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I (Still) Choose Joy

Chris Moore Director of Principal Gifts at Philanthropies
April 25, 2023 11:15 AM

"So, do I still choose joy. The answer is found in the wise words of that dear sister. Every morning I wake up and I face this world, I remind myself of the Plan of Salvation, the Doctrine of Christ, and the knowledge that I am a son of the most high God. That is my foundation. I too am so grateful for it, because I know it’s true, and I know God loves me. So, I choose joy and I invite all of you to do the same."
I (Still) Choose Joy
By: Christopher W. Moore

Brothers and Sisters, hello. It is good to be here today and I just wanted to thank the choir and Mac for her testimony and Ehrin for the prayer. It was just the perfect calming influence that I needed to start this off today. The first thing I want to say is how much I love your President and Sister Kusch, dear friends of ours from Rexburg. I just want to say how much I am going to miss them today but I wanted you to know how much I love them. I am also grateful that I can have these two men behind me. I feel like I have two pillars of strength with Brother Hollingsworth and Brother Young, also great friends from Rexburg that I have known for years. In fact, as a missionary, my family moved to Rexburg while I was on my mission. When I came home, the first person I met was brother Young’s father who happened to be my new stake president in Rexburg. He released me from my mission. He was the first person that I met. So I am grateful to have these two pillars behind me too. I also want to recognized that I have some of my philanthropies families with me today and I love them. They are good people. So thank you for coming. Also, Amber my wife is obviously here and we have our five children which I promised to embarrass them a little bit later so we don’t need to talk about them yet.

I also want to say how inspired I am by the young adults today. Thank you for coming. May Heavenly bless you for your faith and trust by simply being here. I pray that the influence of the Holy Ghost will be in all of our lives but especially today. Especially for the next twenty minutes or so.

So it was just over ten years ago that I delivered a devotional address to the students at BYU Idaho. On that day, I call my talk: “I Choose Joy.” It was a sincere talk about the challenges of the day and why it was necessary to choose joy. Honestly, a simple talk to write.

Ten years ago, my five children were between the ages of five and fifteen. On any given day, our most challenging questions were, what’s for dinner, what game should we play, and where should we go on vacation? I had recently begun a new assignment with Philanthropies as a Director, primarily over-seeing the fundraising efforts of BYU-Idaho. I had served two terms as a mayor, 3.5 years as a Bishop, and was in the early years of my calling as the President of the Rexburg Idaho North Stake. I loved every minute of it. When I was first called to serve as a Bishop, people would often ask, “How are you doing?" I almost felt obligated to look a little stressed and say something like, “Well, you know, I’m doing my best.” It took me about one day to realize that was the wrong answer. The right answer was, “I’m doing awesome, I love this.” And, I did. Life was busy, but exciting. About that time, we even had a special visitor for stake conference. Then Elder Russel M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was scheduled to come to our stake. For most people, when they heard that an apostle was coming, they’d ask me, “What did you do wrong?” I hadn’t been a stake president long enough to know if I was doing anything wrong, or right. But, as a family, we were excited.

The neighbors were on full look-out duty the day that Elder Nelson arrived at our home. On Sunday morning, we sat around the kitchen table for breakfast. We then moved to the living room and Elder Nelson invited us to ask us any questions that we had. When it was time to leave for the Stake Center, President Nelson stood up and proclaimed, “well, it’s time to go. But before we go, we should take a picture.” Now, ten years ago may not seem that long ago to brother Young, brother Hollingsworth and myself, but for the rest of you, there wasn’t an I-phone in the house. In fact, we had to scramble to find a camera. We took this picture.

After the picture, we walked to the front door, when I had a brilliant idea. I thought I’d ask Elder Nelson one more question. It went something like this, “Elder Nelson, before we leave do you mind, I mean could you, well, is there…” It was about this point when I remembered Elder Bednar telling a group of BYU-Idaho students that there is no such thing as a dumb question, but some questions are better than others. I cleared my throat and tried again, “Elder Nelson, do you think there’s something you could say to my children before you leave, that you know, would be memorable?”

Perhaps not the best question, but Elder Nelson understood the assignment.

Elder Nelson smiled that smile that we all now know and love. He graciously responded, “Yes, please gather around.” We gathered at the front door, and Elder Nelson continued, “Children, I have something to say to you. As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have something to say. Are you ready to hear it?” We all nodded. “This is what I want to tell you, and I tell you as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. God lives, Jesus is the Christ, and one of the most important things you can do in this life, is be a good member of this family.”

Surely, in that moment. Life was perfect, and it was easy to feel and Choose Joy.

