Saturday, August 18, 2007


Just a few requests for all you (few) commenters out there:

1. Please don't name names, especially those from other websites, if that's the only contact you have with them. It's fine to respond to each other in your comments if you have a comment to respond to. But don't bring people's names from XYZ website/message board onto this blog. If he/she wants to be on this blog he/she will come on board on his/her own. There, that's about as politically correct as I can make it.

2. If you are from Area 51 or wear a tinfoil hat we really don't want to hear about your storehouse of aliens or your contact with Dorock the Destroyer. However we will be glad to take comments on the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, or our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

3. No obscenity. If you want to use foul words, descriptions, invitations, or situations, go to My Space or any of the millions of sites aimed at that kind of mentality. You know what I mean.

4. Lastly, I encourage you to complete your profiles so that, if we do have a problem with a comment we can contact you privately and tell you about it. I don't like deleting whole comments because some of them are very good.

Thank you and God bless


Pseudo Scholars & Other Impersonators

I have noticed that some among us love to compile massive documents defending some position or another with endless references to Biblical passages, generally accepted reference books (including page numbers and paragraphs) and copious quotes from Times & Seasons, various church history books, up to and including the multi-volume The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and other non scriptural tomes. Normally this melange is thrown to us without any guide for the reader for direction to a reasoned end point. It is rarely accompanied by a closely formulated argument leading logically to a conclusion. But, it is long on “pseudo” scholarship. It is left to the reader to plow through the references, unassisted, to draw the proper inference. If nothing else, however, the writer has demonstrated such magnificent research that to disagree with conclusions offered would identify us as uneducated fools who should never challenge the intelligentsia.

I do not occupy a lofty perch in the higher reaches of the priesthood so one may assert (properly?) that I fail to realize all of the nuance which is required to state the simple truths of the word of God. I may also fail to understand the endless complexity of some issues which occupy the minds of some Saints as they promote their Savior. Let’s try a couple of these on for size. We need to seek a Zionic condition, now! Do we really need a dozen scriptural citations and quotes from church history to believe that? I’m sorry, but supplying one more Hebrew (or Greek) word for God will not make His will any easier to understand or obey. In his own way He has led me to belief. Personal testimony is far stronger than any argument or debating point that is supported by endless pages of references. I do not need a Philadelphia lawyer to have a conversation with God.

Is Jesus Christ my only avenue to salvation? Like all Christians who have taken on the name of Christ, one more scriptural reference is not necessary to make my belief in that statement any more rock solid. It seems to me if you are going to adopt the name you should be prepared to assume the entire package. That includes the resurrection. I never could figure out what the point of the Savior dying as a sacrifice to atone for our sins was if there was no resurrection to provide us with a destination. Please don’t send me forty nebulous scripture references to prove that point. Neither am I interested in quotes from other sources which satisfy you. Remember, I am stupid and lazy and probably couldn't understand them anyway.

What I do understand, and clearly, is that God will and does respond to me if I seek Him out. I refuse to cite the scripture to support that assertion because as Saints, you were weaned on it.

While I am on the subject of inflated language, I have a question. How come all these pseudo scholars insist on abusing Hebrew and Greek dictionaries when some of the principal writers in the Bible (Paul for example and yes, I know he had a scribe) were actually citizens of Rome? Would that not require a Latin knowledge as well? Wow! You mean they speak and read and conversationally understand Greek, Hebrew and Latin too? I probably shouldn’t even mention ancient Egyptian because that would start an argument on whether you spell faith with one goat or two.

I have brushed against several languages other than English in my life. In order of current proficiency, I have studied German, Latin, Spanish and French. That effort has left me with a profound respect for persons who are truly multi-lingual. I cannot claim that. Yes, I have led many a bus tour with German nationals and have a rudimentary knowledge with a travel oriented vocabulary—but fluency, heavens no. I recall one conversation with a passenger from Bamberg, Germany where Martin Luther had a considerable history. I found I had a very limited vocabulary to discuss matters of faith. I could discuss food and geography but not the cathedral or Luther’s separation from the existing church. On a one to four scale about the best I could manage would be 1.5—and I had actually lived in Germany for two years. One final point. To make a language understandable, one normally has to master the idiom of the period. For the first century AD, that seems especially difficult.

One of my favorites in this regard was a reference I once heard to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which we happen to have in our personal library. I raised the question of whether it was suitable to use in pursuit of scripture references. To my knowledge, it is not based on the Inspired Version. The answer included these exact words: “Oh yes, it’s authorized.” By whom? Our little body of Saints can’t even keep track of who the various pastors are in our congregations. The hierarchy appoints endless committees and denies their existence and activity. On what date did the proposition come before a conference, receive authority and endorsement through common consent of the delegates? If this actually happened, I would appreciate some knowledge of it and will forward an appropriate “mea culpa.”

Strong's is a valuable tool for anyone seriously searching the scriptures. In no way do I intend to diminish the service it performs. But the fact remains that it is about the Bible; it is not the Bible. We have three books which are well known among the Saints, which represent the Word of God. Personally I consider absolutely every thing else to be of man and therefore, subject to human frailty. Do I take comfort from some of those early writings? Yes. Do they often help in understanding the history of the church? Yes. Are they scripture? No.

If you are offended by this essay it means you may be guilty of presenting offerings to validate some pet position which you have unnecessarily enhanced with meaningless definitions and quotations. If that is the case, please state your position, back it with a scriptural reference, give us all credit for God given intelligence and please, speak English. I believe we can agree that we are willing to extend the hand of Christian love to those who offer differing opinions. Maybe I should take my own advice and keep it simple.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mine Ebenezer

One great thing about being a geezer is the memory, both past and present, of the great hymns which cross denominational lines to glorify God. You have your favorites I’m sure. Like particular bits of scripture, certain music resonates as a result of its message and your personal experience with it. In 1948 I was sent by my local M.E. church to a national assembly of Methodist Youth Fellowship leaders in Cleveland, Ohio. Not only was it an adventure for a kid from rural Iowa but an inspiration to be with 12,000 others, dedicated to Jesus Christ. We started and ended every session with All Hail the Power of Jesus Name (first tune) with the raucous laudatory vigor that only teenagers can muster. That experience earned the hymn a place among the top five for me.

Twenty years later I went to Kirtland temple and the guide, at the end of the tour, had us take a seat and activated a sound system which filled the sanctuary with those hallowed words, “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning. . . .” Like almost every other visitor to Kirtland, I carry that memory close to my heart. Unlike my other favorites, it has a very special restoration relevance.

On occasion I perform special music for the congregation and I can assure you that there is no doubt in my mind what my unchallenged favorite selection is. “The End of the Sabbath” by Oley Speaks which features the words taken from Matthew 28:l to 5. I rejoice to be the voice to echo those wonderful words: “He is risen!”

As I type, I recognize that our collective music is so important to me that I could continue citing examples of personal favorites and we would be delayed getting to the hymn I really want to discuss. “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” While the first and third verses constitute an important prayer let us concentrate on the second:

"Here I raise mine Ebenezer,

hither by thy help I’m come:

and I hope, by thy good pleasure,

safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,

wandering from the fold of God;

He, to rescue me from danger,

interposed His precious blood."

After many decades of enjoying this hymn, I decided it was time to discern its actual meaning. My search led me to I Samuel 7:12 in the Inspired Version. As I read the entire chapter I found the Jews in their usual pattern of repeated sin and repeated repentance. On this occasion, Samuel had started to appreciate God’s intercession in his conflict with the Philistines. When they drew a mighty host to attack, Samuel made a burnt offering and implored God to intercede. He did and brought a great thunder and “discomfited” them and they pursued and finally smote the Philistines.

That second verse tells it all. It thoroughly analyses the text stated and the text implied: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” This represents the open fact of Samuels’s and God’s actions. The hymn describes in lyric fashion the greater meaning. The hymn points to the “wandering from the fold of God” (sin), the “rescue” (intercession) and, most important, “interposed his precious blood (forgiveness by His sacrifice.”)

We may easily deduce from this a roadmap for following the path to salvation. In these important steps it takes us from recognition of our sin, seeking God for intercession, and then enjoying the forgiveness as a result of the blood sacrifice. Here we can not underestimate the importance of the Eben-ezer. This great stone, more than likely a stela, is an outward visible landmark signifying the separation of the past sin (which has been forgiven) and the prospect for the future enabled by redemption. This marker places all the importance on that which is yet to come. The prior sin, now forgiven, is relegated to the past and “remembered not.” Recognition of this separation point is very important.

I have never met a successful recovering alcoholic who does not remember the exact date, and probably hour, of his last drink. He is readily able to identify explicitly that time when he realized that God was in charge and he was not. He then headed down the path to recovery. His first step on that path was to acknowledge his errancy, his second an affirmation of his belief and from there the rest of journey is the reconstruction of the whole man and repentance.

We have all sinned in our own way. Have we identified that “turn-around” point? Can we isolate when we marked our decision to stop offending God and repent? Have we raised our Eben-ezer?

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Come to the Water

Tuesday night Cec and I watched Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on Animal Planet. It was about an elephant family that was being led across the vast, parched desert by the matriarch in search of water. A long, long journey. Hot, dry, a lot like southwestern Missouri for the past two weeks. The elephants were all sizes and ages, from babies to the very old, with one goal in mind. Water.

Partway through the journey one of the youngsters, a 4-year-old girl, fell behind. Because the mothers are obligated to give most of their attention to the babies on journeys such as this, the older ones are on their own. In this case, the little girl just couldn't keep up and fell by the wayside. The only thing that would save her would be water. Others came back for her and tried getting her up. Her mother exerted every effort and succeeded in lifting her with her tusks a couple of times, but the young elephant kept falling back. Finally she died and still the mother kept trying to get her to stand. Others stood and watched and the scene was past heartbreaking. They stayed for hours in silent vigil. Finally, they turned and continued their migration, leaving the young elephant's body behind. For lack of water the little elephant died.

How does our Lord feel when he offers Living Water and His children don't partake? If this mother elephant gave all she could give to save her child, how much more does God give to save us?

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters . . . Isaiah 55:1

Jesus said: "But whosoever drinketh of the water which I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:16

We don't have to cross a parched desert to get to this water. But only "Come unto him and he will give you rest." I spend a lot of time with people who have never partaken of the water. I often wonder why I spend so much of the rest of my time fighting with those who claim to have all the righteousness they need, when there are those falling by the wayside for lack of the Living Water. It's up to me, to all of us, to help get them to it. Why don't I do this? Is it because I'm afraid they'll say no? That I'll do it wrong? That they'll ridicule me for my beliefs? All of the above?

Well, isn't that presumptuous. I am coming to realize that I don't have to break a tusk trying to get them to this water, or pour it down their throats. All I have to do is tell them about it, take them by the hand and show them the Fountain of Living Water in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He will do the rest.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


We have just completed a most remarkable week! We are refreshed, rejuvenated and full of all those things which the love of Jesus Christ can bring. As you know, we have been very busy with Zion Beckons in attempting to bring everyone’s thoughts on board plus keep up a reasonable level of postings as well. Little did we know just how challenging this would be.

Over the last few weeks we let a lot of things around the house slide. Then, we faced the week of the reunion in Odessa, plus blogging, plus mowing and maintaining our little forest and yard, plus normal inside work left undone, plus other things which got ignored, and then facing house guests over this last weekend. I won’t bother to tell you how much the heat discouraged working; you were probably trying to hide from it too.

As usual the Lord provided the strength to either get things cleaned up, or else figure how to conceal them. I was able to get away for an overnight to Odessa which I covered in a previous post. Just one more word on that to tell you it was a glorious experience and well worth the effort. It is enervating to meet with other Orthodox Saints who understand what the Lord requires.

Saturday afternoon, our guests arrived. Hartley Stanbridge (He has posted here previously) and his wife Marjorie, who had flown in from Las Vegas late in the week. When we lived there, the Las Vegas Restoration Branch met in their living room and it was there that Jan had the experience which led her to Jesus Christ and the Restoration movement. That alone would be enough for them to be welcome guests. There is, I believe, a lifetime attachment to those elders who baptize and confirm new candidates to the faith. But there’s more.

Marjorie and I also have a special bond. Not only have we been friends for sixty-three years, but we were married from 1952 to 1976. We shared the parenting of three children. Today the four of us have a very special relationship. She has, through her grace, forgiven me for me for my errant ways. She and Jan are extremely close friends. Hartley and I are brothers as only those united in the mutual feeling about Christ and His church can be. It is, indeed, miraculous. Although I often ache over the pain I caused years ago, I admit to enjoying the fruits of sincere repentance. If you are ever in Las Vegas, contact them and join the circle of Saints on any Sunday morning. I guarantee you will be uplifted.

On Sunday morning we drove over to Carthage for Sunday school, worship, and our traditional basket dinner at the church. What a joy to introduce them to the beloved Saints in the Ozarks. I consider this feast a very important part of the activities in our church. The informality draws us closer as we share with each other in an unstructured setting. Marjorie even fashioned two of her “secret” recipe chocolate pies for the table. May God forgive us, we held one back for a snack on Sunday evening at home. They left about noon Monday amidst a shower of good wishes and prayers for both families, urging God’s continued protection. Between us, we’re almost three hundred years old, so we need all the assistance the Almighty can deliver.

As an excellent example of a human being trying earnestly to emulate God and His forgiveness, Marjorie stands alone. When we first separated, she encouraged frequent conversations in the interest of the children as to their progress and welfare. Part of these talks also involved the very hectic and upsetting developments in the church at a very critical time. Like many of us after the 1984 conference, she was extremely upset. My new wife Jan waited patiently as Marge and I talked on the phone and discussed the disturbing events she witnessed as a delegate. Marge never allowed our former problems to intrude on any of these discussions. She always had her priorities well understood and allowed me to share. To Marjorie I can only say, thank you for understanding God’s perfect love.

In my zeal to never see us repeat the mistakes of the past, I often may seem critical of some Saints and especially the hierarchy. Marjorie has helped me to see the wisdom of prayer for those who seem to have some confusion about our necessary objectives. She has also taught me that there is no wisdom in carrying a grudge, and that forgiveness is an example of strength, not weakness. Some have expressed surprise and occasional disappointment that I manage to get along with some folks that they consider enemies of the faith. I would rather see them as mislead or mistaken, victims of the truly unrepentant. We have many in our midst who are faithful—good, God fearing people who have been deceived by glib and the silver-tongued—or else slow learners who just plainly “don’t get it.”

We are not sorting apples here. A few misplaced ideas do not make them rotten. It simply means that we have not been persuasive enough to help them see the errors. We have not made a thorough enough effort to explain the evil is happening within our church. We have not taught them our own history. If we fail to do these things, then their failures become our failures.

I urge everyone to follow Marjorie’s example. Pray for the sinner. Accept repentance without reminder. Work and look for the beautiful, look for the true. Try forgiveness, it works.

May God bless Marge and Hartley Stanbridge.

Cecil Moon

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ode to the Rich the Wise and the Learned

The learned and the wise have with
great wisdom called people of
different natures, concerns, ideas, and
purposes together in the name of Jesus
Christ, preparing them for service.
Their diligence and perfection to
hold their congregations together is their
determined intent. So much so that they
have become confused as to whose congregation it is.
To hold fast to their determined
purposes they cannot permit the intrusion
of anyone who might cast some unknown
conjecture ino the mix.
Their wisdom and service is
based on their own wisdom, baptizing one
and losing a family, and their record is
as one finds the conditions of today.
“The wisdom of the wise shall be
made foolish.” Like Laman they have
claimed seniority; all things through them.
They have despised the
unlearned, even though the unlearned
and despised are called to eat at the table
of the Lord.
The man who has been filled with
Holy Fire is set aside, demeaned and
humiliated while serving the fervor of
keeping the congregations of the Lord
The teaching of the wise is to
insure a larger congregation, while the
teaching of the despised is to separate the
goats from the lambs.
The Lord is no respecter of
persons; HIS word is a sharp, two edged
sword. HIS servants are subject to God’s
will, not the will of the wise and learned.
The wise and the learned admonish
that we must wait for further
signs from God. An evil and seditious
doctrine that is second only to their other
doctrine that “we are good enough.”
Under this guise and pretense
that they have an honorable doctrine
which supercedes the Spiritual
preferences of Jesus Christ. With
ritualistic piety they turn the grace of our
God into lasciviousness.
Placing whole congregations into
chains of darkness. Preaching patience,
long suffering, "bless those who
spitefully use you, pray for your enemy,
be meek, be humble," while they themselves
construe every admonishment for perfect
obedience as a personal affront to their
integrity, their forbearers integrity, their
cousins, aunt and uncles.
Using this protocol they tear
down the stranger, the angel, and the
Holy Scriptures to their own satisfaction.
Like all people, the wise, the
learned have the capability of repentance
or hate. To face this moment as a problem
or an opportunity. To climb the white
horse and charge the windmill of their
minds, to slay the dragon they imagine so
to speak.
Is this their proudest moment?
The pride of their day? They join
themselves together with legalese,
abandoning grace and charity, to thrust
home their latest precepts.
When they appear before the
judgment bar their opportunity to repent
is withdrawn.
This lamentation will not be
signed; the author will not be named. So
you will find no body to kick, or soul to be
damned, to direct yourselves away from
your self examination.
The wise and the learned say
“Contention is not of me sayeth the Lord.”
But the Lord has said “contend with my mighty ones.”
The righteous reading this will
rejoice; the evil will give themselves away
by their fierce hate and anger. I judge no
one, oh man, judge thyself. Amen.