Design & Construction Management Faculty Member
Bio not available
A part of me is grateful to be able to talk with you this day; however, I won't tell you what the other part is expressing. It is overwhelming to see this place from this view; I am usually sitting up in that balcony over there about Section 24, Row HH. When I was giving my very first sacrament talk during my mission farewell, I would have never dreamed of standing before such an awesome group. I have found, in my life experiences, the Lord builds me and brings me to a level that he wants me to be.
I was out of school for about a year and worked for a small firm in Eagle, Idaho. We were doing an addition and remodel to a ward meetinghouse in New Plymouth, Idaho, a small town near the border of Oregon. The building was originally built in the late 50s, and at that time, they built the churches with donated labor. Whenever we would do additions and remodels to those meetinghouses, there seemed to always be problems. On this particular project, we were going to add classrooms and then do a remodel to the rest of the building, including the chapel. The rostrum area, the platform where the bishopric and the choir sits, was going to be completely redesigned. We got the construction documents completed and the general contractor began the project.
About a month into the project, the contractor gave us a call and indicated there was a problem when they removed the rostrum platform. They found that there was dry rot in the structure below and wanted to know what they should do about it. I told him, I would leave right away and I would be there in about forty-five minutes or so.
Now dry rot is wood decay caused by certain species of fungus, which will digest parts of the wood, which give wood fiber, strength, and stiffness. If the infected wood is exposed to moisture and there is no cross ventilation then the fungus can spread. An outbreak of dry rot, within a building, is extremely serious and infestation is difficult to eradicate, requiring complete removal and replacement of the infected structure.
I arrived on site, as a new overconfident architect, thinking I was going to solve this situation and wave my hand and give direction that would amaze. When I entered the chapel, no one was around. I looked about the room and could not see any visible problem and to me the floor surface looked fine. As I moved forward and approached the rostrum area, the floor where I stepped gave way and I fell through the floor. Luckily the building had a shallow crawl space so I was not hurt. As I got my wits about myself and was trying to pull myself up, I looked around and was surrounded by the superintendent and a few subcontractors, who were trying to hold back the laughter because of the scene. Let me tell you--I had a piece of humble pie. They helped me up and proceeded to show me the damage to the structure.
I discovered that the areas that were infected by the dry rot were the area underneath the rostrum and about five feet up the back wall. It was amazing to me that the back wall had not collapsed, and I discovered that the only material holding it up was the non-structural face brick. It was a miracle that the wall had held up this long and did not collapse. I grabbed one of the 2x6's, on the back wall, and it crumbled in my hand. We had to remove and replace the infected plywood subfloor, the 2x12 floor structure, and the 2x6 back wall structure. The cost of replacement was substantial.
There are some individuals who have sinned and try to put on a good face, just like the structure appeared undamaged in the meetinghouse. However, inside there is a form of dry rot or should I say sin that is present and working hard to cause decay to the soul. There are some who think that if they say a few prayers that this sin will go away. Satan wants you to believe this. Brothers and sisters, the sin will not go away unless we make a drastic change, remove, and then rebuild our damaged soul from our sins. True repentance is only through having a godly sorrow that changes ones heart, that transforms ones nature, and then most importantly, saves ones soul.
We should never delay or postpone repentance. The prophet Amulek said:
And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. 1
I knew a sweet sister who had a testimony of the Gospel, she loved the Savior and strived to do what was right; however, she later committed a serious sin that needed to be repented of. She valued her membership, but because she feared she would lose it, she tried to cover up what she had done. She slowly fell and drifted away from the church. Satan led her to believe that she could never go back and that she could never be forgiven.
Years went by and slowly her life got worse; she felt she was worthless and she slipped further into sin. About twenty years later, she remembered how she felt when she was active in the church, and how it felt to have the spirit with her. She also could not bear the guilt any longer; so she decided to turn her life around and she earnestly sought repentance by finding ways to make her wrongs right. She asked forgiveness to those she had wronged; she spent much time praying to her Heavenly Father seeking his help; and finally she gained courage and went to her bishop and confessed all she had done.
