Articles For The Cause of Zion
A Broken Heart and A Contrite Spirit
I learned a lot about the phrase “broken heart and contrite spirit” from horses. At first, most horses, are headstrong for one reason or another. They must be broken to be useful to man. I think it is the same for us. We must be broken to be useful to God.
At our home, we have had horses for years. My children used to ride them and compete with them. We could not afford trainers for the new horses nor instructors for the kids’ riding ability, so we had to do that on our own. We read horse magazines and books. We studied videos. We attended clinics.
One Clinic, the John Lyons Clinic, taught how to break a horse “God’s way.” Macho man’s way of doing it is to just climb on and hang on. Battle with the horse until you win. Force your agenda and make that horse subservient. Stomp out the animal’s unique personality, exhaust it, and scare it to death. Macho man then takes credit, and the horse is empty, exhausted, and scared or indignant or both. This is not what we learned of “God’s way.” After all, Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, not war.
We did our own horse breaking, and we did it as we learned in that clinic. Actually, it wasn’t a “we” thing. It was my oldest son, the horse lover, who did it. I watched --- a lot. That’s why I can explain this. By understanding God’s way for man to break a horse, my son and I received an understanding of achieving a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
I will describe a typical horse breaking session, and by drawing the analogy of the trainer being God and the horse being God’s person, you, the reader, might come to that same understanding.
First you build a sturdy, high, round corral, fifty feet in diameter. Call that the arena of life. Then, you lead the animal inside, turn it loose and close the gate. The trainer, who must be fit, then calmly enters the corral, holding a lariat, and moves to the center. At this point the unbroke horse will get nervous and try to avoid the trainer. It will begin to move in circles close to the fence. The trainer will ask for its attention in some way – with a noise like a kissing sound or with body language like slapping the lariat. Usually the horse acts like it doesn’t notice this, but it moves a little faster. The trainer accepts this behavior and even helps it by casually tossing the lariat out at the horse’s hind feet, not tangling those feet, just helping them along in their avoidance effort. The horse runs faster, and the trainer positions his body constantly to keep the horse moving. This is why the trainer must be fit. Yes, this also takes know-how from the trainer.
When the horse tires a little, the trainer again asks for attention. Usually the horse doesn’t give it, so the trainer moves in with body and lariat again to help the horse evade. This can go on for quite a while. The horse does eventually tire enough that when the trainer asks, the horse, either out of curiosity, or by accident, or out of tiredness turns its face and maybe some of its neck toward the trainer, and at this point, the trainer backs off slightly. This body language is inviting the horse to come closer to him. Almost always, once the horse gets a breather, it’s back to the one-horse avoidance race, and the trainer again moves in with body and lariat to help. The horse is getting more tired and the short breaks get less restoring. Every time the horse stops and begins to face the trainer, it gets that break and another invitation.
Then we get to a turning point. Instead of just turning its head and neck to face the trainer, the horse turns its whole body. Then it changes its mind and avoids the call again. The next time, it may take a step toward the trainer. The next time – two. Then three. Eventually the horse accepts the call and walks all the way to face the trainer and allows a kind hand to stroke its forehead. The horse has learned to put aside its avoidance behavior and to respond when the master calls. Now it’s ready to learn new lessons. It’s time to cooperate. That cooperation replaces subservience and the horse begins to look forward to the new lessons. Gone are the exhaustion and fear. The horse trusts the Master.
Now contrition can happen. The horse no longer insists on its own way. It puts the old avoidance ways behind and is ready to serve his master. Little by little the master teaches the horse new ways and means. Now the horse is open and listening, trusting that the master will teach what the horse needs to know. The old will be shed so that the way of the master can replace it.
I suggest the Lord God, our Master, breaks us in much the same way. If we avoid His call, He will go along with us and even orchestrate life events to help in that, so that we begin to tire of the avoidance effort and its ramifications. In the arena of life, avoiding the call has consequences. This is chastisement. Once we quit avoiding Him, answer the call and face our Master, He will gather us with arms of love. Then, out of remorse for our past avoidance, we are careful to not miss the call again. This is contrition, having a contrite spirit. We trust the Master. He won’t hurt us. Instead, He shows us His plan for us a little at a time, at a pace we can handle. Our level of contrition determines how fast the lessons can come. A little here, a little there; often seeming insignificant or disjointed pieces of instruction. Over time they will form a picture we can understand, like pieces of a puzzle.
