Archive for the ‘Devotionals’ Category

LDS Young Women Leader Counsels Students to “Establish a House”


Published September 20, 2016

Sister Carol F. McConkie, the first counselor in the Young Women General Presidency for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke to the students at BYU-Idaho during the weekly devotional.

She taught them from the scripture Doctrine & Covenants 88:119 which says, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.”

After quoting this scripture, she said while this was about a temple, it can apply to our lives. “But what could be more significant to your happiness in this life and your eternal well-being than to establish a house built according to the pattern the Lord has set for His own house?”

She then gave students a promise if they follow this pattern. “I testify that by continually seeking the Spirit of the Lord, you may move forward with faith and successfully establish such a home. He will show you the way and you may expect miracles.”

She detailed how students can live up to each phrase in that scripture and then gave students another promise. “I can testify that a happy home is not an outdated impossibility, but a reality that can be achieved by a devoted couple who will strive sincerely to live a Christ-centered life, who will keep all their covenants, and who strive to have the Holy Ghost always to be with them.”

You can listen to her full devotional address below.

BYU-Idaho’s Opening Devotional Focuses on Student Potential, Identity

President & Sister Gilbert

President & Sister Gilbert

Published September 13, 2016

BYU-Idaho President Clark Gilbert and his wife Christine gave the opening BYU-Idaho Devotional of the Fall 2016 semester.

Sister Gilbert talked about knowing who you really are. She quoted Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, who said we live in a world full of distractions. Then she gave this insight, “Distractions can lead to casual actions and then to ignoring our identity and ultimately to forgetting who we are.”

She taught that “when distractions or independence might lead to difficulty in recognizing who you really are” you can’t give up. “Hold on to the things that you do know! You are a child of God! Look around and gain strength from prayer, scriptures, the temple, and righteous examples. Use the power of the Atonement to heal, repent, forgive, and remember whose child you are!”

President Gilbert focused on telling the students they have a great potential and are “children of promise.” He shared stories about youth he met while living in Boston and how he began to teach them as if they were family, “A desire grew in me to teach them so that the gospel would sink deep into their hearts. Our conversations expanded to include plans for missions, how to be an effective missionary, college preparation, the importance of marriage, and early careers,” he said.

He shared a video called “Fulfilling the Mission.” It shares important messages delivered by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of BYU-Idaho about the role and future of the school.

He also shared the story of former Church President Heber J. Grant who grew up in poverty to a single mother, but was promised in a blessing that one day he would become an apostle of the Church. “Like Heber J. Grant, the students of BYU-Idaho are children of promise; and while every one of us faces different challenges and constraints, we also have the same gifts Heber J. Grant had-supportive resources in the Church and the promise of a loving Heavenly Father who knows who we are and who we can become,” he said.

He said students at BYU-Idaho need to learn three characteristics from Heber J. Grant: self-reliance, stewardship and replenishment. Under stewardship he said they have academic, spiritual, career, life skills and leadership stewardships. Then he made this comment and promise, “Now, some of you may be saying, ‘Wow. That’s a bit overwhelming, President Gilbert. Five stewardships, like five talents, is a lot of expectation.’ Well, yes it is. But just get started, pick one area at a time, and work on it each semester. You will make mistakes, and that’s okay. Just do your best; and, if you do, the Lord will multiply your efforts.”

President Gilbert also taught students benefit from those who came before them at BYU-Idaho. They can also leave a legacy for those who come in the future, just like pioneers who would plant crops for saints who would later benefit from the harvest.

During an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, President and Sister Clark also talked about the phrase they think most captures the mission of BYU-Idaho. They both said “disciple leader.”

“If you come to BYU-Idaho and you don’t let it change who you are spiritually you’ve missed the point,” President Gilbert said. “And if you don’t grow as a leader – and a lot of people think, well, when they hear the word leader, they think they’re going to be in charge or I’m going to be the boss or I’m going to be the bishop in the ward or the relief society president – I think if you understood Elder Clark used to refer to this as leadership with a small ‘l’ or President Eyring refers to it as natural leadership, you realize really true leadership is about building and growing other people and you don’t have to be in charge to do that.”

