The Word of Wisdom: Promises and Blessings – 2/2 (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21)

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their 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 I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

See part one here.

So – we continue to learn about the blessings of the Word of Wisdom. I really love these blessings. They motivate me to be better at really keeping the Word of Wisdom.

Strength to Endure
Often, when thinking of the phrase, “run and not be weary, and…walk and not faint,” I think of what this means, physically. I think of running a marathon.

I ran a marathon several years ago. It was a really interesting experience. It required discipline. It was humbling. It was difficult. In running and training for the marathon, I loved the idea of having discipline. For once in my life, I felt like I had discipline! I could say no to bad foods. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to run. While none of this was easy, I felt like having discipline was like wearing a badge of honor.

I’m not as physically disciplined these days. And I miss that feeling of confidence. Not only that, but I can see how physical discipline effects me spiritually.

I know that the blessing for keeping the Word of Wisdom is more than physical. Keeping the word of wisdom helps us to endure both physically and emotionally/spiritually. I love this promise! We have been told that in order to receive eternal life, we need to endure. And in the word of wisdom, we are blessed with being able to endure! It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.

And one last scripture while we’re on this topic –

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

There are many ways to wait upon the Lord, and I guess I get the feeling that we shouldn’t underestimate the connection between our bodies and Spirits. When we keep the word of wisdom, when we keep our personal temples holy and pure, then we are blessed with renewed strength, we will run and not be weary and walk and not faint. We will be given the ability to endure.

Protection and Life
The Lord has always preserved His people. In this verse, there is a reference to when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of those who were covenant Israel (See Exodus 12:23, 29). The Lord preserves His people through commandments and covenants. Of course, the Lord loves us. But the children of Israel weren’t automatically saved from the plague of death brought on by the Destroying Angel. They had to do as the Lord had instructed, and apply the blood of a lamb to their doorframe. When the Destroying Angel saw this token, he “passed over” the home. The children of Israel were literally saved from Destruction.

Keeping the word of wisdom can also keep us from being physically destroyed before our time. This is kind of obvious. When we keep the word of wisdom, we avoid contracting preventable diseases or other problems. The Word of Wisdom keeps us healthy.

But I kind of wonder if there is more to this promise than avoiding life-threatening disease – especially when you consider we will all die anyway.

The Lord’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt was not only physical, but symbolic of the deliverance that Christ can offer to all of us. We can all, through keeping the commandments and making covenants with God, be blessed with the ability to overcome the world. This blessing results in our inheritance of an eternal “promised land” – heaven.

Keeping the Word of Wisdom will also help us to receive this blessing. When we keep the Word of wisdom, we’re blessed with physical health and strength, we’re blessed with knowledge, we’re blessed with the ability to endure. These are the ingredients we need in order to inherit eternal life. Truly, if we keep the word of wisdom, the destroying angel will pass over us.

Even though I’m not always the best at keeping the word of wisdom – I don’t always eat the most healthy things. Sometimes, I don’t treat my body like the temple that it is. I can see how the word of wisdom helps us to develop discipline. It helps us to understand our physical relationship with the Lord. I am grateful for the word of wisdom.

What are some of the blessings and promises of the Word of Wisdom you are grateful for? What have you learned as you’ve studied and pondered the Word of Wisdom?

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The Word of Wisdom: Promises and Blessings Part One (D&C 89:18-21)

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their 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 I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

I have to admit, this is my favorite part of the Word of Wisdom.

When the Lord introduced this new principle, he explained that it was a principle with a promise. In these last few verses, we learn of the promised blessing that will come when we follow the principle of good health.

Health in the Navel, Marrow in the Bones
The first blessing is actual health. Now, this doesn’t mean that we will never get sick. But that we will have healthier lives because of living the word of wisdom. This seems like the most obvious consequence of keeping the Word of Wisdom. Just because it is obvious, though, doesn’t mean we should overlook its importance! Good health is an amazing blessing. When we have good health, we are better able to enjoy life.

I have always experienced fairly good health. I’ve never had a life threatening disease. Of course, there have been times that I’ve been sick, and when I’ve gone through that, I think, “This is the worst thing EVER!” And, afterwards, I am always amazed at how great it feels to be normal – not to have a runny nose, or fever, or some worse symptom.

Recently, though, I have had a problem with endometriosis. I have known about this problem for about five years, but hadn’t done anything to treat it because I wasn’t done having children. Then, this summer, it was acting up again, and I decided to see a doctor to do something about it. Since I knew that we were done having children, I prayerfully considered her advice: hysterectomy.

I elected to have the surgery – seven weeks ago. I’m already feeling so much better! I have more energy. I feel like I’m better able to enjoy life again. Even though I still have to get back to normal (my abdomen will need a bit of strengthening after that surgery), I’m noticing the quality of my life increase. I’m so grateful for health.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, there is a scripture that reads:

” Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;

Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19

I love this! When we keep the Word of Wisdom, and use the food that Heavenly Father has given us as He has directed, then it will strengthen our bodies and enliven our souls. The physical blessing of the Word of Wisdom is pretty cool.

