Sunday, August 2, 2015


Even though as each year passes it comes closer to being a daily routine in my life, evaluating the level of my discipleship as a follower of Jesus the Christ has not always held such a prominent place among the activities of my waking hours.

As a youth my discipleship was pretty much tied to the activity of my parents. As my son Troy said when he was going through that period of life, ‘it is what we do in our family.’ I think the first time I really evaluated where I was in my discipleship was when I was on my way to Mexico to serve a 2 ½ year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Since it was my first attempt at seriously evaluating my discipleship, I am sure my efforts were very elementary and superficial. I suspect that during the time I spent as a missionary in Northern Mexico I had numerous occasions to ponder on my discipleship. As I am now able recall, I only had one event that was so etched on my mind that it became a permanent part of my discipleship. That was when my discipleship was deepened dramatically when I at last knew that the Book of Mormon was what the prophet Joseph Smith had declared it to be. It is a record kept by the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and delivered to him by a heavenly messenger and which he was able to translate by the gift and power of God. Sadly, my behavioral discipleship has not always been consistent with the enlightenment which shone upon me with this gift of greater understanding.

My next conscious effort of grading my discipleship happened along with the events which occur when one is entering into matrimony and in the case of Kathleen and I, parenting following quickly on its heels. If the neurons are connecting properly most of my pondering I recall during this paramount period of my life was more concerned with capability than with commitment. I wasn't really evaluating where I was as much as I was gratefully receiving assurance that in spite of my current level of non-expertise in the family business, I wouldn't do anything to Heavenly Father’s children which he couldn't repair.

Although I spent 50 wonderful years enjoying the privilege of studying and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am pretty sure it was the words of a reluctant and latent convert, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who will always be better known by the name of Mark Twain, who stimulated me into the deepest and most continuous evaluations of my discipleship.

I am absolutely sure he was the author of the first of these mind jerking statements and almost as sure he also authored the second. Any corrections or alterations to my understanding will be appreciated.

‘Christianity hasn’t failed, it just hasn’t been tried.’

‘If you were put on trial for being a Christian would you be found guilty?’

I don't know how many hours these statements caused me to contemplate my level of discipleship, but I am very sure they moved me to levels upon which I had never been previously.

During the many succeeding years since I was first moved by these words, they have returned time and again to motivate me to refresh my evaluation of my discipleship.

Although there have been other monumental events in my life which have caused me to contemplate my conversion to Jesus the Christ and my commitment to being His disciple, Mark Twain’s words seem to move me most quickly into pondering upon where I am in living what I espouse to believe.

Before I continue with this very public declaration of the level of my disciple apprenticeship, I need to make all aware of some prejudicial ideas which may alter the veracity of my evaluation.

• I have long realized that the meaning of what constitutes a ‘good disciple’ seems to be interpreted and individualized almost as extensively as there are people who have attached themselves to some list of Christian membership.

• I also recognize that as purported disciples of ‘one faith’ and ‘one doctrine,’ most of us are prone to diminish the understanding of what constitutes faith and doctrine of that of our neighbors and elevate our own personal understanding.

• It has always been interesting to me that where there are many gathered in His name to study His words, when they disperse each leaves having heard that which fortifies the beliefs they had before the gathering and strengthens their reservoir of material which can be used to convince their neighbors of their errant ways.

• I am constantly amused when we are able to quickly identify the shortsightedness of our neighbors’ view, but seem blind to the narrowness of our own.

You might by now be amused that a Thought which started out about self-evaluation of my discipleship suddenly entwined the whole of Christian discipleship in its web.

Recent events, which I am sure, touch in one way or another all of the human family, have collided in such a way that they bring about this strange interaction of self and universal introspection.

Although the duration of effect of this most recent stimulus is yet to be known, the deepness as of now certainly rivals those which were stimulated long ago and often since by Clemens.

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