I have been a reader, lover and writer of poetry for virtually my entire life. My earliest recollection of reading poetry was when I was in third or fourth grade, when I was a student at a Catholic parochial school while living in Illinois.
Evidently I showed promise for reading; one of my teachers, a nun, placed me in an advanced reading class with a handful of other students who she thought would benefit from this special class.
We read poetry and short stories from famous authors. I remember reading “The Raven” and “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, dark writings that, at such a young age, frightened me. Later, I appreciated their artistry more.
We also read “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,”; I can still quote parts from memory. This exposure to poetry when I was a child made an indelible impression in my mind that I have nurtured and returned to throughout my life.
When I attended the University of AZ, I always gravitated toward the “greeting cards” section in the bookstore housed in the Student Union. Back then, my main interest was for syrupy love poems by modern poets like Susan Polis (now Susan Polis Shutz). She started the famous “Blue Mountain Arts” card company with its distinctive look, fonts, and genre:
Poetry is a vast ocean of different styles, subjects, artists, tastes, etc. For myself, if I can’t understand the poetry, I won’t read it. And a lot of poetry is difficult to read and understand; I’ve never had much interest in this kind of poetry and rarely have taken the time and energy needed to read some of the author’s who wrote in more difficult styles, like Shakespeare.
One of my favorite poetry books is “One Hundred and One Famous Poems.” Here is a link. I have a paperback copy that is ragged and dog-eared, with missing pages held together by scotch tape. I can’t remember where and how it came into my possession, but I believe I’ve had it close to thirty years—maybe longer— and still read it to this day.
Some of my favorites from this book are “The Eternal Goodness,” “The Barefoot Boy,” “Trees,” “Mercy,” “Mending Wall,” “The Fool’s Prayer,” “I Shall Not Pass This Way Again,” “Maud Miller,” “In Flanders Fields” and many others from this great little book. I especially like the “Prose” section at the end of the book.
My love and interest in poetry is why I particularly like the movie, “The Dead Poets Society” with Robin Williams. He played a memorable role and the movie captured the ability of poetry to move, shape and influence minds.
Another favorite movie of mine is “Interstellar,” by director Christopher Nolan. A poem written by Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” was a cornerstone of this excellent movie, showing the enduring power of poetry to move and influence people even in our modern era.
Poetry for me ebbs and flows; I take in little chunks, reading a poem here and there. Long lengths of time can pass between poetry readings and I’m not constantly reading it. Like everything in life, poetry has its seasons.
My tastes in poetry has changed over the decades; the kind of poetry I liked when I was a young man is not the same kind of poetry I like now. For example, romantic poetry, so important in the early part of my life, is not important and I no longer read hardly any of it. Certainly I no longer actively seek it out like when I was younger and making bee-lines to the greeting cards sections of bookstores and supermarkets. I’ve jaded on love and romance. Again, different seasons…
And not all poetry is created equal. There is some really terrible poetry out there, written by well-meaning individuals who have utterly no talent for the craft. But since modern poetry is usually written without adherence to any sense of rhythm or meter, “poets” are everywhere and anyone is considered an poet who puts words in short lines on paper.
Poetry can nourish the soul and rouse the passions in our lives. When my children were small, we watched the “Anne of Green Gables” series together: good, wholesome movies, especially for little girls. Anne Shirley was enamored with Arthurian poetry and often recited it. In fact, it was Anne’s oft reference to Camelot that prompted my interest in discovering what she was referring to.
Recently, for the first time, I read the poem written by Lord Alfred Tennyson on the death of King Arthur. It is excellent and is an example of what I consider first rate poetry.
Poetry is somewhat like fine art or classical music: the more you study it, the larger your understanding and appreciation grows. After a lifetime of being a casual reader and writer of poetry, I can attest to the truth of this and encourage all to do the same: your soul will be nourished and lifted up to wonderful, new heights of wisdom and beauty.
I have been fascinated for virtually all of my adult life with the concept of wisdom, a topic I continually return to and study. This pursuit of what wisdom is—and isn’t—has been one of the controlling interests of my own earthly pilgrimage.
My pursuit of wisdom stems from an equally life long desire to be a good man. An upright and moral man. A man of integrity, dignity, and compassion; lofty goals for myself who has valiantly struggled with my own personal frailties, sins, weaknesses, bad choices, moral failings, and stupidity.
I had a rough childhood. Real rough. I ran away from home when I was fifteen years old and never returned. The abuse was too much and, at fifteen, I said, “I’m done.” Nothing would cause me to ever return to live at that house of horrors again.
I had enough self-awareness in my late teens to realize I was screwed up. You cannot have intense hatred and anger brewing in your heart and soul and expect to act like a normal human being. Since I understood so clearly I needed help, I sought for truth, wisdom, and healing of soul in Christianity and in the person of Jesus.
There is a great emphasis in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, on wisdom. Since I knew I needed guidance on how to be normal, I was particularly attracted to the wisdom literature and concepts found throughout the Bible.
Wisdom is a surprisingly vast subject, and there are several types of wisdom; my interest lies predominantly in biblical wisdom. One of the most profound principles in the Bible is: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NASB)
Unfortunately, this word “fear” has been ill-defined in most commentaries, bibles, and Christian books dealing with this specific subject to reflect only its partial definition, gutting its main meaning.
An example: one of my current study bibles is “The Reformation Study Bible,” published by Ligonier Ministries. In the comment section for Proverbs 1:7, it states:
“The fear of the Lord. This idea is the controlling principle of Proverbs, and is ancient Israel’s decisive contribution to the human quest for knowledge and understanding. The fear of the Lord is the only basis of true knowledge. This ‘fear’ is not distrustful terror of God, but rather the reverent awe and worshipful response of faith to the God who reveals Himself as Creator, Savior, and Judge.”
Note that fear is defined as “the reverent awe and worshipful response of faith…” But most educated people—and I would say virtually all educated people—who read the word fear would define it this way: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
Or this: “be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.” Put simply, the word fear is straightforward: “to be made afraid of something or someone.”
But the only place I see fear redefined to mean something different from the plain meaning of the word is in the Bible, bible commentaries (as noted above), or when the word is discussed in a sermon (rarely, if ever, attempted due, in part, to the subject being politically incorrect).
Typically, if fear is defined in a bible in the margin notes, in a bible commentary or preached from a pulpit, reverence is one of the top choices. Another definition is often reverential awe or trust, both definitions that reveal only part of what the word actually means.
As discussed above, my “Reformation Study Bible” categorically denies that fear “is not distrustful terror of God…” This is astonishing for the compilers of this particular bible to assert this because of the audacious falsity of their position, as will be shown below.
Here is what the word fear means (bear with me…it is a bit wordy, will take patience to get through it, but will be well worth the effort):
Heb “fear of the Lord.” The expression יְהוָהיִרְאַת (yir’at yÿhvah, “fear of Yahweh”) is a genitive-construct in which יְהוָה(“the Lord”) functions as an objective genitive: He is the object of fear. The term יָרַא (yara’) is the common word for fear in the OT and has a basic three-fold range of meanings: (1) “dread; terror” (Deut 1:29; Jonah 1:10), (2) “to stand in awe” (1 Kgs 3:28), (3) “to revere; to respect” (Lev 19:3). With the Lord as the object, it captures the polar opposites of shrinking back in fear and drawing close in awe and adoration. Both categories of meaning appear in Exod 20:20 (where the Lord descended upon Sinai amidst geophysical convulsions); Moses encouraged the Israelites to not be afraid of God arbitrarily striking them dead for no reason (“Do not fear!”) but informed the people that the Lord revealed himself in such a terrifying manner to scare them from sinning (“God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him in you so that you do not sin”). The fear of the Lord is expressed in reverential submission to his will – the characteristic of true worship. The fear of the Lord is the foundation for wisdom (9:10) and the discipline leading to wisdom (15:33). It is expressed in hatred of evil (8:13) and avoidance of sin (16:6), and so results in prolonged life (10:27; 19:23).
