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Are We On the Lord’s Bus?

Zion busSeveral years ago, the general manager of one of my clients, who had just taken over the company, talked about his employees needing to be “on the bus” or he couldn’t keep them on. I now understand that the phrase “on the bus” was referencing a best-selling book called “The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon. I have not read this book, but the meaning of the analogy was immediately obvious…are you going to help me get to where I’m going or not? Are you on the bus, or not? If not, then you probably have no place on this journey.

I have had a couple of occasions recently to study and ponder Alma Chapter 13, the chapter where Alma is expounding to the people of Ammonihah (following the standoff that he and Amulek had with Zeezrom) on the high priests that were ordained from “before the foundations of the world according to the foreknowledge of God. Verses 1 through 3:

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.

And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.

And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.

As I read this, it became clear to me that these high priests were those who, through their “having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith” had demonstrated that they were “on the bus”. In other words, they got it. They understood what the Elohim were trying to do with this great universe that had been created, and they truly wanted to be part of it – even though, perhaps, they couldn’t see the end from the beginning. That, after all, is where the faith comes in, right? Verses 10-11 say:

Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;

Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.

So, for their faithfulness, they were sanctified and their garments washed white through the blood of the Lamb.

Now, why did Alma even teach this sermon? He was preaching to a largely wicked and clearly unconverted people who were destined to be destroyed in short order by the Lamanite armies (chapter 16). Was he preaching a message of hope – a message that, if you exercise exceeding faith and choose good over evil, you, too, can be one of these great high priests, and have your garments washed white through the blood of the Lamb? If that’s true, does that mean that there were among these wicked people some who were fore-ordained from before the foundation of the world to this high and holy calling?

Fast forward to our day. Does this message, left for us by Mormon, suggest that there are those among us who are priests who were called and ordained after the order of the Son of God? Are there those among us today who have already demonstrated that they are on the Lord’s bus? Do they know who they are? How might their ordination and calling be revealed to them? Verse 4 says:

And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.

It seems from this that there was a point – a probationary period, if you will – where many had the opportunity to either accept or reject the Spirit of God. Some passed the test, but others didn’t. Have we been tested? Are we being tested?

I want to be on the Lord’s bus. I want to accept the Spirit of God, choose righteousness and goodness over evil, and exercise exceeding faith. If you’re reading this, I suspect that you do, too. Actually, I’d like to think I am (and you are) already on the bus, and that He knows it, but we’ll have to wait to see who’s standing once Elijah and the city of Enoch (and Salem?) have returned, the Temple has been built, and Christ has returned to dwell among us before any such things are made known publicly. I hope I’m there. You hope you’re there. I hope you’re there. Maybe we can all be on the bus together! Maybe we’ll all find out some time soon that we are indeed among those High Priests who were called and ordained, who were on the Zion bus.

But is there another possible scenario? Whether or not I passed some previous test, or even had the opportunity, doesn’t change the fact that I dearly want to be on the Lord’s bus. I know that babylon is the illusion, and that Zion is the eternal reality. So, what if, by boarding the Lord’s bus now, we are actually punching our ticket in this probation to be called and ordained before the foundation of some future world? What if THIS probation is the testing ground for us, while those who were already fore-ordained are playing their unique role in the drama of this world, while we wait to find out if we get to play a similar role in another drama to take place at another time?

What if? Either way, my choices remain the same – I want to get on the bus. Now, finally, we’re to the point of this post. Now is where I ask, “What does it take to get on the bus?” I’ve recently discovered a few clues that I think are essential if we are to move forward, whether we’re in the process of realizing our individual ordination from a previous time, or whether we’re in the process of being tested to prove ourselves for some future role in some future world. If I may:

