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Craig Manning|Jan. 31, 2017 I would like to explain the sequence of how I was first contacted to speak at this devotional. It was on a Monday that I got a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. It had been a hectic day, and I didn’t read the text fully. Thinking it was a request to speak at an upcoming Church assignment, I texted back politely asking who the text was from. Matthew O. Richardson, BYU advancement vice president, responded that it was he who had sent the text asking me to speak at a BYU devotional. The first thought that popped into my mind was, “Are you crazy? Do you not realize that I can barely speak the English language, let alone speak in front of so many people?” My wife, who was with me at the time, responded without hesitation, “That is desperation, not inspiration!” I texted President Richardson back with, “I think you have the wrong Craig Manning.” He then replied, “Oops, sorry, I do have the wrong person!” But he then clarified that he did have the right person. As intimidating as it is to speak in front of you, the experience of preparing for this devotional has been great. I have found that every time I have put on the radio, in every activity I have participated in, and with every thought I have had, I have double-checked myself to make sure I was in alignment with the Holy Ghost so as to have the Spirit with me. I do pray that the Spirit will be with me today as I deliver my thoughts. I would like to talk to you today about a couple of life-changing lessons the Lord has taught me. I was born and raised in Canberra, Australia. My mother was, and still is, a Catholic, and my father was a member of the Church of England before he passed away from cancer twenty years ago. We attended church on Sundays, and I attended Sunday School, completing my first Holy Communion. As I got older, I started playing rugby. Games were on Sundays, and it wasn’t long before we stopped attending church. I remember coming home from a rugby game one Sunday when my mother said to me, “You are really good at sports, so you won’t be very good at school.” This statement confused me. Although I didn’t have the maturity and clarity of thought at the time to articulate my emotions, I can look back now and see why this statement bothered me. Was there some phenomenon that controlled my destiny? I couldn’t help being good at sports; it just seemed to happen. Every time I participated in an athletic contest, I was reminded that I was a good athlete. So did that mean I had no chance of ever being a good student, and did I have any say in any of this? I don’t share this story to accuse my mother of bad parenting but rather to illustrate what can happen when we don’t understand the Lord’s plan or, more important, when we don’t learn to live and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ. I spent my teenage years focusing the majority of my attention on sports, par
Blake E. Peterson|May 24, 2016 Many who speak at a Brigham Young University devotional make reference to their experiences as students at BYU and the insights they have gained by attending devotionals. I can’t do that because I never attended BYU. I am a Utah State University Aggie, and my Aggie blue runs deep. I am a big Cougar fan, but even after twenty years of holding season tickets for BYU basketball and football, I still can’t bring myself to sing, “Rise and shout.” In those same twenty years I have also attended devotionals as a faculty member and have heard the testimonies of many of my colleagues and felt the spirit of many students as they have borne testimony through music. I am particularly humbled by this opportunity to speak to you today in a place where prophets and apostles have taught and testified. Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection? I am the youngest in a family of four boys, and about twenty-two years ago I was encouraged to apply for a faculty opening here at BYU in the Department of Mathematics. At the time, I was a faculty member at Oregon State University, and my three older brothers lived in Iowa, Washington, and California, while my parents lived in Logan, Utah. In addition to this being a great opportunity for me to come to BYU, it allowed me to be a little closer to my parents, because their health was failing. My father did not want my decision to move to Utah to be based in any way on helping him and my mother. He was very proud of the fact that his sons were contributing to the kingdom outside of Utah. My wife, Shauna, and I felt that the move to BYU was the right decision, and we arrived here in August 1996. Six months after our arrival in Provo, my father had surgery in Salt Lake City to repair a heart valve. Ten years earlier his original valve had been replaced with a pig valve, at which time he contracted hepatitis C. Because this pig valve was now failing, the doctors decided to replace it with a mechanical valve. During the surgery the doctors realized that the hepatitis C had wreaked havoc on my father’s liver, which made the heart surgery very traumatic on his body. This was the beginning of a seventeen-day roller coaster ride. At this time my mother’s health was not good, so she was only able to visit my dad about every two to three days. Thus the responsibility of visiting my father and communicating with the doctors fell to my wife and me. One or the other of us would travel from Mapleton, about ten miles south of Provo, to the hospital in Salt Lake City every day. Many times my wife would visit in the afternoon, and I would spend the evening at the hospital, or vice versa. This was particularly challenging because we had four children ranging in age from three to nine. I referred to this time as a roller coaster ride because on one day a particular doctor would be pessimistic and on the next day another doctor would be optimistic about the eventual outcome.
