Sunday, June 26, 2011


My son Troy and I were recently discussing how readers of the parables have a strong propensity to see themselves in the role of the protagonist and others filling the role of the antagonist in these delightful allegories the Savior was so fond of using as a teaching tool. As we continued our discussion, in most instances we were able to find abundant interpretations of the parables which often varied perceptibly from the common view.

I understand what Joseph Smith was trying to teach when he said that the interpretation of a parable would be most correct if we first identified the group and situation which existed as the parable was being taught.

I also feel that the Lord was giving us an additional key when He told His disciples that they who had ears would hear and they who had eyes would see, giving us a strong indication that the parables might be understood in different ways as His listeners gained clarity of hearing and seeing though an increase of gospel insightfulness.

With this latter premise I enter the shaky ground of an interpretation of the parables based on the various players and props He used in what I consider to be fathomless anecdotes with countless messages.

As I attempt to put some order to this interpretive investigation I will rely on the sequence given to the parables as found in ‘Our Lord of the Gospels’ compiled by J. Reuben Clark, Jr. Because of the extensive use the Savior made of this teaching method I will write about only a few of those parables where roles and props lend themselves to multiple understandings so that His parables don’t become an endless source for my thoughts. On second thought, maybe that isn’t all that bad of an idea!

Building a House on Rock or on Sand – Matthew 7:24-27

Elements of parable: Wise hearers and doers of Lord’s sayings – Foolish who neither hear nor do Lord’s sayings – Rock – Sand – Rains – Floods – Winds

Rock – The one constant which we must be/find through continual development of a deepening of our understanding of His sayings until we come to that level of understanding we mortals are capable of obtaining through the help of His comforting Spirit. We will only begin to build upon this solid foundation when and if we arrive at that point when we begin our journey of being truly converted.

Sand – During our days of mortality we will continually be surrounded by sand and dust storms which create numerous parcels where most of us are willing to build our houses because the land is inexpensive and abundant. From out of every corner the voices of the world cry out that this or that piece of shifting ground is where we should build our house. There are many of us who with blinded shortsightedness spend our life’s resources building glittering gingerbread castles which will crumble into rubble as the storms descend.

Rains, Floods and Winds – Mortality would not be a time of testing if there were no tests. We were not sent here to spend our years in hot house environments forever shielded from the buffering elements. We were planted on the ocean’s cliffs where we would be exposed to all the forces of nature. The Lord assures us that as we stand solidly on the rock upon which He has planted us, facing the adversities which surly must come for the test to be real, following His sayings we will always stand and in the strange miracle of His plan be made stronger as the rains, the floods and the winds beat upon us.

Wise Hearer and doer of Lord’s sayings – Most of us immediately identify ourselves in this role, believing that we both understand the word and are fulfilling it in all diligence. We spend many moments of our lives wondering why the stability of our house is often shaken by even minor sprinkles and weak breezes which calmly come upon our house. We fail to realize that the materials hastily gathered and casually put together, often purchased at bargain prices and assembled in haphazard ways would also contribute to the destructibility or indestructability of our edifice. Yes the foundation is important to the stability of a house, but we also must be ever diligent in our efforts as we carefully construct our own house on that solid footing.

Foolish non-Hearer’s and non-Doer’s of his Sayings – My suspicion is that all of us have found ourselves cast in this unfavorable role more times than we really want to admit. There are times when the distractions and commotions of the world are so intense that it is almost impossible to hear His sayings. Sometimes we hear with a degree of understanding, but the path seems to be on a steep incline or the way too filled with obstacles and we soon find ourselves on a divergent road which seems much easier to traverse. Many times we begin to build anew not realizing that we continue to build upon a sandy lot offered by merchants who are out to make a quick buck and have no interest in the lasting stability of our houses.

We should energetically pray that we, like those who heard His words in those long ago days, will be astonished at His doctrine, recognizing the authority with which He taught and have the wisdom to fittingly build our houses upon the Rock of His sayings.


Sunday, June 19, 2011


I once knew a man of woe who spent endless hours in the libraries of the world searching out the secrets of life and the pathways to joy and happiness.

