A Talk Given In



D. Calvin Andrus
19 October 1997

I. Introduction

A. My name is Calvin Andrus. I am from the Sterling Park Ward. I was called to the Stake High Council about 9 months ago. My assignments on the High Council are to be the Advisor to the Stake Primary, the Stake Young Women, and the Stake Young Men. The Stake President has asked me to represent him here in your ward today. I convey his love for you and his compliments for this ward. You are a great ward.

B. This past week, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Kirtland, Ohio, and spend some time in the Kirtland Temple. I want to spend a few minutes and talk about the Kirtland experience in our Church's history.

II. Gathering in Kirtland

A. In December of 1830--just 8 months after the church was organized--the Lord called the Saints living in New York to move to Ohio.

D&C 37:3 - And again, a commandment I give unto the church, that it is expedient in me that they should assemble together at the Ohio, against the time that my servant Oliver Cowdery shall return unto them.

B. I can imagine they are not too thrilled about moving, who would have thought that joining a church would be occasion to move to the frontier--especially in December. Nobody made any preparations--would you? Just think how you would feel if on the 1st of December, someone asked you to move to the Yukon Territory in Canada. Many of us would drag our feet.

C. One month later, the day after New Years in 1831, the Lord, maybe just a little impatient, wants to make himself perfectly clear

D&C 38:1-4 - THUS saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes; I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me. I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.

D. What does this remind you of? It reminds me of the movie "Back to the Future" when Bif comes in to the soda shop and starts knocking on Marty's father's head and says "Hello, McFly! Anybody home?" The Lord is saying to the Saints, this is not Joseph suggesting you move to Ohio, it is me, the Lord and I am commanding you to go.

D&C 38:18-22 - And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh; And I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts. And this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away. But, verily I say unto you that in time ye shall have no king nor ruler, for I will be your king and watch over you. Wherefore, hear my voice and follow me[.]

E. Now the Lord is talking their language--if they just move to Ohio the Lord will give them "greater riches." You can just see them saying, "Well, now that you put it that way, I guess we can probably move." He then gives the commandment and promise again, just to make sure they understand.

D&C 38:32 and 39 - Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high; (39) And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.

F. So the Saints sold their farms and moved to Kirtland. And guess what happened. They did not get rich. After about 10 months they were getting pretty tired of not getting rich. A group of brethren had just been ordained to be High Priests. They decided to ask Joseph to find out when the big bucks are coming. Here is the answer:

D&C 67:1-3 - BEHOLD and hearken, O ye elders of my church, who have assembled yourselves together, whose prayers I have heard, and whose hearts I know, and whose desires have come up before me. Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you, and the heavens and the earth are in mine hands, and the riches of eternity are mine to give. Ye endeavored to believe that ye should receive the blessing which was offered unto you; but behold, verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive.

G. Fear is the opposite of faith. Faith is the first principle of the gospel. So the Lord is telling these people that if they can't even live the first principle of the gospel, how can they expect the riches of eternity. The Lord goes on to tell these High Priests:

D&C 67:10-14 - And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am --not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual. For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God. Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind. Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels ; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected. Let not your minds turn back; and when ye are worthy, in mine own due time, ye shall see and know that which was conferred upon you by the hands of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. Amen.

H. This has got to hurt these brethren, upon whom Joseph has just conferred the office of High Priest. The Lord is wants to know how they can expect the riches of eternity when as High Priests they can't even exercise the Aaronic Priesthood well enough to get the ministering of Angels. Maybe that stings us modern High Priests a little, too!

I. The Lord promised the Saints that if they would sanctify themselves, he would bring them into His presence. The Lord gave the Saints about one year to sanctify themselves. During this time some go on missions and quite a few local people are converted. In addition, Joseph conducts a "school of the prophets" to teach the Saints how to sanctify themselves. So after about a year, the Lord gives the Saints another chance to prove themselves worthy of the previously promised blessings. He gave them the following commandment.

D&C 88:119 - Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

J. This is January 1833. Can you guess how much of the House they had built by June of 1833? None. They hadn't even gotten started. In six month the Saints had not done a single thing toward building the House. You can imagine the Lord is not going to be very happy the next time the Saints come knocking on his door for riches. Before we read the Lord's response let us take a moment and think about the "excuses" the Saints had for not working on the temple.

-- They were overwhelmed and didn't know where to start.
-- They didn't even own the property where the Temple was supposed to be built.
--They didn't have the right tools to build a building.
--They didn't have an architect, stone mason, bricklayer, foreman, or general contractor among them.
--They didn't have the time to work on it--had to plant crops, etc.
--They didn't have the money to get started.

K. Have we ever felt overwhelmed when we have been given an assignment in the kingdom? Of course we have. How many times do we say, I don't have the time, or I don't have the money? Let us think about that when we read the Lord's response to 6 months of inactivity. In June 1833, the following was given.

D&C 95:1-9 - Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you--Wherefore, ye must needs be chastened and stand rebuked before my face; For ye have sinned against me a very grievous sin , in that ye have not considered the great commandment in all things, that I have given unto you concerning the building of mine house; For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to prune my vineyard for the last time, that I may bring to pass my strange act, that I may pour out my Spirit upon all flesh--But behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are chosen. They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day. And for this cause I gave unto you a commandment that you should call your solemn assembly, that your fastings and your mourning might come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, which is by interpretation, the creator of the first day, the beginning and the end. Yea, verily I say unto you, I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I design to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high; For this is the promise of the Father unto you;

L. OUCH! That's got to hurt! Doesn't it make you want to crawl underneath a mountain and hide. Well, the Saints got the point. John Johnson sold his farm in Hiram and used the money to buy the land for the Temple. They then used the land as collateral to borrow money to buy building material. The saints started cutting trees and drying lumber in a kiln. They started drying clay bricks to be fired in the fall. It was just a hive of activity all summer. In the fall they fired all the bricks. Guess what? The bricks came out cracked and had to be thrown away. The lumber kiln burned down and took the wood with it. And the bank was getting ready to foreclose on the loan and reposes the land. I don't need to tell you that Joseph and the other Saints were getting a little scared. They'd worked all summer and had essentially nothing to show for their work.