Marcus B. Nash|Feb. 2, 2016 It is wonderful to be here with you. I am a Cougar through and through—I love BYU. While here I obtained both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, created lasting friendships, and convinced Shelley Hatch to take a risk on me. She was the first of the two of us to graduate from BYU and is the best thing I gained from being here. I hope your time as a student will be as productive as mine was! After I was called as a General Authority, Sister Nash and I—along with our two youngest children—were assigned to Lima, Peru, where I would serve in the Area Presidency. On our first Monday there, we were given a brief driving tour so that we could learn how to get to and from places such as home, the children’s school, the grocery store, and other places. Then they handed me the keys to the car. This sounds simple, but the streets of Lima can be bewildering. Even seasoned inhabitants get lost. The traffic is in constant flow and the streets curve, twist, and turn—and never seem to intersect with another street that will take you back to the exit you just missed. It can seem at times that the streets of Lima are designed to take the unwary exactly where they do not intend to go! So after driving for approximately five minutes that first day, I missed a turn and got us completely lost—and that was for a few hours. A year or two later Sister Nash, driving on her own in Lima, got lost and ended up in a part of the city that was uncomfortable and even dangerous—and she did not know how to get home. Then, in a moment of inspiration, it came to her that our recently obtained GPS had a button marked Home. She pushed that button and was guided safely home. My dear students, the plan of salvation—one of the greatest treasures of knowledge restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith—is a perfect, fully updated spiritual GPS. It is a celestial map given to unerringly guide us home. Please listen to what I am about to say, even though you have heard it before. Listen as if you were hearing this for the first time: each of us “is a beloved . . . son or daughter of heavenly parents,” and we lived with them prior to our mortal birth.1 Motivated by perfect love and a desire to give each of us as His children the opportunity to receive all He has, our Father in Heaven instituted a plan from before the foundation of this earth2 whereby we could obtain eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God.”3 Put simply, eternal life is the life God lives!4 This plan of salvation was—and is—based upon laws and truths that have always existed5 and that make God what He is and heaven what it is.6 When the plan was explained to us in the premortal realm, you and I not only “shouted for joy”7 but also defended the plan against those who opposed it.8 The plan required that this beautiful world be created to give us
Scott C. Esplin|Jan. 19, 2016 Thank you for that beautiful and calming musical number. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today and for the support of family, colleagues, students, and friends who are here. I invite you to reflect on the last time you experienced the feeling of fear. Was it while wondering if you would be admitted into one of the many competitive degree programs here at Brigham Young University? Or while waiting to see if the girl you asked out wants to go out again? Or, worse yet, while wondering what to do when she does? For me, the feeling is as recent as sitting on this stand, looking into the faces of so many and knowing that, through the miracle of technology, thousands more are watching this message. Like you, I can testify that the feeling of fear is real. Elder David A. Bednar taught about this powerful emotion in last April’s general conference: “Notably, one of the first effects of the Fall was for Adam and Eve to experience fear. This potent emotion is an important element of our mortal existence.”1 Today I want to visit with you about overcoming the fears that are an essential part of our experience in this earth life. Fear of an Unknown Future One of my favorite classes to teach here on campus is the Doctrine and Covenants because I find it highly relevant in my own life and in the lives of my students. In a well-known episode from the text, Oliver Cowdery, the primary scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon, was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to join Joseph Smith as a translator of that sacred book of scripture. Oliver was instructed: Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.2 Shortly thereafter, when Oliver failed in his attempt to translate a portion of the Book of Mormon, the Lord explained the reasons for his failure. Outlining several causes, the Lord declared, “And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you.”3 Furthermore, He added, “Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now.”4 I have long wondered what it was that Oliver feared that caused him to not continue as he had commenced. Knowing that the project was of eternal importance, did he fear making a mistake and thus marring the sacred publication? I was the age of most of you when this scriptural episode came to have special meaning for me. I was in graduate school here at BYU, and I began asking out a particular girl. And, as things progressed, I became scared. Like Ol
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