Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Temple, Part VI: House of Order

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

 All the ordinances done in the church is done using the power of the priesthood. Which priesthood? Joseph Smith taught, "All priesthood is Melchizedek; but there are different portions or degrees of it." This power and this authority governs the affairs of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Everything must be done in the proper order. Anciently, this priesthood was called "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God". It is the Savior's priesthood; therefore, all things must be done in His order.

In the Temple, we learn about this order of the Holy Priesthood. And all things are done in order. Some wonder why we only let members into the Temple. It's not because we don't want outsiders to see. It's not because we feel like having major secrets to keep people interested in us. It's because there is an order that must be followed.

One cannot participate in the ordinances of the Temple without access to the Priesthood of God. Men must be ordained and have the priesthood conferred upon them to participate in any ordinances. Further, they must have the Melchizedek Priesthood conferred on them to officiate in the higher ordinances of the priesthood. Men and women alike must be baptized and be worthy of the Spirit to experience these ordinances. Yes, it is exclusionary, "But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things" (2 Nephi 2:24).

There is beauty and serenity in the order of the Temple. It is a protection and a refuge from the storms of life that are ever around us. By having it so structured, we know that God is never going to make any sudden changes, and will allow us to learn and to grow, and ultimately return to Him despite us slipping up.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Temple, Part V: House of Glory

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

When we speak of glory in a non-religious way, it generally relates in some way to patriotism, the military, or ancient civilizations with great military prowess. "Old Glory" is the name of the American Flag. People may picture a screeching bald eagle flying past the flag in an early morning with the brave servicemen surrounding it on the ground. And great respect is afforded to them.

The Temple, while the world would not see it as such, is in a similar situation. In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed, "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". As the military goes through basic training and specialized training to get the image of their glory, so we too must go through the basic training (to get to the Temple) and the specialized training (in the Temple) to become fully armed with the Lord's power.

The Temple is also becomes a house of glory because it is the literal abode of Deity. Placed above the doorway of each Temple, we read:

One of the Lord's attributes is that of His glory. It is mentioned in almost every account of His post-mortal ministry. If it is truly His house and a place where He has "place to lay his head", His glory will be upon that place.

As His saints, we should remember that it is His House of Glory, and we are invited guests therein. If we go in the right mindset, we will feel of the glory and it will come upon us and we will be able to go forth, armed with the power of the Lamb of God to fight our daily battles. Clothed in the armor of God, with His glory, humble, willing servants of God can go forth in power and might to perform mighty miracles if we live up to the privilege of glory afforded in the Temple.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Temple, Part IV: House of Learning

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy taught, "If we enter the temple seeking added light and knowledge, we can learn and understand something new during the temple experience."

This does not mean that we will find some grand, marvelous truth every single time we go to the Temple; rather it means we will learn something: something about our God, something about ourselves, or something about the world around us.

This is not to say that you are guaranteed to learn something if you go to the Temple, simply because you enter the building. You learn because you are actively seeking to be taught. Of course the great and grand revelations often come in Temples, but so do the tiny ones: the ones where nobody would notice, except the most spiritually attuned individuals.

Merely being worthy to enter the House of the Lord is not all the requirements needed for this. We need to be actively seeking further light and knowledge from on high. If we are not seeking this light and truth, our progression becomes halted.

One lesson I've learned from the Temple is until we reach the Celestial World, we will constantly be learning. We will see things in new light, we will see other things for the first time. The Temple is a great place to learn, but it is also a great place to learn what to learn. It is also a great place to learn how to learn.

Imagine if every day we studied the scriptures with the same level of analysis that some seek to understand the Temple ordinances. What would we learn? Imagine if the same spiritual energy accompanied our nightly prayers as the prayers in the Temple contain. What would we learn in those prayers?

The Temple teaches us how to live Celestial Life and how to learn. It becomes our responsibility to learn both inside and outside the Temple in the same manner. In the same way a university teaches some knowledge and some skills, but mostly teaches how to learn, the Temple teaches some knowledge and some skills and teaches us how to learn. The ordinances are still important. The covenants are still necessary. But in being a House of Learning, the Lord teaches us how to learn in the Temple, and we are to apply that everywhere. If we do this, the results will be wonderful.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Temple, Part III: House of Faith

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

Temples are the great sign of the faith the Latter-day Saints hold. Faith is the reason we even build the Temples. We have faith in the Plan of our God, that He is able to do his own work. We have the faith that He wants every last person prepared to meet him with all the ordinances, and we have the faith we can do it.

Faith in the gospel and the ordinances of the Temple is what brought the early saints through bitter wind and snow. Faith in the Temple ordinances is what moves people to travel for days to go to the Temple. Faith in the Temple ordinances is what motivates people to become ordinance workers. It's what motivates men and women to make sacrifices to attend the Temple regularly, anywhere from finding child care for a couple hours to going individually for years to getting expensive travel so the entire family could go to the Temple a single time to be sealed together.

Every brick laid for a Temple is an act of faith. Every dollar donated to the Temple Construction Fund is an act of faith. Every name of an ancestor found and brought to the Temple is an act of faith. Every choice made with the Temple in mind was an act of faith. And each of these little acts of faith infuses with the Spirit of the Temple to make it a house of faith.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Temple, Part II: House of Fasting

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

 How is the Temple a house of fasting? I mean, the obvious answer is many people go to the Temple while fasting, but that's not a ton of people. There are plenty of people who go to the Temple on full stomachs. So, what does it mean?

On my mission, I came across a scripture that I fell in love with in the Doctrine & Covenants: "Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer." Fasting is a sign of our joy in receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so is the Temple.

The Temple is not a place we go flippantly. Rarely does anyone "get in the routine" of going to the Temple. It's not a "requirement" to attend after you've received your own ordinances. Every time a person goes to the Temple, it is as much a sacrifice as fasting. From the mundane rearranging schedules to go and possibly wearing nicer clothes than usual to work one day, to the daily acts of controlling the natural man from taking over so we can remain worthy, the sacrifice makes it sacred to us.

Each of us has a decision to make. How do we make the Temple a House of Fasting? Perhaps some days we could go without food or drink when we go to attend the Lord's House. Other times, we may take a break from social media for the day until we've attended. Perhaps we have a specific thing we do every day that we don't need to do that we could skip (like reading the news, practicing an instrument, or listening to music).

To make the Temple a House of Fasting is really to make sacrifices to make the Temple a more meaningful and holy experience for us as we go. What are you willing to sacrifice for the House of the Lord? Make the sacrifice, it will make the experience more sacred.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Temple, Part I: House of Prayer

"Establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

The Temple is a house of prayer. More prayers have probably been prayed in the Temples than any other building. People go to seek guidance from the Lord through prayer, the ordinances involve prayers, every shift of Temple workers begins with a prayer. It would be a shock to me to learn that a prayer wasn't happening in the Temple when there were more than 3 people in the building than to learn a prayer was happening.

In addition, people pray for long periods for a Temple to come to their region, their land, or their city. Many temples are answers to silent prayers the people did not even know they were praying. A seldom sung hymn reads, "Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, Uttered or unexpressed". Each time a person travels hours or days to go to the Temple, they show their desire for the Lord's House, and that is a prayer. Each time a person thinks about the Temple, or wishes to be at the Temple more often than circumstances currently allow, that is a prayer.

The voices of the Saints ascending to God make the Temple a holy place. Without the dedicatory prayers, Temples are just random buildings. Without Saints entering there with prayerful hearts, it's just another edifice. Without the sincere desires to serve our ancestors and worship the God of Heaven in the most sublime way, it does nothing to save. But with the prayers of the Saints, uttered or unexpressed desires shown in other ways, the Temples become the beacon they are meant to be and a Light to the outcasts of Israel, living and dead.

Search for ways you can make the Temple your house of prayer consistent with your current circumstances, and the Lord will bless you.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Shadow from the Heat

One thing I have learned since moving to Arizona: it's hot here! Like super hot! Now, I already hear the chorus starting from people back home, "BUT IT'S A DRY HEAT!" To that, I have a short video clip for you to watch (starting at 4:21 for those who want to just get to the point):

Now that we got past that part, we can move on with the actual point of this post. It's hot here! It's hot enough that the heat begins to drain you, slowly but surely until you are nothing more than a puddle on the ground with some clothes floating around in it. Sometimes you just need an escape from that, so you go inside, you jump in a pool, or get in some shade (though the last one admittedly only reduces the temperature to 102°F).

Today, amid this heat, I decided to go up to the Tucson Temple...again. Yes, I know I went four times last week. Yes, I know there's 41 days til the dedication. Yes, I know I'm only on the grounds. But I love it. While walking around the grounds, I noticed the bite of the heat was lessened as I walked past the fountain.

I rather enjoyed the slightly cooler air, so I hung around the fountain for a good ten minutes. As I walked around the fountain for such an "extended" period of time, I began to notice when I was on the side of the fountain closer to the Temple, it was slightly cooler than the other side. Of course, it was because of the direction the wind was blowing, but it reminded me of a scripture in the book of Isaiah 4:
And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
The world can be dangerously hot, driven by every passion under the sun. People are enslaved to their bodies and to the incitement of society. Just imagine how many people lost their tempers because the fires fueled by the media; just imagine how many people broke the law of Chastity in the fires of temptation; just imagine how many people pass through the fires of trials and afflictions. The Temple is the one place that we can go, if we are worthy, and escape the heat the world is turning on us, and remain in the cool, collected mind of discipleship as we slowly but surely turn outward and become more like the Savior.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

One Transfer

Time is a weird thing if you think about it. Sure, some measures make sense: a day is the time for the earth to rotate on its axis; a month is the time it takes for the moon to revolve around the earth (most of the time, of course there are exceptions in a solar calendar); a year is the time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun. But other time measurements are a bit more arbitrary in nature: a week is 7 days; 60 minutes make up an hour; 6 weeks make up a least for Mormon Missionaries most transfers.

On my mission, at the beginning of each of these transfers, it was time to look at how I was doing as a person, as a missionary, and as a member of the church. Obviously, I was not perfect in any of these categories, so I would typically set a single goal of how I could become more like Christ in that transfer. One transfer felt long enough that I could typically make some progress towards whatever my goal was, yet short enough that I would not lose sight of the goal.

Why am I bringing up this seemingly arbitrary bit of information? Because in one transfer, the Tucson Temple will be dedicated to the Most High God!

I have taken great interest in this building since I learned I would be moving to Tucson in March of 2016. With each passing week, my excitement grew to see the Temple. I was crushed when they asked for people to not go up to the Temple grounds, so I went after dark. Since the Open House finished a week ago, I have gone up to the Temple Grounds four times. I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO excited for it to be so close I can go once a week again!

But then, I recognize I am not perfect. I am not anywhere close to perfect. But God in His wisdom gives us the Temple as motivation to progress towards perfection. So, I came up with a goal to complete in this transfer until the Temple Dedication. I'm not going to tell y'all what it is; that's not the point of this. The point is, we each have a way to improve before that day when the shouts of "Hosanna!" fill the skies of Arizona. What will YOU do to improve your time in this time of jubilee?

Maybe your scripture study has not been quite up to snuff, so you'll study from their pages more. Maybe you have been putting off family history because a Temple was so far away, so you'll gather names of ancestors to perform their work when the Temple opens. Maybe you've rendered little service and will provide more service before the Temple opens. Whatever it is, I'm sure each one of us can improve our time in this one transfer until the Temple opens, and we can enter in.