Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Temple Influence, And Moments In Life

Brothers & Sisters,

Scattered throughout my life, I can recall the magnificent and great moments in my life; Both the moments of which I felt grand walking outside the light of the Gospel, and now, as living evidence of the joy which can only come from living within the bounds which the Lord has set. I take, in the spirit of humility, what Elder Holland said, on a recent Mormon Messages Video about Motherhood, with the joyful understanding I now have concerning the gospel, when he said, “…may I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you.”

The pivotal heights of the joy of receiving a child into the world- A joy I felt I scarcely did justice in attempting to explain, or even place into words, when I received each of my beautiful children is beyond any accurate earthly vocabulary.

How the Lord found faith that I would… better yet said, “Could” care for these special, wonderful, and may I even add, beautiful…. Children is beyond my earthly capacity to attempt to share with you. In that blessed and wonderful ceremony where I was, across was my wonderful wife Melissa, and with us, around that altar brothers and sisters, are the angels of purity and innocence I call my children. I love my family. I love my children… and if even for a moment I thought I understood the grandeur of love I felt there, I know then how much more the love that our Heavenly Father has for me, has for you…. That he has for us.

I received the greatest feeling that only the Spirit of God could instill upon any individual in that room, and those who were there can testify to the fact, that through the Spirit the Lord was saying to us… “This is the way home, in this house you are now laying the foundations for your children…. For you…. And all those which shall follow, you are on your way home.”

That pathway home starts at baptism, indeed it starts when we covenant to take upon us, the name of the Son, even Christ Jesus. Ultimately, that ticket home comes through all the crowning ordinances that are required of us for salvation to the kingdom of heaven. Included in that list of ordinances, is Temple Marriage, to be sealed to your partner for time and all eternity. All of those, and enduring to the end.

I wish to share with you, a story that President Harold B. Lee shared at the March 1956 dedication of the Los Angeles California Temple, when he repeated a father’s story about his son who had been assigned to fly dangerous missions during World War 2.

“[The] father said to him, ‘Son, how were you able to get back safely to your home base … ?’ The boy said, ‘Oh, that is easy, Dad, I just fly the beam.’ But the father pursued the question by asking, ‘Suppose you have lost the beam and something has gone wrong with that radio equipment by which the flyer learns to fly his course.’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I would use my compass.’ ‘Well, suppose a shot has destroyed the compass; then what?’

“The boy [pondered] thoughtfully and then he said, ‘Dad, I would begin to fly my plane higher and higher above the smoke and fog and dust of the earth until I got up where I could see the stars, and when I had flown that high, I would chart my course by the stars. That never failed and I could always find my way back home.’ ”

President Lee continued: “Down here on the earth outside of His sacred presence there are the things that money can buy, there are the things that we call the honors of men and the things that we strive for and seem to think are most important. But [the temple] is where we climb high above the smoke and the fog of these earthly things and we learn to read by God’s eternal stars a course that will lead us safely back home.

So important to know, is the way home. We come [to the temple], as I think of it, to receive the fullness of the blessings of the Priesthood. …

We come here to this Holy House to learn, to know God as he really is, and just how each of us, for ourselves, might obtain an exaltation in his presence. …

It is here we begin to lay the foundation stones of an eternal heavenly home, for here in this Church is the power to bind on earth that the same might be bound in Heaven.

Somehow we must get across the fact to all our people, young and old, that in our holy temples the temple endowment is the sure guide to happiness here and eternal life in the world to come.

When you enter a holy temple, you are by that course gaining fellowship with the Saints in God’s eternal kingdom, where time is no more. In the temples of your God you are endowed not with a rich legacy of worldly treasure, but with a wealth of eternal riches that are above price.

The temple ceremonies are designed by a wise Heavenly Father who has revealed them to us in these last days as a guide and a protection throughout our lives, that you and I might not fail to merit exaltation in the celestial kingdom, where God and Christ dwell.

It is in that Temple, of which we come to know things as they are. Our Stake Patriarch, Brother Dyle, prior to the Sealing Ceremony, mentioned this. He mentions the scripture found in Jacob Chapter 4 verse 13 where Jacob says, “"...the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls..."

Remember the scripture, found in ” (Moroni 10:3–5).

 “… Ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are ... true; and if [you] … ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.”

What truth? The truth that Jesus is the Christ. The truth that he is the literal living Son, of our literal living God. The truth that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. The truth that President Monson is our living Prophet, and that through him, the Lord conducts the affairs of His kingdom,  on His Earth.

This is powerful knowledge. It is truth that sets you free…. This life makes no logical sense unless we think in terms of the eternities. The transcendent blessings of life and eternity are received within the sacred walls of the temple. The Savior’s supernal gift to mankind gave us the opportunity for eternal life, but eternal life without our loved ones would be bleak.

A basic eternal truth of this Church is that families may, if they are worthy, have an eternal relationship; for us it would not be heaven without our parents, our grandparents, our eternal companions, our children, and our posterity. This union of families comes through the sealing power exercised within the hallowed walls of the temples under authorized priesthood authority.

An eternal family begins when a young couple kneels at an altar in the holy temple of God and make covenants with each other and with God and receive His greatest promises. This sealing is preceded by each making and receiving covenants which, if they continue worthy, will bless them in this life as well as in the life to come.

The father and mother are equal partners with different roles in nurturing and teaching their family members on the journey to immortality and eternal life. To have full meaning, how can life be other than an eternal process?
Part of the process of reaching into the eternities comes when we must deal with the experience called death. This life is hollow without a belief in and an understanding of immortality.

Said Paul, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The Atonement and the Resurrection of the Savior are the grand keys that open the locks of immortality. The greatest fulfillment of these blessings, if we are worthy, comes to us in the holy temples of God. Within their sacred walls, those who hold the power and authority bind in heaven that which is bound in earth. This authority has been delegated by the President of the Church, who holds and exercises all of the keys of the kingdom of God on earth.

Fundamental to temple worship is the principle that “God is no respecter of persons.” Within the hallowed walls of the temples, there is no preference of position, wealth, status, race, or education. All dress in white. All receive the same instruction. All make the same covenants and promises. All receive the same transcendent, eternal blessings if they live worthy to claim them. All are equal before their Creator. Those who are single through no fault of their own, if worthy, will be given the blessings, if they wish, of an eternal family relationship.

We are a covenant-making people. These eternal blessings are for all who wish to worthily receive of them, both the living and the dead. In the mercy of God we are privileged to receive these blessings by proxy for our deceased ancestors who did not have this privilege in life. They, of course, may choose whether to accept these blessings. Our duty is to search out our forebears and give them the opportunity to accept and receive these blessings. As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.”

The opportunity to receive these supernal blessings was given by God in His infinite goodness to the people of this earth through the great prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith. He was commissioned to restore the fulness of all things in our time.

Amid the dismal and forlorn conditions that this world forces upon us, a wise prophet, whom most of us know well, once said a very inspiring and oft times not pondered upon enough scripture. Indeed when he said this, there were those who wrote off the ability to succeed. Said he, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

The comfort we should take from that is limitless. We face challenges in our life, we face struggles and in all the grief and pain that this life can…. And will throw at us… there is comfort that Nephi, yes, that very prophet of whom I just quoted, there is comfort that the loving and merciful Lord will not ever suffer us to face ANY challenges that we can not conquer.

Rest in knowing this. Elder Holland said this:

“The first lesson from Liberty Jail is that everyone, including, and perhaps especially, the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. When that happens we can sometimes fear that God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he cried from the depth and discouragement of his confinement: “O God, where art thou?

Whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry, “Where art Thou?” it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us—where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep He and the angels of heaven weep with us.

When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist. Is it any wonder why Faith is the first of the four principles of the Gospel mentioned in the 4th article of Faith? We must have faith the Lord is in control. We must have Faith he will see us through our problems. Only after Faith is tried, then comes the blessings.

When I faced staring down serious and deadly addiction which of my own ability over the course of 11 years I was unable to overcome on my own, I had to have Faith that though I could not see myself through these problems on my own… there was one who could! The Savior saw me through it, and only after I had Faith that only He could help me, did the words echoed by Moroni in the 12th chapter of Ether, verse 8 which reads, “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

Like Moroni suggested, just because I could not naturally behold how only the Lord could help me did not mean that he could not. Thus the Saviors call in the New Testament to the blind man whom he healed, “According to your faith, be it unto you.”

In closing, I wish to read part of a First Presidency Message, of which the living Prophet at the time was Howard W. Hunter:

A Temple Motivated People – First Presidency Message Ens. Feb 1995

Truly, the Lord desires that His people be a temple-motivated people. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy. I would hope that every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it.

Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. Let us hasten to the temple as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow. Let us go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety which is provided within those hallowed and consecrated walls. The temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It should be holy unto us.

It is pleasing to the Lord for our youth to worthily go to the temple and perform vicarious baptism for those who did not have the opportunity to be baptized in life. It is pleasing to the Lord when we worthily go to the temple to personally make our own covenants with Him and to be sealed as couples and as families. And it is pleasing to the Lord when we worthily go to the temple to perform these same saving ordinances for those who have died, many of whom eagerly await the completion of these ordinances in their behalf.

But to have the temple indeed be a symbol unto us, we must desire it to be so. We must live worthy to enter the temple. We must keep the commandments of our Lord. If we can pattern our life after the Master, and take His teaching and example as the supreme pattern for our own, we will not find it difficult to be temple worthy, to be consistent and loyal in every walk of life, for we will be committed to a single, sacred standard of conduct and belief. Whether at home or in the marketplace, whether at school or long after school is behind us, whether we are acting totally alone or in concert with a host of other people, our course will be clear and our standards will be obvious.

The ability to stand by one’s principles, to live with integrity and faith according to one’s belief—that is what matters. That devotion to true principle—in our individual lives, in our homes and families, and in all places that we meet and influence other people—that devotion is what God is ultimately requesting of us. It requires commitment—whole-souled, deeply held, eternally cherished commitment to the principles we know to be true in the commandments God has given. If we will be true and faithful to the Lord’s principles, then we will always be temple worthy, and the Lord and His holy temples will be the great symbols of our discipleship with Him.

************************ Lubbock Texas Stake Announcements:

August 22nd 8:30a.m. Branch Council Saturday,

August 28th 10:00a.m. Primary Activity Day Sunday,

August 29th Combined Priesthood/Relief Society Sunday,

August 29th 1:15p.m. BYC

************************** Plainview Branch Elders & High Priest Lessons By Date:

8-22-10 Conference Talk "The Blessing Of The Scriptures" (By D. Todd Christofferson)

8-29-10 Joint Meeting (5th Sunday Agenda)

9-5-10 September First Presidency Meeting (Ensign)

9-12-10 "The Church of Jesus Christ Today" (Gospel Principles, Chapter 17 - Page 95)

9-19-10 "Faith in Jesus Christ" (Gospel Principles, Chapter 18 - Page 101)

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