor or a fisherman. But I do want to share one experience fishing in a boat on a reservoir near here that I had with my brother a number of years ago. Not to share any great conquests of the fish that we caught—I actually don’t think we caught any—but there is a principle in the story that I want to draw from today. I want to share some experiences of my own personal experiences, as well as a few people around me that I have observed, that I think teach an important principle.

My brother Neil and I took his boat one fall day to Jordanelle Reservoir to fish. We went out on the lake and were really more kind of putting worms and marshmallows in the water than we were actually fishing, I think. But we found a spot that seemed really calm. It was a cold day; it was overcast, as I recall, so it was really dark and gray, and quite cold. We turned off the motor and were casting our lines into the water.

We engaged in conversation and were talking. I appreciated the opportunity to be with my older brother. We talked for a while, and I looked up and suddenly realized that we had drifted. We had drifted from the safety of the deep waters and close to the rocks at the edge. In fact, we were so close that if we didn’t hurry and start the motor and pull away from the edge, we would be in great peril.

Going into the water that day was not an option. It was too cold. We wouldn’t have lasted very long. We hurried and started the motor and, just in the nick of time, we were able to pull away from the danger, the peril of the rocks.

As I’ve thought about that experience over the years, I realized that our lack of attentiveness, even while engaging in good things, caused us to not pay attention to what was going on around us, and we drifted. Had we put the anchor in the water, we would have been safely secured to our spot, and could have focused longer on chasing the elusive fish. But we didn’t, and because we didn’t anchor ourselves, we put ourselves at risk.

That’s the principle I would like to draw from today, is anchoring ourselves—specifically anchors of hope. Life is sometimes difficult and challenging, and even risky. We need to set our anchors of hope. In Ether 12:4 we read: “Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”

I’ll share three anchors today. Certainly there are more and there are others, but I would like to just focus on these three today.

Anchor one: Strive to discover and fulfill your purpose.

In this anchor, I want to focus on the word strive. It’s not a word that we talk about a lot, it seems, but it shows up in important places and carries an important concept. You will recognize this word from your temple recommend interviews— “Do you strive to keep the covenants that you have made?” Well, what does it mean to strive?

To strive is a principle of action. You have to be proactive, try hard, exert yourself vigorously. I had mentioned that I was not a sailor, and that is true, but I do want to share one more experience of being on the water, of sailing, where I learned about striving.

A number of years ago, I was serving in a Young Men’s presidency in our ward. It was time to plan the high adventure for that summer, and we put together a plan to go up by Great Falls, Montana, take canoes and a whole host of young men and several leaders, and we were going to float the upper banks of the Missouri River. The day came and we traveled to Great Falls, and we put our canoes in the water.

The first day of three days and 48 miles, was beautiful. The sun was shining; the big Montana sky was blue. The water was calm and actually quite slow. All of us enjoyed the relaxation of floating down the river on that first day.

After approximately 15 miles, we came to our camp. We got out of the river and set up camp, had dinner, and then eventually retired for the evening. During the night, the wind began to blow. It began to blow very, very hard. It wasn’t one of these wimpy Salt Lake winds that you might occasionally have seen. It was a good old Montana wind. By the time we got up in the morning, it felt like gale-force winds blowing up the canyon of the river, up against the current. You could see the concern on the faces of the boys and the leaders as to what we were going to do. It seemed like an impossible task to get on that river and float the nearly 15 miles we had to float down that river.

Some suggested that maybe we should climb out, send a vanguard, and hike out to go get the cars the 15 miles back where we had started the previous day, and see if we could navigate them close enough to carry all our canoes and gear off the river and head home. That seemed like a huge task.

As we were standing around talking, I noticed our good bishop—who was with us—slip away from the group, and I watched him go sit on one of the canoes by the river, and he sat there for a moment thinking. Then he reached up and removed his hat and bowed his head. I assumed he was praying to know how he should guide his little flock, who were at some risk. After a few minutes he put his hat back on and came back to the group and announced, “I feel that we should get in the canoes and head down the river.” We trusted his leadership. We trusted his inspiration and his priesthood keys, and we got in the canoes. It was one of the hardest days I have ever experienced. For nine or ten hours, we took our paddles and put them in the water, pulled against the water, took the paddle out, and put it in again and again and again and again. It was a very difficult journey.

True to our concern, if we didn’t paddle, the wind was blowing so hard we would start to go upstream. The only way to get to our destination was to put our paddles in the water, pull hard, and then do it again and again.

I wonder if sometimes we feel like this in life. We see a challenge ahead of us that seems too much to take on. How can we ever get to our destination? But if we will rely on our Heavenly Father, and act, and be proactive, it creates a momentum. It invites the Spirit into our life. And one paddle stroke at a time, we can navigate the challenges that we experience. If we keep at it, consistent and steady, eventually—and sometimes even before we know it—we reach our destination. The going may be hard. It may be slower than we want, but what we learn through those experiences is invaluable. And our Heavenly Father, through his Spirit, teaches us the things that we need to know as we paddle through the windstorms of life.

That’s anchor number one: Strive to discover and fulfill your purpose. Strive. Act. Struggle. And the Lord will show you the way.

Anchor Two: Be humble and teachable.

Several years ago, when our oldest son was about ten years old and our youngest son was about four, our entire family—my wife and our four children and my parents—were in our Suburban driving from Rexburg to Salt Lake City. As we were driving along, our oldest son, Zach, decided he was going to test out his newly-acquired reading skills. He was going to start reading the road signs as we traveled down I-15. Our youngest son, Eric, was sitting in the back seat of the Suburban, playing with a truck, looking down—seemingly not paying attention to anything that was going on around him.

As we drove down the highway, here was Zach’s big moment to test out his new skills. We came up to the first road sign. It was one of those neon-yellow signs in the shape of a diamond that gives a caution or a warning to the drivers passing by. As we passed, he eloquently read the sign that said, “Watch for deer.” Without missing a beat, and without looking up, our youngest son, Eric, said, “Don’t tell me what to do.” Apparently, Eric was paying some attention.

I wonder if sometimes, when our Heavenly Father puts warning signs or counsel and guidance, if our initial reaction is, “Don’t tell me what to do. Because what you are asking me to do is hard. I may not see how to navigate it. I don’t know how to do it. Or maybe I don’t want to do it.” But He is wise. He knows all. And He requires that we listen to Him, for Him to provide blessings.

In Doctrine and Covenants 64:34 we read: “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and the willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”

Also in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 136, we read: “Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear; For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly (verses 31-32).”

We are taught in these two scriptures that our Heavenly Father requires a humble heart and a contrite spirit. The only gift we can give our Heavenly Father is our will, our demonstration that we are willing to be obedient, and to hear what He has to say and what He has to teach. To receive His blessings and qualify for His Spirit—which is the greatest gift our Heavenly Father provides to us in this life—we must create an environment in our lives where we are teachable and humble, and that invites the Holy Spirit to guide, to direct, to teach, to instruct, to enlighten, to comfort, and sometimes to correct. This is the greatest gift that our Heavenly Father can give us, and we access this gift by being humble and teachable.

That is anchor number two: be humble and teachable.

Anchor Three: Trust in and rely on the Lord.

In Alma 36:3 we read: “Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”

I learned this lesson—to trust and rely on the Lord—in a very powerful and poignant way, on the day I was sustained and set apart as bishop in a Rexburg YSA ward. After the stake presidency had set us apart, they took us into the bishop’s office for an entire hour of training and orientation on how to be a bishop. As the conclusion of the hour was approaching, I sensed that we were about finished, and I started to panic and feel overwhelmed about the responsibilities that were about to be mine. I knew that as soon as they were done, they were going to get up and leave, and walk out the door. And on the other side of that door were members of my ward who were going to want guidance and direction and counsel from their bishop. I felt I had none of that to offer, and I didn’t know what to do.

I expressed this concern to the stake presidency, and the second counselor in the stake presidency said, “Bishop, we will pray for you.” And he stood up and left. And there I was. Somehow, I made it through those first couple of interviews, experiencing feelings and emotions I had never felt before in my life. They weren’t emotions of modesty and humility. I actually felt like I could not do what needed to be done. I felt like I did not have the capacity.

I went home, and my good sweet wife was sitting there, and I sat down and I was really concerned. In fact, I told her, “I need to call the stake president and let him know that he will have to find another bishop for this ward, because I cannot do this.” Like I say, I was not being modest or humble; I actually believed I could not do it and that I was not up to the task.

In her wisdom, she said, “All right. But why don’t you just wait a couple of days to give him a call.”

I said, “All right. I’ll wait.” I waited a couple of days, and I went back for my first set of interviews on Tuesday night, and made it through. I went home and she said, “Just wait a couple more days.”

By this time, I was on to what she was doing. But more importantly, I realized that the Lord needed Kyle Martin to feel exactly like I felt, because it was my questioning my own abilities and capacity to be able to serve that led me to turn to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior and ask for their guidance and help.

As I did that, I realized that Kyle Martin didn’t have to have the capacity to be the bishop of the Rexburg YSA Third Ward. Kyle Martin needed to trust in the Lord, and the Lord would take care of what needed to be done. Once I came to that understanding, I began to experience tremendous confidence—not in myself, but in the Lord, that He loves His children, that He prepares the way, that He is organizing all that needs to be organized to address our problems, to help us, to support us, to guide us, to comfort us, to help us feel hope in Him and His plan, in the Savior Jesus Christ.

That was a powerful lesson to me—that He gives us gifts, and then when we turn to Him and rely on Him, He will fulfill the promises that He has made. That is anchor number three: Trust in and rely on the Lord.

So those are the three anchors. Strive to discover, to identify, and to fulfill your purpose. Be humble and teachable. And trust in and rely on the Lord.

My invitation to you, today, is—if you haven’t already—to set these anchors in your life. Find ways to strive, to act, to be proactive. Study the scriptures and the doctrine, and invite the Spirit into your life, and you will be humble and teachable. You will feel the presence of your Heavenly Father, and He will guide you—on your good days and your bad. And trust in and rely on the Lord, for He has provided every needful thing, and will provide a way.

I want to share an experience in conclusion where I observed my youngest brother, Jeff, how he has had the benefit of blessings that he had in his life, because he had set these anchors in his life.

My youngest brother, Jeff, and his good wife, Stacy, woke up on the morning of January 12, 2015—actually, didn’t go to bed that night before—and my brother Jeff was on the East Coast on business, for work. He had sent a text out to all of our siblings, including me, at 4:46 in the morning, which said, “Please pray for our son Jack,” one of his twin boys. “Please pray for our son Jack. He is in the middle of a serious health issue and he needs your help and support.”

I happened to be awake, so I immediately got up and called Jeff, and discovered that he was sitting in an airplane in New York City, waiting for them to close the doors so he could race home to support his good wife, Stacy, and their four children—specifically Jack. At that time, Jack was in an ambulance travelling with his mother from Utah County to Primary Children’s Medical Center here in Salt Lake City. We didn’t have much time to talk, so I hung up the phone, talked to my wife. We called our parents. We got things ready, and I went and picked up my parents who lived by us in Rexburg, and we got in the car to try to get down in time to pick up Jeff at the airport.

About halfway through our journey, we learned that Jack, his five-year-old son, had had a brain aneurism and passed away, while his dad was in an airplane travelling home from New York City. We were heartbroken. We pulled over to collect ourselves, then hurried and got back in the car, and realized we wouldn’t be there in time at the airport to pick up Jeff.

My sweet sister, who lives in this area, raced over to the airport to pick up Jeff, and when she saw him come out of the secure area, put her arms around him. He had just learned from his wife that their son had passed away. We went straight to the hospital and walked into the room, and saw Jeff and Stacy holding the lifeless body of their son in their arms. The grief was palpable. It felt devastating. How could they handle such a terrible, terrible thing? How could they navigate such a terrible tragedy?

As we began the grieving and mourning process, we took them home from the hospital, back to their home in Utah County. And as we prepared for the funeral that following week, as we tried to comfort and support them, it was more common that they comforted and supported us.

The funeral was beautiful; their expression of gratitude and faith, of understanding of the plan of salvation, provided them a calm and deep sense of hope for the future. They knew, because they understood the doctrines of the gospel, because they had followed the commandments and were keeping sacred covenants, they knew that they would get to be with Jack again. They knew that they would get to raise him and teach him, that they would get to embrace him, and live with him again.

Over the subsequent days and months and years, I have been continually touched and impressed by their faith and their obedience to their covenants, and by their willingness to put their oar in the water, pull hard, and do it again and again. Their grief and their pain are real, but they are comforted by the knowledge they have of the plan of salvation.

It is understanding who we are in relation to our Heavenly Father, it is understanding His great plan of happiness for us, it’s becoming acquainted with our Savior Jesus Christ and applying His Atonement in our lives that brings hope. If any of you or any of us feel that our vision is narrow or limited and we can’t see the things that we need to see, the secret is to drawing close to our Heavenly Father. It is setting our anchors, and the hope and the vision will return.

Jeff recently sent me a note where he talked about this experience and how he felt. He said, “Hope is a natural outcome of doing the things that invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, such as prayer, church and temple attendance, and Sabbath day observance. When we surround ourselves with the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that light penetrates our lives and scatters the darkness. I have never intentionally sought out to find hope, but I have sought the things in my life that give me the strength to move forward in times of trial. The result is an outlook that transcends the gloomy world view and promises the blessings of eternity with the people we love on earth.

“The gospel doesn’t make any promises that trials won’t come our way. In fact, just the opposite is true. But it does promise us that when we walk in tandem with the Lord, He will buoy us up with a sense of hope that will enable us to endure to the end. This idea is contrary to the ways and understanding of the world, which is why—when seeking light and joy in our lives—we must look to the true source of hope, and not the philosophies of men.”

I’m grateful for a younger brother who, in a time of severe pain and mourning, showed me the blessings and benefits of setting anchors of hope in his life. I’m eternally grateful to an older brother, our older Brother, our Savior Jesus Christ, for His willingness to be the anchor of hope. Through His atoning sacrifice, we can not only overcome sin and transgression and mistakes, but by striving to keep the covenants and seeking Him, we can overcome all that is in our past, all that we encounter. We can become eligible to return and live with our Heavenly Father.

I am so grateful for Him and for His atoning sacrifice. It is my testimony that He lives. He knows us. He loves us. He is my personal Savior and Redeemer. I know He lives, and I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen


Bio

Kyle R. Martin currently serves as student services managing director at BYU–Idaho. He previously served as the University registrar and assistant director in the Admissions Office. As a Rexburg native, he has had an affiliation with Ricks College and BYU–Idaho his entire life. Both his parents worked at Ricks College for many years.

After serving a mission for the Church in the Brazil, Brasilia Mission, Brother Martin graduated from Ricks College with an associate degree in business management. He subsequently attended Brigham Young University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management with an emphasis in computer information systems. He later earned a master of business administration from Western Governors University.

Brother Martin currently serves as a counselor in the Rexburg YSA 6th Stake presidency. He has served as a YSA ward bishop, high councilor, ward clerk and Young Men’s counselor.

While attending BYU, he met Alisha Dayley from Rigby, Idaho. They were married in 1996 and have one daughter and three sons. Their favorite past time is playing golf as a family.

Michael A. Kidd

05 Jun. 2018

Video

Audio

Quotes

Michael Kidd quoteJonathan Farias quote

Transcript

Finish Your Course with Joy

Brothers and sisters, I wanted to look presentable to you today at this Devotional, so I worked all morning on my hair. Do you think it looks alright?

I want you to know that I am overwhelmed and humbled to stand before you in this historic Assembly Hall. Many noble and great men and women have stood at this pulpit to speak and teach. In an email Sister Kusch sent to my wife just a few days ago, Sister Kusch wrote that when she sits in her big chair on the stand, she can almost close her eyes and see pioneer men and women gathered to hear the prophet. I agree. And I also see you gathered here today at this Devotional. You, too, are noble and great. The scriptures declare it (see Abraham 3:22-26)—and I believe it. So, when I consider those who stood or sat here in the past and you who are here before me today, I recognize that I stand on very holy ground (see Moses 3:1-5) and have a sacred opportunity to teach and testify from my heart.

For Mother’s Day, I gave my wife a copy of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s new book, The Gospel at 30,000 Feet. What a perfect title for a collection of aviation stories that teach principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to guide our lives! I don’t have any personal aviation stories to share with you today, but I do have some running stories. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share with you what marathon-running has taught me about life in God’s Plan.

Now, you should know that I haven’t always considered myself a runner, nor have I appreciated the activity. In fact, I am ashamed to confess that I used to make fun of runners. Unfortunately, my sister (a marathon runner) got the brunt of my mockery. I gave her a hard time about how much money she spent on running shoes and why she would pay to run races when she could run anywhere for free. I claimed that running only made sense if there was a ball involved. And I proudly owned a snarky bookmark I liked to quote that said, “Show me a runner and I’ll show you someone who’s got a thing for pain.”

My change of heart towards running started when I approached my 40th birthday. I really struggled with that birthday. I thought 40 would make me sound old and be old, so I set out to prove that I wasn’t too old to do something hard. I embraced the challenge of this quote from William Shakespeare: “Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” (Julius Caesar; Act 2, Scene 1). My wife jokes that some men’s mid-life crises take the form of an extravagant purchase, like a sports car. She says my mid-life crisis manifested itself when I approached age 40 and decided to sign up for my first marathon—and have continued to run at least one marathon (sometimes two or three) each year since then.

Now nearly eight years to the day after my first race, I can say that one reason I continue to run marathons is because doing so reminds me that what’s at the Finish Line is more exciting than what’s at the Starting Line—and it’s worth every effort to get there. The Olympic Creed speaks of that effort and explains what I mean: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” At least for me, every adversity and setback experienced or endured during a 26.2-mile marathon race (and the months of training that precede it) is eclipsed by feelings of triumph and joy at the Finish Line.

And I believe this is true as we participate in our Heavenly Father’s Plan. Coming to earth to obtain a body and be tested is a big deal, but, to quote Robert Frost, “[We] have promises to keep, And miles to go before [we] sleep” (“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Norton Anthology of American Literature, 3rd Edition [1989], p. 1730). Most of those miles in life are thrilling and enjoyable. Other miles in life can be filled with challenges and difficulties. But they all have a purpose. Alma reminds us of the purpose of those miles when he said that “this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24). Alma’s companion, Amulek, adds that each day of life and every mile we travel is “given to us to prepare for eternity” (Alma 34:33). Eternity with God—that’s what waits at the Finish Line.

When the Apostle Paul concluded his third mission and prepared to head for home in Jerusalem where he yet had more miles to go before he’d sleep, he declared that he wanted to “finish [his] course with joy” (see Acts 20:22-24). I think that’s what we all want. So, here are four principles derived from my marathon-running adventures to help you live the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a stronger participant in God’s Plan, fight well through the struggles of life, and finish your course with joy.

Principle #1: Lose the lousy playlist!

Not everyone runs with music, but I do. I learned early in my marathon training that if I load the right kind of music playlist, my running performance and endurance improves. One Saturday morning many years ago, I loaded a playlist containing songs from one of my favorite Rocky movies. The energy from the first two songs carried me through the first few miles and left me feeling strong and confident for the many miles ahead. Then Song 3 started. It was a slower love ballad-like tune and it seemed to work against what I wanted to do (pace-wise) and how I wanted to feel on that day’s run. Song 3 made me feel sluggish and like I was running in slow motion. Then, because Songs 4 through 7 were upbeat and inspiring, my mood improved, and my pace quickened. I deleted Song 3 from my playlist as soon as I returned from that run.

Now, please don’t get me wrong: I like Song 3. It’s a good song. But it wasn’t the right song for an activity requiring many miles and a faster pace. This experience taught me to choose my music playlists more carefully—not just for the long runs, but also for life.

Choosing the right kind of music matters so much that the First Presidency declared, “Music can enrich your life. … Music has a profound effect on your mind, spirit, and behavior. … Choose carefully the music you listen to” (“Music and Dancing,” For the Strength of Youth.)

I have been fascinated by a short verse in the Gospel of Matthew that tells us what music the Savior carefully chose before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane—the most important moment in His life and in this world’s history. Matthew writes that when Jesus and His Apostles “had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30; emphasis added). A hymn! This tells me that the Savior found power in the sacred music of the hymnbook of His day. Where I sometimes like to ponder what hymn in our hymnbook He might have chosen, I can only conclude that it would have been one that was the right song with the right message and the right feeling to help Him perform the infinite and eternal sacrifice He was about to make.

When I prepare to run long distances, I seek music for my playlist that will keep me running, support my pace, and inspire my thoughts. I try to avoid listening to music that works against me. Isn’t that how it should be in our lives, too? Now, admittedly, I don’t usually run to the music in our hymnbook, but the Savior teaches me to turn to it when my spirit needs a lift, when I need courage, heavenly thoughts, a spirit of peace, and help to withstand the temptations of the adversary (see “Music in Our Personal Lives,” Hymns; First Presidency Preface).

Principle #2: It’s difficult to conquer The Wall when we are “running on empty”

Many runners talk about (and fear!) “The Wall.”  Depending on the runner, The Wall seems to lurk somewhere between the 18th to 22nd mile of a 26.2-mile marathon. “The Wall” is a term used to describe the moment in a race when everything begins to fall apart: Legs get heavy and don’t move very well; breathing gets harder; a previously-comfortable running stride looks and feels like a shuffle of the feet; negative thoughts fill the mind; and the impulse to quit or give up is most intense. There are many explanations for why or when The Wall hits. And there are a lot of articles written to help runners avoid or beat The Wall.

I first experienced The Wall when I trained for my first marathon with a 20-mile run on a warm, humid day. I handled the first three-quarters of my distance and time very well. But I reached a point where I felt like a strong influence stopped my progress and forced me to walk. I had no energy. I struggled, and I suffered. Ultimately, I couldn’t run more than short distances at a time.

Having never experienced that previously, I turned to a friend (a runner) for counsel. I was surprised to hear him tell me what happened was an important learning experience for me and would be a blessing to my future. After asking me some questions, he helped me see that I didn’t prepare adequately for the time and distance that 20-mile run required. Because I hadn’t eaten much before the run, nor had I carried nor partaken of the needed amount of liquid or running snacks needed for such a run, I had been literally “running on empty.” He was quick to reassure me that this was an easy thing to fix. I just needed to eat and drink properly before and during the long runs if I wanted to beat The Wall.

I bear my testimony that our Heavenly Father never meant for us to endure the “long runs” of life without sources of energy and strength to help us conquer The Wall. If it’s a drink we need to press forward, the Savior offers us what he offered the Samaritan woman at the well: “living water” (see John 4:10). He promised her that “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give . . . shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give . . . shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). If it’s energy for the soul we need, Nephi tells us that one way to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” is to “feast upon the words of Christ” (see 2 Nephi 32:3).

To remind us of this, our Heavenly Father blesses us with friends, like Prophets and Apostles. A little more than one year ago, President Thomas S. Monson pled with us—twice in the same talk!—to read the Book of Mormon every day. President Monson promised that “as we do, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives” (“The Power of the Book of Mormon,” General Conference, April 2017). Six months later, we learned that President Russell M. Nelson accepted President Monson’s exhortation. As he prayerfully studied and pondered the Book of Mormon each day, President Nelson made lists of things the Book of Mormon affirms, refutes, fulfills, clarifies, and reveals. He then testified that, “Immersing ourselves regularly in the truths of the Book of Mormon can be a life-changing experience.” After declaring that the Book of Mormon “contains the answers to life’s most compelling questions,” he added this promise: “My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day” (see “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like Without It?” General Conference, October 2017).

My running buddy’s questions apply to us when we hit The Walls of doubt and fear and failure and fatigue in life: Are we drinking enough Living Water and are we feasting—not fasting!—upon the words of Christ?

