Sunday, December 28, 2014

WHERE ART THOU? (Genesis 3:9)

Shortly before Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden following their transgression, they were summoned by the Lord and asked the question, ‘where art thou?’

Immediately one is struck with the wonderment, why an all knowing God would have need of such a query. Likewise, I do not believe that Adam’s superficial answer about hiding himself because he was naked was the ultimate point of the question.

I believe that it is entirely possible that the Lord was indicating to Adam that it would be a good thing to pause
occasionally and take an inventory of where he was in fulfilling his purposes for existence.

Once I started to understand the Spanish language beyond the burrito and taco level, one of the insights reading the scriptures in Spanish helped me realize, was that being naked was indicative of being without knowledge and when the Lord put coats of skin upon Adam and Eve it was symbolic of Him giving them the gift of being able to gain knowledge, understanding and eventually wisdom.

When we begin to understand the purposes of our existence, and after an honest assessment of the subject, we should eventually come to realize that learning how to relate to others with the pure love of a disciple of Christ and gaining knowledge, understanding and wisdom are found at the very top of the mortal quest list.

Most of the time, knowing where one is in relation to a desired goal, seems to be resolved most easily when people can identify points of reference outside of themselves.

Ancient mariners found their locations in the vast oceans by fixing their attention on distant stars.

Modern cars equipped with GPS triangulate their present position with other known positions which are continually bouncing information off of not so distant satellites.

When one compares the accuracy of ancient mariners using distant stars and that obtained by the marvels of the GPS, the comparison is like comparing crossing the continental United States in a covered wagon to flying across the continent in a jet airplane. A mariner would never have been able to tell how far a golfer was from the pin on the green by using the stars, but with an instrument which fits on one’s wrist, which communicates with those satellites in the not to distant sky, the modern golfer can instantaneously know within inches how far he is from the pin on the green of any course in the United States.

It is entirely probable that we can only make accurate judgments of ‘where we are’ by using gauges outside of ourselves.

It is also probable that it wouldn't be as accurate to use objects which are too far away or with which we have no expertise, when we are trying to know ‘where we are.’

A person in a beginning Spanish class might come to a discouraging conclusion if they were to compare their mastery of the language with someone whose primary language was Spanish. They would be able to get a clearer vision of ‘where they are’ if they were to make their comparison with someone closer to their own circumstances. I think this would be true with most any field one is trying to master. (We will eliminate prodigies from the discussion at this point!)

Since there is no one closer to oneself than oneself, it may stand to reason that an honest self-evaluation in terms of where I have been, where I am and where I wish to be might be the best barometer available.

That student in the beginning Spanish class would do well to confine the measurement of their progress to what they knew when beginning the course compared to what they know at the time they are making the evaluation.

The reason the scales we use need to be consistent and honest is that if we are constantly adjusting the measurements there is no way we can measure real progress. Many a mariner would have been drowned in the deep if the stars were constantly shifting position. Many a golfer would be frustrated even to a greater degree than they usually are if the GPS were constantly changing the distance which constitutes a yard.

One day when I was trying to search out ‘where I was’ temporally as well as spiritually, I was abruptly reminded of how quickly the points of reference which surround us can be altered and changed. Right in front of me the bumper sticker on the car read ‘don't follow me, I’m lost.’

Since I have had the luxury during my retirement years of investigating the philosophies of men through the ages, it has become very apparent their ideas are constantly shifting like the sands of the deserts, as the wind blows in one direction one day and another the next.

It has become very obvious during the first six years of my ten year project of reading the Great Books of the Western World that using the philosophies of men would be a poor measuring rod if I were to find constancy in measuring my personal progress.

Perhaps, if we are to find those fixed reference points which will help us identify where we are, we too must look to the Heavens.

Perhaps if I keep my eye singular to the Heavens long enough I will be able to get a true bearing of where I am.

Perhaps in my neophyte efforts if I could find my bearings by fixing my gaze on closer references such as the scriptures and prophets I would have fewer days when I feel lost.

Perhaps if my prayers became true communication, I would have a better understanding of the measurements I should be using to know ‘where I am.’

