Saturday, May 20, 2017

We Still Weep for Zion-for Zion has fled

As we’ve been focusing on the scripture project, which we hope will bring about receiving a covenant from the Lord, Jesus Christ, I’ve begun to realize something: there is currently no scripture canonized today that teaches a people in word and by example how to bring about Zion.

The last time Zion was accomplished was in the days of Melchizedek with Salem, the City of Peace.  The only other time Zion has been accomplished was previous to Salem with the City of Enoch.  The scriptures contain references to these cities, but no actual recordings from the participants about how they governed themselves other than what little is said in scripture, “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” Moses 7:18

The Old Testament begins with the book of Genesis, “written” by Moses, or as some scholars believe, by four different sources, the “Yahwists”, “Elohists”, “Deuteronomists” and the “priestly document”. Whomever it was written by, one thing is certain, the Old Testament recorders lived long after both Zions had fled from the earth.
“And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is Fled.” (Moses 7:69)

We do not have any actual existing records in today’s known world of scripture which was written by any of the Patriarchs or “Fathers in Heaven”.  Because of this we do not know how to organize ourselves under a Patriarchal system where all people are equal and function more as a family rather than an institution.

After Salem, the City of Peace, the people of the Old Testament failed to bring about Zion.  The people of the New Testament failed to bring about Zion.  The people of the Book of Mormon came very close in 4th Nephi  but in the end failed to bring about Zion.  The people of the Doctrine and Covenants failed to bring about Zion. These groups all failed because they organized themselves into institutions that were hierarchical rather than equal.

Is it wisdom in the Lord to keep the ideals, principles and guidelines followed by the people who were successful in bringing about Zion hidden from the world?  If we had the records from Adam down to Ephraim (the Fathers in Heaven) would the world have even more pretenders?  Would the knowledge damn us even more? Would it be used by conspiring men to enslave us even more?  Or is it that we are too stubborn and stiff-necked to even understand the patriarchal model at all and therefore it is kept hidden from our view out of mercy in order to spare us greater condemnation and judgement?

All we know for sure is that both Enoch and Melchizedek preached repentance unto their people. Their people repented from all their wickedness and peace was established.

Today we have been sent a true messenger from the Father.  He has been sent from the Fathers clothed with power and authority as an authorized servant to give us a message.  The message is to repent! But it is also about how to govern ourselves so as to bring about Zion.  As my family and I have been repenting and implementing the teachings we are learning, I am beginning to see how bringing about Zion can take centuries to accomplish.

One of the difficult struggles I have been witness to lately is that of equality: what it means and how we go about implementing it.

One of the lessons God has been teaching me lately is that Equality is not just between men but also extends to women. “ God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27  I have been greatly blessed to be married to a man who has treated me as his equal and walked side by side with me throughout our journey on this earth.  I generally associate with other men who treat their wives and other women with respect and equality.
Recently I have interacted with men who are all so busy trying to be equal with other men that they trample on the tender hearts of women.  Men may have knowledge but without the wisdom of women there is not true equity. Recent events have left me feeling that far too many men do not see women as their equals in spiritual matters.  Interactions with men outside of my family and friends have left me feeling unappreciated, overlooked and minimized.  Some interactions have even left me feeling embarrassed and humiliated.

This has caused me to think about the women mentioned in scripture from the Old Testament to the Pearl of Great Price.  While there are stories about women there are no books which have been penned by women. As I’ve pondered on this, I thought about all the women of great faith, even prophetesses whose stories are in the scriptures.  Surely, some of these women wrote about becoming daughters of Christ and receiving His testimony.  This world has been a male dominated world since sin was introduced.  Men are generally the ones who form committees to compile and canonize scripture, therefore, it only makes sense that men, threatened by and jealous of women having greater light and knowledge, would remove any writings penned by women.

As I have been pondering the current scripture project and the desire for equality among believers, the Lord has whispered to my heart that one of the tests underway in regards to equality is whether His Daughters will rise up and whether or not His Sons will allow us to.  It is not just equality between men that God desires for us but equality among all people, male and female, young and old.
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” D&C 93:1
For there is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:11

 Unless we take seriously that women are created equal to men we will continue to fail to bring about Zion.

