Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Nephi 10:17 – Desire to know by the Holy Ghost.

"I was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these
things, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
I Nephi 10:17

I had the wonderful opportunity recently to sit in the large sealing room in the Draper Temple.  It is so beautiful.  In the center, just above the alter, is a huge chandelier  that hangs from the very, very high ceiling.  The translucent glass windows towards the head of the alter allow the bright sunlight to filter into and throughout the room.  It just feels just like you hope heaven is like. 

I was in this beautiful room as Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone performed the marriage for Chad Williams and Brianna Pace from our Stake.  I just love Elder Featherstone!  We are so fortunate to have him live in our stake.  He is such a great example to me.  Often, as I serve as Stake President, I find myself thinking; “What would Elder Featherstone say or do in a situation like this?”  This is because I admire and respect him so very, very much.  I KNOW Elder Featherstone (and Sister Featherstone, too) would do anything for the Lord.  He loves the Lord with all his “heart, might, mind, and strength.”  He should be an example to all of us.

While we were sitting in this beautiful sealing room Elder Featherstone gave some wonderful and wise counsel to the Bride and Groom.  (I often think giving advice at a wedding is like speaking at a funeral … the one you want to hear your comments isn’t listening.)  But Elder Featherstone’s advice was great for everyone there.  The thing I remember most about what he said is this:

I know these things are true with every ounce and fiber of my being.”

I want you to know that I know Elder Featherstone knows the gospel is true.  And I believe the reason he knows this is because he lives so the spirit can impress upon him every day that this is so.  That how you know things are true … your faith and experience tell you so.  For example, I know the sun will rise in the morning, not because I know all the science behind it,  but because that’s what it’s done every single day of my life.  It’s never failed.  If it failed once, I wouldn’t be so sure, but my experience tells me it will rise in the morning and my faith each day confirms it.

It’s like knowing the truth.  The Holy Ghost testifies of all truth.  If you want to know that Jesus is the Christ - that Joseph Smith was a prophet - and that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored, you need to feel the promptings of the spirit … not just once or twice … but daily.  This is how your faith grows to knowledge.  It’s comes through the continual promptings of the spirit.

I want each of you to know that I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  It is “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man (will) get closer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.” (Book of Mormon introduction)  I know it’s the word of God, not because I read it once … or that I read it a long time ago.  I know it’s the word of God because I read it today; I read it yesterday; I read it the day before that and before that and before that …  And each time I’ve read with a sincere heart I have felt the spirit testify that it is true.  I’ve felt that feeling over and over and over and over.  I know it’s true because I’ve had the continual promptings from the spirit witness it to me.  This is how “belief” turns into “knowledge.”

I’m so glad I have knowledge from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  It makes so many other things in my life much easier.  It makes it easier to follow the guidance of the prophet; it makes it easier to pay my tithing, to obey the word of wisdom; it makes it easier to stay away from pornography and other sins of the world.  It removes many of the “stumbling blocks” of life that so many others face every day.

I’ve had the opportunity to bear strong testimony that it is the word of God.  One of those times was in March 2009.  I was in Chicago on business.  It was a cold, cold day.  After my meetings were over I quickly caught a cab from downtown to O’Hare airport.