Principle #3: Don’t stop at the Temptation Station

When I ran my fifth marathon, I saw something I hadn’t ever seen before (nor have I seen since) on a marathon course. Somewhere around Mile 17, I could see in the distance a banner that extended overhead from one side of a residential road to the other. As I gradually neared the banner, I noticed a large gathering of people outside a home, playing loud music, laughing hard, and having a good time. This group had moved couches and La-Z-Boy recliners outside onto the front yard grass. The men wore muscle t-shirts and shorts; the women were dressed in bikinis. And, near the road, there were large tables set up that appeared to have an abundance of snacks and cold drinks. Keep in mind that marathons begin early in the morning, so seeing all of this was a surprise.

Finally, I was close enough to read the message on the banner that originated from that home: “Temptation Station.” At once, I understood that this was a trap set for runners in that marathon.

It was at this point that two women from the group ran from their couch to the roadside to invite me to take a break from the race by sitting with them on the couch. One of them offered me my choice of a wine cooler or a beer from the table, reminding me that runners in races need carbs. Declining her offers only caused her to try to entice me with different alcoholic drinks.

The other woman offered something worse. And if you can believe it, she worked harder than the first woman to entice me and wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. It was a moment I can only compare to what Joseph in Egypt endured with Potiphar’s wife (see Genesis 39:1-12). And, because of that episode with that woman at Mile 17, I think I have good guess about the name of Potiphar’s unnamed wife. I think her name is “I-Vawn-Chuh” because that sure seems to be what she kept saying to Joseph: “I-Vawn-Chuh. I-Vawn-Chuh. I-Vawn-Chuh.” And if that’s not what she said to Joseph, that’s what the woman at the Temptation Station kept saying to me as she and her companion offered every dark delicacy and distraction.

I continued to run and repeatedly decline the invitations and enticements offered at the Temptation Station. As I did so, the earlier warm greeting and excitement from the group turned cold. The women and the men then booed, shouted, cursed, and hurled insults and food at me. Some even said they hoped I’d get hurt between that point of the race and the Finish Line. That is when I felt like I had experienced what it was like for those in Lehi’s Dream (see 1 Nephi 8:24-28) who were scoffed at and scorned by those in the Great and Spacious Building. Altogether, my experiences at the Temptation Station brought some tense moments. But I had a race to finish. From one point of view, I wasn’t too far from the end, although I still had miles to go.

As I reflect on this, I am reminded that Satan has designed Temptation Stations to distract us from our desire to finish our course with joy. Because he seeks “the misery of all mankind” (2 Nephi 2:18), we are wise to “be sober” and “vigilant,” as the Apostle Peter advises, because “[our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (see 1 Peter 5:8). He will place Temptation Stations in areas of our lives where fatigue can be high, clear-thinking can be hard, and the Finish Line is still miles away.

The Apostle Paul acknowledges these Temptation Stations when he writes, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). What gives me hope from a scripture like this is the knowledge that we have a God who is faithful and dependable. He will not permit us to face too much temptation. Equally significant, He makes a way for us to escape out of every temptation—but we must seek for and take the escapes!

Have we ever considered what some of those escapes might be? One escape is turning to the scriptures. When the Savior faced Satan and his Temptation Station towards the end of His 40-day fast after His baptism, He turned to the scriptures and quoted them for defense and protection (see Matthew 4:1-11). Another escape is prayer. When Joseph Smith faced Satan and his Temptation Station in the Sacred Grove, Joseph was already praying. So, Joseph prayed even harder until the devil’s depressive spirit departed (see Joseph Smith-History 1:13-17). Another escape is clinging to one’s true identity as a son or daughter of God. When Moses faced Satan and his Temptation Station on an exceedingly high mountain, he remembered and evoked his eternal identity as a son of God when he was tempted to think less of himself (see Moses 1:1-24). Yet another escape is filling one’s life with good works and good influences. When Nehemiah and his people labored to rebuild the destroyed walls of Jerusalem, it appears that Satan’s Temptation Station came in the form of individuals who labored to entice Nehemiah and the others to come down from the wall to meet in the lower plain. Nehemiah refused to come down because he was so busy doing so much good on that wall that there wasn’t time to do anything else (see Nehemiah 6:1-15). A final escape is doing what Joseph in Egypt did when confronted with Satan’s Temptation Station, starring Potiphar’s wife—he “fled [or, ran!], and got him out” (Genesis 39:1-12). And so did I, during Marathon #5 at Mile 17. I just kept running—and that escape worked! I testify that all of the ones I just listed do, too.

Principle #4: Look for the “Finisher” and stay focused on Him!

After finishing my 10th marathon 3 minutes short of a Boston Marathon-qualifying time, I signed up for a half-marathon I wanted to use as a tune-up and tone-setter for the next race that I was sure would result in a Boston-qualifying time. And it was in that marathon that I experienced my worst running injury and learned a most sacred lesson.

At mile 2.5, I felt a sharp, jolting sting followed by an unspeakable burning sensation in the back of my left leg that caused me to hop on my right foot to alleviate the pain. Repeated attempts to run again only made things worse. I didn’t know what was wrong. I felt doomed and afraid.

In most long-distance races (and this was one of them), a runner can count on an Aid Station every two miles, beginning around Mile 3. This is where runners can get a drink of water or sports drink—and, sometimes, medical attention. So, being relatively close to the Aid Station and hoping medical care would be available, I pushed forward, slowly jogging for one minute and then walking for one minute.

When I arrived, I asked the helpers about medical care and the possibility of a van to carry any injured runner to the Finish Line. After being told “No,” I was then informed I would either need to wait 2-3 hours for the race officials to sweep the course of all runners or find a way to get to the Finish Line on my own. I didn’t like Option #1, so I decided to run again in spite of the pain in my leg.

I didn’t get very far with my run-one-minute-walk-one-minute approach before feeling more distracted, deflated, and defeated by the pain in my leg to continue. It was hard to run and now it started to hurt to walk. So, with more than 9 miles between my location on the course and the Finish Line, I prayed for help and strength and courage to finish the race. To this day, I believe it was my most passionate, pleading prayer during any race or run. At that moment, a much older man passed me on the course. He wore a white shirt with the word “FINISHER” in bright orange letters on the back. I had the impression that I needed to follow that man and stay focused on that shirt with its bright orange word all the way to the end of the race. In fact, as I concentrated on that bright orange word, I remember hearing a quiet Voice whisper, “Come, follow me. We’ll get to the Finish Line together.”

As I followed that man with the inspiring shirt, it occurred to me that “Finisher” is a word that describes the Savior. In His own words, the Savior reminds us that He is a Finisher. In Doctrine and Covenants, Section 19, He tells us that His suffering “caused [Him], even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that [He] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (D&C 19:18). “Nevertheless,” He continues, “glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:18-19; emphasis added). He used the same word as He endured the pain of the cross and prepared to conquer death for all of us when He uttered, “It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).

I have wondered if the Apostle Paul drew upon this divine quality of the Savior when he encouraged the early Christian saints to “run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2; emphasis added). The bright orange word on the back of that man’s shirt became an inspired reminder that the Savior was a “finisher” and that “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). His grace was sufficient (see Ether 12:26-27) to help me finish my race as I determined to “look unto [Him] in every thought” and “doubt not” and “fear not” (D&C 6:36).

A few days later, I learned that I tore my hamstring at mile 2.5 of that half marathon. My doctor said it was a miracle I finished the race. I know the Savior helped me to the Finish Line, though. He and his divine nature and influence literally carried me through my darkest running moment, just as He promised He would when he spoke to us through the prophet Isaiah: “Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs [which means gray hairs] will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:3-4).

I have always loved the message behind the poem, Footprints in the Sand. In it, a man has a dream that he is walking on the beach with God. When the man looks back on the most difficult moments in his life, he sees only one set of footprints and wonders why God abandoned him and left him to walk alone. But God explains that, in reality, the presence of the single set of footprints represented those moments when God carried the man. But what the Lord teaches me through Isaiah clarifies that there is no point in my life from birth to gray hairs where there are ever two sets of footprints in the sand. There is only one set of footprints—and they belong to the Savior.

I believe we all face moments in life where our dreams and plans are broken or disrupted. But we can still finish our course with joy if we will find, follow, and focus on The Finisher, Jesus Christ. I bear my testimony that the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that we have a Savior who carries us through life and who will help us find the Finish Line where God and eternity eagerly wait to receive us.

Now, as I close, allow me to take you back in time to August 2003, where Elder Robert D. Hales gave a commencement address to graduates at Brigham Young University. In that address, he shared 10 axioms he distilled from his own experiences of living the gospel. His sixth axiom was, “It is not how you start the race or where you are during the race. It is how you cross the finish line that matters.”

To illustrate this axiom, Elder Hales shared this: “John Stephen Akhwari, a marathon runner from Tanzania, competed in the 1968 Summer Olympics. Even though he suffered along the way from fatigue, leg cramps, dehydration, and disorientation, a voice called from within to go on, and so he went on. Exhausted and staggering, John Stephen was the last man to enter the stadium. When asked why he would complete a race he could never win, Akhwari replied, ‘My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race.’” After sharing this story, Elder Hales said, “In life, we are not brought to earth just to be born into mortality. We came with a mission and a purpose, and that is to endure to the end. …. So, if you are not where you want to be, he said, decide today to get there. … You can cross the finish line with everyone else” (“Ten Axioms to Guide Your Life,” Ensign, February 2007).

When we reach our heavenly Finish Line, it is my hope and prayer that we can echo the words and feelings of the Apostle Paul, who declared: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8; emphasis added). To finish our course with joy like Paul, we may need to lose the lousy playlists by choosing music that works for us, and not against us. We may need refuse to “run on empty” as we nourish our faith and our future getting daily drinks of Living Water and daily feasts upon the words of Christ. We will need to decline the enticements at the Temptation Stations. And, forever, we will need to find, focus on, and follow the Savior—the “finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

I testify that our Heavenly Father lives and loves us. I pay tribute to Him and to His Plan that provides a Savior who constantly beckons to us, “Come, follow me. We’ll get to the Finish Line together.”

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Bio

Michael A. Kidd was born and raised in Southern California, close to Disneyland. After serving an LDS Church mission in New York City, Michael graduated with a degree in English from BYU in Provo. A few years later, he returned to BYU to pursue an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership.

For the past 23 years, Michael has been employed by the Church Educational System as a seminary teacher and principal in Utah County. He’s also spent time teaching for EFY, Best of EFY, Know Your Religion and Orem’s Institute of Religion. He has recently accepted an assignment to teach for two years with BYU’s Department of Religion.

When not engaged in teaching or serving in the Church, Michael loves to spend time his wife, Holly, and their four kids, watching movies and sports, playing games, being outdoors and visiting new places. He also finds enjoyment in running. He ran his first marathon when he turned 40 as a way to prove he wasn't too old to do something difficult. Since then, running got into his blood. He now runs one-to-three marathons each year, along with some occasional 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons. He hasn’t qualified for the Boston Marathon yet, but he’s working on it.

Most importantly, Michael loves the Lord and has a passion for His scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. It has changed his life and it continues to do so. Also, Michael is fiercely loyal to the prophets. Those men are his heroes and his life has been blessed in unspeakable ways as he follows them and their teachings. Lastly, Michael loves his family, the one that raised him and the one he’s blessed to raise now.

Nelson Altamirano

03 Jul. 2018

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Nelson Altamirano quoteLorenzo Botto quote

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Walking On Water

Like Simon Peter, we can accomplish miraculous things following the Lord's invitation to come unto Him.

Thank you, thank you for that prayer in Spanish that I haven’t heard here for a while, thank you for the spiritual thought Lorenzo and also to Alyssa and Henrique for that beautiful performance. I feel blessed, really to the musical numbers that we receive. I have an immense appreciation to the BC choir that usually and every week uplift us with their beautiful music.

I feel honored to be here today, thank you President Kusch for inviting me to speak, and to everyone that has something to do in making this Devotional possible, they are remarkable well organized. Today from the stand and every week from the benches I feel blessed by your work, most importantly I want to thank all of you, President at this historic building today for participating online, by watching or listening to this Devotional later, for the faith and desired you demonstrate to be uplifted and inspired, especially today when our Devotional competes with Holiday plans and World Cup soccer games, especially Colombians here, very thankful that you’re here.

I earnestly pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us this time, and ask that you may join me in that prayer so that we may receive the spiritual promptings and answers we are looking for.

