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

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

Living simply, living now

In regards to the concept in this post how by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.  I offer the following practical encouragement.

As a parent, consistently fulfilling the simple “can you play with me”, “can you read to me”, or “can you lay by me”, means more to that child, builds more love, as well as closer and more lasting relations, than any grand plan you’re likely to set in motion.

In business, consistently and successfully tackling the opportunities at your doorstep will generate more revenue, build more good will, and give you more traction than all of the big ideas that never come to fruition.

As a boss, the maximizing the little chances you have to build up an employee, encourage a peer, empower a worker, recognize effort, provide context, and share your vision, will do more to build morale and boost productivity, than nearly anything else you could have planned to do.

As an employee, consistently taking all of the little opportunities in front of you to go the extra mile, to take just a little more responsibility, to share the recognition, to add one more layer of refinement to whatever your doing, will do more to move you forward in your career and build fulfillment than most anything else you can do.

As a child of God, the little opportunities right in front of you to choose the right, to lift your standards just a little, to say no when you should say no, or say yes when you should say yes, to repent, to be just a little more humble, a little more compassionate, a little more understanding, and a little more proactive, will give you more spiritual elevation than you can imagine.

As a spouse, it’s consistently taking the immediate opportunites to say “I love you”, or tell them how nice they look, or recognize their efforts and achievements, to validate their concerns, to just be quiet and really listen, to communicate, to go on a date, and to be with them that will bring you the most enriching, fulfilling, and wholesome relationships.

In whatever you do, live in the present, and the future will shape itself.

Rusty

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Small and simple things

mother_teresa1

Mother Teresa, a truly inspiring woman who dedicated over 45 years of her life to ministering to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while proselytizing Christianity, once offered the following words of wisdom:

“In this life we cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.”

How very often we tend to look for the “grand plan”, the big things we can do to make a big difference, all while the small opportunities that are ever-present ever pass us by.  We look beyond the mark.

But big plans seldom work out, and big ideas seldom take off, whereas the little things, the more achievable things, the more straightforward things, the more immediate things, those things that are right in front of us, are those things that really matter and really move us forward.

It’s great to dream, it’s better to do.

After all, it’s usually the cumulative effect of so many little things, done persistently, and done well, that creates greatness.

“By small and simple things, are great things brought to pass.”  (Alma 37:6)

In our lives, whether in business or as parents, as we pay closer attention to making the most of the little opportunities that lie right in front of us, we will move naturally towards the dreams that matter most.

Rusty

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