airplane window

A ‘Plane’ View Of The Vanity Of Man

TheDiscipleMD

A few years ago as my airplane circled above Denver on the flight to Utah, I peered out the window to see the beautiful sites of the city below. We were sufficiently high enough that only plots of land were distinguishable and the homes that sat on them looked like the size homes you find in a common monopoly game. As I gazed around the panoramic scene I was again reminded of the immensity and beauty of the earth. I was also struck by the “nothingness” of man. The experience of Moses with the Lord captured in the scriptures best describes my feelings at that moment:

“And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end…. And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered. And the presence of God withdrew from Moses… he fell unto the earth. And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed. (Moses 1: 4, 8-10).

By airplane,  in a much smaller but similar way, I was given a glimpse of what God showed to Moses that day. It was again confirmed in my heart of the pride and vanity of man who, upon “owning” a small patch of ground, believes himself to be of great importance. As I looked out the window of the plane I saw evidence of the greatness of God and the insignificance of man. However, the nothingness of man is only in comparison to the greatness of God. We are of great value in His eyes because we are his offspring and have potential to become like him. And so the ironic aspect of it all is how man can think so highly of himself because of his “supposed” riches, fame, power and dominion while overlooking the true nature of his greatness which is due to his heritage as offspring of the omnipotent God of the universe.

As we continued circling the beautiful city of Denver I could imagine the thoughts of many who own such “pieces” of ground.

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12: 16-21).

Vanity and its traveling companions of envy and jealousy are traits contrary to the principles of the gospel. The true riches of this earth are the character that we bring with us from this world to the next. Let us be meek and ever mindful of the things that are eternal and becoming of the royal heritage we bear!

 

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When The World Is Your Sibling!

TheDiscipleMd

Recently my little sister and I had lunch together. We talked of old times, shared good memories, and got updates on our children’s lives. During our lunch she pulled out a few pictures of when we were young; some of which I had never seen before. One in particular was of the two of us at a beach in Maryland when we were both in high school. There we are, in all our youth. Me with football in hand, she wearing that youthful smile that stopped the hearts of plenty of my guy friends.

After we parted and before I drove away from the parking lot that day, I pulled the photo out of my shirt pocket and studied it. The photo was great, but the feeling that came from looking at it was even better. The road of life is long and winding. As I looked at that photo, little did we know then, of the joy that awaited ahead of us down life’s path. Love, in all its grandeur with a spouse, children, and wonderful relationships we would form with many others over the years. So too, the pains of death, disappointments, tragedy, and physical traumas that have taken a toll on our bodies and our spirits.

I don’t know about others, but in that moment, the feelings welled up inside my heart, and I was so thankful to God for someone who has been on that experience with me from the beginning. Who can explain the bond? What is a brother; sister? I think Heavenly Father fully understands the bonds, and beauty of siblings and of a family! They should be your best friends. They should be there for you and you for them. And as I looked at that picture, it reminded me, once again, why I had taken time to have lunch with my best friend of old. Because that relationship is God given and endorsed. So, as I pulled out of the parking lot that day I thanked the Lord for a little sister as well as for all my other siblings. And I pondered why those bonds are so tight and seem to endure the test of time, distance, and death itself. The deep feelings remain.

If we do come from the same loving God, and are truly his children, which I believe to be the case; is there any wonder why many churches teach their congregants to address each other as “Brother and Sister!” What a wonderful world it would be if we saw others as the Lord intended. “One family under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; and the world was your sibling!

tanning booth

Wanting A ‘Tanning Booth’ Experience With The Spirit!

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. 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.

If we are to be “seekers” of spiritual knowledge then 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!

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Dinner Together; And Why It’s Important To Our Family’s Health

TheDiscipleMD

“A family that eats together, stays together.”

The above quote is attributed to an unknown person, or persons, and is a take on the much more profound quote of, “the family that prays together, stays together.”  And while praying together as a family is certainly more important than eating together, I’m not sure that the slow death of the family meal isn’t having a long-term negative effect on families and more profoundly on its individual members.  Why? Well a number of studies have been done regarding the benefits of having at least one meal together as a family and its finding are that families that have an evening meal together,  tend to be healthier, their communication skills are improved,  and family traditions are established,  as well as a number of other positives.

While there are many reasons  one would want to have traditional family meals,  the most  obvious and glaring are the bonds that are formed while eating together round the table. In 2010 Robert D. Hales, in a talk entitled, “Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation,” spoke of the importance of the family meal when he reminisced about his own childhood. He said:

“Research shows that during the most important transitions of life…the greatest influence come…from the regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction with parents.

With that in mind, when we sit down at the dinner table, is our whole family there? I remember as a young man asking permission to play baseball through dinnertime. “Just put my meal in the oven,” I said to my mother. She responded, “Robert, I really want you to take a break, come home, be with the family for dinner, and then you can go out and play baseball until dark.” She taught all of us that where family meals are concerned, it’s not the food but the family interaction that nourishes the soul. My mother taught that the greatest love we give is within our homes.”

While food establishments like McDonald’s, Burger King and the like offer convenience,  they offer little else. And while convenience may be needed on occasion, the steady diet of the American family on it, has left this most basic unit of our society malnourished when it comes to bonding its members together.   Perhaps as parents, we need to reassess what we give up when we program our families such that mealtime is nothing more than grabbing a burger and fries at the local fast food restaurant.

Some of my fondest memories surround the evening meal we had together as a family.  Coming from a family of ten, I still treasure the feelings that come to my heart when I recall how privileged I felt to sit on my mothers right hand each and every night. For a small boy, knowing that I would always have a bit of special attention from her at meal time,  provided me security and everlasting feelings of love that linger even to this day. When my memory conjures up images of mealtime, it is filled with wonderful feelings of warmth and love towards her, my siblings, and my father. I don’t remember much of the meals, but I savor the memories of time spent with my family.

Times have changed, but changes are not always good, and we certainly have agency to modify, in our families, what societal norms we choose to embrace. However, for me, the sweet blessings that have come into my life from family meal time still linger to this day.  The taste of which, like manna from heaven,  I will never tire of!

 

 

 

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