From the time I was a young missionary over 20 years ago, the story of Jesus walking on water found in the gospel of Matthew, has fascinated me. Especially because the version in this gospel differs from the others, with the apostle Peter actually joining the Lord in this miraculous act.

The passage reads: (Matthew 14:22-33)

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away…

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

At the beginning of the account, the disciple’s “ship [is found] in the midst of the sea, [being] tossed with waves [and] contrary [winds]” (Matthew 14:24).

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you are alone in the midst of the sea, tossed by ravaging waves and fierce winds blowing against you? Because I have.

In your case, it might be that you are dealing with feelings of anxiety or depression. Or maybe that you are feeling like a failure trying to manage important school, work, church, and family responsibilities.

It could be that you are feeling overlooked or unwanted in a new setting at school, church, or work. Or perhaps you just don’t know how you will be able to pay for the next semester at school, or that engagement ring.

I want you to know, that no matter how perfect others’ lives might seem to be, every single one of us has these feelings.

I remember a day many years ago when I was a BYU-Idaho college student on my third semester of education. I had only $400 in my pocket, and a $900 rent bill, accompanied with a $1,300 tuition bill that if unpaid, threatened my international student status in the country, both of which were due the very next day.

You see, as an international student, I was only allowed to work 20 hours a week at the school’s Idaho minimum wage, which was $5.15 at the time. I was working as much as I was legally allowed to do and did not want to break the very personal promise I had made to my Heavenly Father not to work illegally outside the school.

I just couldn’t sleep that night. I kept thinking about the situation and running through different scenarios in my mind over and over again. I had already spent so much time and effort trying to make things work, but I felt like I was at the end of the rope, and that there wasn’t anything else that I could realistically do.

I had been trying to live righteously. I worked as hard as I could. I even had been living on rice and water for several months in order to pay for things. I had gone to the Financial Aids Office pleading for help, but nothing had worked!

Brothers and sisters, I felt alone, I was exhausted, I was hungry, and I was downhearted... my ship was in the midst of the sea, tossed by waves and contrary winds. It was one of those moments when all you have left is your God.

So, I poured my heart out to Him asking for help. In terms of housing, I figured I could live in a friend’s car and shower at the school’s gym until I found a place to live.

But I told my Heavenly Father that if my tuition wasn’t paid, I would have to leave the country, and that I didn’t want to go back home empty handed without the education I felt I needed in order to be a more capable servant.

With tears in my eyes, I told Him of my righteous desires, that I had exhausted every possibility, that I had given it my all, but that I just couldn’t do, I couldn’t do it without Him. And that He was all I had left.

On the morning after my sleepless night, I got up and had the impression to go get the mail – yes, we received mails on those days. There I found two unexpected letters addressed to me. One was a check from the IRS for $400 correcting some mistake that had been made in my tax return earlier that year.

The other was a letter informing me that I had been chosen to receive a $500 one-time “Excellence in Student Teaching Leadership” scholarship, for my work as a Math Tutor in the school. A scholarship that I never applied for or knew even existed.

The Lord had answered my fervent prayer, the money I had, now added up exactly to the amount I needed in order to pay for tuition. So I rapidly ran to the bank to deposit what I had, and then again to the cashier’s office to make the payment. Now, imagine how I felt, when I was told by the sister working at the cashier that the tuition I was there to pay had already been paid.

How could that be? I had checked my account status just the night before, so I asked her to please confirm that what she was telling me was accurate. After inspecting my account, she said, “Oh, I know what happened… someone came in and paid your tuition in full earlier today, but there is also a note asking not to reveal their name, so please don’t ask, your tuition is paid.”

I still don’t know who paid my tuition that day, but the walk back home was filled with tears of joy, fillings of boundless gratitude and love, and the reassurance that Heavenly Father listened to my prayers.

Now, as we read earlier, although Matthew’s account of the Savior’s walking on water ends in a similarly positive note, with an increase of faith in the Son of God, as my story did. Where the Lord eventually “[came] into the ship, [and made] the wind cease.” The participation of Peter in the story teaches us some other interesting lessons that I would like to mention.

Matthew tells us that “Jesus went unto [the disciples], walking on the sea… saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” To what “Peter answered… and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water” (Matthew 14:25-28).

To me, what happens next is extraordinary inspiring. Following the invitation of the Lord to “come”, Peter miraculously “walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29).

Illustrating the power that Jesus Christ has in our lives, Elder David A Bednar said:

“Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possible the remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we do things wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible for us to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone—through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.

It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to this earth to die for us. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us—not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us” (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease” – April 2014 General Conference).

In my life, I have been blessed to witness the example of some that, like Peter, and through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, faithfully followed the Lord’s invitation and lived lives that resembled the impossible act of walking on water.

My mother, Adela Guerrero, was abandoned by her parents at birth and was raised by her alcoholic grandfather. She sold newspapers in the streets of northern Chile at the young age of 5, begging for food, or eating what she could find on someone’s porches. Later, she would suffer through bad relationships that yielded decades of physical and emotional abuse.

But following the Lord’s invitation to come unto Him, she eventually raised four daughters by herself, became a successful small business owner, listened to a couple of Mormon missionaries and accepted the gospel. My dear mother’s life left a legacy of courageous perseverance, love, and faith that blessed her children, grandchildren, and will bless future generations who will one day follow.

Her example inspired me to look for the help of the Lord to master a new language, become the first member of my family to serve a mission, and also the first to go to college. And today, I still have many more goals I want achieve, all of which I would never be able to accomplish without Christ’s enabling power. Because I am just a simple and ordinary man who greatly trusts Him.

But as we strive to come unto the Lord, following the example of those before us. It is important to know and understand that as imperfect mortals beings, they most likely experienced, as we will, faith-numbing self-doubts.

For example, playing the guitar is something that I had always wanted to do, but that I never had the time for. Well, last March, my wife signed me up for lessons as a birthday present and the experience has been delightful.

But a few weeks ago, I felt like I physically could not do what my instructor was asking me to do – my students sometimes could relate – because I was convinced that my fingers were too short. When I explained to my instructor the physical limitations that didn’t allow me to play the cords, he put his hand by mine. Showing me that his fingers were actually shorter than mine – yes, that’s possible. And explaining that I had no excuse to be any less successful at playing the guitar than he was.

Now going back to Matthew’s account, Peter seeing “the wind boisterous, [became] afraid; and [began] to sink,.. saying, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). To which the Savior “immediately… stretched forth his hand, and caught him” (Matthew 14:31).

To the Nephites the Savior said: “Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive” (3 Nephi 9:14). The Messiah extends His arm of mercy to us, always eager to help us if we just choose to come unto Him.

In the wisdom of an all-knowing God, you and I will at times have to sink. But I hope that you realize that the failed attempt of Peter in his story, didn’t ultimately define him. The Lord didn’t give up on him or disregard him because he wasn’t able to follow Him perfectly. If we read about the life of Peter, we would see that he experienced failure many times again after that one occasion. But the important thing is that Peter never gave up, ultimately leading the Church and accomplishing many wonderous miracles.

Consider the analogy that Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf made:

“We have all seen toddlers learn to walk. They takes a small step and totters. They fall. Do we scold such an attempt? Of course not. What father would punish a toddler for stumbling? We encourage, we applaud, and we praise because with every small step, the child is becoming more like his parents.

Now… compared to the perfection of God, we mortals are scarcely more than awkward, faltering toddlers. But our loving Heavenly Father wants us to become more like Him, and… that should be our eternal goal too. God understands that we get there not in an instant but by taking one step at a time.

I do not believe in a God who would set up rules and commandments only to wait for us to fail so He could punish us. I believe in a Heavenly Father who is loving and caring and who rejoices in our every effort to stand tall and walk toward Him. Even when we stumble, He urges us not to be discouraged—never to give up or flee our allotted field of service—but to take courage, find our faith, and keep trying.

Our Father in Heaven mentors His children and often sends unseen heavenly help to those who desire to follow the Savior” (“Four Titles” – April 2013 General Conference).

So, following the inspiring example of Peter and my dear mother, and with all my doubts and imperfections, I too have been trying to live a life beyond the limiting mindset of those that don’t comprehend the potential that we all, as sons and daughters of a Heavenly father have when we choose to “repent and [come] unto [Him] with full purpose of heart” (3 Nephi 10:6).

I grew up in a social environment that continually told me that joy within families was no more than a far reaching fantasy, because men and women were simply incapable of putting off the natural man. The failed relationships and broken families that surrounded me, filled my heart with deep doubts. Sometimes I even wondered if anyone was truly fit to fulfill the “divine nature and destiny” in “the plan of happiness” that the prophets spoke of (The Family: A Proclamation To The World).

But going on a full-time mission allowed me to witness firsthand, for the first time in my life, a successful and happy family. I saw genuine respect and love between a good covenant making man and a woman. The family example of my Mission President and his wife showed me that the promises of the prophets were real. And broke the paradigms set earlier in my life.

Now, this doesn’t mean that marriage has been easy for my wife and I, but we share a strong faith, and trust that with the Lord we can treasure good times and endure the challenging ones. I love my family and cherish my wife, praying and trying every day to become the husband and the father that they would want to have by their side for all eternity.

As Elder Uchtdorf mentioned, it is also important to know that the Lord’s reaching arm comes often in the form of someone. For some, and for me it was an honorable Mission President and a devoted seminary teacher.

As a young man, a school teacher, most likely unaware of the impact of her words, told me that I didn’t seem to have what it took to get anywhere better in life. But the caring faith of my seminary teacher, Sister Aurora Olivares, who in this crucial period in my life saw me through God’s eyes and with her actions taught me of my worth.

For several years, this humble lady while I was the only seminary student in our ward, would walk miles every weekday morning and wait for me at church at 6 am to teach me the gospel. There were many mornings when I felt like I didn’t want to get out of bed, but Sister Olivares’ commitment to me, got me up and slowly helped me understand my worth and what I was capable of.

Thanks for listening to a little bit of my personal story today, I hope that you know that I feel like I am walking on water every time that I see my 3 children tickling mom and laughing in our bed.

Every time that I am worthy to visit the sacred celestial room in the house of the Lord. Every day that I am allowed to be married to a woman that brings sunshine into the lives of all who know her.

Every time that I realize the daily blessing I have to live in this country, work doing something I love, see the temple from my window, and continually receive countless tender mercies of God. More than I fell I deserve.

My brother and sisters, my beloved students, these are the fruits of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this is the true Plan of Happiness.

May I invite those of you now in the midst of the sea, floating in a ship tossed with waves, to join us in the journey to accept Christ’s invitation to change and become. To know that you are the child of a Heavenly Father, created in His image, with the potential to become like Him.

All those of you that have already accepted His invitation, to all of you that are walking on water, but feel like you are now sinking. Please allow the Lord to rescue you out of the water and never give up on trying.

I see many here that had met me many years ago and many new friends, I want you to know that all I am, and all I have become and all I will become is because of my God, all the glory is to him.

I leave you this morning with the exhortation and testimony that our dear Prophet Russell M. Nelson shared with us during the last Conference:

“I exhort you to ‘come unto Christ,’ we are followers of Jesus Christ. The most important truth the Holy Ghost will ever witness to you is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He lives! He is our Advocate with the Father, our Exemplar, our Redeemer… we commemorate His atoning sacrifice, His literal Resurrection, and His divinity. This is His Church, restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives” – April 2018 General Conference).

I know that President Nelson is a true Prophet of God. May we always remember that we are children of heavenly parents filled with purpose and a celestial destiny, is my fervent prayer, in the name of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Bio

Nelson Altamirano is the LDS Business College Digital Marketing Program Chair. He oversees the College’s popular social media marketing degree (#instacool).

Nelson was born and raised in northern Chile, where he and his family joined the Church when he was eight years old. After serving a mission in southern Chile, Nelson immigrated to the United States in 1999.

Being the first person in his family to graduate from college, Nelson received undergraduate degrees in architecture and information systems from BYU-Idaho and an MBA from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business. During his professional career, he has held various marketing and IT leadership roles, running multi-national technology product development and digital marketing campaigns.

Nelson currently serves as a high councilor in the South Jordan Rushton View Stake. He and his wife, Rocio, have been married for 15 years and are the parents of three children.

