I remember when I was a young man—a boy really—I would sit with my brother and watch football games for our favorite teams from the NFL. This was many years ago, but I remember these occasions like they were yesterday. Similar to athletic events today, the game commenced with a rendition of the national anthem.
As we would sit there anticipating a great contest to shortly begin, our mother would walk in the room and hearing the playing of the national anthem would say “You boys stand up and put your hand over your heart! That’s the national anthem.” She was adamant that we show proper respect. We promptly obeyed, though it felt a little uncomfortable standing there like that in the living room beside my brother, but the lesson stuck.
Years later when I was serving my mission, the World Championship games were held in Helsinki, Finland. Naturally the Finns were excited about the event and particularly so because they were hosting the competitions. The inaugural World Championships in Athletics were run under the auspices of the International Association of Athletics Federations and were held at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland.
During that week-long event, our proselyting consisted mostly of visiting with members and non-members alike to watch the ever popular world games, since every television was turned on airing this contest. During this particular season, the United States contingent had some particularly gifted athletes like Carl Lewis who took gold medals on multiple occasions. We found ourselves in many situations where the United States won gold, and the national anthem played frequently.
Maybe it was due to the lesson taught to me by my mother. Or perhaps it was because we appreciated the freedoms of the United States even more having lived in Europe for many months and our developing a sincere appreciation for the abundance which we enjoyed as citizens of the United States of America. Nonetheless, we stood and placed our hand over our heart on those occasions in the living rooms of the good Finnish people during the rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner to recognize our flag and our country, and we were proud to do it.
The Finns understood, because they had given everything to enjoy their hard-fought freedoms. Their country faced many challenges on its way to enjoying a free society. These sentiments got me thinking that if we have such meaningful allegiance to our countries and governments with anthems to their freedom, what vestiges we have to honor God.
A few ways that we esteem and show respect, honor and love God so he can further bless and enlighten us that come to my mind follow:
Repentance – When you think of the need for repentance, what do you think of? Good? Bad? Difficult? It has been said that the atonement of Jesus Christ in the single most important event of all eternity. Because of him, we have second chances and the blessing and opportunity of forgiveness.
Sacrament prayers – Every week we recommit to honor God and keep his commandments. We specifically covenant to remember him and witness before God that we will take his name upon us and keep his commandments and follow him. We give to him a broken heart and contrite spirit.
Hymns — President Spencer W. Kimball, in referring to our singing of hymns, said “Some of the greatest sermons that have ever been preached were preached by the singing of a song.” I am frequently amazed at the eloquence and wisdom available through both the words and melodies found in our hymns. We all have favorites. Here are some of mine and many, many more.
Prayer — Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire. Kneeling, bowing our head, folding our arms, closing our eyes and using special, respectful language in our prayers all show humility and respect for our Father in Heaven. We petition him in secret, and he blesses us and our families, home, and nation openly.
Our lives can be an anthem to God—when I was a young man, my father told me about Daniel’s translation of the King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The stone cut out of the mountain without hands rolls forth until it fills the whole earth. Then it breaks apart the great image upon his feet. Daniel explained that, unlike all other kingdoms, the kingdom of God, represented by the stone, would be set up by God. We have seen the fulfillment of that prophecy and can have solace in the knowledge that God is in control.
If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most. Elder Dieter Uchtdorf counsels “May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.
“As we seek Him, as we learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Spirit, our lives become more stable and secure… We experience greater peace, joy, and fulfillment as we give our best to live according to God’s eternal plan and keep His commandments. ”
When we obey the commandments of God we glorify him and raise our sights to the Savior of the World. This gives us strength and our lives become more stable and secure.
“Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Emmanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison” Doctrine and Covenants 128:22
Temples — From the days of the Old Testament, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples-sacred structures where He could teach, guide, and bless them. Today, members of the Church enjoy temples all around the world. There are 152 temples worldwide. I remember when there were 40. When I was born, there were ten. Each one is an anthem to God. Temples are the most sacred place on earth-a place where earth and heaven meet and where we feel close to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where individuals make sacred promises with God.
And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them; Mosiah 2:6
I love the image this scripture draws in my mind. Families gathered together pointing the doors of their tents toward the temple to learn from King Benjamin. Two thousand years later, we do much the same thing. We go to the temple as families. We take part in the work done there, and together we learn from our Father. As we do this, the Lord is able to bless us as eternal couples and unite our forever families. No one is left out. All who humble themselves and have faith in Jesus Christ honor God and are included.
Sabbath Day —Remembering the Providential hand in our lives and partaking of the sacrament on this special day. Sunday was the day the marked Christ’s resurrection from the tomb. There are many reasons we honor the Sabbath. We offer our best in remembrance of Him on this day. Defend it.
Respect —Personal histories, little red book, family histories have been referred to as family scripture.
Companionship of the Holy Ghost —Discern truth from falsehood, witness of God,
General Conference talks The Greatest Challenge in the World—Good Parenting
If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most. Elder Uchtdorf counsels “Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.”
These are not empty words. They are our destiny, if we will but open our hearts and minds to the influence and guidance of the Holy Ghost in our lives. And that merits praising and honoring the Savior of the World.
The appreciation and honor we give to God is returned with blessings an hundred fold. We honor Him, and He blesses us. Mosiah 2:20-24
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.