Faith leads to humility, humility leads to love, love leads to happiness – Yoda (opposite)

Hope, the Atonement, and Math

At a recent stake conference, someone said that we’re apparently not teaching the Atonement of Jesus Christ well enough in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because many people have come to him in interviews feeling like they’ve lost hope because of a mistake or sin they’ve made. Don’t give up because you’ve sinned. Christ sacrificed himself for us so that we can be forgiven and have hope of eternal life.

Guilt

If you feel like you have a long list of sins you’ve committed or are regularly committing, you’re probably right. If you don’t, you probably do too. I feel that way, and people I love feel that way, but who’s to say how our particular sins and amount of sinning compares to anyone else, and how that defines our overall righteousness, our talents, and our hope of eternal life?

The atonement of Jesus Christ (Christ’s paying for our sins and reconciling us with God) is infinite (Alma 34:10-15). Analogous to the fact that we can use infinity in mathematical proofs and speak truth, perhaps we can illustrate the atonement’s effect in our lives this way:

Our guilt = (Our sins – the application of Christ’s infinite forgiveness) =  0

I’m using 0 here instead of negative infinity because Christ is applying (if we allow him to) whatever portion we need of his infinite forgiveness to be forgiven of our sins. Note that the answer is still 0 if we multiply this many times:

Our guilt = (Our sins – the application of Christ’s infinite forgiveness) x number of times we’re forgiven =  0

We apply the atonement and are clean from our guilt as we sincerely repent by committing to be obedient to God and to seek his forgiveness (see The Divine Gift of Repentance or this summary). The weekly sacrament in a sense completes our repentance as we renew our covenants to keep the commandments of God and invite the Holy Ghost to sanctify and purify us. Our guilt goes back to 0.

Guilt-Chart

The Savior Jesus Christ is necessary in this process:
“We can try to change our behavior on our own, but only the Savior can remove our stains and lift our burdens, enabling us to pursue the path of obedience with confidence and strength.”
“We all have to ‘come to ourselves’—usually more than once—and choose the path that leads back home. It’s a choice we make daily, throughout our lives.” (Stephen W. Owen, Repentance is Always Positive)

Eternal Progress

But then what are the negative consequences of sin? There is another formula, here put in the simplest form:

Our eternal progress = our current progress + our actions

I would expand “our actions” to (time * (our righteous actions – our guilt)). We could also us “our experiences” instead of “time”, or multiply time by our experiences:

Our eternal progress = our current progress + (time * (our righteous actions – our guilt))

Guilt-Progress-Chart

Guilt hinders, or subtracts from, our eternal progress and our ability to do good. By freeing ourselves of guilt, we accelerate our progress.

Mormon speaks of guilt’s hindrance to our ability to do good:

Moroni 7:6-7
6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

An article on Church Discipline by Mormon Newsroom clearly defined how sin and repentance affects the process of eternal progression:
“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that men and women are placed on earth to learn, grow and become better by following Jesus Christ. In the Church, this process is described as “eternal progression.” Central to that process is freedom of choice, which shapes who we are. Inevitably, as we make choices, we also make mistakes. Most of life’s mistakes are easily overcome through simple, sincere repentance, a process common to nearly all religious people.

For all sins, large and small, it is the sacrifice and suffering, mercy and grace — or Atonement — of Jesus Christ that makes repentance possible. Church discipline is designed to help an individual more fully apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ, be cleansed of their sins and move forward in their eternal progression.” (emphasis added; see the first five paragraphs of this article)

Now note the use of “time” in this formula. Time is always moving forward, and how we use this time defines our eternal progress. As Alma expressed, “there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God.” Our formula is defined as a linear formula, where the y-intercept, or starting point, is always our current progress, time is the x-axis, and the slope or rate of change is determined by (our righteous actions – our guilt).

To explain what I mean by “our current progress”, I expand this to (our character + our talents + our knowledge):

Our eternal progress = (our character + our talents + our knowledge) + (time * our righteous actions – our guilt)

These three things are only intended as a summary, but with a scriptural basis. Our character (see References), our talents (spiritual gifts, skills and abilities; see Matt 25:14-30), and our knowledge (and wisdom; see Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19) are updated incrementally as we go along having experiences and making choices. The exact nature of or representative formula for these updates is beyond the scope of this post (but perhaps could be thought of as updating neural networks).

