Protection Through Spiritual Preparation

During the 185th Semi-annual General Conference, Elder Richard J. Maynes taught about centering our life on Christ. He reminded us that Nephi was able to live after the manner of happiness because he lived a Christ-centered life. Not only will we live after the manner of happiness when we center our life on Christ, but we will find protection from many of the troubles of the world.

Elder Quentin L. Cook taught that we are expected to plan & prepare. He said that, “This is the time to prepare to meet God.” One of the best ways to prepare and strengthen our spirit is by observing the Sabbath day. Elder Cook said that, “Honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness.” He also taught that divine protections are provided when we are righteous, and that truly keeping the Sabbath day holy will provide for us a refuge from the storm.

The Sabbath is a gift from God. The Lord counseled the Church more than 165 years ago to keep ourselves “unspotted from the world” by properly observing the Sabbath day (D&C 59:9). When God created the earth, He set apart the seventh day as a day of rest. Since Adam’s day, the divine law of the Sabbath has been emphasized repeatedly over the centuries more than any other commandment. Elder James E. Faust said that “this long emphasis alone is an indication of its importance.” Elder Faust taught about the Sabbath in detail:

“In biblical times this commandment to rest and worship was so strict that a violation of it called for the death penalty. Even the earth was given a sabbath rest: ‘But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.’

“The Sabbath was referred to in the Old Testament days as a blessed and hallowed day, as a symbol of a perpetual covenant of faithfulness, as a holy convocation, as a day of spiritual celebration.”

Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-13, gives us more detail about the Sabbath Day:

“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;

“Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;

“But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.

“And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.”

We know that keeping the Sabbath day holy is of utmost importance– so important that prophets throughout the ages have emphasized this principle over and over again.

President James E. Faust said, “In this day of increasing access to and preoccupation with materialism, there is a sure protection for ourselves and our children against the plagues of our day. The key to that sure protection surprisingly can be found in Sabbath observance: ‘And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day.’ (D&C 59:9.)

“Who can question but that sincere Sabbath observance will help keep ourselves unspotted from the world? The injunction to keep the Sabbath day holy is a continuing covenant between God and his elect. The Lord told Moses and the children of Israel, “Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations … for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever.” (Ex. 31:13, 16–17.)

According to lds.org, Sunday is a day to:

• Rest.
• Worship.
• Offer up vows in righteousness.
• Confess sins.
• Partake of the sacrament.
• Prepare food with singleness of heart.
• Perfect fasting.
• Read good books.
• Contemplate.
• Study the scriptures and prepare talks.
• Visit the sick.
• Preach the gospel.
• Do good.
• Visit quietly with family members.
• Seek forgiveness of sin.
• Write in a journal
• Fellowship members and nonmembers.
• Enjoy uplifting music.

President Ezra Taft Benson said the Sabbath should not be used for:

• Gardening and housework.
• Taking trips to recreational areas or resorts.
• Wasting time.
• Making up for sleep lost on Saturday.
• Refueling the car.
• Being so busy there is no time for prayer or meditation.
• Engaging in sports or hunting.
• Reading material that does not spiritually uplift us.
• Shopping.

There are many things we can do to make the Sabbath a delight. If we are confused about whether or not an activity is appropriate for the Sabbath, we can pray for guidance from the Holy Ghost. The Spirit can reveal to us the truth of all things and prompt us to know how to better observe this special day.

Keeping the Sabbath day holy, truly is a protection from the storm. In the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament, Jeremiah prophesies that Jerusalem will be destroyed. The last principles he taught to the children of Israel were repentance and keeping the Sabbath day holy.

“But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” (Jeremiah 17:27)

Unfortunately, the children of Israel did not heed the warnings given by their prophet. The city of Jerusalem was taken captive and destroyed, and the remnants of their people were scattered.

Often the scriptures repeat themselves. A people disregards the council of their prophet. That people is destroyed. Let’s hope that this isn’t a type of things to come.

In chapter 6, verses 16-17, Jeremiah wrote, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also, I set a watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not walk therein.”

The Lord has not left us alone in our day. He has set watchmen over us. These watchmen are the modern-day prophets and apostles. There are many who surround us, that choose to disregard the counsel of the Lord and walk in different paths. However, if we center our lives on Christ and heed the prophets’ counsel to keep the Sabbath day holy, the Spirit will guide us, and we will find safety and peace.

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Temporal Preps: Where to Begin?