Now, here we all are ten years later and you are all grown up. In fact, I have another picture. You can see my children but here is what they look like now. This is right as Jacob returned from his mission. They are all sitting right here.

Perhaps as you look at this photo, you can see yourself in the face of one of those children. Perhaps, like them, you were full of dreams and hopes. Maybe a few doubts, maybe some insecurities. Or, maybe you were just like the little girl in the picture, scratching your head and wondering what the fuss is all about.

There’s not a single person in this room today that hasn’t been challenged by the events of the last few years. You are the Covid generation. Graduations, high school activities, missions, have all been altered. Add to Covid, Natural disasters, financial turmoil, and political unrest. All of which have become common place in our lives.

Personal trials have also been a part of our lives. Perhaps you, like my family, now understand the heartache from losing a mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. Perhaps you too are learning that the challenges and obstacles of being a young adult are real and complicated. Maybe you are learning that the path you had planned, and the path Heavenly Father has planned for you may not be exactly the same and you’re struggling to align yourself to His will. Perhaps you too were prompted or asked to leave a place that you love. A place that will always be called home. And you now find yourselves like us in a strange new land.

Perhaps, like me, you have found yourself struggling in new and unexpected ways. For example, just a few weeks ago I found myself 3,000 miles away from my daughter, a senior in high school. She was texting me as she was hiding in a maintenance closet of her high school’s cafeteria with another student and a handful of lunch ladies, hiding from an active shooter. Here’s a small sample of our email exchange:

 (Daughter) “Dad, I’m scared”.

(Dad) “Is the door locked, do you have it barricaded?”

(Daughter) “Yes.  I’m trying to be strong, but it’s hard. We are saying a prayer.”

(Dad) “You’ll be safe, try to stay calm.”

(Daughter) “I love you dad; I love our family.”

(Dad) “I love you too, the Police will come and get you.  I’m so proud of you.”

It turned out to be an elaborate hoax, but for nearly two hours, my daughter, her classmates, and to be honest her dad, were scared and were doing our best to not think about the unthinkable.

Finally, may I quickly comment on what is becoming the all-too-common challenges associated with depression and anxiety. For thirteen years as a Bishop and Stake President, I prayed with, cried with, and did my best to comfort dozens if not hundreds of individuals that struggled with anxiety and depression. Now, thanks to an unexpected series of events that are now part of my story, I find myself at times pacing the floor in the middle of the night, searching for comfort, praying, and reminding myself to just breathe. Perhaps, you too can relate.

Yes, everywhere we look, it seems if we’re not careful, we may become obsessed with the challenges of the day. We may be asking ourselves do I Choose Joy, is Joy even possible. It is in those times that we need to remind ourselves of a simple statement taught by Lehi:

“Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)

On Lehi’s statement, our Prophet, President Nelson shared:

Clearly, Lehi knew opposition, anxiety, heartache, pain, disappointment, and sorrow. Yet he declared boldly and without reservation a principle as revealed by the Lord: “Men are, that they might have joy.” 6 Imagine! Of all the words he could have used to describe the nature and purpose of our lives here in mortality, He chose the word joy! (Joy and Spiritual Survival, Oct. 2016)

Today I would like to suggest three simple gospel patterns that may be a source of joy for all of us as we continue on the Covenant Path to become Disciple Leaders and prepare for the return of our Savior.

I.Finding Joy by Worshiping in the Temple

Years ago, I sat in the living room of my aging mission president. Just a few months before his death, he shook badly from the effects of Parkinson. His sight had deteriorated so badly that he could no longer read. This man who had served so many, for so long, from his family and local congregations to our mission and as a temple president, could no longer read the words he loved. So, he handed me his scriptures, told me where to turn, and simply said, read.

One passage I read was one we all know. It is found in 1 Nephi 2: 16

It reads:

I, Nephi, being exceeding young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having a great desire to know the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him…”

After reading this verse, my mission president turned to me and said, “Chris, do you want to know the mysteries of God?” Of course, I replied. Well, he said, they are not that mysterious, just go to the temple, and follow Nephi’s pattern.

Cry unto the Lord, believe, be humble, do not rebel, ask him your questions, seek revelation, and go to the temple as often as you can. That is where you’ll find the mysteries. That is where you’ll find joy.

I believe if he was alive today, he would have summed it up by saying, “Stay on the Covenant Path.”

In response to the Prophet Joseph’s dedicatory prayer of the Kirkland Temple, the Lord proclaims in D&C 110:7, “For Behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here, and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.”

Brothers and sisters, if you want to be with the Savior, if you want to learn the Lord’s mysteries, and witness His Mercy, then go to the temple. I promise he will manifest himself to you. You will learn of his love, his doctrine, and you will feel pure joy.

