Bishop Hadley mentioned that I would talk about the temple before I do that, I just want to testify that everything that he has said is true and it is certainly the Lord’s will that we hear those words. It's interesting how the Lord works. Bishop Hadley wasn't given a topic; we talked last week about his concerns for the ward and I simply asked Him to speak about what was in his heart. And I prayed and fasted to know what I should speak about. And when he texted me his topics, they were my topics. The Lord knows what he wants you to hear and what he wants you to hear is that his son, Jesus Christ is the center of everything.
We need Him now more than ever. He loves us individually as we participate and I watched as the water was passed to each of us. We had the opportunity to drink of the water and to remember his blood that was shed for us one by one.
He ministers to us and loves us one by one, individually. I'll touch on that a bit later. I do want to follow on with Bishop Hadley’s remarks about our spiritual foundations. He used a lot of the quotes that I have written down in my notes. I'll just focus briefly on the temple.
The Prophet made it very clear during our conference that if we are to withstand forthcoming spiritual earthquakes, our foundations have to be more solid than they are initially. And consider for a moment that he was not just speaking to you and me, he was speaking to his brothers in the First Presidency, the Apostles saying that each of us have to renovate our foundations. Take measures we've perhaps never taken before. One of those measures, I think for each of us, is to make the temple more central in our lives. Bishop Hadley read from President Nelson's remarks, It is now time that we each implement extraordinary measures, measures we have never taken before. A few sentences later, the Prophet said, “the temple lies at the center of strengthening our faith and spiritual fortitude because the Savior and his doctrine are the very heart of the temple.”
And then he said, “if you don't love to attend the temple, go more often, not less. Let the Lord through His Spirit, teach and inspire you there. I promise you that over time the temple will become a place of safety, solace and revelation.”
Now I hope that you tune in to the fireside that's today at 4:00 o’clock. You will hear me speak a lot more about this. Hopefully it will speak in the way that touches your heart.
I hope that you have heard the Prophet's message and you take his invitation to attend the temple as often as you can. In fact, more often than you can. Our temple is closed for 2 months but there are 2other temples that are near by. Go to the temple; make it the center of your worship.
Back to our spiritual foundation and Christ. Let's have a hypothetical, let's make believe that we follow Bishop’s invitation to strengthen our spiritual foundations. What's going to happen is you're going to be converted to the Savior. You’re going to feel the love of your Savior as he ministers to you individually. You're going to feel, like Lehi did, the weet joy that comes from making Christ the center of your life. Right? Because Minister to you individually.
The question is, what comes next as you're converted? What comes next? Well, it's interesting how our covenants work. We covenant individually with the Father, and we gain a relationship with the Christ through those covenants.
Those are individual covenants. When we're baptized, we promise individually to our heavenly Father that we will follow him. But those covenants then turn us outward. Let's turn briefly. Well, briefly or longly to Mosaiah.
I'm going to read a verse or two in Mosiah, chapter 18. And here we have Alma speaking at the Waters of the Mormon. He teaches about the baptismal covenant. I want you to pay attention to the promises that we make when we're baptized. Keep in mind that we're conventinng with the Father.
It's a one by one Covenant, but the promises are not just about the Father. This is verse 8 and 9:
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.
Those are promises that we make when we Covenant individually with the Father. Those promises are about others.
We Covenant to love others. We Covenant to share our light and Christ's love for others. Our covenants turn us outwards. It's interesting that when Christ was asked, “what are the two great Commandments?”, the answer was one love God, right? It’s the one-to-one relationship. When we love God, our natural reaction should be to love our neighbor.
President Heber J. Grant stated:
The first great commandment was to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, might, mind and strength. And the second was like unto it, to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And the best way in the world to show our love for our neighbor is to go forth and proclaim the gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Of which he has given us an absolute knowledge concerning his diety.
President Oak said in 2001:
The intensity of our desire to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion.
If you ever want to know where you stand on the path of conversion. If you're ever wondering how your spiritual foundation is, you can ask yourself one question. When's the last time that I shared with somebody the love of Christ? When was the last time that I performed any kind of act that loved another in Christ way, that shared with them his life and love, and that invited them to come and see? Now, this used to be known as missionary work. I don’t always share that phrase because when you use it, sometimes everyone shuts down and close their ears.
We have a duty to share the gospel with others. That duty arises naturally out of being converted. So again, hypothetically, you're converted to the gospel. You have desires to share, what you do with those desires?
Now, we've been taught that we love, we share, and we invite. I want to share with you three really brief stories that illustrate how we as numbers, how each of you as a member, can take your desires and make them into reality as you share the gospel with love.
I had a teacher when I was in middle school, Mr. Morrison. Jim Morrison. I didn't ask to use his name, but I know he'd be okay with it. If you ever run into him you can tell him that you know who he is.