Wisdom
Another blessing of the Word of Wisdom is wisdom! (Imagine that).

One of the best examples of this blessing is found in the example of Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-nego). They had been brought to the court of Nebuchadnezzar to be trained by his people. They would be added to his large counsel. They were young and first would go through various exercises. The first thing to do was to get healthy and strong. They were told to eat the “Kings Meat” and drink the “King’s Wine.” However, this diet was against the dietary code of Daniel and his Israelite brethren. They asked if they could be exempt from this part of the King’s training.

Of course, the eunuchs who were in charge of preparing Daniel and his brethren were worried about the results of their lack of participation. Daniel offered a challenge – they would keep their own Dietary code for ten days, and if they didn’t appear and perform well, then they would submit to the King’s diet.

After ten days, the boys appeared healthier than all of the other boys who had eaten the king’s meat. We also learn of another blessing:

“As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” – Daniel 1:17

In addition to their good health, these boys had received knowledge in all learning and wisdom.

I think that this makes sense. When we are following the Word of Wisdom (not necessarily the diet fad of the day), our brains work better. We receive the nutrients we need in order to have maximum function. We may not have six pack abs, but we won’t be “meat-heads” either. The Lord knows our bodies, He designed them. While we may not have an understanding of the benefits for various foods and our body, the Lord does. Our diet does more for us than our appearance -it also helps us have wisdom.

I, personally, am interested in this promise. I am always looking to improve my wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. If I want to do this, then I will stay closer to His Spirit through keeping the Word of Wisdom. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught us how to enhance the power of the Spirit in our lives:

“On the other hand, spiritual communication can be enhanced by good health practices. Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation.” – Richard G. Scott

It makes sense that if we don’t cloud our minds with the negative effects of drugs, then we will be blessed with greater wisdom. I find it interesting to also note that good eating habits help to enhance our ability to receive revelation and gain wisdom. Good food = Brain food.

***

I’m grateful for these blessings of the Word of Wisdom. I’m grateful to enjoy good health. I love being able to learn, think, and grow. I’m grateful that Heavenly Father has given us insight on how our bodies effect us physically and mentally. Have you experienced these blessings as a result of keeping the Word of Wisdom? How have the blessings of health and wisdom effected your life?

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Click here to read part two of The Word of Wisdom: Promises and Blessings.

The Word of Wisdom – It’s not Just about Flat Abs (D&C 89:14-17)

Update – May 15, 2014 – I will probably post about this later, but remember that this post is part of a learning process. I have been doing more experimenting with my own lifestyle, and I’ve been learning more about health AND the Word of Wisdom. Lately, I have been personally (and spiritually) inspired to pursue a Primal diet. I know it sounds hypocritical, and when you read this post, that will seem like the case. Keep in mind, this post was written in 2012, when I was only beginning to try to understand the Word of Wisdom and my diet.

I don’t want to take down this whole post because it was an important part of my process, and I think that the questions I ask are worth asking, even if I have come to different conclusions now.

As I said, I have transitioned into a Primal diet. That being said, I don’t have flat abs (yet!), and I feel GREAT. My mind is clearer. I feel like I’m experiencing more of the promise of the word of wisdom now that I’ve cleaned up my diet. So, if you are reading this blog, proceed with caution. I’ll link to an updated post as soon as I write it!

“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—

Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:14-17

As I studied this group of scriptures, I was led to the account of Daniel 1:6-20 and his brethren, when they were in the King’s Court. They didn’t want to break their dietary code by eating the “king’s meat.” Instead, they wanted to eat their own foods – which consisted mainly of grains.

As a test, they ate their diet for 10 days, and after this time, they had the following results:

“And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
– – –
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” – Daniel 1:15

This result really intrigues me. I get the feeling that maybe Daniel and his brethren weren’t ripped. They appeared “fairer and fatter in flesh.” I’m not exactly sure what this means. I doubt that it means that they were fat or obese. I also don’t think that they were underweight or “ripped” like we see so many people who are “fit” today.

I can’t help but wonder how skewed my perception of what healthiness or fitness looks like. I wonder how healthy a six-pack (especially on a woman) is. Of course, that is what we consider completely fit right now. But is it really best for our body – overall? Is it best for our organs, bones, or brains? We are more than our muscular system. I wonder if the obsession with health is actually contrary to the word of wisdom. In fact, I watched this talk Weighty Matters: Current Approaches to Evaluating Body Weight and Weight Loss, by Susan Fullmer about healthy weight, BMI, and other body weight issues. It was really interesting – we don’t know much. Many of the things that we think we know may be wrong! For example, people with a BMI that classifies them as “overweight” are actually usually healthier than those with an “underweight” BMI. You would never get this idea from looking at current media (or pinterest) trends.

