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Exceeding Great and Precious Promises

As I came within sight of the Manti Utah Temple the other day, a recent conference talk came to mind wherein Elder David A. Bednar put into words a profound insight about life and worship and how prioritizing the temple in our life can help us focus on the blessings of eternity: 

"One of the great challenges each of us faces every day is to not allow the concerns of this world to so dominate our time and energy that we neglect the eternal things that matter most. We can be too easily diverted from remembering and focusing upon essential spiritual priorities because of our many responsibilities and busy schedules. Sometimes we try to run so fast that we may forget where we are going and why we are running.”

Then after addressing our divine identity, spiritual rebirth, and the Sabbath, he brought the temple into the picture:

“A principal purpose of the temple is to elevate our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity. Removed for a short time from the worldly settings with which we are familiar, we can ‘look to God and live’ by receiving and remembering the great and precious promises whereby we become partakers of the divine nature."

Elder Bednar then bore testimony:

“I witness that our Heavenly Father lives and is the author of the plan of salvation. Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son, our Savior and Redeemer. He lives. And I testify that the Father’s plan and promises, the Savior’s Atonement, and the companionship of the Holy Ghost make possible ‘peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.’ ”

– "Exceeding Great and Precious Promises" October 2017

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Early on the morning of April 25, 1877, President Brigham Young asked Brother Warren S. Snow to go with him to the Temple hill. Brother Snow says: “We two were alone: President Young took me to the spot where the Temple was to stand; we went to the southeast corner, and President Young said: “Here is the spot where the prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a Temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can’t move it from this spot; and if you and I are the only persons that come here at high noon today, we will dedicate this ground.” – Whitney, Orson F. Life of Heber C. Kimball. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967. p.436

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Manti Utah Temple

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Manti Utah Temple

The Manti Utah Temple stands on a hill overlooking the Sanpete Valley in Central Utah. The March 1978 Ensign magazine shares a bit of history …

“[The city] was settled by determined pioneers. They carved shelters for that first winter out of a hillside of creamy tan oolite; in the spring, they battled rattlesnakes for possession of the valley. And from that hill, they took the limestone to build their temple …

The temple can be seen when entering the Sanpete Valley from the north by way of Nephi Canyon from a distance of more than thirty miles. Indeed, the "Jeweled Crown of Manti (as it has been called) may rightly be called the Crown of Sanpete Valley.

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St. George

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St. George

I feel a special fondness for the St. George Utah Temple. Every opportunity I have to stroll the grounds seems a sacred experience. I also particularly like the following portion of the dedicatory prayer offered on April 6, 1877 by Daniel H. Wells (a much storied participant in the latter-day restoration):

"Almighty and Everlasting God, our Heavenly Father … Thou who art the Father of our spirits; it is to Thee we approach this morning to worship and to offer up our dedicatory prayer, in thanksgiving and praise for this offering, even a Temple which Thou hast enabled Thy people to rear unto Thy most Holy Name. We realize, Our Father, that we are dependent upon Thee, and that, although we are shut out from Thy presence, inheriting many weaknesses and made subject to many temptations and sins, we are Thy children and as such, we come before Thee in the depths of humility, with broken hearts and contrite spirits, praying that Thine indulgence, Thy tender mercy and compassion may be extended toward us, and that Thou wilt forgive everything which thine all-seeing and searching eye hath held amiss in us."

These three images - the first of several to eventually find their way here - were created as I walked the temple grounds. I hope you find them as I intended: sacred, reverential, inspiring.

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New website for LDS Temple photography by James L. Heywood

New website for LDS Temple photography by James L. Heywood

Well I've finally done it. Though not a website builder, I've finally rebuilt Heywood Fine Art from the ground up. I plan to start simple and slowly expand. I'm not really sure what's going to happen when I click the Go Live button. Let me just press it and see …