Wednesday, September 30, 2009

“Throw Your Burden Upon Jehovah”—How?

(here's some extra material in relation to today's text discussion, from pgs 8-10 of the 7/1/83 Watchtower issue)

“Throw Your Burden Upon Jehovah”—How?
David, the well-known king of the ancient 12-tribe kingdom of Israel, gave us this encouragement: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Psalm 55:22.
Why is such counsel especially appropriate when coming from King David? And how can you heed it?

David had a very eventful career in serving Jehovah God. As a mere youth he killed a lion, a bear and the giant Goliath. David excelled in warfare, extending the boundaries of ancient Israel to their God-ordained limits. Moreover, he was without equal in composing music and writing psalms. Yet David tasted not only the joys of success and prosperity but also the dregs of remorse and adversity.—1 Samuel 16:18; 17:34-36; 18:7.

Why David ‘Threw His Burden Upon Jehovah’
When David said “throw your burden upon Jehovah,” he was, first of all, talking to himself. How can that be said? Because from the context it is apparent that David composed this psalm when his royal prerogatives were at their lowest ebb. This was when his ambitious son Absalom almost succeeded in wresting the throne from his father. David’s desperate plight is apparent from the opening words of Psalm 55: “Do give ear, O God, to my prayer; and do not hide yourself from my request for favor. Do pay attention to me and answer me. I am driven restlessly about by my concern, and I cannot but show disquietude.” For six more verses he continues in this vein.
Why did David find himself in this condition? Because of his foes. He next prays for God to take action against his enemies and particularly singles out a friend who had turned traitor. No doubt this was Ahithophel, of whom it could well be said: “For it was not an enemy that proceeded to reproach me; . . . But it was you, . . . one familiar to me and my acquaintance, because we used to enjoy sweet intimacy together; into the house of God we used to walk with the throng.”—Verses 12-14.
After describing his lot and the cause of it, David says, in part, of his confidence in Jehovah: “As for me, to God I shall call out; and Jehovah himself will save me.” (Verse 16) Then after counseling himself, “Throw your burden upon Jehovah,” David concludes the psalm with the same note of confidence in the Most High, saying: “You yourself, O God, will bring them down to the lowest pit. . . . But as for me, I shall trust in you.” And how true David’s words proved to be! His ambitious son Absalom and his deceitful counselor Ahithophel came to untimely ends, whereas David continued to rule as God’s anointed king.—Verses 22, 23.

Burdens or Responsibilities
Before considering how we can heed David’s divinely inspired counsel to throw our burdens upon Jehovah, it seems appropriate to note that there are some responsibilities we must bear ourselves. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: “For each one will carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:5) Such ‘loads’ are the responsibilities that are our own because we are husbands, wives, parents, children, employees, Jehovah’s Witnesses or, for example, appointed elders in the Christian congregation. We cannot totally and irresponsibly throw such loads upon Jehovah but should willingly bear them ourselves. It is similar when it comes to making decisions. God’s Word provides laws and principles, but we must apply them to the problems facing us. Of course, we can and should ask God for wisdom, strength and his holy spirit to aid us in bearing these loads, but we must not try to get rid of them.
Then what are the burdens that we can throw upon Jehovah? They are anxieties, worries, disappointments and fears regarding the future, such as those David experienced. And they also include the burdens involving our weaknesses and failings. These are the burdens that we are to throw upon Jehovah, for the apostle Peter says: “Throw all your anxiety upon him.” Why? “Because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:6, 7.

Jesus Christ gave similar counsel in his Sermon on the Mount. ‘How so?’ you may ask. Well, not only did he tell us to stop being anxious about what we are to eat, drink and wear but he also told us the reason why we should not have such anxiety. Jesus gave this assurance: “If . . . God . . . clothes the vegetation of the field, . . . will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith? . . . Your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”—Matthew 6:25-32.

By Prayer
Yet, how can we really ‘throw our burden upon Jehovah’? One way is by regularly going to him in prayer. Is it not true that one of the burdens we daily have to bear is a consciousness of having come short of God’s righteous requirements? Yes, but by going to God in prayer we can be relieved of this burden. Jesus illustrated this in the case of the tax collector who, because of humbly and sincerely praying to God to be gracious to him, was proved more righteous than a hypocritical Pharisee. In other words, the tax collector was thereby relieved of his burden of guilt. But a word of caution: Depending upon our spiritual condition, the gravity of our sin and the nature of our guilt, we may need to enlist the aid of others, such as congregational elders, so as to become free of our burden.—Luke 18:9-14; Galatians 6:2; James 5:14-16.

If our prayers are to help us to throw our burdens upon Jehovah we must be really earnest, truly serious about matters. That is why we are commanded: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.” This will help to unburden us, for then ‘the peace of God that excels all thought will guard our hearts and mental powers.’—Philippians 4:6, 7.

Please note that Paul mentions supplications as well as prayers. What are supplications? They are fervent prayers. And what does it mean to be fervent? This word comes from a root meaning “to be hot, to boil.” So to be fervent means to be ardent, warm in feeling, intense. That is how our prayers should be if by them we are to succeed in ‘throwing our burdens upon Jehovah himself.’
If we really are earnest in our prayers, we will also persevere in prayer. After illustrating the need for perseverance in prayer, our Lord Jesus Christ urged: “I say to you, Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.” (Luke 11:2-10) Indeed, keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and our heavenly Father will assume the burdens that may fittingly be thrown upon him.

Faith and Works
With our prayers, as with every other aspect of our Christian life and ministry, this principle applies: “According to your faith let it happen to you.” (Matthew 9:29) We must have the faith that pleases God. Not only must we wholeheartedly believe that he exists but we must also be confident that he rewards those earnestly seeking him. (Hebrews 11:6) We must have faith that God will hear us. To have such strong faith, we need to study God’s Word. We should endeavor to read it and related Christian publications daily. It is easy to forget the Bible’s admonition and its grand assurances. So many things of a secular nature keep crowding in on us! But only by feeding regularly on God’s Word can we become truly acquainted with Jehovah, his marvelous qualities and his ways of dealing with his earthly servants. How Jehovah’s Word highlights his loving care for his people! Again and again we read of how he answered the prayers of his servants. (Genesis 20:17; Acts 12:5, 17) And never forget that Jehovah remains the ever-dependable “Hearer of prayer.”—Psalm 65:2.

Helpful in more ways than one is the memorizing of Bible texts, especially those that assure us of God’s loving watchcare. Among these are those quoted above, as well as certain psalms, such as Psalms 23 and 103. What better way to keep our mind occupied and drive out distracting thoughts than memorizing and reciting some of God’s Word! By having Bible texts in our mind we can feed on his Word even when we are in no position to read from a copy of the Bible. For instance, we can meditate on the Scriptures if we are unable to sleep at night. (Compare Psalm 63:6.) Truly, all of this is an aid in ‘throwing our burden upon Jehovah.’
Furthermore, ‘throwing our burden upon Jehovah’ involves our doing our part. Remember that “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) Jesus indicated as much in his Sermon on the Mount, for after counseling us not to be anxious but to have faith in God’s care, he commanded: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” Truly, heeding that counsel will help us to remain free from anxious care.—Matthew 6:33.

Helpful, too, will be learning to discipline our mind. We may have got into a rut of negative thinking. Having earnestly presented our petitions to Jehovah and thrown our anxieties upon him, we should leave them there without continued worrisome concern. We must also discipline ourselves as to our words and actions. We must make progress and not keep making the same mistakes over and over again, ‘going around in circles,’ as it were. Rather, let us be like the apostle Paul and ‘pummel our bodies, leading them about as slaves.’ We must also heed Jesus’ counsel to “keep on the watch and pray continually,” for “the spirit . . . is eager, but the flesh is weak.”—1 Corinthians 9:27; Matthew 26:41.

So, how can you “throw your burden upon Jehovah”? By earnestly persevering in prayer, by regularly feeding on God’s Word, by seeking first God’s Kingdom and by exercising self-discipline. Then, true to Jehovah’s promise, he will sustain you and never allow you to totter.

daily text 09/30

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
"Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter." (Psalm 55:22)

Some Christians suffer considerable stress because of past experiences in life. Others have phobias—excessive fears of certain situations or objects. For instance, they may be afraid to speak in public or even to attend a meeting. Imagine how hard it is for them to comment at Christian meetings or to give a talk in the Theocratic Ministry School! Yet, they are enduring, and we greatly appreciate their presence and participation. More rest and sleep may help a person to endure emotional difficulties. Medical help may be advisable. Especially effective, however, is prayerful reliance on God. By all means, then, “trust in Jehovah with all your heart.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
(Watchtower issue: 07/15/07, 3:5, 7, 8)

*its funny how humans sometimes overlook the 'simple' solutions just because they seem 'too simple' to actually work. I remember when I was going through some of my worst health issues and getting cluster headaches so bad that I seriously prayed to die sometimes, because the pain was so intense and unrelenting that I didn't know how to handle it...Well my grandmother (who was alive at the time) was worried about me, and used to tell me to read the Bible and pray whenever I got a bad headache...and I remember thinking "yah right...ok grandma, sure, whatever you say,...reading the Bible isn't going to help my pain go away, and I can't even concentrate enough to read anything anyway, when my head hurts this much!"

