Temples

Episode 13.  April 24, 2016.  Hello everyone, this is Tom Kunz with another episode of my znukcast. We just returned this evening to Manila from a week in Utah to witness the graduation of our son Garen from BYU. It was wonderful being with him, his wife and two toddlers, as well as our two youngest children Chase and MiCayla who are also attending BYU. Leaving loved ones is never easy and this visit was no exception. The feeling I get when leaving is a constant reminder of the promise of being a forever family which can only happen through temple ordinances. Today I want to talk about the temple and the impact it is having on mine and LaDawn’s lives. So with that, let’s get started.

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Near the end of 2004, our then stake president Paul Oscarson encouraged more frequent temple attendance. In fact, he related that that particular week marked a one year anniversary that he had attended the temple every week. He had been inspired to start attending because he had attended a fast and testimony meeting where Neil Martinson, a member of his ward, had born his testimony about having attended every week for a year and he said, if Neil can do that, I can do that!

In that moment the spirit spoke to me and told me I needed to do the same thing. I just couldn’t understand how that was possible. I had a demanding job with a 2.5 hour daily commute, a very busy church calling, and 4 kids still at home who were all very involved in school sports and other activities. But the prompting didn’t change. It took me a few months to figure out how to change my priorities, but early in 2005 I set the goal to attend every week for the next 12 months except for the weeks when the temple would be closed. LaDawn was already attending twice a month and while we don’t exactly remember the discussion, she also began attending weekly. Because of our schedules we were only able to attend together about once every six weeks, but that never diminished the experience for either of us. We simply did the best we could.

After the first three weeks, I was wondering if this was going to be worth it. I mean, I was trying to understand what exactly the blessings were for attending each week because it wasn’t clear to me and I was having to almost force myself to go. That night as I said my prayers, I again plead for understanding of the blessings. As I crawled into bed, I picked up the book I was reading at the time by Elder Eyring titled Because He Loved Us. I was reading in Chapter 6 and he was talking about prayer and quoted a scripture from Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. As I read that scripture, even though the context had nothing to do with the temple, the spirit unmistakably whispered to me these words “this is the blessing of weekly temple attendance”. It was a direct answer to my prayer and changed everything for me about attending the temple.

Here is that scripture, it is found in Mosiah 24:14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

Let me read that again, this time as the spirit helped me to understand it…

And I will ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your back, and this will I do that ye may stand as a witness for me that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

I testify that this scripture is true.

As I began to think about the marvelous experiences I have had with finding my family (you can hear about these experiences in Episode 7), it occurred to me for the first time that these family history miracles started happening AFTER I began to attend the temple each week. As I have reflected on this over and over, I have seen the direct link between the finding of my ancestors (which occurred through miracle after miracle) and our commitment to get to the temple and do the work for them. I cannot tell you how rich this experience has been for us..

As mentioned in my last znukcast, when Elder D. Todd Christopherson came to the Cypress Stake Conference in 2001, he challenged those of us in attendance to study four particular chapters in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 2, 2 Nephi 9, Alma 12 and Alma 42) and from that write a one page document on the Plan of Salvation. As I worked on this assignment I learned many things, but in particular I gained a deep understanding about justification and sanctification for the first time in my life. This prepared me for the invitation to attend the temple every week. You see, by then I already knew why I needed to do it. The spirit had taught me the importance of the temple in the sanctification process.

Maybe I can take just a minute and talk a little about what it was that I learned through that study of justification and sanctification.   Although I had heard these terms many times, I simply had not internalized their meaning, certainly not in a way that I could explain it to others.   As part of my study after that stake conference, I opened the June 2001 Ensign to an article written by Elder Christopherson and read this one simple sentence and the light bulb turned on. “If justification removes the punishment for past sin, then sanctification removes the stain or effects of sin” I later found this quote by two BYU religious scholars, Robert Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie as a second witness of the principles taught by Elder Christopherson:. “Sanctification is the process whereby one comes to hate the worldliness he once loved and love the holiness and righteousness he once hated. To be sanctified is not only to be free from sin but also to be free from the effects of sin, free from sinfulness itself, the very desire to sin.” Later in 2001 I was teaching a priesthood class during a ward conference and explaining this newly understood principle. While I was teaching, the spirit revealed something new to me that I believe is a profound truth. The words I heard are indelibly inscribed on my soul: The temple recommend is a symbol of our justification and a ticket to our sanctification.

So how does the temple sanctify us? Let me start with a couple of scriptures. In 1 Nephi 18:3 we learn that Nephi “did go into the mount oft, and did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto [him] great things”. In D&C 121: 33 we read: “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.”. You see, the temple is the place that this knowledge is poured down upon us. It is the place where the Lord will show unto us great things.   Why is knowledge so important? The prophet Joseph Smith taught that faith is based on knowledge. The greater our knowledge the greater our faith. The greater our faith, the more our desire to become like Christ will be realized as recorded by Enos: “And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.”

In the 20th section of the Doctrine and Covenants we read “And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.” What better way to show God that we love him and are willing to serve him than taking time to frequently attend the temple – this is even more meaningful when we research and bring our own family names with us. The result of being willing to be recurring temple attenders? Sanctification. It is the natural result.

Now, I want to take this just one step further with two additional scriptures. And it has to do with a recurring statement of general authorities dating back to Brigham Young all the way up to President Uchtdorf in terms us as Latter Day Saints living beneath our privileges. The first is found in section 88: “Therefore, sanctify yourselves [you see, we must choose to be sanctified] that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.” And the second one is from the Book of Mormon in Ether, chapter 4: “And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.”

There is so much to learn, know and experience in regards to these last two scriptures. How we might claim this same grand privilege even as the brother of Jared claimed it, is one of the key purposes of the whole temple experience. But we must invest the time, the effort and the desire for this blessing to be our blessing.

I love the temple. I love the sanctifying influence it is having on both my wife LaDawn, and me, and its impact on our eternal relationship. I love what it is I am learning about how to claim the privileges offered to us. I love the feeling I have when I am in the temple and the sanctifying influence it is having in my life. I have come to understand that temple ordinances provide a protection for us that cannot be duplicated in any other way.

When we started this journey 10 years ago I had no idea where it would lead. Over these ten years I have met men and women that have helped me to understand things about the temple that I simply did not know. I have experienced the whisperings of the still small voice while attending the temple that have helped me to see more clearly and understand more fully what it is the temple is trying to teach us. I used to believe that the temple was for us to make covenants as a greater deterrent to sin and everything else was for the next life. I have come to understand for myself that the temple is so much more. As we open our ears to hear and our eyes to see and our heart to understand, we will understand that the great blessings of the temple are available to us while we are yet mortal. That is the great message of the temple. As we choose to sanctify ourselves through the blood of the Lamb of God, and become obedient to the still small voice, the heavens will open before us.

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