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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hope


As discussions about the Statement of Principles project continue, I thought it important to highlight a couple of items, particularly in light of Denver Snuffer’s recent podcast, “Dances with Wolves.” 


When I first heard the podcast, I thought it was a very interesting way to make group decisions, by appointing one to act as “chief,” hear all sides, listen to counsel, and make the decision on behalf of the group. I realize people may see such an approach as a method for making a decision regarding the Statement of Principles as well, and I wanted to share a couple of viewpoints from others on this topic.

First, there’s a new post from Chris Hamill over at the Scriptures Project blog. It’s brief, so I’m quoting the relevant part here:
I received an email from someone who was present when the Dancing with Wolves podcast was recorded and they asked for clarification from Denver on how the decision-making example applied. They said this was Denver's response, “The answer about problem solving was independently asked and answered and involved how a group of people, like a fellowship, could avoid conflict while attempting to reach a decision. It was in that context that the question was asked and answered. I'm not sure that it could be possible to have a group of hundreds, or over a thousand, to have any meaningful use of that method. Too many voices would be involved.”
I did some calculations regarding the time and logistics of attempting the method with a large group of, say 50, and found the process would be very lengthy. Likely 6-8 hours if it runs efficiently (because meetings always run efficiently, right?) If you increase that number to a couple hundred, the entire process becomes, for all intents and purposes, impossible. It is simply not possible to hear from that many people, weigh that many viewpoints, and make an informed decision in any kind of reasonable time frame, if at all. I heartily agree that the “Dances with Wolves” (DWW) method is best suited to a small group of intimates.

