Delivered to the Orem Canyon View 5th Ward, 12:00 PM on July 31, 2022
Remembering What to Do
Spiritual Momentum. What a wonderful idea and a beautiful concept taught by to us by the Lord’s prophet a few months ago (see https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2022/04/47nelson?lang=eng). I love how he gave us five specific things to do. To help me remember them, I think about my body. Let me explain.
The first thing President Nelson asked us to do what to get on and stay on the covenant path. I picture my feet walking down this path. I know what my feet look like. I even know what they smell like. This I can remember.
Second, I think of my knees. Before, during, and after I take my daily walk down the covenant path, I need to humbly get on my knees. While there, talking with Father, I will plead for his help in making better choices today than I did yesterday. And because of yesterday, I will also beg for forgiveness, for a changed heart, and a changed mind. I repent. I commit to doing better. And, if I need to, I also seek out assistance in repenting from those who can help, and those who can legitimately pronounce me clean. So, I think of my knees.
Third, I think of my brain. It isn’t very big. I can’t see it. I don’t want to see it. But I know its there. And I want to fill it up with as much light and truth as possible. That takes me to the scriptures. That takes me to conference recordings. That takes me to any classroom or source or medium that will teach me more eternal truths, where I can learn about God, and his attributes, and how to emulate them in blessing his children. And it is all processed and stored in my brain.
Fourth, I think of my eyes. My eyes are what sees. My eyes are what seeks. And what am I seeking for? Miracles. Divine manifestations in my life that cannot be explained by the religion of academia or physical science. These are meta-physical observations. These are things beyond reason. These are things that, if we look hard enough, we’ll see proof of the existence of God and his involvement in our lives. I need spiritual eyes, single to the glory of God, that will help me see and experience miracles.
Fifth, I think of my hands. Are they fists readied for conflict? Or are they open and extended. Are they used to shake hands, to sustain each other, to set up chairs, to help, to lift, to comfort, to console, to embrace, to serve, to tear down walls that separate loved ones? What can I do, with my hands, to end conflict? And then I think of the Savior’s hands, pierced and bloodied, and I remember that his hands will ultimately resolve all conflicts.
So that’s how I remember the five things. Feet, Knees, Brain, Eyes, and Hands. And I think of the song, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes if I get confused.
Why Spiritual Momentum
Now, President Nelson’s invitation to us also begs the question, why do we need more spiritual momentum? Why did the Lord inspire President Nelson to teach us about this topic? Why did the Lord inspire our stake presidency to ask us to readdress it today throughout all the wards in our stake? Please, keep this question in your mind for the next few minutes: Why do you, and me, and the entire world, in fact, need to step-up this aspect of our discipleship right now?
Today, we’ve already been taught some wonderful truths about this notion, so let me bear second witness and endorse what my companion said, and build a little more on these truths.
What is Momentum?
First, let me tell you what I discovered as I was preparing this particular sermon. I decided to back up to refresh my memory on the definition of momentum. Even though all of us are familiar with this term and experience it every single day, I first discovered a definition back in high school physics. It was my second time taking this particular class since I flunked it on my first go around. Ah, I can’t believe how dumb I was as a teenager. But that’s a story for another day. Better yet, a day in the post-mortal spirit world. Maybe.
In high school I learned that momentum, or the power behind oomph, was the product of mass times velocity. It allows us to impact something or someone with more force. We each have mass, I have more than I should. If I combine that mass by exerting energy to move my body faster than it is as rest, I gain momentum. It is a measurement of mass in motion.
If the bishop stood up here next to me and said, push me over, if I just used my puny arms to do it, chances are I’d fail. But if I got a running start at it, say ran from the sacrament table over to him, I think I could probably knock him over. Don’t run in the chapel, by the way, everyone, especially you adults.
So mass times velocity produces momentum. Then I went to college. In retrospect, I’m not completely convinced that was a good idea. And, like before, it took me two tries to pass physics. Again, it really saves time—and embarrassment—to learn your lessons on the first go around. So after failing, I repented and tried again. Given my habit of failing, that seems to be a solution that works best for me. When my teacher asked, “What is the formula for momentum,” I shot-up my hand and smugly said, “It is mass time velocity.” He shook his head and said, “not quite, Newton.” He apparently didn’t even know my name.