Follow Nelson on Twitter and LinkedIn.

President and Sister Kusch

24 Apr. 2018

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A Healthy Heart and the Holy Ghost

by President Bruce C. Kusch 

Brothers and sisters, I am so very grateful to be here with you on this beautiful, beautiful spring day as we begin this spring semester. I wanted to share an experience as I begin, this morning, that Sister Kusch and I experienced when we spent four whole days in the Missionary Training Center prior to our missionary service in Mexico. Mission presidents and their wives don’t spend very much time there before you actually head to your assigned field of labor. But the night before the night before we left for Mexico, there was a banquet that was organized, and the man that organized the banquet knew that we had become acquainted with Elder and Sister Bednar during our time in Rexburg, Idaho. So, as he did the seating arrangements, he seated us at the same table with Elder and Sister Bednar. Elder Bednar was seated to my right, Sister Bednar to his right, Sister Kusch to my left, and I can’t remember who else was at the table.

As Elder Bednar and I were conversing during dinner, I wanted to ask a question of Elder Bednar, thinking that he would give me a profound answer. And he did, but it was not the answer that I was expecting. The question was this: “Elder Bednar, you have been all over the world, now, in your eight years as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. You have seen members of the Church everywhere. Where is your favorite place? Of all the places you have visited, where is your favorite place?

And his answer came very swiftly, and it taught me a great lesson. His answer was, “The last place where I was, because that’s where the Lord sent me.” I was expecting a different answer from him, but that was a powerful lesson for me, and it was a lesson that—for our three years of service in Mexico—I repeatedly and regularly taught our missionaries when they thought perhaps they were going someplace in the mission that was not the most productive or may have a reputation of a place where nobody wanted to go— “Oh, please, President, don’t send me there. Of all places, don’t send me there.”

But the missionaries who went with the proper attitude to that place had fabulous and wonderful experiences. And so, if Sister Kusch and I were to be asked the question, “Of the places that you’ve lived”—and we haven’t actually lived in that many places together. We lived in Southern California, then Northern California, then Rexburg, then Mexico, then Rexburg, and now in Utah—I would tell them that the favorite place that I have ever lived in my entire life is right here in Salt Lake City, Utah, because this is where the Lord has sent us. So I share that with you today so that you know and can feel that, because you are here, this is a place where the Lord has led you and where He wants you, and where there are great things for you to learn and achieve and accomplish, during the time that you are here, however long or brief it might be.

Many years ago, on a very pleasant summer evening, my wife and I gathered with a group of friends for dinner in Rigby, Idaho. We were with people that we loved. The

home where we met was beautiful. The food was beyond delicious, and we probably all ate a little more than was wise. But we had a great time. All in all, we had a great time.

About four a.m. the next morning, I awoke not feeling very well. I had pain in my chest and tightening in my chest. I had pain in my left arm. I was perspiring—all signs of a heart attack. I got out of bed and I went into my home office, and I did what any man might do, that was experiencing these things. I Googled “Heart Attack Symptoms.” And sure enough, I was having them.

I tried to read for a few minutes, to get my mind off what was going on. I was hoping that the symptoms would stop, and after about twenty or thirty more minutes, they did not stop; they were the same. I decided I had better do something. I went into our bedroom, I woke Sister Kusch up, and I told her what was happening. I said, “I’m just going to drive myself over to the emergency room at the hospital, so that they can check me out.”

She said, “No. No, you’re not going to do that.” So, we got into the car, and off we went for a short drive over to Madison Memorial Hospital. When we arrived, we got out of the car and I walked into the emergency room entrance, and I told the young man there at the front desk what was happening. He called back to the triage nurse, and soon I was in a wheelchair and on my way back to be examined.

Before long, I was in the intensive care unit. I was hooked up to multiple monitors and I was undergoing a whole battery of tests—they took blood, I did a stress test on a treadmill, they took scans of my heart and arteries—and at the end of a very long day, they shared the happy news that they could find nothing wrong with me. I had not had a heart attack. They did not know what was going on. They showed me pictures of my heart and the arteries, and they were clear and everything was good. We concluded that it just may have been a combination of some indigestion and a touch of the flu.

The most painful part of the entire experience, however, actually occurred when I first arrived at the emergency room, which had actually nothing to do with my symptoms. As I mentioned, I walked in and there was a young man at the front desk. I told him what was going on. But I did not tell you what he told the triage nurse. He said, “There’s an older gentleman here at the front desk,” and proceeded to describe my symptoms. Now, this was long enough ago that I had not yet accepted my status as an “older gentleman.” But to him, I was. But I was grateful to know that I had a healthy heart.

For each and every one of us, a healthy heart is vital to a full and productive life. Organizations and institutions have hearts also, and I have been pondering the question: What is the very heart of LDS Business College? What makes us alive and vibrant and productive as an institution? I want to share with you my conclusion.

My conclusion is this: The heart and soul of LDS Business College, the spirit of LDS Business College, is the ministry of the Holy Ghost and its attendant spiritual gifts, and

the enabling power of the Atonement [of Jesus Christ] working in and being made manifest in the lives of faculty and staff and students.

Let me explain what I mean by those things. Over the past couple of years that I have been here, I have spoken to many students, and I love learning about you and where you are from and what you are studying. But I have also asked many students the question: What helped you make the decision to come to LDS Business College? And many students have said something like this: “I am here because I felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost leading me and guiding me here.” I have heard that over and over again. I heard it just last Friday in a conversation with a young man at New Student Orientation. “I’m here because I felt the Spirit was prompting me to be here.”

It was just like Nephi, when he said, “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth” (1 Nephi 4:6-7).  So perhaps this young man may not be here forever, certainly, and for a long time. But my counsel to him, and my counsel to you, if you have had a similar experience, is stay here long enough to figure out why the Lord prompted you to be here. Don’t be in a hurry to leave.

This feeling of being led to LDS Business College is not just for students. It happens in the lives of faculty and staff as well. The Lord has a way of educating our desires, and preparing us for things to come, when we are striving with a sincere heart.

President Joseph F. Smith taught that “the education … of our desires is one of far-reaching importance to our happiness in life” (Gospel Doctine, 5th ed. 1939). It is a story too long to tell this morning, but I would tell you that, for Sister Kusch and me, coming here was much like Nephi’s experience. We were led here by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which we should do. Nevertheless we went forth, and we came, and we will be forever grateful for the unique and singular blessing it is to be here at this time and at this place.

Let me also share some thoughts with regards to the enabling power of the Atonement working in our lives. I want you to think about your own experiences that you have had here. Students—many—have said, “I came to LDS Business College, and I learned that I could do more and achieve more than I ever thought possible.” Somehow, students come here and they are magnified. They discover their true potential as sons and daughters of God. They come to understand that acting as agents, and not being acted upon, you can accomplish great things. You learn to rely on the Lord and the influence of the Holy Ghost.

How does this happen, and why does this happen, and what is going on when this happens? Brothers and sisters, it is the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and His mercy, and His grace. We often think of the Atonement only when we are thinking of overcoming sin and repentance, and the redemptive power of the Atonement. But the power of Christ’s Atonement is not only to help us when we have done bad things. It is also to help us accomplish good things, and even great things. It

is—the gospel of Jesus Christ is essentially about becoming good. The Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad, but also to become and do good. Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality, going from bad to good, and to better, and to change our very natures.

The Savior’s grace is available to each and every one of us. It is the enabling power of the Atonement, working in our lives. So as we leave this devotional today, I hope you will think about your own journey to LDS Business College, and the spiritual promptings that have led you here, and the spiritual promptings you have had since being here—just in this last day and a half of this new semester. Those that have been here for a while have experienced, undoubtedly, this enabling power of the Atonement working in your lives. If you have not yet experienced that, I promise you that you will, as you strive to live worthy, as you strive to be obedient, as you strive to do the things that you know that are right.

I would invite you to pray for the gift of seeing the power of the Atonement in your lives. Pray for your needs. Pray for the needs of your fellow students. Pray for your teachers. And for us that work here, pray for your co-workers, that together we might feel that, and that our collective worthiness might qualify us for a rich, rich outpouring of the Holy Ghost in our lives, in our work, in our study.

Education, brothers and sisters, is inherently a spiritual experience. We are here to be taught by the Holy Ghost, who testifies of Christ and of our Heavenly Father, but will also help us figure out accounting or social media or anatomy and physiology or medical coding or paralegal, or whatever it may be that you are studying. “The Spirit knoweth all things” (Alma 7:13). As we do our part, I testify that God will do His, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

The Parable of the Carpet Layer

by Sister Alynda Kusch 

It is wonderful to be here with you this morning, and to be able to share my testimony and just some thoughts.

Several years ago we had a spot in our carpet in our family room, where the carpet started to warped and it was kind of wavy, so we knew that we needed to have it repaired so that our carpet was not damaged. We hired a repairman who had been suggested to us by one of our neighbors, very nice man and he did a very nice work.

The summer afternoon he was there in our home the last project he had was fixing a little place in the family room so he was busy on an area that was near the kitchen using his very sharp carpet knife and his stretching tool and I standing on the other side of the counter in the kitchen and we were exchanging some pleasantries.

When suddenly, he screamed, “no!” He stood up and he was holding his hand and he said, “I’ve cut my finger. Do you have a band aid?”

And I said, “of course.”

So I went to the first aid kit to retrieve the band aid, and when I came back into the family room, he was not there instead, he was standing by the front door. And he saw me he said, “the cut is too deep and too long. A band aid is not going to be enough. But I have something in the truck that will work better.”

And with that he left and went outside, in my mind I was thinking he will search through his industrial first aid kit and find something that will cover his finger better, thinking maybe he will return with some gauze and a bigger band aid or something like that. So imagine my surprise when instead, when he came back into the family room to finish the work, he had the finger he had cut and the ones in either side as well the palm of his hand completely encased in silver duct tape.

Now I know there are lots of really good reasons to use silver duct tape, but this one I had not thought of before.

He went back to work and after a few minutes he said “do you have some paper towels?” I thought “this cannot be good,” I said “I do, why?”

He said “well, the duct tape didn’t work quite as well as I thought it would and I’ve got blood in your white wall. So if you give me some paper towels, then I can clean off the wall.”

I gave him the paper towels and he sent his little apprentice out to the truck to get something he said it was going to be “better” that would cover his hands so he could finish the work.

So the young man came back with a very large black, kind of plastic-looking glove that completely cover his whole hand and came down part of his arm.

He finished the work and when it was all finished I remarked to him I said “I’m really sorry that you hurt yourself in my house today.

And he said “oh, it’s my own fault. I was busy talking to you and I wasn’t paying any attention to what I was doing.”

So I said to him, “surely you are you going to go to the hospital to have it cleaned and get stitches put in?”

And he said “no, that would take too long and I don’t have that much time, and besides that it would cost too much.”

And with that he got in his truck, and drove away.

And I stood there for a minute and thought “what, what did I just see?” I’ve thought about him since that time and hoped his finger healed without being infected, but then I realized that he would go through the rest of his life with a really ugly scar on his finger, reminding him of his carelessness that day in my house.

Well after he left, it was really interesting because my mind was immediately felt with three important gospel principles as I  saw him drive away. So I wanna share those with you today, I kind of refer to him as my parable of the carpet layer.

So one of the lessons that came into my mind was this:

1. As we journey through life, even if we are trying really hard to be obedient, if we are not vigilant and dedicated to that desire, it’s really easy to become spiritually distracted. We focus on things that have little real value. When this happens then our spiritual vision becomes cloudy and kind of distorted and we are not able to see clearly.           

Our distractions are really anything that keep us from focusing on godly things, in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They can be good things, but if we are engaging in them to the point that we don’t remember what our ultimate goal is, then we have become spiritually distracted.

Several years ago I was driving from Rexburg, Idaho to Idaho Falls, which a difference of about 30 miles along a freeway that is two lanes going in both directions separated by a large grassy median. At the time that I was making this slow journey to Idaho Falls, it was before they had built overpasses, there were no overpasses or ramps, you had actually to come to the end of the freeway and stop and look both ways before you crossed, cross the median and then got into the road on the direction you were going.

