Wednesday, June 30, 2010
"He himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14)
Jehovah does not expect us to be perfect in the absolute sense. He never expects more of us than we can do. (James 3:2) Still, he does expect us to keep integrity. Is there a difference, then, between perfection and integrity? Yes. To illustrate: A young man loves a young woman whom he is going to marry. He would be foolish to expect her to be perfect. Yet, he would be wise to expect her to be wholehearted in her love for him, that is, to have romantic love for him alone. In a comparable way, Jehovah is "a God exacting exclusive devotion." (Exodus 20:5) He expects us, not to be perfect, but to love him wholeheartedly, giving worship to him alone. Jesus did say: "You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) He evidently understood that even imperfect humans can be complete, or perfect, in a relative sense.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 1:6)
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
"There are many, I used to mention them often but now I mention them also with weeping, who are walking as the enemies of the torture stake of the Christ, and their finish is destruction, and their god is their belly." (Philippians 3:18, 19)
In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul spoke of some who used to be fellow worshippers. How, though, can a person's stomach, or belly, be a god? It appears that for those acquaintances of Paul, a desire to indulge in fleshly desires became more important than serving Jehovah along with Paul. Some may literally have overindulged in food or drink to the point of gluttony or drunkenness. (Proverbs 23:20, 21) Others may have chosen to make the most of the opportunities available in the first-century world and were thus distracted from serving Jehovah. May we never allow a desire for the so-called good life to cause us to slow down in our whole-souled service to Jehovah.—Colossians 3:23, 24.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 1:11, 12)
Well this account is like the *ultimate* warning example of never underestimating the power of "fleshly desires" to warp our spiritual vision.
Think about this for a minute... The Christians who Paul is describing here, as becoming "enemies of Christ" -were the disciples who lived during the time of Jesus and the apostles, and had been counted among the first humans ever chosen to be anointed by holy spirit and granted the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of ruling alongside Jesus Christ in the kingdom, and having immortal life in heaven. -Yet look what they threw it all away for...something so commonplace and trivial as a few extra years of cushy "wine-and-dine" living, and enjoying the "good life" before they died. What a pitiful trade to make, especially after having come so far already in helping to form and establish the 1st-century Christian congregation.
Monday, June 28, 2010
"Keep living" (Genesis 20:7)
Because Jehovah examines the heart, he has shown consideration even toward unbelievers. Consider his dealings with Abimelech, king of the Philistine city of Gerar. Abimelech, not realizing that Abraham and Sarah were married, took Sarah to become his own wife. However, before Abimelech could go any further, Jehovah said to him in a dream: "I too have known that in the honesty of your heart you have done this, and I was also holding you back from sinning against me. That is why I did not allow you to touch her. But now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will make supplication for you. So keep living." (Genesis 20:1-7) Jehovah could have dealt harshly with Abimelech, a worshipper of false deities. But God saw that the man acted honestly on this occasion. So, Jehovah told the king how to gain forgiveness and "keep living." Is that not the kind of God that you want to worship?
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 1:4, 5)
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"I did not hold back from . . . teaching you publicly and from house to house." (Acts 20:20)
By Paul's preaching in public locations and from house to house, many heard his message. Do you think it likely that all those who did hear stayed in Ephesus, none moving elsewhere to do business, to be near relatives, or to escape the hustle and bustle of big-city life? Hardly. Many today have moved for such reasons; possibly you have. Also, back then, people from other parts visited Ephesus for social or commercial reasons. While there, they may have met Paul or heard him witness. What would happen when they returned home? Those who had accepted the truth would bear witness. Others might not have become believers, yet they likely talked of what they had heard while in Ephesus. Hence, relatives, neighbors, or clients heard the truth, and some may have accepted it. (Compare Mark 5:14) What does this suggest about the effect that your bearing witness might have?
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 4:5, 7)
Saturday, June 26, 2010
"The ones that were sown on the fine soil are those who listen to the word and favorably receive it." (Mark 4:20)
Is the response of the ones hearing the word predetermined? No. Whether they resemble fine soil or not is up to them. Indeed, a person's heart condition can change for good or for bad. (Romans 6:17) In his illustration, Jesus said that "as soon as [some] have heard" the word, Satan comes and takes it away. (Mark 4:15) But this does not have to happen. At James 4:7, Christians are encouraged to "oppose the Devil," and then he will flee from them. Jesus describes others as accepting the word initially with joy but then being stumbled because of having "no root in themselves." (Mark 4:17) But servants of God are admonished to "be rooted and established on the foundation" so that they may be able to grasp mentally "what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge."—Ephesians 3:17-19; Colossians 2:6, 7
(Watchtower issue: 7/15/08, 3:6, 10)
Friday, June 25, 2010
"All of [the stars] he calls by their names." (Psalm 147:4)
Consider the Milky Way galaxy. In this vast ocean of stars, planets, and solar systems, planet Earth appears as insignificant in size as one grain of sand on an endless beach. Why, this one galaxy alone contains over 100 billion stars! If you could count one star each second non-stop for 24 hours a day, it would take you over 3,000 years to reach 100 billion. If the Milky way galaxy alone contains 100 billion stars, what about the rest of the universe? Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way may be one of anywhere from 50 billion to as many as 125 billion galaxies. How many stars are there in the entire universe? The answer surely is mind-boggling. Yet, Jehovah calls all of them "by their names." Upon seeing Jehovah clothed in such dignity and splendor, are you not moved to extol his great name?
