Launching an all new rustysblog.com

The time has finally come.  As those of you who have followed along for a while now know, I’ve been working on moving over to a self-hosted WordPress blog.  Today will be the last day for the site as you see it now.  Beginning tomorrow, the new site will launch.

What does that mean?

You won’t do anything different!

You’ll still get here the same way you always have – you can go to any of the following:

They’ll all now lead to the new blog.

Everything is already there!

All the content, posts, pages, and even comments that are here are already over there.  You can even check it out right now… www.MormonConversations.com

It’s still a work in progress!

I’ve still got several things I’m working on to make it a much better (more interactive, more engaging, more easy to use) blog.  I’ll update you as I make important changes and add important features.

I’d love your feedback!

My first post there will be a “What’s New” post, where I explain the various parts of the new interface and introduce the new blog design.

Please feel free to leave me comments on what you like and dislike.  What you’d like to see added.  I finally have all control!!! So we can do some great things.  Just let me know what you think, and I’ll make changes accordingly.

Bigger, better content!

Now that I’ve got a self-hosted blog, I can begin some of those terrific projects I’ve been craving… like the Plan of Salvation presentation, and much more. 

Invite your friends!

MormonConversations, will be a place where all faiths are welcome.  We’ll have terrific, doctrinal discussions about Mormonism, our beliefs, and our church.  I’ll answer any questions anyone may have about Mormonism.  And, of course, I’ll provide a steady stream of coverage about things that I feel are important – things that inspire, motivate, and enlighten.  It’ll be the same thing you’ve found here in the past… only better.  So please, share. 

I look forward to a lot fun and engaging conversations in our future.

Kindest regards,
Rusty

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What does it take to be a hero?

In truth, not much. 

Sure, there are elaborate heroes who do things to change the world.  But you don’t have to change the whole world, all you have to do is find someone in need, and change their world.

If a child asks you to come play ball, or Barbies, or jump on the tramp, or swing them, or read them a book, or tell them a story, and you stop and do it… you’re their hero.

If you see someone at the checkout counter who didn’t bring enough money, and you step in and make up the difference… you’re their hero.

If you see someone on the side of the road and help them change their tire, or jump-start their car, or pull them out… you’re their hero.

If you see someone having a bad day, put your arm around them, give them a smile, and offer some encouragement… you’re their hero.

If you’re always the one to look on the bright side of things, to point out the positive, to provide energy and spirit to those around you… you quickly become their hero.

If you see someone new in your neighborhood, in your school, in your church, or in your office, and you take the time to get to know them, ask them questions, make them feel welcome, and be their friend… you’re their hero.

Being a hero doesn’t always require heroic effort, just the right effort at the right time.  And usually the amount of effort required is vastly disproportionate to the impact you have.  Sure, there are big things that you can do (and big things that need to be done), but more pervasive are those little opportunities that constantly surround us where we see someone in need, step in, and help.

Our environments are composed of hundreds of opportunities such as this.  The building blocks of heroism. 

So look around you, and be a hero.

Rusty

You’re number 288! Please, be personal.

The other day I was in Cutlers, a small sandwich shop here in Utah (they’ve got an amazing turkey and avocado sandwich, by the way, and crazy-good sugar cookies).   

It was early evening and they were about to close.  I walked in and placed an order for a dozen sugar cookies (no, not all for me… although I could have eaten them all).

The gentleman at the counter took my order and my cash, gave me my change, and declared with an I’m-bored-out-of-my-mind voice “You’re number 288”. 

 “No, I’m Rusty” I thought.  But then he handed me a little sheet of paper on which was scrawled the number 288, as if he’d read my mind and wanted to prove me wrong.

I looked around me.  There was one other person in the shop, and she’d already gotten her order.

I laughed out loud, which earned me a quizzical expression from my little helper, and to which I replied “Never mind… thank you.”

Clearly, he didn’t understand the importance of being personal. 

But it made me wonder at my own interactions with people, how often I must take on that same robotic approach.  How often do I forget that the person I’m talking to is a person?  That they’ve got a life, and right now it might not be going so well.

We all have areas in our lives that, due to repetition, cause us to be a bit too calloused in our interactions with people.

How would you feel if you drove up to the McDonalds window and the gal (instead of just reaching out for your money), looked at you in the eye, smiled, and said “Nice to see you, thanks for coming to McDonalds”, or “have a great evening, and enjoy your meal.”

Interacting with people can (and should) be one of the most regularly enriching aspects of our lives.  Sometimes they’ve got a bit of spare energy, or humor, or wisdom that you can glean from.  Sometimes it’s the other way around.  But whatever it is, as you become more aware of the person to whom you’re talking, you’ll find that good things happen.

If we all tried to be just a bit more personal in our dealings with others, we’d find the world would be a better place.

Rusty

P.S.  Email, as well as other mediums of digital communications tends to exacerbate this problem even more.  If your interactions with others are primarily digital, you’ll need to be extra vigilant, because you lack those visual cues that would otherwise guide your interaction.

Did Mormons invent Wing Dings?

Wing Dings font...

Wing Dings font...

 

A little while ago, I was talking to a non-Mormon coworker.  He, of course, knew I was Mormon, and as we were talking, he said (in all seriousness): “I heard that Mormons are the ones that invented the Wing Dings font as a secret language”.

In case you’re not familiar, Wing Dings are a font available in Microsoft Word (since version 3.1) that renders letters as symbols.

I thought it was amazing that somehow, somewhere, somebody started this rumor.  I couldn’t help but laugh, as I took the opportunity to explain the inaccuracy of his understanding.

