S. Michael Wilcox

S. Michael Wilcox received his PhD from the University of Colorado and taught for many years at the LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah. He has spoken to packed crowds at BYU Education Week and has hosted tours to the Holy Land, to China, to Church history sites, and beyond. He has served in a variety of callings, including as bishop and counselor in a stake presidency. He has written many articles and books, including House of Glory, Sunset, 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven, Twice Blessed, and Finding Hope. He and his late wife, Laurie, are the parents of five children.

August 14, 2023 07:00 AM MDT
Joseph Smith taught that “a welding link … between the fathers and the children …” must be “whole and complete and perfect” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18). The words welding link suggest a chain. Chains are strong things. They hold under great stress and pressure.
7 Min Read
June 14, 2022 09:28 AM MDT
When I was a junior in high school, I came under the influence of a brilliant English teacher. She was tough on her students, always insisting that they clearly and thoroughly defend any position they took.
3 Min Read
March 16, 2022 07:55 AM MDT
The most common inquiry I receive from members of the Church is, “How do I get answers to my prayers?” The next most common is, “How can I know I have been forgiven?”
5 Min Read
May 26, 2021 01:02 PM MDT
I remember vividly my first “faith crisis.” I was 14 or 15 years old. It centered on my desire to receive for myself, independent of my mother, a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Except for a period of rebellion when she left the moorings of her youth and wandered in the wilderness for a season, she was a believing, committed Latter-day Saint and the godliest woman I knew. The solid base of her faith was the Book of Mormon, which restored her to her roots and anchored her there for the rest of her life. I can’t recall a day when I did not see that book lying on her bed stand or on the lamp table next to her chair. I started reading the Book of Mormon fully expecting that its concluding promise would be fulfilled in my life as it had been in my mother’s. I was filled with Alma’s “desire to believe” (Alma 32:27). I wanted my own tree.
7 Min Read
September 28, 2020 12:00 PM MDT
The September pick for LDS Living Book Club is What Seek Ye? by S. Michael Wilcox. Follow the LDS Living Book Club Instagram for more insights with the author.
9 Min Read
August 24, 2020 12:00 PM MDT
First and last words have always intrigued me. Their positioning adds a dimension of importance. The first and last words of Jesus in the Gospel of John are questions—very relevant questions for us all, very simple questions, which is wonderful to me. Let’s look at Jesus’s first three words. John the Baptist was standing with John the Beloved and Andrew by the Jordan River just north of the Dead Sea when Jesus walked by, drawing from the Baptist the words, “Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?” (John 1:36–38; emphasis added).
7 Min Read
November 30, 2019 11:53 AM MST
There are many reasons why Jesus came to earth, and our word Atonement has come to embody them all, but I think, if I had to be specific, I would say that the essence of His life centered on forgiveness. In the great hymn of the Restoration, Joseph Smith caught that spirit when he wrote, “Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven” (D&C 128:19). The Savior is the incarnation, the personification, the grand architect of forgiveness and mercy. It is inherent in almost every act of His life. It is the one single most significant quality of the Father that Jesus came to teach us with His words and show us by His example. Indeed, the most beautiful words He spoke during those last agonizing hours of His life are, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Whenever I feel the difficulty of forgiving in my own life, I read those words and the feeling of forgiveness moves into my soul.
6 Min Read
November 26, 2019 09:46 AM MST
When I was just a baby, my father, because of concerns in his own life and challenges that he was having, left our family. Our mother alone, therefore, raised my sisters and me, and as I was growing up, my father had very little to do with us as children. I realize he was working with things in his own life, but his decisions created certain challenges and hardships for my mother, my sisters, and for me. At age fourteen or fifteen, if you were in my situation, and you knelt down and said: “Father in Heaven, help me find peace concerning my father leaving us and really having nothing to do with us for all these years. Help me forgive my father,” would you not think that was an appropriate prayer, one that deserved an answer? But no answer came at age fourteen and fifteen. Twenty, twenty-one comes, same prayers, still no answer. Twenty-five, twenty-six passes, same prayers, yet still no answer. Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-three, thirty-four all come and go. Surely I’m in the fourth watch by now, would you not agree?
