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When You Are ‘The Bishop’

TheDiscipleMD

It had been a long day! I had been set apart as Bishop earlier that afternoon. I had been in meetings all day with numerous leaders and members. It was now 10:00 PM. Meetings that began at 6:30 am were now over and I had just walked into the door and sat down. What a day I thought! Then….the phone rang. I answered it to find one of the sisters of the ward hysterically calling my name and asking that I come to her home to help.  I yelled to my wife that I had to go, jumped into the car and drove as fast as I could over to the house. As I pulled up, there were several police cars, and an ambulance on the scene. Lights were flashing! There was so much commotion!  Within a few minutes the Stake President showed up and helped out with the situation.  I finally got home around 2am.

Years have gone by since that first day of “on the job” training.  Prior to being called as a Bishop I had served in various priesthood callings,  yet I never knew. I never really understood the important role that a Bishop plays in the lives of its members. I never really knew the kind of situations that a Bishop is often placed in. I never really knew anything!

I have since looked at the role of Bishop in a different light, and at the men who hold that calling. I remember back to my days as a Bishop. I was trying so hard to do the right thing. I was trying so hard to not offend. I was trying so hard to serve the people. I was trying so hard to be everything to everyone. I was trying so hard to succeed in the eyes of the Lord. I was just trying…so hard! When I remember this, I try to overlook the imperfections of the men who hold that office. I try to look for the good that they do. I try to be supportive and kind to them. When I see them, I see myself, and I know I should give them slack, and compliment them on the job they are doing. I try to remember that they might have been up all night at a hospital or talking to some one late into the night. I try to remember how it was to feel that burden.

So I hope you have compassion on your Bishop. Pray for him!Tell him nice things. Overlook his faults, because someday you might find yourself in his position and you will want all the compassion of your members that they can give.  Gordon B. Hinckley told a story which captures the remarkable service given by Bishops. The story is typical, but often not told.

“Dear Bishop:

“It has been almost two years since I desperately called you asking for help. At that time I was ready to kill myself. I had no one else to turn to—no money, no job, no friends. My house had been taken, and I had no place to live. The Church was my last hope.

“As you know, I had left the Church at the age of 17 and had broken just about every rule and commandment that there was in my search for happiness and fulfillment. Instead of happiness, my life was filled with misery, anguish, and despair. There was no hope or future for me. I even pleaded with God to let me die, to take me out of my misery. Not even He wanted me. I felt that He had rejected me, too.

“That’s when I turned to you and the Church. …

“You listened with understanding, you counseled, you guided, you helped.

“I began to grow and develop in understanding and knowledge of the gospel. I found that I had to make certain basic changes in my life that were terribly difficult, but that within me I had the worth and strength to do so.

“I learned that as I lived the gospel and repented, I had no more fear. I was filled with an inner peace. The clouds of anguish and despair were gone. Because of the Atonement, my weaknesses and sins were forgiven through Jesus Christ and His love for me.

“He has blessed and strengthened me. He has opened pathways for me, given me direction, and kept me from harm. I have found that as I overcame each obstacle, my business began to grow, enabling my family to benefit and making me feel as though I had accomplished something.

“Bishop, you have given me understanding and support through these past two years. I never would have reached this point if not for your love and patience. Thank you for being what you are as the servant of the Lord to help me, His wandering child.”

sermon

Eternal Bread For All

TheDiscipleMD

The other day I was out at a local park with my wife and granddaughter, which also had a pond. We ate lunch and then took the leftovers and started to feed the ducks. Up to that point they had not shown much interest in us but as soon as the food started to “fly”, they came running in droves. After our leftovers were consumed, the ducks stayed around us for only a short time before departing. I looked across the way and saw an older couple with several bags of bread. They were standing on the pier throwing whole pieces of bread into the water. Soon, they were surrounded by countless ducks who waited to be fed. It appeared to me that this couple came to feed the ducks often. But, even so, when they ran out of bread, they were treated the same as we had been. The ducks waited for just a short period of time. Then, just as quickly as they had flocked to the couple, they left the couple standing alone on the once popular pier. It was clear to me from watching that couple, that no matter how often they came to feed them, the ducks were only interested in one thing, and it wasn’t that they enjoyed the company of the couple. No, in the end, it was the bread the ducks wanted, and as long as the old couple supplied it, they would stay. But as soon as the food was gone, so were they. They had no allegiance. For the ducks, it was all about getting physically fed.

