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M. Stephen Lett: Beware of the Power of Materialism (Matt. 6:11)


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Sometimes I'm amazed by how even brothers think when it comes to money.

One time, when still being a teenager, a brother asked me te stop talking about full time service as a personal goal, because it made him feel bad, as if his hard work in his full-time job wasn't appreciated. I was to mention it "at a appropriate time, and not as something that was on the top of my head".
He said: remember that the organization also have to pay the bills, and that much comes from the ones who are working hard in secular jobs.

I was just being stunned. Complete confusion.
As if Jehovah isn't able to run his organization.. It sounded like a joke to me! Until I realized he was serious But how easy these words came out was frightening. In one sentence Jehovah's earthly part of his organization was downsized to a mere human business.

The very clear counsel in this morning worship is something we all have to take into consideration

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4 hours ago, rockieboi said:

This is so true.  There is an elder in our congregation that wants to be a regular pioneer.  He has a full time job and feels that his schedule would not allow it.  He was searching for months for the kind of work that would allow him to pioneer, but did not find any.  But when the announcement on new hourly requirements was made, he and his wife applied to be regular pioneers.  And then just this month, he found the job he was looking for and resigned on his full time work. Very encouraging.

I was in full time ministry and  breadwinner. Still a breadwinner today and  I need courage to do that now. Thanks for the encouraging story.  


Edited by JennyM

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18 hours ago, jwhess said:

  Many Pioneers will share stories with you of Jehovah taking care of needs for them (often clothing or car stories).  I have my own.

 

I truly love an older video about a single mother and her children who are very poor. 

 

https://www.jw.org/en/library/videos/#en/mediaitems/FamilyChallenges/pub-jwbai_201412_1_VIDEO

 

Nice video.  I remember one of our early videos about a young boy visiting an older brother.  They were painting a white picket fence.  Then they took a break and the brother was reminiscing about his pioneering years.  What made an impression was at the end he showed the boy his metal bowl and spoon that he used while he was in jail (?) if I recall.  He said "What more do we really need"?

 

John, you have freeness of speech on this topic, because you are in full-time service and have cherished memories of seeing Jehovah come to your rescue.

 

I have only known a few elders who pioneer.  Most have full time jobs, even if the children are out of the nest.  I wish I had told those pioneer elders how encouraging their example was for the congregation.  If I'm ever in a congregation again where an elder is pioneering I'm going to pay special attention to him.


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1 hour ago, Doug said:

John, you have freeness of speech on this topic, because you are in full-time service and have cherished memories of seeing Jehovah come to your rescue.

 

I have only known a few elders who pioneer.  Most have full time jobs, even if the children are out of the nest.  I wish I had told those pioneer elders how encouraging their example was for the congregation. 

We are blessed in our congregation here in Ohio.  We are a small group (but having recently increased to 97 publishers).  Our COBE is a remote Bethel worker (very remote 700 miles). His wife and son also Pioneer. Our Service Overseer also is a Pioneer and so is his wife.  Our Secretary is self-employed in his 40's and he is a reg Auxiliary Pioneer and his wife is a Regular Pioneer.  I am retired and a Regular Pioneer and my wife puts in reg Auxiliary hours but has uncertain health conditions.  One other elder and his wife used to Pioneer with us but bad financial problems caused him to return to full-time self-employment.  So about half of our elder body is in the Pioneer work and it is a blessing.  They all seem to focus on simplifying their lives.  I sold my small farm and moved to town.  I bought a smaller, damaged house in town and fixed it up.

 

I an earlier talk (last year, I think), Br. Lett mentioned that we had no need for new concrete driveways.  I felt bad because our town usually has "paved" driveways for each house.  Since I volunteered my house for the Field Service Group, I needed to be able to park my vehicles and the visiting 4-5 friends cars.  The puddled, muddy drive did not lend itself for that duty.  So during the Covid time last summer I paid to have the drive paved.  It seemed to be a necessary expense ($7000) that has served us well now that we are meeting here again in person.

 

Our congregation now has 24 Regular Pioneers and 2 Regular Auxiliary Pioneers.  In addition we have about 30 signed up for Aux Pioneering in March.  We are trying for 2/3 of the congregation.  Pray for us when you can.

