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Expressions from the Heart

Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day

Do You Believe? The Resurrection and the Last Day by Julie McAllen


grave stones14 “If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.
15 “You will call, and I will answer You;
You will long for the work of Your hands.
(Job 14:14-15)

Many a person has pondered the question of “coming back to life” and there’s no shortage of answers from a variety of religions as to where the dead go.

Christians are familiar with the story of Lazarus and how the power to resurrect was in Jesus. After learning of his death, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” (John 11:11)

We may take that for granted now, but at the time the Jews to whom this was spoken believed the dead would remain asleep until the Messiah came. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, had no doubt there would be a Messiah and a future resurrection but her expression, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” is a bit surprising. Did she believe that the very presence of Jesus would prevent her brother’s death? Remember, when Jesus first received news of his sickness, he intentionally waited so that he would not be present and Lazarus did die. And the reason Jesus gave for this delay?

“This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” (John 11:4)

Jesus was not present four days earlier when Lazarus was about to die, but now, in the presence of Martha he says, “Your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23) indicating it “would not end in death.”

Martha understood that the dead slept in Hades. No one had risen from the dead before but she was aware of the promises, and so from this premise Martha answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (John 11:25-27)

Did Martha believe Jesus was the Christ? Yes. Did Martha believe in the promise of the resurrection? Yes. Then why did Jesus later have to ask, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Oh how we can relate to Martha! She had expressed such faith in the presence of her Lord saying, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” (John 11:22)

“Even now” those are her own words. “Even now.”

And here is Jesus “even now” declaring to Martha “I am the  resurrection,”  but her gaze is still far off into a future time her people had known as “the last days.”

She knew God had spoken to the prophets of her people and even trusted His Son had come, but how surprising it must’ve been for Martha to accept that the last day was closer than she had imagined!

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2)

Martha knew that God had called Israel His chosen people. However, even they slept in death. But we learn from this same letter to the Hebrews, written about 62-64 AD, that Abraham, the father of Israel, believed God was preparing a heavenly city for him and other faithful ones even though they died in faith without receiving it.

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11:13-16)

Jesus Christ spoke of this heavenly city when he told his followers, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:2-6)

That “coming again to receive” them was oh so near, for he had even promised, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matt 16:28)

If she knew the account of Job and his question of “if a man dies, will he live again?” Martha may have pondered the meaning of his words,

“So man lies down and does not rise.
Until the heavens are no longer,
He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.” (Job 14:12)

The resurrection would not occur until the passing of the heavens. But “even now” in Martha’s generation she was about to witness the glory of God to confirm this long-awaited promise of new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65-66).

Jesus had come to declare the blessings of his kingdom. One of which was this resurrection hope. Those present would not have to go to Hades at all but rather pass from death to life. And concerning the resurrection of those long asleep in the grave? The time was at hand for their release!

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who  hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come  into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
25 Truly, truly, I say  to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice  of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has  life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and  He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do  not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs  will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a  resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of  judgment. (John 5:24-29)

The resurrection of Lazarus was the  demonstration of that transitional time period which Jesus spoke of as “coming and now is.” The generation living in “the last days.”

Martha was correct in her understanding that the resurrection would occur “on the last day,” but I believe she was surprised to learn that she herself was living in the generation that would see all things fulfilled.

And “even now” Jesus is asking, “Do you believe?”

Some Christians believe that their dearly departed loved ones are not yet risen but like Martha thought 2,000 years ago, the dead are in a type of “soul sleep” awaiting a future resurrection. This view is valid for those who believe the “last day” has not yet come. I used to hold to this view myself. It’s also a valid view if you believe we are still under the old law covenant. But it is incompatible with scripture to maintain a belief that Abraham or our own departed loved ones are enjoying their heavenly reward now and yet say we are “in the last days” still awaiting the arrival of the new heavens and earth.  Jesus validated Martha’s belief that the resurrection of the dead would happen “on the last day.” Usually when someone claims we are the generation of the last days, they point to a newspaper, but I find more evidence about the last days in my Bible. And the Bible clearly states that the resurrection of the dead would occur then. Based upon the consistency of God’s word, I believe the resurrection of the dead took place during the time that Jesus said it would, when all things were fulfilled after the passing of the old heavens — a term representative of the old law covenant.

17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:17-18)

I believe my Lord and Savior accomplished all that he came to do.

Do you believe?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

February 26, 2013 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Unanswered Prayer for the Glory of God

Unanswered Prayer for the Glory of God by Julie McAllen

So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. (John 11:3-6)

unanswered prayerAs I was studying the story of Lazarus, I took note of Jesus’ DELAY.