“We were just so lucky to be here for a time then go away and be in an area where we got to be the beneficiaries of BYU-Idaho students in a ward and then with my husband at Deseret Digital Media,” Sister Gilbert said. “I tell you in that ward whenever we got a couple from BYU-Idaho, they did, they stood out. And I served with some young women, I served with in Young Womens with some BYU-Idaho students. I helped a young mother who was having twins that had been a student at BYU-Idaho. I was just amazed by their character and the way they were able to be disciple-leaders in their own homes in our ward and in their work place. It was really beneficial for me to see that in practice and it’s so neat to know that there are so many more that will be going out into the world in the years to come to affect places all over.”

You can listen to their full interview by clicking here.

Listen to their devotional addresses below.

BYU-Idaho Devotional Speaker Talks About Faith, Strengthening Personal Testimonies

Wener, Sheila

Published August 30, 2016

Sheila Wener, a career and academic adviser at BYU-Idaho, gave a devotional talk at BYU-Idaho on August 30, 2016, about faith and a personal testimony.

Wener shared anecdotes and research about the decline of faith in recent years. She also highlighted the rapid changes in technology and how it helps spread the gospel. “We have so much knowledge available at the touch of our hand,” she said. “Family history work is much easier to do now with the development of new software programs and apps. We carry super computers in our pockets. We can do so much more to bless more lives using technology.”

She told a story about a friend who started going back to church, but wasn’t convinced it was true, until her boyfriend bore a powerful, simple testimony to her. “His short but sincere testimony had affected her,” she said. “She didn’t expect an answer from him with such conviction, but when it came she felt the spirit and realized she believed too.”

The friend married her boyfriend in the San Diego temple. “Her story taught me a beautiful lesson about testimony. When you bear honest sincere testimony the spirit will witness the truth of it. Not only will your testimony grow but the testimony of those around you will grow. Never be afraid to share your testimony,” she said.

Wener taught we can develop a testimony through scripture study and prayer, “When we participate in these small and simple steps on a daily basis, we invite the Spirit into our lives,” she said. “The Spirit can then witness to us that God exists, that we are His children, that He loves us and wants us to return back to his presence.”

During an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, she emphasized the importance of doing the simple things, “Where we’re praying every day, we’re reading the scriptures, we’re choosing to do something every day that keeps us close to our Heavenly Father and gives us memories so that we can remember who our Father in Heaven is, remember that he’s real and remember those things while we’re in the middle of something that’s hard, or not even paying attention to what’s happening with our testimonies,” she said. “But at least we have something that’s always there to remember that we have it.”

She shared stories of faith from her personal life. She said one weekend while visiting a relative in Cedar City, Utah (about 500 miles away) she and her husband decided to do all they could to keep the Sabbath Day holy. They purchased food and gas for their minivan on Saturday so they could make the trip home after church on Sunday. She knew they would need to fill up with gas again before arriving home, but as the minivan approached the usual spot for refueling, it still had a tank of gas. She and her husband decided to trust God and made it all the way home on one tank, “We refer to this experience as our family Sunday miracle, and it strengthened my testimony of many things,” she said. “I knew my Heavenly Father knew me, He loved me and wanted to show me I was on the right path.”

She also shared a story about a friend she had before she was married who slowly started taking her away from church through various activities on Sunday, until one day he told her she was going to leave the church eventually. As she thought about what he said, she made a realization, “I had a testimony that was rooted deep into my soul,” she said. “I knew that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the true church on earth. I had a realization that everything I had ever been taught about the gospel was real. I knew I could never turn my back on Heavenly Father.”

You can listen to her full devotional talk below.

BYU-Idaho Devotional Speaker Talks About the Light of Christ

Belka, David

Published August 23, 2016

David Belka, an art faculty member at BYU-Idaho, used his knowledge of light in art to illustrate the importance of the light of Christ in our lives during a BYU-Idaho Devotional on August 23, 2016.

Belka talked about the importance of light and dark in art, photos, stories and movies then related it to our spiritual lives, “In the gospel, we are taught that all of God’s children come to earth with the light of Christ,” he said. “We are taught that the light of Christ is like our conscience and prepares us to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. But I would submit that the light of Christ is much more significant than most of us realize.”

He taught that the light of Christ is also the influence of Jesus Christ in our lives. “The light of Christ is the influence that allows all people to do good works in the world, regardless of whether or not one has received the gift of the Holy Ghost,” he said.

He outlined the mission of BYU-Idaho, which includes learning. He said students should learn more than just the subject matter in their chosen major, “I think that we have an opportunity to learn something in any situation we are in,” he said.

