President's Pen 5-21-18 (Temple Bound)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! “We begin with the End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  What a huge blessing it was this past week to attend the temple with our converts and to see them enter the waters of baptism for their family members.  It has to be one of the sweetest experiences a missionary can have and we desire for you all to be there.  If there was ever an incentive to teach repentance and baptize converts, it has to be found in the blessing of seeing converts progress towards the ordinances in the temple.  The worth of souls is great, give your all to experience eternal joy with them.   

We love to see the temple and we’ll go inside this week! How blessed we are to have a temple in Houston and we are especially blessed to have the opportunity to attend as missionaries.  This is a unique blessing that is not afforded to all missionaries and I pray that you will be prepared, reverent, and ready to receive a spiritual boost that will help you in your missionary purpose and efforts.

Review with me our missionary purpose and ponder how it ties to the temple… We invite all to come unto Christ and teach them what it means to have faith in the Savior and His Atonement.  Faith in the Savior changes their hearts, their views, their desires, and naturally leads them away from the natural man and turns them again towards God.  The wonderful gift of repentance leads them to become more like the Savior and the fruit of this change is found in the making of covenants.  As they are baptized for a remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, all blessing of the Savior’s Atonement and God’s full power comes into their life.  As they walk the straight and narrow path they are invited to receive an endowment, to make additional covenants, to be sealed as families, and to receive all the blessings the Father has.  All we do to find, teach, invite, and help is directed towards the exalting ordinances of the temple; we begin with the end in mind…  This is our purpose, our vision, and it’s amazing to think that a loving Heavenly Father trusts us enough to help Him; a true miracle.

With the blessing of attending the temple and participating in an endowment session this week, I wanted to review some important principles for you to ponder.  The symbolism of the temple and the covenants you have made all point to and are centered in Christ.  Our goal is to become like Him, follow Him, develop His character and attributes, and have His countenance in ours.  Look for the Savior, you will find Him in the temple.  It is His house, He has walked the halls, sat in the celestial room, and His presence can be felt.  He is the way, the light, and the life, and in the temple we are being asked to live like Him and to take upon us the heavenly laws that will govern us for the eternities.  Do you realize how amazing it is to have temples on the earth?!?!?!

To help you prepare, it is important to remember the covenants you have made, can you name them?  They include: obedience, sacrifice, laws of the gospel, chastity, and consecration.   I highly recommend you take the time to study each of these covenants in detail.  Each covenant brings promised blessings and if we live them we are exponentially blessed.  

Law of Obedience –The scriptures teach us that there are irrevocable laws that have always existed, and that any time we hope to receive blessings, we must obey these laws.  These commandments have been given so we can understand God’s will for us, give us to direction on how to act before Him, and lead us to salvation.  To love and serve God is the first and great commandment.  We know He loved us first and He simply asks that we return His love by doing His will.  We are asked to be exactly obedient so all blessings that are available to us can be received and enjoyed.  Unless we come to understand the blessings of obedience, and surrender our will to the Father, we can’t progress nor become like Him.  We begin with obedience in the temple as it is the first law of heaven!  The temple helps us recognize the Savior’s perfect example of obedience.   If we don’t learn the blessing of obedience to God’s laws now, how can we ever enjoy being in His presence?  As you attend the endowment session, ask if you are an obedient missionary.  Do you do the small and simple things and is obedience an irritant or a blessing? 

Law of Sacrifice – The law of sacrifice was introduced to Adam and Eve to help them understand the mission and sacrifice of the Savior.  As we participate in the temple ordinances, we too are asked to lay sacrifices on the altar.  Serving your mission is a sacrifice of time, family, finances, education, and other pursuits.  As missionaries you sacrifice sleep, comfort, personal priorities, and give up your desires to do what the Lord would have you do.  Sacrifice is always tied to obedience as they go hand in hand.  The more obedient you are, the more willing you are to sacrifice.  What does the Savior’s sacrifice mean to you and why is it important for you to live this law?  As you attend the temple this week, and walk past the altar of the temple, what sacrifices are you willing to make?  What do you need to lay on the altar that you’re currently unwilling to give up? As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life and salvation.” 

