Tag Archives: Teaching

New Teaching Audio File- What’s in a name? Pronunciation or Reputation?

Back in October, Becky and I went to the Witnesses Now For Jesus convention. I had the privilege of presenting on the topic of the Divine Name and what exactly that means. It was well received.

Some friends of ours in the ministry placed the audio on their web site. You can either listen to it online or save it on your computer and listen to it later. Feel free to share your comments here.

Only God can use a broken gun.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I have recently (the last 15 months or so) started to participate in the sport of pistol shooting. I own a Springfield XD 9 mm handgun and compete in pistol leagues at the Bullet Hole shooting range in San Antonio, TX. I am on a team of Christian shooters called The Deadeyes. Of the last six leagues, The Deadeyes have taken first place four times and second place twice. Hanging out at the Bullet Hole is a lot of fun. I learn a lot from other shooters and even have some witnessing opportunities, but I never would have guessed that being in a pistol league with a broken gun could give me a wonderful opportunity to explain God’s love. I know you’re confused so I’ll just get to telling the story.

A few weeks back I was getting ready to take my turn shooting the Course of Fire (CoF) in the pistol league. It was a nicely set up CoF called “Barrel Run” where the shooter has to navigate his way through an “alley” of barrels and shoot the targets as they become visible. Each shooter runs through the CoF twice. In my first run through the CoF I ran into a little trouble. I shot all the targets and got down to the last one when my gun went “click,” but there was no “BANG!” I thought that I may have had a bad round in the chamber so I racked the slide back (which ejects the bullet out of the chamber and inserts a news round) and squeezed the trigger again. This time I realized that there was no resistance to the trigger. Walt, our range officer, asked me if I was done shooting. He was confused because there I was standing there with a loaded gun and I had not shot my last target yet. He may have assumed that I ran out of bullets. I told Walt that something was wrong with my gun. He asked me to clear the weapon and then hand it to him. I took out my magazine, racked and locked the slide, which ejected the chambered round into the dirt, made sure the gun was unloaded and then handed the gun to Walt. Sure enough, the trigger bar was broken.

I was not a happy camper. This was the second time that this gun had failed me during a competition. I went through my records when I got home and realized that since buying the XD, I had a total of five problems with the gun. Two problems were corrected locally, but this would now be the third time since this February that I would have to send the gun back to the Springfield Armory to get fixed. After realizing this, I lost all confidence in my gun. I called Springfield and asked about their policy to replace defective guns. I was encouraged to send it back with a letter explaining why I thought the gun should be replaced and not just fixed and sent back. I wrote a four page letter explaining my situation and the problems that have been occurring with my XD. In the letter I explained why I thought replacing the gun was the right thing to do.

I waited until Springfield received the gun and then called the armory to see if they had made a decision. I was pleased to hear that after inspecting the gun, finding the broken trigger bar and reviewing the history of the gun, they had decided to replace my broken XD with a brand-spanking-new one! I could hardly wait to get the new XD.

Well, November, 17th was the big day. There was a knock on our door close to 9:30 am. I checked the peep hole and saw the Fed-Ex truck in front of our house. I surprised the driver as I whipped open the door and yelled, “Tell me that is from Springfield!” Sure enough, it was my new gun. The first thing I did, while opening the box, was to look at the serial number to make sure that it was a new gun and not just my old one sent back to me. Then I noticed that the box was bigger than I anticipated… could it be? When I opened the box, I expected to see just a gun. That was all I sent so that was all I thought I would get back. I was completely surprised to see that Springfield not only sent the new XD, but they also sent, a holster, magazine holder, speed loader, two 16 round magazines, a lock and brush for cleaning the barrel. They sent me THE WHOLE PACKAGE!

When I bought my XD last year, the box contained the gun, two 15 round magazines, a lock and barrel brush. About two months afterwards Springfield changed the package to the one described above. Wow, they went above and beyond what I had hoped for and sent me more than I ever dreamed they would. Needless to say, I am now a happy camper.

In my letter to Springfield, I told them that if they would do the right thing, I would respond in kind by letting people know that Springfield stands behind their product, and they also know the meaning of customer service because they take care of their own. I am now a Springfield fan for life!

Not only was I thankful to Springfield, but I was also grateful that God gave me favor in their eyes and granted me exceedingly, abundantly more than I asked, or even thought to ask for. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” I got to thinking about this and realized that Springfield modeled what God does for us.

We are like the broken gun. There is nothing that we can do to fix our condition. We are beyond helping ourselves and must rely completely upon our Maker. If we place ourselves in the hands of our Maker and trust our condition into His care, He promises to make us into a new creature. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Aside from being made into a new creature, we also get all the extras God has to offer. After God makes us new, He gives us the power to live the Christian life by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 14:16-17 that the Holy Spirit would be our helper and that He would be with us forever. The Springfield holster, magazine holder, speed-loader and 16 round magazines are nice, but compared to what God gives us, these are just trinkets. Here is a short list of the “extras” God gives to us once we trust Him.

