Archive for the ‘Devotionals’ Category

“Living After The Manner of Happiness”


Sister Kathy Webb’s devotional shares how she found happiness by allowing God to rescue her.

Published October 18, 2016

Story by Myles Primm

Sister Kathy Webb, Executive Assistant to BYU-Idaho President Clark Gilbert, spoke to the student body of BYU-Idaho today in a devotional. The title of her devotional was, “The Rescue, The Power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” It included moments of her life where she was “rescued” by Christ for the better.

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Sister Webb shared her reasoning for choosing this topic.

“I started out thinking I would about serving with the different presidents at BYU-Idaho,” said Webb. “I think part of the reason why I landed here in part something to do with what Vice President Henry J. Eyring said to me at my desk, ‘really all that you have is you…you want to share what in your life has taught you the doctrine of Christ.'”

Webb said after that conversation she started to reflect on her life and what experiences would have helped her in her life that she could use.

She started off sharing her experiences with living in Saudi Arabia as a young girl and learning the importance of the sacrament early since her family could only partake of it when her older brother would visit them. Her father was an inactive member of the LDS Church and was not able to bless or pass the sacrament.

When she got older, Sister Webb moved back to the United States where she felt like she fell away from the church. She shared many instances where she felt like she was rescued by God and he kept directing her to where she is today.

“Every time the Lord rescued me, I had to make a choice,” said Webb. “The Lord was and is literally standing at the door and knocking, but all of us have to choose to open the door and let him in.”

She shared five choices she made that went along with her rescue. First, remembering who we are.

“You are in a new time and place in your life,” Webb said. “Remember who you are and where you came from.”

Her second choice was to choose to believe and have faith.

“I know that acting in faith allows Father in Heaven to teach us powerful lessons that we couldn’t learn any other way,” said Webb. “When I first felt the Lord reaching out to rescue me, I had to choose to exercise my faith to follow.  I had to choose to believe.”

Third, choose to change. She shared some insight Elder David A. Bednar taught her during his time at BYU-Idaho.

“‘You are either on the Lord’s side or Satan’s side,'” he said to Webb. “‘If you are not on the Lord’s side—move.  Get up and walk away—make a change.  The deeper you go into the Lord’s side of the line, the safer and better able to experience happiness you will be.'”

Her fourth and fifth points were repent and seek forgiveness and choose to be happy. She quoted Elder Jeffrey  R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, with how we should not be afraid to take the step of faith and repent.

In regards to being happy, Webb shared experiences she has had with President and Sister Gilbert and said their happiness comes from their willingness to serve and remain positive.



The Rising Phoenix

Stephanie Nielson shares  “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of her family on her blog, NieNie Dialogues.

Published October 11, 2016

Story by Myles Primm


The Nielson Family courtesy of NieNie Dialogues

Stephanie Nielson was in an airplane accident which left 80 percent of her body burned. She was in a medically induced coma and missed two of her children’s birthdays because of it. However, she has used her family for strength to recover and keep going.

Nielson started a blog called NieNie Dialogues in 2005. In her blog she would share experiences as a mom and a wife. In 2008, that changed after she and her husband were in the plane crash.

Ever since her recovery she now has a new perspective on her blog, it is not simply about motherhood but rather, loving life and taking it each day-at-a-time. Family was the center of her blog and now is the center of her life as she shares her daily experiences with her five children, her husband, her church experiences and her hikes.

Nielsen says even if she is helping one person she feels like she is doing good. Her husband Christian Nielson says she has not let the large fan base and thousands of followers get to her head.

“She still writes it as if only our family reads it,” Christian Nielson said in an interview.

Although the road has been long, the Nielsons have risen from their experiences like a phoenix.

“The phoenix symbolizes renewal in general as well as the sun, time, consecration, resurrection, life in heavenly Paradise and Christ,” Stephanie Nielson said in her devotional. “I would add bravery and survivor to its description too.”

Curtis Castillow: Allowing God to give You What You Need


Published October 4th, 2016

Story By Myles Primm

Curtis Castillow, a Religious Education Faculty Member at BYU-Idaho, shared personal experiences in his devotional talk on October 4, 2016, about where he learned that when we think we want something, God will give us what we need.

In his address he shared the story of the Old Testament prophet Joseph who was sold by his brothers to be a slave and how he was in bondage for 13 years when he caught the eye of the Pharaoh and then became a great leader. Castillow said that God was “silent” during that time but in reality he was building up Joseph to reach his full potential.

Castillow compared his college experience to the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” novels with how he tried to take one path in life but he instead went down a different path. In the moment, his troubles seemed major but as he looked back, he realized they were there to help him align his path with God’s path.

He then encouraged listeners to remember that God gives things that will help and bless our lives and not give us “stones” or a “serpent” that would hurt us. He also shared a story about a man who was adopted and then served a mission in Lansing, Michigan. Although he was puzzled why he was called to that mission he still went.

Upon his return, he decided to get in contact with his real family only to find out, one of the ward mission leaders from his mission was actually his uncle. A discovery that took years but he then realized the Lord’s hand in why he went to Michigan on his mission.

For further insight to Brother Castillow’s address, you can listen to an interview with student reporter Myles Primm.


Jonathon Lawrence Devotional


Story by Myles Primm

Jonathon Lawrence, the University Relations Creative Services Manager, gave a devotional address at BYU-Idaho September 27, 2016. His address focused seeking the will of the Lord in all things focusing on three aspects: prayer, the atonement, and prior assurance.

With prayer he focused on how it is a blessing for us to be able to speak with the most powerful being in the universe and it is an opportunity for us to listen as well as receive answers to our prayers. When we get those answers, it is important that we act upon them and trust God to follow through. He reminded us that God always hears us but does not respond immediately because it is not his timing.

Lawrence’s second principle that he discussed on was the atonement. He compared to using the atonement to using a dishwasher that can clean anything but the dishwasher is obsolete when we don’t turn it on. He mentioned that repenting means to change, even if we did not commit sin we should still repent to align our will to God’s.

His third and final topic was prior assurance. With this point he shared an example from his personal life when he and his wife first got married and his wife received revelation that they would have twins. After four children and no twins they began to lose hope. However, they remembered the revelation that they had and kept holding on. Sure enough, when they had their next child they were informed that they were having twins.

He concluded with a reminder that God loves us and we can find His blessings through living the gospel and the temple.

You can listen to the full devotional below and also listen to an interview with Lawrence with student reporter Myles Primm.

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.