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The Greatest Catch I ‘(N)Ever’ Made!

TheDiscipleMD

In the year 1980 I was playing in a men’s softball league with a few of my friends. One particular game I remember vividly because it was in this game that occurred “the greatest catch I (n)ever made.” It was a night game and for those who have played under the lights it can be difficult at times to see, particularly when a ball is hit high and deep into the outfield. This particular game I was playing left field. It was late in the game, we were up a few runs but the bases were loaded with two outs when the batter hit a deep fly ball over my head. As I headed back on a sprint to the fence I feared that the ball was out of the park but just as I reached the fence I caught a glimpse of the ball coming down out of the lights and both the ball and I reached the fence at the same time. I saw the ball hit the top of my mitt just as my body slammed into the chain link fence. The fence gave just a bit allowing my body to bounce off. As I did so I saw the ball ricochet off the top of my glove then skim off the very top of the fence. As I was propelled back onto the field I saw the ball coming back down and I dove with all my might and caught the ball just BEFORE it hit the ground. I jumped up and held the ball high as the umpire raced to the outfield and held his hand high to signal that the batter was out.

My teammates cheered and slapped me on the back all the way to the bench. As I sat on the bench basking in the glory, one of my teammates came up to me and said “That was the greatest catch I ever saw!” I nodded my appreciation and replayed the greatness of my catch over in my mind. Much to my horror, as I did so,  I remembered that the ball had glanced off the top of the wall therefore making it an “invalid catch.” Caught up in the emotion of the play I had given the impression to all that I had made a legal catch and had even fooled the umpire into so believing. To this day there are friends of mine who still talk about the “greatest catch” they ever saw. It was however, in my life, the “greatest catch I NEVER made”.

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?(John 18:37:38).

So , what is truth? Well, to this day my catch is “the truth” to my friends.  In fact, just a couple of years ago I visited a very sickly friend, a former teammate,  who was in the hospital. During the course of our conversation he brought up this play and went on an on about how spectacular of a catch it was. I quickly got off the subject and for some reason I didn’t set the record straight. I guess I didn’t have the heart to ruin the story, or perhaps I liked the praise of it all. Either way, the truth is only known to me.

The concepts of man are ever-changing and even our mortal senses can be fooled as was the case with my amazing ‘non-catch.’ In fact recently the scientific community discovered that Pluto is not really a planet. Funny how I was taught as a youth that it was, and now it isn’t.  Apparently that wasn’t the truth! How than can we be assured of what is truth? Christ taught us in the scriptures:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

• • • Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:7,13).

Here Jesus Christ teaches us that the Holy Ghost will teach us all truth. It is only through the spirit of Christ that we can be assured of truth. May we live our lives such so that we have the constant company of this great “spirit of truth” so that we won’t be deceived into believing ‘catches” that are just allusions of reality.

silver dollar

Walking On Silver Dollars

TheDiscipleMd

“An older boy and his young companion were walking along a road which led through a field. They saw an old coat and a badly worn pair of men’s shoes by the roadside, and in the distance they saw the owner working in the field.
“The younger boy suggested that they hide the shoes, conceal themselves, and watch the perplexity on the owner’s face when he returned.
“The older boy … thought that would not be so good. He said the owner must be a very poor man. So, after talking the matter over, at his suggestion, they concluded to try another experiment. Instead of hiding the shoes, they would put a silver dollar in each one and … see what the owner did when he discovered the money. So they did that.
“Pretty soon the man returned from the field, put on his coat, slipped one foot into a shoe, felt something hard, took it out and found a silver dollar. Wonder and surprise [shone] upon his face. He looked at the dollar again and again, turned around and could see nobody, then proceeded to put on the other shoe; when to his great surprise he found another dollar. His feelings overcame him. … He knelt down and offered aloud a prayer of thanksgiving, in which he spoke of his wife being sick and helpless and his children without bread. … He fervently thanked the Lord for this bounty from unknown hands and evoked the blessing of heaven upon those who gave him this needed help.
“The boys remained [hidden] until he had gone.” They had been touched by his prayer and felt something warm within their hearts. As they left to walk down the road, one said to the other, “Don’t you have a good feeling?” (Adapted from Bryant S. Hinckley, Not by Bread Alone, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955, p. 95.) (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some Lessons I Learned As A Boy,” April GC, 1993)

I guess I can say, that the greatest blessing of doing good for others, no matter what faith you hold, is the wonderful feeling that permeates your soul upon so doing; leaving you enriched, enlightened, and uplifted. What I most love about being a member of my church, is the bounteous opportunities it gives to me to feel good. And I love that! Because with all the bad things that come and go out of my life, I can always count on the blessings that come from service, that I both see and do, to restore my faith in the goodness of the human soul.