M. The day before the loan was due, a brother moved into Kirtland. He said he had a dream to sell his farm and take the cash to Kirtland. He had the $3,000 they needed for the loan and gave it to the prophet. Also, about this time, a convert from Canada moved in who knew how to build big buildings. He took the brethren out to a sandstone quarry to get big blocks of stone to replace the bricks. They cut new wood. And they built the building.

N. Why do you think the Lord let the Saints go to the brink of failure? I suspect it was the Lord's way to humble the Saints, so they would know it was by His intervention that the Temple was built. They would not be able to boast in their own strength. They would know it was His Temple, not theirs.

O. Finally the Temple was finished enough to use, in January of 1836, three years after the initial commandment. The prophet decided to wait until Passover season to perform the dedication.

III. Dedication

A. We find the dedicatory prayer in DC 109. We all know the great outpouring of the Spirit surrounding the dedication. If ever there was a case of faith proceeding the miracle, this was it. The long awaited riches of eternity were now at hand. Many did see the Lord as had been previously promised. The Initiatory portion of the Temple Ceremony was made available. It was glorious and beautiful. Many ancient prophets came to the Temple as recorded in DC 110.

IV. Lessons Learned

A. The settlement of Kirtland and the building of the Kirtland Temple serves as symbol or metaphor for us in our own struggle to become sanctified and and be admitted into the presence of the Lord. We feel overwhelmed, at times, with all the responsibilities we have. Young Women and Young Men can be overwhelmed at the prospect of becoming adults. Young mothers certainly feel overwhelmed. A calling as Relief Society President, Elders Quorum President, Nursery Leader, or Course 15 Sunday School Teacher can all be overwhelming. Losing a boy friend or girl friend can be overwhelming. Losing a job, or a child, or a spouse, or a parent can be overwhelming. To fall into serious sin can be overwhelming. Daily family prayer and daily family scripture reading can be overwhelming. Adding daily personal prayer and daily personal scripture study can be overwhelming. Genealogy, Missionary work, Home and visiting teaching can be overwhelming.

B. And what is it that will make the Lord mad at us when we are overwhelmed? If we find excuses and do nothing. If we excuse ourselves because we don't have enough money, or if we excuse ourselves because we don't have time, or if we excuse ourselves because we are not talented, or if we excuse ourselves because of any number of things, the Lord will not be happy with us. If on the other hand, we make up our mind to exercise faith and begin to fulfill the obligations we have, the Lord will come to our rescue and work miracles in our lives, just as he rescued the Kirtland Temple from its initial failure. Our lives can be as glorious and beautiful as the Kirtland Temple. This reminds us of the great promise made in Ether:

Ether 12:27 - And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

IV. Conclusion

A. Let me mention two related items in closing. First, speaking of the Kirtland Temple reminds me of the Washington Temple. Our Stake President recently received a letter from the Temple President. In the past, the Temple has limited the number of Restricted Ordnances Workers (R.O.W.s) our Stake could have. That restriction has now been lifted. We can have as many R.O.W.s as we want. If any of you have wanted an opportunity to be a Temple worker, now is the time. Some of you will feel the Spirit calling you to help out at the temple. If you are interested in becoming an R.O.W., I invite you to schedule some time to discuss it with Bishop Moss--he is the first step to becoming an R.O.W. I have been an R.O.W. for about a year and it has been a significant blessing to me and my family--especially in dealing with my teenagers. I'd be happy to relate some of these blessings off-line to those who are interested.

B. My second concluding remark concerns Youth Conference next summer. We will be taking the Youth of the Stake to Kirtland. We have scheduled the Kirtland Temple for a meeting on the 24th of July, 1998. We are building a conference program around the Kirtland Temple. We are hoping to have all the Young Women and Young Men of the Stake come and have a Kirtland experience of their own.

C. In this connection let me mention a story. As you know the Kirtland Temple is owned and operated by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first time they let our Church use the Temple for a conference was in the fall of 1993--for a conference of Mission President's and Stake Presidents. President Sleight of the Oakton Stake (who was our Stake President then) went to that meeting. He was so impressed, he arranged for the 1994 Stake Youth Conference to go to Kirtland, and we are replicating that in 1998. But that first meeting in 1993 caused some consternation within the Reorganized Church. In particular, the Director of the Temple wrote a letter to the RLDS First Presidency explaining his opposition to permitting LDS officials blessing and passing the Sacrament in their temple. The RLDS First Presidency responded by asking the Temple Director to attend this LDS meeting as the official RLDS representative. As you can imagine, he was not happy about this assignment. Just after our General Authorities blessed and passed the Sacrament, this RLDS brother was feeling pretty bitter that those outsiders were worshiping in his Temple. He reports that at this moment he heard a voice speak to him, which said, "This is not your Temple, it is mine." He came away with a new perspective and increased reverence, which has been adopted by the RLDS Church. They view themselves as the caretakers of the Lord's Temple. They allow 12 non-RLDS meetings a year in the Temple. Our Youth Conference next summer is one of the 12. It is a great privilege, of which I hope all the youth will take advantage.

C. Brothers and Sisters, I believe the Kirtland Temple is still the Lord's House. In many ways our lives are like the Kirtland Temple. It takes faith to overcome obstacles to building a holy life. But when we are determined, the Lord will make up the difference between our shortcomings and the perfection he expects of us.

D. Of this I bear my witness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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