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We are blessed in our congregation here in Ohio.  We are a small group (but having recently increased to 97 publishers).  Our COBE is a remote Bethel worker (very remote 700 miles). His wife and son also Pioneer. Our Service Overseer also is a Pioneer and so is his wife.  Our Secretary is self-employed in his 40's and he is a reg Auxiliary Pioneer and his wife is a Regular Pioneer.  I am retired and a Regular Pioneer and my wife puts in reg Auxiliary hours but has uncertain health conditions.  One other elder and his wife used to Pioneer with us but bad financial problems caused him to return to full-time self-employment.  So about half of our elder body is in the Pioneer work and it is a blessing.  They all seem to focus on simplifying their lives.  I sold my small farm and moved to town.  I bought a smaller, damaged house in town and fixed it up.
 
I an earlier talk (last year, I think), Br. Lett mentioned that we had no need for new concrete driveways.  I felt bad because our town usually has "paved" driveways for each house.  Since I volunteered my house for the Field Service Group, I needed to be able to park my vehicles and the visiting 4-5 friends cars.  The puddled, muddy drive did not lend itself for that duty.  So during the Covid time last summer I paid to have the drive paved.  It seemed to be a necessary expense ($7000) that has served us well now that we are meeting here again in person.
 
Our congregation now has 24 Regular Pioneers and 2 Regular Auxiliary Pioneers.  In addition we have about 30 signed up for Aux Pioneering in March.  We are trying for 2/3 of the congregation.  Pray for us when you can.
How encouraging to hear! Thank you very much for sharing!

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Having an elder pioneer in the congregation has tremendous impact  to other bros and sis. I also have blessed to have elder/pioneers in 4 congregations that I belonged too or if not, their wives are pioneers. 

 

If there arent elder/pioneer, I listened intently to the examples of pioneers in the assembly or read WT articles about them. 

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3 hours ago, JennyM said:

Having an elder pioneer in the congregation has tremendous impact  to other bros and sis. I also have blessed to have elder/pioneers in 4 congregations that I belonged too or if not, their wives are pioneers. 

 

If there arent elder/pioneer, I listened intently to the examples of pioneers in the assembly or read WT articles about them. 

We have 3 elders regular pioneers, also another one who is kind of regular aux pioneer.  (for now he is pioneering till May and strongly considering continuing after that. (if he does not run out of donuts 🍩he will continue LOL 🤣)

Pioneering is a great way to become more encouraging to others.

Man was created as an intelligent creature with the desire to explore and understand :)

 

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10 hours ago, jwhess said:

We are blessed in our congregation here in Ohio.  We are a small group (but having recently increased to 97 publishers).  Our COBE is a remote Bethel worker (very remote 700 miles). His wife and son also Pioneer. Our Service Overseer also is a Pioneer and so is his wife.  Our Secretary is self-employed in his 40's and he is a reg Auxiliary Pioneer and his wife is a Regular Pioneer.  I am retired and a Regular Pioneer and my wife puts in reg Auxiliary hours but has uncertain health conditions.  One other elder and his wife used to Pioneer with us but bad financial problems caused him to return to full-time self-employment.  So about half of our elder body is in the Pioneer work and it is a blessing.  They all seem to focus on simplifying their lives.  I sold my small farm and moved to town.  I bought a smaller, damaged house in town and fixed it up.

 

I an earlier talk (last year, I think), Br. Lett mentioned that we had no need for new concrete driveways.  I felt bad because our town usually has "paved" driveways for each house.  Since I volunteered my house for the Field Service Group, I needed to be able to park my vehicles and the visiting 4-5 friends cars.  The puddled, muddy drive did not lend itself for that duty.  So during the Covid time last summer I paid to have the drive paved.  It seemed to be a necessary expense ($7000) that has served us well now that we are meeting here again in person.

 

Our congregation now has 24 Regular Pioneers and 2 Regular Auxiliary Pioneers.  In addition we have about 30 signed up for Aux Pioneering in March.  We are trying for 2/3 of the congregation.  Pray for us when you can.

Oh...how much I want to give your congregation a huge hug! :grouphug:

Man was created as an intelligent creature with the desire to explore and understand :)

 

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What I noticed in the talk is when the family migrated to Siberia then to USA, her sons fell away from the truth. 

which is similar to some bro and sis in my country who migrated to US. The jw couple got divorced. The daughter of a sister became inactive because she had a divorce  with her newly baptized husband. 

The question is , are western countries dangerous for the faith?  

Once, a brother has told me that US is a seat of Satan. 

 

Im aware that the materialistic spirit in the US is rampant. Everything is all about money. 

 

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43 minutes ago, JennyM said:

The question is , are western countries dangerous for the faith?  

Once, a brother has told me that US is a seat of Satan. 

Western countries offer opportunities that poorer countries do not.

