Regarding Encouragement

 Visitor seeks help in facing problems of life

On May 20, 2013, we received the following email:

“I want to tell you that I’m in a very depressive mode right now.  I am unemployed. I need EVERY prayer on earth to come out of this misery. I feel I don’t have that "faith" to do this myself! . . . Whatever the case I just wanted you to know that you have been a blessing for myself and many others [in Sweden]. The thing is, I need spiritual help, desperately!”

Our dear brother, we are so sorry to hear about your depression.  Life can be difficult at times.  We, too, share moments of depression as we face our challenges.  No one is immune.

When we are feeling low, the first thing we do is go to the Father in prayer, openly and completely communicating our feelings.  And we let Him know that we trust Him and we trust His promise to never leave us and never allow us to suffer things we cannot bear.

“No temptation has taken you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you  can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”– 1 Corinthians 10:13

    Then we do what we can to help someone else.  For us that might mean writing an article or responding to an email, or speaking with our children or other family members or those we encounter in our daily activities.  As you may know, one of us spends a lot of time in the hospital undergoing cancer treatments. But when he can, he goes to other patients in the AIDS and cancer wards to share words of encouragement. And unfailingly, the heavy burden we were carrying seems much lighter, and far easier to cope with.

We find that when people start to feel depressed, the first thing they let go of are the things they need the most – the Father and the reassuring message of Jesus Christ.  Of all of our problems, we know that neither the Father nor Christ Jesus is responsible.  In fact, they are the ones who are seeking to encourage us and who offer us a reason to keep fighting for ourselves.  Yet they are the first ones we turn our backs on.

Jesus said:

“Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.”– Matthew 11:28-30

This is so true. But in order to know the truth in those verses, we must give it a try.  So, dear brother, take your worries and stresses to the Father in prayer through Christ Jesus.  Lay them at His feet and get on with your life doing what you can to make it through the day – one day at a time.  And as a suggestion, try to do at least one nice thing for another person.  It could be to share the good news or an encouraging word to someone, but it also might be something as simple as assisting another with household chores, running an errand for someone, or offering a listening sympathetic ear to another.

We also find that the things that worry us the most are rarely the things that will happen that day, but instead are the things we think might happen some time in the future.  We take Jesus advice:

“Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you. So never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness.”– Matthew 6:33-34

We find the day to day approach is a very successful way to confront problems.  And we often find (if not always find) that the terrible tragedies we anticipate never happen.  Before they are due to arrive, something intervenes and things work out.  We firmly believe if you take the same approach, you will have similar results.

Give it a try, brother.  We will pray with you.

♦   Elder who elected to step down from his position of oversight.

On June 21, 2013, we received the following comment:

“I conducted my last [Watchtower] study this past Sunday and I feel 20 years young already. I told the brothers and our [Circuit Overseer] that as much as I love the friends and all the participation on programs and the like, I love my heavenly Father that much more. There are so many things I disagree with that I choose at this time not to go into and that was it. For me I think I'd rather have the friends come to me and ask individually why I stepped down. That way I can consider each according to my understanding of them. I hope all come to realize the living hope. Thank you friends for all the encouraging articles.

To the author, thank you for your email.  Lately we have been hearing from several Elders and Circuit Overseers who have decided to step down from their positions of oversight in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses due to the errors in the teachings of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Governing Body’s refusal to self-correct.  We understand why they are making those decisions and we applaud their courage.  We elected to publish your email here because we believe your comments will be a special source of encouragement to other Elders and Traveling Overseers who want to step down, but are concerned that they may be viewed as apostates.

When an Elder or other Servant steps down, they are often asked to explain their reasons. And when they give specific and detailed answers which highlight the errors of the Governing Body, the remaining Elders and Servants might view these answers as a sign of disassociation and/or apostasy.  However, the author of this email chose not to give a detailed answer.  He summarily said that there were many things he disagrees with and chose not to go into detail.  We suspect he could just as well have said his reasons were personal in nature, and leave it at that.

