Welcome to the Talk Of The Week Club. I began this club as a way to share my love of learning and growing in the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My hope and desire is for you to learn and grow in your faith and love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Each Thursday a new talk will be posted, come back, open your heart and mind, allow yourself to receive and I promise you will be spiritually fed.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Week 2: Remember Who You Are

Hi Friends,

The talk for this 2nd week of our club is 'Remember Who You Are' by Sister Bonnie Parkin. I first heard this talk 11/2years ago. I have felt so strengthened by it and hope you too will be lifted and guided. I would recommend having your scriptures and journal in hand. Enjoy and have a blessed week!

Lots of Love,

Feel free to forward and invite others by having them email me with their email address! If you did not receive the email from last Thursday just email me and I will forward it your way!

MP3 Link:

Remember Who You Are!

Bonnie D. Parkin
Relief Society General President

CES Fireside for Young Adults
March 7, 2004

Brigham Young University

Thank you to President Keetch, and thank you to that wonderful choir. You are wonderful, and I appreciate it.

First of all I’d like to clear up that rumor making the rounds in certain singles wards: I did not date Brigham Young. (At least give me the benefit of Heber J. Grant!)

Some of you may be wondering what I could say that you haven’t heard before. Well, I’ve been wondering the same thing! I can promise you that I won’t talk about the saving powers of scrapbooking or tuna casseroles—I don’t do either of those very well.

You see, the reason I’ve worried so much about this talk is because I know who you are. I see how valiantly you strive to live the gospel. I feel a great love for you. And so I have wanted to say something that would matter in your lives, that would give you hope to not give up, that would lift and inspire you.

But I wasn’t getting any answers. So I finally resigned myself to stand here and sing “‘Give,’ Said the Little Stream” or other Primary songs. I can guarantee you haven’t heard that before!

To spare you that fate worse than death, I returned to the temple, fasting and praying. And this time I received specific direction. Oh, for a spiritual laser printer.

President Gordon B. Hinckley recently described you as being “faithful and true”1 in your desires for righteousness. Heavenly Father sees your goodness; that is why He has inspired me with a message specifically for you.


As my four sons were growing up, I had a few sayings that I used repeatedly to help keep them on track—my oldest son calls them “Bonnie-isms.” Here are a few examples:

The Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight.
Truth is truth wherever it is found.
Fair is where you go to see the pigs.

Among my many Bonnie-isms there were two I used frequently. If I had to remind my sons about an unfinished chore and they responded, “I know!” my standard reply was, “To know is to do!”

And almost every time they ran out our back door for a date, a football game, or a dance, I would call another Bonnie-ism after them: “Remember who you are!”

There is power in these two phrases. Let me explain. When we know something—truly understand it—then we do it.

For example, once you know it’s easier to get a date when you use deodorant, you’ll use it, right?

One of the most important things to know is something Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: “You have been you for a long time.”2 He’s trying to help us remember who we are. Because knowing who you are changes what you do.

Case in point: If you know—and remember—who you are and remember your divine birthright, you will date noble people, wear modest clothing, use clean language, surf worthy Web sites, listen to good music, watch enriching movies, keep the Word of Wisdom, and stay morally clean. You will study your scriptures, forgive each other, say your prayers, repent of your sins, serve others, magnify your callings, and love one another.

But remembering what you know can be especially tricky during this time of your life. You’re pursuing so many worthwhile goals: an education, a job, an eternal companion. (Get out there and find each other, will you please!) Sometimes, in pursuit of worthy goals, we lose sight of what matters most.

I know you think life has yet to begin, but gaining the knowledge of your eternal identity happens right now—at your very stage of life. Not after you’re married or after you’ve graduated or after you’ve learned to use deodorant. It comes right now, before all that stuff! “Seek not the things of this world,” said Jesus, “but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (JST, Matthew 6:38).

Part of seeking the kingdom first is seeking your specific place in the kingdom. That changes everything!

The Making of a Prophet

Let me tell you a story. A few years ago a little baby was taken from his poor family to be raised by a wealthy family as their son. Initially he knew nothing of his true identity. He lived like royalty, taking advantage of the poor—including his own family—to increase his adoptive family’s wealth. But one fateful day he learned the truth of his origin. Even his religion was different. He was heartsick about having inflicted such pain on those he should have protected and loved. And so he knew he would have to make things right. That man’s name was Moses.

After this mighty change of heart, Moses became a great prophet. He knew the Lord. He witnessed and participated in incredible miracles—escaping from Egypt, parting the Red Sea, and receiving the Ten Commandments. He had innumerable spiritual experiences. Yet he never stopped asking Heavenly Father for further light and knowledge. Thus the more he learned from God, the more he became like God. Isn’t that our desire?

Let’s look at chapter 1 of the Pearl of Great Price. Let’s figure out firsthand what we must do to learn what Moses knew. As we think about his journey, liken it unto yours (see 1 Nephi 19:23), for what was promised to Moses is promised to you.

A Mountain of the Lord

The chapter opens with Moses at the top of a high mountain (see Moses 1:1). Frequently in the scriptures, a mountain represents a holy place away from the world, a place of revelation—like the temple (see Micah 4:1). To learn the things of heaven, Moses removes himself from the world. This is significant!

I recently asked a group of sisters your same age what single thing kept them from knowing who they truly are. Can you guess their first answer? They said the loud, distracting, powerful pull of the world. Can you relate? Separating ourselves from the world both in distance and in worthiness is an act of great struggle—like Moses scaling that mountain. But what incredible blessings await those who do so.

A Son of God in Glory

Verse 2 tells us that here, away from the world, Moses “saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses.” Can you imagine such an experience! I hope so, because Heavenly Father also wants to talk to you face to face and shine His glory upon you. As of right now, you probably haven’t experienced God’s full glory. But each time you feel the love of the Lord in your life, you are experiencing a portion of His glory. Never take those experiences for granted—because the glory of God is powerful stuff. It enables Moses to endure God’s presence, to judge between good and evil, to receive saving strength.

Would you like to know what Moses and Heavenly Father talked about in that glory?

First, Heavenly Father introduces Himself. He speaks tender, comforting words to Moses: “Behold, thou art my son” (Moses 1:4; emphasis added). What a powerful statement. Moses is a child of the living God! Throughout this chapter Heavenly Father continually calls Moses “my son.” This revelation should be no less powerful for you—because you, too, are a child of the living God!

