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It’s over … for another six months. After feasting on the spirit and messages of General Conference, it’s always a little sad to realize there’s a long six months to wait “‘til we meet again.” The optimist in me however, starts bubbling immediately with the possibilities of what exciting things might have happened by the time we gather again.
While we can’t control the upcoming Presidential election, taxing work situations, or family difficulties, we can control what we eat and how we manage our schedules to include adequate regular physical exercise. It is interesting to note that in President Monson’s brief talk in the Priesthood Session, he chose to emphasize the Word of Wisdom, focusing on the strength that living it brings: not just physical strength, but emotional and spiritual strength as well. Taking control of what IS in our power greatly enhances our personal strength and ability to faithfully and patiently accept what is NOT in our control.
Fast Forward to April Conference, 2017: A Challenge!
What can you do in the next six months for your health by the time General Conference arrives next Spring to strengthen your body and spirit, and to master the natural man?
It would be exciting to see how our bodies responded for six months of closely following the Word of Wisdom, as presented by Jane Birch, here at Meridian in her columns, and within her book “Discovering The Word of Wisdom.” (www.discoveringthewordofwisdom.com) . Many of the individuals that Jane documents her work with start out with a “let’s just see what happens” attitude as they exclude meat and dairy products for a short time. It’s easy enough to return to them after a test period if you decide you want to. What about the next six months?
The website www.forksoverknives.com, has the practical applications, recipes, interesting scientific research and more inspiring health stories.
If you wanted to lose weight and lost only 2-3 pounds per month, you’d be down 12-18 pounds!! How wonderful! You’d be listening to April Conference and ready to take on the springtime warmer weather in a smaller size with not only the physical energy from increased health, but the emotional lift that always comes from self-mastery. You’d have mentally and spiritually been successful in managing the difficult holiday and winter months of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas indulgences. You’d have faced the bad weather and dreary days of winter with healthy food and exercise.
If you wanted to focus on strength and toning, you’d have six months to hit the gym or your exercise regime regularly to tone, strengthen, and see what emotional benefits you would reap as well. Many people do not realize that the emotional lift from working out is as therapeutic, or more so, than the physical strength exercise brings.
It’s an exciting challenge just to see what level of health could be acquired by the time we gather again for General Conference, 2017! How very promising this next six months truly is!
The Words of the Prophets: A Blue Print For Health
The words of the prophets are God’s blueprint for happier, better lives. General Conference is such a lovely reminder of this gift! If we are mindful, their words can even be a blueprint for healthier lives. The following quotes from various prophets, many of them from past General Conferences, are a great inspiration and reminder that our Heavenly Father, as the loving creator of our bodies, has a master plan for us to be as happy and as healthy as possible. He and the prophets know that physical health and energy allow us to serve Him and those around us in a much greater and more joyful capacity. Thank you, Meridian Reader Melanie Tidwell for providing these for us!)
Note: As you read through some of the older quotes, you may want to remember that while adults in the church do not drink or smoke today — a major problem in the early days of the Church — there are many substitute and modern-day stimulants: including steroids in meat, cheese, and milk, as well as addictions to sugar, white flour, chocolate and caffeine-enhanced sodas and energy drinks.
Say a prayer that the quotes most important for you will jump out. With your computer, highlight them then press CONTROL C to copy, then paste them (press CONTROL V) into a document. Enlarge the font and print out to post in your journal, scriptures, bathroom mirror, at your fridge, etc.
Elder Jorge Klebingat of the Seventy:
Take responsibility for your own physical well-being. Your soul consists of your body and spirit (D&C 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should “regard our body as a temple of our very own” and that we should “control our diet and exercise for physical fitness” (“We Are Children of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 87; Liahona, Jan. 1999, 103).
President Boyd K. Packer has taught “that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character” (“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character” [Church Educational System fireside, Feb. 2, 2003], 2; speeches.byu.edu). Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman. (October General Conference, 2014)
President Thomas S. Monson:
“‘The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Corinthians 3:17). May we keep our bodies—our temples—fit and clean, free from harmful substances which destroy our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.” (Article: “True to the Faith,” Ensign, May 2006, quoted in “The Energy Drink Epidemic” by Thomas J. Boud, MD., Ensign, December 2008)
Gordon B. Hinckley:
The Word of Wisdom proscribes alcohol and tobacco, tea and coffee, and emphasizes the use of fruit and grains.
