Sunday, October 27, 2013

The House of the Lord

Last week I spoke of eternal families and the blessings of knowing that families can be together forever. Today I want to discuss how families can be together forever. On there is an article that tells why we build temples today, it says:

“From the days of the Old Testament, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples-sacred structures where He could teach, guide, and bless them. For example, the Lord told the Israelites to build a portable tabernacle that would be their temple while they traveled in the wilderness (see Exodus 26-2740:35). Additional Old Testament references to temples are found in 2 Chronicles 5:1-147:1-2 (Temple of Solomon) and Ezra 3:1-136:3 (Temple of Zerubbabel).

“When Jesus Christ was on the earth, the only existing temple was known as the Temple of Herod. Jesus was often found in this temple (see, for example, Luke 2:40-49Matthew 21:10-14).

“The earliest temples of the restored Church were built in Ohio, Illinois, and eventually in Utah. Today, the Church has 140 operating temples around the world. Regardless of the place or time period, temples are the most sacred place on earth-a place where earth and heaven meet and where we feel close to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 1

Whenever the true Gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth, so have temples. Temples are a part of our worship and we go there to perform sacred ordinances for our ancestors and ourselves. Gordon B. Hinckley had this to say about our temples, shortly after the temple in Washington D.C. was built in 1974:

“Much of the work that goes on within temples is concerned with the family. Basic to an understanding of its meaning is recognition of the fact that even as we existed as children of God before we were born into this world, so also shall we continue to live after death, and the treasured and satisfying relationships of mortality, the most beautiful and meaningful of which are found in the family, may continue in the world to come.
“Marriage partners who come to the house of the Lord and partake of its blessings are joined not only for the period of their mortal lives but for all eternity, under authority not only of the law of the land that joins them until death parts them but also of the eternal priesthood of God, binding in heaven that which is bound on earth. The couple so married has the assurance of divine revelation that their relationship and that of their children will not end with death but will continue in eternity, provided they live worthy of that blessing.
“Was there ever a man who truly loved a woman, or a woman who truly loved a man, who did not pray that their relationship might continue beyond the grave? Has a child ever been buried by parents who did not long for the assurance that their loved one would again be theirs in a world to come? Can anyone believing in eternal life doubt that the God of heaven would grant his sons and daughters that most precious attribute of life, the love that finds its most meaningful expression in family relationships? No, reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. The human heart longs for it. The God of heaven has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it.” 2
My wife and I were married in the Washington D.C. temple on July 9, 1975. That was 37 years ago and we still love going to the temple together. We know that the covenants we made together as we knelt at one of the alters will last beyond death and into the eternities if we keep those covenants. We also know that our children and their families, if they live worthy can also be with us.

We live in a world today that is hostile to the family in many ways. Governments are surrendering proven values that have been the basis for civilization since Adam and Eve were commanded by God to multiply and replenish the earth. The family has been the foundation upon which all governments have been founded. Today, the traditional two-parent family consisting of a father and mother is becoming an exception instead of the norm. In many countries of the world the birth rate is so low that it is not enough to sustain the growth needed for the country to last. The last statement in “The Family A Proclamation to the World” includes this warning to all:

“WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

“WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” 3

Elder Gary E. Stevenson tells of a time when he and his sons went for a ride in Gary’s father’s truck. They lived in Logan, Utah and they drove out of Logan into an area where Gary’s sons had not been. His father stopped the truck and asked his grandsons if they thought they were lost. One of Gary’s sons responded:

“Look,” he said, pointing his finger. “Grandpa, you are never lost when you can see the temple.” Our eyes turned, focusing with his, seeing the sun glistening off the spires of the Logan Temple, far across the valley.” 4

One of the first things that our family looks for when we enter Cache Valley from the Canyon is the temple spires and at night it stands out, as if calling us to come to the temple. It is a beautiful sight to see and it is a reminder of the covenants we make in the temple and the importance of the family in Heavenly Father’s plan for his children.

On each of the temples is found the inscription: “The House of the Lord – Holiness to the Lord” Latter-day Saints believe that the temple is truly the House of the Lord and that it is a holy place where we are instructed in the purpose of this life and where ordinances bind us beyond death and seal families for eternity. It is my testimony that not only is my family a “forever family”, but yours can be too. I ask that you follow the links below in the references and it will provide you with the answers to any questions you may have about the purpose of the House of the Lord.

Your questions and comments are welcome.


