When I was in high school I was very good at basketball. But, a few things jammed up my path to playing in college. But, the primary jam was that I didn’t play my Junior year of high school, at all. That year staying home changed my whole course in life. I learned to function differently without basketball being part of every moment of my life. I grew spiritually. I grew closer to my parents. My ideals about basketball and playing in college changed so much that when I played basketball my senior year I declined recruiting opportunities and had given up that dream altogether.

The few variables that made me skip my Junior year were at the time uncomfortable. But, I often look back and wonder what would have happened if my life, and my schedule, and my day-to-day functioning hadn’t been upset and shaken up. There’s no way to know. I only know that I’m glad they were.

From Two to Twenty

I credit my mom and my husband, Luke, for this blog post. Because they took something I thought I understood and made it even more mind-blowing, more relevant, and more powerful.

When two-hour church was announced I was immediately excited

(for those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our Prophet has changed our Sunday schedules from a three-hour event to a two-hour event and we are supposed to replace that third hour with all-week study and instruction in our homes…more or less).

We already have frequent gospel discussions in our home naturally, and so I was excited to have the impetus to “beef” them up and make them more special. I also thought that this added another facet to ministering, as I’d be able to discuss the same material with those who minister to me and with those to whom I minister. I was excited, in general, for yet another change, another alteration in the application of doctrine to shake things up and make people rethink things.

I also guiltily admit that I would generally much rather discuss “the lesson” at home than sit through an extra hour of church. But, I happily admit that I never saw two hours of church as less work. I knew it was more devotion and time the moment they explained it and I was excited to take it on.

Seeing the Parable of the Ten Virgins Anew

Then, this past Sunday, my husband, Luke, taught gospel doctrine…the last one in the old format. He said a few things that impacted me immediately.

  1. If the oil we get from church is all the oil we get, it is insufficient for deep conversion and a deep relationship with God, and Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:12, John 17:3). The five foolish virgins were active members of God’s church and they loved Christ (the bridegroom), but they had insufficient oil reserves to endure the wait for His second coming. Those oil reserves were insufficient because all the oil they had came from passive reception of gospel teaching through the efforts of others. They didn’t know Christ as they could have because they hadn’t put forth the diligent effort. Therefore, their relationship with him was not sufficient to be “recognized” for entry to the feast.
  2. The oil reserves of the five wise virgins had sufficient reserves because their relationship and knowledge of God came from active seeking, diligent study, and intelligent action. They knew Christ (the bridegroom) and their relationship with Him was sufficient to be “recognized.”
  3. Home-centered, Church-supported means that the church cannot support us if there is nothing to support. If there was no church support at all, what would our gospel knowledge, conversion, and relationship with God look like? The home is the primary center for gospel learning and instruction and if we do not cultivate something to be supported, no amount of church attendance will provide what we need.

My mouth didn’t drop open, but my mind and heart was opened to the full magnitude of what the Prophet was asking of us. He’s asking us to get real. He’s asking us to stop depending on others to provide the study, instruction, and application. He’s asking us to consider our priorities, not only on Sundays, but throughout the week. We are trading an hour of church for multiple hours during the week. We are changing out one hour a week for a life re-centered and re-focused on God, His plan, and His work.

Tearing Apart the Roof to Get to Jesus

In the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and even during the early days of the Restored Church, tradition has often stifled personal and church growth. For the Israelites tradition was an old testament burden and it became a new testament handicap to their ability to “get to Jesus,” to “recognize Jesus,” and to become converted to Christ.

The Nephites in the Book of Mormon always succumbed to the famously titled “pride cycle,” because when life got good and they established traditional frameworks and got comfortable, without fail their children always struggled to become converted to Christianity and dissenters and persecutors increased rapidly. Getting in a rut of tradition has always been the downfall of God’s people, past and present.

I was chatting with my mom on the phone just a day or so ago about her take on this new unifying curriculum and the two-hour church block. And, this is what she shared with me:

In Mark 2:1-12 we see Christ in Capernaum and He’s in one house. That house is packed to the hilt. Other people are in the way. And, the only way they can bring the man sick with the palsy into Christ’s presence to be healed is to tear up the roof. Then, after breaking up the roof, they lower the man with palsy down into Christ’s presence.

After reading this my mind kept being drawn back to the word roof. And I knew there was something about that word that needed to be discovered. After pondering over Christ as the “chief cornerstone” and Apostles and Prophets as the “foundation” of God’s church, I began to see other pieces of the gospel doctrines, principles, ordinances, covenants, and commandments take shape.

It was then I thought, “What is the roof?” In the account, the people had to tear up the roof to get the man to Christ to be healed, and it hit me, all this change, and other changes, being made are not to doctrine, or organization, or commandments, etc. The changes are all being made to the ways in which we apply these critical aspects of the gospel and integrate them into our lives. The roof then symbolized to me the applications, the traditions. Many times throughout the scriptures God makes changes that “tear up” or “break apart the roof,” or the traditions and applications we get so comfortable with so that we can see Him again! So we can get to Him again.

Thinking I had already been enlightened on this topic through my husband’s lesson, I was impressed yet again with the many things I was hearing. Elder David A. Bednar’s “gathering all things together in one in Christ” entered my mind. Things are changing because as a people we are getting too comfortable! We have ceased to see Christ and to seek Him (and to be LIKE Him). We have been fixated on traditional expectations and lines and have forgotten to look far beyond where the line has been set, to where crossing over those lines should lead us. We may even be getting in each others’ ways! It’s time to tear up the roof that we might again focus on the Savior and refocus our entire lives to come to know Him and to prepare the world for His second coming.

Giving Up What I Thought I Loved

The tradition of my life, as a teenager, of playing basketball and focusing on that goal got shaken up and torn away to reveal the Savior, and His path for me, in a few different ways. I made a hard decision to give up what I thought I loved for a year only to find that though I loved it, I didn’t love it as much as the path God put down for me. I have never regretted and forever been grateful for the things that happened to shake up my life and make me choose to not play basketball my Junior year. And, God has repeated that pattern in my life in various ways. When I get “set in my ways,” He always finds ways to “tear up the roof,” the comfortable traditions and focused ideas I get that take me down a path that is not as close to Him as I think it is.

The Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, under the direction of Jesus Christ is “tearing up the roof.” He’s upsetting our comfortable schedules. He’s shaking up our focus and getting us to look up and pay attention. He’s providing the impetus for us to re-evaluate, better prioritize, more easily identify the good-better-best in our lives, and take a major personal/family step in ensuring we have sufficient oil (a deeper understanding of the doctrines of the gospel and a firmer relationship with God) to help us withstand these latter-days and to prepare the world for Christ’s Second Coming.

So, get out your lamps, begin acquiring that extra oil, and embrace tearing up your schedules, your plans, and those traditions that get in the way of you recognizing, seeing, and seeking Christ—and taking the path He has set, not the one you’ve laid out.

BT

A few weeks back I wrote I blog called: The Stages of Prayer. This blog is about The Next Step.

Meaningful prayer, I have found, seems to be far more difficult for orthodox religions. This is because prayers of worship and the words of ordinances must be exact to be correct, and thus the idea of wrote prayer and checking off lists and removing personality and feeling often comes as an unintended result of tradition. And generations of such tradition often blur meaning and we forget to explain and teach critical doctrine. We turn God into a God of meaningless perfection and checklists instead of a personal God, who is our Heavenly Father (not a casual God, however…personal and casual are not the same thing).

The dilemma today is to return God to His personal (not casual) nature in our minds so that we might actually communicate and receive comfort, peace, guidance, and direction from Him. In a way, we’ve sort of turned our prayers into graven images (our versions of God’s command to pray) that are creating a barrier to us actually communing with Him in a meaningful way.

Why We Pray

Conveying information. That’s one of the reasons we talk. But, in reality, there is very little we can tell those who know us well and who love us that they can’t already see written on our faces or in our actions. They know when we’re angry, sad, mad, upset, stressed, happy, elated, excited, and peaceful. So, conversation with them serves what purpose? For what reason do we talk with close friends and family members if not to convey information?

We talk to those we trust to strengthen our bond with them. To gain validation for our feelings. To feel understood. We talk to them to puzzle out and define our feelings. We talk through problems with them out of a need to “let it out.” Sometimes, it’s talking things out that makes meaning and reason more clear to us. Sometimes, it’s while talking and reasoning with a close friend or family member that we have “ah-ha” moments and we, by talking and thinking, figure out our feelings and solutions to our problems.

God wants us to pray to Him. Not because He needs information. But because there is no one we can trust more. Because there is no one who can help us reason through our struggles better. Because there is no one who can validate us better. Because there is no one who can give us as much peace and understanding. God loves us. Thus, He wants us to pray to Him—to talk with Him. He knows everything we are thinking and feeling and want and hate. But, He wants us to work through those feelings with Him. He is the perfect confidant and the best source of guidance and advice.

Prayer is About What We Feel

When do you send a thank you card? When do you call up your friend, parent, sibling, or trusted associate to convey gratitude? When you feel it.

When do you express sorrow and regret for someone’s loss? When do you say sorry for things you’ve done in error? When do you get on your knees and beg for forgiveness? When you feel it.

When do you ask for help from others? When do you humble yourself and seek advice external to your own brain and personal resources? When do you plead for help with work, school, relationships, and trials? When you feel it.

How would it be if every time we talked to our best friend we had a compulsory list we said, by wrote, before we could talk to them about what we really wanted to talk to them about.

Hi Jane! Thanks for being my friend. Thanks for helping me last week. Thanks for getting me through that tough time two months ago. Wait, we can talk in a minute, just let me finish

Do we do that with God? I know I have for many years and He’s been patient with me. But the more I ponder prayer, the more I realize that such a thing is talking at God and not with Him. It’s not bad, it’s good. It’s some days even a very good list of things I have been grateful for in the past (sincerely)…however, they aren’t actually the things I feel as deeply grateful for that day. So, do I have to include them? If I don’t, will God somehow curse me in those areas? I think not.

Christ gave us a formula for prayer. But, I don’t believe He ever meant us to follow that formula as rigidly as we do, and with as little feeling as we do. I believe Christ wanted us to address God reverently and then express gratitude for what we feel most grateful for. Not to rattle off the same list every day. Not to say thank you for something just so that we can be assured He won’t allow something bad to happen in that category. God wants sincere gratitude. Not a compulsive list.

I believe Christ wanted us to ask forgiveness for those things that we genuinely we feel badly for. But, I don’t believe He wants us to go on and on and on, berating ourselves, self-deprecating, and groveling. I believe He wants us to repent when we feel we have something to repent of, not to rehash sins we are already deeply working on that we were successful on that day. Feelings…

I believe God would rather hear about what is really on our mind than a very good, even better, or best list we have of things in cue for Him to take care of. Things we’ve prayed for sincerely in the past weeks and months that we throw in “for good measure.” God wants to know what is closest to our heart today, this morning, right now. We aren’t conveying information, we are counseling with our Dearest Father, Truest Friend, Most Trustworthy Confidant. We are counseling with Him to come to better understand ourselves.

Using Meaningful Wording

There are some words, phrases, emoticons, and even abbreviations that we use every day that lose meaning in the overuse of them. We use the word “love” for everything from a color, an outfit, to food, and then turn around and use it in our deepest, most heartfelt expressions of devotion to our loved ones and God. Do we use it so much that when we use it, it no longer means what it should?

Bless the missionaries. Help us take this lesson into our hearts. Help us get home safely. Bless the food. Help me to have the Spirit…

When we talk with others, do we have phrases that we know what it means with those people, but outside of that context it loses meaning?

Meaningful: significant, valid, worthwhile, sincere, serious, and telling (i.e. revealing).

Do we throw phrases into our prayers without thinking because they are common, used by others, and have a general meaning? Look at those words: common, used by others, general meaning. Is that how we address God, our Father in Heaven?

God does not want flowery, pretentious wording in our prayers. But He does want the words we use to have significance, validity, sincerity, and to reveal to us our true feelings about the things we are counseling with Him about.

Whether we’re at home, praying over meals, engaging in family prayer, or praying in Sunday School or other class on a Sunday, it’s important to consider our true objective in praying and use meaningful words and phrases to express our desire to receive and to act.

Our Prayers Directly Reflect our Relationship with God

If our prayers are meaningful, then I find that our relationship with God is real, raw, genuine, and sincere. It has been my personal experience, and my observation, that the more real, genuine, telling, and meaningful our prayers, the more real, genuine, telling and sincere our relationship with God is. If we have tried and tested God through the years, our prayers reveal (tell of) our faith in Him. If we have received comfort, testimony, peace, and validation from God through the years, our prayers reveal (tell of) our confidence in receiving more of such peace. If we have received miracles, our prayers reveal our confidence in God’s ability to grant yet another one. If we have received critical answers and witnesses, our prayers reveal our belief that more will come and can be had at God’s hand.

A casual prayer reveals a casual relationship with the Almighty. And that relationship can change from prayer to prayer, day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year. Relationships (as the wise know) require constant care. We may be casual one day and on our knees, pleading the next. But, it would be much more ideal if day-to-day we strove to have meaningful prayer and to maintain a meaningful relationship with God.

The status and understanding of our relationship to God is often the biggest disconnect we have in prayer. If we see Him incorrectly, or if we do not know Him as we ought, our prayers will reflect that.

Simply Saying Prayers is Different from Engaging in Meaningful Prayer

If we look to scripture for examples of meaningful prayer, we find a pattern for exactly what meaningful prayer entails.

I suggest each of you review the following: Joseph Smith-History 1:8-10; Enos 1:2-5, 19; Alma 22:3, 5-6; 3 Nephi chapters 17-19; Luke 22:41-42

In these passages there is a clear and consistent pattern of what meaningful prayer looks like:

  1. Serious reflection prior to the prayer
  2. An object in praying or a specific desire/feeling generated the prayer
  3. Prayer was offered meaningfully directly focusing on the desire/object
  4. Object/desire was sought with intent to act on knowledge/blessing received
  5. Individual acts on knowledge received and testifies of the testimony gained

In in April 2008 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (bi-annual world conference of church), Elder David. A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave an address titled “Ask in Faith.” In this address he defined meaningful prayer in several ways:

Ask in Faith = express + do

Ask in Faith = plead + perform

Ask in Faith = communicate + act

Ask in Faith = inquire + do

Meaningful Prayer = holy communication + consecrated work

He counseled: “Pray with the expectation to act and not just to express.” For example, we often ask God to bless the missionaries or to help the sick or to comfort the weary. We express our desire for Him to care for these individuals. Yet, we do not ask for the guidance to be a part of the action. Elder Bednar then counseled:

If we would truly pray and ask in faith…our prayer of faith might include some of the following elements

Asking for courage and boldness to open our mouths and share the gospel with our family and friends.

  • Entreating Heavenly Father to help us identify individuals and families who will be receptive to our invitations to be taught by the missionaries in our homes.
  • Pledging to do our part this day and this week for help to overcome anxiety, fear, and hesitation.
  • Seeking for the gift of discernment—for eyes to see and ears to hear missionary opportunities as they occur.
  • Praying fervently for the strength to act as we know we should.

The Purpose of Prayer is to Become Like God

Aside from all that’s been discussed, I return again to the purpose of life. Our entire reason for being on the planet earth is so that God (through the use of our agency) can help us become like Him. Thus, when we go to Him in prayer, that which He desires to lead us to is His plan. Yes, He cares about our worries, our problems, our jobs, our education, and our relationships. But, if we remember that when we go to Him, to counsel with Him, that His end goal is to help us become like Him, that will broaden our scope of understanding and increase our ability to understand His will and guidance in our lives.

