He Stopped Loving Her Today!…Or Did He?

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I can’t remember the first time I heard it, but I was just a boy when across the radio I heard the silky sound of George Jones’ voice as he told the sad story of a man who had ‘stopped loving her today.’ It took listening to it several times before the real meaning took hold of my mind.

He stopped loving her today

They placed a wreath upon his door

And soon they’ll carry him away

He stopped loving her today

This poor man had just died and only then had he stopped loving a woman he had so desired. But even as a boy my heart understood that he had not stopped loving her. He had just moved his love into another realm of existence.  And I wasn’t convinced that the closing words of the song were true when George Jones crooned:

You know she came to see him one last time

Oh and we all wondered if she would

And it kept running through my mind

This time he’s over her for good

On the contrary, as I grew to adulthood and married my wife I knew that placing a wreath on someone’s door didn’t terminate that person’s love. No, as our bodies are lain in a coffin, our love for others is not bound to the box wherein our clay bodies lie.  This divine and eternal love escapes with our souls. Not only is love eternal, but so is marriage. While most people believe it, only one church preaches it or has it as a doctrine. Yet, the scriptures testify that whatsoever is bound on earth, can be bound in heaven.  Isn’t that what the Savior said to Peter as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Their conversation is recorded:

‘And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ (Matt. 16:13–19.)

Indeed, the Lord gave the apostles authority that whatsoever they bound while on the earth, could be bound in heaven. What a glorious doctrine to believe in the eternal nature of love, which is best expressed through the bonds of marriage. When married by the proper authority, we don’t have to ‘stop loving her today.’ The thought of being separated from my wife would certainly ‘prey upon my mind’ as recited in Jones’ haunting song. However, my testimony is that the authority to bind our love has been restored and that those couples that obey the commandments and keep the covenants they have entered into with the Lord can enjoy the fruits and blessings of sharing their eternal love in a marriage relationship that lasts beyond the grave.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7) the Savior told the people while giving His masterful Sermon on the Mount. Of this I too would charge all men. Seek ye this doctrine of eternal marriage and you will find the fulness of happiness that the Lord promised to all of His faithful followers.

 

 

Let There Be Light!

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We have all had a sleepless night at one time or another in our lives. When you have one of those nights, they feel endless. It is a night that I like to call a “worthless evening,” because it gives you no rest from your labors. One night it seemed as if I awoke on the hour, every hour, all night. I tossed and turned. I put the pillow over my head, under my head, threw it off the bed and then retrieved it all within the same hour. Sometimes I would look at the clock by the bedside to see what time it was. But most often I didn’t because I could tell by the darkness of the room the approximate hour of the night. Complete blackness told me that it was the middle of the night whereas plain darkness gave indications of early morn. As the sun rose and light began to filter into the room, it chased the darkness away, ending the night. A new day dawn was breaking. The long dark night was over. It is clear to anyone who has every witnessed a sunrise that darkness and light cannot coexist. While darkness may be a fact; another fact is that light is essentially a gift from God.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (Gen. 1:1-4).

We can see from the opening versus of the Old Testament that “the Spirit of God” moved upon the earth and He said “Let there be light.” And then God pronounced it “good.” Light has always been a heavenly characteristic. Light chases out darkness and visa versa. While this fact seems logical and nothing “earth shattering” to understand, it is important to know that we individually are like the earth. We have souls contained within our earthy bodies that contain both light and darkness. The more light we shine into our souls, the more darkness retreats. The more we allow the light of the spirit to illuminate our minds, the more the scales of darkness that cloud our understanding dissipate. How then do we illuminate our souls? By living our lives such that God’s spirit dwells in us.

We often sing, “We thank thee for sending the gospel, to lighten our minds with it’s rays!” (Hymn, “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet”). Indeed it does! The “rays” of the gospel are taught by prophets. When we listen and follow their counsel, we can expect that the light of Christ will shine in our souls and the “darkness” of mind, that can be so depressing, will be cast out. We illuminate our souls when we spent time praying, pondering, reading the scriptures. Indeed, quoting Paul, “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things”. All these things, as well as many others, bring light to our lives. And where there is light, there can be no darkness. So the more light we shine into our souls, the less room there is for darkness.