It was about a day’s journey for the message of Lazarus’ illness to get to Jesus. And as soon as he heard his friend was sick, what did Jesus do?

when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was (John 11:6)

Jesus stayed put for 2 more days. He was in no rush. After that 2 day wait, he and his disciples traveled to Bethany where his friend lay. That took another day. All together from the time the word went forth to tell Jesus about Lazarus to the time he arrived it was 4 days. Later, when Jesus called him out of the tomb, we learn that Lazarus had been dead for 4 days.

This got me thinking. Lazarus may have already been dead when Jesus got the message. Yet we learn later, true to Jesus’ word, that the illness would not end in death.

when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” (John 11:4)

Jesus loved Lazarus, but His focus was not on healing his friend, it was on THE GLORY OF GOD.

How does this change your perspective in prayer? The two sisters of Lazarus sent a message to Jesus like any one of us might pray to Jesus. When we call out in prayer concerning a sick friend, a need we have, etc. does he WAIT as he did in the case of Lazarus? Does he ALLOW the trial to take place? It’s plainly stated that Jesus made no rush to be there for Lazarus, yet He got the message. And in their frustration and grief, Martha and Mary both griped, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!”  Likewise, our prayers may appear unanswered when Jesus does not rush to be there as requested, and we may gripe, “Jesus!! where are you?!!” and yet, he does get the message. Our Lord is Sovereign and at times chooses to wait. But why?

FOR THE GLORY OF GOD!!

Every prayer is heard, but we can see things only from our own perspective. The Holy Spirit, however, teaches us to persevere in prayer and it’s in that endurance that God can shift our perspective to align with His. We can trust the perfect timing of our Lord, and when the frustration of our waiting beckons us to cry out “Jesus, you should have been there!!” be assured that He knows our need and God is at work conforming us into the likeness of His Son who in perfect alignment with His heavenly Father said,  “Father, not my will but YOURS be done.”

It’s all for the glory of God, my friends, and He is worthy to be praised.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

January 30, 2013 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Unanswered Prayer for the Glory of God

Hidden Scars

Hidden Scars by Julie McAllen

Is it wrong to dredge up the past? Is it slander to expose what others have done to hurt us?

On the surface, some would say it’s not the “Christian” thing to do. After all, are we not advised to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us? Aren’t we called to forgive the offense and bravely press on? What is accomplished by exposing someone else’s sin? Shouldn’t we protect their good reputation instead of airing out their dirty laundry? I confess there are times I will cover over my wounds in an effort to protect those who’ve sinned against me. It seems respectful and “Christian” to do so, but God took me below the surface and showed me it was in fact the opposite of following in the footsteps of Christ.

When Jesus visited his closest companions after his resurrection from the dead, he did not hide his wounds from them. In fact, he exposed the holes in his hands openly in order to prove to them who he was. In effect he was saying, “look at what the sins of others have done to me.” Was that slander? Was it unnecessary exposure for the sake of getting even? Not in the case of Jesus. How do I know? Because even as they were pounding his body with their sins, he forgave them. Jesus was not uncovering his scars in any effort to hold back forgiveness, for it was already granted. Forgiving, therefore, is not hiding our wounds. If Jesus had kept his hidden, his friends would’ve doubted his reality.

 “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” …. Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:25, 27)

Jesus was known to his friends by the wounds he willingly exposed. In the most intimate relationships, everything is open and laid bare.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13).

God uses his word to draw us closer to him, Jesus honored his closest friends by allowing them to touch his wounds (1 John 1:1). Are we willing to let God open our wounds? Do we let others come close enough to see our scars and admit to them, “this is what the world did to me?” And what is the motive if we do expose the scars we carry?

“This is where they took out the cancer,” a friend confides as she lifts her shirt. “A reminder of my DWI days,” another jokes as he explains his twisted limb. “My mommy gets mad sometimes,” a child is coaxed to admit when the bruises no longer pass for normal playground mishaps. Some wounds are easier to share than others. Some go undetected for years they’ve been so skillfully buried. “I keep having these nightmares,” she finally confides to a therapist. “I know it happened, but I don’t see the point in talking about it now,” another evades the topic. Sometimes we tell the wrong people who abuse our trust and it makes it hard to be intimate with anyone after that. And so we live with wounds that no one else is admitted to see or touch as we isolate and insulate ourselves from others. There are, after all, many ways to hide the scars. How beautiful that Jesus not only exposed his own wounds and invited his friends to touch them, but he was also willing to touch the imperfections of those around him; healing lepers, deaf ears, and blind eyes. Sometimes all we need to heal is to trust someone enough to see our scars.