3 Min Read
July 18, 2019 03:00 PM MDT
This article originally ran on LDS Living in January 2015.
4 Min Read
March 26, 2019 11:00 AM MDT
In lesser moments in my life—and perhaps in lesser moments in your life—I must admit I am sometimes tempted to be critical of the way that God is running the universe, at least our corner of it. I have a tendency occasionally to look heavenward and quote Shakespeare, and say as Macduff said, “Did heaven look on, and would not take their part?”
7 Min Read
February 18, 2019 01:54 PM MST
There is what we might call a sweet spirituality in many of the stories we are told. My mother introduced me to this quality through some very simple stories, and I have searched for it in its deeper invitations ever since.
4 Min Read
February 16, 2019 03:49 PM MST
God spoke to the great prophets of the Old Testament in some rather unique ways, most of them deeply visual. Ezekiel had wonderful visions that would grasp his hearers’ imagination, causing them to pay attention and think profoundly. In one of those visions he saw a great valley of dry bones bleaching in the sun. Visualize that scene with me for just a moment. Before us is a wide valley, filled with bones as far as the eye can see in every direction. A great army or a mighty people have all died, and their bones lie exposed to the weather. Ezekiel stands “in the midst of the valley,” when the Lord enters the scene and causes Ezekiel “to pass by [the bones] round about . . . and, lo, they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:1–2). After Ezekiel makes a circuit of the valley, the Lord addresses His prophet with a question: “Son of man, can these bones live?”
4 Min Read
December 06, 2018 02:15 PM MST
A number of years ago I had a wonderful dream. In most of my dreams I am frantically trying to find a class at school and I can’t remember where it is, my books are in my locker, and I can’t remember my combination. Or I am moving in terribly slow motion, running from something or toward something and making no progress whatsoever. Do you have those sorts of dreams? I call them school nightmares. But this was a lovely dream. The kind sent to us by God, not drawn from our own subconscious fears and aspirations.
2 Min Read
April 30, 2018 03:30 PM MDT
The following is an excerpt from S. Michael Wilcox's House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple, where he discusses how talking about the temple can bless others as long as we speak of it in the right time at the right place.
4 Min Read
August 30, 2017 09:20 AM MDT
Most of us have a vivid memory of the first time we went to the temple to receive our endowments. I was a newly called missionary and had traveled to the Los Angeles Temple. I did not know what to expect. Although some aspects of my own endowment were wonderfully edifying to me, much of it was confusing. I left bewildered and a little frightened. I have since discovered that my experience was not unique. I have also discovered why my first experience was not all what I had anticipated. At the time, I did not understand the manner in which the Lord teaches His children in His house. Had I understood, my anxiety and confusion would have disappeared, even though my comprehension level might have remained the same.
8 Min Read
November 03, 2016 11:42 AM MDT
The following is an excerpt from S. Michael Wilcox's House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple.
4 Min Read
August 08, 2016 09:00 AM MDT
Forgiveness can be difficult not only to give but also to receive. Once we have repented, sometimes the only person left to forgive us is ourselves. But as we learn to put away our past sins and do them no more, we can enjoy both the gift of forgiveness from our Heavenly Father and from ourselves.
9 Min Read
March 13, 2013 04:01 AM MDT
Having learned something of St. Patrick's life finds my mind drifting each March to the Emerald Isle of over 1500 years ago, when a sixteen year old boy was captured and sold into slavery by Irish pirates.
5 Min Read
January 30, 2013 05:03 AM MST
I was a mischievous boy disturbing Primary classes for conscientious teachers in Southern California when something happened that changed me at a profound level. The Junior Primary chorister came into the class one day and told us she was going to teach us a new song. She would sing it for us and then we would sing it with her. I listened while she sang, “The golden plates lay hidden deep in a mountain side until God found one worthy in whom he could confide.” She had a high soprano voice and it carried me to Palmyra. I could clearly see in my imagination the young Joseph Smith and though I did not comprehend at the time the testimonial endearment that was being instilled in my heart I loved him; believed that what he told people had happened to him really did happen and what’s more I too wanted to be a boy in whom God could confide.
