Love At Home

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One of the saddest things I’ve seen recently in a TV show or movie was during an episode of The Cosby Show. Two of the sisters have a disagreement and start fighting. I know many people watch that and laugh at the ridiculousness of it but it brought me to tears. There is nothing I find more disheartening than discord in homes. Seeing or hearing families fighting, arguing, or yelling at one another in anger is always profoudly disturbing to me.

I understand getting angry and annoyed but anger is almost always ugly. People have a difficult time thinking clearly when angry. Things are said or done that normally would not be said or done. Those less-than-thoughtful words and actions then exacerbate the problem, creating a feedback loop that can degenerate into something more hideous – a terrifying chimera of anger, distrust, and hate. Not all anger devolves into this, certainly, but our homes should be temples of peace and love and kindness rather than battlegrounds.

Our homes should be places of refuge and safety. Our homes should be full of kindness, service, and love. When we become angry and vent on family members, when we allow anger and fighting to enter our home, we drive away the Spirit of God and in essence desecrate the temple that should be our home. Anger and fighting have no place in our homes. The great prophet king Benjamin taught us to not:

“suffer that [our children] transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4:14-15).

I’ve been married for more than 10 years. Not once have my wife and I fought. We’ve only rarely disagreed about things. I cannot even recall (should I even want to) a time when I was annoyed with my dear wife. I try to not do things or say things that could annoy my wife. Marriage is a sacred relationship; temple marriage, in particular, is founded upon covenants of righteousness and consecration. What this means is that everything we do should strengthen our marriages. One of the key things we can strive for and have to strengthen our marriages is unity. There is little my wife and I value more than unity as a couple and family. This leaves no place for anger or fighting. We need to be kind and gentle in all that we do.

We have been commanded to “Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another.” (Doctrine and Covenants 136:23). This leaves no place for arguing or fighting. If we want our children to be kind to one another we need to be good examples for them, which means we need to cease responding in anger to them. One of the best ways to reduce bad behavior is to encourage good. Jesus taught through the words of Isaiah that “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (3 Nephi 22:13). Peace in our homes and hearts comes when we are taught of the Lord. Peace comes through testimony and the Spirit as we strive to follow Jesus.

I started this post this morning and then after stake conference watched a new Mormon Channel music video that I feel is appropriate here.

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”

The Mission and Spirit of Elijah

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The mission of Elijah is so important, his conferral of priesthood keys so vital to our salvation and to the work of the church in the latter days that I will reiterate many of the things that [our stake patriarch] spoke about so we can both serve as witnesses to the truth of the prophecy of Malachi and of Elijah’s mission. Elder Cook spoke on this topic this past General Conference and a number of others also addressed it.

The last two verses of the Old Testament contain prophecies about restoration:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6).

Those verses refer to Elijah (whose name is a testimony of God), his return to the earth, and the subsequent conversion of hearts. The Savior quoted these verses when He visited the Nephites after His resurrection (3 Nephi 25:5-6). Moroni quoted them the first time he appeared unto Joseph Smith.

Moroni gave the scripture with minor differences; this rendition is found in Doctrine and Covenants 2: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (D&C 2:1-3). Instead of turning hearts of fathers to children, the children will have the promises made unto the fathers planted in their hearts. These are promises, or covenants, made by The Lord to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; they are promises made to other prophets; they are promises made to our ancestors. This has direct applications to the restoration of the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ for the Restoration is a restoration of covenants given in days long past.

The restoration of covenants came through visitations of holy messengers. One of those visitors was Elijah, who appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, the day when Jews around the world had a place set for him in expectant welcome at their tables during the Passover. Joseph Smith recalled the experience:

“Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said: Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.” (D&C 110:14-16).

Since that time – since the keys of the sealing of families together forever were restored – we’ve had an exponential increase in the yearnings of fathers and mothers to daughters and sons, an increase in the spirit of Elijah that bears witness of the divine nature of the family (see Russell M. Nelson, “A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 34).

In Deuteronomy we are commanded to learn about history, specifically our family history: “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee” (Deuteronomy 32:7).

At this past General Conference Elder Anderson counseled: “Find your grandfathers and grandmothers and your distant cousins who have gone before you. Take their names to the temple with you. As you learn about your ancestors, you will see patterns of life, of marriage, of children; patterns of righteousness; and occasionally patterns that you will want to avoid.” (Spiritual Whirlwinds, Elder Anderson, April 2014). As we study the lives of those who came before, we can be inspired by them or be warned by their poor choices. We can strive to emulate their faithfulness and seek to improve shortcomings they and we might have.

I’d like to share three stories from my family that illustrate faith and devotion to God. The are illustrative of the spirit of Elijah and the sealing keys restored through him.

A group of individuals from England believed that the Church of England and the Catholic Church had strayed from the truth delivered by Christ. Facing persecution from government and church leaders in England, many fled to Holland where they experienced greater religious freedom. They struggled to earn a living in Holland so they sought a new place where they could worship according to the dictates of their conscience. What looked most promising was America. After delays, they started a journey filled with peril and a trans-Atlantic voyage on the ship Mayflower lasting 66 days. The Pilgrims celebrated their arrival with prayer and thanksgiving to God. On the crowded ship off the coast of what is now Massachusetts, the Pilgrims wrote and signed an important document. That document was the Mayflower Compact.

Part of that document stated: “Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.”

