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In the 1969 speech “The Loneliness of Leadership“, Gordon Hinckley discusses the loneliness that leaders feel-both spiritual leaders and secular leaders and how true leaders stand up for what they believe to be right regardless of consequences. Examples he uses include Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and recent converts to the Church who are ostracized and cast out for their belief.

He concludes with the following:

I like these great words of the Lord given to those who would go out and teach this gospel:

I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. [D&C 84:88]

I think that is a promise to each of us. I believe it; I know it. I bear testimony of its truth to you this day.

After reading this, I thought about times in my life when I’ve had to stand up for what I believed to be right, according to what I felt that God had put in my heart.

Joining the Mormon Church

When I was 9 years old, my parents divorced and I moved with my mother to another state. We had been raised members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), but after the divorce we gradually quit attending church.

I remember my mother inviting people over and having study sessions on why the Mormon religion is false and although I don’t think she knew I was listening, it did have an affect on me. Also, she confided in me a lot of negative information about my father that influenced my opinion of him as a person. He remained a practicing Mormon, so as a child, I blamed the Mormon church as well as all of the negative things that I heard in my home about Mormons. I hated Mormons.

At school I would bully them. Tease them. Gradually, it evolved into where I was not only teasing Mormons, but all people of faith. I was very young-11 years old- but I was getting involved in drinking, vandalism, and heading down a very negative path.

One day my mother came to me and told me that I should go and visit my father as I hadn’t seen him in 2 years because of my hatred for him and his religion. I told her I didn’t want to go, but she told me that legally I needed to and also it would be good for me. Looking back, I think she recognized a lot of the negative things in my life and thought I needed a father figure.

Before I left, she sat me down in the my bedroom that was in the garage of our old house and told me that when I visited my father that he would try and make me go to church with him. She told me that I didn’t have to go and to make sure that whatever I do I didn’t become Mormon. I looked at her confused and wondered why she would even worry about that because that was the last thing I wanted to do. I just wanted to have the 2 week trip over with.

To make a long story short, I visited my Dad. I noticed a very peaceful feeling almost immediately when I was in his home. Something I didn’t realize I had been craving. I also noticed that he wasn’t as bad as I had been told and that he was actually a very sincere and fun person to be around. He had remarried and my new step-mom was very kind and patient.

The other thing I realized was that the Mormon church wasn’t bad. In fact, I felt peace there that I hadn’t felt anywhere else (when we left the Mormon church, we went “church shopping” to a bunch of churches like Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, non-denominational, etc). After only a short time, the Holy Spirit shared with me a vision of my life and what would come of it if I stayed with my mother in that situation at the time, or moved in with my Dad. It was clear to me and I feel blessed that the Lord put it into my heart that I needed to join the Mormon church and also live with my Dad.

When I had the conversation with my mom, I knew that if I came back home with her, I was too weak at the time to stand up for what I had felt in my heart and I would fall back into my bad friends and behavior. I told her I was staying with Dad. She and I had a big blow-out conversation on the phone that ended with her telling me that if I went back to the Mormon church and my Dad she wouldn’t talk with me again. That hurt me deeply, but I knew what God had put in my heart and I had faith that I should follow that. So I chose to stay with my Dad.

Years later, after I had experienced a lot of psychological and emotional pain (which I wrote about in my book Discovering Light: 12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication), I realized I needed to make amends with my mother and forgive her. Funny thing was that she put the blame back on me by saying I imagined that she had said that. I’ve forgiven her regardless and I’m very glad that I made that difficult decision years ago because it has changed my life a lot.

Other Experiences

Since becoming a Mormon, I have had to walk a lonely road at times. I haven’t been perfect by any means, but largely the Lord has blessed me.

There were times in college when young ladies wanted to sleep with me and I turned them down because of what I believe.

There were times in Europe when I was working after having served a mission in Germany where I was ridiculed and cast out of a home I was staying in because I wouldn’t drink with them.

In my career, I’ve found that people are very accepting for the most part, of my beliefs and I’ve made some great friends as I don’t shy away from my faith, but stand up for it. I’ve found that for the most part, people are drawn to that.

Most importantly, I’ve found that I feel the Lord’s comfort and Spirit come over me in a way that I can’t describe as I’ve been all alone and decided to stand up for what I feel is right. I’ve found that Heavenly Father surrounds us with love when we do this and we come to know Him as a father more deeply in these times.

Your Turn

I’ve shared a few examples of standing up for truth and your beliefs and how God blessed my life.

I’m sure that you have some stories as well. We would all love to hear them, so please share.


I recently read an article entitled “Do Vegetarians Live Longer?”.  There were numerous studies cited that support eating a purely vegetarian diet vs. a meat-based, or Paleo diet.  However, a couple studies that stood above the rest was a study that showed eating mostly plant-based diet with some meat (mostly fish) is the best diet for longevity.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

pescetarians—those who have a mostly plant-based diet but eat some seafood—were the true winners, with a slightly lower mortality rate than vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, and indiscriminate meat eaters. This may have to do with the food, but it could also be because pescetarians tend to put quite a bit of thought into their intricate dietary direction. Because they are often pickier when it comes to the food choices they make, they might do the same when it comes to other aspects of their lives such as exercise, smoking, getting enough sleep, etc.

