new brothers 005

The Good Die Young

TheDiscipleMD

It was about seven years ago that I got the dreaded call from my older brother, Richard. I looked down at my cell phone to see his name light up. I knew that he had been in to see the doctor that week for a prognosis on his pancreatic cancer. When I answered the phone, he greeted me in his usual style of class and suave and said, “Well, it looks like I will be checking out early.” A few months later he died at the age of fifty-nine.

I had the opportunity to see Rich one more time before he passed on to the other side of the veil. I stood next to him as we looked out his back window just weeks before his death.  He said to me, “It’s just so hard to believe that in a month or so my name will appear in the local obituary and a funeral service will be held on my behalf.” I was speechless. I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept. So I could imagine why he said what he did.  And although I have a firm testimony of the resurrection, it is still difficult to see one of your siblings die at such a young age. I lost a sister who was in her early 40’s many years ago. She is buried in the same cemetery as my brother. After we had buried my brother, I saw my Father, and being from out-of-town I went over to him to ask where the gravestone was of my sister. I embraced him and told him that he did a wonderful job of speaking at the funeral. He had spoken on the great hope of the resurrection. With tears in his eyes he said, “I believe every word I said!” “So do I,” was my reply! Then we walked up the hill where he and I stood over the gravestone of my sister. As I knelt down and touched her stone to brush off the leaves, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t help but cry out in the anguish of my soul at the loss of two of my siblings at such young ages.

However, that being said, my soul is hopeful that I will see both of them, along with my Mother and other loved ones. I take comfort in the teachings found in the scriptures, particularly the message found in Alma 22:14 which states:

“And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…”

A talk was given by Thomas Monson in 1993 entitled “Hopeless Dawn- Joyful Morning”. In it he expresses these thoughts:

“The famed scientist Madame Marie Curie returned to her home the night of the funeral for her husband, Pierre Curie, who was killed in an accident in the streets of Paris, and made this entry in her diary: “They filled the grave and put sheaves of flowers on it. Everything is over. Pierre is sleeping his last sleep beneath the earth. It is the end of everything, everything, everything!” In reality, every thoughtful person has asked himself this question: Does the life of man continue beyond the grave? Death comes to all mankind. It comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life’s journey, and often it hushes the laughter of little children. Death is one tragic fact that no one can escape or deny.”

Yet, President Monson presented the glorious doctrine of the resurrection when he continued:

“The darkness of death can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master; “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25–26.)

Indeed, my siblings had left this life early but the old saying that “the good die young” is really not true.  Because they will never die! Their influence and light still lives on in their posterity and in the good works that stand as a testimony of their lives of service.  And I have faith that my siblings are living on the other side of the veil. None of us know for sure what the length of our journey will be here on this planet. But I have great hope and faith in the promises of the Lord that when the day comes that words are said over my coffin, the essence of who I am will have moved on to that glorious after-life that awaits the faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Of this, I am sure!

Photo: (4 Brothers)-Richard, Andy, Scott, Doug

 

michelangelo

Without God There Is No Virtue!

TheDiscipleMD

The long slow attack on the mention of God, Christ, and the divine nature of our country has been going on for decades and the course of history is proving that we as a country are paying the price.

“In 1962, the Supreme Court in the New York prayer case banned the…saying of prayers. In 1963, the Court banned the reading of the Bible in our public schools. From that point on, the courts pushed the meaning of the ruling ever outward, so that now our children are not allowed voluntary prayer. We even had to pass a law just a few weeks ago- to allow student prayer groups the same access to school rooms after classes that a Young Marxist Society, for example, would already enjoy with no opposition…

The 1962 decision opened the way to a flood of similar suits. Once religion had been made vulnerable, a series of assaults were made in one court after another, on one issue after another. Cases were started to argue against tax-exempt status for churches. Suits were brought to abolish the words “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, and to remove “In God We Trust” from public documents and from our currency. Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience…without God there is a coarsening of the society, without God democracy will not and cannot long endure…If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.” -August 23, 1984- Spoken at the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast, Dallas, Texas by President Ronald Reagan.

Our Father loves all of us, saints and sinners alike,  but history has proven that when the people forget their creator, the creator ceases to bless and protect them.

 

christ knocking on door

O Savior Stay This Night With Me!

TheDiscipleMD

A few years ago the focus of a church meeting was the hymns of our faith. It brought me to reflect upon my favorite hymn. My favorite hymn today is not my favorite hymn of yesteryear. My favorite characters found in the scriptures have been changing, according to my age and life experiences. So too, my favorite hymns have changed over time due to life experiences. I recall from my early youth how I loved the majestic and powerful opening notes of the hymn “God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hands”. I always loved hearing the organ open each verse with eight notes that reverberated throughout the chapel which seemed to encourage us Christian warriors to get ready for battle. It almost seemed like a “fight song” of sorts. I loved it so much that I asked if it could be sung at my missionary farewell as the opening song. And it was there, at my missionary farewell that I was introduced to a new favorite hymn, although, if my memory is correct, at the time it wasn’t found in the hymnal.

