Sunday, October 16, 2016

Walking the Savior’s Path of Charity

President Howard W. Hunter taught that the Savior "gave us His love, His service, and His life...We should strive to give as He gave."  Most particularly, President Hunter encouraged church members to follow the Savior's example of charity in their everyday lives.

Acts of charity were a defining aspect of Howard W. Hunter's career in the legal profession.  A fellow attorney explained:  " He spent a lot of his time giving [free] legal service... because he just did not have the heart to send a bill...He was perceived as a friend, guide, counselor, and a professional who was much more concerned about seeing that people got the help they needed rather than get compensated for it."

An old axiom states that a man "all wrapped up in himself makes a small bundle."  Love has a certain way of making a small bundle large.  The key is to love our neighbor, including the neighbor that is difficult to love.  We need to rember that though we make our friends, God has made our neighbors--everywhere.  Love should have no boundary; we should have non arrow loyalties.  Christ said, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?  Do not even the publicans the same?"

In an important message to the Latter day Saints in Nauvoo just one year before his tragic and untimely martyrdom, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:  "If we would secure and cultivate the principles of union and friendship in their midst." (HIstor of the Church, 5: 498-99.)

That is magnificent counsel today, even as it was [then].  The world in which we live, whether close to home or far away, needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It provides the only way the world will ever know peace.  We need to be kinder with one another, more gentle and forgiving. We need to be slower to anger and more prompt to help. We need to extend the hand of friendship and resist the hand of retribution.  In short, we need to love one another with the pure love of Christ, with genuine charity and compassion and, if necessary, shared suffering, for that is the way God loves us.

...Charity encompasses all other godly virtues.  It distinguishes both the beginning and the end of the plan of salvation.  When all else fails, charity--Christ's love--will not fail.  It is the greatest of all divine attributes. 

The world in which we live would benefit greatly if men and women everywhere would exercise the pure love of Christ, which is kind, meek, and lowly.  It is without envy or pride.  It is selfless because it seeks nothing in return.  It does not countenance evil or ill will, nor rejoice in iniquity; it has no place for bigotry, hatred, or violence.  It refuses to condone ridicule, vulgarity, abuse, orostracism.  It  encourages diverse people to live together in Christian love regardless of religious belief, race, nationality, financial standing, education, or culture.  The Savior has commanded us to love one another as he has loved us; to clothe ourselves "with the bond of charity" as he so clothed himself.  We are called upon to purify our inner feelings, to change our hearts, to make out outward actions and appearance conform to what we say we believe and feel inside. We are to be true disciples of Christ.

"Wherefore, who so believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world...