So I pretty much brushed aside her advice. Well later on, during this particularly 'bad' period (some years back, when my medications just weren't 'cutting it' and I used to wish there was a guillotine handy) =) I recalled what my grandma said. And even though I felt silly and didn't actually believe it was going to help the pain, I decided just to 'honor' her advice, and try it anyway. Well since it was too painful to actually concentrate on reading anything, I just layed down and listened to the audio recording of different chapters in the Bible instead. I started doing that everyday, and the funny thing is, it helped. It didn't cure me, but it helped, a time when the other alternatives weren't working.
Now you could attribute that to a number of things, but I personally felt that the biggest reason it helped was because the words I was listening to were 'teaching me' how to "throw my burden on Jehovah" and rely on him more than I ever had previously. -While also teaching me how to not feel so overwhelmed or overly anxious & stressed about what I was experiencing. (since a big part of that stress was due to fear and worry about how I was going to be able to cope with the pain, especially if it got any worse in the future)

So it's not as if reading the Bible and turning to Jehovah in prayer more, was some type of instant 'magical' solution that healed me physically. But rather, it helped me in a different way... it taught me how to deal more effectively with the difficult circumstances life throws at you sometimes. Grandma was right afterall. =)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Excavation at Gezer - Ancient Calendar Discovery

The following photos & info are from pgs 8-12 of the 06/15/07 Watchtower. Also, I made a typo in my previous post (which I corrected)...the diagram of the Calendar of Months is from the same article (the June issue, not July)

A Year in “the Good Land”
In 1908 an exciting discovery was made at the site of the Biblical city of Gezer, which lies toward the coastal plain west of Jerusalem: a small limestone plaque, or tablet, believed to be from the tenth century B.C.E. On it, in ancient Hebrew script, was found what is thought to be a simplified version of an agricultural year, or cycle, with its various operations. This tablet has come to be known as the Gezer Calendar.
The tablet bears a signature: Abijah. Though not all archaeologists agree, many consider it to be a schoolboy’s exercise set in verse.*(see footnote below) Would you like to see the passing of seasons through the eyes of a boy who lived back then? Doing so might help you to recall some Bible events.

Two Months of Ingathering
The writer of this ancient calendar began with the general ingathering. While it was listed first in this calendar, you can understand why the Israelites considered this ingathering to be the climax, or the end, of the major part of the agricultural year. The month of Ethanim (later called Tishri) corresponds to September/October on our present calendar. With the bulk of the harvesting finished, this was a particularly festive time that would have involved young Abijah. Imagine his excitement while helping his father make the booth that would become their home for a week as they joyfully thanked Jehovah for the fruitage of their fields!—Deuteronomy 16:13-15.
About this time, the olives were nearly ready for Abijah’s family to harvest them by beating the tree branches, a job that may have been too hard for young Abijah but fun to watch. (Deuteronomy 24:20) They would then pick up the olives and take them to the nearest stone press to make oil. Or a family might obtain some oil by a simpler method—that of placing beaten or cracked olives in water and scooping up any oil that floated to the surface. In any case, this precious liquid provided more than food. It was also used as fuel for lamps and to treat bruises and wounds, such as a lad like Abijah might get while playing.

Two Months of Sowing
When the early rains began, Abijah might have been happy to feel the cool shower on his skin. His father probably told him how important rain is for the land. (Deuteronomy 11:14) The soil, baked hard for months by the sun, would soften and become ready for plowing. The ancient plowman skillfully guided a wooden plow, perhaps one having a metal tip, as an animal pulled it along. The goal was to make straight furrows in the soil. The land was precious, so Israelite farmers even made use of small plots, including slopes. But there they might have to use handheld implements. Once the softened soil was plowed, wheat and barley could be sown. Interestingly, the next entry in the Gezer Calendar refers to two months of such planting. The sower might carry the grain in a fold in his clothes and spread the seed with a wide sweeping movement of his arm.

Two Months of Late Sowing
“The good land” never ceased producing food. (Deuteronomy 3:25) During December, the rainfall reached its peak and the land became green. It was the time for a late sowing of legumes, such as peas and chickpeas, as well as other vegetables. (Amos 7:1, 2) On the tablet, Abijah called this the “spring pasture” or, according to another rendering, the “late planting,” a time of delicious dishes made with many vegetables from this period. As the somewhat cold season warmed up, the almond tree, a harbinger of spring, blossomed with white and pink flowers. This could start at the slightest warming, as early as January.—Jeremiah 1:11, 12.

One Month of Cutting Flax
Abijah next mentioned flax. That might call to your mind an episode that happened centuries before Abijah’s time on the east side of the Judean hills. In the city of Jericho, Rahab hid two spies “among stalks of flax laid in rows” that had been put out to dry on her roof. (Joshua 2:6) Flax played an important part in the Israelites’ lives. To release the flax fibers, the plant material first had to rot. This would take place slowly with the dew or more rapidly by placing the flax in a pond or a stream. Once separated, the flax fibers were used to produce linen, which was then made into sails, tents, and clothes. Flax was also used for lamp wicks.
Some object to the idea that flax was grown in the Gezer area, where water was somewhat scarce. Others maintain that flax was grown only later in the year. That is why some hold that in the Gezer Calendar, the word “flax” was a synonym for fodder “grass.”

One Month of Barley Harvest
Each year, close to the spring equinox, Abijah observed the green ears of barley, the crop he mentioned next on his calendar. The corresponding month in Hebrew is Abib, meaning “Green Ears,” possibly referring to the stage when the ears are ripe but still soft. Jehovah commanded: “Let there be an observing of the month of Abib, and you must celebrate the passover to Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 16:1) Abib (later called Nisan) corresponds to parts of today’s March and April. The time of the ripening of barley may have played a role in determining the start of this month. Even today, Karaite Jews observe this ripening to establish their new year. In any case, barley firstfruits had to be waved before Jehovah on the 16th of Abib.—Leviticus 23:10, 11. Barley had a very important place in the everyday life of most Israelites. Cheaper than wheat, barley was often preferred for making bread, particularly by the poor.—Ezekiel 4:12.

One Month of Harvest and Measure
If you think back to Abijah’s time, you can imagine that early one morning he might have noticed the heavy clouds dissipating—no more rain for a while. The plants of the good land were now dependent on the dew. (Genesis 27:28; Zechariah 8:12) Israelite farmers were aware that many crops harvested during the sunniest months of the year needed a subtle balance of winds until Pentecost. The cold, wet wind coming from the north might have benefited developing cereals, but such were damaging to fruit trees once they blossomed. The hot, dry wind from the south helped the blossoms to open and pollinate.—Proverbs 25:23; Song of Solomon 4:16.
Jehovah, the Master of the elements, had set in motion a finely tuned ecological system. In Abijah’s day, Israel was really “a land of wheat and barley and vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil olives and honey.” (Deuteronomy 8:8) Abijah’s grandfather may have told him about the extraordinary period of abundance under wise King Solomon’s rule—clear evidence of Jehovah’s blessing.—1 Kings 4:20.
After mentioning harvesting, the calendar contained a word that some take to mean “measuring.” That might refer to measuring the harvest to give portions to the owners of the field and to the workers or even to pay as a tax. However, other scholars understand the Hebrew word to be “feasting” and see in this an allusion to the Festival of Weeks, which fell in the month of Sivan (May/June).—Exodus 34:22.

Two Months of Leaf Plucking
Abijah next wrote about two months of tending vines. Might he have helped to pluck the abundant foliage off the vines to allow the sun to reach the grapes? (Isaiah 18:5) Then came the time to gather the grapes, an exciting period for a youth back then. How delicious the first ripe grapes were! Abijah had likely heard about the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land by Moses. They went in the days of the first ripe fruits of the grapes to see how good the land was. On that occasion, one bunch of grapes was so large that it took two men to carry it!—Numbers 13:20, 23.

One Month of Summer Fruit
The last entry on Abijah’s calendar referred to summer fruit. In the ancient Middle East, summer was the part of the agricultural year that focused on fruit. After Abijah’s time, Jehovah used the expression “a basket of summer fruit” to illustrate that ‘the end had come to his people Israel,’ using a wordplay with “summer fruit” and “end” in Hebrew. (Amos 8:2) This should have reminded unfaithful Israel that it had reached its end and that Jehovah’s judgment was due. Figs were no doubt among the summer fruits that Abijah was referring to. Summer figs might be pressed into cakes to eat or used as a poultice for boils.—2 Kings 20:7.

The Gezer Calendar and You
Young Abijah was likely in direct contact with the agricultural life of the country. Farm activities were widespread among the Israelites in those days. Even if you are not in close contact with agricultural activities, the references in this tablet from Gezer can help to bring your Bible reading to life, making it more understandable and meaningful.

There is not full agreement about the correspondency between the list on the Gezer Calendar and the months generally followed in the Bible. Furthermore, some agricultural operations could take place at slightly different times in the various areas of the Promised Land.

daily text 09/29

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
"You should go on walking worthily of God who is calling you to his kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

First-century Christians were declared righteous and anointed with holy spirit for the purpose of enabling them to receive their heavenly inheritance. Their anointing did not elevate them to kingship over fellow anointed Christians while still on earth. Evidently, some early Christians lost sight of that fact and began seeking undue prominence among their brothers in the congregation. As a result, Paul was moved to ask: “You men already have your fill, do you? You are rich already, are you? You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings.” (1 Corinthians 4:8) Therefore, Paul reminded anointed ones of his day: “Not that we are the masters over your faith, but we are fellow workers for your joy.”—2 Corinthians 1:24.
(Watchtower issue: 01/15/08, 4:10, 12)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Calendar Months of the Bible

After reading Harold King's experience you might be wondering how he calculated the date of the Memorial by looking at the position of the moon from his prison cell. So I looked up some additional info about the spring equinox in relation to the establishment of the Lord's Evening Meal...but first, here's some backround info on the Jewish Calendar and agricultural timetable.

