Religious Education Faculty Member
Brian grew up in nearby Sugar City, the oldest of ten children.
After returning home from his mission to Thailand, Brian resumed studies at Ricks College where he met his wife, Debbi. They were married after graduating from Ricks College. Brian received a bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Utah State University and also completed the pre-service program for seminary teachers. He taught seminary in Idaho Falls for 8 years and then joined the Ricks College religion faculty 20 years ago. Brian also holds a master’s degree from USU.
Brian has been a bishop twice (once over a campus YSA ward) and is currently serving as the Sugar City Stake president.
Brian and Debbi are joyfully busy with 10 children and three grandchildren.
Please respond to the question below on the devotional discussion board:
In your life, how has creating something helped you come closer to God?
What a privilege it is to be with you today in devotional. Over the years, I have attended hundreds of devotionals, but it is a completely different experience from this side of the pulpit. I hope that what I share today will be, to some extent, as helpful and beneficial to you as it has been to me in preparing this message.
Early in my career as a seminary teacher, I was introduced to the text of an early curriculum from the School of the Prophets. This curriculum, known today as the Lectures on Faith, opened my eyes to some wonderful lessons which expanded my understanding of and appreciation for the importance of faith as a principle of salvation. In the third lesson, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon shared something that really stood out to me.
In the third lecture we read:
Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
First, The idea that he actually exists.
Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The second point really hit home to me. I, or rather we, in order to have real and saving faith in God, need to correctly understand His character. We need to genuinely know Him and what He is really like. Knowing Him and His character is a lifetime pursuit. Today, I would like to discuss just one of His characteristics with the hope that we might learn together, not only what God is like, but what we can do to become more like Him and to find a new richness in our life along the way.
In the summer of 1983, I was given an opportunity of which I had only previously dreamed. When I was a young man, I had three passions. One was sports. I loved both watching and participating in football and track and field. Another passion was the outdoors. I loved hiking, fishing, and hunting in the great outdoors. The third was art. I loved to draw and at this point in my life was being introduced to oil painting. At that time, I was starting to think about a career which could involve all three passions. My dream was to become an illustrator for a magazine or magazines, which would allow me to draw or paint athletes competing in various sporting events or wildlife and wildlife adventures . . . or both. That is where my dream opportunity comes into the story.
One of my best friends’ dads worked in the art department here at Ricks College. I had occasionally sought advice from Brother Robert Worrell about drawing and painting, but it wasn’t something that was ongoing or long lasting. That summer, I was invited with my friend to spend some time up here on campus with Brother Worrell using the facilities to learn more about oil painting. For me, this was going to be an exceptional experience, especially since there was a real possibility that I would get to interact with, and hopefully learn from, my artistic idol Brother Leon Parson. At that time, Brother Parson was not only a member of the art faculty here, but also an illustrator for Outdoor Life . . . kind of my dream job. During that summer, I was able to learn, from Brother Parson and Brother Worrell, many wonderful things. I don’t know if I became any better as an artist that summer, but I started down a path, which over time, has helped me learn more about God.
After graduating from high school, I came here as an art student. I chose to major in illustration, where I was able to continue to be taught by Brother Parson. During those first semesters, I was not only taught a lot about art, like color theory, light, contrast, observation and creativity, but Brother Parson was a master of teaching us about life and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I loved all of it. After a year of college, I then left on a mission to Bangkok, Thailand, where I was able devote myself to learning about God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and to sharing that with the people of Thailand. That experience changed what I wanted to do with my life, but it also started me on a path of learning more about the character of God.
My change of direction in my life, coupled with a lot of art credits, led me to switch my major to art education and simultaneously take the classes in the seminary teaching pre-service program. That dual study of art and seminary teaching opened my eyes to the character of God in a way that I hadn’t studied or experienced before.
The very first record that we encounter when we open the Holy Bible is the account of the creation of the world. We read through the events described in broad strokes—always ending with the exclamation that what has happened “is good.” It is also instructive that the narrative of the creation is repeated by other prophets and in other circumstances—indicating to me, at least—that this is an important lesson for me to know. Rather than discuss the doctrine of the creation today, I would like to share how creativity is a characteristic of God, and how, as we create something, we experience something divine.
The definition of the word “create” is to “bring (something) into existence.” That means that a creator is one who “brings something into existence.” One of the great titles, which fits both the Father and the Son, is that of Creator.