He also said as we gain more knowledge, or light, we can share that with others. He challenged the students to seek out things that will contribute to their learning and to their light and to resist influences that do not contribute to their light, “I would invite you to consider the imagery and information you consume and learn to interpret what you see. And then I would invite you to participate in those things that you know will add to your light and to the light of others and avoid those things that will extinguish that light,” he said.

During an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, he talked about the symbolism of light and darkness in our society, “I think for me, going into a place that’s light, versus a place that’s dark is a lot more inviting, a lot more comfortable. You want to be there. I think that the gospel and the teachings within the gospel offer that light. As you know, Christ said he is the light of the world. If we look to him, that’s how we get through a lot of things. If we trust in him we’re able to get through a lot of challenges and dark times in our life.”

To listen to his full interview click here.

You can listen to the devotional address below.

BYU-Idaho Devotional Speaker Talks About Reverence

Stephenson, Vaughn

Published August 11, 2016

At the BYU-Idaho Devotional on August 9, 2016, Vaughn Stephenson spoke about what it means to be reverent. Stephenson is a BYU-Idaho faculty member in the Humanities and Philosophy Department.

Stephenson talked about the first thing he ever learned about reverence as a child, that it was to be quiet. However, he has since learned it is much more. He taught it doesn’t have to be quiet, like when a temple is dedicated and those present participate in the Hosanna Shout. He said it is also a feeling of respect, “I think with very little effort we can realize that respect is a key, central component to reverence. A reverent person is a respectful person.”

He also talked about those who show reverence, have a sense of wonder or awe. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t be quiet in church,” he said. “If anything we should be more attentive. I am saying that we need to ponder and understand more about all around us so that we can more fully experience the profound respect mingled with awe that is at the heart of a reverent life.”

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio Stephenson expounded on this sense of awe, “A definition I found that President Kimball used, that reverence is profound respect mingled with awe,” he said. “And I think that’s, well that’s what I think really got me reflecting was this concept of awe. Do we really find wonder and amazement in things, or is everything just so common place that we really don’t give it it’s due?”

Listen to the full interview by clicking here.

Listen to the full devotional address below.

BYU-Idaho Devotional Speaker Counsels Students to Embrace Life’s Changes

Dunlop, Robin

Published August 2, 2016

By Brandon Isle

The BYU-Idaho Devotional speaker on August 2, 2016, talked about learning to embrace the changes in our life plans that inevitably come.

Robin Dunlop, a student financial aid officer at BYU-Idaho, gave several personal examples of when her life plans completely changed, including a divorce from her husband and moving from Arkansas to Rexburg, Idaho.

“I knew it was the right move because the Lord had confirmed it to me many times before, during and after the move,” she said. “But even with that confirmation, my attention was often focused on how hard life was during that time and how hard it was to move forward.”

She said she felt paralyzed in her life because she didn’t know the plan she wanted for herself. She realized God did have a plan, but she wanted to pick her own and wanted it to happen right away. But then she realized something, “The Lord was not going to let me fail,” she said. “He was going to take everything in my life, good and bad, and use it for good if I would let him.”

She shared examples from the scriptures when prophets embraced major life changes. Nephi left Jerusalem with his family, the people of Ammon buried their weapons of war and followed the gospel with all their hearts. Many even gave their lives when angry Lamanites invaded and killed them for their beliefs. Dunlop said just like the Lord was there for the people of Ammon, no matter what we’re going through, he will be there for us. “The Lord loves us because we are His,” she said. “And He will always love us no matter what we have done or what we haven’t done. He hears you and is there to comfort you if you will let Him. He is there to heal you if you want to be healed. He can make you whole.”

She gave this advice, “If your life plan has changed without your permission, embrace it because the Lord will take everything in your life and turn it for your good and he will send angels to your rescue.”

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, she also had this advice to share, “The more we fight the changes to our lives I think the more bitter or more frustrated we become, rather than being able to understand that no matter what has happened in the past – whether it’s our experiences, our choices, choices of others – whatever happens the Lord will always take that and make something good in the future if we just can trust that he is in charge.”

You can listen to the full interview by clicking here.

Listen to the full devotional talk below.

BYU-Idaho Devotional Speaker Talks About Doing Hard Things

Orchard, Linda

Published July 26, 2016

By Brandon Isle

“Our eternal progression, our capacity to grow and to learn to ‘become sons and daughters of God,’ is deeply coupled with our capacity to do hard things,” said Linda Orchard, who spoke during the BYU-Idaho Devotional on July 26, 2016.

