pulpit

My ‘Bully Obese’ Pulpit

TheDiscipleMD

During the past couple of weeks I have seen on Television a report showing that millions of Federal dollars are being spent on video equipment that is being using to tape what elementary students are eating in the cafeteria. A costly report will surely enlighten us that kids tend to eat “unhealthy” food items more often than healthy ones. The First Lady has made the promotion of healthy eating and exercise the center of her charitable work. Recently I watched a documentary on the “disease” of obesity in American. The medical costs fighting obesity are staggering, and are putting a strain on the nation’s economic well-being.

A few years ago I head on the radio that Maryland’s governor and his wife were making the rounds to local schools promoting “bullying awareness” week. The First Lady of State was taking time to “recognize” model “Non-bullying” schools in the state, and to teach the children that “bullying” is a bad thing to do. All of these programs and studies could be considered praiseworthy. By coincidence, about the same time I read a major article published in the Deseret News, written by Elizabeth Stuart, entitled “Fatherless America? A third of children now live without dad.” Some might wonder if there is a correlation between our booming social problems and the slow deterioration of the “old fashion” family? But I am not one to wonder. I am fully convinced that the proclamation on the family, given to the world by living prophets, clearly ties them together.

“…we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets”.

Any open-minded person should be able to draw a correlation between the disintegration of the family unit, as ordained by God, and the economic, social and spiritual calamities that are burdening our society. In my mind the obesity problem, a new plague, is directly tied to the absence of a sound home life. If Fathers are not to be found, that means the mothers are working. They don’t have time to properly watch out for the diets of their children.  Today’s mothers, many single, exhausted by a full day of work, are prone to put their kiddies in the car, on a regular basis, and head off to dinner where the amount of calories consumed by all would kill a horse.

Consumer advocate groups can blame the restaurants all they want, but the truth is that kids eat what is placed in front of them. The food most kids consume has been processed and packaged such that it can be “instantaneously” served with the least bit of effort by the parents. Gone are the days of the “home-cooked” meal. To some, it may seem that I am stretching by tying in the plague of obesity and broken homes. But to me,  it isn’t a stretch, it’s just plain logic.

There is no question in my mind that the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of children is harmed when they are raised in an unstable home environment. Crime rises, drug problems, self-worth issues, and a host of other social issues are directly tied into the stability of the home. The economic cost is staggering.

Space doesn’t permit me to name all of the negative ramifications of unstable families, but it reaches out in all directions of a social structure. Like a weed  that has gone unchecked in a beautiful garden, it multiplies so quickly that its deadly influence chokes out all that is of worth and beauty. While we have little ability to weed “others” gardens, we need to be vigilant is pulling the weeds out in our own gardens lest we find that all we have worked for is lost.

JC

If Tommorrow Never Comes

TheDiscipleMD

“For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants…and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh… Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mark 13:34-37).

The entire thirteenth chapter of Mark is devoted to the prophecy of the Savior regarding his second coming.  A few years ago, according to a prominent Christian preacher, that day was supposed to come that year,  which was 2011. It was the end of the world, he said!  This is not the first time someone has prophesied such. The prediction of the end of the world and the coming of Christ has been going on since the first century. The early saints seemed to be in a constant state of anticipation.  Even the early members of the restored church gave in to the belief that the Savior’s coming was imminent. Perhaps it is the great desire of us all to want to believe that this life, with all its associated pain, is coming to an end and that peace will be restored to the earth. It is a worthy hope, but…hope doesn’t always equate with truth.

Yet, some might ask, “What is the harm in believing such dates?” But, there is a down side to belief in a false coming. It can destroy one’s faith when a prophecy is either wrong, or misunderstood. In 1975 I was serving a full-time mission in Argentina. It so happened that a popular religion of the time predicted that the world would come to and end by the year 1975. On New Year’s Day of 1976, my companion, Lloyd Newell, and I went out tracking together.  On this day he and I went out to the local park in the city. We spoke with many people in the park, but I only recall one conversation we had that day. It was with a man of the above popular faith. I vividly remember talking about his religion and then Lloyd said “Didn’t your prophet predict that the world would come to and end by 1975?” Then Lloyd looked down at this watch and said, “It is now 1976…what happened?” The man was left speechless. There was silence. I remember the look on that man’s face. It was the look of disillusionment.

Over the years there have been many who had chosen specific dates regarding the end of the world and they have always been wrong. The Savior himself taught that even he didn’t know of the date.

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father”. (Mark 13:32).

In my mind, there is no real good reason to speculate. We know it is coming, but when, is not nearly as important as knowing that it will happen, and that we need to be prepared no matter the date or time.

There will come a time when “tomorrow never comes” for us in this life. Yet, the Savior did teach, and we should live our lives such, that should we meet an untimely death, we will be ready to meet Him.  Be it rising from the grave, or rising to meet Him when he descends to earth in all His glory, we should be ready and prepared….just in case…tomorrow never comes!

love and heartburn

When Love Causes Heartburn

TheDiscipleMD

“A good friend shared this story about how she learned the deeper meaning of love. Their family has always been active in the Church, trying their best to live the commandments. They were shocked and disappointed, however, when their daughter became engaged to a non-member. The next day the mother was telling a good friend about her feelings. She knew her daughter’s fiancee was a fine young man, but she felt angry, hurt, betrayed, and numb and did not want to give her daughter a wedding or even see her. She said that the Lord must have guided her to talk to her friend because she received this reply:

“What kind of a mother are you that you only love her when she does what you want her to do? That is selfish, self-centered, qualified love. It’s easy to love our children when they are good; but when they make mistakes, they need our love even more. We should love and care for them no matter what they do. It doesn’t mean we condone or approve of the errors, but we help, not condemn; love, not hate; forgive, not judge. We build them up rather than tear them down; we lead them, not desert them…”

This story concerns a mother’s love for her daughter. But this is only the beginning. We must show such genuine love for all our Father’s children. When we learn to do this, we will be truly godlike. As John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”(1 John 4: 7-8) (“Reach Out to Our Father’s Children”, Jack H. Goaslind, Jr., April 1981 GC).

We don’t know all of the details regarding the background of the above family. We don’t know anything regarding how the daughter had been living her life. Had she been a constant problem to her parents? Had she been a model child but fell in love with someone who didn’t have the same faith? We don’t even know the personalities involved. It is a simple story, yet the principles taught by the Savior are also very simple. He taught us to “love one another.” He didn’t qualify it with nouns or adjectives, or adverbs. In fact, he taught that “God is love.”

Understanding a simple commandment is always the easy part. And saying we should “love everyone” easily escapes our lips! But it’s actually swallowing the commandment that can cause us heartburn. Sometimes when someone has caused us great pain, be it physical, spiritual, or emotional, it requires immense strength of character to still harbor loving feelings.

I don’t pretend to know the answer as to how you develop this “Godlike” trait of love, but I know that it is desirable. I also know it takes a lot of hard work and great faith. I am also convinced that, in the end, being filled with love is a worthy state of the soul. It is a state that will fill our souls with happiness. As we go through life we will all be tested regarding this most basic of the Lord’s commands. May we work hard in developing this most cherished virtue!

The Sound of Music

Till You Find Your Dream!

TheDiscipleMD

In March of 1965 a movie was released that later became the favorite theatrical release of my future wife. Little did I know that as my Mom, brothers and sisters and I drove to the outskirts of Washington D.C. to meet my Dad, that I would be enjoying the sights and sounds of “The Sound of Music” for the first of many times. It was a Family Home Evening event that I have remembered and cherish even to this day.

Last week as my wife and I lay in bed watching something of little importance I got up and surprised her by putting this great musical movie in our DVD. I put it on for her, as I know it is her favorite. As we watched it together I couldn’t help but be inspired by the overall message. As a young boy of eight I had enjoyed it as we watched it together as a family. Last week,  as the movie played, more profound messages came to my mind. Among the messages I got out of the movie was one captured by the Reverend Mother in a song she sang to Maria, who was in the midst of great personal turmoil:

Climb every mountain, search high and low

Follow every byway, every path you know.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream!

 

A dream that will need

all the love you can give,

Every day of your life

for as long as you live.

 

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream!

(From the Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein)

We all have dreams! Sometimes we will need to climb mountains and ford streams in order to make them come true. There are many righteous dreams to have for this life and many for the life to come. Sometimes following every rainbow till we find that dream, requires all the love we can give for as long as we live.  If we give all the love we have to the Savior,  He can make our most important dreams come true.  I expect your dream, like mine, is to be together with my loved ones for the eternities! May the Lord bless us all to its fulfillment is my hope!

 

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