Given the basic principle of Paleo eating is that our bodies are designed to eat the way our ancestors ate, it looks like we’re supposed to be eating (say it with me now) a largely plant-based diet and some animal products.

This research falls in line with a revelation given to Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, called the The Word of Wisdom, which has been called many times “God’s Law of Health”.

Compare the statements above to some quotes from the Word of Wisdom:

inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father

tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man

all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man

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

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

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.

Most people know that Mormons do not drink strong drinks or smoke or use drugs, but when you look more closely at the Word of Wisdom, there are a lot of “dos” as well such as eating mostly grains, fruits, and vegetables.

It looks like Science may have caught up with what God revealed a couple of hundred years ago and what our ancestors did thousands of years ago!

Recently, a member of our family went on a vegan diet (eating no meat, dairy, or eggs) in order to help with a health issue with the heart.  After 2 months of the diet, they went to the doctor, and the doctor was amazed at how much our family member had improved and asked what they were doing.  When they told him, he said it was nothing short of a miracle and to keep it up.

This experience led me to re-read what many Mormons call the “Lord’s Law of Health” or the Word of Wisdom.  The Word of Wisdom is a revelation given to Joseph Smith in the early 1800’s and contains many of the Mormon health laws that make Mormons famous such as not drinking alcohol, tea, or coffee.

However, one of the parts overlooked by Mormons and also by those outside the church is the part about eating meat vs. eating grains and vegtables.  It reads:

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

11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

12 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;

13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

14 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;

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

16 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—

Some have questioned if this means that Mormons should be Vegetarians.  After a little bit of research, I discovered there are a few levels of Vegetarianism, one of which is called “Flexetarianism” or “Semi-Vegitariansim”.  This is defined as a Vegetarian (someone who doesn’t eat meat) in most cases, but occasionally eats meat.

Therefore, I would say that if a Mormon is strictly adherring to the Word of Wisdom, they are only eating meat in extreme situations, or in other words, occasionally.

Occasional means something different though to many people.  For some, occasional means once/day.  Others, occasional could mean once/year.  According to the Word of Wisdom, occasional (as outlined above) means only in rare circumstances, or in the winter.

The Word of Wisdom ends with a promise for those who follow it that they will receive “health to their navel and marrow to their bones” and they will be able to “run and not be weary and walk and not faint”.  These are amazing promises, and I’ve seen them fulfilled with members of my family who follow the principle.

I’ll admit, I’m not good at giving up the meat.  I work out a lot and have a thing in my head that I need to have protein.  Therefore, my diet includes meat at least once/day.  I eat very lean meat (i.e. turkey, fish, chicken), but I do eat meat nonetheless.  Maybe if I were to become a True Mormon and follow the Word of Wisdom more strictly, I could get that ache out of my knee when I play basketball!!

Does anyone have any experiences with following this type of diet outlined in the Word of Wisdom and gaining better health, or even better, a closer relationship with God?  If so, please share.


Mormons are known for the revelation given to Joseph Smith commonly called the “Word of Wisdom”, which is the law of health.  Part of the Word of Wisdom includes things that individuals should not consume such as alcohol, and “hot drinks”, which the LDS prophets have interpretted to mean caffeinated tea and coffee. 

I read a study on line from UC Davis that stated the caffeine content of some energy drinks can be as high as 294 mg/bottle, which is 50 mg more than the highest amount of your typical tea, coffee, or cola drink.  In addition, when you add the amounts of sugar to the drinks, they become something that definitely are more damaging to the body than any tea or coffee.  See the chart below for caffeine and sugar content in popular energy drinks:

Drink Serving (fl. Oz.) Servings per container Sugar per serving Caffeine per serving Kcal
Diet Rockstar Energy Drink™ 8 2 0g 80 10
Full Throttle™ 8 2 29g 72 111
Go Girl Sugar Free™ 12 1 0g 150 3
Lo-Carb Monster XXL™ 8 3 3g 80 10
Monster Energy Assault™ 8 2 27g 80 100
Monster Energy XXL™ 8 3 27g 80 100
Red Bull Sugar Free™ 8.3 1 0g 80 10
Red Bull™ 8.3 1 27g 80 110
Rockstar Energy Drink™ 8 2 30g 80 130
Rockstar Juiced™ 8 2 21g 80 90
Wired 294 Caffeine™ 8 2 26g 147 100
Note: This table does not include amounts of other stimulants found in energy drinks that can enhance the effects of

With all that caffeine in all of the drinks, along with the stimulants found in many of them that enhance the effects of caffeine, coupled with sugar, an energy drink is far worse than a cup of Joe in my opinion.

In general, I think it is good to treat our bodies with respect and not put harmful substances in them.  I find it interesting though that coffee and tea are laid out specifically as things to avoid, whereas things like energy drinks are left to our own discretion.  I think we should avoid all of them, personally.

