Thunker’s Weblog


Be of Good Cheer
November 23, 2020, 4:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I haven’t written here for a long time. It’s not because I didn’t have thoughts to share. I did. It’s not because I didn’t have ideas to present here. I did. It’s not even because I was lazy and didn’t have the time to write. I did. I just didn’t have the words.

This year has been a flood of words. Everywhere we turn there have been words in social media, on the news, in podcasts and tweets and on and on, and on some more.

We all have been the recipients of word overload regarding rioting, shootings, the election and more on the election, and, of course, the pandemic. With all of this, my few words would only have added to the tsunami of noise we already had.

Stephen King wrote how ideas lose their potency when put into words. He said words can cheapen an idea and help the idea lose its luster it had when it lived only as a thought. I understand that. What I write, once it hits the page, is never exactly what is bouncing around in my head. I don’t have the words.

Yet here I am, trying to express my anger, my fear and my loss of what once was before we had an election and before we all donned our masks and before we didn’t get too close to each other. Going out in public is now an exercise in distrust. I don’t want to interact with anyone out of the fear they might infect me and then I’ll return home and infect my family. And people look at me in exactly the same way. There is a fear in their eyes and an uncertainty if anyone might approach them.

And yet, every now and again I will see someone who is happy and hopeful. Of course, I can’t see their smile beyond the mask. But I can see the way their eyes crinkle. I know there is a smile hidden there. I see them at the grocery store and at the gas station. I see them at church. Those are really the only places I go these days. You understand.

That look in their eyes, the joy living within them is what I miss. That is the part of life I want back. When I think about these people who seem to exude happiness, I think of a phrase in the New Testament. It occurs quite a few times in scripture and I think it’s a good phrase for these times.

In Matthew 9 we are told of Jesus arriving back at his home town. A man who is afflicted with palsy is carried by his friends on his bed to see if Jesus will heal the man. Jesus, recognizing the faith of the man’s friends, says, “Son, be of good cheer.” Jesus tells the man his sin are forgiven and then heals him of the palsy. The man gets up, picks up his pallet he had been laying on, and returns home.

In Mark 6:50, we find the apostles by themselves in a boat and they have a problem. A storm has come up and threatens to swamp the boat with the wind-driven waves. During the time the apostles are trying not to drown, they notice a figure coming towards them, walking on the water. At first, they think a ghost is coming towards them. But it is Jesus and he calls: “Be not afraid: it is I; be of good cheer.”

That’s a great thought: don’t be afraid. I’m here. Be of good cheer. I think that applies to not just our current situation, but in any time of our lives where we are unsure, lost or just afraid. Jesus Christ is just a prayer away, ready to bring peace to our hearts.

In John 6:33 it reads: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Right there is the key. We know we do and will have worries, fears and all kinds of things happen. Jesus knows that, too. And he knows he has the ability and desire and love to bring us all peace. So, let’s not waste so much time worrying. Let’s listen to the Savior. Let’s…be good cheer.

Remember: be kind, make good memories and come back soon.



The Unmasked Samaritan
July 29, 2020, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Robert Wheadon-126x150

A Parable for Our Times by John Branyan

The Parable of The Unmasked Samaritan

by John Branyan

A man wearing a mask was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers wearing masks. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he put on a mask and passed by on the other side.

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, put on a mask and passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled with neither mask nor hand sanitizer, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denari and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Obviously, the priest and Levite.

I hope this re-purposed parable made you both smile and reflect.  In these times I’ve noticed a change in social interaction.  If I need to go to the grocery store I put on my mask and go in.  What is lost, however, is the ability to interact.  If I see an elderly person I can’t give them a smile and a greeting.  If I see a child in a shopping cart, I can’t make funny faces at them to see them laugh.  The mask has eliminated all of that social interaction.  In addition, if someone does deign to look up, suspicion of infection is there in their eyes.  There is generally a look of, “Don’t come too close!”  Just as in the parable above, the good has been changed.  Helping others was part of our covenant as Christians.  Yet now, the good is making sure we stay 6 feet apart from each other and wear our masks.

