Minor Lesions Left Untreated


I don’t know if I am the only one who has ever thought this while driving the car down a single lane highway, but I suspect that many of us have at one time or another come to the realization that a quick turn of the wheel by us, or the other driver would result in a head-on collision that would vastly alter our life as we now know it. It seems so strange that a small turn of a wheel could have such a great impact on one’s life. Such a simple thing, and yet one that would alter the course of our life’s history. President Uchtdorf spoke of this in his conference talk entitled “A Matter of a Few Degrees.” In it he told this story:

“In 1979 a large passenger jet with 257 people on board left New Zealand for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica and back. Unknown to the pilots, however, someone had modified the flight coordinates by a mere two degrees. This error placed the aircraft 28 miles (45 km) to the east of where the pilots assumed they were. As they approached Antarctica, the pilots descended to a lower altitude to give the passengers a better look at the landscape. Although both were experienced pilots, neither had made this particular flight before, and they had no way of knowing that the incorrect coordinates had placed them directly in the path of Mount Erebus, an active volcano that rises from the frozen landscape to a height of more than 12,000 feet (3,700 m).

As the pilots flew onward, the white of the snow and ice covering the volcano blended with the white of the clouds above, making it appear as though they were flying over flat ground. By the time the instruments sounded the warning that the ground was rising fast toward them, it was too late. The airplane crashed into the side of the volcano, killing everyone on board. It was a terrible tragedy brought on by a minor error—a matter of only a few degrees.

Through years of serving the Lord and in countless interviews, I have learned that the difference between happiness and misery in individuals, in marriages, and families often comes down to an error of only a few degrees.”

He went on to say:
“Small errors and minor drifts away from the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring sorrowful consequences into our lives. It is therefore of critical importance that we become self-disciplined enough to make early and decisive corrections to get back on the right track and not wait or hope that errors will somehow correct themselves. The longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become, and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course—even to the point where a disaster might be looming.”

Through her experience as a nurse, my wife could attest to the fact that minor lesions left untreated soon turn to gaping wounds, which can lead to amputation or death. Let us avoid such tragedy by listening to the words of our apostles and prophets. The long and winding road of life will require a few spiritual band aids here and there. Caught early, spiritual wounds will heal quickly. If there are small things in which we are drifting, let us correct them before they require a major operation in order to properly heal.

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.



The Evolving Nature Of A Man’s Birthday


Birthdays are a funny thing for a man. When you were a kid you were filled with excitement as your “special” day came near and that date, whatever it may be, became your day. It belonged to you! You were filled with anticipation about the presents you would receive, or the party that would be held in your honor. It was all about the physical! And that was the “meaning” of birthday’s to me till, at the age of 19,  I went on a church mission to Argentina. There, I once attended and celebrated with an elderly couple the birthday of the husband. During the course of the party I was alone in a conversation with the wife. She confided in me that this really wasn’t his “birthday.” He had been born in poverty and abandoned by his biological parents. His date of birth was unknown. He had been raised in an orphanage. And although this man had no idea what day, or even the exact year in which he had  been born, he had choosen a day to celebrate his birth.  It was important to him to have a day marking the beginning of his existence on this earth.  He wanted to have a day to feel “special.”  Here he was in the later stages of life, and he still felt the need to be recognized.

I suppose that all of us feel a need to be recognized on occasion and I guess I am no different. Birthdays provide that opportunity.  Today I will celebrate my birthday. And although I am now on the downhill side of life, it is still nice to be recognized.  However, as I have aged, my birthday now provides for me the opportunity to reflect upon the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon me and my family over the past year of my life.  For me, my birthday has evolved from a day of wanting,  to a day of thanksgiving.  As I have aged, birthdays for me have changed from being about the physical, to more about the spiritual. Perhaps Paul expressed it best when he wrote:

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

I don’t think I am different from other men.  I think for the aging man,  the gifts of life and liberty take center stage, and all the balloons and presents that seemed to thrill us as a youth have long since been replaced with appreciation for gifts of the heart. I don’t know what I will get for my birthday this year, but all I really want is a smile and a hug from my grandchildren, kids, and wife.  It’s a gift that seems to stay with me long after the party is over. The greatest gift I hope for,  is another year on this earth, so I can spend more time with those I love.  I hope God  knows about the evolving nature of a man’s birthday, because he is the only one who can give me that gift. I hope he is listening so that next year, at this same time, I am once again,  basking in the glow of a bunch of candles, with the familiar faces of those I love!


“If I Did Not Laugh I Should Die!”


Sometimes it is troubling to see the extreme positions that seem to be forming regarding many issues. I was amazed to hear a ship captain the other night being interviewed who said that those that work with him in saving the whales needed to be able to give up their lives to be a part of the movement. This same individual has a history of putting human life in jeopardy to further his cause. This man, who began with a worthy goal of protecting the whales, has become so extreme and rigid in his views, that he has elevated the life of an animal over that of the sons and daughters of God. He is not alone in such thinking, nor is his movement alone in promoting such radical thought. The extremism of different movements is so blinding that many are past the point of reason or feeling. Even within the followers of Christ there are those that take on a “pet” commandment or hold concepts which create an “imbalance” in their lives leaving them intolerant to the thoughts and actions of others. I recall a wonderful talk given by James E. Faust years ago regarding rigidity entitled, “The Need for Balance in Our Lives.” Quoting part of his remarks:

“An important part of the gospel message is that we not be too rigid: that we open our minds, develop some tolerance, and not be quick to render judgment. I learned when I was making my living in the legal arena that we do not always have all the facts. There always seemed to be at least two sides to a question. Everything is not just black and white. The counsel of the Savior as He instructed His twelve was, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). It is not always easy to achieve appropriate balance.”

Extremity and rigidity in or out of the gospel is unhealthy. Sometimes it seems we just take things too seriously. Perhaps in so doing we inflate the importance of our lives.  Faust gave some instruction in the self-same talk that I have found to be so true. He said:

“…A thoughtful man said, “There is certainly no defense against adverse fortune which is, on the whole, so effectual as an habitual sense of humor.” For many years as I have blessed newborn children, including my own, I have blessed them with a sense of humor. I do this with the hope that it will help guard them against being too rigid, that they will have balance in their lives, and that situations and problems and difficulties will not be overdrawn…Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) stated: “True humor springs not more from the head than from the heart; it is not contempt, its essence is love; it issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper.”

I share the feelings of Abraham Lincoln, as shared by President Faust, when he said:

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”

This statement attributed to Lincoln, is even more profound to me, seeing as Lincoln is consistently painted in history books as “stoic”. I think all of us need to be able to laugh at ourselves and “lighten” the mood of our lives. In so doing it will develop in us the ability to even out the natural extremities in our lives.

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