(Calendar on pg 9, of the 06/15/07 Watchtower)

NISAN (ABIB): March—April
IYYAR (ZIV): April—May
SIVAN: May—June
TAMMUZ: June—July
AB: July—August
ELUL: August—September
TISHRI (ETHANIM): September—October
HESHVAN (BUL): October—November
CHISLEV: November—December
TEBETH: December—January
SHEBAT: January—February
ADAR: February—March

(The following excerpts from pgs 389-392 of the Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1)
Various calendar systems have been developed by men in the past, and a number continue in use today. Early calendars were mainly lunar calendars, that is, the months of the year were counted by complete cycles of the moon, as, for example, from one new moon to the next new moon. On the average, such lunation takes about 29 days, 12 hours, and 44 minutes. The months were usually counted as of either 29 or 30 days, but in the Bible record the term “month” generally means 30 days.—Compare De 21:13; 34:8; also Re 11:2, 3.

A year of 12 lunar months falls nearly 11 days short of a solar year of 365 1⁄4 days. Since the solar year determines the return of the seasons, there was need to adjust the calendar to this solar year, and this resulted in what are called lunisolar, or bound solar, years—that is, years in which the months were lunar but the years were solar. This was done by the addition of a number of days each year or of an additional month during certain years to compensate for the shortness of the 12 lunar months.

Hebrew Calendar

The Israelites used such a lunisolar, or bound solar, calendar. This is evident from the fact that Jehovah God established the beginning of their sacred year with the month Abib in the spring and specified the celebration of certain festivals on fixed dates, festivals that were related to harvest seasons. For these dates to have coincided with the particular harvests, there had to be a calendar arrangement that would synchronize with the seasons by compensating for the difference between the lunar and solar years.—Exodus 12:1-14; 23:15, 16; Leviticus 23:4-16.

Whereas the sacred year began in the spring with the month Abib (or Nisan) by God’s decree at the time of the Exodus (Ex 12:2; 13:4), the Bible record indicates that prior to this the Israelites had counted the year as running from fall to fall. God gave recognition to this arrangement so that, in effect, there was a dual system of a sacred and a secular or agricultural calendar used by his people. (Ex 23:16; 34:22; Le 23:34; De 16:13) In postexilic times, Tishri 1, in the last half of the year, marked the beginning of the secular year, and the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah (head of the year), is still celebrated on that date.

The Bible does not indicate what method was originally used to determine when additional days or an additional, or intercalary, month should be inserted. It is logical, however, that either the vernal or the autumnal equinox served as a guide to indicate when the seasons were falling behind sufficiently to require calendar adjustment. Though not specifically mentioned in the Bible, a 13th month that was added by the Israelites to accomplish this adjustment was called, in postexilic times, Veadar, or the second Adar.
We do not find record of a definitely fixed or standardized form of Jewish calendar until the fourth century of our Common Era (c. 359 C.E.), when Hillel II specified that the leap years of 13 months should be the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th of each 19 years. Such a 19-year cycle is commonly called the Metonic cycle, after the Greek mathematician Meton (of the fifth century B.C.E.), although there is also evidence that such a cycle was perfected before him by the Babylonians. (See Babylonian Chronology, 626 B.C.–A.D. 75, by R. A. Parker and W. H. Dubberstein, 1971, pp. 1, 3, 6.) This cycle takes into account that every 19 years the new and the full moons fall again on the same days of the solar year.

The Jewish months ran from new moon to new moon. (Isaiah 66:23) One Hebrew word, cho′dhesh, “month” (Genesis 7:11), comes from a root meaning “new,” while another word for month, ye′rach, means “lunation.”
(by-the-way, there's even more detailed info in the Insight book, if you want to do more 'indepth' research on this topic)

(the following info is from pg 268 of the Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2)

The Lord's Evening Meal
Time of Its Institution: The Passover was always observed on Nisan (Abib) 14, being on or near the day of full moon, inasmuch as the first day of every month (lunar month) in the Jewish calendar was the day of the new moon, as determined by visual observation. Therefore the 14th day of the month would be about the middle of a lunation. The date of Jesus’ death is be Nisan 14, 33 C.E. Concerning the day of his death as reckoned on the Gregorian calendar, astronomical calculations show that there was an eclipse of the moon on Friday, April 3, 33 C.E. (Julian calendar), which would be Friday, April 1, on the Gregorian calendar. (Oppolzer’s Canon of Eclipses, translated by O. Gingerich, 1962, p. 344) Eclipses of the moon always occur at the time of full moon. This evidence strongly indicates that Nisan 14, 33 C.E., fell on Thursday-Friday, March 31–April 1, 33 C.E., on the Gregorian calendar.
It was on the evening before his death that Jesus observed his last Passover meal and afterward instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal. Even before the Memorial meal began, the traitorous Judas was sent out, at which time, according to the record, “it was night.” (John 13:30) Since the days of the Jewish calendar ran from evening of one day to evening of the next, the Lord’s Evening Meal was celebrated also on Nisan 14, on Thursday evening, March 31.

(So for calculating the day of the observance in modern times here's what the Reasoning Book says on pg 269):
Jehovah’s Witnesses observe the Memorial after sundown on Nisan 14, according to the reckoning of the Jewish calendar that was common in the first century. The Jewish day begins at sundown and extends until the following sundown. So Jesus died on the same Jewish calendar day that he instituted the Memorial. The beginning of the month of Nisan was the sunset after the new moon nearest the spring equinox became visible in Jerusalem. The Memorial date is 14 days thereafter. (Thus the date for the Memorial may not coincide with that of the Passover kept by modern-day Jews. Why not? The start of their calendar months is set to coincide with the astronomical new moon, not the visible new moon over Jerusalem, which may come 18 to 30 hours later. Also, most Jews today keep the Passover on Nisan 15, not on the 14th as did Jesus in harmony with what was stated in the Mosaic Law.)

*I'm gonna post some archaeological info on this subject tomorrow...

daily text 09/28

Monday, September 28th, 2009
"Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another." (Ephesians 4:32)

Suppose that strained relations exist between you and a certain fellow believer. In that case, make every effort to repair the breach. (Psalm 133:1) Apply the counsel of Jesus as recorded at Matthew 5:23, 24 or Matthew 18:15-17. If you have been letting the sun set while you are still in a provoked state, be quick to correct matters. Often all that is needed is a willingness to forgive. (Ephesians 4:25, 26) The marital relationship calls for tender compassion and, at times, forgiveness. If you need to be more loving and compassionate toward your marriage mate, work to attain this objective with the help of God and his Word. Is something needed on your part to comply with 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 so as to lessen stress and avoid unfaithfulness? Surely this is an area of life that calls upon a husband or a wife to be “tenderly compassionate.”
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/07, 1:15, 16)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Korean International Convention in Seoul

A sister who my mom knows from Texas, attended the International District Convention in Seoul, Korea...and here's a couple photos that she emailed to my mom.

She said in her email: "It was the best international we have ever been to. The Korean brothers and sisters are so friendly and hospitable that is was simply amazing. The sessions were in Korean and Japanese but were translated and broadcast over FM radio into 18 other languages, including English - each language on it's own channel - so we were able to hear the whole program in our own language."

Here's a photo slideshow/video I saw on Youtube:
Korean International Convention
I wonder what the attendance was?...because it looks huge! Did you notice in that video how they even had the baptism pools decked out like a little tropical island oasis? lol.

And this video clip was nice...I've never heard 'Kingdom Melodies' sung by Korean Choir Girls before!

daily text 09/27

Sunday, September 27th, 2009
"God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name." (Hebrews 6:10)

Jehovah can read hearts, while we cannot. We do not know all of another person’s motives. Therefore, we should try to imitate Jehovah by not fixing our attention on human imperfections, which will eventually disappear. Would it not be a fine goal to be like him in this regard? Our doing so will contribute much toward peaceful relationships with our brothers and sisters. (Ephesians 4:23, 24) To illustrate, think of a house that looks completely run-down. Most people might look at that house and conclude that it should be torn down. But someone else sees that the structure is sound and restores it. Similarly, rather than focusing on our brothers’ surface defects, can we discern their good qualities and their potential for further spiritual growth? If we do so, we will come to love our brothers for their spiritual beauty, as Jehovah does.
(Watchtower issue: 03/15/08, 5:8, 9)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I wanted to mention something I found out which made me really happy (and right when I needed to hear some good news too!) I got a letter today from my aunt, who has been an 'inactive' Witness for many years now (mostly due to severe health problems which has kept her housebound for a long time)...letting me know that she went to the Memorial this year!

I'm so excited to hear that, because I've been corresponding with her and sending her the latest magazines and new publications released at recent conventions, hoping it would spark her interest and desire to come back, or at least listen to meetings on the conference line if she's too sick to go in I also got her the phone number of her old congregation, and one of the sister's who she used to know came to visit and encourage her.