"In the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

We Believe in Being Honest

For Howard W. Hunter, it was important to be honest in small matters as well as large ones.
                           Moses holding tablet
'He taught his sons about integrity by his example. “What I know about honesty and integrity has come in large measure by what people have told me about my father,” Richard Hunter said. One time Richard went with his father to a business meeting where a complex project was being discussed. While outside for a break, Richard and one of the men were talking about the meeting. Richard said there would probably be a long wait to begin the project because it would require an immense amount of legal paperwork. The man corrected Richard, telling him the project could proceed before the paperwork was finalized because the people knew that Howard W. Hunter would do whatever he said he would do.
Scripture is replete with admonitions to be honest, and commandments are myriad to the effect that we should be honest. We think of them in bold type: THOU SHALT NOT—thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet [see Exodus 20:15–17]. …
The Lord hates a proud look, a lying tongue, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, [and] he that soweth discord [see Proverbs 6:16–19]. As Latter-day Saints, can we afford to do anything the Lord hates? How often has he spoken against dishonesty!
As we strive for achievement and success, so much of our time is consumed in thought and study of the complex that we seldom take time for the simple—the simple things, the little things that are in reality the basis upon which we build and without which a strong foundation cannot exist. A structure may tower to the sky, and we may look at it with awe because of its stature and great height; yet it cannot stand unless its foundation is anchored in rock or in steel and concrete.
Character must have such a foundation. I draw your attention to the principle of honesty. Why is it so many believe in the high and lofty principles of honesty, yet so few are willing to be strictly honest?
Religion can be part of our daily work, our business, our buying and selling, building, transportation, manufacturing, our trade or profession, or of anything we do. We can serve God by honesty and fair dealing in our business transactions in the same way we do in Sunday worship. The true principles of Christianity cannot be separate and apart from business and our everyday affairs.
What a great change would come over the world if we could all rely upon others as far as honesty is concerned. Men would have perfect confidence in each other in personal and business dealings. There would not be … distrust between labor and management. There would be integrity in public office and in government affairs, and nations would exist in peace rather than the turmoil we presently know in the world. …
One of the greatest accomplishments of our lives is to promote an honest, earnest integrity within ourselves. This means that we become spiritually sound, intellectually sincere, morally honest, and always personally responsible to God. Integrity is that golden key which will unlock the door to almost any success.
We often speak of that scriptural reference, “Men are, that they might have joy” [2 Nephi 2:25]. There is a joy that comes to one from being honest. Let me tell you how. By this means you can have the companionship of the Master and you can have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. Violations of the code of honesty will deprive you of these two great blessings. Could you believe that one who would lie or cheat … could have the companionship of the Master or have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost?
… We should always remember that we are never alone. There is no act that is not observed; there is no word spoken that is not heard; there is no thought conceived in the mind of man that is not known to God. There is no darkness that can conceal the things we do. We must think before we act.
Blessed are they who are honest. …
Blessed are they who are obedient to the Lord.
They are they who are free—who are happy—who can walk with their heads high. They have their self-respect. They have the respect of those who know them best.
And above all, they have the respect and blessing of our Father in Heaven. Jesus invites us to follow him. His paths are straight and clean and upright and honest. Let us follow him into the abundant life of happiness. It is the only way.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Of The Things That Matter Most

If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.

One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.

It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Over scheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in a recent general conference, taught, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” 

The search for the best things inevitably leads to the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ—the simple and beautiful truths revealed to us by a caring, eternal, and all-knowing Father in Heaven. These core doctrines and principles, though simple enough for a child to understand, provide the answers to the most complex questions of life.

As we turn to our Heavenly Father and seek His wisdom regarding the things that matter most, we learn over and over again the importance of four key relationships: with our God, with our families, with our fellowman, and with ourselves. As we evaluate our own lives with a willing mind, we will see where we have drifted from the more excellent way. The eyes of our understanding will be opened, and we will recognize what needs to be done to purify our heart and refocus our life.

First, our relationship with God is most sacred and vital. We are His spirit children. He is our Father. He desires our happiness. As we seek Him, as we learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Spirit, our lives become more stable and secure. We experience greater peace, joy, and fulfillment as we give our best to live according to God’s eternal plan and keep His commandments.

Our second key relationship is with our families. Since “no other success can compensate for failure”  here, we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e,time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities. We establish a divine bond with each other as we approach God together through family prayer, gospel study, and Sunday worship.

The third key relationship we have is with our fellowman. We build this relationship one person at a time—by being sensitive to the needs of others, serving them, and giving of our time and talents. I was deeply impressed by one sister who was burdened with the challenges of age and illness but decided that although she couldn’t do much, she could listen. And so each week she watched for people who looked troubled or discouraged, and she spent time with them, listening. What a blessing she was in the lives of so many people.
The fourth key relationship is with ourselves. It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.
Brothers and sisters, let us be wise. Let us turn to the pure doctrinal waters of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us joyfully partake of them in their simplicity and plainness. The heavens are open again. The gospel of Jesus Christ is on earth once more, and its simple truths are a plentiful source of joy!
Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Marriage—An Eternal Partnership