Of course, there are stubborn horses. Most of them can be broken, but they are the ones that take hours and even days. The trainer must have more stamina than the horse, and sometimes the trainer just quits because he deems the horse not worth the effort. And then there are the rogues; the ones who want to be the Master rather than serve the Master. We don’t need to talk about what happens to them. They are useless to man even as that kind of man is useless to God.
COME TO BE A PART OF THIS STORY????
COME TO BE A PART OF GOD'S WORK
"Come to be a part of this story." I recently read this headline inviting people to be a part of a "story." Stories can be true or false – about something real or something imagined. Who would want to be a part of a "story" that pretends to be the work of the Lord, when there is a true work of God going on? By presenting false statements, one can make things appear real when they are really the creation of a man's mind, intended to build him up. Through the ages, worldly man has always desired glory, to rise and be held in high esteem. Today is no different. There is an attitude that if one has to falsify a thing or two to get to where he/she wants to be, the end justifies the means.
What did Jesus think of all this?
Luke 14:"7-11 And he put forth a parable unto them concerning those who were bidden to a wedding; for he knew how they chose out the chief rooms, and exalted themselves one above another; wherefore he spake unto them, saying, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room, lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; And he who bade thee, with him who is more honorable, come, and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he who bade thee, cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher; then shalt thou have honor of God, in the presence of them who sit at meat with thee.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he who humbleth himself shall be exalted."
In the Old Testament we read of a man named Cain who received the priesthood from his father, Adam. He was also counseled by the Lord to walk in righteousness, yet he loved Satan more than God. After killing Abel his brother, he too began to use false information to gain a following. Then there was Nimrod who also chose to use Satan's powers to control the minds of men. He also gained a great following and high esteem. Neither one of these ever gained God's favor. So if we were to see a similar movement in our day why would we want to be a part of that "story."
The 1830 Restoration movement was charged with establishing the land of Zion, and building a house of the Lord upon that land, which they failed to do. For 185 years they talked about Zion, preached about Zion, but never, in my opinion, made an effective move to accomplish this work. In 2018 a body of men were empowered by the Spirit of God to begin to move forward that cause of Zion. Now we have begun that work with full purpose of heart, and although we are small, we carry a strong Divine Spirit from the realms of Heaven. We do not twist scripture to suit our agenda, nor do we deal in false information. Rather we choose to walk in truth and righteousness. We have begun to fill the quorums of Christ's Church with Apostles and Patriarchs called by revelation, Elders and Priest empowered to do the work of the Lord, and filled with a firm consensus to carry forward this work. We do not, however, invite you to a "story," but rather to the true WORK of the Lord, for we have received God's promise of victory.
Joseph F Smith
More than Motherhood
I was standing on a hillside, but in my mind’s eye, I was standing behind a pulpit. I was preaching a sermon. It must have been an interesting one, because all eyes were upon me. Everyone was avidly listening. I held them with my words, and it felt good. There I was – little ol’ me doing something important. I needed that feeling. I knew I could do it if I tried. Yes, my preaching worked. I was beginning to feel important. But was it importance I felt? Or was it pride? I wondered if men felt this way too. I was doing something for God, wasn’t I?
That’s what happened to me in the early ‘90’s. Years before that, when revelation 156 came out, I was scandalized at first. But then I got to thinking and wondering. I knew I had spoken in public and had to organize speeches to both deliver the point of the message and keep the attention of the listening crowd. Yes, I knew I had done that. I knew I had opinions and testimonies. I knew God had taught me many things by inspiration. I could share all that. But even though I was sure I could do it, I wanted to know if I should do it. What did I think about priesthood? So I put my question to God, and one morning when returning home from a jog, He took me on a mental journey up the central aisle of a church, then up the rostrum steps and behind the pulpit.
There I preached, and at first I was elated, but then I began to observe myself. When I was allowed to be behind that pulpit I had to shamefully admit that my head was beginning to swell just a mite, and I was horrified to realize it. Somehow women have a hard time maintaining humility in the face of adulation. I also began to sense the mind-set of My Maker. He was not mad. He was sad. Although it appeared to me that I was helping the congregation, really I was hurting myself. I was lowering myself, and he let me know it. He let me know that I had far greater purpose and far greater power elsewhere, and so He was sad that I had chosen to deny that and take a path foreign to what He created me and all women to be.