Well I was wondering how she felt about it, but I didn't want to ask her directly or put her on the spot in case she wasn't interested anymore. But a few weeks before the day of the Memorial was coming up, I had this 'feeling' that she probably didn't have any new dressy clothes to wear (because it's been quite a long time since she's been to a congregation meeting). So me, my mom and my sister went shopping, and sent her some new dress clothes 'just in case' ... Well in her letter she said she was so glad we had sent her the new outfits right before the Memorial, because none of her old skirts fit her anymore, and she wouldn't have had anything to wear!
Cool huh? I'm so happy she went! =)

"Keep Conquering the Evil With the Good"

*I wanted to post this previous Watchtower article about the book of Nehemiah, since it relates to today's text discussion and also tomorrow's Watchtower lesson on preaching with boldness. I really like Nehemiah because he mustered up the Israelites and motivated them to rally themselves and their families together in order to complete a very daunting task in record time, despite all kinds of attempts to stop them and slow the work down. That's exactly what we face today when it comes to the preaching the good news, so reading about the obstacles they encountered and how they dealt with them is beneficial for us to keep in mind.

(Photos & article on pgs 27-31 of the 7/1/07 Watchtower)

“Keep Conquering the Evil With the Good”
“Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.”—Romans 12:21.

Is it possible to stand firm against those who fiercely oppose true worship? Is it possible to defeat the forces that try to pull us back into the ungodly world? The answer to both questions is yes! Why do we say so? Because of what the apostle Paul states in his letter to the Romans. He writes: “Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.” (Romans 12:21) If we trust in Jehovah and are determined not to let the world conquer us, its evil will not overcome us. Further, the expression “keep conquering the evil” shows that we can defeat evil if we keep up our spiritual fight against it. Only those who let their guard down and cease fighting will be overcome by this wicked world and its evil ruler, Satan the Devil.—1 John 5:19.

Some 500 years before Paul’s time, a servant of God living in Jerusalem demonstrated the truth of Paul’s words about the fight against evil. That man of God, Nehemiah, not only withstood opposition from ungodly people but also conquered evil with good. What challenges did he face? What enabled him to succeed? How can we imitate his example? To answer those questions, let us consider some events in the life of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah served at the court of King Artaxerxes of Persia. Although Nehemiah lived among unbelievers, he did not become “fashioned after” the “system of things” of those days. (Romans 12:2) When a need arose in Judah, he sacrificed his comfortable lifestyle, made the arduous journey to Jerusalem, and took on the huge task of rebuilding the city wall. (Romans 12:1) Even though he was governor of Jerusalem, Nehemiah daily toiled alongside his fellow Israelites “from the ascending of the dawn until the stars came out.” As a result, within only two months, the project was completed! (Nehemiah 4:21; 6:15) That was an amazing feat, for during the construction work, the Israelites faced various forms of opposition. Who were Nehemiah’s opposers, and what was their goal?

The main opposers were Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, influential men living near Judah. Since they were enemies of God’s people, “it seemed to them something very bad that [Nehemiah] had come to seek something good for the sons of Israel.” (Nehemiah 2:10, 19) Nehemiah’s enemies were bent on stopping Nehemiah’s building plans, even resorting to evil schemes. Would Nehemiah ‘let himself be conquered by evil’?

“Angry and Highly Offended”
Nehemiah courageously exhorted his people: “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.” They replied: “We must build.” Nehemiah notes: “They strengthened their hands for the good work,” but opposers “began to deride us and look on us despisingly and say: ‘What is this thing that you are doing? Is it against the king that you are rebelling?’” Nehemiah was not intimidated by their taunts and false accusations. He told the opposers: “The God of the heavens is the One that will grant us success, and we ourselves, his servants, shall get up, and we must build.” (Nehemiah 2:17-20) Nehemiah was determined to push forward with “the good work.”

One of those opposers, Sanballat, “became angry and highly offended” and stepped up his verbal barrage. “What are the feeble Jews doing?” he mocked. “Will they bring the stones to life out of the heaps of dusty rubbish?” Tobiah joined in the jeering, saying: “If a fox went up against it, he would certainly break down their wall of stones.” (Nehemiah 4:1-3) How did Nehemiah react?

Nehemiah simply ignored the mockery. He followed God’s command and did not seek to retaliate. (Leviticus 19:18) Rather, he left the matter in Jehovah’s hands and prayed: “Hear, O our God, for we have become an object of contempt; and make their reproach return upon their own head.” (Nehemiah 4:4) Nehemiah trusted in Jehovah’s assurance: “Vengeance is mine, and retribution.” (Deuteronomy 32:35) Further, Nehemiah and his people “kept building the wall.” They did not let themselves become sidetracked. In fact, “the entire wall came to be joined together clear to half its height, and the people continued to have a heart for working.” (Nehemiah 4:6) The enemies of true worship had failed to halt the building work! How can we imitate Nehemiah?

Today, opposers at school, at work, or even at home may hurl taunts and accusations at us. However, often such false charges are best handled by applying the Scriptural principle: “There is . . . a time to keep quiet.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) Hence, like Nehemiah, we refrain from retaliating with cutting words. (Romans 12:17) We turn to God in prayer, trusting the one who assures us: “I will repay.” (Romans 12:19; 1 Peter 2:19, 20) In that way, we do not let our opposers sidetrack us from the spiritual work that is to be carried out today—the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom and the making of disciples. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Each time we participate in the preaching work and refuse to be deterred by opposition, we show the same faithful spirit that Nehemiah did.

‘We Shall Certainly Kill You’
When opposers of true worship in Nehemiah’s time heard that “the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem had gone forward,” they took up their swords to “fight against Jerusalem.” For the Jews the situation looked gloomy. There were Samaritans in the north, Ammonites in the east, Arabs in the south, and Ashdodites in the west. Jerusalem was surrounded; the builders appeared to be trapped! What were they to do? “We prayed to our God,” says Nehemiah. The enemies threatened: “We shall certainly kill them and put a stop to the work.” Nehemiah responded by assigning the builders the task of defending the city “with their swords, their lances and their bows.” True, humanly speaking, the small band of Jews did not stand a chance against the overwhelming enemy forces, but Nehemiah urged them: “Do not be afraid . . . Jehovah the great and the fear-inspiring One keep in your mind.”—Nehemiah 4:7-9, 11, 13, 14.

Now there was a sudden turn of events. The enemies called off the attack. Why? “The true God had frustrated their counsel,” reports Nehemiah. However, Nehemiah realized that the enemies remained a threat. Therefore, he prudently adjusted the work method of the builders. From then on, “each one was active in the work with his one hand while the other hand was holding the missile.” Nehemiah also assigned a man who in case of an enemy attack would “blow the horn” to warn the builders. Above all, Nehemiah reassured the people: “Our God himself will fight for us.” (Nehemiah 4:15-20) Encouraged and prepared to deal with aggression, the builders kept working. What lessons can we draw from this account?

At times, true Christians face violent opposition. In fact, in some lands vicious opposers of true worship form an overwhelming enemy force. Humanly speaking, our fellow believers in those lands do not stand a chance. Nevertheless, those Witnesses are confident that ‘God will fight for them.’ Indeed, those who are persecuted for their beliefs have time and again experienced that Jehovah answers their prayers and ‘frustrates the counsel’ of powerful enemies. Even in countries where the Kingdom work is banned, Christians find ways to keep on preaching the good news. Just as the builders in Jerusalem adjusted their work method, so Jehovah’s Witnesses today prudently adjust their preaching methods when under attack. Of course, they refrain from using physical weapons. (2 Corinthians 10:4) Even the threat of physical violence does not make them halt their preaching activities. (1 Peter 4:16) On the contrary, those courageous brothers and sisters “keep conquering the evil with the good.”

“Come, and Let Us Meet”
After Nehemiah’s enemies realized that their open assaults had failed, they turned to more subtle forms of opposition. In fact, they tried three schemes. What were they?

First, Nehemiah’s enemies tried to deceive him. They told him: “Come, and let us meet together by appointment in the villages of the valley plain of Ono.” Ono lay between Jerusalem and Samaria. So the enemies proposed that Nehemiah meet them halfway to resolve the differences. Nehemiah could have thought: ‘That sounds reasonable. It is better to talk than to fight.’ But Nehemiah refused. He explained why: “They were scheming to do me harm.” He saw through their scheme and was not deceived. Four times he told his opposers: “I am not able to go down. Why should the work cease while I take off from it and have to go down to you?” The enemies’ attempts to get Nehemiah to compromise failed. He kept his eye focused on the building work.—Nehemiah 6:1-4.

Second, Nehemiah’s enemies resorted to spreading false rumors, accusing Nehemiah of “scheming to rebel” against King Artaxerxes. Once more, Nehemiah was told: “Let us consult together.” Again Nehemiah refused, for he discerned the enemies’ intention. Nehemiah explained: “All of them were trying to make us afraid, saying: ‘Their hands will drop down from the work so that it will not be done.’” This time, however, Nehemiah did rebut his enemies’ accusation, stating: “Things such as you are saying have not been brought about, but it is out of your own heart that you are inventing them.” Moreover, Nehemiah turned to Jehovah for support, praying: “Strengthen my hands.” He trusted that with Jehovah’s help, he would be able to foil this evil plot and push forward with the building project.—Nehemiah 6:5-9.

Third, Nehemiah’s enemies used a traitor, the Israelite Shemaiah, to try to make Nehemiah break God’s Law. Shemaiah said to Nehemiah: “Let us meet by appointment at the house of the true God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple; for they are coming in to kill you.” Shemaiah said that Nehemiah was about to be assassinated but that he could save his life by hiding in the temple. However, Nehemiah was not a priest. He would commit a sin by hiding in the house of God. Would he break God’s Law in an attempt to save his life? Nehemiah responded: “Who is there like me that could enter into the temple and live? I shall not enter!” Why did Nehemiah not fall into the trap that had been set for him? Because he knew that although Shemaiah was a fellow Israelite, “it was not God that had sent him.” After all, a true prophet would never advise him to break God’s Law. Again, Nehemiah did not let himself be conquered by evil opposers. Shortly thereafter he could report: “At length the wall came to completion on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.”—Nehemiah 6:10-15; Numbers 1:51; 18:7.

Like Nehemiah, we too might face opposers in the form of false friends, false accusers, and false brothers. Some individuals may invite us to meet them halfway, so to speak. They may try to convince us that if we serve Jehovah with a little less zeal, we could pursue worldly goals at the same time. However, because God’s Kingdom comes first in our lives, we refuse to compromise. (Matthew 6:33; Luke 9:57-62) Opposers also spread false accusations against us. In some lands we are accused of posing a threat to the State, just as Nehemiah was accused of rebelling against the king. Some accusations have been successfully rebutted in judicial courts. But whatever the outcome in individual situations, we confidently pray that Jehovah will direct matters according to his will. (Philippians 1:7) Opposition may also come from those who pretend to serve Jehovah. Just as a fellow Jew tried to persuade Nehemiah to break God’s Law to save his life, so apostate former Witnesses may try to influence us to compromise in one way or another. However, we reject apostates because we know that our lives are saved, not by breaking God’s laws, but by keeping them! (1 John 4:1) Yes, with Jehovah’s help we can conquer any form of evil.

Sharing Good News Despite Facing Evil
God’s Word states regarding Christ’s anointed brothers: “They conquered [Satan] because . . . of the word of their witnessing.” (Revelation 12:11) Hence, there is a direct connection between conquering Satan—the source of evil—and preaching the Kingdom message. No wonder that Satan relentlessly attacks both the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” by stirring up opposition!—Revelation 7:9; 12:17.

As we have seen, opposition may come in the form of verbal attacks or threats of physical violence or in more subtle forms. In any case, Satan’s goal is always the same—to put a stop to the preaching work. However, he will fail miserably because in imitation of Nehemiah of old, God’s people are determined to “keep conquering the evil with the good.” They will do so by keeping up the preaching of the good news until Jehovah says that the work is done!—Mark 13:10; Romans 8:31; Philippians 1:27, 28.

daily text 09/26

Saturday, September 26th, 2009
"Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together." (Hebrews 10:24, 25)

Being yielding does not mean that we compromise our faith or our godly principles. What stand did the early Christians take when ordered by the religious leaders to stop teaching on the basis of Jesus’ name? Peter and the other apostles said boldly: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 4:18-20; 5:28, 29) So today, when governmental authorities try to force us to cease preaching the good news, we do not stop, although we may adjust our methods in order to handle the situation tactfully. If there are restrictions on the house-to-house ministry, we may seek out alternative ways to contact householders and continue obeying our God-given commission. Likewise, when “the superior authorities” proscribe our meetings, we meet discreetly in small groups.—Romans 13:1.
(Watchtower issue: 03/15/08, 1:12)

*In case anyone hasn't read their October Kingdom Ministry yet, I wanted to include this excerpt which relates to today's text discussion. Because it kind of startled me a little bit, especially since in combination with that other article: "Are You Ready For Informal Witnessing?" (even though we all know it's coming)...but since most of us here in the US are used to our 'freedom of speech' and don't usually have to deal with the authorities harassing us or telling us to leave a territory (at least not in recent years), it's a good idea to mentally prepare ourselves for that scenario ahead of time just in case. A sister from a small town in Massachusetts said it's happened to local Witnesses out in service there just recently.

In past years, there was a booklet that Witnesses would carry which contained court rulings about our preaching methods and where we could preach, but since many times that would lead to them being arrested anyway, the KM suggests the following approach:

Question Box
What should you do if directed to stop preaching?

In some instances, the police have approached publishers who were sharing in some form of the ministry, informed them that they were violating the law, and directed them to stop. You should promptly and politely leave the territory if directed to do so (Matthew 5:41; Philippians 4:5) Do not try to resolve matters on your own by getting involved in a discussion about our legal rights. If it is possible, tactfully obtain the badge number of the police officer and the number of his precinct. Thereafter, promptly inform the elders, who will then contact the branch office about the incident. Similarly, if you are asked to leave an apartment building or complex by the superintendent or any other apartment representative, you should comply immediately and inform the elders. A mild and humble manner of dealing with those in authority can do much to prevent unnecessary difficulities. (Proverbs 15:1; Romans 12:18)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not so good news... =(

*I just got an email with the following info forwarded to me, about a young sister from Alaska who died in a hunting accident a few weeks ago, and I wanted to pass it along since there was a nice article written about her involvement in the ministry.

Hannah Rene Frye
Beloved local teen dies in hunting accident
• Family finds comfort in daughter’s faith, commitment to God

by Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

Hannah Rene Frye, a young graduate from Homer High School’s class of 2009 who also went door-to-door as a Jehovah’s Witness missionary, died Friday in a moose hunting accident while on a trip at Kalgin Island.

Services for Hannah, 18, will be held 2 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Mariner Theatre. There will be a reception in the gym from 3-6 p.m.

Before noon on Friday, Hannah was airlifted from Kalgin Island to Anchorage’s Providence Alaska Medical Center after she was accidently shot while hunting. She was declared dead at the hospital.. The morning of the accident, the U.S. Coast Guard received a report around 9:05 a.m. saying the teen had been shot. Hannah was a member of a six-person group hunting for moose on Kalgin Island, which is located in Redoubt Bay by the Drift River Tank Farm.
Friends and family used a VHS radio to call for help, and the Coast Guard then notified a search and rescue group out of Anchorage, as well as the Alaska State Troopers. At 11:05 a.m.., they were able to land on the island to airlift Hannah to Providence.

“The situation was a little complicated because we had broken radio communication,” said investigating trooper Matt Ezell said. “There is no foul play suspected, but we are investigating this to sort through what happened.” Hannah Rene Frye is likely a familiar name and face to many in Homer through her many community interactions, including her ministry giving Bible studies in people’s homes through the Kingdom Hall Jehovah’s Witness Church. She also worked with her father on local construction projects through his business, Smoking Bay Painting.

“Hannah was an extraordinary person,” her family wrote in her remembrance. Born in Homer April 5, 1991 to Cameron and Rebecca Frye, Hannah was the middle child with five siblings: Aric, Alissa, Camille, Julie and Brianna. All were “raised in this beautiful little town she loved so much,” her family wrote. In fact, in her ministry, Hannah may very well have come knocking at the doors of many Homer residents.

The family said that, as soon as she was old enough to go door-to-door, Hannah spent many hours in her ministry as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses here in Homer, in Belize, and while traveling through the lower 48 states. She was planning to expand her ministry to Honduras next year, and also hoped to serve as a volunteer at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York. Instead of college plans, her goal was to go directly into her church’s ministry.
“Hannah overflowed with love – for her family, for this earth and its creatures, for her dear friends, and most of all, for her God, Jehovah. She was deeply satisfied and freely expressed her joy for life. When she laughed, she laughed with her whole body,” the family wrote. “Hannah had a soft, gentle smile that started in her eyes and radiated out. When she smiled at you, you felt the warmth of a genuine, loving heart.”

Hannah is described as someone who loved being outside, running through fields of summer fireweed and playing football at low tide on the beach. “Her eyes would light up just talking about horseback riding, playing in the snow, or camping trips. She also was a hard-worker, so strong and energetic that it was a common remark on a construction site that she made all the boys working around her look bad,” wrote her family. “She was skilled and worked hard for the family’s business, tearing down damaged buildings, making repairs and house painting...That girl could swing a sledge hammer and ply a paint brush, let me tell you.”

Hannah was a person who appreciated the great value of little things, taking note and treasuring small kindnesses expressed towards her. She also had a silly, open sense on humor, with a penchant for monster trucks and golden retrievers.

“She was a very careful and conscientious person, always striving to make decisions that would draw her close to God and bring his smile of approval,” said the family. “Her Grandma, Virginia Hume, taught her to play the piano, and she loved playing and singing with all her heart praises to her God, Jehovah.” Hannah was among the many volunteers who helped to build the Homer Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which was completed in 2003. She worked on similar church projects around the state. In her ministry work, she was a full-time volunteer for the church since she was 16 years old. At the age of 10, Hannah made a commitment to read from the Bible for 30 minutes every morning after waking.