couple with temple in background

When Howard W. Hunter was 20 years old, he met Claire Jeffs at a Church dance in Los Angeles, California, while she was on a date with one of his friends. After the dance, a few of the young adults went wading in the ocean surf. Howard lost his tie, and Claire volunteered to walk along the beach with him to help find it. Howard later said, “The next time we went out, I took Claire, and [my friend] went with someone else.”
The following year they began dating seriously, and on a spring evening nearly three years after they met, Howard took Claire to a beautiful overlook above the ocean. “We [watched] the waves roll in from the Pacific and break over the rocks in the light of a full moon,” he wrote. That night Howard proposed marriage, and Claire accepted. “We talked about our plans,” he said, “[and] made many decisions that night and some strong resolutions regarding our lives.”
Their happiness as a couple was evident to their family. Robert Hunter, their oldest grandson, said: “When I think of Grandpa Hunter, I think more than anything of an example of a loving husband. … You could really sense a loving bond between the two of them.”
The Lord has defined marriage for us. He said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:5).
Life’s greatest partnership is in marriage—that relationship which has lasting and eternal significance.
Marriage is often referred to as a partnership with God. This is not just a figure of speech. If this partnership remains strong and active, the man and woman will love each other as they love God, and there will come into their home a sweetness and affection that will bring eternal success.
In the temple we receive the highest ordinance available to men and women, the sealing of husbands and wives together for eternity. We hope our young people will settle for nothing less than a temple marriage.
This is the church of Jesus Christ, not the church of marrieds or singles or any other group or individual. The gospel we preach is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which encompasses all the saving ordinances and covenants necessary to save and exalt every individual who is willing to accept Christ and keep the commandments that he and our Father in Heaven have given.
[Marriage] … is a learned behavior. Our conscious effort, not instinct, determines the success. The motivating force stems from kindness, true affection, and consideration for each other’s happiness and welfare.
Prior to marriage we looked at life from our own point of view, but after stepping over that threshold, we began to consider it from another’s viewpoint also. There is a necessity to make sacrifices and adjustments as manifestations of reassurance and love.
An eternal marriage will be composed of a worthy man and a worthy woman, both of whom have been individually baptized with water and with the Spirit; who have individually gone to the temple to receive their own endowments; who have individually pledged their fidelity to God and to their partner in the marriage covenant; and who have individually kept their covenants, doing all that God expected of them.
We hope you who are married will remember the feelings of love which led you to the altar in the house of the Lord. Our hearts are saddened as we learn of many whose love has grown cold or who through reasons of selfishness or transgression forget or treat lightly the marriage covenants they made in the temple. We plead with husbands and wives to have love and respect for each other. Indeed, it would be our fondest hope that each family would be blessed with a mother and father who express love for each other, who are deferential to each other, and who work together to strengthen the bonds of marriage.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Visiting Teaching: Making a Difference by Small and Simple Means

Two visiting teachers sitting on a couch, with one reading from the Ensign to another woman in a pink shirt.

I love to visit and I love to teach, but for some reason, I just don’t like doing them at the same time. As years have passed though, I’ve grown to love visiting teaching with all of my heart. Through the service of others and sharing friendships, my life has been filled with their beauty and my testimony has increased. Every sister can truly be a gift and a light in our lives. One of my favorite lines from the Broadway musical Wicked sums up visiting teaching for me: “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.”

As a lover of art, I’m intrigued by how simple sand, transformed by fire, creates glass. There’s a mystery to glass; it’s a form of a gas, liquid, and solid all at once. How complex! Way over my head. Once formed, glass captures light and glows from within. Depending on its use, glass can be referred to as a sliver, a shard, a piece, or a pane. Pieces of glass, arranged by a skilled craftsman, can transform a pane into the most beautiful illuminated art. Created out of thousands of little pieces carefully cut and placed together, they combine to make a masterpiece. I’m often asked where I get my creative talent. I’m never quite sure how to respond because I’ve always felt it was a gift from God. But one day I answered, “It’s in my genes. My Father is very creative. He created color, and I love it too.” I received a perplexed look, so I went on to say, “He created you too! Isn’t He amazing? How different we all are. Individual masterpieces, all daughters of God; all so different, but oh so divine!”