She exercised faith in the redeeming power of the Savior and her countenance changed, her heart changed, and she lived as one who had been rescued by the Savior's love. She had the Savior's image in her countenance. For all those years, she had suffered so much anguish and pain; where she could have had joy and happiness sooner.
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?2
When I was sixteen in Billings, I went with a group to repel off the rim rocks rising up north of the Montana city. I had never done anything like this and was scared spit less. Now, I warn all of you: Do not do what we did. The guys parked their car close to the edge, blocked up the wheels with rock, and tied off ropes on the bumper. Those of us who can remember, back in the ancient days, car bumpers were made of steel instead of plastic. They strapped on me a homemade harness with a Karabiner and serpentine the rope through it; and then they placed a safety rope around my waist--just in case. The guys showed me what to do and lined me up at the rims ledge. My knees were shaking, I thought, "What have I got myself into and why did I let them talk me into this."
Getting up the courage, I jumped off the edge and before I knew it I was hanging upside down, screaming at the top of my lungs, about thirty feet below the edge, knowing any minute my life would be over. The guys from above, kept calling out to me, over and over again, "Turn around so we can pull you up."
After many attempts, I finally was able to pull myself around and then immediately they were all able to pull me up. I was never so thankful to be back to the top. Just a note, I did get the courage to do it again and was quite successful. I later loved it so much I got my own gear, and my friends and I would drive up to the top of the rims and foolishly tie off on my old 60 Chevy Bumper. Again, I caution you: Do not do this! Always and I stress always, have the right equipment and proper training.
There are some who feel they can overcome sin on their own and they do not need anyone's help. But just like me, tethered, hanging upside down, I needed to turn myself around to allow others to help me back up. We need to want to repent and turn our lives around, so we must allow and trust others to help us. Many are willing to help, they are calling out, but we need to listen. They are your family, your friends, your bishop, and most of all, the Savior: all who are there waiting for us to turn around and be willing to change. They love you and they will be there to lift you up when needed. But they can't, if you are not willing to turn yourself around.
I have known individuals who felt that once they have left home, and they are now on their own and adults, they could run their own lives as they wished, and no one can tell them to do otherwise. Brothers and Sisters, this is dangerous; the choices we make now can cause such an effect that we may never recover from it.
Let me illustrate this, about twenty years ago, I had a friend who told me his story about himself. He grew up in the church, was a faithful member, and served an honorable and successful mission. He returned home and decided to attend a good university in California that would further his potential career. The worldly influences around him began to take their hold on him. He met a young woman and started to date her. He let his defenses down and broke the law of chastity and as a result he contracted from her the HIV virus.
Later because of his testimony of the church, he repented and returned to full church activity. He told me, with tears in his eyes, that because he broke the Law of Chastity, just once, he could never marry and have the blessings of children bound to him forever because of the risk and threat of them getting the HIV virus. At that time, he said that the virus had progressed and likely would advance into Aids. He knew he would eventually die soon from it. I have lost touch with him, but I have a feeling he is now passed on.
The Lord gives us his commandments because he loves us and wants us to avoid the pain that will be the result if we disobey. He gives us commandments so we can have full joy in this life, and especially our eternal life. I promise you, Brothers and Sisters, that as you live God's commandments, He will bring you spiritual blessings and protection against the evils and plagues of the world.
Sin must be cleansed from our soul
Because we are mortal, we may slip and fall into temptation. The Lord has indicated we must repent of all our sins, and we need to do it now. No one on this earth was or is perfect except for the Savior. There are some who have grievously sinned; while there are others who are good and are striving to improve incrementally but remember all must be free of sin. We need to be in control and free of sin which may bind us. In today's world, Satan has successfully convinced the world that personal gratification and physical intimacy is our personal right to satisfy it. He uses media, internet, books, computer games and many other devices, that promote the dry rot and decay that plagues the world.
Elder Russell M. Nelson explained: and I quote:
Repentance requires spiritual dominion over appetites of the flesh. Every physical system has appetite. Our desires to eat, drink, see, hear, and feel respond to those appetites. But all appetites must be controlled by the intellect in order for us to attain true joy. On the other hand, whenever we allow uncontrolled appetites of the body to determine behavior opposed to nobler promptings of the spirit, the stage is set for misery and grief.
Such substances as alcohol, tobacco, and harmful drugs are forbidden by the Lord. We have similarly been warned about the evils of pornography and unclean thoughts. Appetites for these degrading forces can become addictive. Physical or mental addictions become doubly serious because, in time, they enslave both the body and the spirit. Full repentance from these shackles, or any other yokes to sin, must be accomplished in this life, while we still have aid of a mortal body to help us develop self-mastery. When we truly know our divine nature, our thoughts and behavior will be more appropriate. Then we will control our appetites. We will focus our eyes on sights, our ears on sounds, and our minds on thoughts that are a credit to our physical creation as a temple of our Father in heaven.3
When we are steeped in sin, we may feel that there is no way we can overcome it, it is too big and too much to deal with. President Monson comparing sin in our lives as our Goliaths said: and I quote:
Is there a Goliath in your life? Is there one in mine? Does he stand squarely between you and your desired happiness? Oh, your Goliath may not carry a sword or hurl a verbal challenge of insult that all may hear and force you to decision. He may not be 10 feet tall, but he likely will appear equally as formidable, and his silent challenge may shame and embarrass.
One man's Goliath may be the stranglehold of a cigarette or perhaps an unquenchable thirst for alcohol. To another, his Goliath may be unruly tongue or a selfish streak which causes him to spurn the poor and the downtrodden. Envy, greed, fear, laziness, doubt, vice, pride, lust, selfishness, discouragement all spell Goliath.
The giant you face will not diminish in size nor in power or strength by your vain hoping, wishing, or waiting for him to do so. Rather he increases in power as his hold upon you tightens.4
Steps of repentance
President Spencer W. Kimball in his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, gives us five principles of repentance, which we can follow to the pathway of forgiveness.
Sorrow for sin. We need to discover how serious our sin is. Sometimes we may think that the wrong we have done is not that serious; however we need to study, seriously ponder in our hearts and mind, and then pray. By doing this we will be able to understand, what the Lord has defined as serious. When we have learned this, sorrow and remorse will work within us, which will help us to change and want to do everything within our power to seek forgiveness and do what the Lord requires to be cleansed from our sin. When we recognize we have sinned this becomes a very sacred moment and it allows the Savior to enter our life and cleanse our soul. Alma explains, "Justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved."5
Abandonment of sin. We need to commit to never repeat the sin or transgression again. This will help us to be cleansed, unshackled, and never feel the piercing pain and suffering we had experienced before, because of our past transgression. But beware if we return to our sin again. D&C 82:7 explains, "But unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return."
Confession of sin. We need to confess our sins to the Lord and certain serious sins, such as sins that break the law of chastity, need to be confessed to our local church authority. Elder Richard G. Scott explains:
You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions, such as immorality, they need to be confessed to a branch president, bishop, or stake president. Please understand that confession is not repentance. It is an essential step, but is not of itself adequate. Partial confession by mentioning lesser mistakes will not help you resolve a more serious, undisclosed transgression. Essential to forgiveness is a willingness to fully disclose to the Lord and, where necessary, His priesthood judge all that you have done. Remember, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.6
Restitution for sin. We must restore anything that was lost, damaged, stolen or defiled as a result of our sin. This shows the Lord our total commitment to do all that we can do to repent.
