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Craig Nelson

Focusing on the Temple Will Bless Our Lives

  Thank you, Sue. Would you mind lowering this [referring to the podium] a little bit?  I’m grateful to be with you today. My parents being here and President Richards telling the story of jumping off the roof—I have to tell you that the biggest surprise to me was that I didn’t fly. And I remember when I landed, I thought, “I must not know something.” And I think that’s true today. I actually think I will be able to fly, I just haven’t figured it all out yet. And I think we can figure things out, and eventually we can fly.

      I hope in the few minutes remaining to tie together some things that we heard from Elizabeth, the idea of families, Deandra’s beautiful music—wasn’t that beautiful? “Come unto Jesus.”  That was gorgeous. And Sue’s comments about giving of ourselves to help others.

      A little less than two years ago, we sat in counsel at the institution, because we had come to an important point in the history of devotionals on our campus. At that time we had our devotionals on campus, and they were held in the multipurpose room, with overflow audiences in other rooms throughout the building. And we had come to the point where the overflow audiences were larger than the audience in the multipurpose room, and we knew we needed to do something. And so we put together a compelling proposal to ask the Church to build us a building on the campus down there, in the Triad area, where the parking lot currently is, in the corner, so that we could have a large enough facility to be able to meet together as a student body and have our devotionals in one place and have a “gathering of saints.” At the time, when we asked, they said, “No. But you can use the Assembly Hall on Temple Square.”

      Now at the time I was really not very excited about that idea. It was three blocks away, you had to go through two stoplights, what if it’s snowing, or raining, or the wind’s blowing … you know, I had all these excuses, and the word came back from the Brethren, “No. You can use the Assembly Hall.” And I hate to admit this part, but I remember going home thinking, “Well, we’ll show them. We’ll do our best, but the students won’t go, and it will be a bad experience, and then we’ll go back and say, ‘No, we really need a building on our campus.’ ” But I forgot that I was dealing with inspired brethren. And somewhere along the way, it finally dawned on me that we had a tremendous blessing, in that being in the Assembly Hall would probably be a notch up from where we had been and that having our own building would not be anywhere near the same experience as being in this great facility.

      The first time we met here, we sang, as an opening song, “I Am a Child of God,” we sang as the opening song the very first day here. And midway through that, the Spirit came on all of us, in that meeting, that reduced us, collectively, to tears. I remember it very distinctly. There were lots of sniffles on the stand and in the audience, because of the Spirit that pervaded, the testimony that came that we were in the right place, doing the right thing. Now, why do I tell you that? I had a second epiphany; first being that we should be in this building, and the second one is why. Why would the Lord want us here rather than in a building that could be dedicated on our campus? It doesn’t take very long, thinking about that, for you to realize where we are. We’re on Temple Square. We’re a stone’s throw from the temple.

      I don’t think we talk about the temple enough on our campus, and your opportunity to be connected to this sacred edifice—it is so incredibly close, and we have such easy access. Isaiah saw this very temple, and this is what he wrote: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2). Let me just ask those of you who are from a country other than the United States, would you just stand today for a moment, please? “The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established  in the top of the mountains; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Thank you, you may sit. “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).

      Now you have come from many places in the world. And you are here in the tops of these mountains. We ought to say to ourselves more often, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways.” The more you are in the temple, the more you’ll learn what you need to do, and why it is that you are here. The more that you are in the temple, the greater the Sprit that will descend upon you, and you will learn at rates that will amaze the world.

      Now for most of your life, you’ve been taught that there are two parts to learning, the secular part that you did in school, Monday through Friday, and the religious part, Sunday school that you did on Sunday. But I hope that one of the things you’re learning here is that those are not separate, that in the Lord’s economy, all learning is His learning. And you do it in the Spirit. And if you have the Spirit, then everything comes easier. If you have it in the Spirit, then your learning is deeper and faster, and more applicable. You actually can become more of what you should become as you learn in the Lord’s way. And where’s the place that you can do that the best? It’s in the temple.