The point is, as spiritually free men, they can decide how much or how little information they will give.  This is one way of heeding Jesus’ admonition:

“Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves.”– Matthew 10:16

There is great wisdom in this course.  As many can attest to, coming to an accurate knowledge of the living hope can be overwhelming.  In a person’s exuberance, they can come across fanatical, and depending on the reasons that moved them to make the decision, they can appear bitter and overly critical.  These are the reasons some have been disciplined or labeled as apostates – not the decision to step down or leave, but the way and the spirit in which it is done.    

For this reason, we commend this brother who chose to rest in the ‘excelling peace’ of the living hope (Philippians 4:7) for a time before he provides his detailed reasons, if he ever chooses to do so.  He is properly putting the emphasis on moving forward instead of lingering in discussions about a dead hope and a stubborn leadership.     

We are further encouraged that this brother, and those like him, are stepping down with joy, eager to have a fuller share in the true ministry of the good news of the kingdom.  In the past, many brothers who chose to step down and those who chose to leave the organization entirely left downtrodden. They viewed themselves as victims who had been grossly misled.  But those who gain the living hope are empowered.  They are victors, not victim.  And again, we applaud their courage and we thank them for sharing their decisions with us as these emails serve to bolster the courage of others who are considering making this move for the sake of the kingdom.      

This is a lesson we all can heed whether or not we serve in positions of oversight.  The lesson is to make peace with ourselves as to the living hope.  Rejoice in it in our inner room and in the secret person of the heart. Look at our brothers and sisters who have not yet awaken to the living hope not as delusional, but as ‘sheep without a shepherd.’ (Matthew 9:36) And resolve to join in the harvesting work.  There is a great field under cultivation, so let each of us pick a spot! (Matthew 9:37-38)      

May the Father bless each and every one of us.

 Visitor ask a few questions about the authors’ status in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

On August 5, 2013, we received the following comment and inquiry:

“I've been a [Jehovah’s Witness] all my life (30+ years). I'm an inactive [Jehovah’s Witness] that got really disappointed with the "new" light. That encouraged me to look and look and look for answers and every time I found something, I was more disappointed.

I've been reading some of your articles and I have to say I'm really impressed with them. But I do have my doubts/concerns about the teachings. Please check the following questions I have for you. I hope you answer them for me, because I'm really LOST right now. This is even affecting my marriage. So please, I beg you to answer them. You do not have to publish them in your site. [Then the brother lists his questions, most of which we will address individually below.] Hope you answer my email. I really need answers. I'm about to disassociate myself.”

To the author, thank you for your email.  Usually, we answer questions such as yours privately, but we have come to understand that there are many brothers and sisters with similar concerns who have not mustered the courage to email us with their questions. So, with the exception of the one that we believe is very personal, we will answer your questions one at a time in this response.

First, we want you to know that you are not alone. The power play of the Governing Body with their so-called ‘new light’ is having the opposite effect of what was intended. Instead of corralling the sheep, it is scattering them. Like you, it has opened the door to a new and sincere search for real truth outside the confines of the organization. Many are finding their way to the plain and open teachings of Jesus.  When they do, their spirit becomes agitated and restless.  A true warring begins to take place between the flesh and the spirit. They are faced with a precipice moment when they must decide to whom they belong. This is your current struggle.

Most of your questions appear to be about us and who we are.  But, in reality, they are more about yourself and what you should do.  They reveal your struggle and confirm that you already know what to do, though perhaps not how.  With that in mind, let us begin.

1. You say you are "local brothers." But many who have questioned the Watchtower before have been disfellowshiped as apostates. How are you still a "member"? Are you or not a [Jehovah’s Witness (“JWs”)]? Are you active? Disfellowshiped? Disassociated?

We are ‘local brothers’ in that we are not a part of the Governing Body or the Bethel Family.  Nor are we disfellowshiped or disassociated.  But we do not participate in the field service arrangements with the congregation, so we would be considered ‘inactive,’ though it is quite clear that we are very active in the ministry of Christ.

