AND THE HOLY GHOST
WARRENTON SECOND WARD
WARRENTON, VA STAKE
Good afternoon, brothers and sisters. My name is Calvin Andrus. I am from the Sterling Park Ward. The Stake President has assigned me to speak to you today in my the capacity as a member of the High Council. The Stake President loves this ward and its members. He has great regard for the leaders of this ward. He knows that good things are happening here in Warrenton. I commend you for your activity and acts of service to one another.
A few weeks ago, my 14 year old daughter, Brooke, asked me what is going to happen with Y-2-K (the year 2000 computer bug). That is an interesting question, which has been subject to a lot of research and public debate. I am sure everyone in this audience has an opinion. Some think almost nothing will happen, while others think it will be the end of the world as we know it. Some people are scared, some are just worried, and some are looking forward to attending a Y2K party.
III. END OF THE WORLD
Before I continue talking about Y2K, I would like to take a little detour. I will come back to Y-2-K in just a minute. Please open the Book of Mormon. Let's turn to Mormon chapter 6, starting in verse 1.
Mormon 6:1 - AND now I finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it came to pass that we did march forth before the Lamanites.
Now let's skip to verse 7 and 8.
7/8 - And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them. And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.
And finally, let's jump down to verses 16 to 18.
16-18 - And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried: O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.
Brothers and Sisters, that was the end of the world as Mormon knew it. His whole ethnic group, his whole nation was destroyed. Several years before the destruction of his people, he could see the end coming. I imagine it depressed him. See what he says three chapters earlier, in chapter 3 starting in verse 11.
Mormon 3:11-15 - And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination. Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts. And thrice have I delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and they have repented not of their sins. And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.
From this verse can we tell which was more disturbing to Mormon: that his people were going to be killed, or that they did not repent of their sins? I think so. Mormon was more disturbed that they did not repent. They had gone into a state of apostasy. I suspect President Hinckley and President Brown and Bishop Nyce are like the Prophet Mormon--they are more worried about what sin will do to us than they are worried about what Y2K will do to us.
I believe Mormon was concerned about his people repenting, because it not only meant that it would be the end of the line for his people; it also meant it was the end of the line for the church on the earth. The church would be lost.
Can we think of other times when it was the end of the line for a people, or the end of the line for the church on the earth? The most dramatic example is Noah and the Flood. The people did not repent and they were destroyed. It was the end of the world as Noah knew it.
Another time was a number of years after the prophet Isaiah, when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon's Temple, killed many people, and took away as slaves, those who were not killed. The people did not repent, and they were almost destroyed. It seemed like the end of the line. It was certainly the end of the world as those people knew it.
Another time was during the life of the Apostles after Christ died. Paul fought apostasy everywhere he went. Just read his letters. Those Apostles knew their work was hopeless. They knew there would be a great apostasy. They knew there would be an end of the line for the church. It would be the end of the world as the righteous knew it.
So what kept these people going, if they knew their all their work would end in apostasy and destruction? Why didn't Isaiah, and Noah, and Mormon, and Paul just give up? Let's read one thing the Apostle Peter said (as quoted by Luke in the Book of Acts):
Acts 3:19-21 - Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
When are these "times of refreshing" that all the holy prophets have looked forward to? Let me read to you what the Prophet Joseph said:
The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory, "the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth, "even in one," when the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken of by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwelt with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations, and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. (History of the Church, Vol.4, Ch.35, p.609)
Today we live in what Peter called the "times of refreshing." Maybe when you think about the Y2K problem you don't feel so refreshed. But we know our work is not in vain. Y2K is not the end of the line for the church. The gospel will remain after Y2K. Y2K is not the end of the world as we know it. Noah would have loved to trade us places. Isaiah would have loved to trade us places. Peter would have loved to trade us places. Mormon would have loved to trade us places. They knew that in our day, the gospel would not fail. That is why they did not give up. We ought to rejoice that we live in times when such problems as Y2K are even possible. Now is the most exciting time to have ever lived on the earth.
V. BEYOND Y2K
So, if Y2K is not the end of the line for the gospel, then what is it? Remember the Shoemaker-Levy comet that crashed into the planet Jupiter? Remember El Niño and La Niña? Remember Mount Pinatubo? Mount St Helens? I put these things into the same bucket as Y2K. All of these things are a reminder that we need to repent. All of these things are a reminder that we need to lay up treasures in heaven. All these things are a reminder that we must not trust in the arm of flesh. Y2K may destroy our treasures in the bank, but Y2K cannot destroy our treasures in heaven. If we trust in our houses, La Niña may destroy them, but La Niña cannot destroy our trust in the Lord. And if we have put our trust in the Lord, and if we have laid up treasures in heaven, what do we have to fear from Y2K? Nothing. Rather, we can be happy and excited that we live in a time that all the holy prophets wanted to live in. We live in a time that gave them hope to continue. If our times gave them hope thousands of years ago, how much more should we have hope, living right here in the dispensation of the fullness of times? We should have at least as much hope as they did--and maybe even more.
I want to focus, for a moment, on these two notions I have just mentioned--laying up treasures in heaven and not trusting in the arm of flesh. Every day, as we live, we constantly are making choices. We choose, for example, whether to spend time laying up treasures on earth, or spend time laying up treasures in heaven. These choices are very similar to the choices we make to either trust in the arm of flesh or trust in the arm of the Lord. Combining these two notions, we choose between trusting in our earthly treasures, or trusting in our heavenly treasures.
How do we make these choices? How can we make the right choices? What help can we get?
VII. HOLY GHOST
[If there is enough time, tell the story of how I got the Spirit in the LTM]
I spent the first two months of my mission in the Language Training Mission (LTM), which was the predecessor to the Missionary Training Center (MTC). We each had a companion, and 6 to 8 companionships were formed into districts. Each district studied Spanish together in the same classroom. Each district also memorized memorized the discussions in the same classroom. At that time there were six discussions in the form of dialogues. The objective was for every missionary to memorize and pass of all six discussions. If everyone in the district passed off the discussions, the district got to put up a poster in the foyer with all the names of the missionaries and instructors.
When we began memorizing the discussions, one of our instructors led a debate within our district about how we should memorize the discussions. Should we let each missionary go at his own pace, or should each district wait for everyone in the district had passed off the first discussion before proceeding to memorize the second discussion?
In this debate I argued that everyone should go at their own pace. After a few moments it became clear that this really wasn't a debate. The instructor had already decided that we were going to go together as a district. The instructor belittled me for for my wrong attitude.
It turned out that in about 4 days, I was the only person in my district who had not passed off the first discussion. They had to wait two days for me. The missionaries and instructors were worried they would not get a poster in the foyer. I became very unpopular at this point.
Some members of my district secretly started memorizing the second discussion. When I finally passed off the first discussion and began memorizing the second discussion, I was already behind. Once again, everyone in my district passed the second discussion, and I had not. I was sent to a counselor to the mission president to confess my sins, so I could get the spirit. I had no sins to confess. I also strictly abided by the mission rules. In fact, many of the Elders who were able to memorize did not abide by the mission rules. Some were secretly meeting their girl friends, some couldn't stand their companions, and some spoke English instead of Spanish.
While I was thus being interviewed, the instructor called my district to a meeting without me, where they voted to continue memorizing and passing off the discussions without me. I was really depressed. I was trying as hard as I could to be a good missionary and I was failing. Not only that, those Elders who should have been my friends, abandoned me. Those instructors who should have been my protectors abandoned me. My spiritual leaders implicitly accused me of sin.
I got my coat on and walked out. I could not stay in such a place. I walked the streets of for about an hour and decided I was going to quit being a missionary. But where was I to go? I couldn't go home. My parents would just bring me back to the LTM. I had some friends in California. But how would I get there? I had no money on me. I could have hitch-hiked. But I thought anybody picking up a person dressed like a missionary would just bring me back. I had not place to go.
I walked up on to the mountain. I sat there. I only had one place to go and those people despised me. I was in despair. I even thought about ending it all. I decided to pray. I prayed for a long time. Finally, the Holy Ghost came to me. He delivered a message. The message was that they only thing I had to worry about was my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I was not to rely on my companions or instructors for my own self esteem. It did not matter what they thought. What mattered was what Heavenly Father thought. I received a witness that Heavenly Father knew and understood my situation, and that He had not abandoned me. He loved me and He supported me.
Can you image the inner strength that brought me? I walked right back to the LTM, took off my coat and began studying again. I began to rely on the Arm of the Lord, not the arm of my companions and instructors. While I was gone, they decided to make three districts out of two. They put all the slow pokes from the two districts into the third district. That way the other two districts could get their posters. I went into the slow poke district. And it didn't matter.
So how did it end? My original district finished memorizing the discussions 7 days early. My slow poke district finished memorizing the discussions 2 days later--five days before we were scheduled to leave the LTM. But that is not the important point. The important point is that the Holy Ghost will guide us to get our priorities in order.
[Resume talk here]
The Holy Ghost will help us rely on the arm of the Lord instead of the arm of flesh. The Holy Ghost helps us make the choices between laying up treasures in heaven and laying up treasures on earth.
When we think about preparing for Y2K, which treasures are we trusting to get us through: our earthly treasures or our heavenly treasures? Are we relying are the arms of the computer programmers, or on the arm of the Lord? Let me suggest that if we are afraid or nervous about Y2K, that is a good indicator that we are probably trusting in the arm of flesh--on earthly treasures. If we are looking forward to Y2K--like the ancient prophets did--that is a good indicator that we are probably relying on our heavenly treasures and on the arm of the Lord. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)
Remember, the Nephites thought preparing for war would save them from the Lamanites, when, in fact, repenting would have saved them from the Lamanites. Earthly treasures will not save us from Y2K, but repenting will. Letting the Holy Ghost help us choose to rely on the arm of the Lord is the best preparation we can make for Y2K.
Finally, let me bear you my testimony. Our Heavenly Father is real. He stands ready to help us if we ask. His Son is the Savior of the World. He has suffered for our sins that we might cast our burdens upon Him. The Holy Ghost really can guide our lives along the strait and narrow path.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.