A Work to Do: Look, and He Will Show

“Wherefore,” says Heavenly Father—or, in other words, because you are my son—“look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands” (Moses 1:4). And so it is with you! Because you, too, are His child, look, and He will show you what you need to know.

And then Heavenly Father reveals, “I have a work for thee, Moses, my son” (Moses 1:6; emphasis added). Wow! He who can do all things had a mission—a purpose—for Moses. Moses was being entrusted to assist God. Do you think at that moment Moses might have felt a little inadequate? (See Exodus 4:10–16.) I certainly would have.

When President Hinckley extended my current calling as Relief Society general president, I was more than overwhelmed—I was flusterpated! But remembering my divine heritage gave me confidence to accept this assignment. I imagine it was similar for Moses. Maybe that’s why President Harold B. Lee once observed, “What a difference it would make if we really sensed our divine relationship to God, our Heavenly Father.”3

You are a child of God, and He has sent you here. Thus it is essential that you learn why you are here. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Unless [the Saints of God] have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God they will grow weary in their minds, and faint.”4

What might your work be? You have unique talents and abilities to develop. You need to marry and have a family, you have callings to fulfill, you have brothers and sisters to love and serve. You see, those gifts that make you most unique are those that require your energy. Some assignments can be accomplished by anyone, but others require someone special. Think of Jesus or Joseph Smith or Moses. Think of yourself, for “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Who knoweth? Well, your Father in Heaven knows—that’s who.

Personal Scripture

How can He tell you the work He has for you? Of course there are many ways, but chief among them is your patriarchal blessing. President Hinckley explains that when you receive your blessing, “A man of God lays his hands upon [your] head and speaking as a prophet bestows a blessing, setting forth the great possibility that you have in this life.”5 Your patriarchal blessing protects you from becoming weary in your mind. It reminds you who you are. It is personal scripture of the work you have to do and what you need to know about yourself.

Look what Heavenly Father tells Moses about himself: “Moses, my son, . . . thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior” (Moses 1:6; emphasis added). Moses’ mission was not to unlock the gate to eternal life, but, in similitude of the Savior, he saved the children of Israel from bondage and led them to the promised land.

Moses is not alone at being in the similitude of Jesus with a unique work to do. You are right there with him with your unique mission, which includes being a savior on Mount Zion (see Obadiah 1:21).

Have you received your patriarchal blessing? Do you read it often? Do you pray about it? I hope so, because it’s pretty hard to do what you don’t know! Right now is the time to discover your mission. And if you’ll oppose the world’s pull, Heavenly Father will show you.

Spiritual Eyes versus Natural Eyes

Heavenly Father shows Moses this world and worlds without end “and all the children of men which are, and which were created.” And of this Moses “greatly marveled and wondered” (Moses 1:8).

But then, after such awesome enlightenment, “the presence of God withdraws from Moses, that his glory is not upon Moses.” Now listen to this next phrase: “And Moses [is] left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he [falls] unto the earth” (Moses 1:9; emphasis added). There is a great truth there: When we are separated from God’s glory, we are left to ourselves. And when we are left to ourselves, it is much easier to fall.

It took “many hours” for Moses to regain his strength. And he sums up his experience thus far with a new perspective, saying, “I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). Can you relate? Moses sees his place amongst God’s creations and is astonished. And yet, of all those creations, God appeared to Moses to show him his mission. I find that astonishing. Nevertheless, I know this is how He operates with each of His children, including you.

Reflecting on it all, Moses does not question what he has seen. In fact, he acknowledges how he saw it: “But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face” (Moses 1:11).

As was true for Moses, we cannot come to know our calling with our natural eyes—natural eyes do not require faith! Paul teaches us that the beautiful truths of the kingdom are “revealed . . . unto us by his Spirit. . . .

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10–11; emphasis added).

The Test of Faith

Even after such a life-changing experience, Moses’ struggles are not over. In fact, because there is “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11), his great highs will be matched with deep lows. After all, it’s easy to remain true to our faith without the challenges to try that faith; true faith is only made manifest in the face of heart-piercing trials. Moses—like all of us—has to learn and prove just how stalwart he is with his new knowledge.

As Moses rejoices in what he had witnessed, “Behold, Satan [comes] tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me” (Moses 1:12).

Did you notice the very first thing Satan says to Moses? It is the direct opposite of what God had said! Listen to Lucifer again: “Moses, son of man, worship me.” Do you see it? Satan goes for the jugular by calling into question Moses’ divine birthright and, thus, his very identity. “You’re no son of God,” Satan says, “you’re a mere son of man.” For Satan understands that the slide into captivity begins with doubts about who we really are.

But Moses is a pretty smart guy. He doesn’t say, “Okay, you’re probably right. Let’s go eat, drink, and be merry.” Instead, he fires right back: “Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God.” And then Moses strengthens that declaration by adding, “I am . . . in the similitude of his Only Begotten” (Moses 1:13). Do you see the power that comes from knowing who you are?

Lucifer’s Need for Idolization

And did you detect one of Satan’s fixations? It is two simple words: “Worship me” (Moses 1:12, 19). That obsession hasn’t changed.

Because of their past, Lucifer is insanely jealous of his brother Jehovah. Lucifer craves being idolized. But he mistakes idolization for adoration, reverence, and veneration. Thus, like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum, he screams, “Worship me—not Him.”

But most of us aren’t that stupid to just worship Satan outright—are we? We need a little enticement. So Old Scratch is happy to provide it. When tempting Jesus—who was Jehovah in the flesh—Lucifer used the same bait he still uses today: appetites, riches, and power.6 In short, the things of this world. And Jesus could have all that cash and those fabulous prizes—if He would only worship Satan (see Luke 4:1–13).

I know that you are a choice group of Heavenly Father’s children. But the Lord has very specific counsel for His chosen: “There are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

“Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” (D&C 121:34–35; emphasis added). Lucifer knows this! Why else would he put so much energy into showing us the things of this world?

You see, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

Unfortunately, there are legions listening to Lucifer’s calls to worship him. Just two months ago President Hinckley said something that stopped my heart. He said, “I do not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah [than today]. . . . Similar conditions . . . prevail all across the world. I think our Father must weep as He looks down upon His wayward sons and daughters.”7 This is a powerful pronouncement. But I agree.

