Can’t we all just get along?

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/cant-we-all-just-get-along

Faith Fitness – day 3 (Hope)

This post is part of a series called Faith Fitness – increasing our capacity to believe.  Don’t forget to see the intro, part 1 (Testimony), part 2 (Optimism), and part 3 (Hope).

Moving right along to day three, things start to get exciting, for we’re slowly starting to get more “active”.

Think of Faith as full action, for we’re really talking about active faith, where you’re intent is to affect things through the power of belief, and not simply a passive conviction of principles and ideas.  But before we can get to that level of activity, we have to move in small, simple steps (by small and simple things are great things brought to pass).

Day one (testimony) we built a foundation of principles strong enough to support the full power of faith.

Day two (optimism) we opened our eyes to a world where we see beyond “reality”.  It required a small amount of action, where we open our eyes and look beyond, seeing the world not as it is, but as it can be.  This is a world where all things become possible.

But today, with hope, we take it one step further.

Hope is where you move from just seeing what COULD be, to hoping that it WILL be.  True hope is more than just simply thinking “yeah that would be nice”.   True hope is actively hoping for it to come to pass.  It requires a persistence of thought and intent.  It’s an ongoing visualization of your desire, not just an admission of worth.

The perfect examples of hope are children.  For children are full of optimism – the world hasn’t yet had time to erode their ability to see what can be, by beating them over the head with what IS.  Because of this, to children the world is full of possibilities.  And when they decide to hope for something, it’s not some passive desire, it consumes their thoughts, it’s forefront in their minds.

Have you ever told a child that you’re “thinking” about doing something fun, like going to Disneyland, or going to get ice-cream, or whatever.  From the moment they think that it’s even possible, they’re thinking about it.  Every moment they’re asking if they can, they visualize it, they see themselves there, they can almost taste it already, and they simply won’t let go of that vision.  That is active hope.

While optimism is simply meant to open our eyes, and see the things that are possible, looking past the limitations of reality, hope is where we actively desire for those things to be, and faith, the final step, is where you actually start to believe that they will come to pass.

So the exercise for today is to be hopeful.  Just try it.  Try hoping for something, something small if you must, but something. 

As you shrug off that pervasive power of pessimism and embrace the healthy hospitality of hope, it becomes an undiminishing well of endless energy, enthusiasm, determination and perseverance. 

Hope naturally dispels the dulling darkness of doubt and despair, which is why it’s so energizing.  Hope keeps us alive, it keeps us moving, and we could do nothing without it.

Rusty

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Can Mormons swim in a public pool?

A lot of the traffic that I get comes from search engines, usually people searching about Mormonism, and sometimes I get some really strange search phrases.

Over the past while I’ve gotten a lot visits from the search phrase “Can Mormons swim in a public pool?”, or some variation on that. 

So, let me answer your question…  Yes.

Yes we do swim, and even in public, though some of us might not be very good, nor look too pretty, at least speaking for myself.

But we do swim, we love to swim (at least I do), but we don’t swim on Sundays, because we feel that Sunday is a holy day, a day of rest, a day for families, a day for emotional, spiritual, and physical recuperation.

That said, Missionaries don’t swim because they are required to work full time in teaching the gospel of Christ.  They do get one day a week to prepare for the rest of the week by cleaning, doing laundry, and even recreation, but even then, swimming is not permitted for several reasons, not the least of which is modesty and the need to keep their minds single to their ministry.

We also believe in wearing modest attire, which often leads to pretty severe cases of “farmers tan”!  Not exactly what you’re looking for when you don your suit in public (which might prevent some faint of heart from doing it :-)… but oh well, so I look ugly, I can deal with that.

So to you, whoever has been searching for the answer to this question, I hope this helps!

Rusty

P.S.  Because there are lots of misconceptions about Mormonism out there, I’m embarking on a whole series of “about Mormonism” posts, where I explain some of the basic beliefs of Mormons (just look under the “Mormon Beliefs” section in my navigation or click here to read the first post.  We’ve had some great conversations there with people of all faiths, and I hope you’ll join us.  I’m posting more all the time.

Looking through the lense of God

Life is brimming with busyness.  With overflowing demands and a vast array of things on which to spend our time, we quickly lose ourselves in… well, ourselves.

But every now and then an event happens that shakes us out of that dream-state.  It wakes us up, lifts our view, and gives us perspective.

Early this morning, a gigantic 7.9 scale earthquake rocked mainland China.  With a death toll already approaching 10,000 people, even before reaching the hardest hit areas near the epicenter of the quake.  Last week Myanmar (formerly Burma) was hit with a disastrous cyclone, with a death toll all ready as high as 100,000.

It’s easy, in our detached position, to just look at this and see numbers, only slightly sensing the horrific reality behind it all. 

But think of you for a second (since we’re all good at thinking about ourselves), and consider how many people’s lives you touch and affect.  Your family, friends, neighbors, associates, employees, or employers, and community…  Think of the ripples caused by just you.  That’s one, one person… you. 

Now think of ten of you… and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more, and ten more.

That’s 1,000.  Now read that paragraph one hundred times.  That will give you a sense of scope.

Clearly these aren’t the only disasters happening around the world, but I need not dwell on calamity to illustrate the following point.

There are ways you can give, and not all of them have to be financial or physical.  My encouragement to you is for tonight.  Not tomorrow night, nor next week, but tonight.  Include these people in your prayers.  For just 30 small seconds, let your hearts extend to these, our brothers and sisters, just for tonight, let your prayers encompass them, and plead for them the blessings and comfort of our Father in Heaven.

The prayer of the righteous is a powerful mechanism for calling down the power of Heaven, and when unified in the cause, we only amplify that impact.

But not only will the lives of these people be blessed by your efforts, but your own life as well.  As you open your heart and mind in prayerful consideration of those beside yourself, you will find yourself filled with charity, with love, with spiritual energy, and you will begin to see the world through the lens of God. 

It’s an eye-opening experience, enriching and empowering, and it can be yours tonight.  So please, look through the lens of God, and have compassion on those in need as you extend your prayers to them.

Rusty

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The living waters of Christ

Click on the image for a larger (more printable) version.  For other inspiring images, and desktop backgrounds, see also “Trust in the Lord“, “Radiating the glory of the Son

During His ministry, as the Lord traveled to Galilee, he stopped at Jacob’s well, where he paused to drink.  There too had come a woman from Samaria, to whom Jesus spoke, saying “…whosover drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life”   (John 4:14).

The mighty Helaman taught his son’s that “…it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation… a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).

Let us build our foundations upon the Savior, and envelop ourselves in the doctrine and power of the Lord.

Rusty

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What do Mormons really believe, part 4

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:  first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Gost.
4th Article of Faith

I can’t help but think back to one of the many things I’ve had to build in my life, you know, one of those projects that come with a list of instructions… furniture, doll houses, bikes, whatever it may be.  Being a guy, and the sort of person I am – a moron (that’s moron, not Mormon, although I am that too), I’ve often simply set to out trying to put it together… without looking at the instructions.

In truth, usually I glance at them and see how simple they appear, and then, confident in my ability to just figure it out, I often get several steps into the process before I realize that something is wrong.  The pieces just don’t fit together, or it doesn’t look quite right (which usually means I’ve been trying to just compare it to the picture on the box). 

Anyway, my first inclination is to curse the manufacturer.  It’s funny how often I’ve done this; you’d think I’d learn.  Now, forced into a corner, I end up going back and reading the instructions, usually only to find I missed some small, simple (but crucial) step.

So often this is the case with the gospel.  The first principles and ordinances are indeed simple, and because of their simplicity, they’re overwhelmingly overlooked. 

It’s the attitude of “Yeah, yeah, faith… I get it.  Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost – great, now let’s get on with something more interesting…” that’s what dooms us.

These first principles and ordinances are foundational – that’s why they’re first.  They’re the basis upon which ALL other principles and ordinances rely.

When we’re so quick to move past them without the benefit of a thorough understanding, appreciation, and testimony of them, then how often we find ourselves, long after, realizing that something is not fitting.  We come upon a principle or doctrine or an event in life that just doesn’t “look right”, and finding ourselves in a corner, we blame the manufacturer.

When in reality, it was simply that we had failed in the first step, to understand the simplest points of the gospel. 

It’s much like the people of Moses, as they were set upon by serpents.  He raised the serpent staff and told his people that if they’d but look upon it, they’d be saved.  But so simple was the task that alas, many did not, and perished.

So too must we continually remember to focus on the core – faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost, if we want to be saved from the serpents of life.  Let not the simplicity or commonness of these betray our judgment – a foundation is only as valuable as it is solid.

So we should ask ourselves… how well do we understand the immeasurable power of faith, and how often do we implement it in our lives, and in the lives of others?  How often do we find ourselves in the process of sincere repentance, and how clearly do we understand and appreciate how it is even possible?  Have we been baptized and born of God, and if so, how regularly do we renew those covenants and how serious do we take them?  What role does the Holy Ghost play in our daily life?  How sensitive and perceptive are we to its promptings and communication?  How well established is our capacity to recognize His promptings?

These are the things that we must return to regularly, for all the remaining steps of life rely on how firmly we’re able to grasp these few things.

Rusty

P.S.  Because of the tremendous importance of these foundational elements of the gospel, I’m going to dedicate a post to each of them, both because each are worth an individual exploration, and also because there are bound to be numerous responses to each of these.  This organization will better allow us to explore each one independently. If you have comments about one of these in particular, please add them to the specific post to which they apply, and reserve comments on this post to the general direction/commentary about this article of faith.  I’ve gone ahead and added the post skeleton for each of these so you can go ahead and add comments now if you already know what they are (hehe), and I’ll fill in the commentary today and tomorrow.  Thanks, and I hope to enjoy some more healthy discussion on each of these!

Here you’ll find Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost

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