Thursday, September 30, 2010

daily text 9/30

FYI- sorry for the post interuption...I was out of town visiting my sister (who recently moved to Colorado) and had scheduled the daily text to post automatically while I was gone...but I missed the past two days. (which I will backdate)

Thursday, September 30th, 2010
"Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me" (Proverbs 27:11)

What a privilege we have in making God's heart rejoice! Is it not well worth our every effort to keep our integrity? Integrity enables us to take our stand for Jehovah's sovereignty. It is thus the basis on which God can judge us. Job well understood this truth. (Job 31:6) Job knew that God weighs all mankind in "accurate scales," using His perfect standard of justice to gauge our integrity. David similarly said: "Jehovah himself will pass sentence on the peoples. Judge me, O Jehovah, according to my righteousness and according to my integrity in me . . . And God as righteous is testing out heart and kidneys." (Psalm 7:8, 9) We know that God can look into the very depths of the inner person, the figurative "heart and kidneys." We need to remember, though, what he is looking for. As David said, Jehovah judges us according to our integrity.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 1:12, 13)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

daily text 9/29

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
"Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7)

Mercy is manifested in a judicial sense when people forgive those who transgress against them, just as Jehovah mercifully forgives repentant ones. (Exodus 34:6, 7; Psalm 103:10) We can show mercy in that way and by our kind words and deeds that bring relief to disadvantaged individuals. A fine way to show mercy is to share Bible truths with others. Moved with pity for a crowd, Jesus "started to teach them many things." (Mark 6:34) We have reason to agree with Jesus' statement: "Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy." If we treat others mercifully, they are likely to respond in kind. We may find that the mercy we have shown to others will triumph over any adverse judgement that God might otherwise bring to bear against us when we are brought into judgement. (James 2:13) Forgiveness of sins and eternal life are only for the merciful.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 1:14, 15)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

daily text 9/28

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
"By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves" (John 13:35)

Love is an identifying mark of true Christians. Should not that love be expressed for baptized Christians who may have become inactive? It certainly should! But providing needed help may call for the exercise of various godly qualities. Besides love, you may need to show compassion, kindness, mildness, and long-suffering. Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to be forgiving. Paul wrote: "Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also." (Colossians 3:13) Be assured that any effort you make with the hope of helping sheeplike ones return to the Christian fold is worthwhile. Just one life is worth much more than all the money in the world. Jesus emphasized this in his illustration of the lost sheep.—Matthew 18:12-14.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 1:17-19)

Monday, September 27, 2010

daily text 9/27

Monday, September 27th, 2010
"The people started to have immoral relations with the daughters of Moab" (Numbers 25:1)

Satan uses sexual immorality to corrupt God's people. Today, moral standards in the world have fallen so low that fornication is considered normal and homosexuality is viewed simply as a matter of personal choice. Young people who remember their Grand Creator know that sexual intimacy is a sacred gift that has to do with life and procreation. Hence, they recognize that sexual relations should be enjoyed in the way that God directed—within the marriage arrangement. (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Hebrews 13:4) However, during "the bloom of youth"—the period when sexual feelings become strong and can distort one's judgment—it can be a struggle to remain chaste. (1 Corinthians 7:36) What can you do when improper thoughts enter your mind? Pray earnestly to Jehovah for help to focus on wholesome things. (Luke 11:9-13) Upbuilding conversation can also help to refocus the mind.
(Watchtower issue: 4/15/08, 3:7-9)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

daily text 9/26

Sunday, September 26th, 2010
"Go therefore and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19)

"I have been studying with a family from Pakistan for the past 11 weeks," wrote a sister who is serving with a Hindi-speaking group in the United States. "Needless to say," she continues, "we have become friends. Tears well up in my eyes as I think about this family going back to Pakistan soon. My tears are prompted not only by the sorrow I feel at the loss of their company but also by the joy I've experienced while teaching them about Jehovah." Have you, like this sister, ever experienced the joy that comes from studying the Bible with someone? Jesus and his first-century disciples found great joy in the disciple-making work. When the 70 disciples whom Jesus had trained returned with a joyful report, Jesus himself became "overjoyed in the holy spirit." (Luke 10:17-21) Similarly, many today find great joy in making disciples.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 2:1, 2)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

daily text 9/25

Saturday, September 25th, 2010
"This good news of the kingdom will be preached" (Matthew 24:14)

Throughout these "last days," Jehovah has thwarted all efforts to eliminate his people. (2 Timothy 3:1) As a result, opposers have been shamed. Psalm 83:16 foreshadowed this when it said "Fill their faces with dishonor, that people may search for your name, O Jehovah." In country after country, opponents have failed miserably in their effort to silence Jehovah's Witnesses. In those lands, the steadfastness and endurance of worshippers of the one true God have served as a witness the righthearted ones, and many have 'searched for Jehovah's name.' In a number of lands where Jehovah's Witnesses were once viciously persecuted, there are now tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of happy praisers of Jehovah. What a triumph for Jehovah! And how embarrassing for his enemies! (Jeremiah 1:19) We know, of course, that the battle is not over. And we continue to preach the good news—even to opposers.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 3:16, 17)

Friday, September 24, 2010

daily text 9/24

Friday, September 24th, 2010
"I am with you to deliver you" (Jeremiah 1:8)

When he destroyed the ancient wicked world in the Flood, Jehovah "kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others." (2 Peter 2:5) Jehovah will again deliver the upright when he destroys the present wicked world. His Word thus states: "Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth . . . Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah's anger." (Zephaniah 2:3) As a result of that worldwide destruction, 'the upright will reside in the earth, but the wicked will be cut off from it.' (Proverbs 2:21, 22) However, many of God's servants have already died because of illness, persecution, and other factors. (Matthew 24:9) How, then, will all of these be delivered? The Bible states that "there is going to be a resurrection of . . . the righteous." (Acts 24:15) What comfort there is in knowing that nothing can prevent Jehovah from delivering his servants!
(Watchtower issue: 5/15/08, 3:11-13)

You know what's weird? Even if a person didn't believe the Flood really occured, and didn't believe that Armageddon was coming, it *still* wouldn't change the fact that everything God has commanded for his people during this time period in human history, would automatically protect their health and safety "as a group," (even without any sort of divine intervention involved).
If you take this scenario and look at it strictly from the secular viewpoint of a scientist, historian, or anthropologist, (who was interested in "forecasting" the longevity of a particular culture or civilization)...simple logic would lead you to the conclusion that "as a group" a society of people who lived according to God's requirements and standards would naturally have a much higher rate of survival in comparison with their surrounding peers.

They would have:

-Stronger families & less family breakups due to adultery, divorce, domestic violence, verbal & mental abuse, child abuse, lack of communication, jealousy, dishonesty, and a lack of trust.

-Better physical health & longer life spans due to abstaining from tobacco, fornication, the misuse of blood, alcoholism, drugs, extreme/violent sports, uncontrolled rage & aggression, fighting, filthy/unsanitary practices, etc.

-Better social relationships & better mental/emotional health due to abstaining from corrupting practices and criminal activity such as extortion, fraud, blackmail & bribery, robbery, cheating, lying, gambling, coveting, hatred, nationalism, terrorism, and racial & social prejudices, etc.

God hasn't asked us to build a *literal* ark...But his instructions have the same protective value, and are completely reasonable when you stop and consider the damaging, (and often fatal), consequences that result from *failing* to obey those instructions. It's obvious that they serve as a long-term benefit and protection for ourselves, our families, our friends, and for the welfare of society as a whole.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

daily text 9/23

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
"Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death" (James 1:14, 15)

To avoid sexual immorality, we might do well to ask ourselves, 'Do I allow my eyes to arouse in me an appetite for immoral material readily found in books, on television, or on the Internet?' In fact, if any individual dedicated to God "keeps on looking" with immoral motives at someone of the opposite sex, he needs to make drastic changes comparable to tearing out the eye and throwing it away. (Matthew 5:27-29) We should heed Paul's counsel: "Deaden . . . your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." (Colossians 3:5) The word "deaded" stresses the strong measures that must be taken to fight against immoral fleshly desires.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 2:11, 12)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

daily text 9/22

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
"All things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting" (Hebrews 4:13)

Some may feel that if no one sees them do wrong, they will get away with it. (Psalm 19:12) In a sense, there is no such thing as a secret sin. Jehovah is a Judge who examines our deepest motives, and he responds to wrongdoing in a way that reflects perfect justice. In direct violation of God's command, Achan took spoil from the city of Jericho and hid it in his tent, likely with the complicity of his family. When his sin was exposed, Achan showed that he realized the seriousness of what he had done, for he said: "I have sinned against Jehovah." (Joshua 7:20) Like Cain, Achan had developed a bad heart. In Achan's case, greed was a major factor, and it contributed to his becoming deceitful. Since the spoil from Jericho belonged to Jehovah, Achan in effect stole from God, and this cost him and his family dearly.— Joshua 7:25.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 1:12, 13)

There's something about greed and deceitfulness that always seems to go hand-in-hand. And it's one of the most insidious traits, because it can go undetected for so long, and it can encompass so many areas of life (not just material things). It's like an entire attitude and frame of mind that develops.
That's why this account is so strange,...because prior to this, Achan had been used to living in the desert with almost no material possessions while the Israelites wandered the wilderness for 40 years. I was trying to figure out how his greedy attitude developed so quickly, since he wasn't surrounded by riches or by a society of people who were materially prosperous. So when you first read this account it almost seems like he acted on "impulse" in a moment of weakness...since this was really the first occasion where he'd ever come in close contact with a "real city" and people who owned many luxurious items that he'd never seen before.

But the fact that Achan was keeping the stolen goods hidden & buried under his tent, (where not even he, or his family could use or enjoy them), shows there was something deeper going on with him,...this wasn't just "a mistake" made in a moment of weakness. -Especially because he didn't come forward himself, even after he saw that the Israelites were losing the battle, and dozens of men had died on account of him. He waited until he was officially caught before he admitted to it.

For a person to behave that way (right from the get-go), when the Israelites had just *barely* entered the Promised Land,...shows a serious flaw in his character and heart condition. He broke one of the very first commands that God had given to the Israelites upon entering their new it doesn't take a genius to figure out what would have happened if Jehovah hadn't nipped this situation in the bud.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Expelled for Refusing Martial-Arts Training

This is a rather unusual experience (on pgs 137-138 of the 1998 Yearbook), involving 5 Jehovah's Witness "boys" in Japan, whose spiritual training led them to act in the exact opposite manner then what's mentioned in today's text, (regarding immaturity and "foolishness being tied up with the heart of a boy")...since their maturity and firm determination not to compromise their religious beliefs, got them expelled from school and their case ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court.

(photo of Kunihito Kobayashi)

Religious Conscience Brought to Court
A noteworthy case brought before the courts involved 16-year-old Kunihito Kobayashi, enrolled in the Kobe Municipal Industrial Technical College. (In Japan, technical colleges offer a five-year noncompulsory course that includes the three years of high school.) Certain schools had made it a practice to fail or expel students who did not take part in martial-arts drills. They were thus denied the right to an education. At the time of Lloyd Barry’s zone visit to the branch in December 1986, it was recommended that an exemplary brother who was facing this problem, preferably the son of an elder, be selected and that a petition against his expulsion be filed in the courts.

In 1990, Kunihito Kobayashi together with four other students had refused kendo (Japanese swordsmanship) drills in keeping with the injunction of Isaiah 2:4 to ‘beat swords into plowshares and not learn war anymore.’ As a result, they were denied promotion to the next grade. Kunihito, although being at the very top of his class scholastically, was subsequently expelled from the school for failing the physical education class two years in a row. Kunihito and four others filed a petition against the school’s actions, claiming that their constitutional rights to freedom of worship and to an education had been infringed upon. After various appeals, it was the case of Kunihito that finally reached the Supreme Court. On March 8, 1996, the judges of the Second Petit Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in his favor, declaring that the college had erred by forcing him to choose between his religion and an education. This was the first time that the court had ruled on a case in which freedom of religion was weighed against the authority of a school over its curriculum. The new principal called together the entire student body, admitted the school’s lack of good judgment in the case, and asked them to “warmly welcome Mr. Kobayashi back as a fellow student.” In April 1996, four years after being expelled, Brother Kobayashi, now 21 years old, started back to school.
The decision was extensively reported on throughout the country, and Jehovah’s Witnesses rejoiced that Jehovah’s name and righteous ways were again brought to the public’s attention and that a favorable witness was given.—Matthew 10:18.

With the almost non-existent moral standards and resistance to violence & aggressive competition nowadays, (especially among males in our society), this story is *extra* impressive to me. The bar has dropped so low in recent years, that a man with principles has become one of the rarest commodities you can a precious gemstone buried beneath heaps of dirty, jagged rocks! =)

Retroactive Application of "Extremist" Law Charges...

Well not only are the Russian authorities REFUSING to back down... now they're actually going so far as to accumulate RETROACTIVE charges!

Retroactive Application of Law Results in Criminal Case

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2010

GORNO-ALTAYSK, Russia—On September 9, 2010, Aleksandr Kalistratov, chairman of the Local Religious Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Gorno-Altaysk, was formally served with an indictment for inciting religious hatred because he gave two internationally distributed religious magazines to a person who asked for them.

On January 12, 2009, an employee of a transport company delivering the latest editions of the Watchtower, and Awake! magazines asked Kalistratov for a copy of each issue, which the employee turned over to Assistant Prosecutor Vladimir Bedarev. Bedarev then initiated a criminal case against Kalistratov under Article 282 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (for incitement to hatred). A conviction carries a potential sentence of imprisonment for two years.

This action was taken although those issues of the magazines were not labeled as “extremist” at the time. It was not until two weeks later, on January 27, 2009, that those two issues, along with 16 other religious publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, were declared “extremist materials” by the Supreme Court of the Altay Republic. There is no evidence that, since the January 27 decision, Kalistratov has distributed any publications that have been deemed by a court to be extremist.

An application to overturn the decision of the republic’s Supreme Court has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

This is absolutely hilarious coming from the country whose government has systematically destroyed the lives of thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses for the past century, and has gone to every "extremist" method possible to spy on them, obstruct their worship, break up their families, confiscate their belongings, deny them suitable healthcare and employment, and incite hatred against them and their religion throughout the entire country of Russia by producing massive propaganda campaigns, full of complete lies and slander against them.
So where are all the RETROACTIVE damage charges against the government in behalf of the people who they persecuted and imprisoned for so long?

Discriminatory Action By Russia's Supreme Court

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2010

Russian Supreme Court Sanctions Discriminatory Action

MOSCOW—On September 7, 2010, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that a publisher does not have the right to defend itself against claims that its literature is extremist. In dismissing the appeal of Wachtturm Bibel- und Traktat-Gesellschaft der Zeugen Jehovas, the German publisher of religious literature, the Judicial Chamber under Presiding Judge V.V. Gorshkov upheld the decision of Russia’s Rostov Regional Court, which had labeled 34 pieces of Christian literature published by Wachtturm as extremist. The Regional Court’s decision was rendered although Wachtturm had not been allowed to participate in the case and had not even been notified of the hearing.

The dismissal by the Russian Supreme Court exhausted all options within Russia to restore justice to publishers of literature. Armin Pikl, an attorney representing Wachtturm, noted:

“The banning of the distribution of the literature in question significantly affects the interests and rights of the publisher, which should have been able to defend itself in the face of the accusations made and to refute them. . . . This is in harmony with international provisions on the right to fair trial guaranteed by Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

Along with the Local Religious Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Taganrog and others, on June 1, 2010, Wachtturm filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights requesting that the decision of Russia’s Supreme Court be overturned.

daily text 9/21

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
"Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy" (Proverbs 22:15)

The foolishness in the heart of a youth can easily lead him or her astray. Something that can help to counter this is Bible-based discipline. Many Christian youths whose parents do not share their faith seek to find and apply principles set out in the Bible. Others benefit from the wise advice of spiritually mature ones in the congregation. Regardless of who gives Bible-based counsel, submitting to it can lead to happiness both now and in the future. (Hebrews 12:8-11) Many a youthful heart lacking beneficial discipline has fallen prey to foolish ways, such as a competitive spirit, covetousness, fornication, the love of money, and the pursuit of pleasure. These reflect "desires incidental to youth," from which the Bible urges us to flee. (2 Timothy 2:20-22) Fleeing requires that a Christian youth guard against unwholesome influences, wherever they might surface.
(Watchtower issue: 6/15/08, 1:19, 20)

Monday, September 20, 2010

daily text 9/20

Monday, September 20th, 2010
"Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block" (Psalm 119:165)