I’m realizing that I’m a little confused and maybe brainwashed by the idea that I should be super-thin or fit. Usually, in order to obtain a six-pack body, you have to abandon carbs and eat mostly meats. (Think Paleo). I don’t know that I’m sure how the low-carb high protein diet fits into the Word of Wisdom!

So, when I see this story of Daniel, He denied the King’s Meats and instead ate his own diet of pulse and healthy plants. I know that this diet probably didn’t result with super-duper muscles. I’m sure he looked healthy, in a more balanced, moderate way. I am beginning to realize that I may have an incorrect expectation on what “health” or “fitness” looks like. The Word of Wisdom, keeping our Bodies temples, is much more than being tiny or skinny. It is about having a working body. Additionally, the Lord wants to bless us with spiritual, emotional, and mental health.

As I write this, I don’t want to sound like I’m supporting obesity. Instead, I think that we should not be so focused on our body. Rather, we need to focus on keeping the word of wisdom. If we are keeping the word of wisdom, then we ought to be confident in the results – our bodies, our minds, etc. If we are keeping the word of wisdom, then we ought to also accept the results – that they may not look like what is popular. They may not be as heavy as a Renoir Woman, as skinny as a runway model, or as fit as an olympic gymnast. If we keep the word of wisdom, our bodies will probably vary by each person (tall, short, big frame, small frame, etc), but we will be able to run and not be weary. We will also be blessed with knowledge and understanding. When we keep the word of wisdom, we aren’t blessed with a shredded body, but we’re blessed with an able and fit body – capable of handling the stresses that are placed on us – capable of enduring. We’re blessed with mental and spiritual capability. When we keep the Word of Wisdom, instead of washboard abs, we are a temple.

***

Another note. As I have been studying the word of wisdom, I’ve noticed a connection between agriculture and civilization. This probably sounds obvious, but here’s an example of exactly what I mean:

“And we began to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city, yea, even the walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom.

And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.” – Mosiah 9:8-9

The righteous, civilized people always till the ground. They always harvest and eat grains, seeds, and other fruits and vegetables. They do raise flocks, and one would assume that they are eating cheeses, milks, and some animal products. They may fish or forage for other wild foods, but they don’t have to worry about availability of wild foods because they are self-sufficient based on their cultivated crops.

On the other hand, we see what happens with those who stop being industrious and growing crops. They begin to lose their culture and are completely dependent on wild animals or wild plants.

“And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.” – Enos 1:20

The Lamanites, who had given up agriculture also gave up civilization. I bet they were ripped, but I doubt that they lived as long. I doubt that their lives were abundant with understanding and happiness. They might have looked good in a loincloth, but they didn’t understand their bodies were temples. They didn’t have the Spirit striving with them. Most likely, they didn’t enjoy good, overall health.

There is more to healthy living than looking good.

In this modern age, we don’t have to live with the connection between growing food ourselves and mealtime. We just get our food from the store. Some of the popular diets (high protein/meat) may not seem as uncivilized because we get our meat nicely packaged in the supermarket. But it seems like the Lamanites were living a high protein diet; where the Nephites and other righteous civilizations were eating diets that were more plant-based. I bet after eating such a protein-rich diet, the Lamanites noticed their abs, then decided they would look good in a loincloth!

Our modern “diets” may make us look good in a loincloth, but they may not be best for our health or society. I suppose that this is why the Word of Wisdom is so helpful. Even when we get conflicting dietary advice, we can look to the scriptures and know what we should eat in order to be our best selves.

Have you made the connection between the Word of Wisdom and body image? What do you do to keep a healthy body image? How do you wade through fad diets verses the prophetic counsel we’ve been given?

The Word of Wisdom — Good Stewardship (D&C 89:12-13)

Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:12-13

So you know, this post is all about meat…

mmmeeeeeaaaatttt…….

First of all, I’ve got to say, I love meat. I grew up in Texas. I can’t help but love steak. And Pork Chops. Chicken. I like it grilled, fried, and baked. I am not to partial as to how it is prepared, but I love it. However, I realize what the Doctrine and Covenants teaches here…there may be too much of a “good thing,” and I begin to question how much meat I should eat, and what exactly is sparingly.

Unfortunately, I feel like we can’t really get conclusive answers elsewhere. Given some of the “fad” diets that we have right now (Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, etc), this part of the Word of Wisdom can seem a little confusing. Even though I don’t truly believe that a banana is worse to eat than sausage wrapped in bacon, I find myself worrying about eating too many “carb-y” or sugary things – including fruits(!) – and not enough meat.

The thing to remember is, protein DOES NOT EQUAL meat. There are easy ways to get proteins from plant sources, too, and these are probably healthier for us. I feel like this confusion and misunderstanding is just because of what we hear every single day – about “health” and “diet.”