The Spirit of the Approach

A better thinker than me has looked at the process through a different set of lenses and written a very insightful series of comments on the One Year blog post, detailing how the spirit of the DWW method has already been followed, and all that remains is for the decision to be made. I reproduce this person’s anonymous comments here, with my comments inserted in blue.
It is interesting how we all see the same thing differently. Last November, after months of dialogue, we were at an impasse on the GS issue, and a solution was put forth to cast lots to allow a group to be chosen by God, and without bias, to resolve the matter. The solution they came to garnered 90+% support in both a November vote and a Phoenix Conference vote. (I’ll here clarify that both the process, and the product received overwhelming support in open voting. This means before the task was undertaken, nearly 90% of the people who cared to vote agreed to choose representatives by lots to complete the work. Then when the product was finished, about 93% voted in favor of adopting it.) Yet because "some people refuse to lay down for the heart of the community, their own heart," the vote to sustain was delayed and printing never happened.
Ten months later, we have now heard a podcast that may have been directed at the GS issue, or may have been merely directed toward fellowships making decisions; and the concept is put forth to cast lots using colored stones. Now people are excited about the solution and its prospects of success, while they ignore that such a method has already been used, and reject the result that came from it. I guess the assumption is that since Denver made the suggestion, and not just ordinary covenant body members, it is now a whole different ball-game. Now it will actually work.
Someone pointed out to me today some interesting parallels between what happened with the November Lots, and the model that was proposed in the podcast. Here are a few parallels:
Parallel #1 - An impasse is reached in making a decision.  
November 2017: The covenant body wrestled over what exact wording was to be used for the GS document. And they wrestled over "who" would be able to write it. Many felt they had been "called" and many had written what they believed to be inspired documents already. There was no apparent way to resolve the debate. A clear impasse existed. 
Denver's Podcast: “The Book of Mormon says , It’s not often that the voice of the people are going choose error. Well the voice of the people in the context of making a decision--- If a decision can be made in no other way (an impasse), should be heard in this kind of a cooperative, enlightened outpouring of viewpoints however diverse they may be, however difficult to reconcile they may be....I think it is ONE model that can be experimented with..." 
[When an impasse comes, it didn't say this model is THE only way that this concept can be done---rather “one model,”---leaving open something akin to it.] 
Parallel #2 - Those that feel inspired are able to contribute/give counsel. 
November 2017: The Lots invited EVERYONE who had felt inspired to write a GS document, to share their inspired input---what they felt God had told them in answer to their prayers and personal communication with God---as a means to draw insight and counsel from in making the decision on what to include in the final GS version written. [The white stones] (I’ll add that a great many documents were shared with the lots group, providing inspired input and counsel to their labors.) 
Denver's Podcast: "Everyone acknowledging that if you've gotten a prayerful answer it is important for you to come and to voice that prayerful answer in order for the decision that gets made...to have some enlightenment." [The white stones] 
Parallel #3 - Lots are drawn in both models to choose roles. 
November 2017: Seven lots were drawn to decide who would take on the responsibility of writing the final GS for the entire body. In this scenario, this would be like having 7 people holding the black stone together. After studying the inspired documents [hearing from the white stone holders], these will be the ones making the final decision. (In this process, which was completely public and transparent, the Lord demonstrated his ability to cause astronomically unlikely things to happen, like a husband and wife both being consecutively drawn from hundreds. He also demonstrated afterwards, His ability to remove one from the committee. Thus, by showing His power to control the exact makeup of the committee, he demonstrated His involvement with abundant clarity. Signs follow those that believe, we exercised our faith, and signs followed.) 
Denver's Podcast: Stones were drawn to choose who would be chief, spiritual advisor, and voice input. The chief listened to everyone, but made the final decision. 
Parallel #4 - One voice comes prayerfully prepared in the role of wisdom. 
November 2017: When the time to approach the Lord arrived to see if He had accepted the final Lots GS; the only woman among them was chosen to give voice to the prayer and received the communication from the Lord that conveyed His acceptance. The spirit manifested to each of them, that the words she shared were of God. 
Denver's Podcast: "If you are the medicine man come prayerfully. Prayerfully participate. Advise based upon the wisdom of God." He quipped that eventually maybe the role of the spiritual advisor should always be a woman.  
Parallel #5 - The drawing of lots to make decisions eliminates an hierarchy and allows for equality. 
November 2017: Every covenant holder was invited to participate, had an equal chance for selection, was invited to contribute their wisdom through submission of documents and analyze and give input into the rough draft version [another chance at holding the white stone]. Upon completion of the task, the Lots counsel disbanded. They were temporary; for a "one time" assignment and decision making role. (I’ll add that since the Phoenix conference, the Lots committee has since done nothing to campaign, promote, or compel adoption of their document. They did the work assigned and disbanded. This demonstrates meekness and fidelity to their assignment.) 
Denver's Podcast: "Within community, no one gets to control. Authority is equally distributed." "We do something like that [the model he gave] which is transitory and temporary."  
Notice, his point is not that we must do exactly this process, but something like it---something that keeps the decision making power temporary. 
Parallel #6 - Success depends upon the hearts of the people being able to compromise. 
November 2017: Many soft hearts were exhibited with a willingness to accept and support a scripturally based process, founded in equality, that allowed a small group to be chosen to listen to the voice and input of the people as expressed after 9 months of discussion and through their contributed documents. Though an imperfect document was produced, the vast majority were able to set aside personal preferences, or opinions, and see that the effort satisfied the Lord's instructions and requirements. A small number felt that to agree with something different than how God had answered them, would be to compromise the truth as they saw it.  
Denver's Podcast: "...we don't get there [being able to make a decision by the voice of the people] by having forceful and intransigent minds, insisting that when they see a truth, it is all the truth, it is the only truth, and it can never be compromised, modified, or altered in any particular because it is their truth." "Some people refuse to lay down for the heart of the community, their own heart." 
Could it be possible that the very ideas shared in the podcast were not meant for us to start the GS all over and follow as an exact model; but rather given as a general concept---that can be used, or something "like that" in a myriad of decision making challenges? And is it possible that in regards to the GS matter, we actually already have followed something very “like that” model---but we've been so blinded with our own insistence that the truth be as we see it, that we failed to see the beauty of exactly what was accomplished?  
If our hearts are intransigent (unwilling to compromise or moderate a position; unreasonable), then it won't matter if we sit in a circle with white, black and blue stones and create another variation of what was already done with the Lots back in November. Someone may still say the outcome doesn’t reflect their vision and find fault yet again. Maybe it isn't that we were being told we need to try something that we haven't tried; but rather that we were so blinded that we failed to see the beauty of what happened all those months ago.

That concludes the anonymous comment. I’ll add a concluding thought or two.

Prior to the Phoenix conference, a three-step process was proposed to determine the voice of the people regarding this assignment. Step one involved a runoff of available documents, and the lots document rose to the top with a clear majority. Step two involved asking who would support it (regardless of how they voted in the first step) and who would not, followed by hearing the objections of those who would not, in a face-to-face setting, together with attempts at persuasion.

Both of those steps were completed, and both gave overwhelmingly strong preference to the Lots document, according to the voice of the people. Those two steps chose the document and attempted to persuade. The Lots document has clearly been chosen by the voice of the people on two separate occasions: the initial vote conducted via the internet in November receiving 93%, followed a conference vote held with all qualifying documents, where it had 90-95% approval of those in attendance.

Step 3 required a sustaining vote to canonize the document, once chosen. That step was never completed because the conference organizers didn’t want to further damage the spirit of the conference with continued contention on Sunday. That step is the only one remaining to be completed.

There have now been two separate, organic processes, by two separate groups, that have come together to bring the process this far (the Lots group efforts, and the efforts prior to and at the last conference). Both achieved the same result: approval in the mid-90% range. Both involved legitimate, open votes, followed by a lengthy process of outreach to hear opposing viewpoints. We not only have the voice of the people, but we actually now have two witnesses, satisfying both the law of common consent and the law of witnesses. This is extremely significant.

Are there other documents that meet the Lord’s requirements? Absolutely! Are some better written or more beautiful in expression? Possibly so. (Some say Paul’s document is, for instance—and it well may be added to the appendix as a useful missionary tract.) But the people have spoken, the Lord’s hand was manifest by signs, His approval was granted, the applicable laws have been satisfied, and the process of producing and selecting a document is complete. All that remains is to canonize the statement, with a simple sustaining vote, as the Lord has required. 

I realize some may yet choose to dispute. I empathize with those who so desperately desire to become one in heart prior to writing a statement, though I see things differently than they do. I believe we are already one in heart, at least in the basic principles, by virtue of the fact that we all agreed to the covenant. Are not our hearts one in those principles it espouses? And so, can we not state them with one heart? Obviously, we will not become Zion in one step. This assignment is one small step towards becoming more fully what the Lord wants us to be.

I have spent a great deal of time over the last year listening to other viewpoints, hearing objections, and seeking common ground. But I have yet to hear any dispute based on the actual content of the document. I do not know of ANYONE who disputes the principles written in the Lots document. Every dispute I have heard has to do with a side issue, but not the document itself. The document teaches true principles, will bless, benefit, and inform those who know nothing of the Lord’s work now underway, and is the de facto guide and standard to which we ALREADY AGREE.

Therefore, shall we not add it to our scriptures and complete the Lord’s command? A sustaining vote is all that remains, and it will be published. The assignment will be complete, and we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, give each other a hug, and prepare for the next assignment the Lord will give us. This thought fills me with such incredible hope.

As you contemplate how close we truly are to completion of the Lord's assignment, and how much we all truly agree on the foundation principles that unite us, please take some time to read the following important resources:

1. Statement from Chris Hamill on the Scriptures Project blog. If sustained, the lots document will be added.

2. Letter from the Seven chosen by lots regarding their efforts.

3. The Lots document (with minimal formatting for ease in reading)

4. The Lots document (same content, but formatted for appearance, if you prefer)


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two Scriptures Project Updates and a Conference Request

Chris Hamill has posted two important updates on the scriptures project blog. 

The first is a progress update on the scriptures project. Read it here:

Important Progress Update

The second is a very enlightening piece on the statement of principles and what it will take to get it added to the scriptures as a guide and standard. Read it here:

One More Thing on the Scriptures

I really appreciate these clarifications from Chris, and I have renewed hope of completing the Lord's assignment.

Also: The organizers of the upcoming conference in Layton need people to RSVP for the Friday and Saturday night events for purposes of planning food. 