Again, you are a choice group of Heavenly Father’s children; your attendance at this fireside further demonstrates your desire for righteousness. But, like Moses, this also makes you a larger target for the adversary. Every righteous soul that Satan seduces from the truth becomes a game hunter’s trophy, prominently mounted and displayed on the walls of hell.

How Lucifer Entices Us

How does Satan entice us to worship him? By indulging our appetites, offering us riches, and promising us power. Of course he needs someone to show us his wares, and he has no end of eager salesmen.

One of the most powerful persuasives is the visual image. A brother I know calls television “the devil’s home teacher.” And aside from the Lord, nobody understands the power of images, decibels, and repetition better than Satan. Satan knows the sway of “everybody’s doing it.” He knows if he dangles his merchandise in front of you long enough, your heart just might get hooked on the things of this world.

In last October’s general conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “The choices we make in media can be symbolic of the choices we make in life. Choosing the trendy, the titillating, the tawdry in the TV programs or movies we watch can cause us to end up, if we’re not careful, choosing the same things in the lives we live.”8

And then he encouraged us to follow the counsel in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth:

“Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable. . . .

“Have the courage to walk out of a movie or video party, turn off a computer or television, change a radio station, or put down a magazine if what is being presented does not meet Heavenly Father’s standards. Do these things even if others do not.”9

Lucifer’s Temples

What words do you use to describe the temple? I use words like holiness, peace, worthiness, calmness, and light. The Lord Himself says His house is “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (D&C 88:119). The increase in temples around the world is another testament to me of the truthfulness of the gospel.

But as God’s temples spread across the world, so, too, do Satan’s. The success of his missionary work also requires a place for his converts. After all, how can he be worshiped without a sanctuary? Opposites of the words we just used for God’s temples describe Satan’s: filthy, wicked, loud, and dark. Consider the ever-lengthening strip of Las Vegas’s casinos. In Lucifer’s temples—now advertised as “family friendly”—appetites are satisfied in spades; more is not enough; anarchy trumps order. And all the while our spirits are blinded by the lights, deafened by the din, and bludgeoned by the beats.

One day that power will be shut off; the lights and music will cease. And “they who are filthy shall be filthy still . . . and . . . shall go away into everlasting fire” (2 Nephi 9:16).

The State of the World

I don’t emphasize these things to scare you. But “we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” said Paul, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Listen to what President Boyd K. Packer taught just over a month ago: “I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. . . .

“The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.

“It is my purpose to . . . put you on alert. These are days of great spiritual danger for our youth.10

Of course Lucifer’s temples are not just casinos. You know where and what they are—they are places where men and women are persuaded “to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God” (Moroni 7:17). They are places where Satan’s demand of “Worship me!” is heeded, where loud music and rough language drown out the still small voice, where darkness—not glory—is desired.

Glory versus Darkness

How ironic for Satan, then, that this very contrast between glory and darkness helps Moses recognize Satan. Had Moses not experienced God’s glory, the darkness would have been less obvious. But Moses remembers, so he asks Lucifer, “And where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?

“For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me. . . . But I can look upon thee in the natural man. . . .

“ . . . Thy glory . . . is darkness unto me[.] And I can judge between thee and God” (Moses 1:13–15; emphasis added). What empowering words!

All of you have experienced some level of God’s glory. If not, you would not be here. And all of you have experienced some level of Satan’s darkness. In this you are no different from Moses either. So, like Moses, you can judge! You know the pain of your spirit being wounded by sin or the devastation of the Holy Ghost leaving when offended or the despair of losing self-control. But you also know the sweetness of forgiveness, the transcendence of testimony, and the humble gratitude for answered prayers. You have felt the love of the Lord in your life; you have felt His glory. This is why you can judge between glory and darkness, between God and Lucifer!

Banishing Satan

Knowing that God is completely honest (see Deuteronomy 32:4), Moses also knows that Satan is deceitful. Thus Moses doesn’t invite the father of lies to stay for lunch so as not to offend him. No, Moses cuts right to the chase: “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not” (Moses 1:16).

This is a powerful command—but not too powerful for a son or daughter of God to make! You, too, are a child of God. And you, too, can say, “Get thee hence, Satan.” In fact, there will be times you will have to say it.

Moses is strengthened by knowing his divine birthright and thus declared an unwavering commitment to Heavenly Father. He reminds Satan that “God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.

“And he also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me” (Moses 1:16–17; emphasis added).

In other words, Moses is going to honor his covenants. He reiterates his commitment, saying, “I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan” (Moses 1:18; emphasis added).

You see this pattern again and again. Moses has seen God’s glory (or felt the love of the Lord in his life), he remembers it—his judgment is not impaired by Satan’s deceptions—and thus he can cast Satan out with confidence. Make this your pattern, too.

Further, if a man of Moses’ stature and testimony is still humble enough to realize that he cannot cease to call upon God, what does that mean for you? Brothers and sisters, at all times and in all places—but especially in the face of great trials and tribulations—you cannot give up praying to Heavenly Father! You must just keep trying, even if the heavens seem sealed and silent.

President Hinckley said, “We must get on our knees and plead with the Lord for help and strength and direction.”11

So after Moses commands Satan to leave, “Satan crie[s] with a loud voice, and rant[s] upon the earth, and command[s,] saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me” (Moses 1:19; emphasis added). That is a lie, plain and simple. Lucifer is forever trying to be someone he’s not.

Faith and Fear

Lucifer’s exit must have exceeded anything Moses had ever witnessed, because “Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell” (Moses 1:20).

Verse 20 is crucial to remember because it shows us that Satan does not give up easily, or go quietly. He might preach instant gratification and self-indulgence, but he knows the power of patience and self-denial. Why else is he called the “cunning one”? (2 Nephi 9:39). Thus, Satan’s fury can strike fear into the hearts of men, even men like Moses—and like you. That is a scary thought, because as soon as Moses became afraid, he could see into the very depths of hell. But did you know that fear can overcome faith? All of us have times of fear—remember Peter walking on the water?

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught a most extraordinary truth:

“For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not there faith is weak; and where faith is weak the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.”12

Jesus told Peter: “Behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31–32; emphasis added). Jesus knew that faith—not fear—will conquer Satan.