First, to set the record straight, for everyone out there wondering if Mormons invented Wing Dings… no, we didn’t.  In fact, Microsoft created Wing Dings by combining characters licensed from Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes (both Type designers).

But while this particular misconception was harmless (cute, even), many are not.  Many are created as propaganda and are proliferated around the internet (and conversations), and can become a great stumbling block to genuine people seeking the truth.

And so I renew my invitation… to all those who have questions about Mormonism, who have heard things that sound suspicious, ask (here).  We’ll answer you together. 

As Joseph Smith said “The standard of truth has been erected.  No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.  Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, and columny may defame.  But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent.  Till it has penetrated every continent, swept every country, visited every clime, and sounded in every ear.  Till the work of the Lord shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say ‘the work is done’”.

Rusty

Rededication, overcoming entropy in your personal life

I love New Years Day and the turn of the new year, largely because it’s a time where we all take the opportunity to reevaluate our lives, assess where we’ve been, and plan where we’re going.  It’s a phenomenal event, pivotal, and magnificent.  I hope you all take the time to do it.

As for my assessing ’08 I found that I’d been so greatly blessed.  I had a splendid year, nearly incomparable in fact.  Even in spite of such tough times.  The brief time I’ve taken to reflect has surely manifested the Lords hand in my life, for truly, I’m unworthy of such blessing, and certainly incapable of creating such a great year autonomously.

The realization of that reflection caused me to rededicate my life in many respects (illustration of my post “Gratitude, the key to righteous desire“).  One of those areas of rededication is with my blog.  I felt strongly (as I mention here), that this was an endeavor the Lord wanted me to undertake.  He’s blessed me with the talents to do it, and it’s my duty to use those talents appropriately, leaving room for the Spirit to magnify my efforts so that they’ll be of enduring value.

But the whole process of reflection upon the past with the perspective of today tends to call out the starkest instances of entropy experienced in our lives (which I explain here).  Those areas where we’ve let slip the most.  Those are the areas we need to proactively rededicate ourselves to. 

Life is not casual.  Life is engaging, and requires us to be engaged with it.  Spend too much time as a bystander, and you find your life is filled with more regret, than accomplishment and opportunity.

I love New Years Day and the turn of the new year, largely because it’s a time where we all take the opportunity to reevaluate our lives, assess where we’ve been, and plan where we’re going.  It’s a phenomenal event, pivotal, and magnificent.  I hope you all take the time to do it.

As for my assessing ’08 I found that I’d been so greatly blessed.  I had a splendid year, nearly incomparable in fact.  Even in spite of such tough times.  The brief time I’ve taken to reflect has surely manifested the Lords hand in my life, for truly, I’m unworthy of such blessing, and certainly incapable of creating such a great year autonomously.

The realization of that reflection caused me to rededicate my life in many respects (illustration of my post “Gratitude, the key to righteous desire“).  One of those areas of rededication is with my blog.  I felt strongly (as I mention here), that this was an endeavor the Lord wanted me to undertake.  He’s blessed me with the talents to do it, and it’s my duty to use those talents appropriately, leaving room for the Spirit to magnify my efforts so that they’ll be of enduring value.

But the whole process of reflection upon the past with the perspective of today tends to call out the starkest instances of entropy experienced in our lives (which I explain here).  Those areas where we’ve let slip the most.  Those are the areas we need to proactively rededicate ourselves to. 

Life is not casual.  Life is engaging, and requires us to be engaged with it.  Spend too much time as a bystander, and you find your life is filled with more regret, than accomplishment and opportunity.

“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness”. 

Doctrine and Covenants 58:27

 

Rusty

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The power of forgiveness

The following YouTube video, one of the final talks delivered by the apostle, President James E. Faust, is a powerful portrayal of the purifying principle of forgiveness, and a compelling example, of true Christian behavior.

 

Are Mormons Christian? What truly defines a Christian?

This post is a continuation of the series “Are Mormons Christian“.

In the comments on the post “Are Mormons Christian? Do doctrinal difference define us“, the Pondering Pastor and I began a most crucial discussion that strikes at the very heart of this matter.

The post was about the importance of having a commonality of definitions of terms for accurate communication.  How differences in belief do not disqualify someone from the definition of Christianity, since in truth, we all differ to some varying degree. 

If our doctrine differs by degrees, is it therefore possible to be 50% Christian, or 80%, depending on how greatly your doctrine departs from what is orthodox?  And is orthodoxy truly the best measure?  Wasn’t Christ himself unorthodox in his day?  How about Luther?

So to say to one “you’re not a Christian”, simply because their beliefs diverge from your own, is a definition that does us no good.

But then what is a good definition?  If the exact alignment of the details of our doctrine cannot qualify us as Christian, what can?  What is fair?  What is the righteous way to judge?

Fortunately, that answer has already been given.  Surely the Lord knew that so many varying beliefs would sprout up, and as such, gave us the mechanism with which we may judge.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

That is how you know a Christian.  Not by what they say they believe, but by what they demonstrate of their beliefs through their actions.

For as Matthew continues “…not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 7:21)

In that chapter the Lord clearly teaches that men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.  If you’re finding grapes, you’re not in a thorn bush, but a vineyard.   “…neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit”, but a “good tree bringeth forth good fruit”.  Hence, by their fruits ye shall know them.

Much can be discussed about doctrine.  What you believe, how you interpret scripture, what manner of baptism you subscribe to, etc.  But those don’t define a Christian.  Being Christ-like is what makes a Christian. 

For actions are the evidence of faith.   Remember, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20)

And as we read in John “though ye believe not me, believe the works:  that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:38)”

That is the one true, fair, and righteous way to define a Christian.  By their works, not their talk.  “I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:18).

Rusty