It turns out that there are different types of momentum, depending on what object you’re thinking about. I was only thinking about things I knew about in my limited life experiences, like pushing over bishops, but it turns out that besides linear momentum, there is also angular momentum. This is a vector quantity that has both magnitude and direction. In fact, Einstein says rotational angular momentum is a four-dimensional bivector, whatever that means. On the quantum mechanics level, it is actually a probability that is calculated on a wave function that uses functions and integrals, and other mathematic terms I haven’t yet mastered. And then I learned that momentum doesn’t require mass, as we learn from observing the force created by light. And then I learned that momentum doesn’t even require velocity. It blew my mind! What I really learned from college was that I was, indeed, very, very, dumb. Something I already knew.
Now we have this notion of spiritual momentum. And that one, fortunately, was defined by our prophet. And he got his inspiration from the leader of our Church, Jesus Christ. This special type of momentum requires our spiritual mass (not the Catholic one) to increase its speed at forcing our physical body to accomplish more good deeds in less time. Why, because apparently time is running out for people who choose to obey telestial laws and we all need to step up our game. Our mortal mission, in case we forgot, is to help other people find and exercise their faith to live higher, better, holier laws so they can also receive the higher, better, holier benefits. As we do that, we also become higher, better, and holier.
I was recently reading the classic book, “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot. In the 1940s, a young man just completed veterinary school and arrived at his first posting in a small English country village. He was given an old, dilapidated car so he could drive to the nearby farms. His employer told him that when he came to the top of a particular hill, rather than letting off the gas and going down at a reasonable speed, if he wanted to make it up the next hill, he better accelerate so that he could gather enough momentum to make it over the next hill, otherwise, the car wouldn’t otherwise make it. You see, it didn’t have enough energy or force to make it over the next obstacle.
Why We Need More Momentum
Remember that question I asked you do contemplate? Why did we get this message about spiritual momentum now? Because I believe, that we will need that extra power, that extra oomph, that extra momentum to make it past the obstacles and challenges that are just around the corner.
I don’t know about you, but I can feel the mighty winds of change. And they are blowin’ even harder than ever before. Satan is clearly revving up his forces to get ready for the next big battle. A long one, according to the scriptures, lasting from 3½ to 7 years, at the end of which, the Savior will come. Now we don’t know the day nor the hour when that battle will commence, but the signs of the times also seem to be picking up momentum. And the world’s momentum is going in the wrong direction. Our brothers and sisters, misguided by those who are under the influence of the adversary, who only provides adversity and misery and woe. As a result, they can’t see the light. Many have buried their own light of Christ and have chosen to follow their own gods, which for too many, is of their own making. In fact, it is often themselves.
So, we need to shine brighter, we need to try harder, we need to gird up our loins, or as my mother would say, “It’s time to put on your big boy pants.” President Kimball, back in 1974, told us to “lengthen our stride” and “quicken our pace.” And we did. As a result, the Kingdom of God experienced tremendous growth on both sides of the veil from that time forward. Our mass increased.
But now it seems like we’re being asked to do even more. So, we have to ask ourselves, what is the first Big Step we need to make that will increase our spiritual momentum?
Before we can do what President Nelson has asked us to do, we might as well get all of the whining and complaining and moaning out of our systems. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve already been put through the washer, wrung out, and left out in the sun to dry. There are somedays, quite a few, actually, when I feel like I’ve already been stretched beyond what I thought I could do. And I guess that’s the point of mortality. And we’re all about to be stretched even more. We’re being stretched, intensely, because God knows we can take it.
We Can Do This!
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have sent us here in the last of the latter-days, at the climax of earthly wickedness when evil and duplicity and secret combinations and deception reign supreme. Where people are facing false prophets and false doctrines which only breed chaos and confusion. Then throw on top of that a mixture of economic failure, drought, disease, famine, violence, power struggles, war, identity crises, and relationship and emotional stress, and we’ve got ourselves a bona fide tribulation on our hands. But one, for which we were tailor-made to face—and withstand.
We are so much more than we think we are. As latter-day saints, I wish we also believed that we were, in truth, latter-day warriors, fighting a battle with those who oppose Christ and his teachings. It is a spiritual battle being waged right now. As it been waging since before the beginning. We’ve been fighting for a very long time.
