I had to give a talk in church yesturday and this is what I came up with.
The human body is an amazing thing. The following are a few examples of what the body is capable of. There are people who have climbed Mt. Everest, which is a 5 ½ mile vertical assent. There is a person who can run 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. That’s something like 25 miles per hour. There is a guy that can clap his hands 721 times in one minute. That averages out to be 12 claps per second. The world record for long jump is just over 29 feet. That’s almost as tall as a three story building.
Now that’s just the athletic side of the body. Even more amazing is the medical side of the body. Isn’t it kind of neat to think that if you get a cut or injury that the body is able to repair itself with just a little care? What about the idea of organ transplant? Who ever thought that one up, must have been laughed at when he proposed the idea to his peers. I once saw a show on The Learning Channel about a baby that was going to be born with Spin bifida, but a doctor was able to perform a surgery on the unborn baby that repaired the imperfection and the baby was able to be born perfectly normal. It’s truly amazing what a body can do with good nutrition, exercise, good coaching, and good medical care.
The human spirit is no less impressive. In fact I would say that it’s even more amazing. A few years ago there was a man who forgave a drunk driver who caused an accident that killed his wife and two children on Christmas Eve. I have heard of a woman who dedicated her life to fostering hundreds of children. I know people who give their time to serve at the schools to make the schools a better place for our kids. I see people in our ward every day that go about serving each other quietly without any thought of reward. What great examples of how the human spirit can reach out to others.
Just like the body has remarkable healing properties, so does the spirit. It’s amazing that a hard heart can be softened, a broken heart can heal, an offended heart can forgive, and a guilty heart can repent. These things may not come as easily as the healing that takes place in the body, but can always be achieved with proper care and nurturing. Who are the people that will provide the care and nurturing required by the spirit? We are…
I believe that first and foremost we have a responsibility to ourselves. We need to properly nourish our spirit so that it is healthy enough to heal from the spiritual illnesses and injury that can sometimes be inflicted upon us. Luckily, our Stake Presidency has given us a Spiritual Food Pyramid that simply outlines the nutritional needs of the spirit. It is the 2x4 plan. Every day we should be reading our scriptures and praying to our Father in Heaven. Every week we should be doing Family Home Evening and attending our church meetings. Every month we should attend the temple at least once and pay our fast offerings. Once a year we should read the Book of Mormon and attend tithing settlement. If we do these things I am confident that our spirit will receive the proper nutrition it needs to be healthy.
Another important component to a spirit that can withstand the trials of life & further the work of the Lord is strength. What better way to make your spirit stronger than by exercise. Even though it can result in sore spiritual muscle and a little fatigue it is important to exercise our faith. It can be hard to bend to the will of the Lord when we were hoping for something different. Accepting a calling in the church can be a difficult task. Standing up to peers when they want you to do something you know is wrong is really hard. Giving a talk in sacrament meeting can be really scary, but the spiritual strength that results from any of these & a host of other faith building activities is well worth the spiritual muscle fatigue that may result from the process of exercising our faith.
Next, our responsibility lies in our home. In 1918 one of the worst epidemics in history swept across the world and claimed an estimated 21 millions lives in less than one year. The Spanish Flu was largely ignored here in the U.S. and as a result a total of 550,000 people died in a period of 16 weeks. There is an epidemic today attacking the family from every angle. You see it on the internet, on the television, in magazines, you hear it on the radio, and see it in the people that you interact with everyday. This epidemic has claimed the eternal salvation of countless people and is only growing in strength.
We have a duty to coach our children to become more like Christ so that they too can withstand this spiritual flu. There are simple things that we can do now that will bring them closer to Christ and help them to gain a testimony of the gospel. Ezra Taft Benson gave a list of ten things that fathers can do to give spiritual leadership to their children (& I believe that many of these are things that Moms can do as well):
1. Give father’s blessings to your children. Baptize and confirm your children. Ordain your sons to the priesthood. These will become spiritual highlights in the lives of your children.
2. Personally direct family prayers, daily scripture reading, and weekly family home evenings. Your personal involvement will show your children how important these activities really are.
3. Whenever possible, attend Church meetings together as a family. Family worship under your leadership is vital to your children’s spiritual welfare.
4. Go on daddy-daughter dates and father-and-sons’ outings with your children. As a family, go on campouts and picnics, to ball games and recitals, to school programs, and so forth. Having Dad (& Mom) there makes all the difference.
5. Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. These memories will never be forgotten by your children.
6. Have regular one-on-one visits with your children. Let them talk about what they would like to. Teach them gospel principles. Teach them true values. Tell them you love them. Personal time with your children tells them where you put your priorities.
7. Teach your children to work, and show them the value of working toward a worthy goal. Establishing mission funds and education funds for your children shows them what you consider to be important.
8. Encourage good music and art and literature in your homes. Homes that have a spirit of refinement and beauty will bless the lives of your children forever.
9. As distances allow, regularly attend the temple with your wife. Your children will then better understand the importance of temple marriage and temple vows and the eternal family unit.
10. Have your children see your joy and satisfaction in service to the Church. This can become contagious to them, so they, too, will want to serve in the Church and will love the kingdom.
Each of these things is simple, but makes all the difference to a child. I think the reason why these work is that it shows your children where your priorities lie: In the gospel and in your family which in turn shows them where their priorities should also be.
Next, we need to make our homes a sanctuary from the outside world & guard our homes from the evil influences that wait to infect us.
L. Tom Perry said, “We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us. Even if the smallest openings are left unattended, negative influences can penetrate the very walls of our homes.”
D&C 88:119 states “Establish a house, even 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.”
Our homes should be a place where the Holy Spirit can reside and comfort our families from the constant attacks on our spirit. Our homes should nurture divine qualities and foster spiritual growth. We need to be ever attentive of the media influences we allow to enter these walls. We need to be vigilant of the programs our children watch on T.V., keep tabs on the activities our children engage in online, oversee the books and magazines that our kids bring home, and occasionally listen to the music playing on our kids’ iPods. These are all ways in which the epidemic attacking the family can enter into the home and claim the spiritual welfare of those residing within. If we are going to get our kids into the Spiritual Olympics there is a lot of work that needs to be done. We can’t just sit back and hope that our kids will gain a testimony. We need to do everything in our power to help our children reach their full spiritual potential and protect our homes from the plague that seems to invade at every opportunity.
Finally, we have a responsibly to serve the Lord and His children. The human spirit is a delicate and tender thing. It can be easily harmed by the trials & temptations in life and needs constant nurturing. We can be the Lord’s doctors that provide the bandages and medications that can help to heal even the most damaged of souls. In D&C 81:5 the Lord has commanded us to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” Through love, compassion, & service we can provide the care needed to those who hearts are heavy and searching for relief. We can steady the wavering faith of others. We can show love and support to those who have made mistakes and help them to return their focus to the teachings of the gospel. This in turn brings about repentance and the sweet relief of forgiveness.
What a sweet blessing it is to be part of the Lord’s church where one person can make such a big difference. The problems of the world seem so overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to begin. But under the Lord’s direction it is easy to know the starting point. Begin with yourself. Julie Beck in the last General Relief Society meeting stated that “Membership in the Church requires faith, which we nourish throughout our lives with great diligence, and patience, and long suffering. M. Russell Ballard Stated, “True and complete conversion is the key to accelerating the work of the Church.” Next, strengthen the family. The family is essential to the Lord’s plan and we should defend it with all of our might from the “slings and arrows” that constantly assault. Lastly, there are a lot of people depending on you to be strong enough to be the example they need & to support them in times of hardship. It is the duty of the strong to support the weak and we must meet this call with all of the faith and diligence that we can muster. What a blessing it is to know that with the guidance of the Holy Ghost we can make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others.