In the October 1980 General Conference, President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion. The Lord has warned and forewarned us against a day of great tribulation and given counsel, through His servants, on how we can be prepared for these difficult times. Have we heeded His counsel?”

President Benson admonished, “Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church—and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing—a famine in this land of one year’s duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned.” (Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 121-125.)

Those are powerful statements! We have been told by our modern day prophets, time and time again, that it’s a commandment to become temporally prepared. There’s so much to do and so much to learn, and it can be a little overwhelming to try to figure out where to begin. In this post, We’ll outline some of the basics of becoming temporally prepared. Each of these topics can be found on the LDS church’s Provident Living website.

WATER

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According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.

Each day humans must consume a certain amount of water to survive. Of course, this varies according to age and gender, and also by where someone lives. Generally, an adult male needs about 3 liters per day while an adult female needs about 2.2 liters per day. Some of this water can come from our food.

Water regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration. It also aids in metabolism and in flushing waste. It acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus. It forms saliva and lubricates joints. Water is critical for our survival. You can make it 3 weeks without food but, generally, you’ll only make it 2-3 days without water.

Aside from water being a basic survival need, think about all of the ways you use water and how rough life would be without it.

When storing water, you’ll need to store enough to drink, bathe, wash dishes & clothes; and store enough for cleaning and sanitation. A good rule of thumb is to store at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days–that’s 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation. Some sources say that a family of four should store a minimum of 12 gallons of water. But honestly, you’ll need much, much more. I plan on storing at least a 55 gal barrel of water per person, plus several cases of bottled water. In an emergency situation such as an earthquake where power and water systems could be down for weeks, it’s ideal to have as much water on hand as possible, in addition to many different forms of water purification. Click here for more information on water storage.

FOOD

Family-Canning

In the April 1974 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We encourage families to have on hand a year’s supply; and we say it over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, ‘Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?’”

President Brigham Young asked, “If you are without bread, how much wisdom can you boast, and of what real utility are your talents, if you cannot procure for yourselves and save against a day of scarcity those substances designed to sustain your natural lives?” (Journal of Discourses, 8:68.)

Food is vital to our temporal and spiritual well-being. If we’re hungry, we’re going to have a hard time hearing the whisperings of the spirit over the grumble of our tummies. Our prophets are wise to ask us to set aside food for the future. In the case of economic downturn, personal tragedy or natural disaster, having food set aside will protect us and bless us. A year’s supply of survival food and a 3 month supply of rotatable goods, will surely come in handy.

President Harold B. Lee said, “Perhaps if we think not in terms of a year’s supply of what we ordinarily would use, and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn’t have anything else to eat, that last would be very easy to put in storage for a year … just enough to keep us alive if we didn’t have anything else to eat. We wouldn’t get fat on it, but we would live; and if you think in terms of that kind of annual storage rather than a whole year’s supply of everything that you are accustomed to eat which, in most cases, is utterly impossible for the average family, I think we will come nearer to what President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., advised us way back in 1937.” (Welfare Conference, 1 October 1966.)

The LDS Church has a wonderful resource available to everyone. Home Storage Centers are stocked with basic food items such a wheat, rice, beans, pasta, dry milk, and some vegetables and fruits. Food is available for purchase online or at Home Storage Center locations. There has been a lot of research done on the amount of food that should be stored. BYU’s food storage department just updated their food storage requirements list. It’s based on a 2000-2400 calorie diet. Consuming a  higher calorie diet is necessary while enduring times of stress or crisis, so it would be wise to follow the counsel of the prophets by storing AT LEAST one year’s worth of food.

President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “As we become more affluent and our bank accounts enlarge, there comes a feeling of security, and we feel sometimes that we do not need the supply that has been suggested by the Brethren. … We must remember that conditions could change and a year’s supply of basic commodities could be very much appreciated by us or others. So we would do well to listen to what we have been told and to follow it explicitly.” (Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 11: Provident Living: Applying Principles of Self-Reliance and Preparedness, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006), 114–23)

FINANCE

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“We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. … If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts” (All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances).

Avoid debt. Save for emergencies. Have some cash on hand. Create a budget and live by it. Avoid over-spending. Live within your means and learn to be frugal and modest in your expenditures. All of these tips can be studied in more depth, here.

Pay an honest tithe and give a generous fast offerings.