This Word of Wisdom came to us from the God of Heaven, for our blessing. I regret that we as a people do not observe it more faithfully. (General Conference, October 1990)
I thank the Lord for a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I wish we lived it more fully, but even though we do not, the Lord pours out his blessing on those who try. The promise is before us that if we will do so, we shall receive health in the navel and marrow in the bones and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures, and shall run and not be weary and shall walk and not faint, and the destroying angel shall pass by us as the children of Israel and not slay us. (General Conference, October 1993)
To me it is marvelous that beyond the promises of a physical nature is the promise of hidden treasures of knowledge concerning things divine and eternal. (Ensign, Nov 1993, p.53)
Elder Richard G. Scott:
Do you scrupulously avoid the use of stimulants and substances that conflict with the intent of the Word of Wisdom, or have you made some personally rationalized exceptions? (General Conference, Priesthood Session, Oct. 2008)
Ezra Taft Benson:
We need a generation of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare on the “kings meat”—and whose countenances show it. But what needs additional emphasis are the positive aspects…the need for vegetables, fruits, and grain, particularly wheat…We need a generation of people who eat in a healthier manner. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us.
To a great extent we are physically what we eat. What needs additional emphasis are the positive aspects–the need for vegetables, fruits, and grains, particularly wheat. In most cases, the closer these can be, when eaten, to their natural state — without overrefinement and processing — the healthier we will be. To a significant degree, we are an overfed and undernourished nation digging an early grave with our teeth, and lacking the energy that could be ours because we overindulge in junk foods…. we need a generation of young people who, as Daniel, eat in a more healthy manner than to fare on the “king’s meat” — and whose countenances show it. – (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , p. 476-477.
Harold B. Lee:
Every child must learn that faith sufficient to perfection can only be developed by sacrifice and except he learns to sacrifice of his appetites and fleshly desires in obedience to the laws of the Gospel he cannot be sanctified and made holy before the Lord. Teachings of Presidents of the Church Harold B. Lee , p.124
The Lord’s word of wisdom . . . counsels the simple diet of fruits, grains and vegetables in season, with meats used sparingly, has been given you as a revelation of God’s great law of health. . . . If by faith in this great law, you refrain from the use of food and drink harmful to your bodies, you will not become a ready prey to scourges that shall sweep the land, as in the days of the people of Moses in Egypt, bringing death to every household that has not heeded the commandments of God. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 205-6)
Elder Robert S. Wood of the Seventy:
Today many people manifest the desire for (God to rescue them) in small and large ways: the student who, having failed to study during the term, prays for assistance in an examination; the teacher who opens a lesson by saying that, having made no preparations, he or she intends to rely on the Spirit; the individual who, having abused his or her body through lack of exercise and violation of the Lord’s law of health, expects to be delivered, sometimes through priesthood administration, from the ravages of self-induced ill health. . . . he expects mercy to utterly suppress the requirements of justice. “On the Responsible Self,” Ensign, March 2002
David O. McKay:
In these dire days, we may, each in his own place, enjoy the abundant physical blessings of the righteous life, we call upon all true Latter-day Saints, in or out of office, to keep this law of health,—completely to give up drink, to quit using tobacco, which all too often leads to drink, to abandon hot drinks and the use of harmful drugs, and otherwise to observe the Word of Wisdom. We urge the Saints to quit trifling with this law and so to live it that we may claim its promises. (James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency , Vol.6, p.173)
George Albert Smith:
(In the summer he ate no meat, and even in the winter months he ate very little.) Let me plead with you, search the Word of Wisdom prayerfully. Do not just read it, search it prayerfully. Discover what our Heavenly Father gave it for. He gave it to us with a promise of longer life and happiness, not if we fail to observe it, but if we observe it.
John A. Widtsoe:
Plants contain all of the necessary food substances: proteins, fats, starches, and other carbohydrates, minerals and water [and vitamins]. The great Builder of the earth provided well for the physical needs of His children. (Priesthood Manual)
Jessie Evans Smith, wife of Joseph Fielding Smith: My husband doesn’t eat meat but rather lots of fruit and vegetables.
Joseph Fielding Smith:
Small children do not need the flesh of animals. May I add also that adults would be far better if they would refrain from too much eating of meat. As far as I am concerned the eating of meat should be very sparingly. In fact, I will be contented if the Millennium was to be ushered in next week. When it is, we will learn that the eating of meat is not good for us. Why do we feel that we do not have a square meal unless it is based largely on meat? Let the dumb animals live. They enjoy life as well as we do…Naturally, in times of famine the flesh of animals was perhaps a necessity, but in my judgment when the Millennium reaches us, we will live above the need of killing dumb innocent animals and eating them.
If we will take this stand in my judgment, we may live longer.