We are not on our knees to convey information. We are not on our knees to get that sports car we want. We are not even on our knees to get that job we want. We are on our knees to find out how God can take us from where we are, presently, to becoming like Him. That, in and of itself, means that the job we want may not be the one God wants us to have. It may mean going back to school. It may mean undoing a lot of the things we’ve been working for. It may mean doing more than we thought we had to, to go in a direction we had not previously imagined.

To make prayer meaningful, we have to be there to counsel with Him, and to ultimately seek His will of how we might act to progress in His designs to help us become like Him.

In the Bible Dictionary (scriptures.lds.org) we read:

Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with one another. Humble, earnest, and persistent prayer enables us to recognize and align ourselves with the will of the Father.

Additionally we learn:

The object of our prayers should not be to present a series of requests, but to secure for ourselves and for others the blessings that God is eager to bestow, according to His will and timing.

Conclusion:

Honest prayer. Once we arrive at true honesty in our prayers, meaningful prayer (prayer with the intent to act) is the next step. Prayer just might be the most important commandment of all. For with no connection to God, what good is all the rest? I challenge each of you to ponder meaningful prayer and to make the attempt to integrate it into your life.

BT

Doctrine: Tradition, in the church, leads us to summarize important gospel doctrines and principles into trite phrases (subject to misinterpretation) and high-level diagrams (that fail miserably as eternal cliff’s notes). Thus, the rising generation can’t understand the deep and essential truths of the gospel and are easily led astray because of “tradition.”

In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 26:1, we read:

Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin…and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.

This scripture is so accurate in its description of why the rising generation could not understand the prophets words and why they did not believe “the tradition” of their fathers. Such misunderstandings were related to “tradition.” And it is happening again today.

Tradition, in the church, leads us to summarize important gospel doctrines and principles into trite phrases (subject to misinterpretation) and high-level diagrams (that fail miserably as eternal cliff’s notes). Thus, the rising generation can’t understand the deep and essential truths of the gospel and are easily led astray because of “tradition.”

It is of some of these trite phrases, high-level conversations and diagrams, and generalizations that I’m blogging about today; and for today it all relates to the subject of the pre-mortal life (i.e. scripturally called “the foundations of the earth”).

Pre-Mortality

Pre-mortality. We often completely summarize it by calling it the war in heaven. We often make it out to be this obvious black and white choice. And yet, a third of the hosts (our spiritual brothers and sisters) made a choice against what we consider to have been an easy, obvious, and very understandable choice—to follow Christ.

The problem with boiling down the pre-mortal life the way we consistently do is that so much clear, necessary, helpful, and eye-opening doctrine is lost. So, here are a few of the generalizations we use to teach about pre-mortality and what I consider to be the deeper doctrines that are completely lost.

#1 – pre-mortal life was life through Christ

As alluded to above, we often present the pre-mortal existence as if it was all a war in heaven and only a tiny moment before coming to this world. And, when you and I think “war” we think conflict, fighting, weapons, blood, death, injury, etc. We think about mortal warfare. Now, I’m not suggesting that we didn’t have all of these things—of a kind—in the pre-mortal world, but I am suggesting that they presented themselves differently than we tend to think.

Pre-mortal life was life. It was the only life we knew. We had friendships. We had brothers and sisters we liked and those we didn’t like. There were personalities we got along with better than others. We spent time learning and growing in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of many things. There was no mortal time crunch there. And, I suspect we didn’t have to worry about day-to-day survival when it came to eating and seeking a profession. We were free to pursue our interests and to become masters of whatever we chose. We know we had not yet achieved perfection—as God is perfected.

However, whilst in the midst of all this spiritual living, we attended church. Yes! Maybe it was called church, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was called Family Home Evening, maybe it wasn’t. But, we did in fact attend or were proselyted to, because we were all taught God’s eternal plan of salvation. It was The Plan. It was the only plan that had ever been and that ever would be. And, it was taught by Christ, Himself (JST of St. John 1:1). That plan, that gospel, was the center of our broad—yet spiritual—life. It was already “the light” of our lives.

Consider the Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:1-4

In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made. In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men;

Just as we go about down here on earth with Christ as the light/power that quickens our existence, His light was integral to our pre-mortal existence. Just as Christ established His church and kingdom on this earth, He also established it in the pre-mortal world. Just as Christ preached the gospel here on earth, He also preached it to us in our pre-mortal existence.

Thus, we can see that from the beginning, from the moment we were organized (Abraham 3:22), Christ was already the center of our lives and God’s eternal plan. He didn’t just show up at The Council to stop Satan from implementing another plan. Christ had been The Plan all along.

#2 Satan’s plan was never “a plan” it was an attempted coup

When we summarize pre-mortality as a war between Christ and Satan, we get the false idea that Satan’s plan had a chance of being carried out. We get the idea that the war was a battle against two equal opponents. We get the idea that there was a chance that Satan might have won.

This, however, is a false idea (see #1 above). Satan’s plan was never a plan. It was an attempted coup. His sole desire was to dethrone the Almighty God, silence Christ’s preaching and power, and to have God’s power and glory in an absolute manner, which isn’t actually possible (Moses 4:1-4, Doctrine & Covenants 29:36). In fact, the war was not to decide which plan to follow, but to try to save those whom Satan led away “because of their agency.” God didn’t give up 1/3 of His children to maintain the “right plan.” One-third of His children—who had known all along what The Plan was—were cast out because they chose and attempted a fruitless coup on God, the Eternal Father.

Think about it. God won’t force us to accept His plan here on earth. And, He didn’t try to force us to accept His plan in the pre-mortal world. We can see that He is truly “the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (Mormon 9:9). We can also see that He is bound by law and covenant—which is critical to Him being God (Mormon 9: 15, 19; Alma 42:22-23).

Thus, Satan, in his pure arrogance, tried to manipulate God. “Not one soul will be lost,” (Moses 4:1) he said, IF you will “give me thine honor” (which is God’s power and glory).

Tradition progress future management assessment analysis company business concept businessman

#3 No souls are lost

We always talk about Satan’s plan like it was tempting because “not one soul will be lost” (Moses 4:1). We always talk about God’s/Christ’s plan as if souls will be lost. The problem with how we reference the two perspectives is terribly flawed for three reasons.

First, by attempting a coup, Satan led away a third of God’s children “because of their agency” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:36) and lost them their opportunity to become like God (the very thing he claimed to be protecting). So, that first third was the first evidence that Satan had no concern for the loss of any soul–to any degree.

Second, Satan’s idea of saving souls was coercion and unrighteous dominion. Think about life here on earth right now. What soul was ever saved (in any extent) by such leadership/relationship tactics? As well, no soul can be saved in ignorance (Doctrine and Covenants 131:6). That means that forcing us all to do right would not have saved our souls. Taking away our agency would not have saved our souls. It would have done the exact opposite. It would have damned every single one of us CONTRARY to Satan’s promise (and he knew that!). This is because salvation is extended to us based upon the true and sincere desires of our hearts which motivate our actions—NOT on perfect actions (Doctrine and Covenants 137:9). Likewise, eternal life (or life like God) is extended to us NOT because of what we do but because of WHAT WE BECOME as we try to do.

Without mistakes, sin, weakness, learning, experience, and opposition, we could not have been saved. It is quite clear that the atonement of Jesus Christ is the center of the plan because it allows us to learn from mistakes, weaknesses, and sin without being condemned by the learning process. We can’t become godly without fully understanding what it means to be otherwise. We can’t choose to become like God if we don’t understand what it means to be a god.

Third, in God’s plan (or Christ’s plan), none of us are lost. It’s the exact opposite of Satan’s lying proposal. Everyone who comes to this earth will receive, and inherit, a kingdom of glory, except sons of perdition. And, it is really, really hard to become perdition. Satan was perdition because He knew God the Father, He knew Christ, He knew the plan, and in the face of that perfect knowledge he rebelled. Cain was perdition for the same reasons. He walked and talked with God and knowingly set it aside (which he nearly almost did before being born onto the earth, Moses 5:25).

