Talk: New Years Eve 2017

I had a friend ask to see my outline and who was inquiring about the response.  So I wrote this up so that I would be able to remember what I shared as well as share it with him.


When I got the assignment to speak for 10 minutes on “Agency, a blessing and a responsibility” I thought WOW!  I need to really trim the talk down to the most essential things to fit it into 10 minutes.  I joked with my wife: “I like talking about the gospel (so much), I can probably talk for ten minutes as easily as I sneeze.”  So, the day before I prepared this talk, Amanda asked me how it was coming.  I told her that I had prepared 100 talks, but that I just didn’t know which one to give.  The morning of my talk, God gave me a very different new one.  I typed up an outline, trusted technology, and saved it…. or so I thought.  I printed the most recent version I had and made it onto the stand during the business before the first hymn.  There I heard that the final speaker had called in sick and the Bishop had invited four young men and women to take a few minutes and introduced an intermediate hymn.  So I jotted down tons of notes, to make up for what I had lost.  I delivered a really disorganized 30-minute, personally purposeful talk and cried through most of it.  Its because I typically feel to talk about what I feel deeply about – or I feel like there is no purpose in my speaking.

The Talk:

  1. Premortal Life
    1. Lived before we were born; were able to choose as we wished; developed certain skills, abilities, spiritual gifts; were known by God
    2. Satan sought to ‘destroy the agency of man’ Lost 1/3 the host of heaven.
    3. God prepared a plan using His knowledge. Each of us were known as individuals;  He selected us for a specific time, planned on us experiencing different things, and fulfilling different purposes while here.
  2. Earth Life
    1. We forget all of that happened.
    2. But how much does He want us not to remember?
      1. After all of that making of individuals, sacrificing 1/3 of the host of heaven to preserve our self-governance, planning according to our individuality, giving us unique and shaping experiences here….
      2. Did God plan for you to come down and fulfill those purposes by trying to be somebody else?
      3. NO!
      4. After all His effort, God needs us to be us.
        1. Our purposes are here- in our lives, minds and hearts. We cannot know and fulfill our purposes without knowing and then choosing ourselves.
  3. There are some real benefits to choosing for ourselves
    1. We experience some of the peace that Christ promised in saying his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
      1. We can accept and ourselves.
        1. In the kitchen – if we are wire whisks, we don’t have to feel miserable that we absolutely suck at being a spoon.
      2. With all of our time and in eternity – we can get there, being able to perform any role.
        1. It is what we all want, but that isn’t now.
        2. For now, it is in God’s plan for us to be everything that He already prepared us to be.
      3. Sometimes I fear that all of the good things that we do are stones we use to create a tower of Babel.
        1. We believe that our good deeds can actually get us into God’s presence.
          1. As if we can select some criteria and be at peace just because we can check a few designated ‘right’ boxes. That isn’t how salvation or exaltation works.
        2. But, if that is how it works, then we also need to count the negatives as well.
          1. And I cannot afford to count those, there is nothing that can make up that price – I know what He’s paid.
          2. Instead, all of the good deeds, need to be stones that make up our altar.
            1. That we lay our whole selves upon as an offering to God
            2. As Omni said in the Book of Mormon: “And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.“
      4. God cannot save us while we’re pretending – He cannot save a fake us; honestly, a fake us doesn’t need Christ, has no need to seek Him, and no interest. Who we might pretend to be simply cannot find Christ or know Him.
        1. And if there is somebody out there who can indeed do it all (keep every commandment and perform every task), great, I’m impressed – I can’t be that.
          1. But that person will never have what I have – a knowledge of Jesus Christ’s personal love for me… how much I actually mean to Him.
        2. Not shared. In the Garden of Eden.
          1. It is the Devil that taught Adam and Eve to hide in the Garden
          2. But it was only after Adam and Eve willingly revealed themselves to the Lord that the Lord taught and revealed to them theredemption.
          3. So it is with us.
      5. We cannot serve eachother, know eachother’s needs, and we cannot really love or really be loved when we’re not ourselves.
  1. Choose the Right.
    1. I looked into the CTR ring recently.
      1. Primary General Board came up with CTR as a slogan for primary in 1970
      2. Rings were copper with a silver-colored coating.
        1. Cost 35 cents when they first came out.
    2. When they were still making decisions, we almost had a CR ring- No ‘the.
      1. Here’s how it went down
        1. “I remember we thought about dropping the word ‘the’ out and having just a CR ring — Choose Right.  I went home that night to think about it. That’s when the inspiration came that the word ‘the’ was the most important word of all. Choosing right could mean many things, but choosing the right meant there was only one way. We kept the ‘T’ in CTR.” (Norma Nichols – Chair of the Primary General Board.”
      2. Only one way?
        1. Yeah, I remember growing up and hearing some adults: how they talked about young men that didn’t serve missions – or that came home early.
          1. I found it scary – I know didn’t want to be that guy – terrifying really.
        2. So, I’m grateful for how things are now.
          1. That now, that the we as a church are recognizing there is more than one way to choose the right.
          2. The church is actively creating new opportunities so that those who might not feel like a mission is for them can still be a part of something good, to serve, and to contribute to the Kingdom.
  2. What is becoming one of my favorite scriptures: 2nd Nephi 25:23-29

23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.

25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.

26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

28 And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore, I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.

29 And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.

7.   Another: Luke 7:36-50

36 ¶ And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.

37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,

38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

Those words just wreak of judgement – saying that woman is vile, if he only knew…  There’s no way I’d let her do that to me.  But Christ perceived his thoughts:

 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?

50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

                So there are some things here.

First:  Which one of these two people really knew who Christ was?
Second:  Which one of these two people really knew who they were?
Lastly, that “to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
…..Our capacity to love others – to receive the Charity that God says it will be well with them who possess it at the judgment, that charity that we become a ‘tinkling cymbal’ without, is tied directly to our ability to receive love and forgiveness from Christ.

8.  So that is my hope, that – in the exercise of our agency –with all of our business and all the good that we do – which we really should do – I would hope that we would choose Christ.

  1. That we’re not so busty being “careful and troubled about many things” that we neglect to choose that better part – that we never end up choosing to seek and know Christ.
  2. In all the good we do, don’t forget the single most important part.


The Response:

Anyway, after I sat down from speaking a lady from the front row jumped up and grabbed some tissues from next to the podium.  When the meeting was over I had someone who is… more of my wife’s friend… who knows my circumstances.  Come up to the stand and give me a big hug – I was still crying a bit.  But it meant a lot to me that she was there;  and as we embraced she said that I was the reason for her coming to church today.  When I got down the steps, the lady who had nabbed the tissues also gave me a big hug and thanked me for being brave, assuring me that ‘hearts were touched.’  I appreciated that hug just as much.

I went back straight to where my wife had been sitting a with all of our kids and she wasn’t there.  Rather than stand there in the middle of the bustling chapel all teary-eyed, I went out into the hallway to look for her.  I took an entire lap and passed a few people who thanked me for my talk.  Not finding her, I stopped and hid in the fourier at the end of my route.  After pretending to be absorbed in my phone for a bit, my wife came out of the chapel.  “Where were you?”   “Looking for you, but I couldn’t find you.”  “I was in there listening to everybody tell me what a great job you did.”  Almost everybody I bumped into in Primary thanked me too.

I choose to believe them – that people really did enjoy the talk;  I like my talk 🙂 .  But, like I said elsewhere, I am paranoid.  I mean…  when I’m up there sobbing… I sure hope people would tell me they really liked the talk… because that’s what you tend to to do to crying people, right?

One thought on “Talk: New Years Eve 2017

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