Theodore M. Burton:
My brothers and sisters, to those testimonies Brother Maxwell has given us, I add my hearty “Amen.” When I was a young boy we used to sing a hymn in Sunday School entitled “In Our Lovely Deseret.” We called it the Word of Wisdom song, but it was one of our favorite hymns and we used to sing it with enthusiasm. One of the verses reads:
That the children may live long, And be beautiful and strong,
Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise,
Drink no liquor, and they eat But a very little meat;
They are seeking to be great and good and wise.
“In Our Lovely Deseret, Hymn #307
I was taught at home and in Church to keep the Word of Wisdom. So from my early youth I learned an important lesson: to avoid those things which were injurious to my body. As a matter of fact, we seldom had a conference in those days without a talk about the Word of Wisdom. (Article:”The Word of Wisdom,” Ensign, May 1976, page 28
Instead of doing two days’ work in our day, wisdom would dictate to [the Saints], that if they desire long life and good health, they must, after sufficient exertion, allow the body to rest before it is entirely exhausted. When exhausted, some argue that they need stimulants in the shape of tea, coffee, spirituous liquors, tobacco, or some of those narcotic substances which are often taken to goad on the lagging powers to greater exertions. But instead of these kind of stimulants they should recruit by rest. Work less, wear less, eat less, and we shall be a great deal wiser, healthier, and wealthier people than by taking the course we now do. _- Teachings of Presidents of the Church , Brigham Young, p, 212
Then let us not trifle with our mission by indulging in the use of injurious substances. These lay the foundation of disease and death in the systems of men, and the same are committed to their children, another generation of feeble human beings is introduced into the world. Such children have insufficient bone, sinew, muscle, and constitution, and are of little use to themselves or to their fellow creatures; they are not prepared for life. _- Ibid, p. 213
Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy. . .and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will be meat for man. The more purity that exists, the less is the strife; the more kind we are to our animals, the more will peace increase, and the savage nature of the brute creation vanish away. _- Ibid, p. 333
Mothers, keep the children from eating meat; and let them eat vegetables that are fully matured, not unripe, and bread that is well baked, not soft. Do not put your loaf into the oven with a fire hot enough to burn it before it is baked through, but with a slow heat, and let it remain until it is perfectly baked; and I would prefer, for my own eating, each and every loaf to be no thicker than my two hands–you tell how thick they are–and I would want the crust as thick as my hand. ( Journal of Discourses , Vol.19, p.68 – p.69, Brigham Young, July 19, 1877)
If the days of man are to begin to return, we must cease all extravagant living. When men live to the age of a tree, their food will be fruit. Mothers, to produce offspring full of life and days, must cease drinking liquor, tea, and coffee, that their systems may be free from bad effects. If every woman in this Church will now cease drinking tea, coffee, liquor, and all other powerful stimulants, and live upon vegetables, etc., not many generations will pass away before the days of man will again return. But it will take generations to entirely eradicate the influences of deleterious substances. This must be done before we can attain our paradisiacal state, for the Lord will bring again Zion to its paradisiacal state. Journal of Discourses , Vol.8, p.63 – p.64, Brigham Young, May 20, 1860
George Q. Cannon, Apostle:
We are told that flesh of any kind is not suitable to man in the summer time, and ought to be eaten sparingly in the winter.
From these verses (Gen 1:29,30) we learn . . . every thing that grew was just calculated for the food of man, beast, fowl, and creeping thing; and their food was all vegetable; flesh and blood were never sacrificed to glut their souls, or gratify their appetites. (Government of God , p. 108)
Much disease can be avoided by . . . simple diet . . . pure air and bright sunshine . . . avoid the use of much animal food and of stimulants. (General Conference, April 1887)
We should seek to know more about ourselves and our bodies, about what is most conducive to health an how to preserve health and how to avoid disease; and to know what to eat and what to drink, and what to abstain from taking into our systems. We should become acquainted with the physiology of the human system, and live in accordance with the laws that govern our bodies, that our days may be long in the land which the Lord our God has given us. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church John Taylor, p.89-90)
Wilford Woodruff, 4th President:
We have been taught the Word of Wisdom. It was given to us many years ago, and the Lord said it was applicable to the weakest Saint. Very few of us have kept the Word of Wisdom; but I have no doubt that if the counsel of President Young were carried out it would save the people of this Territory a million of dollars annually. I feel that we ought to put these things into practice. We ought to unite together in all matters required of us in order to carry out the purposes of the Lord our God. The people are able to do it if they feel disposed. Why, Bishop Hardy told me here this morning that he had laid aside his tobacco; he has loved it almost ever since he was born, and if he can leave it off every man in Israel ought to be able to do it. _- Journal of Discourses , Vol.11, p.370, Wilford Woodruff, April 7th, 1867
