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Seldom Do ‘Good Memories’ Come From Unrighteous Living

TheDiscipleMd

A number of years ago I spent the day visiting, with a number of my siblings, our “childhood.” Our elementary school, old ball fields, the homes in which we lived. We visited old neighbors, ate at old “watering holes” and visited the high school in which nine of us graduated. Most of all, it was a day of sharing memories.

Memories are a strange thing. They have very little meaning when you are young, but as one grows older, they grow sweeter, more powerful, and more precious. And so, my siblings and I spent the day reminiscing, laughing, talking, telling stories, but mostly sharing feelings of love and admiration for those who have affected our lives so profoundly.

“Someone who was a little more poetic than theological said, “Memory is the one Garden of Eden out of which one need never be cast.” Good memories are real blessings.” (Joe J. Christensen, “Good Memories Are Real Blessings”, 1989, Nov. Ensign).

Most of us have been blessed with “good memories” and I believe that they are “real blessings” in our lives. They remind us of the joy that can be found in life and also remind us that many of our good memories revolve around family. Good memories also come from righteous decisions that we make. When we recall “good memories” they almost certainly revolve around righteous acts and thoughts. Seldom do they come from unrighteous living. When we re-live and share memories they conger up the good parts of our lives and make us want to make more “good memories” that we can share in days to come. They become “food storage” to our souls. Food to be used in the lean times of our lives. They nourish the soul, buoy up our spirits and give us hope for the future.

May we live our lives such that as the years pass, we can look back on the choices we have made and find strength and joy in them. Most certainly, “Good Memories are real blessings.”

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The Spiritual Buzzards

TheDiscipleMD

I came upon them unexpectedly as I rounded a turn in the road. They quickly flew into the air as my car sped by. I have seen them many times over my life! Buzzards! They are messengers of impending doom and death, who circle over their wounded prey; waiting for the last dying gasps of a life that was once vibrant. Then, they swoop down to devour the remains of the day. It is an ugly sight! They are ugly birds! They are called Gray-faced, Black-breasted, Black Honey, or White-eyed buzzards. They could be a variety of the Hawk or Vulture family. No matter, their mission is the same; they target the weak, the faint, the old, the tired, the wounded. They patiently wait for the “fall”. Circling, circling, waiting, waiting till……well, the end. They don’t cause the death, but they revel in it. They keep their distance but ultimately enjoy the spoils. Yes, when we see them, we know that someone or something is in trouble. In the early days of this country, such buzzards feasted upon the flesh of man; not so today, with our modern society and methods of burial. Now you only see them, as I did that day, by the roadside, enjoying the local road kill.

We are physically safe from the circling buzzards of yore, but the minions of Satan have, and will continue to spiritually circle above us till the end of the world. Make no mistake, they are dangerously circling overhead of us all, waiting…waiting… , like the Buzzard, for the moment when they sense weakness, fatigue and discouragement. They will swoop down with their sharpened claws, and hooked beaks in hopes of inflicting pain, suffering and ultimately, they desire our spiritual death. They are ferocious and ugly and go by many names. They promote avarice, greed, pride, jealousy and a host of other sins that are contrary to the nature of God. They are constantly circling the highway of life, ever watching for an opportune time in which to strike. They know that we are most weak when we are going through trials. They revel in our pain, in hopes that the trials of this world will make us weak instead of strong. They live as scavengers of this world, cast out for their disobedience and for their rejection of the plan of salvation. They want to feast on our flesh because they were denied that blessing. They want us to be miserable like them. They desire for us to join them in becoming “spiritual buzzards.”

We can protect ourselves against these “spiritual buzzards” because they circle more prevalent over unholy places. We need to chart our course so that we are found traveling in holy places. Places that provide protection from their view. Where are the holy places? David testified, Who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24: 3-5). If we keep our own lives clean and pure, the “spiritual buzzards” will not have the power to inflict pain and suffering in our lives. We will be traveling roads where they are rarely found. Job, in his wisdom saw that “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen” (Job 28:7) He knew that there is wisdom in following the path of the Lord. On that path we will find safety from the circling buzzards of Lucifer. It is when we veer off the path that we endanger ourselves to them.

Hold to the iron rod as described by father Lehi. :”Spiritual buzzards” will always be circling above us. But by standing in “holy places” we can prevent them from landing and ravishing our lives.

 

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To Argentina With Love!

TheDiscipleMD

I always root for Argentina and probably will till the day I die!  Why?

