Hello everyone and thanks for joining me. Today I wanted to talk on four topics: media, money, meetings and me.
Beginning with media, I’m specifically referring to the publication of a new book called Fear to Freedom which was put together by a friend of mine, Jack Grey, who once served as a Jehovah’s Witnesses elder. His main goal is to help those who are going through the trauma of leaving a high control group such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and facing the inevitable shunning from both family and friends that results from such a cruel and difficult exodus.
Now if you are a regular viewer of this channel, you will know that I don’t often get into the psychology of leaving the Organization. My focus has been on Scripture because I know where my strength lies. God has given each of us gifts to use in his service. There are others, like my aforementioned friend, who have the gift of being supportive of those in need emotionally. and he is doing a far better job of it than I could ever hope to do. He has a Facebook group called: Empowered ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses (Empowered Minds). I will put a link to that in the description field of this video. There is also a web site which I’ll likewise share in the video description.
Our Beroean Zoom meetings also have group support meetings. You will find those links in the video description field. More on meetings later.
For now, back to the book, Fear to Freedom. There are 17 different accounts inside written by men and women. My story is in there as well. The purpose of the book is to assist those trying to get out of the organization with accounts of how others with very different backgrounds all succeeded in doing so. While most stories are from ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, not all are. These are stories of triumph. The challenges I’ve personally contended with are nothing compared to what others in the book have faced. So why is my experience in the book? I agreed to participate because of a single and sad fact: It seems that the majority of people who leave false religion also leave behind any belief in God. Having put faith in men, it appears that when that is gone, there is nothing left for them. Perhaps they fear ever again coming under anyone’s control and can’t see a way to worship God free from that risk. I don’t know.
I do want people to successfully leave any high control group. In fact, I want people to break free of all organized religion, and beyond that, any group run by men which seeks to control the mind and heart. Let us not surrender our freedom and become followers of men.
If you think this book will help you, if you’re experiencing confusion and pain and trauma as you wake up from the indoctrination of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or some other group, then I’m sure there is something in the book to help you. There are bound to be a number of personal experiences that will resonate with you.
I have shared mine because my goal is to help people not to lose their faith in God, even while they are abandoning faith in men. Men will let you down but God never will. The difficulty lies in distinguishing God’s word from that of men. That comes as one develops the power of critical thought.
It is my hope that these experiences will help you to find more than just an exit from a bad situation but rather entry into a far better one, an eternal one.
The book is available on Amazon in both hard copy and electronic format, and you can also obtain it by following the link to the “Fear to Freedom” website which I will post in the description of this video.
Now under the second topic, money. Obviously, it took money to produce this book. I’m currently working on the manuscripts for two books. The first is an analysis of all the doctrines unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. My hope is to provide exJWs with a tool to help family and friends still trapped inside the organization to free themselves from the veil of indoctrination and false teaching spouted by the Governing Body.
The other book which I’m working on is a collaboration with James Penton. It’s an analysis of the doctrine of the Trinity, and we hope it to be a thorough and complete analysis of the teaching.
Now, in the past, I have been criticized by a few individuals for putting a link in these videos to facilitate donations, but people have asked me how they can donate to Beroean Pickets and so I provided an easy means for them to do so.
I understand the feeling that people have when money is mentioned in connection with any Bible ministry. Unscrupulous men have long used the name of Jesus to enrich themselves. This is nothing new. Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day who became wealthy at the cost of the poor, the orphans, and the widows. Does this mean it’s wrong to accept any donations? Is it unscriptural?
No. It is wrong to misuse the funds, of course. They must not be used for purposes other than those for which they were donated. The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is under fire for this right now, and let’s face it, they are hardly an exception. I did a video about the unrighteous riches covering that very topic.
For those who feel that any donations are wicked, I would ask them to meditate on these words from the Apostle Paul who was suffering under false slander. I’m going to read from The New Testament by William Barclay. This is from 1 Corinthians 9:3-18:
“To those who want to put me on trial, this is my defence. Have we no right to food and drink at the expense of the Christian community? Have we no right to take a Christian wife with us on our travels, as the other apostles do, including the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or, are Barnabas and I the only apostles who are not exempt from having to work for a living? Who ever serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who ever plants a vineyard without eating the grapes? Who ever tends a flock without getting any of its milk? It is not only human authority that I have for speaking like this. Does the law not say the same? For there is a regulation in Moses’ law: ‘You must not muzzle the ox, when it is threshing the grain.’ (That is, the ox must be free to eat what it is threshing.) Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Or, is it not quite clearly with us in mind that he says this? Quite certainly it was written with us in mind, for the ploughman is bound to plough and the thresher to thresh in the expectation of receiving a share of the produce. We sowed the seeds which brought you a harvest of spiritual blessings. Is it too much for us to expect in return to reap some material help from you? If others have the right to make this claim on you, surely we have still more?
But we have never made use of this right. So far from that, we put up with anything, rather than risk doing anything that would hamper the progress of the gospel. Are you not aware that those who performed the sacred ritual of the temple use the temple offerings as food, and that those who serve at the altar share with the altar and the sacrifices which are placed on it? In the same way, the Lord gives instructions that those who preach the gospel should get their living from the gospel. As for myself, I have never claimed any of these rights, nor am I writing now to see that I get them. I would rather die first! No one is going to turn the one claim in which I take pride into an empty boast! If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to be proud of. I can’t help myself. For me it would be heartbreak not to preach the gospel. If I do this because I choose to do it, I would expect to get paid for it. But if I do it because I can do no other, it is the task from God with which I have been entrusted. What pay do I get then? I get the satisfaction of telling the good news without it costing anyone a penny, and of thus refusing to exercise the rights the gospel gives me.” (1 Corinthians 9:3-18 The New Testament by William Barclay)
I knew that asking for donations would cause criticism and for a time I held off doing so. I didn’t want to hamper the work. However, I cannot afford to carry on while funding this work out of my own pocket. Fortunately, the Lord has been kind to me and provides me with enough for my personal expenses without my having to rely on the generosity of others. Thus, I can use the donated funds for purposes directly connected with the gospel. Though I’m not nearly of the calibre of the apostle Paul, I feel an affinity for him because I too feel compelled to carry out this ministry. I could easily kick back and enjoy life and not work seven days a week doing research and producing videos and writing articles and books. I also wouldn’t have to endure all the criticism and barbs aimed at me for publishing information which disagrees with the doctrinal beliefs of a great percentage of the religious population. But truth is truth, and as Paul said, not to preach the gospel would be a heartbreak. Besides, there is the fulfillment of the Lord’s words and finding many brothers and sisters, fine upstanding Christians, that now make up a far better family than I have ever known is reward as well. (Mark 10:29).
Because of timely donations, I have been able to buy the equipment when needed to produce these videos and maintain the facilities to do so. There has not been a lot of money, but that is okay because there has always been enough. I’m sure that if needs grow, then the funds will grow so that the work can continue. Monetary donations have not been the only support we’ve received. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have offered to help out both by donating their time and skills in translating, editing, proofreading, composing, hosting meetings, maintaining websites, working on video postproduction, sourcing of research and display materials…I could go on, but I think the picture is clear. These are also donations of a financial nature though not directly, because time is money and taking one’s time that could be used to earn money is, in fact, a donation of money. So, whether by direct donation or by the contribution of labor, I am very grateful to have so many with whom to share the load.
And now to the third topic, meetings. We hold meetings in English and Spanish at the moment and we hope to branch out into other languages. These are online meetings held on Zoom. There is one on Saturday at 8 PM New York City time, 5 PM Pacific time. And if you are on the east coast of Australia, you can join us at 10 AM every Sunday. Speaking of Sunday meetings, we also have one in Spanish at 10 AM New York City time which would be 9 AM in Bogotá, Colombia, and 11 AM in Argentina. Then at 12 Noon on Sunday, New York City time, we have another English meeting. There are other meetings as well throughout the week. The full schedule of all meetings with Zoom links can be found on beroeans.net/meetings. I’ll put that link in the video description.
I hope you can join us. Here’s how they work. These are not the meetings you’re used to in JW.org land. In some, there is a topic: someone gives a short discourse, and then others are allowed to ask questions of the speaker. This is healthy because it makes it possible for all to have a part and it keeps the speaker honest, since he or she has to be able to defend their position from Scripture. Then there are meetings of a support nature in which different participants can share their experiences freely in a safe, nonjudgmental environment.
My favourite style of meeting is the Bible reading on Sunday at 12 Noon, New York City time. We start by reading a prearranged chapter from the Bible. The group determines what is to be studied. Then we open the floor for comments. This is not a Question and Answer session like the Watchtower study, but rather all are encouraged to share whatever interesting point they can glean from the reading. I find I rarely go to one of these without having learned something new about the Bible and Christian living.
I should inform you that we do allow women to pray at our meetings. That is not always accepted in many bible study groups and worship services. I am currently working on a series of videos to explain the Scriptural reasoning behind that decision.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about me. I have said this before, but it needs to be repeated over and over. My purpose in doing these videos is not to get a following. In fact, if people were to follow me, I’d consider that to be a huge failure; and more than a failure, it would be a betrayal of the commission that has been bestowed upon all of us by our Lord Jesus. We are told to make disciples not of ourselves but of him. I was trapped in a high control religion because I was raised to believe that men older and wiser than myself had it all figured out. I was taught not to think for myself while, paradoxically, believing that I was. I now understand what critical thinking is and realize that it is a skill that one has to work at.
I am going to quote something for you from the New World translation. I know that people love to diss this translation, but sometimes it hits the spot and I think it does here.
From Proverbs 1:1-4, “The proverbs of Solʹo·mon the son of David, the king of Israel, 2 for one to know wisdom and discipline, to discern the sayings of understanding, 3 to receive the discipline that gives insight, righteousness and judgment and uprightness, 4 to give to the inexperienced ones shrewdness, to a young man knowledge and thinking ability.”
“Thinking ability”! The ability to think specifically the ability to think critically, to analyse and discern and ferret out falsehood and distinguish truth from the lie. These are abilities that is sadly lacking in the world today, and not just within the religious community. The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one according to 1 John 5:19, and that wicked one is the father of the lie. Today, those who excel at lying, are running the world. It is not much we can do about that, but we can look to ourselves and not be taken in anymore.
We start by submitting ourselves to God.
“The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge. Wisdom and discipline are what mere fools have despised.” (Proverbs 1:7)
We do not give in to seductive speech.
“My son, if sinners try to seduce you, do not consent.” (Proverbs 1:10)
“When wisdom enters into your heart and knowledge itself becomes pleasant to your very soul, thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you, to deliver you from the bad way, from the man speaking perverse things, from those leaving the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, from those who are rejoicing in doing bad, who are joyful in the perverse things of badness; those whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their general course” (Proverbs 2:10-15)
When we leave the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we don’t know what to believe. We begin to doubt everything. Some will use that fear to get us to accept false doctrines that we used to reject, like hellfire to cite one example. They will try to brand everything we ever believed as false through association. “If the Watchtower organization teaches it, then it must be wrong,” they reason.
A critical thinker makes no such assumptions. A critical thinker will not reject a teaching simply because of its source. If someone tries to get you to do that, then watch out. They are exploiting your emotions for their own purposes. A critical thinker, a person who has developed thinking ability and learned to discern fact from fiction, will know that the best way to sell a lie is to wrap it up in the truth. We must learn to discern what is false, and rip it out. But keep the truth.
Liars are very capable of seducing us with false logic. They use logical fallacies that seem convincing if one doesn’t recognize them for what they really are. I’m going to put a link in the description of this video as well as a card above to another video that provides you with examples of 31 such logical fallacies. Learn them so that you can recognize them when they come up and not be taken in by someone seeking to get you to follow him or her down a wrong path. I am not excluding myself. Examine everything I teach and ensure that it complies with what the Bible actually says. Only our Father through his Christ is loyal and will never deceive us. Any human, including myself, will fail from time to time. Some do so willingly and wickedly. Others fail unwittingly and often with the best of intentions. Neither situation lets you off the hook. It is up to each of us to develop thinking ability, discernment, insight, and ultimately, wisdom. These are the tools that will protect us from ever again accepting a lie as truth.
Well, that’s all I wanted to talk about for today. Next Friday, I hope to release a video discussing the judicial procedures of Jehovah’s Witnesses and then to contrast them with the actual judicial process that Christ instituted. Until then, thank you for watching.