The Lord’s checklist is very small. Believe in me. Repent. Be baptized. Keep my commandments (Love God and love your neighbor pretty much sums it up – all the rest are simply elucidating the details). To be sure, this is a mighty list, one of eternal depth and breadth…it’s just not very long. Take “Believe in me” and “Repent”, for example. In my mind, this means that we reject this fallen world, with all of its insidious teachings about competition and survival, ownership of stuff, and “God helps those who help themselves”, and truly receive (believe in) Zion, which leads us to…

The Sermon on the Mount (or at Bountiful) is not just nice advice. Actually, it pretty much sums up what it means to “believe in me and repent”. It’s crazy stuff when viewed from within babylon, but if we can’t recognize that this is the essence of His entire ministry; that it represents the framework of a Zion society; that living this way is what it means to be “on the bus”, then we’re going to miss out entirely. You want commandments? Take these! I would like to expound on just a couple –

“Consider the Lilies” (Matthew 6:28). The Lord was not kidding when he shared this. He REALLY wants us to trust Him – that He knows our needs and that if we trust Him and devote ourselves to doing the work He would have us do, He will provide for us. He is not kidding when He talks about idolatry, because the worst form of idolatry is to trust ourselves and our own efforts more than we trust in His promises.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Zion)” Matthew 5:5. My definition of “meek”? That would be those who refuse to compromise the agency of others. The ways in which we undermine the agency of others are myriad and they can be very sneaky and underhanded – so much so that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. If we cannot learn to set aside our own jealousies and fears and allow others to follow their path back to Heaven, we will never be able to live in Zion.

I don’t think these, or for that matter, the entire Sermon on the Mount, are considered by the world to be commandments, but I am of the opinion that if we want to be on the Zion bus, we’d better start treating them as such.

We’ll never learn to consecrate until we consecrate. You can’t learn to swim until you get in the water. No amount of instruction will ever suffice. No amount of practice swimming out of the water is going to teach you to swim. It’s that simple. So, at some point, we’re all going to have to “just do it”.

In summary, studying Alma 13 prompted me to consider what it means to be on the bus. I’m pretty sure everybody who reads that chapter wonders at some level, “how does this apply to me?” I certainly asked myself, “Am I among those who were fore-ordained?”, but then I realized that, whether I was fore-ordained or not, my desire, my choices remain the same. I’m going to rise up and seek to do all that the Lord calls me to do, and I’m going to try to do it with exceeding faith, humility, and meekness. I may struggle…heck, I may fall flat on my face, but I refuse to allow babylon to convince me that miracles have ceased, that the gifts of the spirit are a things of the past, or that the Lord cannot use me to do great works simply because I am imperfect. If I’m willing, He will use me. If you’re willing, He will use you.

HOWEVER, there is one very important thing that must happen if we are to get on the Zion bus: Leaving babylon requires a whole paradigm shift. It’s not about leaving behind books and movies and the internet, or about moving to an exceeding high and remote location and learning to live off the grid, or even about building a city of refuge or a New Jerusalem. It is totally about leaving behind the idols that replace Christ – the ownership, competition, covetousness, jealousy, and fear that cause us to worship our stuff instead of Christ. We must trust HIM and the promises He has given us. Manna in the desert? Quail on the plains? Why not???!!!! The Sermon on the Mount is real! It contains the framework for Zion. It’s not metaphorical or just pretty advice. We’re actually supposed to make this part of our existence.

Zion will happen. It is happening. Now is the time. Let’s get on the bus. Let’s learn to consider the lilies; to surrender our cloak, walk the second mile, and turn the other cheek; to walk in meekness because that’s what Christ did, and He gave everything. If He is the prototype of the saved man as stated in the Lectures on Faith, can we really do anything less? Then, let us rejoice when Zion, in her beauty, rises.

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Conversation with God #7

The following conversation did take place. It is not an exact transcript, but the general idea is accurate. For example, the whole conversation took most of an hour, and even carried over into the day. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

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Me: Lord, please. May I have permission to heal my friend? She suffers so much! Every day is a mighty, frustrating, maddening struggle for her. I don’t know how she goes on!

