Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Elder Holland's 10 Best Talks of All Time



One of the first birthday cards I received from my wife following our wedding in 2003 contained a list she thoughtfully made of all my favorite things. It was no surprise to me that "Talks by Elder Holland" made the top of her list. Among modern apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I know of none whose messages are more universally loved than Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's. Regardless of the meeting or setting, Elder Holland's sermons seem to reverberate throughout the worldwide Church audience, and his messages have always had particular meaning for me personally. For years, my daily commute to and from work has consisted of listening to one of Elder Holland's talks, from a compilation I update regularly when he gives new talks. 

Since the time Elder Holland began serving as dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University in 1974, I am aware of approximately 100 talks he has given in public settings including General Conferences, BYU devotionals, and Church Educational System firesides. Selecting Elder Holland's 10 Best Talks of All Time proved to be even more challenging than I anticipated, but what follows is my personal list of the best talks he has ever given. In addition to a brief excerpt from each talk below, I include links to the full text and audio of each talk.

As you'll see below, I believe Elder Holland gave his best talk in October 2009, when he shared his powerful witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. That talk went through my heart like a javelin (borrowing one of his phrases). I will never forget the witness of the Holy Spirit I felt that day as Elder Holland shared his personal testimony of the divine origin of that book. As you read the excerpts from his talks, I am confident you will feel the power of this modern apostle's witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Please comment below and share your thoughts about Elder Holland or your favorite talk of his. Let us know if your favorite talk didn't make the list.

10. "The First Great Commandment" (2012) Listen here.

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: 'Did you love me?' I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all.’”

9. "Like a Broken Vessel" (2013) Listen here.

“I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally ‘free at last.’”

8. "The Ministry of Angels" (2008) Listen here.

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face...On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then, the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.”

7. "None Were With Him" (2009) Listen here.

“Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path…This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ ‘at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,’ for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.”

“Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as ‘hope for a better world.’ For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of ‘good things to come.’…To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His ‘more excellent ministry’ with a future of ‘better promises.’ He is your ‘high priest of good things to come.’

5. "Remember Lot's Wife" (2009) Listen here.

“I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.”

4. "Lord, I Believe" (2013) Listen here.

“What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine. I know this work is God’s very truth, and I know that only at our peril would we allow doubt or devils to sway us from its path. Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.”

Along with the illuminating revelation that points us toward a righteous purpose or duty, God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, he will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church. It is true of getting an education, of going on a mission or of getting married or of any of a hundred worthy tasks in your young lives.”

“You must wait—you must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are at least legally and, for Latter-day Saint purposes, eternally pronounced as one. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember—'you are not your own') and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole heart and your whole life and your whole self is its own form of emotional Russian roulette. If you persist in sharing part without the whole, in pursuing satisfaction devoid of symbolism, in giving parts and pieces and inflamed fragments only, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your physical intimacy and your wholehearted devotion to a truer, later love.”

1. "Safety for the Soul" (2009) Listen here.

"Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs...I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days."



Nate Sharp is an associate professor in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and currently serves as bishop of the College Station 3rd ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He grew up in Holladay, Utah, served a full-time mission for the Church in the Korea Seoul West mission, and later graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Texas at Austin. He married Holly Carroll in 2003, and they are the proud parents of five beautiful children.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Baptizing Daddy's Little Girl

Eight years ago last month, a little girl came into this world. The third child (and third daughter) born into our family, Courtney was the perfect child. Fortunately for me, she wouldn’t let anyone else hold her if I was around. She has been my perfect little girl and I have been her favorite dad. She is always smiling and ready to give hugs to whoever is lucky enough to receive one.

As she has grown up, I’ve come to know her better than anyone else in this world except maybe her mother. I know what will happen when her older sister teases her and how she will respond to various situations. I also know what she loves to do, how to calm her fears, and what a gentle heart she has.
Over the last few months, I’ve thought a lot about what her turning 8 years old means. I used to wonder why we baptize children at age eight in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After having three of my children reach that age, however, I can see that it’s around that age that they begin to gain a good understanding of what is right and wrong.

I must admit that it has been a little hard for me to see her reach this point, as I know that my time as my little girl’s favorite dad is quickly disappearing. One day she won’t reach for my hand as I walk her to school, or even look back to make sure I’m there. I’ve experienced that with my older two already, although there are moments when I am lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their younger selves and I know they still care that I come to see how they are doing when I return home from work.