Obedience to all the commandments. In order to have a full remission of our sins, we need to obey all the commandments. This allows the power of the gospel in our life, which will help us to have the strength to overcome and abandon our sins. We need to pay our tithes and offerings, attend church regularly, give service when we can and are able, and most of all we need to forgive others. The Savor said: "He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven."7
Elder Scott adds a sixth step: Recognition of the Savior. And I quote:
"Of all the necessary steps to repentance, I testify that the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes because of the Redeemer. It is essential to know that only on His terms can you be forgiven. Witness Alma's declaration: "I was ... in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But ... I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul" (Alma 38:8). Satan would have you believe that serious transgression cannot be entirely overcome. The Savior gave His life so that the effects of all transgression can be put behind us, save the shedding of innocent blood and the denial of the Holy Ghost. 8
Trust In your Heavenly Father and the Savior to overcome all.
As I mentioned before, we need to have help from others, but remember that our Heavenly Father will be the one that will help us to rise to him. Alone we will never be able to overcome our sin, we must trust that the Savior will bring us up to the level we need to be. We can only come to an earthly level because of our imperfections and mortal ability; however, the Savior will bring us up to a celestial level. We must do our part and then he will bring us up the rest of the way.
Let me illustrate this. One day when I was working on the standard plan temple, and it was about 4:00 in the afternoon; the manager of the Architecture and Engineering division came into my room and said to me: "Oh, by the way, I need the art glass design, for the temple windows, because I will be presenting it to members of the first presidency and the presiding bishopric at 11 a.m. tomorrow." He wished me good luck and left for the day. Can you imagine how, I felt as he walked away. Have you ever dealt with individuals like this? Interesting thing, I had no idea this was needed until just at that moment.
I worked about three or four hours on the design, but I could not come up with what, I felt, would be deserving of the Lord's Temple. I was in a panic and came to a point where I dropped to my knees and pleaded to my Heavenly Father that I needed his help, and that I had reached a limit on what I could do in such a short time. Now I debated about sharing this today because of the sacredness to me of this moment; however, I felt within my heart that I should share this.
As I was pouring my heart out to him, my mind was opened up and it was if the dews of Heaven came down upon me and pure thought poured into my mind and soul. I knew what the glass panels would look like and what the meaning would be. I closed my prayer and immediately began drawing what I had seen in my mind's eye. I spent a few hours putting together the presentation and placed the design on the manager's desk and left for home.
In the afternoon, the manager came in my office and said that they wanted to go ahead with the Art Glass Design. I indicated I was glad and if I had any doubt as I was thinking to myself what had happened the night before. Brothers and Sisters, I am not brilliant and I am not gifted, but the Lord, in such a short time, brought me up to the level I needed to be and at that moment. We may think that the sin or the challenge, we need to overcome or conquer, is greater than we can bear, but I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ we can and will overcome if we trust in the Lord. We need to turn ourselves around and work hard to bring ourselves up to a certain level; we must repent and go through all the steps of repentance, but remember and never doubt, the Savior will bring us the rest of the way. We will overcome; our sins will be removed; the damage will be repaired, and once again we will feel the Holy Spirit in our life. The prophet Isaiah said: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."9 I would like to close and let you know this I know to be true: the Savior's Atonement will work, if you apply the principles of repentance in your life. Get rid of the dry rot that is infecting your soul, as soon as you can. And if there is any within the sound of my voice who are plagued with serious sin I plead with you to see your bishop and do what it takes to cut out this dry rot and rebuild what has been damaged from your soul. I love the Gospel and I love the Savior. I am so grateful for his Atonement in my life so I can be forgiven. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Alma 34:33-342. Alma 5:14-163. Russell M. Nelson, The Power Within us, 1988, 11-12 4. Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection, 1973 pp 16-175. Alma 42:246. Prov. 28:13, Richard G. Scott May 1995 General Conference7. D&C 1:328. Richard G. Scott May 1995 General Conference9. Isaiah 1:5-23
Repentance Brings Forgiveness
Audio of Garth Jensen's Spring 2013 BYU-Idaho devotional address.