It is my earliest memory of hearing “Love One Another”. My Mother and sisters sang it! I loved it because of the simple melody and words. I was happy when this beautiful song was added years later to our hymns of praise. That hymn became my favorite for many years. But, as is the case with us all, life presents each with distinct challenges and obstacles. I don’t care how lucky or blessed you are in this life you will not get through it without being tested. For some the tests are numerous, mighty and for lengthy periods of time. Yet, for others they are short and intense. Either way, they test our resolve to be faithful and true. I am no different from most. Some of my challenges have been short and intense; others have been long and hard and continue to this day. Consequently, the inspirational power of some hymns come forward during those trials. Some seem to be written just for us!

I have gleaned great solace from listening and singing many of the church hymns over the years. None more so than my current favorite, “Abide with Me; ‘ Tis Eventide”. It contains within its verses the common occurrence in life of watching the day come to a close and preparing for a long night of darkness and loneliness. Anyone who has ever tackled a tough problem is aware that as darkness falls time seems to slow down. But somehow your mind speeds up as it becomes filled with the tough questions regarding your life, its direction and the trials before you. As your mind empties of the days activities, it starts to refill with the worries of your life. It can consume you! You are in need of hope! The first stanza of “Abide with Me; Tis Eventide” captures that feeling when it says:

Abide with me: ’tis eventide

The day is past and gone;

The shadows of the evening fall,

The night is coming on

It is the feeling of being alone, and without hope that make the impending darkness so forbidding. A gloomy night lies ahead and traveling it solo is not a pleasant thought. But, then comes a welcome guest and the cry of the chorus:

O Savior, stay this night with me;

Behold, ’tis eventide

O Savior, stay this night with me

Behold, ’tis eventide.

I wonder how many choruses of lamentations have been launched throughout history towards heaven as the shadows of evening fall and night is coming on. If you have ever had a sleepless night, you know how small problems become large ones and large ones become insurmountable. Sometimes it seems as though the gates of hell open up between the setting of the sun and its rising. Somewhere during that long night you need someone to hold onto. Someone you can lean on and someone who you know will understand your plight. That someone for me has been the Savior.

Abide with me; ’tis eventide

And lone will be the night

If I cannot commune with thee

Nor find in thee my light.

The darkness of the world, I fear,

Would in my home abide

I cannot speak for everyone but it has been my experience that light can be found in the midst of darkness when we take time to commune with the Savior. He will comfort us in our extremities. He will provide for us a shoulder to lean on, and the strength to carry on. He will give us the fortitude and resolve to make it through the night! I don’t know how it all works, nor do I really need to. I only know that as the dawn has broken on those kinds of nights for me, I have felt that the Savior has accepted my invitation to “stay this night with me” and I have made it through another night. The new day brings new challenges and new opportunities. But I know that the night will come again and I will be left to my thoughts. But, I have gained a testimony that as often as I have pled for Him to “abide with me”, He has stayed. I take great comfort in that knowledge, as I know there is always another night ahead.

 

 

rabbit nibbling

Nibbling At The Abundant Life!

TheDiscipleMD

In my mind, the now deceased Joseph B. Wirthlin certainly wasn’t  a great orator. However, while I didn’t think much of his presentation, the talks her gave were gems and I always looked forward to reading them.

Such is the case with a talk he gave in 2006. His talk titled “The Abundant Life” gave wonderful counsel that finding happiness in life is a matter of attitude and perspective. Indeed a choice!  I quote him:

“I have heard some claim, perhaps only partly in jest, that the only happy people are those who simply don’t have a firm grasp of what is happening around them. But I believe otherwise. I have known many who walk in joy and radiate happiness. I have known many who live lives of abundance. And I believe I know why. Today, I want to list a few of the characteristics that the happiest people I know have in common. They are qualities that can transform ordinary existence into a life of excitement and abundance.

First, they drink deeply of living waters.Fully understood and embraced, the gospel of Jesus Christ heals broken hearts, infuses meaning into lives, binds loved ones together with ties that transcend mortality, and brings to life a sublime joy. The abundant life is a spiritual life. Too many sit at the banquet table of the gospel of Jesus Christ and merely nibble at the feast placed before them.

The second quality of those who live abundant lives is that they fill their hearts with love…The third quality of those who live abundant lives is that they, with the help of their Heavenly Father, create a masterpiece of their lives.No matter our age, circumstances, or abilities, each one of us can create something remarkable of his life.

Who knows of what we are capable if we only try?  The abundant life is within our reach if only we will drink deeply of living water, fill our hearts with love, and create of our lives a masterpiece.” (April GC, 2006)

So if we are wanting to feel the excitement that this life has to offer, may we stop nibbling at the feast that the gospel of Christ has to offer. May we search and seek out the abundance of joy that the Lord intends for each of our lives.

 

 


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