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Tips for living: Fighting against spiritual atrophy

By Emily Johnson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, March 20 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

When a people stop using their physical muscles, they become weak. The same concept can be applied to our spirituality. Mormon author Christopher R. Greenwood's book, "Spiritual Atrophy" (Eborn Books, $14.95) issues a clarion call to guard against the dangerous peril our spiritual safety faces today.

Greenwood urges readers to evaluate where they stand on their spiritual journey. He writes, "Each of us, from time to time, may feel that we are just not where we should be, spiritually speaking." He also warns that spiritual complacency is equally dangerous.

Here are a few tips, based on Greenwood's 131-page book, to strengthen and tone spiritual muscles:

1. Plant seeds of growth

Greenwood suggests the need to plant seeds of growth in a person's heart.

"Changing our fallen natures may seem a bit daunting and overwhelming," writes Greenwood, "but the seed, or the word of God, must be planted in order to avoid spiritual atrophy."

2. Develop faith

Faith is essential, according to Greenwood. He considers faith as a principle of power.

"Faith must be centered in our Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost in order for it to lead a person to salvation ... true faith brings miracles and recognition of our Father in Heaven's love through tender mercies that are extended to us," Greenwood writes.

3. Be forgiving

Another hallmark of spiritual strength, writes Greenwood, is the power and capacity to forgive.

"Forgiveness is a divine attribute. If we struggle with this attribute, we can pray for the strength to forgive those who have wronged us, and abandon those feelings of animosity, bitterness or revenge," explains Greenwood.

4. Make time for spirituality

Greenwood asks readers to consider how they prioritize the gospel. Using the New Testament story of Mary and Martha, Greenwood cautions readers to make sure their priorities are focused on the best part — spiritual development.

"We need to remember who or why we serve so we can get to know our Savior Jesus Christ. Everything else is secondary," cautions Greenwood, "don't get caught up in what you are doing and being so busy that you do not remember why you are doing it."

5. Attend the temple

Another critical way to buoy one up, Greenwood writes, is temple attendance.

"These blessings are given for all faithful Saints to enjoy, both men and women ... clearly the temple ceremony was given by a loving and wise Heavenly Father to help us in becoming more Christlike," Greenwood explains.

Emily Johnson earned her master of professional communication degree from Westminster College. She enjoys profiling unique people doing interesting things.

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