  II.            Finding Joy in Family History Work

During a stake conference of the Rexburg Idaho North Stake, my counselor Rob Parkinson invited the members of our stake to find joy in Family History work by finding their family’s conversion story. I loved this idea, mostly because for me, it was an easy task. I knew the conversion story of my family. My mom was a convert, joining the church when she was sixteen years old, baptized by my father in their small town of Nyssa, Oregon. Soon after the baptism, my father left to serve a mission in the Southern United States. Now, family legend, and I have both my mothers and fathers version of the story recorded, states that shortly after the baptism they ran away to get married. They made it a mile. My mom crying, my dad worried what his dad would do to him when he found out he had taken his car. They returned home. The Bishop heard about their plans, and within a few months, my dad was on a mission. The rest, as they say, is history.

My father’s family has a long history in the church. His third great-grandfather, John Moore, was orphaned as a child in the early 1840s in England. He and an older brother went to live with their Maternal grandmother. The missionaries knocked on the door and everyone in the home was baptized. Everyone that is, except for my grandfather, who was still just a child. It took some time, and an amazing journey, but eventually he too was baptized in Spanish Fork, UT at the age of 26 in 1854. He married Caroline Hicks a resident of Spanish Fork, who was born in Nauvoo a few months before Joseph and Hyrum were martyred. That’s my family’s conversion story. I was happy with my work, convinced I had accomplished the assignment, and didn’t think about it again.

Until a few years ago. I was working with Family Search learning about the work they are doing and how donors may assist in quickening the pace of their goal to provide temple ready names for areas where a temple had been announced. As I sat with this Family History expert, she pulled up a copy of my family history fan chart. As I looked at the chart, the words of President Parkinson echoed in my ears. What is your family’s conversion story? My story was clearly much more than just two lines in my chart. What about everyone else on that chart. What about everyone on my children’s chart.

So, I went to work. Here’s what I found.

I found that I have 18 individual grandparents that were the first in their line to be baptized. I found that my wife has 31 grandparents that were the first in their line to be baptized. That meant my children had 49 individual grandparents that were the first in their line to be baptized. I had to know their stories.

I went to work and I found their stories. Brothers and Sisters, I hold in my hand a notebook, that now holds the conversion stories of 49 of my grandparents that were the first in their line to join the church.

They are an army of God’s children that I know well, and that I know are part of the angels that the Lord promised he would send, when he proclaimed to his disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you” (John 14:18). They are no longer mere names and faces on a page. I know them, they bring me strength, they bring me comfort, they bring me courage, they bring me joy.

You are the youth that Elder Bednar gave a very specific promise when it comes to assisting in the work of Family History. He said:

“I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives” (Ensign, Nov. 2011). 

He said that twelve years ago.

President Nelson has told us that The Gathering is the most important work in the world today. Of that he proclaimed:

 “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that” (Russell M. Nelson, “ Hope of Israel ,” worldwide devotional for youth, June 3, 2018

Whether it’s finding your family’s conversion story, searching new names, or doing proxy work in the temple. You are assisting in the gathering of Israel. Partnering with family on both sides of the veil, and aligned with your Heavenly Father you will be protected, you will be strengthened, and you will find real joy!

III.            Finding Joy by seeking revelation through the teachings of the Prophet and Apostles:

A few weeks ago, during General Conference, President M. Russell Ballard, acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, shared a story that I first heard from him thirty one years ago as I was serving as a missionary in the California San Diego Mission. It was February 1992 and as missionaries serving in the Imperial Valley, we lived closer to Arizona than our mission home in San Diego. So, we were invited to attend a regional conference outside our mission in Yuma, AZ.

In his conference address a few weeks ago, Elder Ballard shared his heartbreaking story of a time when he was a young bishop and did not act on the prompting of the spirit, and the consequences that followed. As a young missionary, when I heard him relate this story and heard him say that the daughter greeted him at the door the next morning and told him her mother had passed away in the night, I was heartbroken. I made a promise, a commitment, that night to my Heavnly Father that I would never miss an opportunity to act and serve as prompted by the Spirit.

After all the Lord said, “Be ye therefore perfect.” For me, I have learned that striving to be perfect means striving to do all I can to be worthy of the promptings of the Spirit, so that the Lord can use me to serve others. Striving to be perfect, I believe, is one of the least selfish things we can do, because we are doing all in our power to be prepared to serve others. I made a promise that night to the Lord and to myself, that I would always Act. I want Heavenly Father to know he can trust me and to know that I will do His work when he needs me. I promised, I would stand ready on the watchtower.