It is under the cover of darkness when we are in danger. It is where works of evil can temporarily be hidden from man. It is a place of no hope, no faith and no charity. In darkness is found despair. Blessed be those who have chased the darkness completely out of their lives! God pronounced “light” to be “good.” May we “fill” our souls so that they are overflowing with light. And by the light of the gospel, we will find the peace that all of us so diligently desire.

Quotes From Both “Fathers!”

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Quoting someone, in my mind, is the highest form of compliment! I have noticed throughout my life that there is only one person that I find myself quoting over and over. That would be my father! In fact, I have quoted him so often that I wonder why it is that I don’t follow all the counsel and wisdom he has given me. I guess I do the same with my Heavenly Father as I often find myself ignoring promptings and feelings that would lead me to a better life. Yet, I know they both still love me despite my impetuous decisions and occasional irrational behavior!

My Earthly Father’s mind, now deceased two years, was sharp despite his advanced years. When we had  lunch together he was still patiently listening to me as I went on and on about things happening in my world. I usually reserved the last five minutes of our conversation for him. And in that five minutes he masterfully gave me nuggets of gold on how to better live my life and he encouraged me onward. I was always left with another fabulous quote or two to pass on to my family and friends. I was always left wondering why it was that I didn’t just be quiet and let him have most of the time, because I would have learned so much more if I did. Unfortunately, I find myself doing the same thing in my personal conversations with God. I pour out my heart to him, but seldom give Him time to answer back and give me wisdom.

Two years ago my father left this world and I no longer have access to his wise words. But of all the quotes he has left me with, it is the words of Peter which best summarizes everything my Father has attempted to teach me. In response to Jesus question regarding the disciples continuing to follow him, Peter declares:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life… We (I) believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69)

I am blessed (and I say “am” because I believe in eternal life) to have a Father whose legacy to his family, is the above quote, which captures, if taken to heart, a lesson that would change the world into a much better place. Thanks Dad! You’re teachings, highlighted by quotes, has blessed me to live a happier and more blessed life. Your example, has given me hope and faith in another Father, who also loves me, as you do; and  you taught me where to find His quotes, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. You have taught me to believe in “Quotes from both Fathers!”

The Parable Of The Old Dog (The Ginger Snap Story)

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Over the course of years I have had the opportunity to interview literally thousands of members of my church,  and had many wonderful and uplifting conversations with them.  On occasion someone will tell me that they are bored with the lessons taught at church as they have heard the same lessons on the same principles over and over. I tell them about a conversation that my brother once had with my father. It went something like this:

“Dad, you grew up in a relatively poor family. In school, how did the rich kids stand out from the poor kids? His reply, “Well for one thing, the rich kids had cake or some other nice pastry for dessert, while us poorer kids got ginger snap cookies every day. They were the cheap cookies that were stored in a big open barrel at the local store.” My brother than asked, “I suppose that after a while you got really sick of those ginger snap cookies and didn’t eat them!” “Well,” my Dad replied, “It’s like the story of the old dog. The master put out the same old scraps every night for the aging dog to eat. The dog would meander over and sniff the food, indignantly turn his nose up and walk away. But come morning, the dog bowl was always empty!”

There is a great lesson to be learned from what I call “The Parable of the Old Dog.”  The old dog understands that even if he is tired of eating the “same old scraps,” if he doesn’t, he will die. Mortal bodies of both beast and man are created that way. They must be replenished in order for them to continue living. We all understand that to be a physical law.

Like our physical bodies, the spiritual body needs to be fed on a daily basis in order to survive. Sometimes that sustenance seems at times “bland.” The spiritual meal we are being offered at church may seem to us like “leftovers.” “I’ve heard this before,” we might catch ourselves saying. However, it is vitally important for us to replenish our spiritual souls. Without attendance at our meetings, reading the scriptures, praying and listening to inspiring talks and stories our spiritual bodies will eventually die. In those times when we struggle, let us remember the wisdom of the old dog. Sometimes he didn’t like the food placed before him, but he was wise enough to eat it anyway. So the next time we feel bored at a meeting or think that we don’t need to attend a meeting because we have “heard it before”, I hope we will remember the parable of the old dog and go replenish our souls. Jesus said,”…I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst”. (John 6:35)

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