I once knew a man of happiness and joy who spent countless hours showing children the simple tasks of how to traverse each day’s rocky road and how they might cope with the problems they would encounter.

Love is best learned by those who love
Charity is best understood by those who give
Life is best enjoyed by those who live

I once knew a man of sullenness who spent the days of his life pontificating about the great opportunities and successes which awaited everyman at every turn of the clock.

I once knew a man of richness who spent the days of his life lifting others, making their lives productive through example and by providing opportunities for progress.

Love is best learned by those who love
Charity is best understood by those who give
Life is best enjoyed by those who live

I once knew a man of boredom who observed life from afar not wishing to contaminate himself through interaction with the evils of his fellowmen.

I once knew a man of exhilaration who spent his life involved with his fellow travelers striving to fulfill his heaven sent stewardship and helping other find theirs.

Love is best learned by those who love
Charity is best understood by those who give
Life is best enjoyed by those who live

I once knew a man in bondage whose heart was wrapped in chains welded by refusal to forgive and who was weighed down by a mountain of imagined never intended offenses envisioned though self-absorbed lenses.

I once knew a man of freedom who went forth with haste to forgive and forget those acts of intended or unintended malice which he knew happened to all imperfect beings struggling through life with fellow unfinished travelers.

Love is best learned by those who love
Charity is best understood by those who give
Life is best enjoyed by those who live

I once knew a cankered man donning the wrinkled countenance brought on by years of sitting on the sidelines pointing out all of the negative moves he saw in those who passed by his moldy bench.

I once knew a joyous man whose countenance had a brightness brought on by overlooking the warts which all bear, who concentrated on the positive aspects of those whom he walked beside.

Love is best learned by those who love
Charity is best understood by those who give
Life is best enjoyed by those who live

Although there is a great deal to be gained by involving oneself in learning, teaching and observing, the truly meaningful and eternal characteristics we should be seeking will be emblazoned on our souls through attentiveness to the God given practicum which surrounds us daily and allows us to interact with our numerous brothers and sisters.

Scripture: John 3:18

Sunday, June 12, 2011


A young scientist who while exploring the jungles of Brazil on a life changing day discovered a large, beautiful and previously unclassified butterfly. His discovery brought him both a degree of fame among his colleagues and opportunities he had only dreamed of.

One day in the mail he received an invitation from a brilliant team of scientist who had developed a time machine. They extended to him the privilege of rewalking through that same fortuitous jungle anytime in the past he might choose.

Excited at the opportunity he soon found himself inside the expansive lab staring at the machine which would transport him back to the days before Europeans started to extract their toll on the Americas.

Before entering into the machines chambers and embarking on his journey the young scientist was adamantly instructed that when he found himself in the long ago, he would see a path under his feet leading into the jungle. With absoluteness he was instructed to be sure that he never left the path and eventually would need to return to his original arrival spot to be able to return to his present life.

With those feelings in his stomach and chest and even some weakness in the knees which always accompany entering a new adventure he entered the machine.

Before what seemed like the passage of any time at all he saw the path reaching out in front of him into the ancestral and pristine forestry. With diligence he walked down the path for some time enjoying scenes which hadn’t been seen for hundreds of years. Of a sudden he saw just off the path one of the ancient parents of the large and beautiful butterfly which had brought him early and opportunistic fame.

For just an instant he put aside the instruction that he must remain on the path and found himself following the magnificent creature into the denseness of the trees. Then all went black.

When our young hero awoke he found himself in a dingy room, sitting in a well-used arm chair, and dressed in shabby attire. With hardly a shadow of his former life lingering he bent down to put on his shoes and wondered about the large beautiful butterfly he found on the bottom of his left shoe.

Having completed the journey of our pre-mortal estate, each of us left the comfort of our heavenly home and were sent away to our mortal journey by our loving Father in Heaven to find the true path and then to diligently remain thereon.

Our Father has dispensationally marked the path with His heaven sent messages to us through His chosen messengers. He has laid upon them the charge to disseminate their inspired words to Heavenly father’s children during their sojourn on the earth and to record them for guidance of future generations.

Our failure to remain on the path seldom comes because of insufficient illumination or a lack of clarity of the path, but most often comes because of the distractions which are constantly on the peripheral of the journey.

For one the lateral eye catching attraction may come in the form of a distracting desire for self-gratifying riches, for another the honors of humanity may overwhelm their heaven directed humble walk and yet for another it might be the positioning by pride which causes them to divert themselves from the universal relationships given as an eternal mandate.

One thing remains sure, it really doesn’t matter from whence the source of distraction emanates. Leaving the eternally tested path could cause disruptions in our journey and may even have the effect of altering our ultimate destination. At the very least we may find ourselves having a much lesser degree of true joy as we make our mortal passage that our
Heavenly Father told Lehi, the ancient Nephite prophet, was the irrevocable blessing of remaining on the path.

Scriptures: 2 Nephi 2, 9

Sunday, June 5, 2011

REST OF THE LORD (continuation)

Moroni 7:3 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the PEACEABLE followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient HOPE by which ye can enter into the rest (peace - hope) of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest (dwell) with him in heaven.

Alma 13:29 Having FAITH on the Lord; having a HOPE that ye shall receive eternal life; having the LOVE of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest (faith - hope - love).

2 Chronicles 15:15 And all Judah rejoiced at the OATH: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole DESIRE; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest (acceptance of oaths and desires) round about.

Psalms 37:7 Rest (trust) in the Lord, and WAIT PATIENTLY for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

JST, Genesis 15:12 And it came to pass, that Abram looked forth and saw the days of the Son of Man, and was glad, and his soul found rest (faith – hope – trust – belief - justification), and he BELIEVED in the Lord; and the Lord counted it unto him for righteousness.

Alma 12:37 And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments which he has given unto us; but let us enter into the rest (reward – promised blessings) of God, which is PREPARED ACCORDING TO HIS WORD.

Alma 16:17 That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might NOT BE UNBELIEVING, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with JOY, and as a branch be grafted into the TRUE VINE, that they might enter into the rest (life of joy - assuredness) of the Lord their God.

Recognizing my weaknesses and the absolute possibility that others will find better words to substitute in the sited scriptures, I still felt this to be a good exercise to come to a better understanding as to what the Lord intended when he sanctified the Sabbath day and hallowed it as a day of REST.

I know my Sabbaths would have far greater meaning and I would grow closer to the Creator who set the day apart if this day included mental and physical activities such as:

Conscientiously seeking His comfort

Letting Him free me from sorrow, fear and bondage

Recognizing the victories, protection and blessings He has given

Receiving the comforting soundness which accompanies His help in overcoming my weaknesses

Inching forward in my attempts to become worthy of the merciful salvation He has offered

Striving for an increase of faith, understanding and knowledge of His words and ways

Seeking to move ever closer to dwelling where He dwells

Allowing his tender mercies to replace my troubles with rejoicing

Allowing His healing forgiveness to help me forsake my repentant sins

Letting Him sustain me in efforts to gain more freedom from temptation

Contemplating how to be found more worthy of the promises and blessings He showers me with

Allowing His peace and hope to sustain me

Asking His aid in gaining an increase of faith, hope and love

Receiving His counsel on how to be more faithful in the fulfillment of righteous desires and covenants

Trusting more fully in the eternal correctness of His ways

Letting His justifying Spirit distil upon my soul

Being assured and guided more clearly on the directions along life’s path which leads to joy

What a surprise, to discover that the alternative definitions given by Webster’s exhaustive came much closer to what the Lord intended when He made His declarations about His day than the primary definition which is so readily accepted by what might be called a slothful generation.

Even the densest of us should eventually come to understand that when the Lord announced the Sabbath His intention was that the children of men were to concentrate on the sanctifying and hallowing and come to understand that, therein we would be making it a day of REST. How wonderful and comforting to know that all the goings and comings, meetings and greetings, listenings and speakings are totally in conformance with His will on His day.

Even so, it may be worth considering that from this day forward we seek to find more time on His Set Apart Day being actively engaged doing those works which will narrow the gulf between ourselves and our Redeemer and Savior.