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Who Doesn't Need Encouragement?

In that Watchtower Study about encouragement, it turns out that everyone can use it and everyone can give it. When it came to the paragraph on elders as recipients, the congregation we visited showered them with quite a few nice remarks. ‘I think we’re going to stay on this paragraph for the rest of the meeting,’ the conductor quipped.

Yeah. If they are shelter from the wind, the rainstorm, or the roasting sun, then they need a coat of varnish now and then - maintenance, the same as you would maintain any barrier. It turns out that they don’t need much; they are mostly self-maintaining. A little bit of encouragement will do, especially coupled with cooperation and acquiescing to the lead they take, not unlike how Hebrews 13:17 puts it:

“Be obedient to those taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over you as those who will render an account, so that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for that would be damaging to you.”

When it came to encouragement that anyone might give anyone, a verse cited was Philippians 2:3; do it “with humility, consider the other superior to you.” This led someone to observe ‘How can that be? How can two persons each regard the other as superior?’ The trick is to look for the one or more things in the other person at which they are better than you …there will always be something…and then hone in on that quality. Failing that, the trap will be that someone gives encouragement in a looking-down way, or a patronizing way, undermining its intended effect.

How many people really give encouragement, anyway? It certainly is not the pattern outside of the congregation. Look at social media and it would appear to be a scarce commodity indeed. It is good to surround oneself with people with whom encouragement replaces ‘cutting’ as a M.O.

Then there was that part about Paul needing encouragement, and even rescue “from the unbelievers in Judea,” as though they actually came after him, and were not just the apathetic persons Christians typically encounter. One begins to wonder if he is not speaking of unbelievers in the congregation making trouble, for battling apostasy is a steady theme in the Greek Scriptures; there is not an NT writer who does not deal with it.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

In new New York You Can do Fireworks

Fireworks are legal in New York State. Not always, just a week or so around the fourth of July. Makeshift sales tents pop up everywhere hawking the goods.

It never used to be that way. I worked so hard with my boy when he, long ago, started pestering me about the stuff, harassing me night and day. Do you think I could convince him, my own child, that fireworks were not legal in New York State? Not just dynamite, but also cherry bombs and even ladyfingers. They are illegal. You can’t blow them off in New York. Yes, they are legal in some states, but New York is not one of them. Tired of arguing with a kid who dressed head to toe in Goth black to parade around in the mall with friends dressed the same way and didn’t stop until I threatened to dress head to toe in white and follow him everywhere, it suddenly dawned upon me how to solve the problem.Talk to a cop! What a brilliant idea! I drove to the area police station. Were fireworks legal in New York State? No, they were not. What about ladyfingers? No they were not. What about on holidays and special events? No, that made no difference! What about…..LOOK, said the cop, you got a listening problem?! NO means NO.!! Now if you want to break THE LAW, go right ahead, but we’ll be coming after you!! All that Download

as missing was for him to draw his gun.

Elated, I skipped home to grab my son and return. Yeah! Tell the kid what you just told me! Scare the everloving daylights out of him!

But Joe Friday wasn’t there!! Instead, it was jolly Officer O’Mallahan! Well….he patted my boy on the head, with a twinkle in his eye, just be careful, and don’t shoot them off too much!! Thanks a lot, copper!!! If this kid grows up to be a pirate, I’ll know who to blame!

And now it turns out that it was all for nothing! Fireworks are okay, now. And no, he has not become a pirate. He does do a lot of traveling, though.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Which Falls Do You Do?

We checked into the hotel desk at Niagara Falls Canada only to discover that our reservations were for Niagara Falls New York. The booking site had switched us over from Canada to New York and I hadn’t noticed. True, the GPS could not locate the street address as we closed in on the city, which was odd, but I have never upgraded the software, so I thought perhaps some street names or something had changed.

The Canadian concierge at the hotel said – she actually said – ‘I feel sorry for you.’ Had she read a certain look of dismay on my face? Or was it said in all innocence? Or was it a reaction to Trump, who lately had said unkind things about the Canadian Prime Minister?

They offered to switch hotel branches for me, 8740801891_afa958b786_b
but when I saw the price difference, I had a heart attack. They took me to the hospital, patched me up, and because I was in Canada, I left still solvent. The concierge one level up had said – he actually said – while the Canadian hotel had some rooms, they were “crappy” rooms that didn’t face the Falls. ‘How crappy can they be?’ I asked. ‘Do janitors store their mops there?’ He said they did not. The rooms just faced the city, which would not have been such a huge put-off for me. But, as stated, they were too pricy.

We drove across the bridge back to New York to take our booked room. Then we walked to the falls. The kid at the ticket booth said – he actually said – that if you are looking for things to do, Canada Niagara Falls wins hands down. But if you are looking for natural attractions and interactions with the falls, the American side wins hands down. The Canadian Cave of the Winds, for example, is vastly inferior to its American counterpart, where you get to clamber around on winding pathways just feet from the base of the falls. On the other hand, Canada has all the wax museums, far more restaurants, and even a ferris wheel.

I told the kid at the booth, and he laughed heartily, of a visiting couple I had overheard. Maybe they were from India or thereabouts, but they were not North American. Discussing how you could look across the river and see the Falls of the other country, the wife said – she actually said – that maybe Trump would build a wall.

The Falls is also the best place I know to practice one of the greatest gestures of goodwill there is, and it costs nothing. Offer to take a family's photograph with their camera. That way, they are not stuck with a beachball-sized selfie head surrounded by several heads half-sized. They will love you for it, even if they decline.

On another tour nearby, that had nothing to do with Niagara Falls, the tour guide said – she actually said – the word ‘actually’ constantly. It grew to be a most annoying mannerism. I figured that I would take her aside somewhere and tell her in a nice way, like that of a Christian Life and Ministry school conductor, with a view to helping her, for she was just in her late teens or early twenties. However, the flow of traffic veered – it actually veered – off in a different direction, and I didn’t have the opportunity.
Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'