Twelve years later that promise and the lesson learned from Elder Ballard would be put to the test.

I was serving as a new, young Bishop myself. On this particular day, I had finished my work and was anxious to get home to Amber and the kids.

As I arrived at the spot in the road where I would normally turn right into my neighborhood, the Spirit quietly whispered, “turn left.” Without thinking, I replied out loud, “No, Home is right. Again, the spirit whispered, turn left. Again, a little confused, I replied, “No, home is right.” A third time, and leaving no room for discussion, the Spirit proclaimed, “Turn Left!”.

I turned left. And I knew exactly where I was going.

Brother Brown was a World War II veteran. Sister Brown a retired nurse. For several minutes I sat in their driveway. Doing my best to convince Heavenly Father that I would be better off at home eating dinner with my family and not bothering this elderly couple. But I could hear Elder Ballard’s voice and remembered my commitment to always act.

I knocked on their door. They were surprised, but warmly welcomed me into their home. For a few hours we talked about Brother Brown’s service during the war, Sister Brown’s career as a nurse, and their family. We had an amazing conversation. We laughed together, we cried together, we prayed together, and I left their home with a blessing. Then I went home. It was an amazing conversation, but I have to admit, as I drove the two minutes back to my home, I couldn’t help but to think why. What was that all about? Why did I need to visit them, why was the spirit so strong, why that night?

I went home and enjoyed the rest of the evening with my family, then went to bed.

As you may have guessed, not long after, I got a phone call. It was Sister Brown. Bishop, she said, I just wanted to thank you again for your visit last night. We were both so happy, so full of joy. But I have to ask, did you know that Wayne was going to pass away? He passed away peacefully in his sleep. What a perfect way to end mortality, to spend his last moments with his Bishop.

We both cried again.

You’ll notice that all three of these stories have one thing in common. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is through his Atonement that all these things are possible.

We go to the temple to learn more about the Plan of Salvation and the Savior’s role. We make sacred covenants and because of the redemptive nature of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we are empowered to do that sacred work for all our kindred dead. Apostles and Prophets witness and testify of the reality of the Savior, His Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. They give us life-saving instruction that keeps us on the Covenant Path.

It is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we are enabled to have everlasting Joy.

Brothers and Sisters as you travel through this mortal journey, as you stay on the the Covenant Path, as you strive to be disciple leaders, may you always remember the words of Adam & Eve.

In the Book of Moses Chapter 5:

Adam Proclaims, “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life, I shall have Joy, and again in the Flesh I shall see God.”

Eve adds, “Were it not for our transgressions we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the JOY of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.”

Again, the Lord promises us Joy. In D&C 11:13

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.”  

Some final words from President Nelson. President Nelson said this: “I plead with you to take charge of your testimony of Jesus Christ. Work for it. Own it. Care for it. Nurture it so that it will grow. Then watch for miracles to happen in your life.”

He repeated:

“As you make your testimony your highest priority, watch for miracles to happen in your life.” (Worldwide Young Adult Broadcast, May 20220

I don’t know about you, but I could use a few miracles in my life. Recently, I was back visiting the campus of BYU-Idaho, While there, I ran into an old friend. While we talked, the tears began to flow as she described the challenges of the day. Devastating, difficult, painful, seemingly unbearable, challenges of our day. Then she proclaimed, “I am so grateful for my foundation, I would not survive without it. I am so grateful for my foundation, my testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without it, life would be unbearable.

So, do I still choose joy. The answer is found in the wise words of that dear sister. Every morning I wake up and I face this world, I remind myself of the Plan of Salvation, the Doctrine of Christ, and the knowledge that I am a son of the most high God. That is my foundation. I too am so grateful for it, because I know it’s true, and I know God loves me. So, I choose joy and I invite all of you to do the same. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

About the Speaker

Chris Moore

Christopher W. Moore is the Director of Principal Gifts with the Philanthropies Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Now in his 21st year at Philanthropies, Chris has served on the Director’s Council since 2012. During that time, he has had responsibilities to work with all the CES institutions as well as various Church departments. Chris began his career with Philanthropies in Rexburg, Idaho, working with BYU-Idaho. While living in Eastern Idaho, Chris served as a mayor, a bishop, and a stake president.  In 2017, Chris and his family moved to Spanish Fork, Utah. 

Chris has an Associates Degree from Ricks College, a BA from Idaho State University and an MBA from Western Governors University.

Chris and his wife Amber will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary this summer. They have five children. Chris served in the California San Diego Mission. He currently serves as a Sunday School Teacher.


Prior devotional talk given at BYU Idaho. We are excited to have Brother Moore come to Ensign College.
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