I have long loved looking at the beauty of God’s great creations. I marvel at the incredible way that colors in nature work together and complement each other. I love to see the splendor of the animal kingdom and how the wide variety of these creations testify of the breadth and depth of creation. It is no wonder that after each of the creative periods, God said, “It is good.” At the conclusion of the account in Genesis, it reads:
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
And it is very, very good.
When discussing the character of God and his role as creator, Rabbi Adina Allen said:
Bereisheit bara Elohim, In the beginning, God created. These are the first three words of the Torah. . . .
“Bereisheit bara Elohim.” God is, first and foremost, a Creator. The Torah begins with these words to teach us that the fundamental nature of the Divine is to be creative. Later in the Torah portion, we learn that human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim - in the image of [God]. By linking these two concepts, we formulate the powerful idea that humans are made to be creators. Creativity is inherent in each and every one of us. It is imbued in us from the very beginning. It is a foundational aspect of what it means to be human and an essential pathway to connection with the Divine.
I love how she connected God’s creative nature with our own. As we create, we connect with God, and I believe that we begin to understand more of Him and His character. I also believe that not only are both the Father and the Son creators, they also want us to create.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught that:
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty . . . the more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come.
I am sure that some of you may be saying, “Yeah, that’s great, but I am just not creative, so I guess I will never really understand that characteristic of God.”
Sister Mary Ellen Smoot, former Relief Society General President, addressed this topic and included all of us when she said:
I marvel when I think of this world so rich in beauty, so perfect in function. This world was created by Jesus Christ under the direction of our Heavenly Father. Creation is one of the characteristics that defines God. He takes matter without form and molds it into stars, planets, and solar systems. “Worlds without number have I created,” He tells us.
Brothers and sisters, we are children of God. Shouldn’t we be about our Father’s business? Shouldn’t we be creators as well?
You might say, “I’m not creative.” I’m here to tell you, you are. You are creators. Have you ever coaxed a smile from a baby? Have you ever taught someone to forgive? Have you helped someone learn to read? Prepared a family home evening? Organized a family reunion? Possibly you were prompted to do something for a person you go visiting teaching or home teaching to that made a great difference in their lives. If you have done some of these things, you have been creative.”
Creativity isn’t limited just to artistic forms, and when we participate in any form of creativity, we learn and grow and become. Ultimately, that “becoming” draws us closer to our Heavenly Father and helps us to not only understand more about Him but more importantly to become more like Him.
I have appreciated and enjoyed reading all of the thoughts shared on the discussion board this week. I asked the question “In your life how has creating something helped you come closer to God?” I was edified by your responses and learned many things from what you wrote that helped me see both creating and the character of God in a new light. I also enjoyed seeing the wide variety of ways that you create, which has led to several new ideas for me to pursue in my future creating. Megan Valez shared something which really impressed me. She said,
I love to write. When I finish a long or difficult writing assignment for class with which I am especially pleased, I always realize how much God has blessed me by giving me the ability to draw on words naturally to express my meaning. When I apply that gift creatively, I often find myself learning about God's character and His plan, as trying to structure a story reminds me how life really works and how Christ is at the center of it. Just as characters grow and change in a good story, we always have hope to become better through our Savior's Atonement.
One way that creativity and creating helps us to connect with and understand more about our Heavenly Father is that our act of creation can bless others, and the blessing of others is exactly the work of our Father in Heaven. Again, returning to Sister Smoot, she asked us,
Do we recognize in our own lives the opportunities for creation that are there? Do we prize the gifts, talent, and choice spirits that God has given us? Do we share the creations of our hearts, minds, and hands with others?
Elder Robert D. Hales also warned that we need to use our talents and abilities to create to help others. He said,
Too often, however, those who possess great talents are selfish and do not use their gifts for the benefit of others. And more importantly, they do not acknowledge that these gifts are God-given.
God has blessed us with so much and invites us to be creative in using all of this to bless His children. There is one more area of creation that I would like to address before we close today. As mentioned earlier in the account of the creation recorded by Moses, there was a repeated appraisal at the end of each creative period that “it is good.” It is not until the creation is completed, with the pinnacle of creation, mankind, now included, that the declaration changes to “[it is] very good.”
Adam and Eve, these valiant and faithful children, are now commanded by their loving Father to multiply and replenish the earth. From before the foundations of the earth, this was the plan: that men and women, sons and daughters of God, would come down to earth and together create a family. In our premortal existence we lived as a family with Heavenly Parents, and in that condition we were instructed in a way that we could grow and develop and become like our Father and Mother in Heaven. That plan was presented to us and we shouted with joy to have the experience. As part of our instruction, I am sure that we learned of the method we would use to learn how to become like our father: parenthood. “The family is ordained of God” as the means that we come to earth, are tutored, and makes it possible for our eventual exaltation.