It is fear that overtakes Moses. But his fear does not last long enough to give Satan any advantage. Do you know why? Look at verse 20 again: “Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory. . . .

“And . . . he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses” (Moses 1:20, 22; emphasis added).

Binding Satan

What did Moses, the great prophet, do to escape his fear? He had no secret weapon that you don’t have. He prayed. He needed that divine assistance because Satan is persistent. It takes Moses four times to drive Satan out. Four times! (Even my sons usually minded after three times—well, most of the time.) Imagine if Moses had given up after three times.

In your deepest times of temptation and fear, like Moses, you must plead with Heavenly Father as frequently and as long as necessary to retain your faith. If you do not, Lucifer will lurk nearby until your defenses drop—and then return with enticings to worship him and fears to stop your heart. It is not easy—but nothing of worth is.

Nearly thirty years ago Elder Eldred G. Smith gave some wonderful counsel about standing up to Lucifer. “The only power I know of that will bind Satan, or render him powerless, is righteous living.

“ . . . Even Jesus Christ had to bind Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness. . . .

“When you have resisted a temptation until it no longer becomes a temptation, then to that extent, Satan has lost his power over you, and as long as you do not yield to him, to that degree he is bound.”13

With Satan finally gone, “Moses lift[s] up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son” (Moses 1:24).

You have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, who testifies of the truth. You are entitled to His presence and direction according to your faithfulness. Let Him help you!

The Rewards of Faithfulness

“And calling upon the name of God, he [Moses] beh[olds] his glory again, for it [is] upon him” (Moses 1:25). Did you notice that Heavenly Father’s glory has returned?

Continuing in verse 25, Heavenly Father begins pouring out blessings upon Moses to reward his loyalty. God’s first words are ones of comfort and encouragement: “Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee” (emphasis added). Being chosen by God is no small thing. Do you remember why many are called but few are chosen? Satan had offered Moses the worldly menu, but Moses denied himself “of all ungodliness” (Moroni 10:32; emphasis added). Thus Moses is chosen because his heart is set upon the things of his Father.

And now, after that crucible of temptation, God knows Moses can be trusted completely, and—just as important—Moses knows he is completely trustworthy. So Heavenly Father is able to further reward Moses with increased knowledge about his mission. Listen: “And thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.

“And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen” (Moses 1:25–26). What great promises! Can you hear the foreshadowing of “all that my Father hath shall be given unto [you]”? (D&C 84:38).

We Are

Heavenly Father proceeds to reveal His innumerable creations and answer Moses’ questions about those creations. And then Heavenly Father says something that even though I cannot comprehend it, I know to be true: “For behold, there are many worlds. . . . And innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:35; emphasis added).

Can you believe it? Even with all those innumerable creations, God knows Moses. And I testify that He also knows you. How do I know? Because He knows me. Because He has inspired my words for you tonight. We are numbered to Him because we are His.

My counselor and dear friend, Anne C. Pingree, made a wonderful observation that not only are we “blessed to know who we are,” we are blessed to know “whose we are.”14

The Great Reward

Moses had been taught who he was, he had been given his work, and he had been shown whose he was. And then, because he had proven himself unshakable, he was ready to learn Heavenly Father’s work and glory. From this seemingly simple revelation in Moses 1, the gospel and everything we do in it is unified and infused with eternal significance. Here is that stunning revelation in verse 39: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

This sublime statement is the crowning reward for Moses’ faithfulness and steadfastness. Its insight extends to us, changing our actions. It is a perfect example of how knowing leads to doing.

But remember that this pearl of great price came at a great price. It was received only after Moses had removed himself from the things of this world, had experienced divine love and glory, had learned who he was and what his work would be, had made covenants with his Father in Heaven, and had resisted Satan unceasingly with testimony and prayer.

Some of you may be struggling with knowing who you are. There’s a little secret about “to know is to do”: the flip side is also true—“to do is to know!” In other words, if you’re unsure, just do anyway. Jesus has promised, “If any man will do [my Father’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17; emphasis added). Do, and you’ll know.

Remember Who You Are!

Like Moses, you are a son or daughter of God in the similitude of His Only Begotten Son. Like Moses, you can do every single one of these things! And, therefore, like Moses, you can receive every single one of these incredible blessings.

Listen to the words Peter taught, referring to promises the Savior had made to others: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off” (Acts 2:39; emphasis added).

And so this is why I tell my children and my grandchildren and each one of you, “Remember who you are.” Or, as the Lord said, “Remember the worth of souls is great” (D&C 18:10).

This is why I say, “To know is to do.” Or, as the Savior said—and I like what was added—“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17; emphasis added).

I hope you feel energized and, as my boys say, “pumped up” to overcome the challenges that are uniquely yours for this unique time. You can conquer!

When you feel down, remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Many, like Moses, have gone before you and have successfully overcome hard things. You can too. Many—like President Hinckley, the Apostles, your bishop, your parents, and even I—pray for you daily. You can, and you must, pray too. You are children of God, and He has sent you here! His work and His glory is to bring to pass your immortality and eternal life.

Recently President Hinckley gave us wonderful encouragement: “[You] must not give up. [You] must not become discouraged. [You] must never surrender to the forces of evil. [You] can and must maintain the standards for which this Church has stood since it was organized. There is a better way than the way of the world. If it means standing alone, [you] must do it. . . .

“ . . . [You] must get on [your] knees and plead with the Lord for help and strength and direction. [You] must then stand on [your] feet and move forward.

“I am absolutely confident that heaven will smile upon [you]. The Lord will hear and answer [your] prayers if [you] will commit [yourself], giving [your] very best to this work.”15 Moses showed us that this is true.

Tonight as you run out the door to life’s adventures, let me give you two Bonnie-isms for the road. They are filled with all the love in my heart: Remember who you are. To know is to do!