2. You also say that JWs are preaching the wrong message... the wrong Kingdom. If you are still active or a member of JW, do you still go and preach the "good news"? How do you get away with your teachings when you are in the field?

As we mentioned above, we do not participate in the door-to-door ministry with the congregation and we certainly do not preach what we consider to be ‘the wrong message.’  That would be hypocritical, weak and selfish. How can we know the truth, but teach the lie?  We are certain neither the Christ nor the Father would be too pleased with us if we did.

3. If you are still an active member, and you know the "spiritual food" we are getting at the kingdom hall and magazines is not correct, do you still go to the meetings? How can you seat there for 90+ mins, knowing it is not entirely the truth?

We are not active according to the definition by the organization and we have ceased attending meetings for a few reasons.  One, because of our ministry, we believe we would be too much of a distraction to the congregation. Two, as you allude to, subjecting ourselves to what is taught from the platform would grieve our spirit far too much. Three, we do not have family ties that could cloud our judgment or extort our allegiance. And four, we believe we can do a far better service to our association in this ministry, coupled with personal association outside of congregational arrangements. We maintain a good working relationship with all.  We stopped converting and started conversing.  Neither do we browbeat our brothers for remaining behind, for not yet having the courage to stand up, or for their temporary visual impairment. We also keep the door open to our Body of Elders and our Circuit Overseer who keep in touch with us.

At the same time, we recognize that many of our brothers and sisters are able to continue in relative association for the purpose of helping their family and friends who remain. You may have read the emails from the growing number of Elders and Circuit Overseers who are stepping down from their positions of oversight. (See Kingdom Update - June 2013 and Emails From Our Visitors.) But instead of leaving the organization, they are remaining behind, as one former Circuit Overseer recently stated, ‘as life rafts to help others get safely to shore.’  But all of this has a lifespan.  If the Governing Body continues to stubbornly reject the plain and open teachings, or implements more offensive ideology, we suspect that many, if not all, of these brothers, will move on.

In the past, while we have provided this information in private emails, we have refrained from making public our decisions in this regard because it is important that each of us comes to our own conclusions and makes our own decision. We are not seeking followers. And we have learned over the years that premature departure can be more devastating than staying behind. One need only look at the trail of devastation of those who fled but had no where to go, or who picked up the ministry of the ancient Hebrew prophets rather than the ministry of Jesus, or even worse.  (See Converting Pauls to Sauls.)

One of our goals is to empower our brothers so that they can leave as victors, not victims, which would surely occur if they have not build up sufficient spiritual strength to stand alone if necessary.  We elect to make this known publicly now because we believe we have built up an adequate storehouse of spiritual encouragement to sustain our brothers during a necessary flight to safety as the time we have allotted for the Governing Body to subject themselves to the plain and open teachings of the Christ is dwindling and will soon come to a close.

4. I agree that the [Governing Body] is going beyond what is written by declaring themselves "God channel". It reminds me of the pharisees, adding rules. Are they overstepping as well with all the rules about celebrating holidays/birthdays, military service, blood, vote, etc? Do you consider that a matter of conscience or not?

We view many of their rules as overstepping their boundaries.  But you do not need us to tell you which ones.  Consider the Governing Body’s reasoning and then apply knowledge of the plain and open teachings and spiritual discernment and you can figure out which ones. In essence, put on the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 2:16) Those that are conscience matters will be revealed by your own conscience.

5. It is known by others that the Watchtower has prophesied the end several times and failed. It is in our own literature. Isn't that consider a false prophet? Didn't Jesus warn us about this?

You do not need us to answer these questions for you.  You already know the answer.

6. I will love to believe all your precious teaching, but someone in another blog said that The Little Known Twelve came straight from the Book of Urantia. I checked it myself and it is true. Why? Why are you using such information? I thought you were basing everything from the Bible. Confused here.

Brother, we do not want you ‘to believe all of our teachings.’ We are not seeking a following nor are we looking to become a new governing body over our brothers.  If you believe what is published on our site, believe because you are convinced, not because we say so.  That applies not only to us, but to all sources of information that have a bearing on your eternal salvation.

As for the article, The Little Known Twelve, we removed that article from our site back in March 2013.  We are no longer ‘using such information.’  We published it under a section entitled Dramatic Presentations and expressly stated that it is not presented as dogma, but as an interesting diversion. Personally we found it very interesting and encouraging. So did many others.  But we also saw that some stumbled over it. They continued bound to the spiritually-stifling and fear-inducing idea that everything outside of the Bible is somehow demonic. So for the sake of their consciences, we deleted the article.  Its presence or lack of presence on our site does not at all effect our ministry. But even with its presence, that does not change the fact that all of the articles published as teaching articles (that is, not in the Dramatic Presentations section or titled “Contemplations”), are based squarely on the Bible.  A review of the articles themselves reveal this fact. We hope we have cleared up your confusion.

Now that you have our answers, we hope you will use the information wisely.  We are not the masters over anyone’s faith.  We are brothers and fellow workers with you. Whatever decision you make, first count the cost and then act boldly, yet discreetly, and in full faith of the Father’s approval, protection and guidance.  That applies to whether you stay or go.  Sadly, one does not seem to realize that he is imprisoned and institutionalized until he attempts to leave.  You are having an awakening of sorts.  Act in a way that does not destroy your faith or unnecessarily destroys your relationships with others. And we will be praying with you.

♦  How did we know the details of the experience in Nairobi in Gaining Perspective?

On October 3, 2013, we received the following inquiry:    

“Hey brothers quick question...I hope I do not offend but I read the article about the brother and sister out in Nairobi [Gaining Perspective], and I was just wondering--how did you guys know what they said? Forgive me as I was very moved by the article, however I adhere in the counsel in 1 John about testing the inspired expression and making sure of all things (can’t remember the scripture). If any offense is taken please forgive me.”    

To the author, thank you for your email.  No offense taken. We understand why you would want to know how we came to know about this experience, and we suspect others may have the same question. After all, this is a ministry conducted by just two individuals who are located in California. So it is natural to wonder how we could know something that happened thousands of miles away in Africa in such detail.   

But we want you to know that though there are only two of us who write and publish the articles on this site, this ministry is having a positive effect worldwide.  As you may know, we do not seek a following.  So, many people who hear the plain and open teachings of Jesus as promoted on this site voluntarily and independently take up the ministry and spread the message in their communities. And when they are so inclined, they report to us their experiences, knowing that we will respect their privacy and confidentiality in all matters.  As such, we get information from people all over the world telling us about the development of the plain and open teachings in their communities.  This includes the Jehovah’s Witness community, other Christian communities, and non-Christian communities, including the Israeli, Buddhist and Islamic communities.    Some of this information is sensitive and not suitable for publication, but some of it we can publish, such as the experience of the couple in Nairobi.        

We also want you to know that what we reported in the article Gaining Perspective was not an ‘inspired expression’ as referred to in scripture:

“Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.”– 1 John 4:1

What we published is a direct report we received from someone who was at the scene, but who was not harmed.  There were others present, as we report in the article, including Christians, Muslims and those of other faiths, who witnessed the account and survived to tell the tale.  And the account is quietly spoken about in the surrounding Christian community, but more so in the Islamic community where there is less fear of reprisal. Though we do not currently have any report that this account has caused a conversion of any Muslim to the brotherhood of Jesus, we are told that this couple’s courage is viewed by them as a noteworthy act. We certainly agree. That is why we published the report.     

This couple made a courageous stand in a dangerous situation, in the direct face of religious terrorists.  They, by their actions, challenge the faith of those who reside in so-called “Christian” nations who have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and who exist in favorable season.  It certainly puts the current harassment within the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses into perspective, and shows them that they can endure whatever is thrust upon them with dignity, self-respect and with their faith in tact.    

And finally, we have absolute confidence in the source of this particular report and we suspect that in time, it will become more widely known. 

♦  Anonymous email seeking forgiveness

On January 21, 2014, we received the following comment anonymously:

“The same stroke that saves you one day may cause you harm the next. Forgive me and all my fallen brothers to whom I've taken without regard of life, and to God forgive me please for being so stupid. Remember me Lord in your Kingdom.”

We were especially moved by this email.  We wish the author would have provided some contact information so that we can hopefully be of some encouragement.  Since the author did not, we will respond here in hopes that he or she will contact us again.

Dear brother or sister, the mere fact that you so sincerely seek forgiveness is proof that you are worthy of it, and thus have already been forgiven by the Father.  Your challenge now is to forgive yourself.

The Father, Christ Jesus, and the angels rejoice with you. (Luke 15:7) We join in the rejoicing. We are certain that Jesus has already decided “you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

♦  Response to an email about financial and other struggles

On March 2, 2014, we received the following email from a brother who we have been communicating with for some time who is struggling financially.  We get other emails occasionally from our brothers who are likewise suffering.  So we thought we would share a portion of his email and our response in the hope that it might encourage those who are undergoing difficulties:

“Hello Brothers! Didn't have much to say really, just wanted to "talk" I'll guess. I’m in a youth hostel right now, being homeless is no fun at all but I can cope for now. I have decided to move back to the city were I used to live before. I have no friends here. I have two friends in my old city, ex-witnesses actually, but they have been severely damaged by the watchtower religion. It's a shame. They are very timid, mild tempered and honest. I'll pray they will find faith (the Father) again. Perhaps I can help them in that regard.

“And also I'm very lonely at the moment. The big difference from now and then is that I have come to know the real truth, Jesus teachings thanks to you. You have helped many moving on despite being abused by religious propaganda. To regain faith in a loving God, not condemnation.

“Strange enough, an "elder" called me some weeks ago in, he lives in that same city I will be moving to. Haven’t talked to him in over a year. He asked if he should arrange so that I could met with elders in my current city. I said no, no point. I told him that I haven’t lost faith in Jesus and that totalitarian religious leadership is noting but bad. I also said that watchtower doctrine on many topics is simply wrong. He’s the one being misled. We said goodbye but after some time I sent him a [message] with your web-address and hoped that would clear up matters as to why I'm not going back to Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Hopefully he will see the light, if God wants him to. He was nice, but totally indoctrinated with Watchtower propaganda.

“All too often I feel as the very least of all the least of Christ’s brothers, not exactly a role model, being homeless and all. But I let the Lord judge me when that day comes. I will take no more judging from others. Take care dear Brothers. I'll be in touch.”

Dear brother, it is great to hear from you. Thanks for thinking of us.  Please do not discount yourself because of your financial status.  We will share with you that we, too, struggle greatly financially.  As you may know, one of us due to health is unable to work.  The other one can only work part-time because of the time it takes to write articles and administer this site.  So we never know if we will have enough money to pay our rent and utilities.  It is a struggle every single month.  Even today, we have no idea how we will pay rent.

Although our ministry is positively affecting millions of people, only about 10 people have made a donation in the 2 years we have conducted this ministry. We assume it is either because people doubt the honesty of our motives, or because they think we must have money based on the quality and professionalism of the site.  Either way, we are giving it our very best – our first fruits – and letting financial matters work themselves out.  Something good always happens to take us through to the next month. And to those who check in with us to ask if are okay because we have not posted something in a while, it is because we are likely working secularly to make ends meet.  But do not worry, we will always return to this ministry. We have a lot more to do.

We feel very blessed to do this work.  As Jesus said, he brought his message to the lowly ones, not those rich in this system of things, because such ones will appreciate it. We deem it honor because we know the struggle in this life will be as a blink compared to the glory that awaits those who exercise faith in Christ Jesus.  But we cannot deny that it is difficult and sometimes discouraging. We tell you this because we want you to know that we truly understand your plight, and that we are not just spouting superlative statements from an ivory tower.

These are indeed difficult times, hard to deal with. But not impossible to deal with. In all of our trials, we have confidence that the Father will make a way out.  He has never failed us. And He will never fail you. What it requires sometimes is a readjustment in our outlook and being thankful for what we have, knowing that there are many worse off than we are.

But look at what can be accomplished with practically nothing! The Father is being preached, the Son is being honored and the faith sons are being gathered together! Our brothers are becoming free from religious oppression and suppression, and learning self-governance.  Each year a larger throng of voices cry out in united confession of our Lord at the Memorial Suppers.  It is our hope that one day, practically the entire planet raises its voice to honor the one who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. These joys are priceless!

At the same time, we realize that there are many brothers and sisters who are not struggling financially, but they are struggling in other ways.  Life on earth is a great tribulation. But the inner strength developed through tests of endurance and when under fire only refines the core of our faith. And by exercising faith in the promises of Jesus, we can all come out victorious and begin the real life in the heavenly ascent to the Father.

We keep in mind that this world is just a training ground – the preliminary trial run in preparation for the great race.  But as more and more people join in the ministry to bring heaven down, eventually our planet will be more friendly, less stressful, more peaceful.  When the true good news is preached throughout the entire inhabited earth, then will come the end to suffering, sorrow and unrighteousness.

This is what Jesus taught back in 33 C.E.  Imagine if his followers had continued with his true message instead of being sidetracked by self-promotion and greed.  Imagine how close our planet would be to the conditions described by the Hebrew prophets if the freedom Jesus brought had expanded instead of contracted.  We believe a return to his actual, authentic, original, plain and open teachings is the key to solving all of our extraordinary difficulties. But because mankind is so far behind, it will take time.

It is said that good people care about their children; whereas spiritual people also care about their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, etc.  Spiritual people are willing to put in the time now with a view to making the world better for future generations.  They understand that life is not a sprint.  It is a marathon. And some sacrifices will need to be made for the greater good.

And we must accept that the Father is expecting us to do our part in gaining salvation. How easy it would be for the Father to wipe out all unrighteousness in one great war.  But what would we learn?  In time, mankind would find itself back in the same situation because nothing really would have changed. Man would just be like spoiled children who expect their daddy to fix everything.  How much better to stand up for ourselves and work to make our lives and our world better now. The Father and Christ Jesus will certainly bless those efforts as they are doing now. And we have no doubt of the excitement of our celestial family at man’s awakening to his responsibilities.

As we work to bring heaven down, we must also expect the fact that there may be some upheavals, political and otherwise.  There may be local wars and conflagrations around the world as the sons of God shake off the shackles of antiquated systems. Those who will not grow will be left behind and most of them will suffer destruction at their own hands as a result of their own willfulness and ignorance.

But let us take this time to settle in for the long haul, keeping in mind the betterment of our children and grandchildren.  Let us work not only for self, but also for posterity.  Let us work with Jesus to reconcile mankind to its Father so that Jesus can hand over to the Father a perfected universe that found its way, not by military might, but by spirit.  And let us endure our trials with joy knowing that a wonderful and unimaginable future awaits us.  This is our prayer.

As for you, our brother, you are a great role model because in spite of your circumstances, and in spite of the religious abuse you suffered at the hands of the Watchtower organization, you have found your way to the Father through Christ Jesus. You are more of a victor than a victim. And while you have your down times, you always return to the Father in full faith.  That is something to be proud of.  We are glad to have your association and to call you brother.

Please continue in this course and we will meet one day, if not on this side of life, then certainly on the other side when these trials and tribulations will be just a passing dream. Pray for us as we pray for you. And please keep in touch.

♦  Are there any brothers in Toronto, Ontario, Canada who I can meet with who have your insights into the scriptures?

On April 13, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:

“Are there people here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that I can meet with who have your insights into the scriptures?

To the author, thank you for your email.  We will post your request here in hopes that others in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada may see it and send us an email.  If we hear from anyone, we will let you know privately

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