Learn how to claim the blessing of regular temple service to lead a more Christ-like life.
I gave this talk in the Saturday Evening Session of the May 2015 Provo West Stake Conference. The opinions expressed herein are my own and not necessarily those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
During ward conferences earlier in the year, one of the invitations President Ouderkirk gave to us as part of the Stake vision and goals was to “increase our temple worship”.
I remember the challenge President Howard W. Hunter gave during his short tenure as President of the Church about one year after my wife Julie and I were married. He said: “I … invite the members of the Church to establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy”
(President Howard W. Hunter: Fourteenth President of the Church
, Ensign, July 1994, p. 5).
What is required of us for the temple to become the great symbol of our membership? I would like to make this the focus of my remarks this evening.Accelerated Temple Building
The work of temple building has accelerated greatly in recent years. Hopefully many of you have been able to attend the Payson Temple open house. In the visitors center tent at the conclusion of the temple tour, they have an interactive timeline display showing the rapid acceleration of temple building. Truly we are witnessing the greatest era of temple building in the history of the world. It was very fascinating and caused me to reflect on temple milestones in my family.
In 1939, the year my parents were born, there were 7 operating temples in the church. When my parents were married in the Manti Temple in 1961, there were 12 operating temples. In those 22 years between their birth and marriage, there was on average one temple built every four-and-half years
When I was born in 1970, their were 13 operating temples. Only one more than when my parents were marriage 9 years earlier. When I went to the Provo Temple for the first time as a deacon in 1982, there were 20 operating temples. In the twelve years between my birth and becoming a deacon, there was on average one temple built every one-and-three-quarters years.
When I received my endowment in the Provo Temple in 1989 prior to my mission, there were 42 operating temples. In those 7 years from me being a deacon to going on my mission, there were as many temples built as the prior 105 years. On the very day that I got married in the Manti Temple on April 30, 1993, President Hinckley was dedicating the San Diego Temple as the 45th operating temple in the church.
When my oldest son Andrew went to the temple for the first time as a deacon in 2006 there were a 122 operating temples. In those 13 years from when I got married in 1993 to my son going to do baptisms for the dead in 2006, on average there were 6 temples built per year. Now, there are 144 operating temples with another 29 announced or under construction for a total of 173.
We often think of Joseph Smith's famous statement that he sent to the newspaper Editor John Wentworth in March 1842 as having to do with missionary work and it does. But I want to read it now and have you think of it in light of picture of temple building I have painted for you:
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
(History of the Church, 4:540)
After Joseph Smith's martyrdom in June 1844, under the direction of Brigham Young, the saints in Nauvoo redoubled their efforts to complete the Nauvoo temple. My 3rd Great Grand Father Joshua Sawyer Holman and his family were there. I'm sure Joshua and his sons were working to help complete the temple.
1 year, 5 months, and 23 days after the death of the prophet, Joshua received his endowments in the Nauvoo temple on the 20th of December 1845. Less than 2 months later in February 1846, Joshua and his wife and children along with 3,000 other faithful saints crossed the wide Mississippi River and left their homes and their beautiful temple behind. Joshua's life echoed the words of his namesake, the Old Testament Prophet, as found in Joshua 24:15: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
In a conference address, Elder Richard G. Scott shared an account of one of his wife's ancestor's, Sarah Rich, who served in the Nauvoo Temple during this same time. She explained how the temple helped them face their uncertain future of leaving Nauvoo:
“Many were the blessings we had received in the house of the Lord, which has caused us joy and comfort in the midst of all our sorrows and enabled us to have faith in God, knowing He would guide us and sustain us in the unknown journey that lay before us. For if it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that temple by the influence and help of the Spirit of the Lord, our journey would have been like one taking a leap in the dark. To start out on such a journey in the winter as it were and in our state of poverty, it would seem like walking into the jaws of death. But we had faith in our Heavenly Father, and we put our trust in Him feeling that we were His chosen people and had embraced His gospel, and instead of sorrow, we felt to rejoice that the day of our deliverance had come.”
(Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich, “Autobiography, 1885–93,” Church History Library, 66; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization standardized.)
Nine months after abandoning his home in the City Beautiful, my 3rd great grand father died in a makeshift dwelling at the age of 52 in the depravation of Winter Quarters, Nebraska. In 2012 after a business meeting in Omaha, I had the opportunity to visit the Winter Quarters Temple Site and Pioneer Cemetery and to walk alone among the graves ponding on his sacrifice. It was a sacred experience.
