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August, 2010

  1. Repenting about my view of Repentance

    August 31, 2010 by Ryan

    In my faith, I believe that the first principles of the Gospel can be simply stated as:

    1. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

    2. Repentance

    3. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins

    4. Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of those in authority

    I got to thinking about repentance. What is it? Off the top of my head, I thought it had to do with sin. As mortal creatures, we are naturally inclined toward sin. We know that no unclean person can enter God’s presence, and so being forgiven of sin is the big key to the end goal of Eternal Life and salvation.

    I’d always defined the steps of repentance as having sorrow for what I’ve done wrong, confession of sin to the proper people involved (and Church leaders where the transgression is a major one), abandonment of the actions, restitution to those I’ve hurt (as far as it is possible), and righteous living. Then, by the grace of Christ, I can be saved. That is how I hear it taught in Church over and over.

    While those steps are good and true, I’ve started to wonder if there is something else to it?

    Maybe, more important than being a change of sin, repentance is a change of mind. The step of having faith in Jesus Christ comes first, and perhaps that plays more directly into the step of repentance than I had previously given it credit for.

    When you allow your faith in God to grow, you gain a fresh view about God, about yourself, and about the world. As you view yourself a child of God, and your neighbor as a spiritual brother or sister who struggles with temptation as much as you do, then maybe the ability to recognize and renounce sin is merely a natural growth of your changed character.

    Maybe that is why, week after week, when I partake of the emblems of the Lord’s body and blood in my Church meeting – the priest (who holds the keys of priesthood authority concerning the gospel of repentance) makes no mention of doing it to remove my sins from me. Rather, the prayer offered by the priest reinforces my need to “always remember Him,” to “keep His commandments,” and to “always have His Spirit” to be with me.

    (I’ve only listened to that prayer for over 30 years now and am just now realizing this?)

    As real as God is, the Devil is also. Lucifer, once the Lightbringer and Son of the Morning, fell from his position before God and became the Devil. Knowing that he wasted his chance and can never have the opportunities or inheritance that we can have, he has become consumed with rage and jealousy.

    The Old Serpent throws worldly distractions at us which are calculated to keep us from recognizing our relationship to God, or ever approaching the desire to repent. If he can keep us off of our knees, or out of the house of worship; if he can distract us from seeking wisdom and knowledge from the Holy Scriptures, and divert our attention to anyone or anything else that can provide momentary pleasure or satisfaction; if he can convince us that what is good is evil and what is evil is good and of no consequence, he has won.

    Repentance is not optional; it is a commandment of God. But maybe, I am starting to realize, it is not a commandment focused on right or wrong behavior. Perhaps instead it is a commandment about attitude. It is the difference between the proud and haughty versus the meek and humble. And speaking of inheritances, I’ve heard from Good Authority that the latter group have been promised a pretty good one.

  2. Highway Crosses

    August 19, 2010 by Ryan

    The 10th Circut Court of Appeals has ruled that crosses on the sides of Utah Highways must be taken down. These crosses are  paid for and maintained by private individuals to honor fallen Utah Highway Patrol officers, though they are on public land and do have the UHP’s beehive logo on them.

    Let’s establish right away that I don’t agree with the ruling. I see it as another example of where the elected legislature approved something, and the appointed judges overruled the people’s will.

    From my perspective as a Utahn, the argument of the crosses takes on a greater meaning when you consider that the majority of Utah residents are Mormon, and do not use the cross as a symbol of their worship (Mormons do believe in Jesus, but tend to put more focus on the living Christ and joy of His resurrection rather than the symbol of His death). So the cross is not a common sight to see throughout Utah, yet it is easily recognized as a symbol of death. The court addressed this very thing in their ruling:

    “We agree that a reasonable observer would recognize these memorial crosses as symbols of death. However, we do not agree that this nullifies their religious sectarian content because a memorial cross is not a generic symbol of death; it is a Christian symbol of death that signifies or memorializes the death of a Christian….” (Page 29 of the Ruling)

    Right there in the ruling, the judges agree that most people won’t worry about the religious significance, and yet they have to give it full weight and consideration anyway just because it is.

    The plaintiffs allege to have had “direct personal and unwelcome contact with the crosses.” One of the plaintiffs stated that he has “occasionally altered [his] travel route or [has] not stopped at a particular rest stop to avoid contact with the crosses” (see page 10 of the Ruling). Well, guess what guys… I drive down the highway and I come in contact with billboards that depict messages that I disagree with and would prefer not to see, but buck up and I deal with it. If Jesus has no meaning to you, then the cross is just a couple pieces of wood. Deal with it, ignore it, move on. Shake your head in disbelief at those foolish religious people who hung it there, or find a way to overcome your own discomfort and instead focus a kind thought for the trooper and his or her family, or even admire the memorial for the courage of convictions that those who erected it shown. But if it bothers you so much that you feel like you have “direct personal and unwelcome contact” with a large piece of dead wood, then you have bigger psychological issues that you need to learn to deal with. The cross does have a big sign or blaring loudspeaker saying “Become a Christian too” or “Join Our Church!”

    If I were not a Christian, I’d like to show you what some “direct personal and unwelcome contact” really is – like people who routinely stand outside my places of worship loudly and disrespectfully protesting my beliefs; or like my ancestors who were literally run out of town by angry mobs who didn’t like their religious and/or political presence. But Christ’s teaching is to treat others with the same respect as I’d like to be shown back to me; to turn the other cheek; and to be respectful of my brother. Oh, and not be prideful about any of those actions.

    Don’t let me give the impression that a follow of Christ has to be weak-kneed. We should be a light on the hill, standing up and shouting on the rooftops, spreading the Word. And as citizens of the nation, we should be doing our part to elect those who are honest and responsible to make the laws and appoint the judges.

    In this case, the local elected Utah legislature approved it and the appointed federal judiciary said no. For one, that frustrates me.

    The community loses something, as piece by piece, we declare good evil and evil good. Then becomes much tougher and the burden much greater to teach children what is right, while the competing voices of evil grow louder and unchallenged.

    The ruling can be read here, if interested:

  3. Writing at work

    August 16, 2010 by Ryan

    At work, I routinely answer questions from customers. I can usually handle most questions thrown at me. I’m pretty good at crafting a thoughtful response. But this one had me stumped. Removing the identifying information, the customer complaint was as follows:

    “We have recently been adding some new computers to our [office]. One has Vista Ultimate and 3 more have Windows 7 (pro). These are new systems with 3+ gigs of ram. We have a dedicated Win Server 2003 server machine… . These newer machines are all slower [running the same program] than our older 1 gig of ram XP machines. I am stumped.”

    This particular question baffled me. Let me see, you are using the familiar computer program on a different computer with a different operating system, and yet you are “stumped” as to why you are getting a different performance? My process is usually to first let out the creative, flippant, and/or sarcastic thoughts, and see what sticks…

    “I used to eat apples, but now I eat oranges, and they taste different. I am stumped.”

    “I used to swim at an indoor public swimming pool. But recently I tried swimming in the open ocean. Even though I was doing the same thing, it was slower and more difficult in the rougher, colder waters.”

    “Remember how you used to be able to go through the airport quickly and easily. And then they tightened up security checkpoints? Yeah, welcome to Microsoft Windows Vista and 7”

    Those out of my system, I next try to compose something a little more professional. After several rewrites, here is what I came up with.

    Microsoft Windows Vista and 7 represent significant upgrades to the operating system, and as such, present new challenges. New boasted features include increased security. Network activity is scrutinized more closely by Windows, in an attempt to prevent unwanted files or access to your system. Unfortunately, the tradeoff for this sort of protection is a slower performing system. Your software is continuing to do the same job as before, but it is hindered by the additional security checks that the operating system is undertaking.