1) I have become a child of God through adoption. (John 1:12, Romans 8:15)
2) I have been justified and have peace with God. (Romans 5:1)
3) I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18)
4) I may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)
5) I have been redeemed and forgiven of all of my sins. (Colossians 1:14)
6) I am forever free of condemnation. (Romans 8:1)
7) I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)
8) I am complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10)
9) I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20)
10) The evil one cannot touch me. (1st John 5:18)

I mentioned earlier that I am a Springfield fan for life. They stand behind their product, will fix your gun at their cost if it is defective and are concerned about their customers. If flawed humans can go above and beyond what is expected because it is considered “the right thing to do,” then imagine what God has done and will do for us. He sent His beloved Son to take our punishment and die in our place. If we will give God our sin, He will give us the righteousness of Christ. We will then be adopted into God’s family and from that point on are totally and completely forgiven of any wrong doing. We will spend eternity together with Him.

It is just like trading a broken gun for the whole package. We have nothing to lose. We can get rid of something that isn’t working for us any way and can then enjoy the new gun and the complete package. I may have recently traded my broken XD in for a new one, but more than 18 years ago I traded my sin for the righteousness of Christ. If you have not already done so, I invite you to do the same thing. I have never regretted my decision and I know that you won’t either.

Consistency in Pronouncing the Divine Name

I am working on a paper for my Theology class and wanted to write about something that I could use for our ministry. I decided to write about the history and significance of the Divine name and then tweak it when I am done in order to use it for our work with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am also speaking about this subject this coming Sunday at Shavano Baptist church in San Antonio, TX and then again at the Witnesses Now for Jesus Convention in Pennsylvania. For more information, check out the calendar on our ministry web site.

During my research I came across this interesting quote from the Watchtower publication The DIVINE NAME That Will Endure Forever. On page 12 it states;

We can relate to Jesus when we use his name the way it is commonly
pronounced in our language. Similar comments could be made regarding all the
names we read in the Bible. We pronounce them in our own language and do not try
to imitate the original pronunciation… And the same is true with the name Jehovah.

Parts of this publication are included on the Watchtower’s website. You can read the above quote here.

Later, in the same brochure, the Watchtower states on page 25;

Additionally, substituting “Lord” for “Jehovah” removes something of pivotal
importance from the Bible: the personal name of God. The Illustrated Bible
Dictionary (Volume 1, page 572) states: “Strictly speaking, Yahweh is the only
‘name’ of God.

After reading the above quotes, I got to wondering what Jehovah’s Witnesses are called in Israel. If we are to follow the advice to use pronunciations that are common to our own language, and the only pronunciation of the name of God is Yahweh, then shouldn’t Jehovah’s Witnesses in Israel be called Yahweh’s Witnesses? I could only think of one way to find out. I called the Writing/Correspondence department of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society to find out.

I spoke with a man (who refused to give me his name) and asked him the question. As I figured, it was something he had never thought of and was curious about the answer as well. He had no idea how to figure out the answer so I asked him to check for Hebrew speaking congregations in the New York City area. He checked a number of his sources and kept coming to a dead end. There was nothing listed for Hebrew, Israeli, Jewish, Yiddish or any other name we could think of. I couldn’t help but point out to him the irony that there are no Hebrew speaking congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in an area that is filled with Jews.

He said he knew that the names of all Witnesses world wide were based on the English pronunciation of Jehovah, but could not find the pronunciation for the Hebrew language. There was nothing he could do to help me. His last suggestion was to call the branch office in Israel and see if I could find someone who spoke English. I did just that.

I spoke with someone who sounded like an Englishman and asked my question. He told me that when they go door to door, they introduce themselves as Yehovah’s Edei, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. I asked him if they have trouble using that pronunciation and he admitted that they did. He said that Yehovah (Jehovah in the English) is not a recognized usage of God’s name and that they have never heard it. He added that if people have heard the name, it is because they have heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses and not because it is used as God’s Name.

In order to be fair I asked if Jewish householders would recognize the Hebrew pronunciation of Yahweh and he said that they would not. The Jews have been told too many times that God’s name is too holy to pronounce so they would not recognize any pronunciation for God’s name.

It occurred to me after I got off the phone, don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses take pride in the idea that they are the “only ones” using God’s name and teaching people of all languages and cultures that God expects us to use His name? According to the DIVINE NAME brochure shouldn’t people use the pronunciation of God’s name in their own language? If this is all true, then why are Jehovah’s Witnesses using the English pronunciation of a Hebrew word in a Hebrew speaking country? Why aren’t they making God’s name known to the very people whom God chose for Himself and why aren’t they using the pronunciation that would be appropriate for Israel? It certainly does not seem consistent.