Jogger

No Man is An Island!

TheDiscipleMD

I about had a heart attack! I came within inches of hitting a man who was jogging on the side of the road. By the time my car headlights hit him it left me no more than a split second to swerve so as not to hit him. Perhaps I wouldn’t have hit him even if I hadn’t made the last second adjustment. Perhaps I would have missed him by one inch instead of two…perhaps! That night’s close call with tragedy wasn’t the first time I have had such a harrowing experience with joggers. No, there have been a number of times I have almost hit someone who is running along a highway that doesn’t have a shoulder. I say to myself that they have every right to put their life in jeopardy, but their right to die might end up including me as their killer. And it’s that part of their jogger “right”, the part about me being a killer, that troubles me. I am sure that if I had a conversation with one of these professional “joggers” they would defend their position, by saying it is part of their birthright to be able to run on America’s roads. I don’t disagree with them on that point. I just don’t like the fact that my part of their freedom to run might include the word “manslaughter” on court papers bearing my name and  the name of the state in which I reside.

Over the course of my life I have run into many individuals, many that are teenagers, who shout to the rooftops that they have every right to be “highway joggers” when it comes to their lives. They reject the teachings of their parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders. Personal “freedom!” is their mantra and “I can do what I want, it’s my life and my body” is their siren call. The problem is of course, that their actions have an impact on other people. I can’t count how often I have seen “prodigal” sons and daughters land at the doorstep of their relatives. Without shelter, food or money they now beg for mercy from those who they so brazenly rejected. Their “highway jogging” has resulted in consequences that now adversely impact the lives of others. Others dabble in drugs, alcohol, and illegal behavior putting themselves in perilous situations. They then expect others to pay for their actions by “bailing” them out of trouble via their time, money or both. Certainly unforseen circumstances befall all of us from time to time but this is different than the ‘in your face’ rejection of sound principles some take delight in rebelling against.

Although we have been given agency in this life, we need to remember that our actions often affect the lives of others. The prophet Alma had a long talk with his wayward son Corianton and reminded him that his behavior had affected his ability to preach the gospel.  Among other things he said:

“Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing, suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again…Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.” (Alma 39:11).

Corianton exercised his right to pursue worldly pleasures but didn’t take into account how it would adversely affect his father’s ministry. So as we travel through this life we need to be cognizant that no man is an island. If we live our lives as “highway joggers”, running perilously close to speeding cars,  it is often because we are guilty of being self-centered, which is an attribute contrary to the spirit of the Lord. So the next time we feel inclined to cry that we are “free” to choose, we need to remember to take into account the consequences it will have on others.

 

shock trauma

A New Dawn From A Dreadful Night!

TheDiscipleMD

Upon arriving at the hospital and inquiring at the information desk, I was asked “Are you the preacher?” A bit startled, as I had never been addressed as such, I weakly replied that I was. I was hurriedly led down a hallway to a room. As I entered the room I saw my friend and he rushed to me and said, “I wouldn’t let them take the girls by helicopter till you came and gave them a blessing!” I was taken back. His teenage twins had apparently been in a “very” serious auto accident. In fact, they were in danger of losing their lives. The room was full of doctors and nurses. There was a clear feeling of panic and concern on their faces. One of the doctors said to me, “You need to make this quick. We need to fly them to shock trauma!” I was overwhelmed! I was young, inexperienced and admittedly, a bit scared. Under extreme duress I gave priesthood blessings to both of the girls. Afterwards they were immediately whisked away by air to a hospital about an hour away. My friend and I drove his car to shock trauma and spent the entire night waiting to see if his daughters would survive their injuries. I pondered all night the blessings I had voiced and if they would be fulfilled.

So, it was with great interest that, several years ago,  I listened to Dallin Oaks talk on healing the sick. I listened to and read it several times. It is very instructive and insightful. In pondering his words, I think I have a better understanding of priesthood blessings. He lists five parts to healing the sick through the priesthood. They are: the anointing, sealing the anointing, faith, the words of the blessing and most important, the will of the Lord. Somehow I have always placed such importance on the “words of the blessing.” I think most members do. But here is what Elder Oaks had to say regarding that point.

“Another part of a priesthood blessing is the words of blessing spoken by the elder after he seals the anointing. These words can be very important, but their content is not essential and they are not recorded on the records of the Church. In some priesthood blessings—like a patriarchal blessing—the words spoken are the essence of the blessing. But in a healing blessing it is the other parts of the blessing—the anointing, the sealing, faith, and the will of the Lord—that are the essential elements.”

This is quite a remarkable statement by Elder Oaks. This talk is one of those that needs to be prayerfully studied in order to gain a full understanding of this words. Later Elder Oaks said this:

“Fortunately, the words spoken in a healing blessing are not essential to its healing effect. If faith is sufficient and if the Lord wills it, the afflicted person will be healed or blessed whether the officiator speaks those words or not. Conversely, if the officiator yields to personal desire or inexperience and gives commands or words of blessing in excess of what the Lord chooses to bestow according to the faith of the individual, those words will not be fulfilled. Consequently, brethren, no elder should ever hesitate to participate in a healing blessing because of fear that he will not know what to say. The words spoken in a healing blessing can edify and energize the faith of those who hear them, but the effect of the blessing is dependent upon faith and the Lord’s will, not upon the words spoken by the elder who officiated.”

