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My Conversion to the Word of Wisdom
In my youth, my father taught me by word and example to obey the “don’ts of the Word of Wisdom,” and I have lived them with exactness. I have received great blessings for having done so. He also shared his great love of hunting and fishing with me, and we were very fond of eating what we killed together. After Ezra Taft Benson’s invitation in his 1979 14-Stake BYU Fireside address, to eat like Daniel, I felt a desire to learn how to do so. I tried for several weeks, but I was addicted to animal products. Moreover, every Latter-day Saint I knew ate a lot of meat, and no one I knew ate like Daniel.
Brigham Young once said, and I quote from memory, "How are the youth of the church supposed to believe what the Lord has taught in the Word of Wisdom if there is not one bishop in the state; no, not in the entire territory, who doesn't chew tobacco, or drink alcohol, coffee, or tea." I believe that if Brigham Young were alive today he would ask, "How are the youth today suppose to become a generation that eats like Daniel if beloved parents and priesthood leaders don’t eat like Daniel?”
Because of examples before me of those I loved and respected, I didn’t learn to eat like Daniel for 20 years. For ten of those years I suffered from chronic fatigue, bronchitis, rashes, and serious bouts of pneumonia. Conditions became such that my doctor said that I would die if I suffered another bout of pneumonia. At this point I turned to God believing he could help me where doctors had not been able to do so. Seven days into a fast a voice spoke to me from heaven, and I was given the instructions that I needed to get well again.
The Lord taught me how to eat like Daniel, and I followed his instructions with exactness. My good health was restored; my weight dropped from 239 to 155 pounds; my total cholesterol dropped from above 400 to 137 mg/dl of blood, and all other health bio-markers came into ranges that were optimal. I became stronger and could lift about 100 pounds more in the bench press than ever before, and I could run 20+ miles with great ease. Also, my mind sharpened, and I was credited with important solutions on several critical projects at church headquarters.
However, because of my choice to not eat animal products, I was sometimes accused of walking contrary to the doctrines of Christ. This confused me, and following the restoration of my good health, I chose to eat some animal products now and then. My misguided attempt to quell criticisms of others led to a relapse of my former poor health. I knew that God had invited me to live the same dietary law that had enabled Daniel’s soul to become in some measure more pure, less burdened, fitter for learning, stronger, and more spiritually attuned. I also knew that Daniel ate no different than Latter-day Saints have been counseled to eat in the Word of Wisdom.
As I thought upon these things, I repented of my fear of man, and I became determined to play my own unique melody in the Lord’s great symphony of love and good works upon this earth. I now make my choices according to the light and knowledge I have received. I have no stewardship in these things other than for myself and family, and my experiences with the Lord in these things were for me. I am grateful that more saints are being made alive in these things. However, my testimony cannot give anyone the power to eat like Daniel. That power comes from the Lord alone, and perhaps this knowledge is the greatest testimony I can share.
Every saint who desires to lay hold upon the blessings that are associated with the Word of Wisdom must gain a testimony, understanding and knowledge, and God's grace to help them make their weak things strong in this thing. I am a meat addict and could have never made these changes without power to do so that I received from the Lord. Now I love how I eat, and it is very satisfying to me, and I love the way it makes me feel. I know that the Lord will quicken and strengthen every saint who comes to him in faith and with a fixed determination to obey his counsels.
If you want to lay hold upon the blessings promised in the Word of Wisdom, then give your will to him fully in these things. If needed, fast and pray until you are fully subdued before the Lord; then, ask in faith for the light, knowledge, and grace you need to become a part of the generation who eats like Daniel, while also walking in obedience to all of God's commandments. If you do so, you will become a part of the mighty generation who will bring forth fruits that are meet for Zion.
Jim and Colleen Simmons
P.S. Please share your own testimony of the Word of Wisdom in the comments section below.
Special Note: Before engaging in Daniel's Challenge, please study carefully each of its seven parts:
Also, it is good to do Daniel's Challenge with a friend or friends who also have great interest in doing so after they read and study these seven different parts. You can use any of the sharing features below to share Daniel's Challenge with them. Also, we are offering Video Conferencing to all who desire further assistance. It important that you make this a permanent lifestyle change, and it is good to have expert assistance from time to time, when it is needed. Best!
I am of the opinion that diminished health is a form of bondage. It doesn't matter what the condition is really--cancer, chronic fatigue, overweight, etc. etc. You can be trapped, and unable to save yourself or help yourself get better. We may not have literal prisons, like the faithful missionaries in the Book of Mormon of old, but we can for sure experience bondage in one form or another in our life time. Whether it be a loved-one in an addiction, diminished health, wayward children-- some experiences we have absolutely no control over. A modern day prison, so to speak.
Anyways, back to this thought of captivity and diminished health--Who is the one who delivers us out of bondage? The Lord, himself. It's not special diets, it's not supplements, it's not medication; it's HIM. It's by doing what He asks us to do. It's following his tender, gentle, loving direction--and gaining light and knowledge to overcome the darkness with in us. If you ask me, I would say, "Yes, those instructions will most likely include dietary changes. because God is bound by law and can't go against nature." But always remember that a diet alone won't save you or heal you. It's Heavenly Father, in His time, and in His way.
