I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why

Searching for the why—at first glance, what could be easier? Just read the charges. But when Putin says, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too. I really don’t understand why they are persecuted”—there appears more to it than meets the eye. When Human Rights Watch says, “Russia’s religious persecution focuses almost exclusively on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the plot thickens.
 
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Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that “traces everything from the start with accuracy.” Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that tells it from the believer’s point of view. Stripped of the red herrings that plagued Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, updated to the February 2021 present, and ever respectful towards the land of the bear, in most ebook forms it continues to be free, a labor of love.

Here are presented the modern-day Acts of Russia with regard to worship, the acts of believers and of those who oppose them. The acts of Russia have taken a dark and perplexing turn, puzzling even Putin. Can it be? The wizard who runs Oz doesn’t know how his contraption works? Here is a book that picks up where Baran’s Dissent on the Margins (2014) leaves off. The tale has not yet ended. But then, neither had the tale ended when Luke completed the first century Book of Acts.

Early in 2017, every Jehovah’s Witness in the world was invited to write letters to designated Russian officials, urging that justice be done in their case. I wrote one. Here is my expanded version.
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of May 9, 2022

There’s new mount for gadgets at the Kingdom Hall, to keep track of Zoom participants I think, and it looks like the side view mirror on a car.

 

WatchtowerStudy: Continue Putting On “the New Personality” After Baptism.   theme scripture: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality.”​—COL. 3:10.

Para 1: one sis comments on neuroplasticity and calls it “science catching up tot the Bible.” in this instance, physical changes in the brain, corresponding to molding our brain with thoughts….. “To be that type of person, we need to control our thinking. Why? Because our personality is largely shaped by our thoughts,” says WT.

Para 2: pull out the weeds & they come back, pull them out again—part of stripping off the old personality. As for putting on the new, the landscape person said letting the grass grow long is in itself good weed control, since it crowds them out from getting light.

Para 9: reminds me of the householder who kept saying I had no need to call since he loved Jesus. Several times repeated. Then whirled around to his wife, who’d been nagging at him to get away from the door, “Will you shut up!?” he yelled, and then resumed telling me about his love for Jesus. …20If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

Para 12: when a Phoenician woman begged him to heal her child, he declined her request at first, but when she showed great faith, he kindly healed her child.   A lot of times when you push the rules you risk an explosion.

 

 The ones who objected to David’s ‘all will share’ plan were described as ‘bad and worthless.’ Be tightfisted toward your bros and sis you could go down in history that way. (1 Samuel 30:22) #midweekmeeting

Equalizing across borders, within the same border. Goal of same reward for unequal contributions. Parallel situation of 1 Samuel 30:22-24, objected to by “bad and worthless” men. (David had some bad and worthless men!) Who would like to go down in history as a bad and worthless man?

Sell an underperforming Hall in the West and fund the building of 50 in developing lands where they are badly needed. A longer drive twice a week so that 50X friends overseas have a place to meet? Who would object to that?…1/3

The “bad and worthless” men objected when David proposed a similar scheme for equalizing: “However, every bad and worthless man among those who had gone with David said: “Since they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we recovered …2/3

except that each one may take his wife and his sons and go away.”  But David said: “You must not do this, my brothers, with what Jehovah has given us. He protected us and gave into our hand the marauder band that came against us. “…3/3

okay okay sometimes not ‘underperforming.’ Sometimes just consolidation. When we built the Halls, the plan was to fill them to the rafters. 

Yikes. When it happens to the churches, it’s because they’re going under. When it happens to us, it’s because of wise stewardship. ‘Yeah, I see you closed that Hall on route 300’ one fellow ribbed me at the coffee shop. ‘It’s on account of our great growth,’ I told him.

 

And gas prices rose . David was very distressed, because the men were talking of stoning him, for all the men had become very bitter over their KH sold to build 50 in developing lands, making them drive further…1/2

But David strengthened himself by Jehovah his God. (1 Samuel 30: 5-6) #freewheelingversion. 2/2

 

Job 26: 7He stretches out the northern sky over empty space, Suspending the earth upon nothing;

Job 26:27He draws up the drops of water; They condense into rain from his mist;28Then the clouds pour it down; They shower down upon mankind.

Despite its location Babylon became a pile of stones and remains that way.   (Will rise again?). Saddam bragged he was going to rebuild it.

 

“Why do you Witnesses always have to think the world is getting worse? What does that belief do for you?”     “It helps me to explain why the Doomsday clock is set at 90 seconds to midnight and not 10:30,” a bro replied.

