The Plan of Salvation

meme-stars-nephi-1218001-mobile.jpgThe Plan of Salvation is the fundamental principle upon which this life is predicated. Everything we do, everything we are, all hinges upon upon this plan. Jesus Christ himself described the Plan of Salvation.  So what is the Plan of Salvation?  Put succinctly, the Plan of Salvation is God’s plan for man.  It is his method of redeeming us from the fallen state in which we now live so that we can live in an exalted state with Him. I believe the Plan of Salvation consists of 3 main parts:

  • the Creation
  • the Fall
  • the Atonement

“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). We all know the rest of the that story…God spent the next 5 days creating the plants, animals, and lastly, man & woman.  Adam and Eve lived in a place called Eden, but were unable to have children.  There had to be a change wrought upon them to allow them to fulfill the purpose of this life.  Eve then made one of the greatest decisions ever made–to partake of the forbidden fruit so that all of mankind could be born into this life. This was the Fall.  It was a fall from the presence of God into a world filled with the desires of the natural man. The only way to redeem mankind from the fall was through an atoning sacrifice.  There had to be One who could save us from sin–that was Jesus Christ. I think the Plan of Salvation is much more personal than we think though.  Consider it this way:

  • the Creation: I was created.  I was first created as a spirit, then my physical body was created.  As a child, I lived in a state of innocence.
  • the Fall: At some point in my life, I sinned.  That sin forced me to leave my state of innocence and enter the world of repentance and forgiveness. By the doctrine I believe, this transition happens for most people when they turn 8 years old…when they reach the age of accountability.
  • the Atonement: I cannot Atone for my own sins, but I can allow the Atonement to take away my sins.  However, I must take action…I have to consciously choose to follow Jesus Christ.  I must allow myself to be saved by his blood.

meme-success-following-plan-scott-1324265-mobile.jpgIt is by following these steps that the Plan of Salvation turns from something that occurred thousands of years ago into something that happens every day as I repent and seek forgiveness for my sins.  By following these steps, the Plan of Salvation becomes something personal to me, something I must do in order to be redeemed from my fallen state. In order to make the Atonement effective in our lives, there are a several things we must do:

  1. Accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior
  2. Receive the Saving Ordinances
  3. Repent (continuously)
  4. Obey the commandments and strive to become like the Savior

The Plan of Salvation is discussed throughout the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  It is also referred to as

  • The Plan of the Great Creator
  • The Plan of Redemption
  • The Plan of the Eternal God
  • The Plan of Restoration
  • The Plan of Mercy
  • The Plan of Happiness
  • The Plan of Our God

The clearest, most succinct description of the Plan of Salvation is found in Moses 6:55-62.

55 And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. 56 And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment. 57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time. 58 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying: 59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; 60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; 61 Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment. 62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.

What are the doctrines we learn from this relatively short passage?

  1. The Lord speaks to his children. (“And the Lord spake unto Adam”) He spoke to Adam, he spoke to Moses, he spoke to Lehi, he spoke to Joseph Smith, and he can speak to me. What do I need to do in order to place myself in a position to hear the Lord? What do I need to adjust to bring my life into harmony with his will?
  2. Children are conceived in sin. (“Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin”) This isn’t principle of original sin, rather, it teaches that children come into a world filled with evil and sin. Therefore are children “conceived in sin.” This principle is best taught by looking at D&C 93:38 “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.” Moroni also deemed this principle of such importance, that he recorded an entire chapter (in an epistle from his father) regarding infant baptism. “Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:8)
  3. Men have a tendency to sin. (“even so when they being to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts”) I wonder if this is similar to the Second Law of Thermodynamics which basically says that all things are breaking down and being less organized, to the point where only chaos will remain. I feel there is a tie to our heart “breaking down” to a less organized, chaotic state.
  4. There must be opposition in all things. (“they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. And it is given unto them to know good from evil”) Lehi taught “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” (2 Nephi 2:11).
  5. We are responsible for our own decisions. (“wherefore they are agents unto themselves”) No one can make us do anything. There are times when we give up our agency by making certain decisions. For example, violating the law is usually a decision we make that leads to bondage.
  6. God gave commandments. (“I have given unto you another law and commandment”)
  7. Parents are to teach the gospel to their children (“wherefore teach it unto your children”) See D&C 68:25
  8. All men must repent. (“all men, everywhere must repent or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God”)
  9. No unclean thing can dwell with God. (“for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence”)
  10. Transgression led to the fall. (“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall”)
  11. The fall led to death. (“which fall bringeth death”)
  12. We must be baptized in order to return to heaven. (“by the water ye keep the commandment”)
  13. The Atonement enables man to be clean from sin. (“be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin”)
  14. The reward is eternal life and immortal glory. (“enjoy…eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory”)

