Ideas for LDS Sacrament Meeting Talks

A friend posted: “I need some good topics for Sunday speakers. Hit me up with topics you have liked or would like to hear about.” Without any hesitation I banged out this list of ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks.

A few of the immediate reactions:

Reaction to my ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks

“If I ever write a book, you’re picking the title.”

“Holy cow! Where did all these come from? Seriously the titles alone speak a sermon.”

“Nat holy cow. If you just came up with those that is mind blowing.”

Spice up your Sunday meetings with these starting points off the beaten path.

If you write a sacrament talk or ask someone to speak from one of these titles, send me a copy or comment.

34 Ideas for LDS Sacrament Meeting Talks

When People Don’t Apologize: Forgiving and finding reconciliation with God

Would borrow from Forgiveness + Tribulation, a talk I gave fall 2019.

Honoring Fallen Parents: The Fifth Commandment and Romans 3:23

The Fifth Commandment enjoins: “Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

How can we, how do we, honor parents … when they have ALL fallen short—at best—and done real harm, at worst?

Mediating Identities: Being an independent agent AND part of a family, part of a ward, part of a Church at the same time

… for there is a God, and he hath created all things … both things to act and things to be acted upon … Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.

2 Nephi 2:14-16

[M]en should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will … For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.

D&C 58:26-27


And let every man esteem his brother as himself … And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just? Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

D&C 38:24-27

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.

John 17:22-23

Forgiving Ourselves: Letting go of shame, expectation, guilt and perfectionism

The Appeal of Hakuna Matata, and Gospel Prompts for Finding + Making Meaning in Shouldering Responsibility

“Time Isn’t Found, It Is Made” — and other pedestrian truisms the gospel turns upside down

I believe “time isn’t found, it is made” is a Henry B Eyring line. Need to verify.

We’re All Wart: How The Sword and the Stone helped me rediscover what it means to be a child of God

There’s so much to unpack from these opening 8 lines.

Heavenly Mother & The Tree of Life: Symbols of Divine Femininity

7 Years of Plenty and 7 Years of Famine: What I am really learning to lay up in store for my family

The Good Samaritan: Seeing myself in every character

I Am Alma Too: Conversations with my present-day children of varying degrees of faith

(I don’t have kids. To someone who does, go for it.)

From Obedience to Integrity: The personal transformation to leader from follower

Skeletons in Our Closet: What to do when family history uncovers unsavory characters

The Prodigal’s Sibling: Learning to love as my father did

Cardinal Truth: Spiritual directions intimated by North, East, South and West

Seeing Thru a Glass Darkly: The beams that got in the way of knowing my parents, siblings and spouse

The Kingdom of God is Within Me … so why do I place so much stock in others’ accusations?

The Tarnished Rule: Consequences of misapplying The Golden Rule, and how I finally buffed out the error

Why Hope When You Can Ask … and Act?

Being Nice and Cowardice: Which, really, am I being?

Being Even As He Is: A Chapter on Courage

Every Day is a New World: Living with Creative Force in Every Moment

Clinging to Dregs: The unseen upside to keeping ourselves dirty and why we make that horrible tradeoff

Embracing Possibility: The absolute terror of becoming the best possible versions of ourselves

Letting Others Grow: The petty ways I’ve kept my friends & family small

No One is Coming: Stand Up and Lead Your Own **** Life

Taking Responsibility: Voluntarily shouldering the burdens of mortality and climbing upward to The City on a Hill

Empty Handed at the Pearly Gates: Coming to grips with my own vapidness from a life of ease

Oh, So You Think YOU Could Be a Prophet?

Admitting Laman and Lemuel are there to Mirror Me

Lehi and Alma: Grace for parents who “failed”

Ether 12:27: Weaknesses and Epic Fails which only now, a decade later, I can appreciate and be grateful for

Leaning on The Atonement to Overcome Humiliation

The Sound of Silence: Answering my own prayers

There you go. What ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks do you have now?

By |2021-12-22T17:15:01-07:00April 27th, 2021|Faith|5 Comments

(draft) Why I stopped saying “do you want to?”

The Plague of “Do You Want To…” As An Invitation or Imperative.