1.              “WhyLatter-day Staints Build Temples”
2.              “WhyThese Temples,” Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, August 1974

4.              “SacredHomes, Sacred Temples”, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, General Conference, April  2009

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Forever Families

This weekend I have been attending a family reunion for my mother’s family. She has three sisters and two brothers. Three of the sisters are celebrating birthdays this month. One is 90, another 85 and the third is 75. My mother is the second oldest of the sisters at 87 and her brothers are 78 and 73. There were about 60 people at the family dinner that covered 4 generations. What a blessing it was to be a part of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that honored five children of Ray and Constance Strong. The Psalmist has said:

Lo, achildren are an bheritage of he Lordand the  fruit of the womb is his creward.
My mother and her brothers and sisters are descendants of Elder John Strong who came to the Americas in 1630 seeking the freedom to worship God as they felt they had the right to worship. They and the others that came with them wanted the best for their families and worked hard to provide a life that for their children that has become the symbol of freedom to all the world. We are the beneficiaries of that legacy and are now responsible for passing that legacy on to our children and the others that will follow.
The time we spent together this weekend was a great opportunity to renew the bonds that families share and meet cousins and other relatives that we met for the first time. It was a wonderful day full of fun, food and family and I did not want the day to end. Then I thought that while this reunion may end families can be forever if we follow the commandments and receive the sealing ordinances of the temple. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” it says:

IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

What a blessing to know that families do not end at death. I cannot imagine heaven without my wife and children and my parents and siblings. I know that Heavenly Father’s plan is for us to be together as families and I am grateful for the blessings of the temple ordinances that provide the sealing powers that endure beyond the grave. This group and the group that celebrated the sister’s birthdays are only a small part of the family. There are more that have passed from this mortal life to the life beyond the grave. They are now there waiting for us and are able to watch over us and help us as we search them out and go to the house of the Lord to perform the ordinances that will bind us together as a family.

One of the things that a few of us did while we were at the reunion is visit the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. What a beautiful sight it was.

The picture below of the bridge symbolized to me the bridge between our world and the eternal world beyond this life. On top right is a fog that I believe represents two things. One is the veil that separates us from the spirit world. In this life, living by faith is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. The second thing the fog could represent is the world that is blinded from the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ due to the traditions of men. The bridge represents the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sealing powers that will bind families together forever.

Another statement in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” says:

Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 
It was a blessing to be with family this weekend, but it is truly a blessing to know that families will endure beyond the grave and for the eternities. I am grateful to my mother and her siblings for the legacy that they have given to us and more than that I am grateful to Heavenly Father for his gospel and the blessings that come from it because families are forever.

Your questions and comments are welcome. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

No Other Gods Before Me

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, gave an address last week in the Church’s General Conference. His talk was titled “No Other Gods”. This got me thinking of the things that I do that could possibly considered putting them before the “God that I profess to worship” (quoting Elder Oaks).

In the Doctrine and Covenants Section 59:21 the Lord says:

“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.”

I think that this is saying that if we take credit for the things we have or something that we do instead of acknowledging the hand of God in our lives then we are putting ourselves ahead of God and making ourselves God.  At the end of the day when we kneel before the Lord and offer up our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication, do we take the time to express gratitude for all he has done for us that day? I often catch myself when a thought comes to my mind that I need to remember something or that I need to call someone or whatever the thought might be that it is the Holy Ghost that is prompting that thought. It is important to remember that and give thanks for those promptings when they come and as I commune with him at the end of the day.

How often do we begin our day with prayer asking God to guide us through the day, to keep us safe from harm? Then when might be driving and something happens and we are able to avoid what could have ended up as a tragic accident. We think to ourselves: “Wow, I was sure lucky that I was able to avoid that problem” and then we go on with our day without any thought that it was probably and answer to our morning prayer. When a thought comes to our mind that we need to remember to pick up the milk that your wife called about, do you simply think it was lucky you remembered it? I really think the Lord, through the Holy Ghost, is more involved in our lives than we give him credit for. We need to remember to express our gratitude to him for all he does each day.

Elder Oaks in his address continues to explain the many ways we can put other things before God. He says:

“What other priorities are being “served” ahead of God by persons—even religious persons—in our day? Consider these possibilities, all common in our world:
Cultural and family traditions
Political correctness
Career aspirations
Material possessions
Recreational pursuits
Power, prominence, and prestige

“f none of these examples seems to apply to any one of us, we can probably suggest others that do. The principle is more important than individual examples. The principle is not whether we have other priorities. The question posed by the second commandment is “What is our ultimate priority?” Are we serving priorities or gods ahead of the God we profess to worship? “

I know my ultimate priority is to serve God with all my might, mind, and strength (Doctrine and Covenants 20:31). Do I always succeed in putting God first in all things, no I don’t. The point is that I try and the more I try and then remember to give thanks for the things he has done for me throughout the day, then the closer I am to keeping him first in all things.

When I do fall short and things of the world get ahead of my true priorities, then I rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ knowing that I can be forgiven and then try harder to improve in keeping God’s commandments. As I do this, each day I am becoming more perfected in Christ and can know that I am moving in the right direction.

If you did not have the opportunity to hear all of Elder Oaks’ address, I hope you will do so by clicking on the video link above. It was a wake up call to me and I am sure that if you listen with the intent to learn that you too will feel the spirit moving in you and you will come closer to Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Voice of the Lord Unto All People

Over the past two days members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have participated in the semi-annual general conference of the church. We all had the opportunity to raise our hands to sustain the members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other general authorities. We had the opportunity to listen to prophets of God speak as they spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost and told us what we should be doing to protect us and our families from the evils of the world, what we should be doing to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ again on the earth, how to be of service to our fellow men and neighbors and many other things. In the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord’s preface and commandments to us today he declared:

For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated.

