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Historic graduation held at BYU-Idaho

Published: Monday, Dec. 20 2010 12:24 a.m. MST

REXBURG, Idaho — Only one day after the new BYU-Idaho Center building was dedicated, family, faculty and friends gathered in the new auditorium on Saturday to honor the largest fall graduating class in the history of BYU-Idaho.

"These commencement exercises mark a historic and significant day for the university as we gather this morning in the newly dedicated BYU-Idaho Center," President Kim B. Clark, president of the university said. "Today marks the first of many commencements to be held in this wonderful building."

More degrees were given than ever before in a fall commencement, conferring 1,482 bachelor and associate degrees. Of that number, 1,059 were bachelor degrees, and 423 were associate degrees.

Joining President Clark in the services were Elder Marlin K. Jensen, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Elder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of Education for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Clark spoke about two principles that help individuals on their journey in life, especially after graduation.

First, President Clark said individuals must set their hearts on the Lord by keeping the spirit in and the world out of their hearts.

"I hope you will never ever let the things of the world get into your heart," he said. "Never set your heart on things, on money, houses, cars, snowmobiles, four-wheelers, clothes, jewelry, or anything else of the world. Don't let pleasure or thrills or career or position or power or the honors of men get into your heart. They can get there very easily if you're not careful. Set your heart on the Lord."

Second, President Clark said individuals must serve the Lord.

"You'll have many opportunities to serve the Lord," he said. "Always accept and always magnify callings and assignments that come to you in the church. No matter what your bishop calls you to do, accept and magnify. … And when the promptings of the spirit come to you while on the Lord's service, act upon those promptings quickly, as soon as you can. This is your personal ministry, and comes from the Lord."

Elder Johnson told graduates of the importance and sacredness of sacrificing for the Lord. "No matter your wealth, position or prominence, your sacrifice is more sacred than increase," he said. "In this life, whatever our increase is, we can use it to build up the kingdom of God. But in the end, we will be judged on what we did, not on what we had." …

"As you move forward in your life, you'll be invited many times to sacrifice, there will be thousands of opportunities to sacrifice for family and for the kingdom. Most of these will be small sacrifices of time and personal preference, but even some of these can be very difficult. … The Lord is aware and we can sense His love for us and become like Him."

Elder Jensen spoke of the many important events in life that lead individual's down the path of discipleship. He spoke of two points that will help individuals as they continue in life after graduation.

"Please — this day and always— recognize and remember and be grateful that you are the beneficiaries of and have grown up under the greatest religious, cultural and social system on earth, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ," he said. "And, you have been blessed to experience it in its entirety!"

He spoke of the process of love, teaching and tangible resources the LDS Church and families have made available to graduates to get them to where they are today.

"No effort, no expense, no opportunity has been spared to enable you to achieve your God-given potential," he said.

Elder Jenson also asked graduates the question, "Therefore, what?"

Speaking of the necessity of taking action to improve ones life and apply Elder Jensen told graduates they have an obligation for the future.

"My hope is that you will consider your blessed beginning in life as a prelude to a deep and lasting commitment to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ," he said. "His invitation, 'come follow me,' speaks to the soul of every man or woman who acknowledges His divinity and who has experienced the miracle of His forgiveness.

"Consciously choosing to live a life of discipleship will enable you in time to translate all the experiences, teachings, ordinances, and covenants of your youth into improved personal behavior — into becoming more Christlike."

It is through living the life of a disciple, Elder Jensen said, that individual's are able to put off the natural man or woman and become more like a saint.

"Serve and love and learn and teach and share and bless other — and practice the self-denial of a disciple that will allow you to master appetites and passions," he said. "And above all, do all of this at home. We make our covenants in churches and in temples, but they are best kept at home."

e-mail: mholman@desnews.com

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