One of the valued lessons from the real parable of the Good Samaritan is the importance of lovingly serving others.  It appears as a God-like quality to me.  Everything that Heavenly Father does is centered around Him serving us, providing us a way and a means to be redeemed and return to Him.  Even though God is omniscient and all-powerful, His power comes from His loving service to us, His children.  The same can equally be said of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  The crucifixion, the resurrection, the atonement, all were performed in loving service by the Savior for us.  All the pain suffered, all the blood spilled, all the tears shed, were not just for the man from Galilee.  All of these things were for you, and me, and all the billions who have walked this earth.  All of this was offered meekly and humbly and freely as a gift of service so divine.

I think that is why the story of the Good Samaritan is so powerful.  It resonates with the story of service rendered purely out of love for the other, and not out of self-aggrandizement.  The parable rings true as an example of how God is; and how He wants us to be, as well.

There is one other aspect of service I want to talk about.  As Christians we understand the importance of receiving a remission of our sins.  Yet we also understand that being redeemed is not a single event.  A magician does not wave a wand, utter a spell, and then a magical sin-cleansing occurs.  As much as we might wish redemption was that easy, I believe the more important task is how we retain a remission of our sins.

If I take the tale of the Good Samaritan as my guide, it appears I can only retain or maintain a remission of my sins if I lovingly serve others.  After all, God’s interaction with us is one of continual service.  We receive blessings untold every day.  We wake up every day because God wakes us up.  He gives us another few precious hours to serve, help and uplift others.  He gives that to all of us.  Through service, I believe, we retain and maintain our redemption.  And that, I think, is pretty cool.

Remember to be kind, make good memories, and come back soon.



The World Has Changed
July 14, 2020, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Robert Wheadon-126x150

A lot of years ago I was sixteen years old.  As was a teenage norm, I hung things from the rear-view mirror of my first car.  I’m not going to confess what my first car was, but I can say it had a delightful lime-green interior.  In that car I hung a pair of fuzzy dice.  I thought they were cool.  They weren’t.  But I thought they were.  Later, I replaced the fuzzy dice with my high school graduation tassel.  Another sign of progress in life.  I eventually replaced the tassel with symbols of jobs: parking permits or signs of employment.

Lately, though, I’ve hung a new item from my rear-view mirror: a face mask.  I’m starting to see them in other cars, as well.  We’ve started to display the symbol of the signs of the times.

There are so many things going on in the world it is easy to get distracted or caught up in the disaster of the day.  It is easy to adopt the attitude of defeat or despair.  I read once, “I stopped wearing my glasses.  I’ve seen enough.”  It’s easy to take that step from faith to fear, from hope to heartbreak over the ills of these days.

When I find myself edging towards bleakness, I remember a few words that bring me back to hope and reality.  “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still,” (Psalm 4:4).  Or “Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10).  When it seems as if we are caught in the clutches of hurricanes and raging storms, I think of the Savior’s words: “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm,” (Mark 4:39).

There is always One who is constant, secure and worthy of faith: Jesus Christ.  He is the one who calms all storms, both within us and out in the world.  I recall one Saturday I was out mowing lawns.  There were rain clouds overhead and a freshening wind increasing every few minutes, bringing in the expected storm.  I remember I was tired and could tell my strength was running out.  I really needed to finish the mowing.  If the rain came and the wind rose, I would have to stop before my chore was complete.  As I closed my eyes, I sent a prayer skyward, simply asking God to halt the rain for just a few minutes until I could finish.  During my petition, a few tentative raindrops fell on my head.  The storm had arrived.  Yet, as soon I finished my prayer, the rain stopped and the wind diminished in its strength.  With another quick prayer of thanks, I quickly mowed the remaining stretches of lawn.   I cleaned up, put the mower away, and went inside.  That’s when the storm let loose and the rain poured down.

It was a simple lesson for me of God’s love and desire to help his children.  In that instance, the child of God was me.

Let’s awake our faith and exercise our belief that God is always there.  Always.

Be kind, make good memories, and please come back soon.



A Wondrous Mystery
December 24, 2019, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Bible, faith, Uncategorized

About a year ago I was teaching a men’s class in church one Sunday morning.  I had decided to teach a lesson on faith and the place doubt has in our lives and in our faith.  As I presented the topic of doubt, I was stopped by a long-time member of the congregation.  He said I should not use the word, “doubt,” but use a less provocative word.  He suggested “questioning.”  I told him, “thank you,” and moved along with the lesson.  I could tell he felt threatened by the idea of someone having a doubt sometime in their life about the gospel.  Yet I see doubt a bit diffferently.  I believe doubt can be a powerful motivator for one seeking the truth.  Doubt can be the force that pushes one to question and ask for truth in all manner of things.  Whether the subject be academic, societal or spiritual, the practice of doubting, while pushing us on until we find the answer, is powerful.  In some ways I think holy doubt is what brings us to push on until we find answers and belief in God, His Son, and in their saving plan for all humankind.