I got into the warm cab, and the cab driver asked me where I was off too.  (This was after he said he wasn’t very anxious to take a passenger all the way out to the airport; but, he said if I were to give him a large tip it would make it worth it.)  I nodded and told him I was flying home to “Utah.” 
He asked me, “What is Utah famous for?”  Being March, I said, “Well, it’s famous for its mountains and the snow.”  I told him the 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake.  Then I told him it was also famous because it was the headquarters of the Mormon Church.
Our eyes were now glancing at each other in the rearview mirror, as they would for the remainder of the ride.  His next comment was somewhat funny; he said, “I wish I could be a Mormon.”  I asked him “why?”  He said, “That way I could have more than one wife.”  I chuckled and told him we don’t have more than one wife and that if anyone had more than one wife they wouldn’t be a member of our church.  I told him I have one wife to whom I’ve been “happily married to for almost 32 years.” 
He then said, “Well, you used to could have more than one.”  I mentioned that the practice had been discontinued in 1890.  But I got the sense that he knew more about the Church than he was originally letting onto.
I asked him about his religion.  He had a mid-eastern accent.  He told me he was raised in India and that now his beliefs were a combination of Islam and Christianity.  I told him that seemed like an odd mix.  He replied that he had the foundation of Islam but had converted to Christianity and now believed the Bible.
I told him I read the Bible and he quickly jumped in … “But you have another book.”  I said, “Yes, I also read the Book of Mormon.” 
His eyes focused on me in the rear view mirror and he suddenly got very serious.  He said, “You shouldn’t read that book!”
I was caught a bit off guard but asked him why.  He said because “it’s not a good book.”
I then, also got suddenly serious and said, “Oh, no, no.  It’s a wonderful book.  I love the Book of Mormon.  I love it because it teaches me about Christ.  I have learned more about Jesus Christ from reading this book than any other book I’ve ever read.  It validates everything the Bible teaches and is another witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  I read it every day.  It makes me a better person.”
He was silent for several moments.
When our conversation continued we talked more about Christ.  We talked about service.  We talked about his son who was serving needy people in the inner-city as a missionary.  I told him about my service as a missionary.  It was pleasant.  And I gave him a big tip.
I was most pleased though, because he knew how I felt about the Book of Mormon, but more importantly that I wanted to follow the Savior.  I couldn’t have done that – with the total conviction of my soul – if I hadn’t known by the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon was the word of God and that it testifies of my Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I believe, like Nephi, I had a desire to know by the Holy Ghost, the truthfulness of the Gospel.  I testify to you that I do have this testimony.  I promise it’s a testimony you can have, too.  But more importantly, the Lord promise that you can have this knowledge.  One of the last things Moroni writes in the Book of Mormon is this promise.

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that he would ask God, the Eternal Father in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10: 4-5)”
I would ask you to do what I have done.  Read the Book of Mormon.  Ask the Lord with a sincere heart if it is true and then listen to the feelings of your spirit.  The Lord promises you will feel of its truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And I know that is true.  I know it “with every ounce and fiber of my being.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Which Wolf Are You Feeding?"

II Nephi 4:16 –
“Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord.”

I just love the way Nephi talks about the things of the Lord.  He doesn’t just say “I really like them” or; “they’re good to know” or; “Aren’t they nice?”  He says his “soul delighteth” in them.  I believe that means Nephi thinks about the things of the Lord and they don’t just make him happy or pleased … they reach all the way to his soul.  I believe he was “passionate” about the things of the Lord.  When I think of something touching my soul, I think of things that reach the very core of who I am.  In other words, I don’t think it’s possible to be reached more profoundly than in your soul.  So, how did Nephi get to this point?  I believe he got there by choosing the right over and over and over again.  By doing this I believe he was able to discover the Lord’s ways and learned to love them.  This reminds me of a story told by an old Sioux Indian chief that goes like this:

One winter’s evening whilst gathered round a blazing camp fire, an old Sioux Indian chief told his grandson about the inner struggle that goes on inside people.
“You see,” said the old man, “this inner-struggle is like two wolves fighting each other.  One is evil, full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, deceit, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
“The other one,” he continued, poking the fire with a stick so that the fire crackled, sending the flames clawing at the night sky, “is good, full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
For a few minutes his grandson pondered his grandfather’s words and then asked, “So which wolf wins, grandfather?”
“Well”, said the wise old chief, his lined face breaking into a wry smile, “The one you feed!”
I believe Nephi fed the good wolf every day.  This is what led him to the things of the Lord and allowed his entire soul to be touched for good.
So, which wolf are you feeding?  I believe President Uchtdorf gives us a very good “flight plan” of what it takes to feed the good wolf. 
“The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Love of God,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 23
The “For the Strength of Youth” booklet provides more ways to feed the good wolf.  For example, under the “Dress and Appearance” section it reads:
 “Through your dress and appearance, you can show the Lord that you know how precious your body is.  You can show that you are a disciple of Christ.  The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside.  When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and can exercise a good influence on those around you.   Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance and avoid extremes in clothing, appearance and hairstyles." 

I would like to add to that by saying, never lower your standards for school dances or any other occasion.  Always ask, "Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if the Lord were present?" 

