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The Marks On Working Hands Identifiable By The Carpenter Of Nazareth!

TheDiscipleMD

It seems of late that members of my family has had a number of health issues that have brought new challenges and trials. It is always upsetting when “bad” things happen to good people. I take comfort that throughout the ages men and women of faith have suffered and not only kept their faith, but have had it strengthened. Such it was with Paul the apostle. In his article “Perils of Paul”, John Tvedtnes cites these passages of holy rite:

“In his second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul notes the various trials and tribulations he had suffered for his faith in Christ. He noted that he had served “in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonment’s, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings … By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 8)

He added that, “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me … Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

I am not sure I will ever “glory in my infirmities” as did Paul, but I do find great comfort and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This life can often be trying and require hard work and devotion to duty. But I believe that we are eternal and that tough work results in marks on working hands identifiable by the carpenter of Nazareth! The understanding of which, uplifts, encourages, and inspires!

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They Are No Longer ‘Ordinary’ Books (After My Father Signs Them!)

TheDiscipleMD

Each May and December I receive a gift from my Dad. May is my birthday month and December is, of course, Christmas. On those occasions, for as long as I can remember, he has sent me a book, which I believe he does for all his children.  Most of the books I have received as gifts over the years from him have been church related, but on occasion he throws in a historical biography or something history related. Most of them he signs, or puts a small note inside of the cover. Written notes can fall out of books so I try to be careful and make sure the two stay together. I like it best when he signs the book with the date and year because I know it will always be remembered as “no ordinary book.”

I have owned hundreds of books over my lifetime. But the only books I own, outside of the scriptures, that are not “ordinary” are the ones my Dad gave to me. I know that I can always go out and buy another “Bible History of the Old Testament”, by Edersheim, but it won’t be inscribed with “Dear Scott, This book is not always doctrinally correct but it gives great insight into the story of Israel and the area- Hope you enjoy it. Love Dad, Christmas 1983.” I know I can replace “A Leap in the Dark” by John Ferling, but I can’t replace the words of my Father written inside, “To my wonderful son, Scott, on his 48th birthday Dad, May 12, 2004.”

So you see that a book that was once “ordinary” becomes “extraordinary” with the stoke of a pen. Not just any pen, but the pen of my Father. So, what is the message I’m really trying to convey, other than my Dad has this tradition? Well, like most things in life, there are subtle messages that all of us send out in the things that we do or say. The subliminal message that I think my Dad is making to me and my siblings, is that the reading of goods books is of great value to him. By the giving of books, he is communicating with us, that we too should value the reading of good books.

Sometimes the best lessons we learn in life are not ones that are shouting out at us to be heard. Often life’s most important messages are taught in quiet and simple, but consistent ways. We should live our lives such, that our children, associates, and friends are taught through our simple actions what we hold to be of value.

I don’t recall a conversation where my Dad ever said, “Son, you need to read good books! They are good for you!” But he consistently has lived his life, such that, I came to know of his love for books and knowledge. What do each of us value, and are we communicating it to others? Are we living lives that serve as a testimony of what we hold dear? My hope is that, like my Dad, we are doing simple things that turn “ordinary” things into “extraordinary!”

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The Greatest Man To Ever Ride In My Car

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago I received a last minute phone call at my office asking if I would be available to drive an important business magnet and church leader to a meeting that evening. I said I would, and since within hours I needed to be on the road,  the first thought that came to mind was, “How clean is my car?”  The self imposed question was more of the retorical type, since, as the father of five small children, I knew it was a mess.  I hurriedly told my sectretary that I would be gone for the rest of the day as I walked out the door, and immediatly set out to clean the beast that was parked outside my office building. With great effort I vacumned the inside and detailed it like a professional. Then I hand washed the car till it shined of gold. When I picked up the dignitary that day, my car looked better than the day I drove it off the dealers lot.

This past Christmas I invited my Father over for the holiday dinner, which he accepted.  Since he is getting up in age I offered to pick him up, which offer he gratefully accepted.  Christmas morning as I was getting ready to leave,  my wife asked if the car was clean. I replied,  “No, but my Dad doesn’t care about that type of thing.”  She answered back, “Yes, but it would be nice.” As I thought of her response I remembered how I had taken such effort to clean my car when I had to drive that “VIP” years earlier and I couldn’t help but think that my Father deserved to be respected by me far more than that man.

So, I painstakingly detailed the car till I felt it was fit for a man of his stature.  I stopped at the Carwash on my way to pick him up so that it shined just so! I know that my Dad didn’t care about the look of my car or weather it was perfectly clean on the inside.  I’m sure that he didn’t care if it shined like the sun or was covered in the dust of the day, but I didn’t clean it to impress him. I made it sparkle because that is the way you should present yourself, and your life,  to the greatest man who ever rode in your car.

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Becoming Culturally Poisoned By Degrees

TheDiscipleMD

In July of 1976, as a missionary,  I took a 23 hour bus ride from Villa Regina, Argentina to  Buenos Aires. It was a long bumpy ride that occasionally left my stomach feeling sick. Little did I know that the ride would foreshadow the dinning experience I would find in my new assigned city of labor.

My new apartment was shared by three other Elders. When I say I shared it with three Elders I mean we had our own separate entrance into the home. We certainly weren’t alone.  The woman of the house had a couple of small children and an unlimited number of dogs living in the house. In back of the house was a fenced in yard which held about a hundred turkeys! I only spent three and a half months in that city but the constant gobbling sounds of those turkeys haunted my dreams for years. Our rent included not only housekeeping but a daily meal at noon. I was thrilled to know that I would be getting a “home cooked” meal at least once a day. When I mentioned this to my new companion he just smiled. I didn’t think anything of it till my first”gourmet” meal was served. As we sat down that first day and the Senora put our meals in front of us, it was apparent that this meal for fit for a king. In this case, King Lehonti. You might remember in the Book of Mormon the account :

“And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died.” (Alma 47: 18)

The Senora left the room with a smile. I looked down at my plate. I could visible see hairs all over it. I looked at the other missionaries. They didn’t seem to flinch as they picked the hairs out of their plates. It didn’t take too long before all three had properly “prepared” their meals and began to eat.  I was hungry, so I followed suite. However, over time, I discovered that it didn’t matter how hard I worked at “preparing” my food, I always missed a few hairs.  Sometimes the hairs went down with my meal, other times I picked them out of my teeth. As a joke we once held a contest to see who could find the most dog hairs in our meal. I am proud to say that I won that contest, finding 27 dog hairs.  I assume they were all dog hairs but I can’t be sure. I soon realized that if you live and associate with a pack of dogs; not only will you occasionally have to dine on dog hair, but you will begin to accept it as a part of your daily diet.

And as distasteful as it may sound, we are presently immersed in a culture that has gone “to the dogs.” Metaphorically, most of us have become accustomed to having dog hairs in our meals. We try to pick them out as best we can, but some are hidden from view and we shallow them without knowing. Soon, dining on dog hair becomes commonplace and part of our diet. We can become culturally poisoned by degree.

Gordon B.Hinckley once said: We see today all of these evils, more commonly and generally, than they have ever been seen before… We live in a season when fierce men do terrible and despicable things. We live in a season of war. We live in a season of arrogance. We live in a season of wickedness, pornography, immorality. All of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt our society. Our young people have never faced a greater challenge. We have never seen more clearly the lecherous face of evil.” (“Living in the Fullness of Times,”).

The good news is that we have a refuse and a place of safety. It is the gospel of Christ as administered by His restored church. We also have a filter system called the Holy Ghost which can help us see more clearly the dog hairs in our meals. Let us keep ourselves worthy so that the spirit can play that important role; that of a filter.  Otherwise, we might not only find ourselves dining more often than we want on dog hair, but sadly,  we may find ourselves beginning to like it as it poisons our soul!

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