Her father said it was a commitment she kept until the day she died.
“If you were among the many who took a few minutes from your day to brighten hers and be encouraged by discussing the Bible with her, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts, as nothing brought Hannah more joy than talking about God’s promises of life such as described in Revelation 21:3,4 and Psalms 37:28,29,” her family wrote. “She knew that God is not responsible for the death of loved ones and she knew and had full faith in his promise of a resurrection. (James 1:13, John 5:28, 29). She shared this message of comfort and hope with countless others grieving a loss. Her friends and family will truly draw strength from these and similar scriptures as we adjust to her temporary absence in our lives.”

daily text 09/25

Friday, September 25th, 2009
"It does not belong to man . . . to direct his step." (Jeremiah 10:23)

When the king and the people of Israel submitted to Jehovah’s sovereignty, they enjoyed His protection and blessing. The reign of Solomon was in particular a time of peace and prosperity beyond compare, providing a prophetic glimpse of the rule of God’s Kingdom when Satan’s influence will be completely removed and Jehovah’s sovereignty vindicated. (1 Kings 4:20, 25) Sadly, most of the kings in the Davidic line failed to measure up to Jehovah’s requirements, and the people fell into idolatry and immorality. Finally, Jehovah allowed the kingdom to be destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. The overthrow of the Davidic kingdom—and the earlier overthrow of the northern kingdom of Israel—furnished proof, not of any deficiency or failure of Jehovah’s sovereignty, but of the sorry consequences of Satan’s influence and man’s independence from God.—Proverbs 16:25.
(Watchtower issue: 12/1/07, 1:16, 17)

*I heard such an awesome illustration in a talk by Br Goldstone (from the Malawi Bethel Branch) called "Why take refuge in Jehovah?" which demonstrated why it's so important to allow God to guide us and 'direct our steps' in life, instead of being a 'know-it-all' and presuming that we can act independently from God without consequences.

He said that in some prisons (especially in Africa), inmates who've been serving life sentences will be told that they can 'escape to freedom' IF they can 'find their way out' of the prison ... They will place them in a large corridor of hallways (set up like a maze or labyrinth) with an exit door at the end. Well what typically happens, is the prisoner is under so much anxiety and mental stress (because they keep running and running but just can't seem to find their way out, or get to the exit door),...that they will actually suffer a heart attack and die!
Forensic scientists who've studied this, have tried to understand it by creating the same type of scenario/experiment with mice...and the same thing happens...the mice eventually collapse and die from the stress of it.
The solution is to place a guard on a raised watchtower, who can see the prisoner in the maze, and can tell him which direction he needs to go and which way to turn, so he can successfully navigate through the labyrinth of corridors and escape to freedom.

Can you see where this illustration is going??? =)

That's exactly what Jehovah does by providing us with such beneficial counsel and guidance that will 'direct our steps' in life. But here's the rub...many times we don't want to listen to that advice, the same way that the literal prisoner in the maze will get frustrated and won't want to listen to the directions coming from the guard on the watchtower. -Because from his limited vantage point, it seems that he's going around in circles, and not being given accurate advice. He'll start to rely on himself to find his way out (big mistake). So the man on the watchtower has to keep reassuring the prisoner that he can see the entire maze of corridors from where he's at, and knows exactly which way the man needs to go,...which is why he just needs to trust him and follow his directions.
Isn't that the perfect way to illustrate why we need to 'trust' and lean on Jehovah to help guide us and our decisions in life, since he always sees the 'bigger picture'? Instead of relying on our own limited wisdom and vantage point?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Real Life Experiences - Fay King

*The following photos & info are about Harold King's wife, Fay, found on pgs 23-27 of the 2/1/04 Watchtower


My parents were kind people, but like so many others, they did not have any use at all for religion. My mother used to say: “There must be a God, otherwise who made the flowers, and who made the trees?” But that was as far as it went.
My father died in 1939 when I was 11 years old, and I lived with my mother in Stockport, just south of Manchester, England. I had always wanted to know more about my Creator and respected the Bible, although I knew nothing about it. So I decided to go to the Church of England to see what it had to offer. The services did not mean much to me, but when the Gospels were read, Jesus’ words somehow convinced me that the Bible must be true. Looking back, it does seem strange that I did not read the Bible for myself. Even later, when a family friend gave me a “New Testament” in a modern translation, I never got around to reading it.
The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 really made me think. Would the conflict spread, as World War II had done? If it did, how could I obey Jesus’ command to love my enemies? But then again, could I stand by and see people invade my country and do nothing to stop them? If I did that, I would surely be evading my responsibility. Confused as my thinking was, I remained convinced that the answers to all my questions were in the Bible, though I had no idea how or where to find them.

Searching for Truth in Australia
In 1954 my mother and I decided to immigrate to Australia, where my sister, Jean, was living. A few years later, Jean told me that she had asked Jehovah’s Witnesses to call on me because she knew I was interested in the Bible and went to church. She wanted to find out what I thought about them. “I do not know if their explanations are right or not,” she confided to me, “but at least they have explanations, which is more than the churches do.”
Bill and Linda Schneider, the couple who visited me, were a delightful pair. They were in their late 60’s and had been Witnesses for many years. They had worked at the radio station operated by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Adelaide, and when the preaching work was banned in Australia during World War II, they enrolled as full-time evangelizers. As helpful as Bill and Linda were to me, however, I was still exploring different religions.
A work colleague took me to a meeting of evangelist Billy Graham, after which a number of us met with a clergyman who invited questions. I asked the one that was still bothering me: “How can you be a Christian and love your enemies when you go and kill them in a war?” The whole group immediately broke out in an uproar—that question had evidently worried them all! Eventually, the clergyman said: “I don’t know the answer to that one. I’m still thinking about it.” Meanwhile, my study of the Bible with Bill and Linda was going on apace, and in September 1958, I was baptized. I set my heart on following the example of my tutors, so by August of the next year, I enrolled as a regular pioneer, a full-time evangelizer. Eight months later I was invited to join the ranks of the special pioneers. How happy I was to learn that my sister, Jean, had progressed in her studies too and had been baptized!

A Door of Opportunity Opened
I was serving with one of the Sydney congregations and conducting a number of home Bible studies. One day I encountered a retired Church of England cleric and asked him what the church said about the end of the world. Although he told me that he had taught church doctrine for 50 years, his answer astounded me: “I’d have to take time to research that because I don’t know the Bible as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses do.”
Soon after this, a call went out for volunteers to serve in Pakistan. I applied, not realizing that single women were not being sent, only single men or married couples. Evidently my application was forwarded to our Brooklyn headquarters because I soon received a letter telling me that there was a vacancy in Bombay (now called Mumbai), India, if I would like to accept it. That was in 1962. I did so and stayed in Bombay for 18 months before moving to Allahabad.
I soon set myself to learn Hindi. This Indian language is generally consistent in both spelling and pronunciation, so it is not too difficult to master. It was often frustrating, however, when householders asked me to speak English rather than to struggle with their language! But this new country presented interesting and stimulating challenges, and I enjoyed the association of fellow Witnesses from Australia.
In my early days, I thought about marriage, but by the time I was baptized, I was too busy serving Jehovah to think more about it. Now, however, I was again beginning to feel the need for a companion in life. I did not want to leave my foreign assignment, of course, so I made it a matter of prayer to Jehovah and then put it out of my mind.

Harold & Fay on their Wedding day, October 5, 1965

An Unexpected Blessing
Edwin Skinner was overseeing the work of the India branch at that time. He had attended the eighth class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in 1946 with many other faithful brothers, including Harold King and Stanley Jones, who were assigned to China. In 1958, Harold and Stanley were put in solitary confinement in prison on account of their preaching activity in Shanghai. When Harold was released in 1963, Edwin wrote to him. Harold replied after he returned to Hong Kong from his travels to the United States and Britain and mentioned that he wished to be married. He told Edwin that he had made this a matter of prayer while in prison, and he asked Edwin if he knew of a Witness who would make a suitable wife.
In India most marriages are arranged, and Edwin was constantly being asked to make such arrangements, but he always chose not to do so. He therefore handed Harold’s letter to Ruth McKay, whose husband, Homer, was a traveling overseer. Eventually, Ruth wrote to me to say that a missionary who had been in the truth for many years was looking for a wife, and she asked if I would be interested in writing to him. She did not tell me who the brother was or anything more about him. Nobody knew about my prayer for companionship, except Jehovah, of course, and my initial reaction was to reject the idea. Still, the more I thought about it, the more I was drawn to the conclusion that Jehovah rarely answers our prayers in a way we may think he will. So I wrote back to Ruth and said that as long as there was no obligation, she could ask the brother to write again. The second letter from Harold King was to me.
Photographs of Harold and his story had appeared in various newspapers and magazines following his release from prison in China. By this time, he was well-known throughout the world, but it was his record of faithful theocratic service that impressed me. So we corresponded for five months, and then I went to Hong Kong. We were married on October 5, 1965.
We both wanted to be married and to stay in full-time service, and as we were getting older, we felt the need for companionship more than anything else. I grew to love Harold, and as I saw the kind and considerate manner in which he dealt with people and with problems that arose in connection with our service, he earned my deep respect. For 27 years we enjoyed a very happy marriage and received many blessings at Jehovah’s hand.
The Chinese are an industrious people, and I like them very much. In Hong Kong the language spoken is Cantonese, a Chinese dialect that has many more tones, or inflections, than Mandarin and is therefore quite hard to learn. Harold and I started off in the missionary home at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and then we served in assignments in various parts of the territory. Yes, we were very happy, but in 1976 my health presented a serious problem.

(the Kings, (left) with members of Hong Kong Bethel, the Liangs in the middle, and the Gannaways on the right)

Coping With Health Problems
I had been hemorrhaging for a few months, and my blood count had dropped dramatically. I needed surgery, but the doctors at the hospital told me that they would not perform the operation without blood because if they did, I would probably die from shock. One day when the doctors were discussing my case, nurses tried to make me change my mind, saying that I had no right to throw my life away. There were 12 operations scheduled for that day, 10 of them abortions, but I noticed that not one word was spoken to the pregnant women about taking their babies’ life.
Finally, Harold wrote a letter relieving the hospital of any responsibility should I die, and the doctors agreed to perform the necessary surgery. I was taken to the operating room and prepared for the anesthetic. At the last moment, however, the anesthetist refused to proceed, and the hospital had to discharge me. We then consulted an independent gynecologist. Realizing the seriousness of my condition, he offered to perform the operation at a low price—as long as we did not tell anybody how much he charged us. He operated successfully—and without the use of any blood at all. Jehovah’s loving-kindness and care were very evident to Harold and me at this particular time.
In 1992, Harold became terminally ill. We moved to the branch office and were both lovingly cared for there. My dear husband finished his earthly course in 1993 at the age of 81.

Return to England
I was happy to be a member of the Hong Kong Bethel family, but I was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the heat and humidity. Then came a surprise letter from Brooklyn headquarters, asking if, in view of my health, I would consider moving to a branch with more facilities. So in the year 2000, I moved back to England and joined the Bethel family in London. What a loving provision this has proved to be! I was warmly welcomed, and I greatly enjoy my different work assignments, which include helping to care for the Bethel family library and its 2,000 volumes.
I also associate with the Chinese congregation that meets in London, yet here things have changed. Nowadays, very few people come from Hong Kong but, rather, from the mainland of China. They speak Mandarin, and that presents a new challenge in the preaching work. Across the country there are reports of many interesting Bible studies being conducted with postgraduate students from China. They are hardworking and appreciate the Bible truth they are learning. It is a joy to help them. In the quietness of my new home, I often reflect on my happy life and continue to marvel at Jehovah’s loving-kindness. It permeates all things pertaining to his purpose, and his care for his servants as individuals is so apparent. I have every reason to be grateful for all his loving care of me.—1 Peter 5:6, 7.

daily text 09/24

Thursday, September 24th, 2009
"Happy is everyone fearing Jehovah, who is walking in his ways." (Psalm 128:1)

Happiness—everybody wants it. But you will undoubtedly agree that desiring happiness and even pursuing it are not the same as experiencing it. Yet, happiness is attainable. We can be happy if we revere God and walk in his ways by doing his will. This will have a positive effect on our conduct and on the qualities we display. For example, those fearing Jehovah are trustworthy, even as he is. Jehovah fulfilled every promise he made to ancient Israel. (1 Kings 8:56) Our dedication to God is the most significant promise we could ever make, and frequent prayer will help us to keep it. We can pray as did the psalmist David: “You yourself, O God, have listened to my vows. . . . I will make melody to your name forever, that I may pay my vows day after day.” (Psalm 61:5, 8; Ecclesiastes 5:4-6) To be God’s friends, we must be trustworthy.—Psalm 15:1, 4.
(Watchtower issue: 02/15/08, 2:1-3)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Awake! Experience - Jean-Claude François

(experience & photos of Jean-Claude François, taken from pgs 21-23, of the 11/06 Awake!)

Saved out of All My Distresses
-As told by Jean-Claude François

Because of my Bible-trained conscience, I languished for seven years in over a dozen prisons. Despite the suffering I endured, I consider myself blessed. Let me explain...
I was born in Algiers, Algeria, on January 9, 1937. France then ruled Algeria, and my father was an officer in the French army. His work took him to Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria for months at a time, leaving him little time for his five children. I loved school and received good grades. But I puzzled over such questions as, Why do we die, and how can there be evil if God is all-powerful and good? I received no satisfactory answers. I also yearned to know how life came about. Darwin’s theory of evolution seemed to be the only valid explanation, so in time I became an atheist.

Answers at Last!
In 1954 a friend named Georges, who had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, gave me the booklet Evolution Versus the New World. I devoured it. Besides exposing the failings of evolution theory, the booklet revealed that the fossil record confirms the Genesis account, which says that God created every living thing “according to its kind.” (Genesis 1:12, 25) But the question of evil lingered in my mind. Georges was a pioneer, or full-time minister, and devoted much of his time to teaching people the Bible, a book I had never read. Could he answer my questions? I went to his small apartment, where he lived with other pioneers, and received Scriptural answers to many of my questions. Thereafter, I began a systematic and very pleasurable study of the Bible. Since then, I have never tired of digging into God’s Word in pursuit of its faith-strengthening treasures.—Proverbs 2:1-5.
I also began to attend Christian meetings, which were held in the basement of a restaurant in the heart of Algiers. The Witnesses warmly welcomed me, and in time I started attending regularly. When an announcement was made about a meeting to be held on a certain street, I decided to go. When I arrived, I learned that the Witnesses were gathered for the house-to-house preaching work. (Acts 20:20) Nevertheless, I stayed, and that is how I was introduced to the public ministry. The third time I went out witnessing, I spoke to householders by myself. At one door I was unable to find a Bible text that I had quoted. “Young man,” said the householder, “teach others when you are capable of doing so.” Then he closed the door. Frustrated, I sat down on a bench and searched for that elusive text. When I found it a few minutes later, I returned and showed it to the man.
I was baptized in symbol of my dedication to God on March 4, 1956. Six months later I had a big decision to make. Should I serve as a regular pioneer, or should I accept a post as a schoolteacher in the Algerian interior and spend less time in the ministry? I chose to pioneer.
My father became enraged because of my decision and put a knife to my throat, ordering me to return home every evening. He also said that I could no longer expect to be fed, even though I had fully intended to pay all my expenses. Hence, I would leave home in the morning hungry, eat a meal with the pioneers at lunchtime, and have a sandwich in the evening before returning home.

Avoiding Bombs and Dodging Bullets
At the time, Algeria was in the throes of a war for independence from France, and Algiers was racked by bombings and fierce reprisals. One particular month saw over 100 explosions. Bombs were placed in buses, bars, and stadiums. The ministry was a challenge. People were afraid to open their doors, and there were frequent curfews, identity checks, and searches.
On Sunday, September 30, 1956, while several other pioneers and I were tidying up our meeting place, a bomb exploded in the restaurant above, killing and maiming dozens. Thankfully, none of us below were hurt. In December a sister and I were preaching on a busy street when a car sped by, spraying bullets into the crowd from its open windows. We dashed into a doorway, where I pushed the sister to the ground and then dropped down myself. Bullets ricocheted overhead. After that, all of us were much more careful when witnessing.

I Refused to Bear Arms
On March 1, 1957, I was called up for military service. Since my Christian conscience would not allow me to take up arms, I prayed for the strength to deal with the authorities. I also asked that I avoid a confrontation with my father. Much to my relief, I was told to report to the city of Lille, France, far from home.
Six days later I arrived at the Citadel of Lille, a fortress dating from the time of 17th-century King Louis XIV. Using the Bible, I explained my neutral position to the army officials, who then threw me into prison. One morning, guards dragged me from my cell, searched me, and found a small Bible. Then they made me lie face down in the snow, threw my Bible onto the snow beside me, pressed a rifle butt against the back of my head, and held me there for some 30 minutes. Afterward, to my delight, the guards let me keep the Bible, and it sits on my bookshelf to this day. However, the abuse I suffered on that day gave me stomach cramps for years.
A few days later, the commander read to me from a letter he received from my father. “He must be made to give in. Break him if you must,” it said. Because I would not compromise, the officer threw me into a dark cell, where I slept on a board and covered myself with a small blanket. With no toilet, I relieved myself in a corner of the cell. I could not wash, brush my teeth, or clean my food dish. Two weeks later, I was sent to the Fresnes prison in Paris.
Over the next six years, I received four sentences and spent time in 14 prisons. During one winter, I was held at Fontevrault, a 12th-century abbey in the Loire Valley, which was used as a prison. My possessions were confiscated when I arrived. Because I persisted in asking for my Bible, the guards threw me into solitary confinement for a month. There, my other enemy, the cold, returned with a vengeance, and I began to cough up blood.
I was then transferred to a more humane prison—the Château de Turquant, near Saumur, where prisoners performed domestic duties for retired magistrates. Among the inmates was Ahmed Ben Bella, the future president of the Algerian republic. For several months I witnessed to him. “You are a native of Algiers,” he once told me, “and you are here because you refused to take up arms against the Algerians.” He respected me for my stand.

Strengthened Through Further Trials
My health deteriorated, and I was diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent to a sanatorium in the south of France, where I was bedridden for months. My doctor advised surgery to remove the affected lung, and I agreed to the operation, provided that I ‘abstain from blood.’ (Acts 15:29) Angry, the doctor refused to operate. I was now in my sixth year of incarceration.
I had to leave the sanatorium in midwinter, my only clothes being those I had on. But just as Jehovah sent Onesiphorus to help the apostle Paul, He now sent a helper to me—Brother Adolphe Garatoni, who took me in and proved to be “a strengthening aid” to me. (Colossians 4:11; 2 Timothy 1:16-18) With his help and that of a doctor in the south of France, my health steadily improved. During this time, I had some large expenses and needed funds to cover them. I was not sure how I would cope. Then one day a stranger called. “I am a lawyer,” she said. “The president of Algeria, Mr. Ben Bella, sent me to give you this.” She handed me an envelope with more than enough money to cover my expenses. I thanked Jehovah, the “Hearer of prayer,” with all my heart.—Psalm 65:2.