President Henry B. Eyring said, “If we decide now to be a full-tithe payer and if we are steady in paying it, blessings will flow throughout the year, as well as at the time of tithing settlement. By our decision now to be a full-tithe payer and our steady efforts to obey, we will be strengthened in our faith and, in time, our hearts will be softened. It is that change in our hearts through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, beyond the offering of our money or goods, that makes it possible for the Lord to promise full-tithe payers protection in the last days. 5 We can have confidence that we will qualify for that blessing of protection if we commit now to pay a full tithe and are steady in doing it.” (“Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady”, General Conference, October 2005)

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE

“We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Are We Prepared?”, Ensign, September 2014)

Have you considered what you might do in the case of an emergency? What plans do you have in place? Do you have a 72-hour kit of basic survival items that you can grab quickly in case of an earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster? Do you know how to reconnect with family or friends in case you get separated in a disaster? Does your family know what to do? Do they know where to go if you’re not together when something happens? These are scenarios we should play through our minds when thinking about what to do in an emergency. What would you take with you if you only had 10 minutes to leave? Do you know how to fix a flat tire, put on snow chains, or jump start the car battery? Do you know how to shut off the utilities to your home? Do you know how take care of your sanitation needs when you’re without plumbing? What are you going to do when it’s dark and the power is out? All very important things to think about. We’ll go into further depth about emergency plans in future posts, but for now, here’s a few resources to get you started:

  1. Church guidelines for emergency communications
  2. Utah’s 72 hour kit checklist
  3. An example of a 72 hour kit
  4. Another example of a 72 hour kit
  5. An example of a prioritized evacuation list

SHELTER

tent

There is much we can learn from the experiences had by the early Mormon pioneers. “Before leaving Nauvoo, members had Church-published lists of what to take with them. But when the first companies left in February 1846, several hundred members panicked and crossed the Mississippi River without proper clothes, food, or shelter. As a result, they brought suffering upon themselves, slowed down others, and drained resources from those properly prepared. Trail death tolls reveal that the highest numbers of deaths were among infants and the elderly. Some pioneers became cold and wet because wagon covers and tents were not waterproof. Others suffered sunburns when they lost their hats. Their lips chapped from the dry air, wind, and sun. Many suffered diarrhea and lacked medicine to stop it. Some travelers, while dressed properly for summer heat, lacked coats and gloves for the cold mountain temperatures experienced before reaching the Salt Lake Valley. In addition, pioneers had to guard against wildlife, particularly snakes and wolves. In many campsites they suffered from swarms of mosquitoes that badly hurt children and angered horses and cattle,” (William G. Hartley, “Sturdy Shoes and A Waterproof Tent,” October 2001).

We may not have to pack up and leave our homes like the pioneers, but have you ever thought of needing an alternative shelter to your home? Often, during natural disasters or times of war, homes are destroyed or deemed unsafe for the time being. Having a tent on hand could really come in handy in an emergency.

In a recent article from Meridian Magazine, entitled, “7 Things I Learned from an Earthquake in the Third World,” author Scot Facer Proctor states that, “Shelter, after an earthquake, is nearly the number one need—and tents are the most economical temporary solution. There are a number of things that are great about tents: They are very economical. They are easily obtained in India and China and can be trucked right to the places of greatest needs. If you are in a tent during an aftershock (and we felt many of these after the Haiti earthquake in January 2010), you are safe. If the tent is knocked over, you just put it up again. You can’t be crushed by rip-stop nylon. A tent provides shelter from rain, sun, insects and cold.”

It would be wise for every family to have a tent on hand in case of an emergency when your home could be destroyed or temporarily unavailable.

CLOTHING & WARM BEDDING

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Have you ever been cold? Like really cold? Alaskan Mountain, Arctic Tundra cold? It’s no fun. What if you were displaced from your home in the winter? No heat, no electricity for days or weeks and no way to travel to the nearest hotel with a fancy hot chocolate maker in the lobby?

If it was winter and an earthquake or other disaster damaged your home and/or the other homes in your neighborhood, and you couldn’t get to a hotel, and even if you could, it didn’t have the power to run a furnace, you would probably end up sleeping in that tent of yours in the backyard or in the nearest park or football field. How would you stay warm? A nice warm sleeping bag would be perfect! You’ll want something that’s at least 0 degrees or below (they never feel as warm as they claim to be). And for the time that you’re not in your bag, you’ll need warm clothing. Coats, hats, gloves, boots, long sleeved shirts and warm long pants, wool socks, thermal underwear… the list could go on and on.

“Concerning clothing, we should anticipate future needs, such as extra work clothes and clothes that would supply warmth during winter months when there may be shortages or lack of heating fuel. Leather and bolts of cloth could be stored, particularly for families with younger children who will outgrow and perhaps outwear their present clothes. ‘The day will come,’ said President Wilford Woodruff, ‘when, as we have been told, we shall all see the necessity of making our own shoes and clothing and raising our own food’,”  (Ezra T. Benson, Prepare Ye, Ensign, January 1974, (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 166)).

It’s no fun to be cold or unprepared, so just plan to have some of these items on hand, where you can access them easily in case of an emergency.

FUEL

fuel sources

Why in the world would you need fuel in an emergency? Well, fuel can heat your home (or temporary home, aka. tent), heat your food, give you light, and run a vehicle or generator.

President Ezra Taft Benson suggested that “Wood, coal, gas, oil, kerosene, and even candles are among those items which could be reserved as fuel for warmth, cooking, and light or power.” (“Prepare Ye”, Ezra T. Benson, January 1974)

Things to think about when it comes to fuel… What kind of fuel do I need? What will I be using it for? How should I store it? LDS Living goes into detail in their article, “Safely Stored Fuel is an Essential.”

GET TO WORK

President Marion G. Romney stated: “It is my opinion that we Latter-day Saints, because of the knowledge we have received in the revelations, are better prepared to meet the perplexities of our times than are any other people. We know more about the difficulties which are coming, and we have the key to their solution,” (If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear, July 1981).

There is so much to do to become better prepared for the unexpected, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed because we have been given the guidance we need to move forward. By working toward obtaining these essentials, your supply will begin to grow; you will begin to have peace, and when the times comes, you’ll be prepared!

Want vs Need

quote-reeves-1173956-printIn the April 2009 General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales asked, “What is a provident provider?”

He answered, “All of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in both temporal and spiritual ways. To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies. When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others.”

He continued, “Being provident providers, we must keep that most basic commandment, ‘Thou shalt not covet.'”

Whoa. What? Who knew that was part of it?

Has coveting our neighbor’s fancy new toys or perfectly decorated home caused us to lose focus? Do we have the latest electronic device, but have neglected to follow the commandment of having a year’s supply of food? Do we have 100 pairs of shoes in our closet, but don’t have any cash on hand? Do we have growing balance on our credit cards, but fail to find a way to help others in need? Do we find ourselves thinking more about what we “want” and less of what we “need”?

Elder Hales said, “Our world is fraught with feelings of entitlement. Some of us feel embarrassed, ashamed, less worthwhile if our family does not have everything the neighbors have. As a result, we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford—and things we do not really need. Whenever we do this, we become poor temporally and spiritually. We give away some of our precious, priceless agency and put ourselves in self-imposed servitude. Money we could have used to care for ourselves and others must now be used to pay our debts. What remains is often only enough to meet our most basic physical needs. Living at the subsistence level, we become depressed, our self-worth is affected, and our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and the Lord are weakened. We do not have the time, energy, or interest to seek spiritual things.”

Been there. Done that. And it wasn’t pretty. I thought it was. Until it wasn’t. Why did all of my pretty things not make me feel the way I thought they would? I thought I’d be happy when I had it all–the extravagent vacations, the house and the Pottery Barn furnishings. Pretty things weren’t the problem. The problem was that the pretty things began distracting me from the most important things.

It’s ok to enjoy the “wants” of life every once in a while, but we mustn’t forget our priorities.

So, what does that have to do with Provident Living? Be a provident provider requires us to get our priorities straight. Our #1 priority should always be to keep the commandments and follow the Savior. Our prophets have given us the commandment to set our houses in order and prepare every needful thing. We can’t do that when our sights are set on the things of the world. We need to turn to Him–to repent of our mistakes of the past, forgive ourselves and get to work.

“Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond. We must ask for help from our Heavenly Father and seek strength through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. In both temporal and spiritual things, obtaining this divine assistance enables us to become provident providers for ourselves and others” (Robert D. Hales, General Conference, April 2009).

As you begin or continue your journey toward provident living, remember these words: “Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond.” The best way to achieve our goal of living providently is with His divine assistance, and if we ask for it, we shall receive.

Prepare Every Needful Thing

The purpose of provident living–OUR PURPOSE, is to spiritually and temporally prepare “every needful thing.”

In Doctrine & Covenants 109:8, it commands, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.”

That’s what we hope to help you do. Get organized. Prepare. Establish your house with prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory and order–and let it be a house of God.