Lincoln Memorial

All Things Are Possible With the Lord!

TheDiscipleMD

On February 11th, 1861, newly elected President Abraham Lincoln delivered a farewell speech to his home state in Springfield, Illinois, as he left for Washington D.C.:

“I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. (America’s God & Country, William J. Federer).

While I am not “going to Washington” to be president of the United States, I do feel as Lincoln did, that all things are possible with the assistance of the Lord, and that true success cannot be achieved without divine help.  Recently we have gone through an election cycle.  Many laws of the lands in which we live have changed.  Some of us might be happy with them, some of us might not be! Life is full of changes. A few years ago in General Conference Henry B.Eyring spoke of changes that come into our lives. He said:

“Now, tonight let us decide together what we are going to do. All of us, whatever our callings may be, face tasks that are beyond our own powers. I do and you do. That’s true from the simple fact that success is to get testimony down into the hearts of people. We can’t make that happen. Even God won’t force that on anyone.

So success requires people we serve to choose to accept the testimony of the Spirit into their hearts. The Spirit is ready. But many people aren’t ready to invite the Spirit. Our task, which is in our power, is to invite the Spirit into our lives so that people we serve will want to have the fruits of the Spirit in their lives—the fruits that they can see in ours.”(GC, Oct 2007).

So, as President Erying said, our task “is to invite the Spirit into our lives, so that the people we serve will want to have the fruits of the Spirit in their lives.”  They will be more apt to partake of the fruit of the gospel, if they see that our lives are good. No matter where we are, we always have the opportunity to spread the fruits of the gospel to all that come under our influence.  Many years ago I was upset with the direction that the leaders of our country were leading us. I came to the determination that the best thing I could do as a citizen to combat that was to live the principles of the gospel of Jesus Chris. In so doing my light could shine out to all those I came into contact with be it at church or in the community.   I have not always lived up to that lofty goal but I am improving.

There seems to be so much contention in our civic and religious communities.  While casting ballots on measures and officers is an important part of our country’s history, sadly name calling and demonizing those who hold different opinions is also one that has taken root.  I know that little is accomplished when we stoop to such talk because when I have heard others demonize or name call my religion, or political positions I hold dear,  I am offended.  It doesn’t make me want to join them.  I don’t think it behooves followers of Jesus Christ to lower standards to fit the times.

May we be willing to work together in bringing about good through our righteous speech and actions.  Let us be firm in our righteous endeavors, without being offensive in our speech or action.  Agency is a wonderful gift that has been given to us.  May we exercise it appropriately in our religious and civic lives out of respect for others, and for ourselves.   Have faith in the Lord. All things are possible with the Lord and through His spirit lives can truly be changed for the better!

 

starfish

The One!

TheDiscipleMD

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his journal writing.  He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.  One day he was walking along the shore.  As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer.  As he got closer he saw that it was a young man and he wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down on the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.  As he got closer he called out, “Good Morning!  What are you doing?

The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.  The sun is up, and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach with starfish all along it.  You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”  (Author Unknown)

And so I would encourage all of us to remember the “one” and not become discouraged when the task at hand is large. After all you and I are “the one” who were picked up off the shore at one time or the other in our lives. As we go about our daily service let us be not discouraged. While the world seems to be unaffected by our deeds we can make the difference to “the one.” And “the one” is of great value in the eyes of the Lord. For:

“…What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost…” (Luke 15:4)

 

mars attack cards

The Art Of Christmas Love (When Mars Attacked!)

TheDiscipleMD

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Yet, little did we know, us eight little kids, that on the morrow, Christmas day, the Martians would attack…courtesey of our loving mother.

I was only six when the Martians came to our home in a most unexpected way and time. The lights of the Christmas tree sparkled bright as my seven siblings and I raced early that Christmas morning to the beckoning sight of gifts and overflowing stockings. I was only six at the time, with my oldest brother being 15 and my littlest sister the tender age of 5.

As was the custom, we raced to our stockings that had been ‘hung with care’, in hopes of finding candy and other assorted treats.  Much to the surprise and delight of all of us kids, the stockings were filled with packs and packs of baseball cards. It was a dream for a little boy like me. Visions of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays cards danced in my head.  But what should come as a wonderous surprise, was that the cards, packaged in long strands of cellophane, were not baseball cards at all. I didn’t know what they were, I had never seen anything like the cards that I was looking at.