see also:


Cell phones, iPads, Kindles, and more

FullSizeRender.jpgI remember clearly growing up in an age where our TV received 4 channels (2, 7, 16, & 22).  It was big news when Fox started up (channel 45) and we had 5 channels to choose from!  Because we lived in the country, the cable company hadn’t yet laid cable down our road.  I suppose satellite TV was an option, but it wasn’t one that was entertained by my parents.

I also remember buying my first cell phone in 2000.  We lived in Germany and thought it might be prudent to have a cell phone for emergencies.  It worked well enough…although we were forever low on minutes (it was a pay-as-you-go phone).  When we left Europe for Nebraska, we tried the cell phone only route with good success.  In fact, we’ve really only had cell phones since we moved to Nebraska.

Today, cell phones are more powerful than the computers used to launch Neil Armstrong to the moon! Back in my youth, pornography was something that you saw only when you managed to get your hands on a hand-me-down dirty magazine.  Today, pornography pops up in Google results during the most innocuous search requests.

One of the questions I enjoy pondering is why we are so blessed today?  We do we have so many labor-saving devices? I believe the answer is so we have more time to do the things which matter most. Sister Susa Young Gates  once asked her father [Brigham Young]:

“how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that must be done, if all are given a full opportunity for exaltation. He told her there would be many inventions of labor-saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work. The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord”  (quoted in Meeting the Needs of a Worldwide Church)

I was amazed the other day to discover the Family Search App for my iPhone.  Once I logged into the app, my entire family tree was immediately accessible.  I was able to access census and other records. I could add pictures to family records.  It was truly amazing to me how easy family history work had just become!  In very little time, I discovered family members who were previously missing from my tree.

With these great inventions come great responsibility and great danger.

As I look around me, I see a society that is becoming disengaged. In January 2011, a woman fell into a fountain while using a phone.  In February 2015, a man missed a humpback whale because he was texting.  In December 2015, a man walked off a cliff in California while looking at his phone. Here is a good report on walking while distracted. Here is another video on the dangers of driving while distracted. I submit to you, however, there is an even more dangerous phenomena occurring with cell phone and other mobile devices.  I call it “Distracted Worship.”

Elder Oaks spoke of this in October 2008:

During sacrament meeting—and especially during the sacrament service—we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others…Young people, it is not a time for whispered conversations on cell phones or for texting persons at other locations. When we partake of the sacrament, we make a sacred covenant that we will always remember the Savior. How sad to see persons obviously violating that covenant in the very meeting where they are making it.

Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament

Idle WorshipSeven years later, Elder Oaks spoke again on the dangers of distracted worship in a talk about the Parable of the Sower:

If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward stony ground. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule.

Being an advisor to the Young Men at Church, I hear many reasons why they are on their phones at church. One of the most common reasons is that class is boring.  I would be a hypocrite if I denied that sometimes I’m bored in Sunday School.  I’d be lying if I said I never used my mobile device in class to distract myself from a lesson that 1) I already heard 2) I thought didn’t apply to me or 3) I felt I could teach better.  I also know that each of these excuses are just that…excuses.