As I was driving along that morning I noticed that the cars coming in the opposite direction were flashing their lights at me – all of them were flashing the lights on me. So I realized that there was some kind of hazard that I was coming upon that I couldn’t see and they were warning me of that. So I pulled into the right-hand lane and slowed down and I was trying to look ahead of what was coming, and then I saw what was coming.

There was a car that it driving north bound in my south bound lane directly towards me. So when I saw her I pulled onto the side of the road and I stopped and as she drove passed I flashed my lights at her, hoping that she would realize that she was going in the wrong direction and in doing that she was putting herself and other people in the road – including me, in a great danger.

The principle of the carpet layer applies to this woman.

Even if she got in the car and put on her seatbelt, and she drove only the speed limit and she came to a complete stop before she started to cross the freeway, the one important decision that would keep her safe in making that she became distracted and confused to the point where she didn’t even notice that there were warnings and danger signs telling her “don’t turn that way” but she did it anyway.

So she had done a lot of things right, but that important decision that would keep her safe is the one where she became distracted and confused.

So like the carpet layer, we can be doing good and wonderful things, but if we take our eyes off our spiritual goal we can find ourselves muttering the same words that he did that afternoon, “oh, it’s my fault. I was not paying attention to what I was doing.” 

So let’s keep our spiritual eyes open and focused on the things that really matter.

The second thing that occur to me is that:

2. If we attempt to cover up our sins and mistakes in the same way that the carpet layer did with duct tape and his big black glove, thinking that the remedy to correct those mistakes and sins would be too costly or too time consuming, they don’t go away and we will be left spiritually gnarled and scared.

So the answer to this question is – can we hide our mistakes and sins from the Lord? It’s no. But in our effort to try and do that very thing, we will continue to reap the consequences of our actions and be plagued with guilt and remorse.

President Harold B. Lee said this in 1973: “If I were to ask you what is the heaviest burden one may have to bear in this life, what would you answer? The heaviest burden that one has to bear in this life is the burden of sin” (“Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Conference Report, Apr. 1973; or Ensign, July 1973).

That is a terrible way to live, but it need not be so. Which led me to the third lesson that occur to me as the carpet layer drove away:

3. If we are willing to humble ourselves, to do whatever is necessary to mend our spiritual wounds, to repent completely and often, and to turn back to the Lord, then we can become whole and clean.

Even if it takes some time and perhaps hurts a little more than what we would like for it to, it is the only way to promised forgiveness.

The carpet layer was willing to go through his entire life with a painful and ugly reminder of the mistake he made one summer afternoon at my home. We needn’t fall victim to that fate.

The Savior paid the price for my peace of mind and clean life; a much greater price than I can fathom, but one for which I am forever grateful.

When we do all that we can to make things right with our Heavenly Father, even though it may require some time, great effort, and maybe even a little discomfort, then we can trust in His words, this is what he said: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42).

So let’s learn from the carpet layer –

Pay attention - Keep your eyes opened and focused on the things that really matter.

Don’t let past mistakes and sins continue to be a burden to you.

And remember that the Savior himself paid the price so that we can have clean lives and peace of mind.

I am grateful for Him, I am grateful for the lessons that I learned as I watched that carpet layer drive away from our home. I am thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ who allows us, it allows us to be able to be happy and have happy lives and feel clean and pure and be free from spiritual wounds. And this I testify of in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

President Bruce C. Kusch grew up in Southern California in a part-member family. After graduating from high school, President Kusch enrolled at California State University in Long Beach. He served a mission in the Guatemala-El Salvador Mission.

After completing his mission, while attending university and institute classes, he met Sister Kusch in the institute choir. A little less than a year later, they were married in the

Los Angeles California Temple. Then, just four years later, President Kusch was called as bishop of their ward, the same ward he grew up in.

Eventually, they moved to Northern California where President Kusch worked and consulted in the high-tech industry before deciding to move to Rexburg to teach at BYU-Idaho. President and Sister Kusch both taught at BYU-I, and President Kusch also went on to serve for four years in the administration at the school. He also served as a stake president in Rexburg.

In 2012, President Kusch was called to preside over the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission. After their mission, the Kusches returned briefly to BYU-Idaho before President Kusch accepted the position of chief academic officer at LDS Business College in 2016.

In April 2017, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf announced that President Kusch would become the 13th president of LDS Business College.

President and Sister Kusch are the parents of four children and have 17 grandchildren.

Tanise Chung-Hoon

19 Jun. 2018

Video

Audio

Quotes

Sebastian Sanchez quoteTanise Chung Hoon quote

Transcript

Focused and Deliberate Discipleship — Seeing Things as They Really Are

Introduction

Thank you so much for that beautiful number, what a wonderful spirit that it brings to this room and also to our learning experience. And thank you Sebastian, and to Lindsay, and to President and Sister Kusch for the opportunity to be here.

I am honored and it’s a joy and in a wonderful sight to see all of you, and my dear ones here and to talk about the things the Lord has inspired me relative to you and your lives. Isn’t the mission and assignment of the Holy Ghost remarkable? He works in such a personal and specific manner to help us come unto Christ. It’s been my prayer that we will enjoy an outpouring of the Spirit in our time together, and we will be taught what we need to understand, remember, and actually do to enjoy greater happiness in our lives.

I also express appreciation to Heavenly Father for what He’s taught me about you (and about me) as a result of this invitation. I loved President Kusch when he invited you to show that you are an engaged learner, having to give a devotional talk is definitely an engaged learning experience, where we seek the Spirit and we seek to be taught and hopefully, as I share the message it will inspire you something relative to your own individual circumstance.

I was reminded that we are the children of perfect, loving, eternal parents (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). And every one of us has divine genetic attributes, which means that we have the capacity to become as they are (see Ensign, February 1982, “Is President Lorenzo Snow’s oft repeated statement – ‘As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be,’ Official Doctrine of the Church?”). Heavenly Father prepared us by sharing His “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). And it meant for us to have eternal and a “fulness of joy” (D&C 93:33-34). Implementation of that plan depends and demands that we learn by our choices, especially mastering our “natural man” (Mosiah 3:19) tendencies, which is the physical and spiritual combined, and those strengths and gifts, including using our body in the right way. I was especially reminded that we live in a time that has been very uniquely blessed; and we also have the opportunity to have wonderful challenges that are a result of those unique blessings and we have the principle of the “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11), so we have to learn to experience distractions specific to our time. And we must learn to overcome those, if we are going to achieve our full potential and prove our discipleship (Abraham 3:25).

President George Q. Cannon, (1827-1901) who happened to be a member of the First Presidency for four prophets in early church history said this about our day and your abilities:

“God has reserved spirits for this dispensation who have the courage and determination to face the world, and all the powers of the evil one, visible and invisible, to proclaim the gospel and maintain the truth and establish and build up the Zion of our God fearless of all consequences.”

One of our current prophets, seers, and revelators, Elder David A. Bednar, shared this counsel with the rising generation, which is you emphasizing his sensitivity to our need to be able to truly SEE deceptions and distractions:

“…the spiritual gifts and abilities activated by the power of the Holy Ghost enable us to avoid deception—and to see, to feel, to know, to understand, and to remember things as they really are…. As we heed… inspired counsel, we can and will be blessed to recognize and repel the attacks of the adversary—today and in the days that lie ahead. We can and will fulfill our foreordained responsibilities and contribute to the work of the Lord in all the world.”

Today, I’d like to explore the concepts of focus, being deliberate in our efforts to follow the path of discipleship, and really acting upon the direction that we receive and building our capacity to discern truth. The Lord knows exactly what we need, and He is anxious to help us discover truth and help us change for the better and grow. As we apply His direction through the Spirit, we can become the person we are meant to be, in order to fulfill the mission that is uniquely our own.

Superpowers, FOMO, and TEAM WINs

I wanna start by telling you that have an unusual superpower. I know that you all have some too, but my family teases me that when I turn my attention to one thing, especially reading or when I’m focusing on something I really want to learn, that I may as well be wearing noise-cancelling headphones and a blindfold because I might be there in body, but I cannot see, or hear or comprehend anything that anybody else may say to me. This ability to focus is a great blessing, especially if I need to zero in on a specific effort and “shut out the world.”

And I’ll share an example from my own life from when I was exactly your age that will help illustrate this point.

I realized a lifelong dream when I was accepted to attend Brigham Young University.

When I was 12 years old, and I received my first personal progress book, I wrote in there that I wanted to receive a degree in college and that I wanted to attend Brigham Young University and also specifically, that I wanted to be basketball player. While I realized that a lifelong dream when I was accepted to attend Brigham Young University.

My first few months in college went by in ablur as I learned to navigate campus, as I learned to do my homework, and also as I trained with the team. While I was confident in my abilities, I was humbled pretty quickly when I realized I was a member of the 20/20 team (now that doesn’t have anything to do with being able to see perfectly!). As a freshman I got in the game if we were up by 20 points or if we were down by 20 points – and it was certainly not the role I thought I should have. As we finished the winter semester I visited with our assistant coach, Hiram Akina, and after telling him of my desire to earn a starting role. I let him know that I would be attending school that spring and summer and that I’ve been working out and I asked him if he would be able help to help me and if he could design workouts, so I could accomplish my goal to be the kind of player who could be a starter. He agreed to help me improve.

He was the perfect coach for me. He designed a specific plan to improve my performance and invited me to go to work. I had to be there at a specific time, and also do work on my own outside of our regular conditioning program. It was hard, but I was focused, and I repeated the drills again and again, and felt like Coach Akina cared about my progress. He and I would meet each day and I would show him what I was doing, and he would challenge me to use a specific skill in our pick-up games. He was very skilled and so he would play with me, alongside as we joined any faculty and any football players who came to the workout. I would make mistakes or use a skill in the wrong way or at the wrong time and he would give me feedback in the moment, and he would also show me what I should’ve done afterward and made me practice it slowly again and again. I would get mentally tired as I worked to get everything exactly right and it was very tedious. I did this everyday from May until August.

I can report that I made a quantum leap of improvement and I earned the starting role as the shooting guard from my sophomore through senior year. I guess the question remains, did I just have a great talent for basketball, or did I somehow discover how to overcome my shortcomings and learn what I needed to do to be successful? I don’t think I had any special athletic talent and for our message today, I want to zero in on the principles of FOCUS that resulted in purposeful changes.

I’ve since learned that I had the privilege of experiencing what researchers and writer Geoff Colvin calls “Deliberate Practice” (Talent is Overrated: What really separates World-Class performers from Everybody Else, By Geoff Colvin). This process allowed me to significantly master and continually improve my skills in ways I had never done before. The principles include:

  • Practice designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help
  • It can be repeated – a lot
  • Feedback on results is continuously available
  • It is highly demanding mentally
  • It is hard work and not inherently fun.
  • Requires constantly doing things just beyond our comfort zone

Time and again, the researchers found that using this method resulted in a clear separation between average and excellent performance.

These principles of deliberate practice, when applied expertly in any specific domain, also resulted in a magnified ability to see and perceive more, know more, and remember more. It sounds like a great recipe for success in almost any aspect of life, but I’d like to apply it to our efforts to become better disciples of Jesus Christ.

FOMO

We live in an ever-darkening world. All of us, but especially those of the rising generation, are bombarded daily with “the fiery darts of the adversary that seek to blind us and lead us away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:24). Of course, this is not a new phenomenon, and the adversary’s skill has sharpened over time. He is a master utilizing technology and other insidious strategies that cause an epidemic of “blindness” since there are fewer and fewer who develop the ability to consistently recognize truth and “see things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13).

In the world we live in today, we are inundated with information and media. I might even call it an “epidemic” of advertising (much of it false). There are more opportunities today than ever before to engage with useless, unnecessary and frivolous experiences or activities that invite us to “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” (2 Nephi 28:7-8). Sadly, we live in the age of FOMO (fear of missing out) instead of FOCUS. Sadly, for the vast majority of the world, most don’t realize that when they simply follow the crowd, they are “suffer[ing] themselves to be lead by foolish and blind guides,” (Helaman 13:29) who will take them nowhere near truth, joy, or happiness.

