fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

About Julie

julieChurch was nothing but a social gathering for me when I was growing up in a nominally Protestant religious setting. I was in my twenties before I even knew how to look up a scripture reference by chapter and verse.  Still claiming “spiritual” as my religion, I hesitated to call myself a “Christian,” because I thought I needed more knowledge of their beliefs. So, in my thirties as a young mom of two children, I began to earnestly read the Bible on my own.  Having very little religious background, I only knew about the fellow named Jesus, and I knew that I wanted to be on His side when the end came.  One night I read in the Bible that Satan is an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). It occurred to me that I knew so little about God and Satan that I could easily be fooled by this angel.  “Was he backing any religion posing as a godly religion?”, I wondered.  The blessed state of being poor in spirit was leading me to hunger for the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, I asked God to show me the truth and to make it clear to me who Jesus really is and how I could discern the “angel of light” so that I wouldn’t be deceived by him.  I also placed my life in His hands by praying, “God, put me on a trip.”

The next day, a friend invited me to a “mom’s group” at her Lutheran church.  Free daycare, donuts and adult conversation sounded pretty good, so I accepted.  When the conversation turned to the topic of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I held a positive view of them because I’d heard the name once and thought the idea of God having Witnesses on earth sounded wonderful.  So, I started defending Jehovah’s Witnesses without knowing what they taught. I told these women that if they were really Christians as they’d professed to be, they had an obligation to invite these door-knocking “lost souls” into their homes to share the gospel.  At the time, I had no idea how to do this myself, but I put the obligation on them and I don’t think I was very well liked for it.  When I got home and discovered an Awake! magazine of Jehovah’s Witnesses in my door, I was hooked as I read the article that talked about how to identify the true religion. I was WAITING for their visit now, but it didn’t come, so I went to them!  I entered the Kingdom Hall one Sunday with an active, squirming 3 year-old and an infant.  I asked for a Bible study while dealing with my kids in the bathroom most of the service.  The following Tuesday, I began a study in the Watchtower publication “Knowledge that leads to everlasting life.”  Every time before we got together, I’d pray:  “God, if this is a cult designed to take me away from you, please make it obvious!” 

I was determined to get through the entire book so that by the time I finished it, I could either say, “This religion is the truth,” or never again have to turn a Jehovah’s Witness away from my door without understanding why.  Within five months, I’d asked to be baptized at the next convention in the fall of 1996.  I truly believed that I had found the truth.  I thought God had revealed the “angel of light” to be Christendom and the true religion to be the Jehovah’s organization.  Unfamiliarity with the books of the Bible and the timing and audience to whom these books were written, allowed me to accept promises made to natural Israel as promises awaiting the restoration of the zealous preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I was particularly drawn by Isaiah 65:21-23 with its promises of secure housing and satisfying work in the earthly paradise.  I was hungry for paradise.  I was hungry for God.  All I had to learn now was how to be righteous enough to earn it.

I was baptized on October 12, 1996 and I loved being one of Jehovah’s WitnessesI was so proud to be one of those people God had on earth to tell others about Him.  At the same time, I was very aware that many of my brothers and sisters at the Kingdom Hall were not happy.  When I keyed into the Scriptures that spoke about supporting the weak and speaking to the depressed souls, I was approached by the Presiding Overseer and told not to get involved with one particular weak sister.  I assured him that she still loved Jehovah and was just going through a hard time, and we were expected to “carry one another’s burdens.”  He responded by saying, “but each must carry his own load and ya gotta look out for number one.”  It sounded more like the world’s way of dealing with problems and not that of Christ.  When I quoted Jesus to him, he told me I was already drawing away from “the truth” because I talked more about Jesus than I did about Jehovah.  I was very confused by this.  I wanted to respect the elders, for I thought that was how God worked, but my conscience was telling me that this brother was wrong.

After seven years of faithful field service as a publisher, I began to fade out of the organization and I stopped attending meetings by the fall of 2003.  A year later, they called to invite me to their “disfellowshipping” hearing.  I asked what I’d done wrong.  One elder said I no longer wanted to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses based on a letter I’d written to an inactive sister which was handed over to them by her non-Witness roommate.  In it, I had praised Jehovah but not the Watchtower Society.  Because of this, they said that I no longer wanted to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  At those hearings, I upheld my faith in Jehovah, Jesus Christ, and the Bible, but I refused to put faith in the Watchtower Society.  Finally, they asked if I believed if someone outside of the Watchtower Society could have a relationship with God.  When I answered, “Yes!” On that basis alone, I was labeled an “apostate.”

The first lesson my Deliverer wanted me to understand, was that we are saved by grace.  It is His righteousness and not our own that saves us.  Paul, having been a Pharisee, understood this well, and so do I now, having been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  At Galatians 5:4, Paul uses the phrase “fall from grace.”  Up until then, I had thought of a fall from grace as meaning falling into another unlawful act such as those acts mentioned earlier in the chapter.  But here it became clear that a fall from grace is just what it says, turning away from GRACE, the undeserved kindness of God.  Paul’s whole reasoning here is about those turning their backs to rules and regulations of the law.  So, a fall from grace doesn’t mean getting involved in some obvious sin, it could mean doing some really good works (with a wrong heart motive).  Paul mentioned how the believers had started out in grace, but they were falling from that grace and back into works of the law.  I can relate to this!  Grace came to me years ago, but I fell from it once I got into the works of the Watchtower organization. 

In April of 2007, I was ready to meet my Savior for who He is.  I came to recognize that Jesus was Jehovah, not only because He made statements that convinced me that He was God in the flesh (John 8-10), but also because He was worshipped (John 9:35-38).  For some time, I had been seeing the Triune God in Scripture, but I had quickly conjured up my own arguments to dispute these verses. Finally, when the Scriptures continued to jump out at me, I knew that Jesus was revealing Himself to me and I could no longer deny it.  I saw that it was nothing but pride that had been in the way of my acceptance of Him.

I’m so happy to belong to Christ.  I know that by believing on Him, He has given me the authority to become one of God’s children (John 1:12).  I have passed over from death to life (John 5:24) and can no longer be condemned by any man or organization (Romans 8:1) and that has removed all fear and given me freeness of speech (1 John 4:17-19).  Am I a threat to the Watchtower Society?  Of course I am, I’m a Christian! (1 Peter 4:14-16) 

In His Grace, Julie

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