Choose entertainment and music that will uplift you; that will bring good thoughts and righteous choices.  Have the courage to walk out of a movie or video party, turn off the computer or television. Change a radio station, or put down a magazine if it does not meet Heavenly Father's standards.  Do it even if others don't have the courage or wisdom to.
Date only those who have high standards and in whose company you will be able to keep yours.   Protect each other's honor and virtue at all cost.  When you begin to date, no sooner than age 16, do so in groups or double dates.  Avoid going out with the same person frequently.  Now is the time to develop good friendships.  I promise all these things will allow you to “feed the good wolf.”
To you young men specifically, President Hinckley said this about how to stay worthy as an Aaronic Priesthood holder.
“And so, to you young men who hold the Aaronic Priesthood, you have had conferred upon you that power which holds the keys to the ministering of angels. Think of that for a minute.
You cannot afford to do anything that would place a curtain between you and the ministering of angels in your behalf.
You cannot be immoral in any sense. You cannot be dishonest. You cannot cheat or lie. You cannot take the name of God in vain or use filthy language and still have the right to the ministering of angels.
I do not want you to be self-righteous. I want you to be manly, to be vibrant and strong and happy. To those who are athletically inclined, I want you to be good athletes and strive to become champions. But in doing so, you do not have to indulge in unseemly behavior or profane or filthy language.
To you young men who look forward to going on missions, please do not cloud your lives with anything that would cast a doubt upon your worthiness to go forth as servants of the living God.”
Personal Worthiness to Exercise the Priesthood – President Gordon B Hinckley (General Conference - Apr. 2002)
And how will you know when you’re feeding the “good wolf?”  I believe David Beck, the General Young Men’s President sums it up perfectly for you.
"You will feel your heart changing as you become a faithful priesthood man. You will seek to be completely clean and administer the sacrament worthily. You will treat every young woman with kindness and respect. You will honor your parents. You will avoid offending the Spirit in what you think, say, or do. You will come to know the Lord, whom you serve, and you will ever strive to be like Him." David L. Beck, "The Magnificent Aaronic Priesthood," Ensign, May 2010, 56
I’d like to share an experience in my life when I was about your age. It was a pivotal time when I needed to decide which wolf I would feed for the rest of my life.
I was 18 years-old when this time came for me.  I truly wanted to feel the love and power of the Lord’s atonement.  I felt the best way to find this was by reading The Book of Mormon.  I made my way through First and Second Nephi, then Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, and the Words of Mormon.  I started the Book of Mosiah and immediately came upon the remarkable address of King Benjamin.  I was touched by his wisdom and ability to boldly express the importance of the Savior to his people.  As I began the fourth chapter I read how the people reacted to his moving testimony.
 “… And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth and all things …” 
At that moment the spirit touched my soul more deeply than ever before.  I continued reading into the third verse:
“And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of  conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which King Benjamin had spoken unto them.”
It was a miracle.  I felt the exact feelings his people experienced over 2,000 years earlier.  It was if those verses had been included in The Book of Mormon just for me.  I was filled with joy.  I had a peace of conscience because of the atonement of the Savior.
On that day, sitting alone in the basement family room in a stuffed rocking chair, I gained a testimony.   I knew which wolf I wanted to feed.  Tears came to my eyes.  The Holy Ghost had testified to my spirit that Jesus Christ was my Savior and Redeemer.  This singular experience changed me.  I was now prepared to testify as a missionary that the Savior’s gospel was again on the earth.  I was prepared to honor the Savior for his sacrifice by following him and living his gospel.
In the many years since that event, I have had countless impressions and promptings from the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind.  Each brings the same feelings of deep contentment and lasting joy.  Each strengthens my testimony from the bottom of its roots to the tips of its branches.  Each gives me the desire to be a better person, to do good, and share this message with others.

I am grateful for the love of the Savior.  I know He lives.  I know He cares about each one of us.  He knows us by name.  He has not left us comfortless.  It’s my prayer that each one of us will “Draw near” to the Savior and partake of the love he so willingly offers us through his atonement.
Now is the time for us to commit to feeding the good wolf.  Remember you are a Child of God.  When you feed the good wolf you’ll have His spirit to give guidance and peace in your life. Read your scriptures, pray, and be true to His word; His commandments and His Church Leaders.  This is the way to happiness.  I promise you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

All Men Must Come Unto Christ to be Saved – 1 Nephi 6:4

“For the fullness of mine intent is that I may persuade men t come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.”  I Nephi 6:4

I’m sure you’ve read the charge, found several times in the Book of Mormon, to “Come Unto Christ.”  I believe perhaps the most important thing we can do in this life is to “Come Unto Christ.”  But I also believe every one of us may be holding on to something that keeps us from coming unto Him without hesitation or pause. 