Grace

The main point of this post, however, is that we can continuously and repetitively repent and be free from guilt, and consequently that the enabling power of Christ (grace) allows us to continue to progress and do good works despite our mistakes.

“It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts” (Bible Dictionary: Grace)

Consider, how is the Atonement enabling you to do good or be better?
“Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and … striving to become better.”

I close with these words from Elder Richard G. Scott:
“If you have determined to live righteously, don’t become discouraged. Life may seem difficult now, but hold on tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize. Your struggles are defining character, discipline, and confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as you consistently obey Their commandments. May the Holy Ghost prompt you to always make decisions that fortify your character and yield much joy and happiness. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

If you are interested in eternal progress or another topic I mentioned in this post, I recommend the following references organized by topic, which I found very insightful.

References

Math:

See this link for the Spreadsheet that created the guilt and progress graphs. The only manually entered data was the values for guilt.

This more complex chart describes the formula in more detail:
Guilt, Progress, Light of Christ, Good Choices, Change
 

Grace:

Elder David A. Bednar, In the Strength of the Lord

Bible Dictionary, Grace
The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by His atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

Jacob 4:6-7
“Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things” (Jacob 4:6–7).

Eternal Progression:

President Brigham Young
“The principle of increase, of exaltation, of adding to that we already possess, is the grand moving principle and cause of the actions of the children of men.”
“Human beings are expected by their Creator to be actively employed in doing good every day of their lives, either in improving their own mental and physical condition or that of their neighbors (DBY, 88).”

Church Discipline by Mormon Newsroom (see first five paragraphs)

D&C 93:13,20
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

Repentance and Guilt:

The Divine Gift of Repentance

Summary of The Divine Gift of Repentance

Stephen W. Owen, Repentance is Always Positive
“I testify that the Savior Jesus Christ worked out a perfect Atonement and gave us the gift of repentance—our path back to a perfect brightness of hope and a winning life.”
“As Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained: “Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life. … Only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance … points us to freedom, confidence, and peace.” My message to all—especially to the youth—is that repentance is always positive.”
“When we speak of repentance, we aren’t just talking about self-improvement efforts. True repentance is more than that—it is inspired by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His power to forgive our sins. As Elder Dale G. Renlund has taught us, “Without the Redeemer, … repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification.” We can try to change our behavior on our own, but only the Savior can remove our stains and lift our burdens, enabling us to pursue the path of obedience with confidence and strength. The joy of repentance is more than the joy of living a decent life. It’s the joy of forgiveness, of being clean again, and of drawing closer to God. Once you’ve experienced that joy, no lesser substitute will do.”
“We all have to “come to ourselves”—usually more than once—and choose the path that leads back home. It’s a choice we make daily, throughout our lives.”
“Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and … striving to become better.”
“Consider the example of Enos. He had his own “coming to himself” moment, and after his “guilt was swept away,” his heart turned immediately to the welfare of others.”

Each week, she conducted a self-evaluation during the sacrament. She recalled mistakes she had made, and she committed to be better the next week. She was grateful to be able to make things right and be made clean. Looking back on the experience, she said, “I was acting on the repentance part of the Atonement.”

One Sunday after her self-evaluation, she began to feel gloomy and pessimistic. She could see that she was making the same errors over and over again, week to week. But then she had a distinct impression that she was neglecting a big part of the Atonement—Christ’s enabling power. She was forgetting all the times the Savior helped her be who she needed to be and serve beyond her own capacity.

Moroni 7:6-11
6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
9 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.
10 Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

Experience:

Romans 5:3-4
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

D&C 122:7
7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

Stephen W. Owen, I Have a Work for Thee
Make use of adversity. Our trials help us discover and prepare for the work Heavenly Father has for us. Alma explained, “After much tribulation, the Lord … made me an instrument in his hands” (Mosiah 23:10).8 Like the Savior, whose atoning sacrifice enables Him to succor us (see Alma 7:11–12), we can use knowledge gained from difficult experiences to lift, strengthen, and bless others.