So I had at least part of my answer. Nix the priesthood idea, but what about that “far greater purpose and power elsewhere.” Years passed, and I began to understand.
Yes, I can speak. If we look at us women in general, we find we all are almost compulsive about verbal communication. We like to talk so much that there are plenty of times we do it when we shouldn’t. We use our words for so many purposes – some good and some bad. Here we need to be careful. Our love for words is given us by God Himself, and just like Him, our words create.
God is Creator, right? And He creates spiritually with words, then element obeys Him. God made a woman’s body to procreate, and tied to that ability is the ability to create with words, like God does. We are allotted a portion of His own power. This is not to say that men aren’t allotted some portion of His power, but we are talking about women here. Sometimes women are shuffled under the carpet. This shouldn't be, but it may be our own fault. We need to realize that if we speak something, we create a spiritual sphere where whatever we say tries to actually happen. When holy women use this, great good can happen. When unholy women use it, it becomes witchcraft. Where any gift exists, there is great responsibility, so that means God, in giving us the gift, thinks we have the discipline to exercise that responsibility. And if we don’t – watch out!
There is more. I had already nixed preaching from my agenda. Paul nixed “ruling” in the church, and he called us to be silent. To us, “silence” is a hard word, but there is more power in staying quiet than we know. When I first read Paul’s words long ago, I felt chastised, put down, and disciplined. It seemed to me that Paul had a very bad opinion of women. But now I believe that God, of course, was using Paul. What Paul was saying was not discipline but direction. A direction we women need to explore.
Think of the phrase “power behind the throne.” Almost all leaders have one or more quiet people in the background. Depending on what they lead, they have different titles: counselors, advisors, wives, partners, associates, friends; I’m sure there are more. In women for the cause of Zion, our quiet behind the scene words can generate support, a sense of calm, a call for truth and transparency. It can also generate stamina, especially from those women who have born and reared children. These attributes are not minimal things. They can make a world of difference.
We women have not taken our proper place in building Zion. In fact we’ve done the opposite. Because we didn’t realize the power of our words, often callous disregard in the form of gossip and backbiting became our behavior and our reputation. This must be replaced by understanding this gift and using it with discipline. Our words create what they express. Think about it. Explore the direction set by Paul.
So this is not finished; don’t you agree? If so, do you have ideas? How can we repent and learn to use our words for the cause of Zion. Can we undo harm we may have unwittingly caused in the past? For me, long ago, gossip replaced boredom. It was a type of entertainment almost. I shudder at the harm I might have done. For years now, I have known better, but even as I wrote this article, I have learned more. What have you learned? When does this power of words happen? Is it affected by life events such as maturity, baptism/confirmation, adulthood? What different forms can our quiet words take? How do we optimize this gift for the good of Zion? What do you know? Do you have testimonies of repentance? Has the Spirit taught you? This whole question of woman’s role needs to be explored. And we women need to be the teachers.
Titus 2:3&4 – Women teaching women
By Arco Iris
Game of War
When I look back at my early years in Connecticut as a member of the RLDS church, I realize I was truly naïve. And years later, my roommates at Graceland college, some of them children of church administrators, treated the whole church scene as a joke, but I didn’t know why. It was not until I spent a year for the church in Mexico, returned to the states, and with my husband, began to build a family among many seasoned church members that I noticed the church “war culture.” I was flabbergasted and disillusioned. I still am.
Why do God's people always seem to be at odds with each other? Why do churches contend? Why do families fight so much? Why are so many marriages breaking up? Why do people hate? Why do countries war? One night in great frustration, I poured my question out in prayer, and I was given the answer in poetic form. Normally, I am no poet. I do not think in rhyme. But my frustration and the answering understanding came to me as poetry, and I found myself madly writing, so I would not forget it.
The poem singled out three components of all war that exist in every aspect of thought, word and deed way before the fight begins. These components are necessary to contend. Good people will frequently practice them in all innocence, but their ignorance allows them to create and prolong strife. If they only knew what they were doing, surely they would make the moves to stop contention and move toward peaceful resolution. War is so much an ingrained part of us that peace will not feel natural, nor will it come easily. But in eliminating the three habitual behaviors of war cited in the following poem, we quit blocking peace, and this is a good beginning.
