Thursday, March 18, 2010

Religion Versus Christianity

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” Acts 17:24

In keeping with the title of this blog. I feel it’s time to expound on the idea of religion being a “Snare and a racket”

Those words of J.F. Rutherford former president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, were aimed at the churches of “Christendom”, in an effort to distance his (Rutherford's) religion from the rest, and to stand out as the one and only “truth”. What he was neglecting to recognize at the time was that he was the leader of yet another religion. Not much had changed. Different rules and doctrines, but still a religion, none the less. And yes, it did become “a snare and a racket” just like the ones that preceded him. It was a noble plan I suppose, it just didn’t work. Not only that, it has never worked.

People are turned off at the sound of one thumbing their nose at religion, but when you think about it. Didn’t Jesus dislike religion himself? Had he not, I’m sure he would have succeeded in taking a prominent place in Religious history. Well, he did, not as the leader of a religion though, but as the Lord who started a whole new way of life called Christianity. It wasn’t a religion, it didn’t have a big building. But it shaped the way for Gods people to live in coming generations. People have been trying to complicate things ever since.

You see, religion is all about following rules and legalistic requirements. Do this, do that, do…, do…, do…, more…more..more. To quote the words of a minister I like to listen to once in a while online: “Religion is summed up by the word “Do” and real Christianity is summed up in the word “Done”. Meaning that the main work that needed doing was done on the cross.

It’s not that all Churches are bad. They're not. There are some who are simply a group that meet in a building or home for worship and Bible study. I myself hope to find such a group here in my community in the future. But religion, as far as following a certain set of man made rules and requirements. Those days are over for me.

As Christians there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. (Eph.:2:8-10) The works we do after placing faith in Christ, and his “doing” are the results that faith. And in the end a product of him. Let all honor and praise go to the “Lord of heaven and earth”

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Coldest Winter

It’s mid March, and spring is in sight. Clocks set forward, longer days, and moderating temperatures. But a certain chill lingers in the air. It’s a chill I haven't gotten use too, nor do I think I ever will.

While the month of March may mark the beginning of spring on the calendar, for me personally, it marked the beginning of the “Coldest Winter” that began in March of 2008 when I was disfellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witnesses.

This is, I suppose, a let it all out, venting, lashing out, imperfect man blog posting on my part. But then again, isn’t that what blogs are suppose to be? Maybe, Maybe not.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve experienced times of deep sadness, like when I see and old friend, who turns their head the other way when they see me. Or when I see mail in the mailbox that used to be addressed to D____ and R_____ now just addressed to R____. Or the lack of Anniversary cards that use to come in Late October, wishing us a happy anniversary. It’s as if I’d died and there was no funeral. And then there is those times when the phone rings at home and the question goes through my mind. “Do I answer it”? Sometimes I do, and I experience a long silence before hearing in a chilling tone “can I speak to R_____ or M____.” It used to be “Hi Dann, how are you doing? Been working hard?” or some other friendly greeting. But that was back in the summer when things were kept warm by Organizational loyalty.

More Perfect people and some better Christians than I would not see the need for this kind of blog posting. I wish I were them. I’m not there yet, and I may never get there in this life. I admit, I’m weak, I’m faulty, I’m guilty of feeling sorry for myself. Maybe that’s why I can relate so much to the account of Jonah in the Bible. He felt sorry for himself also when the vine that provided shade died. (Jonah Chapter 4)

One thing my experience has served to illustrate very well though, is How our Lord must have felt when he was rejected by the very people he came to save. If ever there was a rejection that must have felt extremely cold, that had to have been it. Mine pales in comparison.

Even though I’ve experienced a long and bitter “Winter”, at the same time I’ve felt a presence of God in my life that is difficult to describe here. It seems like when the coldness of my experience is too much to bear, God wraps me up in his warmth, long enough to recover, and then I’m sent back to carry the cross that’s been provided.

I seem to be getting the message that suffering is not a bad thing, but is a tool to build character, and also a chance to display faith in the one who will eventually bring about the real and permanent spring. Where flower will never fail and happiness will never part. So I pray:

LORD Jesus, help me in my weakness, show me the way, teach me to be humble, lead me in the path of faith and help me remember the words of your servant Paul who said:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…” (Phil. 3:10)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Christian Challenge

I want to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Am I doing a good job? No. I find so many obstacles that prevent me from living my life the way I should. Are they really obstacles or do I just let them be?

One thing that I let be an obstacle, is letting other peoples opinion of me drag me down. Now if I were really living like Christ, that wouldn’t be an obstacle would it? He was constantly being made out to be a “no good” by the Religious leaders of his day. But what was the truth? The people who thought they had all the answers ended up missing all the signs that he was the Christ, the Messiah they had all been waiting for.

So I guess what I need to do is to take one day at a time and humbly admit, that I will never be 100 Percent what I want to be, at least in this life. Keep moving forward,  not judging others, even though they judge me.

LORD help me to  remember the words of Peter:

…But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered he made not threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 1 Pet 2: 20-23 (NIV)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Things will get better


I received the above image in a funny email this AM and I couldn’t help but feel that, this was the way I felt after being disfellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witnesses. I think my family and former friends still view me this way. The whole process seems to be designed to strip you of your dignity.  I sometimes wonder if execution would be used if that were legal.  As it is the execution comes in the mental and spiritual sense. It becomes up to the individual as to how they deal with this. Sadly many give in to the situation and leave belief in God, Religion and any hope for the future. 

The E-mail attached to this photo was circulated to a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses with a story about how this year will be better than the last. Well I certainly hope so.

Things likely will never be normal in my life again, but then what really is normal? Were things ever really “Normal” to begin with?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A challenge I made to a friend

For the last 4 years I’ve had the privilege of having weekly Bible discussions with a good friend and Business partner who has never been a Jehovah’s Witnesses. He and I have had Bible discussions for the last 25 years off and on. At first we did a lot of Arguing and debating without really getting anywhere, and then came years of almost no communication. But in the last 4 years, we have come together in our Worship in a rather unique  way that can’t really be described in a blog post.

Yesterday during our discussion, I made a challenge to him that I’ve made before. The challenge was for him to attend a few of the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses to get a feel for the atmosphere and to have illustrated in real life how seductive the warm atmosphere can be. I don’t really know if he would have experienced it in the Hall he might attend, because I know from personal experiences with various Kingdom Halls, that the amount of “Love” that’s displayed, varies from place to place. But I do know also, that given the right circumstances, in the right place, even the  the strongest of people might start to think they  (the JWs) really had the truth.  Was it wrong for me to make such a challenge? Perhaps.  I guess what I’m after, is for someone whom I’m close, who’s never been a JW, to see the power of the Mind control that’s used to keep people enslaved to false teaching. It’s the proverbial “Wolf in sheep's clothing”

My friend likes to go to the Mountains in the summer time and do Kayaking and canoeing in the rapid waters of a certain river. Something I’m afraid to do myself. He’s comfortable taking risk that he feels confident he can handle, so He’s probably smart not taking me up on my challenge.  But in case he or someone reading this blog wants to experience a little bit of what I’m talking about, click on the link below. This video is about international conventions, but this radiant “love” that’s portrayed is something that’s displayed in local congregations also. It’s cunning, it’s deceptive, it’s dangerous. More dangerous than the mighty river at flood stage.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Religious freedom. Who deserves it?

A few weeks back, a Russian high court ruled against Jehovah’s Witnesses, thereby seeking to limit their activity.

Many Jehovah’s Witnesses had been watching and praying for a favorable ruling. But it seems that no such favorable ruling was to be had. Perhaps things will change in the future, I hope so. Because I’m not interested in any kind of restrictions on worship unless such worship is a direct threat to peoples lives and property. That being said, I find it sad and somewhat ironic that, Jehovah’s Witnesses, while fighting for Religious freedom, are one of the foremost groups to grant no such freedom to their members. It seems to be a gross double standard on their part.

A recent Awake magazine (July 2009) carried an article titled “The Bibles viewpoint: Is it wrong to change your religion?” The article went on to develop the theme that changing ones religion was indeed OK, if one found that the religion they had been following, was faulty. The statement was made that “No one should be forced to worship in a way he finds unacceptable or be made to choose between his religion and his family”  I agree with that statement. The question is: Does the Watchtower Society, which publishes the Awake magazine, agree with that statement ?

Myself and thousands of others have been isolated from former friends and Family members because of the lack of religious freedom under the Totalitarian rule of the Watchtower Society that we were born into.

If the Jehovah’s Witnesses want freedom of worship in Russia and elsewhere, perhaps they should be more willing to grant it to those within their ranks that want to leave. Are they possibly  seeing a fulfillment of Jesus words in Matt. 7 when he stated the following?:

"Stop judging that YOU may not be judged;
for with what judgment YOU are judging,  YOU will be judged;  and with the measure that YOU are measuring out,  they will measure out to YOU.”  (Matt 7:1,2 NWT)

Getting over it is very diffu “cult”