Jim Morrison was my teacher. He was my older siblings teacher. He taught, I think, five of my siblings. And he was very mean and very scary. He was my algebra teacher, my pre-algebra teacher, and my woodshop teacher. He always was on my case because I used pen to do math, because I hated how principles sounded.
And he would come behind me and he would get mad at me. Anyway, long story short, he taught a lot of kids who were members of the Church, and none of them liked Mr. Morrison. But they were all told by their parents to be kind and to be good examples.
In 6th grade Fulton Middle School, Mr. Morrison handed me an envelope. He said to take it home.
So I did. I brought it home. My mom opened it over dinner and I thought for sure it was something about how I was misbehaving and it wasn't anything like that. Mr. Morrison said, “Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, over that last number of years, I've watched your children and the Whitneys and the Boomers and the Wettengales, and I have a daughter and I want her to be like your kids. So I called the missionaries and I took the lessons. And I want to invite you and your family to the baptism.”
All we did was love. And he proactively sought out the Church, Mr. Morrison and became Brother Morrison and became Bishop Morrison. Now he's temple worker Morrison. His daughter is a return missionary. He is a good friend.
Next one, Debbie was my sister’s best friend. When my sister was 12, she began inviting Debbie to youth activities and girl’s camp and just invited her youth activities over a number of years.
And when Debbie was 17, she decided that she wanted what my sister had. So, long story short, she got baptized. She's now Debbie Goode and she's been sealed in the temple. And she has many, many kids who have also concealed this temple.
So the first love. Mr. Morrison just observed and he found Christ. Debbie was invited. I should say my sister shared with her the gospel.
Finally I want to talk about my friend Axel. I didn't ask his permission. This is Axel right here [seated on the stand]. Axel is the Assistant Stake Executive Secretary.
About 5 or 6 years ago, Axel’s friend was taking the missionary lessons and her life has changed. And she invited Axel proactively to see what she was learning.
So Axel took the missionary lessons and his life was changed forever. I’d love for you to get to know Axel.
Here we have 3 individuals whose lives have been changed forever because members shared with them what they know and what they felt. And they invited them to come and see. Brother and sisters, our conversion, if it never moves beyond us, it's not good for nothing. It's certainly good for something.
We need to be converted. We need to be saved from the spiritual whirlwinds that surrounds us. But if we never take that love that we receive from Christ and turn it outwards, we're really not really not living up to our part of the bargain. Christ tells us, “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” We Covenant that when we are converted, we will lift others. Now that happens by loving, by sharing and inviting.
It can be intimidating to do that. We don't have to be intimidated. All we have to do is share with others the love that we have felt through Christ. There are many who belong to this ward who are not here today. Many who are sick, who would otherwise be here. But there are many who just don't come every week
At some point in their life, they entered into sacred covenants with their Father in heaven. They felt the Spirit. We, as ministers, have responsibility to lift them them. To turn our conversion outwards and bring them back to the hope of God. I would invite each of you individually and in your families to spend time today talking about what you can do to be missionaries, to love, to share and to invite. Make the spirit of sharing Christ's love central to your life.
Make the temple central to your life. Christ has given us so much. He expects us to give it to others, to pay that forward. Brothers and sisters, I know that Christ lives. He has healed me, he constantly heals me.
I have struggled and do struggle with sin, and Christ ministers to me. He helps me feel happy by filling me with light.
I know that I have a Father in heaven that each of you do. Who hears our prayers, who answers our prayers. If you pour your soul out to him, the answers will come. It takes time, sometimes. Ge wants us to stretch our faith sometimes.
I testify, as we share our light and Christ's love with others, we grow spiritually as well. The greatest way to strengthen your spiritual foundation, the greatest way to become converted is strengthening others. It's lifting others. It's helping others become converted.
I’ll close with one quick story.
I served a mission in Sweden. In Sweden, nobody wanted to hear about God. If you think the US numbers from the Pew Research study are bad, you should see Sweden's numbers. They just don't believe in God.
We would go out. We would share with people the gospel of Christ that was just deep in our hearts and nobody was listening. And sometimes I would find myself thinking, “why am I sharing when they don’t listen?” And the answer came to me… I was out there sharing with them as much for me as I was for them.
When we share our testimony, when we share our faith, when we invite others to come and feel what Christ has given us, even if they don't accept the invitation, we grow.
Please share what you know. Share what you love. Be a missionary; make it central to who you are as a member of this Church. Please make the temple the center of your life. Christ is the center of the temple. As you make that who you are, Christ will become who you are and you will be able to better fulfill the promises you make every Sunday to take upon yourself his name and to “always remember.”
These things are true. The gospel is true? I leave them with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.