Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Master’s House, Part 2

Here’s the second half of the Parable of the Master’s House discussion:



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Master’s House

I set out to discuss the parable of the Master’s House, but there’s just too much to write. So I’m doing it by video. Here’s part one:





Part Two Coming Soon

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Seven Hosannas

On the eighth day shall be a holy convocation unto you and you shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. It is a solemn assembly and you shall do no servile work therein.
—Leviticus 11:9, RE


Today was the last day of the Jewish feast of tabernacles, also called the feast of Sukkot. Today was also the day the covenant people of God adopted a Statement of Principles to serve as a guide and standard, as He commanded nearly two years ago.

The seven-day Sukkot observance required the people to dwell in “tabernacles” or booths made of tree branches. This was to remind them of their ancestors dwelling in booths in the desert for 40 years, after incurring the Lord’s condemnation. I’ve certainly felt the Lord’s condemnation over the last several months as we’ve failed as a people to accomplish the “light thing” the Lord asked of us.

After the seven-day Sukkot observance, which includes a celebration of the harvest, the Sukkot temporary booths are taken down, symbolizing returning from exile, back to the Lord. This particular day, today, the seventh and last day, is known as Hoshana Rabbah, and it has special meaning.

It is known as the last of the Days of Judgment, which begin on Rosh Hashana, or the first day of the year. Tradition holds that while the judgment of God for the new year is sealed on Yom Kippur, (the day of Atonement) it is not "delivered" until the end of Sukkot, i.e., Hoshana Rabbah, the last day of Sukkot, which is today. During the intervening period between Rosh Hashana and Hoshana Rabbah, one can still alter the verdict and decree for the new year. One can still repent and find favor with God. Hence, the day is started with special prayers for forgiveness, as was the conference.

In other words, according to this tradition, today was the last day of the year in which the Lord’s judgement decree could be altered, before it became sealed and permanent at sunset.

The Statement of Principles document was adopted a little after 4 PM today. Sunset occurred at 7:11 PM. It appears we made it by about three hours, and that the Lord’s judgement of us as a people, as outlined in T&C 157 and noted by Gordon when he took the vote, could yet be changed until that point. I pray it was.

I thank God for what occurred, as well as the evidence of changed hearts, respectful disagreement, and widespread unity. Perhaps, as a people, we are showing some slight progress.

This day is traditionally celebrated by making seven circuits around the synagogue while reciting seven Hoshanas, or Hosannas, as we spell the word. (Hosanna comes from the Hebrew word for “save” and can literally be interpreted as a prayer for a savior or for salvation. “God Save Us!”)

This act brings to mind the seven circuits around Jericho, which brought down the wall, and is meant to symbolize removal of the wall between us and God. I pray the completion of this assignment will demonstrate our desire to obey our Lord and no longer be separated by our disobedience.

The day after Sukkot, which is tomorrow, Monday, October 1st, is called Shemini Atzeret. It is a day of holy convocation and solemn assembly and pause to contemplate the spiritual lessons of Sukkot, or separation from God. It is also a day for a special offering made to God by fire. (Leviticus 11:9 RE)

I pray the Lord will accept our offering, forged in the fires of our own refinement, not only of the document He requested, but also of a broken heart and contrite spirit. God Save Us!

HOSANNA!
HOSANNA!
HOSANNA!
HOSANNA!
HOSANNA!
HOSANNA!
HOSANNA!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Question of Process

Background: I've seen a number of communications from people who take no issue with the Lots Statement of Principles document, but who intend to dispute its adoption because they do not agree with the process by which it was created, selected, or adopted. The point of these various communications is to suggest that it is not the document, but the process, which is the higher objective of the Lord, and that we have still failed to create a process that  pleases the Lord.

Some offer various solutions that involve starting over, organizing a new effort, changing the approach to "include everyone", and going through another lengthy process to create a document in a way "everyone" approves. They cite the first 8 pages of the Answer and Covenant as justification for this view, by claiming the current process has mistreated and compelled, and trampled the agency of those who disagree. Claims of unrighteous dominion have been leveled. 

