Saturday, November 17, 2007

Questions for the Members

My last post featured some questions for the priesthood. If those were considered privately and with sincerity, they could result in a level of serious introspection which could only improve their service to the Lord. I also suggested that the members of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ might also benefit from self evaluation as well. Often, lost in the comfort of the social experience, is the reminder of who we are, whom we represent with His name, and whom we serve.

As a reminder of that precious day you (and I) made a decision to give our lives and very being over to pursue Jesus Christ I have posed the following questions:

1. When you were baptized into the church of Jesus Christ, did you really understand the commitment you had made?

2. After baptism, did you recognize the need for continued education and understanding?

3. When was the last time you opened the Scriptures, and were they dog-eared, worn and margin noted?

4. Is your attendance at a sacrament service accompanied by sorrow and regret for past sins and with fasting and prayers asking forgiveness and seeking atonement through repentance?

5. For the older members, have you reviewed your actions and attitudes during the apostasy a few decades ago and discovered what you might have done differently and how it has a bearing on your life in the church today?

6. For the younger members, have you willingly become educated in the history of the church to the point where you can make reasoned decisions about today’s church?

7. Are you eager to accept the various responsibilities of membership regarding casual labor (building committee, women’s department, Sunday school, etc.) in service to all the other members and in cooperation with the priesthood?

8. Are you ever mindful of the financial law?

9. Are you ever ready to share with your brother that which he needs whether it is temporal or spiritual?

10. Are you prepared to speak or act to defend Jesus Christ in any and all endeavors?

11. Do we actually believe in the various gifts of the Holy Spirit?

12. Have you ever made excuses for your faith?

These in no way attempt to ask all the questions which we as members often need to ask ourselves. They do hint at some aspects of the faith which might benefit from strengthening. They may also suggest the level of seriousness we attach to our faith. We are asked as individuals (not necessarily priesthood) to carry the message forward and proclaim His name from the housetops. It is my prayer that each one will take an objective look and evaluate his response to Jesus Christ and His church.

I am certain that each reader has a question which he feels should be included on the list. I apologize for omitting it and encourage you to add it in the comments section. Criticisms are always welcome.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hard Questions

I have recently had cause to meet with members of the priesthood to discuss some matters regarding the congregation and the church in general. I found a varied response to the issues I raised. I have drawn no conclusions as a result but I have had questions whirling in my mind.

Please do not interpret this post as an attack on the priesthood. I love them, each and every one. I have, over the last four decades, often sought them for leadership, direction and administration of the ordinances of the church and appreciated their response. I do not question for a moment, the validity of their calling. It is not my job to render judgment of these fine men.

Over the years, in several different employment positions I have found it helpful to quantify the job responsibilities for self-evaluation. Often an inward look provides an atmosphere to tweak my personal attitudes and behavior to improve my job performance. Honest answers can also stimulate increased activity in specific areas which many have been overlooked. It is also assumed in posing the following questions to those who would lead us to the full understanding of Christ and His Church would have scriptural references readily available and need no citation.

1. When was the last time you entered a baptismal font with other than a member of your immediate family?

2. When was the last time you went to a member’s home, not for Sunday dinner, but for a spiritual reason?

3. When was the last time you sought an elder, not a relative, of another branch for counseling, problem solution, or sharing the good news of Christ’s presence?

4. When was the last time you engaged in true fasting and prayer?

5. When was the last time you went to Independence with an open heart and mind to provide your own verifiable witness to the activities there?

6. When was the last time you added a book, tape, movie, DVD, or other spiritually oriented material to your collection?

7. When was the last time a member of the congregation (not your family) sought you out for spiritual guidance?

8. Is your local group, branch, or congregation growing, static, or diminishing?

9. Can you say, “To the best of my awareness, my own house is in order.”?

10. Are the laws and ordinances of the church clear enough in your minds that each priesthood member can uniformly state them without debate?

There is no need to share the answers to the above questions. This is a serious personal appraisal and, of course, is automatically shared with Him who knows your heart and mind. He is the only one with a full knowledge. My prayer is that each one can respond with a complete inventory of service, knowledge, love and faith which is acceptable to the Lord.

Before the “rank and file” get too comfortable thinking these questions are limited to the priesthood, be aware that your (my) list of questions will follow in a later post. The commitment to Christ is not the exclusive property of the ordained. The responsibility for the survival of this Restored Church of Jesus Christ is for each person who has emerged from the waters of baptism regardless of position.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Matter of Will

In the course of this nation’s history, matters of extreme danger to the republic have been handled by a number of remarkable men. They have summoned the personal character and ability to overcome major threats to our society. For the first one hundred seventy-five years of our existence they have, with the willing acquiescence of the citizens, called upon God and the youth of our country to achieve victorious ends over our enemies. In no case did these individuals have universal support to pursue actions to defeat those who sought to deprive us of our liberties.

A quick review of the historical press accounts of the various periods of conflict reveal detractors of those in charge. Given the power of protection offered by the first amendment to the Constitution, opponents of our leaders were quite vocal in their complaints. They were free to criticize, carp and complain at will, the pursuit of war time objectives and purposes. Even during the pre-constitutional period during the critical formation of the nation during the late eighteenth century, there were harsh divisions within the people over the wisdom of separation from the crown. Some of these objections stemmed from a highly principled stance. Others were the result of rampaging self interest.