The conduct of others never creates an excuse for our becoming bitter toward God or for abandoning a faithful course. Enduring even in the face of trials will help us to maintain our integrity. We can also maintain integrity by avoiding a faultfinding, critical spirit. That means, of course, being loyal to Jehovah. He is blessing his people now more than ever. Pure worship has never in all of history been so exalted on earth. (Isaiah 2:2-4) When adjustments are made in explanation of Bible texts or in how things are done, we want to accept them. We are delighted to see evidence that the spiritual light is still increasing. (Proverbs 4:18) If we find it hard to understand a change, we ask Jehovah to help us to comprehend the point. Meanwhile, we endure in an obedient course, keeping our integrity.
(Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 2:13, 14)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

daily text 9/19

Sunday, September 19th, 2010
"He ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness" (Acts 10:42)

The Italian army officer assembled his relatives and friends for what became a turning point in God's dealings with humans. That God-fearing man was Cornelius, and it was to him that the apostle Peter spoke the above words. Peter's witness about Jesus bore abundant fruit. Uncircumcised Gentiles received God's spirit, were baptized, and came in line to be kings in heaven with Jesus. What an outcome of Peter's bearing thorough witness! (Acts 10:22, 34-48) That was in 36 C.E. About two years earlier, a fervent opposer of Christianity had a life-changing experience. Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus when Jesus appeared to him and said: "Enter into the city, and what you must do will be told you." (Acts 9:3-6) When with Saul, Ananias said: "The God of our forefathers has chosen you . . . because you are to be a witness for him to all men."—Acts 22:12-16. (Watchtower issue: 12/15/08, 4:1, 2)

I did some extra research regarding the three "Keys of the Kingdom" which were entrusted to the apostle Peter to use in connection with this time period, and here's a basic summary taken from: (pg 30 of the 5/15/08 WA) - "Highlights from the Book of Acts"


First Key: (Repentant Jews) - On Pentecost 33 C.E., after receiving the holy spirit, the apostles give a bold witness. Peter uses the first of “the keys of the kingdom of the heavens” to open the door of knowledge and opportunity for Jews and proselytes who “embraced his word” to enter the Kingdom. (Matthew 16:19; Acts 2:5, 41)

Second Key: (Samaritans) - Upon hearing that Samaria has accepted the word of God, the apostles in Jerusalem dispatch Peter and John to them. By opening up the Kingdom opportunity to the Samaritans, Peter uses the second key. (Acts 8:14-17) Perhaps within a year of Jesus’ resurrection, an amazing transformation takes place in Saul of Tarsus.

Third Key: (Gentiles) - In 36 C.E., Peter uses the third key, and the free gift of the holy spirit is poured out upon uncircumcised people of the nations (Acts 10:45)...with Cornelius and his household being the first Gentiles to receive this opportunity.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

daily text 9/18

Saturday, September 18th, 2010
"Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19, 20)

Jesus Christ considers the loyal support given to his brothers as being given to him. (Matthew 25:40) In what way, then, can those who have the earthly hope support Christ's spirit-anointed brothers? Principally by helping them with the Kingdom-preaching work. (Matthew 24:14; John 14:12) While the number of anointed ones on the earth has decreased over the decades, the number of the other sheep has increased. When those who have an earthly hope share in the witness work, perhaps as full-time evangelizers, they support the spirit-anointed ones in fulfilling the disciple-making assignment. Not to be overlooked are the opportunities to support this work by making financial contributions in various ways.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 4:14)

Wow, I just realized how much the Trinity doctrine confuses the meaning of the Christian baptismal vow itself. For instance, when a police officer says: "Stop, in the name of the law"...what he's basically saying is: "I want you to stop [in recognition] of the law." and "in recognition of my authority and appointment as a law enforcement officer" ... and if a person respects and complies with the laws of the land, than they will respect and comply with the direction given by appointed officers who represent and enforce the law.

Well the same thing applies when it comes to baptism.

But if a person believes that the holy spirit is *a person* or
*a ghost* (rather than God's *active force* which He uses to accomplish His will), then they won't fully understand the meaning and responsibility involved in their baptismal vow.
Because being baptized "in the name of the holy spirit" or
"[in recognition] of the holy spirit" would require understanding the important role that holy spirit plays in connection with the preaching work, and in directing & empowering Christ's spirit-anointed brothers to accomplish it...which Jesus makes clear in the following verse:

"YOU will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon YOU, and YOU will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

So fully living up to our baptismal vow would *require* that we assist and comply with Christ's spirit-anointed brothers in their witnessing and disciple-making commission, which God's holy spirit is directing and helping them to accomplish.

Friday, September 17, 2010

JW's Held Hostage During a Prison Uprising

well this was an interesting story about a prison uprising that happened in Argentina awhile back, (on pgs 18-21 of the 11/08/96 Awake!)

We Were Hostages During a Prison Uprising
At about three o’clock in the afternoon, on Saturday, March 30, 1996, Edgardo Torres, Rubén Ceibel, and I arrived at the Sierra Chica Maximum Security Prison, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Designed to hold some 800 prisoners, this overpopulated fortress held 1,052 convicted criminals. Their crimes ranged from robbery to serial murder. We were there as visitors.

For Edgardo and Rubén, this was one of many Saturday trips to this famous prison. As elders in a local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they regularly visited there to deliver weekly Bible lectures to some 15 inmates. For me, a traveling overseer, this was a rare opportunity, as I had never presided over a meeting in a prison.
The prison has 12 cellblocks laid out in the shape of a fan. As we entered the facilities, we saw at a distance four prisoners waving at us enthusiastically. These inmates had progressed in their Bible studies to the point of becoming unbaptized preachers of the good news of God’s Kingdom. We were quickly escorted to cellblock 9, where we were to hold the meeting. There, a room had been painted and decorated with curtains, giving it a dignified appearance.

The Uprising Begins
Something was not right, though. There were only 12 prisoners in attendance instead of the usual 15. We all wondered why. The meeting started as usual, with song and prayer. After a few minutes, we were jolted by the sound of loud gunshots followed by bursts of machine-gun fire. Then we heard shouts and screams. A prison uprising had just begun!

Several hooded prisoners armed with makeshift knives stormed into our meeting room. They were surprised to find us—three visitors! We were quickly escorted down a smoke-filled hallway. There were mattresses burning, prisoners running in disarray, and a wounded guard lying on the floor. The guard tower located at the center of the prison grounds was engulfed in fire from a homemade bomb. We were taken outside and forced to stand about 150 feet [50 m] from the main fence. Looking straight ahead, we could see policemen and prison guards outside the fence, pointing their guns at us. A group of prisoners were hiding behind us, holding their knives to our throats. They were using us as human shields.

More Hostages
Five hours later, after sunset, the ringleaders allowed a medical doctor to enter the prison to treat the wounded. The doctor too became a hostage. Finally, about nine o’clock in the evening, we were taken to the prison hospital. There we joined a group of guards who were also held as hostages. Now the rioters forced all of the hostages to serve in shifts as human shields.
After a short while, a judge and her secretary were permitted to meet the rioters, in an attempt to settle matters peacefully. But the crisis escalated when the prisoners brazenly detained both of them as hostages.
There was sporadic fighting all night long. We tried to sleep, but it seemed that every time we dozed off, a loud scream would jolt us out of our slumber. Then, in the very early hours of the morning, our turn to pose as living shields came up again.

The Violence Escalates
On Sunday, March 31, the second day of the uprising, the situation got worse. The ringleaders could not agree on their demands. This created an atmosphere of anger and violence. Bands of rioters went on a rampage, destroying and burning everything in their paths. Old disputes were settled by violence and murder. A number of prisoners who refused to join the riot were executed. Some bodies were burned in the bakery oven.
All sorts of rumors and conflicting reports about our release circulated inside the prison. It was an emotional roller coaster for us hostages. Sometimes we were allowed to watch the news on television. We were amazed to see how far from reality the television accounts were. It was discouraging.

How did we cope? We focused on praying, reading the Bible, and speaking to others about Bible promises of a happy future. That was the key to our emotional strength during the ordeal.
On Monday, the ringleaders agreed to begin negotiations with the authorities. It seemed as if an end to the uprising was near. The rioters were using Edgardo and several prison guards as shields when a gunfight erupted among some prisoners. In the ensuing confusion, the police, under the assumption that hostages were being shot, fired their weapons. Edgardo survived the barrage of bullets, but some of the captive guards were shot.

Death Seemed Imminent
They took us hostages up to a roof to show the authorities that we were still alive. But the police kept shooting. This enraged the rioters. Everyone started to shout at the same time. Some yelled: “Slaughter the hostages! Slaughter them!” Others pleaded: “Not yet! Let’s wait!” Death seemed imminent. Rubén and I looked at each other as if to say, ‘Until the new world.’ Then we both offered a silent prayer. Immediately, we felt an inner calm and peace of mind, which, under the circumstances, could only have come from Jehovah.—Philippians 4:7.

Suddenly, the police stopped shooting, and one of the ringleaders called off our execution. The young prisoner who was holding me was ordered to walk me to and fro on the roof, as a warning to the police. He was extremely nervous. Right there and then, I was able to start a conversation that calmed us both. I explained that human suffering was instigated by Satan and his demons and that soon Jehovah God would put an end to all such suffering.—Revelation 12:12.

When we were taken back to the prison hospital, we found that many of the hostages were panic-stricken. We tried to share our faith in Jehovah’s promises with our fellow hostages. We talked to them about our Bible-based hope of a future in Paradise on earth. Some of the hostages began to call on Jehovah by name. The doctor manifested special interest and asked a number of specific questions. This led to a lengthy Bible discussion with the book
Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life.

Celebrating the Memorial
Tuesday, our fourth day in captivity, was the anniversary of the death of Jesus Christ. On that day millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and interested persons worldwide would meet to commemorate this event in obedience to Jesus’ command. (Luke 22:19) We too made arrangements to celebrate the Memorial.
One corner of the room was selected for privacy. There was no unleavened bread or red wine to use as emblems. But the three of us enjoyed singing praises to Jehovah, praying, and reviewing the Bible’s account about Jesus’ final night and other events surrounding his death. We felt very close to our families and our spiritual brothers and sisters as they celebrated the Memorial simultaneously throughout the entire country.

The Ordeal Ends
An atmosphere of tension, fear, and suspense prevailed during the following four days. Yet, we were comforted by numerous letters from relatives and friends, which the prisoners allowed us to receive. On one occasion we were even permitted to contact our families by phone. How refreshing it was to hear their voices and to read their expressions of love and concern!

On Saturday, our eighth day in captivity, the rioters reached an agreement with the authorities. We were told that the following day we would be released. Sunday, April 7, at 2:30 in the afternoon, we received the news: “Get ready to leave!” The prisoners organized a ‘guard of honor’ to escort us to freedom! As we were leaving the hospital, the spokesman for the ringleaders approached Edgardo and said: “Brother, I am so impressed by your conduct. I promise that from now on I will attend your Saturday meetings in prison. You will still hold the meetings even after what happened here, right?” Edgardo smiled and answered: “Of course!”

A surprise awaited us outdoors. As soon as we exited the building, the entire inmate population burst into applause in our honor. This was their way of showing that they were sorry for what had taken place. It was an emotional moment. No doubt our Christian conduct during the preceding nine days had impressed them all, to Jehovah’s credit.

Outside the prison fence, we met our families and about 200 of our spiritual brothers and sisters. We embraced one another with a great sense of relief. We had survived! One of the hostages approached my wife and told her: “I think Jehovah has reached my heart and wants me to serve him.”

Edgardo, Rubén, and I learned in a very special way that Jehovah can sustain his servants, even during the most terrible adversities. We experienced how marvelous it is to pray to Jehovah and to be heard by him. Like the psalmist, we can say: “I shall exalt you, O Jehovah, for you have drawn me up and you have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Jehovah my God, I cried to you for help, and you proceeded to heal me. O Jehovah, you have brought up my soul from Sheol itself; you have kept me alive, that I should not go down into the pit.” (Psalm 30:1-3)—As told by Darío Martín.

daily text 9/17

Friday, September 17th, 2010
"O Hearer of prayer, even to you people of all flesh will come" (Psalm 65:2)

Three prison inmates came to a knowledge of Bible truth while incarcerated and became unbaptized publishers. Because of a violent incident, a number of privileges were taken away from all the prisoners in the facility. That sparked a protest. The prisoners decided that after breakfast the next morning, as an act of defiance, they would refuse to return their plates. The three unbaptized publishers were now in a dilemma. If they joined in the revolt, they would be violating Jehovah's counsel found at Romans 13:1. If they did not join in, they could expect reprisals from angry inmates. Unable to communicate with one another, the three men prayed for wisdom. The following morning, all three found that they had decided on exactly the same solution—they simply would decline breakfast. When the guards came to collect the plates, the three men had none to return. How glad they were that the "Hearer of prayer" was near!
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 2:14, 15)

That's awesome—but on a side note—what kind of dumb "revolt" was that anyway? lol. Instead of having "leverage" for getting their privileges back, the inmates probably just made it worse on themselves,...since I bet the prison guards refused to serve their next meal until they returned the plates. lol.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Russian Authorities Block Website Access

I must have missed this article...

Public Access to Religious Web Site Blocked in Eastern Russia

KOMSOMOLSK-ON-AMUR, Russia—One of the largest Internet service providers in eastern Russia, Technodesign, was compelled by court order to block access to several popular Web sites, including, the official Web site of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The ruling was made by the Tsentralniy District Court of Komsomolsk-on-Amur on June 4, 2010, and came into force on June 16, 2010. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (owner of the copyrighted materials on the Web site) and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (owner of the Internet site itself) were not called to participate in the case, nor did they receive a copy of the decision. Both corporations first learned of the decision on August 4, 2010, after Technodesign had already blocked access to the Internet site on July 30, 2010, in implementation of the court decision.

Once the decision was implemented, users in the area were unable to access It appears that local officials want to prevent interested individuals from reading online any of the publications that the courts in Rostov and Gorno-Altaysk had pronounced extremist.

Theocratic Study Schedule (Sept 13th - 19th)

Sorry for posting the schedule so late this week:
Week of September 13th - 19th

daily text 9/16

Thursday, September 16th, 2010
"When making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you" (Matthew 6:3, 4)

Our hands usually work together. Therefore, not letting the left hand know what the right is doing means that we do not advertise our charitable deeds, even to those as close to us as our left hand is to our right hand. If we do not boast about our charity, our "gifts of mercy" will be in secret. Then our Father, "who is looking on in secret," will repay us. Residing in the heavens and invisible to human eyes, our heavenly Father remains "in secret" as far as mankind is concerned. (John 1:18) Repayment from the one "looking on in secret" includes Jehovah's bringing us into an intimate relationship with him, forgiving our sins, and granting us eternal life. (Proverbs 3:32; John 17:3; Ephesians 1:7) That is so much better than receiving praise from humans!
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 2:20, 21)

I'll probably need to post an off-topic experience, because if a person was truly applying the words of today's text (and not "advertising" their gifts of mercy), than there wont be any experience written about it. lol.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Criminal Prosecution for Faith - A New Reality in Russia

this is totally outrageous...

“My wife and I were shocked to learn that hidden video surveillance has been set up in our apartment, telephones have been tapped and we are being followed.”

For Immediate Release
September 14, 2010

YOSHKAR-OLA, Russia—“My wife and I were shocked to learn that hidden video surveillance has been set up in our apartment, telephones have been tapped, and we are being followed,” says Maksim Kalinin, who was named as a suspect in a criminal case initiated against Jehovah’s Witnesses in the area. He was being investigated under Article 282 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code, for “inciting hatred or enmity.”

Seven homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were searched in the republic of Mariy El on August 10, 2010. Some of the searches lasted until 4:00 a.m. The home of Mr. Kalinin was among those searched. The FSB and the Department for Fighting Extremism obtained warrants in early 2010 authorizing them to break into Mr. Kalinin’s apartment and install secret surveillance equipment for 180 days, to monitor his postal and electronic mail, and to tap his telephone. The telephones of eight other Witness ministers were also tapped during this period. The alleged evidence obtained by these means was used to initiate the criminal case against Mr. Kalinin. Criminal charges against other Witnesses are likely to follow.

Earlier that same day, approximately 30 officers from the police, FSB, and Special Police Forces (OMON) raided a religious meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The police stopped the meeting, searched all 90 men, women, and children in attendance, and seized personal items, including telephones. No one was allowed to leave the building until late in the evening. Children were questioned outside the presence of their parents.

A female Witness in attendance said: “During the questioning, the police officers told me that I should just thank them for not making me undress completely.” Attorney Victor Shipilov commented: “Similar raids have already been evaluated by the European Court of Human Rights. In the Kuznetsov and Others v. Russia decision, the ECHR declared such actions by law-enforcement authorities to be unlawful. We will lodge a complaint against the law-enforcement authorities for their actions in this case.”