2 Min Read
December 26, 2012 05:03 AM MST
For many years, as Christmas approached, when I taught my classes, I would put a list of twenty five things on the board which were part of our Christmas festivities. These included everything from nuts and cookies to unwrapping presents, from parties to brightly lit trees, from Christmas movies to stockings filled by Santa. I would then ask them to narrow down the list to the top fifteen. What could they give up if the need demanded it? We would vote as a class and reduce the elements of Christmas one by one. “Take five more things off the list,” I would ask. Once again, more painfully now, the list was pared to the ten most important necessities. From ten we cut to five and finally to just three. Year after year, it never failed; I would always get the same three critical aspects of our Christmas celebration. What were they? Being with family and friends! The reading of the Christmas story in Luke Two! And singing Christmas carols heralding the birth of Mary’s child in Bethlehem!
1 Min Read
October 17, 2012 04:03 AM MDT
There is no trip one can experience in the world as spiritually refreshing as the Holy Land. There is something wonderfully unique in walking, as we say, in the footsteps of Jesus. Galilee, the Garden Tomb, Gethsemane and Bethlehem will always warm the heart with renewed faith and understanding of the love of God for all his children as that love was manifested in the life, teachings, and sacrifices of His Son. There is perpetual homesickness within me when I think of these places. Yet the great story of Christ did not end when Jesus softly called Mary’s name by the empty tomb on that first Easter morning. It spread forth to distant horizons where searching men and women waited for the good news of God’s divine intervention in the affairs of men. That is a story in and of itself, written on the stones of Ephesus, Cappadocia, Athens, Galatia, Patmos, and Rome. These “holy” places also awaken the divine homesickness within.
1 Min Read
August 01, 2012 04:04 AM MDT
Wherever and whenever we travel, the various countries, cities, scenic splendors, or historic places affect and shape us in different ways. We are generally not the same after an exchange with another culture or landscape of the world. If we return unchanged we have missed something precious. When we come home it often feels like I have experienced six months of living in two weeks due to the richness and intensity of life that is packed into most tours. We should be older, more mature, wiser. After unpacking, I always try to allow some quiet moments to let the people and vistas settle into my soul and find a comfortable place to occupy my memory. I call this “lingering time.” Though not still in a foreign country I haven’t completely left it either. No tour is really over for me until the lingering time has taken place. This happens when the mind firmly holds on to the memories and allows them to mellow, to teach, to edify, and to lift in a continuous manner. The enjoyments become permanent, something to revisit in the mind and the heart smiles in response. Sometimes at the end of the year, I contemplate all the places we have been and try to measure which ones have had the greatest impact on my soul by the amount of lingering time I find myself devoting to that place and the renewal of the impressions received. Many times I am not surprised by the leading imprints on my heart, but occasionally life brings its own unanticipated wonder. Two years ago Red Square in Moscow was just such a place.
2 Min Read
June 13, 2012 04:06 AM MDT
The villages and thatched-roofed cottages, the green rolling, patchwork countryside, hedgerows, and rock walls topped with wild raspberries and tangled ivy bring a sense of peace and well-being found nowhere else in the world. The Alps of Switzerland, the fiords of Norway, the coastal beauty of England and France, the meanderings of the Rhine or Danube, the Roman ruins and Renaissance art of Italy have all found a place in my heart never to be removed. These are the lands of our ancestors and we feel a unique bond with them while walking the ground that gave them birth.
1 Min Read
March 28, 2012 04:11 AM MDT
It was a Saturday afternoon, the mail lay waiting on the kitchen counter. I saw the slightly thicker envelope topping the pile addressed to my daughter-in law. When she came in the door my wife casually said to her, “There’s a letter for you, Carolyn, you may want to open it.” She looked at it and read the return address—U.S. Passport Office….. Picking it up somewhat breathlessly she broke the seal. Holding her first passport in both hands she said with almost reverent awe, but with a voice bursting with excitement and tinged with a measure of joyful disbelief: “I have a passport! I have a passport!”
1 Min Read