Karen Strong has written a response to these ideas, that I believe is worth sharing. She makes some excellent points regarding the process; and these are points we need to keep in mind as we choose whether to dispute or not dispute the adoption of the Lots statement. Here is what she wrote (slightly edited for grammar and clarity):

I don't argue the importance of us all needing to work on the things expressed in the first 8 pages of the Answer.  But the suggestion of the authors is that the process by which we have gotten the Lots document has been coercive in some manner, and judgment is made that hearts have been wrong, or the counsel of the Lord in the first 8 pages ignored. I disagree with the premise that the process of the lots was a failure on our part as a people, or in the eyes of the Lord.

Of all the efforts that have been attempted, this method was the most inclusive, the most "permission seeking," the most "counsel seeking," and the most unbiased of any and all methods suggested to date.

The covenant body had already spent an entire 7 months in discussion, including using fellowship reps at meetings all summer, and two movement-wide petitions to the Lord to "know His part," before the proposal was finally written up to use the method of lots.

After the proposal was written, weeks were spent informing people of its existence. This was followed by a movement-wide vote in which every individual was able to speak for themselves as to whether they felt it was a method worth using.  The voting showed 87% agreed with the proposed process.  That was not "forcing" a method or a document upon anyone, but was rather merely asking if the people were willing to give it a try.  No one else had even attempted to get permission from the body before proceeding. Not even the fellowship rep effort did that---we were just "told" that's what was happening.

After permission was granted, EVERY covenant holder had a both the right and the invitation to submit their name to be drawn. No other method has figured out a way for every person in the movement to be put on equal footing, to respect each person as having equal ability and qualification to be chosen. This method respected even the quiet and meek among us, and allowed God to choose, rather than simply handing control to those who are most vocal. This was one of the most important issues to me, because I knew certain voices who were dominating the issue, even among the fellowship rep meetings. This approach put even the most humble among us on equal footing with equal opportunity.

Remember, too, that the method honored those among us who felt they had been inspired or "told" to write a SofP, too.  All of those people were asked to submit their previously written documents as a means of giving "counsel" to the seven who were chosen by lot. (And the seven read all the submissions and used many of the ideas they expressed.)

No vying for position was possible with drawing lots. It was left to the Lord, and the Lord alone. Interestingly, He drew from all around the world to represent us. The seven literally became representatives of the covenant body to fulfill the assignment. From England, to Texas, to Washington state, and from northern to southern Utah, the Lord chose those whom He would. Is it somehow more noble or superior if we choose our own representatives, rather than allowing the Lord to choose?

After the rough draft was written, input from the entire body was also sought for 3 days. No other document has done that either. And almost every suggestion the body offered was heeded, unless it went contrary to scripture.

In addition to the above outline of how inclusive and objective this "process" has proven to be, it turns out to be almost a perfect reflection of what Denver suggested in his "Dances with Wolves" podcast, as a way to come to a decision when nothing else has worked (which nothing had---even the fellowship rep attempt had failed).

Various authors have written to promote a future system of having representatives for fellowships make decisions--and yet what we got with the Lots was representatives for the entire covenant body chosen, not by voting, but by the Lord, through lot. No favoritism or power could be exerted in who was chosen as representatives. 

The authors suggest moving forward with a system that entails having a fellowship rep who speaks for the rest of the fellowship. There are several problems with this--I will address just a couple.

First, we are not trying to come up with a governing body for fellowships. A means of communication may be worthwhile, but a governing body presents numerous challenges. (We should remain flexible for whatever future assignments may be in how they are resolved.)

Next, I see a major flaw in relying upon a fellowship rep. system as described. It is like having a Senate without a House of Representatives--which a student of US Government realizes is a real imbalance of power.

The Senate was created to ensure that small states had as much say as larger states. The House ensures that the actual numbers of people aren't swallowed up by small states either. There is balance.

In this movement, no two fellowships are the same. There are very large fellowships, and there are fellowships that consist of a single individual. (I know, I've been on the fellowship locator and found many such "single individual" or family fellowships.) Therefore, having one rep per fellowship necessarily creates an imbalance of representation.

Experience from the summer of 2017, where we sent fellowships reps, proved to be fatally flawed.

There were people who created fellowships just before the meeting, so as to be able to come as a rep and participate.  Such a system does nothing to prevent any person seeking more power and a stronger voice to create their own fellowship for the objective of "being heard." This is an imbalance of power, as opposed to those who may be in fellowships of 20-40 people (like mine).