 

Nobody else knew it. If you want rain, you had to dance to the rain god

 

However, every bad and worthless man among those who had gone with David said: “Since they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we recovered except that each one may take his wife and his sons and go away.”  23 But David said: “You must not do this, my brothers, with what Jehovah has given us. He protected us and gave into our hand the marauder band that came against us.  24 Who would agree with you on this? The share of the one who went down into the battle will be the same as the share of the one who sat by the baggage. All will have a share.  1 Samuel 30:22-24.     Sometimes you have to reign in your bad and worthless men.

How come this tree that needs trimming leans into the wind, not away as you would expect? ‘It’s leaning into the light,’ the tree surgeon said. Got it. Light trumps wind. (a good metaphor for withstanding persecution?)

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******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Just Who Will be Saved?

When it comes to who will be saved, the Christian organization is not authorized to go beyond what the scripture plainly says: 

Baptism, which corresponds to this, is also now saving you…” (1 Peter 3:21)

If those of the Governing Body have any private thoughts on this, those they must keep to themselves. Of course, baptism assumes doing it the biblical way, not the sprinkled baptism of infants, not the baptism to the hellfire/trinity God. 

The governing brothers choose not to speculate on this matter. They choose to be bounded by 1 Peter 3:21. Others, who do not have a worldwide association of brothers to coach, are freer to speculate. When a loved one of mine was asked specifically whether this one or that one will be saved, she replied that she was not Jesus and didn’t know.

The organization does the best it can. Not all scriptures dovetail. It remains to be seen how certain things will work out. “You will by no means complete the circuit of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives.” (Matt 10:23) throws a monkey wrench into worldwide coverage. This verse has been cited to show not every person will be adequately reached, maybe not at all, so the question arises just what is God going to do about that come Armageddon? From what I can recall, they only gingerly touch that one. (They have said in the past that the mentally incompetent should get a free pass, so maybe everyone reading this along with myself are okay.)

At any rate, the Watchtower statement to carry the day is easily found on the website. To the question, “Do Jehovah’s Witnesses feel they are the only ones who will be saved?” included in the answer is: “In any case, it’s not our job to judge who will or won’t be saved. That assignment rests squarely in Jesus’ hands.” If they have seemed to judge in the past, it’s because they don’t feel free to blow away1 Peter 3:21 as though it were nothing.

https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/who-saved/

Then, too, from the Insight book (under the topic Destruction) comes this beaut, that indicates we don’t even know ones destroyed by Jehovah suffer eternal destruction: 

The Bible indicates that not all destruction is eternal. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Hebrew word ʼavad·dohnʹ(destruction) is used twice to parallel “Sheol.” (Job 26:6; Pr 15:11) ….When speaking of the destruction of the rebels Dathan and Abiram, Moses wrote that they went down “alive into Sheol.” (Nu 16:31, 33) Since Sheol in the Bible denotes the common grave of mankind from which there will be a resurrection, it is evident that not all destruction—not even all destruction at the hand of God—is necessarily eternal.

So even Patiently Sitting on his Hands, that piece of work, who thinks he will not survive Armageddon and assumes that gives him the stature to advise others….well, maybe he is right and he won’t survive and still I’ll see that dodo on the other side someday, in which case I’ll take back the bad things I’ve said about him and maybe he’ll do the same with me.

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: May 2, 2022

#watchtowerstudy today is entitled, You Can “Strip Off the Old Personality.” Theme verse: “Strip off the old personality with its practices.”​—COL. 3:9.

Para 4, “We dress up in clean clothes “and then we stop at McDonalds and get ourselves all dirty again,’ says one sis speaking of struggles to be “without spot, and maybe giving away more than she realizes. #watchtowerstudy

Para 5, It didn’t happen in our congregation: “I just explained the rainbow flag attached to paragraph 5 to my mum. Everybody! come and see this woman exclaiming loud in the hall”…1/2   I barely noticed it. Figured it was some national flag. I mean, it was pretty small and in the background. You could have fit 100 of them in that huge liquor bottle up front….2/2

Para 6: “It pains him to see us hurt ourselves and others.” Like watching a creature harm itself trying to get out of a trap? 57F4B6CE-8EA0-43C4-BFB4-67D679F448B5

Para 7: In the quest for “independence”— the king can always persuade his people that they are the victims, that they are the good guys, be they in America, Russia, or China? And there these folks think they are “independent?”

Para 9: Exit the parking garage at night, see that sign, “Are your lights on?” No they’re not! says the dodo, who keeps on driving. Just like looking in the mirror and not acting on the mess revealed. Who would do such a thing?