 

WHY do some Christians who remain faithful for years despite imprisonment or persecution later succumb to materialism? The answer has to do with our figurative heart—what we really are inside. The 86th Psalm connects loyalty to a unified heart; that is, a complete heart, one that is not divided. “O do guard my soul, for I am loyal,” prayed the psalmist David. “Save your servant—you are my God—that is trusting in you.” David also prayed: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.”—Ps. 86:2, 11.

 

But note: “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” so even in less affluent countries many will face challenges that include materialism, immorality etc.  

 

We must guard our figurative heart no matter where we live. 

 

 


 

Man was created as an intelligent creature with the desire to explore and understand :)

 

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1 hour ago, JennyM said:

m aware that the materialistic spirit in the US is rampant. Everything is all about money. 

Materialism is a matter of the heart, not location. However, the ability to express the heart's wrong desire is increased when there is more material things to desire.  In the Siberia experience, it would be difficult to try and accumulate excessive possessions when all you have is "tree bark".  But when you move to a more affluent area, you have more temptations and more opportunities.

 

When our work Spain was under ban (1960s), my father had to take a business trip to Madrid.  He asked the organization if he could bring anything to the brothers.  After checking my father out, they gave him one name.  That brother helped him get to a Watchtower Study meeting.  He was dropped off a couple of blocks up the street and told to go into the building and wait on the second floor.  He was met a half hour later and they gave the secret knock went inside.  No singing because it would draw attention. The meeting was small but everybody had a hand up for an answer.  At the end of the meeting the conductor announced that they had lost contact with one of the Pioneer sisters four days earlier.  Everyone was asked to check their sources to see if she had been arrested and where she might be.

 

After the meeting was over, everyone came up to meet my father.  During the conversation he mentioned that all of us in America were praying for them.  The local brother looked surprised.  He said, "You don't need to pray for us, we are doing fine."  My father was shocked.  He said you just announced a Pioneer has been arrested and imprisoned.  The local brother waved his hand and said, "That's just Satan's usual tactics. It is 'up-front' and ;in-your-face'.  They point a gun at you and say quit being JW's and we say NO...nothing special."  Then he told my father that they gather in groups and pray for us in America.  "Why us", my dad asked.  "All we worry about is a man with a gun", the local brother said, "You have color TV to worry about".

 

My father came home with a new appreciation of materialism...❤️


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52 minutes ago, New World Explorer said:

Western countries offer opportunities that poorer countries do not.

 

But note: “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” so even in less affluent countries many will face challenges that include materialism, immorality etc. 

 

We must guard our figurative heart no matter where we live. 


 

Here its higher education so that they could have better job and could be promoted to a higher pay. Then send their children to international school that cost a lot and the father worked for more hours. Until he was disfellowshipped. He succumbed into his weakness which is homosexuality. 

 

53 minutes ago, jwhess said:

Materialism is a matter of the heart, not location. However, the ability to express the heart's wrong desire is increased when there is more material things.

 "You have color TV to worry about".

 

My father came home with a new appreciation of materialism...❤️

And there are sisters who have so many clothes. Im used to managed few clothes and too many can give me anxiety because I already so many  put on my plate to work on and to think about. 

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On 2/26/2023 at 3:57 PM, Ishaya said:

 

 

The way I see it is that eventually everyone will have to make his own decision on how to balance between work and spirituality.but honestly, i do feel that I have seen extreme views in this matter that  I believe are impractical with surviving the hardship of the last days especially in developing and underdeveloped countries where jobs are very  hard to find. 
If we can be realistic about it,I think there are very few jobs that can perfectly accommodate your spiritual routine.we live in satan's world,we don't expect things to come by so easy for us in serving Jehovah,you usually have to find a way to balance work and spiritual routine,even if it means changing congregation to a congregation that can make it possible for you to attend Sunday meetings either morning or evening.this seem like a better way of handling a situation than quiting a job.you can serve Jehovah faithfully  in any congregation you join it doesn't have to be in just one congregation.
Some brothers miss attending assemblies and conventions with their congregation because of work,but it doesn't stop them from attending with other congregations,the instructions we receive are all the same and what is especially desired is that we apply what we are taught in our daily lives and become good people who know how to show love for God and their fellow humans.

 

 

It's true that it's getting hard to find truly suitable employment. The brothers even stated this is part of why they reduced the pioneer hours, and that's very loving. The days of being able to find part time work that sustains you is starting to fade unfortunately. You either have to live with multiple people or stay at home endlessly. Yes, living at home with your parents is nice, but eventually, you want your own space. I think depending on your personality, it can sometimes stunt you, and I'm speaking from experience here. I think I would be much better off in a different environment, but I'm not able to afford it.