Part of this responsibility lies on the shoulders of the women; we must rise up; we must speak up; we must expect respect and equality and we must extend it to each other.  Christ wants His daughters to speak up, to be more involved. If women cannot learn to respect and treat other women with equity we can never hope to be treated as such by men.  If we cannot learn how to be equal we will never bring about Zion.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Test is Upon Us

The test upon us is so multi-faceted and so complex that none of us can see the end from the beginning.  We are pushing ourselves up hill and that hill is getting steeper by the minute.  So many obstacles will appear in our path back to God, some that will feel like they are going to destroy us or throw us off track and some that we misinterpret and think that they are put in our path to keep us from damnation when in reality they are there to help us come closer to God.

To have all things in common: being in harmony or in common with the mind and will of God.  When a group of people are all in harmony with the mind and will of God, then that group of people, no matter how small, have all things in common, they are of one heart and one mind with God and now with each other.

There are two tests right now that are affecting the majority of people who have woken up to their awful state and have separated or begun to separate from the LDS Church: the temple and the scripture project/offered covenant.

The temple: I understand concerns on not only the cost of the temple but also wondering if we even need one.  I understand the fears that it might turn out to be the most costly, lavish temple in existence (research Solomon's temple, for an example). Those are valid concerns. If God commands it to be built a certain way, a certain dimension, with certain materials, in a certain location and it ends up being incredibly expensive, say the most expensive temple built by man to date, how will we react? Will we declare the temple not of God based on the cost of the project?  Will the cost of the project determine if Denver Snuffer is a "fallen" servant or a "righteous" servant?  One of the common mistakes those of us who have "woken up” are making is that we are throwing everything that is similar to the LDS Church out of our lives.  One of the reasons that the LDS Church is the great whore of all the earth is precisely because she mimics the real thing so closely; there is a razor edge dividing the two which is why it is so confusing and compelling.

The scripture project/covenant: there are beginning to be more and more voices against Denver Snuffer in this scripture project.  Other men who claim to have seen Christ who are turning many away from the path that Christ, through His authorized servant, is trying to take people on.  They have some legitimate arguments.  These men claim that Denver once was on the right path with waking people up from their idolatry, but is now "fallen" or "misguided" as he has turned the people towards "covenanting with him" and not going to God directly. These men are claiming that men do not make covenants, God does and that men do not need a temple, they can rise up on their own and come back into God's presence without the aid of a temple. These sentiments leave me wondering if people really read and understand the teachings of Denver.  It would behoove anyone confused by these men to go back and study the scriptures as well as Denver’s lectures and blog.

A few weeks ago I was praying about some things in regards to the scripture project.  I received a clear answer that one of the many parts of the test underway is for God to see who we, individually, will accept as God's authorized servant.  God revealed to me that many people have been back into His presence and that He has other servants, but that he has only one authorized servant at this time who has been commanded to do this scripture project. John the beloved and the Three Nephites are authorized servants, and interestingly enough, John the Beloved's newly revealed testimony will be included in the new scriptures.

Common consent, or to have all things in common begins with being in harmony, or having commonality with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  Part of knowing the Lord is knowing the mind and will of the Lord and then doing it. If God has sent an authorized servant to us today, then in order to be in common with God means that we need to come to a harmony with Him on who He has sent us and the messages coming through those individuals and then doing what those servants ask of us.

The tests are going to get harder and more difficult, the path steeper and more difficult to climb.  As we continue to strive to follow Christ, to be One with Him, we need to trust Him, Jesus Christ, that He will not lead us astray.  He will never interfere with our agency. He has sent us a servant who has power and authority and is above all else a teacher, that man's name is Denver Snuffer.  I do not believe that I can see Christ, that He will appear to me, if I reject His authorized servant, because recognizing any and all servants He sends to me is acknowledging and seeing God in my life.  

When the flood is raging around you, keep holding on to Christ. Even if you don't understand the obstacles He is placing before you and you can't see the end from the beginning, hold on to Him.  Continually pray that your heart may be softened.  Put your trust in God.  Love him.

We are literally in a lone and dreary world.  Like Adam and Eve we have been praying for true messengers from the Father who can teach us words of eternal life.  Christ has sent us a true messenger.  That messenger can help guide us in our ascent back into the presence of God where we can talk with Him face to face. The Children of Israel did not want to go up onto Mount Sinai to see God because it was terrifying; there were thunderings and lightenings and earthquakes. The people thought they would suffer all manner of pains and die.  It is no different today.  The tasks we are asked to accomplish are getting harder and more difficult, the mountain is being shaken.  I, for one, keep being shaken.  This has not been an easy path for me.  When the temple fund was finally announced, I balked.  I wanted nothing to do with it when I saw the suggested donation amount on Go Fund Me.  I took it to the Lord.  He has softened my heart.  I do not understand yet what the end will be, but I keep praying that He will guide me in this process.  I had finally settled down into some semblance of peace again when the scripture project/covenant was announced.  Once again, I was shaken.  Once again, I have taken it to the Lord and He has been good to me and answered just enough of my questions to keep me going, but not so many that I can see the end.  I still have moments of struggle.  I go to the Lord and to the scriptures at these times.  If anything, these obstacles present to us a chance to turn to the Lord in all energy of our souls, to pray, plead, beg for answers and guidance and comfort from Him.  

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were reading Doctrine and Covenants.  In my head I was complaining about the length of the sections. The next morning I was contacted and asked to submit something to the scripture committee that I had previously written.  I did not want to do it for several reasons.  I went to the Lord in prayer for an entire day and night.  I felt that I was supposed to send it in, but was uncomfortable with how long it was (10 pages!), so I kept editing it, trying to cut it down in length.  As I would ask God for his help, he'd gently remind me that He was the one who gave me the scriptures and quotes to begin with.  I kept complaining, "But, it's way too long."  Christ gently let me know that it hurt His feelings that I wouldn't want to hear from Him as much as possible.  Fast forward a couple of more days and I was praying and seeking guidance on a different matter, the Lord was silent and I was getting frustrated at His silence (which is usual for me) when he replied that I complain when He talks too much (the length of the scriptures) and I complain when He talks too little (not answering me personally). It was a gentle rebuke and offered me a chance to repent. I was humble by it.

I believe that the answers as well as the comfort and understanding we all seek can be found in the scriptures and the teachings of God's authorized servants. If we are frustrated that God is "not talking to us" then go to the scriptures.  He as spoken abundantly in them. We need to continue to pray that our hearts may be softened and that we may hear and recognize the word of the Lord and then have the courage to go and do it.

The tests are upon us.  The exciting, yet terrifying thing is: we get to choose!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Persuasion, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned…the perfect way to test these? Put a covenant on the line!

When I attended the Doctrine of Christ conference in March of 2017 held in St. George, Utah a scripture project was announced.  I’ve written about that previously under the title “Accepting an Offered Covenant”; you can see that post here .

At that conference a document was proposed to be added to the scriptures.  It was titled “Governing Principles” and was drafted in order to instruct people all over the world how to worship Christ.

When I saw the article and the title, I rebelled.  I have just come out of an institutional church that governed everything I did, down to the minutiae.  Immediately, one of Joseph Smith’s teachings came to mind, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” (emphasis added)

As I began reading this document I found several items that I did not agree with nor did I feel they were scripturally accurate.  I took this matter to the Lord.  I was deeply concerned and in turmoil over the idea of accepting a set of scriptures containing a document with which I did not agree.

I have been waking up in the early morning hours between 3:30 and 4:30 quite often over the past several months.  It has been a good time to pray and write.  The house is quiet with no one needing mom’s attention. It is a time I can converse with the Lord.

The morning after coming home from the conference I awoke early and was complaining to God about the need to be “governed” by a document with which I did not agree. He calmly asked me what I would write. When I told him, he encouraged me to do so.  I spent the next several days drafting my version of a guide for fellowshipping.

It’s difficult to put into words, and keep this post from becoming enormously wordy, what has transpired with the scripture project over the past month and a half.  Suffice it to say that the committee printed in the first draft edition some of their own writings including “Governing Principles” mentioned earlier.  This opened the door for a lot of personal submissions, some that were closer to the crazy end of the meter, a “recipe for disaster”.  This began serious debate: “what is scripture” and “who is authorized by God to write it”.  People were emailing serious concerns to the scripture committee but feeling dismissed by them.  I was one of those people. 

We were alternately moved upon by the spirit and our own consciences to push the committee to tighten their standards of what is scripture and then felt chastised for “complaining” when Denver would write a blog post chastising complainers.

Things came to a head April 19, 2017.  A small group of us had decided to draft a petition in order to call for several items of immediate action:
  ▪Reconstruct the restoration-era scriptures insofar as is possible;
▪Add contemporary content that few would quibble with (e.g., writings by authorized servants: Denver, translation of John, Joseph Smith) 
▪Pause before moving forward in adopting other “scripture” in order to determine the best approach (e.g. writing from others in the assembly or on the scripture team)
Suggested process for arriving at final set of RE scriptures:
▪All legitimate concerns or suggestions that are submitted should be compiled into the list for voting (no selective filtering).
▪Anything that is new to the scriptures (post-Joseph, not Denver) should be, de facto, put up for comment and vote, not automatically added to the scriptures as “examples” to the rest of us and definitely not because the author is on the scripture team.

We were willing and ready to begin our own scripture project if the current committee continued to dismiss our attempts at common consent.  Denver Snuffer heard about our efforts and called for an emergency meeting at his law office in Sandy, Utah. A representative for the committee attended as well as several people involved with our petition.

The meeting was rough but inspiring. We were all called to repent.  We were all able to understand each other more fully. We were all taught some true doctrine by Denver. During the meeting I was asked by Denver to submit the paper I wrote titled “Guiding Principles” to go up against “Governing Principles” in order for the assembly of saints to have a choice. I was not sure I wanted to do so and I did not commit to sending it in at that time.

One of the stories Denver shared a few times was that of the saints in Joseph Smith’s day complaining about the introduction to the doctrine and Covenants which the scripture team at that time had been tasked with writing.  The people rejected their document and called for Joseph to write a new one. Denver pointed out that this began dependence by the people upon Joseph which darkened their minds.  Denver does not want to repeat history.

The following morning I was contacted by a person who had been in attendance at the meeting.  They were excited because they had realized that morning that we had not repeated history: the people do not like the document the scripture team wrote (Governing Principles) and instead of going to Denver to write a new one, I had gone to the Lord and I had written a new one.  Denver was thrilled that “I did not repeat history” and in addition he was even more thrilled that the work was done by a woman!  They asked me to send in the guiding principles document I had compiled and they wanted my name on it.

I felt overwhelmed by the prospect. I spent that day and the morning of the next praying about what to do. I chose to send it in on Friday the 21st. I attached my name to it with the full realization that this may result in my excommunication from the LDS Church.

Sending in my document has opened a door to help others see that they can have a voice in regards to the scripture project.

Things did not change immediately following that meeting.  I have had two phone calls with a member of the scripture team. These calls were beneficial to both of us, I was given more light and understanding into the choices, decision and labors they are doing on our behalf and they were able to better understand the views of the assembly of saints.  Last Sunday, April 30, I received a phone call asking me how I felt about the team putting together a new committee that would be responsible for drafting a replacement document for Governing Principles and my Guiding Principles. This new committee would be formed out of representatives from any fellowship that felt inspired to be a part of it.  I was elated!  This idea felt right.

It has been two weeks since that emergency meeting and there has been a transformation in the attitude of the scripture team as well as the body of believers.  A lot of personal revelation has been received, a lot of direction on how to proceed. As well as much needed guidance on what exactly is scripture and who is authorized by God to “write” it.  The scripture team issued an apology to the body of saints.  It was beautiful and humble and has given us much needed hope in this process.  With that apology they tightened the parameters of what types of submissions should be considered for inclusion in the scriptures.  They also announced the formation of a new committee which had been discussed with me that morning on the phone.

If we are to have any hope of establishing Zion we must learn to work together, to have common consent, to have charity, love and compassion for one another, to have equality, long suffering, gentleness and persuasion, to have love unfeigned; this scripture project has been a wonderful tool for Christ to begin to teach us how to accomplish these things.  There is nothing like offering a covenant to get us learning and growing in earnest. We have a long way to go, but we have begun.