Para 17, Bible with her. started to make serious changes. “Some of my vices were easy for me to give up,” Nabiha says. “But quitting smoking was another story. ….one bro speaks of a coworker who threw his pipe down the embankment—-“but he watched where it landed.”

 

“Then “Samuel” said to Saul: “Why have you disturbed me by having me brought up?” (1 Samuel 28:15)    ‘I thought I told you to buzz off’ is what he would have said were it actually possible to bring him back. If he wouldn’t speak with him while living…. #midweekmeeting

“I was so looking forward to taking my mask off and I totally forgot,” said the masked Gems conductor at end of questions after he totally forgot.

Then there’s that duo of younger and older elder, both good speakers, but both love to be teased, and so I rise to the occasion.    “Gary has struck down his thousands, And Greg his tens of thousands’?”(1 Samuel 29:5) I mean, no matter what opening songs they select, the chairman substitutes ‘We Need to Have Endurance’

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Pet Peeves, Faith, Anxiety, and Good ol Bible Reading

On pet peeves: Here’s one: those talks that end, “so may we never fall into the trap of Elijah, who….” (Substitute Peter, Moses, Paul&Barnabas, any of the good guys—it all works out the same.) What! Are you kidding me? We’re going to outdo Elijah? If he fell for it, we will fall for it too. At best we will be guided by their course in seeing how they recovered from it.’

On anxiety and faith: Anxiety has caused problems in the past. At the moment it is at bay, but don’t ever think one immune. Is faith, like anxiety, part of the variation of people? Some are anxious by nature. Some have never been anxious a day in their lives. Faith may be like that. It builds more easily is some than others. 

For what it’s worth, I’ve benefited much by making relevant that supposedly irrelevant ancient model of humans tugged at by, in clockwise order, air, water, earth, and fire, for a 360 degree spectrum circle of human qualities. Heady people are overly given to “air.” Their heads are “in the clouds,” At it’s most severe, their feet begin to lose touch with the “earth,” and they are given to anxiety and various forms of mental distress. 

“Earth” people, on the other hand, are rock-solid dependable, Here are they people who typify Solomon’s remarks, people who eat, drink, sleep, and see good for all their hard work under the sun. Here is the person who goes on and one about the delicious meal they’ve just eaten. They’re not particularly speculative nor brilliant, not overly given to deep thought, but they are solidly competent and not easily derailed by anxiety. 

38AEAA0B-DB05-4E84-A5BB-092E7025A24AFire and Water are at opposite poles, too. Water completely envelopes any situation. Here is the person people love to confide in because he or she can see both sides of any issue, get their heads around it, and are not given to condemn. From this direction the ‘peacemakers’ are most likely to be found. Of course, from ‘fire’ comes the hotheads, the ones most given to ‘shoot first and ask questions later.’ There’s a place for them. Ask Phinehas.

There are all these types in Jehovah’s organization since that is the fabric of humanity. I like how they bind together as a brotherhood where they love, cooperate with, and compensate for one another. The too-frequent pattern in the greater world is for these extremes to congeal at opposite poles and from there scream at each other. 

On Bible reading: By far, just plain Bible reading works for me. And it works for the organization too. As much as they carry on about the wholesome spiritual food they supply, they also make clear that daily Bible reading comes first.

The digital age has changed many habits. When that Watchtower used to come in the mail I would set aside time to read it cover to cover in one sitting. I didn’t even take the shortcut recommended jokingly by one brother regarding the Letters from Readers, who said he would read the question then skip down to the last line to see whether he could do it or not.

I lost touch of that routine when the magazines went virtual. I tend to focus on talks now, those presented online, and I take “stream of consciousness” notes in order to pay attention. If I don’t my mind wanders. I typically don’t read the Watchtower articles until shortly before we study them, and some articles it may be many months before I get to. Some, no doubt, I never see at all. It doesn’t help that as my appetite for reading detailed material grows, our articles get simpler and simpler.

Just plain Bible reading works as a first go-to, there absorbing directly from Jehovah’s written word what best builds faith in ways we may not be able to even put our finger on. Once you have the pattern of healthful teachings  you can extrapolate into what is written in the Bible that the organization hasn’t commented on, or hasn’t commented on much. Sometimes I am surprised at the “gems” they choose to highlight, gems that seem to be simply Bible trivia and not especially geared for building faith. Too, I would give a lot to hear, “Man, that weird!” over some conduct of the prophets rather than continually euphemizing it into “their expression and manner [that] doubtless reflected intensity and feeling that were truly extraordinary.” 

***The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of April 25, 2002

Imitate Jesus by Serving Others is the #watchowerstudy article. “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”​—ACTS 20:35, the theme verse.

