Celestial Chariot

Air Force One, supersonic airplanes, private jets... world leaders and the super-rich may feel they enjoy the ultimate in travel efficiency. Yet, 2,600 years ago our Creator revealed that he has a superlative mode of transport, the likes of which no engineer, scientist or billionaire has ever seen. The Air Force One pales next to it. It is an awe-inspiring chariot! Does it seem strange that the Creator of the universe has a car, a method of transportation? Not if we understand Bible prophecy and its symbolism. In fact, Jehovah’s celestial vehicle differs significantly from any conceived by men. God's Chariot as described in the book of Ezequiel depicts a vision revealing unique aspects of God's heavenly Organization. Are we familiar with this profound vision?




Changes

Child training

Growing up in the truth is like growing up with a valuable old painting in the house. The kids will never appreciate it until someone takes the time to explain in detail its precious value and importance. Parents should take the time to make the truth real in the eyes of their children.

Pouring concrete is hard work. A solid base must be prepared before anything else is done. Then, when the concrete is poured, it must be shaped before it sets because once set, change is possible only by removal of what has already been laid down. If done correctly, a well-poured footing will last far beyond the original owner's lifetime. If done incorrectly, the evidence will appear soon enough in the form of a crumbling surface and structural cracks. Raising children is like pouring concrete. Before a baby arrives, a couple should prepare a solid base in their marriage and share a readiness for parenting. After the child arrives, the first few years can be likened to the time before the concrete sets up. By our presence —more than presents— by careful and thoughtful attention to the thousands of details and repetitions required, by unfailing prayer and careful instruction in Jehovah's ways, parents attempt to set a mold that will last a lifetime and more —into eternity.

Children are like plants. We just need to keep watering, being tender, and give what is best for them at the time. We should not keep pulling up the plant to see if the roots are taking hold. We must be patient. In time our children will fully bloom, beautiful to our God and us.

The psychological conditioning of B.F. Skinner proved that one could train certain living creatures, including humans, to do something at a particular time by inputting a 'cue' in the brain. Many parents input the following cue in their children: meetings at the kingdom hall are the time to sleep or the time to play. When they do so, the children will sleep every time they get to hear about Jehovah, and they won't be able to develop any interest in the Bible. What would be a better cue? There are many things parents can do. For instance, if children attend meetings wearing formal clothes the cue will be entirely different. Having 'special' clothes will make them learn that meetings are special. Meeting time is not the time to get dirty playing, and it is not the time to get sleepy and bored. If they are in their usual clothes or playing clothes, their inquisitive brains will infer that the meetings have nothing special. This is just one example of the many different ways parents can train their children. Are we setting the right cues? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning)

Training a child is like holding a metal spring with the hand. If pressed and released abruptly, it will bounce out of control erratically. But if you squeeze it and grip it too tight for a long time, the spring can lose its shape, getting stiff and deformed

Similarly, when parents let their children have too much freedom too early when they are not ready to handle it, the children may get out of control, start to rebel and could get lost in the world. On the other hand, if parents are too restrictive and exert a tight grip, the children may never develop initiative, self-sufficiency, and confidence. They may never learn how to survive without mom and dad. For children to develop a balanced personality and strong spirituality, the parents themselves need to be balanced and spiritual, teaching them Jehovah’s way.

Jonah refused to obey Jehovah's direction in his assignment to go Nineveh. Amos was his contemporary. God could have sent Amos to Nineveh so as not to bother Jonah since he didn't want to go. Instead, Jehovah taught Jonah discipline. He allowed the fish to swallow Jonah for three days. After that, the prophet changed course and went to Nineveh. Maybe his motive was not to take another ride in the fish. We really don't know. But that's how he learned obedience. Parents need to teach discipline to their children, even when they don't want to do certain things. Learning discipline is a valuable lesson that can help children to develop an obedient heart toward Jehovah.

In Florida, US, a mother and her son visited a nearby lake. The curious boy got too close to the water. Suddenly an alligator jumped out of the lake and caught the kid. When the mother heard the screams, she immediately ran there, and before the alligator took the child into deep waters, she grabbed him with her nails cutting into his flesh. She kept pulling her son out of the jaws of the alligator, while the fierce beast kept dragging the kid into the lake. A fisherman prepared to deal with this kind of animals came to her help and shot the alligator. Finally, the big reptile released the boy and the mother pulled him out and saved him. The child ended up with some severe wounds on his legs. While everybody noticed the injuries on his legs, the boy only spoke about the scratches on his arms, the product of his mother’s nails when she saved him. Those wounds had a lot of meaning to him because thanks to those he was not taken by the alligator. They not only marked his arms but his life, forever. Comparatively, many parents have seen how another terrifying reptile, a dragon, Satan the devil, has stolen their children from the congregation into his debauched world. For some reason, some have done very little to stop the reptile, and the children have fallen out of the truth while leaving at home at very young age. But many parents have indeed put on a fight with the devil to save their children from his jaws. Parents, keep pulling, keep fighting for them, do not give up. Do everything you can to protect your children from the dragon; their eternal life is at stake. Eventually, the great Fishermen, Jehovah and Jesus, will come and shoot the dragon. But until then, parents have to put on a fight! Although discipline may be hard for your child to accept, it is worth the effort and one day your kids will be very grateful.

Lions raised in captivity, whether in a zoo or a circus, never learn to hunt because these abilities are only needed in the wild. On the contrary, they get used to being well-fed without moving a paw. Consequently, releasing them abruptly into the jungle at adult age can be dangerous for the lion, because not knowing how to hunt, they could starve. The same happens when children get too spoiled by the parents. Having been sheltered from the challenges of life in this system, they may not know how to survive as adults in the real world without the parents bailing them out. It is much wiser to train them and teach them the secret of self-sufficiency that the apostle Paul talked about. (Philippians 4:11, 12)

Parents in the world intensely promote and even push their children to go to college even when the children don't want to. Why? Because they believe it is of utmost importance for them to subsist. Can parents in the Truth do the same, not by pushing college, but full-time service? If parents think that's not really necessary, would it be because they don't believe full-time service is a better goal than college?

At times parents want to live through their children. They want them to obtain a degree and get good jobs, to have and enjoy what they didn't. But Paul said those things parents didn't have are refuse, garbage. (Philippians 3:8) Why would a loving and wise parent want his kids to hold on to trash? In some cultures, parents believe the children need to have a big bank account to take care of them when they are old. But even in the world, often that doesn't become a reality because the children never learned gratitude. If they are trained by the world, will they ever learn to be thankful? Can parents really expect that from them? They can, if their children are educated by Jehovah.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are nest parasites. What this means is that they lay their eggs in the nests of other species.

Often times, these other species, like the Sparrow or the Northern Cardinal, are smaller than the Cowbird. The result is that the bigger nestling takes over the nest. They command the most food from their foster parents, usually resulting in reduced nesting success of the host species. What do we learn? Some human parents are also like the Cowbird. They throw their children into somebody else's nest. This results in unwanted difficulties for the 'foster parents'. Also, the children may not enjoy a stable upbringing. Moreover, this goes against Bible principles. Jehovah requires that the parents take care of their own children rather than putting them on someone else's ’nest‘. When Christian parents abide by that principle they gain benefit. (https://nestwatch.org/learn/general-bird-nest-info/brown-headed-cowbirds/)

A fireman uses a suit that is fireproof in order to withstand a the burning power of the flames. Suppose you have one of those suits. Now, you see a big fire in your neighborhood. Would you try to be the hero and go into the inferno to put the fire down just because you have a fireproof suit? Not likely. Besides the suit, we know that much training is needed. The same with raising children. Parents may protect their children by providing physically, sending them to a good school, or even shielding them from the world by means of homeschooling. All those measures may have a ‘fireproof’ effect against Satan’s projectiles. However, that's not enough. Parents need to train their children teaching them Jehovah's ways. When protecting measures are combined with training, the children are better equipped to resist the fiery attacks from the enemy.




Children

The following describes the children's perception of their Dad through a lifetime.

  • When I was four years old: My daddy can do anything.
  • When I was five years old: My daddy knows a whole lot.
  • When I was six years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.
  • When I was eight years old: My dad doesn't know exactly everything.
  • When I was 10 years old: In the olden days, when my dad grew up, things were sure different.
  • When I was 12 years old: Oh, well, naturally, Dad doesn't know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.
  • When I was 14 years old: Don't pay any attention to my Dad. He is so old-fashioned.
  • When I was 21 years old: You mean my Dad? Gee, he's hopelessly out of date.
  • When I was 25 years old: Dad knows all about it, but then he should because he has been around so long.
  • When I was 30 years old: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he's had a lot of experience.
  • When I was 35 years old: I'm not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.
  • When I was 40 years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was a wise man.
  • When I was 50 years old: I'd give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn't appreciate how smart he was. I could have learned a lot from him.

A Governing body member shared this experience while visiting a branch: A little girl in school refused to celebrate a birthday. The teacher asked why, and she replied that it is because she is one of Jehovah’s Witness. The teacher started to ask questions, so the girl offered a Bible study. The girl was imitating her parents in all this. The teacher thought the girl was joking, so she agreed. But the girl was serious and prepared well, so she started to study with her teacher every Monday at lunch hour. A 6-year-old girl studying with her teacher! Eventually, she passed the study to an older sister. How did it end? The teacher related this experience years later. She didn't tell her story in an assembly but in a pioneer school. The lesson? When parents train their children in the path of the Truth, they can accomplish wonderful things.

One night, before going to bed, a little girl was in tears praying to Jehovah so that he can open her daddy's eyes allowing him to see the Truth before the end comes. Her father was hearing. That night he was deeply moved, so he decided to give it a chance. In time he dedicated his life and got baptized. Young children have an extraordinary opportunity to give a witness to an unbelieving parent.




Christians

Analogies on how some in the congregation behave:

  • Some Christians are like wheelbarrows: not good unless pushed.
  • Some are like canoes: they need to be paddled.
  • Some are like kites: if you don't keep a string on them, they fly away.
  • Some are like kittens: they are more contented when petted.
  • Some are like footballs: You never know which way they will bounce next.
  • Some are like balloons: full of air and ready to blow up unless handled carefully.
  • Some are like trailers: they have to be pulled.
  • Some are like neon lights: Always going on and off.
  • Others are letting the holy spirit lead them and are like a good watch: Open face, pure gold, quietly busy and full of good works.
When Jehovah looks down from heaven and sees your heart, which kind does he see in you?

The life of a Christian can be described in one of four ways: as a journey, as a battle, as a pilgrimage, and as a race. Select your own metaphor, but the necessity to finish is always the same. For if life is a journey, it must be completed. If life is a battle, it must be finished. If life is a pilgrimage, it must be concluded. And if it is a race, it must be won.

Have you ever seen the label ‘100% natural’ or ‘All Natural’? Many people have been deceived by this type of advertisement. Often, the ingredients listed on the label are everything but natural. The truth is that the paper holds anything you can write on. That's why if we read the fine print we would see that many of these products also say: Not approved by the FDA. The same happens with the label of ‘Christians.' Many people claim to be Christians, but they don't do what Christ wanted them to do. They can say they are Christians, but are they approved by Jehovah?

If someone harshly criticizes us or even opposes us, what should we do? Go and sue them? Start a fight? That’s what many people in the world would do. However, the Christian thing to do is to live our lives in a way that no one will believe it.




Circumstances

A brother who worked in a circus told an intriguing story. Where he worked, all animals were kept securely inside a cage, except an elephant. Only a chained shackle nailed to the ground was holding it. The reason is that when that elephant was younger and not as big and strong as he grew up to be, he tried many times to break off the shackles to escape but never succeeded, so he gave up trying. He never realized that in time he became bigger and stronger. Should he try to escape again, those chains would break into pieces easily. But elephant thinking doesn't go that far. Do we sometimes think like this elephant? Have we sought to accomplish spiritual goals in the past unsuccessfully and now believe that it is a waste of time to keep trying? Have we grown spiritually ever since? Are we aware of that? If so, why not give it another try? Now we might be strong enough to break off the shackles that hindered us in the past.

Take a piece of wax, a piece of meat, some sand, some clay, and some shavings, put them on the fire and see how they react. Each of them is being acted upon by the same agent, yet the wax melts, the meat fries, the sand dries up, the clay hardens, the shavings blaze. Likewise, under the same influence of circumstances and environment, different reactions take place. One man is made better, and therefore he becomes stronger. And another becomes weaker, while another withers away. This comparison explains why one hears the Bible message and is made better. Still, another hears the same thing and is made angry. Not so much what is done to us, but what we do, determines our future. We cannot blame the circumstances all the time. We need to take heed how we hear and act.

If a sailor encounters a storm, it would be silly for him to think ‘I can’t stop the storm, I’m doom, there’s nothing I can do.' In reality, he doesn’t need to make the storm abated to survive. He can work around it if he adapts and adjusts his course, speed, and sails to avoid dangers. Often there is little we can do to control our circumstances, but we can work around it. We can keep control of our lives and help our loved ones if we see past the storm of problems we can’t control and focus on what we can control.

The mother is trying to feed the baby with nutritious food. When the mom puts the spoon in the baby's mouth, he spits and spills it all over the place. Uugh! Will the mom give up? No! She will be patient and persist. Perhaps she can wait until the baby is hungry, so hungry that he is crying for food. At that moment she tries again to give him a spoon of the same food, the baby tastes it, and this time, it doesn't taste that bad. He was hungry. Comparatively, when we preach, people may reject our message at first. However, if circumstances change and they become spiritually hungry, they may find the good news interesting and comforting.

A bat who fell upon the ground and was caught by a Weasel pleaded to be spared his life. The Weasel refused, saying that he was by nature the enemy of all birds. The Bat assured him that he was not a bird, but a mouse, and thus was set free. Shortly after the Bat again fell to the ground and was caught by another Weasel, whom he likewise entreated not to eat him. The Weasel said that he had a special hostility to mice. The Bat assured him that he was not a mouse, but a bat, and thus a second time escaped. The lesson? Similar to what Abraham did when he told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister, it is wise to turn circumstances to good account. (http://fablesofaesop.com)




Cleanness

Two men come from work. One bathes but puts on the same dirty clothes. The other one does not bathe but puts on clean clothes. Which of the two would you say is clean? Neither, because cleaning is not something that can be done halfway. That not only happens physically but also with spiritually. One is either clean or unclean, there is no middle ground.




