MORONI-FINAL_

When We Stand With Honor, We Never Stand Alone!

TheDiscipleMD

In my Senior year of High School an incident happened that I have never forgotten. Because of the shortage of fields the football team and the soccer team, of which I was captain, had to share the usage of the football field from time to time. On this particular day we had been scheduled to use the football field and because of rain, the others fields were un-usable. The football team had no place to practice so the head coach of the football team asked our coach if they could use about twenty yards of the field to run football plays. Our coach consented so we set up a makeshift goal on that end. It consisted of several gym bags stacked on the ground as goal markers. Things went well for a short time and then, while running a pass pattern, one of the football players tripped over the gym bags that lay on the ground. In his anger he heaved the bag about twenty yards onto where we were playing and started to scream at the soccer team. Soon the entire football team was yelling obscenities at us and surprisingly the adult coaches joined in! Now under a barrage of screams and taunts our coach called for us to leave the field. I was on the far side of the field away from the taunting. Everyone of the soccer players exited the field as requested but I was so incensed about what I was watching that I refused to leave. Something came over me and instead I started a slow walk towards the football players, many of whom were friends of mine for years. I stopped about twenty yards from the football team with my hands on my hips and stared them down. Slowly the obscenities and jeers quieted down and total silence took over the field. It was clear in my mind that emotion had overtaken my friends and in the heat of the moment they had lost their heads. I could also see they recognized their error and were ashamed about how they had acted. I slowly walked off the field and as a team we terminated our practice for the day.

The next day the football coach asked for a meeting with our team and issued an apology. To show his sincerity he had the entire football team in the stands that day to watch us play a home game. What a wonderful show of humility by the coach and the players. I have never forgotten their gesture of recompense!

Thomas Monson declared in a meeting, “The call for courage comes constantly to each of us—the courage to stand firm for our convictions, the courage to fulfill our responsibilities, the courage to honor our priesthood.” In 2004 he said in another conference address; “Life’s journey is not traveled on a freeway devoid of obstacles, pitfalls, and snares. Rather, it is a pathway marked by forks and turnings. Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is needed: the courage to say, “No,” the courage to say, “Yes.” Decisions do determine destiny. The call for courage comes constantly to each of us. It has ever been so, and so shall it ever be.”

I am reminded of the story of Elisha found in 2 Kings. With the enemy at the gates and when fear had fallen on the people, a servant approaches Elisha with distressing news. He reports:

“…the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (Chapter 6, vs. 15-17)

When we stand with honor, we never stand alone!

praising

In Praise Of People Who Praise

TheDiscipleMD

When I look over and examine the men and women who have had the most positive influence in my life, I have found that they all share one common characteristic; they have been people of praise. “The sometimes stern Duke of Wellington, in the sunset of his life, was asked how he could do better if he were to live his life over again. Said he,” I should have given more praise.” (“Men and Women of Christ”, Neil Maxwell)

For some reason, it is common to both men and women alike to look for and point out things that are out-of-order. And, in this life, there is always something out-of-order. And, in the individual lives of us all, order is never in a perfected state. Even in the lives of the most Christlike person, there is room for improvement. Consequently, there is always room to give “constructive” criticism. While giving “constructive” directions to others seems to come naturally, giving praise appears to require effort. In fact, to be good at it one needs to practice it… often. Good things come to those who give praise to others because, in so doing, one develops humility. It requires the practitioner to not only give gifts of praise, but also to abandon the vice of envy. And envy is a pretty powerful vice! But where humility dwells, envy is not comfortable.

Joseph Smith said, “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world anxious to bless the whole human race.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 174.)

Once, many years ago my wife and I moved into a new ward. We were a young couple with two babies at the time. I noted that the Sacrament Meeting Chorister led the music with great vigor. She was an older woman and I was a bit intimidated by her. However, one day something got into me. I decided to call her and tell her how much I appreciated the way she conducted the music. The phone conversation was awkward and uncomfortable; at least it was for me. The conversation consisted of me telling her I loved the way she led the music and her responding to my compliment by saying, “Thank You”. I was left holding the phone not knowing what to say next. I politely ended the conversation by saying, “Well, that’s all I wanted to say”. After that phone call I noted that she always smiled and recognized me in the hallways of the church.  I marveled at the power of sincere praise! Wouldn’t life be more joyful if all of us were a bit more generous with praise? I don’t infer that we give false praise, but there are plenty of good things about others that we can truly recognize with sincerity.