Para 2 “We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves.Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even the Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written: “The reproaches of those reproaching you have fallen upon me.” (Rom 15:1-3)

Para 6– I never realized this: Jesus was likely grieving when called on to give what would become the ‘sermon on the mount.’  “At hearing [of John’s death], Jesus departed from there by boat into an isolated place to be alone.” Matthew 14:13 #watchtowerstudy….1/2

so we may give talks, and afterward people say ‘good talk, good talk,’ and maybe they are tolerable—but none of us were grieving just before…..2/2

Oops. It was not the sermon on the mount, though it was one just like it in which he fed multitudes. My bad—but effectively it is the same….3/3

Para 6: I related the story, not mentioning the name, of a well-known bro in the circuit who suffered an auto accident on the way to the Hall. He must have been in shock. A motorist offered to help—he said, ‘yes’—run him to the KH, 1/4 mile away, ….1/2 4C3208CA-E9A3-473C-B8DC-FC79A43E49EF

where he entered and said he could not give his talk that night, then had the fellow run him back!….2/2

Look, he did it. That doesn’t mean I’d do it. Let us not try to outholy each other. I’d leave the brothers hanging, just having been in an accident. Someone can pinch hit.

(Of course, the accident was not as bad as the one pictured. If if had been he would have come to the Hall on the end of a spatula.

 

Para 11: I like the point about being honest with self. ‘Yeah, but I don’t want to’ is a perfectly understandable human response. I mean, much of the good things people do is not necessarily their first instinct.

Foreshortened Watchtower. This was the week of the circuit assembly, streamed as the really large gatherings haven’t yet resumed.

 

The assembly program began with the song ‘We Must Have the Faith.’ It has staccato very distinct notes and I will forever remember our two-year-old, ages ago, turning to us with eyes aglow, exclaiming, “It’s dah da da da DAH!’

 

Here I am reading about Abigail, Nabal, and David. Pity the woman who must deal with good for nothing men. Even the guy’s own servants called him good for nothing. #midweekmeeting

Look how Abigail got her entire household out of a spot and saved them all from the retribution of a hothead. Had she not, maybe Nathan would have rebuked David earlier and then God not been so patient over his lusting over that hottie on the rooftop and offing her significant other to cover his tracks. 

“About ten days later, Jehovah struck Naʹbal, and he died.” 1 Samuel 25:38. Sometimes I think that the reason it says Jehovah struck Nabal dead, and we go into tortured explanations to explain he didn’t , is that the Bible writer thinks he did. ‘Truth is established progressively as the day dawns’ and so forth.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

FECRIS vs Jehovah’s Witnesses: Just Who is the Destructive Cult?

Here is one to develop: FECRIS, the international anti-cult organization based in France, denounces and schemes harm to Jehovah’s Witnesses on the basis they are a ‘harmful cult.’ It does this mostly through the machinations of its Russian born Vice President, Alexander Dvorkin. He is the one who masterminded the 2017 ban against Witnesses throughout Russia that has to date resulted in the arrests and jailing of hundreds.

War in Ukraine breaks out—a bloody, punishing, shocking war in which civilian deaths are many and genocide is alleged. Dvorkin backs Russia to the hilt. Others of that organization back Ukraine. Whatever semblance of unified action they may have had—smashed to smithereens over Ukraine! Just who is the ‘harmful cult’ here—FECRIS or Jehovah’s Witnesses?

https://bitterwinter.org/7-fecris-support-for-totalitarian-regimes/

The one thing we know for sure about Jehovah’s Witnesses is that not one combatant will be theirs. They may be drawn from every other religious and secular background—the ‘king’ can always persuade his subjects they are the victims—but not theirs. Just who is the ‘harmful cult?’ Given the ongoing atrocities, they are among the few parties not harmful!

I mean, this FECRIS fix is almost as poignant as the most prominent exJW ‘activist’ cavorting with the lithe and pretty young sex workers of Thailand, blowing his own family to smithereens in the process. It is as though those ubiquitous Watchtower drawings of slovenly opposers shouting and shaking their fists in rage finds complete fulfillment in that bearded bullying slob who perfectly typifies the scriptural ‘promising freedom while himself being slave to corruption!’ (2 Peter 2:19)  And now the secular FECRIS grapples with the enormous bloodshed its VP cheers for! And Jehovah’s Witnesses are the harmful cult??! I don’t think so!

