Monday, December 5, 2016

Character Test Cancelled

You know what? Not looking at the Light the World program ahead of time is a bad idea. Doing good is better than learning whether or not you would have done good anyway. Besides, what was I trying to prove, and to whom? My readers, some of whom know me quite well, already believe me to be a good person. And God already knows what kind of person I am, so testing myself on this challenge wouldn't really prove anything to Him.

I guess I was doing it for myself. I wanted measurable proof that I am a good person. That seems selfish of me, though it is important to have a good self esteem. Perhaps, rather than trying to prove to myself, with evidence, that I am a good person, I should just take your word for it. I'm not sure I would trust the evidence anyway, and I should also try to learn to trust your judgement. Besides, while it would be nice to have some evidence that I would be good just for the sake of being good, it would be even nicer to do good, even though I'm doing so partly just to participate in some seasonal program.

Not that it would've made much difference today. Today's goal was to heal the sick. I'm already an organ donor, I didn't really have time to donate blood today (though I could schedule an appointment for whenever I'll have time), and much of the rest of the suggestions for today seemed either too great to do (at least on short notice) or too small to be worth doing. I think I didn't quite cut it today. Four for Five. But I will make a conscious effort tomorrow, and I will start by acquainting myself with what I'm supposed to do.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I Will Fight the Dragon

I attended a church service in my area, and I can, right now, make a goal to kneel in prayer every day for the rest of December, so today was pretty easy. I'm four for four. But that's not really what I want to blog about right now.

Driving over to a friend's house, I told my passengers that I wasn't going to try to get into the narrow driveway that was flanked by a brick and iron fence. Specifically, I said, "I'm not going to try the driveway." One of my passengers misheard me and asked "What was that about a dragon?" Another passenger, running with the miscommunication, said "He's not going to fight the dragon," and then added "Some paladin." A third passenger then said, "He's a peaceful paladin."

The reason I wanted to share that exchange was to state, for the record, that that isn't true. I am not a peaceful paladin. I will fight the dragon. In fact, I fight him almost every day.

In Revelations, and perhaps a few other parts of scripture, the term "the dragon" is used to refer to Lucifer, who became Satan, the devil. At times, I would prefer for there not to be a connection between dragons and Satan, because dragons are awesome and I like them, and Satan is not awesome and I don't like him. In fact, I often wish he would go to hell and stay there.

But I don't have to merely wish that he would leave me alone; I can make him leave. I can fight his influence and keep him out of my mind. I may not be able to completely eliminate all temptations from my mind, and even if I could, he would always come back with new ones, but though my adversary is relentless, I can fight him, and I can keep fighting him. I can't slay the dragon, but I can keep him at bay. At the very least, I can certainly try.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to try to keep Satan from influencing my decisions. I'm going to fight the dragon as often as he comes at me. And if I keep fighting him, I am guaranteed to beat him. Because I am a Paladin, I will fight the dragon, and moreover, I am going to win.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Statistics Homework is Evil

I believe that a thing is evil if it persuades people to do evil. Earlier this evening, my statistics homework frustrated me to the point where I became angry and told my sister, easily one of the nicest people I know, to "shut up." My statistics homework, or the frustration and anger it caused, persuaded me to do evil, and thus proved to be evil. However, even with an evil influence in my life, I have the power to make my own choices, and I should have chosen to control my temper. I am sorry for how I acted and what I said, and it's unfortunate that I still have at least one page of statistics homework left to do, but though I will soon be exposed to evil again, I hope that it won't prove to be evil a second time. My statistics homework is only evil if I let it persuade me to do evil, and I don't intend to let that happen again.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Light the World - A Test of Character

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't go out of my way to try to Light the World. Maybe I should just go about my business, doing what I normally do, and see how many of the days I participate in without even trying. It might be a good test of character. How often do I do the things that we, as Christians, are supposed to do? Also, making note of which days I missed will give me some ideas of where I could improve (as if I needed more ideas of where I could improve).

Today was about honoring your parents. One of the suggestions was to call your parents, which I totally should have done, but I didn't. What I did do was spend all day with one of my parents, helping him with errands and a doctor's appointment.  Part of me thinks that that's nothing special because I do that almost every week, but another part of me thinks that that's special because I do it almost every week.

I'm discovering that service is part of my nature, both as part of my weekly schedule and as something I do impromptu when the opportunity comes up. Like a week ago, when a kid got a ball stuck in a tree, I didn't help him because I was supposed to; I helped him because I wanted to. I saw someone who could use help, and I just wanted to help.

This drive to help and serve others has gotten me into trouble a few times, and I sometimes wish my compulsion to service wasn't as strong as it is, but giving service is usually a good thing, and I do it rather often, so I can't be all bad.

Using the Light the World project as a test of character is a new idea, and I'm not fully committed to it, but it will be interesting to see which days I participate in naturally and which days I have to go out of my way to participate in. I'm two for two so far. Tomorrow is tainted as far as tests of character go because I saw that one of the suggestions is to help others see the virtues in them that they don't see in themselves, and now I'll never know if I'd have done that without hearing the suggestion. I'll do it anyway, of course, but I don't know if I should count it as something I would have done anyway. On the other hand, I did it today before learning that it was a suggestion for tomorrow. As with before, it just sort of came out naturally. I'm three for two, then, I guess.