Christ: My son, are you willing to sacrifice <this> for her? If your sacrifice would heal her, would you do it?

Me: Oh, no! Not <that>! (Much thought, pondering, preparing myself – many minutes).

Me: Yes, Lord – obviously, if my giving up <this> would mean that she would be healed of her affliction, of course I will do that. (Gulp!)

Christ: Good. I mean, after all, I gave my LIFE that YOU might be healed. I’m only asking you to sacrifice <this>, and only for 30 days.

Me: Yes, Lord. I understand. So, if I give this up for 30 days, you promise she will be healed, right?

Christ: Well, not necessarily.

Me: Huh?

Christ: What percent of a chance that she would be healed would be enough for you to be willing to make this commitment? Would you make this sacrifice for a 50% chance? 20 percent? 2 percent?

Me: Wow, Lord – I don’t know. I see what you’re saying…you gave your life while I’m only giving <this> for 30 days. I’m asking for a guarantee, but you gave all knowing that only a tiny percentage of those who could be healed, who could be saved, would actually look upon your gift and validate your sacrifice. Gee, I guess I would do this even if the chance is infinitesimally small.

Christ: Good, my son. That’s right. Now, Scoot – you don’t really need to sacrifice in her behalf. You see, I already sacrificed that she might be healed – cleansed every whit. She only needs to believe..believe in me and that I did this for her. Heal her with confidence in my power and authority…which I give to you this day, in my Holy name.  Amen.

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Zion, Sacrifice, and the Empathy Ratio

The very fact that we think of our service to the Lord as a sacrifice is a sign that we are clinging to babylon.

Christ invites us to come unto Him and receive glory beyond glory. He invites us to become beings washed clean of all iniquity, clothed in light and truth…to know Him and to receive eternal life. “…men are that they might have joy”. He has invited mankind from the very beginning to establish a Zion society – where everyone is of one heart and one mind and where there are no poor among them. In what conceivable way could the pursuit of such things be considered a sacrifice? Only if we still love babylon, with its fear, its unbelief, its stuff and its culture of competition, would we consider the process (or act) of leaving those things behind to be a sacrifice.

If we believe in Christ, if we believe in His promises, why would we not believe that Zion is possible – even a certainty? Why would we not leave everything behind in our desire to find it?

I do not claim to have answered all these questions for myself. Perhaps, though, having asked the question, I can begin finding the answers.

The Empathy Ratio: The percentage of time that you spend thinking of the needs of others vs. your own personal needs. If we trust Christ – if we consider the lilies – our empathy ratio should rise, should it not? What’s your empathy ratio? 20%? 70%? 90%? I would bet most mothers have an empathy ratio approaching 80%! Christ? Probably in the 90% range.  It’s humbling when I take this measure of myself.

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Cherishing the Sacrament

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy son, and witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (Moroni 4:3)

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (Moroni 5:2)

Over the past months, I have chosen to partake of the sacrament daily. As a result, I have come to truly cherish this perhaps most holy of ordinances. While I am thankful for the things I have come to understand, I feel some regret that I didn’t understand this during the previous eighteen years.

This morning, I was praying about some things that have been bothering me. I have been exposed over the past year to the “High Holy Days”, or the celebrations and observances (feasts and festivals) specified in the Law of Moses. I have gained reverence for the Law of Moses, but I’ve also observed that it can still be used as it was in the days of the Scribes and Pharisees – as a standard against which people can be judged. Such judgment is primarily wielded by those who have greater knowledge than the general public. It (greater knowledge) is a great tool of the adversary today just as it was then – if it is used without charity and meekness. The great irony about this is that such judgment – such power – is only effective because those over whom it is wielded are truly meek and seeking to do the Lord’s will, which they believe in their ignorance is being communicated through those with greater “knowledge”. Knowledge without meekness is a very dangerous thing.