(Jean-Claude and his wife, Andrée, in 1967)

Wonderful Privileges and a Beautiful Partner
Now freed from prison, I again took up the full-time ministry. In the congregation of Melun, near Paris, I met a 35-year-old widow, Andrée Morel. Her first husband, also a Witness, had died in an auto accident. We were married on September 26, 1964. On August 1, 1965, we received an assignment as special pioneer ministers. Although Andrée did not have good health, she enjoyed full-time service for 28 years! In 1967, I was appointed as a circuit overseer, a traveling minister who visits and encourages congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We served in southern France from Bordeaux to Monaco, and for one year, in Paris. Because of our health, the traveling work was not easy, but with Jehovah’s help, we served the brothers for 20 years, until 1986, when we again became special pioneers.

My Life Today
I am now nearly 70 years of age and have learned time and again that Jehovah always gives his servants the strength to endure trials. Of course, some of that strength comes from studying his inspired Word, which I try to read from cover to cover every year.—Isaiah 40:28-31; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16.
Andrée and I are encouraged when we see people respond to the good news and dedicate their life to Jehovah. Indeed, over the years, we have seen 70 of our Bible students do just that, bringing us immeasurable and lasting joy. In reflecting on our lives, I feel that the psalmist spoke for each of us when he wrote: “This afflicted one called, and Jehovah himself heard. And out of all his distresses He saved him.”—Psalm 34:6.

daily text 09/23

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
"We are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out." (2 Corinthians 4:8)

God’s Word, the Bible, helps us to cope with any situation we may face. It is “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) God’s Word enables us to deal with life’s distresses. It makes us “fully competent” and “completely equipped.” The original-language word rendered “completely equipped” literally means “having been fitted out.” This word could have been used in ancient times of a boat that was fitted out with everything needed for a voyage or of a machine that was capable of performing whatever was expected of it. Similarly, Jehovah through his Word provides us with all that we need to handle whatever may come our way. Accordingly, we can say, “If God permits it, I can take it, with his help.”
(Watchtower issue: 03/15/08, 3:16, 17)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Real Life Experiences - Harold King

(Harold King, photo on pg 243 of the JW Proclaimers book)

*Yesterday's text about perservering in prayer, and today's text discussion about not allowing inherent, negative, human emotions dominate our attitude or behavior, is the perfect segue into the experience I wanted to post today. It's about Harold King, (the brother who was briefly mentioned in yesterday's experience about Br Barr). He was a missionary who spent 5 years in solitary confinement in Communist China, from 1958 to 1963 because of his Christian faith. He really has an amazing story. His example shows that the power of Jehovah's holy spirit, combined with prayer and strong determination on our part not to 'give up' or 'give in' to negative emotions due to negative circumstances, can fortify and strengthen us to endure any situation we may find ourselves in, no matter how dire.

(photo of Stanley Jones (left) and Harold King (right) on pg 489 of the Proclaimers book - they arrived in Shanghai in 1947)

He even managed to celebrate the memorial by himself! the best of his ability, even though doing so could have resulted in severe punishment from the guards. On pg 243 of the JW Proclaimers book he says: “From my prison window I watched the moon grow full near the start of spring. I calculated as carefully as I could the date for the celebration.” He improvised the needed emblems, making a little wine from black currants and using rice, which is unleavened, for the bread. He also said: “I sang and prayed and gave a regular talk for the occasion, just as would be done in any congregation of Jehovah’s people. So I felt that each year I was united with my brothers all over the world on this most important occasion.”

You've gotta watch him tell this short experience about celebrating the memorial and how he made the wine in
this videoclip...listen all the way to the end of the totally cracked me up what he said Br Franz did after he got done telling him the story. lol. there's also more videos linked to this one where he tells his other prison experiences too.

(following info from pg 15 of the 9/15/03 Watchtower)
"Regular prayer can also help us face severe trials...Concerning his experience, Brother King said: “I might be isolated from my fellowmen, but no one could isolate me from God. . . . So, open to the view of any who might pass my cell, I knelt in my cell three times a day and prayed aloud, keeping in mind Daniel, of whom the Bible speaks. . . . It seemed that on such occasions God’s spirit guided my mind to the most beneficial matters and gave me a feeling of composure. What spiritual strength and comfort prayer brought to me!"

*I also wanted to include some info from the 9/22/93 Awake! article, "Loneliness—Are You Determined to Fight It and Win?" Because it includes info about what Br King did during his time in prison to bolster his outlook and not succumb to negative emotions...(and if anyone ever had an excuse for caving into overwhelming feelings of despair and loneliness, it certainly was him!)

(excerpts from pgs 6-11)
"The feeling of true loneliness builds up from the very inside of us rather than from the outside. Loneliness may be triggered by some saddening event—a death, a divorce, a lost job, some tragedy. When we light our inner world brightly, that loneliness can be made to diminish, perhaps even disappear in time, and the loss that afflicted us can be accommodated, absorbed.
Feelings arise from your thoughts. After a loss has been absorbed and the feelings it produced have been allowed to recede into the background, it is time to give prominence to upbuilding thoughts that allow you to get on with your life.
Bestir yourself. Take yourself in hand. There are positive things to be done. So be outgoing. Phone someone. Write a letter. Read a book. Invite people over. Have an interchange of ideas. To have friends, you must show yourself friendly. Reach into yourself to reach out to others. Show little kindnesses. Share some comforting spiritual tidbit with them. You will find Jesus’ words to be true: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” You will realize another proverbial truth: “The one freely watering others will himself also be freely watered.”—Acts 20:35; Proverbs 11:25.

It Is Up To You
Difficult to do? Easier said than done? Everything worthwhile is easier said than done. That’s what makes the doing of it satisfying to you. You have to put forth special effort. A part of you goes into the giving, and the bright light inside of you grows brighter. It is up to you to put forth the effort to rout the loneliness that seeks to dominate you...
Too often the one suffering from loneliness will not rally himself sufficiently to help himself, to lift himself out of the depths of his despair. There is an inertia, an unwillingness, to exert himself to that extent, but if he is to get to the bottom of his loneliness, it must be done. Dr. James Lynch wrote of people’s resistance to advice they find hard to take: “The human condition is such that we generally resist hearing, or at least resist incorporating into our behavior, information we do not like.” A person may want to escape his loneliness, but he may not be willing to muster up the willpower needed to effect the release.

Act as You Want to Feel
To overcome a deep depression, one needs to persist in pursuing real cheerfulness and kindliness. (Compare Acts 20:35.) This calls for breaking through the entrenched mood of loneliness by acting just the opposite of its deadening lethargy...crowd out the morose mood with happy thoughts. Such as?
Such as those at Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”
The need is to put some meaning into your life. If you feel that your life has some meaning, you will be energized to respond to that and seek to fulfill it. You will not likely fall into a feeling of despondent loneliness. This is interestingly shown in Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. He discusses it relative to prisoners in Hitler’s concentration camps. Those who had no sense of meaning in their lives succumbed to loneliness and lacked the will to live. But “the consciousness of one’s inner value is anchored in higher, more spiritual things, and cannot be shaken by camp life.” He continued: “Suffering ceases to be suffering in some way at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice. . . . Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.”

The Ultimate Relationship You Need
The way to achieve a truly spiritual outlook is to come all the way to God and his Word, the Bible. Faith in God and earnest prayer to him can give our lives meaning. Then, even if human relationships crumble, we are not alone, not condemned to loneliness. As Frankl said, suffering with meaning is bearable, even a source of joy. One observer of human nature said: “A martyr at the stake may have happiness that a king on his throne might envy.”
The apostles of Christ felt joy from Jehovah when persecuted by men; such suffering held great meaning for them. “Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matthew 5:10-12) ...

Where You Tend a Rose, a Thistle Cannot Grow
Fill the soil of your mind with seeds of beauty and positive purpose; leave no room for the seeds of negative despair and bleak loneliness. (Compare Colossians 3:2; 4:2.) Difficult to do? Under certain circumstances, seemingly impossible. A poet noted: “Where you tend a rose, . . . a thistle cannot grow,” which again requires positive effort and determined exercise of willpower. But it can be done, is being done...
That was the case with a Watch Tower missionary, Harold King. Sentenced to five years in solitary confinement in a Chinese prison, he was a perfect candidate for a long siege of loneliness. He rejected that negative outlook, however, and by a deliberate act of willpower launched his mind on a different course. He later described it as follows:
“I arranged for a program of ‘preaching’ activity. But to whom does one preach when in solitary confinement? I decided that I would build up some appropriate Bible sermons from the things I could remember and then preach to imaginary characters ...All this I did aloud, so that the sound of these things would further impress them on my mind.” ...

If God Is With You, You Are Never Alone
One faithful African Witness of Jehovah, after enduring terrible persecution and feeling abandoned, said that even if her human relationships failed, she was still not alone. She quoted Psalm 27:10: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” Jesus felt the same way. “Look! The hour is coming, indeed, it has come, when you will be scattered each one to his own house and you will leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”—John 16:32.