There were also, reps who were told things by their fellowship, only for the fellowship to learn after the fact, that their rep did not actually represent what the fellowship had agreed upon, but came with their own agenda. We've had enough of this sort of thing in America. We do not need this in this movement, in my opinion.

And do not be fooled, sending reps did NOT prevent the meek and humble from being overrun by the vocal. The exact opposite occurred. There are always those voices who will dominate in a group. Also, the meek and humble are least likely to volunteer to represent the fellowship. Interestingly, in comparison, the lots method allowed all to have an equal chance of being chosen as the covenant body rep.

I was a witness to the complete opposite occurring with the seven chosen by lot.

In stark contrast to what occurred with the fellowship rep attempt in the summer of 2017, I was a fly on the wall to every discussion had by the seven. Never have I seen such respect between individuals. There was complete calm, everyone spoke in turn and had equal say, there was no vying for power, every decision made was done in unanimity, there was the presence of the spirit that was so strong it permeated our home the entire week. I FINALLY had hope for Zion from what I saw happen.  I think there must be something that occurs when individuals feel the Lord has asked them to do something, versus when we take it upon ourselves to do something---because the humility and unity of those seven during that week was palpable.

The final document was again presented to the people for their approval. 

So as not to infringe upon anyone's rights, opinions, or ability to mutually agree or not---the final document written by those whom the Lord had chosen to represent the covenant body in doing this work, was again submitted to the people for their examination and acceptance or rejection.

93.3% of over 500 people (more than had been involved in any other effort) gave their approval.

Yes, 6.7% did not agree.  Those individuals were reached out to and spoken with if they were willing.  Every attempt was made to answer questions, satisfy concerns, and gently persuade. (I have a $42 international phone bill to prove it!  LOL) In the end, NO document is EVER going to get 100% acceptance.  That is just the nature of working with a group of 500+ individuals.

These individuals represented by that 6.7% are important.  They are covenant holders of value.  But they are given the opportunity to still state they do not prefer the document, but choose to not dispute. We've all been given a way to accommodate our personal preferences and still be found agreeable--by a generous Lord.

Yet people keep accusing others of not having their hearts right. 

I keep hearing people say our hearts are not right.  Whose heart among those who participated in the effort to do this work by lots was not right? Are you really willing to make that judgment? None of those who proposed the idea of lots were even allowed to submit their names into the lottery. How could their heart be but filled with a desire to follow the inspiration they were given? There was nothing in it for them except to serve and follow the impressions they got.

I witnessed the hearts of the seven, and I give my witness their hearts were right, as the presence of the spirit bore witness to that.

Many of those who supported the lots had been supportive of every effort and attempt by other covenant holders to try to figure this out before. They were not stubborn. Many of those involved were individuals whose very concern was that the humble and meek among us were getting trammeled upon by the vocal and were asking the Lord how that could be rectified.

A word of caution.

I understand that we all wish that there was a perfect solution to this whole thing--something to happen that would suddenly allow us all to be on the same page and see this exactly the same way. I think we assume that this would be evidence that our hearts were finally right.

We have been asked to work on our hearts. This is going to be a long process that isn't achieved in a year, or two--and will never be achieved by some among us. We've been told this already (i.e. there are tares among us). I do not know whose hearts or right or whose are not; but I do see some evidence that suggests people are misjudging those involved in the lots and the process.

In the end, we have not been asked to mutually agree upon a process anyway, but to mutually agree upon a statement of principles. I believe it has been a manifestation of the hand of the Lord that He inspired the Lots method and all that it entailed--and that He bore witness of His approval of the process by the Dances with Wolves podcast--Perhaps just in the nick of time for everyone in this movement to reflect upon before this coming Sunday's vote to adopt. He is a God of miracles, after all, if we will have eyes to see it.

What shows more about our hearts? To continue to haggle over a dislike of this or that in a process that you may or may not be right about--in fact, you may even be fighting against the very thing God gave us to solve the dilemma we faced? Or to say, I accept the flaws and inadequacies of my brothers and sisters, but accept in good faith that their hearts were right and I can support this document that contains the words of the Lord and His servants. If the Lord rejects the work, He will let us know, but I can unite with my brothers and sisters, and lay my personal preferences aside, with the knowledge that even I may be operating off opinion, rather than truth, in what I think.

Which of those two is really what the Lord would have us do?

Sincerely, and with pleading in my heart that we cease the finger-pointing, and finding fault with those who seek to do the Lord's will and be on His errand, and prayerfully unite with one another--asking the Lord if that would please Him to see us do that.

Karen Strong

Monday, September 24, 2018

Two Announcements

Updated Statement of Principles Announcement

There's an update on the upcoming sustaining vote for the statement of principles posted on the Scriptures Project Blog. Please take a look:

http://scripturesproject.blogspot.com/2018/09/updated-statement-of-principles.html

==================

Also, I was asked to post the following regarding Dr. John Pratt's sacred calendar discussions. I'm somewhat familiar with John and his writings, and I highly recommend learning from him if you're interested in the sacred calendars and the heavens.

John Pratt - Weekly Sunday Zoom Meeting - Sacred Calendars

We would like to invite everyone, in all fellowships, to a weekly online ZOOM meeting with John Pratt to discuss sacred calendars. These ZOOM meetings are intended to be a series of ongoing discussions to teach us about the sacred calendars and their relevance to our day. John has mentioned that these tutorials were designed and prepared to be presented sequentially as "later tutorials may depend on remembering what was taught earlier."

SUNDAYS at 8 PM, Mountain Time

ZOOM MEETING INFORMATION

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

https://zoom.us/j/640043351

Telephone:

US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656

Meeting ID: 640 043 351

International phone numbers available:

https://zoom.us/u/acBexdeQRz

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

4th Address to Christians

The 4th Address to Christians has been posted on the Christian Reformation 500th Anniversary site. I’ve listened to this address and highly recommend it to all believers in Christ. Please share.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Making Peace


If you will hearken to my words I will make you my people and my words will give you peace. Even a single soul who stirs up the hearts of others to anger can destroy the peace of all my people. Each of you must equally walk truly in my path, not only to profess, but also to do as you profess.
—T&C 157:19

The Scriptures Project website has posted an announcement about a sustaining vote for the Lots guide and standard. Here is the link. I hope you’ll read it; it contains important information about what the upcoming vote does and does not mean.


I’m very pleased and relieved to see this development. I believe the steps taken to approve the process, obtain the Lord’s part, do the work, and receive the Lord’s approval of the document have all represented the will of the people, and that the document produced meets the Lord’s requirements.

In making this statement, I fully recognize that not everyone agrees. I have covenant brothers and sisters, whom I love, that feel differently than me about this process and this document. Some are dismayed at the prospect of completing the assignment in this way, and my heart feels for them. In that spirit, I want to offer a few thoughts to my friends who see things differently.

Love

First, people who love each other disagree. They even do things that the other wishes they would not do. Our God, who loves us, does things that we would prefer He not do, and with which we don’t always agree. This is not a sign that He doesn’t love, value, or cherish us. Likewise, if your brothers and sisters vote to adopt this document, even when you prefer they not, it doesn’t mean they don’t love or value you.

Now, here’s a bit of tough love: Asserting that somebody doesn’t love you because they think or do things with which you disagree, is manipulative. To say that the group not agreeing with you means the group doesn’t love you, or that you are not precious, not important, or even that you are somehow more Christlike than the rest of the group is just plain wrong. This manipulation needs to stop, in all its forms, including the veiled “we don’t yet love each other” which is just another way of judging others’ hearts as unloving.

Others could just as easily throw back the very same. Is it evidence that you don’t love the larger body if you don’t agree with them? Are they not precious to you? Are they not important? Let’s agree to stop accusing one another and stop judging each other’s hearts. People who love each other disagree, and that’s OK. Mature, rational adults don’t use “you don’t love me” as a way to compel behavior.

Ok, the tough love portion is over. Sorry I had to point that out, but I did it because I care, not because I don’t.

Now for some thoughts that can be expressed in a much less pointed manner.

Voice

You have a voice! I’m aware that some still feel they have not been heard and that they therefore “have no voice.” I disagree. I hear you. I’ve heard many of you, including everyone who has commented here, those who have reached out privately, and those who have made their opinions public. People are much more aware of your feelings and opinions than you realize or give them credit for. If the majority of your brothers and sisters don’t see things the way you do, it does not mean they don’t hear you. It simply means they see things differently.