What has FECRIS done with this division in its ranks? As quietly has possible, it has expelled Dvorkin, its Vice President. It hasn’t really ‘disfellowshipped’ him because only cults do that. But what it has done so closely resembles disfellowshipping that no reasonable person can tell the difference. Is it enough? Or is the ideology of FECRIS itself the fault, whose factions stoked the perception of evil cults at work in Ukraine right until it all blew up in their faces? I mean, it is possible to drink too much of your own Kool-Aid.

***

“But…but…but,” that perennial apostate Vic Vomodog wrote me, “What about that Watchtower line, ‘We need to obey the faithful discreet slave to have Jehovah's approval?’ Huh, Tom Harley, what about that? Jesus Christ himself said at John 14:6, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Unlimited power is what they want!”

No, Vic. They no more make a grab for “unlimited power” than did those taking the lead in the first century:

As [Paul and Banabas] traveled on through the cities, they would deliver to them for observance the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and the elders who were in Jerusalem.” (Acts 16:4)

Never did those two suggest Christians ought blow away “decrees” from Jerusalem as though the tyranny of domineering men. All Bible translations use words such as ‘decrees’ for Acts 16:4. Some say ‘rules,’ some ‘regulations.’ Some strengthen it as regulations “which were to be observed.” Only the independence-savoring Message translation waters it down to ‘helpful guidelines which proved most useful.’

“What I am saying is that trust us because God trust us sounds cultish!” Vomodog fired back!

It does sound cultish and it may therefore be impolitic to say it, but only for that reason. There’s nothing especially shocking in the idea itself. The Lord trusted the twelve. Does that mean their performance was flawless? We are the children of those who drove around with bumper stickers saying “Question Authority.” (if we are not those people ourselves). It makes us touchy on the point of authority. Dare I say overly touchy?

The Governing Body says what it says as it mans up, girds its loins, and takes the same lead as did faithful men in the first century. They think we’re entering crunch time. Witnesses will agree with that; if they don’t they have no business being Witnesses. The Governing Body does not want to find themselves in the shoes of Lot, urging evasive action only to find his sons-in-law think he is joking. (Genesis 19:14)

Jesus says (John 14:12) “whoever exercises faith in me will also do the works that I do; and he will do works greater than these.” The first century governing body, “the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem,” did considerably greater works than Jesus in that they spread the message throughout the then-known world. The modern-day governing body has far eclipsed them, spreading it throughout the entire world regardless of the barriers set up (language, nationality, ethnicity, culture), at the same time keeping it freely available, unified, and uncontaminated. For this they deserve great respect, and yes, obedience. It is understood that this obedience is not tyranny, that it recognizes “we are not masters of your faith” (2 Corinthians 1:24) and that we shall smell a scandal when Sam Herd upgrades to a bigger dorm room.

By and large, rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses have worked out the balance pretty well: “We have this treasure [the ministry] in earthen vessels [us—imperfect humans. We are imperfect and those taking the lead are imperfect], so that the power beyond what is normal may be God’s and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

If we are going to carry on about “absolute authority” let us attribute it to the one who has it in this system of things and who uses it for great harm—the “great dragon who is misleading the entire inhabited earth,” the “ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Rev 12:9, Ephesians 2:2) It is this one who uses his absolute authority over the “air” to motivate the malevolent ones at FECRIS to boast of their “freedom of mind,” caring not that it makes them pawns of the national kings fighting their bloody battles for dominance. That’s the “absolute authority” to worry about, not those of the people who say we should pay attention to dress and grooming and keep track of time spent in the ministry. “Light has come into the world, but men have loved the darkness rather than the light,” says Jesus. (John 3:19) See how quickly a discussion about the authority that kills is diverted into beefing about the authority that doesn’t.

The Governing Body may not correspond to the human authority Jehovah has used in the past in every particular, the main one being that since Scripture was completed in the first century CE, they are not explicitly mentioned in it. But it is far more beneficial to dwell on the similarities than the differences. Even Witnesses who aren’t thrilled over every aspect of GB policy have no problem conceding that there should be human leadership. Any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is easily able to reconcile “I am the way and the truth and the life” with verses such as Ephesians 4: 7-13 that plainly state Christ grants authority to men:

Now undeserved kindness was given to each one of us according to how the Christ measured out the free gift. ….And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, to build up the body of the Christ, until we all attain to the oneness of the faith and of the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to being a full-grown man, attaining the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ.

Surely Christianity was not meant to die with the completion of the Bible canon. Surely someone was meant to be around to oversee Matthew 24:14: “And this good news will be preached in all the inhabited earth, as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”

***

the bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

In Africa Four Families Will Live in that Garage - Part 2

(See Part 1)

Years ago a Branch representative from somewhere in Africa made the rounds here—I don’t quite remember why—speaking before various gatherings. He kept marveling that in America everyone has “washing-up machines.”