The Mayflower Compact was signed by the adult males on the ship as a testament that they established a new colony for the glory of God and to spread Christianity. Two of my ancestors, Francis Cooke and Richard Warren, signed the Compact. The weary travellers had a harsh winter full of sickness and starvation ahead. Many died but many survived, spreading out and serving as a lasting foundation for what would eventually become a new nation founded upon God-given rights and freedoms; a nation where the Restoration of the gospel could occur and where Elijah could come to restore keys of sealing. I’m grateful for the sacrifices made, courage shown, and dedication to God by the Pilgrims.

I’d like to jump ahead more than 200 years to the year 1854 and travel 350 miles to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

One of my great-grandfathers – Samuel Linton – was on a quest to discover religious truth. He told of his conversion to the gospel of Christ, which occurred shortly after his father unexpectedly died: “I made up my mind to go and hear every sect and party that professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ [to discover which I thought was true]. I saw [an] advertisement of the Latter-day Saints which read like this: ‘Elder Samuel Harrison of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would preach at ten o’clock on Sunday at 7th and Callow Hill, and he would show that neither Protestant nor Catholic had the true gospel preached to them.’ This took my attention. I thought they were the most presumptuous people I had heard of, to style themselves the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I thought I must go and hear them first. I was there on time. The people began to gather in. I thought they were the most sociable, happy people I had ever seen. The Elder came in and went up on the stand and gave out a hymn. I thought it, and the prayer, was the most sensible I had ever heard. He preached from the New Testament, and quoted passages of scripture that I had committed to memory in Methodist Sabbath School, but he applied them in such a different light that it bothered me to understand it…. When meeting was over I was in no hurry to go. There was a man by the name of Luts, a perfect stranger to me. He asked what I thought of the preaching. I told him I had no fault to find. I asked him a great many questions. He answered me satisfactorily. He told me if I would come back in the afternoon, he would lend me a book, which, if I would read, I could learn a great deal about the Gospel. I read it, I was convinced that the Lord had restored the Gospel and the authority to administer the Ordinances thereof, I applied for baptism. They asked me if I had considered the consequences. He asked me if I was ready to have my friends turn against me and have my name cast out as evil, and suffer persecution, and perhaps lay down my life. I considered a moment, and I thought the former-day Saints had to take all these chances, so I told him I was prepared for all this. He said on these conditions you may be baptized. They were about three weeks before they were ready to go. There were quite a few baptized. There was plenty of ice to be moved, so we had a cold bath. We were all right. We took no harm. This was the first of January, 1854.” (Source: Morgan 10: Samuel Linton and Ellen Sutton Linton, Part 1 of 3).

Samuel joined and remained firm in the faith even though it caused conflict with some of his family. He emigrated to Utah, living near Salt Lake for a while until he was called to what was referred to as the “Muddy Mission” – colonizing St. George, Utah. Samuel went without question. All of Samuel’s life he exhibited great faith; his daughter spoke of his faith: “We never had to call a doctor if father administered to us, we got well immediately, no matter what ailed us.” (Source: Morgan 10: Samuel Linton and Ellen Sutton Linton, Part 3 of 3).

From Utah, through letters, Samuel tried to teach his mother and family who were living in Philadelphia. He took two trips back east to teach his family. I’ll quote from a history about him: “[Samuel] was very anxious to have his folks join the church. His father died a year after they came to Philadelphia and [Samuel] later left to gather with the Saints. After 20 years he got a letter from his mother through the dead letter office. [Samuel] began writing trying to convert [his mother and siblings]. Later he made two trips to visit them, but they were too full of prejudice to talk to him or listen so no more joined the church, but he has had their work done in the Temple which we hope they have learned to accept and appreciate.”  (Source: Morgan 10: Samuel Linton and Ellen Sutton Linton, Part 3 of 3).

Samuel, in being baptized, had his family turn against him but he knew the gospel was true. He believed in the ordinances of the temple and made sure those ordinances were performed for his family so they could, if they accepted the work, be part of the great chain of generations welded to each other and ultimately to our Eternal Father.

In Doctrine and Covenants 128 Joseph Smith quotes 1st Corinthians 15:29 referencing baptism for the dead and then explains what it means. In Joseph’s explanation, he quotes Malachi.

“16 And now, in relation to the baptism for the dead, I will give you another quotation of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead? And again, in connection with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse…. The earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:16-18).

The prophecy and promise of Malachi foretold of the role of Elijah in helping restore the keys necessary to save families by welding generation to generation.

I will relate one more story, this time jumping ahead 150 years from the time when my ancestor Samuel joined the church. This is an experience I particularly felt prompted to share this morning [in Sacrament Meeting].

My cousin Mike and his wife Marinda were pregnant with their first child in the fall of 2004. At the first ultrasound appointment in the spring of 2005 they found out that their daughter was 2 weeks behind in development. Additionally, their daughter had abnormal “heart ventricles, irregular blood flow through the umbilical cord, and a large cyst on the brain.” The signs pointed to a rare genetic condition where one of the baby’s genes had three copies instead of just two. This genetic disorder is considered “incompatible with life” meaning that if the baby made it to term, she would live a short time at best. Tears of joy became tears of sorrow at the news. My cousin and his wife quickly turned to family, friends, and their Heavenly Father for counsel and comfort. They attended the temple, read scriptures, and prayed. They decided on the name Hope for their baby as a reminder of the joys of life and blessings of the gospel even through sore trials.

Hope arrived 5 weeks early at just 3 pounds; she was born with difficulty but she was alive. Knowing her mortal life would be short, Hope’s parents held her and enjoyed her presence. They both felt filled with a “warm and peaceful spirit” that provided strength and comfort. Through the sacred power of the priesthood, Hope received a blessing from her father. After a short 52 minutes of life, Hope’s spirit left her body.

Hope’s mother Marinda wrote of the experience immediately after her passing: “While Mike and I were alone with Hope [after her death], we felt her sweet presence with us. I know that she wasn’t far. Hope’s experience on earth was short, but I can say without any reservation that every one of those 52 minutes was filled with love. She was surrounded by people who will always love her so dearly. Just the same, she was able, in such a short time and with such a small body, to impart such a pure and simple love to those who would mourn her passing.” (Source: http://www.hopewessman.net/2009/05/hopes-story-her-miraculous-life.html)

We read in the scriptures: “Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.” (2 Nephi 2:8-9). The atonement of Jesus Christ brings hope! Even those passing through the darkest abyss can feel peace. Those who have departed are merely that – parted from us but not forever lost.

Because of the atonement of Christ, because of the sealing power of the priesthood that was restored unto Joseph Smith by the prophet Elijah, families can be together forever! We know that tears of sorrow and that separation are only for a small moment. Even though hearts rend in suffering, Christ repairs the breach; He binds up the broken-hearted. The spirit of Elijah helps hearts of fathers and mothers, which might be broken, turn to their children. The spirit of Elijah helps hearts of children turn to their mothers and fathers. As temple ordinances are performed, families are welded together for eternity.

My cousin and his wife had three other children born without complications after Hope. Then, in 2012 they found out that the baby they were expecting – Amelia Grace – had the same genetic condition as Hope. The same shock and sorrow hit them but they knew that they had coped with the death of Hope and they could cope with Amelia’s. They again found strength in the atonement and in the blessings of the temple. Amelia died during the birthing process but through the sealing power of the holy priesthood, Amelia and Hope can be Mike and Marinda’s eternally!

My cousin shared his testimony after the death of Amelia: “The loss of one’s child is not a pleasant experience. While I do not know why Marinda and I have this experience, I testify that we are strengthened through Christ, knowing that we can be reunited with our…daughter(s) again one day. For this is part of God’s plan for each of his children who seek to follow him.” (Source: http://www.ameliawessman.net/p/a-fathers-thoughts.html)

I testify that those who have experienced such great loss can find healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that this what the mission of Elijah is ultimately about – allowing for families to be sealed together for eternity. I pray that we all remember the words of Malachi and turn our hearts to our mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and participate in the sacred work of the temple.

Reflections on Churches

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The other day I was driving through town (I live in the southern United States where churches are particularly abundant). I paid attention to the names of different churches I passed. There were “Living Water” churches, “Missionary” churches, “Blessings” churches, “Miracles” churches, “Community” churches, “Family” churches, “Covenant” churches, and “Grace” churches (in addition to Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and more). The three that really stuck out to me were a “Temple” church, a “Church of the Apostle”, and a “Church of Prophecy”.

I thought that it was interesting that the churches would reference temples, apostles, and prophets (implied from “prophecy”) in their names yet have none of those in their churches. I know the Catholic Church claims apostolic authority (papal lineage through Peter) but this particular “Apostle” church was not Catholic. The churches might have been founded in recognition of the significance of the temple and apostles (I’ll combine prophets and apostles) but they were founded without either apostles or temples (see also Ezek. 37:26), which are vital parts of Christ’s Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of Christ’s church with both apostles and temples. We claim authority from Jesus Christ, given to Joseph Smith and passed on to subsequent prophets and apostles (just as Elijah’s authority passed on to Elisha). We make much of covenants as well in the LDS Church. We believe in grace, family, miracles, blessings, missionary work, and Christ as the source of living water. The LDS Church encompasses all truth; we accept all good and all truth, regardless the source (“We are after the truth. We commenced searching for it, and we are constantly in search of it, and so fast as we find any true principle revealed by any man, by God, or by holy angels, we embrace it and make it part of our religious creed.” Pres. John Taylor). However, necessary covenants and ordinances are only performed through proper authority (see also: Priesthood).

The Churches are most likely doing good (I qualify that statement because there are some churches that spread hate and evil) but they are lacking the authority that was restored to Joseph Smith. It is through this authority that we have apostles, prophets, and temples in the LDS Church.

Why Cannot All Enter LDS Temples?

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While reading an article online about Mormons in the political sphere, one comment by some random person caught my eye (okay, a number did but there’s only one I will address). The commenter was bitter towards the LDS Church because people who are not members of the church and church members who do not have current temple recommends cannot attend marriages performed in the temple. I’ll quote the statement (Source – see comments): “No other religious group excludes family and friends from a wedding because they are not ‘worthy’ or members of the group as do the Mormons if the couple is wed in the temple. I always thought church buildings were God’s house and all were welcome there.”

I’ll not address the logical fallacy of appeal to the majority (“no other religious group”). Overall, this person’s statement represents a rather stark misunderstanding of temples (including in Biblical times). The statement also expresses misunderstanding about who is welcome where and for what reasons.

I’ll start with a scripture not directly about a physical temple but one that demonstrates something important about temples: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:17). Clearly, a temple can be defiled (again, I know Paul is talking about our bodies being temples but this also applies to temples that are built). Temples are meant to be holy so unholy (not sanctified or set apart or dedicated) things can defile them. In other words, unholy people can defile temples. God does not want just anyone to enter His house. He calls to all, but not all listen to and heed His words.

When Christ was on the earth, He cast out moneychangers and other people doing sinful things in the temple: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:12-13). Again, clearly there were people who were not welcome in the temple. Jesus “cast out all [of] them.” Could they have come back if they had ceased their wickedness? Sure, but that’s exactly what modern LDS temples are like – we welcome everyone who is willing to meet the requirements to attend.

Further, we know from the scriptures that God dwells in (or at least has one to sit in) a temple in heaven: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). Not everyone will be invited into this heavenly temple: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). Again, there seem to be conditions on going to Heaven, namely, doing the will of God. So do all indiscriminately go to Heaven? To say so is a misunderstanding of the scriptures. If God imposes limits on who goes to Heaven, why would He not impose limits on who can enter a temple on earth?

If we go back further in time to the Tabernacle of Moses and the Israelites, only certain people were allowed to touch the Tabernacle and go into parts of it. This was the case with the temple of Solomon (in all its forms over the years). Women were not allowed into some areas of the temple and only a high priest could go into the Holy of Holies. Clearly, there have been longstanding restrictions on who could enter temples.

I want to wrap up my brief post by responding to one thing this particular poster said: “I always thought church buildings were God’s house and all were welcome there.” First, in all LDS church buildings (chapels) all visitors are welcome. Temples are not church buildings in the general sense; they are owned by the LDS church but are not where we attend church services. Second, I’m glad this commenter recognizes that LDS church buildings are in fact “God’s house {sic}.” I agree (although, saying the temples are God’s houses is more accurate). But in the end, temples are open to all; people just have to be willing to meet the worthiness standards set by God in order to enter them.

The Purpose of Life

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Yesterday, I had some very weighty matters to write about. In my post I talked about some hard things, things that shouldn’t happen but do. Some might wonder in the face of such tragedy, “What is it all for? Why do we even try in this life? Why are we even here on Earth?”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently released a beautiful video that explains why we are here, what our Earth life is all about.

Come Ye, and Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord

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I posted a version of this talk previously (link goes to first of six parts) but I’ve edited since then.

The year was 1834. The saints were building the Kirtland Temple but the temple was in serious trouble. The mortgage loan on the temple lot was approaching due but the Saints did not have money to repay the loan. Faced with this problem, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other church leaders gathered in prayer and asked the Lord to send someone or some people who had money to save the temple. 200 miles from the birthplace of the Restoration lived the man who was the answer to that prayer. John had joined the Church in 1832. He was a wealthy man but one who always was generous. One night he had a dream that he was urgently needed in Kirtland, Ohio. Within two weeks, John sold his land, homes, hotel, and everything else he could and prepared to leave. On Christmas Day, John and his family left their mansion in New York in search of a mansion in heaven. John and his family headed west to Kirtland, the home of the saints. As soon as John arrived in January after 500 miles and a month of travel, he found the prophet (whom he had not previously met) and discovered why he was needed in Kirtland. John loaned Joseph and the Church the money needed to pay the mortgage. Without John’s money, the loan would have defaulted and the temple land would have been repossessed. Without John Tanner’s consecration, the Kirtland Temple would not have been completed.

From the days of Adam, temples have always been important to the followers of God. In the ancient world, temples were often at the center of city life. This also is how some modern cities are designed. A good example of this in our day is Mesa, Arizona. The temple is built on Main Street and very close to Center Street – right in the middle of the city. The city radiates out from that point. Salt Lake City is designed in the same manner. Wherever the saints of God lived, they built temples. Adam built an altar upon which he offered sacrifices. This was the first temple. Many years later, the Lord commanded Moses to build a tabernacle – a portable temple. Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem that was alternately destroyed and rebuilt over the years. Shortly after Nephi and his family reached the Promised Land, they built a temple. Following the Restoration, the prophet Joseph was commanded to start building temples. The saints built one in Kirtland, Ohio. The saints fled Ohio because of persecutions – leaving behind the precious house of the Lord. They dedicated land in Missouri for a temple. That structure has not yet been built.

Once in Nauvoo, the saints built a temple, finishing it with a trowel in one hand and a wagon in the other as they fled the country to head to the Salt Lake Valley. Brigham Young dedicated the Nauvoo Temple before it was fully completed so at least portion of the saints could receive their temple blessings before they had to cross the plains. I’m sure those blessings gave courage and strength to many who faced the grueling journey ahead. The Prophet Joseph stressed the importance of temples: “The main object [of gathering the Jews, or the people of God, in any age of the world] was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose” (as cited in R. Millet, The Power of the Word, p.218).

The prophet Isaiah saw in vision latter-day temples and the church members who attend them: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” (2 Ne. 12:2-3). One of the first things President Brigham Young did upon entering the Salt Lake Valley was designate the land for the future Salt Lake Temple – the mountain of the Lord’s house that is built in the top of the mountains. Isaiah saw that temple in vision as he prophesied of the last days.

In the last days – in our day – comes the clarion call to the temple. It is a call to go to the temple to hear the words of the Lord. This is what King Benjamin asked of his people: “And now, it came to pass that Mosiah went and did as his father [King Benjamin] had commanded him, and proclaimed unto all the people who were in the land of Zarahemla that thereby they might gather themselves together, to go up to the temple to hear the words which his father should speak unto them.” (Mosiah 1:18). Mosiah called the people to come to the temple to hear the words of the prophet. In our day, temples are being brought to us – new temples are built every year. Pres. Hinckley started the veritable explosion in temple growth; it continues with a fast pace. As temples are being brought to us we should make sure we are bringing ourselves to the temple.

This call to come the temple is a call to learn the ways of God and to walk in the paths the Lord marks. It is a call to one and all to visit the house of God as individuals and as families in order to receive the blessings of time and eternity. Why is the temple so important? A temple is literally the House of the Lord. It is the place where ordinances necessary for exaltation are performed. Temple ordinances weld generation to generation, husband to wife, mother to daughter, and sister to brother.

We learn further of the importance of the temple in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.” (D&C; 124:39-41).

What we learn from this scripture is that the temple is a place of revelation. Within those walls we can know things that have been hidden from “before the foundation of the world.” The temple is a place of covenant – it is a house of holiness.

To be holy means to be dedicated, set apart, or consecrated. When we are holy we consecrate all our lives and everything we have to the work of the Lord. The prophet Zechariah spoke about consecration: “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD…Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 14:20-21). Zechariah envisioned the day when even the horses and dishes would be consecrated for the work of the Lord. Many of us do this in our lives – we drive our children and the children of others to church activities or we drive to our visiting or home teaching appointments; we also use our dishes to take food to those who are ill or
in need. Those may seem like small matters, but that is the essence of consecration – it is using our means and lives to serve and support others and further the work of the Lord. John, whose money saved the Kirtland Temple, gave almost everything he owned to the Church without ever being repaid. Elder Maxwell taught, “Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory. It brings release from the raucous, overpopulated cell block of selfishness and emancipation from the dark prison of pride” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Settle This in Your Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 66). Consecration is holiness.

Being holy also requires us to be clean. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of the cleansing that comes in the temple and through temple service: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:25-27). The Lord promised a new heart, a heart softened by the Spirit, to those who receive saving ordinances and keep His statutes. This new yielding heart allows us to be better people: better saints, better citizens, better mothers, fathers, and friends. It is a rejuvenated heart that beats warmly within our chests, filling us with love and charity for our friends, neighbors, and the entire world. The temple is a place where we learn to live as better people in this world while striving to remain spotless from the sins of the world; Elder Maxwell stated, “Temple work is not an escape from the world but a reinforcing of our need to better the world while preparing ourselves for another and far better world. Thus, being in the Lord’s house can help us to be different from the world in order to make more difference in the world” (N.A.M. Quote Book, p. 339). Inner change is not enough, we need to take that inward change and turn it outward by seeking to bless the lives of others. The temple is a place that should inspire us to improve the world. The temple should inspire us to be more like Jesus Christ.

The Savior likened the gospel and the kingdom of heaven unto a pearl of great price; this pearl had such great worth that a man sold all that he had so that he might obtain it (see Matt. 13:45-46). The kingdom of heaven is something for which we need to be willing to give up everything. Hopefully, none of us view the gospel as a pearl of great pride instead of a pearl of great price. A pearl of great pride is something we hide away and don’t share; we may have worked hard to obtain it and we want the world to know that. We might use that prideful pearl to bolster up our own feelings of superiority over others – to look down on them in the condescension of conceit. A pearl of great price, on the other hand, is something that we give our all for and then share it with others so they too can experience the beauty and blessings of that pearl. We have this great treasure, a great blessing, and we want the entire world to also have that treasure. With this attitude there is no superiority or pride, there is only love and selflessness. That’s what Elder Maxwell said about the temple – it’s not a place that removes us from the world; it’s a place that moves us to improve the world. The temple is not an exclusive club that keeps out the rabble (it’s not a pearl of pride), it’s an education center that gives us the opportunity to, as the BYU motto states, “Enter to learn, [and] go forth to serve;” the temple is a pearl of great price – something we should be willing to give our all for; it’s not just a one-time purchase but something that requires our whole lives. The price – the responsibility – of the temple is a life of willing sacrifice and service and of obedience and repentance.

The Savior used the pearl analogy again when he stated that we should not cast our pearls before swine – meaning that holy things are to remain sacred and pure. We need to keep the ordinances and teachings of the temple sacred. The same goes for our lives, if we are to be holy. Once we receive temple blessings we need to remain worthy of them and not drag them through the mud. However, we all sin and fall short of our covenants. When we become physically dirty or muddy we can wash ourselves and be clean. Similarly, when we become spiritually dirty or muddy, when we sin and are become as lost sheep, then there is a way prepared for us to become clean again. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isa. 53: 6) but the Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to search for the one who has wandered and who seeks forgiveness. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who watches over the flocks of Israel but He is also the Lamb of God. His sacrificial blood atones for our sins as we repent. Through Christ’s Atonement, our scarlet sins can be made white as snow (see Isa. 1:18). The light of repentance disperses the darkness of sin.

The Lord promises great blessings to those who return unto him. During the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith pleaded: “And when thy people transgress, any of them, they may speedily repent and return unto thee, and find favor in thy sight, and be restored to the blessings which thou hast ordained to be poured out upon those who shall reverence thee in thy house. And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them; And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfill that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days.” (D&C; 109: 21-23; emphasis added).