Edited by runner92
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8 hours ago, JennyM said:

Im aware that the materialistic spirit in the US is rampant. Everything is all about money. 

The US is a mixpot of cultures, people from many countries come here and demonstrate what is in their hearts. Its not the country that is the problem, the problem is what is in people's hearts.

 

EDIT: I just noticed that John and Greg said it much better than I did👍


Edited by Tortuga
CAUTION: The comments above may contain personal opinion, speculation, inaccurate information, sarcasm, wit, satire or humor, let the reader use discernment...:D

 

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8 hours ago, JennyM said:

Once, a brother has told me that US is a seat of Satan. 

That may be true, he sits here while he watches the rest of the world 🤣

CAUTION: The comments above may contain personal opinion, speculation, inaccurate information, sarcasm, wit, satire or humor, let the reader use discernment...:D

 

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12 minutes ago, Tortuga said:

That may be true, he sits here while he watches the rest of the world 🤣

Hes competing with Jw Headquarter. All worldly entertainment comes from US such as  eccentric pop culture and so on.

7 hours ago, JennyM said:

 

And there are sisters who have so many clothes. Im used to managed few clothes and too many can give me anxiety because I already so many  put on my plate to work on and to think about. 

cause I already have so many things on my plate *

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9 hours ago, runner92 said:

 

 

It's true that it's getting hard to find truly suitable employment. The brothers even stated this is part of why they reduced the pioneer hours, and that's very loving. The days of being able to find part time work that sustains you is starting to fade unfortunately. You either have to live with multiple people or stay at home endlessly. Yes, living at home with your parents is nice, but eventually, you want your own space. I think depending on your personality, it can sometimes stunt you, and I'm speaking from experience here. I think I would be much better off in a different environment, but I'm not able to afford it.

You are not alone sis. Im still living with my parents too. I think its natural to want to live your own life. Sometimes, I was treated by my parents as a kid like telling me , "dont do this dont do that".  asking me "Who are you talking with? Im 40 lol! 

The thing is,  house rent is so high these days. 

And Jesus said: " those who can endure till the end will be saved." 

4 hours ago, New World Explorer said:

We have headquarters in the east, so he must be sitting in LA? LOL :lol1:

 Yeah.. thats funny but Im not saying its literal. He was confined to the vicinity of the earth with his demons. The earth is so tiny compared to their heavenly abode back then. Thats why everything is messed up now. 

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20 hours ago, jwhess said:

Then he told my father that they gather in groups and pray for us in America.  "Why us", my dad asked.  "All we worry about is a man with a gun", the local brother said, "You have color TV to worry about".


I have heard different versions of this too. And when I lived in Miami you would see and hear about this a lot. Some brothers went through big changes in spirituality  and attitudes after managing to get to the US from Cuba where the work was under ban or restricted and people had a lot more economic hardship. They would get through all of that, stay faithful through persecution and even imprisonment, but then once they got to the US, got into the intense daily grind of work/commute and on top of that experienced all the intense pressure and distractions of capitalism, some people would drift away. It can happen to anyone who lets their guard down.
 

It comes down to peoples’ heart condition and relationship with Jehovah but our culture and economy here emphasize self-reliance, individualism, getting ahead for the sake of it, accumulating wealth, buying newer and better stuff all the time just for fun and just because. And you have to work so hard just to survive. When I have spent time in other countries the difference in pace of life, values, and closeness with friends and family is so vast. I was born here, this is my home but… not a fan of what capitalism does to people. Can’t wait to see it all go away. 

 

 

 

 

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Okay so my take on this is in line with 1 Cor 4:2.


I think it will be helpful for us to understand that our decisions in life are guided immensely by interests and circumstances, these factors intermingle and vary significantly among different people,which is why we cannot all serve Jehovah in the same way.we cannot all become missionaries or special  pioneers or regular pioneers,we cannot all become elders in the congregation,it is not possible,in fact it is not practical or organizational.
Also,I think we need to be reminded that we are not in a competition for who can please Jehovah better,even Jehovah will not  want us to do that.
Jehovah want us to serve him by choice and in a way that will give us happiness doing it.

