A talk I gave in our Sacrament Meeting on March 18, 2012.
In His infinite wisdom, our Father in Heaven sent each of us here to earth to live in families. The idea of a family was no mistake. It wasn’t just some random set of coincidences that led man into families. Since the beginning of man, Adam and Eve lived in a family. Their children were married and had families of their own. The House of Israel is a family. Lehi left Jerusalem and sailed to the Promised Land with his family. Even Jesus Christ was born into a family. “The family is the basic unit of society.”
It is in families that relationships are first experienced. It is in the family that children learn their first words. It is in families that ideas, thoughts, and expressions are first learned and expressed. The family is God’s way of helping humans to reach their full potential. Because of this as a parent, it is important that I make sure that my family has its sights on the big picture. It is important that my family lives and acts with one goal in mind. That goal is the Celestial Kingdom.
In order for our family to prepare to one day live in the Celestial Kingdom, we must first practice the principles that pertain to that kingdom. Sure we will make mistakes and sure we will often have our own trials and problems. But as we work together we will come closer to the goal that we are earnestly reaching for. And through the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we will one day reach this eternal goal of a celestial life.
A Home Can Be Like a Temple
While our homes are to be a sanctuary from the world and a place where the Spirit can be felt, it often falls short of our goal to make it a celestial place on earth. The closest place we can come to the celestial kingdom here on earth is the temple. So, I often look to the principles that we learn relating to the temple to help me understand how our homes should be.
In Doctrine and Covenant 88, we read about the purpose of the temple. We learn that, “as all have not faith, [we must] seek … diligently [to] teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek … out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118). We should “organize yourselves [and] prepare every needful thing;” even we should ”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;” (D&C 88:119). Finally, we are instructed that in the house of the Lord our “incomings [should] be in the name of the Lord; that [our] outgoings [should] be in the name of the Lord; that all [our] salutations [should] be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High” (D&C 88:120).
Teach One Another Words of Wisdom
If we are to liken our homes to the temple of the Lord, then our homes too should abide by these principles of the temple. Our children come into this world with no understanding of the world, the gospel, or life. It is our duty as parents to teach our children these things. Sure we often use schools friends and other family to help. But we must remember that the books and other forms of instruction and entertainment that we provide for our children are teaching them.
Not only is it teaching them important information about life, history, science, or art. The books or media we bring into our home also teach our children values and standards. Are we allowing too much undo influence of worldly things into our children’s lives with materials that tear down faith or uphold immoral values? If so, we have taken the temple out of the home. We have not allowed it to be a safe haven from things of the world.
Establish a House of Prayer
The principles relating to the temple continue as the Lord lists several “houses” that the House of the Lord should be. The first of these is that our home should be a “house of prayer.”
Thanks to the tender suggestions of my dear wife, we have regular family prayer. This isn’t often easy to do. As our children get older, we often find them at a dance or away from home for many reasons during our regular family prayer time. However, as we have made it our goal to have prayer together as a family and as we pray regardless of who is home, it has been a blessing to our family. It is nice for me to know that even though I may not be home at prayer time. One of my children or Sandy is praying for my safe return. And I hope that my children, who may be getting home late, know that we are praying for them and their safe return.
Prayer also teaches our children about our reliance and trust in the Lord. Our children come to know of our testimonies of the Savior as we pray to the Father in our Savior’s Name. They “hear” our testimony through our actions of calling upon the Lord we have faith in.
Establish a House of Fasting
While not something we do with our younger children, fasting is one way that we also teach our children about our faith in the Lord. Often before we begin our fast, I try to ask our children to think about the purpose of our fast. On a rare occasion, I may suggest a purpose for their fasts as well. Perhaps a family member is sick or a friend is in need of a special blessing. If so, we invite our older children to join us in these special opportunities of love and service.
It is difficult to fast. But as we show our children that we can put our spiritual needs before our physical needs, we teach them that the Lord comes first in our lives. And that although most days of the month we take care of our physical bodies, once a month we make sure that our spiritual body is taken care of.