His vision for us is greater than we would or ever could plan for ourselves. Our testimonies become the framework for that stained glass pattern God has visualized for each of us. The best craftsmen know that in order to be strong, the solder for the framework must be built up over time. We learn this principle in the scriptures as “line upon line and precept upon precept.” Over our lifetime, our own unique design becomes a distinguishable pattern, full of color, formed from all of our experiences. As we serve others, God’s light is magnified through us. Our testimonies increase and we become more like our Father. Visiting teaching gives us the opportunity to add other glass pieces into our design, making who we are, richer, brighter, and more beautiful.

What is our motivation to visit or be visit taught? Are we doing it with a willing, cheerful heart, or are we going through the motions? Do we visit teach because we know we’ll be called and asked for our report? Or do we do it out of the pure love we have for our sisters? Are we rushing to get it marked off our to-do list, or are we finding a way to constantly gear our service to them and fulfill their needs? Elder David A. Bednar talked about overcoming the mind and changing our heart. He said, “The gospel…encompasses much more than avoiding…sin…. It…essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better....To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit.…This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement" (“Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign, November 2007). So, if our hearts are truly changed, we will go visiting teaching for the right reasons.

We receive our testimony of visiting teaching by doing it the best we can. This testimony might not happen overnight and usually requires many years of service to achieve. To borrow the imagery used in our last conference from Elder Bednar, this experience may not be like a light switch, turned on instantly, but more like a sunrise, happening gradually over time. If you’ve had a powerful experience as a visiting teacher or teachee, one that’s truly affected you, then you know how it can change lives. But how do we gain a testimony like that? You gain it by opening your own spiritual toolbox. Like a true craftsman, there are four simple tools. First, love. It’s as simple as that—just love. As Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.” We convert with love. We all want to feel understood and needed, accepted and loved.

Tool number two, pondering. Reflect on your sister. What would God have you do? As we read and ponder the scriptures, our minds become inspired. Passages take on different meanings as we apply them to those we serve. Look for topics to discuss or assistance the scriptures can offer for each sister. You will be enlightened. The next paragraph in the Handbook reads, “They seek personal inspiration to know how to respond to the spiritual and temporal needs” (emphasis added). If a sister struggles to open her home, could we respond by meeting her for lunch, or at the park, discussing a book at the library? Since we are all so busy, could we maybe exercise together to fulfill a temporal need? Yes! Could we build friendships as we walk and talk down the street? Likely! And don’t forget, it’s okay if your companion can’t go at the same time you can. Maybe she can go on another day without you!

 Third, pray. Pray to be filled with God’s love. If you are struggling, pray for a stronger desire to serve. Pray to know the divinity of your calling as a visiting teacher. If the sisters you are assigned to visit are hard to love, pray and ask Heavenly Father to teach you what He loves about them so that you can learn to love them too. Pray for your companion’s heart to be softened if she is choosing not to participate. Pray for insight into your sister’s needs. Pray for the heavens to be opened for her. Ask the Lord, “What is my part in Thy plan for this sister?” God’s help is available for even the smallest problem.

Fourth, revelation. Be ready and worthy to receive revelation to help your sisters. Draw close to the Savior because without revelation, we cannot succeed in this effort. Sister Beck teaches us the “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life” (“And Upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Ensign, May 2010). It is truly a skill, built over time.

Now that we have our spiritual tools, we need to do. We might start by doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but over time, by doing, our hearts will become softened and change. As we grow, understand, and mature in the gospel, we will consistently do the right things for the right reasons. As we choose His way, he offers this promise: I will “make weak things become strong unto them.” Our testimonies of visiting teaching are not going to just magically appear without any effort on our part. Can you think of at least one thing you can do which will enhance or change your visiting teaching experience? Come up with a plan of action. Make an honest effort. Prepare to make sacrifices, be patient and longsuffering, for it might be a difficult task that requires much time. The Savior said, “Unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them” (3 Nephi 18:32).