“You Americans are so spoiled,” he said. Not only does everyone have a car but you even have garages to put that car in. “In Africa, four families would live in that garage.” He stated many times that “life is cheap” in Africa, and how it was so easy to lose it to violence, poverty, unstable governments, whatever.

He was a great storyteller. He related how he had asked representatives of an area where the work was banned whether they could use anything. Yes, the brother replied. They could really use one of those massive superpowerful Xerox machines. “Of course, you would be arrested (or did he say shot?) if caught smuggling one in……..but you asked.”

”We have to get those brothers a Xerox machine,” he turned the thought over in his head for days and spoke about it with others. Finally a group of brothers hatched a scheme to attempt just that. He described a scene at the airport where his carefully laid plans of concealment fell apart and the machine became visible for anyone having half a brain to look there. As if they didn’t see it, as if Jehovah had struck them blind, (these are his analogies, not mine) guards waved them through. Possibly he had some ridiculous threadbare cover story that nobody thought to challenge.

Yeah, standard of living is pretty high in the States. Expenses too are astronomical. Just like in the developing world, the majority live continually strapped for cash. Most people are equally drowning, just drowning at a higher sea level.  They might be able to send dough to someone far away who asks, but they’d have to sell a lamp or forsake something to do it. Paycheck to paycheck is how the majority live, even in developed lands. 

Of course, this is by no means obvious to someone from afar who can only see the high lifestyle. Many times it has been pointed out that it is only in developing lands that the friends can truly appreciate Jesus’s prayer to ‘give us today our daily bread.’ In Western lands, where there are mortgages, car payments, insurance policies, and various other amortized expenses, people have no idea what their daily bread requirements are. They just know that when they reach for cash, there doesn’t seem to be much of it.

In general, the constant refrain to keep one’s life simple has had its effect on the brotherhood. Here, you can’t tell who has dough and who doesn’t. Outward appearances mean nothing. Someone outwardly living the flashy life may be hopeless ensnared in debt. Someone with no financial concerns whatsoever may be living low-key. Even Elon Musk says he does not live a life of “conspicuous consumption.” 

Among the ones who chase after the dough in the West are some refugees once they adjust to their new home. The ones who go this way make poor candidates for the kingdom message. Using pooled resources often from others of their nationality, they buy a spacious home in a fine area and everyone in it works two jobs or more. Usually they are minimum wage jobs, but string enough of them together, and before long they’re living the material life to make any Westerner envious. Family life doesn’t immediately fall apart, since they come from places where ties are strong.

Then, of course, there is always my screwball friend Curt, the one raised in the circus who had semi-scamming and treating people as marks seemingly stamped into his DNA, the one who by sheer fanaticism, started with nothing and became a millionaire through selling used cars (inherently fraught with scam potential), then sector funds, who drove Fidelity nuts calling them multiple times each day transferring his entire net worth from one fund to another. Yet all the while he lived as though a pauper, not to fool people, but just because he was naturally screwy. In his early days of intense zeal (after which he became pretty much a hermit but always retained his brand of godly devotion—“in the truth,” I guess, though no one ever saw him) people would note how he dressed in torn rags and would buy him clothes. “Oh wow, thank you,” he’d say, put the clothes in the drawer in case he ever needed them, and continue to wear rags. “Don’t ever tell people if you have money,” he would say, “because the first thing they will say is, ‘Oh—can I have some?’

This is the same yo-yo who went on and on about the “great business plan” when someone sent official looking letters to all homeowners implying the government wanted to standardize house numbers and so you had to send $160 to get a certain style sign that they would send you.” I still see some of those signs around—they’re quite attractive but you did pay for them. “What do you mean, ‘great business opportunity?!’ I would tell him. “They’re scammers who should be shot!”

”To most people, Curt was a great pain in the neck,” I wrote in No Fake News. “But to his friends he was—well no, he drove them crazy, too.”

Don’t get me going on this character. Like Mick Jagger, if you start me up, start me up, if you start me up baby, I’ll never stop, never stop, never never NEVER stop” Curt could make a grown man cry.

see Part 3:

the bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of April 18, 2022

Ha! ‘Turn Your Eyes Away from Worthless Things’ is the #publictalk title. The speaker opens with the appeal of a garage sale. ‘One person’s junk is another person’s….I know it’s alluring because I live with two of you,” he says of his wife and daughter.

The speaker today I first met when he was 13, then didn’t see him for many years, then serves with him many years, then again didn’t see him for many years. It’s been awhile. ‘Huh! He looks just like his dad!’ I thought today for the first time. Not just like him. But a lot.

