'Master builders of eternal houses'

Emulating a feature of the Savior's teachings, President Thomas S. Monson applied home building to the lives of his listeners at a Ricks College devotional April 13.

President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, quoted from scripture some of the Master's words that pertain to home building: "Every . . . house divided against itself shall not stand," (Matt. 12:25) and "Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion." (D&C 132:8)Further, he quoted D&C 88:119, which reads, "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."

"Where could any of us locate a more suitable blueprint whereby he could wisely and properly build a house to personally occupy throughout eternity?" President Monson asked.

"Such a house would meet the building code outlined in Matthew - even a house built `upon a rock'; a house capable of withstanding the rain of adversity, the floods of opposition and the winds of doubt everywhere present in our challenging world."

From the Doctrine and Covenants scripture, he drew several "architectural guidelines" upon which he outlined his address.

A house of prayer

President Monson recounted an incident during his service in the U.S. Navy during the final phases of World War II. Given a copy of "The Missionary Handbook" by a member of his bishopric prior to departing, he had not referred to it until one night when a buddy, a fellow Latter-day Saint, fell ill and requested a priesthood blessing.

He had never given such a blessing before, but after a prayer for help, was prompted to consult the missionary handbook packed in the bottom of his sea bag.

"Thus, at 2 a.m., I spilled the contents of the bag on the deck, took the book to the night light, and read how one blesses the sick. With about 40 curious sailors looking on, I gave the shakiest blessing I've ever given," he recalled. "Before I could stow my gear, Leland Merrill was sleeping like a child.

"The next morning Merrill smilingly turned to me and said: `Monson, I'm glad you hold the priesthood.' His gladness was only surpassed by my joy."

A house of fasting

President Monson noted the sons of Mosiah possessed the spirit of prophecy and revelation and taught with power and authority from God because "they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting." (Alma 17:3.)

He told of an incident that happened when he was a mission president in Canada. One missionary was seriously ill. His parents were sent for because he was not expected to survive surgery.

President Monson and the missionary's father gave him a blessing. The day of the surgery, the five other patients in the six-bed ward in which the missionary was staying refused to eat. The reason they gave, although they were not members of the Church, was that they were fasting for the missionary, having learned the principle from him during their hospital stay.

"I might tell you that the operation was a success," President Monson said. "In fact, when I attempted to pay the surgeon, he countered, `Why, that would be dishonest for me to accept a fee. I have never before performed surgery when my hands seemed to be guided by a power which was other than my own.

"No,' he said,I wouldn't take a fee for the surgery which someone on high helped me to perform.' "

A house of faith

He urged the students in the congregation to refuse to let "agnostic, doubting thoughts" destroy their faith.

He told of his first visit to the village of Sauniatu, where he met with a large gathering of small children. As the closing hymn was announced, he felt compelled to personally greet each child. Because time was short he discounted the impression, but he felt it again before the benediction was offered. This time he made the desire known to the instructor "who displayed a broad and beautiful Samoan smile." The instructor spoke in Samoan to the children who also smiled.

He told President Monson that when they had learned President David O. McKay had assigned a member of the Council of the Twelve to visit Samoa, he had told the children if they would earnestly and sincerely pray and exert great faith, the apostle would visit their village and be impressed to greet each child with a personal handclasp.

"Tears could not be restrained as each of those precious boys and girls walked shyly by and whispered softly to us a sweet `Talofa lava,' " he recalled.

A house of learning

"A sophisticated economy, based upon power tools and computer, upon engineer and the professional, has no room at the bottom for unskilled labor," President Monson counseled. He urged students not to let financial pressures force them to "make that fatal step" of postponing their pursuit of education.

He referred to a list of "employability skills" published by the Corporate Council on Education in Canada that said employers need people who can demonstrate "honesty, integrity and personal ethics; a positive attitude toward learning, growth and personal health; initiative, energy and persistence to get the job done; and the ability to set goals and priorities in work and personal life."

"Whether working or not, who would not want to possess such a sterling set of personal qualities?" he asked. "When you get right down to it the characteristics that make a good employee and a good all-around human being these days are exactly the same."

A house of glory

President Monson counseled: "Make every decision pass the test: What does it do to me? What does it do for me?' And let your code emphasize not,What will others think?' but rather, `What will I think of myself?' "

A house of order

President Monson counseled the students to schedule their time in an orderly manner, adding: "Some foolish students, like the house builder who built upon sand, have said, In this period of my life I have no time for God.' To [such a studentT I would unhesitatingly say,Thou fool.'

"Other students take a reverse course and so complicate their available time with overly numerous Church assignments that their studies suffer and dropout dangers threaten. Two familiar twins stand before us almost daily and demand that we favor one - not both. They are, Do it now,' andPut it off.' Choose the first and you emerge weary, but at peace. Select the second, and frustration is your constant companion."

A house of God

President Monson recalled being in Star Valley, Wyo., to reorganize a stake presidency in which the stake president, the late E. Francis Winters, had been serving for 23 years.

"Though modest by nature and circumstance, he had been a perpetual pillar of strength to everyone in the valley," President Monson explained.

He said that as he stood to speak following the reorganization he followed a prompting to ask all whom the stake president had blessed or confirmed as children to stand and remain standing. He said he then asked all whom the stake president had ordained, set apart, personally counseled or blessed to stand.

"The outcome was electrifying. Every person in the [congregationT stood to his feet. Tears flowed freely - tears which communicated better than could words the gratitude of tender hearts. I turned to Pres. and Sister Winters and said: `We are witnesses today of the prompting of the Spirit. This vast throng reflects not only individual feelings but also the gratitude of God for a life well lived.'

"Francis Winter's life was as a house of God."

Summarizing, President Monson said: "This then is your building project. You are master builders of eternal houses, even temples of God, which temples ye are."

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