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“Be Home Before Dark!”

TheDiscipleMD

“Be home before dark!” That’s what my Mom would say when I would leave to play as a young boy. I would promise that I would. Then I would leave and spend the day exploring the woods, the creek, or play with some of my friends that lived around the block. Time would always pass too quickly and I would soon find that the sun began to set in the sky. Sometimes I would be close to home and it was no big deal to make it back. At other times I would be some distance from home and I would start to worry as I either ran or pedaled my bike home. I’m sure all of us remember the feelings you get of fear when darkness falls and you are left alone on a journey back home. Something happens when it gets dark. It gets a lot more dangerous to be riding a bike on the road or walking roadside. Darkness shrouds our vision and things that go “bump” in the night seem to be everywhere. Nevertheless, sometimes when you are having fun, your better judgement seems to go out the window. But, if you are smart, you learn that when the sun starts to set, you head home.

The sun certainly is setting on the world, however, none of us know when total darkness will fall upon our individual lives. Julie Beck told this story.

“My niece Katie was a hopeful 20-year-old university student with many talents and plans for the future. Four years ago Katie died in an auto accident. Though our family still feels much homesickness for her, we know that we will be with her again, and we are not worried about her. In Katie’s wallet was her temple recommend, given to her by her bishop so she could be baptized for her ancestors. Katie was worthy. Not long before Katie died she wrote these words: “If this were my last day on earth, this is the record I would leave. Make each day meaningful. … Stay close to the Lord. Gain all the knowledge you can about the scriptures, the gospel, the creations of the Lord. … Give of yourself … and always remember Christ for His example and His Atonement and strive each day to be like Him.” Katie had entered in the way that leads to eternal life, and she had stayed in.” (Julie B. Beck, “There Is Hope Smiling Brightly before Us,” Ensign, May 2003, 103).

Because we do not know how long our sojourn will be on this earth, it is best to “stay close to home.” By staying close we will not find ourselves far from our “heavenly” home when the hour of darkness suddenly falls. Then with serenity, we will be able to see our porch light illuminating the outlines of our heavenly parents in the doorway waiting to welcome us to celestial eternity.

camel tent

The Nose Of The Camel

TheDiscipleMD

“One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. “Master,” he said, “let me put my nose in your tent. It’s cold and stormy out here.” “By all means,” said the Arab, “and welcome” as he turned over and went to sleep.

A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, “I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here.” “Yes, you may put your forelegs within,” said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.

Finally, the camel said, “May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do.” “Yes, yes,” said the Arab. “Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us.” So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself”

There has been a long-term deterioration of our culture when it comes to, not only obedience, but recognition that there is any such thing as “morality.” The nose of the camel has long since entered our tents and its full body is attempting to put us out in the cold. Those of my age have been witness, not unlike Mormon, of the moral fall of his people in a relatively short period of time. After reporting to Moroni, his son, of the depravity of his people who he said were now “without order and mercy”, he wrote:

“O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization—(And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people) But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination-how can we expect God will stay his hand in judgement against us?” (Moroni 9:11-13)

Surely we should be recognizing that our culture is beginning to be “without order and mercy” and even showing signs of “depravity.”  I bring this depressing subject up so as to alert us as to the responsibilities we all share in defending the right. I often hear voices shouting “You want others to live under the definition of ‘your’ morals. Who are you to define it?”  And of course the answer is that “someone” else will define it if we don’t. If you believe in living apostles and prophets, you need look no further than them to have our “morals” defined. Even in deteriorating times, we can still “define” a moral code for our homes. They may not be supported anywhere but at church, but our families can have them defined by us, not the world.

Mormon testified of the moral and physical destruction of his people and he could not recommend them to God. But, the silver lining in his words were:

“…my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved” (vs. 22)

We should do our best to influence our society in holding to God’s commandments. And if we fail, at least, like Mormon, we will have hope for our families. If we only succeed in holding to a moral code in our homes, we can still recommend them to God and trust that they will be saved.

albatross

Are We Naive Albatross?

TheDiscipleMD

“An uninhabited South Atlantic island has for centuries served as a breeding ground for the albatross. Lacking predators, the albatross population thrived. A few years ago, mice made their way to the island. Outweighed 200-fold, the mice targeted albatross chicks for consumption — and now the mice are thriving.

Surprisingly, whenever the mice attack the chicks, the albatross parents do nothing, totally oblivious a threat even exists. Scientists explain the albatross parents, having never known such danger on the island, are “ecologically naive” about it. In a few years, however, that naiveté may result in the devastation of all island’s albatrosses”.(“The Way of the Albatross” by James G. Zumwalt, Commentary Washington Times March 10, 2008).