An illustration of contaminating mind and heart with wrong stuff, in this case internet porn: Can you imagine farmer sowing corn, then realizing he has sown beans by mistake, getting down on all fours trying to pick it out and replace?

The candy in the checkout line is there because the store knows it is going to end up in your cart, the speaker says. 

 

#watchtowerstudy Does Your Counsel “Make the Heart Rejoice”?

Theme scripture: “Oil and incense make the heart rejoice; so does sweet friendship springing from sincere counsel.”​—PROV. 27:9.

 

Para 6. They used to call it a ‘counsel sandwich’—encase it in praise.

‘Bro, you are so loving, faithful, zealous, a pure joy to be around always, an example to all the flock.’

‘You’ve got breath that would fell an ox. Wanna try brushing your teeth more?

‘It is so pleasurable to…..” 529C4CC2-254A-41E5-97D0-AF0FCFA0FA26

Para 8:Just because a scripture can be attached to speech does not make it scripture counsel to be heeded. Some counsel is not necessary. Some frustration last week at the implication all counsel is golden. Corrected this week. Enough? Love believes all things, hopes all things,

Para 10: We do well to realize that two mature Christians may make different choices, both of which are acceptable. We should not impose our own standards of right and wrong on fellow believers.​—Rom. 14:10.

Para 11-12: Anzious times & some of our bros are hurting. The bro who has never worried a day in his life may not be the best one to give counsel on ‘stop being anxious.’

Para 14: ‘foolish and humiliating’ to reply before you hear all the facts….Proverbs 18:13 reminds us: “When anyone replies to a matter before he hears the facts, it is foolish and humiliating.”

Para 17: Sobering thought, Regarding Jesus, it was prophesied: “No bruised reed will he crush, and no smoldering wick will he extinguish.” (Matt. 12:20) Anxous times and there are a lot of bruised reeds, smoldering wicks

Para 19. “Make sure that the counsel is given with the right motive. Also, be sure that the counsel is really needed and that you are the right person to give it. Before offering counsel, ask questions and listen carefully so that you can understand what the person is facing. …1/2

Try to see things from his perspective. Be gentle, cultivating a warm friendship with your brothers and sisters. Remember the goal: We want our counsel not only to be effective but also to “make the heart rejoice.”​—Prov. 27:9….2/2

 

I’m not so sure that new ‘Bob’s Bible Translation’ [BBT] doesn’t take too many liberties with the text: #midweekmeeting.   

Most Bibles: “[Saul] said to David: “You have treated me well and I have repaid you with evil. ..what man finds his enemy and sends him on his way unharmed? Jehovah will…1/2

reward you with good because of what you have done for me today.” (1 Samuel 24: 17-21)

‘Bob’s Bible Translation:’ “Saul shot back, “Yeah, and you’re gonna buy me a new coat too!”…2/2

 

Give this bro top prize for pithiness: “They weren’t going to stop their marching to help preach the good news of the kingdom so we weren’t going to stop preaching the good news of the kingdom to help with their marching.”

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

“If They are From […….] You Can be Sure They Will Ask for Money.” Part 1

I accept virtually anyone on FB who sends a friend request. Just a quick scan to see nothing obscene or blatantly self-serving on their profile and they’re in. Whereupon—and this is far more common coming developing lands, they direct message me with a “Hi. How are you?”

This drives me nuts. Facebook doesn’t work that way! People I don’t know think I can conduct a dozen exchanges about nothing per day? I ignore them all, assuming they are scams of some sort or in some way self-serving. 

But I am from Western background. It may be that friends from elsewhere do use Facebook that way—as a platform for individual chats. Either way, I’m not up for it, but I am curious. “Can you shed any light on this?” I asked Emma, born, raised, and who lived many adult years in Africa?

(Ha! There was one sister I friended from South American who sent several ‘Hellos’—all unanswered by me, then “Oops. Sorry. I see you are marry.” Whereupon I did respond with a “Not to worry, Sonya. Nice to have a friend from [wherever it was].” And then back to DM silence. For the most part, I don’t even look at that side of the app.)

In Africa, especially from [country name withheld] - you can be sure they will ask you for money later on,” Emma replied.

Why, in your opinion? Are they 1) scammers who are not Witnesses at all, 2) Witnesses who are opportunists, or 3) just plain genuine Witnesses with a material lack? 

All three and more,” she replied.

Odd she should mention it. There was a supposed brother who appeared out of nowhere for one of our Zoom meetings. His country of origin I forget, but it was Africa. Several made a big fuss over him after the meeting, and a certain older sister, known for hospitality and generosity, exchanged contact information. Sure enough, he soon began asking for money. Some of Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most naive persons in the world.