Here is their announcement:

We are trying to make appropriate preparations for food at both the Friday evening Family Hoe-down 7-9pm (Clearfield, UT) and then Saturday afternoon/evening potluck and musical celebration. Therefore, we request an email RSVP be sent to preservingthehopeofzion@gmail.com including the total number of people who plan on attending each of those two events.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

One Year

He that has my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me. And he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. 
—John 9:8 RE


Note: I wrote this post on September 3, but circumstances prevented me from placing it here until now. 

One year ago today, an event prophesied and anticipated from the foundation of the world took place: the Lord offered His covenant to all who would receive it, in anticipation of completing His Father’s work and returning to reign on Earth. I doubt most of us who accepted the covenant last year fully appreciate the significance and importance of this step in God’s final labor of the last days. This very event was prophesied by Jesus Christ Himself:
But if they will repent and hearken unto my words and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance. (3 Nephi 10:1 RE)
In the very next breath, our Lord explained the covenant’s significance, why it is required in our day, and how it is the foundation of the completion of the Father’s work:
And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city which shall be called the New Jerusalem. And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the power of Heaven come down among them and I also will be in the midst. (3 Nephi 10:1 RE)
I was privileged to close the meeting where the covenant was offered with prayer, which began with the words,“We Rejoice!” and truly, we did. I was doubly privileged to commemorate this occasion last night, in a place I consider sacred, with dear friends and fellow covenant holders, in a way that was very meaningful to me. This one-year anniversary gave me many reasons to ponder, consider, and repent.

One year along, I wish to share a few thoughts, primarily directed at myself, but applicable to us all, so I’ll use “we.” 

Have we taken to heart the commands, the chastisement, and the counsel the Lord gave us? Here are some items from the Answer and Covenant:
If you take upon you my covenant, you must abide it as a people to gain what I promise. You think Satan will be bound a thousand years, and it will be so, but do not understand your own duty to bind that spirit within you so that you give no heed to accuse others. It is not enough to say you love God; you must also love your fellow man. 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. How you proceed must be as noble as the cause you seek. You have become your own adversaries, and you cannot be Satan and also be mine.  
Over the last year, have we become less adversarial toward our brothers and sisters? Have we made progress in learning to love one another? Do we yet carry the spirit of contention? How do we proceed in a cause as noble as Zion?
I desire to heal you from an awful state of blindness so that you may see clearly my will, to do it. I promised to bring unto you much of my gospel through the Book of Mormon and to provide you with the means to obtain a fullness of my gospel, and I have done this; yet you refuse to receive the truth even when it is given unto you in plainness. How can you who pursue the truth yet remain unable to behold your own weakness before me? 
How clearly do we see our own weakness? Have we become better this year at receiving truth given in plainness? How do we “receive” truth in the way the Lord desires?
I speak of you who have hindered my work, that claim to see plainly the beams in others’ eyes. You have claimed to see plainly the error of those who abuse my words, and neglect the poor, and who have cast you out, to discern their errors, and you say you seek a better way. Yet among you are those who continue to scheme, backbite, contend, accuse and forsake my words to do them, even while you seek to recover them. Can you not see that your works fall short of the beliefs you profess? 
Do our works yet fall short of the beliefs we profess? Do we yet hinder the Lord’s work? Do we forsake the Lord’s words, or do we do them?
It is not enough to receive my covenant, but you must also abide it. And all who abide it, whether on this land or any other land, will be mine and I will watch over them and protect them in the day of harvest, and gather them in as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. I will number you among the remnant of Jacob, no longer outcasts, and you will inherit the promises of Israel. You shall be my people and I will be your God and the sword will not devour you. And unto those who will receive will more be given until they know the mysteries of God in full. 
I will teach you things that have been hidden from the foundation of the world and your understanding will reach unto Heaven. 
The Lord has kept His promise, and revealed things that have been, quite literally, kept hidden from the foundation of the world, despite our unworthiness and lack of preparation. Most notably, the “Holy Order” and “Our Divine Parents” talks offered an incredible flood of new light and truth not seen in this world since Joseph Smith lived and taught. Do we appreciate the significance of what has been given, or even the fact that it has been given at all? It would require many pages to adequately express the importance of just these two talks alone, but that will have to wait for another day. 

Here’s my point: The Lord keeps His covenants. Do we?

After a year, what fruit exists to recommend us as the Lord’s people? Has a year made a difference? If so, in what ways? Are we really any better now than we were a year ago?

Trigger Warning: Statement of Principles

Perhaps my most urgent concern is that we’ve failed, and continue to fail, to keep the most basic commandment the Lord gave us. I’m referring, of course, to the statement of principles the Lord required us to write and adopt by mutual agreement as a guide and standard, then add to our scriptures. Unfortunately, the entire subject has become so toxic I hesitate to even bring it up.

With these thoughts heavy on my heart, I received, moments ago, a letter from my friend Paul. In it, he addressed the statement of principles in a much better way than I can. With his permission, I include below a portion of his letter, (with my added comments in red):


The Lord was very specific in His instructions about a Statement of Principles in the “Answer and Covenant”: 
1. You are not excused from writing a statement of principles that I have required at your hands. 
This is a commandment, and it must be obeyed. There is no excuse for not obeying, and those who intentionally prevent or oppose the Lord’s work will be held to account for doing so. 
2. I forbade my servant David from participating, and again forbid him. 
David has kept the commandment, even as we have failed to do so. Perhaps this is why the Lord trusts him and not us.
3. But I require a statement of principles to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people, for if you cannot do so you will be unable to accomplish other works that I will require at your hands. (Mutual agreement has been defined : “As between one another, you choose to not dispute” [T&C 175:1]. “Simply put, even if we disagree, if we choose to not dispute, we have mutual agreement.”) 
The definitions of “statement” and “principles” are so basic and fundamental the the Lord left no room for us to gainsay what He really meant. These terms have been discussed at length. Likewise, “adopt” and “mutual agreement” have been well defined. There is no point in further arguing the meanings of these words. We should, instead, get to obeying them.
4. When you have an agreed statement of principles I require it to also be added as a guide and standard for my people to follow. 
The Lord spoke these words in the context of other items that were to be added to the canon of scripture. Merely pasting a statement in the back of your own scriptures makes a mockery of this commandment and its purpose, which will be detailed in a moment. The statement must be canonized. 
5. Remember there are others who know nothing, as yet, of my work now underway, and therefore the guide and standard is to bless, benefit and inform them—so I command you to be wise in word and kind in deed as you write what I require of you. 
This statement is not for us or about us. It is for others. You cannot bless, benefit, and inform those who, as yet, know nothing if you merely tape a piece of paper in your own scriptures. This must be published. Period. 
Likewise, the statement must include information about the Lord’s work NOW underway. Therefore, merely quoting scripture that has been available for hundreds, or thousands of years, does not fulfill the requirement. We must inform others of the Lord’s CURRENT work, including the new dispensation, requirement of rebaptism, gathering in fellowships, the expected temple, and the new covenant. Those who argue otherwise would deny blessings to people who, as yet, know nothing and need to be informed. 
6. Do not murmur saying, Too much has been required at our hands in too short a time.  
7. If your hearts were right it was a light thing I have asked. 
Thankfully, the Lord has not **yet** given us a deadline, though we’re now more than a year on, and still unable to complete this “light thing.” Which is, frankly, shocking. As I have written before, we ALL agree on certain principles, by virtue of the covenant itself. This is a fact. And yet, incessant arguments continue over those very same principles we have already accepted by covenant. This is a problem of the heart. Until hearts are right, or broken, we will continue to fail. 
8. You hinder and delay and then you say I require too much of you and do not allow you time, when, if your hearts were right and you prepared yourselves you could have finished this work long ago. 
Exactly.
9. Do you indeed desire to be my people? Then accept and do as I have required.
The Lord had more than just a little to say. These are clear instructions. They total nine separate directions. He was not constrained by the number of words or a limited vocabulary. The Lord chose His words very carefully. By last count, the Lord delivered more than 6,300 words in the “Answer and Covenant.” If He had wanted His covenant people to merely copy scripture that was already accepted as canon, He would have said so. His command could have been one instruction in the place of nine. Instead of the commandment to write, He could have commanded us to copy. For example, if he had wanted a Statement of Principles that only encompassed the Doctrine of Christ and the Beatitudes, or the Ten Commandments or King Benjamin’s address or whatever, then He certainly could have made that abundantly clear. It would have been astonishingly simple—something along the lines of, and making no presumption here to speak for the Lord—“Write a Statement of Principles that consists only of the Doctrine of Christ and the Sermon on the Mount.” Instead, He gave completely succinct and unambiguous instructions, which included a commandment “to be wise in word and kind in deed as you write what I require of you.” And this “writing” is to be for the benefit of those who know nothing, as yet, of His work now underway, and this guide and standard is to bless, benefit and inform them. 
Those among us who “desire to be [His] people [will] accept and do as [He has] required.” When the Lord says He require[s] a statement of principles to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people, it is only “my people” who will then accept and do as [He] has required.” The Lord is not forcing or compelling anyone to accept and do as He has required. Those who accept and do as He has required may be a relatively small number indeed. I hope and pray that it includes you and me. 

That’s the end of Paul’s letter, and all I can say is, “Amen, brother Paul!” Perhaps part of this assignment is designed to draw into sharp relief our own hearts, so that even in our blindness, we can perhaps discern whether we are His people, even as we display it clearly to the angels who are taking note. I am left to conclude, from the Lord’s own words, those who will not accept and do as the Lord has required are not claimed by Him as His people. A sobering thought indeed.

“Do not forsake my covenant to perform it”

It seems to me this assignment can only be completed by people who have certain qualities:

Love: This assignment is to bless and benefit others. If we love the Lord and love those who need the information, (the first two great commandments) we will speedily do as He has asked. If we refuse to do so, we do not love Him (or them.) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” 

Unity: Our Lord said, “Be one. And if ye are not one, you are not mine.” The Lord has asked us to unify around a basic set of principles with which we already agree. This is the lowest, most basic foundation for unity he could have possibly given us. And yet—and yet—we have not come to agreement. Clearly, we cannot accomplish the other works the Lord will require if we can’t even unify on basic principles. I’ll add that the issue isn’t that we don’t believe enough of the same things; we do. The issue is our hearts and our refusal to drop our arguments. So long as ego and emotion trump principle, the disagreements will continue.

Agreement: The Lord set the bar for “mutual agreement” very low. In fact, we don’t even have to agree! We simply have to “choose to not dispute.” This is a choice. And likewise, disputing is also a choice. The Lord has clearly defined the choice He would have us make, and it is to not dispute. Choosing to dispute is choosing to disobey Him. 

Here are some words spoken by the Lord’s servant a year ago when the covenant was offered:
But the path to Zion is to be found only by following God’s immediate commands to us. That is how He will bring it. He will lead us there. There is no magic, there is no sprinkling fairy dust that will take you to where God is. It does not and cannot happen that way. He will lead us, teach us, command us, guide us, but we have to be the ones who become what He commands. We have to be the ones who do what he bids us do. (Denver Snuffer, Covenant of Christ Conference, Opening Remarks, September 3, 2017)
When will we do what he bids us do? When will we keep this first commandment He gave His covenant people? There are new believers who have already been harmed by the lack of a clear statement. I’m currently involved in a project to provide copies of the Restoration Edition scriptures to a number of new believers overseas, who likewise need the statement the Lord has commanded us to write. And yet, the scriptures I’m sending contain no such statement, so they will be left unblessed, unbenefited, uninformed.

Through this process, a number of very good statements have been written and garnered widespread acceptance. The Lots document process was approved by a vast majority of believers before it ever took place, then the Lord’s hand was manifest in the process itself, and the final product gained wider acceptance than any other effort. Ultimately, however, those who control publishing the scriptures have opted not to include any statement to which even one person objects, regardless of the nature of their objection. (IMPORTANT UPDATE: I am wrong in this assertion about even one person objecting. I leave it for reference, but it is more correct to say, "those who control publishing the scriptures have, thus far, declined to publish any statement.") This is a difficult issue, and I’ll admit, I have no idea how to solve it. No matter what statement gets presented, someone will object, and perhaps not even over content, but over some other point.

Therefore, we’re back to the idea that those who will accept and do what the Lord has asked are His, and those who will not, are not. If we love Him, we will not “hinder and delay,” but will find a way to keep His commandments, and soon. 

