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Dear Heavenly Father

The DiscipleMd

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you…for everything!

Love,

Your child.

Family Praying Before Dinner ca. 2001

Add A FifthTo Our Thanksgiving Meal!

TheDiscipleMD

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday of mine. It usually involves the four “F’s”; family, friends, football, and food. Who could ask for more? Often lost though, is the purpose of the holiday.

The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, to commemorate the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony after a harsh winter. In that year Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The colonists celebrated it as a traditional English harvest feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians.

However, it wasn’t until 1789 that President George Washington declared it an official holiday. But like Christmas, I find myself lost in the traditions and trappings of the celebration, often forgetting its real purpose. I am sure that I will do so again this year.   In the Doctrine and Covenants, section fifty-nine, the Lord says;

“And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances… with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance— Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments”, (vs. 15-21).

So while enjoying the four “F’s” this Thanksgiving, let us not disappoint the Lord. Let us take a moment to reflect on our many blessings and remember to add the fifth “F” to our day.  That of giving thanks through prayer to our “Father” above. It is He who makes the other four “F”s possible!

Nine Men Out

Who Are Those Guys? (And What Have I Become?)

TheDiscipleMD

“Who are those guys?”,  (referring to those tracking the outlaws), was a question that Butch Cassidy posed to the Sundance Kid in the movie of the same name back in 1969. I was left with the same question when an old friend of mine sent me a picture of a team reunion that was held for a championship softball team I played on back in 1980. I was out-of-town and missed the event but he sent me a photo of my teammates, now some 33 years later. He could have sent me a photo of any nine guys. I didn’t recognize most of them.  Forced to pick each out of a lineup, (no pun intended), I would fail miserably.

I have only attended one high school reunion. It was my twentieth. I recall they gave us badges with our names on them and a sticky photo of our graduation picture to slap on our chests. At the greet in desk I thought it was pretty cheeky to have to wear a stick on picture of me when I was eighteen.  However, I soon found out that the saving grace of the night was being able to look at that photo plastered on each of my classmates so I could recognize who I was talking to.  Of course I felt I didn’t need such identification because I looked the same.  However, my confidence soon was shattered as I saw several of my former friends first glance at my photo, then to my face,  prior to greeting me with open arms. Could it be that twenty years had changed me also? I think we all know the answer.

As an aging boomer I have come to accept the fact that my youthful look is behind me. I no longer get any glances from the opposite sex when I walk the mall nor do any flirtatious remarks come my way from mysterious women. It’s probably because they see my ring. But who am I fooling?

I am reminded that there is little room for vanity as you age. The words of the Savior found in Matthew come to mind:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” (6:19)

Father time comes as a “thief” in the night and before you know it you are headed on the down side of life. And although time can rob us of our health and looks, it can be a great blessing in molding us into the kind of person that God would have us be.  In that regard, time is on our side.  Through its course, time allows for us to become more christ-like. This is the great blessing of time. I am in hopes that, through time,  all of us will be able to present ourselves to the Lord with full purpose of heart. Then he will say, “Who are those guys?’, because we will have changed and become like unto Him,  who is the creator of the plan of salvation, even our Father.

 

Academy-Awards-2014

The Savior Redeems Us From Our Sins: Not In Our Sins!

TheDsicipleMD

I’ve seen it hundreds of times on television. An athlete scores a touchdown, hits a home run, wins an Olympic medal, or wins some athletic event and then, points to heaven, or crosses themselves identifying Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. I have listened to hundreds of them give glory to Christ over the years, while others of the Hollywood establishment pay homage to His name while accepting awards. I am in no position to judge the personal nature of their devotion or commitment, but it seems that for many, recognizing Jesus Christ as their personal Savior is all that they think is needed. I say this because, according to the lives that they are reportedly living, obedience to His commandments is not a part of their daily devotion to him.

I was reading  this week and came across an insightful scripture. In the fifth chapter of Helaman, words of advise are written that were given by Helaman to his sons, Nephi and Lehi. Part of Helaman’s advise is quoting words Amulek spoke to Zeezrom. Which, in part is “that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins. And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.”

Note that the Lord came to redeem his people “from their sins”, “not in their sins”. What does that mean? Well to me it is made clear that repentance is needed when Amulek says, “he hath sent angles to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance.”  In other words, “repentance” is required in order to save our souls. Now, back to the celebrities I have mentioned. You can state that Jesus is the Christ and believe in his atonement, but that will not save you “in your sins.”  Only “from them”, if, and only if you repent. And repentance means an abandonment of that sin. Once you repent, then and only then, will it “bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.” All the belief in the world will not save us “in our sins.” But, knowing that all of us sin, the Savior through the atonement, which is brought into power by our repentance, will save us “from our sins.”

Pointing to heaven and acknowledging our Savior in our moments of glory is a fine gesture, but it won’t save us. Living the commandments and exercising repentance when we fall will!

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