“The rough treatment by law-enforcement authorities and the resulting negative image of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the local press indicate bias toward people of another faith and demonstrate the intent of law-enforcement agencies to demean the dignity of Witnesses,” said Sergey Tarasov, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Instead of setting an example of mutual respect for people of another faith, such actions by law-enforcement authorities incite others to religious intolerance.”

daily text 9/15

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
"The Devil, having concluded all the temptation, retired from him until another convenient time" (Luke 4:13)

After the Devil's third unsuccessful attempt to get Jesus to compromise His integrity to God, "the Devil left him." (Matthew 4:11) However, Satan did not intend to stop tempting Jesus, as we are told in today's text. When we succeed in opposing the Devil, we should thank Jehovah. But we should also seek God's continued help, for the Devil will return to tempt us at another time convenient for him—and not necessarily when we may be expecting a temptation. Hence, we must remain alert at all times, ready to persevere in rendering sacred service to Jehovah regardless of the tests we must face. To help us in our efforts to oppose the Devil, we should pray for and will receive the most powerful force in the universe—God's holy spirit. It will enable us to do things that would be impossible for us to do in our own strength.
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 4:15, 16)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

daily text 9/14

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
"In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God's undeserved kindness expressed in various ways"

(1 Peter 4:10)

The qualifying term "in proportion" indicates that qualities and abilities may vary not only in nature but also in extent. Even so, each one is urged to "use it [that is, any particular gift he has received] in ministering to one another." Moreoever, the expression "use it . . . as fine stewards" is a command. Hence, we should ask ourselves: 'Do I, indeed, use the gifts with which I am entrusted to fortify my fellow believers?' (Compare 1 Timothy 5:9, 10) 'Or do I use the abilities that I receive from Jehovah mainly to benefit myself—perhaps to acquire riches or to attain social status?' (1 Corinthians 4:7) If we use our gifts "in ministering to one another," we will be pleasing Jehovah.—Proverbs 19:17; Hebrews 13:16.
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 3:4, 7)

Monday, September 13, 2010

daily text 9/13

Never trust a narcoleptic. (lol)
...Sorry I fell asleep last night before I could finish the post I was working on (which I'll backdate today as soon as I'm done with it). But I'm partially blaming my mom this time, since I was waiting for her to forward me a few emails that have the photographs I needed...which she just did this morning. Because you gotta have photographs! =)

Monday, September 13th, 2010
"Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name" (Psalm 86:11)

Why do some Christians who remain faithful for years despite imprisonment or persecution latter succumb to materialism? The answer has to do with our figurative heart—what we really are inside. The 86th Psalm connects loyalty to a unified heart; that is, a complete heart, one that is not divided. "O do guard my soul, for I am loyal," prayed the psalmist David. "Save your servant—you are my God—that is trusting in you." (Psalm 86:2) Unless we trust in Jehovah with all our heart, other concerns and affections will undermine our loyalty to the true God. Selfish desires are like land mines hidden under the road we walk on. Even though we may have remained faithful to Jehovah under trying circumstances, we can fall victim to satanic traps or snares. How vital it is that we cultivate heartfelt loyalty to Jehovah now, before tests or temptations come upon us!
(Watchtower issue: 8/15/08, 2:1, 2)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Group" Avenues of Witnessing

I decided to divide this into 2 categories: "individual" witnessing experiences, and "group" experiences. So this post will show examples of congregation "group effort" when it comes to different avenues of witnessing...

Stockholm, Sweden:
Example of "street witnessing," using a literature display

Georgia, United States:
The Dacula Congregation in Georgia, arranged to have a literature booth setup at the local "Gwinnett County Fair" with both English and Spanish publications available. They came in contact with individuals who were curious about our beliefs and wanted to learn more, as well as individuals who had previously been contacted or studied with Jehovah's Witnesses in the past, and were surprised to see them "on exhibition" at the fair!
There were about 30 or more individuals who requested a personal visit at their homes or by correspondence. In addition, the literature which was placed amounted to: 350 magazines, 96 Books, 15 Bibles, and 10 CDs.

the following experience from Bolivia (on pg 49 of the 2009 Yearbook), is an example of pioneers conducting a "group" Bible study in a rather unusual setting...

Bolivia, South America:
Preaching in the Amazon region of Bolivia is both challenging and rewarding. A group of ten pioneer brothers and sisters—squeezed into a small outboard motorboat packed with tents, cooking pots, and many boxes of Bible literature—traveled about 500 miles on the Beni River from Rurrenabaque to Riberalta. They visited more than 70 isolated communities and placed over 800 books as well as brochures and tracts. They demonstrated about 700 Bible studies to interested people and returned to conduct studies with more than 200 of them. When the Witnesses were leaving the villages, a comment they often heard from people was, "Can you stay and study with us just a little more?" In one small town, a man was very insistent and was upset that the Witnesses were leaving, because he wanted to keep studying with them. He said: "You have cut down the tree. Now you need to carve and polish it."

daily text 9/12

Sunday, September 12th, 2010
"You will save both yourself and those who listen to you" (1 Timothy 4:16)

If you are not conducting a Bible study, does it mean that your service is of no value to God? Of course not! Jehovah deeply appreciates our efforts to praise him. All who engage in the preaching work are "God's fellow workers." However, conducting a Bible study brings added joy as we see how God makes the seed that we planted grow. (1 Corinthians 3:6, 9) "As you see a Bible student progress," says a pioneer named Amy, "you feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to Jehovah for allowing you to be used to give that person a wonderful gift—the opportunity of knowing Jehovah and of receiving everlasting life." Doing our best to start and conduct Bible studies will help us to keep focused on serving God now and will strengthen our hope of surviving into the new world. With Jehovah's backing, we may also help to save those who listen to us. What a cause for joy that would be!
(Watchtower issue: 1/15/09, 2:20, 21)

I'm gonna post the entry I mentioned earlier this week, which relates to the different avenues of the preaching work (including "informal" witnessing) which many JW's have tried and have had good success with. Because when you look at the tremendous growth in the organization and the increase in Bible studies, you can see that 'lack of interest' isn't really an issue...the main issue is finding ways to make ourselves more available to interested ones who haven't been contacted in the door-to-door ministry.
Which quite often, involves adjusting our own outlook and schedule when it comes to locating people in our territory. Or, if possible, branching out into foreign language fields and seldom worked territories that need help...since there are many areas where the local Witnesses have so many people wanting to study the Bible, that they actually have to put them on a wait list because they just can't keep up with all of them!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Con Artists Capitalize on 9/11...While Poor African Nomads Give their Best to Help

I was looking for more experiences related to 9/11, and I found 2 stories which show a complete contrast in human behavior. The first one (from the 1/22/03 Awake!-"Watching the World") is a total disgrace, but the second one (from the 7/08/03 Awake!-"Watching the World") is a beautiful example of heartfelt generosity...

Con Artists Capitalize on 9/11
Less than a day after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, thieves and con artists began to take advantage of the grief and generosity that followed. Some posed as rescue workers and stole from the site. Even a three-ton earth mover was stolen one night. Swindles were rampant. Some people sold bogus bioterrorism-protection equipment and anthrax cures. Others sold fake Ground Zero dirt as souvenirs. A number submitted phony life insurance and property damage claims. One couple tried to collect money, saying that their apartment, actually located four miles away [6 km] from the site, was damaged by the disaster. Many received payments for “dead” relatives who were still alive or never existed. Peddlers sold items such as flags and buttons, saying that profits would go to relief agencies, but never turned over any of the proceeds. A number of con artists used Web sites to solicit money that they claimed would go to victims. Some took the names of the missing from posters and called up their families to get personal information that they then used to steal the victims’ identities. Investigations are continuing.

Late News, Prompt Reaction
“Skyscrapers are a foreign concept to the Masai who live in this corner [Enoosaen] of Kenya, where the tallest things on the vast horizon are the acacia trees and giraffes that feed on them,” notes The New York Times. “So when Kimeli Naiyomah returned recently to this tiny village from his studies in the United States, he found only the vaguest understanding among his fellow Masai of what had happened in that far-away place called New York on Sept. 11. Some in this nomadic community of cattle raisers had missed the story entirely.” When Naiyomah, who was visiting Manhattan on September 11, told villagers what he had witnessed firsthand some eight months earlier, sadness enveloped them, and they wanted to do something to help. The result was that 14 cows, one of the most cherished things a Masai could offer, were donated to aid the victims of the disaster. But with transportation a problem, the U.S. embassy official who accepted them said that he would “probably sell the cows and buy Masai jewelry to give to America,” the Times reported.

Also, here's some good articles on the website related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and one specifically for helping young people to cope with 9/11 and fear of terrorist attacks):

Coping With Post-Traumatic Stress - When Terror Strikes

PTSD-A Normal Reaction, to an Abnormal Experience

Young People Ask: How Can I Cope When Tragedy Strikes?

daily text 9/11

(FYI -here's an entry I posted last year on 9/11)
9/11 Anniversary Experiences

Saturday, September 11th, 2010
"The sower and the reaper . . . rejoice together"

(John 4:36)

The two illustrations regarding sowing seed recorded in Mark chapter 4 emphasize that we have a work to do—sowing. We should never allow excuses and potential problems and difficulties to stop us from doing this work. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) At the same time, though, we are aware of our wonderful privilege to be counted as fellow workers with God. Jehovah is the one who causes spiritual growth, blessing our efforts and the efforts of those who receive the message. We realize that we cannot force spiritual growth in anyone. We likewise need not feel discouraged or disheartened if growth is slow or lacking. How comforting it is to know that our success is measured by our faithfulness to Jehovah and to the privilege that he has granted us to preach the "good news of the kingdom . . . for a witness to all the nations."—Matthew 24:14.
(Watchtower issue: 7/15/08, 3:17, 18)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Showing "Honor To Men of All Sorts"

The following experience from Samoa, (on pgs 74-77 of the 2009 Yearbook) is a very good example of showing honor when defending your beliefs to opposers, (which this newly baptized brother did in front of an entire assembly of hostile villagers!), since every aspect of Samoan culture & tradition revolves around displaying an extremely high degree of honor and respect to others...especially to the chiefs and elders of the village.

(1952) Pele and his wife, Ailua, became the first Samoans to dedicate their lives to Jehovah and get baptized. Pele knew that he would be called to account for leaving the religion of his ancestors. So he studied hard and prayed earnestly for Jehovah's help. When summoned by the high chief of the family to a meeting at Pele's home village of Faleasiu, a large coastal village 12 miles west of Apia, Pele and another relative interested in the truth faced a hostile assembly of six chiefs, three orators, ten pastors, two theological teachers, the high chief who was presiding, and the older men and women of the family.

"They cursed and condemned us for disgracing the name of the family and the church of our forefathers," recalls Pele. The high chief then proposed a debate, which ended up lasting until four in the morning.

"Even though some yelled, 'Take that Bible away! Leave off that Bible!' I answered all their questions from the Bible and disproved their arguments," states Pele. "Finally, neither word nor sound was forthcoming from them. Their heads were bent down. Then the high chief said in a weak voice: 'You won, Pele.' "

"Pardon me, Sir," Pele recalls saying to the high chief, "I did not win. This night you heard the message of the Kingdom. It is my sincere hope you will heed it."

With Pele's humble reliance on Jehovah and His Word, the Bible, the seed of Kingdom truth was taking root in Upolu.

(and here's some info regarding the structure and tradition of Samoan culture, which really shows what a difficult situation this brother was up against)

Traditional Samoan Culture:
In 1847, a missionary of the London Missionary Society, George Pratt, described Samoans as "the greatest observers of etiquette in Polynesia, if not the world." This traditional Samoan culture—called faa Samoa (the Samoan way)—is a highly structured code that pervades every aspect of Samoan life.
Paramount in this code is "the respect, even veneration, shown for those 'higher' than oneself," says the book Samoan Islands. This respect is reflected in good manners, proper speech, and allegiance to one's family and village. Most consider it unthinkable to reject the customs and religion of their forefathers.
Family chiefs (matai), the guardians of this tradition, direct the daily affairs of one or more related family groups and represent them on the village council. They command strict obedience and enforce their authority through fines, beatings, or even expulsion from the village. For example, the matai of one village fined a clergyman when he made young boys throw stones at Jehovah's Witnesses.
Villages may have from 10 to 50 matai. Most are elected by extended family (aiga), but some inherit the office automatically. Titles are organized according to a strict hierarchy. Each village has a head chief (alii), who presides over the village council. A talking chief (tulafale) cares for ceremonial matters. However, not all matai have political or religious duties. Some may restrict themselves simply to caring for family matters, such as serving as trustees of family land with the authority to decide how such property is used.

daily text 9/10

Friday, September 10th, 2010
"Honor men of all sorts" (1 Peter 2:17)

Of course, we do not limit our respect to those who are part of the Christian congregation. Paul wrote to Christians in his day: "As long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all." (Galatians 6:10) Granted, applying that principle can be a challenge if a workmate or a schoolmate treats us unkindly. At such moments, we need to remember the words: "Do not show yourself heated up because of the evildoers." (Psalm 37:1) Applying that counsel will help us to respond respectfully even to opposers. Similarly, while we engage in the public ministry, a humble view of ourselves can help us to respond to all with "a mild temper and deep respect." (1 Peter 3:15) Even our appearance and dress can indicate that we respect those to whom we preach. Indeed, whether we are dealing with our fellow believers or with those outside the congregation, we want to strive to apply the admonition of today's text.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/08, 4:16, 17)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Elijah Persisted In Prayer ... Do You?

FYI-I backdated a post that I hadn't finished working on which tied in with the theme of yesterday's text (about hardships and turmoil within marriage), but make sure to read it, because it's such a good example of real love, devotion, and loyalty, enduring in the face of extreme trials and disappointments.

The following article on (pgs 17-20 of the 4/1/08 Watchtower) is a perfect example of why perseverance in prayer is so important,...because at times, even prophets like Elijah, (who was used by God to perform many powerful miracles), didn't always get a response to his prayers immediately, but had to be persistent.

He Watched, and He Waited
Elijah longed to be alone with his heavenly Father. But the throngs of people around him had just seen this true prophet call down fire from heaven, and many of them were no doubt eager to curry favor with him. Before Elijah could ascend to the windswept heights of Mount Carmel and approach Jehovah God in private prayer, he faced an unpleasant task. He had to speak to King Ahab.
The two men could hardly have been more different. Ahab, bedecked in royal finery, was a greedy, weak-willed apostate. Elijah wore the official garb of a prophet—a simple, rustic robe possibly of animal skin or of woven camel or goat hair. He was a man of great courage, integrity, and faith. The day that was now drawing to a close had revealed much about the character of both men.

It had been a bad day for Ahab and other Baal worshippers. The pagan religion that Ahab and his wife, Queen Jezebel, championed in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel had been dealt a terrible blow. Baal had been exposed as a fraud. That lifeless god had failed to light a simple fire in response to the frantic pleas, dances, and ritual bloodletting of his prophets. Baal had failed to protect those 450 men from their well-deserved execution. But the false god had failed in something else, and that failure was about to be made complete. For over three years, the Baal prophets had implored their god to end the drought afflicting the land, but Baal had proved unable to do so. Soon, Jehovah himself would demonstrate his supremacy by ending the drought.—1 Kings 16:30–17:1; 18:1-40.

When, though, would Jehovah act? How would Elijah conduct himself until then? And what can we learn from this man of faith?

Let us see as we examine the account recorded at 1 Kings 18:41-46.

A Prayerful Attitude
Elijah approached Ahab and said: “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the turmoil of a downpour.” (Verse 41) Had this wicked king learned anything from the day’s events? The account does not say specifically, but we find here no words of repentance, no request that the prophet help him approach Jehovah and seek forgiveness. No, Ahab simply “proceeded to go up to eat and drink.” (Verse 42) What about Elijah?

“As for Elijah, he went up to the top of Carmel and began crouching to the earth and keeping his face put between his knees.” While Ahab went off to fill his stomach, Elijah had an opportunity to pray to his Father. Note the humble posture described here—Elijah on the ground with his head bowed so low that his face was near his knees. What was Elijah doing? We need not guess. The Bible, at James 5:18, tells us that Elijah prayed for the drought to end. No doubt he was offering such a prayer on top of Carmel.
Earlier, Jehovah said: “I am determined to give rain upon the surface of the ground.” (1 Kings 18:1) So Elijah prayed that his Father’s stated will be accomplished, much as Jesus taught his followers to pray some one thousand years later.—Matthew 6:9, 10.

Elijah’s example teaches us much about prayer. Foremost in Elijah’s thoughts was the accomplishment of his Father’s will.

When we pray, it is good to remember: “No matter what it is that we ask according to [God’s] will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Clearly, then, we need to know what God’s will is in order to pray acceptably—a good reason to make Bible study a part of our daily life. Surely Elijah also wanted to see an end to the drought because of all the suffering among the people of his homeland. His heart was likely full of thanksgiving after the miracle he had seen Jehovah perform that day. Concern for the welfare of others and heartfelt thanksgiving should mark our prayers as well.—2 Corinthians 1:11; Philippians 4:6.

Confident and Watchful
Elijah was sure that Jehovah would act to end the drought, but he was not sure when Jehovah would act. So, what did the prophet do in the meantime? Note what verse 43 says: “He said to his attendant: ‘Go up, please. Look in the direction of the sea.’ So he went up and looked and then said: ‘There is nothing at all.’ And he went on to say, ‘Go back,’ for seven times.”

Elijah’s example teaches us at least two lessons. First, note the prophet’s confidence. Then, consider his watchfulness.

Elijah eagerly sought evidence that Jehovah was about to act, so he sent his attendant up to a high vantage point to scan the horizon for any signs of impending rain. Upon his return, the attendant delivered this unenthusiastic report: “There is nothing at all.” The horizon was clear, and the sky, evidently cloudless. Now, did you notice something unusual? Remember, Elijah had just told King Ahab: “There is the sound of the turmoil of a downpour.” How could the prophet say such a thing when there were no rain clouds to be seen?

Elijah knew of Jehovah’s promise. As Jehovah’s prophet and representative, he was sure that his God would fulfill His word. Elijah was confident—so much so that it was as if he could already hear the downpour. We might be reminded of the Bible’s description of Moses: “He continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” Is God that real to you? He provides ample reason for us to put that kind of faith in him and his promises.—Hebrews 11:1, 27.

Next, notice how watchful Elijah was. He sent his attendant back, not once or twice, but seven times! We might imagine the attendant tiring of such a repetitive task, but Elijah remained eager for a sign and did not give up. Finally, after his seventh trip, the attendant reported: “Look! There is a small cloud like a man’s palm ascending out of the sea.” (Verse 44) Can you picture that attendant holding his arm outstretched and using his palm to gauge the size of one little cloud coming up over the horizon of the Great Sea? The attendant may have been unimpressed. To Elijah, though, that cloud was significant. He now gave his attendant urgent directions: “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Hitch up! And go down that the downpour may not detain you!’”

Again, Elijah set a powerful example for us. We too live at a time when God will soon act to fulfill his stated purpose. Elijah awaited the end of a drought; God’s servants today await the end of a corrupt world system of things. (1 John 2:17) Until Jehovah God acts, we need to remain watchful, as Elijah was. God’s own Son, Jesus, advised his followers: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42) Did Jesus mean that his followers would be completely in the dark as to when the end would come? No, for he spoke at length about what the world would be like in the days leading up to the end. Each of us can learn about this detailed sign of “the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 24:3-7.

Each facet of that sign furnishes powerful, convincing evidence. Is such evidence enough to move us to act with urgency? One little cloud rising from the horizon was enough to convince Elijah that Jehovah was about to act. Was the faithful prophet disappointed?

Jehovah Brings Relief and Blessings
The account continues: “It came about in the meantime that the heavens themselves darkened up with clouds and wind and a great downpour began to occur. And Ahab kept riding and made his way to Jezreel.” (Verse 45) Events began to unfold at remarkable speed. While Elijah’s attendant was delivering the prophet’s message to Ahab, that little cloud became many, filling and darkening the sky. A great wind blew. At last, after three and a half years, rain fell on the soil of Israel. The parched ground drank in the drops. As the rain became a downpour, the river Kishon swelled, no doubt washing away the blood of the executed Baal prophets. The wayward Israelites too were being given a chance to wash away the terrible stain of Baal worship on the land.

Surely Elijah hoped that it would be so! Would Ahab repent and turn away from the pollution of Baal worship? The events of the day had furnished powerful reasons to make such changes. Of course, we cannot know what was going through Ahab’s mind at the moment. The account simply tells us that the king “kept riding and made his way to Jezreel.” Had he learned anything? Was he resolved to change his ways? Later events suggest that the answer is no. Still, the day was not yet over for Ahab—nor for Elijah.

Jehovah’s prophet began to make his way along the same road Ahab had taken. A long, dark, wet trek lay ahead of him. But something unusual happened next.
“The very hand of Jehovah proved to be upon Elijah, so that he girded up his hips and went running ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.” (Verse 46) Clearly, “the very hand of Jehovah” was acting upon Elijah in a supernatural way. Jezreel was some 20 miles [30 km] distant, and Elijah was no youth. Just picture that prophet girding up his long garments, tying them at his hips so that his legs would have freedom of movement, and then running along that rain-drenched road—running so fast that he caught up with, passed, and outpaced the royal chariot!

What a blessing that must have been for Elijah! To feel such strength, vitality, and stamina—perhaps even more than he had ever felt in his youth—must have proved a thrilling experience. We might be reminded of the prophecies that guarantee perfect health and vigor to faithful ones in the coming earthly Paradise. (Isaiah 35:6; Luke 23:43) As Elijah raced along that wet road, he surely knew that he had the approval of his Father, the only true God, Jehovah!

Jehovah is eager to bestow blessings. Reaching out for them is worth every effort we can make. Like Elijah, we need to be watchful, carefully weighing the powerful evidence showing that Jehovah is about to act in these dangerous and urgent times. Like Elijah, we have every reason to place complete confidence in the promises of Jehovah, “the God of truth.”—Psalm 31:5.

daily text 9/9

Thursday, September 9th, 2010
"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" (Matthew 7:7)

It is proper to "keep on asking" for anything that is in harmony with God's will. In keeping with Jesus' words, the apostle John wrote: "This is the confidence that we have toward [God], that no matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he hears us." (1 John 5:14) Jesus' counsel to 'keep on asking and seeking' means that we should pray earnestly and not give up. It is also necessary for us to "keep on knocking" to gain access to the Kingdom and enjoy its blessings, benefits, and rewards. But can we be confident that God will answer our prayers? Yes, we can if we are faithful to Jehovah, for Christ said: "Everyone asking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened." (Matthew 7:8) Many experiences enjoyed by Jehovah's servants prove that God truly is the "Hearer of prayer."—Psalm 65:2.
(Watchtower issue: 2/15/09, 3:17, 18)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Arrested the Night Before Their Wedding...

The following experience, on (pgs 190-192 of the 2002 Yearbook), is about a couple in Ukraine who had their marriage plans (and entire lives), cruelly disrupted by the authorities for years.

Hanna Shyshko and Yurii Kopos (On the night before their wedding day, they were arrested and sentenced to 10 years of camp imprisonment. They were married 10 years later)

A Lofty Example of Faith
At times, severe tests of faith continued for months, years, and even decades. Consider one example. Yurii Kopos was born and grew up not far from the beautiful Transcarpathian town of Khust. In 1938, at the age of 25, he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1940, during World War II, he was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment because of his refusal to join a Hungarian army that supported the Nazi regime. In Transcarpathia, the local laws of that time did not allow execution of prisoners of faith. The brothers, therefore, were sent to the front lines where Nazi law allowed such executions. In 1942, Brother Kopos was sent under military escort with other prisoners including 21 other Witnesses to the front lines near Stalingrad, Russia. They were sent there to be executed. Shortly after their arrival, however, the Soviet army began to attack, capturing the German military troops and also the brothers. The Witnesses were sent to a Soviet prison camp, where they remained until 1946 when they were released.

Brother Kopos returned home, taking an active part in the preaching work in his home territory. Because of this activity, in 1950 the Soviet authorities sentenced him to 25 years in a prison camp. Under an amnesty, however, he was released after six years.

Following his release, Brother Kopos, now 44 years old, planned to marry Hanna Shyshko. She too was a Witness and had been recently released from prison after serving a ten-year sentence. They submitted an application for the registration of their marriage. On the night before their wedding day, they were again arrested and sentenced to ten years of camp imprisonment. However, they survived all these hardships, and their love endured all things, including a ten-year delay in their marriage. (1 Corinthians 13:7) Finally, after their release in 1967, they were married.

Yurii Kopos (spent almost a third of a century in Soviet prisons and labor camps)

That is not the end of their story. In 1973, Brother Kopos, now 60 years of age, was arrested once again and sentenced to five years of camp imprisonment and five years of exile. He served his term of exile together with his wife, Hanna, in Siberia, 3,000 miles [5,000 km] from his hometown of Khust. There was no communication with that area by motor or railway, only by air. In 1983, Brother Kopos together with his wife returned home to Khust. Hanna died in 1989, and he faithfully continued to serve Jehovah till his death in 1997. Altogether, Brother Kopos served 27 years in various prisons and 5 years in exile—a total of 32 years.
This modest and meek man spent almost a third of the century in Soviet prisons and labor camps. Such an extraordinary example of faith clearly shows that enemies cannot destroy the integrity of God’s loyal servants.

(Here's a similar experience on pg 183)

Arrested 10 Days After His Wedding...
Consider another example of great endurance. Yurii Popsha was a traveling overseer in Transcarpathia. Ten days after his wedding, he was arrested. Instead of going on his honeymoon, he spent ten years in prison in Mordvinia, Russia. His faithful wife, Mariya, visited him 14 times, each time traveling approximately 900 miles [1,500 km] each way. Presently, Brother Popsha serves as an elder in one of the local congregations in Transcarpathia, and his beloved Mariya faithfully and lovingly supports him.

daily text 9/8

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
"Mere oppression may make a wise one act crazy" (Ecclesiastes 7:7)

Even marriages of faithful servants of God can come under great stress. (2 Corinthians 2:11) But Jehovah enables us to cope with such stress. Yes, it can be done. The faithful man Job lost his livestock, his attendants, and his children. Yet, the Bible says: "In all this Job did not sin or ascribe anything improper to God." (Job 1:13-22) Job's wife, on the other hand, said to him: "Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9) Indeed, when tragedies or other difficult circumstances arise, the ensuing emotional turmoil can cause one to act irrationally. If your mate lashes out with hurtful words in response to hardship or "oppression," try to remain calm. Responding in kind might cause one or both of you to say something that will make the situation worse. (Psalm 37:8) So overlook any "wild talk" that might result from frustration or discouragement.—Job 6:3.
(Watchtower issue: 9/15/08, 3:14, 15)

Even though I don't typically associate this particular scripture with distressing situations in a marriage. (since on the surface, it seems more applicable to a person being oppressed and dominated by a powerful ruler or slave-driver, or someone confined to prison), but it makes alot of sense when you look at it from the standpoint of Job and his wife.

Because that period of time wasn't just terrible for Job, but it was probably even more terrible for his wife, since not only did she experience the loss of all her children who she had given birth to, as well as her attendants, physical possessions, and material security, but she also had to face the thought of losing her husband (on top of everything else), because the disease he had was so horrible that it would have seemed incurable.

Plus, she no doubt took on a care-taker role for her husband (who was now disabled), since pretty much everyone else bailed on them, according to the account. And Job's 3 friends, (who she was probably *counting on* for support and encouragement at her darkest hour), turned out to be "false comforters" who only added to her emotional burden.

The Bible doesn't mention anything about Job getting remarried after he finally regained health, so that indicates that his wife's behavior was the result of being under tremendous emotional strain...not due to being wicked or disloyal to God or her husband. And the evidence of that, is shown by the fact that God allowed her to experience all the blessings that Job was blessed with afterward.

So that's a great example showing how even a normally faithful person can feel so "oppressed" and burdened by overwhelming circumstances in life, that they may lash out with "crazy" or "wild talk" against their loved ones.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yay! More Translations in Print and Online!

407 Language Translations
(an additional 4 language translations are available online)

Jehovah’s Witnesses Release First Complete Bible in Ossetian

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2010

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia—Saturday August 21, 2010, will be a day long remembered by the Ossetian people who attended the 2010 “Remain Close to Jehovah!” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses that was held in Vladikavkaz, Ossetia, where the first complete translation of the Bible into Ossetian was announced. Many of the almost 2,000 in attendance could not hold back tears of joy when they received their free, personal copy of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in Ossetian. Previously, only parts of the Holy Scriptures had been translated into that language.

The literary value of this translation is realized by noting that in February 2009 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included Ossetian on its list of disappearing languages. The translators feel that the Bible will be of great help to many in Ossetia who desire to see their language continue to be spoken by future generations. Of greater importance is that the translation into modern-day Ossetian will contribute to a deeper understanding of the excelling wisdom of that ancient book.

To date, more than 165,000,000 copies of the New World Translation have been printed, the whole or in part, in 83 languages.

daily text 9/7

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
"Throw all your anxiety upon [God], because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7)

In God's new world, full spiritual and physical healing will be brought about by means of forgiveness of sins on the basis of Jesus' ransom sacrifice. The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, will guide us to "fountains of waters of life," and God will wipe out every tear from our eyes. (Revelation 7:14-17; 22:1, 2) Then, too, we will experience the fulfillment of this thrilling prophecy: "No resident will say: 'I am sick.' " (Isaiah 33:24) We are convinced that our deliverance is near, and we eagerly await the day when Jehovah will reverse the process of human sickness and death. In the meantime, we are assured that our loving Father will help us to endure the burden of our aches and pains because 'he cares for us.' Let us, therefore, take care of our health but always in accord with the clear guidelines contained in God's inspired Word!
(Watchtower issue: 11/15/08, 3:18, 19)

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Holding Fast Their Integrity" to the End - Jehovah's Witnesses in Ukraine

The following photos and experiences from Ukraine, are on (pgs 141-143 & 152-153 of the 2002 Yearbook)

Time of Severe Testing
The end of the 1930’s marked big changes for the borders of many countries in eastern Europe. Nazi Germany and the U.S.S.R. expanded their spheres of influence to engulf less powerful countries.

In March 1939, Hungary, with the support of Nazi Germany, occupied Transcarpathia. A ban was imposed on the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all Kingdom Halls were closed. The authorities brutally mistreated the brothers and sent many to prison. Most Witnesses from the Ukrainian villages of Velykyi Bychkiv and Kobyletska Poliana were imprisoned.

When the Soviets arrived in the territory of Halychyna and Volyn’ in 1939, Ukraine’s western borders were closed. Thus, contact with the Poland office was lost. After World War II started, the organization went underground. Brothers gathered together in small groups called circles and continued their ministry more cautiously.

Later, Nazi armies invaded Ukraine. During the German occupation, the clergy began to stir up the masses against Jehovah’s people. In Halychyna fierce persecution raged. Windows in the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses were smashed, and many brothers were severely beaten. In winter, some of the brothers were forced to stand in cold water for hours because they would not make the sign of the cross. Some sisters received 50 blows with a stick. A number of brothers lost their lives keeping their integrity. For example, the Gestapo executed Illia Hovuchak, a full-time minister from the Carpathian Mountains. A Catholic priest had handed him over to the Gestapo because Brother Hovuchak zealously preached about God’s Kingdom. It was a time of severe testing. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s servants continued to stand firm.

War Trials
War is harsh and cruel, bringing hardship, suffering, and death to both soldier and civilian. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not spared the grim consequences of war. Still, although they are in the world, they are no part of it. (John 17:15, 16) In imitation of their Leader, Jesus Christ, they maintain strict political neutrality. For the Witnesses in Ukraine, as elsewhere, this stand has set them apart as genuine Christians. And while the world honors its war heroes, both living and dead, Jehovah honors those who bravely prove their loyalty to him.—1 Samuel 2:30.

By the end of 1944, Soviet troops retook western Ukraine and announced universal military conscription. At the same time, groups of Ukrainian partisans fought against both German and Soviet troops. Inhabitants of western Ukraine were pressured to join the ranks of the partisans. All of this presented new trials for Jehovah’s servants in maintaining their neutrality. Because of their refusal to fight, a number of brothers were executed.

Ivan Maksymiuk and his son Mykhailo learned the truth from Illia Hovuchak. During the war, they refused to take up arms, so they were detained by the partisans. Some time earlier, these partisans had also detained a Soviet soldier. The partisans commanded Ivan Maksymiuk to kill the captive soldier, saying that if he would do so, they would release him. When Brother Maksymiuk refused, they sadistically murdered him. His son Mykhailo was killed in the same manner, as were Yurii Freyuk and his 17-year-old son, Mykola.

Other brothers were executed because they refused to join the Soviet army. (Isaiah 2:4) Still others were sentenced to prison for ten years. Imprisoned brothers had very slim chances of survival, for during the postwar period in Ukraine, even those who were free were starving. In 1944, Michael Dasevich was imprisoned because of his neutrality. Prior to his ten-year imprisonment, he was under investigation for six months, reducing him to a state of total exhaustion. The medical commission of the prison prescribed a “high-calorie diet” for him. So the prison kitchen staff started to add a teaspoon of oil to his portion of porridge—the only food he was allowed. Brother Dasevich survived to serve for 23 years on the U.S.S.R. country committee and later on the Ukraine country committee.

In 1944, seven brothers from one congregation in Bukovina refused to join the military and were sentenced to from three to four years’ imprisonment each. Four of them starved to death in prison. That same year five brothers from a nearby congregation were sentenced to ten years each in a Siberian prison camp. Only one of them returned home—the others died there.