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 3:7, 8)
This reminds me of that awesome DVD we got at last year's district convention, about creation and the solar system. It already boggles my mind just *reading* about how many stars and planets there are ... but watching that video REALLY impressed on me just how VAST our universe truly is, and how incredible Jehovah's power and "creative works" are.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
"You must not desire . . . anything that belongs to your fellowman" (Exodus 20:17)
All who want to please God must avoid idolatry, in harmony with God's statement: "I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images." (Isaiah 42:8) God's Word also exposes subtle forms of idolatry. For example, it calls covetousness "idolatry." (Colossians 3:5) To covet means to desire what is forbidden, such as another person's possessions. The angel who became Satan the Devil developed a covetous desire to resemble the Most High and to be worshipped. (Luke 4:5-7) This led him to rebel against Jehovah and to seduce Eve into coveting something God had forbidden. In a sense, Adam also committed idolatry by allowing selfish desire for his wife's companionship to be more important than obedience to his loving heavenly Father. In contrast, all who want to flee God's day of wrath must resist any such covetousness.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 1:12, 13)
You know what's weird? I was just thinking about how when it comes to *subtle* forms of idolatry, Satan has even managed to warp people's opinion of what that word means.
Think of how many people who are fans of a particular band, celebrity, or sports figure will say: "He's my idol!" or "I worship them!"
Idolatry *tops* the list (when it comes to the most offensive sins in God's eyes), yet the entertainment media just casually throws that word around like it's no big deal,...even promoting it as something positive! For example, "American Idol" is one of the most popular family shows on TV, yet nobody even thinks twice about the title, (and by the way, I'm not criticizing the show itself) but can you imagine naming a TV show after one of the other major sins listed in the 10 Commandments? Like: "American Adultress" or "American Thief" (lol)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
"Woe, whenever all men speak well of you, for things like these are what their forefathers did to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26)
Enduring persecution or opposition as a Christian is a reason to rejoice. Why? Because having the world's approval would indicate that you are living according to Satan's standards—not God's. Persecution indicates that Satan and his world are angry with you because you serve Jehovah. (Matthew 5:11, 12) And "being reproached for the name of Christ" is something to rejoice over. (1 Peter 4:14) When you remain faithful to Jehovah despite opposition, there are at least four positive results. You give a witness about God and his Son. Your faithful endurance encourages your Christian brothers and sisters. Some observers who do not know Jehovah may be moved to search for him. (Philippians 1:12-14) And as you sense how Jehovah provides strength to endure trials, your love for him grows.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 4:13, 14)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
"I will give advice with my eye upon you." (Psalm 32:8)
Because Jehovah cherishes those who walk with him, he keeps his fatherly eye upon them, caring for them, and teaching them. Ask yourself: 'Do I see myself walking hand in hand with Jehovah, as it were, listening to his wisdom and knowing that his loving eye is upon me? Does my awareness of his presence influence my thoughts, words, and deeds? And when I err, do I see Jehovah, not as a God who is aloof and stern, but as a warm, merciful Father who wants to help repentant ones back into his warm embrace?' (Psalm 51:17) At times, Jehovah may come to our aid even before we embark on a wrong course. For instance, he may observe that our potentially treacherous heart begins to desire things that are improper. (Jeremiah 17:9) In such a situation, he can act even sooner than human parents can because his "beaming eyes" have the ability to look deep inside us, to examine our inmost thoughts.—Psalm 11:4; 139:4; Jeremiah 17:10.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 2:5, 6)
Monday, June 21, 2010
June 17, 2010
Criminal charges filed for peaceful meeting in Tajikistan
KHUJAND, Tajikistan—The Khujand City Prosecutor has revived a criminal case against 17 Jehovah’s Witnesses and interested persons who were attending a peaceful religious meeting in a private home on June 4, 2009, in the northern city of Khujand. The new case was filed on May 6, 2010.
Almost eight months previously, on September 25, 2009, the Khujand City Prosecutor announced that he had launched a criminal case against those 17 persons under Article 189(2) of the Criminal Code because of their attendance at a peaceful religious meeting. The prosecutor then discontinued the criminal case on October 27, 2009, because the evidence did not support the criminal charges.
The criminal case claimed that the 17 had violated Article 159 (activities that “harm the health of citizens”) and Article 189(2) (“exciting national, racial, or religious hostility”) of the Tajik Criminal Code. A conviction under Article 159 is punishable by up to three years of imprisonment, while a conviction under Article 189(2) is punishable by imprisonment of from five to ten years.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tajikistan and around the world are deeply disturbed by the disregard shown by the local authorities in Khujand toward the fundamental rights of freedom of religion and association, guaranteed by the Tajik Constitution and international law. They request the authorities to stop this unlawful treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Representatives of Jehovah’s Witnesses hope senior Tajik authorities will agree to constructive meetings with them to restore official legal recognition of this peaceful religious community in the Republic of Tajikistan.
403 Current Language Translations Available Online
Here's also a new Bible reading schedule they recently added, which I really like because it's interactive...so you can keep track of your progress online, and also print it out.