But now I wonder, should I read the suggestions at the start of the day to make sure I participate, or should I wait until the end of the day to see if I participated without even trying to? Maybe I'll wait until the end of the day, check to see if I did it, and then, if I didn't, I'd go out of my way (if necessary) to make sure I do it the next day. For example, if I hadn't honored my parents today, I would go out of my way to honor them tomorrow. That might work. It's too late for me to do that tomorrow, but I might do it the next day. By not looking forward at the suggestions, I can make this test of character a true test.

I wonder how well I'll do. I'm doing well so far, but I wonder how long I can keep it up. I'm good at service, but I'm sure they'll test other Christlike attributes and behaviors as well. Still, I'm interested in seeing the results of this test. Therefore, I'm going to try to go into the test blind. Let's find out if I normally Light the World.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Coincidental Service

Today was the first day of the church's Light the World program, and today was all about service. If I had been super good and prepared and all that, I might have gone out of my way to do an extra act of service for someone, but that didn't happen. I didn't remember to do a special act of service today. However, I still did a small act of service for a friend.

I know a guy who runs a local card shop. Every so often, I hang out at that shop to join in conversation, play card games, and otherwise kill time while I wait for my bus. Lately, I've picked up a mini-project of sorting some of my friend's cards for him. Today, I cut up some index cards to make dividers to keep some his land cards organized. It wasn't much, and it wasn't planned, but I'd like to think that it was a kind gesture, and that maybe it was good enough to count as an act of service.

For the rest of December, I'm going to try to be more active in participating in the Light the World program. I won't promise to participate in the program every day, but I'll at least try to follow along with the program, and I probably will go out of my way to participate every so often, if only because it'll give me something to blog about, like it did today.

I didn't really plan on doing service today. It just sort of happened. Perhaps you, too, do service for others without even realizing it. It's in the nature of good people to be kind and helpful, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if many of you did service for others without really thinking about it. Today, I learned that it isn't always hard to do service for others, even when you're not even trying to.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Am Not Ambitious

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita gave a talk titled Be Ambitious for Christ, an admonition that he borrowed from Doctor William Clark. Since that's not an admonition we receive often, Elder Yamashita was kind enough to explain what he meant by that:
What does it mean to “be ambitious for Christ”? Being ambitious for Christ means being motivated, focused, and dedicated to His work. Being ambitious for Christ will seldom mean that we are singled out for public honor. Being ambitious for Christ means that we serve faithfully and diligently in our wards and branches without complaint and with joyful hearts.
Beside the part about not being singled out for public honor, there's not a lot in that description that I feel applies to me. I don't feel motivated or focused. Dedicated, maybe, but only to a certain extent, which may prove how little I know about the meaning of the word "dedicated." I serve faithfully, but not as faithfully or as diligently as I should. And though I rarely complain, it is also rare for me to feel joyful about my service. All in all, I'd say I match about 50% of Elder Yamashita's definition of "Ambitious for Christ."

Altogether, I'm not a highly ambitious person, and I wonder how strongly I should desire to change that. Practically all of the great men from history were ambitious, but I don't want to be great; I want to be good. Does one need to be ambitious to be good? I don't think so. Does one need to be ambitious to do good? Perhaps not, but I can see how it would help. In addition to being good for myself, I also want to do good for others. If being more ambitious would help me accomplish more good, then perhaps I should look into that.

Unfortunately, Elder Yamashita spent most of his talk sharing examples of people who were ambitious for Christ, and he didn't explain much, if anything, about how to become and remain ambitious. Maybe I could learn that elsewhere. In the meantime, perhaps I could fall back on the method of "faking it until you make it." I could merely try (or pretend) to be ambitious until I actually become ambitious and "trying" and "pretending" are no longer required.

Ambition is a personality trait that I don't feel that I possess, and I'm only barely convinced that I even want to possess it. Developing it might be tricky, but I think it might do me some good. A little bit of ambition can make everything else easier because it incorporates motivation, focus, and determination, along with other admirable traits. I think that I would like to become ambitious, especially for Christ. Now I just need to build up enough ambition to take the first steps to becoming ambitious.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Unsealed Portion

At the beginning of Elder W. Mark Bassett's October 2016 talk, he talked about a model of the gold plates which he had when he was young. Both the model and the original had many metal pages with writing on them, some of which were sealed and thus impossible to read.

Now, I could spend a minute or so talking about what's written on the sealed portion of the plates, as we have been given a little bit of information about that, and Elder Bassett admitted to having been intensely curious about that sealed portion when he was young. But in his talk, Elder Bassett argued that more important than learning what's in the sealed portion is paying attention to the portion that isn't sealed. We have a lot of scripture available to us. We would do better to read and learn from the scripture we do have than speculate on what we might learn from the scripture we don't have.

Besides, in many of the places in the scriptures where we learn about the sealed portion of the scriptures, we are also told that there will come a time when all things will be revealed, including what's written in that part of the book. We don't need to know what's in the sealed portion just yet. When we do need to know, God will tell us.

In the meantime, it would be best for us to learn what we can from the rest of the scriptures. As long as we don't have access to the sealed portion of the scriptures, we might as well try to learn what we can from the unsealed portion. Elder Bassett confessed that, in his eagerness to see what was in the sealed part of his model scriptures, he completely ignored what was written in the unsealed part, and he urged us not to make the same mistake. The scriptures were given to us for our spiritual development and learning. Let us make good use of the scriptures we've been given, and not fret too much about the scriptures that we have yet to be given.