I learned that the words spoken in the blessings I gave that dreadful night so long ago, were not as important as I had thought.  I sat with my friend, that night, and was there by his side at dawn when he was told that one of his daughters had passed to the other side.   The other survived her injuries.  Words I had pronounced and promises made in haste by a young overwhelmed young man had not totaly come to pass.

Dallin Oaks words has given me additional insight and a new dawn, from a dreadful night, that has troubled me, for more than twenty-five years!

ipone 16 035

Stanton ‘The Statue’

TheDiscipleMD

Like many boys of my era every summer I played little league baseball. One of the young boys that played on my team for years was a boy by the name of Stanton. Stanton was not very good and seldom played. But when he did play, each time he came to bat he would get in his stance; hold his bat high, and then stay in that same position for the entire at bat. He never swung the bat or even adjusted himself at the plate. If three strikes were thrown before four balls, he would strike out. If four balls were thrown by the pitcher before three strikes, he would receive a walk. No matter what happened, he would never move once he got in the batters box. The pitch could be wild and bounce around the backstop with the catcher running after it. Most boys would step out of the batters box, adjust themselves, take a practice swing and get back into the box; but not Stanton. He never moved…no matter what! Soon, some of the boys tagged him with the nickname, “Stanton the Statue,” a nickname that stuck and was used as a source of joking by a number of my teammates. I must admit it was comical to see him at the plate never flinching, never moving, standing as still as a statue.

Just this past year I received a surprising email in my box. It was from this long ago childhood teammate. I opened his email and read his opening line which said:

“Scott, perhaps you don’t recall who I am, but you might remember me from the days we played baseball together when everyone called me “Stanton the Statue!”

I laughed out loud when I read that line. He went on to write some pleasantries and closed his email in hopes I would respond back, which I did. However, the thing that struck me most was that here it was forty plus years later and he introduced himself to me as “Stanton the Statue,” a name that had been used to deride him and given to him by insensitive teasing boys. It made me wonder just how much damage can be done to our self-worth when we allow the world around us to define who we are? And if we do allow the world around us to define who we are, don’t we become a slave to its tenants?

Wouldn’t it be wiser for us to embrace the view that we are of royal birth and that a loving Heavenly Father holds us in high esteem! We should allow him to define who we are! His view of us is found in the scriptures. In Luke we read:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear yet not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrow.”

In John 10:14-15 we read, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Isn’t it exhilarating to be known, by name, by the almighty God of us all? A few years ago I visited one of my sisters in the west, and had the opportunity to pronounce a priesthood blessing upon her. As we spoke following the blessing she made this emotional statement in reference to the blessing:

“It is wonderful to know that Heavenly Father knows who I am!”. How profound! Indeed it is wonderful to know that we are counted by the Lord. He has promised to us the “ministering of Angels.” He provides much of that ministering through His servants. People like you and I as well as many others! May we be worthy of that title!

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.”(D&C 78:17-18).

My long ago teammate, Stanton, stopped playing baseball soon after the nickname of “The Statue” was given to him. But it appears that, after decades, the memory of being made fun of still seems to linger in his mind. How unfortunate! Sometimes we can be so cruel to one another! It is a great blessing to know that we are sons and daughters of a loving Father who knows who we are and values each of us. Let our self-worth be set by Him and not by the world. He has revealed unto us of our royal heritage! We are statues infinitely more valuable than the price tag given to us by man.  (Looking at faded picture: Stanton-far left middle row, I’m on first row 2nd from right.)

 

Jesus Christ slums

Christ Takes The Slums Out Of People

TheDiscipleMD

I have heard many unusual voice recordings from answering machines over the years including one of my favorites, “You have reached the Wong number” which used to grace the answering machine of the Alex Wong home. However, a few months back, upon calling on one of my clients I was treated to this: “Hello, I am making some changes in my life so if you don’t get a call back, your one of them!”

For many of us, change can be very difficult! We develop habits, both good and bad. The best thing is to not develop bad habits from the beginning. However, since we all make mistakes and fall short, we first need to recognize bad and sinful habits and then tackle them. Can we change? Of course we can. When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed.

“No man,” said David O. McKay, “can sincerely resolve to apply in his daily life the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth without sensing a change in his own nature. The phrase ‘born again’ has a deeper significance than many people attach to it. This changed feeling may be indescribable, but it is real” (Conference Report, April 1962, p. 7).

Quoting from a talk printed in the October 1989 Liahona, entitled “Born of God”, Ezra T. Bensen said:

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”

Again quoting David O. McKay:

“Human nature can be changed, here and now…You can change human nature. No man who has felt in him the Spirit of Christ even for half a minute can deny this truth. You do change human nature, your own human nature, if you surrender it to Christ. Human nature can be changed here and now. Human nature has been changed in the past. Human nature must be changed on an enormous scale in the future, unless the world is to be drowned in its own blood. And only Christ can change it.

“Twelve men did quite a lot to change the world [nineteen hundred] years ago. Twelve simple men” (Quoting Beverly Nichols, in Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life, compiled by Llewelyn R. McKay, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971, page 23, 127). Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world.”

So if there is something amiss in our lives, change can come when we have both desire and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The scriptures tell us that “a mighty change” can come about and I believe it to be true. Small changes can bring about large miracles!

 

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