Bible Reading Schedule
"Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God." (Acts 20:28)
Christian shepherds need to imitate "the fine shepherd," Jesus. (John 10:11) He was deeply concerned about God's sheep and stressed the importance of caring for them. (John 21:15-17) Especially do the sheep need such care today, for the Devil has intensified his efforts to break the integrity of those dedicated to God. Satan takes advantage of fleshly weaknesses and uses the world in an attempt to lead Jehovah's sheep into sinful activities. (1 John 2:15-17; 5:19) Inactive ones are particularly vunerable and therefore need assistance in order to apply the admonition to 'walk by spirit.' (Galatians 5:16-21, 25) Helping such sheep calls for prayerful reliance on God, the guidance of his spirit, and skillful use of his Word.—Proverbs 3:5, 6; Luke 11:13; Hebrews 4:12.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 1:5, 6)
Sunday, June 20, 2010
"Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth." (Psalm 37:9)
For this to happen, the present system of things with the conflicting governments, religions, and commercial systems will have to be removed. And that is exactly what the heavenly government will do. The prophet Daniel was inspired to foretell: "In the days of those kings [now existing] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom [in heaven] that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these [present] kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." (Daniel 2:44) God's Kingdom—a new heavenly government—will then rule over a new earthly society. There will be "new heavens and a new earth . . . , and in these righteousness is to dwell."—2 Peter 3:13.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 3:4, 5)
extra reference material:
"Your Will Be Done On Earth"
God's Kingdom - What Is It? When Will It Come?
World Powers of Daniel's Prophecy
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Saturday, June 19th, 2010
"Jehovah is on my side; I shall not fear. What can earthling man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6)
Speaking to the congregation of ancient Israel as his "woman," God promised: "Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgement you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me." (Isaiah 54:11, 17) That promise has proved reliable in the case of Jehovah's people throughout the earth during these "last days." (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13) We continue to oppose the Devil, and no weapon that he tries to use to wipe out God's people is successful, for Jehovah is on our side. (Psalm 118:7) At the rapidly approaching end of this entire wicked system of things, all aspects of Satan's rule will be crushed out of existence.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 4:5, 6)
there's quite a few examples in the Bible which demonstrate this in a powerful way, but I wanted to include an account in Isaiah that shows why it's so imperative to have faith in this promise, and not to give into fear, doubt, or dismay even when the situation seems hopeless from a human standpoint.
“Now it came about in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham the son of Uzziah, the king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem for war against it, and he proved unable to war against it. And a report was made to the house of David, saying: “Syria has leaned upon Ephraim.”
“And his heart and the heart of his people began to quiver, like the quivering of the trees of the forest because of a wind.”
“And Jehovah proceeded to say to Isaiah: “Go out, please, to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, to the end of the conduit of the upper pool by the highway of the laundryman’s field. And you must say to him, ‘Watch yourself and keep undisturbed. Do not be afraid, and do not let your heart itself be timid because of the two tail ends of these smoking logs, because of the hot anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah, for the reason that Syria [with] Ephraim and the son of Remaliah has advised what is bad against you, saying: “Let us go up against Judah and tear it apart and by breakthroughs take it for ourselves; and let us make another king reign inside it, the son of Tabeel.”
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “It will not stand, neither will it take place. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within just sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered to pieces so as not to be a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. Unless YOU people have faith, YOU will in that case not be of long duration.”’”
Now Isaiah was speaking to Ahaz here (who was not a faithful king and chose to disregard Jehovah's advice), but notice how Jehovah specifically addresses the fears of him and his people, and gives this counsel and reassurance at a time when they were up against a serious opponent and they were very afraid. So despite the formidable *appearance* of events going on all around them Jehovah says:
"Watch yourself and keep undisturbed. Do not be afraid, and do not let your heart itself be timid...Unless YOU people have faith, YOU will in that case not be of long duration."
So Jehovah reassures us in the same way today, and lets us know that strong faith in Him is going to be *essential* for survival.
Friday, June 18, 2010
"Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood." (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
Jehovah views Christian youths as precious and as refreshing as dewdrops. Indeed, he foretold that on the day of his Son's "military force," young men and women would "offer themselves willingly" in Christ's service. (Psalm 110:3) That prophecy was to be fulfilled at at time when people in general were godless, obsessed with self and money, and disobedient. Yet, Jehovah knew that young people who worshipped him would be different. What confidence he has in you young brothers and sisters! Remembering Jehovah involves more than merely calling him to mind. It means taking action—doing what pleases him, letting his laws and principles guide us in daily life. It also means trusting in Jehovah, knowing that he has our very best interests at heart. (Psalm 37:3; Isaiah 48:17, 18) Is that how you feel about your Grand Creator?
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 3:1, 2)
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Republic of Belarus (info and map)
For Immediate Release
June 15, 2010
Belarus religious minorities in dire straits
KRICHEV, Belarus—On a Saturday afternoon in the Mogilev district, six Jehovah’s Witnesses were at the home of a 75-year-old friend and fellow believer. They had gathered there to visit and to discuss thoughts from the Bible. But they didn’t know that on this day they had already been targeted for a search and seizure.
Authorities, including representatives of the District Executive Committee and the local police inspector, came to the apartment that Saturday, February 13, 2010, at approximately 4 p.m., claiming that earlier a crime had been committed in that part of the building and they were seeking information about the circumstances. But after they were inside, the officers read the order about the search of the premises approved by the local prosecutor. They confiscated Bible literature, videoed the apartment, and made each of the six Witnesses write a statement.
During their detention the six Witnesses were not mistreated. However, when one of the women detainees who is a diabetic became ill and needed her regular shot of insulin, she was not allowed to return home. After she fainted, she was finally taken to her home.
G.A. Kirpicheva, the head of the Department on Ideological Activity of the Krichev Executive Committee, compiled a protocol accusing Maksim Pyrochkin, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who was present at the apartment, of “forming and leading a religious organization without state registration.” The Belarus law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations obligates religious groups to officially register their organizations once they have a minimum of 20 members. Although this same law is silent with regard to citizen groups that have fewer than 20 members, the Constitution of Belarus expressly guarantees the individual right of all people to freely profess their religion—regardless of membership or registration. Whether or not the Belarus authorities will guarantee what is established by the Constitution for all their citizens, time will tell.
On February 23, 2010, the law in Belarus was changed so that it no longer makes a provision for bringing an administrative violation against an individual on the basis of forming and leading a religious organization that is unregistered with the state. Relying on this new law, a court in the Krichev region, on March 11, 2010, dismissed the case against Maksim Pyrochkin.
The authorities seem to be taking specific steps with regard to the religious freedom that is enshrined in the Belarus Constitution. Small groups of believers hope to be able to gather together and discuss Bible topics without fearing harassment from the authorities.
"I shall be their God, and they will be my people."
(2 Corinthians 6:16)
In 33 C.E., a new nation, "the Israel of God," was born (Galatians 6:16) That nation, made up of anointed brothers of Jesus Christ, fulfilled the task that fleshly Israel ultimately failed in, that of being witnesses to God's name. (Isaiah 43:10; 1 Peter 2:9) To them, Jehovah made the same promise that he made to ancient Israel. (Leviticus 26:12) In 1919, Jehovah brought the remaining ones of "the Israel of God" into a favored position, and at that time, they took possession of a "land," a spiritual realm of activity where-in they have enjoyed a spiritual paradise. (Isaiah 66:8) Since the 1930's, millions of "other sheep" have flocked to their side. (John 10:16) The happiness and spiritual prosperity of these modern-day Christians furnishes powerful evidence of the rightness of Jehovah's sovereignty. (Psalm 91:1, 2) How that infuriates Satan!
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 3:10)
I realized something about the first Christians to be anointed as the new "spiritual Israel" that demonstrates why they were worthy of Christ, based on how thoroughly the majority of natural-born Israelites rejected Jesus. Think about it...
There were only 120 disciples present on Pentecost 33 C.E. (when the holy spirit was poured out). Only 120! I've been trying to figure out how on earth that number could be so small, when crowds of people used to follow Jesus around during all the years of his ministry. Where were all the Jews who had been taught by him and miraculously cured and fed by him? Even if they had "scattered" (like Bible prophecy foretold regarding the Messiah) why weren't they back in Jerusalem meeting together with the apostles and disciples by the time of Pentecost 33 C.E.?
All sorts of people from the surrounding areas had come to Jerusalem by that time for the Festival of Pentecost, so obviously this indicates that many of Jesus' former disciples had left-off from following him and went back to the things behind. They were not faithful or loyal in the same way that Jesus' true disciples and apostles were, because Pentecost 33 C.E. was 50 days AFTER Jesus' resurrection, ... and he had been appearing to his disciples on many separate occasions up until that point ... which would have been plenty of time for any followers who had "scattered" to come back and join themselves to the rest of the disciples.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
"The works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism." (Galatians 5:19, 20)
Satan will resort to any means to distract us from true worship. Just as he uses sexual immorality and materialism to cause some to stumble, he tries to breach the integrity of others by means of questionable treatments that amount to the use of occult powers and spiritism. We pray to Jehovah for deliverance from "the wicked one" and from "every sort of lawlessness." So we should not play into Satan's hands by exposing ourselves to anything that borders on spiritism and the occult. (Matthew 6:13; Titus 2:14) Jehovah forbade the Israelites to practice divination and magic. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Paul lists the "practice of spiritism" among "the works of the flesh." Furthermore, "those practicing spiritism" will have no part in Jehovah's new system of things. (Revelation 21:8) Clearly, then, anything that smacks of spiritism is detestable to Jehovah.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 3:13, 14)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
"Anything in which there is a defect you must not present." (Leviticus 22:20)
As used in the Bible, integrity involves moral completeness, soundness. The Hebrew words relating to "integrity" come from a root meaning sound, whole, or faultless. One of these words is used regarding the sacrifices to be offered to Jehovah. An animal for sacrifice gained his approval only if it was sound, or whole. Jehovah strongly censured those who flouted his direction by offering lame, sick, or blind animals for sacrifice. (Malachi 1:6-8) The idea of seeking and valuing that which is whole, or complete, is not strange. Picture a woman walking on a beach, collecting some of the shells cast ashore by the waves. Fascinated by the variety and beauty of these creations, she now and again stoops to examine one. Which ones does she keep? The ones that are whole, intact. Similarly, God is seeking people who have this quality of wholeness.—2 Chronicles 16:9
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 1:4, 5)
Monday, June 14, 2010
"Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah" (Psalm 127:3)
Some couples who marry young find themselves expecting a child when they themselves are barely out of adolescence. They have not really had time to get to know each other properly before the arrival of the baby, who requires attention 24 hours a day. When the newborn quite naturally becomes the primary object of the mother's attention, the young husband may feel jealous. Furthermore, sleepless nights can create tension and stress that put a strain on the couple's relationship. They suddenly realize that they have lost much of their freedom. Now they cannot go places and do things as freely as they did before. How should they view their changed situation? They should do their utmost to deal with any necessary adjustments in a responsible way. A Christian mother and father will strive to assume their duties as "parents in union with the Lord."—Ephesians 6:1.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 4:7, 8)
Sunday, June 13, 2010
"He explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God." (Acts 28:23)
The effect of Paul's ministry was not limited to those whom he directly helped to become Christians; nor is that so in our case. We make it a point to have a regular share in the house-to-house ministry, witnessing to as many as we can. We speak of the good news to neighbors, coworkers, schoolmates, and relatives. Do we know all the results? With some, there may be immediate good results. In other cases, the seeds of truth may lie dormant for a time but then take root in the soil of someone's heart and grow. Also, people we speak to may talk with others about what we have said, what we believe, and how we act. Even as Paul did not know of all his fruitage in "the district of Asia," you may have no way of knowing all the good results of your bearing thorough witness. (Acts 19:10; 23:11) But how vital that you keep on doing so!
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 4:13, 16)
Saturday, June 12, 2010
ECHR exonerates Moscow Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses
STRASBOURG—On Thursday, June 10, 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) moved further to protect religious freedom in Russia. The seven judges were unanimous in declaring the liquidation and ban on the activities of the Moscow Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses as unlawful and in violation of the fundamental human rights of freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
In rejecting all the government’s allegations, the judges emphasized that today’s ruling is binding upon Russia and that Russia should take steps to “put an end to the violation found by the Court and to redress so far as possible the effects.”
The Moscow ban was based on an evaluation of religious belief and was used to justify a harassment campaign with the stated aim to extend the Moscow ban throughout Russia. Jehovah’s Witnesses are experiencing an increase in incidents of harassment and ill-treatment at the hands of individuals and government authorities: arson attacks on places of worship, arrests, unlawful searches, assaults, confiscation of literature, and restrictions against renting and building meeting places. This latest ECHR judgment encourages Russia to protect religious freedom and to reverse the liquidation of the legal entity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow.
One reason for the application to the ECHR was the excessive length of the dissolution proceedings. On June 20, 1996, a local prosecutor’s office in Moscow began the first of four criminal investigations against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Almost two years later, on April 13, 1998, the last of the investigations was closed, after it was established that there were no grounds for any criminal case. Only one week later, however, the Northern Administrative Circuit Prosecutor filed a civil lawsuit against Jehovah’s Witnesses. After receiving the results of an expert study, the court dismissed the case on February 23, 2001, ruling that there was no basis for the charges. The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, not their activity, was the theme of the retrial. Despite the absence of any facts to support the charges, on March 26, 2004, the court liquidated the legal entity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Moscow and banned its activity.
Speaking of the importance of today’s decision, Ivan Chaykovskiy, Chairman of the liquidated Moscow Community of Jehovah’s Witnesses said: “This judgment is a victory of common sense over religious intolerance. I hope that as a result of this judgment, the authorities will quickly restore our legal rights and end the nationwide state-sponsored campaign of harassment against Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
List of JW's Imprisoned in Eritrea
Nagorno-Karabakh—Police raid the religious meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout Nagorno-Karabakh, even though the purpose of the meetings remains the same as it has always been: to discuss Bible topics that will improve family life and give hope for the future. The police claim that they have been ordered to arrest Jehovah’s Witnesses whenever they find “two or more” Witnesses gathered together. Police say that they are to charge the Witnesses under Article 206(2) of the Code of Administrative Violations.
During March and April 2010, religious meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been raided or disrupted in the cities of Stepanakert, Askeran, Martakert, and Shushi. More than a dozen persons have been arrested, interrogated for three or more hours, charged, and fingerprinted.
Police have begun to target Jehovah’s Witnesses even when they are not meeting together for religious worship. On April 27, 2010, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses were arrested in Shushi when they were simply visiting a pregnant friend who was ill. On May 2, 2010, police arrested and charged three Witnesses who happened to be traveling together in the same vehicle.
To date, 17 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been convicted and fined under Article 206(2) of the Code of Administrative Violations, which prescribes a fine “for violating the rules defined by legislation on organizing religious meetings.” The police have misapplied that law—specifically intended to restrict the organizing of large meetings in public places—to outlaw all religious meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including those held in private homes.
Contrary to the police action, Article 2 of the Constitution of Nagorno-Karabakh recognizes that “fundamental human rights” are “inalienable and [of] supreme value.” Article 26 of the Constitution guarantees “freedom of thought, conscience, and religion,” while Article 28 guarantees freedom of association. Article 7(6) of the Constitution guarantees that the laws of Nagorno-Karabakh “shall correspond with the principles and norms of international law.”
In response to the latest wave of trouble, Arayik Khachatryan spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, says: “We can hope that senior officials in Nagorno-Karabakh will take measures to apply the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and by international law and will stop the campaign of religious intolerance being carried out by local officials. We merely seek to continue our peaceful worship and contribute to the local communities through a law-abiding way of life and adherence to high moral values.”
"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens." (Matthew 5:16)
Because of our "fine works," some "give glory" to God by becoming his servants. What an incentive for us to keep on "shining as illuminators in the world!" (Philippians 2:15) Being "the light of the world" requires that we be involved in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. (Matthew 5:14) But something else is also required of us. "Go on walking as children of light," wrote the apostle Paul, "for the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth." (Ephesians 5:8, 9) We need to be shining examples of godly conduct. Indeed, we must heed the apostle Peter's counsel: "Maintain your conduct fine among the nations, that, in the thing in which they are speaking against you as evildoers, they may as a result of your fine works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God in the day for his inspection."—1 Peter 2:12.
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 1:12, 15, 16)
Friday, June 11, 2010
"If anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith." (1 Timothy 5:8)
An indication of whether God is in a marriage is the effort both husband and wife put forth to measure up to His requirements. Husbands have the primary obligation to provide for the material and spiritual needs of the household. They are also encouraged to be considerate of their wife's emotional needs. At Colossians 3:19, we read: "You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them." One Bible scholar explained that the expression "bitterly angry" involves "giving them either bitter words, or blows, and denying them their affection, care, provision, protection, and assistance." Clearly, such behavior would be inappropriate in a Christian household. A husband who exercises his headship in a loving way stimulates a readiness in his wife to be in subjection.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 3:9)
I had an interesting discussion on this topic and it struck me how rare this quality is among men. Even though modern men have begun treating women as "equals" it hasn't solved the problem because they still dont have the proper view of women.