As I think about it, though – I’m reminded that the Word of Wisdom is always the best guide, no matter what doctors and scientists say. In the 1950s and 1960s, Doctors promoted cigarette smoking as healthy! Of course, now we realize that this advice is absurd. I wonder, in fifty years, will we finally be learning the truths of a good diet, and then look back and shake our heads at things like the Low Carb Diet, or other constrictive diets that rely too much on meat – even processed meat – over whole foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains?

It can be hard to banish the so-called wisdom that may be stopping us from fully embracing the word of wisdom.

So, now, when we look to the Word of Wisdom, we are taught to eat meat sparingly – in times of cold, winter, or famine. This can still seem quite flexible, and maybe even confusing. However, studying these two verses, especially the scriptures footnoted in this verse may add insight. Here are a few things I noticed.

There Have Always Been Dietary Laws
We know that there has always been a dietary law. Long before Joseph Smith and Doctrine and Covenants 89 came about, the Lord gave laws concerning diet to ancient Israel. They were commanded only to eat specific types of meat. Many kinds of animals were considered unclean. While we don’t categorize meat as clean or unclean, it is important to note that the amounts of meat eaten by the ancient Jews must have been limited based on the fact that there was so much they couldn’t eat. They didn’t have as many options, so they probably ate more plants than we do now.

Meat is Ordained for the Use of Man
The Lord teaches us that the beasts of the earth and fowls of the air were ordained for our use – for food and raiment. I know that this may seem ego-centric, but it is true: the earth and it’s contents were created to be used by us. However, this does not justify exploitation. Instead, it is implies how we ought to treat the earth as a sacred and special gift. It was created by God for us. It isn’t just something we can trash. We must be judicious and reverent – this shows Heavenly Father our gratitude for such amazing gifts.

Used Sparingly
Being a good steward does not mean that we will never use the gifts that the Lord has given us. We don’t need to take it to an extreme. It doesn’t mean that we try to leave the environment alone, completely. It doesn’t mean that the earth is better off without us. The Lord does want us to use all of what He has created. We learn:

“Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;

Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.

And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:17-20

The Lord doesn’t want us to take either extreme. We are supposed to use what he has given us – even animals and other natural resources, but we are to use them with judgement. I guess it seems simple enough.

Conclusions
The thing is, I realize, as I read this, I am part of a society which does not seem to understand the idea of judgment. It seems like we live in a world that is all about excess and even extortion. I think of how animals are raised – beef, pork, chicken. How is this judicious? How is it not extorting these animals and the land that they live on? Perhaps I shouldn’t buy into this industry. It is difficult because meat is so much cheaper when you go to the supermarket and buy ground beef that has been packaged and sold by a big plant. It is a lot more work and money to go and purchase beef from a local farmer – who has used good, ethical practices to raise, feed, and even slaughter cattle. Of course, as I write this, I realize, if I only purchase meat raised by ethical (and non-extortionist) farmers, then I will eat a lot less meat because it is hard to afford!

I am not an animal rights activist. I have never really put much thought into the entire subject. I like the taste of meat. That is all I usually think about. However, as I study the Word of Wisdom, I realize that there is more to it than appeasing my appetite (which has a tendency to become insatiable). I realize that this commandment is not only about my health, but about the health of the earth that the Lord has blessed me with. There are problems with eating too much meat. I’m not going to get into the nutritional ramifications other than the fact: if we’re eating too much meat, we’re probably not eating enough plants – so we’re robbing our bodies of important nutrients. We may be making ourselves sicker. Not only that, buy by eating too much meat, we are probably impacting our entire landscape – by subsidizing the big beef industry which is neither judicious nor sustainable.

So…In all, I guess this is where I’m grateful for the Word of Wisdom. I don’t know how our habits will impact us. I think that we are only beginning to learn (obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc). I think that eventually we will learn what we have already learned in the past: God’s wisdom – the Word of Wisdom – is always right. Even when “conventional wisdom” says otherwise, we know the truth. Even if we can’t pinpoint the exact reasons why we obey, even if our belief goes against the culture, we know that God’s ways are higher than our ways. (See Isaiah 55:8-9.)

So, I’m going to do my best to be a better steward. I’m going to eat less meat, and more plants. I’m going to be a wiser and more judicious consumer. I’m going to show the proper respect and gratitude that the Lord expects and deserves for the blessings he has given me.

What are your thoughts and feelings on this part of the Word of Wisdom? What do you do to keep it? Have you noticed blessings from eating meat sparingly?

The Word of Wisdom – With Prudence and Thanksgiving (D&C 89:9-11)

“And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:9-11

Here is the part of the Word of Wisdom where the tone begins to change. We go from what we shouldn’t be consuming to things that we should eat.

I have a few thoughts concerning this set of verses.

Wholesome Herbs
If you look down in the footnotes, we learn that “wholesome herbs” are any kind of plant that is for food. Plants are the first thing mentioned – that we should be eating! I’ve never realized this before. Often, when I think of the Word of Wisdom, and what I should eat, my mind goes instantly to wheat – being the staff of life. Yet wheat is mentioned later in the chapter. The first mention of what we should be eating is “wholesome herbs.” In current language, we could say, veggies and fruits. I find this interesting.

In the past, haven’t kept this part of the word of wisdom…Not consistently. I don’t have anything against fruits or veggies, but I really like other things – like carb-y things: bread, pasta, cookies, Pizza. Who has time for veggies when there are so many other things to eat!!!

Thankfully, I had the impression that I needed to change some of my habits. (This impression came in the form of my thighs). So, earlier in the year, I started drinking water. Then, I started eating at least five servings of veggies/fruits a day. (3 Veggies and 2 Fruits). I have to say, the change has been really amazing. Everything in my life is getting better. I feel better about what I eat (less remorse). I love fruits and vegetables, and I’m loving them even more. And other things like digestion are going well, too (won’t get into that here, but I can say that I don’t need to eat Fiber One anymore…) It’s amazing how keeping the Word of Wisdom is good for us.

With Prudence
So, as much as we can get excited about vegetables and fruits, the Lord includes a caveat: with prudence. This is great as it helps me to remember that there needs to be wisdom applied even to good things. We need to eat in moderation. Veggies and fruits are an important part of our dietary needs, but they aren’t everything. We need to eat wisely.

As I think about this, I also think about how we may modify some things that begin healthy. For example, eating a potato chip may not be the most prudent way to eat potatoes, or is a Chee-to the most prudent way to eat corn(?).

Finally, I think that prudence can also be applied to preparation. There are times when we can destroy the health benefits of plants in the way we prepare and consume them.

With Thanksgiving
Finally, in anything we eat, we need to do it in joy and thanksgiving. We need to be cheerful and grateful. This is a key. Eating well shouldn’t be a drudgery. It should be a way that we celebrate and show our gratitude for the creations of the Lord.

How has keeping this part of the word of wisdom been beneficial in your life? How do you remember to eat enough fruits and veggies?

The Word of Wisdom – Tobacco…Not Good for Man (D&C 89:8)

“And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:8

In reading this, I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather, who struggled with tobacco his entire life.

My Grandpa

My grandpa didn’t grow up in the Church. He wasn’t introduced to the gospel (and the Word of Wisdom) until he was an adult – long after he had developed a dependence on tobacco. Not only that, but when he was young, tobacco wasn’t considered to be harmful. I understand his situation, so I don’t want to sound like I’m picking on him, but tobacco destroyed and eventually took his life.

My grandfather passed away several years ago; however, for the last 15+ years of his life, he suffered from Emphysema. Throughout this illness, he still smoked and used all kinds of tobacco products. I can’t imagine having Emphysema. He was hospitalized – nearly to the point of death – several times. He died a slow and painful death because of Emphysema, and the thing is: it could have been avoided. Even though my grandfather developed a tobacco habit long before science understood the dangers of tobacco, he could have been spared this illness by following the commandments of the Lord.

I feel like in seeing his example, it was imperative for me to learn from it. Because of my grandpa, I’ve never been tempted to smoke or use any kind of tobacco. So, studying this verse seemed to be kind of redundant, but I kept studying – and I have learned something useful, too.

I was struck by the idea that our bodies are created by God. They are sacred … they are holy.

We have been taught:

“The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:35

We need to keep our temples holy. And Heavenly Father has given us instruction on how to do it. He, as the creator of our bodies, is qualified and able to teach us how to keep our bodies from being defiled.

Heavenly Father knows what is good for us. He knows everything. He knows the true purpose of all of the plants and herbs that he has created. Sure, some of them may have an effect on our bodies, and those effects may even feel good, but they aren’t necessarily good for us. It is easy to see how tobacco is bad for us. However, there are other ways we can defile our temples – not only through tobacco. Currently, it seems that the struggle with our bodies is with food.

People are defiling their temples through neglect and eating poorly. And the results of such choices are just as Heavenly Father warned: …and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.” I have to admit, I’m not always the best at keeping my body pure. Sure, I don’t use tobacco, but there are times when I choose to eat things that aren’t nourishing to my body. It is a hard habit to break. But it is good for me to remember the experience of my Grandfather – and to trust God by keeping the Word of Wisdom so I don’t have to endure unnecessary illness.

What do you do to help keep your body pure and undefiled? How have you felt blessed as you have done so?