      I don’t think there’s any coincidence that we talk about our campus as a temple of learning. It’s as if there’s this connection between the house of the Lord and our particular house. When you think about the Church Educational System, there are four colleges, universities owned by the Church. And every one of them is associated with a temple. You have the distinct blessing of an association with the Salt Lake Temple. I think it’s a great thing to be able to see things in visions. Isaiah had a great vision. But as wonderful as his vision was of the Salt Lake Temple, it is infinitely more impactful, more profound, to be able to go in it, and here it is. Right here. You may never be this close to this temple again in your life. You ought to take every opportunity to be in it.

      So may I suggest three ways: 1. For those of you that have a temple recommend and can go to the temple, do so often. Go regularly. It’s a great place to ponder, a great place to renew covenants. You can go often. You’re so very close. 2. For those of you with limited-use recommends, you can do baptisms for the dead. That’s something you can do quite easily, and quite often. 3. There’s a third way that you can participate in the temple, that to me is very exciting, and that’s family history work. You have an opportunity to do something tremendously kind, to give of yourself, of your time, to take your ancestors to the temple. You can do the research, and it’s in the ordinances of the priesthood where you feel the Spirit the best, where it’s the strongest. Think about it, you returned missionaries, you wanted prospective members to go to a baptism, because you knew that at a baptism there was a spirit there that was stronger than normal. The Spirit is present at ordinances, and what you do in family history work is prepare your people to receive ordinances, and there’s a spirit about that. It comes to you, and to your heart. You can bring the temple into your home by doing family history work.

      Now you’re going to tell me that you’re really busy—that you have lots of homework, or other assignments, that you have a job, either full- or part-time, trying to squeeze in some dates, you’re really busy. I get that. But if you take an inventory of your time and consider the games that you might play on your devices or the time you spend watching television or the time you spend maybe sleeping a little longer than you really need to…isn’t there time in there, couldn’t you find time during the week to bring the ordinances of the gospel to your family members? If you do that, you bring the Spirit to yourself. And again, you begin to have that spirit to prompt you in your learning.

      Now, there’s one great last promise, that has to do with Deandra’s song, that I think is profound in our day. We live in a day of great distractions, we live in a day of, I’m afraid, that you’ll see a winnowing in the Church in the days to come, you’ll see it—where those who have been members of the Church maybe separate themselves from the Church, or become separated from the Church. You’ll see that, and it will be hard, because it will be people you know and people you love. How do you prevent yourself from doing that? Well, it’s very easy. You just focus on the Savior, and on the ordinances of His gospel. It’s just like Deandra sang, if you “Come unto Him,” he’ll bless you.

      He said, “Truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound. And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:66-67). Now, I don’t know about you, but I think I’d like to comprehend all things. I’d like to figure out how you really can fly. You probably would like to figure out really how you can do math or some other topic. “That spirit which is filled with light, comprehendeth all things.” So if you’re struggling with your studies, fill your soul with light. Now that doesn’t excuse you from study.  You have to study, but if you fill your soul with light, suddenly things that were unclear become clear. And where is the light the strongest? It’s just right over there [indicating the Salt Lake Temple]. If you’ll do things to help yourself be worthy of and then enter into the temple often, you’ll be able to comprehend all things. “Therefore, sanctify yourselves 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” (D&C 88:68). That is not my promise, that’s His. It’s a promise as we’re faithful.

      Now brothers and sisters, today we’ve heard about families, we’ve heard about kindness, we’ve heard about coming to Christ. Those find their fullest expression in the temple. May we as a people, as a school, as a student body, be focused on the temple. It will help you in your studies, it will help you with your families, it will lift you and edify you and help you to be the kind of people that God wants us to be. My prayer is that we will find appropriate ways for us to be in the temple often. We had a session in the temple a year ago where all the ordinance workers in that session were either students or faculty and staff. By the way, we have many students who are ordinance workers in the Salt Lake Temple. And all the patrons in that session were either students or faculty and staff. And I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being home. And I thought to myself, “If ever there was a manifestation of heaven on earth, this would be one of those times; to be with this family, in the temple.”

      As we live true to the gospel, we’ll be blessed; you’ll be blessed. And you’ll be able to bless others in your family, and around you. I would share that as a testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


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