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The Light Of Christ Chases Out The Darkness

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We have all had a sleepless night at one time or another in our lives. When you have one of those nights, they feel endless. It is a night that I like to call a “worthless evening”, because it gives you no rest from your labors. Once it seemed as if I awoke on the hour, every hour, all night. I tossed and turned. I put the pillow over my head, under my head, threw it off the bed and then retrieved it all within the same hour. Sometimes I would look at the clock by the bedside to see what time it was. But most often I didn’t , because I could tell by the darkness of the room the approximate hour of the night. Complete blackness told me that it was the middle of the night whereas plain darkness gave indications of early morn. As the sun rose and light began to filter into the room, it chased the darkness away, ending the night. A new day dawn was breaking. The long dark night was over. It is clear to anyone who has every witnessed a sunrise that darkness and light cannot coexist. While darkness may be a fact; another fact is that light is essentially a gift from God.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (Gen. 1:1-4).

We can see from the opening versus of the Old Testament that “the Spirit of God” moved upon the earth and He said, “Let there be light”. And then God pronounced it “good”. Light has always been a heavenly characteristic. Light chases out darkness and visa versa. While this fact seems logical and nothing “earth shattering” to understand, it is important to know that we individually are like the earth. We have souls contained within our earthy bodies that contain both light and darkness. The more light we shine into our souls, the more darkness retreats. The more we allow the light of the spirit to illuminate our minds, the more the scales of darkness that cloud our understanding dissipate. How then do we illuminate our souls? By living our lives such that God’s spirit dwells in us.

We often sing, “We thank thee for sending the gospel, to lighten our minds with it’s rays!” (Hymn, “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet”). Indeed it does! The “rays” of the gospel are taught by prophets. When we listen and follow their counsel, we can expect that the light of Christ will shine in our souls and the “darkness” of mind, that is so depressing, will be cast out. We illuminate our souls when we spent time praying, pondering, reading the scriptures. Indeed, quoting Paul, “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things”. All these things, as well as many others, bring light to our lives. And where there is light, there can be no darkness. So the more light we shine into our souls, the less room there is for darkness.

It is under the cover of darkness when we are in danger. It is where works of evil can temporarily be hidden from man. It is place of no hope, no faith and no charity. In darkness is found despair. Blessed be those who have chased the darkness completely out of their lives! God pronounced “light” to be “good”. May we “fill” our souls so that they are overflowing with light. And by the light of the gospel, we will find the peace that all of us so diligently desire.

 

sic transit gloria mundi

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (Thus Passes The Glory Of The World)

Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means “Thus passes the glory of the world.” It has been interpreted as “Worldly things are fleeting.”

I learned a lesson about the fleeting glory of man when, as a senior in high school I happened to stop at a local Burger King for lunch. There sweating profusely behind the grill was a face I recognized. It was the face of a champion.

Just two years before I had watched with admiration as this young man, who was from another high school, stood at the state wrestling tournament with a championship trophy in hand. The flashes of the cameras recording his triumphant victory rained down on his smiling face.  He held the trophy high and it seemed to me, that for a moment, his outstretched arms were touching the Gods!  Oh to be a state wrestling champion I thought.  The glory of it all!

And so it was that I stood in line that day waiting to order my burger, watching…thinking…pondering and processing. What I most remember thinking at that young age was, “Really! Is this what comes of champions.  Flipping burgers on the grill of a Burger King doused in grease and smoke!” In retrospect, this champion was still young and could have been making his way through college, or there could have been any number of reasons he was at the grill that day. And, really, as long as work is honorable, that should be OK.  But, I was young, and well, wouldn’t him being a state wrestling champion have gotten him some ‘glorious’ job. After all, he was a champion, and seeing him behind that grill just didn’t seem to match the glory he was basking in when I last saw him.

Well, this particular memory, of the fleeting glory of man, has not only stayed with me, but over the years,  I have seen it repeated over and over in the lives of others. I have also seen it in my own life. The glories of man truly do pass,  and if you spend your life pursuing them, you might gain them, but, as the Savior stated:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

I don’t remember that young man’s named, but I remember the lesson.  The truthfulness of the statement “Sic transit gloria mundi” is backed up by the words of the Savior. And no matter what language you say it in, the validity of it rings true. Most of us have experienced it to some degree or another on our journey here on earth.  My hope is that we will apply it in our lives and live such that our desire for the glory of God far outweighs the fleeting glory of man.