Are we like the albatross who idly stands by as our families are ravished, and our principles become extinct? The day of inaction is long gone! We must be vigilant in not only teaching and living the principles of the restored gospel, but also in promoting them in the communities wherein we live. A few voices have tremendous power in promoting good things. It’s amazing how much strength of character it takes to be the “first” to raise a hand in opposition to something that is blatantly wrong!  Or to raise a hand in promoting something that is good.  Often others have the same opinion, but lack the courage to speak out. It is easy to become complacent when faced with difficult situations which require decisive action.  But our complacency might end up allowing dangerous “mice” in through our backdoor, thus giving them access to our young! We need to summon forth the courage to stand tall and strong in defending our homes and our liberties least we go the way of the naive albatross parents and lose our “chicks” while they are under our care!

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying:

“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

There is much good in the world but there is much that is ungodly! The mice can enter our nests in many different ways via the internet, our phones, our computers, TV and via the teachings found at our schools. Hope is to be found in the words of the prophets.  Let their words be found in our homes and made easily accessible to our children and grandchildren. Let us be found praising the leaders of the church lest we undermine ourselves by thinking that no harm is done in speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed.  I recall a father who made it a habit of criticizing the local church leaders. The day came when one of his own children struggled with addictions that proved devastating to the family.  His council of “go to the Bishop” for help rang hollow to his child.  After all, why would his child chose to listen to a man who had been marginalized on a regular basis around the family diner table.

Eternal life is found in the words of the Savior and taught in our days by the priesthood of God. Redemption and safety can be found in following the prophets of our day! Let us be promoters of the servants of God! Let us not be naive enough to think that the mice are not in our homes…they are…in every home! We need to be vigilant in looking after and protecting our own.  We are commanded to be moderate, but being moderate in all things doesn’t mean we should be naive as an Albatross to the evils that surround us!

 

 

 

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A Monumental View Of Heaven

TheDiscipleMd

Having grown up in the suburbs of Maryland gave me proximity to our Nation’s capital.  In fact, I was born in it.   So, on occasion as a family, mostly when relatives came to town,  we would go sightseeing to Washington D.C.   One of the sites we often visited was the Washington Monument.  Erected in 1884 in commemoration of our first president, it stands 555 feet high, (almost two football fields), and is still the highest building in the city.  It is certainly one of the most famous landmarks of our country. I recall as a small boy playing on the fields surrounding it while Fourth of July fireworks exploded above it in the hot humid air; its white marble obelisk shape silhouetted again the black of the night.  Back in the 1960’s you were allowed to climb the stairway up to the top of the monument.  My siblings and I would enter its doors, then race as fast as we could to see who could get to the top first.  Once there, you have a wonderful view of the entire city as well as parts of the countryside of Maryland and Virginia.  I still recall the beauty of it!

Between the “demands” of high school days, a mission and college, years went by before I found the time to revisit the Washington Monument one hot summer day.  By his time I had become a man, married with a small child.  Fortunately rules had been implemented making the “scaling” of this great monument illegal, thus allowing me the dignity of taking the elevator to the top. When I reached the top for my panoramic view of the area, I saw that something else had changed.  The view!  There, nestled above the tops of the green trees, almost as if it was floating on air, was the majestic Washington D.C. temple. It had been built just a few years before.  The angel Moroni’s gold horn seemed to be sounding to the world “Come to the house of the Lord!” and its white marble seemed to outshine the marbled building in which I stood.

As I stood there that day, my mind started to soak in that sacred edifice and it’s significance in my life.  In it I had made sacred covenants to the Lord to give of all that I had, or would ever have, in building up His kingdom.  It was there that I had entered and promised before Him, angels, and all witnesses that I would love, honor, and cherish my wife, not just for this life, but for eternity.  It was there that promises were made to me that if I would live according to my covenants, my wife, children, and I could “inherit eternal life” together.(Matthew 19:27) It brought to my mind that it represented so much more than the monument I was standing in.  Its spires, that stood reaching to the heavens, represented all of my hopes and dreams as a man. It stood as a monument to my faith in a God, His plan, and of the purpose of my own existence.  In short, it peaked out of the greenery as a reminder that it could give me a glimpse into the eternities.

Now, so many years later, I have a better perspective on the short duration of this “so-called life”. It is temporary, it is short, and it will end sooner than we want or expect.  It is a testing ground of our faith.  It is a battleground for the souls of men.  A visit here is a necessary part of our progression. But, lest we forget our home, we have been provided sanctuaries, places of repose and peace called temples.  They are “monuments” to our God, our Father and our Savior.

I have since returned to the top of the Washington Monument on a number of occasions. But none have been sweeter than that day, when I first saw, from its top, a “monumental view of heaven” from here on earth!

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