farmers tan

The Spiritual ‘Farmers Tan’

TheDisciplesMD

The term “farmer’s tan”, means that someone has a tan on limited parts of the body, much like a farmer would have when working outdoors in the hot summer sun. Typically that means the arms and the neck. The rest of the body, on a Caucasian, will be pasty white! Interestingly, I found out that there are also “Trucker, Franciscan, Biker, and other assorted professional occupational tans. (Wikipedia) All have in common the exposure of the sun rays on limited parts of the human body. A Farmer, could of course, expose himself to more of the sun’s ray’s by not wearing a shirt, or putting on shorts instead of overalls. But he doesn’t because he is comfortable with the limited exposure he wants from the sun.

Many years ago I sat across from a man who wanted a “spiritual” farmer’s tan.  As we sat and talked I asked him of his religious background. He said he had been raised in a Christian home, but by the age of fifteen he had discontinued his attendance to organized meetings. He felt “religion” was something personal. Something private between a person and their God. I told him I could understand that because often we don’t get answers to some of life’s most puzzling questions from our religious leaders. We spent the next hour talking about some of those questions. I introduced to him the restored gospel’s answers to the mystery of the trinity, the identity of God, the beauty of eternal marriage and eternal families. I spoke to him of the apostasy and the need for a restoration of all things. I presented, in brief form, the plan of salvation in all it’s beauty and marvel. After each point I asked him if he had ever wondered about these things. He replied, “Well, I never really thought much of it.” I asked him if that was because he had never gotten any answers. He shrugged and said, “I just never think about that stuff.” And after we were done it was clear to me that, not only didn’t he think about those important questions, he didn’t really seem to care to find out the answers. He was happy with the limited knowledge and understanding he had and was content to be that way. And, there are many people in this life who are like that. They are happy with a spiritual “farmer’s tan”; with limited exposure to the Son’s Rays.  And, thankfully, Heavenly Father has given to all of us, his children, agency, which allows us the choice.

After leaving that home I was reminded of how critical it is to have a “desire” to have a full body exposure to the spirit of God. To want to “bask” in the spiritual rays of the Holy Ghost! To want to feel His presence in our lives! We do have that choice. When you look at the establishment of Christ’s church,  its foundation is littered with men and women who were searching for God. They weren’t men and women looking for a “spiritual” farmers tan, they wanted a tanning booth experience with the spirit! They searched for answers to the questions of life and they were rewarded.

Let us all be “seekers” of spiritual knowledge. Let us “desire” to learn from the spirit of God. He will teach us. He will guide us and give us comfort in knowing that there is purpose to this life. Let us be desirous in having a “full body” tan, courtesy of the Son’s rays!

smoking

I Don’t Understand Why ‘Smoking’ Makes Me A Bad Person!

TheDiscipleMD

A number of years ago we held an open house at the church. I had direct responsibility over the event.  I was in the middle of a conversation with a lady when another woman came into the chapel. I directed one of our members to help her. Later, I was told that she was inquiring in regards to our temples. I understand that one of the more forceful questions she asked was if people who smoked and drank alcohol were allowed to go inside. When she was told that they were not, she complained and said, “I smoke, and I’m a good person. I’m living a Christian life. I don’t understand why smoking a cigarette makes me a bad person!” I wasn’t there to answer her question, but we all know that if someone is a smoker, that doesn’t make them a “bad” person. I’m sure there are many “smokers” who live their lives better than many nonsmokers. This fine Christian’s woman’s question, standing alone, is hard to explain. So what of it?

Well, if you remember from reading in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Word of Wisdom was initially “sent as a greeting”(vs. 2) One definition of “greeting” is “a friendly message from someone who is absent.”  (Dictionary.com). Well, how about that. It seems that Heavenly Father was sending us a “friendly message” via one of his prophets. That message was intended to show “the will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days-” (vs 2). Note that the Lord’s will was regarding “temporal salvation”. What is temporal salvation?  Marion G. Romney gave these thoughts back in 1981 regarding the subject:

“…we feel compelled to reaffirm certain basic principles of temporal salvation.At the opening of this century, President Joseph F. Smith explained the importance of temporal salvation and its relationship to spiritual salvation:

“You must continue to bear in mind that the temporal and spiritual are blended. They are not separate. One cannot be carried on without the other, so long as we are here in mortality. …

“The Latter-day Saints believe not only in the gospel of spiritual salvation, but also in the gospel of temporal salvation. We have to look after the cattle, … the gardens and the farms, … and other necessary things for the maintenance of ourselves and our families in the earth. … We do not feel that it is possible for men to be really good and faithful Christian people unless they can also be good, faithful, honest and industrious people. Therefore, we preach the gospel of industry, the gospel of economy, the gospel of sobriety.” (Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939, p. 208; emphasis added.) (“Principles of Temporal Salvation”, April 1981, First Presidency Message).

Looking after the “temporal” also includes looking after our bodies. The Lord’s message, given to us in February of 1833, was a revelation of warning and one of love. He was suggesting, at the time, that we should stay away from taking certain substances into our bodies, because it would have a negative effect on them. It is well documented that taking these products into our bodies will shorten our days here on earth, or more often , it will create health issues that hinder our ability to provide for ourselves temporally. Man is slow to act unless compelled. So the Lord patiently waited for almost a hundred years before making obedience to this “greeting” a requirement to go to the temple. As parents, I think sometimes we do the same with our kids. When trying to teach, we give them a “friendly message”, but when they repeatedly ignore it, we step up the “intensity” of the message to a command.

So, what of the woman’s question? Well, as stated by a prophet, “you must continue to bear in mind that temporal and spiritual are blended. They are not separate. One cannot be carried on without the other, so long as we are here in mortality.”  The Lord has now “commanded” us to follow His health guideline so that we can live healthy lives, and provide for the temporal needs of our families. I am sure that this woman is right. She probably is a good person. And I’m sure that the Lord wants her influence to be felt here on earth as long as possible. So He has revealed to her, how she can do her part in keeping her body healthy and strong, thus extending her life here on earth. The fact that she smokes is not what makes her “unworthy” to enter the house of the Lord. It’s her unwillingness to do her part, as revealed through a prophet of God. I’m sure she doesn’t understand that. And that is why it is difficult to explain many gospel principles when they are “standing alone”. But I hope we all understand that living temporal laws are intertwined with spiritual laws. I thank the Lord for revealing that certain substances are not good for my body.  Without it, perhaps I would have developed habits that would now be vexing my body, or even sent me to an early grave. I’m grateful to a Father who has lovingly revealed a minimal health code that is blessing my life.

evil in the air

Evil In The Air (When Hearts Grow Faint!)

TheDiscipleMD

I sat there in disbelief. The phone rang and it was my brother asking if I had heard the news regarding the towers. We talked for a few minutes then ended our conversation so we could listen to updated reports.  Feelings of panic began to set in and I wondered about the safety of my kids who were at local schools. Were they safe? What was happening!” I closed my office and drove home to find my wife in front of the television watching the horror unfold before her eyes.  She was also worried about the kids. She insisted I call the school and didn’t care if they would let them go home or not, she said we needed to go and get them. Fortunately the school was already closing and we paced until our children were safely home. Looking back of course, and knowing the limited scope of the attack, it seems foolish for us to have been so upset about the safety of our kids. But with uncertainty comes fear of the unknown.  But what I most remember about 9/11/2001 was the feeling I felt in the air. It was palpable! It was a true feeling of darkness and fear mixed with anxiety. I can imagine it was something like what Joseph Smith described when he went into the grove to pray that spring day of 1820. He said he felt “thick darkness” gathering around him. (JS History 1: 15) I think I can relate. It is the evil one who drives men to do murderous acts such as those done on September 11, 2001. My clients must have felt the same fear that I felt that day because even though I closed my office by 11am that day,  not a single message had been left on my recorder when I checked it the next day.   When hearts grow faint, everything else becomes very “unimportant.”

Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).  Why were we happy? I think part of the reason we rejoiced was because good had triumphed over evil and we were on Lord’s side. We turned our backs on the adversary and aligned ourselves with the forces of God, and those forces were victorious…I cannot understand why so many have betrayed in life the decision they once made when the great war occurred in heaven. But it is evident that the contest between good and evil, which began with that war, has never ended. It has gone on, and on, and on to the present. I think our Father must weep because so many of His children through the ages have exercised the agency He gave them and have chosen to walk the road of evil rather than good.”

Hinckley continued: “Perilous times? Yes. These are perilous times. But the human race has lived in peril from the time before the earth was created. Somehow, through all of the darkness, there has been a faint but beautiful light. And now with added luster it shines upon the world. it carries with it God’s plan of happiness for His children. It carries with it the great and unfathomable wonders of the Atonement of the Redeemer…We of this generation are the end harvest of all that has gone before…A solemn obligation rests upon us…We must live as true followers of the Christ, with charity toward all, returning good for evil, teaching by example the ways of he Lord, and accomplishing the vast service He has outlined for us. (“The Dawning of a Brighter Day, GC, April 2004).

It has now been over a decade since that fateful day. But I think all of us who experienced it, know the truthfulness of  the words of the Savior when he said, “…an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things”. (Matt. 12:35)

We do live in perilous times, both physical and spiritual! We must be on guard as a country so that we can be physically safe. And we must be on guard against the evil influences of Satan so we can be spiritually safe as individuals and as families.  Sometimes our physical safety is out of our control. But our eternal spiritual safety is found in having faith in the Savior and his teachings.

hugh nibley

Who Is Righteous?

TheDiscipleMD

Recently I read a quote from Hugh Nibley who once said:

“Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been if he is repenting, he is a righteous man.  There is hope for him.”

When I read the above quote, I sat back in my airplane seat and pondered those words.  And although my physical world, at that moment, was filled with the sounds of humming engines, blowing air, and endless passenger noise, my head seemed to clear itself and process what an outstanding statement Mr Nibley was making.  I guess his statement penetrated my soul because I see myself  as that ‘fallen man’ who is forever coming up short, but who at least desires to be better. And that perhaps my desire of being the kind of man I should and want to be, should give me great hope.

I believe in the writing of the prophets who tell us that we all fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23) Yet, the glory of the ‘good news’, or the gospel, is that through Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, repenting is the gift by which I can find hope in deliverance. I don’t know if I am a ‘righteous’ man, per say, but, like many of you, I do recognize the error of my ways, and I want and try to be a better man from day-to-day.

There is hope for all of us, no matter the life we have lived, if we will truly be a penitent person who humbly strives to overcome our faults and sinful behavior.  This knowledge brings with it…” exceeding joy…Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.” (Alma 27:18)

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