    Also consider that, because you are running a different operating system, you are most likely running different antivirus or firewall software than your Windows XP machines, which may also be contributing to the perceived slowdown in performance.

    You would be best advised to consult with a good hardware technician who can tweak some of the security settings and/or services being ran by the operating system, antivirus, or other services installed on these new machines, so that network traffic is still secure – but not impeded in performance.

    Yes, that is sounding pretty good. I like it.

  4. The ayes have it

    August 7, 2010 by Ryan

    By the Powers! I’ve been visit’in an enjoyable, entertain’in place.

    I admit that when I first heard of a new restaurant called Pirate Island, I immediately thought it be another Chuck E. Cheese, where kids could eat pizza and play games. Shows what a sprog I ’twas.

    I took me hearty and little buccaneers with me for lunch. Outside the restaurant were bulky, hefty wood doors, which were me first clue that there be someth’in different await’in inside. I opened them, to find a dimly lit lobby with a pirate scene that reminded me of the ride at Disneyland. The animated pirate skeleton was surrounded by doubloons in the middle of a dark, foggy swamp – I knew instantly that this was go’in to be fun.

    The greeter, dressed in moderate pirate costume, asked how many there be in our party. He seated us in the Bayou section of the restaurant, kindly point’in out were to find things as we ventured along. This was a perfectly themed, dimly lit area, with trees and fireflies about. The background chantey and chirping crickets completed the atmosphere (very much reminiscent of eat’in at Disneyland’s Blue Bayou).

    A great difference from the Chuck E. Cheese experience was that a server came to our table. She was very kind, and explained where to find everything in the restaurant. She asked what we would like to drink, and then came a incredible, fantastic blimey: they serve Apple Beer! Shiver me timbers and load me to the gunwales with me grog!

    We opened the menus and found the next bolt from the blue: they offered much more than just pizza or a salad bar. We ordered from the lunch specials, which included a drink.

    Me hearty ordered the barbequed chicken personal pizza, but felt like she be waste’in her calories on the flavorless, tasteless crust and sauce. I tried it and agreed. I mark the scallywag who prepared it with the black spot! Make the scoundrel walk the plank! On the other hand, me daughter ate the cheese pizza and loved it. So for the wee little ones, it be a good choice, but for the grown ups, there be better pick’ens to plunder.

    I also ordered the lunch menu, and chose the three fish sliders and chips. Sink me again! Instead of serving the American counterfeit of french fries, these chips be sliced potatoes, freshly fried – genuine authentic chips!

    While eat’in, there was a small show where a storm blew, a skeleton talked, and cannons fired. From where we were sitt’in, it was tricky to tell that the show had started. It only ran every 15 minutes, so it might have been nicer if the show ran more frequently, or if we had a cue to know to look at it before it was half underway.

    We explored the rest of the restaurant. Ye be enter’in through a cave to scrub ‘yer hands at the washroom, but be warned that cannons fire as ye pass by. The dining area at the other half of the restaurant is themed as a city ripe for plunder’in. Pass through another cave to enter the Aargh-cade and play area for the wee ones. Another word of advice: Ye best be order’in ‘yer tokens from the wench who serves ‘yur table, for ye get more coin for ‘yer pieces of eight that way.

    The table server would prove to be a mixed bless’in. At the start, the wench put us at ease and made the experience a pleasure; but at the end we didn’t know if it be proper to leave the table to go play, or wait to pay the check, or be leaven the leftovers wait’in there, or be haul’in them along with us. It was a little bit awkward, unfamiliar feel’in in me gut. We left our drinks, a few portions of pizza, and some coupons that we didn’t use this time (but thought we might be bring ’em back again another day). After hav’in our fun, we found the table wiped clean ‘an our loot mislaid.

    Yo-ho-ho – we will be back to try some more vitals (perchance including Pirate Pasta, Corsair Clam Chowder, Chicken, Fish and Chips, Sandwiches, Burgers, and Wraps). For Pirate Island be a good time enjoyed by all and great place to get me pirate on!