My friend Paul, who wrote the letter above, has also written a statement of principles. I find it very good, and I gladly support it. You can download a copy of it here. Every principle it contains is true, and I simply can’t fathom how any who claim to be the Lord’s covenant people could oppose any of the principles it contains. One year on, and still failing, will we finally drop our disputes?

I’ll close with another quote from one year ago, today:
I have been ashamed of us because of recent events. Subsequent to the Lord’s Answer, we have continued to be quarrelsome, bickering and unkind to one another to such a degree we certainly must offend the Lord. I thought God would be so disappointed with us that it was wrong to proceed and therefore I prayed to call this off. To my surprise Lord did not expect us to do things right at first. He expects us to learn how to do things right. Failure is part of learning.” (Denver Snuffer, Covenant of Christ Conference, Opening Remarks, September 3, 2017)
We have spent a solid year failing in this thing. What have we learned? The Lord is patient, but for how long? How can we claim to be His, but do not the things which He says? These are questions that I’m pondering very seriously today. I invite you to ponder them as well.

And why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whoever comes to me and hears my sayings and does them, I will show you who he is like. He is like a man who built a house, and dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house and could not shake it, for it was founded upon a rock. But he who hears and does not is like a man that, without a foundation, built a house upon the earth, against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
—Luke 5:13, RE

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Worldwide Online Fellowship Meeting

I was asked to post the following announcement:

Worldwide Online Fellowship Meeting
September 9th @ 9 AM PDT (UTC-07:00) 
Please forward to any fellowships that might want to participate.
Hosted by the AZ/TX Fellowship
MEETING LINK:
-- or --
Join by phone
1-844-621-3956 United States Toll Free
Access code: 736 492 695
DETAILS:
ALL are invited to view the live online WEBEX meeting, however, to be efficient with time, we ask that you choose one representative from your fellowship as the spokesperson to take 5 - 7 minutes to relate the following:

• What fellowship activities are working best in your fellowship and are yielding the most light

• What gospel focus areas are working best in your fellowship and are helping to harvest the most light

The principles of gathering as fellowships and discussing these important matters are based upon the following talks, which we recommend you review to prepare for this meeting (talks located  at http://restorationarchives.com/library/snuffer.php ):
Constitutional Apostasy - Denver Snuffer 6-7-13
What that really meant at the beginning…was that independent sovereign and equal states could experiment. You could have the state of Utah with a state religion called Mormonism or Latter-day Saintism. And you could have…like they did with the citizens of Massachusetts…a tax that was imposed by the state…collected by the state… to be turned over to the church. You could do like the LDS church used to do with employees of ZCMI… that is they had a payroll deduction for tithing. And they deducted it directly and paid it to the Church.
They could do that to all of you in the state of Utah if we still had what we had originally. And if you didn't like that…then you could go to Idaho. Because in Idaho they worship the potato. [laughter] I know because I grew up there. And if you found it detestable to worship a potato, you could go to Wyoming and worship a cowboy. But every state was intended to be an experiment in sovereignty and in freedom. And the aberrations that would appear…the strange concoctions that the states would create of themselves…is just fine. Because the citizens of Vermont could say…I am sick of this government. And they could pack up and they could move to Rhode Island. Or they could move to Virginia. Or they could go to Ohio. And sooner or later…some state…like Texas is doing now…could say come here! We're not going to tax you out of existence. We're going to issue you a side arm when you come into the state…and were going to let you shoot out of your car…every road sign you see. And we will replace them because we have oil money and we can buy new road signs. Come to Texas!
And so people from Massachusetts can look down their nose at the folks in Texas. And they could say… They are ne'er-do-wells…they're hicks. And the people in Texas can say…Thank God we're in Texas and not in Massa-damn-chusetts. [laughter] We should be so diverse…we should be so dissimilar…we should be so non-uniform. That growing up in the United States…there should be at this moment…50 different experiments underway using the freedom the people have to choose. To design for themselves… the way in which they would like to be governed. And those 50 different ways will ultimately… some fail…some succeed…some turn into Nirvana. And the states are going to look around and say… Hey that's good! And they are going to form their own experiment in democracy by what they see working.
And they are going to form their own experiment in democracy by seeing what's failing…and by saying…Well, that didn't work! Look at that mess!
Christian Lecture #2 - Denver Snuffer 10-19-17
Because original Christianity was peacefully diverse the differences found in the earliest forms are somewhat preserved in our New Testament. I’ve got a question from the website. I’m reading you the question that came in: Is it possible Paul and Jesus taught two different gospel messages? There is debate such is the case, or is it Paul expressed the message differently than Jesus did? In other words, did Jesus elaborate more content and less terminology, justification, reconciliation, grace, et cetera, and Paul did the opposite?
It seems Christ, Peter, James, and John’s messages were sublime and easy to understand, whereas Paul’s letters are difficult to understand and require fitting the pieces together. Let’s take a look at those two witnesses.
Paul was a strict pharisee who followed the law. Paul persecuted Jesus’ followers, even assisting when Stephen was killed for his testimony of Christ. He had a great many things to regret. Everything in his life before his conversion to Christ gave him a context for understanding Christ and Christ’s message. Paul wanted grace, reconciliation, and justification because he needed these to have hope.
Peter was a fisherman but he walked alongside Christ for years. He saw Christ heal the sick, heard him bless the children, saw him walk on water. He knew that storms were quieted by Christ’s word. He saw the dead rise, and stood on the Mount of Transfiguration when the Father declared Christ was His Son.
Peter was as qualified a witness as Paul to testify Christ was the promised Messiah but we cannot expect two witnesses with such different experiences and from such different backgrounds as Peter’s and Paul’s to provide us identical testimonies of Christ. Both Paul and Peter understood and explained Christianity according to their background experiences, training, and culture. So long as they agreed on Christ’s doctrine and accepted Christ’s law that was enough. They were both Christian and provided us with truth.
Lecture 10 - Preserving The Restoration - Denver Snuffer 9-9-14
If a fellowship has significant numbers who still attend meetings, then meet in your own fellowship before or after the three-hour block, or on another day of the week.
If in your fellowship you don't think you know enough to do anything else, get together and read the scriptures out loud. Have your children study scripture. Teach them to use written copies of the scripture, not electronic devices. Studies show comprehension is greatly reduced by using electronic versions instead of printed books. Do not cripple your children by having them use computer-based scriptures. Get them their own copies and have them study them. Ask them to research subjects using their scriptures. Walk them through the parables of Christ and teach them to see symbolism as something familiar. Get them to consider analogies and types as tools used in scripture. Help them to reason a problem through using the scriptures as a guide.
In the early church, in this dispensation, when they got together, one of the things done regularly was everyone in the meeting prayed in turn. Everyone prayed. The meeting would last until all present had prayed. They called it a “Prayer Meeting,” oddly enough. One of the early brethren and didn't like that. He didn't feel like he could pray vocally around other people. There is a revelation admonishing him that he needs to pray.
If you don't have any wisdom to impart to one another, get together and pray. Get together and read the scriptures, but don't get together and read out loud out of any recent publication from Deseret Book. It has become little more than a vanity press, offering bright covers to serve up hollow slogans inside.
If we are going to begin again, it must be in conformity with the Doctrine of Christ, it must be taught by the spirit of truth, and it must follow the pattern and warnings given in Kirtland for us to follow.
---

When I say “unpleasant” it is probably an understatement. 
If there are a thousand different fellowships, each will have a unique challenge. You are asked to proceed without being correlated, free to work out your own way to follow the Lord. There will be some people who are “complainers” who will bring complaints with them into your groups. They need your love and patience. You may be able to help them overcome a life-long personality issue that can be cured only by your kindness to one another. Do not be discouraged by the problems. Prayerfully confront them. Do not ignore or hide them. Confess them openly and be patient with one another in finding the solution. Some people have suffered from lifelong abuse by religious authorities, including their parents. They have never had a healthy religious experience. The fact they remain willing to try is itself cause for hope and encouragement. Help them. Love them. Let them find peace among you, for that is what we are asked to do: Be willing to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, stand as a witness to one another of God at all times and of all places, and bear one another's burdens that they may be light. Suspend judgment and give such assistance as you can to one another. Maybe what they will need most is your listening ear and open heart.