My observation about the “feeding of the ducks” is nothing new to anyone who has ever been a part of or observed this ritual. However, what is notable is how easy it is to draw a parallel of “ducks to men”. During the lifetime of Jesus he spoke of this very phenomena. It is recorded in the sixth chapter of John. Prior to this, Jesus had performed miracles in feeding the people more than once with fish and bread. The people loved him for it. Here was a man who could give them physical sustenance and they “flocked” around him. On one occasion the multitude found out that Jesus had left them during the night and was reported to be in a small city across the sea, They frantically rented boats and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. There Jesus had this exchange with them:

“And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (vs. 25-26)

He then taught them that they needed to seek for the eternal “bread” of life, which comes from the Father, not just for a physical fulfilling of their bodies. He taught them that they needed to believe in Him and to follow His commandments. Then he taught this very important lesson.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your father did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever…”. (vs 47-51).

Then, the scriptures record the results of the Savior’s disclosure that He is not there to physically feed them, but to spiritually feed them. The scriptures record in verse sixty six:

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”.

Tragically, many of the disciples had unknowingly been no better than a duck in their allegiance to the Savior of the world. Life as a follower of Jesus Christ does require more than just “looking to be fed”. It requires faith, hope, work and a desire to follow His ways. The true test of anyone is when things don’t go well in this physical world. Being a follower of Christ requires more than being like a duck whose love and devotion is given to whoever has free bread in hand.

May we be faithful and true, even when we can’t see bread falling from the hands of the “Master.” His promises are true and everlasting. He will feed us long after our bodies are in the grave and the world is passed away. Faith in His words will truly bring us eternal life!

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When Your Turkey Snores!

TheDiscipleMD

My Turkey was too big for the roaster so I left it open and put foil on it instead of the lid of the roaster. As time progressed you could hear the snap, crackle, and pop of the Turkey as it was cooking. After about an hour of hearing the sounds being generated by the cooking 25 pound Turkey, my little granddaughter of five came up to me, grabbed my hand and led me to the turkey. “I want you to hear the sound coming from the Turkey” she told me. I listened and told her, “That’s the sound of our Turkey cooking!” She gave me a quizzical look, and replied, “No it isn’t! It’s snoring! It is making the same sound my Daddy makes when he is sleeping!” I can’t tell you how that tickled me.

I’m grateful for children and the wonderful way they perceive life in all it’s simple ways. I am taught regularly by my grandchildren that life can be enjoyed if I take the time to sit back, relax, and take in the simple pleasures of life. The amazing thing is that I will never look at a Turkey the same way again. No every time I see one from now on, I will think of this precious granddaughter and her wonderful vision on life…and, every time I baste one, I will think of my son-in-law, now dubbed “The Turkey Snorer.”

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I’m Grateful For “Miracles In The Mist”

TheDiscipleMD

Do you believe in miracles? I guess that question has been asked to all of us in various ways, and probably on many occasions throughout our lifetime. The answer usually depends on your point of view and understanding of what constitutes such a thing.

While a dictionary may give the meaning of a miracle to be “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency,” I would add that the Lord often works through others and that miracles often arrive in common everyday events. The recognition of such miracles is left to the receiver, not the giver. Perhaps a miracle can be seen in an unexpected job promotion, an unexplained improvement in health issues, or news that a couple is now expecting the birth of a child. Perhaps it is as simple as a knock on the door from a friendly neighbor paying a visit to us when we most need a friend.

The reality is that all of us simply hold in our hearts the recognition or belief, of the possibility that miracles do or do not exist. For some, divine miracles do not exit because they choose to believe not in such things. They hold the possibility of such things with clenched fists; crushing the hope, faith, and the recognition of such intervention. They see things totally from a natural or scientific point of view giving no credence to the divine nature of life, and the possibility of a supreme being who has interest in us, his offspring.

I belong to that other group; believers who, through hope, faith, and belief, see miracles on a daily basis. We stand with open hands, with palms extended upward and outward, reaching for the hand of God to join ours in creating miracles while still here on earth. Each of us choose to believe or not.

Almost all of us have our moments when we question if God cares about us, as individuals, but through the power of prayer our faith can become stronger, our hope enhanced, and our vision made clearer. I believe miracles happen everyday to common people like you and me. May we look for them in our lives. May we rejoice in them and in knowing that God lives and does intervene from time to time in our lives. Lest we forget, each day as we look into the mirror and see our reflection, may we see through the mist of doubt, the greatest miracle of all, a son or daughter of God! Hence each of us stand as living proof that Miracles are alive and well!

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