Satan is a master marketer. He deliberately uses worldly means to divert our attention from the things of eternity to the temporary now. He knows if he can get us to lose focus from who we really are and what we are meant to accomplish – even if it’s just for a minute – that he has succeeded.

Let’s consider the experience of Moses. I’ve been fascinated with his remarkable mission and all that he was asked to do, especially the way the Lord prepared and taught him to distinguish between what is divine and what isn’t. If you’ll recall, he had the experience of visiting with the Lord face-to-face in Moses Chapter 1.

Notice how deliberate practice principles are at work as the Lord first confirms his own reality then Moses’ own beloved place in creation, and gives him ONE THING to focus on that is designed specifically for his training and purpose (and ours as well):

“And he saw God, face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.

And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years and is not this endless?

And behold, thou art my son…and I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in similitude of mine Only Begotten…

And now, behold, this one thing I show unto the, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee” (Moses 1: 2-3, 6-7).

Next, Heavenly Father shows Moses the earth and ALL the particles and the people who are and ever would be part of this particular creation. Then he is left “unto himself” and it takes several hours for him to recover and he realizes that “man is nothing” which is something that he’ve wouldn’t understood before. Again, considering the deliberate practice principles, it was highly demanding mentally and Moses recognized there was a process for continuous feedback from a source that he could trust.

He also makes a discovery that there is a difference between seeing with our natural eyes and our spiritual eyes and the distinct contrast between the two. Let’s pick up again in Moses 1:12:

“ …Satan came tempting him saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.”

Satan immediately emphasized his mortal character and wanted to draw attention to the things of the world. Fortunately, Moses had just had a transfiguring experience with God and knew absolutely and without doubt the difference between the two. Picking up again:

“And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory that I should worship thee?

For behold, I could not look upon God except his glory should come upon me and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?

Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God… Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not…” (Moses 1:12-16).

Moses continued to explain to Satan what he had learned and “the practice” God had asked him to do – to call upon and worship Him – and that he had more questions he wanted answered. He KNEW Satan could not give them to him. He told Satan to depart a second time, then Satan threw a fit and he ranted to such an extent that Moses started to be afraid (the opposite of faith) and allowed worldly cares to creep into his view. Isn’t it interesting how fearfulness, doubt, and adopting a worldly view seem to go hand-in-hand? It was at this point that Moses really saw the “bitterness of hell” which is the absence of ANY light and the influence of God and commanded Satan to leave a THIRD time.

Satan continued to whine, and Moses finally commanded him to leave in the name of the Only Begotten. He left, but not without “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth” (Moses 1:22).

We learn from this example that the adversary is VERY persistent (it took MOSES four times to get him to leave), yet Moses’ experience shows us that we can distinguish things as they really are AND we can distinguish the light from the dark as we enjoy the blessings of the Spirit through deliberate focus and practice with the Lord as our perfect teacher.

We also learn from Moses’ experience that Satan’s goals and outcomes are the polar opposite of Heavenly Father:

  • Fear
  • Rebellion
  • Uncertainty/ No Promise
  • Confusion
  • Selfishness

Satan’s strategy is to use whatever means necessary to distract, distort, to obscure, and filter to make the true, pure, and peaceful look boring, fruitless and wrong. He will flat out lie to accomplish his goal of making us just like him - miserable and alone - (see 2 Nephi 2:27) because he doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He won’t support those who follow him (Alma 30:60) and we know, in the end he WILL go out of business.

Now can you imagine buying anything from a brand that has no intention of ever delivering on its product promise? Who in their right mind would purchase a product guaranteed to fail? Satan obviously knows many will buy his lies even though HE already knows that his particular “brand” of life will surely fail.

Ironically, WE have the ability to ensure we don’t ever “buy” what Lucifer is selling, yet his market share in the world seems to grow daily. We could literally put him out of business if we boycotted his products, his sales people and distribution channels. Sadly, we don’t always remember who we really are and the power we have to use the tools and strategies that the Lord has freely provided to build our capacity and sharpen our focus (so we can see things as they really are). Far too often we follow “blind guides” and allow our vision is blurred so we look away from our intended goal without realizing what is at stake. To find the joy and success we seek, we must commit and focus, and use a deliberate strategies daily that builds our capacity to discern between what’s right and what’s wrong.

TEAM WIN

Let’s return to my story to learn more about the verb aspect of focus which is gaining clarity. As I’ve grown more mature, I’ve realized that every superpower has a downside. The downside in mine happens to be when I use my gift to focus so intently that I focus on the wrong things and I miss seeing what is right in front of my face.

That summer my power to focus and work hard also isolated me to the point where I almost missed the opportunity that was most important in my life. I was taking a class with a friend. And it was a critical prerequisite for the sports medicine major that we hoped to be accepted to and we knew we needed to do extremely well in that class if we were going to be able to be accepted. My friend would pick me up for school each day, and one day he brought a friend with him in the car and that friend has agreed to tutor us because he had already been accepted into the major. This tutor was very outgoing, fun, smart, handsome, and athletic. In fact, he would also participate in the pick-up basketball games, and he’d spot me in my workouts in the weight room, he would rebound for me as I shot, and in general he worked hard to become my friend that summer. This is a significant credit to him because I was two-dimensional – I only saw school and training – and as my superpower didn’t allow me to see this amazing guy who had interest in me beyond class.

Well, that fall as I earned a starting spot on the basketball team as the shooting guard, I finally had my eyes to see and they were opened enough to realize that my friend was someone that I could actually love for eternity and we finally went on a real date (NOTE: That means it was planned, it paid for, and we paired off instead of just hanging out) (“Dating versus Hanging Out,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, June 2006). On Thanksgiving we became engaged and were married following my sophomore season. I’m forever grateful that he helped me focus on what was most important – eternal relationships – and with our Father in Heaven and one another.

We’ve learned so many amazing things as we’ve grown together as a couple and as a family. My husband is a remarkable coach and it is famous for teaching in acronyms.
This method it’s very important because it communicates information quickly and it also helps us to remember. Because we’re a sports loving family, he taught us a way to think about helping one another succeed – in our individual and collective team efforts combined on the right thing each day will accomplish a TEAM WIN:

Today, every action matters!

And we have to ask ourselves, what’s important now?

This simple reminder brings agency and choice into perspective when we think about our big picture commitment to return home to our Heavenly parents. We need to realize that we only have today to act (Mosiah 2:21, 25), and we must think about the people and work in front of us while still keeping our eyes on our long-term goal of eternal life.

FOCUS

I’d like to bring our message together with five strategies to help us in our deliberate discipleship. Of course, you’ve heard them all before, but I want you to think of these principles as sure-fire antidotes to the epidemic of spiritual blindness. Even if you start with one and build your capacity to use all five, you’ll improve your ability to know and to recognize truth as you see things as they really are with even greater confidence.

Faith

I think it is good to start with the first principle of the gospel – Faith. As we learned from Moses, We focus our attention on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and remember that salvation is only possible through Him. Unlike the adversary who is unstable, unreliable and uncertain, our Savior has, as the Bible Dictionary notes: “revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation.” Remember what we learn from Alma’s wonderful discourse on faith (see Alma 32): we are assured that as we act, we will see evidence and our faith will move from hope to belief and knowledge.

“Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the Gospel and is more than a belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical or mental action,” (Bible Dictionary).

As our principles of deliberate practice showed, it takes mental and physical effort to get better and improve.

Nephi exhibited this trait again and again as he followed the direction of his father, Lehi, and sought to learn for himself what the Lord wanted to teach him. One of my favorite examples of this is when Nephi was asked to go back to Jerusalem, and he shared one our most iconic declarations on faith: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7). Do you think this promise only applies to Nephi? What things has he asked us to do where we must exercise our own faith that surely He will prepare a way? Nephi’s faithful example continues after he and his brothers had failed with Laban, and he refused to leave without accomplishing the task that the Lord had asked them to do. An angel had appeared to them and Nephi also recounted the example of Moses as he asked his brothers, “wherefore can ye doubt?” (1 Nephi 4:3) Nephi had Faith! “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand what I should do. Nevertheless I went forth…” (1 Nephi 4:6-7). We can be deliberate in our commitment to practice faith daily.

Obedience

Next, we must focus our efforts to actually DO the will of God obediently, so we can know of the doctrine (John 7:17). As we act upon the doctrine, we show the Lord that we love Him (John 14:15) and also have the privilege of abiding in His love (1 John 2:5). The Lord is bound when we do what He asks (D&C 82:10) and if we keep the commandments, we will see his face and know that He is (D&C 92:1). If we really want to know things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come in our own life, we must keep the commandments until we “know the truth of all things,”(D&C 93:22-24). Our Savior has set the perfect pattern of obedience to follow when he said, “Not my will, but thine be done,” (Luke 22:42).

I love the quote from President Ezra Taft Benson that illustrates how our capacity is magnified as we are obedient, he said:

“When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power” (as quoted in Donald L. Staheli, “Obedience – Life’s Great Challenge,” Ensign, May 1998).

Covenants

The Lord has given us covenants to bind us to Him and reinforce our focus on His certain commitment and promise that we can and will be forgiven of our sins, and we WILL overcome death. His product promise is guaranteed! As we make and keep sacred covenants made at baptism and in the Holy Temple, we are strengthened and improved through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This helps us literally see through the smoke and mirror distractions of the devil and increases our ability to remember what is most important and who we really are. The Comforter acts as our coach and teacher to give us constant feedback on what we can do in our deliberate practice each day. Renewing our covenants also helps to cleanse our lives from sin, purify our minds, and keeps us “unspotted from the world” (D&C 59:9). Our body actually conforms, and is physically changed – as we become NEW CREATURES – (Mosiah 27:26), when we have the Spirit with us, and not just by enhancing our “superpower” to see through the worldly façade, but because of the light that also accompanies those who allow their Spiritual nature to be the gatekeeper for what they choose to focus on each day. Just think, as we show the Lord we are willing to make and keep sacred covenants, indicated by worthily taking the sacrament and attending the temple, we become even more attractive!

Unlike Satan’s constant reminder that in the world, only those with fame, resources and the world’s brand of beauty are considered special, the Lord explains that we can ALL be considered his “chosen” people if we are willing to make and keep sacred covenants so we have the gifts of the Spirit and the power of the Priesthood in our lives for eternity, he said:

“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world and aspire to the honors of men and do not learn this one lesson – That the rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled or handled only upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C 121: 34-36).

Understanding

Understanding is the ability to discern between good and bad, to make wise judgments, to gain knowledge and to perceive the meaning of truth, including the application of life. What could be more important in our world of confusion than to increase in our capacity to “know His voice” (John 10:4) and to know the things of God from the things of the world (1 Cor. 2:14)? The “eyes of our understanding can be opened” (D&C 138:11) so we can know the “mysteries of God” (Alma 26:22).

The Lord is willing to give us “line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little…and blessed are those who hearken…for unto him that receiveth” for the Lord is willing to give more that (2 Nephi 28) will stretch our understanding through deliberate discipleship.

Sacrifice

Focusing on others instead of ourselves is a true key to gaining clarity and happiness in our lives. Sacrifice is used to make something holy, which we can do with our lives as we put the Lord first over our own selfish desires and other worldly perspectives. The Lord invites us to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:19-22), which indicates to Heavenly Father that we are humble, teachable, repentant and willing to become new creatures through the Atonement (2 Cor 5:17). President Eyring taught us in our most recent General Conference:

“It seems to me that we receive the Holy Spirit best when we are focused on serving others. That is why we have the ...responsibility to serve for the Savior. When we are engaged in service to others, we think less about ourselves, and the Holy Ghost can more readily come to us and help us in our lifelong quest to have the gift of charity bestowed upon us” (Henry B. Eyring, “Inspired Ministering,” April 2018).

These five strategies can be remembered with the FOCUS Acronym:

Faith

Obedience

Covenants

Understanding

Sacrifice

I’d like to invite you to join me in an experiment. For the next week, I’d like us to follow the example of my good friend, Sharon Eubank, who followed her FOCUS to a single thing each day that she could actually DO to make a difference. Her goal was simplification and seeking the Lord’s will. In the 2018 BYU Women’s Conference she related her practice of praying and reading her scriptures each day to know just ONE THING that she could do that the Lord wanted and needed her to do.