At the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni, in his closing comments almost begs us to “Come Unto Christ” and “touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

“And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.”  (Moroni 10:30)

Touching not the evil gift, nor unclean thing brought to my mind something I read from President Spencer W. Kimball, who was the Prophet when I was called on my mission, married and moved into our stake.  He records the following:

I am reminded of an article I read some years ago about a group of men who had gone to the jungles to capture monkeys. They tried a number of different things to catch the monkeys, including nets. But finding that the nets could injure such small creatures, they finally cam upon an ingenious solution. They built a large number of small boxes, and in the top of each they bored a hole just large enough for a monkey to get his hand into. They then set these boxes out under the trees and in each one they put a nut that the monkeys were particularly fond of.
When the men left, the monkeys began to come down from the trees and examine the boxes. Finding that there were nuts to be had, they reached into the boxes to get them. But when a monkey would try to withdraw his hand with the nut, he could not get his hand out of the box because his little fist, with the nut inside, was now too large.

At about this time, the men would come out of the underbrush and converge on the monkeys. And the men coming, they would shriek and scramble about with the thought of escaping; but as easy as it would have been, they would not let go of the nut so that they could withdraw their hands from the boxes and thus escape. The men captured them easily.
And so it often seems to be with people, having such a firm grasp on things of the world -- that which is telestial -- that no amount of urging and no degree of emergency can persuade them to let go in favor of that which is celestial. Satan gets them in his grip easily. If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up for ourselves in worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.
In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had -- in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people -- a condition most repugnant to the Lord.
. . . It may seem a little difficult at first, but when a person begins to catch a vision of the true work when he begins to see something of eternity in its true perspective, the blessings begin to far outweigh true perspective; the blessings begin to far outweigh the cost of leaving "the world" behind.
Herein lies the only true happiness, and therefore we invite and welcome all men, everywhere, to join in this work. For those who are determined to serve the Lord at all costs, this is the way to eternal life. All else is but a means to that end.
-President Spencer W. Kimball, "The False Gods We Worship," Ensign, June 1976, First Presidency Message, pages 5-6.

Think about what “evil” things in your life may be keeping you from “Coming Unto Christ” without reservation.   Maybe it’s not obeying your parents; judging others too harshly; or not following the promptings you feel from the Holy Ghost. It might be swearing; watching inappropriate movies or TV shows; or turning away from someone who needs a friend.  Perhaps it’s viewing pornography; not reading your scriptures each day; or listening to music that you wouldn’t feel comfortable singing in front of your mother.  

Let me share with you another secret I’ve found in letting go of the “evil” things in your life.  I believe reading and studying the Book of Mormon each day has miraculous results in helping you overcome anything that may be holding you back from the Savior’s embrace.

Like Nephi and Moroni, I would plead, exhort, and even beg that you “let go” of whatever holds you back from “Coming Unto Christ.”  Don’t be like the monkey’s that sacrificed their lives for one measly nut.  Do what you need to do to make the changes in your life that you want to make … and I promise it will be easier as you read the Book of Mormon each day.  I also promise that the moment you do let go and repent, you will find yourself closer to the Savior.  When that happens your life will be filled with greater love, value, purpose and lasting happiness. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Lamb of God Takes Away Our Stumbling Blocks - I Nephi 14:1

Now here’s a scripture I’ll bet you haven’t paid too much attention to as you’ve read I Nephi chapter 14.  It’s the very first verse of the chapter.

“And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks.”  (I Nephi 14:1)

 Well, let’s look at this scripture for a moment.  In this part of the Book of Mormon “the Gentiles” are all those who have been directed to come to this country from other countries.  In other words, it’s each one of us … because all of us have ancestors who have come from other counties to settle here.  For some it may have been one generation ago, for others it might have been 10 generations ago, but we all have ancestors who have come from other countries.  So, we are the Gentiles mentioned here.  Secondly it says “in that day.”  I believe that is “our day” … it is the day of the restoration of the gospel in which we are all privileged to live in today.