Time and time again, I thank the Lord for the example of wonderful men and women I associate with on a daily basis, who strive to live like Christ, and put silver dollars in the shoes of others. Often, throughout my life, they have served me and my family, inspiring and lifting me to greater heights as I walk on their Silver Dollars of service. I will be forever grateful!

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An Answer To A Troubling Question!

TheDiscipleMD

Several years ago we held an open house at our church. A lady in her fifties attended and ended up spending an hour and a half at the building discussing the church and watching a video. After the video presentation she had a few questions for me. She asked, “How do you baptize and at what age?” I replied “By immersion and at eight years of age, which we view as the age of accountability.” She told me she was an active member of another faith and was interested to know what happens to those who are never baptized. I replied, “Well, I have an answer for you that I hope will be satisfactory.” I asked her if she knew anything of our temples. She replied that as a young adult she had attended and gone through the Washington D.C. temple when it had been open to the public prior to its dedication. She said it was a wonderful experience. I proceeded to explain our doctrine of “baptizing for the dead.” I quoted and explained the concept as found in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 15:29, 1 Peter 4:6) She had several follow-up questions on the matter such as, “What if someone didn’t want to be baptized,” and “Is that why your church is so interested in Genealogy?”

After addressing her follow-up questions I said to her, “Does that answer satisfy you?” She emphatically said, “Yes it does!” I bore testimony to her that there is no other church on the face of the earth that teaches a doctrine that answers this most fundamental question that continues to perplex Christians of all faiths. How can God be just and merciful if baptism is a requirement for entrance into his kingdom (John 3:5), yet millions never get the opportunity in this life to accept or reject this ordinance!

Over the years I have spoken with many Christians of different faiths on this subject. Each time I explain the concept of “baptisms for the dead,” they seem pleased with the answer to the troubling question of how can God be just and merciful when it comes to this basic commandment. How can He condemn some souls to Hell, without first giving them an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

I don’t know if this woman will even come back to our building. But what I do know is that she felt “satisfied” with the answer that the restored gospel has for this most troubling question. It’s an answer that seems to soothe the soul because it makes sense that a loving God would be just and merciful to all his children. He would provide a way for all to come back into his presence. We know what that way is! It’s baptism for both the living and the dead.

I am grateful that I live in a time where I can find peace, and serenity in knowing that God loves each of His children and has provided a way for all of them to return unto Him. It is a wonderful doctrine that rings true to my soul.

sic transit gloria mundi

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (Thus Passes The Glory Of The World)

Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means “Thus passes the glory of the world.” It has been interpreted as “Worldly things are fleeting.”

I learned a lesson about the fleeting glory of man when, as a senior in high school I happened to stop at a local Burger King for lunch. There sweating profusely behind the grill was a face I recognized. It was the face of a champion.

Just two years before I had watched with admiration as this young man, who was from another high school, stood at the state wrestling tournament with a championship trophy in hand. The flashes of the cameras recording his triumphant victory rained down on his smiling face.  He held the trophy high and it seemed to me, that for a moment, his outstretched arms were touching the Gods!  Oh to be a state wrestling champion I thought.  The glory of it all!

And so it was that I stood in line that day waiting to order my burger, watching…thinking…pondering and processing. What I most remember thinking at that young age was, “Really! Is this what comes of champions.  Flipping burgers on the grill of a Burger King doused in grease and smoke!” In retrospect, this champion was still young and could have been making his way through college, or there could have been any number of reasons he was at the grill that day. And, really, as long as work is honorable, that should be OK.  But, I was young, and well, wouldn’t him being a state wrestling champion have gotten him some ‘glorious’ job. After all, he was a champion, and seeing him behind that grill just didn’t seem to match the glory he was basking in when I last saw him.

Well, this particular memory, of the fleeting glory of man, has not only stayed with me, but over the years,  I have seen it repeated over and over in the lives of others. I have also seen it in my own life. The glories of man truly do pass,  and if you spend your life pursuing them, you might gain them, but, as the Savior stated:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

I don’t remember that young man’s named, but I remember the lesson.  The truthfulness of the statement “Sic transit gloria mundi” is backed up by the words of the Savior. And no matter what language you say it in, the validity of it rings true. Most of us have experienced it to some degree or another on our journey here on earth.  My hope is that we will apply it in our lives and live such that our desire for the glory of God far outweighs the fleeting glory of man.

 

 

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