Anyway, I was praying about this topic – the strict observance of certain aspects of the Law of Moses – when I was reminded that these observances and ordinances, in fact, all observances and ordinances, are merely reminders and pointers to Christ. Observances remind and point to Christ, while ordinances seem to carry with them, in addition, a covenant (with promised blessings) that must be ratified and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise before they are of any efficacy.

The sacrament, in my mind, is the exception to this rule. While it certainly points to Christ, it doesn’t need to be ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise before the implied promises (receiving the offered power of the atonement and always having His spirit to be with us) can be fulfilled. The sacrament is immediate. The sacrament is not pointing to Christ as much as it is communing with Christ. I have been discovering just how joyous a communion that can be.

And Were Filled

In 3 Nephi 18:3-9, when the Lord introduces the sacrament to the Nephites, He first gives it to the 12 recently appointed “disciples”, and then commands them to administer the bread to the multitude. In both cases, the phrase “…had eaten and were filled…” is used. A similar phrase (…and did drink of it and were filled) is used to describe how the wine was to be administered. I had a discussion recently where it was speculated that perhaps the “and were filled” terminology didn’t refer to being physically filled at all, but to being spiritually filled. There is something almost intangible in the terminology and phrasing (drink “of it”) that belies the idea that “were filled” refers to a physical filling. For example, it doesn’t say they ate until they were filled, but they ate and were filled. This idea, of course, changes the context completely; invokes a much more spiritual content; and assigns an immediacy to this “communion” that I hadn’t readily recognized before. Furthermore, it is obvious to me that eating or drinking until we are literally “filled” is not a requirement of the sacrament – if it were, I might be leaving my morning ordinance increasingly fat and dangerously “happy”.

A Renewal?

It has been said that the sacrament is not a renewal of our baptismal covenants. However, for me, I think it is. When I was baptized, while I may not have specifically made all the promises in the sacrament prayers, in my heart I actually did make those promises. That was my intent. I very much promised that I would take upon myself His name, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. His promise, in return, was that I might always have His spirit to be with me. As I think about it further, perhaps it is not any sort of baptismal covenant that I am renewing.  Instead, perhaps it is actually a renewal of the Everlasting Covenant that I am renewing – that covenant that describes the fullness of Christ’s desired relationship with us.  Regardless of what interpretation you might hold, for me – it is a daily kneeling in humility and offering myself to Him again. It is indeed, for me, a Holy communion during which I promise and receive promises on a daily basis.

Burning the Sacrament Prayer into One’s Heart

There have been times when I have pictured myself spiritually kneeling before the father, uttering the sacrament prayer, and promising Him that I will do the things specified in the prayer. Those have been my most spiritual experiences with the sacrament. I can’t do this if I’m reading the prayer. I can only do this if I have memorized the prayer. Furthermore, it’s simply not the same if someone else is saying the prayer and I’m only listening. I have memorized the prayers (as have many others – this does not make me special) not only so that I can be prepared to administer even if scriptures are not available, but also so that I can focus on the words in this manner. Is it possible that we all might be more focused on the prayer itself, and therefore get more out of the sacrament, if we were to memorize it and say it (at least silently) along with the one who is blessing the sacrament?

Summary

In summary, I have truly come to cherish the ordinance of the sacrament. I feel that it is the most spiritual of all the ordinances we have been given because it is so immediate and because it is a personal communion with Christ. I believe that, at the very least, the phrase “…and were filled…” carries with it a double meaning, and that it is the spiritual fulfillment that is the true purpose of the sacrament. Furthermore, I have found great joy and more meaning in the sacrament as a result of memorizing the sacrament prayer, which has the effect of burning the prayer into my heart. I love my Savior. I live to serve Him. I don’t know how this depth of commitment to Him came about. I offered my life – not knowing what such an offer really entailed – and He accepted it. Then He set about preparing me for a life lived in His name. The preparation goes on and there is, as I have said so many times before, no turning back.