The poem was first written right after a group of fighting church members split up. I participated in the fight, rejoiced in the split, then was appalled to observe the same fighting behaviors beginning all over again, but with different targets, one of whom was me. I was led to understand this habitual cycle of repetitive behavior was happening not just in that specific group but everywhere on earth, in all circumstances, the very essence of all war. In other words, it is the comfort zone of most of us. That's why we keep doing it. So, the poem, although originally targeting one situation, applies universally. It was from this poem below that I began to understand what was going on, and with the passage of decades, I now realize that God was calling me away from war to find and practice peace.
It has been over forty years, so you would think I’d be an expert by now, but those forty years have been full of ups and downs. Gradually I began to understand the poem; how broad a range of behavior it covered and its depth of meaning. All I can say is I’m getting better at peace, and while long ago I missed it, I do now recognize the Game of War in myself and in other people and situations around me when it is present.
Forty Years Later
Three Components of War
#1: Feelings of Fear
The scriptures that say "fear not" are not just highfalutin platitudes telling us to have faith in God's protection. Those scriptures are a warning. Living fearfully is dangerous. Our heart and mind are wired to accomplish our feelings. Entertaining fear is goal setting. We draw what we fear to us. There are two ways to prevent this. If we recognize a real danger or risk, if we see the writing on the wall, if we have warning; being proactive and doing something about our safety, peace, and happiness is being responsible and eliminates wallowing in fear. If we cannot be proactive then we can let go and bow out to God; move our thoughts into other realms with different goals. Anything we might encounter in life can be treated in these two ways. By letting go we practice faith. By learning proactive behavior, we practice responsibility. Both are necessary to peace. Fear is not. It kills peace.
#2: Feelings of Assuming
We all know the saying, "to assume is to make and ass of u and me." Assuming the cause of any problem; jumping to conclusions without understanding the whole story just causes feelings of judgment and suspicion. And if we think it, we’ll say it and start a ring of gossip and backbiting.
There is a fine line difference between the word "assume" and the word "presume." Besides meaning to jump to conclusions, "Assume" also means to take over a position for which we are capable, as in “to assume someone’s job.” I suggest erroneous "assuming" is when we think the ill of others of which we ourselves are capable. In dictionaries the word "presume" means to decide something based on a smattering of evidence. "I presume you are tired since you have traveled all day." If we presume someone virtuous, based on any piece of goodness we can see and then run with that, we can think and talk about that instead. Look for the jewels and bring them to the light for all to see.
#3: Feeling of Desire to Control
Picture two hands. Make them into fists knuckle to knuckle each blocking any forward progress of the other. This is the control move. Assuming a fear is being realized is stressful. The stress can be caused by anything, not just people. Illness, finances, work situations, natural disasters – any change can cause stress. Whatever causes the stress is seen an offender, and we want to control it. Not shake hands with it; control it. So, for example, if a feared illness could be handled by cooperating with our body to regain health through using diet, exercise, supplements or herbs; in a war move we just want to quickly stomp out the illness and go back to status quo, which by the way, probably caused the illness. With people it’s much the same. Instead of communication, cooperation, or compromise, so much of the time we assume a culprit, and in a control effort, end up at loggerheads with him or her. We begin this process in our minds, but soon it moves to our mouth. The adversary wreaks havoc in this situation. Others join in. War results.
Mastering Our Feelings
So, what can we do? Of course, we must let God control, but before that, we must acknowledge that He can. We are not playing war, like a game of chess, for God nor with God. We need to get out of the way and let Him rule. Then, while we let Him rule, we practice the good control we are called to do - self-control with Holy Spirit Guidance. The key is a spiritual relationship with God where we are constantly testing our thought, word and deed against His standards. Yes, this takes constant effort to communicate with God. Unceasing prayer. As part of Israel, we all must be in a real relationship with the Lord God. Controlling ourselves this way is edifying. When others witness it, they are enabled to do the same.