Character:

Elder Richard G. Scott, The Transforming Power of Faith and Character We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. Righteous character is a precious manifestation of what you are becoming.
Neither Satan nor any other power can destroy or undermine your growing character. Only you could do that through disobedience.
Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the trials and testing of life.
The more your character is fortified, the more enabled you are to benefit from exercising the power of faith.
President Hugh B. Brown said: “Man cannot live without faith, because in life’s adventure the central problem is character-building—which is not a product of logic, but of faith in ideals and sacrificial devotion to them”
We exercise faith by doing. Joseph Smith said that “faith [is] the principle of action and of power”
Your faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments will strengthen your character. Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth in this period of mortal probation.
If you have determined to live righteously, don’t become discouraged. Life may seem difficult now, but hold on tightly to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you realize. Your struggles are defining character, discipline, and confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as you consistently obey Their commandments. May the Holy Ghost prompt you to always make decisions that fortify your character and yield much joy and happiness. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Talents:

Matt 25:14-30
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Stephen W. Owen, I Have a Work for Thee

D&C 46:8-12
11 … to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

Knowledge:

President Brigham Young
He gives a little to his humble followers today, and if they improve upon it, tomorrow he will give them a little more, and the next day a little more. He does not add to that which they do not improve upon, but they are required to continually improve upon the knowledge they already possess, and thus obtain a store of wisdom.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:18–19: “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”

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This is an incredible analogy and I’m impressed by the thoroughness of the study, interpretation of the story, and application to the lives of many people. I can’t say I don’t believe in possession, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a mental illness— obviously he did. Perhaps that’s why the devils chose him. It’s also apparent that people misunderstood him and treated him very poorly. Satan’s followers seek to influence us, and so does the Spirit and Christ’s followers. The man of the tombs was chosen by devils but he was also chosen by Christ to be a witness of the reality of the Savior. Satan wants us to think that we are inherently evil, a problem to society, worthless, and unfixable, and if we seek to convince others that this is the case for them, or for ourselves, then we are doing Satan’s work. Christ wants us to know that we are good with Christ’s help, not just in the future but now; that we can be an instrument in his hands to do much good; that we are God’s children; and that we have a divine nature that we can always return to. Those who have the most potential to influence God’s children for good are perhaps those who receive the most attention by the devil: Joseph Smith, for example, who felt overcome by Satan’s power before the First Vision. I think that bipolar disease is greatly analogous, at least in name, to the opposition inherent in the gospel: good and evil, Christ and Satan, joy and sadness; see 2 Nephi 2 and Alma 36, with an understanding that pain doesn’t necessarily mean sin or unworthiness (remember who experienced the most pain). Regardless of our righteousness, we experience opposition, and we are in a struggle, but we need not fear, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Despite our mistakes, we can choose Christ.

It's me, Tori C.

On my mission, I was struggling with (what was later diagnosed as) Bipolar disorder.

This is what a missionary with Bipolar looks like, apparently.

I had always struggled with mental health, and I thought I knew what to expect when I got on my mission. Before I even submitted my papers I had to make a list of all my depressive triggers with my counselor before she would sign my psychological evaluation form. We worked together for months–I had a written plan of how to handle feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, desires to self-harm, the whole nine yards! I was prepared!

But, even with all those “tools” in my “toolbox” I really struggled. I tried everything in my power I could to combat it. I was incredibly obsessive with my obedience. Phrases like “an obedient missionary, is a happy missionary” ATE at my soul. If I was even a second…

View original post 1,740 more words

One thing I like about the Church is that it preaches the ideal, and recently I was pondering about why that is. I think that “the world” sometimes lowers expectations and how standards are defined (and people in the Church may be tempted to do so too) because of the “reality” of what’s reasonable or what most people actually do, and to not scare people away from even trying (which is something to consider, and I’ll explain). However, it may be blasphemous for the Church to represent God’s standards as any less than they are. And more importantly, the Church provides the ideal standard so that those sincerely seeking truth may know how to improve themselves and their lives. Because of “hard” standards some may be discouraged from even trying, or feel that the rules are unreasonable or unnecessarily strict, but all such thoughts come from Satan and a misunderstanding of how the gospel works.

 

Discouraged from trying

God sees our hearts, and forgives our sins, if we sincerely seek to keep his commandments and repent. Every effort counts and shows we care. Sincerely choosing limits for what we consider acceptable is much better than not having any limits. The goal is perfection, yet we know that we can’t be perfect in everything in this life, which is okay, because of Christ and repentance. At least we know what we can do to work toward the goal of perfection.

The Church does take steps to help people not be discouraged. Missionaries aren’t advised to teach all commandments and sins to avoid in the first lesson. We seek to focus on the essentials. The essential aspects of the gospel are the everlasting love of our Heavenly Father and Christ, who enables us to return to Him.

 

Feeling that the rules are unreasonable or unnecessarily strict

The standards exist, whether we follow them or not. What the world, most people, even the school or government, considers acceptable may very well not be acceptable by God’s standards. The commandments are for our benefit, and will help us find true happiness. Following the commandments grudgingly impedes our happiness. Loving God itself is a commandment, and such love would cause us to love to keep his commandments, do His will, and become like Him. We are seeking to become gods, and that is not something we can attain unless we eventually reach the highest standard.

If Church leader’s teachings or standards were to be lenient on sin, it would be more confusing, and it would be harder to trust such standards.

 

What do I do?

There are other factors that may come into play when deciding whether something is appropriate or not (such as media). The Spirit helps us distinguish and know what is edifying to us. By the Spirit, I don’t mean only a feeling of right or wrong (for example, feeling “uncomfortable” watching something). I also mean pondering and sincerely thinking things out in our mind, which the Spirit helps us to do. Consider, what is my motive for watching what I’m watching, reading what I’m reading, listening to what I’m listening to, etc.? Is it edifying?

Should everything that we do always be edifying? I believe so. Recreation and entertainment, since it is recommended by God, can be and should be edifying. Education should be edifying. Work should be edifying. Spending time with our family should be edifying. Our motives in all of these activities can be edifying.

Some things are good but not best, or not the best for the current situation or time. By the time we become perfect after this life, we’ll have gotten in the habit of choosing what’s best. The sooner, the better; now is best.

I think that when we are completely willing to do anything, forsake anything, and discipline ourselves in anyway, in order to follow God, is when we have truly turned our hearts over to God. It is when the Spirit can reach the center of our beings, and when we can feel true joy in the presence of God.

There comes a point where one must decide whether to simply be “okay” at keeping the commandments, or follow the “mostly righteous” crowd, or whether to go all the way in, and give oneself, without reservation, to God. If one gives oneself to God, “then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (D&C 121:46).

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). Society has been given great power though technology, and with that power comes the responsibility to use technology well. Responsibility has been defined as ”the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management” (“responsibility”). Technology can be used to influence others for good, to educate, and to improve lives. As technologies become available, we have the responsibility to do what is within our power to use technology for good purposes.

Technology and beneficial human inventions are gifts from God, and as such are to be used for His purposes. President Brigham Young of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints described this idea: “Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan” (qtd. in Bednar). Because we received the discoveries and inventions we enjoy from God, we are responsible to him for our use of them. Those of us with these discoveries, then, have a responsibility to use science and art, including computer technology, to do God’s work and to influence others for good, in order to redeem the earth from the power of sin.

Technology’s great capacity to accomplish good or evil implies a great responsibility to use technology for good, and to avoid the evil. President David O. McKay expressed it this way: “Discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings, as to make man’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands. … This age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities” (qtd. in Bednar). It is mankind’s duty to consider and act on the possibilities of technology to the best of their ability. As far as discoveries or technology have power to do good, and as God’s gifts of technology come upon us, we have a responsibility to use these gifts to benefit mankind and to fulfill God’s purposes.

Included in the responsibility to use technology well is the responsibility to discover the best ways to use technology. A guide for “promoting responsible and ethical digital citizens” published by Education World includes this charge:

There’s always a purpose for technology use. Think of how, when, why, and for what purpose you’re using it. Think of ways to be creative and innovative. Think about communicating and collaborating with others globally to learn about another country. Think about how much students can learn via the Internet. Think of using it to prepare today’s learners to be successful citizens of the 21st century. Think of all the possibilities. (McGilvery)

As it is within our power to think of the possibilities of technology, we have a responsibility to seek out these possibilities and then to act on them. We can influence others. We can learn. We can create. These types of possibilities when used for good are in align with God’s desire for “the ultimate triumph of truth and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin” (qtd. in Bednar), as we encourage righteousness, learn truth, and create tools to accomplish God’s work. These possibilities for technology have been given us in this age, and consequently we are responsible to discover ethical possibilities and bring them to fruition as far as we are able.

Family history is one way in which we can responsibly use technology. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” (qtd. in Nelson). And as Elder Nelson said, “New technology makes it easier than ever to fulfill that responsibility” (Nelson). As technology increases our capacity to do family history, our responsibility to do family history increases accordingly.

A recent article by The Daily Universe describes how new family history YouTube videos and other technologies aid in family history work. These videos provide students with easy opportunities to learn how to do family history work, leaving them with less excuse to not work on their family history (McBride). Family history technology also significantly improves the efficiency of family history work. Jill Crandall, professor of family history, notes the significant gains technology creates for family history: “The technology helps us find things faster. We will have microfilm for many years to come, and we will always need to travel to record [those] that have not been imaged, but the volume of what needs to be done is significantly reduced by new technology” (McBride). The efficiency and ease that technology adds to family history encourages participation, as one student described: “Seeing the technology we have, we are able to do things that weren’t there before, and that’s what got me motivated to do it … Because this is the Lord’s work, I know there will be progression and technology will continue to grow” (McBride). Technology can be used not only to increase efficiency but to teach and to encourage people to do good. Because available technology creates these possibilities for family history, which affects generations past, present, and future for good, using technology for family history is an ethical endeavor for which we are responsible.

Another example of the ethical possibilities and responsibilities of technology is bringing the Internet and information to less-developed countries. Still less than 50% of the world’s population have access to the Internet, though the United Nations and Facebook are striving to increase the availability of internet in less-developed countries (Collins). Providing people in less-developed countries with access to the Internet will give them access to information that they can use to improve their living conditions and to make more informed, ethical decisions (“Transforming Our World”). For similar reasons, translation technology also has the potential to benefit society, as the non-profit translation organization Translators Without Borders expressed: “There is a huge need for people in poor countries to be able to access global knowledge in their own language” (Glass). Translators Without Borders uses technology, including a web-based translator workspace, to carry out translations (Glass). Our ability to use technology to improve the lives of people all over the world means we are responsible for doing so, as far as it is within our power and control.

Influencing others for good, learning truth, doing family history work, and providing information to the poor in less-developed countries to improve their lives are ethical ways to use technology. Not only are they ethical possibilities, but they are responsibilities that we owe to God for the gifts of inventions and technology that He has given us. How we should fulfill these responsibilities depends on our ability to do fulfill them. “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent” (Mosiah 4:27). Let us be diligent in determining and acting on the best ways we can use technology to perform God’s purposes and to benefit mankind.

Written for CS 404, a Computer Science Ethics class at BYU.

Works Cited

Bednar, David A., Elder. “To Sweep the Earth as With a Flood.” To Sweep the Earth as With a

Flood. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Aug. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Collins, Katie. “Zuckerberg Aims to Boost Internet Backbone in Developing World.” CNET. CNET,

22 Feb. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Glass, Jamie. “Welocalize Increases Support for Translators Without Borders.” Marketwired.

Marketwired L.P., 6 Apr. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

“Luke 12:48.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-Day Saints. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

McBride, Madison. “YouTube Videos Make Family History Classes Easy for Students.” The Daily

Universe. The Daily Universe – Brigham Young University, 25 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

McGilvery, Christopher. “Promoting Responsible and Ethical Digital Citizens.” Education World:

Help Kids Become Responsible Digital Citizens. Education World, 2012. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

“Mosiah 4:28.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-Day Saints. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Nelson, Russell M., Elder. “Generations Linked in Love.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day

Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Apr. 2010. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

“responsibility”. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 07. Web. Apr. 2016.

“Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Sustainable

Development Knowledge Platform. Division for Sustainable Development, UN-DESA, 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Why Cantr II?

