Miracles 2

Faith In Miracles Is Worth A Try

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago one of my sons, than eleven, calmly approached me to ask if I would buy him an expensive item that was more a luxury than a necessity. My quick response of “No” didn’t seem to surprise nor upset him. As he turned to walk away, he made this simple but profound statement, “Well, it was worth a try!” I laughed to myself, as it was apparent that he thought his chance of success was very limited at best, yet he still had exercised his hope.

This life consists of trials and tribulations. They fit into three categories. One) – those we have passed through, two) – those we are going through, and three) – those we will go through. While so doing, let me suggest to you something that is far more “worth a try” than my young son’s desire for material things. It is found in the seventh chapter of Moroni: which states:

” … have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God….Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men… And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me… And now…if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?…Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain…” (vs. 27, 35-37)

The words of Mormon, written by his son Moroni, remind us that the day of miracles has not ceased. It is only when we have no faith or belief in miracles that they are lost. If we keep the faith, Mormon explains that our faith will bring hope, and hope will bring charity. Faith, hope and charity come to those who are meek and humble followers of Christ. Indeed, an indication of our faithfulness is not whether we have trials; it is how we weather the trials. Oft times the miracle of our trials is that we come out on the other end of our tribulation changed for the better.  Our countenance has improved because we have developed the gift of charity in our personage. Our faith in God is much stronger than before the tribulation. Miracles haven’t ceased! But sometimes the miracle we want is not the miracle we get! No, sometimes the miracle we receive is much greater than the one we ask for. The miracle of a soft heart and a contrite spirit is a much greater gift than anything our Father could bestow upon us.  Many call that the gift of charity which is promised to those that endure! Paul wrote to the Corinthians and called charity one of God’s greatest gifts. (1 Cor. 13:13)

Moroni, Chapter Seven is one of the most spirituality powerful chapters in the entire Book of Mormon. It is as powerful a sermon, given by Mormon, as any address given in a General Conference. Having served as a priesthood leader for decades, I have been privy to stories told by the saints of both great and small miracles that have come into their lives.  Sometimes those miracles are direct and easily seen. Sometimes they are more subtle and occasionally they show up in a different form than anticipated. And I can personally testify that in some of my darkest hours, the seventh chapter of Moroni has been of great strength and comfort to me. Sometimes I have prayed for the removal of a burden that never came, yet the Lord has sustained me and supported me such that I am a much better man today because of it.  Once when I received a prominent priesthood call to serve, a sister who knew me when I was younger said, “Boy, you have come a long way!” In her own way I think she was trying to pay me a compliment.  I took it as such.  I had come a long way but mostly because I had been through some tough times. The refiners fine does have a tendency to make us better people.

May the Lord give us the faith to become partakers of His miracles and the wisdom to be able to recognize them in our lives! May we sum up the courage to have real faith in the promises of the Lord. Having faith in miracles is “worth a try!” I believe, with all my heart, that the day of miracles is not dead!

 

man in mirror

I Want To Like My Eternal Companion

TheDisicpleMD

Many years ago I stepped off of the airplane into a new world. I might as well have died and gone to a different planet. I stood as a young missionary on the ramp looking out on a land I had never seen before. It was Argentina, the assignment of my church mission call.  It was if I had gone back in time twenty to thirty years. The cars were older looking, the landscape was unfamiliar, the clothes were strange and they spoke a language that was foreign to my ears.  As I walked down the ramp onto the concourse there was only one thing in my life that hadn’t instantly changed; me! I felt as if I was a character out of a bad ”Twilight Zone” episode who had been dropped into a different world.  It was a great lesson to me that everything could change in an instant and that all aspects of my life were temporary but the essence of who I am is eternal! The other night I was watching a show on the life of the Kennedy family. There was a statement made by the patriarch of the Kennedy family, Joseph Kennedy, that left me pondering. He said, “It’s not what you are, it’s what people think you are”. I guess he meant that “image” was more important in getting yourself elected to public office than substance. While this statement might have a ring of truth in the political arena, it certainly doesn’t have any value in the eternities. “What you are” is and will always be “who you are!”

I have traveled with him all my life. He is my eternal companion. Most times I have enjoyed his company, but on occasion he has done things that have embarrassed me. He has also done things that have made me proud. Sometimes I think he is brilliant, yet at other times he seems as “dumb” as a brick. He will never leave me alone, so I desperately want to like him. I want to respect him for who he is and for what he stands for. I composed a poem about him called, “The Value and Worth of the Man”. It reads:

The image of the man he sees reflected each morning

Has changed vastly over these many years.

It’s a reflection that can often bring him to tears.

 

His once youthful and good-looking face

Is laced with wrinkles by sun of the day.

His hair is thinned and starting to turn grey.

 

All his friends can see, too, the physical change,

But only he can see the soul within

Its values and whether it is free from sin

 

So no matter what other men may think

About him, and if they say he is OK,

His worth comes only from what he can say

Of the value and worth of the man he sees

In the mirror at the end of day

 

I have always believed that some people really can fool “all the people, all of the time”, when it comes to character. But you can’t fool yourself or God. I learned in Argentina that I would never get away from me.  Your assured eternal companion, regardless of the life you live, is going to be you! Be true to yourself because eternity is a long time. It’s more enjoyable to make the journey when you travel it with someone you like!

 

mr ed

“A Horse Is A Horse, Unless Of Course…”

TheDiscipleMD

You have probably never heard of Bamboo Harvester (1949-1970). At the young age of 21, Bamboo died of an “inadvertent tranquilizer administered while he was “in retirement” in…Burbank, California where he lived…” (Wikipedia). But if I told you that Bamboo Harvester was better known by his screen name of “Mr. Ed”, you would probably remember the famous talking horse of the TV show that aired from 1961 to 1966. Future generations have been exposed to Mr. Ed though the wonder of syndication. “A horse is a horse unless, of course, his name is Mr. Ed”. When I was a little boy I remember watching the show and being amazed at how Mr. Ed would move his mouth as if he were talking. And although I knew it couldn’t be true, a talking horse, it sure was fun watching one that “appeared” to do so. The story behind how they made Bamboo Harvester talk is interesting.

“…It was initially done by putting a piece of nylon thread in his mouth. But Ed actually learned to move his lips on cue when the trainer touched his hoof. In fact, he soon learned to do it when I, (Co-starAlan Young), stopped talking during a scene! Ed was very smart!” (Wikipedia).

It is amazing what man can create so many things that appear to be, but are not. So it is with some humor that in teaching a Sunday School lesson this past week there is found the story of a talking donkey. The scriptures are silent as to her name, but perhaps Mrs. Ed wouldn’t be a bad guess.

“And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face” (Numbers 22:27-31).

Now, I imagine that this story brings chuckles and ridicule from non believers who think that a talking donkey is just one more example of how ridiculous Bible stories can be and that they are no more than fables. But, as can be attested by the talking Mr. Ed, man can be very creative in making horses, as well as many other animals speak through the miracle of film. I don’t mean to compare the power of God to that of man, but I think it is very clear that if man can make animals appear to speak, certainly God could really have them do so. Why not? The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). When Abraham and Sarah, both past the age of childbearing, doubted the promise of the Lord that they would conceive, He reminded them of His power by saying, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”(Genesis 18:14). With that in mind and with the miracle of the creation all around us, again, I would echo the statement, “Is anything too hard for the Lord”. Keeping in mind that God created the heaven and the earth, wouldn’t it be rather easy for the Lord to open the mouth of a lowly ass and make her talk. Seems to me that it would be a minor problem. Nevertheless, many stumble when reading such things. Why? To me it is not because the story is so “preposterous” as it is a lack of faith in the power of God and the divinity of the Savior.

If man can make a horse talk with strings and training, why the big deal about talking donkeys, parting seas, and fire falling from the heavens. Seems to me that He who created all things would find these things very “minor” when it comes to “miracles”. The Lord knows no bounds; indeed “nothing” is too hard for Him. Let us keep in perspective His might and power and let not our senses be too common. God is a God of miracles! Miracles can be as minor as opening the mouth of an ass to speak, or as great as the creation of man.

dirty water

“Don’t Drink The Water!” (And Yet We Do!)

TheDiscipleMD

One of the first pieces of advice that I received upon arriving in Argentina as a missionary was “Don’t drink the water!” My companions and I were expressly charged that we should only drink bottled soda water, or soda pop, but never tap water. The reason was that the water was not always safe. In many places of the country the water was contaminated with “Bichos”, which is the Spanish word for bugs. More precisely, it meant that by so drinking you could contract parasites. The ten missionaries that came down with me all understood that we needed to obey this rule if we expected to stay healthy over the next two years. So with that knowledge we all parted ways and traveled to our different assignments.

I was sent down south to a small town named Cipolletti, population 10,000. Days were hot and long and soon I found myself in places where tap water was all that was available to drink. I resisted the temptation to drink the water at first but it was only a matter of time before my resistance wore down and I started a routine of drinking water from whatever source that was available. Once I recall getting a glass of water out of the tap in the apartment, holding it up to the light and seeing little “things’ swimming around. In my thirst I didn’t hesitate to gulp it down. And so it was that not long after arriving and despite the warning, I partook of the forbidden waters of Cipolletti.

As you might imagine over time I started to feel somewhat sickly and I struggled to keep weight on my bones. I went to a doctor after I had been out about a year and he confirmed that I had parasites. I don’t recall the names of all the critters that were in me, but I do know that they caused me to come home about twenty-five pounds lighter than when I left, which is a lot of weight for a guy my size. Although I had been warned,  like most of the missionaries, I broke down within weeks of arriving in the country.  The only saving grace was the medicine I was given to kill the parasites. But to this day I’m not sure if I got them all!

Often the commandments of the Lord are very straight forward and we can see the benefit of following them. But like my experience as a missionary in drinking unsanitary water, we tire of making the effort, and even though we know the consequences are not good, we go against good counsel and drink the “poison”. Thankfully, our soul saving grace is the Savior!

“And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:15-17).

I have long since left the mission, but like most, I have from time to time made mistakes and ignored good counsel. We all drink of the “poison” even though we know that it may make us spiritually sick. If not for the “good physician”, we would be in dire straits. But through the Savior’s cleansing medicine of redemption, we can be clean again and free of spiritual sin. We live in unholy times! It is difficult but not impossible to keep our lives clean and free of “Bichos.”  However, when we do sin, let us look to the Savior for healing so that we may be whole again.

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