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BYU Devotional: The power to change & experience God's love

Elder Dale G. Renlund, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, delivered Tuesday’s campus Devotional address. They spoke about the importance of making the power of God a central piece of our lives.

The power to change

Sister Renlund discussed superpowers and the power to change. She cited Elastigirl’s flexibility, superhuman vision and hyper-speed as some of the most desirable superpowers.

Sister Ruth L. Renlund

“These characters and their powers are of course fictional,” she said. “But have you wondered what your spiritual ‘superpower’ really is? You can have a superpower greater than any fictional power ever conceived. You can have God’s power in your life, the ultimate, very real superpower.”

The power of godliness is the power to change. This comes through linking our name to Christ’s name through the waters of baptism and renewing covenants each week through partaking of the sacrament.

Sister Renlund told a story of a man who linked his name to another's and the change that followed. Dr. Craig H. Selzman, a cardiothoracic surgeon, was being appointed to the Russell M. Nelson Chair at the University of Utah.

In his speech, Selzman said that when he felt frustrated and unhappy, like when a patient’s surgery didn’t go as he had hoped, his surgical team could feel that tension and it affected their performance. Selzman had noticed that Dr. Nelson always maintained control over his emotions, and his team performed better because of it. Selzman said that in order to live up to the name of the Chair he was being appointed to, he needed to control his emotions as Dr. Nelson had in the position.

“Perhaps we should reflect on what can and should happen to us as we link our name with the Savior,” she said. “As we do, we, too, can change.”

Experience God's love

Elder Renlund gave a lesson on receptors. Our physical health depends on hormones and receptors. Hormones are produced and then transported into the bloodstream, where they stimulate specific cells by interacting with receptors. Illnesses can occur when there is a problem with the production of the hormones, or if the receptor is unable to receive the signals.

“There is a type of receptor dysfunction that is eternally consequential,” he said. “That is the inability to sense God’s love and feel the Spirit.”

God’s love is perfect and infinite. If there is a disconnect between God’s love and the ability to feel God’s love, the problem is with the receptors.

He told a story of a time when he experienced receptor dysfunction. While at medical school, he often was unable to attend church due to heavy and brutal training. Interns worked daily, and half of the time he could attend if he rushed home after his Sunday morning shift.

Elder Dale G. Renlund

One Sunday, Elder Renlund knew that if he hurried, he could make it home in time for church. Instead, he took more time than was necessary, coming home late enough that he could skip the service and take a nap.

He laid on the couch but couldn’t sleep. He realized that his spiritual receptors were not in tune because he had stopped consistently doing personal, private acts of devotion.

The inability to sense God’s love can come from sin or from not pressing forward on the covenant path. The inability can also happen due to physical or mental illness. For these instances, God expects us to seek professional help when indicated.

Absent mental illness, Elder Renlund offered a three-fold prescription for dysfunctional receptors of God’s love.

1. Repent

Repentance is a joyful process and a gift from God. He cares who you are, what you are doing and who you are becoming.

“If you feel you have done something unredeemable or irreparable, or that you are too far gone, that feeling is not coming from the Holy Ghost,” he said. “It is engendered faulty thinking or by Satan.”

2. Study the scriptures

“Feasting, not nibbling, on the words of Christ, especially in the Book of Mormon, has the power to dramatically change receptors for God’s love,” he said.

Studying the words of Christ and His prophets will help bring a ready-mindset for experiences with God.

3. Take the sacrament

Partaking of the sacrament can bring the companionship of the Holy Ghost, strengthening those spiritual receptors.

Elder Renlund closed with a warning that if this receptor dysfunction is not addressed early on, it will lead to the spiritual fatality of being unable to feel God’s love.

“Addressing our dysfunctional receptors for God’s love restores power, stability and direction in our lives,” he said. “The prognosis, when treated, is excellent…. Make sure your receptors for God’s love are fully functional. Then, as you continue doing these personal, private acts of devotion, you will not slip back into receptor dysfunction.”

Next Devotional: Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President

Sister Jean B. Bingham, General Relief Society President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will deliver the Devotional address on Tuesday, December 10 at 11:05 a.m. at the Marriott Center.

Her remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio.

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