Plan of Salvation

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Boundaries & Becoming

Boundaries define everything that exists. Boundaries are where chaos ends and existence begins. Boundaries tell us what something is and what it isn’t.

“[Christ’s] salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else;”  Lecture 7:9

If we read the various creation accounts in Genesis, Moses and Abraham we see God dividing things. By dividing light from darkness he created a boundary, whereas before there would have been nothing. He divided the waters of the firmament, the seas from the land, animal life from the seas and land, man from the earth, and the woman from the man. Finally, mankind was divided from God during the fall.

Each of these steps was an act of division. Division is creation because dividing creates boundaries, and in the process something new is defined. Living organisms all start with a single cell that divides billions of times to form what could be any variety of complex life.

Computers work on a binary system that begins with a 1 and a 0, electricity and no electricity, something and nothing. From that 1 and 0, you can create infinite strings of digits that can be crafted to produce entire worlds Read Full Post

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An Amazing Creation Sequence With a Surprising Twist

I have not yet seen the film The Tree of Life although the title alone draws my interest. This particular sequence depicts the creation in a manner that is very similar to the creation sequence in the presentation of the LDS temple endowment. In both instances, we see the earth being organized and life appearing.

In this Hollywood version, we see the process of evolution being depicted and I realize that some people might have a problem with that. Personally, I do not have any problems with evolution being part of the creation process (that’s a whole other subject) but if you do, I invite you to focus on the symbolism, the principles and overall beauty of the story being told here and the surprising little gem towards the end.

At 12 minutes in you have this really powerful and thought-provoking scene that seems to be symbolically depicting the first act of grace or mercy where one dinosaur decides to not kill another one that is evidently injured or dying. What makes the scene striking is how such a thing does not fit within the law of the jungle.

In a creative twist, showing an act of mercy coming from a dinosaur rather than a human is making a bold statement. It is unexpected and makes the principle stand out even more.

It is a moment where compassion, this sense of caring and love enters the scene of creation for the first time. Like the temple video, I think we can pause on being literalistic and appreciate the principles being symbolically illustrated. Indeed, if we are to be instructed by symbolic teaching at all, we must suspend literalism and learn to view things from many facets.

All in all, I absolutely love this entire sequence and was quite amazed to find something of this nature coming out of Hollywood.

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David O. McKay Temple Address

I’m not aware of any other documents quite like this one. Here we have a general authority, David O. McKay, explaining temple ceremonies and covenants to a group of missionaries just before they receive them. I’ve had this in my personal collection for a few years now, I got it from a public pdf hosted on the BYU Idaho website. I think this would be a great thing to study for anyone preparing to enter the temple, and an insightful read for anyone who has already experienced temple worship.

An address on the Temple ceremony by President David O. McKay given Thursday, 25 September 1941, at 8:30am, Salt Lake Temple Annex (Manuscript in BYU Library Collections.)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20.)

Such was the commission given by the Savior to His Apostles just prior to the Savior’s return to heaven, following His resurrection. Such is the admonition and authority He has given you, my fellow workers, and I congratulate you this morning upon this calling and upon your acceptance of the privilege to preach the Gospel. It is not only a privilege but a great responsibility to be commissioned as a missionary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In that commission the word “teach” is used and repeated. You are teachers. Very young men and young women to go out and show the world the philosophy of life, to teach them the proper way of living, but that is your calling.

I congratulate you on being worthy to go through the House of the Lord. Your presence here indicates that you have lived a pure life, each of you, that you are worthy to go into the presence of the Father. Are you?

I have come over here this morning particularly because I have met so many young people who have been disappointed after they have gone through the House of the Lord. They have been Read Full Post

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The Rise of Righteous Rulers: An Open Letter to Men

I’ve been working on this particular article for months, maybe close to a year. I can keep tweaking this over and over or I can just share what I’ve got thus far, so that’s what I’m doing.

Because I am a man, I’m writing this from the perspective of a man particularly to the men out there. I’m writing this to me, to the men in my family, my friends, perfect strangers and especially to the men that will dare to go near my daughters one day (sorry, that’s just the papa bear speaking). I’m writing this to hold myself accountable for the things I understand and hope that the information might help improve a relationship out there somewhere.

It is up to you to take what is useful and cast aside what isn’t.

I’ve been surrounded by females my entire life. I have three little sisters (no brothers) and am a father of four daughters (no sons) and my wife has four sisters. (and one brother, whew!) My life has been heavily influenced by females and so understanding the dynamics of men and women in life and in the gospel has always been an interesting topic to me personally.

I am repulsed at the thought or the sight of any man, including myself, oppressing my mother, wife, sisters or daughters through selfishness or “unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39) More and more we see domestic violence, divorce, depression and an absence of the oneness God seems to intend. I’ve seen the criticisms of policies and doctrines of the LDS Church that some argue place men above women. It’s an understatement to say that this is a complex issue with many facets and it is not my intention Read Full Post

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Room For Doubt Respects Agency

I recently started the Book of Mormon over again in audio form while I’m at work. Chapter 6 of 1 Nephi caught my attention and led to some significant thoughts about agency.

And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.

For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.

Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.

Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 6:3-6)

The limited resources Nephi had forced him to focus on what was most important. He desired to record “the things of God” over things that were pleasing unto the world; think about that. What types of things would Read Full Post

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The Course Which They Pursue


Of the seven Lectures on Faith, Lecture Sixth is perhaps my personal favorite. It is the only lecture that has this footnote:

This lecture is so plain, and the facts set forth so self-evident, that it is deemed unnecessary to form a catechism upon it: the student is therefore instructed to commit the whole to memory. (Emphasis Added)

So what are these facts that are so plain and self-evident and why are they important? In verse 7 we find Read Full Post

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Definitions: 4 Verses of Alma 5

One of the most powerful scripture study tools I utilize is a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. I have a free app version on my iPhone (sorry Android users, I don’t think there is one quite yet, but you can use this site) that I use practically every time I’m in the scriptures.

I’ve been studying Alma 5 quite a bit and seeking to unlock its many treasures. I took just four verses, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and began to define keywords and I’ll share with you some of these definition excerpts for you to ponder.

12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.

13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.

14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

MIGHTY – 1. Very strong; valiant; bold; 6. Vehement; rushing with violence; as a mighty wind or tempest.

VEHEMENT – 1. Violent; acting with great force; furious; 2. …very eager or urgent; Read Full Post

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The Greater and Lesser Arches


This week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a new gospel topic titled Becoming Like God. Personally, I thought they did a great job with this piece, hit all the right scripture verses, and explained the doctrine very well. Then, down in footnote 22, I found this fantastic observation:

In “The Place of Theosis in Orthodox Theology,” Andrew Louth describes Eastern Orthodoxy as focused on a “greater arch, leading from creation to deification” and feels that Catholic and Protestant theologies have focused on a partial “lesser arch, from Fall to redemption” to the exclusion of that whole (in Christensen and Wittung, Partakers of the Divine Nature, 35).

This observation fits so well with my recent studies concerning salvation vs. exaltation and how these to doctrines Read Full Post

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Deliverance & Rebirth: Hidden Treasures in Alma 5


I was preparing an Elders Quorum lesson and felt particularly drawn to Alma 5. I fell in love with this chapter during my full-time mission days and when I really, really read it, I was highlighting so much that I actually outlined the entire contents of each page! I remember thinking: “This is just all so fantastic, I love it all!”


Fast forward 14 years later Read Full Post

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Taken Home


I usually wake up slowly and roll out of bed at around 7:20am…ish.

My morning routine hasn’t been anything special, but today, I woke up right at 6am and was wide awake. Last night I had the idea to go climb to the top of one of the local foothills to pray and mediate first thing in the morning.

Well, now it was morning and I was very comfortable and my pillow felt just perfect. I settled into it and enjoyed the moment while telling myself that it would feel wonderful to drift off and catch another hour of sleep.

At the same time, however, was the notion that I was in control and could just as easily get up and pursue something more worthy. I put on some thick pants, hoodie, jacket and beanie and walked out of the house into the cold morning – I hate cold. I walked out of the neighborhood and across the street to where there are a series of foothills around Black Mountain.

As I walked I looked around trying to decide where I was going to climb. My eyes fell upon a dark, symmetrical hill that looked like the perfect spot, so I began my ascent. As soon as I reached the top, the pinkish orange hue of the clouds immediately increased to an intense level that was really quite breathtaking. After several minutes the color drained out, so I talked to God for a while, listened for a while and decided to wait for the sun to rise. The sun looked like it might be coming up closer to the South instead of the East. Then, I remembered that on the northern hemisphere in the winter, the sun rises in the South East, the same direction that Moroni on the Las Vegas Temple is pointing.

The sun was rising at this low spot between Black Mountain and another set of tall hills which meant I would get to see the sun sooner that I was expecting to. I looked East past Black Mountain and then slightly North East at the rays of the sun reaching some other mountains off in the distance. Everything the sun touched seemed to be standing at attention. I stood and faced the rising sun and the wind picked up quite fiercely, but I didn’t let it shake me.

The sun rose, partially veiled behind clouds that burned so brightly with white and gold that I had to avert my eyes. The sun had risen, although partially obscured.

I wanted to get home in time to pray with the family before the kids went to school so I began my descent. I made it back and we prayer together before my wife ran the kids to school. I fixed breakfast, went into my office and started my work day.

Just a few minutes ago, I was informed that my grandmother passed away.

We will miss you, Tutu.

“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” Alma 40:11

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