I pray that you, like your brother Moses, will let Heavenly Father lead you, guide you, and walk beside you, because I testify that He will. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


1. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” in Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Priesthood and the Auxiliaries of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary, 10 Jan. 2004, 20.
2. In Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 106; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 100.
3. In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 9; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 6.
4. Joseph Smith, comp., Lectures on Faith [1985], 67–68.
5. In “Messages of Inspiration from President Hinckley,” Church News, 6 Dec. 2003, 2; emphasis added.
6. See David O. McKay, “Individual Righteousness, the Strength of the Church,” Instructor, Sept. 1962, 290.
7. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” 20.
8. In Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 15; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 16.
9. For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God (2001), 17, 19.
10. The One Pure Defense (An Evening with President Boyd K. Packer, 6 Feb. 2004), 4; emphasis added.
11. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” 21.
12. Lectures on Faith, 71.
13. In Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 142.
14. “Preparing the Greatest Generation of Missionaries: A Mission for Every Woman,” BYU Women’s Conference, 2 May 2003, 3.
15. “Standing Strong and Immovable,” 20–21.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Week 1: Ultimate Health: God's Gift and Our Responsibility

Hi Friends,

How exciting the first official talk for our club! I would love to hear your thoughts! Have a great week and remember feel free to forward and invite others. If you want to join email me. If you want to be removed email me I promise it won't hurt my feelings!


MP3 Link:

Text Below:


Ultimate Health: God's Gift
and Our Personal Responsibility


Keith J. Karren was a BYU professor of health sciences
when this devotional was given on 5 August 2003.

© Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.
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Brothers and sisters, what an incredible opportunity is mine this morning to share with those I love and respect a message that I believe is timely and important. I am aware that George Burns' secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and have them as close together as possible. This morning I'm feeling humble, as a child. I hope I can also speak with the simple conviction of a child, like the child I heard about just the other day.
A little girl was talking to her elementary school teacher about whales. She had just learned about Jonah and the whale in her Sunday School class. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal, its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah." The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?" The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."

Father in Heaven is sending strong spirits like this little girl to earth at this critical time in the history of the world to build His kingdom and prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior. He needs the leaders of this generation to be healthy, energetic, and powerful. Those leaders are you!

Are you healthy? One of my health science students answered that question with the following quote:

As a university student, this is a time in my life wherein it is common to live a fairly unhealthy lifestyle. At Brigham Young University this is not often in regard to the excessive use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and promiscuous sexual relations but rather lack of sleep, poor nutrition, heavy workloads, and increased stress.

Can you relate to that description?

What an incredible time to be on the earth, and with great opportunity comes great responsibility. Our Father knows each of us personally and has provided the gifts to allow us to be as healthy as we need to be to accomplish our individual purposes during this earth life.


The examples of a loving Father blessing His children with gifts of health and healing are many. Here are but three:

*The tender mercies of the Father who provides healing plants to His children in Alma 46:40.

*The gift of the stones of light for the Jaredite boats (see Ether 2–3). In her classic book My Grandfather's Blessings, Rachel Naomi Remen said:

This image of a people sailing through heavy seas in search of freedom, steering only by the light that the touch of God kindles in their souls, is a particularly beautiful one for me. . . .

. . . I find that the most moving part of the Mormon exodus story is a single line. Despite the challenges and great difficulties of this sea journey, "the wind always blows in the direction of the promised land." I have seen many people spread their sails and catch this wind.

There is a grace in life that can be trusted. In our struggle toward freedom we are neither abandoned nor alone. [Rachel Naomi Remen, "Epilogue," in My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging (New York: Riverhead Books, 2000), 375–76]

*My personal blessing of health in my patriarchal blessing is as follows:

I bless your body that it will be strong and well, and I promise you that if you will live the law of health the destroying angel will pass you by and not harm you, and when diseases are prevalent upon the land they will have no effect upon you and you will be a living testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember this promise, Brother Karren, for it will be fulfilled.

Like any other opportunity, the gifts that produce good health require personal involvement.

Gifts conjure up thoughts of Christmas. Let's use the power of imagery to put you with your family, gathered about the beautifully decorated tree and the carefully wrapped gifts. Your father planned and chose a special gift for you and knew how important this gift would be to your future. There it was, beautifully covered and waiting for you to open it. But you just didn't get around to opening it--on Christmas Day or the next day or the next. It just stood in the corner gathering dust. How do you think your father would feel? The great potential of the gift could not function on your behalf.

The gift to be opened is the gift of health. The gift of the gospel lived is the gift of health.

Health and Wellness

What is health and wellness? It depends on who you talk to. Mark Twain said, "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint" (attributed, in The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain, ed. Alex Ayres [New York: Harper and Row, 1987], 97).

Health is a very broad term involved in every dimension of our lives. Dr. Edward Taub says:

Wellness is the dance of life that celebrates infinite and eternal harmony. It is the dynamic activity of caring for your body as the home for your soul; the enriching quality of striving to fulfill your highest potential; and the elevating state of filling your life with love. To achieve wellness is to attain the point of balance where the energies of body, mind, and spirit are so finely attuned to each other that distinctions between them fade away. [Seven Steps to Self-Healing (New York: DK Publishing, 1996), 24; emphasis in original]

Others define health as an attitude or orientation made up of (1) our basic values and (2) our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us; an inner quality that gives rise to particular health practices but that cannot be reduced to those practices itself.

Here in America we become quite confused by health issues. For example, only in America do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a 32-oz. diet Coke!

Factors that affect our health include, among others: genetics, family and socioeconomic background, diet, exercise, social support, risk-taking behaviors, attitude, and spiritual practices.

New health issues and challenges seem to surface every month. Developing new drugs and procedures is a constant challenge. Yet the real answer is a life centered in the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Does the gift really work? Are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints healthier as a group than most Americans? The answer is a resounding yes!

Well-designed studies continue to conclude that active LDS men and women experience lower mortality rates from all types of disease.

Although the studies are numerous, I will quote just a few. Let me summarize what the authors of Handbook of Religion and Health reported, citing from studies by James E. Enstrom and by J. L. Lyon, H. P. Wetzler, and others (Harold G. Koenig, Michael E. McCullough, and David B. Larson, Handbook of Religion and Health [New York: Oxford University Press, 2001]):

1. "Mormons had 35% lower mortality from" coronary artery disease (p. 243).

2. "Mormons had fewer cardiovascular diseases and lower mortality rates. . . . Thus, much of the health benefit that Mormons enjoy can be explained by their positive health behaviors and regular religious involvement" (p. 243).