One unfortunate aspect of human nature is that we tend to equate understanding with agreement. It’s possible to understand and hear one another, to value one another’s opinions, but still disagree at the end of the day. If you assume this means you have not been heard, you will continue trying to “make your voice heard” until people change their thinking to agree with yours. But that won’t happen. At some point it’s time to realize you HAVE been heard, loved and valued, but you have not persuaded and it’s time to move on. And that’s OK. We don’t always get our way.

Elites

We also need to shun the claim that there’s some secret group of “elites” who run things and impose their will on the rest of us “little people.” I can speak from experience because I get regularly accused of being, and associating with these alleged “elites.” Here’s some perspective: I know people in this movement who work tirelessly, sacrifice greatly, and pour their heart and soul into serving the body in ways that few realize. Most of them go unthanked, unnoticed, often unappreciated, but not unaccused. If they happen to accomplish something, we all have cause to celebrate and be grateful, not find fault. It does no good to accuse those who sacrifice and labor on our behalf simply because they did it and we didn’t, or they didn’t do things the way we would have. Let’s remember the Lord’s admonition:
As a people you honor with your lips, but your hearts are corrupt, filled with envy and malice, returning evil for good, sparing none, even those with pure hearts among you, from your unjustified accusations and unkind backbiting. 
Nor is it enough to say you love your fellow man while you, as Satan, divide, contend and dispute against any person who labors on an errand seeking to do my will.  
Let your pride, and your envy, and your fears depart from you. 
There’s no need for, and no place for, an “us vs. them” mentality among those who seek to become one.

Cut Off ?

And finally, just this: If the upcoming vote sustains the Lots document, it doesn’t mean anyone has been rejected, cut off, excommunicated, thrown out, or any of the other silly assertions that get made. Such assertions are just as manipulative as the idea that disagreeing with someone means you don’t love them. Nobody is getting cut off or excluded, and nothing changes, except we will have completed the Lord’s assignment in a way most of the body doesn’t dispute. Some will yet dispute, and that’s OK. We still move on together, learn from our mistakes, and do better on the next assignment.

In a parallel example, early on, a number of documents were proposed for inclusion in the scriptures. There was an open vote to determine which ones got in. Some documents made it, some didn’t. And I disagreed with some of the outcomes, as did plenty of others. But we all took it in stride and moved on. Nobody was cut off, unheard, unloved, or undervalued just because the outcome didn’t go the way they preferred.

Why should this be different?

The Lord tasked the body with writing a document. The body voted on a method of doing so, which included the Lord’s selection of who would do it. Those selected faithfully performed the assignment and produced a document that the vast majority of the body find acceptable, as evidenced by the Phoenix vote. If it gets adopted, like the other documents, I hope nobody takes it as a personal affront or act of cutting off.

Adopt

Think about the word “adopt.” As with adopting a child, it means to take what is not your own, and embrace it, making it yours. It is an act of supreme love, commitment and sacrifice. Does adopting a statement carry the same connotation? I believe it does, particularly when the statement may not be the one you created, or prefer. Those who let go of their own preferences and adopt a statement that is not their preferred approach perform a more exemplary act of sacrifice and love than the rest of us. I believe the Lord used that word, “adopt” as an invitation to do just that.

I pray for an end to disputation and a completion of this assignment. I love and pray for my brothers and sisters with whom I don’t agree, and I hope you will love and pray for me, and for those who, at great personal discomfort and sacrifice, are seeking to complete this assignment in the way they believe the Lord requires. When they stand to ask for the body’s opinion, I pray we will all be kind and respectful to them, recognizing they are standing as servants and not masters.

Many among us are willing to accept a document that is not our favorite, in the spirit of adoption and choosing to not dispute. They are humbly choosing to submit to keep peace and put on display their soft hearts. Would it not please the Lord if we were all to do this because of our united desire to obey His commandment to us? Is it also not a thing of the heart to choose to not dispute? And does that not reflect the unity of heart the Lord requires of us? In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ teaches us "And blessed are all the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (3 Ne 5:10)

I hope we can be the children of God.

Repent, therefore, like Peter and end your unkind and untrue accusations against one another, and make peace.
—T&C 157:10