“Mars Attacks is a science fiction trading card series released in 1962. The cards feature artwork…and tell the story of the invasion of Earth by cruel, hideous Martians…The cards depicted futuristic battle scenes and bizarre methods of Martian attack, torture and slaughter, as well as various Earth nations being attacked…The cards proved popular with children but their explicit gore…caused an outcry, leading the company to halt production.” (Wikipedia)

My mother had unknowingly stuffed our stockings with packs of cards that showed some pretty gruesome ways of dying.  However, as a young boy I was thrilled with the menacing cards and loved reading the storylines  found on the back.  And so, although I never opened a pack with a Micky Mantle, I did find some interesting cards like, “The Human Torch”, “Slaughter in the Suburbs”, and “High Voltage Execution.”

My mothers stocking stuffer that year has gained  infamy in the stories of our family heritage. And unfortunately, like most of my valuable baseball card collection, my Mars Attack cards collection from that year, also found their way to the garbage can. A pity, as they too have become very valuable. Yet, the most valuable thing I gained from those cards was the memory of a Christmas when Mars Attacked and of a mother who tried to do her best to give us a wonderful morning.

Those cards have become the “Art of Christmas Love” for me.  Whenever I see them,  I think of her. And when I think of her, I see her sitting there like an angel in her robe;outlined by the lights of the tree giving out gifts to us kids.  The look of joy on her face is etched in my mind.  She is the most beautiful person on earth. That’s a memory I cherish!

 

 

Ruvolo

Of Christmas-Forgiveness!

TheDiscipleMd

Below is a story  of forgiveness that I have never forgotten as related by Gordon B. Hinckley.  I quote him.

“A time back, I clipped a column from the Deseret Morning News, written by Jay Evensen. With his permission, I quote from a part of it. Wrote he:

“How would you feel toward a teenager who decided to toss a 20-pound frozen turkey from a speeding car headlong into the windshield of the car you were driving? How would you feel after enduring six hours of surgery using metal plates and other hardware to piece your face together, and after learning you still face years of therapy before returning to normal—and that you ought to feel lucky you didn’t die or suffer permanent brain damage?

“And how would you feel after learning that your assailant and his buddies had the turkey in the first place because they had stolen a credit card and gone on a senseless shopping spree, just for kicks? …

“This is the kind of hideous crime that propels politicians to office on promises of getting tough on crime. It’s the kind of thing that prompts legislators to climb all over each other in a struggle to be the first to introduce a bill that would add enhanced penalties for the use of frozen fowl in the commission of a crime.

“The New York Times quoted the district attorney as saying this is the sort of crime for which victims feel no punishment is harsh enough. ‘Death doesn’t even satisfy them,’ he said.

“Which is what makes what really happened so unusual. The victim, Victoria Ruvolo, a 44-year-old former manager of a collections agency, was more interested in salvaging the life of her 19-year-old assailant, Ryan Cushing, than in exacting any sort of revenge. She pestered prosecutors for information about him, his life, how he was raised, etc. Then she insisted on offering him a plea deal. Cushing could serve six months in the county jail and be on probation for 5 years if he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault.

“Had he been convicted of first-degree assault—the charge most fitting for the crime—he could have served 25 years in prison, finally thrown back into society as a middle-aged man with no skills or prospects.

“But this is only half the story. The rest of it, what happened the day this all played out in court, is the truly remarkable part.

“According to an account in the New York Post, Cushing carefully and tentatively made his way to where Ruvolo sat in the courtroom and tearfully whispered an apology. ‘I’m so sorry for what I did to you.’

“Ruvolo then stood, and the victim and her assailant embraced, weeping. She stroked his head and patted his back as he sobbed, and witnesses, including a Times reporter, heard her say, ‘It’s OK. I just want you to make your life the best it can be.’ According to accounts, hardened prosecutors, and even reporters, were choking back tears” (“Forgiveness Has Power to Change Future,” Deseret Morning News, Aug. 21, 2005, p. AA3).

What a great story that is, greater because it actually happened, and that it happened in tough old New York. Who can feel anything but admiration for this woman who forgave the young man who might have taken her life?” (“Forgiveness”, Oct, GC, 2005)

Who hasn’t basked in the overwhelming feeling of thankfulness when we have wronged someone, be it on purpose or not, and they have been willing to forgive us.  From my view, the bond that binds both parties after such an experience,  leaves both the richer,  and more full of the spirit of God! Christmas is a good  time to heal old wounds and forgive others of past wrongs.

 

 

 

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