 

 

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When We Invite ‘Misery’ To Stay In Our Guest Room

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In the classic 1954 Hitchcock film ‘Rear Window’ is found this exchange between the two lead characters:

Lisa:(Grace Kelly), “I wish I were creative.”
Jeff: (Jimmy Stewart) “You are. You’re great at creating difficult situations!”

Over the course of my life I have met a number of individuals who seem to “create difficult situations’ out of nothing. Sometimes I wonder if I am not guilty of the same. If there is not a crisis going on in our lives, do we create one? Do we become so comfortable in living with crisis, such that when it is not present, we feel ‘uncomfortable?’ Do we feel some need to manufacture or blow up something in our life such that we ‘create difficult situations’ that don’t really exist? Perhaps we need the attention from others, or maybe talking about problems becomes such a part of who we are that we just can’t help ourselves. The problem, of course, is that in “creating difficult situations” out of little or nothing, we unconsciously make those around us miserable. And unfortunately, we pay the highest price because we raise our own misery index to levels where they need not be. I know none of us can believe we are ‘guilty as charged,‘ but if we examine our lives we might find there is more truth found in this indictment then we want to accept. Life will, of course, “create difficult situations” without our help.

Recently my wife and I went out to dinner with another couple who are also “empty nesters.” The other woman mentioned that, looking back on raising her children, she realized that she worried too much about things that were of little consequence. She recognized that she had spent an undue amount of energy worrying about bad situations that never presented themselves; yet she had experienced the internal personal misery as if it had. She found that some of the joy that this life has to offer was lost in “imaginary” problems that never came.

As we continue down the path of life, we don’t need to create misery in our lives. It will appear without our help. No need to send it a text message inviting it live in our guest room. Let us remember what Jesus said to His disciples when they were troubled, “Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.” (Mark 6:50)

kingdom of God

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Thing!

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For many of us, admitting a mistake is hard, but learning to say “I’m Sorry” is even harder. While this may not seem to be a very serious flaw, in reality it’s root is found in pride. In fact it can contribute to our inability to repent of sins. After all, both repentance and learning to say “I’m Sorry” are a recognition of a mistake or sin, and then being humble enough to admit it.

Throughout the scriptures we find numerous example’s of individuals and civilizations that never learned to say “I’m Sorry, I was wrong.” And throughout history is the sad tale of the demise of such cultures and people. Perhaps you remember the story of Zeezrom from the Book of Alma. Zeezrom went about teaching false doctrine and perverting the ways of the Lord. He challenged Alma and Amulek and the scriptures say, “Zeezrom was a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which was good…” (Alma 11:21). Most of us automatically associate his name with that of an Antichrist. However, perhaps we have forgotten that;

“Zeezrom lay sick…with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness…therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat. Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom…he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him. And it came to pass that they went immediately…and they found him upon his bed, sick,… exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him. And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation? And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught. And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed. And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words. And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout…And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people.” (Alma 15: 3-12).

Zeezrom learned to say “I’m Sorry” and the Lord rewarded him accordingly.  Being sorry and then being able to express it is very close  to being repentant.  Sometimes we have not really sinned when an,  “I’m sorry!” is needed.  However,  I think if we examine each situation where hurt exists between us and others we will discover that our lack of humility is often the root of our unwillingness to admit our mistakes.  And that lack of humility is often found in sin. Once when I was serving as a priesthood leader I had words with a set of the full-time elders. I should have known better. Later, upon reflection, I knew that an apology was in order.  I sat down with the missionaries and told them I was sorry for some things I had said.  They too expressed sorrow for contributing to the situation. The three of us exchanged an embrace and they ended up being the set of Elders that became the closest to me and my family while I served in that calling.  The healing that comes when both parties can humbly submit to each other is powerful.

So the next time we stubbornly refuse to say those two contrite words, “I’m Sorry,”  let us remember that it is not a weakness to admit mistakes, but rather, it requires strength of character.

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