Monthly Archives: November 2015

Conversations with a JW: The purpose of life

(This one is very long, mostly because of the commands of Christ section.)

What is the purpose of the life of a believer?

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  • Go and make disciples of all the nations
  • Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit
  • Teaching them to observe all that I commanded you

What does it mean to make a disciple?   Bible.org has the definition of the Greek word used for “disciple”:  The Greek term μαθητής (mathētēs) refers generally to any “student,” “pupil,” “apprentice,” or “adherent,” as opposed to a “teacher.” In the ancient world, however, it is most often associated, with people who were devoted followers of a great religious leader or teacher of philosophy.

So, what are we supposed to be teaching people??

Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

We’re supposed to teach people the Gospel.

What is the gospel?  εὐαγγέλιον euaggelion yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on

From the same as G2097; a good message, that is, the gospel: – gospel.

Simply put, it’s the “good news”

Paul gives us an excellent synopsis:

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Jesus told Nicodemus:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

What does “believe in” mean?  It doesn’t mean an intellectual acknowledgement, because even the demons “believe and tremble” (James 2:19).

The word that Jesus used was: Πιστεύω pisteuō pist-yoo’-o From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

So, we are to teach others to believe in the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day.   We are to encourage them to have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

There is redemption for all who trust in Christ Jesus, what does redemption mean? ἀπολύτρωσις apolutrōsis ap-ol-oo’-tro-sis From a compound of G575 and G3083; (the act) ransom in full, that is, (figuratively) riddance, or (specifically) Christian salvation: – deliverance, redemption.

Having trusted Christ Jesus with our redemption completely, we are justified by God.

This is very good news.

 

So, what are the commands of Christ?  (Returning to the Great Commission, aka Matthew 28)

  • Repent

“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,'” (Matthew 4:17).

  • Follow Him

“And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19).

  • Let your light shine

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).

 

  • Be reconciled

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering,” (Matthew 5:23–24).

  • Don’t Lust

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’, 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell,” (Matthew 5:27–30).

  • Make no oaths

“But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God . . . 37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil,” (Matthew 5:3437).

  • Don’t resist evil with evil

“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you,” (Matthew 5:39-42).

  • Love and pray for your enemies

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:44–46).

  • Be perfect

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48).

  • Seek God’s Kingdom first

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33).

  • Don’t Judge

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged,” (Matthew 7:1).

  • Don’t give what is holy to dogs

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces,” (Matthew 7:6).

  • Treat people as you want to be treated

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets,” (Matthew 7:12).

  • Enter (heaven) through the narrow gate

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it,” (Matthew 7:13-14).

  • Beware of false prophets

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves,” (Matthew 7:15–16).

  • Follow Jesus

“Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead,” (Matthew 8:22).

  • Ask God to send out workers

“Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest,” (Matthew 9:37–38).

  • Don’t fear those who can kill the body

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” (Matthew 10:28).

  • Come to Jesus for rest

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28).

  • Confront brothers in private first

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother,” (Matthew 18:15–17).

  • Forgive Seven times Seventy

“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven,'” (Matthew 18:21–22).

  • Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s

“They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s,” (Matthew 22:21).

  • Love God

“And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND,” (Matthew 22:37–38).

  • Love your Neighbor

“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,'” (Matthew 22:39).

  • Partake of Communion

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body. 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you,” (Matthew 26:26–27).

  • Keep guard against sin

“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” (Matthew 26:41).

  • Make Disciples

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:19-20).

  • Preach the Gospel

“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” (Mark 16:15).

  • Be on guard against greed

“Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions,” (Luke 12:15).

  • Invite the poor

“And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous,” (Luke 14:12–14).

  • Love one another

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another,” (John 13:34).

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you,” (John 15:12).

“This I command you, that you love one another,” (John 15:17). (This list from CARM – I didn’t have time to compile my own, although that sounds like good fun).

(A few more– I edited out the overlap)

  • “You must be born again”

“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.” (John 3:7 KJV)

  • “Remain in Me and I will remain in you”

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” ( John 15:4 NIV)

  • “Let your light shine before men”

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. ” In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven,” (Matt 5:14;16 NIV).

  • “Settle matters quickly with your adversary”

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” (Matt 5:25 NIV)

  • “Get rid of whatever causes you to sin”

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matt 5:29-30 NIV)

  • “Give to Please God, Not to be Seen”

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven,” (Matt 6:1 NIV).

  • “Pray Privately, Not to be Seen of Men”

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words,”
(Matt 6:5-7 NIV).

  • “This, then, is how you should pray”

“This, then, is how you should pray: ” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins,” (Matt 6:9-15 NIV).

  • “Fast Without Fanfare”

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full,” (Matt 6:16 NIV).

  • “Do not Store up Treasures on Earth”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,”
(Matt 6:19-21 NIV).

  • “Do not Worry about Your Needs”

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt 6:25-26 NIV), Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” (Matt 6:34 NIV).

  • “Ask, Seek, and Knock”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you,”
(Matt 7:7 NIV).

  • “Care for Those in Distress”

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me,”
(Matt 25:34-36 NIV).

  • “Have Complete Faith in God”

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours,” (Mark 11:22-24 NIV).

  • “Be Merciful”

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,”
(Luke 6:36 NIV).

(This list from http://www.trusting-in-jesus.com/Commandments-of-Jesus.html)

Reading the Tea Leaves

I have two modes.

  1. Hanging around, analyzing every little bit of everything, trying to figure out how I should improve myself, what I’m doing wrong, etc.
  2. Running for the horizon, bit in my teeth, doing what I’m doing and not paying a bit of attention to anything else.

There’s no middle ground.  Sorry.  I’m (almost) 43.  I’d have noticed by now.

I’ve been in the former state for some time now, trying to figure out what I should be doing, where I should be serving, how I can *do more*, *be more*, etc.  Except… maybe I’m fine.  Maybe that’s what God’s been trying to tell me.  It’s not like I’m not taking the opportunities to serve that I’m given.  Maybe I just need to do what I’m doing.  Maybe instead of doing MORE things, maybe I should work on learning more about what I’ve been given – go deeper, not broader.

That too is something I’ve been given more of lately – from every corner, “use your mind as well as your heart”.    Because my faith is in the bone, there are a lot of questions that I am not bothered to ask.  But, as I grow and have more opportunities to share my faith, I need to be able to answer those questions.

Because that *is* how I use this peaceful life – I have time for other folks.  I’m the one who has time to sit down and chat for an hour (okay, it’s on the phone and I’m ironing) when you need a friend.  And that’s a ministry, even if there’s no tag to wear around my neck.

So.  Reading those tea leaves, trying to figure out what I *should* be doing, what comes next?  It’s time to fill my cup back up and stop poking about, trust God and my husband* to lasso me if I start running the wrong direction, and do what I’m doing – only better.

More?  More study.  More notes.  More life (family, art, friends).  I’m looking all over for where I should be – and where I should be is right where I am.

 

 

*For your amusement, this morning I was telling DH about this and he was laughing at me, so I said, “you really don’t question yourself constantly?”  “No.  No I don’t.” Wow.  What must it be like to just do what you’re doing and not worry about doing it wrong?

Conversations with a JW: Military Service

11/19/15… this convo went much better than usual, God has been showing me some things.  Would anyone here be interested in a closed discussion blog in regards to evangelistic work?  LMK.

The Christian and Military Service

It is understood throughout the Bible that part of the existence of governments includes armies, and warfare.  That reality may be an unfortunate one, because of the Fall, but it’s still reality.

Israel was held up as an example to the world… and they had an army.   Here are some of their rules of warfare:

Deuteronomy 20: 1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.2 When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. 3 He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, 4 for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ 5 The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 6 Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit. 7 And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’ 8 Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’ 9 When the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was a valiant warrior.

Acts 13:22 After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’

Jesus Himself used force during His mortal life.

John 2: 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”

Jesus praised this centurion’s faith, and did not urge him to put down his sword – nor did his faith interfere with his military service (to as corrupt a government as can be imagined).

Luke 7:2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof;7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”

Jesus used war in one of His parables.

Luke 14:31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

Great love can be found on the field of war.

John 15: 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Power in this world is allowed by God.

John 19: 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

Proverbs 8:15 By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice.

The Christian is directed to be obedient to those who are in rightful authority over him.

Ephesians 6: 5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

Which includes governments.

1 Peter 2: 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

Romans 13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

The first Gentile convert was a centurion.

Acts 10:1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

…15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”

… 19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” 21 Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” 22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” 23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging.

…34 Opening his mouth, Peter said:“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— 37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on across. 40 God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Military service, has in most times and places, not been optional.  Christians, as those subject to laws – including laws of conscription – are required to obey rightful laws except where they specifically contradict God’s clearly stated law.  And in that case, Christians are expected to pay the price for disobedience, and have done so… which is why the early Christians were martyred in droves, and why our Christian brethren continue to be martyred to this day in countries around the globe.

ETA:  Elspeth reminded me that I had failed to state the JW position.  In short, it is that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.  Because all the leaders of the world will die during Armageddon, they extend that to all the members of all the armies, and to every armed serviceperson.  Upon conversion/baptism to JW, the person is expected to no longer serve in the military, as an active policeman (no one who carries a gun – evidence technicians and such are allowed), or to hold employment with any company that produces arms.  JW do not vote, and hold themselves neutral on all geopolitical issues.

 

 

Am I less than the dust beneath my husband’s chariot wheels?

And if I were – would that be what God wants me to be?

Around the ‘sphere, discussions have popped up about some popular books on being a good wife – Created to be His Helpmeet and Fascinating Womanhood in particular.

While we can glean useful information from these books and articles, there is often an undercurrent of manipulation.  “If you display this behavior, your target will respond in X fashion”.   “If your target is failing to display the desired behavior, then you are somehow failing in your own display”.

I’m not saying that the instructions never work – far from it.  What I am saying is that these instructions rely upon the “clean up the outside” method of self-improvement.  And that method is neither Scriptural or useful in the long-term.

Scripturally, we are told to submit to the process of sanctification, as we are given a new heart at the time of salvation, and as the Holy Spirit works through us, changing us from the inside out.  We become harder workers for the sake of Christ, we are given the spiritual gifts of agape love and joy and faith and peace, we learn to rely upon the Lord our strength and our shield.

I have been this woman… the woman who idolizes her husband, and puts on the outer garments of godliness in order to acquire her husband’s approval.  The woman who lies in order to avoid displeasing her husband. The woman who gets stomach cramps because something happened that day that won’t please him.   The woman who casts herself down and makes herself small, in a pathetic show of submission.  The idolater.

Not only was that woman clearly in sin, she didn’t make any points with her husband!  My husband HATES that.  He hates lies, he hates dissembly, he hates it when I hedge… heck, he doesn’t even want me to wait until he’s unwound from work before I tell him what random little thing broke that day.    And God?   God knew my heart, and knew who I was really trying to please – and that I would sacrifice my relationship with Him in order to get it.  Do you think I was making any points with God?  Oh – but those books, those BOOKS told me I was doing things right.  And I could take pride in doing things “right”… couldn’t I?

When we make ourselves small, we lie about who we are.  We lie about what we are capable of doing.  We cheat our husbands of our full resources of strength, intelligence, courage, resourcefulness, and wisdom.   We are poor stewards of the gifts that God created us with.  We fail to bring Him glory.  We are the third servant in the parable of the talents – the one so afraid of his master that he hid his talent rather than investing it and putting it to use and increase.   Do you remember how the master treated that servant?

This is not to say that having worked as hard as we are able, we are not then to lay our produce at the feet of our husbands.  No.  The Bible says that it is my husband who is leader of this household.  Whatever increase I can manage – even if it’s better skill with the needle – is a benefit to my husband.  Why?  Because I obey God by submitting myself to my husband.  I do not make myself smaller … I kneel.  You can say that those are the same thing, and you’d have a point.   But when I hear “lower yourself” I hear, “make yourself less”.   I hear the advice in all those books, much of which involves acting like you have the brains of a grapefruit and the backbone of a squid.

Truly – what do you want of the one who is your helpmeet?  Would you not want someone who did everything to be as good at things as she could be, so that all the skill she found, she could then turn to the good of your family, your household?  Is not a skilled worker more valuable than a fool?

Now.  There are those who have bought our culture’s paradigm of womanhood so thoroughly that they don’t understand the joy of giving themselves utterly to their husbands, and that whatever they can acquire is not for their *own* glory, but for the glory of their husband, for the glory of God.   These women need a reality check.  They need a heart change.

Reading a book about being a better wife, looking for what she can glean to fine-tune her behavior, asking her husband for guidance… if those things come from a heart that has already surrendered, then they can be of great effect.  But if the one reading the book is looking for ways to manipulate her situation, it’s all trash.

At the end of the day… if I work hard to become the smartest, strongest, most loving, wisest woman I have the potential to become, maybe MAYBE I’ll be half the wife my husband deserves.  The very last thing I need to do is make myself less, make myself smaller.

All that I have is his, because all that I have is God’s, and God has given him dominion over me and responsibility for me.  That doesn’t lower me.  Obedience doesn’t lower anyone.

It is my honor to submit to my husband, and I do not consider myself “lessened” thereby.

 

Compassionate Evangelism

It was JW week again this week, and I applied some things that I’ve learned from some recent reading and the online sites to my prepared paper – and to my attitude and commentary.

Although it’s not difficult to sense the hatred waft off of her in waves when certain groups are mentioned, I didn’t know that hatred of those groups was taught to Witnesses, as a positive thing.  It is.  (Clergy, Jews, Adam & Eve – to name a few).

Although I had heard her discuss the persecution of JW, I thought she was using it as a selling point.  Maybe she is – but it, again, is something they emphasize to themselves.  As is their “free gift” of study time.   I had no idea it was such a big deal…. after all, I study with women all the time who “freely give” each other their time.

Usually my prepared stuff isn’t bad, but then when I talk, I’m just me.  So I need a little help to get into people’s backgrounds, get into their heads, learn the rules of their culture, so that I can communicate to them more effectively.  With JW, in particular, there are several red-button topics to avoid like fire.  Our chat this week went much better (and I was able to present the gospel) because I avoided those topics completely.

Some folks, like my husband, are able to entirely rely on their gift of gab, and their communication with the Holy Spirit.  Well, the Lord gives where He will – I’ve had the gift of words on occasion – but day to day?  The good Lord gave me the gift of research – and He expects me to use it.

I got two books the other day, and I think they’re incredibly valuable for evangelizing.  The Kingdom of the Occult and The Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Martin (and family).  Nice thick books – I devoured the one in a few days, the other I read the bits that I found needful for now, and will keep the rest for reference.  I’ve read other books about the JW – I found the proof texts had become quickly outdated (they’ve changed their theology since publishing).  You can also hit online and get some good data – http://www.cftf.com/ is a good site for JW, if a bit on the bright side.  CARM has a good list of articles.  But one does want to access more than one set of information!

So, why go to all this trouble for the annoying people who knock on your door in their best clothing when you’re in your Saturday scrubbies, trying to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or get on with your day?

Because they’re people.  Souls.  They are *not* our enemies.  Humans aren’t our enemies.  They are potential brothers and sisters in Christ.  That was the best bit about the Kingdom of the Occult, it reminds the reader constantly that we have a duty to evangelize, even to evangelize the people who are trying so hard to be scary and icky.  (Second best bit was reminding yours truly that the best evangelism is done on the knees).

If we truly believe that we are held accountable for the opportunities we have been given, how can we NOT evangelize those who *knock on our doors wanting to talk about Jesus*.  That’s an opportunity!  We could choose to show the love of Christ, we could choose to give them the gospel.  They *expect* to be persecuted, to be turned away and offered rudeness.  If, instead, we offer kindness and agape love …. thereby obeying our Master… how are we messing with their heads, their programming?

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love oneanother; as I have loved you, that ye also love oneanother. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

I know they aren’t part of the “one another” – but it’s always Christian’s LOVE that has set us apart.  When did we stop?  Yes, they’re playing for the other team – but so are the agnostics, the atheists, the nominal Christians, the Buddhists… etc.  Are we going to be frightened (in the case of the Wiccans or the Satanists) or annoyed (in the case of the JW or Mormons) into failing to give them the gospel?

The time when we could assume that every human had that basic Bible teaching somewhere in their background is *over* – they don’t.  And if they haven’t heard the Word, how can they come to faith?

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

We have a duty… let us do it well, and with the Love that we have been given, by virtue of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Let’s make our Abba proud of His kids!

(I’ll post the latest JW data in a couple of days, so it doesn’t bury this post).