She said she was gratefully and surprised when one day, the instruction was for her to take a nap! It won’t always be about us, but sometimes it might be something we should do more or less of in our lives. Are we willing to take action? It might be something that will be hard, and it may be tedious, but if you’re willing to join me, I hope that you look at your happiness level each day and you’ll consider what it is that you’ve accomplished and your ability to see clearly will be improved. Imagine if we all did this how much good could be accomplished and how much better we will be at discovering, growing, and becoming better disciples of Jesus Christ? By using our FOCUS strategies and being deliberate in our discipleship, we will clarify our ability to see things as they really are and recognize what matters most in our lives.

In closing, I’ll like to bear testimony that I know God lives! His plan is perfect and it’s guaranteed! He’s given us foolproof solutions to bind Satan, but we MUST DO the small and simple things daily and use our superpower to FOCUS on what matters most. Don’t buy the lie! Unlike the adversary who wants us to be filled with Fear (of missing out), and to be confused, and to lose our capacity to see clearly, God has given us everything we need to discern truth. I know that as we exercise faith in our Savior, we act with obedience, make and keep sacred covenants, increase our understanding of what the Lord wants us to do each day, and we FOCUS beyond ourselves, we WILL enjoy the TEAM WIN that will bring us safely home. I say these things in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

Tanise Chung-Hoon was appointed as managing director for LDS Philanthropies in August 2013. Her responsibilities include oversight for fundraising to support all First Presidency approved priorities, including higher education and specific Church programs.

Prior to her assignment as managing director, Tanise was serving as the executive director of development for LDS Philanthropies BYU. She managed all development functions and fundraising activities related to the university.

Before coming to BYU, Tanise worked for seven years at UVU, including roles as assistant dean for development in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, assistant athletic director for Student Services and assistant Women’s Basketball Coach.

Tanise received her B.S. in finance from BYU Marriott, her M.Ed. from the University of Utah, and her Ph.D. in educational leadership and foundations with an emphasis in organizational strategy and philanthropy from BYU.

She and her Husband, Kaiwi, have three children and three grandchildren. She enjoys learning, reading, family activities, technology and sports.

Thomas Morgan

01 May. 2018

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Quotes

 

Transcript

Seeking for a Beautiful Day

Brothers and sisters, I’m not sure there is anything more soothing than beautiful music, and that was beautiful. One of the things that attracted me to Debbie, from the very beginning, was that she could play the piano—and still does, beautifully. I was more attracted to her eyes than her piano, but piano was important, too.

Brothers and sisters, this is a real honor for me to have the privilege of spending a few minutes sharing some thoughts with you today. Debbie and I know a number of you, and some of you we don’t know. Hopefully, as we spend a few minutes together, we’ll get to know each other, all of us. I ask that your prayers and your faith would include me, at least for the next 24 minutes today. President Kusch, thank you for the opportunity to speak here, and I pray the Holy Ghost will teach us and enlighten us today, together, as we consider a few gospel truths.

Every one of us had to walk into the building; we couldn’t park right next to it, so we had to walk a little bit today, and what we noticed—at least what I noticed as I walked in—was how beautiful this day is. There are a few clouds, but not right over us. It’s a beautiful blue sky. Beautiful flowers across Temple Square, and just a feeling of beauty, loveliness. You can’t help but just be impressed by that and feel the significance of a beautiful day like today.

On this beautiful day, I’d like to talk with you about a few things that make beautiful days for disciples of Jesus Christ, and I would consider all of us to be disciples of Jesus Christ. I’ll use several scriptures to make the points, because the scriptures and prophets and apostles are a lot better at making important points like this. We will use Moses 5:4-9. We’ll use 2 Kings 6:15-17; Matthew 11:28-29; Alma 34:31-32—don’t you just love Alma? All of it—and Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.

Beginning with Moses (verses 4 and 5): “And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.

“And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.”

Brothers and sisters, on a day—maybe just as beautiful as this very day—our first parents, Adam and Eve, prepared an offering to the Lord, just as they had done for quite some time. But on this particular day, the scriptures record:

“And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

“And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

“Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore (verses 6-8).”

At the beginning of verse 9, the scriptures record: “And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam” (Moses 5:4-9).

I have thought about this. In that day—which day? What day was it that the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam? We know that Adam received commandments, and he was faithful to those commandments. In fact, an angel appeared and said, “Why are you doing this thing?” And Adam said, “I know not.” Maybe today we would say, “I don’t know. I don’t know why I’m doing this. What I do know is that Heavenly Father asked me to, and so I keep the commandment.”

Immediately—immediately upon this declaration from his heart, “I do this because I love God more”—that’s my interpretation—immediately upon that declaration, the Holy Ghost began to teach Adam and Eve. The Holy Ghost taught them of the significance of this specific commandment and what they were doing as a way of sacrifice. And then the scripture goes on to tell us that the Holy Ghost taught them even more. Which day was it that the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam and Eve? It was on the day that they declared, “Whatever it is Heavenly Father asks us to do, we will do it. Even if we don’t understand exactly why, or just exactly what, but if Heavenly Father asks us to, we will do it.”

There have been a lot of times in my life that I have had questions, and wondered about things. Sometimes we—especially in today’s world—we want to know answers before we are willing to do things. We want to understand completely before we say, “I will.” Interestingly, Heavenly Father’s plan for us is to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement first, and as we faithfully exercise faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, the blessing is we then receive further light and knowledge related to what we have been asked to do. In that day. Which day? The day that we say, “Whatever Heavenly Father asks, I will do it. I’ll do it faithfully. I’ll do it with all my heart. I’ll do it without question.”

As a result of Adam and Eve’s humble obedience, they were given the Holy Ghost to teach and comfort them. Brothers and sisters, just like this beautiful day today, it’s a beautiful day when we show our love to the Lord with our unqualified obedience.

Let’s move to 2 Kings, chapter 6. I will use verses 15 and 16 to help demonstrate the point. On another day in the history of the world, the Syrian armies were coming against

Israel. Israel was in camp. The Syrians found out, by spies and others, where they were at, and the Syrians came all around them. The scriptures record this exchange between the prophet Elisha, who was with Israel’s camp. But in the moment, it seemed pretty hopeless. Here’s the exchange that took place between the prophet and his young, single adult servant. I made that part up. The scriptures say he was young. I don’t know if he was single. I hope he was an adult.

“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him [unto Elisha], Alas, my master! how shall we do?” Or in other words—my interpretation— “This looks really bad! Our camp is surrounded, and there are a lot of armies, and they look pretty mean. And I’m pretty sure they are here, not to have a party. So what are we going to do? This looks pretty bad. What are we going to do?”

And Elisha answered this way: “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

It’s a wonderful story, and it’s a marvelous image, if you think about this, because an incredible experience took place when this young servant said to the prophet, “This looks really bad. What are we going to do?”

And Elisha, as he said, “Don’t be afraid. They that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

And then this took place. Elisha prayed and said, “LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (verse 17).”

So, this young servant was given the opportunity to see things the way that Heavenly Father sees them, not just the way he saw them. On this beautiful day in the history of the world, as a result of a living prophet and the blessings of the Lord, a young man was able to see the world and the situation that they were in in the way that God sees it.

When we see things the way that Heavenly Father sees them, it’s a beautiful day. This is a very good day.

Sometimes we can only see the world around us through our perspective. But if we ask, and if we seek the opportunity, if we follow a living prophet, our perspective can be enlarged. Our perspective can be widened, and we can begin to see things the way that Heavenly Father sees them, not just the way that we see them.

Because we have a living prophet today, and because Heavenly Father loves us, and as we qualify for the Holy Ghost to assist and help us, and to mentor and teach us, and

to give us impressions and revelations, we too can see things the way that Heavenly Father sees them.

We have had recent experience with this. In our general conference that was held here only a few weeks ago, the eyes of our understanding and our ability to see things the way Heavenly Father sees them were enhanced. Think about it. In general conference, we were given the opportunity to see kindness and caring for and looking after each other through ministering the way that Heavenly Father sees it. We were introduced, our eyes were opened, to a new level, a different perspective, on caring for each other, and loving each other, and looking after each other, and ministering to each other. At general conference, we were able to more clearly see this principle the way Heavenly Father sees it. We were introduced to a new way of looking at Melchizedek priesthood quorum leadership, and we were introduced to a new perspective—God’s perspective. And because of a living prophet, and because Heavenly Father loves us, we see more, now, the way that Heavenly Father sees.

We were given an expanded view, in conference, of the significance and importance of temples, because we were told there would be more of them. And so it is, brothers and sisters. If we seek this, Heavenly Father will help us see things His way. Maybe the most important thing for us to know is that there is more for us to see in God’s glorious plan. And if we will follow the prophet, and if we will make ourselves qualified for the gift of the Holy Ghost, we will see more the way that Heavenly Father sees.

Matthew 11, verses 28 and 29. President Kusch indicated that Debbie and I had the privilege of serving a mission several years ago. We had actually served in the mission as mission president and wife the very same time that the Kusch’s served, and it was a great blessing. After you get home from serving as a mission president, people like to ask you things. One of the questions I’ve been asked the most is, “What was the best day on your mission? What was the very best day on your mission?” Or, in other words, “What was the greatest thing about serving that way?”

I could answer with a lot of things that would be familiar to you. We could talk about the number of missionaries that came out during the time that we served our mission—it went from 140 missionaries to 285 missionaries in about six months. We could talk about the number of baptisms that we had. In our mission—my guess is that the Kusch’s had more baptisms than we did—in our mission, we literally baptized, not on the same day, but we literally baptized one person a day per year. Three hundred sixty-five baptisms we had in our mission almost every year—a difference of one each year is all. We could talk about the wonderful, wonderful people that we came to know and love, and who are now our friends—our dear, dear friends.

But here is how I will answer the question. What was the very best day as a mission president? The best day as a mission president was the day that one of our missionaries

determined that they would believe with all their hearts what they were teaching to other people. The very best day as a mission president is the day that a missionary decides to love God more than to yield to his or her own fears. The very best day in the mission field is the day that a missionary trusts God and loves the Lord and has faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The very best day for a mission president is that day when missionaries believe it. That’s the best day. It’s a beautiful day. And that, my brothers and sisters, is a beautiful day for all of us—for all of us. It’s a beautiful day when we accept the invitation to “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Repentance, my brothers and sisters, is the foundation of a beautiful day. Repentance is a true expression of love for our Heavenly Father and faith in His Son Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Alma 34, verses 31 and 32. A question for us, as we consider what makes a beautiful day, is what will this day be for us, today, this very day? Will it be a good day? Will it be a beautiful day? Will it be something else?

Amulek pleaded: “Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

“For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”

Brothers and sisters, as we obediently offer our hearts to Heavenly Father today, and as we humbly ask in the name of Jesus Christ for the opportunity to see things the way that Heavenly Father sees them, and as we humbly repent and improve, today, Heavenly Father will bless us with a beautiful day. A beautiful day is the day that we take another step closer to Heavenly Father and to His Son Jesus Christ. A beautiful day is when we are more proximate to them.

A beautiful day is the kind of day that the Prophet Joseph Smith described as he said: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24).”

Thanks be to God for the hope of a beautiful, even a perfect, day. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Bio

President Thomas B. Morgan was sustained as the stake president of the Salt Lake Pioneer Young Single Adult Stake in April 2016. Before this call, he served as the president of the New York New York North Mission with his wife, Debbie Morgan, from June 2012 to 2015.

President Morgan’s professional career in banking and finance has spanned more than 35 years. He currently serves as executive vice president at Zions Bank and director of Retail, Small Business and Omni-Channel Banking. He studied business administration and banking and finance at Fresno State University and The Pacific Coast Banking School.

Active in the community, President Morgan has served on many corporate and government boards including, Select Health, Intermountain Healthcare, The United Way of Utah County, the Utah State Charter School Board, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah and the Glen L. Rudd Foundation Community Advisory Council.

President Morgan has served in many Church callings including stake presidency counselor, high councilor, bishop, elder’s quorum president, stake mission president and scoutmaster. The Morgans have been married for 36 years, have five children and five grandchildren.

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