If we have transgressed, if we have strayed, we need to repent; when we repent, the blessings of heaven shall be poured out upon us. These blessings not only help wash away our imperfections and uncleanliness but also fill us with goodness and joy. Let me repeat some of the blessings promised unto us by the Lord as we remain faithful to temple covenants: we shall be armed with power – power to do the Lord’s work and power to resist temptation; we shall have God’s name upon us; the glory of the Lord will be round about us – His image will shine in our countenances and He shall be as a pillar of cloud and of fire unto us; and angels will have charge over us, providing strength and comfort. All are powerful blessings. When we receive these blessings I think it is important to remember the words of the Prophet Joseph; he prayed that the saints would go forth from the temple unto the ends of the earth bearing great and glorious tidings. Again, the call is to welcome all people to become worthy to enter the temple. We have a responsibility to share our precious pearl and call to others, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.”

That is a call I’d like to extend to the youth of our ward. The temple is a place of beauty and blessing. You Young Women and Young Men are able to go perform baptisms for the dead. Performing baptisms for the dead was always a special experience for me as a youth. I remember the peace I felt sitting in the waiting room. I remember the spirit I felt as I was baptized on behalf of others; I hoped that they accepted the work I was doing for them. I strived to remain worthy to enter the temple of the Lord. Living the gospel – keeping the commandments and remaining true to your baptismal (and priesthood, for you young men) covenants can be difficult at times. Pres. Monson stated at a recent General Conference, “[You] youth…in particular, face temptations we can scarcely comprehend. The adversary and his hosts seem to be working nonstop to cause [your] downfall. We are waging a war with sin…but
we need not despair. It is a war we can and will win” (Ensign, May 2008, p. 90).

You youth are in the midst of a war for your souls. On one side are Satan and his followers; on the other are the Lord and His followers. You choose for which side you will fight. Do you fight for the Lord? There will be casualties along the way but we know which side wins in the end. Just as Helaman’s army suffered no losses, with faith and righteousness you can survive the battles and not be counted among the spiritually dead. You might be wounded and suffer greatly, but those are wounds that can be cleansed and healed at the fountain of living waters. Jesus is the source of those living waters and provides healing; He is the Great Physician. Satan will try his utmost to keep you from attending the temple. He will try all sorts of feints and tactics. He will try to get you to lower your guard and remove your armor but you must remain strong and ready. You have inspired parents, leaders, and friends who can help you remain strong and faithful and who can help prepare you to enter the temple and receive its blessings. Temple blessings are shield and armor against Satan.

One of the defining moments in my life was when I was able to attend the temple and receive my own endowment. That’s a day I will never forget – it has eternal significance for me and for my family. I urge you youth to ponder about the importance of the temple and prepare yourselves to enter its doors. Strive with all your energy to keep the Spirit with you in all you do. It will provide the strength and peace needed to face and overcome the temptations of the adversary.

The small and simple actions of prayer and reading the scriptures provide great strength. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37: 6). Reading your scriptures and praying regularly will help you fight temptations and stand victorious. You are very busy now but life only becomes more hectic as you get older; if these things are not priorities in your lives now it can be hard to make them priorities later.

A couple years ago my family experienced a number of events that brought to our minds the importance of temples and of the sealing of families together for eternity. At the beginning of May 2008 my family and I attended the funeral of my grandmother Beverly. Her spirit slipped out of her mortal frame into the eternal realm and her body was laid in the ground. Her passing was not unexpected but the pain of separation for us was acute. That event was followed by ones of great joy. The day after the funeral my brother was sealed for time and all eternity in the house of the Lord. Two lives were joined as one by the priesthood of God in the holy temple. A few days later my sister had a baby who came from God and “trailing clouds of glory” (W. Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality), to join a family who had been sealed together in the temple. Shortly later, my family had the funeral for my grandmother Maxine, who passed away at the end of May. Her death was also not unexpected but again, the pain of separation was acute. Her husband – my grandfather – then passed away only 11 days later.

Within the space of just one and a half months, my family experienced a death, a marriage, a birth, a death, and another death. It’s as if the Plan of Salvation was compressed into one month for my family.

At times such as these our minds often turn to eternal matters as we experience these emotions of sadness and joy. Three of those events were sad because they involved separation from loved ones; they were events signaling the end of mortal life. However, through the blessings of the temple, these separations are only temporary. My grandparents merely passed from one stage of their existence into another through the door of death. While there is sorrow on our part, there is also joy knowing that they are reunited with other loved ones who have gone on before. We are also strengthened by the knowledge that at some point in the future we will all be reunited as families. The other two family events brought joy unto us; they signaled the start of new life and lives. I’m grateful for the knowledge and blessings of eternal families – this is the greatest blessing of the temple.

Just as the Lord inspired John Tanner to go and save the temple, we should emulate his example and go to the temple, not to save it but to be saved and help save others. The temple not only will bless our lives but also the lives of those around us – most importantly our family for generations to come. The temple is a holy place that has eternal significance and provides eternal blessings. Let us follow the admonition of Isaiah by gathering all who will be gathered and beckon unto them: “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.”

False Temples – Part 3

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Are we building up false temples in our lives? Are we worshiping at unholy altars? Are we letting the good crowd out the best? Do we make even token sacrifices to gilded calves? What are we allowing in our lives to take precedence over the gospel and the things of God? Do we wander on side-roads when we should be traveling on God’s heavenly highway, which takes us to the temple and eternal life?
The prophet Isaiah wrote of God’s highway, “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” (Isaiah 35:8).

This highway leads through the deserts: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3); it leads to the exalted heights: “And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.” (Isaiah 49:11). On God’s exalted roads, we are in the path to peace; we are on the temple road, a road for the clean and holy. Those who wander on strange roads find themselves on the way to false temples and worshiping false gods – maybe not always on purpose but nonetheless worshiping at false altars.

Our worshiping in false temples could range from shirking church responsibilities to spending too much time pursuing work or recreation (or even family) that other necessary activities are left undone. Our worship of false gods could range from obsessively following the latest trends or technologies or celebrities to dishonoring the Sabbath day to worshiping the self. All that is good is not exalting and too much of a good thing can at times be damning. I do not mean to imply that all our focus should be on the gospel and family – although those should be our primary foci – we can and should spend time doing other things, like working to support a family or developing our talents or even taking some time to relax and enjoy ourselves. The problem occurs when our devotion to these other activities because religious to the point of interference with what matters most.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke on this at a recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said,

“A childhood experience introduced me to the idea that some choices are good but others are better. I lived for two years on a farm. We rarely went to town. Our Christmas shopping was done in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. I spent hours poring over its pages. For the rural families of that day, catalog pages were like the shopping mall or the Internet of our time.

Something about some displays of merchandise in the catalog fixed itself in my mind. There were three degrees of quality: good, better, and best. For example, some men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).
As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.

Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, ‘Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom’ (D&C; 88:118; emphasis added)” (Ensign, Nov. 2007).

Many things, people, and causes clamor for our attention. We can run around exhibiting a kind of attentional disorder trying to do everything (or conversely, doing far too little or focusing on far too narrow a thing) or we can wisely use and improve our time by choosing to spend the most effort on the best things. The kingdom of God and our Lord Jesus Christ come first, so does family (that is not contradictory to say that both God and family come first), everything else should fall somewhere on down the hierarchy of activities. Anything that takes away from the centrality of God and family (specifically family as God and Christ-centered) is a false god. We should work to purge this polytheism from our lives.

False Temples – Part 2

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The Tower of Babel, as it is commonly referred to today, was a false temple where people tried to makes for themselves a name (see Genesis 11:4). Instead of taking upon them the name of Christ, the builders of the Babel tower sought their own name. Tradition holds that Nimrod built the tower:

“Early Jewish and Christian traditions reported that Nimrod built the Tower of Babel, referred to as a pagan temple, in an attempt to contact heaven. Among the Jews, Nimrod’s name has always been a ‘symbol of rebellion against God and of usurped authority’: he ‘established false priesthood and false kingship in the earth in imitation of God’s rule and ‘made all men to sin” (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, volume 5 of The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley [1980], 156).

Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian, provided additional insight. He noted that Nimrod had tried to gain power over the people. Nimrod probably felt this counterfeit temple would add to his control (see Antiquities of the Jews, book 1, chapter 4, paragraph 2).” (Liahona, March 1998).

The authors of this article continue:

“The account in Genesis provides further insight regarding the significance of the building of the tower. First, the impetus in building this temple was to make themselves a name (see Gen. 11:4). In other words, Nimrod was proposing that they build a temple to receive the name of God without making eternal covenants. Second, they wanted to build this tower-temple so they would not be ‘scattered’ (Gen. 11:4). Latter-day revelation ties the sealing power to preventing the earth from being wasted at the Second Coming (see D&C; 2:3). One meaning of the word wasted in Joseph Smith’s day was ‘destroyed by scattering’ (Webster’s Dictionary [1828]). Finally, the word Babel in Hebrew meant ‘confusion,’ but in Babylonian, the meaning was ‘gate of God.’ Nimrod and his people were building their own temple, their gate to heaven, without divine approval or priesthood keys.

The Babylonians, an apostate people, had some understanding of temple ordinances and temple purpose, so they constructed an edifice symbolizing to them their connection to God. And using their own contrived ceremonies to imitate true temple worship, they attempted to duplicate the process of preparation for the hereafter.

Further, the word Babel in Hebrew is the same word translated elsewhere in the Old Testament as ‘Babylon.’ Thus, in biblical terms, the people in this story were building Babylon—a city that has come to represent the world or worldliness (see D&C; 1:16).”

Again, it is clear that the Tower of Babel was built as a false temple in the city that represents the antithesis of Zion. On one side we have the holy temple of the Lord built to reveal unto His people His salvation and power; on the other side we have a false temple created by a people trying to copy and usurp God’s power.

False Temples – Part 1

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Here in the South, football, especially college football, reigns. We have massive football stadiums that seat close to 100,000 people. People spend all day Saturday watching games, tailgating, partying, and otherwise just killing time. Growing up I was not a sports-watcher; our family did not even own a TV. I was aware of sports teams and I enjoyed watching high school football and basketball games but I did not follow any professional (or college) team. My freshman year of college I lived with a couple die-hard BYU Cougar football fans. I went to many of the home games but still was not an avid fan.

Over the years I started watching college football more. I watched the Cougar games and then once I moved to an area with a lot of Florida Gator fans, my love of the sport developed more. Now I can watch multiple college football games on a Saturday (some days I do, some days I don’t); I really enjoy college football. I understand how people spend so much time with it. The sport is exciting and entertaining. I find myself amazed at the abilities of the players to make plays. I marvel at quarterbacks who can throw those balls with such accuracy. I think about what is going on in the brains – physically – of the athletes; what areas of the brain are most active, what white matter pathways are involved and so forth. And sometimes I think of spiritual matters.

Recently, a store for a certain company opened in New York City. This store has been described as a temple for this company’s products. Entering the store, the author wrote, was almost like entering a religious building. But this is for a religion of technology and gadgets, a false temple built up unto Mammon. I am not criticizing the store or the products (I use products from this company every day), but the author provided a sad commentary on our culture and world, without meaning to.

What temples do we worship at? Do we spend Sundays worshiping at sports temples? What gods do we place before God? Do we build up altars in our homes and lives unto false gods? Are we placing ourselves onto a path that leads to a showdown between our false gods and a proverbial prophet Elijah? Do we build up Babelic towers in our lives?

In Genesis we read of one early and prominent false temple built by the residents of the city of Babylon.

“4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:4-9).

These people built a tall tower – maybe it was tall, maybe not. It was not the height of the tower that led to the Lord’s displeasure, it was the purpose of the tower. This tower was a false temple. It was a building built to get the people to heaven; an imitation of the true temple but one without the proper power and authority. The people were trying to build themselves into heaven; they believed they could save and exalt themselves. For this great sin the people’s tongues were confounded. The Lord does not tolerate mockeries of His holy house.

Continued: False Temples Part 2.

Selected October 2009 General Conference Quotes and Thoughts – Sunday Morning Session

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Pres. Henry B. Eyring – The Road of Improvement

Different as we may be, we share a desire to be better than we are. We can and must expect to become better as long as we live. We will all meet the Savior someday and need to prepare for that time. Any believing Latter-day Saint is an optimist about what may come. Even the most humble person can take comfort in the invitation to become like the Savior.

I’m trying to be like Jesus, I’m following in His way. I’m trying to love as He did, in all that I do and say.

It is a commandment to become like the Savior. He has prepared a way through His Atonement and example. Love is the motivator along the way to becoming like Him. Love of God will lead us to keep His commandments. The family is an example of the ideal setting in which we can experience love [and service]. Sorrow [in our families] comes primarily from selfishness.

I pray that there will be no empty chairs in your family in the life to come. Pray for the love to make your companion’s joy your own.

[He talked about wayward children]. Orson F. Whitney quote: “Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them…Pray for your careless and disobedient children…Love them, reach out to them with confidence…”

Honor thy father and mother – the only commandment with a promise.

You can feel the approval our your Heavenly Father when you do what He asks. I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did.

Elder L. Tom Perry – Temple and Missionary Work

Talked about the Manti Temple pageant and temple. There is a special spirit about these older temples that were constructed [with great sacrifice]. I can hear the pioneers saying, “Look what we built with our own hands!”

Stories of the pioneers. Settling in Sanpete and promised to have a temple. They waited and no temple was started so they, with the Church leaders’ permission, started building the Manti temple. They used the principles of ship-building to build a solid roof for the temple (they designed it like a ship and turned it upside-down). The principles of building a sound ship also applied to the temple.

We have all accepted the responsibility to share the gospel with others. The church eliminated the stake missions and brought it down to the ward level; it increases involvement by the members. Pres. Hinckley said: “So many of look upon missionary work simply as tracting…there is a better…wherever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is a built-in support system.”

How prepared are you to give witness and testimony of the gospel…to play that supporting role to the full-time missionaries as they teach investigators?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the divine way to face the future.

Elder Russell M. Nelson – Revelation

Modern technology is amazing. But more amazing is our ability to receive knowledge from heaven without hardware, software, or monthly fees. This offer to receive personal revelation is extended to all God’s children. We always need to be ready to receive [personal revelation].

To access information from heaven, one must have firm faith and sincere desire. One needs to ask with real intent and with faith in Jesus Christ. Study the matter diligently.

Some revelations have been given for specific circumstances, like Noah’s ark.

A desire to follow the prophet takes much effort because the natural man knows little of the Lord. The natural man is an enemy to God and will be forever unless he [submitteth unto the Lord].

Personal revelation can be honed to become spiritual discernment. This is a supernal gift. It allows us to see things not visible and feel things not tangible. Can detect trends in the world…things that are flashy and fleeting and those that are [worthwhile and lasting].

“None of the callings in the Priesthood are for the personal benefit or fame of those who have them. They are to fulfill the purposes of God.” ~ Pres. John Taylor (paraphrased)

Revelation need not all come at once. It may be incremental. “Line upon line, precept upon precept.” Unto him who receiveth, I will give more.

Pres. Thomas S. Monson – Service

Volunteers in Medicine founder – Dr. McConnell – giving service

Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose in life. Giving service can, in effect, save your life.

“Man’s greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others” – David O. McKay.

At baptism we covenant to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light. Too often we think, “oh, someone else will fill that need.” We spend too much time thinking about things that do not matter much in the grand scheme of things.

“I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight that to somebody’s need made me blind; But I never have yet felt a tinge of regret for being a little too kind.”

“Warm fuzzies jar” – based on acts of service. A girl in a ward babysat for free for a family who did not have a lot of money. [Other examples of service were shared].

We have to live a long time to learn how empty a room can be that is filled only with furniture. The memories of the past can burn within our hearts.

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.

If we truly listen we may hear that voice say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”