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“Headed” The Right Way!

TheDiscipleMD

Soccer is the number one sport in the world, yet it lags far behind as a spectator sport here in the United States. Compared to the high scoring games of basketball, baseball, and football I can see why. But I have a greater appreciation of the sport than most after having played it in high school 40 years ago.  In fact my senior year I was the captain of the team. It is a fun game to play and there is at least one play in soccer that would make my list of top ten most beautiful plays in sports to watch. Part of that beauty, to me comes from the fact that I actually accomplished it while in high school.

My position back then was called “left-halfback”. My job was to cover most of the field, so I  typically was not on the attack to score against the other team.  But occasionally I did get a shot at making a goal. That chance arrived during that third game when we played a high-powered team that was located just outside Washington D.C.  The score at the half was zero to zero.  Then, early in the second half a shot on goal went off their goalie’s hand and out-of-bounds. We were given a “corner kick.”  A corner kick is when the ball is placed at the corner of the field and the wing player kicks the ball across the front of the opponent’s goal so that his teammates have a chance to kick it in. On rare occasion, a teammate may be lucky enough to “head” it in. And this play, “the header” is a thing of beauty to watch.

The teammate of mine who was doing the corner-kick for us was a left footer. I positioned myself on the far side of the goalpost. What happened next is still fresh in my mind. The lefty kicked a beautiful ball that just sailed over the crowd in front of the goal. The goalie leaped to knock the ball away but it just cleared his outstretched fist, and there I was; all alone on the far side of the goal! Boom! I followed that ball all the way to my forehead where I headed it straight into the net for a goal. It really was a thing of beauty! No, you don’t see too many head goals in soccer. It’s the only one I ever saw in all of high school.

Soccer is just a game but in the game of life it is also important to be “precise” in the direction in which we point our heads. A few years ago Dallin Oaks gave some thoughts regarding this subject when he spoke at a devotional at BYU. He said:

“The direction in which we are headed is critically important, especially at the beginning of our journey. I have a friend who concluded his career as a pilot flying long routes across the Pacific for a major airline. He told me that an error of only two degrees in the course set on the 4,500-mile, direct-line flight from Chicago to Hilo, Hawaii, would cause the plane to miss that island by more than 145 miles to the south. If it were not a clear day, the pilot could not even see the island, and there would be nothing but ocean until you got to Australia. But of course you wouldn’t get to Australia, because you wouldn’t have that much fuel. Small errors in direction can cause large tragedies in destination.

All of us—and especially young people—need to be very careful about the paths we choose and the directions in which we set our lives. What seem to be only small deviations in direction or small detours from the straight and narrow path can result in huge differences in position down the road of life. Potentially destructive deviations often seem so small that some find it easy to justify “just this once.” When that temptation arises—as it will—I urge you to ask yourself, “Where will it lead?” (“Where Will It Lead?, New Era, Aug 2007).

All of us need to remember that “out of small things proceeded that which is great.” (D&C 64:33).

Great things can be gained by small deviations but great harm can also result from small deviations. It is by “small means” that great things can come to pass, not only in the sense of the gospel, but in our own individual lives. We need to remember to be precise in following the commandments lest we miss the chance of “heading” in the right direction and miss the goal.

 

the twilight zone

A Lesson About Heaven And Hell From ‘The Twilight Zone’

TheDiscipleMD

As I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s the emergence of television, with its powerful medium of communication, was just starting to exercise its influence on the culture of our country.  One show from my childhood that I vividly remember was “The Twilight Zone.”  You wouldn’t think that a TV show could have spiritual undertones,  but several episodes that stayed in my mind are those that later tied into gospel themes.

One such episode told the story of a petty thief who had lived a life of crime. The opening scene showed him robbing someone and then being shot as he tried to escape. He then died in the street. The next scene showed him in the afterlife as a “guardian angel” attended to his every need. The thief was so excited because everything he did in his new life turned out wonderful. It showed him gambling on the tables. He won every time. He bet on the horses; every horse he bet on won. He played pool, took one shot and every ball went into the pockets. At the request of his “angel” he asked for and received beautiful women on his arms. He was given everything he wanted to eat. The thief couldn’t understand how he could end up in such a great place. He questioned the angel about it seeing as he didn’t recall doing anything good in his life.  The angel took out a file on him, kind of like “The Book of Life” mentioned in the scriptures.  Everything the angel read was negative.  His “book of life”  was full of the bad things that he had done. The thief scratched his head and wondered how he had ended up in heaven. But, he didn’t care. He just smiled and went on living the “high life”, but after a while this new life became boring and irritating to the thief.  His temper started to rise and he became angry at the “guardian angel”. He complained in an angry voice to the angel:

“It isn’t fun to win every time at everything; nor to have anything I want at my whim”. He then continued:

“I think a mistake has been made. I don’t know how I ended up in such a great place. I don’t much like it here.  I think I should be in the other place. You know where I mean!”  The angel gave him a devious look and said: “I don’t think you understand. You ARE in that place!” It was then revealed that the “supposed” angel was really the devil. The episode ended with the resounding laugh of the devil in the background as the camera panned to the horrified look on the face of the thief.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so… righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility…And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents… it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. (2 Nephi 2:11, 15).

And so, when the rains descend upon us or during the stormy times of life, remember, opposition is needed and is eternal. Without it, we could not know the good as there would be no evil. Like the thief from “The Twilight Zone” episode, we would soon tire of the sunshine because we wouldn’t know that rain existed!

dog howling

When Thy Neighbor’s Dog Offends You!

TheDiscipleMd

I don’t know who was the first to post a sign on their property warning us, but Paul of the New Testament was probably the first to write it down: “Beware of dogs…” (Philippians 3:2) And certainly the psalmist was thinking of me as I lie awake in bed each night  to the sounds of my neighbors barking dog when he wrote:

“For dogs have compassed me…,” and  surely he knew of me when I roll over and say to my wife, “Deliver my soul…my darling from the power of the dog.” (Psalms 22:20)

I have owned and loved many dogs over my lifetime.  I have one now.  But I must say, that it takes adherence to all of my Christian teachings to not complain about the 24/7 howls of my neighbors dog. Indeed, the words written in  Ecclesiastes, “… for a living dog is better than a dead lion,” brings into question if the writer was ever subjected to the constant howlings of a canine.

I love my neighbors, they are wonderful people, but what to do when their dog offends me? I know they love their dog and I also know that “…a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city…” (Proverbs 18:19), so I do not want to offend them by complaining. Yet, what to do? I can only think of the admonition of Paul that I need to ‘endure all things,’ so I am trying to do so.

So please, say a little prayer for me, if you please, and help me to take comfort and hope in the words of Isaiah that my neighbor’s,  “dumb dog will not bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber…” (56:10) and that by so doing I too may also slumber and dream of a world where all dogs go to heaven, but where none can bark.

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Not Properly Fit For The Wedding

TheDiscipleMD

A number of years ago, my third son was getting married. Since he was marrying a young woman from out-of-state, it fell upon me to order the tuxedos and to make sure that the proper sizes were ordered for the reception. Everyone was good about sending in their measurements. But to be safe, all were encouraged to stop by and try on their tuxes if at all possible. Most did, but a few didn’t because of distance, or because they just didn’t take the time to do so. Between the groom, myself, the father of the bride, the best man and several groomsmen it was a real effort to gather all the sizes and then transport all the tuxedos on the plane to the wedding.

Although my son and his fiancé were getting married in the temple, there was still a need to put on the tuxedos for the photographer, who was taking pictures after the ceremony on the temple grounds. The beautiful spring day of the wedding was made more beautiful by the fact that my Father performed the sealing. Afterwards, everyone retired to change into their gowns and tuxedos. While I was dressing, my second oldest son came up to me and said that his pants didn’t fit. I nonchalantly told him to go to my wife and get a safety-pin. He politely protested by saying that a safety-pin wouldn’t help his situation, that his pants were “way” too big! I was somewhat in a hurry myself. So I brushed him off and essentially told him to handle it. He left but soon returned to complain that there was just no way he could wear the pants of his tux. I said, “Let me see.” He put them on and, to my surprise; they were at least twenty inches too big in the waist. I looked at the back of his pants for a size and sure enough the store had made a mistake. I don’t know whether it was just my nerves, but I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. And although I was laughing, he wasn’t. I called for the help of my wife and she too started to laugh at the enormous size of the pants. My son looked like a clown in them! With no time or place to turn to, my wife was forced to start pinning the pants just to make them stay on his body. To this day, I don’t know how she did it! She put enough pins in that pair of pants that, if my son had worn them on the airplane back home, airport security surely would have been called! And, although my son was a pretty good sport about the whole thing, it ended up being an extremely stressful situation that put a damper on the day. Later on that day, we had to purchase a pair of pants at a local store. I took a picture of him wearing those “clown” pants (above) and we still laugh about it to this day. But, the lesson he learned that day was that the problem could have been avoided had he stopped by the rental store to try on his pants.But he didn’t, because he was too busy! He took for granted that all was right. He ended up being caught with his pants down!

Perhaps you recall the story of another wedding disaster. It’s mentioned in the scriptures. It’s called the parable of the ten virgins. (Matthew 25) Like my son, they too were invited to a wedding. But when the time came for the ceremony, five of the ten virgins hadn’t prepared themselves with the proper amount of oil for their lamps. In essence, they hadn’t tried their “tuxedos” on. They were unprepared and had to run out at the last-minute to find additional oil. In so doing, they ended up being late and were shut out of the wedding.

The Savior told this parable to illustrate that we need to be prepared when He comes, lest we find ourselves “shut out” of His kingdom. All of us have a tendency to procrastinate. We need to remember the words spoken by Alma. He wrote:

“…I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness, wherein there can be no labor performed.” (Alma 34:33)

May we not put off changes that we need to make in our lives! Let’s make ourselves worthy for the marriage by setting our affairs in order…today! Putting off things till tomorrow is always dangerous, because tomorrow is a day that may never come! Let us be ready when the Savior comes again by being spiritually prepared lest he come and find us not properly fit for his wedding!

 

 

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