Sunday, September 27, 2009


It has been said; "A great painting comes into existence as a result of both talent and judgment. Talent is needed for that which is put on the canvas, and Judgment is needed to determine that which should be left off". The casual visitor to a gallery will see only the images which appear, somewhat appreciating the tones and hews, the lines and balance; but the initiate will seldom understand those distractions which have been selectively eliminated by the artist in order to keep your attention from being drawn away from the main theme or those unnecessary strokes which might have caused the painting to look cluttered.

As the experiences of life shape and mold the sculptures of our Eternal Souls, this same principle of selectivity is administered by the Master Artist as He touches our lives with unseen strokes of developmental refinement. While it is a rather simple task to chronicle what seem to be the major events of a life and an outside observer can attempt to list another persons strengths and attributes in a well written eulogy, it is almost certain that the casual observer of another's history will seldom see nor understand the polish of life's passage added or eliminated by the hand of the Master Artist – touches which were needed for the finishing of this one unique and special work of art – The Eternal You. There will be special marks on the sculpture which He gave to you alone, there will be strokes that were never part of your creation because He knew they weren't needed to make you whole, there will be emotions that you alone were able to feel, there will be moods that you never had to experience, there will be habits that you needed to acquire and there will be compulsions you never had to fight. When the sculpture is finished, the Master Artist will look at you with pride and declare, what a beautiful Eternal Soul.

The ways one uses their agency will determine what they become. When coupled with following the Master Artist's example these will add a great deal of sheen and polish to the finished piece. When we resolutely leave a negative out of our lives, we may by that single act be doubling or tripling the time we have available to cultivate an eternal noble character. By refusing to give in to a debilitating habitual desire we may be adding a strength which may become outwardly observable only after years of painstaking polishing.

The good life, the meaningful life, the truly successful life will come as a result of those events we choose not to become involved in, as well as those things we must choose to do. It will not only be the moments of grandeur and public acclaim which shape us, but also the quite moments when we and the Master Artist alone – together are doing the shaping.

Jesus the Christ is the Savior of mankind not only for His moments on Calvary and in the Garden of Gethsemane, but also because of the moments He spent alone on the Mount of Temptation. He was profound when He delivered His sermon on the mount, but equally as eloquent in His silence in the court of Pontius Pilate. His parable of the Good Samaritan gives meaning to our acts of charity as we read his words of praise for the helper of the downtrodden, but the unspoken condemnation of the Levite and the Priest pierces everyone of us who has gone his way because of the demands of a busy life. His resurrection unto the Glories of the eternities gain a degree of reality as we read the testimonies of the Twelve who witnessed his ascent, but the veil of agency allows us the freedom to make those choices which can help us become fellow witnesses.

Each day as life's experiences imprint the necessary strokes under the guidance of the Master Artist, smoothing the rough edges from our primeval stone. We need to be mindful that a misplaced chisel would be better unstruck if the resultant blow were to cause everlasting damage to our Eternal Sculptured Souls; that some strokes are not only unnecessary, but their absence will eventually add to our Eternal Glory and eliminate much of the clutter and confusion of the passage.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Over the years I have read in scripture and heard the Brethren speak in conferences about Heavenly Father's Plan which would bring to pass the immortality and eternal lives of his children while keeping inviolate the eternal principle of Agency, which constituted the major difference between His plan and the plan of Lucifer which would have supplanted Agency and substituted force and control as the pathway to immortality. A great fallacy in the Destroyer's plan, of course, was that he had zero ability or authority to bring his brothers and sisters into an everlasting state of immortality much less a state of eternal lives. As I have searched the scriptures and listened to and read the words of the living oracles I have heard the Father's Plan referred to as the Plan of Happiness, the Plan of Salvation or Redemption and the Plan of Exaltation, etc. These titles for The Plan have been used in such a manner that most of us have concluded they are synonymous terms and can be used interchangeably as we feel so inclined to use them. I'm not sure what I am about to say is the total answer for these differing titles, but it feels good to me and so for now I have taken it into my personal bank of stored truths as I currently understand them. With this introduction behind us I write my beliefs of what could be seen as "another view of Heavenly Father's plan".

I believe that 'The Plan of Happiness' can best be used to describe that part of Heavenly Father's plan which if followed will help us maximize our Joy during our sojourn in mortality. Stated in it's simplest form the Plan of Happiness tells us that we just have to do two things: First, we must do all that we possibly can to cast Satan and his philosophies out of our lives; Second,we must strive with all our might to live our lives in accordance with the teachings Heavenly Father has sent to us through his Apostles and Prophets, both those who have lived and those who are currently living. As with all things which bear the claim of being the simplest of ideas, they seem to become complicated in the details; but the details must be studied and practiced and reevaluated over and over again, because a first attempt will almost always leave us woefully short of maximizing our Joy in mortality.

I believe 'The Plan of Salvation or Redemption' and the attendant Joy which it produces can only come to us to the degree that we are willing to use our Agency to take upon ourselves the Name of Jesus Christ and all that He is and all that His mission represents. We will maximize the available Joy from this plan when we become true disciples of His, taking upon ourselves not only His discipline, but also becoming diligent in the commission that we are to invite all to come unto Him.

I believe 'The Plan of Exaltation' and the attendant Joy which will result as we strive to understand and inculcate this plan into our lives is found in the quest that Joseph Smith taught about to the School of the Elders and is found in the Lectures on Faith. Simply stated Joseph taught that the eternal fulness of Joy can only be received through the grace of God: First, we come to understand the Attributes, Characteristics and Perfections of Godliness; Second, we come to believe that God truly is a Being with these Attributes, Characteristics and Perfections; Third, we strive to become like Heavenly Father by trying to make the Attributes, Characteristics and Perfections part of our natures. Finally, King Benjamin taught that when we have been proven the Grace of God will wrought a mighty change upon us. I believe that this means that there can come a time when Heavenly Father can change our shifting degrees of Joy into an everlasting state and that degree by degree as we move toward receiving the Attributes, Characteristics and Perfections of Godliness, we must continue striving until the day when Heavenly Father will bestow upon us a Fullness of Joy which will be Everlasting. From John 17:3 the Lord declares through John, that Life Eternal is dependent on knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ and whom he has sent.