Do The Right Thing

Monday, 25-Jan-2015New World Translation Ezr 10:3 Now let us make a covenant with our God to send away all the wives and those born from them, in harmony with the direction of Jehovah and of those who have reverence for the commandment of our God. Let us act according to the Law.

w06 1/15 p. 20 par. 2 Highlights From the Book of Ezra 10:3, 44—Why were the children put away along with the wives? If the children had stayed behind, the likelihood that the dismissed wives would return on account of them would have increased. Moreover, little children generally require the care of their mother.

I thought this was interesting, as I find it relates to an issue that assists at times with our bible students who, while living an immoral life, have a child or children, or perhaps are me merely pregnant, and are of the belief that they need to ‘do the right thing’ and, for example, marry this man, or this woman, instead of moving out away from this person they’re living with or with whom they fathered a child with.

In the world there is a belief that when a boy (and that’s what they are as they’re still living at home under their parents roof), gets a girl pregnant, this boy must do the ‘right and proper thing and marry this girl and become a father to this child. Love doesn’t play a role as it’s assumed that love is what lead to the child, illustrating how little love is understood by people in the world. It is unusual for this boy and girl to have been dating and instead of teaching both girl and boy about the purpose of dating, they are encouraged not to do anything stupid – translation: don’t get pregnant. Yet in time, as the boy and girl are allowed to spend time alone, they have sex. And if nothing ‘bad’ happens they’ll have sex again, and again, until something ‘stupid’ happens. The girl naturally leans of this first and is faced with the enormous pressure of what to do and how to handle this situation. Due to the lack of experience she, and the boy, have, the pressure is enormous and what often happens is she turns to her girlfriends (in part the media – books, magazines, TV and movies – promote this idea of turning to and relying on the advise of your peers). The young pregnant girl is struggling with an array of emotions coupled with the knowledge that what has happened isn’t really what should have happened. She has feelings of guilt because even though her parents failed to prevent her from engaging in premarital sex, she probably would have anyway, since she ‘d never received any real guidelines other then to be ‘a good girl’ – which can be taken in a number of ways and is somewhat subjective and relative. She’s told to have an abortion by one or two of her friends. She’s asked if she’s told the boy, who she has been ignoring of late. Her parents may or may not have noticed a change in their daughter, who has become more emotional and secretive, or wondered by the boy hasn’t been around. “Have you two broken up?” They may ask, which brings a response that indicates that yes, the boy is out of the picture. And yet, wait a minute, that’s not it is it?

Meanwhile the boy is one ring whats happened as they were inseparable and now she isn’t even returning his calls. Depending on his level of maturity he may be deeply hurt, jealous, insecure or angry and he too becomes a ticking time bomb – how will he react?

What’s interesting is the difference these two young people act as opposed to an older couple who have waited until after marriage to have sex and have discussed their goals in life and so on. While a pregnancy may not have been planned, they have established a patterned of discussing matters together and trust one another and are determined to make things work. The difference isn’t really a matter of age but of maturity, being emotionally ready for life as an adult, not just physically.

In any event, at some point very body finds out, and everybody has an opinion. The world would say that it’s the girls choice whether or not to have the child, while there are some that would insist that the boy who fathered the child has a say in the matter. ‘Do the right thing’ is thrown about, implying that the right thing is what that person tells you to do – have the child; have an abortion; marry this boy. But everything is based on people’s personal view, their individual perspective. Although some may cite the churches stand, even quoting (misquoting) scripture, where were these insightful suggestions when the girl and boy we’re seeing one another?

A major concern is the baby and who will take care of the baby, although it is almost always assumed that the girl decides. The boy has little say in the matter but is pressured by his peers and parents, although not all the time, to do the right thing and marry the girl. He has now seen other sides of this girl and it isn’t uncommon for him to now have no interest in the girl. But with the development of his child there is a vested interest. What will he do?

Generally by the time we come into contact with such ones, they are two or three or more children down the road. The girl is living with her third or forth boyfriend, and they aren’t married. She’s become a bit cynical and the thought of raising these kids alone I would imagine is a bit overwhelming, although this may not be the case. As for the man she’s living with – I’ve never interviewed one so I have little or no idea what their story is, though I can use my imagination.

If you’re studying with one, or the other, or both, at some point you’ll be asked what they should do about their living together situation. To begin with we shouldn’t offer our viewpoint but everything we share should come from God’s word. While we’d want to share with them God’s view of marriage and might explain what Jehovah finds displeasing about their situation, we’d want to be careful about giving the impression that we are standing in judgement, or judging them. That I’d not why we’re there nor what we do. Our purpose is to reveal bible truths so that they can make an informed decision, whether or not to serve God. We would never say that they ‘need to do the right thing’ as ‘the right thing’ is relative, depending on whose point of view one shares. What their parents, their peers and friends and others say is the ‘right thing’ will not coincide with what Jehovah says is the ‘right thing’. And it isn’t our place to tell them what to do but rather to show them what God’s word says on the matter and allow them to make up their own mind. When we tell someone what to do, and in any way they feel obligated to follow our advice or suggestion, we force that person to follow us, instead of God.

Taking another look at the scripture for today, I thought of the man who must send his wife or wives away. The scripture added that they were to send their children away as well. Does this apply today?

In reviewing this scripture and the WT comments, it would appear that this pertained to the very unique situation that existed at that time. The terrible spiritual condition of the nation was a result, in part, of their disobedience and aligning themselves with pagan wives.

But think for a moment of Naomi, who accompanied her husband to a foreign land and witnessed her two sone marry pagan women, of whom Ruth was one. While this went counter to God’s law, no mention is made of God’s displeasure and there were no recorded side effects from this. They were fortunate that Ruth came to love Jehovah, but had she bore Naomi children would she and the child have been sent away had her husband lived and wanted to return to Jerusalem with his family and mother in tow? What we know is that the sad condition of the nation of Israel was, in part, a result of their taking pagan wives and Jehovah acted accordingly.

So what is the ‘right thing’ today? Would it be ‘right’ for a man who is studying the bible and wants to please God, upon learning that the woman he’d been sleeping with is pregnant, to force her to 1) keep the child, 2) marry him since he is the father of this child, 3) expect her to convert and become a witness? Or if he’s married and had been having an affair, should he divorce his wife to marry the pregnant mistress? Or should he demand the pregnant woman get a pregnancy test done to determine whose child it is? Should he kick her out of his home, if they’re living together without being married, or should he move out and leave the house to her and the kids? Seriously, where do the questions start and end?

Jehovah want us to serve him with a sound mind, in accordance with his righteous principals and in a reasonable manner. This means that we can’t be rash in our decisions, nor procrastinate. But instead Jehovah expects us to research the matter, make it a matter of prayer, along with deep reflective thought, and come to a conclusion based on what we’ve read and considered playfully. This means that while there may be multiple choices, there are choices that are in accordance with righteous principles and choices that aren’t. It also implies that there may be choices that might effect the consciences of others and we’d need to take that into consideration.
I’m of the thought that when a person says ‘do the right thing’ what they actually mean is do what feels right, follow your heart or go with your gut instinct. If this is the case, it displays a very fleshly view, especially since the scriptures make it plain that humans have neither the ability nor the right to make their own decisions. This fact, in of itself is thought provoking for it implies that every single decision we make in life must we weighed with what Jehovah tells us. Does this mean that when I’m offered a choice, say what would I like to eat or what clothes will I wear, I must first consult Jehovah in prayer? Well no, although there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that. However, even these simple choices, which ultimately are matters of personal preference, still fall within the realm of bible principles. For example, in selecting my wardrobe I must consider if what I wear might offend someone in addition to what I like or feel comfortable wearing, and what’s appropriate for the occasion. True, there’s always the possibility that you will wear something that someone will take issue with, but 1) do we take measures to keep this to the minimum and 2) the person offended – are they being reasonable. This isn’t for us to determine but it’s worth noting. If we are continually offending others with our dress or grooming, what steps have we taken to address and correct the matter? Or do we feel we have a right to dress and groom ourselves however we like? The same goes for the example of selecting what we’ll eat. While we have been given permission from Jehovah to eat whatever we want, with the exception of blood, do we show respect for life by eating a healthy diet? Or do we fill ourselves with foods that we know will cause problems down the road?  

In both these cases we face a decision that on our own we are unable to make without taking into consideration scriptural principles. But just think about more serious decisions, choices we face that can have a lasting and profound effect on our lives and the lives of others. How vital that we consider Jehovah in every decision we face.

Doing the right thing should mean doing what would please Jehovah. The question: what would Jesus do would apply.

What has happened to James Bond?

The world recently witnessed the release of the latest entry in a 50 year long series of motion pictures featuring the one and only 007. Entitled SPECTRE, it came on the heels of what the world has hailed as a bonafide blockbuster – SKYFALL, but was met with mixed reviews.
Personally I found, on the initial viewing, a beautiful film to watch, especially the opening scene. But while the film was visually stunning in my view, I left the theatre feeling empty and really let down. I could attempt to analyses the film, citing, the last half as an example of rushed and sloppy (lazy) writing and go on about the waste of an opportunity to do more than merely introduce a major villain in the franchise and explain how he got his scar, but I won’t go there. Instead, I want to discuss what I think has happened to this beloved icon and offer some thoughts on how I think it can be saved. Unfortunately some of what I’m going to say won’t sit well with certain readers, and I admit that what I share are just my personal ideas.

To be perfectly honest, the Bond films have never been Academy Award winning movies. I feel this is worth noting because I believe people have elevated 007 to the realm generally reserved for myth and legends, so anything less than stupendous is thought to be a disappointment, and that’s unfortunate. In going back over the movies made with Daniel Craig, beginning with Casino Royale, one must admit that none of these movies are worthy of a Best Picture nomination. This doesn’t mean that the reboot didn’t work. It worked aces by breathing life into a worn out franchise. The tragedy lies in the failure to create something beyond fresh and new and exciting.

For example: while a certain number of the performances have been outstanding, such as Daniel Craig, the vast majority of the characters are still portrayed as stock, one dimensional cardboard figures that don’t allow even the most talented of actors and actresses to portray with any meaningful level of depth. This was the case with Blofeld who should have been one of the chilling, mysterious and powerful figures to date.

While introducing the arch villain of the Bond series, the film SPECTRE induced the element of mystery to this pivotal character by hinting at his existence in the burned photograph recovered from Bond’s Skyfall estate. Next, the film reveals a bit more of this sinister villain by showing him from behind, without any view of his face, while at the funeral or memorial service. The camera focuses on the back of his head, taking in Monica in the background. We see him from this vantage point a couple of times before he walks away, along with a group of other men who I suppose are his associates and security/bodyguards.

As we follow the story we watch as Bond attends a private meeting in Rome and here, casting him in the shadows while sitting at the head of an enormous table, surrounded by god knows who any of these people are, we see him again. (By the way, how Bond gained access to this secret meeting in itself I found to be something of a joke and took away a measure of dignity this character requires.) Then, while this shadowed person whispers instructions to an assistant standing beside him he stops and addresses James by name while turning to allow the light to reveal Christopher Waltz. Now here is an actor who has proven that he can ooze villainy in a way that can get under your skin. He can be creepy, funny, charming, intelligent and scary but I’ve never seen him as idiotic or stupid. What I saw in SPECTRE was an insecure man who somehow sits in the chair of an organization that, from what I saw, isn’t very sinister, evil or deadly.

From the moment he spoke his first words aloud through to the end of the film, I was left wondering what the hell is going on. What had they done to what was supposed to be an overlord, mastermind criminal and super evil genius? Had Dr Evil from the Austin Powers taken some of the stuffing out of this character? Had the creators (I realize Ian Fleming is gone but his legacy in the hands of others), the writers and producers and director lost their way? Here they have an opportunity to re-invent the most awesome antagonist to date, starting from square one, as they had with Bond, and mold a presence that would resonate with audiences from around the world. But instead I felt I was watching a screen test with no direction and Christopher Waltz wondering how exactly he was expected to play this role. While there are moments (well, maybe just two moments) when he appears to striving to reach some semblance of what could have been someone’s idea of a criminal mastermind, what screams throughout his entire performance is “I am a jealous, insecure brat!!! I hate you James because you stole my daddy!!! And I’m going to get you!!!!” What’s interesting is that while this may be at the core of what drives Blofeld, shouldn’t it have been restrained and the elements that reveal his enormous amount of power and influence and wickedness should have been more in focused and capitalized on? I’m of the belief that the creating staff behind this film were afraid of it becoming a parody of itself, or worse yet, an Austin Powers movie.

Having said that, let me talk about the henchman Hinx. W O W…O M G…where do I begin…For me, this was one of the most frightening henchmen in the entire franchise, perhaps second only to Donald ‘Red’ Grant in ‘From Russia With Love’ or Oddjob in ‘Goldfinger.’ Dave Bautista has a threatening presence and a ruthlessness that permeates his performance. If I were to choose two words to describe him I’d use: Unstoppable Menace. When you watch him you know that he’s capable of doing exactly what he’s appears to be doing. In addition to the obvious physical threat he presents in the imposing figure of an unstoppable force, his eyes convey an intelligence that suggest that he is more than your average mindless thug. But again the powers behind the camera failed to truly capitalize on what they had and threw away the chance to have a reoccurring star in his own right, literally, by having him pulled off of the train by what appeared to be sheer luck than anything else. (I honestly thought I was watching the solution to get rid of Hinx as written by an author of young adult fiction).

Having said that, I must comment on another spoiled effort in neglecting to invest a measure of real earnest thought to the actress Monica Bellucci. Seriously, if you are going to hire REAL stars with REAL talent, why would you use them like a disposable Kleenex? She was one of the reasons I was looking forward to seeing SPECTRE. Not because she is gorgeous but because she has the ability to portray a vulnerable woman with real depth of character who can connect with audiences, while presenting an exotic and mature image. She’s not a silly little girl but a real fleshed out woman who has experienced life and seen what the world is really about. Now, with this actress in your corner, why would you have her play the same female character that has appeared in every other James Bond film?

Why can’t they do something different and original and powerfully great in its own right? What is forcing the writers and producers and the decision makers of the modern Bond to remain confined to a follow the dot, formatted play book where every single film is basically the same as every other film? I’m not kidding! I’m deadly serious!!

To illustrate: Imaging a Bond who has reached the age that disqualifies him from active duty? Having suffered from PTSD and having a body that had been used and abused, what would he be doing with his life? He doesn’t have friends, as the recent SPECTRE would have us think, nor is he one to get depressed. So, how would he handle something totally unexpected like the death of someone causing him to suffer from depression? I don’t know but here’s why I say this. One of the best stories, not movies but stories, is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In this tale Bond meets and marries Traci while chasing Blofeld (of all people). Besides Vesper Lynd, Traci is the love of Bonds life and her death at the end of the story provide Bond with the quest for revenge and justice he seems to be waiting for. Fantastic concept. But, if they were to make this film today, we would see featured the following: the car, the gadget, the one liner, the girl to sleep with who dies, the girl who requires being saved, the villain, the muscle beside the villain, exotic locale and unbelievable action. Bond’s life will be in peril but naturally he somehow manages to escape (depending on how much thought they gave to this), M, Moneypenny and Q. Naturally Bond will go rogue and we’ll be left behind trying to figure out how he figured out that he needed to go to ‘exotic locale’ and whatever gadget he is given will be exactly what is required to get out of the unique dilemma he’s faced with.

It’s funny that the film that caused the Bond franchise to stop in their tracks and rethink 007, decide to make him more physical, and cast Daniel Craig was none other than BOURNE, Jason Bourne. But how did they fail to see that Bourne didn’t follow a formula (at least not yet. We’ll have to wait and see if the new film is as fresh and original as its predecessors, or if it’s just a rehash of what we’ve seen and where we’ve been before)? In the very first film, and subsequent movies, we’ve yet to see Bourne be issued a gadget or have a throw away girl as part of the story. The bad guy has been the CIA and their BlackOps agents who appear to be trained and organized. And Bourne time and time again shows that he is a THINKING assassin. He’s in shape but generally speaking a bit shorter, older and ill equipment to handle what comes his way. All he has is his training and his mind (and his heart some might add). He won’t give up or quit but he is constantly assessing everything, whereas Bond is one lucky son of a bitch.

I get it. Bond is the creation of Ian Fleming, and the mold he cast is set permanently in stone. That is why only slight variations are allowed in the telling of the Bond sage. That’s why people threw a fit when it was announced that Bond would be blond. That’s why we have these reoccurring figures who fail to evolve but remain true to form. And this is why the Bond films have become and will remain conventional, over rated and past their due date.

Eyes of faith

The text today used a phrase which we use quite often yet may fail to appreciate it’s true meaning. While I don’t intend to ‘clearly define’ this phrase, I would like to give thought to what it means. The phrase is: with eyes of faith. 
These ‘eyes’ are associated with faith, so this should call to mind the scriptural definition of faith. At Heb 11:1 faith is explained to be “the assured expectation of what is hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen.” From this description it’s implied that faith can ‘see’, thus the need for figurative eyes. When one with faith looks out through these eyes, what they observe is far different then what a person without faith sees. While both persons are viewing the exact same thing, each one sees something different. What they are looking at isn’t different but instead it’s their perspective that has changed. To a certain degree it’s like two people who are viewing a landscape, except one is at see level and the other is standing on a high mountain. Each are viewing the same scene but from a different perspective.

Another way to view it like this – there are two persons looking at a painting on the wall. While they both are examining the same painting, one is looking at the painted image through the clean lenses of an eyeglass prescription that is current and accurate, while the other views the painting through his mothers prescription, which is wrong for his eyes, and are smudged and dirty having never been cleaned. What they are Viewing is the same, it hasn’t changed. But, how the image is translated in the mind is different and the impression of the painting, the information relayed to each person, is different. 

In a similar way, when we look at the world around us, viewing the exact same things others are viewing – the news reports for example, the information relayed to the mind should be different and our reaction and response probably won’t mirror those who are watching the exact same things but doing so without the benefit of ‘eyes of faith’. Because these ‘eyes’ are ‘eyes of faith’ we are viewing the world through what we might liken to as a filter which removes the dust and pollutants in the literal world, which distort the view, and provides a clear and far more accurate picture of what one is viewing. With eyes of faith a person takes whatever it is he is watching and filters it through his understanding of God’s word, taking into consideration past prophesies that have come true, together with future promises of God. We consider what Jehovah’s purpose in connection to what we are viewing and work to get a clear and focused view of matters, adopting God’s view rather then imperfect humans. We recognise that what we are looking at has been doctored, or ‘photoshopped’ so to speak, manufactured by the ‘ruler of the world’ whose purpose it to distract us or to cause us to react in a way that will displease God. And if we are viewing things thru literal eyes without the benefit of eyes of faith, we will fall victim to Satan’s designs. 

Humility

Monday. 1-Feb-2015Today’s text focused on a specific quality which is vital to be found pleasing to God. That quality is humility. This is a quality that is found wanting in the world and not generally associated with men or being a man. The world paints this quality as weak and effeminate yet it is a quality that can cause a person to be approved for everlasting life. That in itself reveals the reason why Satan has deliberately cast this beautiful and endearing quality in a negative light.

Interestingly, the opposite of humility is pride, and while we all need a measure of self-respect it’s fascinating how Satan has twisted this to the point that while it’s considered undesirable to be a ‘proud’ person, it’s common to witness person behaving in an arrogant and haughty manner, speaking abusively of others, or at the least condescendingly, and giving the impression that they are owed respect. The very act of being humble is marked by a restraint of ones ego and a view that others are superior to you, while at the same time maintaining a balanced and realistic view of oneself. And this balance is where it can be tricky for some due to imperfection and various type of insecurities. The heartfelt desire to please Jehovah is good and is what we want as the primary motivator in our lives, directing us to work towards what is proper and good in the eyes of our God. However, our insecurities, which are in fact a part of our human imperfections, have a way of twisting and distorting what is real, creating fears and raises issues where there is nothing to be concerned about. To a large degree it’s ones insecurities that cause a person to take offence, hold a grudge and withhold forgiveness. While this person might think that they are viewing others as superior the reality is that they hold themselves as above others, even if others is a single individual.

The inability to forgive is key, for it is one of the single most telling symptoms of pride. Not being offended, as this will happen to each one of us multiple times each and every day, but the holding of a grudge, sulking in feelings of resentment, and the holding back of forgiveness. This, in part, is why Jehovah places such an important role on our being forgiving of others.

The fact that Jehovah forgives us should help us to understand that this quality isn’t a weakness, as the world would have us believe, but one of strength. Additionally humility reveals that we have adopted the same view as Christ. This quality makes us teachable and qualified to be used by Jehovah more than any amount of natural ability could ever hope. Had Moses, Noah, David or Jesus lack humility we would never have come to know them. And examples such as Saul, Korah and the Pharisees reveal the true danger in failing to be humble.

Humility isn’t a quality one will master over night, or perhaps at all, while living in this present system. But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make the effort to cultivate this beautiful quality. It is life preserving and identifies us as followers of Christ and approved by God.

While considering the quality of humility I asked myself why Jehovah cherishes this quality so much. I think much of the reason is because a person who humble thinks of others first and works to maintain a lowly view of himself. Can you imagine how the world would be a different place if people put the interest of others ahead of their own? It would be a completely different world.

Another possible reason is that a humble person acknowledges that he must rely on others, and ultimately in Jehovah, for help and support. It’s rare for someone to welcome help from others in this present system. It isn’t uncommon for a person to even refuse help and say that they don’t want pity when, in truth, this is exactly what they need. Why do they behave like this? Because they have been conditioned to believe that asking for help, accepting help even just needing help is a sign of weakness. Yet I ask: What is wrong with admitting that I am weak? Why should I feel shame asking for help and feel embarrassed for accepting assistance? This actually is so illogical since, being human, we weren’t created to go thru life complete in ourselves, without help. My thoughts go first to Adam who was created perfect and yet was given a helper, as a complement, in the form of woman. If our creator felt the need to provide the perfect man with a helper, who are we to think we don’t need help? How arrogant!

While the relationship between Adam and Eve was unique and resulted in the arrangement of marriage, there are other examples in the scriptures of ones who were provided help so that they could accomplish various tasks and goals, and even accomplish the divine purpose. Think of Noah and the help he received in his family. Then there is Moses who was assigned Aaron as a helper, as well as appointing qualified men to help later on. While the list could go on, it would be incomplete without mentioning the 12 who helped Jesus. He wouldn’t have been able to accomplish his assignment had he not had help in the form of others, yet he never ‘lorded it over them’ or demonstrated a superior attitude. He set the example in humility, even washing the feet of his apostles…and he was the perfect son of God.

So how can humility be viewed as a weak and undesirable quality when it is anything but? Standing back and examining this quality reveals the extent the thinking of the world has deviated from Jehovah’s thinking. The influence of the devil is powerful and one reason for this is the fact that it appeals to the imperfect flesh, so that we at times are unable to figure out if the problem is Satan, this system or our own imperfect weaknesses. It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, especially since it ultimately all comes from Satan who has designed this system to ensnare us.

What can help us to guard against this satanic thinking? Humility. While we work to maintain a balanced view of ourselves, we must remind ourselves, almost constantly at times, that we don’t know it all and that we can’t do everything on our own; that we need help and will make mistakes; that we are going to disappoint ourselves and others, but if we maintain a humble view of ourselves and get into the practice of trusting in Jehovah and really relying on him, we won’t have any worries.

Comments on today’s text

Thursday 28-Jan-2015

I found the text for today wonderfully encouraging. The comments had this to share:

Even though we may lack self-confidence, Jehovah can help us to go beyond our perceived limits and reach goals that we would not have imagined. Just as an instructor watches an inexperienced rock climber attentively in order to help him find the best handholds, Jehovah is willing to guide us as we make spiritual advancement. Jehovah might also use fellow believers to help us reach our full potential.

Despite what others see or think, if a person believes he is worthless or useless or faulty or unskilled or stupid or lame or in any way less than normal or even perfect, they’re unable to achieve their potential, will be frustrated and ultimately unhappy. This is something Jehovah knows, acknowledges and is telling us he will or already has addressed. I recall a brother who I felt was a fantastic speaker and teacher, who was warm and loving and quite accomplished, only to learn that he felt anything but. He felt inadequate and struggled with feelings of worthlessness. The irony is that I too felt the exact same way while others looked at me as one who was a fantastic speaker and teacher, wam and loving and quite accomplished. It didn’t matter what others saw or thought. Nor did the reality matter – that we both were capable brothers. All that mattered is what our internal feelings told us, which were a distortion of the truth.

While the scriptures encourage us not to think more of ourselves then we ought, this doesn’t mean that we are to think nothing of ourselves, or view ourselves in a twisted or distorted way. Yet, even as we struggle to look at ourselves objectively, as were ally are, our imperfect flesh sees an image not unlike that of a carnival house of mirrors where one sees themselves too tall and thin or too short and fat, the details of our face a mishmash of features like that of a caricature drawing.

The problem is our imperfect flesh. Through no fault of our own e each carry the burden of the inheritance left to us by our first human parents. And even though this is all we’ve ever known, we were created in such a way as to sense that this is not normal. Surrounded by a system designed to distract us and reinforce a lie that this is our reality, we struggle to make sense of what we have been lead to believe is real and wonder why we are unhappy.

This, in itself is an interesting premise, for it highlights an idea that we entertain ourselves with but never actually realise how true it is. That idea is that we are living in a fantasy world, a made up, fabricated system designed and controlled by Satan. Like various stories that tell of people living is a world that isn’t real, we too are faced with like challenges and obstacles, the worst being that we’ll forget that this is not the real life. For this reason alone we need to read and think deeply on God’s word so that we remain mindful of what is real and what is fake.

The feeling we have feel real, just as real as the world around us. But the feelings we have may actually be just as twisted and distorted as this wicked system. How can we know? By comparing our thoughts with God’s thoughts. Self analysis. And the comments today are encouraging as they serve to remind us that we are valuable and worthy, capable and qualified, important and loved by the one who matters most…Jehovah.  

Who controls your life?

Friday. 29-Jan-2016Despite what we might think, we all are influenced and effected by others, to varying degrees. But to what extent we allow ourselves to be impacted or even controlled might surprise us. For example, consider how you might choose to dress after hearing the weather forecast for the day, or what foods you might choose to eat after watching a program on fast foods. When you look at the things you purchase, how much of an effect did advertisements have on your choices?

Yet, we would still consider ourselves in control over our lives and refute the claim that someone is controlling us. But, let’s take another look. Are the choices you make in life influenced by the ruler of the world or by Jehovah? For example, Satan would have us believe that we can do what feels right, while Jehovah says we must think deeply about things and make meaningful and deliberate decisions in life. Satan promotes procrastination, allowing others to make our decisions for us while Jehovah says that we reap what we sow – we are responsible for our own life choices.

Regardless of the words we speak, our actions reveal who our God is and who controls our life.

So what I’d we find that we are being influenced by the ruler of this system, what then? We don’t give up. We don’t make excuses. Instead, we accept responsibility and start making changes in our THINKING. Yes, the problem lies in the way we think. Even though our hearts may love the truth and the kingdom message, our minds need to understand , otherwise why would we be instructed to ‘take in knowledge’ or ‘get to know’ Jehovah? Because our minds play a role in serving Jehovah.

Just because we are too old to be tempted by immorality or drugs or drink do we think that Satan doesn’t have tricks up his sleeve reserved just for old ones? One of the many ‘traps’ Satan has, which work especially well on older ones is: discouragement. As we get older we find we can’t do what we once did. We can’t hold to the standard we once did. We look around and it seems that everyone and everything is a disappointment, even life itself, and we might feel as though we wished it was all over for us. And without realizing it, we have taken a step into the trap of the bird catcher.

Have we made this a matter of prayer to Jehovah – not once a week or once a day in prayer but every single day.

Friday, 8-Jan-2015 Gifts

‘God’s gift of a woman was unique. What an amazing gift God gave the first human couple.’

These words, found in the Watchtower comments of today’s’ text, remind us of something we may not fully recognize or appreciate – that Jehovah is a gift giver. Jehovah enjoys giving gifts and gives only the best of gifts. Of course the greatest gift God has given us, besides our lives, is the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus, who by the way is the second greatest giver of gifts to man.

From what I could find, the word ‘gift’ comes from the thought of ‘something that is given’. There are various reasons and motives why something would be given to another person, but the greatest reason is for no other reason than love. While the world recently experienced its yearly celebration of exchanging gifts and gift giving, I was reminded of what my father told me as a young child growing up. My father said, “We don’t need the calendar to give us a reason to give a gift, and we don’t need to give a gift because someone has given us a gift. We can give a gift whenever our heart moves us to give, and for no other reason then because.”

It’s a terrible feeling to feel obligated to give a gift, at odds as even what to give someone who has given us a gift. It is equally confusing how to respond when given a gift that we neither want nor appreciate (my thoughts turn to the story of the White Elephant). But when gifts are given out of a pure motive (love) and not expected to reciprocated, this is when the example Jehovah set is truly being imitated, for who of us can ever repay Jehovah for the gifts He has given us?

When Jehovah gave Adam the gift of a woman, Jehovah hoped that Adam would appreciate and cherish this very personal gift. And did Jehovah expect a gift in return. No. Even Adams obedience wasn’t expected as a result of this gift. Instead, obedience was connected with receiving blessings from Jehovah, as well as providing man and woman a means to demonstrate their acknowledgment that Jehovah had the right to govern and rule. Additionally, only by mankind being obedient would Jehovah accomplish His purpose for them, which is an interesting thought because instead of working to accomplish His purpose alone, Jehovah chose to allow Jesus, the angles and mankind to work alongside Him to accomplish the purpose of all of our very existence. That in itself is another gift from God to us.

What has Jehovah given you? What gift from the Creator do you cherish? Can you list the various gifts you have received from the Most High of the universe? How does one go about expressing their gratitude and appreciation for these gifts, which we can never repay and aren’t expected to? In the scriptures, we find Abel, Noah and other who followed, offering to Jehovah a burnt sacrifice of a lamb on an altar. Because this is what the faithful men of old did and were favored by God, does this mean we should do it too? What can we do today to demonstrate of gratitude and appreciation to Jehovah? Well, ultimately, what does Jehovah want from man? What did Jehovah want from Adam and Eve? What did Jesus give God that made his sacrificial death meaningful?

Obedience. The only gift we can give to Jehovah is the single thing only you can give Him – your obedience. Obedience in this case involves maintaining ones integrity to God, having absolute confidence in Jehovah, giving Him our allegiance and putting our complete faith in Him. Jehovah doesn’t expect us to be perfect and knows that we will mess up and fall short of His expectations. But another gift Jehovah extends is loving forgiveness, which enables Him to see beyond our failings and see what we can be after the effects of the ransom sacrifice have been extended on us, as individuals. That in itself is gift enough to make us want to try to give Jehovah our best, and extend forgiveness to others.

It’s clear that Jehovah loves mankind, and when we take the time to meditate on the marvelous gifts God has given us it should stir our hearts to cherish these gifts, including one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given – our lives.