Establish a House of Faith
While prayer and fasting will help us to establish a house of faith. There are other things that we can do to help our children see that we are a house of faith. One thing I feel our family could improve on in our home is to make our home one of greater gospel discussion. Sure we have our formal meetings where we talk about our beliefs. But I would love to spend more time talking with my children about the different principles of the gospel. I would love a home where we, the parents, learn from them, the children, as we work together to understand the principles of the gospel more fully.
We can also exercise faith in our homes as we seek out priesthood blessings. While a blessing of comfort, healing, or counsel may be a wonderful thing to experience. It takes faith to know that the promises of those blessings will come true. I remember once being called upon as a home teacher to offer a blessing to a sister who was near giving birth. After 9 months of waiting, her patience had worn thin and she became increasingly concerned for the well being of the baby. She had asked for and received several blessings from her husband, but felt that she needed one from someone else. I gladly assisted in giving her a blessing. She was comforted to hear the same reassurances and blessings that her husband had blessed her with. Shortly after she gave birth to a baby boy and she was greatly relieve that he was in good health.
Establish a House of Learning
Perhaps the greatest way we can establish a house of learning in our homes is by having regular Family Home Evening. A Family Home Evening doesn’t need to be some complex production that entertains the children. Rather a simple lesson on a topic appropriate for the children of the home is often sufficient. Following up that lesson with a fun game and delicious treat are also good additions to a family home evening.
Again thanks to the loving insistence of my dear wife, we have held Family Home Evening almost every week since Amanda (now 16) was two years old. We are not perfect at this. We miss more than our fair share of Monday Night Family Home Evenings. However, I know that the children miss it when we are unable to have Family Home Evening. Actually, shortly after establishing the pattern in our home, I recall Amanda frequently remind us on Monday night, that it was Family Home Evening night and the we needed a lesson, before she could go to bed. But that might have been because she was looking forward to the treat afterwards.
Establish a House of Glory
For as long as I can remember one of my favorite hymns has been “Love at Home.”
There is beauty all around
When there’s love at home
There is joy in every sound
When there’s love at home
Peace and plenty her abide,
Smiling sweet on ev’ry side.
Time doth softly, sweetly glide
When there’s love at home.
While it might be a stretch to say that establishing a house of glory is equivalent to establishing a house of love. I can’t imagine myself being in the present of God’s glory without feeling his love. And so, I liken glory to love. We need to make sure that our children know that they are loved. As they feel of our love for them. The can be better prepared to feel of the love of the Father and his Son in their lives.
If they live in a house of fear, anger, resentment or hate, they will have a tougher time knowing that their Father in Heaven loves them. While the may feel it on occasion, they may not recognize it. It is important as parents that our children know that we love them, so that the too can know that their Father in Heaven loves them.
Establish a House of Order
Going hand in hand with this house of love that we establish, we also need to establish a house of order, or a house of rules. While children may sometimes feel that rules are only there to make them angry. If we show our children love and understanding, they will eventually come to know that rules are there to protect them like the iron bars at a zoo keeping them a safe distance from a hungry lion.
As I think about my role as a father in a family of our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom. I cannot separate that role from the priesthood. In Doctrine and Covenant Section 121, we read about the duties and responsibility of a priesthood holder. As part of those responsibilities, we read how discipline and love work together to build the kingdom of the Lord. We read, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;” (D&C 121:43). This teaches us that while we need to correct our children, and to do so immediately, we must not forget that they need to know that we love them. Because it is that love that will help them understand that our corrections are to help them and not to hinder them.
Establish a House of God
If we live by these principles of establishing a house of the Lord then our homes and our families can become like the Temple. They can become the Celestial places we want them to be. We will all make mistakes. We cannot be perfect parents. However, through the love of our Heavenly Father, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can achieve a house of God by abiding by the teaching of the gospel. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.