As today Cantr celebrates it’s 5000th day, I wanted to describe what makes this text-based game what it is, and why I still play it after 11 years.

It’s the only game I keep up with anymore. I don’t watch shows, watch movies, or play video games except for social reasons (unless it’s something like a new Star Wars movie), and rarely if that. What makes this different?

I stayed because of what I gain from it, in knowledge and experience. You write stories and create societies with other people, according to physical limits set by the game. All of the game’s history and objects are created by our own characters. By interacting with others in this way and leading towns for many years, I gained valuable leadership experience and gained new perspectives. It’s like I’ve lived many lives (and I have some of the oldest characters in the game). Also, in this game, death is permanent.

As it’s also available in 16 languages (and characters of all languages exist in the same world), it’s a nice way to learn languages, and there are also many opportunities for volunteer translators to gain real translation experience. The game is completely run by volunteers.

In my case, as I’ve helped in Cantr staff, I’ve gained experience in Internet marketing, translation, and programming. I’m currently the chair of the Public Relations Department, over the Cantr Forum, wiki, IRCWebzine, languages, marketing, and social media accounts.

Why not give it a try? Let me know if you have questions!

Cantr_5000

 

Question

I understand that trials are a necessary part of our life, and often, we can learn something from these challenge. However, some trials just seem to be unnecessary or not meaningful at all. Why would those trials happen?

Answer

Almost by definition, trials are not completely understood at the time. They are also often a natural part of life that is simply a part of our mortal existence. However, all trials can be to our benefit, and for all trials the righteous will be recompensed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The scriptures contain examples of trails that are not understood even by righteous people or prophets. In Doctrine and Covenants 109:49, Joseph Smith asks the Lord how long the righteous will suffer without direct aid or recompense (“a display of thy testimony on their behalf”), but with an eternal perspective, the time of deliverance is of little importance. Similarly, it is okay if we do not understand our trials now, or even in this life. An understanding of the role of all trials in general, however, may aid our understanding and peace of mind.

Job also suffered great afflictions which he did not understand at the time. After losing his property, children, and good health, he asks, “Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?” (Job 3:11). Despite his lack of understanding, he remained faithful. After great trials and some time, Job did receive a great vision, revelation, property, and children. However, even if these rewards were not to come until the next life, Job’s experiences hold great meaning for us and for him as an example of righteous trust in and love for the Lord while passing through trials that come despite righteous living.

Heavenly Father provides a possible answer to the suffering of Job and others in Doctrine and Covenants 98:14: “I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.” Have we yet been proved in all things? I think only Christ has truly been proved in all things, and his trials hold perfect meaning for Him and for all of God’s children. No matter what the trial, we prove to the Lord our faithfulness as we continue to love Him and keep His commandments.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, for all our trails we will be recompensed. As D&C 98:13 states, “And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal” (See also D&C 101:14-15). The Atonement of Christ makes up for our losses, pains, and trials in more than an abstract way. Today we can understand that God loves us and allows us to suffer trials for our benefit; someday we will understand all things.

“Merry Christmas”

Español

Past one-o-clock as I began a run, I saw an older gentleman walking alone, and as I passed him he said, “Merry Christmas!” Even though I smiled and nodded as I passed, I didn’t think to respond until it was too late. It caught me off guard, in fact, as we had opened presents seven hours earlier, and I hadn’t yet received that greeting; I thought, oh, today is Christmas, isn’t it? Suddenly my perception of the already sunny 40-degree weather day brightened as I thought, this is the day we especially remember Jesus Christ. What a wonderful thought. For the rest of the 6-mile run I similarly greeted every family I passed by: “Merry Christmas!”

I loved to see the families walking on Christmas day, enjoying each other’s company. Some similarly replied, “Merry Christmas!” Others, like I, didn’t have time to respond the same way, or said “hello.” In any case, each time my own greeting encouraged me as I ran. I don’t know what religion these Michigan neighbors may have, though just that they were walking as families on Christmas day means they likely celebrate the birth of the Savior.

I thought of the older gentleman again. He was the only one I saw walking alone. I hope he knows that his greeting was reciprocated.