The great advantage that ancient mariners had over the modern use of GPS satellite systems is that the stars stay in the universe, whereas satellites burn out and spin out of orbit and eventually burn up in earth’s atmosphere.

If we are to avoid the certain destruction which comes to everyone who has never had the faintest idea where they have been, where they are or where they are going, we must tie our lives to a fixed reference point outside of ourselves which is constant and reliable. I have found the word of God to be as constant as the North Star, as everlasting as the constellations. Therefore, when I begin to wonder where I am I return to the word of God and begin to understand anew ‘where I am.’

Sunday, December 21, 2014


One of my favorite stories from Christmas’ past is the one whose authorship has been lost, but the message continues to be found anew in people’s hearts annually. When I was searching for the author of this story I even found an Islamic version. It was almost word for word the same except the names had been changed and Paul didn't take the street urchin for a ride.

There weren't many years when I was teaching for the Church Education system that I didn't read this story to the students.

Since those who read my weekly Thoughts are now the only ones who resemble students in my life, I wanted to share it with you as a special Christmas Gift.

A friend of mine named Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. "Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.

Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost you nothing? Boy, I wish ..." He hesitated.

Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.
"I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."

Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?"

"Oh yes, I'd love that."

After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"

Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again. "Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked.

He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.

"There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And some day I'm gonna give you one just like it ... then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."

Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.

That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what "It is more blessed to give..." means!

Many times as I have pondered upon this delightful story I and have stopped to meditate I have made the obvious connection and realized that we all have A BROTHER LIKE THAT who has given us much more than a shiny new car.

The Christ Child was:

Born to bring light and life unto all the world

Born to change the hearts of men

Born to publish peace

Born to scatter seeds of joy

Born to bring light that eyes would see beauty

Born to show the way back home

Born to bring Eternal Life

I am so grateful for the Christmas Season and I pray that this year we will all have a stirring within us which stimulates a desire to become A BROTHER LIKE THAT.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I have always been drawn to the mellower sounds of music. In my classical likings I much prefer the sweeter sounds of Verdi to the heaviness of Wagner. Zamfir hums to my soul with greater resonance than Armstrong.

Yes, and I can even say that I much preferred the calmness of the crooning of Nat King Cole to most of the ranting’s of the Beatles. Therefore, it should not surprise those who share my musical tastes, and maybe my time frame, that there was a time when a group of Brigham Young University singers, who called themselves the Lettermen, gained the status of ‘favorite of mine’ during my third and fourth decades of life.

The Lettermen had a very popular rendition of “I Believe” which I enjoyed because of its mellowness, but also because of the message it contained. The words of the verse reminded us of how things created testify and bear witness of the Creator.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf
Or see the sky
Then I know why, I believe…

In a very similar manner, I am grateful that the symbols found in the stories of the birth of the Christ Child are a natural part of our daily lives. They become constant and continual reminders that the Savior of the world has come to earth.

Unlike our varying tastes in music, the events of the Savior’s birth are timeless and cross cultures in such a way that they can bring understanding to all who see and hear.

Even a casual glace at the status updates on Face Book should be enough to remind us that the coming of a newborn baby is such a joyous and oft-repeated miracle, that with no effort at all, we can daily recall our memories of the miraculous birth of the Christ Child.

Likewise, social media frequently inundates us with sights and sounds of contented animals as they receive loving attention and the simplest of life’s necessities, which can, if we so desire, bring to remembrance the circumstances of that eventful night. That night when the King of Kings was born into the world in the company of the humblest of His creations.

The changing, wondrous mixture of clouds, sunlight and moisture which fill our days and the moon lit night's which make heavy our eyelids, should stir our souls into daily remembrance of the Creator born into the world as the Christ Child.

We can be reminded on those rare night's when nearsighted suburban dwellers escape the interfering illumination of city lights and when they can enjoy the brilliant array in the heavens as far off stars show their luster. With just a little imagination we can once again be with the centuries of mariners and explorers who used these special beacons to take them to their desired destinations, much like those ancient Wise men from the east used that special singular star to guide them to Bethlehem.

The shepherds minding their flocks were privileged to hear and see the heaven-sent hosts proclaiming the one time great event. In like manner, as we go about our various vocations, we should understand that even in the pursuit of one’s temporal welfare we can be in tune to spiritual messages of inspiration and joy.

Gifts were brought and laid beside the manger, bringing happiness to giver and receiver. Opportunities abound in our lives where we can be strengthened and reminded through the same soul-building process of being a generous giver and a reverent receiver.

Christmas coming only once a year may be a catchy phrase which plays on our minds. But our wise and Eternal Father seems to have directed the events of His Son’s birth in such a way that those who diligently seek would find a constancy of reminders of the Christ Child’s birth surrounding them.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf
Or see the sky

Every time they see the first star bright
Or hear the lowing of a lamb
Or touched by inspiration’s insight

Every time a candle is blown
Or gifts are opened
Or I greet a new day
Then I know why, I believe…

Every day, in every way and in every place, I am reminded once again that Mary did indeed find favor and the Christ Child which is the Savior, Creator and Lord was born that day, and brought the message of good tidings, the way of great joy, the hope of peace on earth, and the admonition that we are to have good will to toward men.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Monday, August 11, 2014: Old teachers are hard to keep silent – they don't go away – they just create a new classroom!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014: Stepping stones of feeling sorry for yourself – will never put you on a pathway to happiness!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014: Although we might not immediately be aware of results which come from praying for help and blessings – we will almost always receive a reminder of how we wish our lives could be and at least a little corner of our heart will be lifted as we acknowledge blessings already received!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014: No matter how long cucumbers are kept bottled up in plain water they will never become pickles - Likewise, we need a little spice in our lives to become what we were intended to become!!

Friday, August 15, 2014: Gertrude Stein wrote – a rose is a rose is a rose – but if she were alive today she would witness – if any society exists long enough, it will destroy the beauty of its language with double entendre!!

Monday, August 25, 2014: If there is a more difficult way to accomplish a task – we will eventually discover it!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014: Re-creation is the purpose of recreation!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014: Everything in life has a price – you will always get what you bargain for!!

Thursday, August 28, 2014: Claiming to be religious without living the principle of charity - is like claiming to be a canary when you have neither feathers nor wings!!

Friday, August 29, 2014: Claiming to be religious without being a forgiving person – is like claiming to be a fish when you have no fins or cannot live in water!!

Monday, September 01, 2014: Claiming to be religious without striving for universal love – is like claiming to be a lamb when you have no wool and cannot baa!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014: Claiming to be religious without being kind – is like claiming to be a kangaroo when you can't hop and have no pouch!!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014: Even though we sometimes wish for a personal GPS which would enlighten us about our future destinations – we should realize – the price might be a loss of a lot of excitement and learning during our journey!!

Thursday, September 04, 2014: If you add enough sugar the sourest of lemons can be made to taste good – but making it sweet doesn't mean it will be good for you!!

Friday, September 05, 2014: Sooner or later I have to accept the fact that I am what I am because of the choices I have made – I am the only one responsible and accountable for who I have become!!

Monday, September 08, 2014: It shouldn't take a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to remind us to be thankful!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014: Our days should be made special because we make them so – not because of what we see on a calendar or personal schedule!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014: A smile on someone’s face does not always mean that they are happy – however, it is difficult for a happy person not to have a smile on their face!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014: Chickens peck at the weak spots of those who share their roost!!

Friday, September 12, 2014: Friendships can be very fragile – they need to be wrapped in lots of layers of warmth, kindness, honesty and love!!

Monday, September 15, 2014: Be advised that you should enjoy all things bright and beautiful – before your senses begin to dim!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014: An open wallet policy – does not necessarily make one a good father!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014: Memorials should be reserved for those who spent their lives building – not for those who spent their lives destroying!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014: There are times when asking a lot of questions – can spoil a beautiful moment!!

Friday, September 19, 2014: Your world is different than mine – because it is made up of the things you have chosen to see and what you have allowed into your mind!!