Some of us are tired. Most of us have been wounded. We are all sick and saddened over what has happened. We mourn for our country, we mourn for our liberties, we mourn for those we’ve already lost and worry about those who might be lost.
But the time for mourning is past. We’re now in the comforting stage. We must shift from mourning to comforting, a willful act, where we work to heal and soothe and forgive and uplift and do all we can do to bless the lives of those around us.
You or I, working by ourselves, can’t do this alone. We need the mass of all of us working together. Side-by-side, arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand. With the shield of faith in one hand, the sword of truth in the other, and in the other hand, wait, no more hands, so let’s use our hearts, yes, that’s it, with our hearts united with our fellow saints, and those who ought to be saints, will go, yet again to war.
That’s why the covenants and the covenant path is so important. It endows us with protection, perspective, power, persuasion, and priesthood. It enables us to fight off all enemy forces. If we have more people with us on this path, on both sides of the veil, and they’re also in the battle fighting with us, that gives us a moment to catch our breaths or tend a wound because we know someone is next to us and is watching our backsides. The more people on this path, the more mass. And if we quicken our pace, we’ll move faster and have greater momentum.
Do One Thing Better and More Often
I challenge you brothers and sisters to find one more thing that you can do to become even more righteous. Maybe it is repenting of your most favorite sin. Maybe it is having more study time with your scriptures. Maybe it is extending your time on your knees in prayer. Maybe it is setting aside recreation to become more friendly with your neighbors and give them as much love and ministration as they can stand. Maybe it’s turning off the cell phone, a TV, a computer, or a game console and turning towards a loved one. Maybe it is forgiving one of your many offenders, even if they don’t deserve it. I can think of lots of politicians and academics and influencers and manipulators who I need to forgive. Can’t you?
According to the prophet, the time for renewed, positive attitudes and actions is now. Fortunately, we are each well on our way there already. Think of all of the hills you have already climbed. The battles you’ve fought. The wounds you’ve received. The aid you’ve rendered. You’ve been doing this, and some of you have been doing this for a long, long, long time. So you’re now working on muscle memory. You don’t have to worry about how, you just have to worry about where to spend your energy. It is already a habit. Like attending church. You’re here, and so are all of these. We’re getting more massive by the moment. Moments ago, we were pronounced clean and worthy because of the sacrament ordinance. There should be nothing that can stop us from doing even more.
Now the scriptures tell us that we shouldn’t run faster than we have strength. But we can run faster than we think we can. Just ask any athletic coach. But the scriptures also tell us, that in this particular race, we are yoked to Jesus. He is all powerful. He is all knowing. He is all loving. Surely, He will carry us when we are exhausted. He will treat us when we are wounded. He will feed us and strengthen us until we can fight in the next battle.
I hate to break it to you brothers and sisters. But the war will still be fought on the other side of the veil. This war, where the souls of mankind are at stake, will be won. Jesus wins in the end. You know it. Even the devil and his minions know it. Rejoice in that fact! Shout hooray! I would have you shout, “Amen,” but our custom isn’t to do that. That’s a shame.
I love you brothers and sisters. Thanks for fighting. Thanks for allowing me to fight with you in the fight of a lifetime, and then some. Thanks for sustaining the leaders of the ward and the stake. Thanks for forgiving and comforting and sustaining one another. Thanks for all of the good you do. Keep it going, lengthen your stride or at least speed up your shuffle. We can do this. We will do this. Zion is coming. Soon.
May I close with these heart-felt words from the current prophet of God. Picture him in your mind. Hear his voice.
My dear brothers and sisters, with all the pleadings of my heart, I urge you to get on the covenant path and stay there. Experience the joy of repenting daily. Learn about God and how He works. Seek and expect miracles. Strive to end conflict in your life.
As you act on these pursuits, I promise you the ability to move forward on the covenant path with increased momentum, despite whatever obstacles you face. And I promise you greater strength to resist temptation, more peace of mind, freedom from fear, and greater unity in your families.
God lives! Jesus is the Christ! He lives! He loves us and will help us. Of this I testify in the sacred name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen.