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When ‘The Chief’ Is The Head Servant

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Who is the least in the church? Presidents and Kings are not bothered with minor mundane things of the day. They symbolically,or often literally, sit on their earthly thrones of glory as their servants, or entourage, stand at their beck and call and take care of the supposed “trivial” things of life. They are too important to be bothered with such things. But in the church of Christ, those called to positions of authority become the servants. It is the Bishop who receives phones calls at inopportune times. He is the one called upon at all hours of the day and night and is expected to respond more so than anyone else.

We have been taught this principle in the scriptures by the Savior himself. He also said that “… he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” (Luke 9:48) It is a great promise to all those that humble themselves and become low. Those same will be made great in the Lord’s kingdom.

“And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27).

This concept of being “chief” while at the same time being the servant, is important to understand when serving in the Lord’s kingdom. A call to lead is a call to serve, not a call to rule.

death of spouse

A Whole New World (When Death Visits A Marriage)

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“A whole new world, that’s where we’ll be.” (Aladdin, Disney)

Yes, it is a whole new world for a married man and wife when death knocks at their door.  Suddenly, and sometimes very unexpectedly, the partnership is dissolved and one spouse is left here on earth, alone,  and grappling for answers as to the fate of their mate,  as well as the future of their shared love.

Most married couples go through life knowing of the inevitable nature of the dissolution of their marriage upon death, but they never really face the consequences of such a fate. It is only when the cold hard reality of separation stares them in the face, as they gaze upon their beloved’s physical body being slowly lowered into the dark bowels of the earth, do they take stock of the eternal nature of their relationship.  Till then many just don’t want to think about it, because, that’s life and there is nothing they can do about it.  Or is there?

One of the most hopeful doctrines taught on earth is that the marriage covenant can last into the next life. And that although death is inevitable, the dissolution of a marriage is not! The hope of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that the doctrine of eternal marriage has been revealed and the joy that it affords us all is something that cannot be totally understood until the pangs of separation fall upon us.

The glory of the doctrine of eternal marriage can be made effective on worthy couples when they are married by those in authority to administer this ordinance. If we love our spouse, and want to be with them for eternity, now is the time to take upon us the covenants that can make it happen, lest, when death visits a marriage,  we find ourselves in a whole new world,  staring into the hopeless abyss, wondering…wondering… if the emptiness in our hearts will ever be healed!

 

richard burton

A Mephistophelean Bargain (To Envy Them You Have To Be Nuts!)

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I expected a different conclusion to a column written by long-time Hollywood insider Dick Cavett. Unless your my age or older you probably don’t know Mr. Cavett.  He is best known as the fore-runner to today’s afternoon talk show hosts.  As a boy I remember watching his afternoon talk show from time to time. He has been around Hollywood for decades. So when I saw that he recently wrote a column for the New York Times on his experience with the deceased actress Elizabeth Taylor, I thought for sure he would paint a picture for all to envy. And as I read his column I was not disappointed. He began with typical adoration of words for Ms. Taylor. It was if she lived a “magical” life. One to die for! Oh, to be Elizabeth! Then, I was taken by surprise when I read these words from the last paragraphs of his column:

“…you can be sure that legions envied them their fabulous, in the true sense of the word, lives. Think how many folks would say they’d trade their own dreary lives in an instant to have been one of Those Two (Liz and Richard). The glamour, the celebrity, the adoring (and often life-and-limb-threatening) throngs, the caviar and champagne, the travel, the passel of dogs and children hauled along, the sex, the yachts, the mansions and castles and whole floors of hotels, the walnut-sized diamonds and rubies ….

But before making that somewhat Mephistophelean bargain, I would caution those who’d readily shed their own drab existence to be Liz or Dick to think twice…We’re also talking about two greatly gifted people, of course. Also about two drunks, constant smokers, spouse-dumpers and pill-takers, reckless with their health and, often, with their careers; with Richard — who at one point could put away three bottles of vodka a day — dead in his fifties. I feel lucky to have crossed paths with them. She was wonderful and he was wonderful. “To envy them you have to be nuts.” (My Liz: The Fantasy)

The word “Mephistophelean” jumped out at me. I didn’t know where it came from or for sure what it meant. Apparently it comes from the legend of Dr. Faust, who you might recall, sells his soul to the devil for the pleasures of the world. The representative of the devil in that legend is named Mephistophelean. In other words, a “bargain” of that nature means making a deal with the devil. So, I salute you Mr. Cavett, for writing what everyone should know, but don’t say or write. The peddlers of worldly goods and fame create a world full of vice, envy and greed. It’s nice to have someone be candid by calling a “Mephistophelean bargain” no bargain at all. A deal of that nature carries a heavy price. A price that none of us should be fooled into paying.

 

god and adam

A Royal Hand Me Down Name

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Being the seventh child in a family of ten provided me ample opportunity to practice the art of graciously receiving “hand me downs” in all its forms. Be it clothes, toys, bikes, shoes or bedrooms. In a large family “hand me downs” are a way of life. I personally never felt cheated when “hand me downs” came my way, although, of all the hand me downs, shoes were my least favorite item to receive. There is something about putting on some old shoes that creeped me out for some reason, even if it had only been worn by one of my siblings!

The other day I was listening to a county song. In it, singer and songwriter, Tug McGraw, tells of a boy meeting a girl who “said her name was a hand me down name from the side of a family that long ago came, over here on a boat from somewhere in Spain” (“Felt Good On My Lips”) Which got me to thinking how proud I was to have a “hand me down name.” Mine didn’t come from Spain but from Denmark and England. The concept of “hand me down names” is a part of our culture, both secular and religious. In our culture we mostly follow the custom of the paternal order, taking upon ourselves our fathers surname. For boys, that surname follows them till death. For girls, oft-times, till marriage, when out of custom, they take upon themselves their husband’s surname.

Unlike all other “hand me downs”, in my opinion, “hand me down names” are better to have than “new” ones. There’s something about carrying an old name that is inspiring and gives it meaning! My middle name is after my paternal Grandfather, who was named after an uncle. I have two sons who carry it in their names. Somehow, this “hand me down name” has created a bond. One of my other sons is named after his maternal Grandfather. The couple of years ago I was in the halls of church and watched my only grandson waddling up and down the hall. He is named after his father, another of my sons, who got it from a nickname of mine. And my only daughter is named after one of my sisters. Getting a “hand me down name” is a bit of an honor, I’d say. And living up to it can sometimes be challenging. Mervyn B. Arnold of the spoke of living up to “hand me down” names. He said:

“When George Albert Smith was young, his deceased grandfather George A. Smith appeared to him in a dream and asked, “I would like to know what you have done with my name.” President Smith responded, “I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”

Elder Arnold continued in his talk by saying:

“The importance of having a good name is spoken of in Proverbs, where we read: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold”(Proverbs 22:1)and “The [name] of the just is blessed.”(Proverbs 10:7)

Imagine that! The scriptures teach that receiving a good “hand me down” name, is worth more than “great riches of silver and gold.”  And so it is! There has oft been times in my life, when upon introduction of myself to someone new, they ask, “Are you so and so’s boy?” When I say “Yes,”  I can tell that I have gained instant credibility due to their respect for my parents. My “hand me down name” has been a great blessing to my life. I hope all of us can live lives such that when we “hand off” our names to our posterity, they will find it worth more than silver and gold. Of course, some of us might not bear the name of an honored relative or we no longer carry the name of our fathers. Yet, as Elder Arnold reminded us:

“Each week as we partake of the sacrament, we covenant and promise that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. If we are willing to do so, we are promised that most wonderful blessing—that His Spirit will always be with us.Just as President George Albert Smith had to account to his grandfather for what he had done with his name, someday each one of us will have to account to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for what we have done with His name” (“What Have You Done With My Name”, GC, Oct. 2010)

So, in a sense, all of us have “hand me down names” to live up to! May each of us bring honor to our earthly names. But more importantly, may we bring honor to the Savior, of whose name, we have all taken upon us to follow.

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