There is a lot of talk today about staying fit and eating healthy. We have work out schedules, gym memberships, bikes, rock climbing teams, and stringent schedules. I used to get away with just living life on the farm, and a few extracurricular activities were enough. With Granny’s good cooking, I was healthy and physically fit. Honestly, I didn’t really have to do anything. Normal life was enough to keep me in good health.


I’m not an old man yet. I guess I am what you call “middle-aged,” but staying physically fit takes more effort now, or at least it should. If I want to be my best, I have to work at it. That’s no surprise.


The same principles that we must follow to remain physically fit hold true to our achieving spiritual strength as well. And now more than ever, our attention to the little things that help make us spiritually sound are critical to our success. With the adversary’s blatant attacks today, coasting along won’t cut it.


Reading the scriptures, having personal and family prayer, home evening, and living & obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ are the very least we can do to protect our families. But there is more…attending the temple, serving a mission, lifting others, repentance and striving to keep all the commandments.


So I will make you a deal–a challenge if you will. You commit to be better, faster, and stronger, and I will too. What are you going to do? You pick and do whatever. And I will select and keep mine as well.


Choose an exercise, set and work toward a goal, develop a good habit, or anything else that you know you should be doing. Don’t do it for me. Do it for your current or future spouse and children.


We’ll rise together.



Now is the time to prepare to meet God. Just as an athlete prepares daily for game day; when we work on our spirituality daily and give our all to the Lord, we strengthen our testimonies of Him and of His gospel.


True. It will be difficult. Maybe you can’t or don’t want to. When I feel that way, I use a simple strategy to overcome the challenge that I am facing. I know you do as well. When you think of your parents and children and spouse, you reach deep down and you find the strength to do something you thought was impossible. But with God, all things are possible. And as you remember him and let his influence empower and enable you, mountains will turn into mole hills, and your capacity to love, be patient, and endure is increased.


Some defend Christ on a mission. Some do it right here in our very own neighborhoods. It’s perhaps the best way we can each show our love and faith in him. We follow his example, do what he did, and testify of the joy and happiness it brings into our lives and that of our children.


I once had a situation with my daughter where she was receiving persecution because of her values, and I tried to help her through this experience to understand why she received malice even as an innocent child. But my words fell short, so I went looking for an answer. I didn’t have to look very far.



I recalled the boy prophet Joseph asking at length “Why persecute me for telling the truth,” when things got intense after acknowledging the First Vision. Though he was still a young man at the time, he wrote:


25 So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. Joseph Smith—History 1:25


“Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” D&C 123:17


“Marvel not, then, if you are persecuted; but remember the words of the Savior: ‘The servant is not above his Lord; if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also’ [see John 15:20]; and that all the afflictions through which the Saints have to pass, are the fulfillment of the words of the Prophets which have spoken since the world began.” Joseph Smith


“It is thought by some that our enemies would be satisfied with my destruction; but I tell you that as soon as they have shed my blood they will thirst for the blood of every man in whose heart dwells a single spark of the spirit of the fullness of the Gospel. The opposition of these men is moved by the spirit of the adversary of all righteousness. It is not only to destroy me, but every man and woman who dares believe the doctrines that God hath inspired me to teach to this generation.”  Joseph Smith


“I have learned by experience that the enemy of truth does not slumber, nor cease his exertions to bias the minds of communities against the servants of the Lord, by stirring up the indignation of men upon all matters of importance or interest.” Joseph Smith


Fortunately, we are not only left with the challenges of discipleship. Then I thought about the example of the Savior, and what he taught us to do in similar circumstances and why.


44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44


“Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you.”         Matthew 5:11,12


We do not stand alone, and in defending him we qualify for perhaps the greatest blessing afforded mankind.

Mormon men

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32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 10:32


In this way, we participate in Lighting the World as so many of his disciples have done.


And that is our privilege.


About Walter Penning
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.

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