Good afternoon, Brothers and Sisters I have been given the opportunity to speak to you all today on the topic “One Nation Under God.” In just 10 days, I will be leaving on my mission to serve the people of Billings, Montana. I am ridiculously excited about it. But for any of you who knew me even just six months ago, then you might know I had my heart set on another location to serve my fellow brothers and sisters. I really, really wanted to “Go Foreign.” And more specifically, it was no secret that I hoped I would get to go to Germany. I even took German in high school to help me prepare just in case that would be taken into consideration. But before I ever opened up that fateful white envelope, I had been given a blessing to know that I would love my mission, and love the people of my mission. And although I was completely blindsided with this mission, It took me only a fraction of a second to get excited about this new adventure ahead of me. And like one of my former scout leaders said, “Look on the bright side, if the world ends, you can walk home.” And wow, I’ve been doing some research since that day, and although I can hardly believe the stories of how cold it gets in the winter, I have already asked my mom how she would feel if I were to move there after my mission. Because, wow, the pictures I’ve seen are just amazing.
Some of us plan our whole lives for a mission, and some of us may decide at the last minute, but I believe the Lord has a plan for each of us, and puts people and events in our lives to prepare us for what he has in store. I’ve been fortunate to have the gospel in my life my whole life, and parents and primary teachers and scout leaders and seminary and good friends who lead by example and encouraged me to serve a mission, and help me arrive at this point in my life. I have no idea why the Lord wants me to serve in Montana, instead of say, Germany for instance, but I have faith that I am going to be exactly where I need to be.
Similar to the way that that lord has been preparing me for things in my life, like for instance, a mission, He has also prepared the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just like the Lord has mapped out my life and has created a plan for me, he has also created a plan for this world and his gospel.
The Lords plan started out in 1492 when the Lord inspired Explorer Christopher Columbus to Seek for more knowledge. In fact Columbus has actually been quoted saying “Our Lord unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my emprise called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed. But who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me?” In describing a story of Columbus on his trip to discovering America Elder Tanner says “During the voyage, after weeks of sailing with no sign of land, mutiny raised its head. Finally, Columbus promised the captains of the Pinta and the Niña, both of whom wanted to turn back, that if no land was sighted in forty-eight hours, they would turn back. Then he went to his cabin and, in his words, “prayed mightily to the Lord.” On October 12, the very next day, they sighted land.”
After Columbus the Lord’s plans continued on in the 15-1600’s with the period of time that we call the Reformation. Elder Tanner is quoted saying “Many of these great reformers stated that their effort was to reassert the basic Christian teachings of the Bible—but they acknowledged that they possessed no authority to administer the ordinances of the Church, or to reestablish the original church of Jesus Christ. Luther said, “Christianity has ceased to exist among those who should have preserved it.” Roger Williams, founder of the Baptist Church in America, said, “There is no regularly constituted church on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances.” It is in the period of time that more churches began to spring up and also a time where the bible was made more accessible to the public.
Another thing that had to happen before the church was the colonization of America. This had to happen so that A free nation could be created where freedom of religion would be a fundamental right. Again Elder Tanner describes this chain of events really well, he says: “Nephi saw in vision also the coming of the Pilgrims, who came to escape religious persecution. He foresaw the coming to America of peoples from many nations, their wars and contentions. As Nephi said, they did humble themselves before the Lord and “The power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. “And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.” (.)
Thus the American colonies attained their independence and set up the government of the United States, all under the divine intervention of God in preparing this land for its divine destiny. After America was colonized the Lord then inspired the founding fathers as they declared independence and then wrote the inspired constitution. In D&C the Lord says: “According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; “That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (.)
In the Book the Great Prologue, Mark E. Petersen has also said the following concerning the Constitution: “No constitution on earth has endured longer than this one. Both Washington and Madison referred to it as such. It is an inspired document written under the guidance of the Lord. James Madison, commonly called the father of the Constitution, recognized this inspiration and gave the credit to “the guardianship and guidance of the Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising republic. We believe that the Constitution was brought about by God to ensure a nation where liberty could abound and where his gospel could flourish. Joseph Smith said, “The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard—it is founded in the wisdom of God—it is a heavenly banner.”
Finally after the lord prepared the world he inspired a young boy named Joseph Smith to pray during all of the religious confusion about which church was true. Elder Tanner describes this quote nicely when he says:” We believe that both freedom and the continuing reformation that flourished here occurred in preparation for a restoration from heaven of the full gospel of Jesus Christ. That restoration began in the United States of America in the 1820s through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was chosen by the Lord and who, through personal manifestations from heavenly messengers, received pertinent records which contained the authentic record of early American peoples and God’s dealings with them. He received the priesthood and authority to reestablish the church of Jesus Christ in these latter days.
All of this brings us back to these the current days and how the Lord is still continuing to guide us along his plan and help us to receive the blessings of the promised land. Now the main question now is, how can we continue to receive the blessings and the freedom that this, the promised land offers us? Elder Tanner asks us these questions- “ Now, what of America’s future? How can we best show our appreciation to God for these marvelous blessings of freedom, of a place where his true and everlasting gospel was restored, of the preparation and divine guidance in every event leading to that most significant event? We must remember what the Lord told the Jaredites when they were first brought to this land: “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.” (;
Many years ago in a volume entitled Dr. John Lord, referring to the discovery of America, said, after speaking of her great potential, “The world has witnessed many powerful empires which have passed away and left ‘not a track behind.’ What remains of the antediluvian world? … What remains of Nineveh, of Babylon, of Thebes, of Tyre, of Carthage—those great centers of wealth and power? What remains of Roman greatness even, except in laws and literature and renovated statues? … What is the simple story of all the ages?—industry, wealth, corruption, decay, and ruin. What conservative power has been strong enough to arrest the ruin of the nations of antiquity? Now if this is to be the destiny of America—an unbounded material growth, followed by corruption and ruin—then Columbus has simply extended the realm for men to try material experiments. Make New York a second Carthage, and Boston a second Athens, and Philadelphia a second Antioch, and Washington a second Rome, and we simply repeat the old experiments."
The trick here lies in something else that elder tanner says: “But has America no higher destiny than to repeat the old experiments and improve upon them and become rich and powerful? Has she no higher and nobler mission? If America has a great mission to declare and to fulfil, she must put forth altogether new forces, and these not material. And these alone will save her and save the world. … The real glory of America is to be something entirely different from that of which the ancients boasted. And this is to be moral and spiritual—that which the ancients lacked.”
We are all a part of America’s future. Our job is to learn and benefit from the past and to go forward in righteousness, keeping the commandments of God. In this connection the prophet Lehi said, “Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.” (.)
Brothers and sisters, I’ve been fortunate to talk to a couple of returned Missionaries, and although they say this mission doesn’t produce a lot of baptisms, and that I should expect to spend much of the next two years doing some good old fashioned manual labor, (like working on ranches branding calves and castrating cows) I am excited for the opportunity to go to a part of my country I have never seen before, and meet new people, and serve them and love them, and hopefully in the next two years, through my service, or more accurately despite my frailties and imperfections, lives might be changed as people and families are hopefully brought unto the knowledge of the gospel, and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and remember their God, and that maybe in some small way, I can help in the fight against Satan, so that we might continue to be blessed to live in this great Nation.