"EMBARK!" by John Bytheway, Deseret Book, $14.99, 53 minutes
In "Embark!" a new audio CD by popular LDS youth speaker John Bytheway based on the 2015 Mutual theme, he takes a step-by-step approach to walk listeners through every inch of Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, using talks, quotes, personal anecdotes and additional scriptures.
To break the ice, Bytheway typically starts his talks with a story about how unusual his last name is, but this CD offers a brand new icebreaker. John has a full conversation about names with the automated voices on his telephone. The routine is hilarious.
Diving into Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, Bytheway goes into depth about the meaning of the word “embark” and explains to listeners that it means a person is going on a journey with the Lord. He stresses the importance of getting fully on board and giving 100 percent.
Using a talk titled “Spiritual Revival” by Elder Glenn L. Pace, then a member of the Seventy, in October 1992, Bytheway explains that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is like a moving train heading for a destination and those who get distracted by the things going on outside the train might be tempted to get off. He refers to this talk throughout his presentation and invites youths to stay on board.
Bytheway also encourages listeners to be proactive in life. Instead of praying to help the poor, needy and sick, he proposes to offer prayers that ask, “Who can I help today?” As stated in the mutual theme scripture, he says that serving with all of a person’s heart, might, mind and strength requires getting up and doing something rather than being passive.
Sharing a story about a former high school student he taught named Mike, Bytheway also illustrates the importance of hard work. In the story, Mike is hit by a drunk driver, breaking his back in nine places. He was told he would never play football again. Seeing his unbeatable determination, Mike’s doctor tells him that when he can perform 500 continuous crunches he will be cleared to play. With remarkable determination, Mike eventually does more than 1,300 continuous crunches with a 10 pound weight on his chest. He later serves a mission and plays football for Brigham Young University.
One of the secret ingredients that makes Bytheway’s talks so enjoyable is the amount of research and preparation he does on his topics. One gets the feeling that he truly does love the youths of the LDS Church because of the amount of work he does on their behalf. This audio CD is a fantastic tool to help youths understand and get excited about the 2015 Mutual theme.