So what does this scripture, written almost 600 years before Christ was born, mean to us today?  I believe it means, very simply, if we obey the laws and commandments of the restored gospel, the Savior promises to bless us and take away the stumbling blocks that will cause those who don’t obey His laws and commandments to stumble.  If there’s anything we don’t want to do in the race of life, it’s to stumble and fall.

Think about it.  We live in a world that screams to us that it’s all right to be immoral; that viewing pornography hurts no one; that drinking alcohol is a social norm; that harmful drugs should be legalized; that immodest clothing is necessary to be noticed.  These are all stumbling blocks that the Lord takes away from those who are obedient to the laws of the Gospel. 

 Those who participate in immorality, viewing pornography, consuming alcohol or illegal drugs, or who turn to immodesty to get noticed all will have a price to pay.  As a Bishop and Stake President I’ve had the responsibility to talk to people whose happiness has been ruined and lives have been shattered because they have been fooled into believing these things bring joy.  I’ve seen so many cheeks watered by tears and I’ve seen the inward soul wounded severely.  On the other hand those who have obeyed the commandments, have been worthy to receive priesthood ordinances and the blessings of the temple have found lasting happiness because the Savior has “taken away” the stumbling blocks that usually accompany wrong choices.

I’d like to share with you a story that took place over ninety-years ago (in 1919) where the Lord took away a stumbling block of a young man who was greatly pressured to break the word of wisdom.  This is the story of a track star for the University of Pennsylvania who was also a member of the Church.  His name was Creed Haymond and he was a sprinter … particularly good at the 100 and 220 yard dashes.  The following story about Creed Haymond is taken from a talk by Elder L. Tom Perry in the General Priesthood Session of General Conference on Oct. 5, 1996.

Elder Perry speaks:

I particularly remember a Primary teacher reading a story to us from the Improvement Era. I had the Historical Department find it for me and found it was worth repeating. The story is taken from the October 1929 Improvement Era, and is about Creed Haymond, a young Mormon who applied for and was accepted at the University of Pennsylvania. He was an athlete who was known for his speed and, because of the way he acted and participated, he was chosen to be the captain of the track team.

The Annual Meet of the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America was held at Harvard Stadium at the end of May of 1919. To Cambridge came the greatest college athletes -- seventeen hundred in all. In tryouts, Penn had qualified seventeen men. Cornell, their most feared rival that year, had only qualified ten. The Penn team was in a position to be crowned the champions. The scores were made on the first five places--five for first, four for second, three for third, two for fourth, and one for fifth. Naturally, the team that qualified the most men had the greatest opportunity of winning the meet.

The Penn coach was in good spirits the night before the meet. He made the rounds of his team members before they retired. He came into Creed's room and said, ''Creed, if we do our best tomorrow, we will run away with it." Then the coach hesitated. ''Creed, I'm having the boys take a little sherry wine tonight. I want you to have some -- just a little of course.'' ''I won't do it, Coach.'' ''But, Creed, I'm not going to get you drunk. I know what you 'Mormons' believe. I'm giving you this as a tonic, just to put you all on your metal.'' ''It won't do me any good, coach; I can't take it." The coach replied, ''Remember, Creed, you're the captain of the team
and our best point winner. Fourteen thousand students are looking to you personally to win this meet. If you fail us we'll lose. I ought to know what is good for you."

Creed knew that other coaches felt that a little wine was useful for the men who have trained muscles and nerves almost to the snapping point. He knew also that what the coach was asking him to do was against all that he had been taught from his early childhood. He looked his coach in the eye and said, ''I won't take it."

The coach replied, ''You're a funny fellow, Creed. You won't take tea at the training table. You have ideas of your own. Well, I'm going to let you do as you please.''

The coach then left the captain of the team in a state of extreme anxiety. Suppose he made a poor showing tomorrow. What could he say to his coach? He was going up against the fastest men in the world. Nothing less than his best would do. His stubbornness might lose the meet for Penn. His teammates were told what to do and responded. They believed in their coach. What right did he have to disobey? There was only one reason. He had been taught all his life to obey the Word of Wisdom.