Gratefully, Joshua received his endowment before his death and as Brigham Young taught this enabled him to: “receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for [him], after [he] ... departed this life, to enable [him] to walk back to the presence of the Father”
(Journal of Discourses, 2:31.)
Joshua and his family had followed Joseph Smith and the church from its beginning in upstate New York and in his absence they would continue to follow Brigham Young to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.
Joshua's son, my great great grandfather John Greenleaf Holman, would travel with Brigham Young and the first wagon train to enter the the valley on July 24, 1847. John and his posterity would then work to fulfill the words of Isaiah that “Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains”
In 2003, I had a business meeting on a Friday in Peoria, Illinois. Alone, I rented a car after my meetings and drove two-and-a-half hours to Carthage and Nauvoo to stay for the weekend. I walked through Carthage jail and went up to the room where Joseph was shot. I went and looked on a map where the Holman's house would have been in the north east corner of old Nauvoo. I walked the streets of restored homes and looked out over the Mississippi River at Sunset. I viewed Brigham Young's home and saw the china dishes that were buried in their cellar before they left.
But most importantly, I entered the rebuilt Nauvoo temple and participated in an endowment session. While in the temple as well as walking alone on the streets of Nauvoo, I definitely felt on holy ground. A ground consecrated by the sacrifices of my ancestors to build a city and a House to the Lord for a short season and then to abandon their homes once again as they had done in New York, Ohio, and Missouri.Sacrifice
It is evident to me that these early Saints understood the laws of consecration and sacrifice. We may not be asked to sacrifice to the level of these early saints but when we are asked we should do so willingly.
Several years ago, I was called by my bishop in Spanish Fork and asked to serve a 6-month assignment as a temple worker at the Provo Temple. I was asked to serve on Saturdays for the first part of the day. Saturday was my day to get caught up around the house and yard and to spend time with my wife and young children.
I thought it was a sacrifice for me at that time in my life to give up half my Saturday working in the temple but I agreed to do it. Serving in the temple was a choice experience. Most of the temple workers I served with were much older than me. We had some time to visit quietly on the benches waiting for the next group of patrons. I became particularly fond of one 90-year-old brother that I worked beside. We had some of the most powerful gospel discussions of my life as we sat together in the temple.
I would encourage you if your circumstances permit to become a temple worker and serve in the temple. You won't regret it and you are very much needed as we add an additional temple to our city.
Regular Temple Attendance
What a blessing it soon will be to have two temples so close to us. It seems, however, that sometimes the 5 miles from my house to the Provo Temple might as well be 500 miles with the obstacles I place in my way. I find it difficult at times to not let other priorities crowd out my regular temple attendance. I don't think Joshua Sawyer Holman would have allowed trivial things to get in the way of his temple attendance after the sacrifices he made for the temple?
So what are some of the blessings of regular temple attendance as we strive to increase our temple worship? There are three key blessings that I would like to share as promised by modern prophets.
The first blessing is decreased selfishness. In 2004, President Hinckley said: "I would hope that we might go to the house of the Lord a little more frequently. Most of our temples could be much busier than they are. In this noisy, bustling, competitive world, what a privilege it is to have a sacred house where we may experience the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of the Lord…It will refine your natures. It will peel off the selfish shell in which most of us live. It will literally bring a sanctifying element into our lives and make us better men and better women."
(October 2004, General Conference)Peace and Revelation
The Second blessing is peace and revelation. In 1985, President Benson explained: “In the peace of [the temple], sometimes we find solutions to the serious problems of life. Under the influence of the Spirit, sometimes pure knowledge flows to us there. Temples are places of personal revelation. When I have been weighted down by a problem or a difficulty, I have gone to the house of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. These answers have come in clear and unmistakable ways”
(Ensign, Aug. 1985, p. 8).Protection Against Temptation
The third blessing is as a protection against temptation. In 1930, President Joseph Fielding Smith shared: “If we realize what we are doing then the endowment will be a protection to us all our lives—a protection which a man [or woman] who does not go to the temple does not have.
“I have heard my father
(Joseph F. Smith) say that in the hour of trial, in the hour of temptation, he would think of the promises, the covenants that he made in the House of the Lord, and they were a protection to him. … This protection is what these ceremonies are for, in part.”
(Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1930, p. 103).Conclusion
I need these blessings of peace, revelation, and protection against temptation in my own life. I need to focus more on others and less on myself. These are the blessing of the temple promised by modern prophets. Brethren and Sisters may we try a little harder to regularly attend the temple and claim the blessings our Heavenly Father has for us there. May we prepare ourselves as a people for the dedication of the new Provo City Center Temple. May the temple be the symbol of our personal membership is my prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.