Commendation

Commendation is like champagne, it needs to be served while it's still bubbling. Let us never delay giving commendation.

A mighty king who ruled over a large country wanted to make a great name for himself. One day the King sent forth a decree throughout his land that in 30 days, all the land's subjects were to gather in front of the palace. The king would light fireworks to celebrate his great reign and when the first one exploded, at that exact moment everyone is to shout at the top of their voice 'Long live the great King!' With 6 million voices shouting the cry will be heard throughout much of the kingdom. One man looked forward to it. He decided he would just listen. In that way, he could hear how loud it was. Because if he shouted, he could not. Then he could make a more lasting memory! The day came and the king lit the first fireworks rocket, and when it exploded the man waited for everyone else to shout. But everybody thought exactly like this man so nobody shouted! Is it not like that in the case of encouraging others? If everyone waits for someone else no one will say anything to cheer the person up!




Commenting

Deuteronomy 16:16 brings out the point of the Israelites attending the festivals Jehovah installed as part of the worship of the nation, and it states a clear warning: do not come empty-handed. Doing so would have been offensive to Jehovah as it would have shown their lack of appreciation. What about our meetings today? Do we come empty-handed, sort to speak, to our meetings by not having any word of praise to our loving God or do we show our appreciation by means of our well-prepared comments?

Do you cook your comments for the meetings in the microwave or a brick oven? This is important because, after all, we are ‘cooking’ for Jehovah.

A friend of yours goes to a restaurant and decides not to eat because everybody else will eat for him. He feels others doing it is enough. Wouldn’t that be silly? Sadly, some friends have a similar attitude when it comes to giving comments in the meetings. They think ‘everybody else is going to raise the hand, so I don’t need to’. But they miss the point that really matters: participating in the meetings by means of our well-prepared comments is part of our worship, and nobody can do it for us. (Hebrews 13:15)




Communication

An experiment allegedly carried out by Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century saw young infants raised without human interaction in an attempt to determine if there was a natural language that they might demonstrate once their voices matured. It is claimed he was seeking to discover what language would have been imparted unto Adam and Eve by God. Nobody was allowed to engage in any socializing with these infants in any way. From the moment they were born, these infants never heard the sound, hum, or song of a human. Within a year, they were all dead. We all need love and communication, even in early age. It is a innate need of every human. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_deprivation_experiments)




Comparisons

When we compare with others we can only reach two conclusions, and neither is good. You either feel too good about yourself, which can make you proud and overconfident, or you feel so bad about yourself that it lowers your self-esteem. It's better just to do our best regardless of what others do, and if we compare, better to compare with our past performance. As we see the progress we have made, we feel accomplished. And when we see there is still room to improve, we will try harder.

Everyone in the Truth starts at different levels, carrying a different burden, moving at different speeds. Comparing with others can only add to the load; it can't add speed. The important thing is to start the race, pace ourselves, and keep running regardless of what others do.

Undoubtedly, philosophers are in the right when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison. (http://www.azquotes.com)




Concentration

Conduct

The account in Luke 18:10-14 presents two men that acted according to how they saw themselves. What they believed determined their prayer: one was acceptable, the other detestable. This illustrates the fact that what we believe in our heart about ourselves directly correlates to our conduct.

Romans 12:20 talks about heaping fiery coals on the enemies’ head. This illustration refers to causing a change in the conduct and attitude of an enemy. In Bible times, ore was put in a furnace with a layer of coals placed on top as well as underneath. Increased heat on top helped to melt the metal and separate it from impurities. Similarly, when we do kind deeds to an enemy we put fiery coals upon his head, as it were, making his hardness melt and his good qualities come to the fore. We can cause a change in them.

Some states provide a certificate of good conduct to verify that its citizens don't have a criminal record. However, for some people, the certificate is a mere formality. Many today, in spite of the certificate, really don’t have proper conduct in society or before God. The best way to prove our good conduct is by means of godly devotion.

If someone harshly criticizes us or even opposes us, what should we do? Go and sue them? Start a fight? That’s what many people in the world would do. However, the Christian thing to do is to live our lives in a way that no one will believe it.




Conducting meetings

The director of an orchestra usually doesn't have any instrument but he tries to get the best out of those who have. Same with a question and answer consideration, like the Watchtower study. The conductor needs to use his voice wisely by not talking too much, taking over the meeting. His job as a conductor is to draw the audience out.




Confession

When someone commits a serious sin is like parachuting from an airplane. During the free fall, you cannot go back to the plane; the only possible direction is down. The skydiver only has two choices: to open the parachute or crash. He only has a few minutes to decide! Likewise, when someone falls into a sinful state is like a spiritual free fall, he can’t go back, he can’t change what happened. He needs to open up his heart and confess, otherwise he will crash spiritually. Confessing, repenting and seeking Jehovah’s help is the parachute needed to avoid the crash. However, the sinner needs to understand that the window of opportunity to use the parachute will not stay open forever.




Confidence

Congregation

As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: We share a common direction and sense of community, so we can move forward quicker and easier, because we, as a congregation, are traveling on the thrust of one another. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It then quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we will stay in formation with the congregation. We will be willing to accept their help and give our help to others. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation, and another goose flies to the point position. Lesson: It pays to delegate and train others. The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, tow geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock. Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other as brothers and sisters in difficult times as well as when we are strong. We can learn so much from Jehovah’s creation! https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/geese.html

Have you ever noticed on a railroad ticket, or on many coupons of various natures, it is written: 'Not good if detached?' The coupon was made of the same material as the rest of the ticket, was printed with the same ink, on the same press, and was kept in the same office and used by the same company. But it is not valid if detached. Its usefulness, its ability to take you places, was dependent upon its relation to the rest of the ticket. We need to be useful to God. For that we need to be attached to the congregation, working in harmony with our brothers and sisters.

A man crashes different cars repeatedly. Instead of taking responsibility, he blames the cars each time. Would you agree with him? It is clear that the problem is not the car but the driver. No matter if he drives a Ferrari or a Corolla, if he is a bad driver, he is going to crash it. In like manner, some publishers move into different congregations looking for the perfect one, but they end up having problems in all the congregations they go. They claim the problem is those congregations have questionable elders and gossiping issues. The problem, though, is not the congregations, is the publisher. Perhaps the root of the problem is that this publisher is yet to put on the new personality fully. (Ephesians 4:23, 24) Instead of blaming others, we should work on ourselves, refine our character, and become peacemakers, no matter the congregation.

A diamond can lost value if it has micro scratches. Those scratches can be seen only with particular equipment, although most people never notice. In like manner, some adopt a similar point of view when it comes to the congregation. They are very picky and sensitive, which is the particular equipment they need to see and magnify the scratches, the imperfections of the brothers, although most people don't see those magnified flaws. Unlike diamonds, imperfection does not make the congregation lose value. Jehovah already paid the highest price for us, the life of his son. He is refining all his servants now and will keep doing so at least for the next thousand years to the point of perfection. So we can be certain that in spite of the scratches, the congregation is worth much more than diamonds in the eyes of Jehovah. We do well to adopt His point of view.

Have you ever heard about the Pillars of Creation? These pillars are actually in space, in the Eagle Nebula. As its name suggests, they have a pillar-like shape.

Scientists have called them Pillars of Creation because inside those clouds, new stars are being created. They can see baby stars coming out of the clouds. Interestingly, these pillars are 7,000 light years away from the Earth. What we see today is actually a window into the past, contemplating what was happening 7,000 years ago. In other words, strange as it may sound, this glimpse into the past shows that 7,000 years ago stars were being created. What was Jehovah doing 7,000 years ago according to the Bible? Creating, just as we see in all those baby stars been created in the pillars. So those Pillars are quietly supporting and confirming the veracity of the Bible account. Now, the Bible doesn't speak about the Pillars of Creation. But it does speak about another far more important pillar: the congregation. Like the Pillars of Creation, the Christian congregation also gives a witness upholding Bible truth. (1Timothy 3:14, 15, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_Creation)

If we pull a chain towards us, all its links look straight, but if we push it, what happens? It gets twisted and entangled. The same with the congregation. If the appointed men push it and beat it with words and bad example, what will prevail is disorder and confusion. But if they pull it smoothly or ‘draw’ it towards them with good example and kind deeds, the congregation will follow accordingly in an orderly manner.

'I did', said the sticks. 'I did', said the paper. 'I did', said the boy. 'No, I did', said the wind. But they all flew the kite together. If the sticks had broken, the tail caught in a tree, the paper torn or the wind has lulled, the kite would have come down. Each had a part to play. The application is inescapable. We each have a work to do. If we want to work according to God’s will, then all parts must be played by every member of the congregation. We have the work of encouraging, giving, preaching, and countless other jobs to do to make the Organization and its work successful. We must all work together and do what we can to help. (1Cor 3:6-9).

At the big top at the Circus, the Ring Leader makes an announcement that the lion has escaped from his cage. Everyone needs to get to safety as quickly as possible. Where would the safest place for you to be? In the cage! This illustrates that bars are not always to restrict, but to protect. Some opposers claim the Christian congregation is restrictive like a cage. But we know the congregation arrangement is an expression of Jehovah's loving protection. The congregation can indeed safeguard us. Satan was in the cage before, but he left and doesn’t want to come back. Those bars can keep us safe while the lion is on the loose.

Have you ever noticed how many bananas grow in a cluster? When they stay as a cluster they are strong and united as one. But what happens when one gets taken from that cluster? Well, the banana soon gets peeled and eaten. And so it is in Jehovah's congregation. When we stay as one cluster we are strong, but when we drift away from the protection of that cluster, we can soon lose our strong spiritual protection from Jehovah. Before we know it, we are eaten up by the great Lion that is ready to devour us.

In our physical bodies a toothache makes the whole body react in sympathy; the cessation of that ache makes the whole body give a sigh of relief. If the body is ill, the head hurts, the body temperature is elevated, the heart races, the lungs labor, the skin flushes or cools as needed. The kidneys work overtime to filter out infection; the brain directs each organ and each function of the body to cooperate in throwing off the enemy and restoring the organism to health. The lesson? If someone in the congregation suffers, we suffer with them. If someone is happy, we enjoy their happiness. Like Paul illustrated, the congregation is like a body, and when we react in sympathy we show our unity. (1 Cor. 12:12-31)




Conscience

Our publications have often compared the human conscience to a compass. This instrument uses a dial with a magnetic needle that points northward. In the past, it was a lifesaver for sailors and explorers. If coupled with an accurate map, it can be of great help.

Nevertheless, if it is near to a metal object, it will point in the wrong direction. Moreover, if the accompanying map is inaccurate, it may not be useful at all. Comparably, our conscience may point us in the wrong direction if influenced by the spirit of this world. And if it is used without the accurate guidance of the Bible, it may take us to the wrong place. Thus by itself, our conscience is not an infallible source of accurate guidance. It needs to be trained.

The conscience is like a sharp square peg in our hearts. If we find ourselves in a compromising situation, that square begins to turn, and its corners cut into our hearts, warming us with an inward sensation against doing whatever confronts us. If the conscience is ignored time after time, the corners of the square are gradually worn down, and it virtually becomes a circle. When that circle turns within our hearts, there is no inner sensation of warning, and we are left without a conscience.

In 1 Timothy 4:2 speaks about the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron. Paul's reference to a conscience that is marked as with a branding iron indicates that it would be like seared flesh that is covered over with scar tissue and void of nerve endings and, therefore, without a sense of feeling. (1Ti 4:2) Christians need to be careful not to develop such a desensitized spirit.

If you would have the means to take a nice vacation, where would you go? Some may say Europe, others Japan, and others may wish to go to Africa. Perhaps you’ll just be happy staying local in a nice resort. Surely people would give different answers because we are all different and we have different taste and preferences. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. It happens the same with our conscience. People may agree in certain things and differ in others. In particular, some aspects of Christian living are based on each person's conscience. If someone imposes on us a vacation to Asia and we are not interested we would hate it. The same with matters of conscience. We don’t want to impose our opinions on others.

Professional boxers can develop calluses in their knuckles for hitting the sack in their many years of training. Likewise, our conscience can turn into a lethal weapon by losing its sensitivity. If our conscience hit us for a long time but we don’t do anything about it will get dull, develop calluses and will not be sensitive to issues of moral nature. When it comes to morals, if we don't have a quick repelling reaction, our desensitized conscience can cost us our life! (Prov. 7:22, 23)




Consequences

If you are ever tempted to scheme and commit a sin, just try to do this: fast forward your life and visualize the consequences of it. You committed the sin... now how did it change your world? Are you happy or do you regret it? Are you near your family and friends? Do you have true friends alongside you? Do you have a bad marriage? Are you sick with a disease you could have avoided? Are you disfellowshipped? Did Armageddon catch you out of the congregation? If you fast forward your life and you see where you could end up if you compromise your faith, it will certainly help you to flee from sin.

If we received God’s forgiveness, does that mean he will free us from the consequences of our acts for sins we committed in the past? Let’s illustrate it. If you borrowed money from the bank, but you couldn’t pay so now your credit is ruined, and to fix it you need to pay the debt. Afterward, you met the truth and started to live by Bible principles. You made changes, and now you have cultivated sound judgment. Most likely you won’t again borrow money unless you can really pay it back. But would that new resolve free you from your bad credit and cancel the debt? Not likely. The same can happen with other circumstances, like family or health issues. God will cancel all our debts in the new world, but as long as we live in Satan’s world, we need to assume responsibility for the consequences of our actions.

In Missouri, US, there is a railroad switchyard. One particular switch begins with just the thinnest piece of steel to direct the train away from one main track to another. If you were to follow those two tracks, however, you would find that one ends in San Francisco, the other in New York. Sin is like that. Just a small deviation from Jehovah's standards can place us far away from our intended destination.

Peter Rose is an American former professional baseball player and manager. Rose played from 1963 to 1986, and managed from 1984 to 1989. Rose was a superstar. He is the all-time MLB leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328). He won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year Award, and also made 17 All-Star appearances. Quite amazing indeed. In August 1989, three years after he retired as an active player, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds, including claims that he bet on his own team. In 2004, after years of public denial, Rose admitted to betting on baseball. That many amazing accomplishments, all marred by his questionable gambling. The lesson? We can have many privileges and have a record of faithful service for many years. But the immediate consequence of grave sin is disgrace. If we don’t persevere to the end but become over confident and commit a serious sin thinking we will go unpunished, we will lose our good name with God and the trust of the congregation. It's not worth it. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Rose)

Certain young sister was doing very well in the truth, so good that her young friends used to refer to her as a five-star sister. Sadly, though, she started to have bad associations and live a double life. She had two different set of clothing, one as a Witness and one for her worldly life. Eventually, she left Jehovah. She got into a relationship with a man that was a drug user, and she even financed his bad habit supposedly out of love. After a horrible experience in the world, she recovered spiritually and returned to Jehovah. Her family and all in the congregation welcomed her with open arms. But her journey in and out of the truth had dire consequences. Regrettably, she found out that her former boyfriend had AIDS. Soon after he died. Her worst fears came true; she was also diagnosed with AIDS. Unfortunately, she also died. She had the hope of the resurrection and she cleaned her ways. But that didn’t free her from the consequences of her actions. We should never leave our beloved heavenly Father. (Ps 73:27)




Contentment

A man had a Donkey, and a Maltese Lapdog, a very great beauty. The Donkey was left in a stable and had plenty of oats and hay to eat, just as any other Donkey would. The Lapdog knew many tricks and was a great favorite with his master, who often fondled him and seldom went out to dine without bringing him home some tidbit to eat. The Donkey, on the contrary, had much work to do in grinding the corn-mill and in carrying wood from the forest or burdens from the farm. He often lamented his own hard fate and contrasted it with the luxury and idleness of the Lapdog, till at last one day he broke his cords and halter, and galloped into his master's house, kicking up his heels without measure, and frisking and fawning as well as he could. He next tried to jump about his master as he had seen the Lapdog do, but he broke the table and smashed all the dishes upon it to atoms. He then attempted to lick his master, and jumped upon his back. The servants, hearing the strange hubbub and perceiving the danger of their master, quickly relieved him, and drove out the Donkey to his stable with kicks and clubs and cuffs. The Donkey, as he returned to his stall beaten nearly to death, thus lamented: 'I have brought it all on myself! Why could I not have been contented to labor with my companions, and not wish to be idle all the day like that useless little Lapdog!' The lesson: not being content with our work or position could bring disgrace upon ourselves. (1 Tim. 6:7-10, http://fablesofaesop.com)




Conviction

The girl asks the boyfriend 'do you love me?' He replied 'Sure....' hesitant and unconvincing. And that's how the courtship ended. His lack of conviction made his girlfriend insecure and cost him dearly. Speaking with conviction is not only important in personal relations but also in our teaching ability. It can determine whether the audience will give importance to what we are saying, especially when preaching. To convince others we first need to speak with conviction.




Counsel

A pioneer sister was not visible at the groups. The circuit overseer gave her some counsel about it. After some 30 minutes of direct counsel, the circuit overseer asked the pioneer sister about her children to wrap it up. But she replied 'sorry, I don't have children.' It turned out that he gave counsel to the wrong pioneer! But the sister was so humble, she didn't feel offended or told him that he made a mistake. She just listened and accepted the counsel like if she needed it, even though she regularly supported the groups. Do we display the same humility and modesty when we receive counsel?

A missionary told the following experience: when you run the car in the desert, you pick up all the bolts and nuts you find on the road, even if you don’t need them at the moment. If the car breaks down later, maybe one of those spare parts is just what you need to fix it. It's the same when it comes to counsel. If we think we do not need the counsel given by an overseer or a friend, we should not feel offended. If in our heart of hearts we feel we cannot apply it at the moment, maybe what we need to do is to see it as spare parts. We should thank the counselor and save his words in our heart. Perhaps later we can see how to apply it. Maybe one day soon that word of counsel can save us some trouble.

Do we reject a letter because of the mailman? The same when receiving Biblical counsel through an elder. The elder is just a messenger, what matters is the message.

Perfect counsel can only be given by a perfect person. And yet, we see in the Scriptures the many times Jesus counseled different individuals, and even though his counsel was perfect, the recipients were not, so it was not always taken well. Thus in this world, we should not wish to receive perfect counsel. Because even if we did, our imperfection would not let us accept it in a perfect manner. It will still bother us. It is more realistic to wish to put up with the discomfort we feel. Instead of focusing on the counselor, we should try to concentrate on the recipient, ourselves, and try to be as near as we can to a perfect counsel recipient. In the new world, after receiving the reward of perfection, we won't need corrective counsel, and we will always heed the Word of Jehovah.

Imagine you go to a store to buy a new cell phone. When you read the description, it only has warnings: the phone might reheat and explode, it may not last more than a few years, the guarantee is lame, it may not work in all countries, etc. You don’t read any good points about it. Would you buy it? In a similar way, it is counterproductive to sound alarming when giving counsel by only saying negative things, warnings, and strict correction. This can apply when advising a fellow Christian or when an elder is shepherding the flock. We all know there are plenty of dangers in life, but there is also plenty of good. Counsel should be balanced, beneficial and upbuilding.

Would you follow a doctor's good advice only when you already had double pneumonia? Or, rather, when you noted the first symptoms of sickness? Then why wait any longer to apply counsel received by means of the publications and by the elders? We can avoid problems if we are humble enough to heed Bible-based counsel promptly.

If an elder in the congregation come to you agitated and then yells at you saying 'there's a fire in the house! You have to get out of here, NOW!'. Would you say something like 'you know what, I really don't like the way you are saying that. When you learn some manners, then you talk to me'. That would be such a stupid reaction!!! What is more important? Our house and the material things in it or our spirituality? Why then, we tend to focus on the way or tone the elders give the advice? We should always try to find the benefit we can derive from sound scriptural counsel.

When giving counsel, don't fix what is not broken.




Covetousness

Cowardice

The account in Esther 4:14, 7:3 serves as a good Bible illustration to help us conquer our fears. In spite of her precarious situation, Esther was not a coward. She discerned God's will for her, mustered boldness and took action. We can do the same. We may not be royalty, and we are certainly not indispensable to fulfill God's purpose. In fact, Queen Esther wasn't either. But just like with Esther, Jehovah can put us in the right place at the right time if we don’t shrink back in fear. By conquering our fears and moving forward in God’s service, we can accomplish our spiritual goals.




Creation

The spectrum of light reveals how blind we really are and how limited the human eye is. Basically, most of the spectrum of existing types of light cannot be perceived with our eyes. For instance, gamma rays and x-rays are totally invisible to us.

Telescopes that can access the realm of those lights can ‘see’ or detect things that otherwise will be unknown and nonexistent to us. Therefore, believing only in what the eyes can see actually blinds people from knowing about a much greater reality out there, and about the amazing Creator of it all.

If a person is approaching and we hear his steps, we can infer a lot about him: approximate weight, height, type of shoes, and so on. But it doesn't provide a specific profile of the individual. For that, we need to open the door and meet him. The creation gives us information about the creator and his qualities, but to really know him we need to open the door, the Bible.

The DNA was programmed. It is the most complex code ever discovered. Scientists have only been able to map the code, but they still don't know how it works in its entirety. The question that really matters is: who is the exceptional programmer that wrote that superb code? Many think he left some documentation about himself in the Bible. If we try to find him there we will find some mind-blowing facts.

Has science confirmed the fact that man was created from elements found on the earth’s soil? The Watchtower, October 1980 furnishes evidence on this. Quoting from the work Les oligoéléments (Trace Elements), by Andrée Goudot and Didier Bertrand, they report: “In all the living organisms studied, in addition to carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, chlorine, magnesium, potassium and sodium, the presence of the following elements can be considered to be a proven fact: six nonmetallic elements: fluorine, bromine, iodine, boron, arsenic and silicon; a transition element: vanadium; and thirteen metals: iron, zinc, manganese, copper, nickel, cobalt, lithium, rubidium, cesium, aluminium, titanium, chromium, molybdenum and also probably tin, lead, silver, gallium, strontium and barium.” Just as the Bible revealed ages ago, all these raw materials can be found in the earth’s crust, proving that man is truly formed from the ground. Once again, the Bible is proven as the Word of God. (Gen. 2:7; Acts 7:22; w80 10/1 p. 13)




Criticism

It is easy to criticize the elders and the Organization for some of the decisions they make. But the truth is that we don't have all the details they had at the moment they made decisions. This issue has been compared to putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Only if we have most or all the pieces arranged correctly in sequence we can see the whole picture. If we don't, it is practically impossible to accurately know the image of the puzzle.

Hence, if we don't have all the 'pieces', all the details of the situation, we should refrain from criticizing. Rather we should mold our thinking in line with the principle of love that believes all things, and we should have the type of faith that can move a mountain of distrust. In that way, we will cultivate a positive attitude.

A businessman was highly critical of his competitor's storefront windows. 'Why, they are the dirtiest windows in town,' he claimed. Fellow business people grew tired of the man's constant criticism and nitpicking comments about their windows. One day over coffee, the businessman carried the subject just too far. Before leaving, a fellow store owner suggested the man get his own windows washed. He followed the advice, and the next day at coffee, he exclaimed, 'I can't believe it. As soon as I washed my windows, my competitor must have cleaned his too. You should see them shine.' Application: It's easier to see the problems and imperfections of others than our own. Christ called it the 'rafter in your own eye' (Luke 6:42). Perhaps it is a matter of first 'washing our own windows'.




Cunning

The ocean by itself is beautiful and relaxing. But if combined with winds of 100 miles per hour it becomes deadly. Cunning can be both positive and negative. In the sense of ingenious or cleverness it can be positive, but if such cleverness is used to trick others we can become crafty and sly, which is very negative. If we have the tendency of achieving our aims in ingenious ways, we really need to be extra careful and use our cunning nature for good purpose.