Recieved this by Email.
Special Talk - Australia Branch Zone Visit, 22nd April 2012.
Brother David Splane from the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
For the first time in Australia, this talk was tied in simultaneously across the entire country.
Sydney - 13,894
Various Kingdom Halls around the country - 43, 373
Total at the beginning of the session was 57,267 (with 100 congregations more still to join)
The session opened with Song 75 "Our Reasons for Joy".
How appropriate because we were given many reasons for joy by the session's end. Don McLean (one of the Country Committee members, aged 90) gave a brief over view of the work in Australia.
He listed the various schools that were being conducted throughout the country. Starting with the "School for Congregation Elders" - 5 days of intense instruction. To date there have been 57 classes with 505 having graduated and many more classes yet to be conducted.
One elder who had completed the school said: "It was a refreshing boost to my spirituality and confidence in the arrangement". Another elder commented: "We elders felt like it was personal shepherding call from Jehovah and a cuddle from the Governing Body".
In 1950 there were 5,000 publishers in Australia with a national population of 8 million.
In 2012 there are 68,000 publishers and the population is now 22 million.
There are 800 congregations, 35 circuits and 5 districts.
28,053 pioneered last April, and 118,000 attended the 2011 memorial. 22,000 Bible studies. National
attendance to the District Convention last years was 85,0000.
Brother Don went on to discuss some other facts and figures relating to the work at the Branch.
Then we heard some wonderful news and experiences coming out of Samoa and East Timor from 2
Australian couples who recently graduated from Gilead.
Then we sang Song 60 - "He Will Make You Strong" which was a prefect introduction to Bro. Splane's talk:
"Should You Wear Saul's Armour"??? - (the conclusion is brilliant)
Saul, the son of Kish was a very tall man. He was, from shoulders up, taller than any other man (1 Samuel 10:23) David's brother, Eliab too was tall (1 Samuel 16:6). Both were men of war, imposing figures. When Goliath stepped forward to taunt God's people - one would think that Saul or Eliab would step up to meet the challenge.
Goliath was about 3 meters tall (9ft 5+), his coat of mail was 60 kilos (1 Sam 17:4,5), Goliath too was
imposing and he would taunt back and forth intimidatingly (1 Samuel 17:8) . . ."Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me". Where were Saul and Eliab? They did not want to confront Goliath, in fact they were afraid of him (1 Samuel 17:11). . . When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Phi·lis′tine, then they became terrified and were greatly afraid". . .
Yet young David, who had been asked by his father to go down to the battle lines to seek the welfare of his brothers, when he over heard Goliaths taunts, he is offended!! (1 Samuel 17:26) . . .And David began to say to the men that were standing close by him: "What will be done to the man that strikes down that Phi·lis′tine over there and actually turns away reproach from upon Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Phi·lis′tine that he has to taunt the battle lines of the living God?"
David's brother Eliab is annoyed by his younger brother's talk ((1 Samuel 17:28) . . .And E·li′ab his oldest brother got to hear as he spoke to the men, and E·li′ab's anger grew hot against David, so that he said: "Why is it that you have come down? And in whose charge did you leave those few sheep behind in the wilderness? I myself well know your presumptuousness and the badness of your heart, because you have come down for the purpose of seeing the battle.. . .). Now Eliab would have been present when Samuel was guided by Jehovah to reject Eliab but chose David as the next anointed king (1Sam 16:13).
Yet the present King failed to 'man up' and defend Israel's name against Goliath, So it's the future King, David who does. Saul actually decides to give David help. (1 Samuel 17:38) . . .Saul now went clothing David with his garments, and he put a copper helmet upon his head, after which he clothed him with a coat of mail.
Now David would have been a teenager at the time (according to Josephus). Keeping in mind Saul's stature, the armour didn't fit young David particularly well...(1 Samuel 17:39) . . .Then David girded his sword on over his garments and undertook to go [but could not], because he had not tried them out. Finally David said to Saul: "I am unable to go in these things, for I have not tried them out." So David removed them off him".
Saul's armour did not work for him at all! So he then made an estimation of what he would need to do the job. .. (1 Samuel 17:40) . . .And he proceeded to take his staff in his hand and to choose for himself the five smoothest stones from the torrent valley and to place them in his shepherds' bag that served him as a receptacle, and in his hand was his sling. And he began approaching the Phi·lis′tine. . .
He approached this man of war - not with just a sling shot..but he had a 'secret weapon' -
(1 Samuel 17:45-46) . . .In turn David said to the Phi·lis′tine: "You are coming to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I am coming to you with the name of Jehovah of armies, the God of the battle lines of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day Jehovah will surrender you into my hand, and I shall certainly strike you down and remove your head off you; and I shall certainly give the carcasses of the camp of the Phi·lis′tines this day to the fowls of the heavens and to the wild beasts of the earth; and people of all the earth will know that there exists a God belonging to Israel.
The secret weapon was the name of Jehovah; it was Jehovah who fought FOR David.
We all have 'giants' to face - we too have a choice -
1. Will we use Saul's armour - protection we might think we can obtain by worldly means?
That appears practical from a worldly point of view?
2. Will we use David's method - the minimum we need to do the job with Jehovah's help?
Then Brother Splane went on to explain that we have 3 "Giants" that we have to contend with.
Giant number 1 = the 'Economic Giant'
Many today are under pressure economically. Work can be demanding - financial burdens are great, children are pressured to pursue higher education to meet economic demands in order to survive. The worlds answer to the economic problem (the armour) is higher education. But the reality is many university graduates cannot find employment in their field of expertise and have to do anything to earn some money. (Related some experiences of people with degrees who are waiters and cleaners).
David would have asked...How much do I really need? ((1 Timothy 6:8) So, having sustenance and
covering, we shall be content with these things.
We need to lower our expectations - pressure too high, Saul's armour puts us under tremendous pressure.
David's strategy: earn what you need to get the job done. Brother Splane went on to say to one brother who was concerned about employment..
"Jehovah created the heaven and the earth, He can find you a job"!. IF you put Kingdom interests first you will be provided for..along with the best retirement plan.
Well what is adequate sustenance and covering? (Deuteronomy 2:7) For Jehovah your God has blessed you in every deed of your hand. He well knows of your walking through this great wilderness. These forty years Jehovah your God has been with you. You have not lacked a thing." The Israelites lived on the same food for 40yrs, had the same clothes they left Egypt in...yet Jehovah said "they lacked nothing"!!
5 Stones was all that David needed to do the job of slaying Goliath...we too, need to be content with the basic necessities.
Giant Number 2: The "Peer Pressure" Giant
Saul would tell you - just don't tell anyone you are a Witness!
David would say - I come in the name of Jehovah of armies!
Face the giant of peer pressure - look at him in the eye and do not be ashamed to identify who you are.
Experience of a 12 year old girl who was anxious at the beginning of each school year, she was nervous and fearful of having to explain to a new teacher that she couldn't do something as a witness...would agonise over it.
Then she decided she would be in charge of this information about what she could or couldn't do and tell the teacher straight away she was a witness and if she had any questions about Jehovah's Witnesses just to ask her. Well the teacher did have some questions and this little girl studied with the teacher for a whole year.
Leslie (the sister) set such a good example for her siblings they too did the same. By the time these kids finished school they had brought into the truth 5 teachers and 3 secretaries! And brother Splane said he knew the story was true about Leslie, because the first teacher she witnessed to is now in Brooklyn Bethel!!!
Brother Splane encouraged us not to be fearful of people who we meet in the field, that become like Goliath's in our mind. Remember David's secret weapon! Learn to trust in Jehovah- be prepared in advance in your mind before it happens about what you could say.
Jason (17yrs) was witnessing one Saturday and met Monica (not only the most popular girl in school but the most talkative). He just knew that by Monday, everyone in school would know that he was a Jehovah's Witness. Now Jason felt he had 3 options:
a)Grow a moustache and go and live in Brazil
b)Pretend he is sick for two weeks and not go to school
c)Admit he was a Witness.
Sure enough, when he got to school on the Monday, one student taunted him and said that Monica told him what he had been doing. Jason had prepared a great reply: He said well that's true I was, and I don't like your tone..so next Saturday I'm going to come and knock on your door, what's your address???
We need to give our children stones to deal with giants. Prepare with them, anticipate scenarios, and practice what to say. Give them a regular intake of spiritual food. Make meetings and witnessing non-negotiable. Then Brother Splane went on to explain that we need to prepare our children for life's giants and how we could do it. We force ourselves to do what's right when we don't really want to do it, so we need to instil in our children values of stick-to-it, and not base our decisions on how we 'feel' but on what is the right thing to do.
The example was used of one of our children starting a job at Mc Donalds. If the child slept in would we ring the boss and make excuses..well we can't force him to go to work, but we are working on his heart condition, we want him to want to do this himself, I'm sure you understand and will
keep his job for him...would we do that..."I don't think so" brother Splane stated emphatically.. So why should we make excuses for them for not fulfilling scriptural obligations..??
Force yourself to do things you don't feel like doing - you will be blessed!
Giant number 3: Ourselves!
We can be our own worst enemy! Many of us have been raised with parents who have not visibly loved us, or have made unfair comparisons to siblings or we may have had parents who were perfectionists..who seemed impossible to please. When we allow this experience to cripple us - believe we are unlovable or no good, we are actually doing the work of the Devil. That's how he wants us to feel. He accused his brothers day and night until he was hurled out of heaven, now he wants us to feel the same..accused and useless.
There are Bible examples that show that some had horrible childhoods. Hezekiah! His father, Ahaz was terrible; he even burned Hezekiah's siblings in the fire! Yet Hezekiah was outstanding as a king who "kept sticking to Jehovah," doing what was right in Jehovah's eyes and following his commandments. He did not follow the path of his father. We too can break the 'view' of our past:
While some may need professional help...we have a 'secret weapon' to help keep our mental balance.
Verse 4 - Always rejoice in [the] Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!
Look for the positive in our life. The saying in the world is "you are only young once"...but for us it's the opposite - we are only old once..may as well just relax and accept it..it's only TEMPORARY!!
Think about permanent solutions to our problems the Kingdom will bring. A sister who had no arms and no legs, felt that she was blessed, because she had what she needed.
A brother who had a printing business had one primary client. The Hospital..he printed all the printing needs for the hospital and had 32 employee's to help with the process. One day the director asked the brother to print a generic birthday card so he could just give the same one to all the employees. The brother felt in good conscience he couldn't do this. He lost the contract, lost everything, his business, his house, yet he felt blessed. Brother Splane assumed the Director had changed his mind and gave him the contract back, or he got his house back...but no..he felt blessed because the brother wasn't worried about it. He felt calm..he had a secret weapon Philippians 4:4-8
(Philippians 4:5) . . .Let YOUR reasonableness become known to all men. The Lord is near".
Let your reasonableness become known - sometimes we expect more of ourselves than necessary- when we need to: (Philippians 4:6) . . .not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let YOUR petitions be made known to God. . .
1, Pray, 2.don't give up praying and 3. Give thanks..count the blessings you have....Then: (Philippians 4:7)
The peace of God that excels all thought will guard YOUR hearts and YOUR mental powers by means of Christ Jesus. This is what this brother had.
Now verse 8 is powerful: (Philippians 4:8) 8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.
Dark thoughts: I'm no good, I can't keep going, I will never be good enough...are these thoughts listed in verse 8 to be considered? NO..Do not consider these thoughts; do not entertain this in our mind. One dark thought leads to another and leads to deep depression. Avoid the first thought - this is when we need to pray for the peace of God..keep praying until the dark thought goes. We need to fight dark thoughts...but we have our secret weapon..Philippians4:4-8 keep considering these things!
So what happened to Saul's armour? Several years later (1 Samuel 31:8-10) . . .And it came about the next day that, when the Phi·lis′tines came to strip the slain, they got to find Saul and his three sons fallen upon Mount Gil·bo′a. 9 And they proceeded to cut off his head and strip off his armor and send into the land of the Phi·lis′tines all around to inform the houses of their idols and the people.10 Finally they put his armor in the house of the Ash′to·reth images, and his corpse they fastened on the wall of Beth-shan. Saul's armour ended up in the house of false idols!!!
No wonder David did the right thing and in not wearing Saul's armour...it did not protect Saul.
We have a greater enemy than Goliath - the wicked spirit forces..but we can take our stand firm against the Devil at work at school and in life... We do not have to adopt the worlds methods...we have a 'secret weapon'..
The complete suit of armour from God!!!
The session was concluded with song 134 See Yourself When All is New (Brother Splane sang his heart out) and then concluded in prayer. It really was a wonderful day and such a privilege to be present. It made me so convinced that this is Jehovah's loving organisation.
(There was so much detail in this talk; I only really captured the points that stood out to me)