We all know the New Testament story of the apostle Thomas.  He doubted the Lord had, in fact, been resurrected.  He demanded visual and tactile proof.  Now I know when we read that story, some think, “Poor Thomas, he just wasn’t strong in his faith.  He didn’t have what it takes to believe what others told him.”

I don’t see Thomas that way.  I see Thomas as being true to where he was in his life’s journey. He could have quietly gone along with the others, silently doubting and wondering if the tales of a resurrected Jesus were true.  But he wanted his doubts removed.

We all have had times of searching and doubt.  We will have those moments again.  Doubt is not a negative if it leads us forward.  We can’t get stuck in doubt as that leads to cynicism and skepticism.  Holy doubt leads us to one of two places.  It will lead to truth, spoken to us by the Holy Spirit, in a way one cannot deny.  The Savior promised this to all of us.  In John 15:26, the Savior promised all who would believe: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

There are many eternal truths our Heavenly Father is ready to share with us.  He wants us to know of His eternal love for us.  He wants us to know He is there with a plan to lead us back Home with God.  He wants us to love each other in charity, as Jesus demonstrated so many times.  These are some of things I know to be true.

As I mentioned above, the other place doubt can lead us to is faith.  In our age of science and academic endevours.  In a general way, our society has taken on the demeanor of Thomas.  We require proof, evidence and surety before we deem something to be “true.”  And in many cases that is appropriate, especially in science and medicine.

Yet there is so much more as humans we do not understand.  Even down to our most basic selves we haven’t figured out what makes us, well, us.  Why are you different from me and why am I the way I am?  DNA only explains so much.  There are still so many unknowns.

And that’s okay.  Faith, that hope and belief without tangible evidence is what fills in the gaps of knowledge as we traverse mortality.  Jesus was and is totally aware of our need to believe without sure knowledge.  As the Savior was washing the apostles’ feet during Passover, Peter asked, “Lord, dost thous wash my feet?” (John 13:6).  And the Savior responded with a great truth.  He said, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter,” (John 13:7.)

These words still echo true after millenia.  We are not supposed to have it all figured out in one lifetime.  There is much more in store for us in the “hereafter.”

Faith is the wondrous mystery.  Believing that a babe born in the most humble of circumstances, in an ancient time and place, who will be the Savior of us all is indeed an event to be pondered.  And most of all, that simple birth is the wonderous mystery for us all.



You Think You’re Stubborn…
November 15, 2019, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Anyone who has a half decent cultural education will immediately recognize “The Karate Kid,” picture with “Daniel-son” and Mr. Miyagi. If you remember, these two characters get together at Mr. Miyagi’s home, where Daniel thinks he will be taught the ancient art of karate. Instead, Mr. Miyagi directs Daniel to several days of menial tasks with very specific instructions on how the tasks are to be performed. Daniel then begins waxing Mr. Miyagi’s cars. The next day, Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel to paint the fence. Again, very specific instructions are given as to exactly how Daniel is to paint the fence. On the third day, Daniel returns and instead of karate instruction, he is told to sand the floor. Mr. Miyagi, again, gives very specific instructions on how he wants his wooden floor sanded.

After three full days of manual labor, Daniel has had about all he can stand. From his perspective, Mr. Miyagi is just using him for free labor around his house. Daniel finally loses his temper and lets Mr. Miyagi have it.

Instead of responding in anger, Mr. Miyagi throws a punch at Daniel and yells, “Wax On!” Out of the hours of waxing the cars, Daniel’s muscle memory kicks in and using the motion he had been taught to use on the cars, he blocks the punch. Mr. Miyagi then attempts various punches and kicks, each time yelling a specific instruction for the menial tasks of the last few days. Each time, Daniel is able to block and defend himself from Mr. Miyagi’s attacks.

As viewers, it’s immediately clear what Mr. Miyagi has done. He has taught Daniel karate without Daniel knowing. By the sheer hours of repetitive motions, Daniel now has some rudimentary karate skills that he didn’t know he had.