It was a critical hour in this young man's life. With all the spiritual forces of his nature pressing in on him, he knelt down and earnestly asked the Lord to give him a testimony as to what was the source of the revelation he had believed in and obeyed. Then he went to bed and slept in sound slumber.

Next morning the coach came into the room and asked, ''How are you feeling, Creed?''

''Fine,'' the captain answered cheerfully.

''All of the other fellows are ill. I don't know what's the matter with them,'' the coach said seriously.

''Maybe it's the tonic you gave them, Coach.''

"Maybe so," answered the coach.

Two o'clock found twenty thousand spectators in their seats waiting for the meet to begin. As the events got under way, it became plain that something was wrong with the wonderful Penn team. Event after event, the Penn team performed well below what was expected of them. Some members were even too ill to participate.

The hundred and two-hundred-twenty-yard dash were Creed's races. The Penn team desperately needed him to win for them. He was up against the five fastest men in the American colleges. As the men came to their marks for the hundred-yard dash and the pistol was shot, and every man sprang forward into the air and touched the earth at a run -- that is, all except one -- Creed Haymond. The one using the second lane in the trials -- the one that Creed was running in at this particular event -- had kicked a hole for his toe an inch or two behind the spot where Haymond had just chosen for his. They didn't use starting blocks in those days. With the tremendous thrust that Creed gave, the narrow wedge of earth broke through, and he came down on his knee behind the line.

He got up and tried to make up for the poor start. At sixty yards, he was last in the race. Then he seemed to fly past the fifth man, then the fourth, then the third, then the second. Close to the tape, heart bursting with strain, he swept into that climax with whirlwind swiftness, he ran past the final man to victory.

Through some mistake in arrangements, the semi-finals of the two-twenty were not completed until almost the close of the meet. With the same bad break that had followed the Penn team all day, Creed Haymond had been placed in the last qualifying heat for the two-hundred twenty yard dash. Then five minutes after winning it he was called to start in the final of the two-twenty, the last event of the day. One of the other men who had run in an earlier heat rushed up to him. ''Tell the starter you demand a rest before running again. You're entitled to it under the rules. I've hardly caught my breath yet and I ran in the heat before yours."

Creed went panting to the starter and begged for more time. The official said he would give him ten minutes. The crowd was clamoring for the final race to begin. Regretfully he called the men to their marks. Under ordinary conditions Creed would not have feared this race. He was probably the fastest man in the world at that distance, but yet he had already run three races that afternoon--one the heart-stopping hundred-yard dash.

The starter, ordering the breathless men to their marks, raised his pistol and with a puff of smoke, the race began. This time the Penn captain literally shot from his marks. Soon Creed emerged from the crowd and took the lead. He sprinted all the way up the field and with a burst of speed and eight yards ahead of the nearest man, he broke the tape, winning his second race -- the 220 yard dash.

Penn had lost the meet but their captain had astounded the fans with his two excellent runs.

At the end of that strange day, as Creed Haymond was going to bed, there suddenly came to his memory his question of the night before regarding the divinity of the Word of Wisdom. The procession of that peculiar series of events then passed before his mind -- his teammates had taken wine and had failed; his abstinence brought victories that even amazed himself. The sweet simple assurance of the Spirit came to him, the Word of Wisdom is from God.  (''Speed and the Spirit,'' Joseph J. Cannon, The Improvement Era, October 1928,
pp. 1001-1007).

I believe that because of Creed Haymond’s courage in obeying the Word of Wisdom, the Lord removed the stumbling block which would have caused him to be sick and not be able to participate in perhaps the most important meet of his life. 
Think again for a moment.  What stumbling blocks has the Lord taken away from you because you have been obedient to His commandments?  I’m sure there have been many as there have been in my life.  I want each of you to know that true and lasting happiness comes from obeying the laws and commandments of the Lord.  Satan does a wonderful job of counterfeiting evil to make it look like it will bring happiness.  Don’t believe him.  Believe your parents and your Church leaders.  Believe in this great promise found in the Book of Mormon that if you “hearken” to the Savior, he will manifest himself to you in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of your stumbling blocks.

It’s my prayer that we will all remember this great promise as we “press on” in our lives and choose to “hearken to the Lamb of God” who is our Savior, Jesus Christ.