What then do we do when we are in a situation where we are bored?  How do we handle sitting at church when the speakers and teachers lecture instead of teach? I found some great advice in an article titled “Never have a Boring Church Class Again.”  Allow me to summarize the main points. When you find yourself in a boring class, you could:

  • Ask yourself why you come to church
  • Treat your gospel education like building a fire…piece by piece
  • Take it Personally
  • Find the Gems
  • Don’t let it end too soon
  • Take action on what you learn

Someone once asked President Spencer W. Kimball what he did when he was in a boring Sacrament meeting.  He replied “I don’t know, I’ve never been in one.”  I don’t think he’s heard some of the same speakers I’ve heard!  Seriously though, I have to wonder if he didn’t take to heart the counsel in the article I just quoted, particularly the lines of “take it personally,” “find the gems” and “take action on what you learn.”

So what can we do to combat the negative influences of mobile devices and encouraging positive behavior? Here are some things I’ve tried (with varying amounts of success).

Have a media fast. Every now and then, my family goes on a media fast.  We put all our devices away and force ourselves to interact with each other.  We play games, take walks, and talk.  It isn’t always easy.  Here is a picture of my youngest son putting the Kindle in the box for the evening. It wasn’t long before he got over the missing Kindle and had a great time with the family.

Media Fast.jpg

Line up the devices on the chalk board. Occasionally, I will have all the young men in my class at church put their devices on the chalk board.  This forces them to revert to *gasp* hard copy Scriptures!  I understand the ease of looking up scriptures on my mobile device, but I also appreciate the feel of the Book in my hand as I read the Word of God.

Use Airplane mode at Church. If you can’t get yourself to put away your device at church, you could at least put your device in airplane mode.  This way you’ll be able to access the scriptures, lesson manual and other pertinent information without being distracted by Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Set boundaries. Science tells us we shouldn’t let our children eat unlimited amounts of sugar, or stay up all night playing.  Likewise, we shouldn’t let our children have unlimited access to mobile devices or technology.  Set a time limit on screen time and restrict access to inappropriate sites.

Trust, but verify. It is my opinion that I have a right and a duty as a parent to monitor the sites my children visit on the Internet.  I have a right and a duty to scan through text messages, e-mails, and other communication.  I call this “Good Parenting.”

Use a gospel-themed lock screen and wallpaper. I find it much harder to do something bad with my mobile device when the first thing I see on the screen is the Temple of the Lord. If you need suggestions for good lock screens, you might try looking here or here.

This video shows that part of the problem is that we (parents) sometimes act like buffoons around technology and mobile devices. Although there are times I want to react like this woman, I realize there is value with these devices.  For instance, LDS missionaries are beginning to use iPads to teach the Gospel.  The Church has published a variety of apps to strengthen those searching for Christ. We need to make technology and mobile devices “our servants, not our masters. For example, if later tonight you share inspiring thoughts from this devotional on social media, your smartphone is a servant. If you randomly surf the Internet, your smartphone is a master” (Make Technology your Servant, not your Master).

Mobile Devices can have a wonderful place in our lives. They allow us to communicate with family and friends.  They allow us access to more information than we can ever hope to understand.  The help us save time so we can do more of the Lord’s work.  We must remember and give respect to these devices for the power they hold.  If you are with family or friends, then put down your mobile device and be present. Remember that…

Distracted driving can lead to physical death.

Distracted worship can lead spiritual death.  

see also:

Fight the New Drug

Overcoming Pornography

Archway Counseling and Wellness

Stupid criminals caught by mobile devices

7 More Stupid Criminals

Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament

Quotes on Technology

To Be Edified and Rejoice Together

Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe the Lord Jesus Christ has established the order of His church on the Earth today. This includes the role of Seventy, Apostle, and Prophet. Every six months, we have an opportunity to sit at the feet of these men and hear the word of the Lord. At this conference, we were taught about Jesus Christ, forgiveness, family councils, eternal families, priesthood power, rescuing the lost, the Sacrament, and so many other topics.  I heard words that apply to my life–I felt inspired. I know that we all can feel inspired, motivated, and uplifted as we listen to a prophet’s voice.

Today, I want to share with my family some of the counsel I heard at the latest General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–this is what I heard, it may not be phrased exactly as it was spoken.


President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency

president-henry-b-eyring-lds-462519-mobile.jpgIn the parable of the sower, the seed is the word of God, the soil is the heart of the person who hears the word of God.  We can choose over the next few days to soften our hearts and hear the word of God and therefore grow and be fruitful through the words, songs, and prayers of this Conference. The Gospel of Jesus Christ requires us to active participants…it isn’t enough to simply be present, we must be willing to to action.

Sister Durham, Second Counselor in the General Primary Presidency

The home is the best immersion setting to learn spiritual things.  Consider the story of Samuel–it is our role as parents to help our children learn to recognize the voice of the Lord in their lives.

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, of the Seventy

We all face real setbacks and challenges in this life.  When these happen, what is our immediate response?  Do we doubt our faith and blame others…or do we remember who we are…children of God? Unfortunately, the world has so many distractions that cause to first to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God.  Do I know who I am?  Do I know that I am a Child of God?

Elder Gary A. Stevenson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

gary-e-stevenson-apostle-1655147-mobile.jpgHe opened with a story about losing his car keys while skiing.  I was taken back 25 years to a time when my sister and I were skiing in the mountains of Colorado and discovered that we had lost the car keys sometime during the day (I’ll share that story another day). Elder Stevenson’s point was that a car has great potential, but with keys, is useless.  Likewise the Priesthood of God has great potential, but is limited without keys of authority.  There are 3 ways we can find the keys of the Priesthood:

  1. Prepare for Missionary Service
  2. Attend the Temple
  3. Go Forward with Faith

Elder Duncan, of the Seventy

It’s not up to us to demand justice when we forgive.  Remember that we are all Saul-like individuals with Paul-like potential. If you’re having trouble forgiving another person (or yourself), then ask God for help.  Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, resentment, or even revenge.

Elder Dale G. Renlund, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

dale-renlund-portrait-apostle-1658852-mobile.jpgThe greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.  That is why the Church system of welfare encourages people to go to family first when they need assistance. This same concept applies spiritually.  The greater the distance between God and myself, the more I am likely to feel entitled to blessings, etc.  The closer I am to God, the more likely I am to realize the profound sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the more likely I am to feel it a blessing to receive grace. The best way to draw closer to the Savior is by preparing for the Sacrament each week. Finally, we each need to prepare for hard days.  The parable of the wise and foolish man doesn’t say “if the winds blow” it says “when the winds blow.”  Everyone will face challenges and hardships in life.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The Restoration began with a youth asking a question.  Having questions isn’t a bad thing, we just need to ask the right source for the answers. The Prophets and Apostles today have been warning us of:ronald-rasband-apostle-portrait-1604101-mobile.jpg

  • casual Sabbath-day observance
  • threats to the family
  • assaults on religious freedom
  • disputing latter-day revelation

Am I listening?  Am I taking action?

Elder Melvyn B. Arnold, of the Seventy

There are four principles in the concept of going to the rescue (of those who have fallen away):

  1. Don’t delay going to the rescue
  2. Never give up
  3. How great shall be your joy if you bring save it be one soul unto Christ
  4. No matter our age, we are all called to go to the rescue

Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostleselder-david-a-bednar-lds-190782-mobile.jpg

The Holy Ghost burns the dross and evil from the human soul. The ordinances of baptism by immersion, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the sacrament are not isolated and discrete events; rather, they are elements in an interrelated and additive pattern of redemptive progress.



Elder M. Russell Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

There are four types of family councils we need to know, understand, and use:


  1. Full family council: consists of all members of a family and are used to discuss general issues pertaining to the family, scheduling events, or other decisions that need broad acceptance/support
  2. Executive family council: consists of husband and wife and is used to discuss the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of each member of the family as well as the relationship between husband and wife. Never retire for bed without first kneeling together, holding hands in prayer
  3. Limited family council: consists of mother, father, and a child; is used to help a child make important decisions before they face the decision; also used to establish goals and objectives and is a time to listen to the serious concerns and challenges a child may face
  4. One-on-one family council: consists of two members of a family and often “just happens” as family members drive places, work together, or simply need to talk

There was a time when the walls of our home provided all the defense we needed…those days are gone.  We need to be actively engaged to defending our family.

elder-russell-m-nelson-lds-190786-mobilePresident Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

There is power in the Priesthood.  Only a man who has paid the price to develop priesthood power will be able to keep his family safe now and through eternity. Do I commune with God? Do I feast on the scriptures? Do I worship in the temple regularly? Do I ask questions about what I want to learn? Most importantly, do I cherish my wife and her council?

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, YW General President

We hear the promises of the Temple, that families can be together forever, but do I believe it?  If I do believe it, then I need to be grateful for that promise and do everything I can to make it effective in my life

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell

The dial on the wheel of sorrow will eventually point at each of us.  At some point, all must experience sorrow.  What is important is how we deal with that sorrow.  The key is to find the peace the Savior offers us. We can do this by learning of him, listening to his words, then walking in the meekness of his Spirit.

Elder Christofferson

elder-d-todd-christofferson-lds-560237-mobileThe highest role of a man is husband and father; society today is very ambivalent toward fathers.  Young Men, prepare now by diligent education, positive associations, learning about healthy relationships (in person); live your life so that as a man, you’ll bring honor to marriage and your children.  We all wish we were better fathers, but we must press on; think first of the happiness and well-being of others; despite our inadequacies, Heavenly Father will magnify our efforts

Elder Cookelder-quentin-l-cook-lds-447914-mobile

Each of us needs to see ourself in the Temple.  Until you’ve entered the house of the Lord, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer.  The crowning blessings are those blessings received in the Temple of God.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidencypresident-dieter-f-uchtdorf-lds-495749-mobile.jpg

Families are meant to be eternal.  They are the order of heaven…an echo of a celestial pattern and an emulation of God’s eternal family.  Relationships begin to break when we stop looking at the good and begin to notice the faults.  We need to pull the weeds and water the flowers.  He was 4 years old when the city of Dresden was destroyed by bombs.  Over the past 70 years, the people of Dresden have rebuilt their city into a beautiful place.  If man can take the ruins of a city and build a new, glorious city; how much more able is God able to take the ruins of a mans life and build a new, glorious life. The sheep is worth of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the Good Shepherd; he knows when we are lost, he knows where we are, he knows how to find us and how to bring us back to the fold. German author Erich Kästner said: “Es gibt nichts Gutes, ausser man tut es”– “There is nothing good unless we do it”


President Thomas S. Monson, Prophet

There is a very real power in the Priesthood.  We must remember that Priesthood power is predicated upon righteous living and will go away if we try to force others to do things.

When Alice came to the fork in the road, she asked the Cheshire Cat which way to go.  “Where do you want to go?” asked the Car. “I don’t know” replied Alice.  “Then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”

We are different from Alice because we know where we want to go.  May we choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.  Above all, whether we make one choice or another, as long as we choose Christ, we’ll always be right

I believe the important thing about General Conference is what we do once it is over.  We should study this counsel not once, but many times over the next six months.  These aren’t just idle words, this is what the servants of the Lord are saying to us…today.  If we are to draw closer to our Father in Heaven, if we are to be more like the Savior, Jesus Christ, then we need to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit when it speaks.  In order to do this we need first, to “open our ears” and hear the word of the Lord. Then we need to “gird up our loins” and take upon us the full armor of God.  Finally (and most importantly) we need to take action.