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The Time is NOW – Leaving Spiritual Babylon

For the past 6 months or more, my dear friends Jake and Della Hilton have dedicated themselves to producing the documentary series “The Time is NOW – Leaving Spiritual Babylon”.  A trailer for the series can be found here and the first documentary in the series is here.

This is an outstanding source of knowledge taken almost entirely from the scriptures.  It is filled with insights that, once brought to light, elevate one’s understanding to an entirely new level.  I highly recommend it for your viewing, and hope you will take advantage of their work.

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Seeking Zion #1 – Thanksgiving, 2015

Thanksgiving cornucopiaI spent Thanksgiving this week with a group of people who, a year ago, I had barely heard of – and that only through Facebook connections – and had not ever met. My friend, Brian Beckle, blessed the feast and in doing so compared our gathering with that of the pilgrims at the feast that is commemorated by our 21st century holiday. He pointed out that the original pilgrims left their homes and occupations in the face of religious persecution and were seeking a land where they could worship according to their conscience.

Well, it’s obvious that any persecution our tiny group might have faced in our former life was benign compared to the threats faced by the Mayflower passengers to their life and liberty. There are few valid comparisons between our temporal experiences today and the life and death struggles they faced in crossing the Atlantic Ocean and after landing in what is now Massachusetts. Yeah, there were Native residents in17th century America, and there are Native Americans in Boundary County, Idaho, but the Kootenai tribe owns a casino and about 4000 acres of reservation land. Those who met the pilgrims owned nothing, yet they owned everything – at least for a short while. Our original pilgrim friends faced great hardship that year of 1620-1621, spending the winter on board the ship where more than half of them died. We are spending the winter “braving” 60 degrees inside and 20 degrees outside with plenty of food, warm clothing, and an excess of serviceable vehicles. We have Home Depot, Walmart, and Taco Bell within 40 miles and a Costco within 100 miles. Our greatest temporal concerns are centered around finalizing the sale of our homes and getting needed repairs made to our moving van named “Betsy”.

Clearly most comparisons end with the simple fact that both groups left many comforts and securities behind in their desire to serve the Lord in the way they felt compelled to do. Compared to those 17th century pioneers, we’ve got things easy because, while their most urgent challenges were largely temporal, ours are decidedly more spiritual as we try to leave behind the traditions of our fathers and seek after the Lord’s real truth and light – just as Abraham did as detailed in the first chapter of Abraham.

Oh, there is certainly much work to do – physical work; hard work when you’re 62 and only 2 months removed from a job where the greatest exertion in any given week was hurrying from the commuter terminal to the long term parking bus at the Salt Lake City Airport. This work is, frankly, overwhelming. I have no idea how we’re going to get it all done, although I’m sure it will be done in time. If it makes anyone feel better, I figure it’s going to take 20 years to do all the Lord needs us to do, so the Second Coming is at least that far off…(that’s a joke – folks).

This physical work, though, is not our biggest challenge – not even close. Our biggest challenge is becoming of one heart and one mind. The work is largely a vehicle to help us accomplish that. What, though, does it mean to be “of one heart and one mind”?