I had the opportunity to baptize and confirm Courtney, as I did my older children, and the opportunity was an incredible experience. As I stood next to that pure and innocent girl in the water, I remembered the charge of the Savior to become as a little child (Matthew 18:3-5). I was also reminded of a prophet’s counsel that “no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”  
Prior to Courtney’s baptism, my wife and I spent some time making sure that she understood the promises she would make with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at baptism. I also spent time reflecting on how well I have kept those same covenants. I have been far from perfect in many ways, but what gives me hope is that despite my many flaws, Courtney is somehow able to focus on the good in me. I believe it’s much the same as our Savior sees us, and that thought gives me a great deal of hope. I strongly believe that’s one of the reasons that Heavenly Father puts every one of his children in a family. A family relationship is uniquely able to help us feel the love of our Heavenly Father. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their family in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” (Proclamation to the World on the FamilyThe experience of Courtney’s baptism will mean more because of the bond that we share.

How grateful I am for the knowledge that through the ordinances and promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is nothing that can separate me from my family, not even death. I will always be Courtney’s father and that is everything I could ever hope to be. That beautiful brown-eyed girl, along with her mother and siblings, are the joys of my life. Heaven would not be heaven without them, which is why salvation is a family affair.

– Joel Andrus

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lessons on Love - 5 Reasons My Husband is Perfect... for Me.


No one is perfect and no marriage is perfect, but I have a husband who is absolutely perfect for me. Here are five traits that make him one of the greatest husbands of all time, and the lessons I’ve learned from him.

1. Be your spouse’s greatest cheerleader

My husband is a dreamer. He has goals, dreams, ambitions and the initiative to get out and get them. The awesome part about him though, is that he realizes that I have my own dreams and aspirations, and he does his best to support me. I reach my goals because he is my greatest cheerleader. I trained and ran a marathon and I owe my success to him. He coached me, ran many of my training routes alongside me, and carted our kids along the marathon course so he could be at different milestones to cheer me on.

2. Make your spouse your No. 1 priority

Before we got married, we decided that outside of Heavenly Father and the Savior, our spouse would be the most important person in our lives. Our children, parents, siblings, etc. would be secondary or tertiary in importance. At times it has been a struggle for me to maintain; Richard simply doesn’t come screaming to me for attention or throw temper tantrums, as do our 3 kids. I am always first to my husband though. We’ve also decided together that we don’t speak negatively about one another to our family members or friends. We can trust each other to be loyal. Consequently, our children will grow up expecting no less from their spouses.

3. Dating your spouse keeps the excitement and interest alive

As poor college students, we had a lot of fun dating and we still do. Marriage is fun and should stay that way. It takes time to prepare and think of things that are different from the norm (i.e., movie on the couch with popcorn…although we love those too). Three of our favorite stay at home dates have been setting up dollar store army men and knocking over each other’s guys with rubber bands; roasting marshmallows on the grill and watching the stars; and making desserts with odd ingredients and playing board games. Get creative and do something different!

4. Be thoughtful and find fresh ways to surprise your spouse.

Richard is extremely thoughtful. After a rough day, sometimes he will escort me into the bathroom where he’s drawn me a bath and give me a book so I can just relax or make a dinner (which usually entails a breakfast food). I can tell he thinks about me and is always willing to find a way to surprise me or lighten my load. When he does things for me, I find myself more willing and excited to do the same for him.

5. Treat your spouse with kindness and respect

My husband has never once raised his voice or intentionally said anything to me that is demeaning or unkind. I have never met a gentler, kinder person, with the exception of his mother; which is important. Because his parents treated one another with kindness, my husband does the same for me. I know my children will grow up having had the example from their father that husbands are to treat their wives and children with kindness and respect.


There is room to improve in every marriage. My husband, as good as he is, still needs to learn to appreciate chick flicks, especially Jane Austen. Here’s hoping that with enough time and brownies as bait and reward, maybe he can be won over.

– Natassia Scoresby 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The 12 Most Beautiful LDS Temples


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will dedicate its 142nd operating temple in Gilbert, Arizona, on March 2, 2014. For Latter-day Saints, temples are the most sacred structures on earth; they are literally houses of the Lord. In temples, Church members participate in ordinances designed to unite their families together forever and help them return to God. Temples are distinct from the buildings where we hold our weekly worship services on Sundays. We call those buildings "meetinghouses," and there are thousands of them around the world (including several in the Bryan\College Station area). For more information on the history of temples visit here or the official newsroom of the LDS Church here.

To add to the temple excitement, we compiled a list of the 12 Most Beautiful LDS Temples. Each is exquisite in its own way, but we chose the following as our Top 12. 
Comment below with which building is your favorite, or let us know which one should have made our list.

12. Rexburg, Idaho
11. San Salvador, El Salvador
10. Toronto, Canada
9. Portland, Oregon

8. Washington D.C. 
7. Salt Lake City, Utah


6. Laie, Hawaii
5. Hong Kong
4. Manti, Utah
3. Houston, Texas
2. Nauvoo, Illinois
1. San Diego, California