Having said that, creation in a family brings both joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness. Even after all the difficulty of the Fall, and in the midst of the record informing us that many of Adam and Eve’s children “loved Satan more than God,” Eve expressed the joy she feels in being part of the process of becoming when she says, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.”
For Adam and Eve (and all parents since then) the emotions expressed by Eve—with many, many more—have been felt in all the families here on the earth, and yet it is in this organization that we start learning that which we need to know to become like our Father and Mother in Heaven.
In the beginning of my message, I shared a bit about my youth and my creative desires and efforts. Since that experience in high school, I went on to major in and graduate in art education, which meant a lot of creative works through that time. I was able to work in construction and participate in the “creation” of several structures and recreation of more. There was remodeling of homes, the building of the home in which we live, and all the landscaping to go with it. There has been the creation of a career—first in seminary teaching and now here at BYU-Idaho. But with all of that creation, nothing has compared to creating a family with my wife.
Like most families, ours started with two people meeting and falling in love—and for us that all started not far from here on the second floor of the library. Like many others, we had an engagement filled with all the talk of our future together and the hopes and plans and goals that come with it. Like some of you here, we married while still in school, and also like many of you, we exercised faith in the Lord’s timing with family. And like some of you, our firstborn arrived during school. In fact, his birth got me out of one of my finals thanks to a very kind ceramics teacher at Utah State. Also like some of you will be doing, we graduated with a child and moved with our little family to start a new phase of life. Since then, the act of creating a family has been full of ups and downs. There have been all sorts of joys, accompanied by some of the stresses and sorrows and aches of mortality. Despite those ups and downs, this creation far exceeds any of the other creations of my life. Here they are, the greatest creations I have been a part of. I even believe that Brother Parson, my old art teacher, would have to give me some pretty high scores for these creations.
I have learned so much through this ongoing creation—things that I could learn in no other way. As a father, I learned many things which make up some of the character of God the Father. I don’t know that I could have learned some lessons in patience and long-suffering any other way than being a father. Through being a father, there have been lessons taught about the characteristics of justice and mercy, both of which the Father has in perfection. The scriptures also teach that the Father and Son both comfort, and in the context of a family there are and will be many times when comfort must be given. I know that there are many more characteristics of God that I have been introduced to, and I am sure that there will be many, many more yet to come. I have felt so many different emotions through all of this. With my little brood of 10, I can hardly imagine what our Heavenly Father feels and goes through with His billions of children. I am so glad that God chose to be a father and to live and love us as His children, for were it not so, I would not be here doing all of this—in fact, none of us would be here. My gratitude for Him and for the plan of salvation that He has introduced to all us goes beyond the words to express it.
In conclusion, I would like to invite you to create. Make something, do something, and learn something. Ultimately, I invite you to look forward to and be involved in the creation of an eternal family. Last week, Brother Ken Jackson asked the question “Who were you born to be?” The answer is a creator like our Heavenly Father, and you can do this. You can create and you can learn more about Him through creation.
I know that our Heavenly Father is the Great Creator and that as we create, especially families, we learn more about Him. I testify that He lives. I also testify that His Beloved Son followed in His divine footsteps as a creator of all we see around us. May we learn of Him as well; may we love Him as well. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith 3:2-5, (Deseret Book Company).
 “Create,” Google Dictionary.
 “Creator,” Google Dictionary.
 Genesis 1:31.
 Rabbi Adina Allen, “We Are Created Creative,” Hebrew College, created Oct. 3, 2018, https://hebrewcollege.edu/we-are-created-creative-parashat-beresheit-genesis-11-68-2/; emphasis added.
 Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Happiness, Your Heritage,” Ensign, Nov. 2008.
 Mary Ellen Smoot, “We Are Creators,” Ensign, May 2000.
 Mary Ellen Smoot, “We Are Creators,” Ensign, May 2000.
 Robert D. Hales, “Every Good Gift,” New Era, Aug. 1983.
 See Moses 2:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31; 3:2, 9, 12, 17-18.
 Moses 2:31.
 “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 129.
 Moses 5:13.
 Moses 5:11.
Audio of Brian Kinghorn's BYU-Idaho devotional address, Spring 2019