 

Looking at interests,this has to do with free will,freedom to choose what you love to do.while some like to stay single and have very few responsibilities,some others love to have families even though it comes with more responsibilities,but both are happy because it is what they like and it does not displease Jehovah.

a single brother can do with very few things obviously, a single room,a part time Job,even feeding once a day etc.But a brother with children certainly needs more,a bigger house with at leat three bedrooms for everyone's privacy,a full time job to be able to afford putting children in good schools, and provide sufficient balanced meal and clothing even if not for himself but for the children,he certainly has more material needs and needs to work harder and consistently.he cannot work less or part time and expect to meet up with the demands,his children will suffer and it will be unfair.
however,the joy of having a family motivates him to do what he does,its what he loves(having a family) and there is nothing wrong with that.
But to a brother who is single by choice,the lifestyle of a family man may seem very unwise and maybe unchristian.a single brother cannot possibly understand the demands of being a family man because he has not experienced it.you cannot be a family man and wait for people to gift you things before you have them or to always expect that Jehovah will do miracle to feed your family three times a day with good nourished food.

 

We all need to adjust our views and avoid judging one another or trying to make our brothers look like they are unworthy before Jehovah or that they love "money" more than they love Jehovah.

Like I have mentioned earlier,anyone who becomes a JW by choice,has a deep yearning to please Jehovah in whatever he does.irrespective of how you choose to serve Jehovah, it is acceptable if it is done in faithfulness and commitment.

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About basic needs,we need to understand that even what we call basic needs  ie food,clothing and shelter can cost a lot of money,and this cost is constantly rising as experience has shown.a brother with family certainly needs to work harder to provide even these basic needs.
In Nigeria,a bag of rice used to cost 15000 to 16000 naira some few years ago,but today it cost as much as 45000 to 50000 naira,this is just one common way I can help you to understand that even a basic need is not cheap,it cost a lot of money, hence the need to work harder to achieve it or you risk starving your family with hungar and malnutrition.

 

Okay,What about renting a good house(shelter) for your family,in large cities like Lagos you need at least 300,000 naira to get a three bedroom flat and this is even around the low cost and often unsafe neighborhoods talk more of renting in moderately safe neighborhoods that can cost as much as 500,000 naira at least.a lot of brothers end up living in slums and unsafe neighborhoods which is really not good.
This is the reality of things to show that even basic needs is not cheap in Nigeria.
 

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7 minutes ago, Ishaya said:

a brother with children certainly needs more,a bigger house with at leat three bedrooms for everyone's privacy,a full time job to be able to afford putting children in good schools, and provide sufficient balanced meal and clothing even if not for himself but for the children,he certainly has more material needs and needs to work harder and consistently.he cannot work less or part time and expect to meet up with the demands,his children will suffer and it will be unfair.

 

Providing for your family is scriptural, so there is no need to feel judged. Yes others experiences cannot be compared to each other as we are all so vastly different, including individual circumstances, abilities and health stamina.

 

10 minutes ago, Ishaya said:

We all need to adjust our views and avoid judging one another or trying to make our brothers look like they are unworthy before Jehovah or that they love "money" more than they love Jehovah

 

 

In your original post, you showed you are sensitive to the subject of materialism whenever it is mentioned in a talk or an article, and take the feeling that by trying to work to provide for your‘s is therefore being materialistic. Why do you feel that way? You are living together with your family and serving Jehovah together. You are no doubt feeling the pressure of making a living and seeing how badly in turn others are faring in your area. Thus is sadly also the case worldwide, even in first world countries. It’s good to be empathetic to the plights of others, but the best thing as you said is to work on your own family’s situation and leave the rest to Jehovah. One can’t necessarily pinpoint poverty to lack of education or not trying to improve one’s life. There are homeless highly educated peoples on the streets of the US ( and also here in Germany) living in their vehicles even, or in homes so you cannot say they haven’t tried. Thankfully you haven’t seen Jehovah’s people left to living on the street.

 

There was the convention video experience of a sister in Venenzuela who was so poor with children. It showed her before the economic collapse with a bit of weight to the end of having lost so much weight. The brothers are well aware, as are Jesus and Jehovah.

 

We are so near the end. The kingdom is the only solution.

- Read the Bible daily 

The chariot is moving ❤️‍🔥

Ps.86:11

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JWHess had the right idea, it’s not where you live it’s your attitude and heart condition. Many can formulate amazing reasons/excuses for their lifestyle and possessions. One day each of us may be required to loose everything, that’s when our reliance on Jehovah and His organisation could be tested. If you get a chance, read the experience “Saved by a little pot of fat” published in Awake many years ago about a family escaping from Germany after WW11.

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