 If you only remember one thing today, remember love. Have hands that serve and hearts that love. Love those you visit. Love your companion. Love those who visit you. Let every colorful piece fall into place in your own beautiful mosaic.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hastening Family History and Temple Work

Temples are sacred for the closest communion between the Lord and those receiving the highest and most sacred ordinances of the holy priesthood. It is in the temple that things of the earth are joined with the things of heaven. … The great family of God will be united through the saving ordinances of the gospel. Vicarious work for the dead and ordinances for the living are the purposes of temples.
A white baptismal font in the Alberta Canada Temple held on the backs of 12 white oxen.
The gospel proclaimed to the world by the Latter-day Saints is the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored to the earth in this dispensation and is for the redemption of all mankind. The Lord himself has revealed what is essential for the salvation and exaltation of his children. One of these essentials is that temples are to be erected for the performance of ordinances that cannot be performed in any other place.
In response, we often first explain the ordinance known as baptism for the dead. We note that many Christians believe that at the time of death, our status before the Lord is determined for all eternity, for did not Christ say to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5)? Yet we know that many people have died without the ordinance of baptism, and thus, according to Christ’s statement to Nicodemus, they would be eliminated from entering into the kingdom of God. This raises the question, is God just?
The answer is, of course God is just. It is evident that the Savior’s statement to Nicodemus presupposes that baptisms may be done for those who have died who have not been baptized. Latter-day prophets have told us that baptism is an earthly ordinance that can be performed only by the living. How then can those who are dead be baptized if only the living can perform the ordinance? That was the theme of the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Corinthians when he asked this question:
“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?” (1 Cor. 15:29.)
The endowment is another ordinance performed in our temples. It consists of two parts: first, a series of instructions, and second, promises or covenants that the person receiving the endowment makes—promises to live righteously and comply with the requirements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The endowment is an ordinance for the great blessing of the Saints—both living and dead. Thus it is also an ordinance performed by the living in behalf of deceased individuals; it is performed for those for whom baptismal work has already been performed.
Another temple ordinance is that of celestial marriage, where wife is sealed to husband and husband sealed to wife for eternity. We know, of course, that civil marriages end at death; but eternal marriages performed in the temple may exist forever. Children born to a husband and wife after an eternal marriage are automatically sealed to their parents for eternity. If children are born before the wife is sealed to her husband, there is a temple sealing ordinance that can seal these children to their parents for eternity, and so it is that children can be sealed vicariously to parents who have passed away. …
Surely we on this side of the veil have a great work to do. … The building of temples has deep significance for ourselves and mankind, and our responsibilities become clear. We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life. Doing work for others is accomplished in two steps: first, by family history research to ascertain our progenitors; and second, by performing the temple ordinances to give them the same opportunities afforded to the living.
I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.
The objective of family history work is to make the blessings of the temple available to all people, both living and dead. As we attend the temple and perform work for the dead, we accomplish a deep sense of alliance with God and a better understanding of his plan for the salvation of the human race. We learn to love our neighbors as ourselves. Truly there is no work equal to that done in the temple.
s we do the work in [the] temple for those who have gone beyond, we are reminded of the inspired counsel of President Joseph F. Smith who declared: “Through our efforts in their behalf, their chains of bondage will fall from them, and the darkness surrounding them will clear away, that light may shine upon them; and they shall hear in the spirit world of the work that has been done for them by their children here, and will rejoice” 
The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 475]. He also stated: … “Those Saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation” [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 471–72].
e; and let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts” (D&C 127:4).
I encourage you in your efforts with these words of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free” (D&C 128:22).
I love this work. I know the Lord will provide all that will be required to accomplish it as we devotedly do our part. May the Lord bless each of us as we make our contribution to this great work, which we must accomplish in our day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Temple—The Great Symbol of Our Membership

