Saturday, November 10, 2007

Medicine or Miracle?

In late 2002, I was sitting at a table on the porch of the Serenity Club in Las Vegas listening to the personal testimonies of some fellow recoverees. As I idly scratched my face I found something that I suspected was an embarrassing left over from dinner and scratched it off. Very soon afterward, one of my friends pointed to the spot and remarked, “You’re bleeding.” A clean white handkerchief confirmed his assertion. Thirty minutes later, as the meeting concluded, I was still unsuccessfully dabbing away. I quickly went through the post-meeting ritual of greeting newcomers, hugging old-timers and debating the usefulness of various techniques to enlist new members to our program.

After returning home, I went immediately to the medicine cabinet and found a small band aid and was finally able to stem the flow. Even though the device featured Scooby Doo printed on it (Jan, like many nurses, allows her gallows humor to rise to the top) it worked.

The next morning I found old Scooby had done the job and all seemed normal. However, a new concern arose. In a foiled attempt to recover some falling items I apparently had provoked some bruising on my arms. After my morning shower, I checked and found bruising in several other locations, which collectively raised some warning flags. I was right in my assumption of Jan’s response to conversation on the subject, “You ought to go see the Doctor.” I did and he used the usual doctor template and took blood, used his stethoscope all over and said, “Hmmm” a lot. After we enjoyed our usual post visit “vampire” banter I went back to my life.

Now, fast forward to the eighth hole at Black Horse golf course enjoying the rare privilege of an afternoon with my brother in a sport which I love and he tolerates. My cell phone rang and it was the doctor. Through his hysteria I learned the lab results had come back and he had set up a more comprehensive test with a local lab in about two hours and an office visit immediately thereafter. Since I was last hospitalized in 1936 and enjoyed, through God’s good grace, a life free of health problems (not one sick day in fifty working years) most medical contact has been a jocular exchange after routine physicals and renewals of my CDL health card. I sensed his panic and became concerned.

None of the physicians ever attached a name to the condition other than low platelet count in the blood but it does have a name: thrombocytopenia. Platelets are the tiny discs stored in the spleen which enable clotting (a natural process) of blood when it is trying to exceed its normal flow path. For those who relate best to numbers, a normal count would be well in excess of 100,000. Mine was 1000! No wonder he was panicky. There is no pain associated with the condition so this usual warning sign is unavailable. The causes offer many possibilities but the most usual, acute alcoholism, was denied since I hadn’t partaken of any alcohol in nearly 22 years at that point.

After a couple of failed attempts to reconcile the count by oral medication, the doctor decided on intravenous use of immunoglobulin. This involves sitting in a recliner for eight hours while this stuff drips into your veins at the rate of $16,000 a quart. The upside was that I decided it was time for a re-read of the Doctrine and Covenants which always provokes the question, “Oh, what are you reading?” What better way to segue into the next logical conversation?

As a result of prayer and semi-monthly treatments, the condition abated and the platelet count rose to the point where an internal injury would not cause my immediate death. That’s always nice, though the count was still very low. Other parallel events were taking place which were to have a profound affect on the treatment.

Brother Ray Treat and his marvelous wife Jean came through Las Vegas on their way home to Independence. Marge Stanbridge called and asked if I would give them the “Cook’s Tour” of the valley. Being isolated in sin city I had no knowledge of them or of his ongoing vital work with the Book of Mormon, but leaped at the opportunity to be with them and share the beautiful aspects of that end of the desert. Once you get away from the slots and the "All-Day-Buffets" the region has a huge offering of natural wonders. It had also been a long time since I had the opportunity to be with an elder.

Marge also called Jan and encouraged her to come to our meeting Sunday AM and learn of Ray’s important work. Jan was shortly thereafter baptized into the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. As a result of the visit and the direction of God, Ray ordained two of our men to be elders. Worldly cares were set aside and we all bathed in the light of the Lord. It was a huge lift for our tiny living room branch.

Meanwhile, my doctor, knowing we were about to leave the area for Missouri, found a specialist in Springfield for me and suggested one last course of immunoglobulin since the count was still down around 25,000. While sitting in the recliner reading the D & C I came to the conclusion that this foolishness had to end and I was remiss not to use that which God had so generously promised. When I got home, I called the newly ordained pastor (Hartley Stanbridge) and requested an administration. He, of course, complied at the earliest opportunity in company with the other elder (George Toomey.)