Why I stopped saying “do you want to?”

Parent asks child: “Do you want to wash the dishes?”

Boss asks a direct report: “Do you want to take care of that?”

Date asks date: “Do you want to pass the salt?”

Sibling asks sibling: “Do you want to get carrots for me when you go to the store?”

Endless scenarios of people using this construction, INQUIRING about another’s DESIRE … when REALLY what they are communicating is a REQUEST or a DIRECTIVE.


We avoid the imerpative because we don’t want to be seen as bossy or commanding. Or we lack the authority. Or we’re afraid of our own authority.

AND becuase it’s SCARY to make an ACTUAL request, because requests can get REJECTED … and then the rejected requestor has to deal with rejection as a possible reflection of something about them (even though it’s not).

By relocating desire from THEMSELVES to making it a matter of the person they are (asking), then they aren’t dealing with rejection, they are dealing with the factual reality of “oh, that person didn’t want to do …”


Because inside, you’re STILL ROBBED that you didn’t ask for what you want.


Parents. OF COURSE your kids DO NOT WANT to wash the dishes.

So WTF are you asking if they do?

The fact is, YOU WANT them to wash them. You WANT their contribution. You WANT to feel their love for you and their respect for you in their WILLINGNESS to say YES to something they DON’T WANT. So ASK THEM. And be ready to deal with if they say NO. “Will you wash the dishes tonight?” “No.” Ok, now what? You have a real matter to negotiate on your hands.

“Do you want to wash the dishes?” “No.”

… crickets …

There wasn’t action on the table anyway. A pointless conversation.

LOVE is service rendered and received.

By NOT ASKING, and instead using this weird deceptive form of imperative construction or masquerading a request as an inquiry, you are DENYING yourself the opportunity to be loved.

“Do you want want to wash the dishes?” “YEs!”

Now you’re stuck with … well, I’m NOT sure if s/he is washing the dishes … FOR ME. Because s/he said s/he WANTED TO.

“Will you wash the dishes?” “Ugh, I don’t want to. And I will.”

BOOM. THERE is a communication of love.

“Do you want to go on a date with me?” “Do you want to marry me?”

WHO CARES what the (hypothetical) exchange of info is.

WILL you go on a date with me?

WILL you marry me?

You’ll KNOW soon enough whether they REALLY want to by the willingness to accept a commitment to ACTION … AND again in the follow through.

So . . .

if i EVER ask “do you want to . . . ” it is 100% ONLY the case of that language, that I am inquiring for another’s desire. I will NEVER intimate a request or an imperative with “do you …” I will ALWAYS . . . . .  A S K.

By |2021-01-15T15:37:23-07:00October 9th, 2016|General Life|0 Comments

More Than Words: Service and Examples

Sacrament Meeting Talk | BYU 113th Ward

It is a delight to speak today. If you’d be so kind to pray for me, and I’ll pray for you, then perhaps the Spirit will guide me to say what our Lord would have me say, and you’ll hear blessings, comfort and counsel meant just for you. And we will be together edified, having met to renew covenants and show with more than words that our love for the Lord and each other is real.


Brothers and sisters, there are 8760 hours in a year. Figuring each day the average American spends roughly

  • 8 hours working,
  • 7.5 hours | sleeping,
  • 1 hour & 15 min eating,
  • 45 min showering and personal grooming,
  • 30 min | exercising,
  • 1 hour | laundry, cleaning, dishes and other business around the house,
  • 30 min reading or in self-education,
  • 2 hours watching TV,
  • 30 minutes corresponding via phone/e-mail/text/social network,
  • 30 min buying things, and
  • 1.5 hours | traveling to and fro,

that leaves about 840 hours of “discretionary” time remaining for the year. Now, some of these numbers are my estimates,1 but others come directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2

And perhaps going through this list you thought of other items important to you that I did not include.