The interesting thing to me is that in these struggles the larger body of the “people”, the rank and file citizens appeared to have been sympathetic to the needs of the republic. They seemed to be immune to the hue and cry of the protesting factions and devoted their loyalties to the leadership and were willing to make personal sacrifices to promote the cause of liberty. From the earliest days, men have been willing to devote, “their lives, their treasure, and their sacred honor,” in defense of liberty. Well past the initial formation of the country, people have expressed their backing of the government in many positive ways in the face of danger. Their backing of the war time re-election of five presidents (Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson and Nixon) stands as one piece of evidence of the people's support. They also seem to have a far better understanding of those who actually face the enemy. These good citizens also appear to have the ability to recognize the difference between good and evil without equivocation.

Is it possible that there are lessons to be learned from this “popular support” portion of other societies and groups? The laws of the church require the approval of a conference of Saints to validate presumed messages from God to the people. This wisdom, while not unusual for the Almighty, is absolutely necessary for the progress of His people in the pursuit of His work. If we, as Saints, do not have the confidence to give our mutual assent then how can we carry on the work? Who then is entitled to voice his opinion of the validity of the work in progress? Is it only the elders? Is it the whole body, including every member in good standing? Is it those who have successfully made it past the “gate keepers” in the solemn assemblies in Independence? Are the representatives of large groups of missionary converts in Africa, Central America and other far flung fields equal in voice to those locally?

It seems, at the moment, that there are far too many questions and not enough answers. We can reason our way through to a solution or/and seek the Lord’s wisdom for an answer. It is reasonable to expect dissension with so many people involved. It is also not reasonable to assume that the best answers come from the most popular or articulate of our leaders. It is, however, essential that the Saints discuss these matters civilly, with a strong measure of Christian charity, and in the clear light of day. This will obviously require some sacrifice on the part of everyone involved. By now, we should all realize that part of being a Latter Day Saint of any stripe involves defense of beliefs. The adversary we face is not going to waste his time throwing up roadblocks to some watered down, feel good excuse for a faith. He will, instead, provide every blockage to cause disunity, back biting and disharmony among those who threaten him and his evil purposes.

If only we could have inspirational leadership, supportable by the people and resistant to the critical influences from outsiders, which the nation enjoyed in the first 175 years of our existence. One could say the same of the church in a shorter time. The historical observation leads one to believe that about the same time, forces worked in parallel to turn up the assaults on both. The Viet Nam Era marked the turning point for the nation and also the church. It was then that elements, previously unknown to both, commenced on their irritating path to destroy our national society and our venerable church. Fortunately, both bodies have a hard cadre of believers who refuse to accept the false doctrines which are so destructive. The sixties heralded what the adversary had crafted to be the beginning of the end of both bodies; but it need not be so.

Regarding the government of the nation, I stand, as do many others, staunchly opposed to those who make a mockery of our constitution, offer appeasement to murdering dictators, and bring discredit upon those who defend our liberties. In our church, I stand with those who believe in Jesus Christ, who respect our history, honor God’s laws, understand our doctrine and are willing to face the adversary and say: “No! Not on my watch will you do this!” It requires each member to rise from his comfy pew and demand the “meat” of the scripture and teachings and not the thin gruel of “go along to get along.”

My position is clear. I want my country back. I want my church back. I want to associate with people who feel the same way and work to the best of their ability (no matter how slight or how much) to achieve that end. It’s a matter of will.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Monday Morning Rant (12)

Please indulge me as I forgo my usual cant in the Monday Morning Rant. Some things occur in life which thrust aside our irritations and impatience and lead us to a more reflective mood.
Thank you.

I was an only child and so was my brother. Actually, he’s my half brother and he was raised in my father’s house. My mother and I lived wherever she found a teaching job. He is also thirteen years younger, to the day. By the time he was in primary school, I was off making my way in the world and as far from Iowa as I could get. It never dawned on me how much effect I had on him until we were 31/18 years old. He had admired the uniform, the travel, the fresh new job managing a furniture store in Boulder, CO, the new house (GI bill,) the wife, the kids and all the rest of the suburban dream. At his earliest opportunity, he joined the Navy and started the process of emulating who I later learned was his “role model.”

As he aged, our relationship grew stronger and we edged toward that point where we developed as men together. His training in the Navy served him well and he parlayed the skills learned into increasingly better and better positions representing appliance manufacturers. We have never lived in the same house so many of the usual childhood events often shared by siblings are alien to us. At the most, I see him once or twice a year and we have a high old time.

At 62 years, he is a physical specimen to be admired. At 6’3”, trim to fault, he plays full court basketball, hand ball, and is a world class skier. You’ve seen the guys on TV who have helicopters deposit them on the virgin snow on mountain tops and as the chopper departs, commence the down hill run. That’s him! His only athletic fault is his failure to best his ageing brother at golf. It has become a family joke. Fortunately, he is married to a wonderful woman, also a representative at the national level for appliance purveyors.

All in all, it would be safe to conclude that he has it made. He has every needful blessing and then some.

Having read this far, you can imagine my shock last week when he called to tell me he was in the hospital. The last time he made such a call was in 1979 when he suffered a severe case of “road rash” due to the failure to manipulate his moto-cross bike successfully. This issue is even more difficult to deal with.

He had been suffering from some severe headaches over the last couple of months and had been hospitalized for testing and observation. The result, after dismissing some preliminary false diagnoses, was cancer in the lower reaches of the esophagus which had metastasized to the brain stem and produced blockage responsible for the headaches. The severity of that distress is pain so great that after 5 to 7 minutes it leaves him exhausted, whereupon he falls asleep to recover. He will start chemotherapy this coming week. I will probably be going to Chicago to be with him very soon.

Meanwhile, I beseech each and every reader to remember him and his family in your prayers. His name is Craig Moon and given the power of prayer (see prior post) I have every confidence that God will respond appropriately within the reach of His will. Thank you for your faith, love and caring.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon