Sunday, February 24, 2013


When I was starting on the road to my Master’s degree from Brigham Young University, I was able to convince my employers at the Church Education System and the administrators at BYU to allow me to pursue my degree in Ancient and Modern Scripture. Since this particular degree had not been offered at BYU for some time I was allowed to write up a proposal for the classes and other requirements which I would have to complete in order to qualify for a Master of Arts degree in the area of Ancient and Modern Scripture.

As you can imagine this ended up being one of the most enriching and gratifying times of my scholastic pursuits. The subjects and teachers I was involved with for those wonderful two years were all of my own choosing and completely in areas of most interest to me. It was a rare and golden opportunity.

During these exceptional years and even though it wouldn't be accepted by very many scholars of ancient writings, I came up with a personal way of distinguishing between ancient and modern scriptures. I separated the scriptures canonized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints into those scriptures written before the Savior’s mortal life as being ancient, and those which included His mortal life and which came through revelation after His mortal life as being modern.

This makes for an interesting division of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Dividing the scriptures in this way makes the Old Testament fall into my category of Ancient Scripture and the New Testament into the category of Modern Scripture. The Book of Mormon falls into Ancient Scripture up to 3rd Nephi and includes the book of Ether, while the books of 3rd Nephi, Mormon and Moroni fall into Modern Scripture. The Pearl of Great Price is entirely Ancient Scripture while the Doctrine and Covenants is entirely Modern. The revelations of the latter day Prophets and the present day Living Oracles would all be classified into the Modern Scripture group.

For those of you who are still reading I will try to make a point about why I have chosen to review a bit of my personal ancient history.

Although we cannot know all that the ancient prophets understood, we can examine their words which have been preserved. It seems that one of the concepts gleaned from studying the scriptures after dividing them in this way is that truths are revealed in an evolutionary way through His servants to Heavenly Father’s children.

Isaiah 28: 9-13

Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
To whom he said, this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little…

Once we understand that the knowledge of the Lord is dealt out in portions as we are prepared to receive it,

Alma 29: 8

For behold the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.

this should open up to us the reality of the limitations of understanding given to any generation and the minuteness of our personal understanding during our mortal sojourn and why Joseph Smith would have written the following in his Wentworth letter:

Article of Faith 9

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

I am grateful for the times of my life when I knew very little and was driven in my quest to know more.

I am grateful for the times of my life when I knew everything and was often challenged and shown how little I yet knew.

I am grateful for the times in my life when I was being tutored by those who knew much more and was driven to gain some of their knowledge.

I am grateful for the time in my life when I came to know that wisdom includes the understanding of how little I yet know.

I am grateful for the time in my life when I came to know that the light I now have is but a cornered shadow of the Eternal Light.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


In the beginning was the Word…

The only Begotten of the Father – that by him, and through him, the worlds are and were created – in him was life and the life was the light of men – and he said unto the Father send me

And the Word was made flesh…

And his name shall be Immanuel – the virgin whom thou seeth is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh – Mary, blessed art thou among women – for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord – behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father

And the Word became perfect…

Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man – behold the Lamb of God going forth among the children of men – multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases – they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God – for we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin – the Lamb of God was taken by the people – the Lamb without blemish the Son of the Everlasting God was judged of the world

And the Word brought Salvation to all…

And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross – which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink – nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men – that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life – for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive

Using the words of those who have testified in Holy Writ I have introduced another facet of my life which not only enlightens me but also fills most of my days with reason and gratitude.

Just as the Plan of Happiness has instructed me in the ways I should walk during my mortal life, the Plan of Salvation gives me the hope and fills my soul with faith, that because of the condescension of the Son of God and His atoning sacrifice, the bonds of death have been broken, and all shall rise again.

Without this hope:

Each sunrise would be an introduction to another day of monotonous life sustaining activities

Interactions would become a continual game competition of king of the hill filled with contention

There would be a never ending unfulfilled search for the meaning of existence

The senseless gathering of stuff would become life’s goal

Witnessing man’s inhumanity would fill my heart with sadness and sorrow

Each sunset would leave me desirous of sleep’s darkness as a break from the day’s doldrums

With faith developed from this hope:

Each sunrise is an introduction to another day filled with aspirations of fulfilling magnifying of stewardships

Relationships become opportunities to develop cooperation and find opportunities where charity can be extended

One has a foundation of the understanding of the purpose of existence, upon which they can build continual learning and a life of endless explorations

Having enough stuff for the sustaining of life becomes sufficient

Publishing peace fills my heart with purpose and joy

Each sunset leaves me desirous for the coming of tomorrow with its promise of further opportunities for progress

I, like Paul of old, can gratefully say that if in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. With equal gratitude I can say that with faith in the salvation and the redemption brought by the Lamb of God we can be of all men most joyful.


Sunday, February 10, 2013


Long before I became aware of the Book of Mormon and its references to the Plan of Happiness I was very conscious that the expectations at home were very different than life as it was portrayed in the movies or on television. I was even aware that the reports of friends and what went on within the walls of their houses was different than what I experienced at home.

I don't remember it having a beginning, it just was. There was never a list of rules posted, it was just how things were.

Happiness comes from cooperation and not from contention.

Happiness comes when there is peace and not when there is war.

Happiness comes with soft voices and not with harsh words.

Happiness comes when helping and not when hurting.

Happiness from giving is permanent while happiness from getting is temporary.

Happiness comes with tenderness and not with anger.

Happiness comes from forgiveness and not from revenge.

Happiness comes when diligent and not when slothful.

Happiness comes when loving and never when hating.

Happiness comes with kindness and never with bullying.

Happiness comes when all are included and none are excluded.

Happiness comes with universal kinship and not with bigotry.

Happiness comes when blessings given to others are appreciated and not envied.

Happiness comes with righteousness and not with iniquity.

Happiness comes with hope and not with desperation.

Happiness comes with faith and not with doubt.

Happiness comes with knowledge and not with ignorance.

When I did discover the Plan of Happiness in the Book of Mormon I was always puzzled why so often those who possessed it held fast to it for only a short season.

Life’s passage has helped me understand that we mortals are funny that way, always being persuaded that when we have that which is desirable above all, that there is something better.

Unfortunately we usually discover, as our ancestors through the centuries have, that the ‘something better’ we were chasing turns into a corruptible counterfeit and misery, sorrow and sadness replace our hoped for happy state.

The words recorded in the Book of Mormon in Fourth Nephi, although very brief, hold out the hope to all of us that the Plan of Happiness can be lived by large groups for generations.

Though I haltingly learned and was slow to remember and all too often from it’s paths did take flight

I will forever be grateful to parents, teachers and loved ones who to me the Plan of Happiness did impart

Though through the ages Holy men have recorded the rules on stone, skin, papyri, metal, linen, and pulp

It seems all must discover that Happiness will not come until the tenets are engraven upon the heart