It was almost thirty years ago that my father came down the stairs at our house and handed me a letter.  This was no ordinary letter, it was “the letter.” It was postmarked, “Salt Lake City,” and it was from church headquarters informing me of where they wanted me to serve for the next two years.  I couldn’t wait, so I immediately opened it were I found out that I was being called to ‘serve’ the people of Argentina. Specially, Buenos Aires and south.

And so it was that I spent the next two years in Argentina where I first learned to place others in front of myself. It was there in Argentina, that I learned the true meaning of service. It was there that I saw poverty, and lived among the poor who I learned to not only care for, but love.  It was there that I found out what was required of someone who wanted to become a true servant of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It was there, among that wonderful people, that I became acquainted in a most personal way with Deity. It was also there, that I was treated by the people with such love that I have never forgotten the feeling.  When the plane lifted off after those two years, tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched my beloved Argentina slowly fade from sight.

Marvin J. Ashton once said:

“A sure way to set our guidelines for that which we choose to serve and learn to love is to follow the admonition of Joshua: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15.)… We serve that which we love. If we sacrifice and give our love for that which our Father in Heaven asks of us, it will help us set our footsteps upon the path of eternal life. Again I conclude, what we serve we learn to love, and what we love takes our time, and what takes our time is what we love.” (“We Serve That Which We Love”, April GC, 1981)

And so it is that every time I see anything in the news on Argentina, I stop and read it.  I somehow felt some pride in the fact that the new Pope hails from there. I cheer for them every World Cup. I cheer because that country and their people remind me of good things.  They remind me of a day when I was at my best in serving others. I cheer for Argentina  because I love their people and because they loved me. I love Argentina because  the saying really is true; we really do learn to love those we serve.

And so be it the people of Argentina, a stranger, or the neighbor next door, the embers of God, which we all carry, are flamed when we serve others. It is selfless service that ignites the flame of eternal Godly love, which in turn warms the soul and soothes the human heart.

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As A Man Thinketh

TheDiscipleMD

It’s interesting how small conversations can stay with you. One such conversation occurred with my Dad over twenty-five years ago. I don’t recall why we were riding together in the car but this day found us traveling together over the countryside.  I don’t remember much about that day, the weather, the time of year, nothing…except an excerpt from our verbal exchange that day. I was talking about how a man who traveled a lot in his job might find it easier to be unfaithful because he was not really accountable for his whereabouts to his spouse.  And without accountability, he might be more inclined to yield to temptation. He replied, “You have a job like that!” I thought for a moment and said, “Well, I guess I do.” At the time my employment was very flexible. I traveled all over the state of Maryland and was only accountable to a boss who resided in Ohio. My wife never knew of my whereabouts during working hours,  nor was it a question of concern to her. That short exchange with my father taught me a lesson that day. I had made a statement that I believed to be true but that was patently false.  I was living the life that I thought was of greater temptation but my type of job  had not made it harder for me to be faithful to my wife, family and self. I discovered that in reality, it wasn’t the job that made it more difficult to be honorable in marriage, it was the type of man. I had bought into the myth that many men use to justify their infidelity. That somehow it was the circumstance, the job, the situation. It’s a lie! It isn’t any of that. It’s the character of the man! I was reminded that day of the great proverb:

“For as he thinketh in his heart; so is he” (Proverbs 23:7)

The lesson I learned that day can be applied to almost any aspect of our lives. We can justify almost all of our bad actions or sins by rationalization. It was a stressful time or I wasn’t thinking straight. Or, it was someone else’s fault I behaved badly or…name it, the list is endless.  And it is true that we are more vulnerable at certain times in our lives and prone to do wrong things that we normally might not do. But…still! Maintaining control of our thoughts and intentions of our heart can go a long way in helping us through difficult times. We are ultimately responsible for our actions!

I, like you, have been in thousands of 7-11’s in my lifetime. But its funny, because there are liquor isles in them all, and I have never walked down one to see what kind of wine or beers are available. In reality, that isle doesn’t exist for me. Why would I walk down it? What for? I’m not buying any of it so why should I even acknowledge that it is there? Consequently, I’ve never been tempted to buy any alcohol because it never crosses my mind that it exists, let alone that I might be buying it.  Our actions never come before our thoughts!

A small myth was dispelled that day for me. A fathers small insight to his son reaped large rewards. I was reminded of this proverb: “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee…Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding…give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (Proverb 23: 22-23, 26) My father taught me that day the old principle of “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is”. And…so he is!

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