This administration occurred in January 2004. We moved in March to the Ozarks and I am happy, but not surprised, to announce that I have neither consulted a physician about nor have I sought any treatment for my former condition. In the intervening 3 ½ years I have thanked God daily for relieving me of this life threatening condition. Am I so important that God wishes to preserve me for a long and healthy life? I do not flatter myself by thinking so. I would rather believe that He lives up to His promises and rewards faith with results. After all, it’s in the “Book.”

What has prompted all this? Yesterday, I received a succinct note from my local MD to inform me of a test which he ran as part of routine physical for renewal of a prescription for high blood pressure. I shall quote it here: “Your recent lab work showed your kidneys to be working well. Your platelet count was up from previous. It is now 92,000.”

If you’re looking for a good physician, I have one whom I highly recommend. You and your elders have His address and He does make house calls. He does not work cheap, though; He wants your all. Give it to Him.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Worth a 1000 Words!

Regardless of purpose, no sane person embraces war. We should as a country and a people only pursue war as an extreme last resort to settle differences. It is not an exercise that should be undertaken lightly because the consequences for individuals on both sides are far too important and long lasting. War is most often the result of the failure of diplomacy or the response to rabid leadership by the “dictator de jour.” These satanically driven monsters do exist. They are equally comfortable abusing their own people and threatening their neighbors to achieve their nefarious ends.

As a nation, we have been called upon periodically in our history, to rise up and interfere with those who would deprive others of liberty and peace. We have invested huge amounts of treasure, comfort, and worst, some of our finest youth to secure those ends. I will not chronicle each struggle but each had a signal moment which identified the turnaround point. Not the end of strife but a recognizable moment of significant importance to safely envision victory. Although sometimes simple, it often encapsulates the nature of the conflict and heralds the possibility of peace.

This picture, by Michael Yon, was taken as a combined group of Christians and Muslims in Iraq found the cross and replaced it on St. John’s church in Baghdad. Once cleaned and re-installed, it marked that “turning point” where it was possible for a measure of coexistence to become possible. In a region of the world where being identified as a Christian is often a death sentence, this is a remarkable event. Although not directly involved in re-raising the cross, it is a huge acknowledgment of the sacrifice made by so many young American men and women who have fought to achieve this event.

And who, you may ask, is this Michael Yon? He is a journalist and photographer who as a blogger and independent has spent a huge amount of time in Iraq reporting on the war without the onerous presence of left wing editors so common in the regular media. He is sustained in his embedded status only by the generosity of his readers. Those persons who want their news from the front unvarnished and un-opinionated have few other reporters with his objectivity. If truth is your goal, I suggest you check out his website. He has performed a noble service.

This seems especially appropriate since we are coming up on November 11th. This marks the observance of Veteran’s Day which I prefer to call by its original name, Armistice Day. As a veteran, it pleases me that we set aside a day to acknowledge those who served our nation in times of peril. In the original form, we celebrated the end of hostilities. It seems a significant difference to me. Most veterans had as their greatest goal, not glory in battle, but return to their family and their homeland.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Ed. Note: If you don't share Zion Beckons? with anyone else, please share this one post with those you love. It's an important and happy piece of news coming out of the middle east, a rarity these days, given the attitude of the left-wing, liberal mainstream media.

Time for a Redraft?

I love good book reviews. A well written book review can save a lot of time and money for anyone who reads. Once one establishes the credentials of the reviewer they become a dependable source to lure you to the work or possibly, to dismiss it. Much like the icing on the cake, I often save the reviews until last on regularly read periodicals. A talented reviewer will synopsize the principal point and express it succinctly, possibly furnish some quotes and create a feeling for the worth of the issues with out bias.

One of the latest reviews concerned Larry Sabato’s new book, “A More Perfect Constitution.” The general theme of the work is seeking a constitutional convention to rewrite, update and generally polish that monumental document. Never mind that it has served us admirably for over two-and-a-quarter centuries. The author proposes that the venerable document ignores many contemporary issues which are actually addressed in the original but in terms which require a familiarity with eighteenth century speech and those who framed it. I read the review and concluded that I am far too much of a traditionalist to entertain the thought of altering that sacred paper with today’s standards.

Within easy reach, as I write this, are several books which I deem necessary for the writing and corresponding I do. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is 14” from the keyboard. At 3’ are the Dictionary, The Three in One, Strong’s, and the Good News Concordances, and Matthew Henry’s Commentary. Slightly further are the first four volumes of Church History and dozens of other books related to the church and to government. They stand as a reminder that I don’t know it all. Some are becoming dogeared as further testimony. I am also inclined to augment my inquiry into all of these volumes with prayer for that cherished and promised verification. None stands alone.

As I pondered Mr. Sabato’s proposal, I marveled at my copy of the work he wishes to review and possibly amend. My copy (furnished by the Cato Institute) is 58 pages, 3 ½ by 5 inches (a shirt pocket thank you) with the wisdom of the universe. It celebrates and protects rights granted to our peoples from God Almighty and states it in no uncertain terms. Its emphasis on liberty for all our people regardless of circumstance has served this nation continuously longer than any other on the planet. As the man says, “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it.”

I then turned to the parallel within the Restoration and the broader church as well. It baffles me that so many have a fixation on modernization and the desire to bring the body of believers in to a “new age.” Obviously a physical updating of temporal issues is often necessary and beneficial. Your range of communication, by reading this on your computer, and being able to respond instantly, has expanded exponentially. In conversation with a brother recently he emphasized a point with his handheld device which among other documents had the complete lineage of the Smith family—in the palm of his hand. Even in the face of such modern advancement, I can only describe him as one of the most orthodox Saints I have ever met. He is using the most up-to-date tools to endorse the “ole-time” religion.

God has given men gifts to devise a constant flow of innovative tools to share the gospel and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Why then do some feel the necessity to alter the message to fit the times? The cycle is unchanged over millennia. Man is; he sins; he repents; he is forgiven. He sins again; he repents again; and on, and on, and on. Sometimes, man looks around his comfortable surroundings and gets the idea that he created all of it. He may have paid for it but he is not in the creation business. We are beneficiaries of a benign God who allows us to enjoy the wonders of His world for our allotted time. It appears that the only thing which separates us from the Old Testament Jews is our cell phone. You know the drill: hurry home from church so we can continue our work building the golden calf. The real assignment is the same for all— member, elder, and prophet—grasp the Rod of Iron and share the Good News.

To those with the idea they have a better plan with an up-to-date outlook, just be sure that it is God’s plan which you espouse. The words for today are diversity, political correctness, and tolerance. Strangely, none of them appear in Strong’s Concordance. Could some possibly be running a bit ahead of God? I can only conclude that like Mr. Sabato, they think their wisdom exceeds that of their fore bearers.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, November 5, 2007

Monday Morning Rant (11)

A friend in Christ expressed himself recently on a discussion board with a notion that I had never really seriously thought about. The basis was that we misunderstand the idea of “all things in common.” His assertion was that it applied first and foremost to the commonality of doctrine of the body of Christ. He saw our appreciation of the law and the truths of the gospel as the foundation of our common sharing.

Like many, I have only thought of that as applying to the common use of our collective resources. I’ve always considered it from the stewardship perspective. I felt it was about exercising the financial laws. I am now engaged in rereading the scriptures and have come to believe that my friend has something here. Previously, since it was always coupled with the expression, "there shall be no poor among us," I was led to the temporal and not the spiritual. It only makes sense that we can have no unity if we have variant beliefs.

Recently I was involved with some folks expressing concerns about doctrinal differences which seemed fundamental. Some seemed willing to allow for differences within the body to ensure we all get along. I didn’t share that opinion. To me, the truth is the truth. If I see it on an inspired page of scripture, I believe it. In my reading I came across the following attributed to a man familiar to many of our older readers – Evan Fry:

“There are some beliefs that don't matter. If I believe that we should have corn tonight for supper and my wife believes we should have beans, we probably compromise--corn one night, beans another."

The laws of God's Kingdom and of God's universe are inexorable, inescapable, and unchangeable. Sincere belief alone cannot save. Expert opinion cannot save. It is well to be tolerant of the opinions and beliefs of others, and to recognize their sincerity. It is well to wish for and work for Christian unity. But it is better to remember that the only safe unity is a unity based upon the truth, that one man believes and acts upon truth is mightier than hundreds of millions who believe and act on error.

If sincerity of belief was all that mattered, (Jesus) would have had no occasion to disagree with the Pharisees and Sadducees on matters of doctrine. They rejected his doctrine, and he, having in mind the deceitfulness and error and hypocrisy of their doctrine, warned, 'Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'

Christian people believe that followers of Christ should all be united. Not always, but often, these mergers have been accomplished at the expense of doctrine. Christian people say that we should be united; therefore if doctrine is the thing that divides, we will quit believing in, talking about, teaching, or stressing doctrine. This is a shaky foundation for unity. The only safe foundation for unity is truth and sound doctrine.”

I am grateful to Brother Fry for having written so succinctly that which I felt in my heart and did not have the ability to say.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon