Day: Sun, 24 Nov2013

O Taste and See That the Lord is Good

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WaterfallIn Psalm 34:8 we read, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” In this verse “taste and see” does not mean that we are to check the Lord’s credentials, but rather it is a warm invitation to “Try this, I know that you will like it.” Compare this to what we are taught in 1 Peter 2:1-3,

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

As we trust in the Lord daily, laying aside all of those things that would otherwise hinder our spiritual growth, we will come to experience just how good and truly wonderful He is.

We read further in Psalm 34:9-10, “O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” And in Psalm 31:23-24 we read,

O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.

We say and believe that we belong to the Lord, but do we truly fear Him? To fear the Lord does not indicate that we stand before Him trembling, but rather it means that we show deep respect and honor to Him – we reverence Him.

We demonstrate true reverence by our humble attitude and our genuine worship. Throughout the scriptures we learn that reverence was shown by many different people. Each of them had varied reactions when they were in the presence of the Lord, but all deeply respected Him, and because of their respect, they were each richly blessed. For example, in Genesis 17:1-8 we read of the reverence that Abraham showed:

1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Another example of one who demonstrated true reverence was Moses. We read the following account in Exodus 3:1-10:

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the aangel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

David states that “there is no want to them that fear him [the Lord]”. He also states that “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” We may question what David is saying  because at times it may appear that even though we seek the Lord and reverence Him, there are still may things that we lack in our lives. What we fail to realize is that David is not making a blanket statement that every Christian will always have everything that he wants or desires. This is David’s praise for the Lord’s goodness in his life. The life lesson that David is teaching us here is that those who call upon the Lord in their hour of need will be answered and sometimes in unexpected ways. We need to remember that the Lord knows what we need even before we ask Him and He knows our deepest needs are spiritual. Many Christians, even when faced with unbelievable poverty and hardships still maintain enough spiritual nourishment to continue to live for the Lord. David was saying to have the Lord is all that we really need. The Lord is enough! If we ever feel that we don’t have everything that we need, we should ask ourselves these questions:

  1. Is this really something that I absolutely need?
  2. Is this really good for me to have?
  3. Is there perhaps a better time for me to obtain that which I desire?
  4. Is it best to wait?

Even if we are able to answer yes to all of the above questions, the Lord may allow us to go without to help us learn to be more dependent on Him. He may be trying to teach us that we need Him more than our immediate desires.

In Psalm 34:11-14 we read,

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it  (See also James 1:26; Romans 14:18-19; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:10-12).

David feared the Lord and for the most part chose the way of goodness and peace. He even treated some of his enemies with kindness (see 1 Samuel 24:1-8; 26:5-25).

Scriptures often connect the fear of the Lord with obedience. For example in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” And in John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

The Lord promises great blessings to His people. In Psalm 34, for example, we learn that He has promised to:

  1. Free us from fear (34:4)
  2. Deliver us from trouble (34:6)
  3. Guard us (34:7)
  4. Show us kindness (34:8)
  5. Supply our needs (34:9)
  6. Listen when we talk with him (34:15)
  7. Redeem us (34:22)

And also in Psalm 34, we learn that we can appreciate those blessings when we:

  1. Seek Him (34:4, 10)
  2. Cry out to Him (34:6, 17)
  3. Trust Him (34:8)
  4. Fear Him (34:7, 9)
  5. Keep from lying (34:13)
  6. Turn from sin, do good, and seek peace (34:14)
  7. Have humble hearts (34:18)
  8. Serve Him (34:22)

David said that a person who fears the Lord doesn’t lie, turns from sin, does good, and promotes peace. Reverence is much more than sitting quietly in church. It includes obeying the Lord in the way we speak, as well as, the way that we treat others. We are encouraged to fear and trust the Lord, and to exemplify faith, truth, obedience, and goodness in our lives. As we do these things and apply them to our own lives, not only will we be richly blessed, but we will then be able to warmly invite others to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.

Lessons I Learned From My Father

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Dad Short Order Cook

My father, the late John Wallace Brown, began working as a short-order cook during his High School years and continued working in that profession up until the time of his death on 20 November 2006, at 71 years of age.  He would be promoted during his career to Kitchen Manager.

Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others), taught,

A father’s duty is to make his home a place of happiness and joy. He cannot do this when there is bickering, quarreling, contention, or unrighteous behavior. The powerful effect of righteous fathers in setting an example, disciplining and training, nurturing and loving is vital to the spiritual welfare of his children. . .Remember your sacred calling as a father in Israel—your most important calling in time and eternity—a calling from which you will never be released (Ezra Taft Benson; “To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, November 1987, pp. 50-51).

I have often found it easier to write about and speak of my beloved mother than my father. It is not because I did not love and respect my father, for I did, but for several years ours was an estranged relationship. It is partly because of that relationship that in March 1981, at the young age of 23 years, I made the decision to leave home and join the military. It would not be until the twilight years of my father’s life that I would finally begin to have a more complete understanding of the man he really was.

The last time that I visited with my father was the weekend of my 48th birthday in October 2006. He looked aged, tired, worn out, and troubled about many things. What I saw before me was not the same person that I once knew. Seemingly gone from him was the vibrancy of living. The things that he had once found pleasure in doing had suddenly become passé to him. What I saw was a man who had run his course in life, and was now ready to just sit down and rest awhile.

The rest that he so desired came on Monday, 20 November 2006, at the age of 71 years. Though saddened that he was physically gone, there was also an air of relief that he was finally at peace and no longer had to deal with the mundane things of this world.

I shall forever be grateful for the life lessons that he taught me. It has been those valuable life lessons that have helped to mode and shape me into the man and the person that I am today.

One of those valuable lessons that my father taught me was how to be resourceful. As a boy growing up my family did not have a lot of money and so we often had to rely on the resources that we had available to sustain life. Instead of spending a lot of money at the grocery store for example, my father, for many years, planted his own garden and grew fresh vegetables and other things such as strawberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe to be used as sustenance for his family and himself. He also enjoyed planting beautiful flower gardens for my mother.

We did not have elaborate banquets to feast from, or gourmet meals to eat, but there was always enough to satisfy each hungry appetite with some left over for meals the next day. Very early in life I became acquainted with our good friend Quaker Oats, as oatmeal for breakfast was a staple. Meat such as venison and rabbit were often given to my father by friends who hunted and wanted to share their bounty. The chicken that we ate often came from those who raised and bred chickens. My mother was usually the one who had the honors of killing the “bird”, cleaning it, and preparing it for the family meal in addition to her delicious homemade dumplings.

My father was also resourceful in making fun things for his children to play with such as bows and arrows, and kites made from sticks and newspaper with a piece of cloth tied on the end for a tail. He even used scrap materials from old toy wagons and such to build us go-karts that my siblings and I spent hours of enjoyment playing with.

In addition to teaching me about how to be resourceful, my father also taught me how to be thrifty. He taught me that it doesn’t take a lot of money to be able to survive in this world; a person just needs to know how to manage the money that he has, and realize that he cannot put out more than he takes in. He also taught me that “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is not a sound way of managing finances. Sooner or later you still have to pay Peter what he is owed.

When my siblings and I were in school we never owned name brand sneakers, expensive sports jackets, or designer jeans. The only name brand that we were remotely familiar with was the wonderful brand called Fruit of the Loom. Most of the shopping for our school shoes and clothes was done at stores such as Sears, JC Penny, or McCroy’s. In our earlier school years, a lot of our clothing was purchased at Mr. Curley’s, a local discount clothing store. Our school supplies were purchased at Woolworth, the local dime store, or some similar place where supplies could be bought at reasonable prices. We did not have fancy, expensive, designer backpacks to carry our books in; we carried them in our arms. We did have lunch boxes with a thermos inside, but very often we took our lunch in a brown paper lunch bag. We were required to cover our textbooks to help protect and keep them for future use, and instead of buying fancy book covers, we used the brown shopping bags that were gotten from the grocery store and cut them to fit our textbooks.

My father was a frugal man who believed that spending money unnecessarily was utter foolishness. “A penny saved is a penny earned” was his philosophy. That is not to say that he was a penny-pinching miser or anything of the sort for he spent money on the necessities of life, but he also strongly believed and taught his four children well that there is a vast difference between what we think we want and what we really need. He would also spend extra money to take us to fun places like Ocean City in the summer or to the fair in Harrington Delaware. He also made sure that we got a gift on our birthday, and at Christmas there were lots of presents under the tree for everyone.

Dad Early Years

Perhaps one of the reasons that my father was so careful with his spending was because he came from a humble upbringing and always worked hard all of his life to have the things that he needed and to provide for his family. And so, another important life lesson that my father taught me was the value of hard work. “A little hard work never killed anyone” he would say. Throughout his life he often worked at least two jobs to make ends meet. In the latter years of his life he worked as a Preparatory Cook in a local restaurant during the day, and then would come home and go to work, often until dark, in the lawn care business which he established and became very successful in. He was definitely not a stranger to hard work. When he laid his head on his pillow at night to rest, he could do so knowing that he had put in an honest day of work.

Another life lesson that my father taught me was that we can all learn new things if we have an open mind and are willing to be taught. We often defeat ourselves in life because we refuse to be teachable and to venture out and try new things.

For example, my father was very good with his hands and loved to build things. One of the things that he built was a work shed where he could work on his projects. It started out as a small one room work shed, but as time went on, he decided to add an addition to house all of his tools such as shovels, rakes, hoses, lawn mowers, etc. Once his lawn care business started to grow, he decided that he needed to expand even more and built another addition to house his lawn equipment and supplies. I might add that all of this was done by building from the ground up – nothing was prefabricated. He also ran all the electric himself and installed all the lighting, light switches, and electrical outlets that were necessary. I might further add that the lawn care business that he maintained was completely established by him, and he worked diligently to get his customers and faithfully served them until the time of his death. He did not take any expensive courses in carpentry or electrical installation. He did not major in Business Administration at a major university. He simply used the knowledge that he had obtained by watching others and put that knowledge to practical use. He was able to carry out many of the things that he did because he was teachable and willing to venture out and used what he had learned to have the things that he needed.

The acronym that I use to help me remember the life lessons that my father taught me is “Remember The Home Team” (R.T.H.T.) That is, (1) Be resourceful – learn to use the things that you already have at your disposal, (2) Be thrifty – learn to separate your wants from your needs and be a wise steward over the funds that you have, (3) Be a hard worker – be able to lay your head on your pillow at night and rest knowing that you did not waste the day that the Lord had given you, but that you were a wise steward of time, and you seized the day and did an honest day of work, and (4) Be teachable – have an open mind and be willing to learn and try new things.

The valuable life lessons that my father taught me are not only lessons that I remember, but lessons that I will not soon forget. My father was a great teacher and mentor. I only pray that I was as good a student as I should have been to learn and apply the valuable lessons that he taught me.

And the Children Shall Lead Them. . . .

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Band of Football BrothersChildren are the future leaders of the world. Their small acts of kindness, and their random acts of love for another are noteworthy examples for all of us to emulate in our own lives. To show love and kindness towards another person costs absolutely nothing, and the rewards and dividends received in return are great.