3. "California Mormons experienced only about one-half to three-quarters the cancer death rates of other Californians. This was especially true for cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, prostate, bladder, and kidney in men and for cancers of the colon, lung, breast, and uterus (cervix and corpus) in women. A number of these cancer sites were unrelated to smoking" (p. 303).

My own colleague in the Department of Health Science, Dr. Ray Merrill, with Dr. Stirling Hilton of the Department of Statistics, conducted a study on differences in life expectancy between LDS and non-LDS in Utah for the years 1994 to 1998. They found that at every age group LDS men and women live longer and have a higher survival percentage than non-LDS men and women.

These data are for all Latter-day Saints. If only the active LDS population were studied, the differences would be even more profound.

How then does religion, and specifically the LDS religion, have such a positive impact on health? Health lies at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is not just physical well-being. Rather, it encompasses the whole person: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Our Savior is the source of all health and the source of an abundant life.

His gospel-religion (from ligare, a Latin term meaning "binding man to God") protects health through

*social integration and support

*more concern for others, less prejudice, and more forgiveness

*developing a personal relationship with Deity

*providing a framework of meaning by which to make sense of life

*enhancing mental health

*promoting specific patterns of personal lifestyle

A powerful example of this last point is section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In 1833 the Prophet Joseph, upon initial motivation from Emma, inquired of the Lord concerning health. What he received from the Lord was a revelation on good health. Scientific evidence to support section 89 was well over 100 years away. What a testament the Word of Wisdom is that the Lord loves His children deeply and is personally concerned about their health.

Science today has developed a theoretical model describing how religion affects physical health. Observe how religion positively affects mental health, social support, and health behaviors to reduce the development of the diseases listed.

Living the gospel of Jesus Christ, then, can make our lives longer, healthier, and happier.

In April 1876 President Joseph F. Smith observed that the fruits of the Latter-day Saint religion "are flavored with the sweets of heaven, and they impart health and life to the soul" (GD, 92; also JD 18:276). Some 80 years later, President Ezra Taft Benson stated that "to be truly fit, truly equal to the demands of life, requires much more than bodily strength. It involves the mind and the training of the mind, the emotions and their use and control. Yes, and it involves the soul and the spiritual growth, too" (TETB, 239; also So Shall Ye Reap, comp. Reed A. Benson [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1960], 140).

These prophets of God understood a great truth of life--that total health is the product of an intricate and intimate connection between mind, body, and spirit. To be truly healthy is to value and nurture each of these important ingredients of the human soul.

As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, "Jesus, as the great physician, came to heal the spiritually sick--all of us" ("A More Excellent Way": Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967], 64). That the Savior and the Church can offer spiritual healing has been commonly accepted throughout the ages. What is new about scientific curiosity is the unexpected finding that religion itself heals physically.

Religion energizes our spirits, and that greatly affects our emotions, a very important part of health. Dr. Candace Pert, an internationally known scientist who, by her discovery of the opiate receptor site in the brain, set medical science in the direction of understanding that it is our emotions and their biological components that establishes the crucial link between mind and body, stated:

For me the key concept is that the emotions exist in the body as informational chemicals, the neuropeptides and receptors, and they also exist in another realm, the one we experience as feeling, inspiration, love--beyond the physical. The emotions move back and forth, flowing freely between both places, and, in that sense, they connect the physical and nonphysical. . . . We know that the way health occurs in the physical body has to do with the flow of the biochemicals of emotion. My work has taught me that there is a physical reality to the emotions. [Candace B. Pert, Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel (New York: Scribner, 1997), 307]

When the servants of God teach us about health and healing, however, the message has a grander scope than just those things physical. Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen, a practicing physician for more than 40 years and at the time a member of the Seventy, said in general conference in April 1994:

Physicians do not cure patients. This marvelous and complicated machine we call the human body has built into it its own wonderful healing mechanism. All a physician can do is to provide a good healing environment.

I soon learned in my medical practice that the ultimate healing process for an injured or sick body was already provided by our Heavenly Father. I also learned that a patient's attitude has much to do with healing. Those who would rely on Heavenly Father and exercise faith in the power of priesthood often enjoyed faster recoveries. ["A Divine Prescription for Spiritual Healing," Ensign, May 1994, 17]

Created after the image of a divine Father, the human body can be conceived of as a self-healer, endowed with an internal supply of chemicals and hormones that maintain and enhance health. Activated by the power of the priesthood, the immune system can heal. The spirit can mobilize the body as it absorbs the lessons of mortality. As Elder Orson F. Whitney told early members of the Church:

No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God. [Quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972), 98]

Western medicine regards disease and death as a dastardly enemy to be fought with all resources possible. Wonderful people do suffer and die. However, Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen pointed out the importance of recognizing the Lord's will when he said:

The Lord has given a condition for healing blessings: "He that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed" (D&C 42:48; emphasis added). Even when a person relies in faith on the Lord for blessings, if it is his or her appointed time to die, there will not be restoration of health. Indeed, "death [must come] upon all men, to fulfill the merciful plan of the great Creator" (2 Ne. 9:6). ["Divine Prescription," 17]

President Spencer W. Kimball strengthened this position, adding:

Bones can be straightened, germs can be killed, sutures can close wounds, and skillful fingers can open and close bodies; but no man yet has found a way to actually heal. Man is the offspring of God and has within him the re-creating power that is God-given. [TSWK, 508]

We have discussed the impact of religion in general and the gospel of Jesus Christ on health. More specifically, what are these gifts from a loving Father in Heaven that have such a profoundly positive effect on health?

1. Faith

Faith is the assurance we have of things not seen. Faith protects health and promotes healing by strengthening the body against the physical changes that can accompany stress. In the same way it can even affect the course of a disease. A review of studies confirms the power of faith over physiological processes (see "More Than Just Placebo: Review Confirms 'Healing' Effects," New Sense Bulletin 16, no. 8 [May 1991]: 1–2). Faith has been shown to influence microbes, plants, animals, and human beings, even from a distance. These studies, combined with personal experiences, have resulted in a growing appreciation of faith among members of the medical community.

2. Social Support and Relationships

Researchers who conducted a nine-year study of more than 7,000 California residents were able to identify a single factor that most often led to good health and long life: the amount of social support a person enjoys. They concluded that people with social ties--regardless of their source--lived longer than people who were isolated. And "people who have a close-knit network of intimate personal ties with other people seem to be able to avoid disease, maintain higher levels of health, and in general, to deal more successfully with life's difficulties" (S. Leonard Syme, in Emrika Padus and the editors of Prevention magazine, The Complete Guide to Your Emotions and Your Health: New Dimensions in Mind/Body Healing [Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1986], 83–84).

3. Marriage and Families

Not only does the family bring spiritual rewards, but it has a strong influence on the health of all members of the family. We know from scientific research that members of weak, stressed families have characteristic health problems; members of strong, healthy families most often enjoy good health; and parents have a tremendous influence on the health and development of children in the family.

Statistics from a multitude of studies show the same thing: happy marriage dramatically increases life expectancy. In fact, a man who marries can expect to automatically add about nine years and seven months to his life (see Jo Ann Tooley and Lynn Y. Anderson, "Living Is Risky," U.S. News and World Report 104, no. 3 [25 January 1988]: 77). One researcher went so far as to say that "some of the increased death rates in unmarried individuals are astounding, rising as high as ten times the rates for married individuals of comparable ages" (James J. Lynch, The Broken Heart: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness [New York: Basic Books, 1979], 38; emphasis added). The researcher then sums up: "The overall death rate for divorced individuals in the United States is almost double that of married individuals" (p. 40).

4. Altruism--Serving Others

A group of studies done on altruism found that people who care for others are physically, emotionally, and mentally healthier than those who concentrate more on their own needs. Many researchers believe that altruism is an inborn characteristic intended to help boost health and longevity. The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M. Keith were originally published by Harvard Student Agencies in 1968 and were often called "The Ten Commandments of Leadership." Mother Teresa so admired how they summed up the power of altruism that she had a version entitled "Anyway" inscribed on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta. Here is a version called "The Final Analysis":

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.


5. Healthy Life Perception

To know who we are and why we are here is essential to good health. Goethe declared: "The greatest evil that can befall man is that he should come to think ill of himself." Marianne Williamson reminds us who we are in a quote from her classic book A Return to Love:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. [Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (New York: HarperPerennial, 1996), chapter 7, section 3, 190–91]

6. Humor and Laughter

Further research on laughter has revealed what may be one of its most important benefits: it apparently enhances the immune system. Laughter appears to boost the production of chemicals that enhance immunity, and it suppresses the hormones that weaken immunity (the stress hormones). Psychologist Robert E. Ornstein and physician David Sobel point out, "When confronted with a threatening situation, animals have essentially two choices: to flee or to fight. Humans have a third alternative: to laugh" (Healthy Pleasures [Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1989], 218).

7. Hope

Recently a photo entitled The Hand of Hope was sent to me that typifies hope. The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas, who had spina bifida, emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner, as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life. Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us my pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person." (Photo taken by Michael Clancy at surgery performed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on August 19, 1999; see www.michaelclancy.com and "Hand of Hope" at http://urbanlegends.about.com.)

A report published in Medical World News claimed that "hope can play an important role in vulnerability to disease, the course of illness, and possibly in determining whether a patient lives or dies" ("Studies Show Hope Can Play Role in a Patient's Risk, Illness, Death," Medical World News 25, no. 11 [11 June 1984]: 101). Norman Cousins is perhaps best known for his research into what he called "the biology of hope." He explained that hope is actually tremendous expectation and that it has powerful influence on the human body (see Head First: The Biology of Hope [New York: Dutton, 1989]).

Of the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

In and through and by and because of him we and all men have a hope of peace in this life and eternal glory in the world to come. He is our Hope. Without him we would have no hope of immortality, no hope of eternal life, no hope of the continuation of the family unit, no hope of eternal progress, no hope of exaltation, no hope of any good thing. All the hopes of all the righteous of all the ages center in him. [The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 183–84]

8. Spirituality

"Spirituality is . . . the consequence of a succession of right choices" (Dallin H. Oaks, Pure in Heart [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 123).

"The spiritual is . . . the deepest sense of belonging and participation. . . . Spirit is an essential need of human nature" (Rachel Naomi Remen, "On Defining Spirit," Noetic Sciences Review, no. 8 [autumn 1988]: 7). Spirituality buffers stress, making us better able to resist and fight disease. Healing is made possible by the Light of Christ because, as President David O. McKay wrote:

Man is a spiritual being, a soul, and at some period of his life everyone is possessed with an irresistible desire to know his relationship to the Infinite. . . . There is something within him which urges him to rise above himself, to control his environment, to master the body and all things physical and live in a higher and more beautiful world. [True to the Faith, comp. Llewelyn R. McKay (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 244]

One of the reasons spirituality impacts physical health is that people with a deep sense of spirituality stop focusing on themselves and start focusing on others--an attitude that promotes health in general. As the Savior taught, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:39).

9. Forgiveness

Forgiveness--and the failure to forgive--affects not only the mind and the spirit but the body. When we don't forgive, the body pumps "high-voltage" chemicals into the bloodstream. They include chemicals like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisone. As these chemicals build up in the bloodstream, the body literally become a rapidly ticking time bomb. The heart pounds in the chest like a sledgehammer. The muscles of the neck and shoulders gradually tighten. Abdominal pains develop.

If the situation continues unchecked, the body pays the price. The person who fails to forgive becomes a candidate for gastric ulcers, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and tension/vascular headache.

Forgiveness reverses the process. Anger and resentment dissolve. The body stops pouring high-voltage chemicals into the bloodstream. The heart rate drops. Muscle tension eases. The healing begins.

Without forgiveness, we are constrained; when we forgive, we become free. Studies reveal:

*People who are more forgiving report fewer health problems.

*Forgiveness leads to less stress.

*Forgiveness leads to fewer physical symptoms of stress.

*Failure to forgive may be more important than hostility as a risk factor for heart disease.

*People who blame other people for their troubles have higher incidences of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancers.

*People who imagine not forgiving someone show negative changes in blood pressure, muscle tension, and immune response.

*People who imagine forgiving their offender note immediate improvement in their cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems.

*Even people with devastating losses can learn to forgive and feel better psychologically and emotionally.

[Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2002), xv]

10. Prayer

Prayer signals a commitment to a set of moral and ethical values; it is a signpost of spirituality and is at the core of most spiritual experiences. Though mortals have been praying for thousands of years, Elder Neal A. Maxwell points out, "Prayer is not something we can clinically diagnose and dissect, giving ready answers for every question about every dimension of this great process" (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979], 92). What we can do is examine the effects of prayer.

Obviously, prayer exerts tremendous spiritual power. We know that prayer can precipitate miracles: the miracle of forgiveness, the miracle of healing, the miracle of a change of heart. In addition to what prayer does for the soul, though, we know that prayer also has powerful physical benefits. When we pray, we are in a state of relaxed alertness, peace, joy, contentment, and emotional release. During prayer we empty the mind, yet we receive direction. Part of the magnetism of prayer comes from our own belief, our own faith: the powerful suggestion that prayer will work, that something will happen.

Prayer helps us meditate, which also relieves stress.

[Salt Lake City physician] N. Lee Smith says that when patients pray, "they're focusing on their deepest values and drawing on spiritual power that develops a sense of connectedness and also develops hope. And that has been known to affect medical outcomes. The mind has the ability to heal in ways that are largely unexplainable." [In Keith J. Karren, Brent Q. Hafen, N. Lee Smith, and Kathryn J. Frandsen, Mind/Body Health: The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions, and Relationships, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings, 2001), 448–49]

Dr. Larry Dossey, a leading medical proponent of prayer, says:

You think positively. And positive thoughts aren't confined to your brain. They set in motion a chain of events that has been defined physiologically. We know that expectation and suggestion achieve a lot of fabulous changes in the immune system and probably every other organ in the body.

When you get into a meditative, prayer-like, contemplative frame of mind, the metabolism slows down, the immune system is refreshed, blood pressure and heart rates subside, blood lactate level falls, and oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production are diminished. A lot of changes happen, the result of which is that the body becomes healthier. . . .

But most people probably aren't interested in that level. They want to know, "When I pray, does it work or not?" I think that if you look at the evidence, you can resoundingly say, "Yup! This has a healthful effect and here's the laboratory proof." [Peter Barry Chowka, "Prayer Is Good Medicine: An Interview with Larry Dossey, M.D.," Yoga Journal, no. 129 (July/August 1996): 63–64; emphasis in original; also "Larry Dossey, MD: The Interview by Peter Barry Chowka," http://members.aol.com/


The key to good health, then, is to immerse ourselves totally in the gospel of Jesus Christ and strike a balance of life's dimensions. We then draw close to the Savior and become more like Him. Helaman 5:12 gives us that direction:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

President Howard W. Hunter invited us all "to live with ever more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ [and to] treat each other with more kindness, more patience, more courtesy and forgiveness ("Exceeding Great and Precious Promises," Ensign, November 1994, 8).

In a recent stake conference in Highland, Utah, President Merrill Bateman promised the stake members that they can become more like Christ if they would do the following each day:

1. Pray to the Father morning and night, then listen and meditate.

2. Study His scriptures at least 10 minutes per day and learn of Him.

President Benson added another promise:

There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called "the words of life" (see D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance. ["The Book of Mormon--Keystone of Our Religion," Ensign, November 1986, 7; emphasis added]

3. Keep His commandments.

4. Perform a service to someone daily.

Spencer W. Kimball taught that "service puts problems in perspective" (TSWK, 254).

Dr. George E. Vaillant, Harvard University's director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the Study of Healthy Aging, and author of Aging Well, enlarged upon this concept. Quoting from a valedictory address by Timothy Coggeshall at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts, on June 3, 1987--and giving some credit to E. B. White as well--George Vaillant gives the following:

Besides my sister, my favorite teacher is a two-inch-tall mouse named Stuart Little. Stuart told the children to remember three important rules:

"Be a true friend.

"Do the right thing.

"Enjoy the glory of everything."

We can imagine him outside now in the sunshine, paddling past us in his tiny birch bark canoe, Summer Memories, heading north, upstream on his quest, traveling light and . . . reminding us that a person who is looking for something doesn't travel very fast, and waving farewell to his childhood and boyhood, that secure and sun-warmed past that is over and done with and gone for all time.

"Yet Stuart knew this:

"If a flower blooms once, it goes on blooming somewhere forever.

"What is changed is never gone unless we let it go.

"You will remember--

"And you will be remembered." [In George E. Vaillant, Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development (Boston: Little, Brown, 2002), 324–25]

Do I have a testimony--living knowledge of that of which I speak? The answer is a resounding yes!

A number of months ago it was discovered that I had prostate cancer. Before that rude awakening, I had lived a healthy lifestyle and sought to know the Savior. I also knew that the Lord has a definite timetable for each of us. I had great faith that the right thing would occur.

President Gordon B. Hinckley assures us, "God is weaving his tapestry according to his own grand design. All flesh is in his hands. . . . We have no need to fear. We have no need to worry" (TGBH, 288).

I also have an incredible family and a sweetheart that is so tuned to the Spirit. Therefore, my social connectedness was and is great. Through fasting and prayer and exploring the various treatment options, with an excellent physician I made a decision and felt great peace. My spirit told me all would be well, for I still had much to do. With the help of many, I prepared my mind, body, and spirit and have been greatly blessed with excellent results.

Last week I visited my parents' grave sites in a little cemetery in Taber, Alberta. As I scanned other headstones, I saw the names of several of my now-deceased high school classmates. I know that living the gospel of Jesus Christ is the gift of health and a quality of life.

I conclude with a poem by Antonio Machado:

The wind, one brilliant day, called

to my soul with an aroma of jasmine.

"In return for this jasmine odor,

I'd like all the odor of your roses."

"I have no roses; I have no flowers left now

in my garden. . . . All are dead."

"Then I'll take the waters of the fountains,

and the yellow leaves and the dried-up petals."

The wind left. . . . I wept. I said to my soul,

"What have you done with the garden entrusted to you?"

["Llamó a mi corazón, un claro día," LXVIII, Soledades, Galerías, y Otros Poemas, translated by Robert Bly in Times Alone: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1983), 57]

Our Father in Heaven desires us to be joyful and well, to nurture and care for the garden that is entrusted to each of us. He needs a healthy people and has given us the gifts and abilities to be so. It is our responsibility to open those gifts and use them. May we do so, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, the author of all health and healing, amen.