When you click on the above link, find the word “Lord” in verse 1:7, and you will see the small number “38” next to it. Click on this and you will be taken to the definition.
I can’t emphasize enough how much time over the decades of my life I have pondered this concept of “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The subject matter that surrounds both the word “fear” and its relation to wisdom is beyond measure and has required a lifetime of personal study, meditation, and circumspection. Honestly, I do not think I fully understand or grasp the concept even at my advanced age.
I can confidently say this: this word fear—as far as biblical wisdom is concerned—is like a three legged stool; you need all three legs in order to sit comfortably and safely on this stool. If one of the legs is missing, you do not have a functioning piece of furniture.
So is this word fear. One needs all three legs of this particular stool in order to have a functioning concept of its meaning.
In quick summary, the biblical word fear has three distinct meanings: 1. dread, terror 2. to stand in awe 3. to revere; to respect.
These three meanings of the word are what comprises the three legged stool. Removing just one definition of the word guts the fullness of the concept and, like a stool missing one of its legs, causes it to malfunction or unable to function as intended. Perhaps a stool with only two legs can still function if you prop it up against a wall and steady it with your body in a certain position, but you get the allegory: you need all three definitions to derive the full meaning and impact of the word.
But in American Christianity today, the word fear is, at best, defined with only two of the three legs needed to make a proper stool. The first meaning, that of “fear and terror,” have been completely excised out of the definition, resulting in an unbalanced, almost useless stool to sit upon. Possessing some value, just like a three legged stool missing one leg might have some value, nonetheless, the stool cannot be used as intended.
The missing definition of fear, that of terror and dread, is deeply troubling, for it robs the concept of one of its main strengths. This is understandable, of course, because in our modern society, the idea of a God whom one has to be in terror or afraid of is never emphasized. Such a God is thought cruel, tyrannical, and not worthy of love and respect and harkens back to an age when people were allegedly stone age apes that were running around in nature, clothed in animal skins or naked, eating raw meat whose language was limited to grunts, groans, and screams.
We moderns, of course, are more advanced; such primitive thinking has been supplanted by the age of Enlightenment and modern science. A race of intelligent beings who can now send robots to Mars to explore the planet autonomously has passed far beyond such childish, silly, and harmful notions.
Unfortunately with this kind of thinking, we forget that people don’t seem to change that much over the millennia of time of our presence on Earth. The sad fact is that we are still quite primitive in at least some of our thinking and behaviors, and unfortunately, “the pot that burns the hand is often the most effective teacher.”
How many have learned that those events in our lives that cause us the most pain and suffering are usually our best teachers? That loss and suffering change our bad behaviors and destructive thinking patterns faster and more thoroughly than well rewarded accomplishments, gifts and “good times”?
For example, what would motivate a selfish, lazy and unambitious husband to change his bad habit of going to his local bar on payday and blowing most of his check on booze: his wife divorcing him or his boss giving him a raise? “Pain is gain” as the old saying goes.
Understanding this peculiar (and I would add unfortunate) tendency of human behavior where we respond more to calamity than pleasure as far as reforming of bad behavior and character traits is concerned, this provides guidance as to one possible reason we should be in fear or terror of the Lord: our sinful behaviors may bring down His wrath and displeasure upon our lives, a divine deterrent to keep us on the “straight and narrow path.”
I was raised by a vicious and violent father. I feared him and walked on eggshells when he was around. He was a bully and tyrant, and I feared his wrath, fists and acts of violence against my mom, myself and my other brothers and sisters.
If we did something wrong when he was at work, we trembled with fear and dread when he came home because we knew the consequences of our disobedience. And let me tell you: many acts of stupidity, rebellion, disrespect or wrongdoing on my part was quenched in its infancy because of the always looming presence of my father. In a perverse way, his evil nature and hotheadedness, his prone to violence over the most minor of infractions, made me and my siblings far more obedient and law abiding children.
Twisted? Of course, but fear is an effective motivator of good behavior, and it is a sad commentary on human behavior that makes this so.
Being a man and prone to pride and arrogance, to get my attention in certain circumstances, a well aimed punch in the mouth (proverbially speaking) was often the best way to cause me to “see the light.” In other words, I was the kind of man where soft words and gentleness did not often garner the kind of behavior changes I needed to undergo to become the kind of man I’ve always desired and longed to be.
Which brings me back to the “fear of the Lord.” I’m convinced the Lord prefers to deal with His people in love and gentleness. For those of us who error, His preferred method for bringing us back to the right path is with compassion. Unfortunately though, most of us fail to respond to such gentle means of correction and only respond to pain, suffering, heartache and loss.
It must be the same for our Heavenly Father as well, or at least I think so. Like I mentioned above, He prefers gentle and loving means of persuasion for His erring and disobedient children, but He also knows the depth of our depravity and hardheartedness; in many cases, we are no better than the brute beasts who seem only to respond to physical correction to either avoid danger or stop destructive/disobedient behavior.
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” Exodus 20:20 (NIV)
I believe this verse above epitomizes what I believe is the main reason why we should fear (be in dread and terror of) the Lord: is provides a one, sure and certain safeguard from any individual from entering into a sinful lifestyle, either as a momentary lapse of judgement, temptation or weakness, or a regular, ongoing and continuous pattern of repeated sin.
Though fear is not the best motivator to holiness of life and avoidance of sin, it is, unfortunately, the main, and perhaps only true motivator for many disobedient humans. Like a painful spanking, it is not the preferred method of correction a parent desires for their child, but an unfortunate one resorted to by the loving parent toward a stubborn, willful, and disobedient one who refuses to reform their unruly behavior by gentler, kinder methods.
Philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer was a man I greatly admire. Here is one of his talks that I have listened to several different times due to its insights (interestingly, I believe he gave this speech only one year or so before his death in 1984) :
An accomplished author, one of his books was titled, “How should we then live?” Adapted into a film by the same title, I believe it asks a profound question…how should each of us then live? What is the kind of life we each should live in order to achieve maximum happiness, contentment, and meaning in life? Wisdom gives us these and many other of life’s most profound questions, but in a nutshell, I would assert that the kind of life each should live in order to achieve our maximum potential is a life most closely aligned with holiness as one of our ultimate and most cherished goals. Lives lived for the glory of God with the aim of having His character reproduced in our moment by moment existence on this planet is the highest of ideals.
And this is where the fear of the Lord intersects with a wise man or woman’s goals of determining the best path to achieve and realize the goal of “living life to the fullest.” What mars and derails so much of our lives from reaching their full potentials is sin, an ancient idea that in both word and thought has been derided and scoffed at by most people today.
Yet the facts speak for themselves; lives lived in habitual sinful behaviors (greed, lust, lying, immorality, crime, drunkenness, illegal and recreational drug usage, marital unfaithfulness, etc.) are all things that shorten and bring ruin and misery into our lives.
But the interesting thing is this: while so many of today’s intellectuals scoff at the idea of sin, and at the same time scoff at the existence of God, they simultaneously deny the thing that keeps us from engaging in the sinful acts that bring so much destruction into our lives: the fear of the Lord.
Obviously, one must have a belief in the existence of God in order to believe in the concept of the fear of the Lord. By default of this reality, there is the supposition of the existence of sin that mysteriously unites the concepts together. Since all three are routinely denied today—sin, God, and the fear of the Lord—wisdom is almost impossible to obtain. Thus, as Thoreau so eloquently wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
I hope this post may lead someone into their own search for wisdom, or spur them on to an even deeper interest they may already be in pursuit of. It is a noble goal, this life of divine wisdom, and one infinitely worth all the time and energy required to invest in such.
“The Big Lie” was coined to describe the belief that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from President Donald Trump because of alleged massive election fraud.
I was never a big fan of Trump. When I was ministering to University of Arizona (UA) students during the presidential debates before the 2016 election, my opinion was this on who I felt would be a better president: though I did not like Trump, I felt he would be the better choice to run the country than Hillary Clinton.
My opinion of Trump rose when he took office. I appreciated many of his strong stances: illegal immigration, secure borders, that he was tough on crime, was pro-life, pro Israel, pro police, pro business, etc.
I wasn’t a fan of his inflated ego or emphasis on money and obvious materialism. I did like his successful business experience which suggested he understood the important subject of economics and what made a country tick.
As his first term waned, and I learned more of Trump, I began to sour on him. Many compared him to Ronald Reagan, and though there were similarities, Trump is nothing like Reagan.
Reagan did not have the obvious pride (a better word is “arrogance”) that Trump is known for. Reagan had a wonderful sense of humor and used that gift to bring people together and lighten things up. And if politics need anything, it needs to be taken less seriously.
Immediately after Biden was declared the winner, the allegations of election fraud began circulating by Sidney Powell, the one-time attorney of Trump. I never heard of Powell, but when I did a quick google search and learned of her impressive credentials, I threw caution to the wind and believed every word she said.
“[T]he flipping of votes by Dominion is even advertised; their ability to do that fraction, to make a Biden vote count 1.26 and a Trump vote count only .74. They’ve done it before. They’ve done it in Venezuela. They’ve done it in other foreign countries. They’ve done it in this country. We have evidence even that it was done in 2016 in California to benefit Hillary over Bernie, and it’s been done in other local elections and smaller elections, different places . . . . It’s absolutely the most appalling criminal operation in the history of our country.” (Page 8)
I devoured the news of, as Powell stated, the “greatest crime of the century if not the life of the world,” listening to, and reading, information from various right wing sources. I was stunned, trusting Powell because she was an experienced attorney and attorneys simply cannot make things up…they are held to the highest of standards for reporting the facts on any matter. It is what they are trained to do.
Slowing but surely, fact checkers and skeptics of Powell’s claims surfaced. The many lawsuits she filed in various courts were systematically dismissed. Knowing a bit about how courts work, I understood the ramifications of her cases being tossed aside so quickly: she had done something wrong and her facts could not pass the muster of strict evidence standards.
My faith in Powell began to crack, though I remained convinced that the election was stolen. After all, we had videos, did we not, of election workers pulling unauthorized and illegal bins of ballots from underneath tables? And just as damaging, we had multitude affidavits from allegedly reliable sources who swore under penalty of perjury that they witnessed election fraud happening…how could this overwhelming evidence be wrong? In my mind, it couldn’t be; Donald Trump had the election stolen from him and we had a usurper in office.
I thought, “It’s impossible that Trump lost the election. Look at the huge rallies he consistently held throughout the country. Biden hardly campaigned! There is no possible way Biden could have won…” Such is the power of brainwashing, expert lies, fake news, the manipulation of facts by experts, confirmation bias, and not being privy to all the facts.
In my quieter moments of reflection, months after the election when my mind settled and my outraged emotions subsided, I realized I had violated my own standards of thinking. To my embarrassment and shame, I joined the knee-jerk, emotional reactions of other conservatives and failed to perform my due diligence, relying on hype, Sidney Powell, and my natural distrust of liberal progressives and the mainstream media.
Confirmation bias is “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.”
An example of what I mean by critical thinking can be briefly summed up with the ABC’s of forensic science: “Assume nothing. Believe nobody. Check everything.” This is the mantra of British crime scene manager John Cockram.
It’s hard to admit, looking back, how foolish I was and too trusting of people I never heard of before, like Sidney Powell; a high profile attorney like Powell would have thoroughly vetted her witnesses and triple checked her facts. How wrong I was in trusting her without performing my all important “due diligence”; an amateurish and unacceptable mistake for a man my age.
I have great respect for the rule of law, and though I no longer feel American jurisprudence has maintained its once lofty standards of justice and fairness, I still respect the honorable and vital position the courts occupy in this country.
It’s amazing how easily humans can be duped and the absurd beliefs we can be conned into believing. Because most of us are never taught how to think critically, we are prey to all stripes and sizes of con men and women…many, unfortunately, carrying bibles and other “holy” books and quoting scriptures.
My interest in the study and practice of law, my involvement in numerous lawsuits and legal actions, representing myself as my own attorney, has helped me. I can’t count how many Supreme Court and lower court decisions I have read, and this has sharpened my thinking abilities.
So it was with interest when I read Dominion Voting Systems began filing billion dollar plus lawsuits against many of the people and organizations involved in perpetrating and advancing the “Big Lie.” Here was familiar territory, and I began reading the many legal filings with great interest.
My eyes, to coin an old phrase, were being opened.
I have spent hours reading the legal filings submitted by Dominion and those they sued, along with the court’s various decisions on filed motions. Though the jury is still out on my final decision regarding whether or not Donald Trump should be sitting in the seat of Joe Biden, waiting until the legal process for all of these lawsuits are resolved, I’m convinced the “Big Lie” was precisely that: a big lie. The American people were subjected to one of the greatest frauds of all time that shook the foundations of our democratic republic. It has been nothing short of remarkable and caused me to dive deeper into the shadowy world of conspiracy theories and how a sitting president, Donald Trump, had fallen into this bottomless abyss.
People who make wise decisions in their lives are those who take the needed time to properly discern and weigh truth from error. They know there are at least “two sides to every story” and that we are all prone to immediately choose sides in any conflict and that we are naturally inclined to make emotional instead of rational observations and decisions. “Knee jerk” reactions are—unfortunately—par for the course for emotional beings.
I was taken in by the “Big Lie” and I’m now ashamed to admit this. Swept aside by emotion and the lightning fast pace of Sidney Powell’s and her other co-conspirators (including Trump) in presenting their “facts” to the public, I was duped. Again, I’m embarrassed and ashamed by this.
We all have “Big Lies” that come into our lives that require critical thinking in order to discern truth from error. I believe one of the first steps we all must take before we can become better thinkers is to admit that we are unschooled in the proper way of decoding difficult cases that regularly come into our lives.
Another necessary step is to admit we are prone to making mistakes; this takes humility and a fair degree of self-awareness, necessary for being able to accurately recognize our inherent weaknesses to be biased and emotion driven when it comes to decision making.
For many, being able to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong” is almost impossible. We have such pride in ourselves and in our own abilities that admitting we make mistakes seems beyond the reach of many. This results in leaving behind a trail of hurting, wounded and offended people in our wakes because our arrogance has caused us to wrongly view life’s peculiar circumstances.
Learning the skills and art of critical thinking, then, is a stepping stone to a richer, more fulfilled life that will not only benefit ourselves, but others around us, including those we love the most.
My sister Mary died a gruesome death from Lupus at the tender age of 15, in 1973. She was born in 1958.
Almost fifty years later, the pain of her loss still brings tears to my eyes and a sob to my soul. I was 13 when she passed away and lost my closest friend. It was, and remains, a horrible memory of devastation and loss.
Most of us have lost loved ones, and if you live long enough, all of us will lose someone we love; their parting will bring such anguish into our lives that, at times, will be unbearable.
Mary’s story is a tragic one. The last nine months or so of her young life were unspeakably brutal as this deadly disease ravaged her body; words cannot adequately describe her suffering. Almost fifty years later it is still impossible for me to comprehend it, the unfairness of it all, the devastating loss of losing my closest and best friend; a scar I bear to this day.
But faith brings hope of reconciliation with those loved ones who have already departed and left this world and the often brutality of life. I wonder if perhaps Mary was given the better lot; she was spared so much of the horrors that living on Earth often brings to those who are destined to bear its agonies and cruelties. Certainly she bore her own unique hell as this cruel disease ravaged her young body, but who can say if what she may have faced later in life seemed—in comparison—even more agonizing against her unbelievable sufferings from Lupus?
One of the many reasons I must reject atheism is that it offers no hope of eventual reconciliation with our departed loved ones. This fact alone makes atheism untenable to me and most people who long and yearn to be reunited with those who have passed before us.
Atheism is a cruel belief system that robs all people of the hope that the afterlife will bring meaning and closure to the untimely death of those whom we have lost. It makes death, unbelievable as this might seem, worse and crueler than it already is.
Are you familiar with the song “I can only imagine”? And if you have listened to the song, do you know the story behind it? Stephanie Gray, a pro-life advocate who I have worked with, writes this on her blog after she lost her first child to miscarriage:
“It tells the true story of musician Bart Millard who wrote MercyMe’s song, I Can Only Imagine. Bart had been brutally abused by his father growing up, but before his father’s death his dad became a Christian and reconciled with his son. After his dad’s death, Bart composed, ‘Surrounded by Your glory, What will my heart feel? Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You be still? Will I stand in your presence, Or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine.'”
I urge you to watch the Youtube video above because it shows, throughout it, various people looking through empty picture frames and also holding up pictures of their departed loved ones. Part of the message is that, for believers in Christ, we have the blessed hope of one day being reconciled with our departed loved ones.
I’ve talked to many atheists throughout my life, especially on college and university campuses where I seek to minister to them. Being young, many have not yet had to face the sting and agony of death; therefore, they carry with them an arrogant, know-it-all attitude that evolution is true and a belief in the afterlife is nonsense.
Some of them, when I ask, “What happens to you when you die?” will reply with a dismissive, “Worm food. We become worm food.” They deceive themselves they are being so clever when they spout such shallow foolishness.
Being pampered Americans who have been spared the brutalities of life in general, and death in particular, they parrot quaint phrases they picked up from late night philosophical dorm parties or from listening to atheist professors who mock and denigrate the Christian faith and hope in a resurrection.
I long to see Mary again and believe with all my soul that she is waiting up in heaven for our eventual reunion. Could I be wrong in this belief? Yes, I certainly can, because like the atheist who believes we all become worm food when we die, I’ve never been to heaven nor met anyone who has; I simply have faith in the words of Jesus:
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Today on my walk, an old song popped into my mind, out of the blue, titled, “Something Which is Known.” It came out in 1980 and was sung by a group of monks—the Monks of Weston Priory— who live and continue to do so in a monastery in the state of Vermont. Here it is:
I had a good friend of mine, Jim Felix, and he is the one who introduced me to the music of these monks. Jim and I met on a church choir tour that both of us went on sometime in 1980 or so when we both attended Catalina United Methodist Church here in Tucson, AZ. We became close friends.
At this time, I was earnestly pursuing Jesus, having become a Christian about four years before, when I was sixteen. Music was a huge part of my life, like for most young people, and Christian music was something I was relatively new to.
Jim, an accomplished guitar player, introduced me to various Christian artists, and the Monks of Weston Priory, though much different from the majority of Christian artists I was listening to at the time (and what some may consider to be “old-fashioned” or “old people music”) resonated in my soul. This particular song is one, forty years later, that still moves me.
For years, off and on, I would remember this song as it randomly popped into my mind—like it did this evening. I would occasionally check Youtube to see if it might have been uploaded by someone, but the only recording of it was of poor quality; it was only tonight that this high quality recording appeared and I was thrilled to find it. I listened to it tonight at least four or five times in a row as it brought back deep and powerful feelings, memories and emotions, like suddenly meeting an old, beloved friend I have not seen in decades.
The music of the Monks of Weston Priory affected Jim and I so deeply that we went to visit them in Vermont. Jim’s parents and family lived in New Hampshire at the time, and around 1980, we drove from Tucson to visit his family and also these monks.
Here is a picture of Jim and I at the Monastery:
Here are the lyrics:
Something Which Is Known
Refrain: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
Something which is known to have been from the beginning: this we have heard and seen with our own eyes; something we have touched and have carefully watched: the Word who is life, this we share with you. Refrain
This is the life of our God, so gracious, Word become flesh: there is no greater wonder. All that we have witnessed became new vision: this our hope for you, alive in God’s own spirit. Refrain
He it is in whom we have found the light of truth, source of our hope, abiding gift of God’s love. Through that love we pass and are born in life unending: Jesus, our Lord, the fullness of our joy. Refrain
To me, this song is profoundly beautiful and meaningful. It is a hymn of praise to the Lord Jesus, and the rich voices of the monks singing these words and the refrain of “Alleluia” throughout the score is deeply soul moving.
We all know the powerful place that music has on our lives, and how certain kinds of music can touch the deepest parts of our souls and beings. The monks had a simple yet richly spiritual aspect to their music which resonated with my spirit…then and now. And though I am not Roman Catholic like the monks and carry deep theological suspicions concerning some of their dogmas, I nonetheless appreciate and admire their devotion to Jesus and to a life separated from the world and dedicated to serving Him.
Decades have passed since my visit to the monastery; I was a young man in my early twenties then, utterly focused on my life of faith in God and Christ. I devoured the Bible and spent years and years—decades—in reading and studying it and other Christian books. Reading the Bible on a daily basis continues to this day, over forty years later.
I don’t consider myself a mature Christian, though I have honestly, with genuine sincerity, strive to lead a godly life throughout my adulthood. Have I made mistakes in my Christian walk? I certainly have, along with times of intense sufferings, defeats and doubts.
But I have also been blessed to have passed through times of what I felt were genuine closeness and love for the Lord, being privileged to have been able to serve Him in some unusual ways, of which I am eternally grateful and thankful for.
Life in America is brutal as far as faith is concerned, isn’t it? Unfortunately, we now find ourselves in the unfathomable place of being a post-Christian nation, something that almost seemed to spring up out of nowhere. The transformation from a country that once believed strongly in God, Jesus, and the Scriptures has now turned an almost 180 degrees in the opposite direction…to the dismay and horror of most sincere Christians. I don’t believe America will ever return from the once lofty place we were blessed and privileged to hold.
My faith has, and continues to be, tested. But one thing remains sure and certain: my belief in God, that He is good, is the Creator of the Universe, and the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. If God is removed from the equation of my life, that life has ultimately no intrinsic meaning or purpose and becomes marked with moral failures, unhappiness, bitterness, confusion, defeats, and pessimism.
When we pursue the Lord and strive to be like Him, in our character, our speech, our behavior, we become better people: kinder, more compassionate, less angry and bitter at others and our unfortunate life circumstances, etc. But when we don’t follow the Lord and take time to look deep inside ourselves and strive to correct and amend our moral failings and character defects (like outbursts of anger, impure thoughts, lusts, love of money, etc.), we become worse, stuck in a powerful vortex of negativity and moral defeat, a slave to our corrupt natures.
I’ve lived both lives: a life untethered from the love and control of having the Lord dominant in my life, and a life tethered to the Lord, following and pursuing Him, striving to obey His commandments and precepts as delineated in the Bible. I will be the first to confess, from personal experience, that “life in Christ” is infinitely better than a life lived outside of Christ. In fact, there is no comparison between the two.
This verse from John 10:10, spoken by Jesus, is profound, with my soul responding with an enthusiastic “Amen!”:
“The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” (GNT)
Do you hate one of your parents that at one time you loved? Has your family been broken apart by divorce?
I am writing this post for those children from divorced families who hate one of their parents. If at one time you loved that now hated parent—when you were all once a family—but now, after the divorce or separation, you now hate that parent, this is written in the hope that I may help you understand why.
This is part 1 of a series on divorce, focusing on the devastating impact that certain high conflict divorces have upon innocent children. Additional articles can be found under the “Divorce and PAS” tab above.
First, most people know that divorce is one of the most devastating events a family can pass through. There is no such thing as a “good divorce” when there are children involved, especially young children. If you had one of your limbs amputated because of an injury or disease, you would never say, “You know, having my leg amputated was not such a bad thing. I won’t miss it in the least.” The same goes for a family with children: divorce causes amputations of metaphorical limbs that will always have devastating consequences.
Second, certain kind of divorces are worse than others. Though divorce is always a horrific event to pass through (and again, I’m referring to divorce with children involved), if the parents splitting apart understand the devastation this will bring to their children and are committed to doing whatever is necessary to soften the blow for them, these innocents will fare better than those parents who openly hate each other and make the divorce process more like open warfare between hostile belligerents.
“High conflict divorces” are the most damaging ones for children. These share common characteristics: regular battles in divorce court where the parents fight over money, child support, custody, choice of schools, what kind of faith the children will be raised in, what state the parents will live in, etc. If a family law judge has become the arbiter of most of your pre and post divorce family issues, know for certain you are in a “high conflict divorce” which wrecks unbelievable emotional, physical and psychological damage to your children which will affect them for the rest of their lives.
A high conflict divorce is a perfect breeding ground for the cultivation of hatred and bitterness for innocent, impressionable children who, for the most part, love both their mom and dad and want more than anything in the world for them to stay together and to have their family remain intact and healthy. And for those parents who use the court system to harm their spouse and take revenge on them, the children will be harmed right along with them. “Revenge,” as the old saying goes, “is a dish best served cold.”
If you are a child from such a divorce, and you find yourself hating the very parent you once loved, I urge you, for the sake of your own health and happiness, to realize that something terribly wrong has occurred in your heart and that you need to discover the tools necessary to bring meaning and healing to this destructive set of unhealthy and dangerous emotions.
Let me emphatically point out that you are not to be blamed for these destructive emotions. In fact, you have been manipulated—brainwashed—by one of your parents to have these feelings toward the very parent you once loved and cherished. Understanding this phenomena is your first step toward unwrapping the troubling maze that has twisted your innocent mind into harboring these dangerous and unhealthy feelings toward a once loved parent.
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) or simply, Parental Alienation, is the name for this subtle form of unethical and abusive form of brainwashing that is often birthed out of high conflict divorces. Here is a helpful, introductory article to get you started, titled, “Parental Alienation and its Repair,” by Mollie S. Castelloe, PhD.
My main interest in this lawsuit stems from serious allegations made against one of the abortion doctors referred in the “Verified Complaint” as “Dr. X.” Another doctor described in the complaint, referred to as “Dr. Y,” was also alleged to have committed serious infractions. (The allegations against Dr. X are found beginning on page 4 of the Verified Complaint, paragraphs 24 through 33.)
Neither of these abortionists are identified by their legal names. In fact, none of the articles written by various news outlets that I read referred to either of these individuals by their names, casting a pall of secrecy over these two abortionists and granting them a buffer of protection from public scrutiny and possible censure by keeping their true identities from the public eye.
My interest in this case is personal; for the last five years, I have stood on the sidewalks outside of Tucson’s only abortion clinic, Tucson Women’s Center (TWC), with other pro-life Christians in our continual attempts to offer help to abortion minded women seeking to terminate their pregnancies. The abortionist who ran this particular clinic is William H. Richardson.
In July of 2018, Richardson closed TWC and merged with Planned Parenthood (PP), moving his operations to the PP facility located literally across the street in the same medical plaza, located at 2255 N. Wyatt Dr.
For the past several months, I was hearing about the story of Mayra Rodriquez and what was occurring with her problems with PP in Phoenix. Like so many other stories concerning PP and their abuses, Mayra’s story added to the constant drumbeat of shocking news coming out of PP and did not particularly stand out and arrest my attention…until a week or so ago.
I received an email from a fellow Christian who regularly ministers on the same sidewalks outside of Tucson’s PP as I do. During our subsequent discussions, this sidewalk counselor informed me that “Dr. X” was positively identified as Richardson.
How was this identification confirmed? Mayra Rodriquez reached out to Abby Johnson, another former PP clinic director who became a whistleblower. Johnson’s story generated coast to coast attention to the problems with the abortion giant and she became a national spokeswoman for the pro-life movement. The 2019 movie “Unplanned” chronicles Johnson’s story.
Rodriguez contacted Johnson due, in part, because of Johnson’s organization, “And Then There Were None,” which states on its website: “And Then There Were None (ATTWN) is a registered nonprofit organization that exists to help abortion clinic workers leave the abortion industry…”
A video collaboration between Rodriquez and ATTWN resulted in at least two videos (here and here) which told Rodriquez’s story of why she was fired from PP. It was in the second video where she identifies “Dr. X” as Richardson:
The above video is almost 40 minutes long (note: the audio portion when Myra speaks is poor—please listen with quality headphones for the best listening experience). To save time, I will include the relevant timestamps below for those who might not have the time to listen to the full video:
Beginning at timestamp 4:40 and continuing through 5:46, a portion from the paperwork generated because of the lawsuit lays the foundation for the claims against Richardson as being the doctor who was receiving the greatest amount of “incidents,” though he was not the abortionist responsible for performing the greatest amount of abortions.
Beginning at timestamp 30:42, Mayra lays further foundation for the allegation that Richardson, being number two in the amount of abortions performed, was nonetheless responsible for nearly 50% of all statewide complications.
The testimony from Mayra, beginning at 30:42 and continuing through 33:43, contains among the most serious allegations leveled against Richardson. For example, at timestamp 32:01 through 32:18, the narrator comments that Mayra was speaking out against Richardson “…because the whole premise of you being fired as a whistleblower is the fact that you spoke up against Dr. Richardson…right? Like you said, this is not ok, all of the complications, all of the complaints…”
What is clear is that Dr. X is referring to William Richardson. Whenever the reader observes the words “Dr. X” in the Verified Complaint, they can substitute “Dr. William Richardson” and be accurate in that replacement.
I wish to point out that, at this point in my investigation on this evolving story, I am unaware that Richardson has been indicted or officially charged for any of the crimes alleged against him in the Verified Complaint. Until such allegations transform into a criminal investigation where he is found guilty after a jury trial, or if he would admit guilt as part of an inevitable plea agreement if charges are filed against him, he must be seen as “innocent until proven guilty.”
This information is troubling on multiple levels. First, why was Richardson not immediately fired from his position by PP when these allegations were made public? Why was he not fired long before these public revelations became known if indeed, as Rodriquez claims, such allegations had been well known to PP for years? (See paragraph 29.) Since PP constantly trumpets their concern for the health and wellbeing of their female patients, why would they allow this possibly rogue physician to continue to harm vulnerable women?
Second, Richardson primarily practices his grisly abortion trade in Tucson, AZ. Upon information and belief, he travels to Phoenix and Flagstaff performing abortions due to a shortage of abortionists available at these clinics. His main geographical area for performing abortions is at the PP in Tucson, located in a private medical plaza known as “Tucson Medical Center.” This sprawling medical complex is located due south of the hospital that shares the same name: Tucson Medical Center (TMC), a long established hospital in Tucson that carries an excellent reputation as being one of the best hospitals in Arizona.
Tucson Medical Center, an Arizona non-profit, owns the specific parcel of real property where the PP building is situated and out of which Richardson performs abortions. This PP building is surrounded by many other medical buildings staffed and run by medical professionals: urologists, dentists, optometrists, psychiatrists, wound doctors, etc.
Clearly, a hospital with an excellent reputation such as what TMC currently enjoys would not allow a physician like Richardson to practice amongst other doctors not burdened by such serious allegations. But Richardson’s presence in that community has always been an enigma to me. Why would a hospital like TMC allow an abortion doctor to practice there in the first place?
Are these serious allegations indeed fact? Is Richardson guilty of the acts and omissions Mayra Rodriguez claims in her lawsuit? Evidently, the jury hearing, examining, and weighing the evidence presented to them appears to believe that he is guilty as charged and awarded her an astonishing $3 million dollar judgment as part of their belief in his guilt, as well as the guilt of PP in wrongfully terminating her.
If Richardson is guilty of these allegations, one cannot dance around the conclusion: he is a criminal, rogue abortionist who should have his medical license immediately revoked and suffer the consequences of such crimes.
And if Planned Parenthood is guilty of knowing about these crimes for years as Rodriguez alleges they have, and if Richardson’s actions are proven to be criminal in nature, PP’s cover-up is criminal as well and they should also be held responsible for such an unconscionable coverup that allowed this abortionist to continue harming women.
In the Verified Complaint listed above, paragraph 48, page 8 speaks of Richardson’s “…conduct and the resulting substantial risk to the health, safety and welfare of PPA patients and future patients…” But these risks to patients were never addressed or properly investigated due to a close personal relationship Ms. Ibarra, Center Manager for PPA, maintained with Richardson: it “was impossible, as a practical matter, to objectively raise the concerns with Ms. Ibarra as to Dr. X and the substantial risk he presented to patient safety, health, and welfare because of their longstanding relationship” (paragraph 49, page 9, lines 9-11).
The serious allegations against Richardson are again mentioned on page 12, paragraph 73.
Additional video from Mayra Rodriguez detailing further malpractice of Richardson
Beginning at timestamp 5:09 and continuing through 9:21 in the above video, Mayra goes into detail concerning one of the PP doctors with whom she had “a few discrepancies.” (5:07) This unnamed doctor is William Richardson.
Around the beginning of August or September of 2017, Richardson performed a second trimester abortion on a woman who was thirteen weeks pregnant (5:41). One of the staff members in the operating room with both Richardson and the patient was tasked with the grisly procedure of counting the body parts of the dismembered fetus in order to insure all the detached pieces of the baby were completely removed from the mother’s womb.
At this stage in the unborn babies development, bones and cartilage are developing, requiring the abortionist to perform what is known as a “D&C” (Dilation and Curettage) abortion. This is a grisly procedure which includes the use of a sharp, looped shaped instrument—a curettage—used to shear and scrape the body parts from off the fetus and away from the uterine wall. Since the baby is dismembered, his or her’s small body parts (euphemistically referred to by Mayra as POC’s [Products of Conception]) must be counted and “itemized” to insure no pieces are left behind. Failure to do so would mean human remains are left in the patient, which, as they decompose, can result in the woman developing dangerous and potentially life-threatening infections.
This itemizing of the baby’s body parts alerted the staff worker that Richardson failed to complete the abortion; he left behind pieces of this dismembered fetus inside the patient (6:01 through 6:27), requiring him to return to the patient and complete the operation (6:33 through 6:42).
This incident can also be found on page 6 of the aforementioned “Verified Complaint,” paragraph 31.
Mayra was evidently outraged at this (7:12) and suggested that this incident be brought up to the “Federation” (the nationwide “Planned Parenthood Federation of America” as opposed to the local, state level “Planned Parenthood of Arizona.”) She was told to “not worry about it” (7:31) and the end result was that nothing was done (7:37).
Richardson’s and PP’s prior problems
On June 27th in 2002, an “Amended Complaint” was filed against Richardson and PP in the Superior Court of Maricopa County in Phoenix alleging negligence, assault, and battery of a then 14-year-old female minor (see paragraph 15, page 4), identified in the lawsuit as “Jane Doe.”
The allegations directed toward Richardson and PP are both serious and shocking. In brief, this case revolves around a 23-year-old man, Shawn M. Stevens (see paragraph 14), who was the son of foster parents “retained and hired” by the State of Arizona as “foster parents for the minor child, Jane Doe” (see paragraph 5).
While in the custody and control of these foster parents, their son, Shawn, molested and impregnated Jane Doe. He took her to PP on November 10, 1998 for an abortion (paragraph 14).
According to the allegations in the Complaint, PP knew Jane Doe was a minor on this date and failed to alert the authorities (paragraph’s 15-17) of this fact and also failed to inform the foster parents they performed an abortion on her. Richardson performed the abortion.
Paragraph 16 from the Amended Complaint reads:
“Because of Planned Parenthood’s failure to report the abortion of November 10, 1998, Jane Doe was subjected to continued child molestation and sexual exploitation up and until Jane Doe presented herself for a second abortion on May 6, 1999. Only after the second abortion did Planned Parenthood notify authorities on May 11, 1999. Shawn M. Stevens also brought Jane Doe to Planned Parenthood on May 6, 1999.”
Paragraph 17, on page 4, alleges “grossly negligent” behavior on the part of PP (line 20) for their “…failure to notify the proper authorities of the abortion of Jane Doe…,” causing “Jane Doe to be subject to repeated child molestation and sexual exploitation as the hands of an adult for an additional period of approximately six (6) months. Had Planned Parenthood properly reported the incident to authorities, the perpetrator of the child molestation and sexual exploitation would have been apprehended by authorities and Jane Doe would not have had to go through a second abortion procedure…”
The alleged crimes of Dr. Richardson concerning this minor child are found on page 11 of the Verified Complaint as Count IX, “Negligence—Dr. Richardson.” Like the allegations against PP, Richardson is accused of knowing the underage status of Jane Doe (paragraph 43) and failing to inform the foster parents that he was planning on performing, or had already performed, an abortion on this 14-year-old victim of sexual molestation and exploitation.
Paragraph 45, found on page 12, alleges additional shocking allegations of Richardson’s gross negligence: the victim suffered “physical pain, humiliation, emotional distress, permanent psychological damages, and potential physical damages.”
There is probably no better way to easily reach thousands of JW’s than going to one of their summer conventions with the expressed purpose of “Witnessing to the Witnesses.”
Signs and banners:
One of the best methods is holding up large, bold-lettered, short and easily read signs and banners with a pithy message that might say, “Read the Bible, not the Watchtower.” This method transformed the lives of author David A. Reed and his wife, as highlighted in two of my videos.
A necessary and vital tip on making signs or having them made for you by a local sign shop: Less is more. In other words, less words is far better than many words. The less words on a sign, the better you are able to capture the attention of your audience. Don’t make the amateur mistake of putting an entire paragraph on a sign; these are too hard to be easily and quickly read. You need short and powerful messages.
Call around for the best prices at your local sign shops. For one or two signs, red or black vinyl lettering on a white background is best. The sign material is made out of plastic, called “Corex.” A good sized sign is 3′ x 2′. Such a sign will probably run you anywhere between $20 and $30. If you know someone in your church who has a vinyl cutter and can make the signs for cost, that would be even better.
I had what proved to be one of the most effective ideas for outreach at these JW summer conventions: advertising a favorite ex-JW website. In my case, the first website I advertised was “towerwatch.com”. My evangelism partner, Mike, made me a small, handheld banner with “towerwatch.com” in bold, easily read letters on his home printer; when stretched out, it measured about four feet in length. When not in use or being transported, we rolled it up like a scroll, very easy to carry or put in my backpack. A picture is below:
During the lunch break, as thousands of JW’s would stream out the doors and eat their lunches outside, I slowly and continually walk around with this banner stretched between both of my hands, in plain view of the JW’s.
I developed what I hope is a humorous and light-hearted script as I walk around, saying something like this: “I want to wish all of you Jehovah’s Witnesses a happy birthday by giving you a gift, a gift of knowledge, found here on this banner I’m carrying which reads, “towerwatch.com”. It’s a great website that has all kinds of helpful information on Jehovah’s Witnesses that you won’t get at your weekly Kingdom Hall meetings.
“It’s simple to remember this website: towerwatch.com. It’s just like ‘watchtower’ but you split ‘watchtower’ in half and put the word ‘tower’ in front of ‘watch’ and you have the website, ‘towerwatch.com’.
“But like any gift, you have to ‘open’ the present before it can do you any good. So before you can enjoy this gift of knowledge, you have to log onto the internet and type in “towerwatch.com”.”
I walk all around the area where the JW’s are sitting or standing, endlessly repeating the same thing. Why do I do this? Because by the end of their lunch break, they will have heard “towerwatch.com” so many times that it will be burned into their memories and perhaps they will even dream about it at night while they are sleeping.
I repeat this website endlessly on purpose, knowing that the most effective advertising is that which is seen by people over and over again. The more times a person watches the same commercial on t.v. or hears the same ad on radio, the more apt he is to remember the product or service being advertised. I employ the same tried and proven philosophy at the conventions.
But the “proof is in the pudding” and the only true sign that this unorthodox method is effective is whether or not people are actually logging on to the towerwatch.com website. I’m happy to report that people do log onto this website.
How I know this is because I contacted the man who started and runs towerwatch.com; his name is Cal Lehman. I explained to Cal what I was doing, and had done, at the summer conventions in Tucson with the small “towerwatch.com” banner, asking him to check his web traffic on and around those days. Here is what he wrote:
July 5, 2011
Hi Roy, Thanks for the email and the story, I will respond to your email soon I promise. I have a lot on my plate right now 🙂 Thank you so much for displaying the TowerWatch.com sign at the convention sites. Yes there was a sharp increase …in visitors to the TowerWatch website starting around June 13 and lasting the remainder of the month. What I found very interesting was that there were very strong spikes on each of the last three Mondays in June! Thanks again for helping to get the word out.
To say the least, I was thrilled with this news! This meant this idea was effective in at least one way: traffic being driven to Cal’s website through the simple act of advertising it during the lunch hours at the summer conventions, with perhaps thousands of seeds being planted in the hearts of JW’s were some of them will surely bear fruit unto salvation.
This reminds me of that portion in David A. Reed’s book mentioned in my one of my video’s when David described how he and his wife Penni eventually accepted the Lord and left the org:
“Like a stranger on a mountaintop viewing a peaceful valley below, who, as he turns to leave, casually tosses a pebble into the void, and who continues on his way, unaware that the pebble dislodged two other pebbles, which unbalanced a small stone, which in turn set other stones in motion until a major avalanche rumbled down the mountainside, forever altering the valley scene he viewed—just such a stranger set in motion a series of events that eventually brought turmoil to Penni and me, and permanently changed our lives.”
“The initial pebble was a picket sign carried by one of five individuals walking in a small circle on the sidewalk outside the Providence, Rhode Island, Civic Center in July 1977…”
I can only hope that, in eternity, the Lord will reveal to me what wonderful, eternal miracles happened to some of these JW’s who, out of curiosity by seeing and hearing me walk around the convention they attended years ago, logged onto Cal’s website and eventually set off a chain of events that led to their salvation. Praise the Lord!
Here is the 1914 sign in action:
Here is the video I made years ago showing how a friend of mine made the banner that changed the life and eternity of David and Penni Wood:
Preaching at the conventions are another excellent way to get your message across to the teeming multitudes of JW’s that descend upon the summer conventions. Unfortunately, this biblical method has been so often abused by well-meaning yet misguided Christians that it has fallen into disfavor with much of our society, a tragedy of epic proportions.
Without going into too much detail, here are some helpful tips for effective preaching:
Use amplification to be effectively heard. These crowds are often counted in the thousands, requiring the need to speak loudly to have any hope of being heard in an often noisy, constantly moving crowd. Raising your voice to be heard can work, but you will be seen by many as “shouting” at them, an instant turn-off. Reasonably amplified speech without “blasting” the crowds with excessive decibel levels requires wisdom and experience.
Your messages should be short and to the point; remember, you are not behind the pulpit with all the benefits that entails. Though you may have a captive audience if the people are having their lunches and sitting around for 20 minutes or more, this is often not the case. Usually, the crowds are constantly moving, requiring that you pack one main thought into 30 seconds or less as they pass you by. Perhaps you only have time to share one particular scripture and a few words of commentary before the crowd passes you by and the next set of people come into your zone.
I like to have a short “loop” of a tightly packed message that I repeat over and over again as the crowds pass by. Since they are constantly moving, you need to reach each passing group of people with the same message because they don’t stick around long enough to hear a three point, 45 minute sermon. Know your audience and plan accordingly!
Remember 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who in opposition, if perhaps God will grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, that they will come to their senses, having escaped the snare of the devil, being held captive by him to do his will.”
The old saying, “Honey catches more flies than vinegar” has application in open-air preaching. Remember, preachers must overcome severe stereotyping that automatically puts us at a disadvantage to our potential audience. Don’t feed into that bias by proving it correct by rude and obnoxious behavior.
Jehovah’s Witnesses will not accept tracts or any other non-JW literature from your hand, no matter how gently and respectfully you offer it to them. This is yet another example of their blatant hypocrisy, but this is not the place to delve into this aspect of this non-Christian cult. I point this fact out so you don’t waste your time in what will prove to be a fruitless attempt.
But saying this, I have had great success in “planting” tracts around the areas where I know the JW’s will eventually sit or stand when they break for lunch and gather in their large groups outside.
This is where an example of good planning is crucial to the success of your mission. Since I have been ministering to JW’s in the same area for over two decades in Tucson, I am familiar with their routines: when they break for lunch, how long these breaks are, where they will sit and stand, and most importantly, the strategic spots and time of actually planting the tracts.
Timing is critical in this idea, because not only do I know the JW’s schedule, but they know mine. After all, we have been dealing with each other for over twenty years, so even enemies can’t help but get to know one another during this long stretch of time.
If I plant the tracts too soon before the lunch break, they might send out their scouts to pick the literature up, defeating my hard work. What I have found works best is to work in a “planting team” and blanket the area within several minutes of the lunch break. This way, there is no time for the JW’s to pick up all the literature because it is too close to the chaos of the thousands of JW’s all leaving for lunch at the same time.
Planting tracts can be a mixed bag of success. Some weekends most of the tracts are picked up by the various JW’s who sit down in the spot where we’ve placed the tracts and/or CD’s. (A Christian donated CD’s of the movie, Witnesses of Jehovah, and I have placed this CD underneath the gospel tracts. Many have been taken!) Some weekends, few are picked up; one never knows. But again, we are planting seeds, and the most important aspect of seed planting is simply planting the seeds in the right place to be picked up.
I always place a small rock or rocks on top of the tracts/CD’s to keep them from blowing away in the wind. One year the police came by and gave me some nonsense that I was littering, a common tactic with police that are not schooled in first amendment law. Placing small rocks on top of your packet will not only prevent them from blowing away, but shows the police that your intention is not to litter.
At the end of the lunch break when all the JW’s return inside to their indoctrination sessions, I go back and pick up all the tracts that are left. We leave at the end of the lunch break and, though we could leave the tracts, I’m assuming most of them will not be picked up because the JW’s are only intent on getting to their cars and leaving the convention center. They are not sitting around for two hours or so like they are during the lunch break; leaving the tracts would not only be a waste of the literature but could become an issue of the police making a point of littering.
Best practice, I believe, is never, if at all possible, to allow any open door of criticism to be made against us during these conventions. This means we leave the place just as we found it, clean and tidy. It makes for a better witness.
These are just a few, tried and true methods for effectively reaching JW’s at the summer conventions. There are many other methods one can use limited only by one’s imagination. Some people have dressed up like JW’s and attended the conventions, sneaking literature into the bathrooms to leave for those who need to use the facilities. I’ve never tried this but I’m sure it is effective.
I always wear a chest-mounted GoPro when I am out on my evangelistic outreaches. If you don’t have one, keeping your cellphone in a front shirt pocket or in a small holder on your chest area with the camera facing toward the people, continually recording, is a wise idea. Why? Several reasons.
First and foremost is you now how a video recording, a trail of evidence, if something goes awry. Say you get into an altercation with a particularly violent, hot-headed JW (see video below). They accuse you of some “incitement” to violence and call the police. The problem is this if you do not have a camera recording the entire event: JW’s will often lie and say you did things you never did or claim you said things that you never said.
Many times I have gone by myself to these conventions. This is not my preference, but it happens. And what will the police decide if a false accusation is made against me and there are a handful of JW’s all lying that I did or said something that never happened? Who are they going to believe? Probably not you, especially if you are vastly outnumbered, which is why it is a must that you plan of videoing every second you are out in the “field of souls.”
Also, and this is more of a reason to continually video, is in case of violence happening (and it does happen), you need video evidence of what actually happened. Nothing more frustrating for a court of law to have to decide the merits of a case based on “he said/she said” testimony.
Whenever I see some JW beginning to show signs of violence or anger towards me, I point to my camera and alert them to the fact they are being recorded. While this is no guarantee this will stop their violent behavior, as my video shows, often the awareness of the fact they are being recorded is enough to cool their jets.
All this to say: develop a system of video recording every moment you are “witnessing to the Witnesses.” It is a rule for me that I have steadfastly followed for years and feel it is one of the best decisions I have made.
My new video on the 2019 summer conventions, titled, “Love Never Fails!”, is up. I want to further probe into this controversial subject and make additional points.
First, I define “shunning” in my video as a separate and totally different spiritual discipline, or punishment, as practiced in the New Testament; it is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 5.
But the shunning that JW’s do, though perhaps biblical in some aspects, take this drastic spiritual correction too far and use it against family members, friends, and neighbors that begin to disagree with doctrinal issues as codified by the Governing Body (GB). When this happens, JW’s use shunning in an unbiblical, cruel manner that is sinful and wicked.
For example, in matters of conscience, where a JW disagrees with the GB, this disagreement can, and is used, as a reason for that individual to be shunned. Take the non-biblical issue of life-saving blood transfusions as one example, which I consider to be a “matter of conscience.” If a JW parent decides to go against the “no blood” belief of the GB and allows their dying son or daughter to receive a blood transfusion that ends up saving his or her life, that parent will probably be shunned and even kicked out of the congregation if it is brought to the attention of the elders.
I’m not writing this post to go deep into debating the fine theological points of blood transfusions or whether or not such a thing is even discussed in the Bible (it is not); this is not the point of this article. What I’m saying is that issues not clearly spoken about in the Bible as sin—adultery, theft, fornication, lying, etc.—are “matters of conscience” and “shunning” someone because they happen to have a contrary opinion to these matters than what the GB does is wrong.
Many JW’s shun family members because those family members are no longer walking in “the truth.” And “the truth,” as defined by JW’s, are any and all teachings, including matters of conscience, that are defined by the GB as being biblical. This is when error and gross sin creep into JW’s thinking as it applies to shunning others.
Without going into nitpicking detail, here is where biblical shunning should be used against someone: if an individual who identifies as a follower of Christ and has committed themselves to being a disciple of Jesus begins to knowingly engage in and practices a sinful lifestyle (say, fornicating with his/her girlfriend), and after being warned three times to cease from that sinful behavior yet refuses to repent, that person should be shunned.
Note the person’s behavior must be a known sin that is being willfully, continually and knowingly engaged in with a defiant attitude and not a matter of conscience.
A matter of conscience would be, for example, your son or daughter wants to join the military, maybe in a non-combat role like a medic, mechanic or cook. Should he be shunned because of this choice? Of course not.
Propaganda is defined as “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.”
Wikipedia has enlightening information how the Nazi’s effectively used propaganda to brainwash the minds of the German people to embrace Nazism:
“The propaganda used by the German Nazi Party in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler’s leadership of Germany (1933–1945) was a crucial instrument for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of Nazi policies…”
The public school system is one of the main tools for leftists by which America’s youth is systematically being brainwashed to accept anti-American ideologies. This article is the latest example of how LGBTQ fascist tyranny is being force fed down the throats of the unsuspecting.
This is government sanctioned propaganda, American styled. Setting the course for the complete, total, and absolute brainwashing of the youth in America. Few in this country understand the very late hour we find ourselves at in this wicked, perverse country known as “America.”