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Gospel Revolutionaries

by Robert K. Dellenbach.

LDS Business College Devotional
First Quorum of the Seventy
February 24, 1999

Thank you President Woodhouse. It is a blessing for me to be with you today. You look so alive, and I love to see young people and young faculty members who are alive also. This is a thrill for me. The choir was magnificent; thank you. We really appreciated the music and the sweet faces and the testimonies that radiate. It's a marvelous thing. I'm grateful to be here, and I bring you the greetings of the First Presidency of the Church. I know that President Hinckley, President Monson and President Faust if they could just come here for a few minutes would get a shot in the arm to keep going. I know that we all pray for them and the success of the Church and the administrations of the Gospel.
This is a special day because we are going to talk about some unusual things today that might give your minds some cartwheels and some imagination. I'm going to bring to bear some of the personal involvement that you will have at some point later on after I have gone over the points in my text today.
Some weeks ago, in a meeting with all the General Authorities in the Temple, Elder Rex Pinegar was called upon to bear his testimony. We have once a month a testimony meeting, and we take the sacrament--because generally speaking on the fast Sundays of the month we're usually at a stake conference somewhere. We don't often get the opportunity to participate in the sacrament in a regular ward setting. So at least once a month in the temple all the General Authorities locally based have sacrament meeting with the First Presidency and the Twelve, and we have a testimony part of the meeting. When Elder Pinegar was asked to bear his testimony he stood up and look at President Hinckley and said, "President Hinckley, I thought you'd like to know what the young people think of you." Well, that piqued President Hinckley's interest and he said, "Yes I would." Elder Pinegar said, "President, there was a young boy that stood up in testimony meeting the other day and he said, `I know that President Hinckley is inspired by revolution."
Well you know President Hinckley truly is a revolutionary. You can look at the word revolutionary in a number of ways with a number of facets; but if you examine the role of a revolutionary, it is someone who goes in a different direction, or someone who magnifies something that is idle or dormant, and someone who emphasizes or adds luster to something that is otherwise non-descript. If anybody in this world has ever been a revolutionary, it would be President Gordon B. Hinckley. Think about it--the Proclamation on the Family, which I'm sure all of you have. You probably all have it on the wall in your apartment or in your home. If you don't, you should get one--keep it in your scriptures. Who knows, someday it might be bound into the scriptures. It draws together all the succinct principles and teachings regarding parenting, our children, the home, the role of fathers and mothers and children, and the inter- relationship of the family--not only here on this earth and through the pre-existence, but through the eternities. It's a singular document which is so profound. It has the imprint of President Hinckley all over it. The Twelve prepared it, but he took it home and worked on it. It's his document basically.
For example--another example of a revolutionary--who would have thought that we would never have general conference in the tabernacle? Now that's being very brave. The tabernacle is something like the Holy of Holies--and to tell the Church that from now on, as soon as we get this new building built, we're going to have the general conference in the new building and not in the Holy of Holies tabernacle. Another evidence of the revolutionary spirit of President Hinckleyfor years the church has wrestled with how to get the members to the temple. The cost of a temple--to build it and to maintain it and administer the affairs of the templeis an expensive project. So we had to sort of ration them out around the world and large cities, but we have members all over the world. Every member of the Church deserves the opportunity to have blessings from the temple, the endowment and the sealing. I think as far back 1945--right at the end of World War II--the Church wrestled with and has wrestled with this. Well, could we build a temple on a ship and take it to port from port? No, because the temple has to be a fixed place. It needs to be there so people can go often. Could we put it on a plane and fly it around the world? Well, yes and no; we could do a lot of things. There was in ancient times a movable temple, but not today. And so finally this Prophet that we have today saw enough through the clouds and the haze the fog that's there, a way in which to take the temple to the people, and we are building these small temples now all over the world.
You probably saw in the Church News this last Saturday the announcement of the 100th temple, in Palmyra. I know something about that temple and that site because I used to be, until a few months ago, in charge of the Church's visitors centers. Palmayra has always been a difficult problem for us, because when Joseph Smith, Sr., homesteaded there--built that little log cabin where Joseph went from to have his first vision and where the Angel Moroni appeared to him--that little cabin had a foot path in front of it. That foot path became a road, and the road became a highway. When we finally found the cornerstones of that little cabin, they were literally on the pavement within inches of the pavement of the highway. Well, we wanted to memorialize that little cabin where all these wonderful events took place and from which Joseph left to go to woods to pray. But how can you build it when it would be right there on the road? We decided we would like to move the road. Well, you can't move the cabin because that's holy ground, but you can move the road.
We had a problem--the property that we needed to move the road was owned by a non-member and he was not very happy with us, because I think Satan had been coaching him a little bit. He was difficult to deal with, and for years and years and years he said, "Nothing doing; I'm not going sell my house and my property." But finally through the Lord's own due time--do you notice that in the scriptures even once in awhile? "For my own purposes," he says. We managed to talk to that fellow and he finally agreed to sell his house and his land. But on the condition we would build him a house, back in the woods up behind the white building that Alvin built for the familythat's the house that they call the Joseph Smith family home. Up behind there is a hill that rises up in the woods. He said, "I want the seclusion of the woods; I want to be back up there." We agreed. We agreed to build him a house, and he could live there the rest of his life at no cost.
We just about had the house finished. In about two months he was going to move into it. Well, the fellow went up to Canada on a snowmobiling trip. He ran right into a tree; he killed himself. He never did move into the new house. The property had all been signed over to us, and so we went ahead and tore down his house and took the road and arced it in behind the main focal point which is the cabin and the white house. We built the road. Then we built the cabin.
About a year ago this time President Hinckley dedicated that cabin. It doesn't sit on the road anymore; it's back off the road thirty or forty yards or so. When President Hinckley went to Palmyra last month he said, "You know, that house is in the wrong place (the new house.) That's where the temple is suppose to go." He said, "we'll pick up the house and we'll move it, and that's where we are going to build our temple." Well, think of it. The fellow was so difficult to deal with to get him to move to the house--he didn't move; he didn't have to. But had he been in the house, after all that we've been through, with a lifetime guarantee (he's a young man) we could have waited another twenty to thirty years before we could build a temple there, if that's where the temple is supposed to go. President Hinckley said it is. Well, strange things happen.
Who else but President Gordon B. Hinckley would had have so much public exposure on national television with the Mike Wallace Show and the Larry King Show? And who would have done a better job? You know people all over the world have listed to President Hinckley via television and satellite. In fact, Mike Wallace has become a devotee to President Hinckley. When he spoke at Madison Square Gardens back a couple of months ago, who was in the audience singing the songs of Zion but contankerous, gnarly old Mike Wallace. He loves President Hinckley. And wasn't it great when Larry King closed out his show the other night, "We've been talking to President Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet." Think about it; he truly is a revolutionary.
Let's go to another revolutionary, Brigham Young. Now he lived a long time ago--he's been dead for over one hundred years, one hundred and twenty years. He truly was a revolutionary. I could spend all day talking about the accomplishments of Brigham Young. He led the Church during the flight out of Missouri, as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Well, he wasn't President at that point, but he was the one who Joseph was communicating with. When the Saints were scattered all across Missouri the winter of 1838, when Joseph was confined in the jail at Libertysaints scattered everywherewho was helping to keep things under control? Brigham Young. In 1840 he became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve. In eighteen Forty-four was the death of the Prophet Joseph and from that point on Brigham Young, when he was 43 years old, had to take over the reigns of the Church as President Quorum of the Twelve. In eighteen forty-seven, he became the president of the church--after he had brought the vangaurd out to Utah the summer of 1847, went back to winter quarters, and while at winter quarters in the fall of 1847 became the President of the Church.
If you could list the accomplishment of Brigham Young, you would spend hours writing them down. Just off the top of my head: He established the territory of Deseret. He was a Temple builder--Salt Lake Temple (well that wasn't finished in his time, but he certainly started the footings and work of it, the design of it), Manti, St. George, Logan Temples. He established businesses and agriculture, irrigation systems, railroad systems and banks. He built beautiful tabernacles in the Wastach Front area. We have this one here in Salt Lake City, but go up and down this area--some of the beautiful tabernacles in Bountiful, go clear on up to Bear Lake areabeautiful architecture. He was a colonizer of hundreds of towns, villages, and cities--hundreds. In fact, if you were to take the imprint of Brigham Young and put the hub of a wheel inside of Salt Lake City, the spokes of that wheel and the multiple of spokes would fan throughout all the western part of the United States.
No other American colonizer achieved more during his tenure than Brigham Young, no other. We've had presidents of the United States, we've had explorers--the Lewis and Clark group and so on--but when it comes to colonizing the United Sates, no person even comes close to Brigham Young. He established the University of Utah (what was University of Deseret became University of Utah), Brigham Young Academy, Brigham Young University. The list goes on and on; he truly was a revolutionary in the broadest sense and even in the narrowest sense.
Listen to this. When he died the Salt Lake Tribune had an editorial about him--interesting editorial. It starts out, "Thus closed the most eventful day in the annuls of the territory. The Mormon Church was stronger at 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon [which was the time Brigham Young died] than it ever will again become." Interesting. "The remarkable will and organizing force of the dead leader departed with him and have been transmitted to none other in his Church. We may now watch with complacency, if not with joy, the gradual disintegration of the whole Mormon fabric." Imagine that, supposedly by a respected newspaper. The disintegration of the whole Mormon fabric. Well, you can tell they are not prophets.
Let's go to another revolutionary, Joseph Smith Jr. My, what he accomplished in his time. Joseph Smith, Jr. at a very young age--fourteen plus something months--went into a grove of woods and prayed. When he came out he told his family and others that he had spoken with God and his Son Jesus Christ. That was the beginning of his entire revolution.
What came from that vision is what you see today in the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Think about it. Theologians and scholars, clergy and otherwise for centuries have been trying to decide or understand or describe God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ. They got it all mixed up because they were blindfolded spiritually and physically in a way, because they came out with some of these concoctions of doctrine that God and the Son and the Holy Ghost are all sort of mysteriously one person, and that you can't really understand God because he is a mystery. He is some immovable force that cannot necesarily be seen. Yet Joseph after just a brief interlude in the woods knew more about God and Jesus Christ than all other human beings here on earth--a fourteen-year-old boy. When he told the ministers of the day about his vision, he was laughed and scorned at because God was not supposed to speak to us anymore. God was silent. In a sense, they were really saying God is a preferential God. He does not speak to children today. He has done his turn and now it is up to you to just figure it out.
Then you go from that vision to other Heavenly manifestations. First came the angel Moroni, then John the Baptist, and then Peter, James, and John, and later on after the Kirkland Temple was built, Moses, Elijah. Elijah brought the keys of the sealing ordinances and endowment, the keys of the temple. Not only did Joseph Smith see heavenly messengers, but within his lifetime he then helped to establish the only true and living church, a church which was told to come out of obscurity and out of darkness.
He brought forth the priesthood--not that he originated it, but it was restored to him-- both the Aaronic and the Melchizedek Priesthoods, through which flows all empowerment of the doctrines, principles, ordinances, covenants, and blessings. For without the Priesthood nothing works in the kingdom of God. All of our covenants, all of our ordinances, all of our endowments and sealings have no effect are without power in the eternities were not for two thingswere it not for the atoning sacrifice of the Savior and the priesthood which he restored here upon the earth to officiate in those ordinances and covenants, all of which were then brought through the restoration of the Gospel.
Joseph Smith gave us the ordinances and sealings, the endowment for the temple. The Church of Jesus Christ was restored in its fullness through the prophet Joseph Smith. The translation of a miraculous document, ancient scripture buried in a hill, came through the prophet Joseph Smith. That alone--take away everything else--that alone, signifies him as a revolutionary. Because it is the only other scriptural text that is of ancient origin--other than some translations that Joseph Smith did of ancient papyri--but as an entire saga and book it chronicles a life and a people, and it testifies of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
When Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he brought forth not only a book, but a miracle. It is estimated that it took the King James scholars that produced the King James Version of the Bible in the 1500s--it is estimated that it took 57 scholars seven years to produce the King James Version of the Bible. Joseph Smith translated the ancient writings of the Book of Mormon plates in approximately 63 working days.
Today when we translate from the English text of the Book of Mormon into let's say Albanian it takes our scholars about a page a day to get as good as work as we can get from them. It takes them a whole day to do a page. They have been trained in languages. They have computers and word processors and lexicons. They have scholars to talk to. There are documents that they can refer to, there are periodicals, and so on. They have been at the university for many years.
Joseph, on the other hand, had maybe three years of elementary education. There were no computers, no dictionaries; he had never been to ancient Israel, nor had he been to Central South America. He knew nothing of the writings of the Nephites and the Lamanites, and so on--had no knowledge of it. Not only that, but the text of the Book of Mormon was written in a funny hand called reformed Egyptian. And yet, with all of that, as well as being hounded and persecuted and having the responsibility of restoring the church and the priesthood and all of those things, he translated miraculously the Book of Mormon in approximately 63 days. He was doing ten to twelve pages a day. Oliver said he could leave off in the middle of a sentence and come back the next day and pick up the next word, and continue it on. We don't know a whole lot about the exact process of the translation, but you only could describe it as divine intervention from God.
In addition to the Book of Mormon came many, many doctrinal revelations as well as translating the Bible to some extent, and as I mentioned, ancient papyri which appear now in the Pearl of Great Price. Incredible. What a Man! What a revolutionary. Heavenly messengers, God the Father and his son Jesus Christ, and many others, which in my opinion makes him a revolutionary.
And finally, let's go to the greatest revolutionary of them all, even Jesus Christ. When he came upon the earth he didn't come with pomp and circumstance, but he was born in a lowly manger. An obscure and unkingly birth, in the sense that he accepted to be born in the earth in a unique, synergistic form in a way. He was born of both a heavenly father and an earthly mother. He was born out in the open, or we would call it a stable or a manger--but there is some information that he was born actually in a corral, surrounded by resting places but where the animals are put together for the night, in an enclosure under the stars amongst the animals and the humans and yes, even the wastes of the animalssignifying that he was as common as any earthly human being could be. He had understanding for all of us. I don't know how many of you have been raised on a farm; I was. I have been amongst the animals. Actually, new straw in a milking parlor of a barn is about the sweetest smell as you could imagine. You would think that the animals would have an interesting odor to them, but when you put down new straw, it has a sweet fragrance to it.
Then, to go on with his life, his teachings, his travels, his doctrine, and of course the greatest of all, his atoning sacrifice; was that not revolutionary? The world, teachings of man, even religious doctrines of the day, could not compare--nor do they even today come close--to the teachings and the miraculous event of the Atonement. In all of scripture, and in all of history, the crowning story of his life was his Atonement which provides eternal life and the opportunity for exaltation, for all of those who will come forward, keep his commandments, and serve him.
Let me just check off some of the things that he did: He tried to teach Peter how to walk on the water. He healed the cripple at the Pool of the Bethesda. His healing power was so great that by touching his robe the Daughter of Jarus was healed. He gave sight to the blind. He comforted Martha and Mary and went to the tomb of Lazarus after he had been dead for days and said, "Lazarus, come forth." And Lazarus came forth still wrapped in the burial garb. He taught, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's but unto God the things that are God's. He taught that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, might, mind and strength; and the second is like unto it, "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." He was betrayed by his own apostles. He suffered the agony of a sinful world in the Garden of Gethsemane and shed great drops of blood from every pore because of his love and concern for us. He drug his heavy cross up the hill of Golgotha while his head had been crowned with plated thorns. Yet on the cross he pled, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." He died to ransom our souls with the Father.
Miraculously after three days he rose from the tomb and completed his fore-ordained calling as the Savior of the World, the Atoning One, the Resurrected Christ. He appeared to many, taught many, and even appeared to another people, and perhaps more, and manifested his doctrines and teachings to them. In all of history, in all of human endeavors here upon the Earth, in all of the glory that has come to man, none compares to the life and the death and the resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ. He truly was a revolutionary.
Now, finally, the students that are here today and at your collegeare you a revolutionary? In the sincerest sense of the word, I hope you are. The world is going in a direction which you and I dare not even mimic. When you consider the events that are whirling around us, virtually out of control--the filth, the pornography, the weakening of moral standards--I hope that you resolve in your youth to be a revolutionary, and that is to go the other way. Remember the poem The Road Not Taken-- you need to take the path less traveled because it needs wear. You need to trod the path of the saint of the latter days to rise above the sins and blood of this generation.
The first time you take a cigarette, you don't know whether you will be addicted to tobacco; it has terrible addicting powers in it. Generally speaking, those who move into drugs started with cigarettes. Therefore, you must never--and I emphasize the word to be a revolutionary in this day and age--never even touch a cigarette.
In addition, you must never do any drugs of any kind, no matter what the condition is, the circumstances. The only kinds of drugs or medication that you are allowed to use are those prescribed by a competent physician. Otherwise, the kinds of LSDs and things that are floating around, the labs that are set up in this city alone would scare you if you knew how many people are involved in methamphetamines in this city.
We are one of the worst cities in the country, even though we aren't that big, but for some reason we have been targeted and the material is floating around like you can't believe. Alcohol--can you imagine? Can you possibly stretch your mind to imagine the destructive effects of alcohol? Whole fortunes have been lost through alcohol. Many, many millions of lives have been terminated by alcohol. Twenty-five percent of the deaths of teenagers in the country today are alcohol-car accident related, twenty-five percent of the teenage deaths--not to mention the torn up families, the abused lives.
Some years ago I built a large recycling plant in Denver, one of my business projects, with some colleagues of mine. We told the staff to be on their toes because at a recycling plant we bring in large bins that you see in construction areas and industrial areas. They put them up on the back of truck. They can roll them up there and they call them a roll off. They are parked so that all of this debris can be put in there.
We had this huge facility where we could pull in eight to ten of those trucks at any given time, breast to breast and off loadwaste material from the industrial area of Denver. We told our staff to be careful because on occasion a dead body would roll out of one of those bins. You see what happens in the drug world if you can't pay the bill? You're dead just like that. An easy way to get rid of a drug body is just to throw it in one of those bins. Or, unfortunately, those poor souls that have been addicted--overdosed themselves--don't realize it, but they climb in one of those bins to take a nap and die from overdosing.
Now what the drug people don't tell you is that is the end of the line. The cigarette, or the alcohol, or the drug, is the beginning of the line. There is an old saying, "When you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other." You don't see the cigarette companies advertising a poor, emaciated burned-out mind and body rolling at the back end of a roll-off bin. But that's what happens to many of thousands of people in the country today.
I don't know how many, many people will overdose themselves across this country. I don't know how many young women and young men will give away their chastity and virtue to the influence of alcohol and drugs today. But you and I must be revolutionaries. We must withstand the temptation to be immoral. It's ever present. Your body is built with certain hormones and genes. There is a certain amount of enthusiam going on inside your inner psyche. The minute you succumb to anything immoral, you start the road to deep sin, terrible sin. You must be a revolutionary because it's ever present out there, in the media, in the films, in the newspapers, in the magazines, it's all there. It's a sex-oriented society.
Let me just close by challenging you revolutionaries to two words. First word, "never." Never use alcohol. If you never use alcohol, you will never have a problem with it. Never use tobacco or illicit drugs. Never allow yourself to be handled by someone else.
I use an example. Let's have a male who likes to play baseball come up. Will you please show the students where the strike zone is in baseball? From your chest down to your knees. O.K.
I'm going to show you the Mormon strike zone. The Mormon strike zone is from your shoulders to your knees. You revolutionaries--no one, no one, no one, touches your strike zone. Any questions? Thank you. I mean that. No one touches your strike zone, not even you inappropriately.
You see when you've got "never" and you understand what that means, and you understand that, you have power inside your own self. That's more powerful than any army or any government. It's when you are in control. Men are to act and not be acted upon. So by using that word "never" you have power. When people want to tempt you, or thoughts want to tempt you, you're in control because you just say, "never." Someone asks you to do drugs, or have a cigarette, or tobacco. You just say "never." That's even more than "no", isn't it? That's punching them right in the nose. Never.
But now if you have made a mistake, you can add one word to that word never to get the power back. What's that word? Never "again." You see, when you have made a mistake, you've lost the power. You hate yourself. You repent. You try to get back into control and through the process of proper repentance, which means never doing it again. Back comes the power. You've cleaned the slate; you've done the repentance--whatever is required--and now you are back into control. You are a revolutionary because the world is going in one direction and you are not going to go in that direction.
May God bless you, so that at the end of your day the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-great grandchildren will say of you, "He or she was a revolutionary, inspired by revolution." I testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us and gives us the tools to withstand the buffetings of Satan so that we can rise above the difficulties that face us all in this life.
Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the World. He is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

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