Tonight we listened to District Conference, Adult Session, for our Central China International District. Of course it was by phone link all across China. We heard from an Australian, American, Canadian, and someone from Ecuador, each with their different accents. The phone link is not clear. There are clicks, weird sounds that delay speaking then race ahead to catch up with the sound coming in, etc. These make it hard to understand when there is an accent the speaker has. Nevertheless the important parts came through. We felt the spirit and were spiritually energized.
Sometimes at home we tend to get bothered when there is noise from children, or anything else distracting happens. I found that perhaps the most important part of our listening during these meetings is the worshiping we do. When we do that, we tend to be less critical!
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Brothers and Sisters it is good to greet you even though I cannot see you. Last week Bro. Knox asked us to speak today. The Branch Presidency wanted this talk to introduce the theme for our branch for this coming year, which is Temple Worthiness. As my wife has mentioned we have a personal connection with this topic.
I want to ask you, “What is Temple Worthiness?” What does it mean? I turned to President Hinckley’s Priesthood Session talk in the April 1990 Conference. During the talk he held up two cards. One was a credit card. He described what was required to get a credit card, and what it would do for you. Then he held up a temple recommend and described what was required to get one, and what it would do for you.
Pres. Hinckley said that to get a recommend we need to have demonstrated over a period of time our capacity to discipline our lives in such a way as to be worthy to enter the House of the Lord. It shows that we have grown in our understanding, as well as in our capacity to exercise that measure of self-discipline, which would result in personal worthiness.
“This small document,” he says, “…certifies that the bearer has met certain precise and demanding qualifications and is eligible to enter the House of the Lord and there participate in the most sacred ordinances administered anywhere on earth. These ordinances are concerned not only with the things of life, but with the things of eternity.” “Entering the temple is a privilege to be earned and not a right that automatically goes with Church membership.”
I would like to detail a little what is required to get one. Perhaps you could see how you are measuring up. To get a recommend we must answer certain specific questions to determine worthiness. We are asked if we are paying a full tithe. Long observation has shown that the faithful and honest payment of tithing is an indicator of faithfulness in other matters.
We are asked if we are observing the Word of Wisdom, which is concerned with the care of the body, which the Lord has assured, is of itself a temple, for our spirit. How could we be worthy of entering the Lord’s Temple, if we are not taking care of our own?
Do we sustain our local and General Authorities in the Church? They are the mouthpieces for God in our lives. If there is not loyalty to them, how can there be loyalty to God? Without loyalty to the local leaders President Hinckley said, “there will be an absence of harmony, there will be suspicion and hesitation to serve with fidelity, there will be that kind of division which is always destructive of faith.” The Lord said, “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27)
Pres. Hinckley further mentioned, “Honesty with others including obedience to constitutional law, is likewise a requirement.” He quoted the 12th Article of Faith, which says, “We believe in being subject to kings, president, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” This is as important in China as in any other country we live in or travel too.
There must be sexual purity and a testimony of Jesus Christ. Finally we must consider if there is anything in our lives that is not in keeping with the commandments of the Lord. He says, “You must judge within your heart whether you are guilty of any practice that is unholy, impure, or in any way evil before the Lord.”
We do not have to be perfect to be temple worthy, but we must be up to the standard the Lord has outlined. Now the world spatters us with mud all the time in the difficulties of life. There are temptations and little slipups that we make. These are carcinogens, cancer-causing agents to our spirits. Left there they would corrupt us. Fortunately our loving Father in Heaven, who wants us to come back to Him, provided a way. And fortunately our spiritual brother paid the price, in the atonement, to provide the soap to wash away that mud, those carcinogens from off our spirits and minds. The atonement is powerful enough to bleach away the sins, even very serious sins, if we will follow the process of repentance.
Brothers and Sisters this is not a one-time washing at baptism! This is a continual process as long as we live. We must continue to humble ourselves before Him, so He can cleanse us and mold us into what He knows we can be. If you have serious sins that need to be repented of, make an appointment and talk to Pres. Britton. He has the keys to administer that soap to free us from these spiritually carcinogenic stains. And for all of us, let us humbly reflect on our shortcomings and ask in prayer for help to overcome them. Over time I know He can make us strong and lift us up!
Of course it is difficult for most of us in this branch to go regularly to the temple. Perhaps we are not married, or old enough, or have the means yet, to go through the temple. I served in a young single adult ward just before coming to China. There were many of these single adults who had not taken out their endowments yet, but they got a recommend to do baptisms for the dead anyway even if they couldn’t go often merely because it was a certification that they were worthy and on the path. A temple recommend is a physical symbol of a spiritual certification.
Temple worthiness is needed to create the faith to call down blessings from heaven. Temple worthiness is necessary to hear the Spirit directing us away from the pitfalls and things that would harm us. Temple worthiness shows that we are treating others the way we should - loving them, and our Father in Heaven. Finally temple worthiness is the only way we can progress along life’s journey toward eternal life.
Considering temple worthiness listen to D&C 121:45, 46, which says, “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”