Orchard shared a pioneer trek experience she had when she and her husband were in charge of their ward’s trek at Martin’s Cove in Wyoming a few years ago. Their ward had 120 youth and they wanted them to do a few “hard things” while there. Those things included starting their first hike at 7 p.m. They walked for a couple of hours and had a devotional. Then as the sun was disappearing, they were given glow sticks to go even farther. “We expected there would be some grumbling and complaining, but it never surfaced,” she said. ”The youth seemed to understand the difficulty and sacredness of sacrifice. It was an amazing site to see a line of yellow lights silently making their way along in the still, cool Wyoming night.”

Her daughter Rachel was among the youth at the Trek. At one point during the trek there is an experience called the Women’s Pull where no men are allowed to help the women and young women pull hand carts up a steep hill. Orchard’s daughter was physically ready to help in this pull. However, she was assigned to act as though she were sick and be carried in one of the handcarts. “When she read her assignment, with tears welling up in her eyes, she looked towards her dad (who also had tears welling up in his eyes). He had chosen her specifically for this assignment,” she said. “Rachel mouthed, shaking her head, ‘No Dad, don’t make me do this, don’t make me do this.”

Rachel did take the assignment, which was “harder for her than if she would have had to pull the carts by herself,” said Orchard.

During her talk, she also shared some of the “hard things” her students are going through. Things like coming to BYU-Idaho from another country and holding three jobs while going to school or giving up a soccer career to honor the wishes of a parent who passed away. “What I realized is that we all have hard things in our lives,” she said.

She said the hard things we go through now will prepare us for hard things in the future. During an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Orchard said these trials are important, “Well, I think the trials are what make us who we are,” she said. “I think that as we go through the trials, we learn how to rely on our Heavenly Father and also when the next hard trial comes, I think that it’s our experience that makes us so that we can survive the next thing.”

You can listen to her full devotional below and click here for her interview with BYU-Idaho Radio.

BYU-Idaho Devotional Speaker Talks About Testimonies, Repentance

Crawford, Bill

Published July 12, 2016

By Brandon Isle

On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, Bill Crawford, a faculty member in the Business Management Department at BYU-Idaho, gave a devotional address about finding and building a testimony.

Crawford related a story about his time as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He said he flew a nearly 36 hour mission from Missouri to Iraq and back. He said the flight home was one of endurance, similar to our lives, which are “contests of endurance and perseverance.”

He said we must each navigate a life with trials and opposition, “We must learn great endurance if we are to fulfill God’s purposes in our lives,” he said.

Crawford talked about struggling to know if he had a testimony of gospel before he went on his mission to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He said he struggled with it for years until he realized something, “Over time I began to realize that it’s ok to believe the Gospel; that ‘a testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost (Doctrine & Covenants 46:13-14),'” he said. “That spiritual knowledge is different from physical knowledge, and that both are equally valid. You can trust your spiritual knowledge. It is every bit as valid as other kinds of knowledge we acquire.”

He cautioned that it’s okay to have questions, but you shouldn’t let those questions deter you from living the gospel. He said your answers may not come at once, so be patient. “When you struggle to gain knowledge for yourself, you will retain it better and longer,” he said. “Why should gaining spiritual knowledge be any different? As you persevere in the effort to gain or strengthen your personal testimony, your spiritual knowledge of the truth will grow.”

He also talked about the gift of repentance and counseled students to find the courage to repent, no matter what they’ve done, “Your teachers, bishops and parents rejoice in the soul that repents,” he said. “We know it’s hard to do. We’ve had to do it ourselves. When you allow others to help you repent, they will love you even more.”

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Crawford also talked about going through trials in our lives and finding a way to have joy, “For me, it’s giving myself permission to be happy even though I’m going through a hard time,” he said.

Listen to his interview here or to the full devotional address below.

BYU-Idaho Devotional Speaker Outlines Characteristics of Discipleship

Williams, Kyle

Published July 5, 2016

By Brandon Isle

The BYU-Idaho Devotional speaker for Tuesday, July 5, 2016, shared a message to help students understand what it is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and to remain worthy of the Spirit.

Kyle Williams is the Facilities Management Operations Director at BYU-Idaho. In his devotional talk he said members of the Church, or disciples of Christ, should be high-output, low maintenance. To illustrate the idea he contrasted incandescent light bulbs to LEDs. Incandescent bulbs are low-output, high-maintenance because they easily break, last only about 1,200 hours and have a high energy cost. LEDs, however, are high-output, low maintenance because they are durable, last about 50,000 hours and have a low energy cost.

“Today’s disciples should be similar to LED light bulbs in the sense that the Lord needs high-output, low-maintenance members of the Church that can run on a low consistent amount of input over an extended amount time,” Williams said.

Using this analogy, he called members of the Church Light Emitting Disciples, “We need the greatest generation of Light Emitting Disciples,” he said. “We need them prepared to leave this Disciple Preparation Center on a path of Discipleship prepared to report to a family ward where a bishop can see their desire, willingness and worthiness. We need them prepared to receive callings and serve diligently in the kingdom of God on the earth.”

He said characteristics of Light Emitting Disciples include: 1. always be worthy; 2. never turn down an opportunity to serve; 3. learn how to work; 4. be diligent. “These disciple characteristics will help you be strongly connected to a reliable power source, emitting the Light of the Savior,” he said.

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio he explained why his list started with always being worthy, “The key to our discipleship, the key to kind of anything in the Church is remaining worthy, the worthiness side. If you’re not worthy, you can’t call upon the powers of heaven. It’s incorporated around discipleship but also how we can remain worthy because that worthiness allows us to do certain things within the Church. It allows us to bless people, not only through service, but by the power of the priesthood. And to bless the lives of others you need to be worthy and listening to the spirit.”

You can listen to that interview by clicking here.

Listen to the full devotional below.

Angela Watkins Talks About Looking Up in Faith During BYU-Idaho Devotional

Watkins, Angela

Published June 28, 2016

During the BYU-Idaho Devotional on June 28, 2016, Angela Watkins, a faculty member in the Health, Recreation, and Human Performance Department at BYU-Idaho, talked about principles of looking back, looking around and looking up in faith.

She took her topic from a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson where he says, “sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up.” She said he was partly wrong in the poem, “I know our Heavenly Father wants us to look up to Him and our Savior, Jesus Christ, in faith,” she said. “But I also believe Heavenly Father wants us to look back other than in times of sorrow, and to look around more than in times of worry.”

She gave examples of times we look back, like in the Book of Mormon when Lehi sent his sons back to Jerusalem to get the Plates of Brass or when we read the scriptures or learn family history lessons, “The experiences of your loved ones can provide the encouragement you need to weather storms of temptations, trials, and sorrow,” she said.

Sister Watkins also related a story of going on a pioneer trek with her stake last year. She said as she and the other women and girls participated in the women’s pull on a very hot day. “The men were not allowed to touch the handcarts or help the women in anyway as we labored up the 20 percent grade,” she said. “It was hard! What got me up that hill was looking back. I do not mean looking back at the sisters and handcarts behind me, but looking back and thinking about my pioneer ancestors.”

While talking about looking around she shared a story about zip lining in Cabo San Lucas. She was with her 10-year-old son and they got stuck in the middle of a long line. She said they were upside down and backwards. She tried to get them to the other end, but her strength gave out. “My son and I hung there, hundreds of feet off the ground, scared, and knowing that if something went wrong with the cable or the carabiner, we would plummet to certain death,” she said. “Although it seemed like an eternity, in reality, within a couple of minutes, our guide hooked himself to the cable and came to rescue us. He wrapped his legs around me and Wynter and quickly pulled us to safety.”

She also talked about the importance of looking to God with faith when we are struggling in life. “Looking up takes strength. Having faith takes discipline, practice, and endurance. Increasing our spiritual capacity takes as much training as increasing our physical capacity,” she said. “It is easy to say you have faith when life is smooth. It is much different to actually possess the spiritual strength, which enables hope and trust in our Savior’s grace, when you are facing a trial and questioning how you will ever endure it.”

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, she said she considered talking about another aspect of faith. She said she has many female students who are torn between the prospects of a career and motherhood. Sister Watkins worked before having her first child, but became a stay-at-home mother for 15 years before returning to work. “I counsel them, get all the education you can, get all the experience that you can, and then between you and the Lord you make the decision,” she said.

You can listen to the full interview with Sister Watkins here.

Listen to her devotional address below.