  • It means leaving behind the lessons of competitiveness and pride and jealousy that we’ve survived on our whole lives, and which are so embedded in our psyches that we are typically oblivious to them. In short – it means a new way of thinking – an entirely new way of social interaction.
  • It means worrying about your own contribution to the work load and not whether everyone else is working as hard as you are. (This is a tough one – a surprisingly tough one)
  • It means loving people even after the honeymoon period is over and you start seeing the inadequacies and weaknesses that pop up as we get tired or stressed and start falling back on the aforementioned pride and jealousy.
  • It means trusting in the Lord’s word when He tells us there will be enough, and that there’s nothing in the chronicle of the early saints that suggests they were going to starve to death in Zion; only that the cause of their failure was “jarrings and contentions and envyings and strifes”.
  • It means realizing that all that Christ said about loving your neighbor and the Golden Rule really is the only possible recipe if one hopes to build a Zion community.
  • Then there’s that whole consecration thing…you know – where you offer it all…idols, money, fears, stakes, desires, hopes, wishes. There can be no other way. As a matter of fact, part of the whole process of seeking to know the Lord is unearthing those things you’ve secretly been holding out on. These aren’t typically even things like money or stuff. It’s more like, for example, recognizing your own personal manipulation card – that very subtle, passive-aggressive type thing that slyly gets people to do what you want them to do without them realizing they’ve been played. You probably don’t even know you do it. The problem is – there’s not just one of them. You’ve got an entire Pinochle hand full of them! You’ve been using them all your life, and you don’t even know it! And the worst part is – no matter how hard you try – you’re incapable of cleaning it all up by yourself. You have to go to the Lord and say “Lord…I can’t do it. Fix me.” Furthermore, if you’re not living consecration, there’s just no way these things are going to forced out into the open. If you’re holding onto your own home, your own property – giving only part (doesn’t matter how much – 10%, 20%, 50% – anything less than 100%) to a tithing group or something – the refiner’s fire just isn’t going to be hot enough. The dross will never be burned out. It’s hard enough when you are in a consecrated community, but if you’re not…well, it’s just not going to work.

I recently shared the following with one of our families. What I wrote was as much of a discovery for me as it was for them, but I think it summarized many of the things I’ve personally learned since being here in our community…

  • With the exception of 2 families who were old friends, we all knew OF each other, and had respect for each other, but we didn’t know each other. We didn’t know each others’ eating habits, work habits, hygiene habits, etc. We didn’t know anything about family dynamics, strengths, weaknesses, shortcomings, fears, jealousies, etc.
  • The only thing we really knew was that each family is called of God and is supposed to be here, and that each family is “All-in”. This remains true (I know, I know – it’s only been 2 months), even though we now know a lot more about the things mentioned in the previous paragraph.
  • I personally have learned – and shared with everyone else – that I am not responsible for pointing out the faults of others. I am responsible for preparing myself and becoming pure in heart. I cannot be responsible for how pure others’ hearts are – only my own. My efforts, my contributions, are not conditional on what anyone else does, thinks, believes, etc. I can, however, be responsible to lift and enable others, but not to the point of exercising control, compulsion or unrighteous dominion.
  • Our consecration is not only of money, food storage, tools, etc – it is of our patience, kindness, trust, and faith. Each of us has different things we need to learn. I need to give others the time to learn those things and trust that they are doing their best in their own effort to align with the Lord’s will.
  • The only qualification for being here is that we are willing to consecrate. It’s not our perfection, work ethic, spiritual vision, or cleanliness. That is why have been gathered. The Lord has made that very clear to me.
  • We have a wide spectrum of people – especially when it comes to how we choose to spend our time. I simply must trust that, as things continue moving forward, the Lord will guide us to do the work that He needs to be done. If someone struggles with that, it is between Him and the individual. Again, it is not up to me to police what others do. I can only do what I can do – that I might have peace with my God and my “family” members.
  • We currently have 11 adults here. There are not 11 other adults in the entire world who have what it takes to be here at this time, in this place. I don’t say this to be prideful, but there are many who are looking for the right group, or want to buy a home for their family close to others of like mind. That’s great. It’s laudable, and it’s a powerful step in the right direction, but it’s not consecration. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not consecration. I was somewhat open minded about that approach before we actually came, but now I know. It is the consecration of ALL THINGS – including our heart, might, mind, and soul – that calls down the powers of heaven and enables us to do the things we have been called to do.
  • Finally – Zion is not, and never will be, about finding a group that I fit in with. It will always be about me fitting into the group that the Lord has chosen for me to be in. First comes the commitment, then comes the burning – the refiner’s fire. It cannot be the other way around.