Think of how each of us felt when we last heard words of sincere praise. Wasn’t it a good feeling to be valued! Didn’t it make us want to be better! May we seek and find opportunities to give praise. Most of the time such opportunities to do so are easily found inside our own homes. A sincere daily compliment from a husband to his wife, and vice-versa, goes a long way in having a happy home. And what child doesn’t relish the smallest praise from a parent. May we practice the virtue of “praise” until it not only becomes easy for us to impart, but it becomes a “natural” part of who we become.

pres hinckley

A Heart In Hand

TheDiscipleMD

In the late 1990’s President Hinckley visited our city. My wife and I were fortunate enough to sit on the stand during the area conference held here. Since I was driving one of the motor cars to the airport, I was seated close to the prophet.  Because of his tight schedule, I was assigned to help escort him off the stage and into a tunnel that lead directly to the cars. As you might imagine, as soon as the meeting was over, the members started to close in on President Hinckley. He was very nice and was shaking hands with as many people as he could as he walked off the stage. I was following closely behind him and could see the hands coming down from the bleachers that held the choir. President Hinckley was tenderly reaching over his head to touch the hands that were hanging down. I was watching the scene when I spied a hand desperately reaching downward to touch the hand of a prophet. This person was clearly a young lady who was mentally challenged.  It took only a few seconds for us to pass and I could see that her hand was not going to reach President Hinckley’s hand.   As we passed by I instinctively raised my hand just behind President Hinckley’s and reached as high as I could and touched her outstretched hand. Amid the mass of hands I didn’t think she would know the difference. We moved on but afterwards I  felt a little bad about my actions.  This young lady had reached for a prophet’s hand and I’m sure, due to my actions, she thought she had accomplished her goal.  Shortly thereafter, I shared this story with a fellow member to get his opinion regarding the propriety of what I had done. He thought that perhaps my actions were misplaced.

I have thought about this incident a number of times since it happened and wondered if I had done the proper thing.  I was reading a story a few years ago  that reminded me of my own experience and left me feeling better about my “misdeed”.

“A nurse took the tired, anxious service man to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man…Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young man in the Marine Corps uniform standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so the Marine could sit alongside the bed. Nights are long in hospitals, but all through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering words of hope and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was there, oblivious of her and the night-staff members exchanging greetings and the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only holding on tightly to his son most of the night.

Along towards dawn, the patient died. The Marine placed on the bed the lifeless man he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. “Who was that man?” he asked. The nurse was startled. “He was your father,” she answered. “No he wasn’t ,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”

“I knew right off there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t there. When I realized he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, and how much he needed me, I stayed.” (Roy Popkin, Night Watch).

The scriptures recount the story of the prophet Samuel going to the house of Jesse looking for the “one” to take on the giant Goliath. The scriptures record:

“One by one, Jesse had his seven oldest sons pass before Samuel. In considering each one, Samuel was instructed by the Lord to “look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). And so, as the seven sons passed before him, Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord hath not chosen these.”Later, the youngest son, David, who was out working, was chosen by the Lord to fight and ultimately defeat Goliath.  The Lord knew of David’s faithful heart!

Sometimes we fall under harsh judgment  by our fellow-men because they can only see our outward appearance and actions. We render the same harsh judgment, from time to time, on our fellow brothers and sisters for the same reason. I’m grateful to know that the Lord can make a perfect judgment because he knows the intent of our hearts.  Occasionally we find ourselves walking a fine line in knowing how to handle sensitive situations.  We need to be careful in so doing, but erring on the side of charity seems like a good motto.  Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers sect phrased it wonderfully when she said, “Put your hands to work, and your hearts to God.” I believe if our hearts are pure in the Lord, our hands will be found clean at the last day.

 

Eternal Companions

I Would Rather Go Out Of Existence!

TheDiscipleMD

“I would rather go out of existence then to believe the thought that I will never be reunited with my wife.”

So said my Father about his deceased wife, (my Mother), when he reached his 89th birthday. “Amen,” I said in my heart as I feel the same about my companion of more than 40 years. So do many others who have experienced a love that follows after the admonition of the Savior in His teachings to the Ephesians:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

Yet, the subject of Eternal Marriage is murky at best when reading the New Testament. In fact the one reference to such a doctrine is presented to the Savior in a most absurd manner when in Matthew the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, presented the story of a woman who ended up marrying seven brothers, who all died before she did. They asked:

“Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.”

Jesus answered their ridiculous question by stating:
“…in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”

This statement has lead many to believe that there is no such thing as marriage in heaven. However, no matter the statement, most people, of all religions, believe that the sacred nature of their marriage will be in force upon death. Or at least they desperately hope so! They too would ‘rather go out of existence’ rather than accept that their bonded love, approved of by Christ, is invalid in the eternities. “We can still be friends” seems to be our state in Heaven. Or is it?

Jesus was right, of course, there are no marriages performed in Heaven. But in modern days the Lord has raised up prophets who have shed light on such a perplexing problem. It has been revealed through them, that marriage can be eternal if both parties are worthy and they have been married by the proper authority here on earth. And for those who have not had the opportunity to have such a wondrous opportunity, they can have the work done for them in sacred temples of the Lord. No one will be denied if they are worthy to receive such a blessing.

Many today, believe we really do ‘go out of existence’ at death. As for me, I have great hope and faith that eternal love, bonded in forever marriage, is real. I choose to believe that someday husbands and wives will be reunited in the glorious resurrection that has been provided by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is an existence I can live with!

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