I want to see a change, especially with the Latter-day Saints, in their treatment of the beasts of the field. They have been given to us for our use. They are a great blessing to us, and we should treat them gently and with consideration. It is wrong to exercise tyranny over anything. . . . Tyranny is not good, whether it be exercised by kings, by presidents, or by the servants of God. Kind words are far better than harsh words. (Collected Discourses , Vol.1, Wilford Woodruff, May 19th, 1889)
President Heber J. Grant:
I have never felt so humiliated in my life over anything as that the State of Utah voted for the repeal of Prohibition. (General Conference, Oct. 1934)
George Albert Smith:
From this very stand President Heber J. Grant pleaded with us not to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
He didn’t speak as Heber J. Grant, the man, he spoke as the President of the Church and the representative of our Heavenly Father. And yet in a state where we could have retained what we had, there were enough Latter-day Saints . . . who paid no attention to what the Lord wanted . . .and what is the result? Such delinquency as we have never known. . . . (General Conference, Oct 1943)
One of the saddest days in all of Utah’s history was when the people, including the Latter-day Saints (for it could not have been done without them), rejected the counsel and urging of the Lord’s prophet, Heber J. Grant, and repealed Prohibition long years ago–yet many of those voters had sung numerous times, “We Thank Thee, O God, For A Prophet.” The Teachings of Spencer. W. Kimball
At the general and local conference of the 18880’s much time was devoted to sermons on the “liquor habit,” the “tobacco habit,,” and similar vices. There is evidence that the church’s governing “Council of Twelve Apostles” took the pledge to obey the “Word of Wisdom” at this time. This program was so effective that in the late 1890’s it was possible for President Lorenzo Snow to state that he believed the Word of Wisdom was “violated as much or more in the improper use of meat as in other things, and (he) thought the time was near at hand when the Latter-day Saints should be taught to refrain from meat eating and the shedding of animal blood.” (An Economic Interpretation of the “Word of Wisdom,” Leonard J. Arrington, BYU Studies, Winter 1959, p.47)
Joseph F. Smith:
President Joseph F. Smith taught that the Word of Wisdom was more than a prohibition against tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol; it contained practical counsel for good health and spiritual growth, and those Saints who obeyed it would draw nearer to the Lord and become more like Him. To remind the Saints of the importance of the Word of Wisdom, he sometimes read Doctrine and Covenants 89 in its entirety in a meeting.
“Now, it may seem altogether unnecessary and out of place, perhaps, to many, for me to occupy the time of this vast congregation in reading this revelation,” he once said, but read every word of it anyway to emphasize the great value of the message. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith , p. 323
We pray God to heal us when we are sick, and then we turn round from our prayers and partake of the very things that He has told us are not good for us! How inconsistent it is for men to ask God to bless them, when they themselves are taking a course to injure and to bring evil upon themselves. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith , p.325)
I would rather feel tired and exhausted by labor, and let nature have a chance to restore itself, than I would attempt to doctor myself by the use of narcotics and drugs that would sap the foundation of my physical and spiritual health. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith , p. 327)
Are these glorious promises not sufficient to induce us to observe this Word of Wisdom? Is there not something here that is worthy our attention? Are not “great treasures” of knowledge, even “hidden treasures,” something to be desired? . (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Joseph F. Smith , p. 328
Heber J. Grant:
In this revelation, the Lord prohibits the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and hot drinks, which latter-day prophets have defined to be tea and coffee. The Lord also says that wholesome herbs, grains, and fruits are “ordained for the use of man,” along with meat, which is “to be used sparingly.” . . . No man who breaks the Word of Wisdom can gain the same amount of knowledge and intelligence in this world as the man who obeys that law. I don’t care who he is or where he comes from, his mind will not be as clear, and he cannot advance as far and as rapidly and retain his power as much as he would if he obeyed the Word of Wisdom. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church Heber J. Grant, p.189, 192
I think that another reason why I have very splendid strength for an old man is that during the years we have had a cafeteria in the Utah Hotel, I have not, with the exception of not more than a dozen times, ordered meat of any kind…I have endeavored to live the Word of Wisdom and that, in my opinion, is one reason for my good health, and another, for which I thank the Lord, is the prayers of the Saints that have been offered and answered in my behalf. (Conference Report, April 1937, p. 15)
Are you ready? How wonderful it is to embrace these and to know that by following them, we are following the prophets in an exceptionally helpful and healthful way. Get your mind and imagination going for the great things that are in store for your health and your life when Conference weekend for April 2017 arrives!
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available HERE. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of ten. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson Tennessee, close to Memphis where they center their online business and Carolyn serves in the Primary Presidency.