A point of discussion, however, is in regards to temple worthiness and the Word of Wisdom.  Mormons who follow the Word of Wisdom (i.e. don’t drink coffee, tea, alcohol, use drugs, etc.) can go into the LDS temples.  Those who do not follow the counsel to not drink coffee, tea, etc. can not attend the temple.   In theory, people could be putting down energy drinks that are much worse than coffee, yet be allowed to attend the LDS temples.

Do you think they should add Energy Drinks to the list for the Word of Wisdom?  Why or why not?

Also, if energy drinks are worse than coffee, if one drinks coffee and not energy drinks, do you think they are justified in saying they follow the Word of Wisdom?

One of the newest articles on the website entitled “The Power of Early Preparation” caught my eye so I read it.  I thought it had some very good points to consider regarding raising and preparing our children for the future. 

As I considered ways to help my own family, I pondered about the effects of Family Home Evening (FHE).  For those not familiar with the LDS faith, FHE is a night set aside each week (typically Monday evening) where families get together and have a spiritual lesson, a fun game, sing songs, and my favorite as a kid….make treats!  I have fond memories of FHE while growing up and try to make it a good experience for my little family (wife, 2 year old daughter, and one on the way).

As I considered ways I could make FHE better, I decided to do some research on the effects of FHE on children.  I came across a very interesting thesis written by a BYU student entitled “The Effect of Weekly Family Home Evening Nutrition Behaviors in LDS Families”.  The research was interesting.

They took a sample group of LDS families and had them teach nutrition lessons to their children for 6 weeks and then tested their eating behaviors.  Both the parents and children increased in eating healthy.  Parents and children almost doubled their intake of healthy foods. 

I am not surprised by this study.  First, if one focuses on something, the chances are they will start implementing it.  I think that the LDS people put heavy emphasis on what not to do in the Word of Wisdom, but not so much on what to do such as eating healthy foods, exersizing, getting enough rest, etc.   

I know how hard it is to get kids to eat good food.  Especially once they’ve been introduced to sugars found in white bread, cereal, juice, etc.  I believe this research is a good start, but only the starting point.  First, I believe the parents should be setting the example themselves by exersizing, eating right, etc.  Next, they should be talking about it more than once a week.  They can teach their kids what foods are healthy and which ones aren’t while they are shopping or eating, etc.  I’ve found that it is much easier with our little daughter when she sees us “practicing what we preach” so to speak.  Finally, I do think it is important to have formal lessons on it, as this research indicates.  I haven’t really put this to the test but think it would be very beneficial.

I’d love to hear your feedback on how to teach your children how to follow the important parts of the Word of Wisdom that include eating, sleeping, and living right.  What has been your experience and what advice to you have?

I really liked reading the most recent post over at the Mormantiy blog.  The author, Jeff Lindsay, gives a very good analogy of why the Word of Wisdom is important, which is essentially to show commitment to Jesus by giving up things that could be harmful for our spiritual development.

While giving up alcohol, coffee, and tea is something that most people have come to understand about Mormons and the Word of Wisdom, there are many more aspects within the Word of Wisdom that shouldn’t be ignored, and that I feel distance ourselves from our commitment to the Lord.

The Word of Wisdom revelation discusses part of the reason behind it is due to the “evil designs of conspiring men…” who produce the substances.  It goes on to discuss the “do nots” such as alcohol, tobacco, etc. but then goes into the parts of the revelation that could be called the “do’s”.  This includes: using wholesome herbs, fruits, meat sparingly, grains (and even goes into naming types of grains such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc.). 

I believe that if we are committed to Jesus and truly believe our bodies are a temple to house his Holy Spirit, we will naturally want to eliminate all substances that could be addictive substances.  However, that is only the first step, we should replace them with good substances.  I think too many times, we as LDS people get all proud of ourselves for adhering to the “do nots” but then blow it on the “do’s”.  Examples I can think of that I have seen  include: over-eating, not exercising, drinking tons of soda, energy drinks, and the list goes on and on. 

At the end of the Word of Wisdom, there is a promise that we’ll received renewed spiritual strength as well as physical health.  Then a huge promise is that the destroying angel will pass over us.  I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it definitely implies that one who obeys the word of wisdom will have good things both spiritually and physically happen.

I hope we can all look at ourselves and see what we can do to improve our relationship with the Lord by following the Word of Wisdom more diligently.  If you have personal experiences of “stepping up” your adherence with the Word of Wisdom, please share so we can all be uplifted!

Yesterday at a work event I had a dessert that had been cooked with liquor.  My boss who was with me, knowing I was Mormon, asked if that was o.k. that I was eating that.  I hadn’t even thought about it being an issue and told him from what I could tell the alcohol was cooked out.  I guess from living in Europe where many dishes are prepared with alcohol I had become accustomed to eating food that had been cooked with alcohol.

The interesting thing was that this morning I received an email from the LDS Living magazine that had a poll asking the two questions to LDS readers: 1. Do you use alcohol in cooking? 2. How do you feel about cooking with alcohol?  The question had been answered by close to 5,000 people.  Nearly 1/2 of the LDS population that took the poll said they cook with alcohol and 75% of Mormons felt either neutral or positive about cooking with alcohol.

If you’re not a Mormon this is probably pretty trivial, but if you’re a Mormon where do you fall in line with the poll?

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