So, by now you’ve got some idea of what this community is trying to do, although we are not “declaring” ourselves. The work must be done first, then labels will come about organically and will be applied by someone other than us. Be it “Zion”, a stake of Zion, a “place of refuge”, or just another in a long list of failures, we will have tried. I hope and pray we will have given our all – 100% – and nothing less. Going forward, having no poor among us will be easy. If we run out of money, we’ll all be poor together – no one will have more than anyone else. However, what about becoming pure in heart? What does it really mean to be pure in heart? I’m learning a lot more about that, although I still have much to learn. My idea so far is that it means that I’m more concerned about how I can serve others than I am about how others can serve me. It means that I have absolutely no desire to convince someone to act in the way I think they should act, but that I love them for who they are right now, today, in their own place or stage of progression, and not for where I think they should be, or where they are in comparison with me. It means that if I help them, I help them according to their desires, not what I think their needs are. Finally, I think being pure in heart is to treat everyone, no matter their age or status, with the kindness and patience that you would naturally show a sweet doe-eyed 6-year-old girl like the one who, with her 12-year-old cousin, just gave Diana and me beautiful hand-made Thanksgiving cards.

May the Lord bless each of us in our search for Zion. Whether you’re seeking it in your heart, your family, or in a community in a remote part of the country, I pray that you find it. It is the destiny – the measure of our creation – for all saints. Zion is real, and not just an ideal or a dream that someone else in some other place will bring about some day in the distant future. No, Zion will be built – the scriptures make that clear – and it will be built by hands that are willing to work, but mostly by hearts that are willing to love.

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In the Master’s Hands

downloadI learned something this morning that has been 18 years coming. (Well, more like 62 years, but more intensely for the last 18 years) For most of my journey with Christ, I have sought to approach Him by doing things, improving things about myself that were within my control. There was always more I could learn, more I could sacrifice. I could give more, serve more, love more. Things in my life now have developed to the point that I don’t know that this is still the case. I’m no longer sure that I am capable of bringing about the changes that need to take place. In other words, I have no more stuff to give – it’s all given. I have no more time to give – it’s all given. I might even go so far as to say I have no more heart to give – it is given fully. The only reason I have more love to give is because love is infinite and can continue to grow as it is perfected in Him.

That’s the point of this post. It dawned on me just this morning that I’ve reached the point in my journey where I’ve given all that is within my control, and from here on it is truly up to Him. It is up to Him to make the most of what sacrifice I have been able to make. It is up to Him to sanctify the meager gift I have offered. I can certainly continue to be willing and to learn to be more humble, but it’s beyond my own understanding to be able to do that. I can and must continue to seek to know Him, but the low hanging fruit is all picked. I need Him to lift me up to the higher branches where the sweetest fruit grows.

I was sharing this with a friend this morning, and it further dawned on me that this experience is described by the story of the brother of Jared in Ether chapters 2 and 3. The brother of Jared and his people had done all they could. They had arrived at the great sea. They had built the barges in faith. They had recognized the problem of lighting. The brother of Jared went up on the mountain and extracted – I’m sure at great effort – the 16 stones. After that, though, he knew that only the Lord could provide the full solution. Only the Lord could sanctify their efforts and bring about the completeness of His will for them. It was at that point that his faith was complete enough that he could not be withheld from within the veil.

I know we all have different points at which we realize that we’ve given and consecrated all that we have; at which we’ve done all that we can and we have to turn the rest over to the Lord, because all of the low-hanging fruit is picked clean. At that point, perhaps the Lord will say, “Welcome, my child. You have done well! Now, we can really get to work!” At this point, we must continue to walk in faith, seeking His will for us and for His Zion. If we do this, the very heavens themselves will not hold the blessings that will shower upon us. We will become like the nondescript violin that came alive at the touch of the master’s hand.

May the Lord bless us in our efforts. May we each seek after our Lord’s Zion first in our hearts, then in our family, and then in the world. The heavens are open. Angels are rejoicing as we forsake the traditions of our fathers and approach the Lord seeking the true faith – the fullness of His righteousness. I know this is true, and I declare so in the name of Jesus Christ.

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