The Word of Wisdom – not for the Belly (D&C 89:7)

I’m getting around to posting more of the study of the Word of Wisdom. So…for today:

” And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies. – Doctrine and Covenants 89:7

As I studied this verse, I looked to the footnotes listed in the scripture. Interestingly enough, the word referred to three scriptures in the Bible. They didn’t refer to revelation given in the latter-days. Strong drink has never been for the belly.

Here are the verses that are footnoted…along with a few ideas of my own.

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” – Proverbs 20:1

I find it interesting that this is an OLD Testament reference. I have met several people that take issue with the Word of Wisdom because it is modern revelation. They say, “Jesus drank wine.” I don’t doubt that Jesus drank wine. But, perhaps it wasn’t that strong.

I can’t imagine that the Savior would have been mocked by strong drink, nor would he have been deceived. Jesus was a master of self-control. He even warned people of the problem that alcohol can pose to people, anciently.

I like this verse because I have seen it to be true in my life. Although I was raised Mormon, my dad is not LDS. He never has been. He drinks alcohol, and has for as long as I’ve known him. My (ex)-stepmom seems to have a real problem with drinking. For as long as I’ve known her, she gets pretty drunk most nights. I saw, first-hand, this verse come true – wine, strong drink, deceived her, mocked her, mocked all of us who came in contact with her. She wasn’t always raging, but she could. She had no semblance of self-control. It was embarrassing. I knew, as a teenager, that I never wanted to drink. I wasn’t tempted by curiosity. I was repulsed by alcohol – from the way it smelled to the way it would make my parents act.

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.” – Proverbs 23:30-35

This scripture block is pretty interesting to me.
“tarry long with wine” → woe, sorrow, contention, babbling, wounds without cause, red eyes

First of all, I have witnessed this. I’m sure most people have. And there are probably people who have experienced this. I think that this is what I mean when I say that I was never attracted to the idea of alcohol…I saw woe, sorrow, contention, babbling, wounds without cause, and red eyes. I saw my parents exhibit or do each of these things, and I never understood why they wouldn’t snap out of it. It was frustrating, and as I got older, I realized that they had no control. They had given up control to a little glass; a little liquid. It seemed absolutely crazy to me.

I don’t understand verse 31, but I think that it is because I don’t understand much about wine or alcohol.

I do see that verse 32 is figurative, and most likely true.

And I love verse 33 – beer goggles?!

Verse 34 – sounds like barfing to me.

And in verse 35 – the person seems to wish for a release from the stupor and sickness of drunkenness, yet says, “I will seek it yet again.” Interesting – especially considering we know the addictive nature of alcohol.

It is better to stay away from alcohol – from the beginning – and I think that is what the author means to teach us.

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” – Luke 1:15

This scripture refers to John the Baptist.

Strong drinks are not good for us. They have never been good for us. Even anciently, the prophets and those who were close to the Spirit knew this.

Avoiding alcohol isn’t modern counsel. Perhaps now we have stricter rules. I don’t know. We learn about strong drinks. I’m not sure if there are mild ones. But we know we need to stay away from alcohol.

I think about Christ’s time – how wine may have been acceptable, but not in excess. Who knows. I wasn’t there. But one thing I do know: God loves His children. He knows that we live in a world were we deal with many things with either little or no margin of error. We have cars, airplanes, firearms. Back in Christ’s time, a man got drunk, and maybe fell off of his donkey. Now, there is more at risk. We can have horrible accidents without being impaired. I think that is why our current dietary code is so strict.

What is also clear is: alcohol and other substances cloud our judgement. When this happens, we are no longer open to the guidance of the Spirit. It is best to avoid things that will destroy our ability to remain virtuous.

The Word of Wisdom – Pure Wine of the Grape (D&C 89:6)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the Word of Wisdom. I’m still studying it from time to time, though!

“And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:6

In this verse, the Lord is talking about the wine that is to be used for the sacrament. We learn more insight on this subject through a cross reference to Doctrine and Covenants 27:1-14 (especially verse 3).

What we drink isn’t that important when partaking of the sacrament. What is of utmost importance is how we worship. Now, this is not an excuse to go off and do whatever you want for sacrament. There is an order to everything, and we should partake of the sacrament exactly how the Lord has instructed us. However, we also shouldn’t worry so much when the Lord changes a detail like – what we drink. He teaches Joseph Smith that what is of utmost importance when partaking the sacrament is that we do it with an eye single to the Lord – Remembering that it was the body of Christ that was laid down and His blood that was shed for us.

As for the wine – The Lord instructs Joseph not to buy the wine from others anymore. There were many people who wanted to kill Joseph Smith and the other Latter-day Saints. The Lord preserved them by having them prepare their own wine for the sacrament.

Now, we don’t really use anything but water for the sacrament. This is what the Lord has taught us as far as the sacrament goes – for now. We have been taught that there will be a time when the saints will again partake of the Sacrament with the Lord and other past saints. Who knows what will happen then.

As for now, though, we know that it doesn’t matter – water, wine, whatever. We do what God has commanded. Here, the Lord talks about having “pure” wine. Even more importantly, we need to have a pure heart – with an eye single to the Glory of our Savior. What we eat or drink isn’t that important. These are merely symbols – of the grace and mercy that we can experience through Christ’s atonement.

The Word of Wisdom – It is not Good, Neither Meet in the Sight of your Father (D&C 89:5)

” 5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:5

So…here is where we get down to the “don’ts” of the Word of Wisdom. This verse is what makes us Mormons so unique.

I had a conversation recently with a family member. I love him and respect him, although we don’t share religious viewpoints. One of his questions was about the Word of Wisdom, and wine – specifically. He asked what was wrong with wine, and he pointed out the Christ drank wine.

I felt a little bit uncomfortable with the pointed questions – mostly because I didn’t want to come off offensive or holier than thou. I don’t mind that other people choose to drink. I know that my faith is my choice, and everyone is entitled to believe according to the dictates of his or her own conscience.

As I’ve studied this verse, I think that I have more knowledge to understand what, exactly is wrong with wine and strong drink.

Self Mastery
So much of the gospel is about mastering our selves. The gospel is about overcoming the natural man by praying and yielding ourselves to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. (See Mosiah 3:19.) The word of wisdom helps us to achieve this goal. Wine and strong drink can get in the way of self mastery.

Discernment
In Leviticus 10:9-11, the priests are instructed not to drink wine or strong drink. Such consumption dulls the spiritual senses – The Lord explains,

” 10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; Leviticus 10:10

In other words, the Lord warns the priests not to drink wine or strong drink so that they don’t lose the power to discern.

Discernment is a gift of the Spirit. I feel like it is a very nuanced gift. I mean, I know that I’ve been blessed at times to be able to discern, but I’m not always the very best at it. I know that I’m not best at discerning anything on my own. I’m naturally a very trusting person, and I’ve been lied to many times. Over my life, I’ve been blessed to be able to better discern. As a mother and a wife, I’m grateful for this blessing. I need this power to help me make many decisions.

The Lord teaches us that wine and strong drink nullify this gift. I can’t think that such a distraction is worth the price of such a loss.

Woe!
Isaiah declares:

” 11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!” – Isaiah 5:11

Sometimes, it seems like a “woe” is a judgement arbitrarily handed out from God. However, the woe that is pronounced here is simply a consequence from a chosen action.

In other words, Isaiah is telling a simple fact. If you drink all day and night, until you are inflamed then – woe! I have to agree with Isaiah. What good comes from such a habit? Isn’t such a level of alcoholism woeful?

I have seen forms of alcoholism in my life. It has caused many problems – just as outlined in the scriptures. I have seen the effects of alcohol cause someone to lose their sense of discernment – to the point where he committed adultery. This choice led to the break-up of a marriage and family.

I have also seen how the words of a drunk parent can effect the tender hearts of their children – as drunkenness, and loss of discernment, causes people to lose their filters. Since the child who received the stinging words wasn’t drunk, and most likely never has been drunk, it is hard to understand the reasons for the criticism. These instances can cause many problems for the child and for the relationship between the parent and the child.

I have seen people get inflamed with the effects of alcohol. As an outsider, it can be annoying to hang out with a drunk person. But, worst of all, for the person who has been drinking, such inflammation can cause a hangover the next day, which doesn’t seem like a great reward for previous raucous behavior.

These scenarios seem woeful to me.

Temperance
This point is interesting – as I know that there are many people who can consume alcohol temperately. I believe that this is a possibility. I don’t think that alcohol, in and of itself, is bad. It is that alcohol is so easy to abuse – this is the problem.

As for myself, I don’t think that I’m naturally temperate. Perhaps, if I had alcohol, I’d be a little abusive. Goodness knows I can get excessive about anything, and I’m a little passionate. It is just as well for me to stay away from alcohol – and stay away from the temptation to drink too much.

Unnecessary
The Lord doesn’t require wine in the sacrament. Sure, that is the traditional beverage used – as Christ used wine when he gave the first supper. And here, in the doctrine and Covenants, the Lord teaches that wine is pretty much unnecessary. It is not meet in Him – except in offering up sacraments before Him.

So…why do we drink water at the sacrament instead of wine?

I don’t know – other than the Lord commanded us. I also am struck by the connection between wine and water here. Recall in the New Testament, the first miracle that Christ performed in the New Testament was to turn water into wine. Now, we drink water for our sacrament. I’m not sure what the connection is, but I think that it probably doesn’t matter that we don’t drink wine. What matters is we observe the Sacrament the way that the Lord taught us – looking to Him, always remembering Him, and keeping His commandments.

***
Our bodies are to be temples – houses of the Lord, a refuge, a holy place. How can we do so if we defile our temple? And it seems to me that, if we follow strong drink, then we defile our temples through a loss of discernment and the spirit. It is not good nor meet for us.

The Word of Wisdom – Warned and Forewarned (D&C 89:4)

“4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:4

A few things that I learned while studying this verse:

i)
While most people are good and trustworthy, there are some people who knowingly choose wickedness over righteousness. There are people who have no desire to do good to others or build up society in any way.

I don’t think that we need to be skeptical of everyone, but we do have to be careful.

ii)
There are people who seek extreme wealth and power over others. They have no scruples with going about such ambitions through ways that are directly harmful to us. In fact, we can see that this is true in both the “drug industry” and, unfortunately, the food industry.

The drug-lords are obviously conspiring against people for their own gain. We have seen a recent uptick in violence in Mexico because of the drug trade. These people don’t care about their own peers. They don’t care about those who use drugs. Obviously. They only care about getting richer and more powerful. Why would we trust them in any way?

I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy-theorist, but I believe that there are also people who head up some major food companies that don’t exactly have our best interest in mind. They may not be as socio-pathic as drug-lords, but it seems like they care about their bottom line more than the general health of the population.

It is easy to see why. If their companies don’t make money, they don’t make money. Read here (an excerpt from David A. Kessler’s, The End of Overeating for some examples of how our food industry (especially processed foods) may not be as innocent and nice as they seem in the commercials.

iii)
We don’t need to be fooled by the wealth and power of those who have amassed such assets wickedly. They have received such “abundance” at the expense of others, not because God has blessed them.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be fooled, we need to be sure that we are not buying into these bad products. Obviously, staying away from drugs and alcohol is a good place to start. Additionally, I know that I can do a better job at staying away from fast food restaurants. Choose to actually cook! Shop at farmer’s markets. Grow a garden. And if you are eating out, make healthy choices. Speak in a way that these conspiring men will understand – with your moolah!

iv)
I find it interesting that the Lord is giving us a warning about food here. Recently, I’ve been trying to take off baby weight. There are many diets available that focus on cutting out entire food groups. There is advice from the government. There are movie stars, weight loss companies, and even pills that will help to do the trick.

Each seems to claim the best results and that their plans are “safe”.

And I feel confused, yet, as I think about the Word of Wisdom, I become increasingly grateful. Even though the Lord has only given us a guideline on how to treat our bodies, it is enough to give us guidance in this sea of “information.”

Not all of the advice we hear is clear or even believable. Again, there are conspiring men who know that they can lose billions of dollars if we don’t buy into what they are selling. They have a lot at stake, and will do what it takes to get us to believe them.

So…Instead, I will trust the Lord. I will look to the Word of Wisdom, I will prayerfully study other advice that is available from all sources, and let the Spirit guide me in my quest to treat my body like a temple.

v)
The Word of Wisdom was given to us, specifically us – in the last days, by revelation. Dietary codes have existed before, but these codes haven’t had the same advice or requirements. The Word of Wisdom, as contained in Doctrine and Covenants 89 is for us now.

I don’t think that we have a new dietary code because we suddenly have a new biochemistry or physiology than in generations past. I think that the reason why the code is different now is because we now face different advantages and threats. For example, thanks to modern refrigeration and preservation, many meats don’t pose a threat to us the way that they did in the past. We understand the implications with improperly stored food. (ie – salmonella, food poisoning, etc!)

However, we also have new-found threats. We have cars, planes, guns – all types of machinery that have a minuscule margin of error. Having a word of wisdom that forbids alcohol is quite helpful in keeping our lives safer because of these new technologies. Now, many of us have ample supplies of safe drinking water (or easy ways to make it safe), where alcohol has become increasingly stronger. Anciently, drunkenness was frowned upon, but even if you did get drunk, worst case scenario: you fall off your donkey. Now, there are more very dangerous threats.

Many people who live in developed countries have access to an oversupply of food. Also, many of us don’t have to grow our own food. Perhaps this is why the revelation also includes information on how we ought to eat. I know that I am quite disconnected from my food sources. I mean, don’t tomatoes grow at the supermarket, year round? 😉

Anyways…nothing I say here is meant to be the word on the word (of wisdom). As usual, I’m just thinking…and sharing these crazy thoughts with you. However, such an exercise is helping me to be a little more thoughtful about what I put into my mouth.

I’ve been thinking about health a lot lately. My brother passed away a few weeks ago. He was a young, healthy 18 year-old boy. Five people’s lives were saved because he took care of his body. Think of that! What we do really matters. Maybe we’ll never be organ donors. And hopefully, if we take care of our bodies, we’ll never need someone else’s organs. The Lord wants us to be happy, and a big part of our happiness is based on our physical health – so he has warned us and forewarned us.

What have you noticed in the world around you concerning the warnings that the Lord has given in D&C 89:4? Are there tips you have that will help to better discern the many types of information we face?

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