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Do something never done before, and have faith, says BYU engineer

Larry Howell, professor of mechanical engineering, spoke to students in the de Jong Concert Hall Tuesday in a devotional address titled, “Faith: An Essential Principle of the Gospel.” Rebroadcast and archive information is available at or

Howell told students that faith is one of the essential things in life.

“It is easy in life to become busy with all kinds of things, even things that are important,” said Howell, “but we have to be careful not to neglect those things that are essential.”

Howell related a story of when, after a good deal of preparation, he missed an important conference in London for which he had been scheduled as the keynote speaker after forgetting to renew his passport.

“What I thought was going to be a nice honor instead became one of the most embarrassing events of my life. I had done a lot of things to prepare for the trip, but I had neglected one essential thing. And because I had missed that one essential thing, none of the other things mattered,” said Howell.

Growing up in the small town of Portage, Utah, Howell discovered a love for being in places where perhaps no one had ever been before. When he found he wanted to study engineering, it was that same thrill of being somewhere no one had ever been before that made his study so exciting.

Relating this to faith, Howell said, “to do things that have never been done before requires that you step into the unknown. You can’t just follow someone else or repeat what you have done before.”

But just like models provide evidence of how a future system will work, the scriptures “help us predict the blessings that result from living certain commandments,” said Howell.  

Howell spoke of five different elements related to faith. First, have a firm belief that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Second, recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His son’s grace and mercy. Third, trust in Him and what He says. Fourth, know that he has the power to keep His promises. And fifth, faith leads to action and in faith we accept and apply His Atonement and teachings.

“Like my passport was essential for my trip to London, so is faith in Jesus Christ essential to our eternal salvation. It leads us to keep the commandments and apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Eventually I will stand before the judgment bar of God. No one there is going to ask me what I did for a living. No one’s going to care how many papers I published or how many of my patents were granted; those things are going to be totally irrelevant. But faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, receiving the saving ordinances, and enduring to the end are essential, and if we don’t do those things, nothing else will matter.”


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