An obvious example of that is the fact that women may have more "rights" today, but the amount of men who pay top dollar to watch strippers and pornography or to pay for escorts, just shows how they still view women as objects to be "used" -since women in the sex industry ALWAYS make more money than women in other careers.
So even men who believe they are "liberal minded" are still dominating women...they just do it in a different manner than they did in the past. And when women's rights movements make deragatory statements regarding Biblical terms they find offensive like "subjection to your husband" and "male headship" etc, it's because they don't understand that it's not the arrangment of headship itself, which is the problem, but it's the terrible example men have set by dominating women in a harsh and abusive manner, (using the Biblical requirement as an *excuse* for their domination).
But think about it,...what woman on earth would complain if Jesus was "her head"? He would be so loving, gentle, and respectful of her needs, that a woman wouldn't even realize she was "in subjection" to him...because Jesus knew exactly how to exercise that role appropriately. That's why its so easy to love Jesus and follow his lead as "the head" of the congregation. He makes you *want* to. Which just shows that when a husband actually APPLIES the true principles of subjection and headship properly, their wives *want* to be in subjection to them and follow their lead.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
"All Athenians and the foreigners sojourning there would spend their leisure time at nothing but telling something or listening to something new." (Acts 17:21)
Influences from the world along with inherited imperfection incline us to use time purely for our own enjoyment or personal benefit. True, "for everything there is an appointed time," including pleasurable relaxation and secular employment to enable us to fulfill our Christian obligations. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) However, a dedicated Christian needs to stay balanced and use his time wisely. Today, many waste their time as did those in Athens. Modern distractions include watching television, playing video games, and surfing the Internet. More and more distractions increasingly compete for our time. If we give in to them, we may neglect our spiritual needs. We might even come to believe that we are too busy to care for "the more important things"—matters related to serving Jehovah.—Philippians 1:9, 10.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 5:12, 13)
I've always though that the Internet is like one big Athenian forum of people seeking and sharing knowledge all day.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
"Practice giving, and people will give to you." (Luke 6:38)
What really makes life worthwhile? We feel true satisfaction if we use our brief time in this system of things to do good and to please Jehovah. We can build up a close relationship with God, we can pass on spiritual values to our children, we can help others to know Jehovah, and we can forge lasting friendships with our brothers and sisters. (Galatians 6:10) All these endeavors have permanent value and bring blessings to those who achieve them. To describe the value of doing good, Solomon said: "Send out your bread upon the surface of the waters, for in the course of many days you will find it again." (Ecclesiastes 11:1) Furthermore, Jehovah himself promises to reward those who do good toward others. (Proverbs 19:17; Hebrews 6:10) The Bible urges us to make wise decisions while we are still young regarding how we will use our life. In that way, we will be able to avoid frustration in later years.—Ecclesiastes 12:1
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 5:15, 16)
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
"You must not put Jehovah your God to the test." (Matthew 4:7)
In one of the temptations that Jesus experienced in the wilderness, the Devil stationed Jesus upon the battlement of the temple and challenged him to hurl himself down and allow the angels to save him. (Matthew 4:5, 6) Supposedly, this would result in a spectacular display of Jesus' Messiahship. In reality, though, it would have been an improper, arrogant act that would not have had God's approval and support. Satan may tempt us to seek glory in various ways. He may try to induce us to imitate worldly fads in dress and grooming or to engage in questionable entertainment. But if we were to ignore Bible counsel and imitate the world, could we expect the angels to shield us from the bad effects of such a course? Let us not put Jehovah to the test in improper ways, perhaps by cultivating friendship with the world.—James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 4:10, 11)
Monday, June 7, 2010
"Sadness in a godly way makes for repentance to salvation that is not to be regretted." (2 Corinthians 7:10)
If you are a mature publisher who has been assigned to help an inactive person, what should you do if he tells you that he has engaged in serious misconduct? Rather than involve yourself further in the situation, recommend that he approach the elders. If he does not wish to do so, you will be showing your concern for Jehovah's name and the spiritual welfare of the congregation by acting in harmony with divine direction respecting such matters. (Leviticus 5:1) The elders will know how to assist anyone desiring to return and live in accord with God's will. Loving discipline may be required. (Hebrews 12:7-11) If the person acknowledges that he has sinned against God, has ceased to engage in wrongdoing, and is truly repentant, the elders will help him, and he can receive Jehovah's forgiveness.—Isaiah 1:18; 55:7; James 5:13-16.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 2:12, 13)
Sunday, June 6, 2010
"Turkmen president issued an amnesty this month, but did include those who refuse compulsory military service on grounds of conscientious objection, like Jehovah’s Witnesses. The latter got two years of hard labour and had their Bible seized..."
This is a perfect example of the discussion in today's text. Even people who claim to be 'non-conformist' continue to mindlessly hand over their lives and the lives of their children in this endless cycle of combat, instead of pursuing peace. It makes no sense. They'd rather die for their government, than live for their God. If everyone stood their ground on this issue and maintained their integrity like our brothers are doing in every nation, war would end tomorrow. I'm so proud of them.
"This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3)
"Authority" is not a popular word today. Many would consider distasteful the idea of submitting to the will of another person. "No one tells me what to do" expresses the attitude of those who claim to be nonconformists. Yet, are these people truly independent? Hardly! Most merely conform to the standards of countless others who are "fashioned after this system of things." (Romans 12:2) Far from being independent, they are "slaves of corruption," to use the words of the Christian apostle Peter. (2 Peter 2:19) They walk "according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air." Satan the Devil. (Ephesians 2:2) It is tragic that at a time when humans so sorely need guidance, most are less inclined than ever to accept it.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 3:1, 2)
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I don't know if you've seen this yet, but there was a group of Jewish Orthodox religious leaders who incited a protest outside a recent assembly in Israel. They threw rocks through the windows of the auditorium and said Jehovah's Witnesses were there to kill the Jews.