To relieve fear, ask questions. Asking questions is not being nosy, as long as we are asking the one who can really give the answer. Do not ask his neighbor. Seek understanding. Be interested, not critical. Remember everyone is growing and changing all the time, so if there is any kind of forward motion in a God-fearing person, then God the Captain, can steer that ship. We are not responsible for the other guy, and assuming we are, shows a lack of faith in God’s ability to captain.
If we fear something or somebody will hurt our progress, then we have not only the right but the responsibility to communicate, question, and ask for clarification. Using our words skillfully is paramount. Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements helps. Not “you scare me” but instead, “I don’t feel safe.” Not “You are wrong” but, “maybe I’m wrong, but this is the way I see it.” Ask for clarification by saying something like, “So if I’m understanding right, then you are saying …….” Doing this type of conversing back and forth with each other gives the other person a chance to be accurate; maybe even to think about what they do actually mean.
The whole idea of a game carries a much deeper meaning. A game is a substitute for real life. An idol is a substitute for the real God. Much of life today is built like a game, a fictitious substitute for real living. Today almost all people are mired in media that creates fictitious images in the mind which capture attention and brainwash our thinking. We copy what entertains us and become like it. It does not have to be a golden calf at the bottom of a mountain. If it keeps us from a real relationship with God, it is an idol.
Conclusion - Don't Get Duped
Peace is about controlling ourselves. War is about excusing ourselves. It is easy to be duped into confusing good and bad, war and peace. The world applauds war and makes winning it a goal. Winning is not only good, it is God. It is promoted as if it is the flag of righteousness. But really, winning is a paradox. God already won when He hung on that cross. Our repentance is not for Him. It is for us. If God’s people will just put aside the war culture and begin to eliminate warring habits, we will gradually grow in the discernment needed to avoid being duped. Peace is a skill, but it can be learned if we are willing. We need to die to self and get up on that cross with Him. We must give up the idols and get with God.
By Sally Marshall
One time in my life, I remember when
There was a game of war among some men,
With hidden, subtle, dangerous end,
It seemed that only I could feel it,
And so I took up pen.
I'd played the game before, you see,
Duped to think it noble then,
But when the shooters aimed at me,
I saw the mind trap I'd been in.
That first time I saw the game,
I knew not of its long play,
That centuries of enemies,
Played it every day.
Yet, this time at playing war,
Left me lost and lone.
Self-defense, and shame combined,
My quandary made me moan.
I asked my God to tell me,
What was happening - how to be.
Everyone had answers,
That would never set me free.
Some called it hate, some called it love,
Some called it one big fight.
Some called it lies, some called it truth,
Some called it wrong, some - right.
But me, I call it a game of war,
Because wars hold in one big fight,
Hate, and love, and lies, and truth,
And yes, both wrong and right.
A game of war I say again,
And for another reason,
For once you've learned to play a game,
You can play another season.
That other season's coming now,
And we have not forgotten.
A game once played, is mastered now,
We remember fields last trodden.
You see it not? Then look again.
You'll see it, feel it, hear it.
The stakes are dearer now my friends.
We must not play that game again.
Some lives are ruled by fear for one.
That fear controls our reasons,
For our acts, our words, our goals in life,
That fear controls our seasons.
Another sad thing felt and heard,
Is a thing that's called assuming.
Assuming right, assuming wrong,
Assuming that we know the reason,
For the things our fellows do and say.
We must not assume this season.
But the one thing that jangles God's nerves,
And rattles His mind, and tears His heart in two,
Is the one thing, the very one thing,
We'll not admit we do.
For in the game of war we've learned,
As part of necessity,
To out-think our brother, to outwit our neighbor,
To control his agency.
"Oh no! Not I! Not me! Not I!
Not we! Not us! Not I!
I would not do such a horrible thing,
For that is not of God,
'Control' is not the word for what I do.
I nudge, I lead, I express my thoughts.
I promise to be true.
My brother sways at times I think,
And needs a helping hand,
To keep him on the path of truth,
Towards the 'Promised Land'."
Examine your thoughts, examine your fears,
Examine your lives this season.
For Satan, I'm sure, said all of these,
And all for a very good reason.
I cannot play this game of war,
Although I know the rules,
Although I know the tactics well,
I know that we are fools to play the game again.
The game of peace must be learned,
And there are many reasons,
And all of them deal with the life of man,
In the new and coming season.