Thursday, January 10, 2013

What I Learned Last Night

I like teaching because I always learn something. Last night I was invited to speak for ten minutes at our stake youth fireside where the 2012 Mutual theme was introduced: "Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved."

What I Learned While Preparing My Talk

The theme is taken from D&C 87:8, so I began my preparation by reading the entire verse, then the entire section. This section contains a revelation given and Christmas Day in 1832, and prophecies in some detail the American Civil War. But it makes it clear that the Civil War would only be the beginning:
"And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations."
Only then does the Lord give us this wise counsel: "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved." For how long? "Until the day of the Lord come."

What does the Lord mean by "holy places" I wondered? Footnote "a" leads to Matthew 24:15, where the Lord gives similar counsel to his apostles of old: "stand in the holy place." In this verse, footnote "b" on holy place reads, "TG Jerusalem.." So at least one meaning of holy place is Jerusalem.

So I looked up Jerusalem in the Topical Guide and the Bible Dictionary, and noticed that the Bible Dictionary says, "see Zion." And in D&C 97:21, Zion is defined as "the pure in heart."

So I learned that if we are pure in heart, we will be standing in a holy place.

In thinking of an example of someone being blessed by standing in a holy place, I immediately thought of a missionary standing in a baptismal font. As explained in D&C 84:20, "In the ordinances [of the priesthood] the power of godliness is manifest." What place could be more sacred, more holy, than standing in the font performing a sacred ordinance? Emily Olson reinforced this thought with her comment to me:
Any missionary who helped, participated in, witnessed, or performed a baptism of a worthy convert in Spain stood in a holy place.
And because I work a regular shift in the baptistry of the Salt Lake Temple, my thoughts turned to the ordinance of baptism. Even though I was addressing youth who were not yet missionaries, they could literally stand in a holy place - the baptismal font of the temple - on a regular basis.

What I Learned from the Spirit as I Stood at the Pulpit

I had a great experience last night with the youth of our stake. David McConkie, our Stake Young Mens President, spoke briefly about the change in missionary age. I will confess that when I first heard the announcement in General Conference, my immediate thought was, "I'm glad I have been released!" But as I stood at the pulpit last night, having listened to two wonderful youth speakers sharing their testimonies and looking out over a chapel filled with youth and their leaders, this is the thought that came to me: missionaries will be younger and they will receive less training in the MTC (the time spent is being reduced by about 30%). Younger missionaries with less training. How will this work? It will work because the Lord trusts these young people. He trusts them to seek and follow the Spirit; He trusts them to be obedient.

Success in missionary work, as we all know, is not about language skills or teaching skills or planning skills, as important and useful as these might be. It is about being humble, pure, and led by the Spirit. And the Lord has great confidence in the desires and innate goodness of today's youth. It will work!

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