You can see a bit of it in the youtube video footage below. Listen to how calm the brothers and sisters are who are participating in the program, while all that commotion is going on outside. Imagine having an assembly in those conditions!
Video Footage From the Assembly
"Both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to wise and to senseless ones I am a debtor: so there is eagerness on my part to declare the good news also to you."
(Romans 1:14, 15)
Out of gratitude for the mercy he had been shown, Paul felt compelled to try to help others to benefit from the undeserved kindness of God just as he had benefited from it. (1 Timothy 1:12-16) It was as if he owed a debt to each person he met, a debt that could be repaid only by sharing the good news with that person. Do you feel such a debt to the people in your territory? (Acts 20:26, 27) At Malachi 1:11, Jehovah declares: "My name will be great among the nations." In fulfillment of this prophecy, Jehovah's dedicated servants are publicly praising his name in all the earth as they humbly carry out their ministry. (Psalm 109:30; Matthew 24:14) Rendering "a sacrifice of praise" to Jehovah is our foremost reason for preaching publicly and from house to house.—Hebrews 13:15
(Watchtower issue: 7/15/08, 1:13, 14)
Friday, June 4, 2010
For Immediate Release
June 1, 2010
Domestic options exhausted in Russia; Jehovah’s Witnesses appeal to the European Court of Human Rights
STRASBOURG—Where a vibrant community of Christians once worshipped, now stands a vacant building, sealed by Russian authorities whose application of the law to counteract extremist activity violates the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to worship freely.
On December 8, 2009, the Russian Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the Local Religious Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the western city of Taganrog, near the Ukraine border, effectively liquidating the activity of that congregation. That ruling also pronounced 34 religious publications as “extremist,” including several copies of the internationally circulated magazines The Watchtower and Awake! Since the December 8 court decision, a wave of religious intolerance has been unleashed against Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout Russia. As of April 2010, there have been at least 265 recorded incidents of raids on private homes and places of employment, as well as people being arrested, detained and searched and their personal effects being seized. At least six criminal investigations have been initiated. Significantly, on April 26, 2010, the Federal Service for Oversight of Communications, Information Technologies and Mass Communications revoked the license to distribute The Watchtower and Awake! magazines in Russia. This revocation is yet another example of the Russian government’s violation of the legal rights of over 158,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.
Having exhausted all domestic remedies, the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia will hold a press conference on Wednesday, June 2, to announce that an application appealing the December 8, 2009, decision has been filed with the ECHR on June 1, 2010. In January 2007, that court ruled unanimously in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kuznetsov and Others v. Russian Federation, stating that the police and a Commissioner for Human Rights obstructed justice and denied freedom of religion when they raided and shut down a lawful Christian meeting of 150 deaf Jehovah’s Witnesses in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Chair of the International Helsinki Group in Moscow, commented on the decision of the Supreme Court: “I am confident that this court decision will be reversed by the European Court. However, I regret to admit that in the eyes of European community Russia will look like a barbarous country, medieval and intolerant of religious minorities.”
“We still hope for a fair trial in the Russian courts,” said Vasily Kalin, Chairman of the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. He added that “this is precisely why in the middle of May we filed a supervisory appeal to the Presidium of the Supreme Court. However, we found it also necessary to turn to the ECHR. We see how Jehovah’s Witnesses are being pressured throughout the country and it is becoming increasingly unsafe to declare one’s faith and to gather together for Biblical discussions. At any moment Jehovah’s Witnesses could be subject to unfounded detentions and interrogations.”
For Immediate Release
May 28, 2010
History repeats in Russia as authorities intensify searches
CHELYABINSK, Russia—On one day, May 12, 2010, at least 11 searches were carried out at the work places and apartments of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as in buildings used for their worship. Chelyabinsk police started the raids early in the morning, awakening families, including children, and seizing books, cell phones, computers, notebooks and other personal belongings.
A mother of three was startled by aggressive knocking on her door at seven in the morning. In an attempt to find two eyewitnesses to the search they were about to conduct, the police officers visited the neighbors of the woman and yelled, “Your neighbor will be searched!” After entering her apartment, they seized her telephone to prevent her from calling anybody. She had to plead with the police officers to permit her at least to call to the management of the kindergarten to let them know that she could not take her child to school that day. Many of her belongings were confiscated. She is apprehensive that the actions of the police had a negative effect on the attitude of her neighbors toward her.
The same day the police entered a building in Chelyabinsk that is used for religious worship, including religious worship by a deaf congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. On finding nothing illegal, the police seized the video equipment used by the deaf congregation during their religious worship. This deprived the deaf community of the opportunity to hold their usual Christian meetings. This is not the first time the rights of the deaf Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city of Chelyabinsk were violated. In 2002 they had to file an application with the European Court of Human Rights with regard to the disruption of their meetings, the application was granted, and ultimately the rights of the deaf Witnesses were upheld.
The unlawful searches, seizures, and raids of recent weeks are unpleasant reminders for many Jehovah’s Witnesses of what took place in 1951 when in the morning darkness KGB officers carried out mass deportation raids among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Lawyer Viktor Zhenkov states the following: “We are determined to protest the direction given to authorize the searches. And our legal team is working to reverse the decision of the Rostov Regional Court, which triggered the criminal prosecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout Russia. The representatives of the prosecutor’s office had affirmed that this decision would affect exclusively the Taganrog community. What does it then have to do with Chelyabinsk and other cities where the police squads have invaded the homes of believers early in the morning, scare the young and the old, seize everything that even remotely relates to religious life? At present, Jehovah’s Witnesses have reports of more than 250 incidents of raids, searches, arrests and disruption of their worship services throughout the Russian Federation.”