Someone pointed out to me our Heavenly Father does exactly the same thing with us. I immediately was struck on how true that is. The experiences we have in this life, whether they are good or not, teach us something every time.

The primary reason we are here in mortality is to learn, progress, stumble, get up and try again at becoming like God and His Son.

In Alma 34:32 we are taught, “For behold, this life is the time…to prepare to meet God…”

In Isaiah 55:8 we read “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, sixth the LORD.”

We usually understand the Isaiah verses as being descriptive of God’s greatest and His omniscience. I want to read these verses as also applying to God’s way of teaching us in this life. We are instructed without us even knowing or recognizing we are being taught.

In my case, instead of understanding life is a learning ground, I’m usually too busy complaining about the horrible inconveniences of my day. What I need to realize and do is see the bigger picture of what life’s experiences are meant to do and my reaction to these experiences will show where I am on my progression back to God. Our Heavenly Father is trying to teach me and all of us how to love as He loves and to think less of ourselves and more of those around us.

The apostle Paul knew this. In 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul is discussing some of the things we need to learn in this life. He says we need to develop faith, and hope and finally charity. Paul says, “…but the greatest of these (three) is charity.”

Sometimes when I look in the mirror I ask myself, “Who did you think of and try to help today besides yourself?” I’m still working on that.

And that is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing: working on becoming more Christ-like every day. Whether I move forward or regress backward is not as important as that I keep trying. And that’s all that God asks of us anyway; to keep trying.

I think realizing life is not merely a series of meaningless events, but is our mortal education makes a difference in how we approach life’s challenges. Let’s all try and remember then that School IS in Session. It might just make all the difference in your day.

Remember, be kind, make good memories and come back soon.



Hold On a Minute
September 22, 2019, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Jared Byas is a pastor and biblical scholar. Last week he posted on his blog a message I thought was worth repeating. Pastor Byas relates how one day when he was a pastor of a congregation he had a meeting to go to. The church were he served had two separate buildings. In one building was the pastor’s office and in the other building was where meetings were held. He was in the pastor’s office and time being short, he hurried out to walk across the space between the two buildings. On the way, he crossed paths with a sister of the congregation. He greeted her and hurried past her. He suddenly remembered that this sister had a son who was struggling with depression and suicide. Pastor Byas stopped, turned and asked the sister how her son was doing. After a minute of conversation, he then went to his meeting. He thought nothing of this moment of conversation until he received an email from this lady. In effect, she wrote, “Thank you for stopping and spending a moment with me. I was really struggling that day and you acted as Christ would have. Thank you.”

Pastor Byas then expanded on that idea by pointing out that the most profound moments happen not in the large gestures, but in the small interruptions in life. We are so busy in our lives and throughout our days, that when interruptions occur we tend to respond with impatience.

Most of the Savior’s greatest moments were during interruptions. It seems the Savior was always on his way somewhere or doing something when someone would appeal to him for healing and help. Whether Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, Galilee or a mountain to pray, the Savior was constantly and consistently interrupted with questions and requests for divine assistance. Whether the interruption came from a Roman centurion, a group of lepers, or a Syrian woman with a sick daughter, Jesus took advantage of the interruption to glorify God through healing and words of teaching.

Do we realize that interruptions in our busy lives are really opportunities to lift, listen and minister to our fellow traveller’s on this mortal journey? I’m grateful to Jared Byas for reminding me that interruptions are moments when I can emulate my Savior and my God. Let’s look at life’s little interruptions as blessed opportunities.

Be kind, make good memories and come back soon.



Willy Wonka
September 17, 2019, 12:23 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you’ve seen the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” with Gene Wilder as the eccentric chocolatier, you’ll remember the group of children who gain entrance into the mysterious chocolate factory. The children represent the seven deadly sins, i.e. greed, sloth, gluttony, etc. By the end of the movie, all of the children, except Charlie, have succumbed to the consequences of their actions. Even Charlie is accused of negligence and damages by Mr. Wonka when Charlie and his Grandpa float around the ceiling after imbibing some extra fizzy cola.

At the end, though, Charlie is forgiven by Mr. Wonka due to Charlie’s integrity. A happy ending!

As we all know, there is a lot in this world that is wonderful, and there is a lot that is un-wonderful. When it comes to the un-wonderful we have been taught the necessity of forgiving. The Savior taught in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I’ve been fascinated by these verses because they put the act of our forgiving others as a requirement for God to forgive us. This business of forgiveness seems rather important then.

Why?

Why does our forgiving others then allow God to forgive us? As I was growing up, I always had the idea that forgiving others was something we did that somehow benefited those we forgave; that somehow if I found it in my heart to forgive, then the offending party was blessed by that forgiveness. I think my perceptions were wrong, though. I admit when I talk to someone I have offended or been offended by there can be a healing of animosity. Yet that is not forgiveness, per se. Meeting together and working things out can be part of the process of healing the heart and mending the soul.

Our act of forgiving does not forgive the sin. We don’t have that power. Only God has that power to cleanse and purify our soul. Recall the scene in Luke 5:18-21. A man with palsy wished to be healed by the Savior. Jesus was inside a home and there was such a crowd that the man’s friends could not bring the palsied man into the house. So, instead of going through the crowd, they went up to the roof and lowered their friend in through the roof. In verse 20 we read: “And when he [Jesus] saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” With this utterance, the scribes and Pharisees in attendance got together and said, “Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (Verse 21). I don’t agree with Pharisees that often, but I think they are right on this point.

I return, then, to my question. Why are we commanded to forgive? If we don’t have the innate power to forgive sins, how does the act of forgiving others, and ourselves, benefit us?

I believe it has to do with what is required of our hearts when we truly forgive. The decision to forgive requires us to soften our hurt, relinquish the anger, and be attuned to the needs of others rather than ourselves. The act of forgiveness is part of the path of trying to be as Jesus Christ is.

If you think of all of the prayers and supplications we make to ask and plead for God to cleanse our own faults and sins, what do you think motivates God to forgive us? The only answer I ever arrive at mirrors the words of the apostle John. Do you remember John’s words? “For God so loved the world…”. I think our Heavenly Father is much more merciful and loving and much less stern and vengeful than we sometimes think. We are truly God’s children. Each one of us. Can there be anything but godly compassion and love when we try to emulate God’s Son? The act of forgiving, and of having a forgiving heart puts us, just a little bit, in the path that our Heavenly Father treads for each of us. The invitation by Jesus to forgive is a benefit and blessing for each of us. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult of attributes to acquire. Yet I can see why by forgiving we gain a heart more like God possesses.

Be kind, make good memories and come back soon.



Is It Hot In Here?
August 19, 2019, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Have you ever sat in church listening to the sermon when it dawns on you the words from the pulpit are pricking your conscience? You know the feeling. It’s as if your seat has a temperature control setting that has been racked all the way up to “Volcano,” and you are left to feel the heat. I know I have. Depending upon the manner of how the sermon is delivered I end up feeling like slinking away in sinful reprobation or I’m motivated to hitch up my pants, square my shoulda, and march forth to be a better Christian solder. It reminds me of a saying I read the other day: “Religion is the means to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” It’s very true and the back and forth between feeling divine approval or soul-scorching guilt can be enough to make the most devout feel the need for a healthy dose of Dramamine.

How do we calm the boat?

The traditional answer/example usually relates to a story found in Matthew, Mark and Luke of the Savior calming both the boisterous wind and waves and his distraught disciples. The verse in Mark 4:39 reads, “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

What faith-promoting and thought-provoking words! It is an easy analogy to take this story of buffeting winds and clamorous waves and apply it personally to life’s difficult, heart-wrenching moments. The analogy prompts each soul to turn to our Savior for peace and calm and in our times of trouble.

This analogy and narrative support divine help arising from both internal and external incidents; the waves and winds are things happening externally to the hapless apostles. Internally, the apostles are delaying with fear, uncertainty and life-threatening peril. The apostles were, indeed, in a spot. And the Savior provided solace to them by both calming the storm and speaking peace to their souls.

So, how do we calm the spiritual sea-sickness that is part of our mortal experience?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Our past and our future are certainly relevant to our mortal and even our eternal outlook. However, I believe the crucial component lies in the present. In the present is where we make decisions that affect our future, decisions partly influenced by the experiences of our past. The component that utilizes our experience of the past, our perspective on the present and our vision of the future is faith. For example, if I am presented with a series of descending steps, my decision to put my foot forward will be based upon 1) In the past I’ve successfully mastered stairs, 2) In the future, I wish to arrive safely at the bottom of the stairs, and 3) I have faith, belief and hope that I will achieve my future goal. With that in mind, I move in the present and step out into space.

In an expanded perspective, taking that step out into the unknown is what we do every day. Each evening, we lay our heads on our pillows with the faith that we will rise in the morning. We begin our day with the faith that we will pass safely through until we can sleep once more. Throughout all of waking moments, our past experience, our faith in the future, and our faith in the present move us to take each step through our day.

Now that we have identified the components of living, I am sure you see I believe that faith is the key factor of the three. We all have faith to various degrees. I think many of us have faith in ourselves to some extent; we have confidence in our ability to accomplish things. From experience, we know we can be about our daily business. Can we stretch our faith away from a mere atavistic level and broaden our view? What if we expanded our faith to include our Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ? What if we recognized that They are the ones who give us our breath, our strength, our vitality to pursue our daily hopes? What if, dare I be so bold, we cultivate a level of faith where we place our cares, concerns, hopes and dreams in the hands of the only God? Who more has our best interests in His Heart? If we can make that faithful leap and place our trust in God, putting it all in his lap, then we won’t have to worry so much about what mortality throws our way.

My father was a great example of this. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few years ago. That form of cancer is generally one with a terminal outcome. Pancreatic cancer leaves few survivors. If I had received this diagnosis, I’m not sure I would exhibit the faith my father did. Instead of recoiling in horror and ceasing to live his remaining life, my father just continued on as if nothing had occurred. He went on walks, rode his bike, fixed things around the house, went to church and took my mom out to dinner each Friday night. It wasn’t that he ignored what was happening to him physically. My father placed his faith in God to such an extent that my dad knew whatever happened to him, God was watching over him and things were all right. My father didn’t complain as his physical condition deteriorated. He continued to live until he physically no longer could. I know my father’s example will remain with me the rest of my remaining days. I dearly hope to develop the faith of my father.

That is my message to you. Godly faith takes the uncertainties from life. Faith of that nature removes the burdens from our shoulders. We take on more than we need to. Our Heavenly Father is always there to lift us and sustain us and through His Son say, “Peace, be still…and there was great calm.”

Be kind, make good memories, and come back soon. Continue reading



Senses
May 17, 2019, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

All of us have our own guilty pleasures. Some experience joy with the bite of their favorite chocolate. Some experience it with ice cream. Some experience it with beautiful music. Some reach this sensation by merely feeling the sun on their face and capturing a few moments of the sun’s warmth and glow. If we take notice, all these momentary feelings of rapture traverse through our senses, be it auditory, olfactory, visibly, tactile, or through a discriminating palate. My guilty pleasure is toast. Specifically, sourdough bread, medium-toasted, with an adequate spread of real butter slowly melting across the top.

Yum.

I digress.

My point is that each of us delights in something and in most cases a small list of somethings. We can extrapolate this idea into what we believe, as well. We all have beliefs that have been obtained through our individual and collective experience. Childhood, education, life experience all combine to assist in forming the bedrock of our beliefs. We form a cognition of what we consider to be true as we grow up and mature. We take all our gained knowledge and life experience to make sense of the world.

I call this collection of beliefs, subjective truth. Subjective because the information and experiences we have and how we each interpret a bit of information is unique to each of us. Perhaps that is why platforms such as Twitter or Redditt are in large part forums for people to scream at each other their ideas of truth. There is rare agreement on about anything. There is an enormous volume of voices and opinions all shouting that their opinion of truth matters and must be heard.

Yet with all these voices we don’t seem to close the gap between opinion and truth. The cacophony just grows, with more discordant voices joining in every day, each loudly proclaiming their perspective. All these voices with their different opinions, cannot demonstrate real, universal truth. The morass of cognitive noise merely increases each day. That being said, I mean, c’mon. Really now. There must be a true truth out there somewhere. There must be something that is true 100% of the time, no matter what the conditions or circumstances. This truth must apply to all people, from all backgrounds, all cultures and certainly all opinions.

There also exists the point that we often confuse knowledge for truth. They are not the same. Knowledge is a precursor to truth and is often required to clearly describe a truth. But knowledge, per se, is not on equal footing with truth. For example, for several centuries, we understood the concepts of force and attraction through Newtonian physics. That lasted up until Albert Einstein introduced the world to relativity and time/space theory. Has science then achieved the ultimate truth about physics and our universe. Of course not. Mathematicians and physicists continually work on understanding black holes, quarks and other such stuff and nonsense.

Andy Rooney, the American humorist once said, “People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.” As usual, Andy Rooney had a point. It takes a humble heart to be open to new truth. It takes a humble heart to accept there are steps of truths leading us to The Truth. As the Savior so eloquently stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” (John 14:6.) What does that mean?

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I believe the Savior is demonstrating most clearly the manner of finding truth, in whom real truth abides, and the promise to those who take up the quest for true truth. The way lies in a narration from the Savior’s life. The account is found in all three of the Synoptic gospels. In Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:10-22 and Luke 18:18-23 we read of a rich young man who approaches the Savior with a question. The young man asks, “What do I need to do to gain eternal life?” Jesus then summarizes the Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments. The young man responds that he has been obedient to the commandments all of his days. The young man then asks, “What lack I yet?” Jesus then answers that the young man should sell all his possessions and come follow him. The rich young man leaves, unable to comply because he was still quite attached to his possessions.

Normally, readers of this story focus on the lesson of the evil of materiality. I want to focus on the first part of the story. The young man seems to approach the Savior in sincerity. His first question regards the way to truth. The Savior answers the young man with the answer that applies to all of us: Obey the commandments. The second question from the young man I feel is even more pertinent to our daily lives. “What lack I yet?” I try and ask that question every day, both in my mental review of my day and in my prayers. The scary part is when God answers me and points me in the direction to answer that question. In the case of the young man this meant he needed to abstain from loving the things of this world. For us, the answer to what we yet lack will and should change as we walk our path. This is the way to truth.

What about the last of the Savior’s self-description in John? He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” We’ve briefly looked how the Savior has provided the way and how truth resides in him. What about the last part: life? I believe one of the greatest truths is that life, eternal life, is found in and through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what the young man asked when he said, “What do I need to do to gain eternal life?” Jesus provided the answer with the greatest truth: Eternal life is gained through and by the atonement the Savior has performed for all of us. For truly, He is the way, the truth, and the life.



A Disciple
April 9, 2019, 1:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Robert Wheadon-126x150

The word, disciple, has taken a downturn over the last several decades.  It used to connote a follower of a devotee of a teacher or esteemed leader.  Aristotle had disciples, or students.

μαθητεύω mathēteuō. There is the Greek for all of you ancient language speakers.

The term disciple has fallen on hard times during the last century. It has become more a term of blind devotion to any dogma or fanatic that comes along. As a society we have become uncomfortable with someone overly devoted to a cause, unless we share in that devotion.

Yet the term wasn’t always out of vogue. Anciently, in the 4th and 5th centuries BCE, being a disciple was considered a prized position. Think of the ancient Greeks with Socrates and his disciple, Plato. Or Plato’s disciple, Aristotle. Or a host of other ancient teachers who started schools of thought and had students follow them. These students were also typified as followers or disciples of their master.

There exists historically another example of the term disciple.

In the beginnings of the first century CE, a new movement began in Judea. It started with a man named Yeshua, or in our translation, Jesus. Of his educational background no information exists. Of the writings we have, this Jewish teacher does not credit any earlier teacher instructing him in his thought or philosophy.

Except one.

Jesus only credited one mentor. Just one.

His Father.

For example, in Matthew 11:27 Jesus declares, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.”

In my discussion of being a disciple, I’ve always thought of my role in trying to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I think all of us have been taught to think of discipleship in this way. Upon contemplation, I think it’s worth the thought that Jesus was a disciple as well. He was a disciple of his Heavenly Father. In John 8:38, Jesus said, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father…”. Heavenly Father taught His Son. And His Son taught and continues to teach us.

Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus prayed for all of us, he recognized “not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42). The acts of the Son demonstrated the teachings of the Father. Part of what makes Jesus worthy of our worship and our choice to follow Him is his obedience to the teachings of his Father.

One additional thought on discipleship is that the choice to follow Jesus is not a choice of temporary or fleeting duration. There is a reason we use the phrase, “the path of discipleship.” The choice is one of a lifetime. To be truthful, the choice is an eternal one. The path is an endless road where we strive and strain and struggle through mortality to be a more perfect disciple of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful that the path is not short. I need all the available time and more as I try to emulate and mold my character into one that reflects the nature of our Savior.

I pray and hope that I can continue in my path of being a disciple of Christ. I think wherever we are in life’s path, we should daily decide to place our steps on the path as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Be kind, make good memories and come back soon.