What Satan meant by “not one shall be lost” was that if God would give him His power, honor, and glory, he/Satan would give everyone godhood without them becoming godly first (which he couldn’t have done because even godhood is bound by law and covenant, but I suspect it was a lie anyway, as he was not the type to share power with anyone–so it was a lie within a lie). And yet “being lost” is exactly what would have happened had our agency been violated (by Satan) as he proposed. Thus, again, we can see it was a power play, a coup, and nothing more.

In this life, none of us lose the opportunity to become like God. It is presented to us daily. And, inasmuch as we submit to the enticing of the Holy Spirit (Mosiah 3:19) we become a little more Christlike, a little more like God, each and every day. It is only when we refuse to submit to God’s laws, ordinances, covenants, and to the Holy Spirit—because of our agency—that the “becoming-like-god” process is halted (Satan refused to submit and was therefore damned because of his own agency). And, by passing through this mortal life many determine that “becoming like god” is not actually what they truly want (because they’ve been presented with other options and found them more desirable). Thus, no one is lost. Everyone ends up exactly where they want to be, or, they receive as much godliness as they choose to receive (Doctrine and Covenants 88:15-40).

#4 Mortal life is as much about becoming like God (through grace) as it is discovering who we are

When we are young we all want to become doctors, lawyers, or anybody who makes a big paycheck. We think we want money more than we care to think about what we actually want to do to make that money. As we get older, however, we come to realize (through trial and error) that even large sums of money don’t bring us happiness. We also learn that what money can buy doesn’t necessarily bring us happiness. And, we learn that fundamentally, we are drawn to different types of careers, hobbies, activities, places, etc., and which we love to be a part of regardless of the amount of money we receive in consequence. We become far more occupied with spending our lives and our time in ways that bring us happiness and joy than we are about money.

Becoming like God is follows a similar principle, though I’m not actually comparing godhood to mortal money. Yet, like lots of money, I suspect that many of us thought we wanted godhood in the pre-mortal life. And yet, as we pass through The Plan here on this earth, I’ve no doubt that many of us discover that the laws, ordinances, covenants, responsibilities, and principles that accompany “life like God,” are a little above what we really want to do—for eternity. Do we really want to spend eternity “bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39)? Because, that’s what God does; and that’s what we’ll do when we become like Him. And, there is only one way to do that. It’s The Plan. The one we’ve been dissecting as part of the foundation of pre-mortal life.

I suspect the most merciful thing God has done for each one of us is to let us find out for ourselves if godhood is what we want–by passing through this life. And, not one soul is left out. If our part in this plan is such that we don’t have the opportunity to choose between godhood or the other options sufficiently, we will have our work done and the option given to us before the final resurrection and judgment through the vehicle of another part of The Plan, the spirit world. God’s plan is perfectly just and merciful because of the atonement offered by Jesus Christ. None of us will lose the opportunity for godhood. We must choose to let it pass by “because of [our] agency.”

Conclusion

Now, there are lots of doctrines tied to the pre-mortal world and life, but these are the ones I think people least ponder, consider, and understand. These are doctrines that we cannot be satisfied to shelter in church jargon and generalities. These are the doctrines that have the power to change behavior, increase understanding, and open our hearts to the inspiration, guidance, and promptings of the Holy Spirit. We all need this understanding.

It is not enough to suppose that there was a war in heaven. We must understand the fundamentals of why it took place and why it’s still a war that we are fighting today. We are still trying to help all of God’s children understand The Plan that has and will always be the only plan. We are still trying to help all of God’s children recognize who they are, what the purpose of life is, and to present them with the opportunity to choose godhood “because of their agency.” We are still fighting and trying to provide salvation in the only way it can be received. We are trying to offer exaltation in the only way it can be achieved.

BT