The front of the Spokane Washington Temple, including a view of the entrance, the fence, and trees on the grounds.
Howard W. Hunter’s mother was a faithful member of the Church throughout her life, but his father was not baptized until Howard was 19. Years later, when Howard was a stake president in California, stake members traveled to the Mesa Arizona Temple to do temple work. Before a session began, the temple president asked him to address those who were assembled in the chapel. It was President Hunter’s 46th birthday. He later wrote of that experience:
“While I was speaking to the congregation, … my father and mother came into the chapel dressed in white. I had no idea my father was prepared for his temple blessings, although Mother had been anxious about it for some time. I was so overcome with emotion that I was unable to continue to speak. President Pierce [the temple president] came to my side and explained the reason for the interruption. When my father and mother came to the temple that morning they asked the president not to mention to me that they were there because they wanted it to be a birthday surprise. This was a birthday I have never forgotten because on that day they were endowed and I had the privilege of witnessing their sealing, following which I was sealed to them.”1
Several months later, in January 1995, President Hunter’s last public activity was the dedication of the Bountiful Utah Temple. In the dedicatory prayer, he asked that the blessings of the temple would enrich the lives of all who entered:
“We humbly pray that thou wilt accept this edifice and let thy blessings be upon it. Let thy spirit attend and guide all who officiate herein, that holiness will prevail in every room. May all who enter have clean hands and pure hearts. May they be built up in their faith and depart with a feeling of peace, praising thy holy name. …
“May this House provide a spirit of peace to all who observe its majesty, and especially to those who enter for their own sacred ordinances and to perform the work for their loved ones beyond the veil. Let them feel of thy divine love and mercy. May they be privileged to say, as did the Psalmist of old, ‘We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.’
“As we dedicate this sacred edifice, we rededicate our very lives to thee and to thy work.”
“The temple is a place of instruction where profound truths pertaining to the Kingdom of God are unfolded. It is a place of peace where minds can be centered upon things of the spirit and the worries of the world can be laid aside. In the temple we make covenants to obey the laws of God, and promises are made to us, conditioned always on our faithfulness, which extend into eternity”
… 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.
Our Heavenly Father has clearly outlined that those who enter the temple must be clean and free from the sins of the world. He said, “And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; … But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples” (D&C 97:15, 17).
What a glorious thing it is for us to have the privilege of going to the temple for our own blessings. Then after going to the temple for our own blessings, what a glorious privilege to do the work for those who have gone on before us. This aspect of temple work is an unselfish work. Yet whenever we do temple work for other people, there is a blessing that comes back to us. Thus it should be no surprise to us that the Lord does desire that his people be a temple-motivated people. …
… We should go not only for our kindred dead but also for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety that are within those hallowed and consecrated walls. As we attend the temple, we learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life and the significance of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience.
“Temple work … gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength. … The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. Then I see more clearly my place amidst the things of the universe, my place among the purposes of God; I am better able to place myself where I belong, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us” 
Let us share with our children the spiritual feelings we have in the temple. And let us teach them more earnestly and more comfortably the things we can appropriately say about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing. Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call. Let us plan for and teach and plead with our children to marry in the house of the Lord. Let us reaffirm more vigorously than we ever have in the past that it does matter where you marry and by what authority you are pronounced man and wife.
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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Holy Ghost as Your Companion

We can, if we live worthy of it, have the blessing of the Spirit to be with us, not only now and then, as in such remarkable experiences as we’ve had today, but always. You know from the words of the sacrament prayer how that promise is fulfilled: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.”

To always have the Spirit with us is to have the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in our daily lives. We can, for instance, be warned by the Spirit to resist the temptation to do evil.
For that reason alone, it is easy to see why the Lord’s servants have tried to increase our desire to worship God in our sacrament meetings. If we partake of the sacrament in faith, the Holy Ghost will then be able to protect us and those we love from the temptations that come with increasing intensity and frequency.
The companionship of the Holy Ghost makes what is good more attractive and temptation less compelling. That alone should be enough to make us determined to qualify for the Spirit to be with us always.
s you obey, the impressions from the Spirit will come more frequently, becoming closer and closer to constant companionship. Your power to choose the right will increase.
You can know when these impressions to act for Him are from the Spirit rather than from your own desires. When the impressions square with what the Savior and His living prophets and apostles have said, you can choose to obey with confidence. Then the Lord will send His Spirit to attend you.
Those commandments come with this promise from the Lord:
“And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy” (D&C 11:12–13).
I bear you my testimony that God the Father lives, that the resurrected Jesus Christ leads His Church, that President Thomas S. Monson holds all the keys of the priesthood, and that revelation through the Holy Ghost guides and sustains The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its humble members.
I further testify to you that these wonderful men who have today been speaking to us as witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are called of God. I know that the Spirit led President Monson to call them. And as you listened to them and their testimonies, the Holy Spirit confirmed to you what I now say to you. They are called of God. I sustain them and love them and know that the Lord loves them and will sustain them in their service. And I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Come Back and Feast at the Table of the Lord

                                           Christ with sheep

“To those who have transgressed or been offended, we say, come back. To those who are hurt and struggling and afraid, we say, let us stand with you and dry your tears. To those who are confused and assailed by error on every side, we say, come to the God of all truth and the Church of continuing revelation. Come back. Stand with us. Carry on. Be believing. All is well, and all will be well. Feast at the table laid before you in The Church ofJesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and strive to follow the Good Shepherd who has provided it. Have hope, exert faith, receive—and give—charity, the pure love of Christ.”1

Throughout his life, President Hunter helped many Church members return to activity. Relating such an experience from early adulthood, he said:
“My ward bishop assigned me as a ward teacher to a brother who boasted he was the oldest deacon in the Church. Home teaching was ward teaching in those days. His problem was that he loved to play golf on Sunday. It was discouraging to meet month after month with him and his wife and see no apparent progress. But finally, the right word was said to him and it struck a responsive chord. The word was covenant. We asked him, ‘What does the covenant of baptism mean to you?’ His expression changed, and for the first time we saw a serious side to him. Eventually he came to our classes, gave up golf, and took his wife to the temple.”3
“We are confident that many have longed to return, but have felt awkward about doing so. We assure you that you will find open arms to receive you and willing hands to assist you.” (Ensign, March 1986, p. 88.)
I think all of us were impressed by this magnanimous appeal akin to what the prophet Alma stated in theBook of Mormon regarding an invitation that was extended by the Lord. He said:
What should we do to help those who have lost their way in the wilderness?
The Lord, our Good Shepherd, expects us to be his undershepherds and recover those who are struggling or are lost. We can’t tell you how to do it, but as you become involved and seek inspiration, success will result from efforts in your areas, … stakes, and wards. Some stakes have responded to previous pleadings and have had remarkable success.
f we do this, eternal blessings will come to us.5
Seeking after the lost, the wayward, and the straying is the Lord’s business. … The prayerful plea of Alma is a good reminder of the sacredness of our task:
“O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing [souls] again unto thee in Christ.
Over the years the Church has made some monumental efforts to recover those who are less active. … And all to what end? It is to save the souls of our brothers and sisters and see that they have the ordinances of exaltation.
We are leading toward one objective for each individual member of the Church. That is for all to receive the ordinances of the gospel and make covenants with our Heavenly Father so they may return to his presence. That is our grand objective. The ordinances and covenants are the means to achieving that divine nature that will return us into his presence again. …
Keep in mind the purpose: to invite all to come unto Christ. …
I testify, my brethren and sisters, to his divinity and power to save those who will come to him with broken hearts and contrite spirits. Through the ordinances and his Holy Spirit, each individual may become clean.10