Jesus Christ slums

Through Christ’s Atonement It Is Possible To ‘Turn Back The Hands Of Time’

TheDiscipleMD

They say “You can never go back!” While that is generally regarded as a true statement last fall on a Saturday night I experienced something different.  I went to bed at about 1:15am. I went soundly to sleep but woke up with a start and looked at my cell phone for the time. It was 1:05am! Wow, I had gone back in time! Well, not really. Daylight savings time had ended and so the time from 1am to 2am was repeated. Wouldn’t it be nice if every time we made a mistake, the clock would turn back and we could live that time all over again!

Well, in a sense, that is what the power of the atonement affords us. We are given the ability to “turn back the hands of time” and erase certain deeds. Deeds that will prevent us from entering into the kingdom of our Father! This is such a wonderful thought, “turning back the hands”, that we should avail ourselves of it. Unlike “Daylight Savings time”, which is automatically applied in our lives, the cleansing of our sins requires that we believe in the saving atonement of our Savior. Then return no more to that sin. There is no more comforting scripture then the recorded words of the Lord found in Isaiah:

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

The comforting words of prophets present combine with those long since departed in testimony of this great atonement.

“…one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”” ( None Were with Him, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

It is my hope that each fall as we “turn back the hands of time” we will reflect upon the knowledge that we can be forgiven of past sins. Our sins can be washed so that they “will be as while as snow”. The clock is eternally ticking. It is up to us to reach out and make the effort to erase some unpleasant actions in our past. I know this is possible, and true.

 

gavel

Should We Be Judged On The One Bad Inning Of Our Life?

TheDiscipleMD

I was having lunch a few months ago with an old teammate of mine from high school days. He continues to be a good friend. We played on the same baseball team for many years. During the summer of my junior year he and I led our team to a championship. He was one of the leagues best pitchers. He was looking forward to a great senior year in high school and then on to college where he hoped to continue pitching.  But a funny thing happened on his way to that college baseball career; it got derailed. Its interesting how one inning of baseball can stay so clear in your mind. Both he and I rehashed “the inning” the other day at lunch.

“The inning” was the only one he ended up pitching in our senior year. It went like this. In the third game of the year he started the baseball game for us. I was playing third base that game. He and I both remember every batter he faced in “the inning”, which was five.  He walked one batter and then three errors were committed by teammates. The last batter he faced hit a ball so far they were still running it down when he crossed home plate. Five batters up, five batters home. The coach took him out and my friend never pitched another inning the rest of the year. We never lost a game after that till the championship.  Others were called upon to pitch and they did well. All the while my friend sat on the bench as there seemed to be no need of his services. After the season was over he and I tried out for the local American Legion Baseball Team, which was the best in the area. He didn’t make it. I’m sure it was because he had nothing to show for his senior year. He ended up playing for the local community college but he never got the chance to really prove how good of a pitcher he really was. Years later my friend told me that he saw our old coach and that he had apologized to him, and regretted not having given him another opportunity to pitch. It seemed his whole baseball career had been judged by “the inning”.

Far too often a man’s life gets judged by “the inning” in his life. Over the years, I have read or heard people be critical of others lives.  They pick “the inning” of his/her life that is the worst, then, magnify that “inning” so that it overshadows all the good that he ever did. Many a man or woman has had their life picked apart by others who are looking for the worst “inning” of their lives. All of us have an “inning” in our lives that we are not proud of. I am sure all of us wish we hadn’t said or done something in our past. Many years ago a famous news anchor put undue focus on a past mistake of a presidential candidate who he was interviewing. Finally, the candidate, exasperated by the seeming obsession of the reporter on the “inning” of his life, shot back ” How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?” (This was in reference to an embarrassing incident that had happened to the reporter years before).

People make mistakes, we make mistakes! We would be wise to hold judgement on the lives of others due to an “inning” of weakness. A lifetime of good works and service should not be erased and judged by the worst “inning” in a career. If we discounted all such people, we wouldn’t have a soul left who would be worthy of any honor. My friend, the pitcher, paid a heavy price for “the inning.”  If his pitching had been judged by our coach on the total, he would have been given greater respect, and I might add, we might have won the championship instead of losing it. We will never know, because, judgment was rendered on one “inning.” We need to be careful in how harshly we judge others. We need to be benevolent and kind and understanding of others weaknesses. The Savior said:

“…forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

Forgiveness is a wonderful virtue. My fear is that, if we are not merciful in how we judge others, perhaps others will judge us by our one bad ”inning”, and frankly, the thought of that is pretty frightening.

paul

Waiting For The ‘Epithany’ (That May Never Come)

TheDiscipleMD

“One of the most remarkable events in the history of the world happened on the road to Damascus. You know well the story of Saul, a young man who had “made havock of the church, entering into every house … [committing the Saints] to prison.”Saul was so hostile that many members of the early Church fled Jerusalem in the hope of escaping his anger.

Saul pursued them. But as he “came near Damascus … suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

“And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

This transformative moment changed Saul forever. Indeed, it changed the world.

We know that manifestations such as this happen…God hears and answers the prayers of His children.

Nevertheless, there are some who feel that unless they have an experience similar to Saul’s…they cannot believe. They stand at the waters of baptism but do not enter. They wait at the threshold of testimony but cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the truth. Instead of taking small steps of faith on the path of discipleship, they want some dramatic event to compel them to believe.

They spend their days waiting on the road to Damascus.” ( April GC, 2011, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”, Dieter Uchtdorf).

I am presently involved in teaching someone about the gospel. They respect the church and it’s members. They believe the doctrines and it’s teachings. But when asked why they are not willing to be baptized they responded, “I am waiting for that moment…an epiphany, you might say!”. The sad thing is that they might wait for that “epiphany” forever and miss out on the many blessings that await them. What this person is wanting is a personal celestial manifestation, which can happen, but rarely does. The more probable definition of an “epiphany” is having a sudden insight into the reality of a truth, which usually comes from a common day experience. Sadly, this person is looking for the former experience, not the latter. So while the Holy Ghost might be testifying to them of the truthfulness of the gospel, this person might be ignoring it while looking for something more “grandiose.” Thus, as President Uchtdorf put it, they are found waiting on the road to Damascus for something that will never happen. While they wait and wait, they lose the blessings that come from acceptance and obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we are guilty of doing the same when it comes to our obedience to particular commandments or revealed principles. We want something “grand” to show us that what we are doing is right, when the testimony of our actions usually come in small ways. The obedience to many gospel principles is like planting seeds. It take months, years, even a lifetime to see the total fruits of our actions. But if we exercise our faith in the Lord and are steadfast, we will begin to see small sprouts breaking forth from the ground showing us that our labor is paying off.

Dieter Uchtdorf’s analogy of “waiting on the road to Damascus” is powerful. It should be a reminder to all of us that we need to press on, and not be weary in doing good. That “epiphany” or that “moment”, can happen on a continual basis, for each of us. But we must be willing to accept it in the manner in which it arrives. And that is usually through the power of the Holy Ghost. The Lord reveals himself on a constant basis through the whispering of his spirit.  Let us not overlook its influence in our lives as it testifies of the truthfulness of all things. Because if we do so, we might find ourselves “waiting….waiting….waiting,”, like my friend, for an ‘epiphany’ which might never come.  And while so doing, we, like him, might find that we miss out on blessings that come to the faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

married couple

Jeopardizing The Confidence Of Our Wives!

TheDiscipleMD

Several years ago in a priesthood meeting we were reminded of the solemn duty and responsibility men have been given to lead out in spiritual things. We need to be reminded often of this duty, as the doctrine of the world can be enticing and alluring. Our discussion was echoing the final words written so many years ago by Joseph Fielding Smith:

“We must be prepared to defend the truth and as men holding the Holy Priesthood…be prepared to protect the members of the Church against the cunning devices that are being employed in opposition to the Gospel, to wean away our members who are not sufficiently informed and who lack the abiding testimony which faithfulness and obedience will ensure to every soul. War, quietly, insidiously, and with some fear because of the spread of the truth, is being waged against the restoration of divine truth”.(“The Divine Church, Down through change, Apostasy therefrom, and Restoration, Being a course of study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums, Second Part-Manual for 1953 by James L. Baker).

A few years ago in a leadership meeting a sister brought up the issue of husbands and fathers not taking enough lead in their homes over spiritual matters. She felt that too many women of the church were having to “prod” their husbands to have family prayer, family home evening, scripture reading and other spiritual matters. Sadly, her assessment is correct in too many of our homes. This should not be so! It is a solemn  responsibility for a husband and father to lead out in spiritual matters.  A man who doesn’t lead out jeopardizes the confidence of his wife and children. He weakens his influence and sends a message that things of a spiritual nature are not that important.

The Lord has given charge to men that they should be leading, along with their wives, in the education and teaching of their children regarding the laws and commandments of God.  Therefore, a man should be constantly striving to gain spiritual knowledge so as to be able to, not only teach his  family, but also in fortifying himself so that he doesn’t fall victim to the shifting ”philosophies” of men. The world is very  cunning!  Husbands and fathers need to spiritually educate themselves sufficiently so that they can stand strong in the war being waged against the divine truth.  Let us not leave this heavy burden on the shoulders of our wives.  As men, may we step forward and take the lead in learning the ways of God, so that, as Paul wrote:

“…we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; ( Ephesians 4:14)

“But speaking the truth in love, (our family) may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (vs. 15)

Let us not be found at the judgment day lacking in fulfilling our role as a father and a husband. Let us be vigilant and courageous in teaching, and leading our families back to the Savior of the World, even Jesus Christ!

 

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