Well let me add a few. As a “good,” active Latter-day Saint, you “should” be spending

  • 15 min/day studying scriptures,
  • 15 min/month calculating and preparing tithes and fast offerings,
  • 15 min/day in personal morning, evening—and the occasional day-time—prayer,
  • 4 hours/month attending the temple,
  • 4 hours/month preparing lessons and visiting people for Home and Visiting Teaching,
  • 30 min/day rounding up the family and having morning and evening family prayer,
  • 3.5 hours/week for the Sunday meetings block,
  • 30 min/week reading and preparing for Sunday School,
  • 30 min/week reading and preparing for Priesthood/RS,
  • 2 hours/week performing your calling—at least one of those hours is spent in a meeting,
  • 2 hours/month genealogy research,
  • 2 hours/every other month finding people for the missionaries to teach or accompanying them to lessons, and of course
  • 6 or more hours once/year … preparing to speak in church.

All this sums to 844 hours of activity, or about 101% of your “discretionary” time.

Now brothers and sisters, you are no “average” American—you are spectacular children of God—but there is just no way to do it all.

The key is balance: to do what is best,3 to do it in order, running only as fast as you have strength.4

“What is impossible for you is possible with God’s help in His service,” President Eyring said.5

In His service, you can beat the limits of time and perform miracles.

Make time to serve, always

“If we have not yet learned,” said Brigham Young, “that poverty, sickness, pain, want, disappointment, losses, crosses, or even death, should not move us one hair’s breadth form the service of God […] it is a lesson we have to learn.”6

I recall learning this lesson during the first weekend of my first year at BYU. I woke up one morning feeling sick and decided to stay bed. Later, I still didn’t feel well and couldn’t even keep down the lunch my roommate was so kind to have gotten for me. Sometime in the afternoon, the numbers 139 and 19 penetrated my mind. Half asleep, I stumbled out of bed and wrote the numbers down, then fell asleep again.

When I got out of bed, I saw my note and thought the numbers might refer to a verse in the Doctrine & Covenants. Despite four years in seminary, I didn’t know there is no 139th section. So I did the next best thing and rolled back to section 138. I read verse 19.

“And there he [being Jesus] preached unto them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall…”7

I later wrote in my journal, “Lesson learned. I, even in my sick condition, am to preach the gospel wherever I am.”8

In the face of poverty, sickness, pain, disappointment and death, there is strength enough for more than words to show you feel that your love for God and His children is real.

The best service is simple: homes, neighborhoods and wards

It’s easy, brothers and sisters; it is. More than words is all you have to do to make it real.

All around us lie simple opportunities to serve. In October 2007, Elder Michael J. Teh said, “much of the service needed in the world today relates to our day-to-day associations with each other. Often we find these opportunities within the confines of our own home, neighborhood, and ward.”9

Your home and visiting students need to hear more than, “when’s a good time we can see you this month?” or “call us if you need anything.” Drop by on your way home from school or work. Or send them something you found that relates to their interests or an issue they are dealing with. Then from more than words, our ward members will know that you do love them.

In “The Last Lecture,” Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch said, while battling cancer, “It’s a thrill to fulfill your own childhood dreams, but as you get older, you may find that enabling the dreams of others is even more fun.”10

Through his final years, Pausch shared many words through his book and speaking engagements. But it was his demonstrated optimism and determination to do good to the end that were more than words, enough to show his love for his neighbor is real.

You’ll invite the Spirit and make more a home than an apartment if you say to your roommates more than good morning, goodnight and “did you get the mail?” You’ll notice today that my roommate, Andy, has returned from 2.5 months of military training. Another roommate—who I presume is not given to throwing parties or decorating—printed a simple sign and hung it on our door: “Welcome Home Cadet Villagran.” And it was more than words when, upon seeing Andy, this roommate cheered and threw his arms around him.

Personal connection

In our crunch of time, it is tempting to reduce everything we ought to do to an exchange of words. If tweeting your testimony along with a tiny URL to the First Presidency Ensign message counted for home or visiting teaching, we could drastically cut the 844 hours of “standard LDS service time,” allowing you more time to pursue your interests and further recreation. But that just won’t do.

From the 21st chapter of the Gospel of John:

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my sheep.”11

To feed each other with the bread of life requires more than the passage of words through our ears or across our eyes. In Jesus’ Bread of Life sermon in John 6, Jesus challenged the faithfulness of so-called disciples who were more interested in free food and “feel good” words.12

Commenting on Jesus sending out the 12 in Matthew 10, James E. Talmage says, “He would have only genuine disciples, not enthusiasts of a day[—or, I add, “friends” who only click “I like this”—]ready to desert His cause when effort and sacrifice were most needed. Thus did He sift the people.”13

More than words

Some of you may have recognized a phrase I’ve repeated from a song by an early 90s metal band. Well, that band also wrote a nice little love tune called, “More than Words.” Now, the Savior never said these words, but please imagine for a moment that He did.

Saying “I love you”
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew how easy
It would be to show me how you feel

More than words
Is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
‘Cause I’d already know

What would you do if my heart was torn in two?
More than words to show you feel
That your love for me is real
What would you say if I took those words away?
Then you couldn’t make things new
Just by saying “I love you”

More than words
Now that I’ve tried to talk to you
And make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands
And touch me
Hold me close, don’t ever let me go

More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me,
‘Cause I’d already know14

It was with more than words that Jesus walked into a garden, bent His knees and had His heart torn in two. Yes, He spoke words as He prayed. But it was more than words that He drank the bitter cup, hung on the cross and died in agony. In more than words, He sent prophets in every age to talk to us and help us understand that all we have to do is close our eyes and reach out our hands. With more than words, He opened His hands and His feet for everyone in the Nephite multitude to touch.15

Living the great commandment

“If ye love me, [more than words,] keep my commandments,” He says.16

And, “which is the great commandment in the law?”

“Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Notice, He does not command, “and with all thy mouth.” It was He who inspired the Proverb, “as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.”17

Again did He say, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart…”18

“And the second [great commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”19

Then you wouldn’t have to say…

When you and I live and love with more than words, trumpets and fanfare will not be needed to announce that we are a “city that is set on a hill [and] cannot be hid.”20

You will perform simple acts of kindness and not feel the need to say anything about it. Your more-than-lip-service love will radiate and warm the hearts of your family, neighbors and fellow saints. And they will follow in your footsteps, repenting and serving their way to the Savior and His kingdom.

When the day comes that you arrive at the Kingdom of God with Christ enthroned and exalted, then you won’t have to say that you love Him, ‘cause He’ll already know.

I know, from more than the words in the scriptures, that God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ love me…

Please don’t allow the crunch of time to discourage you. You won’t be able to do it all, but you can do your very best.21

With a little more than words, others will know your love for them is real. And that will make all the difference22 to them, to our Father who is King, and to Jesus who is Lord over all.



  1. LDS Time.”
  2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Charts from the American Time Use Survey.”
  3. Dallin H. Oaks. “Good, Better, Best.” Ensign, Nov 2007, 104–8
  4. Mosiah 4:27
  5. Henry B. Eyring. “God Helps the Faithful Priesthood Holder.” Ensign, Nov 2007, 55–58
  6. Young, Brigham. “Comprehensiveness of True Religion—The Saints But Stewards.” A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered at Great Salt Lake City, December 5, 1853. Journal of Discourses, 1:336. Reported By: G. D. Watt
  7. Doctrine and Covenants 138:19
  8. “Fall 2004.” Emphasis added. Journal, June 2006, 121
  9. Michael J. Teh, “Out of Small Things,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 35–37
  10. Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture. Hyperion: New York. 2008, 117
  11. John 21:16
  12. John 6:47-71
  13. Talmage, James E. Jesus the Christ. Emphasis added. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Salt Lake City, Utah. 1981, 421
  14. Cherone, Gary and Nuno Bettencourt. “More than Words.” Extreme, 1990
  15. 3 Nephi 11:14-16, emphasis added
  16. John 14:15
  17. Proverbs 23:7
  18. Matthew 15:18
  19. Matthew 22:36-39
  20. Matthew 5:14
  21. Hinckley, Gordon B. “Standing Strong and Immovable.” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, 10 Jan. 2004, 21 quoted in Staheli, Donald L. “Securing Our Testimonies.” General Conference, Oct 2004
  22. Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” The Poetry of Robert Frost. Henry Holt and Company: New York. 1979, p. 105, l. 20
By |2023-11-08T15:57:51-07:00August 9th, 2009|General Life|0 Comments