I’m not shocked at such things, but neither do I play that game. I know there is crushing lack in many places, but I also know there’s no way to distinguish between who is who. I know the branch will strive to keep body and soul together, but only in the most basic manner.

There was a another brother years ago from a U.S. faraway state who moved in to our congregation —he knew one of the local publishers. He was a pleasant enough guy, genuine, but in time he became a real mooch, hitting up one after another for money. Of course, this puts people in an awkward spot, and some recoil almost in horror at the thought. It got around to such an extent that Ray addressed it in a local needs part. Screwy as Ray was (he later tested false positive for anointing and true positive for apostasy) he made a very balanced presentation—that it was just one of myriad foibles human imperfection has stuck us with, that we have to deal with, perhaps firmly, but ought not provoke an overreaction, as we all fall short in many ways.

Emma: A Norwegian sister I know married a lovely African brother and went to pioneer in Africa - Kongo region. She told me that the sisters constantly asked her for money.  If your skin is white and you come from Europe or USA they think you are very rich. In  most African cultures families used to share everything to survive.  They all eat out of one pot of food - so everyone gets a little.  Things have rapidly changed in the last generation. Very few Africans share what they have with others.... becoming selfish.  

So, they really thought the sister was hiding her money somewhere.  They thought her family was sending her money and she was hiding it.  In fact she worked so hard!  They build a little holiday flat with hard earned money and rented it out to visitors to survive.  That was their sole income. …

When she arrived in Africa, she lived without a bathroom - washed in the community faucet in open fashion until her husband built her a private African place to wash. When I met her she told me about her time in Africa.  I immediately had so much respect for her because I knew where she came from and what she went through.  She told me that none of her family understood.  I was the first to understand a rural home in Africa. She really apprecieted that I understood.

I have camped rough in Africa but I will not be able to live with very little amenities like she did for a very long time. I do not blame them for asking... and trying a lot.  But the Western culture is so different... we are shocked. Some can be opportunists - even if they have a lot of money. 

see Part 2:

the bookstore

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of April 11, 2022

#publictalk “On Whose Promises do you Rely?”     um—a little dated here, methinks. A reference to promises to spring loved ones from purgatory in return for payments. Is that still a thing?

Eccles 5:4 “Whenever you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it, for he finds no pleasure in the stupid ones.” Well, you don’t HAVE to vow, is the point, so if you do…… “Do not allow your mouth to cause you to sin, and do not say before the angel that it was a mistake.”

“O Jehovah, who may be a guest in your tent? …The one who is …speaking the truth in his heart. He does not slander …does nothing bad to his neighbor…does not defame his friends…rejects anyone who is contemptible…honors those fearing Jehovah…1/2

does not go back on his promise, even when it is bad for him.” (Ps 15) The speaker illustrates ‘bad for him’ with the bro who has agreed to help another move, then is floored by how much STUFF the fellow has. #publictalk …2/2

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“Jehovah has never let me down. People have let me down, but Jehovah has never let me down,” my father-in-law used to say.

“Do not put your trust in princes…” Psalm 146:3    The reason?   “His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground. On that very day his thoughts perish.”   So you look to somewhere that doesn’t happen.

 

#watchtowerstudy article: “Listen to the Words of the Wise”

Theme scripture: “Incline your ear and listen to the words of the wise.”​—PROV. 22:17

Para 2: “in my profession (a branch of medicine) we have a saying, you can’t learn something that you already know,” one sis says. “And these people are dangerous,” she adds. #watchtowerstudy

Para 4: always liked this one at Eccl 7:9    “Do not be quick to take offense, for the taking of offense lodges in the bosom of fools.”

Para 5: It might be reading something into the picture that is not intended, but the bro is looking in direction of direct counsel. People bristle at counsel today. It is just the world we live in. He does not.

Para 6: A great disrespect for age in the overall world that is not undeserved. The old have originated ideas that have not worked out. The young are always on the lookout for the latest idea.

Para 12: On people bristling at counsel, one bro likened how you tell someone that a tire on his car is almost flat. “Oh yeah!? he shoots back, “well, your car has a dent in the fender.”

Para 14: It’s like when you ask God for advice and he says ‘yeah, I’ve got people to handle that.’ Complain that some of those people are a bit rough and he says, ‘well, you’re no cream puff yourself. Do you have any idea how you try me? You’ll just have to work it out.”

 

No #midweekmeeting this week due to the Memorial. (April 15) …referred to here:

 

***The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)