Here is my testimony of the Word of Wisdom and story of my health challenges.
I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and was bed ridden for about 22 hours of the day at the age of 25. (This lasted 6 months time) At this time, I was unmistakably guided to Brother Simmons, and to this website. I became a vegetarian, as I felt it was what the Lord wanted me to do. Brother Simmons has been like a kind father to me, and helped me along the way. He suggested that perhaps juicing would be helpful for me, as my digestive tract couldn't really seem to digest any of the raw veggies. (I would balloon up like an oompa loompa lady) Well, The juicing made things worse. It made me EVEN MORE tired. Exhausted. I couldn't stay awake if I tried! So. I stopped the juicing, and continued just to "eat meat sparingly" despite my maldigested foods.
THEN... after 6 months time, we had a ward and extended family fast... I was again given further light and knowledge. Except this time, something different. The GAPS diet. (gasp!) I didn't want to go there, honestly. Three different people sent me the exact same link all at the exact same time, on "how to heal your digestive tract naturally." The reason I didn't want to go there, was because-- well... it wasn't very plant-based friendly. And, I already had a testimony of the plant based way of eating! I dismissed the answer I received, until I was sent that very same link again by someone else. And again by a family member. And again by a friend in a neighboring ward. And again the next day. "Hmm... maybe Heaven is sending me a repeating message here." As I prayed about it, I felt warm and good about it. That was my answer. That was my next step.
Doing the GAPS diet brought me to a much higher level of functioning than simply vegetarian. However, I felt like I started being vegetarian (rubbing my head) and then doing the GAPS, (I just started patting my belly), and did them simultaneously. Whew! I wasn't completely vegan because, I didn't feel that was my answer, at the time. But, I for sure wasn't a "meat-a-tarian" which McBride espouses. I was more of a "broth-e-tarian" and had lots of yummy veggies soups!
Fast forward, I was directed to see a functional holistic medical doctor who put me on a bunch of antifungals, and I became at an even higher level of functioning and energy. Yet another step out of bondage.
God will often lead us out of our bondage by degrees, I believe. It's not always all at once. And, for me, I believe it's from keeping our covenants that we are given the further light and knowledge we need to overcome our situation.
Here is the scripture that kind of goes along with this thought:
"13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage."
As we keep our covenants, the Lord is bound to bless us with light to help us in our dark situations. Perhaps not all at once, but He will help us!
Anyway, sorry to be so long winded. I am still not out of my bondage quite yet. But, I have been guided each step of the way, and I believe I am on the way to a full recovery.
Do I eat a W of W diet? You bet cha that I do! For a long time, when I didn't eat a whole foods diet and cheated on processed stuff, my health declined so much so, that I was on the couch!
But, I guess I wanted to add that my story is different from Brother Simmons. He was directed to eat all Raw Foods. I was not. I was directed to eat soups, broths, and fermented foods. He was directed to juice--when I tried to apply his personal, individual light and knowledge for him-- it didn't work for me! It made things worse!
I guess this is where personal revelation comes in. We have scripture. God can not lie. We need to trust His words, His guidance, and His Holy spirit.
I think of two stories of bondage and deliverance in Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. One of the groups of people were lead out of bondage from giving the guards alcohol. The other group-- the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon them. I can't just "give you my booze" so to speak, and expect that my mode of deliverance will work for you, and help you get out of your unique, personal bondage. "Just do the GAPS diet" won't work for you.
Brother Simmons, bless his heart, tried to help me by suggesting juicing. That had the opposite effect for me. It made things worse!
Who knows what, ultimately, is wrong with your body?
He will guide you to know what you need to do.
I have a firm, strong testimony of this principle. As you are humble, obedient, prayerful, and feasting upon the Words of Christ, you will be guided to a your deliverance from bondage-- A return to health. He has helped me. A joe-shmoe- average-kinda-young-Mom-who makes mistakes-all-the-time. Just like he brought Lazarus back from death-- he can bring YOU back to life too(from whatever your ailement may be! According to his will and His plan for you) Not to mention, He can bring the spiritually dead back to life too.
And as we all know in Ether 12:27, " I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." The whole "having faith in him" really could say, "ACTING according to His will." THEN will he help us come out of our bondage, and out of our weakness.
I have a testimony of the Word of Wisdom, just like I have of testimony of Joseph Smith. God gave us the Word of Wisdom for a reason. I also have a strong testimony that God is our Rock, our friend, and our Deliverer, and will lead us out of bondage as we follow His laws. One of his laws is to "eat meat sparingly." It is overlooked in the church, and honestly, in my opinion, that's a shame. As Elder Russell M. Nelson teaches us , "Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time! Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!5"
As you contemplate McDougals work, Ornish, Fuhrman and plant-based diet's literature--it's benefits, and life-long-consequences, is it any wonder we are asked by the Lord to "eat meat sparingly" ?
Thank you Brother Simmons for consecrating your life to bringing this truth out of darkness for those seeking truth! Blessings to you and Colleen and your family! Thank you for starting this post and inviting us to share our testimonies. I would love to hear others' stories!
Thank you Bethany for sharing your journey out of bondage and your testimony of how God has been delivering you from bondage as you keep your covenants with him. Some of what was written in Back to Strong came about while pondering upon Bethany's dilemma. The seeming impossibility of her situation inspired a critical section in Letter 4 of the book. One day while pondering upon Bethany's mountain, I was inspired to ask God about the faith of a mustard seed, and specifically what a sycamine tree had to do with loving our enemies. What a wonderful experience it was to then write about the instruction I received on that topic.
As the book Back to Strong came into being it evolved into the new Daniel's Challenge and instructs in how to ascend both temporally and spiritually to a strong state. It came about while striving to help Bethany and others who face very difficult challenges.It addresses God's temporal and spiritual laws of health.
Bethany and I often discussed the blessing of her trial and how much the Lord loves her. Her trial has quickened her pace in the redemptive pathway, leading her to gain knowledge about the ways of the Lord and how we can receive further light knowledge through the veil.
If we begin any journey out of bondage by obeying God with exactness, as Bethany did when she began with a plant-based diet, then we qualify to receive all further light and knowledge that we need for our own unique circumstances. She was led how to gain the benefits of vegetables, while also receiving the healing properties of bone broths that are rich with minerals that aid in storing the digestive tract, or the gut.
However, if we don't begin with simple obedience to what has already been given to us, then he cannot lead us to do what Bethany did. She did not do GAPs full on like most people do. Rather she gained the best out of two worlds. Vegetables are also extremely high in mineral content. Cooking them in bone broths was very helpful to her, something she discovered with the Lord. Similarly, Nephi had to slay Laban in his journey, something that goes contrary to the command to not kill others. Her body was starving to death; she was in a famine, and God ordained animals for our use for just such purposes. She received them with thankfulness, and they helped to restore her.
Bethany could only digest bone broths, some meat, and some cooked vegetables for a very long time, yet in her striving to obey God with exactness, from the beginning, she put herself in a position to receive further light and knowledge through the veil.
God cannot trample upon our agency without ceasing to be God. Therefore, until we surrender our will to his, he cannot lead us, as he has led Bethany in her own custom pathway. If we "think" we know best, he remains silent and allows us to do our own thing. Yet, if we tire of our results and humble ourselves before him, desiring further light and knowledge, and we express that humility through exact obedience to him, then we receive further light and knowledge that he has promised to send us. And so the journey goes, as fast as we are willing and able to receive more.
My own journey has taken many turns. For example, the first instructions I received were given by a voice that spoke to me directly from heaven. I followed this for six months with exactness, until he gave me further instructions. My journey has also been a long one. For example, in 2009 I became exceedingly ill again. I was dying because of a broken hip that had gone undiagnosed and untreated for 12 years. A part of my journey included a need to include very specific animal products that aided in a highly unlikely recovery. Then, a year ago, I receive instructions to eat no animal products at all, which is needed, I believe, while I am finishing my journey of coming Back to Strong.
The greatest thing that has happened to me in my journey is that I have come to better understand how to receive the further light and knowledge I need to continue my ascension in grace. It has been a joy to write to my children, to Bethany, and to others. It has been a joy coming more fully unto Christ personally and with others, and it is sobering to me that in spite of all the revelation I have received, I am still the lowliest and least able of all men.
I was struck last week with this reality. God supported and led Nephi through his afflictions in the wilderness, preserved him on the great deep, filled him with love unto the consuming of his flesh, confounded his enemies, and caused them to shake before him. God also heard Nephi's cries by day and gave him knowledge by visions in the night-time. Nephi also waxed bold in mighty prayer, insomuch that angels descended from heaven to minister unto him, and his body was carried away by the Spirit upon exceedingly high mountains, and he beheld things too great for man, which he was forbidden to write. After all of these blessings, Nephi suffered weaknesses of the flesh and entered into temptation continually.
Nephi's greatest desires included the desire to receive redemption from his sins, to be encircled in the robes of the Lord’s righteousness, to be delivered and protected from his enemies, to be sanctified, to receive a health abhorrence toward sin, to be protected from the powers of hell, and to receive power to walk in the ways of righteousness throughout his life.
He expressed these desires, after confessing his weaknesses and after he had already received what seems extraordinary to me. My parting thought is this. If Nephi, after having beheld so much that was marvelous and great, suffered weaknesses of the flesh, then who am I to complain about my weaknesses of the flesh, or temptations that beset me. And Nephi said it best. The Lord is the rock of our salvation; he delivers us from all that is evil. No health guru can do that for you, no doctor, not even a worthy and inspired bishop. In the end, even the best the Lord's choicest servants can do for us is to lead us more fully to Jesus Christ. He is the master doctor, healer, and deliverer, and ultimately we must come fully unto him to have the impossible be made possible to us.