God is saying, “it’s okay, show your scars.” Yet confronting those we love but have hurt us deeply is difficult. If love covers over a multitude of sins, why bring up their sins? Why not keep the scars they gave us hidden? What will happen if they’re shown the wounds they inflicted upon us? Has Jesus kept his hidden? When confronted with sin, the humble are left to deal with their shame and seek forgiveness in the interest of reconciling the relationship. The prideful, however, will claim they have not sinned and blame the one who confronted them. Our weakness may hold us back from such confrontation, but if Jesus trusts us enough to discover the effects of our sin, we should do likewise with those we love—regardless of the consequences. God was willing to reconcile all men at the cross, but not all men are willing to see their sin there. We do no one any favors by not giving them opportunity to acknowledge their sins against us either. We are instead, opening the way to express our forgiveness toward them and invite them to greater intimacy in a reconciled relationship.

When we touch the wounds of Jesus, we are not merely looking at what Roman soldiers did to him. If you believe your sins were forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ, then no doubt you’ve seen your own misgivings causing the holes in his hands and the gash in his side. It makes his words of forgiveness toward you even sweeter. He didn’t exclude you by hiding his wounds from your eyes, for it was by his Spirit you were drawn there to see your words and actions causing the pain he endured on the cross. As you sobbed at his feet, he lifted your head to look you in the eye and whisper, “your sins are forgiven.” This is the pattern of a healthy and intimate relationship set forth by our Creator, because no one is ready to meet God until they first acknowledge the effect of their sins upon him. Likewise, no one really knows the gift of another person until they see their scars, even if some of those scars were caused by you.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

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December 22, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Still Crazy After All These Years

 Still Crazy After All These Years by Julie McAllen

Concerning Jesus…

“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”   (John 7:20)

The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” …At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death.  (John 8:48, 52)

Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”  (John 10:20)

Concerning the Apostle Paul…

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” (Acts 26:24)

 Still Crazy After All These Years…

 “In the past, people tended to avoid those who suffered from mood disorders. As a result, many who were afflicted became social outcasts. Some encountered job discrimination. Others were shunned by members of their own family. Often, this only aggravated the problem and prevented those who were ailing from getting help.

In recent decades, however, great strides have been made in understanding clinical depression and bipolar disorder. Now it is well-known that these conditions are treatable. But getting help is not always easy….

The important thing is to reach out and get help. “Many times sufferers are frightened and ashamed of their condition,” … “The real shame, though, is suspecting you have a problem and not seeking the help that you so desperately need.”

I agree with these statements. The article from which they were taken also offered advice that I further support. It encouraged seeking comfort from God’s word the Bible and fellowship with other believers.

“Discerning Christians, therefore, avoid implying that depressed people are responsible for their own suffering. Such remarks would be no more helpful than those offered by Job’s false comforters (Job 8:1-6), and adds, “There is no doubt that by providing meaningful support, family members and friends can play a significant role in a sufferer’s well-being.”

Who wouldn’t agree? This is all very sound advice taken from the January 8, 2004 Awake! magazine published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. I think they tactfully dealt with the topic of mood disorders and I was very encouraged to read it because I have Seasonal depression. It usually begins in mid October with pain in my eyes and a loss of energy. Page 10 of the article noted that one member of the congregation of Jehovah’sWitnesses said, “the depression increases because I feel that my disorder must be a reflection of a lack of spirituality.” And added, “I have learned that depression is an illness that needs to be dealt with. It is not a reflection of my love for God or for my fellow Christians. It is not a true reflection of my spirituality.”

I also learned this lesson. I had become discouraged over the years as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and when the pressure got to me, I walked out in the fall of 2003 not knowing if I’d return. So this particular article was healing to me as I felt the Watchtower Society was addressing something going on in my own congregation. My discouragement had begun a few years earlier when I was reprimanded by an elder for following the Bible’s advice to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” Having grown up with a family member with bi-polar disorder and knowing my own seasonal depression, I was perhaps more sensitive to those in my congregation who were discouraged or depressed. The elder told me to “look out for number one” and reminded me that time spent trying to encourage the sister whom he referred to as “weak” was time I could be spending out in the door-to-door ministry. He had also given a talk on “marking” weak ones in the congregation and taking special precautions in our limited dealings with them. When I concurred that we have to protect our own spiritual standing but asked, “what if that person is so distraught they’re near suicide, you can’t leave a person alone in that condition can you?” His answer was a cold-hearted, “what are you going to do, commit suicide with them?”

I eventually followed orders and fell in line as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses “in good standing” by closing my heart and just performing my duties. Years passed and finally in 2003, I just stopped going to meetings. When I got the article on mood disorders at the start of 2004, I read the advice on pages 12-13 on how the congregation can offer support and was confirmed that I had followed the right course in reaching out to my sister after all….

“The Bible admonishes all Christians to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls” and to “be long-suffering toward all” (1 Thess 5:14) How can you do this? First, it is important to understand the distinction between mental and spiritual illness. For example, the Bible writer James indicated that prayer can make the spiritually indisposed one well. (James 5:14, 15) Nevertheless, Jesus acknowledged that those who are physically ailing need a physician. (Matt 9:12) Of course, it is always right and helpful to pray to Jehovah about any concern, including our health. (Ps 55:22; Phil 4:6-7) But the Bible does not state that increased spiritual activity in itself will cure present medical problems.

Discerning Christians, therefore, avoid implying that depressed people are responsible for their own suffering. Such remarks would be no more helpful than those offered by Job’s false comforters. (Job 8:1-6) The fact is that in many cases depression will not improve unless it is treated medically. This is especially so when a person is severely depressed, perhaps even suicidal. In such cases, professional attention is essential.”

I was being told NOT to speak to this discouraged sister because the elder said she was “spiritually weak.” Yet the article in the magazine that he, along with 6 million others at that time, were distributing door-to-door gave the advice TO SPEAK and TO PRAY, NOT AVOID! It also brought out that expecting increased activity from the individual would not be helpful, yet as any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses know too well their status of “weak” or “in good standing” is based upon the activities of meeting attendance and field service. She was doing less of both and thus labeled as “bad association.”

This incident made me feel insecure because I feared being labeled as “weak” and “bad association” myself if I was in need. How refreshing to read from the pages of the Awake! magazine this advice to the congregation,

“To be of assistance to sufferers, strive to be empathetic. (1 Cor 10:24; Phil 2:4) Try to view matters through the eyes of the sufferer rather than through your own. Do not burden the individual with unreasonable expectations. “When I am accepted for the person I am now,” says Carl, who struggles with depression, “I feel that my sense of belonging is gradually being restored. With the patient help of a few older friends, I have been able to build a closer relationship with God and have found a great measure of joy in helping others to do the same.”

I knew I had been an encouragement to that sister and perhaps the elders attitude toward it was merely a local problem and I could use the article to point out the physical as well as spiritual dimensions of my own depression and hers also.

Knock, Knock!

The elders had made a surprise visit to my home in mid October of 2004 demanding more activity from me with no offer to pray for me. I told them I was building my own relationship with God and found it difficult to go out in service telling others about how wonderful “Jehovah’s organization” was when I myself had begun to doubt that. Two weeks later I received a phone call letting me know of their intentions to disfellowship me which plunged me into a deep depression. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, however, reasoning that perhaps my seasonal depression was affecting my ability to receive corrective counsel so I quoted from the January 8, 2004 Awake! article to plea mercy and asked if we could put the hearings off until spring when I would be more stable in my thinking. They refused. What was my crime and why the hurry? I had begun to talk too much about Jesus.

Instead of speaking consolingly, they put me through an insulting inquisition. Instead of praying for me, they condemned me. On December. 2, 2004 they announced to my “brothers and sisters” that I was an apostate to the faith because I answered “yes” to their question of whether a person could have a relationship with God outside of the Watchtower. And thus I ended that year as a shunned person, one that the Watchtower recently declared as “mentally diseased.”

No one but me had followed the advice of the Awake! magazine yet I was the one called an apostate to the faith?

Where were the “loving and empathetic” elders of whom the sister in the Awake! article said this, “When the elders reassure me of Jehovah’s love, read me passages from God’s Word, the Bible, and speak of Jehovah’s purpose for a paradise of peace and well-being and when they pray with me—even on the telephone—I feel the burden lifting. I know I am not abandoned by Jehovah or by my brothers, and that is a source of strength for me.”

Actions speak louder than words and I discovered in more cases than just this one that the printed material from the Awake! and Watchtower differ from the actions of its leadership. One thing I would like to make aware to the public is that the Watchtower magazine that Jehovah’s Witnesses bring to your door is not the same information they study each week at their meetings. An article published in the July 15, 2011 study edition of The Watchtower warns followers to stay clear of “false teachers” who are condemned as being “mentally diseased” apostates who should be avoided at all costs. It reads, “Suppose that a doctor told you to avoid contact with someone who is infected with a contagious, deadly disease…. you would strictly heed his warning. Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings.”

They do not clarify what these false teachings are however. I learned the hard way that any teaching that does not agree with theirs is considered as false. But I’m in good company because according to them, Jesus Christ also would be considered an apostate to their faith.

To have a mental illness in itself should never be regarded with shame, their own literature pointed that out. In this case, however, the term “mentally diseased” is a supreme insult and many former members are rightly speaking out about it. Active members who are still able to think for themselves are not going to put up with this much longer either.

The July 15, 2011 article intended to inculcate their flock worldwide basically said that those of us who left to follow Jesus Christ are “mentally diseased.” In addition to that, they are told regularly at their meetings that those who have never joined their religion are “worldly” and will be destroyed at Armageddon. They believe that they alone have a channel of communication to God and this information about you and about me is not just from the leadership at Brooklyn, New York, but from Jehovah God himself. Basically, what they are being told is God is displeased with you and me and the only way to be in his favor is if we join the Watchtower so that we too can condemn everyone outside of it. And they call this Christianity????? To stand against this CONTROLLING RELIGION is not insane, it’s HEALTHY.

From the mouth of God straight into the Watchtower magazine for brainwashing amongst the flock: Taken from ‘Will you heed Jehovah’s warnings?’

“Jehovah, the Great Physician, tells us to avoid contact with them. We know what he means, but are we determined to heed his warning in all respects? What is involved in avoiding false teachers? We do not receive them into our homes or greet them. We also refuse to read their literature, watch television programs that feature them, examine their websites, or add our comments to their blogs. Why do we take such a firm stand?
“Because of love. We love ‘the God of truth’, so we are not interested in twisted teachings that contradict his Word of truth.”

Yes, because of love, entire families shun their own who are not able to keep up with the Watchtower’s requirements. I have friends who have been completely cut off from their families and suffer greatly because of it, yes, some of them do fit the description of “mentally diseased” now because of this action. But then, what happened to “by providing meaningful support, family members and friends can play a significant role in a sufferer’s well-being” from the January 8, 2004 Awake! article? Which article will they obey?

In the New World Translation of the Bible which Jehovah’s Witnesses use and make available to the public, Ecclesiastes 7:7  is rendered as “For mere oppression may make a wise one act crazy” and I can vouch that while under their oppression I was crazy.

I entered the ranks of the Watchtower in 1996 at first happily praising God because I thought I had found “the truth,” but by 2004 I was asking the demons to kill me. Insanity? YES!! The confused years that followed were a struggle to regain my mind, but by 2007 the dark cloud of Watchtower oppression left and I totally give credit to the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, the REAL TRUTH in my life.

The Awake! article on page 11 mentioned a woman who found it helpful to keep a daily journal in which she could pour out her feelings. Because we were not allowed to voice our own thoughts in the religion and discouraged from making friendships outside of it, my journal became the safe haven to release my tormented thoughts.  It’s not that I need to go back into that darkness again, but I thought it might be to someone else’s benefit to read selections from my personal journal.

Even in the Bible’s familiar Psalms of anguish, I believe the Spirit of Christ was writing them. I notice this in my own struggles also. At times my pen was seething with anger like a caged beast demanding freedom and then interrupted by a small still voice that said trust God, wait and hope in the promise of rescue not yet understanding how or when it would come about.

I began my study with Jehovah’s Witnesses in March 12, 1996. I was baptized 7 months later to the day on October 12.

February 7, 1997- Sometimes I’m sure I’m gonna bubble over with enthusiasm for the Truth! I can’t believe I’ve been so privileged to be drawn by Jehovah to do His will (John 6:44). It truly does give life purpose and meaning to share the good news with others. No one REALLY knows love until they feel this love (1 John 4:7-10)

After a large assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses I came home and wrote this April 14, 1997: Observation about the Truth to relate to new Bible studies: I realized it along the way and want to get it across to my students. First, you recognize the Bible as being the source of Truth. Then you recognize the organization teaching it and as a whole living by it.

Within 3 1/2 years under the influence of that organization, I wrote in August 1999: My worst fear is not that this system will end, but that I be found among the hypocrites putting faith in one another and our works and not the God of Salvation, Jehovah.

By that December, I questioned the existence of love: God is love. What is love? Love involves discipline. It is not love on the part of a friend if he allows his friend to inject poison in his body. Freedom of choice, then, becomes wicked. True love corrects, directs to a righteous way. It does demand obedience to “a way.” Tolerance, then, is against one way.

God was jealous for me and ready to show me the poison I’d been drinking in the Watchtower. I was about to undergo His discipline which eventually led me to repent of my involvement with the Watchtower.

December 1999: Into the pit. The cold harsh reality of life. So brief. So unimportant. Death so final. To know that there is no true friendship or love. We are essentially greedy and self-centered. We live for our gods or ourselves. But nothing is really truth. Life, all life, will end. Meantime, we live as we choose or make the most of our unfortunate circumstances.

4 years under the influence of “Jehovah’s organization” I was craving love…

March 23, 2000: All that I want. When all is said and done, what we all craved is LOVE. Unconditional. Life presents to us opportunities for praise in our accomplishments, material assets to prove our worth, but we are not really worthy until we believe—really trust—that we were worthy of LOVE. The ones who can believe are truly blessed. No matter how many lies or drugs it takes, we never quench the quest. Don’t make me stop. I’m too weak to believe otherwise. I’d rather believe the lie that LOVE exists. God exists. Life has purpose. I have a right to be here. Don’t take that away, it’s all I got amongst my mountain of things.

Good for nuthin’ slave… Manure is manure. It has value if spread out to nourish vegetation. Other than that, it stinks. Manure is manure. I am of value when used to help other things grow.

2001, five years under the Watchtower influence…

I will cling to whom I trust.

I know you created all things Jehovah. I know you have given me Spirit and Truth.

I know you care, I trust this. But what of earthly love?

I do not recognize love on the part of your servants, only your enemies—

Those clever, clever enemies of Truth

They accept me and love me,

But I can never attain to the divine

Which your imperfect, yet holy servants

Say I must aspire to.

It is a narrow road, perhaps too narrow for me.

And it’s knowing that you will spit me out

That makes it easier to leave.

You require me to cling

And yet if I doubt for a day

I am dust….

Continuing in the Watchtower. Welcome to my nightmare….

June 2002: “Then they shall know I am Jehovah!” When? When He acts violently against this dying system? Isn’t that how we FINALLY make ourselves known? By our violent tantrums as we break free from our enforced cover of purity? Who am I now???!!!!
As I smother every last vestige of myself in a shroud of Christianity, I find myself, yes, anticipating that violent day of proclamation prophesied about Him but it’s also for ME!!! But for what? To live forever in that world I’ve begun to despise by seeing its future inhabitants? There is NO LOVE, only clean, smiling people taught so well to be that way.

Oct 2002
Hate is crippling
I hate so much
where does it come from?
Is it because I’ve left them/it/Him in my heart
or is it because I’ve come to know them/it/Him?

Them/it/Him is Jehovah.
Jehovah is no longer God of course.
Jehovah is THEM: the organization
It: the congregation
Him: God expressed through the Bible

So much would be solved if I could just express myself, but doubt is not allowed.
Already judged
Labeled weak
Do show yourself weak and they will take advantage of you
Protect the children! With what? Religion?
Love is always the answer
Am I capable of defining love?

November 2003
I cling to the hate because if I don’t hate you I have to turn it on myself and I will slit my wrists. You were so mean, so insensitive, so powerful in your damned secure position able to oppress. Of course I am crazy now! You are protected by your position. I am open, naked, exposed and vulnerable. And I am trying to build my walls. I will not stoop so low as to take out this life. You will remain and I too will remain, but I will be honest and I will seek solace and I will not trust those who oppress. If I ask Jehovah to help me forgive and trust I will be vulnerable again.

I knew my anger was protecting me and any thought of forgiveness or love at that stage would just make me vulnerable to the oppressive wolves I discovered in the Watchtower. I went to the meetings and out in service with a smile, but I was gone, gone, gone. All I could do was hate. Free birds don’t like captivity. I was seeking release.

December 2003
One will see Christ’s fire in overturning the tables and make it their calling to expose religious hypocrisy.
One will center on Christ’s outreach to the hungry and set up a food shelter.
Another focuses on healing the sick.
All are ministries inspired by the Son of God.
Still, Truth will motivate others to do the work that indeed he commanded to be done,
“preach the good news of the kingdom.”
Again, a ministry given by the Son of God.

If I were to express my ideas through Christ, you say I have lost Jehovah.
If I were to present my case through Mosaic Law, you will say I have not known the Christ.
I use scriptures to defend my points and you say Satan has quoted them!
I find myself in a lost cause.

Yet I am free,
for I know the Truth
and it has set me free.
Free to expose the hypocrisy
Free to outreach to the hungry and sick
Free to also speak of the kingdom.
Yes, I will be crucified by the leaders for this
but I will be free!
(one year later I was disfellowshiped (crucified) for talking too much about Jesus and not recognizing Jehovah’s organization as his sole channel)

Just prior to their announcement that they intended to disfellowship me, I wrote this in the fall of 2004.
I just wanted to believe in love. Who would it hurt anyway? I just wanted to believe in love. When will the bullet find me? When will I feel the peace, the peace of non existence. To live and not know love is pure hell. This is the place where you love the demons because they will find a way to kill me and I welcome the peace.
There’s still a conscience, it says, “wait!” You can still turn to God. Yes, I can.

Out of all the voices in my head, I tried to listen to that one. It wasn’t easy, but I stuck around to listen.

Later in 2004, I penned

There’s a point at which the dedication to God becomes fused with dedication to the Society. It becomes one and the same. Leave the Watchtower and you have left God. Work for the Watchtower and you are working for God. I remember the subtlety, the encouragement to pioneer—or just “do more.” All the time. Eventually it gets to you. You begin to BELIEVE you don’t love God enough because you’re never DOING enough. You let go of that wonderful Spirit that was leading you to do works through love and begin working for THEM. I remember the feeling. It was the first time I signed up to auxiliary pioneer and it didn’t turn out well. I was “in” at that point. Prior to that I truly felt led by Spirit and I could truly love and minister to others through that love. It was a crossover. Now I’m at the crossroads again. I want to give up THEM. Their interpretation will be that I have “left Jehovah.” But no! It is because I miss Him so much! I wish I could trust that Spirit again. The one that made me work, yes, but through love for God, not obedience to THEM. I still believe in God. But yes, I’ve been confused as to who He is and what it is He really requires from us.

He is Jealous For Me.

In John 2:14-16, Jesus storms into the temple courts with a whip to drive out those elements which do not belong there. Zeal for his Father’s house CONSUMED him!! In seeking the Christ within each of us, there are stages of growth. One of which is this kind of righteous indignation he showed at the temple. I believe my anger and tears were the work of the Holy Spirit overturning the tables and reclaiming the temple of my body. Yes, Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He condemned it and wept. I think it is no different for us. I wept losing my beloved religion, but I also had to be honest and condemn it for what it was.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4:25-27)

Anger is part of speaking truthfully. Jesus proved this. But we do have to be careful that it does not control us and make us worse sinners than those we fight against. The bitterness can fester and thereby give a foothold to the devil. That is why Jesus taught us to pray for and bless those who persecute us. Forgiveness is armor for us, not permission given to them to wipe their feet on our backs. Jesus knows that when we have his Spirit in us, we are powerful in our words and actions. He wants Lordship even in our justified and righteous anger. I have learned to give it to him and use it to glorify him. May God be praised in the fire that motivates those who expose religions that falsely represent him.

Mind Control and Mental Illness

I am grateful for Mental Illness Awareness Week every October. During that time, dedicated volunteers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness use the opportunity to make known their services to help those suffering from chemical imbalance, stress caused by physical, sexual, and emotional abuse including the trauma incurred by those exposed to war. There is a network to those experiencing the post traumatic stress of abuse brought on by mind control also, but it is largely unknown and underground. That is why I feel it is necessary to bring it out from the shadows and into the realm of print this month. There are literally thousands of websites dedicated to helping those affected by cult involvement and mind control. Cults often persuade their members not to search these websites out, but I encourage those who are suffering or know someone who is to begin looking for answers in the interest of their mental health. There is help, there is hope.

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, many newspaper editorials make us aware of the chemical imbalance responsible for mood swings and the treatments available. They also note the effects on the brain from various past abuse and the necessity for counseling through such traumatic experience. We can be grateful for those who research and publish the information. An often overlooked area is spiritual abuse through mind control and how many people do suffer mental illness because it. I believe cult awareness belongs with Mental Illness Awareness and so I am sharing this as my contribution to Mental Illness Awareness Week. Your doctor, no matter how skilled and educated, may not understand the unique struggles you face in overcoming trauma brought on by years of spiritual abuse, but there is help through the many websites dedicated to discussion (group and one-on-one), prayer, and information to help you in your journey toward better mental health. Please begin the search today.

In 1961, Dr. Robert J. Lifton wrote the book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, after studying the effects of mind control on American prisoners of the war under the Communist Chinese. In chapter 22 of his book, Psychiatrist and Professor Robert J. Lifton outlines eight criteria of mind control, whether used by political, religious or psychological cults.

Members of high-demand organizations often experience the gradual narrowing of their thoughts. Their life experiences and future expectations are restricted and reduced to conform with that of the group. When this tendency is combined with an intense belief system that emphasizes the benefits of life in a higher plane of existence, members are more easily influenced to radically commit themselves to behavior they would not otherwise choose which sets up a perfect breeding ground for a mental disposition referred to as cognitive dissonance. Even after years of physically leaving a group and its teachings, the person’s mental health is impaired and they need support and healing.

These are the eight criteria found in Lifton’s study on Thought Reform.

Milieu Control This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.

Mystical Manipulation There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special gift or talent that will then allow the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and experiences as he or she wishes.

Demand for Purity The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

Confession Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

Sacred Science The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

Loading the Language The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking.

Doctrine over person Member’s personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

Dispensing of existence The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group’s ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also. (Lifton, 1989)

I am not blaming the Watchtower for anybody’s chemical imbalance which manifests itself as mental illness. But I am not shy about exposing the trauma their oppression has caused in many minds including my own. As their Awake! article pointed out, there is such a thing as spiritual sickness and physical sickness. I still deal with my physical sickness of seasonal depression, but I am joy-filled even through dark days because I know my savior lives and he LOVES me. THAT is what was TAKEN from me as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses–the TRUTH that GOD LOVES ME. It made me insane to keep having to guess if Jehovah would still love me if I missed a meeting or didn’t get my hours in the door-to-door service! Now I know for certainty that God loves me and I will not let mere men oppress me again for it leads to spiritual sickness due to a divided mind that is not WHOLLY dedicated to God. Now that the Watchtower is no longer controlling my mind, I can once again love God with my WHOLE mind, heart, soul and strength. AMEN!!!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

October 1, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Live by law, I dare ya!

 Live by law, I dare ya! by Julie McAllen

Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me? (John 7:19)

Jesus addressed a group of Jews familiar with the Old Law covenant. They were religious people, but not perfect. As Jesus said, “not one of you keeps the law.” Do you know any religious people like this today? Don’t start pointing fingers, three of them will be aimed back at you. For the law was given that it might prove what sin is, and we are all sinners. But not everyone reacts the same to the exposure of their sin. In this case, Jesus had to ask, “why are you trying to kill me?”

You might think it’s only hardcore atheists determined not to open a Bible who are trying to kill Jesus, but like the group being addressed in the above passage, religious people today do a pretty good job of it also. I know, I was one of them.

When salvation is based upon performance, a person may be completely immersed in religious activity and even possess an above average knowledge of scripture and yet feel separated from God. Separated from God? Isn’t that what sin is? This is what’s so confusing for religious people “in good standing.”

I was very proud of being in “good standing,” but felt the separation. I would remind God in my anger “didn’t you see me do all those things? How good do I have to be!!?” I was working, but upset that I could not sense His approval of me. A salvation based on my works was not only wearing me out, it was embittering me toward God. And as I was trying to live up to law, I was trampling on the grace He had poured out. I was “killing Jesus” in favor or my own path to righteousness. I could not see at the time how the sin of PRIDE led me to be a religious person. Had I heard of grace? Yes, but I chose law. And I believe God knew what He was doing when He allowed that to run its course.

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Mark 10:17-22 describes Jesus’ approach to a rich man who, like me, believed that he had to “do” something to earn God’s favor. Jesus’ response to his question of: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (verse 17) is perceptive. He did not give him the simple Gospel of grace, but rather, challenged him with obedience to God’s commandments (verse 19). The pride of this man was seen in his response to Jesus when he said: “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” (verse 20) Was this statement true? Of course not! Scripture explains that: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) This man’s pride had deceived him into thinking he was righteous enough for eternal life. He was not ready for the Gospel of grace. So, Jesus broke him with the law by saying:

” ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.” —Mark 10:21-22

Jesus put His finger on the rich man’s pride by emphasizing the essence of the law — that of loving God and others by denying self and surrendering all to God. The rich man’s “face fell, and he went away grieved” because he wasn’t ready to give up his pride in his accomplishments and possessions. I find it interesting that in this passage Jesus does not emphasize grace to this man. He gives him more from the law in order to grieve him. I too went away grieved when I heard only more law from the Word. In the same way that Jesus broke the rich man with the law, my religious pride was broken by the impossible notion that I was capable of living up to the standards imposed by my religion. Only by being challenged by law was I humbled into hearing the true Gospel of grace.

What must you do to inherit everlasting life? C’mon, you know. Is it to sell all you have and give to the poor? Jesus knew the hairs on this young man’s head, that’s why he told him to do that. He knows you too. You know what it is. How hard do you have to work? How perfect do you have to be?

Tired yet?

I was. The more I tried to gain life through my own ability to keep the law, the more tired I got. I kept asking “what must I do?” in my heart. I couldn’t hear grace — only more law. Isn’t this what the young man heard too? He went away grieved. I did too. And it was good for me. I was humbled to the point of hearing another way. One day I noticed Jesus did it all and there was nothing I could add to it. There was nothing I could “do.” That left me helpless. I realize now that God allowed me to live a life under law to show me I was in fact “the worst sinner.” God led me to repent of my pride in being a religious person like this young man who had the audacity to say he kept all the commandments from his youth on. What human could ever do this? Only one man I know was perfect. His name is Jesus Christ and he is my righteousness now. I am a sinner, but he paid my debt. I couldn’t do it, could you? Are you still trying to?

If you live a basically good life but still feel separated from God, let me ask you this: Have you ever thought to repent of your “good works?” Maybe you’re like I was asking “what did I do wrong?” because you got tricked into thinking “sin” just meant the bad things we do. Have you repented of your pride? Do you know you will NEVER be good enough? NEVER!! To think we as humans could somehow obtain perfection through our own efforts is a denial of Christ. We “kill Jesus” rather than accept the life he gave us.
And if the idea of one man dying for your sins is ridiculous and unnecessary, then go ahead, live by the law. I wish you luck.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

July 1, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , | Comments Off on Live by law, I dare ya!

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