Laws of the Gospel – The Prophet Brigham Young taught, “Our religion is nothing more nor less than the true order of heaven—the system of laws by which the gods and the angels are governed. Are they governed by law? Certainly. There is no being in all the eternities but what is governed by law.

The Gospel of the Son of God that has been revealed is a plan or system of laws and ordinances, by strict obedience to which the people who inhabit this earth are assured that they may return again into the presence of the Father and the Son. The laws of the Gospel are neither more nor less than a few of the principles of eternity revealed to the people, by which they can return to heaven from whence they came.” What wonderful insight from a prophet of God.  If we are to keep the covenant to live the laws of the gospel, we come to understand that the basic principles of obedience, faith, repentance, and the ordinances and covenants are all eternal laws that bring us back to God.  As missionaries we are asked to fully live the gospel, not just teach it.  The Savior lived the gospel he taught, fulfilled all righteousness, and in the temple we are asked to do the same.

Law of Chastity – What have we covenanted to do regarding chastity? We are to have sexual relations only with our spouse to whom we are legally married.  We have also been taught that the law of chastity encompasses more than sexual intercourse.  In the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet we are taught, “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.”  The covenant to be chaste brings virtue and power, peace, confidence and self-control.  Garnishing our thoughts with virtue allows us to stand confident in the presence of God.   We are all blessed with sexual desires, they are good, they are strong, and the Lord has asked us to develop self-mastery in both our thoughts and our actions.   Why such a specific covenant?  The Lord knew this would be a great temptation for all, and the adversary uses this sacred power to destroy the lives of families, individuals, and society in general.  You are blessed to be co-creators with God.  Abuse of these sacred powers brings a loss of the Spirit, feelings of guilt and shame, and too many other consequences to name.  Are you virtuous, are you striving to keep clean thoughts, have you resolved any past issues?  We should rejoice in accepting this covenant in the temple as it brings tremendous peace of mind and joy.  You will struggle to feel worthy in the temple if issues of chastity have not been resolved.  (see Personal Worthiness on the portal if you have questions on this topic)

Law of Consecration --  Consecration includes both the laws of obedience and sacrifice.  To be consecrated is to set apart and dedicate ourselves to God and strive to become holy and righteous.  It is a celestial law that we may never be fully asked to live on the earth, but as missionaries, you come closest to it as you consecrate your time, talents, and all the Lord has blessed you with to build His kingdom.  This covenant is both temporal and spiritual and helps us prepare for eternal life.  We strive to become consecrated and can only do so as we are obedient and sacrifice those things that lead us away from God’s work and glory.  As missionaries, this is our personal aim, it is who and what we hope to become (4th missionary).  The Savior consecrated everything and is our perfect example.  In the temple we are reminded that all blessing we ever hope for or desire will come as we consecrate ourselves fully to the Lord.  Are you consecrated and are you using this unique time the Lord has given you to serve with your whole soul?  We desire exactly obedient missionaries, who will sacrifice, and live the gospel, but what we most hope for are missionaries who become consecrated disciples of the Savior. 

Elders & Sisters, the temple is the destination where the doctrine of Christ, our purpose, is taught in its fullness; it is the Lord’s university.  The entire Plan of Salvation is laid before us and we come to know exactly what we must do to return to God’s presence.  The covenants I have reviewed with you above, though in simple detail, can help you remember what you have chosen to take upon you, and will provide you an opportunity to reflect on how you’re doing.  As we each fall short, we are blessed to renew them each week as we partake of the sacrament; never forget them.  I am grateful for the covenants I have made and I strive to honor and keep them.   Each covenant points me to the Savior, His life, example, teachings, and promised blessings for me.  Covenants are my greatest protection, I know the blessings, and I know why they are eternally important to me.

As you attend this week, take note of the special promises given in the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple… “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;  And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfil that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days.” (D&C 109:22-23)  These are the blessings you can expect as you depart from the temple, keep your covenants, and remain faithful and true.  I invite you to leave from the temple feeling renewed, recommitted, and even more focused on your purpose.  I testify in the name of Jesus Christ that the temple is the House of the Lord, and that the ordinances of salvation and exaltation are found within!  Love ya!

President Hall