Apart from Russia, not a single country of the world has considered the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist.
"God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name." (Hebrews 6:10)
All that you aging Witnesses of Jehovah have done and are now doing for God's glory is never far from his mind. Therefore, resist adopting a negative viewpoint, wrongly thinking that because of advanced age, you are no longer useful to Jehovah. Endeavor to replace depressing, pessimistic thoughts with positive ones. Rejoice over your blessings and your hope for the future! We have "a future and a hope"—the best possible—and these are guaranteed by our Creator. (Jeremiah 29:11, 12; Acts 17:31; 1 Timothy 6:19) Reflect on your hope, work to stay young in heart and mind, and never underestimate the value of your presence in the congregation! The psalmist declared: "Those who are planted in the house of Jehovah . . . will still keep on thriving during gray-headedness, fat and fresh they will continue to be."—Psalm 92:13, 14.
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 4:15, 17)
Thursday, June 3, 2010
"Stop being anxious" (Matthew 6:25)
Jesus knew that as imperfect creatures, we have a tendency to become anxious about mundane matters. It is understandable that we are concerned about important issues, such as pleasing God, caring for Christian responsibilities, and providing the necessities of life for our family. (1 Corinthians 7:32-34) What, then, can we learn from Jesus' warning? The world's spirit, with its emphasis on the showy display of one's means of life, infects many individuals with an unhealthy anxiety. They would have us believe that money equals security and that a person's worth is measured, not by his spiritual qualities, but by the quantity and quality of his possessions. Those duped by this propaganda will slave to gain riches and are constantly anxious about acquiring the newest, the biggest, the most advanced products. (Proverbs 18:11) Such a distorted view of material things breeds anxieties that choke an individual's spiritual development.—Matthew 13:18, 22.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 4:15, 16)
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
"All you are brothers." (Matthew 23:8)
Some have reasoned that since Jesus told his disciples the above, there should be no positions of authority in the Christian congregation. However, both the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures have numerous examples of men who exercised authority given to them by God. First-century Christians acknowledged the authority of the apostles. (Acts 2:42) Paul, for example, gave direction to his brothers. (1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:2) Nevertheless, he also willingly submitted to those who had authority over him. (Acts 15:22; Galatians 2:9, 10) The lesson we learn is twofold. First, it is Scriptural for "the faithful and discreet slave" through its Governing Body to appoint men to positions of responsibility, and some men are appointed to exercise authority over other appointed men. (Matthew 24:45-47; 1 Peter 5:1-3) Second, all of us, including appointed men, should honor those who have authority over us.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 4:10-12)
When you read the surrounding verses of this account it provides a better picture of what Jesus was referring to,...because he said those words to his disciples and the crowd, right after he had just gotten done criticizing the Pharisees for their self-righteous, haughty attitude. He pointed out that instead of ministering to the people like they were supposed to, they basically did everything just for "show" since they enjoyed having high-sounding religious titles and prominent places in society.
So you can see that Jesus was referring to the type of mindset and attitude that his disciples should have towards one another, (regardless of whether or not they had positions of responsibility or authority within the congregation). Otherwise, he wouldn't have kept reminding his own apostles (who obviously had positions of oversight and authority), that they needed to maintain a humble attitude and be willing to minister to others.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
"[Jehovah's] eyes examine the sons of men." (Psalm 11:4)
No servant of Jehovah is ever truly alone. Our Father lovingly watches over us. How pleased Jehovah must be when he sees you resisting temptation! Do not trade your precious integrity for the shameful act of looking at or reading pornography! We can also be integrity keepers by obeying Jehovah when we are among unbelievers. Think of Daniel and his three companions. As youths, they were taken as captives to Babylon. There, surrounded by unbelievers who knew little or nothing of Jehovah, the four Hebrews were put under pressure to eat delicacies that God's Law forbade. Those boys might easily have rationalized a course of compromise. After all, their parents, the elders, and the priests could not see what the four of them were doing. Who would know? Jehovah himself would. So they took a firm stand and obeyed him despite the pressure and the risk.—Daniel 1:3-9
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 2:7, 8)
I just realized something ... First of all, did you ever notice in the account about Daniel just how long this went on? It says:
"the king appointed a daily allowance from the delicacies of the king and from his drinking wine, even to nourish them for three years." (Daniel 1:5)
So Daniel and his 3 companions were surrounded by this temptation every day for 3 years. But the account also says that Daniel determined *ahead of time* not to compromise his beliefs, rather than waiting until the temptation was put in his face.
"Daniel determined in his heart that he would not pollute himself with the delicacies of the king and with his drinking wine." (Daniel 1:8)
But there's one other part of that account that I never thought about before. Why did Daniel refuse the wine, when Israelites were allowed to drink wine? (unless you were a Nazarite, or performing priestly duties) I don't know if this was the reason, but doesn't it seem like Daniel was using foresight, realizing that if he and the other Hebrews started drinking around all of the other Babylonian boys, they might let their guard down and end up compromising their beliefs due to intoxication?
That's a good point to keep in mind, since alcohol is responsible alot of the time, when people end up getting involved in fornication or pornography. If Daniel (who wasn't even an adult at the time) could have enough maturity to realize he shouldn't allow himself to be put into a compromising situation or state of mind, than we should have enough sense to do the same thing.