And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.

And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.

As these scriptures teach the Lord is not just speaking to the members of his church, he is speaking to the entire world – all of his children. Would you like to know what they Lord would have you do? I invite you to go to and click on the General Conference link. There you can watch, read or listen to all of the conference talks. Here are some of the notes that I made from a few of the talks:

President Thomas S. Monson, President and Prophet of the Church – membership of the church is now over 15 million members in over 190 countries. There are now over 80,000 missionaries serving throughout the world. He invited those who have wandered to come back and to all members to work together to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Christ. He spoke tenderly of how much he misses his wife who passed away 6 months ago. She was by his side for almost 65 years and described her as the love of his life and confidant. He spoke to the men of the priesthood about the sacred duty of home teaching and caring for our assigned families. We are to watch over and see that they are keeping the commandments and to do their duty in teaching their children to live righteously. He said our duty is to brighten, lift and touch the lives of our home teaching families. President Monson spoke to the church on Sunday morning of the trials of this life and how the Lord will help us through them and the lessons we can learn from our trials.

President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency spoke about the choices that lead to happiness or unhappiness. He said the way to happiness is to follow all of the commandments of God. He quoted the scripture from Luke 10:27:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

He also spoke of what parents can do to help children who choose not to follow God’s commandments. He spoke of the blessings of repentance and forgiveness to those who have strayed. In the priesthood session, President Eyring spoke of the parable of the Good Samaritan and our role to care for those who are in need. He spoke of seeking the Lord’s spirit to know who to call on that need our help and to invite others to help give service. He spoke of the lessons of service that he learned as a young man when his Bishop called on him to help provide service to members of his ward.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Council of Twelve Apostles, spoke of depression from a personal experience and how to overcome it. He said that those who suffer from depression need to remember that the Lord loves them and will never forsake them. They should ask for priesthood blessings. Hope is never lost. We need to be aware of the signs of depression and help those that show it or see it in ourselves. He spoke of the tragic accident that Stephanie Nielson and her husband experienced and the depression that Stephanie went through. She now says her purpose in life is to be a mom and to cherish everyday she has with her children.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, spoke on the world’s tendency to forsake God in favor of idols of other Gods. He spoke of the decline of the marriage covenant and the increase of immoral conduct all its forms. He spoke of trends of governments to legislate laws that are contrary to God’s laws and said that man’s laws cannot make moral, what God has declared to be immoral. Those who desire to live God’s laws will not condone laws that permit immoral behavior simply because it is legal.

Sister Bonnie Oscarson, General Young Women’s President spoke of the example of the Prophet Joshua and his admonition to choose to serve the Lord. She said that the decisions we make in our daily lives will determine what happens to us later. We need to have a firm testimony of the gospel and the church to get us through the trials that will come to us. Being truly converted means we act on our beliefs and live righteous lives. She spoke of growing up in the 60’s and how her parents taught her to avoid the temptations of drugs and alcohol that plagued her friends and how she was able to stay clean and strong because of her testimony and conversion to the gospel.

Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about living in the perilous times that the Apostle Paul spoke about in 2nd Timothy 3

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents unthankful, unholy,

 Without natural affectiontrucebreakersfalse accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

He spoke of what we can do to protect us from these things. He said the scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection. He said they teach us where to go and what to do, that they offer us hope and salvation. He challenged us to make scripture reading a daily habit and the blessings will come. He also spoke of he healing of the forgiveness that can come to those who have sinned by taking advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ. He said the gospel teaches us to have faith and not fear the days that will come. It offers us the protection that can come from keeping the commandments of God. The scriptures are the key to the protection promised to the faithful.

There were messages of the importance of giving service to those who are around us that are suffering or need encouragement to come back to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Messages of the importance of teaching our children to live righteous lives and to follow the examples in the scriptures of those that keep God’s commandments and the warnings given to those who choose not to keep the commandments. There were message of the hope found in repentance and forgiveness and the blessings in making and keeping covenants.

Saturday evening I went with two of my sons to the conference center for the general priesthood session. It was a wonderful spiritual experience to be there with my sons and personally experience the opportunity to be in the presence of those who are called of God to govern his people and teach us the doctrines of salvation. To be there with 25,000 other priesthood holders all having a desire to know what we need to be doing to better our families and ourselves united in faith and the brotherhood of the priesthood was truly an experience to remember and cherish.

Overall I felt the love that the general authorities have for us and their love for the Lord Jesus Christ and their witness that he lives as does our Father in Heaven. I know the messages that were given were what God would have us know to keep us safe from the evils of the world and that God is there if we seek him through prayer and obedience he will bless us and our families. I felt the increase of the spirit as I participated in and listened to the servants of the Lord and I know if we follow their counsel we will be blessed. I also know that these message are for all the world and will bless your lives as you listen and obey.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.